"Secrets" Author Undertands Need For Change
Despite a brisk off-season permeated by unexpected
transactions and nervous speculation, Patriots fans can rest assured that it should
be business as usual when camp opens this summer.
According to James Lavin,
author of Management Secrets of the New England Patriots, the defending
champions are in no danger of falling to the level of the National Football Leagues
lesser lights anytime soon.
Patriots Insider got a handle on Lavins
notions regarding the recent player and staff movements. True to form, his revelations
are thought provoking.
The Patriots often do something that appears
to violate their philosophy but is actually quite shrewd, said Lavin who
is currently working on Volume 2 of Management Secrets. Signing
David Terrell is a great example. Terrell has a history of showboating and off-field
incidents and has been an underachiever, so he's not a Patriot-type player,
right? Well, where have we heard that before? Signing Terrell makes sense in several
ways according to Lavin.
They're not giving him a roster spot but
a chance to compete for a roster spot and an incentive-based contract, so they
can dump him with little financial consequence, he says. Secondly,
The Bears had cut Terrell, so the Patriots surrendered no draft picks; Terrell
has matured in the NFL and grown more humble. Also, like Corey Dillon last year,
Terrell is hungry to prove his doubters wrong. Lavin believes that a certain
signal-caller is high on Terrell as well, Tom Brady wants him on his team,
he said. Brady worked very productively with him at Michigan and will help
Terrell fit into the team and be productive on the field.
also quick to point out that none of Terrell's incidents were severe and that
he had a reasonably productive season in 2004, in spite of a Bears offense has
been totally unstable, with revolving quarterbacks and playbooks. Terrell
is probably better than he looks in his old system. Put that all together, and
signing Terrell is another heads-we-win; tails-we-don't-lose gamble,
As for the defections, Lavin stated that in some cases, they are
actually choices by the team, not the players. The Patriots wanted younger/cheaper
offensive linemen than Joe Andruzzi, who wanted desperately to stay, he
said. The Patriots effectively imposed mandatory retirement on Roman Phifer,
who probably would have played till 65 if the Patriots hadn't cut him. They haven't
agreed on a price with Troy Brown and never would have paid him $5 million. David Patten wanted more money. The Patriots are finding many competitive players willing
to earn less to play for them. Everyone understands the Patriots underpay a bit
and let you leave for more money or stay for the great organization. Each player
makes his own decision, but no one is shocked when the Patriots refuse to pay
top dollar. Besides, every NFL team must let popular players go each season. Witness
the dismantling of the Tennessee Titans.
Weis and Crennel's departures
reflect the Patriots achievement more than any other factor, offers Lavin. Nothing
speaks louder about an organization than what former employees say. And virtually
every former Patriot raves about the team. Patriots players are smart enough to
understand the business implications of the salary cap, and they're too competitive
and self-motivated to give anything less than 100%, regardless of their salary
or which excellent players are wearing the Patriots uniform alongside them.
At the coaching level, Weis and Crennel's departures are symptoms of success,
not "defections." Notre Dame may become the new LSU, the Patriots' NCAA
Lavin has found few negatives about the manner in which
the team has conducted business since winning the Super Bowl. But he does offer
this caveat One thing they may have bungled is the offensive coordinator
replacement for Weis, he said. Belichick likes to have replacements
ready at every position and has long known that Weis might leave.
Last December Lavin predicted that "Belichick will do everything possible
to promote someone from inside the organization" for the coordinator openings.
Mangini was promoted on the defensive side but, apparently, no offensive
assistant was ready, he said. Reading tea leaves suggests that Belichick's
favorite candidates were too young. Belichick must realize from his experiences
in Cleveland and New England how much better his teams perform when he focuses
on head coaching challenges and does not try to simultaneously coordinate the
offense or defense.
In an ideal world, a team is a mix of young, mid-career
and veteran players and coaches. But there are so many dimensions to coaching
that this one fell through the cracks. Or perhaps Belichick secretly plans to
let Ernie Adams call the plays. Adams, who possesses photographic memory, would
make an intriguing play-caller.
On the Draft front, Lavin sees the
Pats sticking with a time-honored philosophy of stocking obvious talent,
even in the absence of need.
Lavin is the Author of Management Secrets of the New England Patriots, a book
which can be purchased through online retailers like Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
For more on Lavin and his book, you can visit his website at: www.patriotsbook.com.
Castro is a freelance sports journalist covering New England area sports teams
for the AP, and local periodicals. He continues to assist the Patriots Insider
with coverage of the New England Patriots football team. You can read more of
his articles on PatriotsInsider.com by searching for "Ken Castro", or
you can send him an
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