Patriots

Rivers goes full Rivers on being "fussed' when Belichick went full Belichick at Pro Bowl

Rivers goes full Rivers on being "fussed' when Belichick went full Belichick at Pro Bowl

FOXBORO - Philip Rivers remembers the moment fondly. He was there with one of his all-time favorite quarterbacks, listening to one of the game's all-time great coaches at the Pro Bowl.

Heckuva day, as Rivers might say...Right?

Well, yeah. Only his team was getting smoked by the NFC and Bill Belichick was giving it to his players. Even Rivers, Peyton Manning and Belichick's former pupil Matt Cassel -- all of whom had thrown interceptions before Belichick's halftime address.

Rivers recalled the story during a conference call on Wednesday.

“I do remember at halftime of the Pro Bowl game, we were getting killed, and it was...me, Peyton and Cassel,” Rivers said. “We were getting blown out at halftime, and he kind of called [the team] up and said, ‘Hey, we can tackle. I know it’s the Pro Bowl and all that, but can we tackle somebody today? Let’s go out and see if we can make this a little bit respectable in the second half.’

“And then he looked at us quarterbacks. We had all thrown an interception — thank goodness I wasn’t the only one — and he said, 'And it’d help if you guys would stop throwing it to the other team.’ "

That was following the 2010 season, which was the last time Belichick coached the league's annual All-Star pillow fight. If he were to implore anyone to tackle these days, he might get laughed out of the room.

Regardless, Rivers had a laugh thinking back to that particular moment with that particular coach, against whom he'll be competing this weekend.

“I got a kick out of that," Rivers said, "because I was standing by Peyton Manning and Cassel, and Peyton’s, if not my all-time favorite, one of. I was glad I wasn't the only one that had thrown it to the other team. But I thought that was pretty good. I got fussed out at halftime of the Pro Bowl."

Belichick had nothing but kind things to say about Rivers on Wednesday, a trend that has been developing this week as Belichick has spoken to reporters three times in the past three days. 

"He’s played great," Belichick said. "He plays great. Very accurate, obviously a smart guy, offense runs through him, handles things at the line of scrimmage, makes good decisions with the ball, uses everybody, as he always does – he gets the ball to everybody, all of the receivers, all the tight ends, all the backs. 

"He’s very, very efficient, makes big plays, good in situations – third down, red area. He’s really good, outstanding. Hard guy to tackle, big, strong guy, has a good feel for the pocket, knows how to use his blockers, kind of like [Ben] Roethlisberger – same type of thing. He’s good."

Asked if he remembered anything in particular about Rivers from their shared time at the Pro Bowl, Belichick didn't take the trip down memory lane that Rivers did. 

"Yeah, that was a long time ago, but he’s a smart guy," Belichick said. "He’s a great guy, good football player, really cares and knows a lot about football. He’s an impressive guy to talk to."

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Lombardi doesn't see a 'Day 1 starter' at QB in this draft

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Lombardi doesn't see a 'Day 1 starter' at QB in this draft

If anyone could provide insight into what Bill Belichick and the Patriots might be thinking on the eve of the NFL draft, it's Michael Lombardi. The former Pats staffer and Belichick confidant once dubbed "one of the smartest people I know" by the coach.

Lombardi joined Phil Perry this week on "The Next Pats Podcast" to look ahead to a draft he doesn't seem enamored with - particularly at quarterback for those thinking the heir to Tom Brady might be selected this weekend.

Lombardi was on Belichick's staff the last time that attempt was made - when Jimmy Garoppolo was drafted in 2014.

"Tom has defeated Father Time," Lombardi told Perry. "When we drafted Jimmy Garoppolo in 2014, did anybody think Tom would last another five years?  Anybody who said yes, other than Tom, probably wasn't telling the truth. Tom's just remarkable..."

As for this draft class of QBs, Lombardi said: "I'm not sure there's a quarterback in this draft, [rumored No. 1 pick Kyler] Murray included, who doesn't have some kind of fault in them...I have a hard time looking at this draft and saying [of the QBs] this guy's a Day 1 starter or a Pro Bowl player. "

Lombardi echoed Belichick's comments at the coach's pre-draft meeting with the media about the difficulty involved in evaluating college passers because of the level of competition they're coming from.

"Nobody ever talks about the level of competition and that's really the challenge of evaluating college players," Lombardi said. "When you watch pro players it's easy because they're going against other pro players."

And what might the Pats be looking for tomorrow night with pick No. 32? Lombardi sees them leaning toward defense.

"I think the thing about the Patriots is they realize that they've got to get a good player at 32," he told Perry. "If it's a corner that they like, that can come in and play a role for them this year, I think they could pick the corner. If there happened to be a linebacker or a defensive end that could rush, they can do that. It's going to be what the player's skill set is, what he could do this year and what impact he could utilize within there. You know there's always the chance he [Belichick] could trade down for more second-round picks."

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Julian Edelman recruits Zion Williamson to be new Patriots tight end

Julian Edelman recruits Zion Williamson to be new Patriots tight end

Zion Williamson in all likelihood will be the No. 1 overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft, but Julian Edelman still made his best pitch for the Duke standout to join the Patriots instead.

Edelman tweeted out a photoshopped image of Williamson holding up a Patriots jersey with Robert and Jonathan Kraft, and he let the 6-foot-10 18-year-old know about the Pats' open tight end position.

Edelman isn't the only Patriot recruiting athletes from other sports to take Rob Gronkowski's place at tight end. Tom Brady did the same Tuesday night with Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara.

As for how the Patriots are realistically filling Gronk's void, they signed both Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Matt LaCosse in free agency. They also could look to add more depth at the position via the NFL Draft, which begins on Thursday.

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