In recapping Robert Kraft's interview with sports radio WEEI on Tuesday, this comment stood out:
"It's the chemistry in the locker room. You guys know how many games are lost in the locker room, if you have a few bad apples who lead people along the wrong way. So we have to put all that together, and we've been able to sign a number of our guys this year that we felt were No. 1 or 2 in the marketplace. If we had to go out and sign someone else, and bring someone else in here, we wouldn't have the same knowledge of that individual."
Those were strong words, and they echo what Kraft told the University of Kentucky men's basketball team in January after their victory over Florida.
"It’s all about good people. … You have something very special here. I’ll tell you this, because we had a special run. It doesn’t go forever. Keep working your tails off, stay together as a unit, and don’t let anyone cause division from within this group because you could do something really special.”
Maybe it's reading too much into Kraft's remarks, but as the Patriots piece together their team for 2010 it sure sounds like locker room dynamics are a big part of the consideration. The team simply didn't have the right mix in '09.
In re-signing Vince Wilfork, Tully Banta-Cain, Stephen Neal and Leigh Bodden, the Patriots obviously feel they have locked up solid locker-room guys. Part of their comfort in striking those deals, as Kraft noted, is that they know those players well.
The challenge going forward is getting a feel for how players from other teams will fit.
Not just on the field, but in the locker room.