HOUSTON -- The perks of playing for the Patriots seem pretty solid: A typical season brings the playoffs, a good season brings the AFC Championship and a very good season brings the Super Bowl.
SUPER BOWL LI: TUESDAY REPORT
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- Brady: 'Personal legacy' would never be part of my vocabulary
- Duron Harmon's second Super Bowl trip should tell the doubters: He's a player
- Belichick on his career: 'It beats working'
- Sanu: I'm here because of my football talents, not because I'm Muslim
- This may be Martellus Bennett's last game with the Patriots
- Bean: Ten takeaways from Super Bowl Opening Night
- Dilfer still apologizing for 'Patriots and Brady aren't good anymore' comment in 2014
- Brady to Rich (from Toucher & Rich): Are you on drugs?
- Esiason: To beat Patriots, you need a great defensive line
Like any organization, there are going to be cases where leaving better suits the player's career. That can be scheme-related, usage-related or just a personal fit.
Patrick Chung spent his first four seasons with the Patriots, a span that saw New England reach two AFC Championships and one Super Bowl. After perhaps being misused in an underwhelming secondary for the 2011 and 2012 seasons, Chung left to take a three-year deal in Philadelphia and play for his college coach, Chip Kelly.
If things weren’t perfect in New England, his season in Philly provided some perspective. He couldn’t stay healthy and played poorly when he was. The team released him after one season, at which point he came back to New England on a low-money deal and won the Super Bowl in his first year back.
“Timing is everything,” Chung said. “It all worked our for me. I was happy to come back, happy that Bill [Belichick] made me come back and I’m just trying to make the best of the opportunity now.”
Chung’s career had reached a low point when things didn’t work out in Philly. Though he had the pedigree of being a second-round pick, his production and health meant he wasn’t in relatively high demand. Starting fresh somewhere else provided its own risk. Trusting that things would work in New England a second time around proved to be a safer bet.
“I missed my friends, I missed the coaches, I missed the city, the fans, my son,” he said. “A little bit of everything, man. It was an honor to come back.”
Chung’s return to New England, where he has played more strong safety, has leveled out his career. He’s had three seasons at least 52 solo tackles -- he had just one such season in his career previously -- and has missed only one regular-season game due to injury.
Told that Belichick has admitted that Chung’s usage in his first stint wasn’t ideal, Chung redirected the blame on himself.
“I appreciate everything Bill’s saying, but when it comes down to it, it’s about me being consistent,” he said. “So forget what Bill’s talking about; it’s about me being consistent. He gave me another chance and now I’m trying to be as consistent as possible. My first stint was on me.”
And now his second stint could bring him two Super Bowl rings.