FOXBOROUGH – Patriots players filled large black trash bags, packed boxes and cleared their lockers today at Gillette Stadium after a season-ending team meeting with coach Bill Belichick. The overall mood was somber and reflective.
“There is nothing more dramatic than how it just abruptly ends,” cornerback Ellis Hobbs said. “This is the final day a lot of us are going to see each other.”
Several players reflected on the season, including quarterback Matt Cassel, defensive lineman Richard Seymour, linebacker Mike Vrabel, linebacker Adalius Thomas, running back LaMont Jordan, and Hobbs.
“I think that we did the best that we could,” Seymour said. “Obviously, we wish that we could have had a couple of plays back in several of those games. I thought coming down the stretch we played our best football in December and I think that's what you want to do as a team -- to play your best football coming down the stretch.
“I think when you look at the playoffs you look at the teams that are in there,” Seymour continued. “We lost to Indy. We lost to Pittsburgh. We lost to San Diego. So, how mad at it could you really be? I felt like if we would have played better in those games we would have left ourselves in a better situations. I think in the past we've won those tough football games and this year we came up a little short.”
Hobbs talked about what it was like yesterday as players watched ESPNews on their plane ride home, which is how they kept track of the games that directly affected their playoff fate. Players found out on the plane that their season had ended because of victories by the Dolphins and Ravens.
“When you leave it up for grabs like that, you’re playing roulette, it’s a hit or miss,” Hobbs said. “We needed one of those two options to happen yesterday and we couldn’t get them. I said it’s kind of like having 8 and 3 on the blackjack [table], you double down, and the dealer gives you a 2. It stinks.”
Hobbs, who played through a shoulder injury, said one silver lining for him is that he won’t require offseason surgery. Hobbs underwent multiple surgeries last offseason.
Elsewhere on the health front, Adalius Thomas said he’s confident he’ll be 100 percent for the start of the 2009 season. Thomas previously underwent season-ending surgery for a broken forearm.
Meanwhile, running back LaMont Jordan is one player whose future is uncertain, as his contract expires and he is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent. Jordan, who spoke of how much he enjoyed his one season with the Patriots, is interested in returning next season if the sides could come to an agreement.
“I could definitely see myself wearing this uniform again, but at the same time, this is a business,” he said.
Cassel’s future also figures to be a hot topic of discussion in the offseason, as he is also an unrestricted free agent.
“I don't know, it's one day after the season. We're going to move forward, we'll see how it all comes about in the future,” Cassel said.