January 30, 2017


'PATRIOT WAY' STILL GOING STRONG (Ross Tucker, 1/30/17, Sports on Earth)

What makes this season, and this team, even more impressive is Belichick's usage of castoffs from other franchises all over his roster. It's nothing short of remarkable.

Let's start on defense where the Patriots' best run defender, defensive tackle Alan Branch, is on his fourth team after New England signed him as a street free agent in the middle of the 2014 season. Like a lot of guys, he's gotten better each year during his time in Foxboro.

The Patriots also get solid contributions up front along the defensive line from Rams cap casualty Chris Long and Jabaal Sheard, a player the Browns allowed to walk after the 2014 season.

This doesn't even count defensive end Rob Ninkovich, who was cut numerous times by both the Saints and Dolphins before finding a permanent home in New England. That's old news at this point.

The linebacker level is more of the same where the Pats are getting productive play from former Bears first-round pick Shea McClellin and Lions second-round pick Kyle Van Noy. Neither the Bears nor the Lions could get anything out of either player, yet Belichick found ways to allow them to flourish. Van Noy, for example, has a very specific niche as a match-up guy in coverage against tight ends and running backs and is brought in when that need arises.

That is probably the best example of the difference between Belichick and most of the other teams around the NFL. While they primarily focus on what guys can't do, Belichick just figures out what they can do well and only asks them to do that. 

Posted by at January 30, 2017 5:20 PM