Patriots

Former Pats exec Lombardi critical of Gronk, others

ap_451606440199.jpg
AP Photo

Former Pats exec Lombardi critical of Gronk, others

Mike Lombardi twice held postions under Bill Belichick, first when Belichick was the head coach with the Cleveland Browns and most recently from 2014-16 with the Pats. He was Senior Personnel Executive for the Oakland Raiders for nine years, constructing teams that won three AFC West Championships and made an appearance in the Super Bowl. He recommended Dion Lewis to Belichick in 2014. That worked out pretty well. Belichick raved about Lombardi to NBC Sports Boston's Tom E. Curran in 2016, saying "Mike's...one of the smartest people I've worked with. He was huge asset to me for the two years he was here...he studies football and he knows it very well." 

Point is, when Lombardi has something to say about personnel, it's probably worth a listen. On the The Ringer's GM Street podcast, Lombardi was critical of tight end Rob Gronkowski, among others.

On Gronkowski, Lombardi said "Gronk doesn’t have the same quickness that he once had... Gronk is more of a builder of speed now. People are playing for that, so none of those underneath routes really apply to Gronk. It’s got to be throws up the field. That limits what you do offensively." Gronkowski has been consistently double-teamed through three weeks and after a characteristically explosive Week 1, he has just six catches for 66 yards in the last two games. 

Lombardi also believes the Pats can no longer play Dont'a Hightower at linebacker. "They need to play him down at defensive end. Just make him a nickel rusher. Put his hand in the dirt and make him a nickel rusher because that is the only thing they are going to be able to get out of him."

As far as replacing his guy Dion Lewis, Lombardi doesn't seem too high on James White and Sony Michel. “I don’t see Sony Michel replacing Dion Lewis right now...They need someone they can swing the ball to and make somebody miss in the flat and get 15 yards... They don’t have that. James White is a catcher. James White goes down too easily. He’s not a runner. He is a catcher and if he has space to run he’s effective. If he doesn’t have space, he’s not getting any extra yards. That’s the problem.”

Now for the positive spin - Lombardi expects Edelman to come back and provide the offensive production that Amendola gave last season. He also said the hope is that Josh Gordon can replace the deep threat that was Brandin Cooks in 2017. The Patriots offense is build on trust, and it's clear Tom Brady hasn't quite established that with his weapons yet. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

NFL Rumors: Patriots hiring ex-Rams assistant offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch

NFL Rumors: Patriots hiring ex-Rams assistant offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch

The New England Patriots reportedly have made an addition to their coaching staff.

According to Jim McBride of The Boston Globe, they've hired ex-Los Angeles Rams assistant offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Fisch's official role with the Patriots offense is to be determined. But now that there's an opening at wide receivers coach with Joe Judge joining the New York Giants, Fisch could be a candidate for the job.

He brings plenty of experience to the table having coached Denver Broncos wide receivers in 2008 and Michigan receivers from 2015-16. Fisch also coached Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks in 2010 and was the Jacksonville Jaguars' offensive coordinator from 2013-14.

What Jim Gray has learned from his weekly Tom Brady interviews

What Jim Gray has learned from his weekly Tom Brady interviews

For the last 10 years, Jim Gray has conducted weekly interviews with Tom Brady throughout the NFL season. Over that period of time, Gray has learned plenty about the longtime New England Patriots quarterback.

In a recent interview with the New York Post, Gray opened up about the admirable way Brady has approached each of his interviews on Westwood One Radio. It all started with a promise made by Brady 10 years ago that he's kept to this day.

"Meticulous, prepared, very responsive, on time, humble, he’s unbelievable really," Gray said. "He never says, “Don’t ask me anything.” If he doesn’t want to answer the question then that’s how he will respond to it, but there are no preconditions.

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

"He wrote me a handwritten note 10 years ago now before we started this. It said, “I look forward to doing the show. You’ll get the same effort out of me on Monday nights that I give my teammates on Sunday afternoons.” And that has been the case, he’s never missed a show."

Although the Patriots' season ended weeks ago, Brady remains the center of attention in the NFL world. The 42-year-old is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time of his career on March 18.

Despite maintaining a close relationship with Brady over the years, Gray knows as much about the six-time Super Bowl champion's future as the rest of us. When Brady himself doesn't appear to know how his offseason will unfold, Gray says there's no reason to ask him about it.

"He doesn’t know," Gray said. "When he doesn’t know I am not sure how any of us can know. How many times can you ask the same question? As it evolves he will let us know. It’s not like he’s hiding something. I’ve asked him and he’s committed several times on the air to us that he’s playing next season. There’s not much he can be involved with outside the Patriots till March 18."

All signs point toward Brady returning for his 21st NFL season, so the weekly Westwood One interviews should continue. As for whether Brady will be a Patriot for his 11th year of interviews with Gray, that'll likely remain a mystery for the next couple of months.

Gray and Brady's final interview of the 2019-20 season will take place before Super Bowl 54 on Feb. 2.

Perry: How will Pats approach WR position this offseason?