Final thoughts on the Jamie Collins trade:
—I’ve had a hard time being overly critical of the deal because, frankly, I’m a little gun shy. Bill Belichick’s batting average with these kind of moves is pretty good, and after bemoaning the loss of Darrelle Revis last year and once again getting egg on my face, I’m a little reluctant to climb back on the soap box.
MORE PATRIOTS: Curran and Perry’s mid-season awards
Quick Slants The Podcast: Sifting through the post-trade spin
Curran: Collins’ and Mingo’s career paths continue to intersect
Please note, contrary to popular myth, Belichick’s track record with these controversial moves isn’t perfect. The Deion Branch trade hurt the Pats’ Super Bowl chances in 2006; the Mike Vrabel and Richard Seymour moves in 2009 helped destroy his locker room; and, hard as it is to believe, Adam Vinatieri is still better than Stephen Gostkowski 11 years after his departure. Not everyone Belichick dumps turns to mush. Most recently, Aquib Talib has been outstanding in Denver and Chandler Jones is having a good year in Arizona.
But, on balance, Belichick gets these moves right. We all know it.
—That said, I really find it hard to believe this will make them better on the field. Belichick will attempt to replace a horse (Collins) with a group of ponies (Elandon Roberts, Kyle Van Noy and Barkevious Mingo) and that rarely works.
To me, the real impetus here has to be off the field, where Belichick (rightly) puts a heavy emphasis on culture. You’re either with the program or you’re not, and Belichick knows too much of the latter destroys your team. Collins wanted to get paid, yet he was struggling on the field and his playing time was starting to reflect it. It's hard to make money on the bench. It wasn’t going to end well, and if other players were dragged down by the popular Collins, then no way was Belichick going to let that go any further. That’s the reason to make the deal; not because Roberts had a good October.
— Finally, the worst part of the story is how Belichick has allowed a mouthpiece like Mike Lombardi to disparage Collins on the way out the door and then not make it clear that Lombardi, who worked for the organization the previous two years, does not speak for the team. Instead, Belichick said Wednesday that Lombardi is one of the smartest people he knows in football, which came across as a tacit co-sign of a smear campaign.
How unnecessary. A huge majority of Patriots fans and media are going to agree with Belichick’s personnel decisions, no matter how controversial. As mentioned above, he’s earned that deference. Why rip the player on the way out the door?
Again, Belichick didn’t say the words himself and it’s highly doubtful he put the call out to Lombardi. But to not separate himself at least a little from Lombardi’s comments is a bad look. Unless, of course, he agrees with Lombardi and has no problem getting that analysis out there.
In which case, if you want us to know the deal with Collins, then why don’t you do it yourself?
Email Felger at firstname.lastname@example.org. Listen to Felger and Mazz weekdays, 2-6 pm., on 98.5 FM. Watch the simulcast daily on Comcast Sportsnet.