Patriots

NFL Rumors: Giants, Lions hire defensive coordinators with Patriots ties

NFL Rumors: Giants, Lions hire defensive coordinators with Patriots ties

The Bill Belichick coaching tree just sprouted a few more branches.

The New York Giants are hiring former Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Patrick Graham as their new defensive coordinator, NFL Network's Tom Pelissero reported Sunday.

Graham, who spent seven years in New England from 2009 to 2015 as a Patriots defensive assistant, linebackers coach and defensive line coach, reunites with Giants head coach Joe Judge, who spent the previous eight seasons with the Patriots and overlapped with Graham for four years.

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Graham goes from one former Patriots assistant to another, as he previously worked under Dolphins head coach Brian Flores.

Unsurprisingly, Flores is promoting an ex-Patriots staffer in Graham's stead: Dolphins cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer, who was New England's cornerbacks coach from 2012 to 2018, will become Miami's new defensive coordinator, Pelissero reported Sunday.

Not to be outdone, Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia reportedly is hiring another former Patriots assistant, Cory Undlin, as his defensive coordinator, ESPN's Field Yates reported Monday morning.

Undlin spent just one year in New England as a defensive coaching assistant in 2004 but won a Super Bowl alongside Patricia before joining Romeo Crennel's Cleveland Browns staff in 2005.

For those keeping score at home: That's now six former Belichick assistants who will be NFL defensive coordinators in 2020, as Graham, Boyer and Undlin join Crennel (Houston Texans), Dean Pees (Tennesee Titans) and Jim Schwartz (Philadelphia Eagles).

That's in addition to the six former Belichick assistants and/or players who are NFL head coaches: Judge, Flores, Patricia, Mike Vrabel, Bill O'Brien and Kliff Kingsbury.

It's possible Judge could hire more former Patriots staffers on his new Giants staff, as well, furthering Belichick's massive influence over his five decades in the NFL.

Rob Gronkowski: Joe Judge was 'out of control' with Patriots (in a good way)

Rob Gronkowski: Joe Judge was 'out of control' with Patriots (in a good way)

Patriots fans didn't see or hear much from Joe Judge during his tenure in New England.

Apparently they missed out.

Former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski dropped an eyebrow-raising quote Tuesday about Judge, who recently became the New York Giants' head coach after eight years in New England.

"Joe Judge is a great guy,” Gronkowski said on an "NFL on FOX" media panel in Miami, via NJ.com. "He’s out of control and I love it."

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If the guy who once used the Lombardi Trophy as a baseball bat says you're out of control, you must be really out of control.

Gronkowski didn't get into specifics, but suggested Judge brought quite the sense of humor to Patriots team meetings.

“He’s out of control in all ways,” Gronk said. "He’s fun to be around, he has a lot of great jokes and they’re funny ... He had me laughing many times in meetings."

Judge rarely gave interviews as a Patriots special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach, so only his players saw this side of the 38-year-old Philadelphia native.

But Gronk also saw the side of Judge that he believes will make him a great head coach in New York.

"He knew where every single player needed to be on every single play," Gronkowski said. "It was unbelievable. ... He knew it in a split second, so it wasn’t like he had to think of where this player needed to be, he knew it in a split second. You just knew he’s made for the game of football."

Judge may have to tone down his inner jokester now that he's a head coach in a major media market. He clearly has a kindred spirit in Gronk, though.

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Revisiting the 'enlightening' lesson Kobe Bryant taught Bill Belichick, Patriots

Revisiting the 'enlightening' lesson Kobe Bryant taught Bill Belichick, Patriots

In a statement Tuesday, Bill Belichick said he had "never witnessed a group as captivated" as the New England Patriots when Kobe Bryant spoke to the team in May 2018.

Belichick wasn't just paying lip service.

On Tuesday, NFL Films resurfaced a clip from HBO's "The Art of Coaching" documentary about Belichick and Alabama head coach Nick Saban in which both coaching legends reflected on their interactions with Bryant.

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These comments came in March 2019, more than 10 months before Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others were tragically killed Sunday in a helicopter crash.

Here's what Belichick had to say at the time about Bryant's message to the Patriots:

Another thing he said to us, which was an awesome message, was, "When I was 25 (years old), I could go out and score 30 (points). When I was 35, 38, I could score 30, but it wasn't the same way. I had to learn how to play without the ball. I had to learn how to play in less space. I had to learn how to use picks differently. I couldn't just drive to the basket like I could in my younger days. I could still score, but I had to change my game."

That was so enlightening for all our players that heard that. Because you're sitting there looking at his career and then we're all thinking about ours. It's changed for me just like it's changed for the players.

Belichick is a student of football. He has won six Super Bowl titles over 20 years in New England by constantly adapting, changing his approach as a head coach and general manager to stay ahead of the game's shifting trends.

Belichick clearly saw the same trait in Bryant, who averaged 22.3 points per game at age 36 (after tearing his Achilles tendon) by altering his style of play after hours of study and practice. The 42-year-old Tom Brady obviously took Bryant's message to heart, as well.

Bryant is gone much too soon at age 41, but the impact he had on players and coaches of all sports will live on.