Pats' biggest offseason win: Keeping coaching staff intact

Pats' biggest offseason win: Keeping coaching staff intact

Covering the NFL for almost 20 years allows you to make relationships with a bunch of people. So I thought I'd tap into some of those people as we gear up for New England Patriots training camp for a series of pieces about topics we've been kicking around.


The panel consists of one former Pats player still in the game, two scouts of AFC teams, one front-office member in the AFC, and one NFC scout. They all requested anonymity for obvious reasons (as the player said, "hey, I might want to end up back there!") I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I had talking to these guys.

Today's topic: How do you judge the Patriots' coaching staff?

Scout 1: All the additions they made from a personnel side this offseason attracted all the attention, but the reality is keeping the coaching staff intact for another year was quite the coup. Buzz around the league was at least one of the [Josh] McDaniels/[Matt] Patricia coordinator duo would be gone. For me, it’s probably too early to give Patricia that kind of responsibility. I know as a league, we’re trending younger with some of the hires, but the more experience a coach can get, the better equipped he’ll be to handle the variety of situations that pop up. Look at Josh in Denver. Over his head. Now? One of the best coaches in the business, head coach or coordinator wise.

Scout 2: If any coach is going to have a chance to break out of [Bill] Belichick’s shadow, it’s Josh. The way they prepared [Jimmy] Garoppolo for [last year's season opener at] Arizona and then [the second game against] Miami were the stuff you put at the top of the resume. [Garoppolo] looked like a different player than the one we saw in the preseason. That’s because of the big brains on that OC. Any worries about what happened in Denver?  No. God no. He got a crack too soon. The [Jay] Cutler decision was polarizing. I think that’s part of why he’s waiting around now. Don’t jump at the first or second job. Find the one where some of the key pieces are in place. As for Patricia, that shirt (the Goodell clown shirt he wore on the plane home from the Super Bowl) was the kind of the decision that owners across the league might say, ‘Whoa.’ He got caught up in the emotion. He’ll have to answer for that in an interview if a team has done their homework but he can explain it away. If he’s the right guy, I’d imagine he’ll be able to get past that.

Scout 3: Patricia reminds me so much of Romeo [Crennel]. Not so much body language but those guys on the defense love him, just like they did with RAC. He gets the most out of each and every one of them. But will that translate to the next step? Maybe, maybe not, but the fact he remains on that staff, under Bill, alongside Josh, is terrific for them but not so much for everyone else. They don’t have to build back up. They’re already established. The players know that and their fellow coaches know that. Bill wins, again.

Ex-Patriot/current NFL player: They know their shit. They have the respect of their players. You know where you stand, how they’ll operate and how you have to operate and play to have success under them. As a player, not sure you can ask for much more. And let’s be honest, you see it all over the league, teams changing this coach, that coach, this coordinator or that one. You may think we as players don’t notice that -- and maybe some don’t -- but to me, that shit matters. You gotta get yours but you also better understand all organizations are not created equal. I got that in New England.

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi opportunity to prove he's not niche player

None of us thought Johnson Bademosi would be starting this past Sunday at MetLife Stadium against the Jets because -- well -- that’s not what we perceive the 27-year-old to be. He’s a special teamer. It’s how he’s made his mark in the NFL dating back to 2012 with Cleveland. So why would that change in mid-October for a team he’s only been with for six weeks? Because Bademosi is -- and has always been -- intent on proving he’s more than a niche player.

“I see myself as a football player,” he said, “and whatever position they put me in, I’m going to try to be the best because that’s how I operate and who I am as a person. Whether that’s as a cornerback, on special teams, if they ask me to play wildcat quarterback. Whatever…”


Bill Belichick and his staff asked for Bademosi to go on the field and not come off. He played 73 defensive snaps in addition to his usual core four special teams duties. 

“I felt like I played a whole game,” Bademosi joked, before saying, “I love playing football so I’m going to go out there and empty myself.”

He did just that, getting targeted only two times in the 24-17 win over the Jets. It was hoped that Bademosi would return to his normal specialist role, but with Stephon Gilmore still out with a concussion, it now seems more and more likely that the sixth year pro will have to be an ironman again Sunday night in primetime against the Falcons. Historically, the Pats have defended bigger receivers. That means Bademosi may be responsible for one of the most dangerous players in the league, Julio Jones.

“He’s an amazing player," he said. “We all know what he’s capable of. As a defense, we have to be prepared for him.”

The Pats were on Super Bowl Sunday and Jones still made a couple of ridiculous plays with either Logan Ryan or Eric Rowe in coverage with safety help over the top.

“He’s fast. He’s physical. He can jump. He can run. He’s smart. He’s everything you want in a wide receiver,” said Bademosi without blinking an eye. That’s the kind of confidence you want from a player at that position and facing this type of challenge. 

“You gotta believe in yourself,” he said “ I’m confident in my abilities. I work hard and trust my preparation.”

Being an elite athlete certainly helps. Bademosi was a scholarship football player at Stanford -- “some guy named Jim Harbaugh called” -- before ending up in the NFL. But it’s Bademosi’s willingness to go all in in the film room that impressed safety Devin McCourty. 

“…I think, honestly, the most work he did was probably with just himself jumping into the film, watching more stuff to exactly see,” said McCourty Thursday. “You know, when you’re a backup more, you’re kind of trying to see everything because you don’t know what role you might be thrust upon once you’re in the game. But, I think once he knew he was starting, it was kind of like, ‘Alright, let me focus in on this.’ I thought he did an awesome job of just being ready and competing.”

Bademosi will have to compete his ass off Sunday night, even against what has been to this point a physically compromised Jones. Based on what he did several days ago, there’s no reason to believe the Pats cornerback won’t bring everything he has, trying to prove again that he’s more than just a special teams whiz.


Patriots-Falcons practice report: Gilmore (concussion/ankle) still out with Falcons, Jones on deck


Patriots-Falcons practice report: Gilmore (concussion/ankle) still out with Falcons, Jones on deck

FOXBORO -- The Patriots are looking thin in the secondary as they head into their third and final day of practice before Sunday's matchup with the Falcons. 

Both Stephon Gilmore (concussion/ankle) and Eric Rowe (groin) sat out the session, as did linebacker Elandon Roberts (ankle). Undrafted rookie defensive end Harvey Langi was also a non-participant as he recovers from injuries sustained in a car crash last week. 

Asked if Friday's practice was a possibility, Gilmore said, "We'll see." He did not give any indications that his symptoms had improved or that he had been cleared for practice as he works through the league's concussion protocol. 

Rowe was spotted in the locker room on Thursday, but he has not practiced since aggravating his groin injury in Week 4. He was injured initially during a Week 2 win over the Saints. 

Roberts suffered an ankle injury when teammate Alan Branch landed on his lower leg during a loss to the Panthers in Week 4. However, he was healthy enough to play in Weeks 5 and 6. It's unclear as to whether or not his current ailment is related to what knocked him from that Week 4 loss to Carolina. 

Here is Thursday's practice participation/injury report for Sunday's game between the Patriots and Falcons:


CB Stephon Gilmore (concussion/ankle)
LB Harvey Langi (back)
LB Elandon Roberts (ankle)
CB Eric Rowe (groin)

RB Rex Burkhead (ribs)
WR Chris Hogan (ribs)
G Shaq Mason (shoulder)


LB Jordan Tripp

OLB Vic Beasley Jr. (hamstring)
K Matt Bryant (back)
LB Jermaine Grace (hamstring)
LB Deion Jones (quadricep)
DE Takk McKinley (shoulder)
LB Duke Riley (knee)
WR Mohamed Sanu (hamstring)
DL Courtney Upshaw (ankle/knee)