Belichick favored initial Vol call: Schiano is 'a tremendous coach'

Belichick favored initial Vol call: Schiano is 'a tremendous coach'

FOXBORO -- Greg Schiano is a polarizing figure in the world of college football. But ask Bill Belichick about the former Rutgers head coach, and he'll have nothing but good things to say. 

Schiano's name found its way into headlines across the country on Sunday as USA Today reported that he had emerged as the front-runner for Tennessee's head-coaching vacancy. But before anything became official, the Vols decided to back out of the deal due to fan backlash.

"Yeah, I think Greg’s a tremendous coach," Belichick said after his team beat the Dolphins, 35-17. "I’ve learned an awful lot from him and had an opportunity to spend a lot of time with him when he was at Rutgers and Stephen was at Rutgers and I’d go down there. The lacrosse and the football programs are in the same building."


Belichick's son Stephen played football and lacrosse for the Scarlet Knights, and Stephen served as a long-snapper under Schiano as he got a taste for what it might be like to coach football after college. Stephen is now the Patriots safeties coach, where he works with former Schiano pupils Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon.

Schiano left Piscataway, New Jersey in 2012 to take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coaching job after bringing Rutgers to bowls in six of his final seven seasons there. He's currently in his second season as the defensive coordinator at Ohio State.

"At Tampa and the couple of years after Tampa was really even better for, I would say, my relationship with him because he had those last two years in the NFL and I’ve learned an awful lot from him," Belichick added. "He’s given me a lot of -- we talk about things that they did in their program, that he did in Tampa, that really had a lot of relevance to what we do. So did Rutgers, but it’s a little bit different in the NFL.

"He’s done a great job at Ohio State. He’s one of the very best coaches I think in our profession. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Greg and the way he runs his program and the job that he does."

It's not just lip service. Belichick has invested in Schiano's players many times over. Logan Ryan, Jonathan Freeny, Tim Wright and Tiquan Underwood were all Rutgers products. Lesser-known players like Steve Beauharnais, Quentin Gause, Alex Silvestro, Justin Francis, Kevin Snyder and others have spent varying amounts of time in the Patriots locker room.

"I would say the most impressive thing for me is the way that our players, which we’ve had a lot of Rutgers players come through here, the loyalty and the I would say love of the program, the college program that they were in at Rutgers when he was there, how they maintained that for years and years after they had left," Belichick said. "Not taking anything away from any other school, but I would just say that it’s extremely strong. I think the relationship that [Schiano] has with his kids, with his players and how well-prepared his players are to come into this league is exceptional.

"I didn’t know that [he was reportedly close to being named the head coach for Tennessee], but it’s good for him. He’s a great coach. I’m sure he’ll be a great head coach. Again, he’s done an awful lot. He’s helped me in a lot of different ways and I have a lot of respect for him."


What are the Patriots getting in Cordarrelle Patterson?

What are the Patriots getting in Cordarrelle Patterson?

The Patriots have made a trade with the Raiders to acquire receiver and special teamer Cordarrelle Patterson, according to a source. The deal, first reported by Pardon My Take, is an interesting one because it lands Patterson with the team that passed on the opportunity to draft him back in 2013. 


Bill Belichick dealt the No. 29 overall pick to the Vikings that year in exchange for four selections, including a second-rounder and a third-rounder. The second-rounder became Jamie Collins, and the third became Logan Ryan. The Patriots also took Josh Boyce with a fourth they received in the trade, and the fourth pick (a seventh) was traded to Tampa Bay in exchange for LeGarrette Blount. The Vikings took Patterson. 

Patterson's career to this point has been a mixed bag. One of the top athletes in the 2013 draft, the Tennessee product never quite panned out as a go-to No. 1 receiver. He has not missed a game in five seasons, but he has never cracked 600 offensive snaps in a single season. The 6-foot-2, 220-pounder has turned himself into more of a gadget receiver as well as one of the game's best special teamers. 

Here's what the Patriots are getting in Patterson . . . 

TOP-TIER SPECIAL TEAMER: Patterson has solidified himself as one of the NFL's best kick-returners. In five seasons, he's ranked as the top returner in terms of average yards per return three times. He's never been outside of the top 10 in the league in that category. Last year he was sixth in the NFL with a 28.3 yards per return average. Patterson has also become a highly-effective gunner on punt units, a role he thrived in once he embraced it, and he has kick coverage experience. Patterson has not been a punt-returner. He has just one punt return under his belt compared to 153 kick returns. Patterson has been named a First-Team All-Pro twice for his work in the kicking game. 

INCONSISTENT RECEIVER: Patterson has never been able to take his explosiveness and translate that into consistent production offensively. He's not thought of as a precise route-runner, and he has a reputation as a "body-catcher." Yet, because he's so dynamic with the ball in his hands, offenses in Oakland and Minnesota have found ways to get the ball in his hands. He'll align in the backfield, take reverses and catch screens just to try to get him the ball in space where he can let his natural abilities take over. If he gets a crease, he can create a chunk play in a blink. 

THE COST: Patterson is in the second year of a two-year deal he signed with the Raiders last offseason. He has a base salary of $3 million and a cap hit of $3.25 million. The Patriots will be sending a fifth-rounder to the Raiders and getting a sixth-rounder back. (As an aside . . . The Patriots have used one fifth-round pick in the last six drafts. It was spent on long-snapper Joe Cardona. Why are they constantly dealing fifths away? Inside the Pylon's Dave Archibald did an interesting piece on that topic about a year and a half ago. The gist is that a) there's a significant drop-off in your chances of finding a star in the fifth compared to the fourth, and b) the talent in the fifth round, by some metrics, hasn't proven to be all that different from the sixth or seventh rounds.) 

THE FIT: Patterson is a relatively low-risk acquisition because of his cap hit (which on the Patriots slots him in between Shea McClellin and Chris Hogan) and because of the draft capital required to nab him. Trading for a player like Patterson as opposed to signing another team's free agent has the added benefit of not impacting the compensatory-pick formula. Patterson also fills a few needs. His abilities as a kick-returner will be more than suitable with last year's primary kick returner for the Patriots, Dion Lewis, out of the mix. What Patterson can do as a gunner and in kick coverage will also be useful with Johnson Bademosi now elsewhere. There's also a chance Matthew Slater plays in a different city in 2017, in which case Patterson's contributions as a gunner and in kick coverage could be critical. With Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman and Hogan all established in the Patriots offense, Patterson won't be expected to take on a heavy role in the Patriots offense. However, if he can pick up a new system, perhaps he could take on a role as a No. 4 or 5 wideout who benefits from plays designed to get him touches in space. Malcolm Mitchell, Phillip Dorsett and Kenny Britt -- now alongside Patterson -- will all be competing for time in New England's offense. Former Patriots coaching assistant Mike Lombardi seems to believe it's unlikely Patterson contributes offensively


Patriots acquire WR Cordarrelle Patterson in trade with Raiders

Patriots acquire WR Cordarrelle Patterson in trade with Raiders

The Patriots have acquired wide receiver and kick returner Cordarrelle Patterson in a trade with the Raiders, NBC Sports Boston's Phil Perry confirms.

Pardon My Take, a podcast by Barstool Sports, first reported the news.

Ian Rapaport of NFL Network reports the Patriots sent a fifth-round pick to Oakland and received a Raiders' sixth-rounder along with Patterson.

More to come...