Category Archives: New England Patriots

Atlanta Coach Dan Quinn says Falcons wont run from memory of Super Bowl LI loss to Patriots

Falcons coach Dan Quinn is going to “Embrace The Suck” that goes along with the stunning Super Bowl LI loss to the Patriots.

Speaking with with Don Banks and me and the “Cover 2” podcast earlier this week, Quinn laid out his post-Super Bowl philosophy, which means approaching the 2017 season with a straightforward ethos: don’t run from the memory of what happened last February against New England. In other words, “embrace the suck.”

“It’s a warrior mentality,” he explained. “What ‘Embrace the Suck’ translates to is, ‘Hey man, this is going to be hard. And right now, I’m going to push past any self-perceived limitations I have, get comfortable with being uncomfortable. It’s going to be hard, and we’re going to go for it anyway.’”

In the wake of the Patriots loss to the Giants in Super Bowl XLVI, there were guys on that team who — tongue-in-cheek and otherwise — said they had no interest going back and re-watching that game. That door was closed. Quinn is taking the opposite approach.

“I was one that wanted to go back and watch it. I felt like if I didn’t learn lessons, than the pain was for nothing. So I wanted to make sure there were lessons to be gained here. How could we be more adaptable in game in terms of plays calls and game management and how to utilize the players better?

“For sure, I was of the mindset that you have to watch it. It doesn’t mean that you ever get past it. But you get past it if you know what I mean in that, OK, you have the lessons and it sucked, and now, you’re on to the next thing. But you have to make sure in my opinion that you do understand where you can grow stronger. That’s the way I went about it.”

The most underrated part of Randy Moss’ game? His hands

Randy Moss turned 40 the other day, and the NFL celebrated with a really cool montage of all of his 40-plus yard touchdowns over the course of his career. An electric collection of scores, it showed just how devastating Moss could really be.

I covered him for three-plus years, and one of the things that stood out to me — and one of the things that players and coaches always said about Moss — were his hands. He was blessed with great size, amazing balance, and all sorts of skills. And teammates say he was one of the hardest workers they had ever come across. But his hands and how he used them were what really set him apart.

“Guys like Randy Moss who were great at it, not raising his hands to catch the ball until the ball is almost past him,” Bill Belichick said back in 2015. “You couldn’t do that against him, but the other receivers, when they move their hands to catch the ball, defensively if you match their hands, then that’s where the ball is going to be.”

With that in mind, I wrote this story a few years ago on the “importance of shooting late hands.” I talked to a few receivers who played with Moss (or just studied him), and they all said the thing that was the most amazing about him was the fact that he didn’t always put his hands up until he needed to. The thinking? You have a defensive back chasing you and you throw your hands up, that defensive back knows the ball is coming. Like Brandon LaFell said, you have to “shoot late hands.”

“Most of the time, when you beat a defensive back and he’s in catch-up mode, he’s not going to turn around and look at the ball. He’ll look at your eyes. He’ll look at your hands,” LaFell said. “The sooner you throw your hands up, the sooner he’s going to try and rake. The better you do when you shoot late hands, the better chance you have to catch the ball. You still might have to catch the ball at a low point, but those late hands help you out in those situations.”

LaFell also said it was something he learned from Steve Smith Sr. when they were together in Carolina.

“He did it so well, especially on fade balls in the red zone,” LaFell said. “He’d just be running and looking back and the DB is just waiting, waiting, waiting to see him shoot his hands, and the ball just drops over his shoulder and he just catches it real low at the last minute. He’s a guy I pretty much learned that from in my first four years in the league.”

Some food for thought when it comes to the legacy of one of the best receivers in the history of the game.

Reflections on the end of another football season

Every year, especially if I’m lucky enough to be at the Super Bowl, I start to really think about how fortunate I’ve been. And I just wanted to get it all down before Super Bowl LI on Sunday. If you think of the Patriots 2016 season as an album, consider this my contribution to the liner notes.

Call it fate. Call it luck. Call it happenstance. It’s a little remarkable that Sunday will mark my seventh Super Bowl. It’s hard to believe that I’ve managed to trick the powers-that-be into allowing me to cover so many of them. I started covering the team in 2001 on a total lark. I was sports editor at the Boston Metro, and because the Patriots had availability during the day, I figured I could go to Foxboro during the day, get quotes and find a story, and then come back to the office and write and lay the pages out at night. That summer, there was very little buzz around the team. “I’ll just go down to Foxboro, like, once a week,” I told my girlfriend at the time — who would later become my wife. “It’s not going to be a big thing. They’re probably not going to be all that good. It’ll be something different and fun.” And yeah, my first game was the one where Tom Brady came in in relief for Drew Bledsoe.

Flash forward 15-plus years, and my work as a football writer has come to define my professional life. I’ve written two books on the Patriots, won awards for my work, and gone places and met people I would have only dreamed of meeting if I had never gotten on this roller coaster. My life has been enriched, both literally and figuratively, because I cover the team. It’s been remarkable. I think of that every time I roll into the parking lot in Foxboro.

At the same time, I haven’t gotten here on my own. I mean, I’m a good writer and I work hard and I would have done something worthwhile over the last 15 years. But to get here? That takes a lot. It takes a lot of people doing a lot of sacrificing to put me in the best possible professional situation. And they all deserve a big thank you.

First and foremost, it takes a partner sacrificing and planning and helping figure out how it’s all going to work. My first Super Bowl, while we were planning our wedding and my job would only agree to reimburse me $250 for the whole trip, my wife gave me her frequent flier miles to make sure I could get to New Orleans and back. She keeps the trains rolling all football season. We find a way to make it work. That’s sacrifice. That’s partnership. She’s the best.

It takes a son who is patient and kind and sweet and understanding that Dad has to travel and work on weekends and doesn’t have a 9 to 5 job like all the other Dads. But every year, he gets to come to training camp and meet the players and have lunch at Five Guys and drink free Pepsi and check out the view from the press box and the media tent. (And catch Stephen Gostkowski’s field goal attempts.) And every time Dad goes to the Super Bowl, he brings home some cool swag. But I know it’s not easy not having me around. Mostly because I’m an awesome Dad. Hey – sometimes, you don’t want Dad the Sportswriter. You just want Good Old Dad.

It takes the wisdom of parents like the ones I was blessed with. My Mom and Dad encouraged me to become a writer — a sportswriter — and they kept me in pads and pens. They made sure I joined the school paper, got me into a college with a good journalism program and helped chip in when there were unpaid internships and bills due. And later, that meant figuring out a way to get me a Powerbook so I could write my first book and become a real writer. They are the best.

It takes amazing colleagues like Mike Petraglia and Ryan Hannable. They are hardworking, dedicated colleagues who are tremendous partners. They understand the process, and how sometimes it all comes together at weird hours in strange places like Oneida, where you are operating on no sleep in the middle of the night and still have a six-hour drive ahead of you back to Boston and the Tim Horton’s isn’t taking your credit card and all you want is a goddamn grilled chicken sandwich. It’s a weird lifestyle that doesn’t always really make sense. But God bless the both of them. And it takes a boss like Rob Bradford, who makes you a better writer and reporter.

It takes a mentor like Leigh Montville. I wanted to become a sportswriter when I started reading him, and getting the chance to develop a relationship with him later in life is a gift. We should all get a chance to meet our heroes, and we should all hope that they’d be as nice and kind and helpful as Leigh was to me if that happens.

It takes readers and listeners. I find it hard to believe I would be doing this without anyone reading, and so to anyone who has read my stuff along the way or listened to something I said or watched me talk on TV, just know it’s meant the world to me. For those of you guys who follow me on Twitter, Facebook, listen to me on the radio, whatever, it’s a blast. Even when we disagree, I think the fact that we can manage to be civil to each other says something. Always remember: Just because we don’t agree on something doesn’t make either one of us bad people.

And so, I am here at the Super Bowl, seven flights up in a luxury hotel in downtown Houston. I’m listening to the faint sounds of ZZ Top off in the distance somewhere as I write and marveling at how all of this good fortune continues to fall into my lap. As my colleague Bob Socci said, he’s “no worse than tied for first among the world’s luckiest guys.” That pretty much sums up what I’m feeling right now. The bottom line? If luck is the residue of design, someone was really looking out for me when it came to my blueprint. Thank you all for everything.