Belichick on field-goal block rule change: 'Another monster'


Belichick on field-goal block rule change: 'Another monster'

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick doesn't typically shy away from commenting on the league's rule changes, or emphases, and the people who decide on them.

He's had a habit of sarcastically referring to them as "experts" at press conferences. He's openly wondered why the game has needed changing, particularly when it comes to the alterations made to the kicking game. And as recently as this year's NFL Scouting Combine, he joked on NFL Network about one instance in which a rules change has directly opposed something the Patriots did the season prior.

Before Thursday's minicamp practice, he was asked to comment on a couple of the changes to the on-the-field product made earlier this offseason.

Q: There have been a few rules changes this offseason. What are your thoughts on the overtime change, in particular? Did you feel like overtime was too long?

BB: Yeah, I mean, I don’t think it’s a big deal. I mean, it’s shorter, so it is what it is. What else do we have?

Q: They changed the rule in terms of the players jumping over the center.

BB: Yeah, right, that’s another monster.

Q: Your reaction?

BB: Won’t do it.

Belichick and the Patriots haven't proposed a rule change in either of the last two years. Why? Maybe because they feel as though their proposals are doomed before they even reach the Competition Committee. 

USA Today's Jarrett Bell tweeted a quote from an anonymous NFL owner during the league meetings in Arizona that indicated the league may be more likely to vote down a proposal if it was proposed by the Patriots.  

Asked why he and his staff haven't proposed a rules change lately, Belichick smiled.

"We love the rules the way they are," he said. "Yeah, we don’t want to change them."

The last time Belichick and the Patriots submitted rules proposals, at the league meetings in 2015, they had three: They wanted to 1) make every play reviewable, 2) place fixed cameras on boundary lines, and 3) place extra-point attempts at the 15-yard line. 

The third eventually became a reality. The others seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

The first was back up for a vote this year, proposed jointly by Buffalo and Seattle, but did not pass. The second failed two years ago and drew special attention when Belichick suggested that the billionaires running the league could hold a bake sale to raise funds for the additional equipment.

Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

File photo

Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

Johnny Manziel said 10 days ago, "I'd go to New England in a heartbeat," when asked about the Patriots as a potential landing spot.

That seemed like wishful thinking at the time, but they're taking a look at him...along with 12 other NFL teams, according to ESPN's Eric Williams. 

Tom Brady's current backup Brian Hoyer is, like Manziel, an ex-Cleveland Browns quarterback. Manziel would again be competing with Hoyer for the Pats' No. 2 job should New England take a chance on "Johnny Football", the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner from Texas A&M, who's been out of football the past two years because of substance abuse and emotional problems.

FOX Sports' Bruce Feldman had it at 12 teams watching Manziel work out at the University of San Diego and said the Patriots gave Manziel a weigh-in.


Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

Patriots re-sign offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle

The Patriots have agreed to re-sign offensive lineman LaAdrian Waddle, his agent Scott Casterline confirmed on Twitter.  Waddle hit unrestricted free agency when the new league year began and made a visit to the Cowboys earlier this week. In the end, though, he chose to return to the team that claimed him off of waivers at the end of the 2015 season.

Waddle, who turns 27 in July, appeared in 12 games last season for the Patriots. He was the first right tackle the Patriots turned to when Marcus Cannon suffered an ankle injury mid-season against the Chargers. He ended up playing 51 snaps against the likes of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram without allowing a sack. He then started the next three games against the Broncos, Raiders and Dolphins and held star rushers Von Miller, Khalil Mack and Cameron Wake -- all of whom rush primarily off of the offensive right -- without a sack. 

Injuries forced Waddle (380 snaps on the season) to split the right tackle position with Cameron Fleming (543 snaps), but he was the primary backup when healthy. Waddle started the Divisional Round playoff game against the Titans but suffered a knee injury and was removed for Fleming. 

Both Fleming and Waddle visited the Cowboys this week, and the fact that Waddle has re-signed with the Patriots may impact Fleming's decision moving forward. 

The Patriots went to great lengths to build tackle depth last season, and adding Waddle to the roster helps them retain some of that depth after losing their left tackle, Nate Solder, to the Giants via free agency. Waddle could be an option on the left side, but the vast majority of his work since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2013 has been on the right side. 

The Patriots now have Fleming, Marcus Cannon, Cole Croston, Tony Garcia and Andrew Jelks on their depth chart at tackle. Croston, Garcia and Jelks are all headed into their second years as pros. Croston remained on the 53-man roster all season -- an indication that the Patriots liked him enough not to expose him to the waiver system -- but did not see meaningful snaps. Garcia and Jelks both missed the entirety of the 2017 season on reserve lists. 

Once the Patriots lost Solder to the Giants, it seemed to be of paramount importance that the Patriots re-sign either Waddle or Fleming. Behind Cannon, there were simply too many question marks not to have one return. The Patriots could opt to draft a tackle, but this is considered an average year at that position in that there are few ready-made NFL players and several developmental types.

Before the Super Bowl last season, I asked offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia how the team was able to manage offensively with backups at right tackle for much of the season. 

"It's not like [Fleming and Waddle are] not good players," Scarnecchia said. "They are good players. Their skill set seemed to fit that position pretty well. They have the traits that we covet. And they're both really smart guys, very willing learners, and they're both driven to be good and they want to play good. And I think all those things have manifested themselves when they've been out there playing. And we've been very, very pleased with what they've done for us this year, essentially splitting that position."

Asked about the aspects of the game the Patriots worked on with both Waddle and Fleming last year, Scarnecchia said, "For us it transcends everything. Obviously run-blocking and pass-blocking. They're both good at those things. Are they great at those things? No. But they've been able to steadily improve over the last two years to the point where we put them out there and no one's worried. And it's been that way the whole season after Marcus got hurt. Yeah they've done a nice job for us."