So here we are on the day-after, and while I covered some of this stuff in my story this morning, there are three things I thought I’d lay out before hitting the road (no snow to worry about this morning) to see what’s going on in Foxborough, which I got from conversations with all kinds of people yesterday. Here they are …
1) Players getting the gate is not normal.
For anyone who was wondering about this, players showing up late are typically fined, but not tossed from the facility, and a reason why is because coaches often think it’s not fair to make the team pay — by eliminating players from preparation — for one man’s transgressions. Tom Brady made clear yesterday that the team’s problems resulted more from issues not on Sunday, but “the other six days of the week”, and that message has been delivered to the team.
So four key players show up late literally days after that was reinforced, and Bill Belichick was compelled to further clarify a point he already made. Whether that was fair or not, given the conditions, is certainly up for debate, and how it will be received in a locker room that’s had problems with some of the staff’s methods this year is another question.
“I don’t ever remember a guy getting sent home,” said former Patriot safety Artrell Hawkins. “It seemed odd to me, especially if the weather was bad, that they wouldn’t be understanding about that. … I’m just surprised he’d do that. Maybe he’s setting a precedent, that there won’t be excuses.”
Ex-Patriot linebacker Ted Johnson could recall one such banishing from the facility — Terry Glenn’s in 2001.
2) The jovial locker-room atmosphere after a loss is foreign here.
I can tell you, having been around a whole bunch of teams after wins and losses, that seeing players laughing after losses isn’t strange. But in New England, it has been.
So when I told Johnson about what was happening after the Miami loss in that locker room, he responded with one simple word: “Wow. … I’d have been shocked to see that.”
Everyone else who was around those teams that I talked to agree. This, really, is an area that Johnson said players have to take care of, and the coaches have less control over. And it might be where the losses of this offseason are really stinging.
“You lose a Rodney Harrison — who keeps the young guys in line, who’s the vocal leader, a smart player who brings a toughness to the game — you’re gonna feel it,” Johnson said. “He’d be pissed when we’d lose. And he wanted to see other guys get pissed and angry. Tedy (Bruschi) was the same kind of guy. They want you to show that you care.”
3) It’s no guarantee that this tactic works.
Hawkins says the losses of the offseason can’t just happen without the locker room paying a toll for them. “You’re gonna have a dropoff in mentality.”
“They were all about winning,” Hawkins said. “I can remember (Richard) Seymour jumping all over the rookies about jumping around and playing music loud. It was just a very professional place there.”
So will the new crop take this message as Belichick wants them to? Now that’s a good question.