FOXBORO -- Since being traded by the Patriots to the Browns, Jamie Collins has been accused of freelancing. He had moved away from coaching points, was the take, and decided that he was going to do his own thing.
PATRIOTS WEDNESDAY REPORT
-- Belichick: Mike Lombardi 'one of the smartest people I know'
-- Brady on surprise departures: 'The sun will come up tomorrow without you'
-- Collins: Browns have 'more of a family feel' than the Patriots
-- Belichick: All roster moves -- not just blockbuster trades -- have ripple effect on team
At the forefront of that angle has been former assistant to the coaching staff Mike Lombardi. Soon after the trade Lombardi tweeted, "Collins on the second play of the game [against the Bills] does whatever he wants and Bills gain 28 yards. Been happening all year. It was not going to continue."
Collins is an instinctive player, and on that play that Lombardi referenced, the Pro Bowler made a mistake. For some insight into how Belichick views a player's reliance on his gut, I asked Belichick on Wednesday how he feels about letting players play their game.
"I've coached every player I've ever coached the same way," Belichick said. "You have an assignment, you have something that you're responsible for, and then the instincts come after that. As long as you cover your guy, that's your job. You want to cover him off, you want to cover him on, inside technique, outside technique, backpedal, squat, there's a million ways to do it. If you have him covered, I'm going to be happy about it. You're going to be happy about it, right? So that's the bottom line.
"After that, there's an instinctive part to every play. I coach players, that's the way I've coached my whole career. As a special teams coach, I had different punters, different kickers. They all didn't kick it the same way. They kick it far, they kick it high, I'm happy. They're happy. The team's happy. That's good. If they don't, then got to try to find a better way to do it.
"I don't see it any differently now than I saw it when I started coaching. I don't see it really much differently from one position to another. The techniques are different. The assignments are different. But a player's instinct and style of play, that belongs to each of us. We're all different. But there's certain fundamentals that, as a coach, you're obligated to teach the best way you know how. And you work with individual players within that framework."
By that logic, Belichick and his coaching staff were probably OK with Collins going about things the way he chose to go about them. But when that approach lent itself to missed assignments or faulty execution, that may have been when Belichick determined, as Lombardi put it, "it was not going to continue."