Patriots OL coach Scarnecchia feels refreshed after two-year retirement


Patriots OL coach Scarnecchia feels refreshed after two-year retirement

FOXBORO -- Dante Scarnecchia wasn't looking to get back into coaching. He wasn't sitting at home for the last two years, living and dying with each Patriots offensive snap as though he was still the team's offensive line coach. 

He was spending time with his wife and his grandchildren. He was traveling. He was going to bed early. He was retired, and he was loving it. 

But he got a call over the winter, soon after the Patriots lost the AFC title game to the Broncos, asking if he would return to his old job at One Patriot Place. He discussed it with his wife for more than a week before coming to the conclusion that he'd make his return. 

The team announced that Scarnecchia had been re-hired, replacing Dave DeGuglielmo, in March.

"It is a tough decision because you become very used to a very nice lifestyle," he said on Monday. "I like retirement, now. Retirement was great. A lot of fun. We saw things we hadn't seen ever. Took trips, spent a lot of time with our grandkids. All that was great. To a degree, it's very, very hard to give up.

"We talked about it, my wife and I, and we decided this would be a good thing on a lot of different levels, as far as the grandkids being able to come to the games for free and just be a part of it all. And I like coaching football. I love coaching football. I didn't retire because I didn't like coaching football. I retired because I got tired of the lifestyle. Two years off, I'm OK."

Scarnecchia was clear: He wasn't getting back into it if any other team came calling. 

"I think the No. 1 thing is, if you decide to go back into coaching, you're kind of at the mercy of the business. That is to say, who's going to hire you and where are you going to go? What makes it unique here is everything is the same. That really makes it easy.

"Honestly, I probably would not have gotten back into coaching had I had to go somewhere else. Because I was going by myself. [My wife] ain't going. Let's get that straight. I can't leave my kids and my grandkids. I'm not doing that."

Though he feels good, feels refreshed, Scarnecchia has been reminded very quickly of what the job entails. During one of his first days back on the job, the Patriots held a 14-hour personnel meeting. 

That part of the yearly routine, he did not miss. 

"It wasn't like I was sitting at home thinking, 'Boy, I wish I was there and I wish I could do this.' It wasn't any of that," Scarnecchia said. "I know what the job entails. Yeah it's fun being out on the field, it's fun being in the meeting rooms, it's fun being a part of the whole situation, but you know, the hours are long, the days are long. It's a tough business, it's a really tough business, and I was willing to step back into it despite all that."

Scarnecchia will have a few familiar faces in the offensive line meetings that take place during Phase Two of the offseason program, including Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Marcus Cannon and Josh Kline. Most of the others, though, have been added to the team since Scarnecchia retired following the 2013 season. Centers Bryan Stork and David Andrews, as well as guards Tre' Jackson and Shaq Mason will all have to adapt to a new voice. 

Scarnecchia explained, however, that the system is still the same as it ever was under DeGuglielmo. And even though he's been gone for two years, the game itself -- and offensive line play in particular -- is as it always was.

"The game's pretty much the same," he said. "Get off the ball. Hit him. Do a great job of setting. Put yourself between the launch point and them, with inside out leverage . . . . We ain't building rockets."

Reports: Patriots among NFL teams taking a look at Manziel

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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."