Patriots

Who was that large man visiting Patriots practice? You know him, you love him...

dino-radja.jpg

Who was that large man visiting Patriots practice? You know him, you love him...

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick spent some time early on in Wednesday's practice speaking with a very large man in a knit hat, sunglasses and jeans. The Patriots coach spent most of his time with his head tilted up, giving his neck a little workout as he went back and forth with the near seven-footer. 

MORE PATRIOTS:

"Needs some treatment," Belichick said. "He's a big guy. Yeah, he's a big guy."

So who was that towering presence? None other than former Celtics big man Dino Radja. The Boston Herald recently made note of Radja's visit to Boston, and his trip apparently extended down to Foxboro. 

Radja played for the Celtics for four seasons in the mid-1990s. He also won two Olympic silver medals. One as a member of the Yugoslavian national team and then, following Croatian independence, the Croatian national team.

Belichick is of Croatian descent and has proudly boasted of his heritage in the past. Speaking about Rob Ninkovich (who also has Croatian roots) on the day Ninkovich announced his retirement this summer, Belichick said, "He’s Croatian so I knew he was tough. There was never any doubt about that. All Croatians are tough."

Don't expect Radja to be suiting up for Belichick's team anytime soon, though, even if, at 6-11, he has the size to be a kick-block specialist.

"Yeah, he’d be good, wouldn’t he? It would be hard to kick it over him," Belichick said, smiling.

QUICK SLANTS THE PODCAST: Jerod Mayo breaks down the best way for Patriots to attack Jaguars defense

quickslantspodcast.png

QUICK SLANTS THE PODCAST: Jerod Mayo breaks down the best way for Patriots to attack Jaguars defense

Jerod Mayo talks with Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry about the Patriots AFC Championship matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

(2:00) Jerod Mayo gives his X’s and O’s breakdown of the Jaguars defensive schemes and traits.

(5:00) Jerod gives his opinion on how the Patriots offense should attack the Jaguars defense.

(8:30) Could Gronkowski be the key to the Patriots offense? What would be the best way to use him?

(15:00) Does the Jaguars defense have a weakness against vertical routes?

(17:00) Jerod Mayo explains why James White could be a key once again for the Patriots. 

(21:00) Will Jaguars change their defensive scheme after allowing 42 to the Steeler?

(23:00) Will much will the Jaguars having the ‘nothing to lose’ mindset impact the game?

Replacing Patriots coordinators not easy, but 'the culture is built'

josh-mcdaniels-matt-patricia.jpg

Replacing Patriots coordinators not easy, but 'the culture is built'

FOXBORO -- The Patriots are looking at losing both coordinators, Matt Patricia and Josh McDaniels, to head coaching jobs in the near future. When it happens, that will prompt questions. What's next? How will this impact the on-the-field product? What about the culture?

The short answer: As long as Bill Belichick is around, the Patriots will be the Patriots. The expectations. The culture. The schemes. They all remain. 

"I mean, I believe so," said Patriots captain Duron Harmon. "The culture is built. The culture is built. This is two decades of winning. A winning franchise. Coach Belichick is going to make sure whoever is in the defensive room is going to be the right guy to display the message and the picture that he wants his defense to play with. That goes through the defensive coordinator, whoever he hires."

That's not to say that filling the coordinator job on either side of the football will be easy. Consistency at those positions has value, whether it's in how new players pick up the system, or how certain fundamentals are taught. 

"Whenever you're trying to get something done professionally, to be able to have consistent leadership and foundation upon which to build is important," Patriots captain Matthew Slater said. "A consistent message, understanding what you're trying to get done. And we're fortunate not only with Josh but obviously Coach Belichick and the rest of our coaching staff.

"That consistency with the character of the coach, with the message of the coach, with what he demands of you is important because it helps set a standard. And then when players come in you say, 'OK this is what's expected of me and anything less is not going to be good enough.' " 

Harmon acknowledged that the consistency of having one coordinator in place for several years -- both Patricia and McDaniels have held their titles since 2012 -- can help. But, as just Slater pointed out the consistency coming from the team's head coach, Harmon explained that everything starts with Belichick.

"It's important," Harmon said of having consistency on staff. "Not only is it important coming from the defensive coordinator, but it's important coming from the head coach. Coach Belichick does a great job of always portraying the message he wants, and how he wants his team to play, and it goes through the coordinators and then to the position coaches and then to the players. I think the consistency is not always built straight from the defensive coordinator. I think Coach Belichick does a great job of doing that as well."

It won't be an easy job to replace McDaniels and Patricia when they leave, particularly since the favorites to be their successors could in theory leave with them. But as long as Belichick remains, so too will the standard he's set.