Patriots

Patriots

FOXBORO – One criticism of Bill Belichick that gets trotted out now and again is that he’s got some player procurement shortcomings.
 
The Patriots drafts from 2006 through 2009 were easily-accessed evidence of that, as were some free agent signings through the years that went belly-up.
 
But the list of 2015 Pro Bowlers announced Monday is a decent repudiation that Bill Belichick the GM somehow hamstrings Bill Belichick the coach, which is the way things get framed whenever the Patriots lose two straight games.
 
Six of the Patriots Pro Bowlers were drafted by New England, and the seventh, Malcolm Butler, was signed as an undrafted rookie free agent. They come from all three facets of the team – offense, defense and the kicking game. And they come from different levels of the draft and periods during the Belichick Regime.
 
There’s quarterback Tom Brady (sixth-round, 2001), kicker Stephen Gostkowski (fourth-round, 2006), special teamer Matt Slater (fifth-round 2008), tight end Rob Gronkowski (second-round, 2010), defensive end Chandler Jones (first-round, 2012) and linebacker Jamie Collins (second-round, 2013). Safety Devin McCourty (first-round, 2010), linebacker Donta Hightower (first-round, 2012) and wide receiver Julian Edelman (seventh-round, 2009) also had a case for Hawaii.
 
“Proud of the fact that all seven of those players are homegrown,” Belichick said Wednesday. “All came in as Patriots, spent their whole career here as Patriots, developed as Patriots one way or another, but that's what they all are. I think there's something to be said for that.”
 
It doesn’t just say something about Belichick for overseeing things or the players for excelling. It also says something for the scouts who did the legwork initially and the position coaches and coordinators who helped them improve and then put them in positions to succeed.  
 
“I think the representation speaks a little bit to the balance of the team: Slater and Gostkowski in the kicking game. Rob and Tom on offense, and Chandler and Jamie and Malcolm on defense. So that's good,” said Belichick. “It's great for the players who are recognized. I certainly felt like all the players who were recognized were deserving. They've all had good years. Other guys on the team have had good years too, but that's kind of the way it always is.”
 
After that bout of mild-level praise, Belichick reeled it back, saying, “Look, it is what it is. Let's not make this into more than what it is. We all know what the process is, who's actually making the decisions here and based on what, but again, all that aside, all those guys had good years. They're all good players. We have other good players on our team who weren't recognized, but that's the way it always is. I'm sure every team feels the same way. But it doesn't take away anything that those guys did and I'm happy for them. I don't think that's why they or myself are involved in that. Player of Year, Coach of Year, All-Pro. I don't think that's what any of us are here for. If it comes, it's great. Great. But that's not really, that's not our top goal.”