There’s possibly no more calculating figurehead with the media than Bill Belichick. He thinks about and knows exactly what he says and does not say in press conferences. He made a point to mention his linebacker group following the Patriots 36-17 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night’s AFC Championship game and had some interesting comments about their transition following the trade of Jamie Collins mid-season.
Belichick was asked about his linebacker group experiencing some communication issues when the green dot (communicator) Dont’a Hightower isn’t in the game and Belichick goes way off script in his response and these couple sentences in particular (but hear the entire audio answer below):
“Dont’a [has] given us great leadership all year. And again it’s a young group. Kyle’s new; Shea’s new. Shea was really a DE/OL and then we moved him back mid-season and Elandon’s a young player and Dont’a has done a really good job of bringing that group together, giving them great leadership, helping communication and those guys have really embraced it and grown themselves.
That’s a good room. Coach [Brian] Flores has done a real good job with that group and the transition that we had in mid-season, and so forth, but he’s done a great job improving that every week and those guys work hard, they care, they try to get it better and when they make a mistake, they correct it and work hard to fix it and that’s been a big improvement over the last second half of the season and it’s been huge for us defensively.”
So Belichick is asked about communication between the linebackers and gives a-minute-43-second response on why they are better off without Jamie Collins. The insight might be that Collins just didn’t work hard to improve all that much. Maybe it just wasn’t a ‘good room’ while Collins was there. Maybe he wasn’t receptive to criticism. Maybe it’s that he just didn’t care.
The decision to trade Jamie Collins had me aggravated, as it did many in the New England area, at the time. Tony Massarotti called it a salary dump, basically, and we sort of see the insight as to why you’d salary dump a player on his rookie deal for no salary advantage. Especially halfway through a season when his upside is what Jamie Collins’ was all while getting soft poop in return. The guy didn’t care about being a champion and it’s pretty much settling itself out as he’s reportedly going to sign a massive extension to stay in Cleveland, a place that won a single game in 2016-17 and has no direction currently. I don’t blame Collins for taking that money, but it’s similar to Revis’ mindset.
Jamie Collins didn’t like the expectations, or feel the love in New England as he stated in his first press conference as a Cleveland Brown player that his new home felt more like “family” and stressed that it was “different” in New England. Maybe that’s why the Patriots are good. After all it’s not a family, it’s your job. It’s not okay to miss assignments and lose games because you don’t want to grow as a player and face your faults.
What kind of family would the Browns be considered anyways? Dysfunctional and directionless like someone living in the arm pits of America? But hey, at least no one expects you to take off your jammies when you leave the house. They have no QB all the while Collins will reportedly make Luke Kuechly money ($12.5 million per season).
I think Patriots fans might have dodged a bullet even though we didn’t know it at the time. You weren’t going to beat $12 million. I still like the player a lot, but I think there might be some growing up to do on his part and hopefully he’s the first of many pieces that can bring Cleveland back to contention.