New England Patriots: Super Bowl XLVIII

Bill Belichick talks Manning, Super Bowl

January, 31, 2014
Jan 31
In a column for the New York Daily News, Mike Lupica talked with New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick about what it's like preparing a game-plan against quarterback Peyton Manning, as well as his thoughts on the Seahawks-Broncos Super Bowl matchup.

Belichick peeled back the curtain on some of his pregame preparations for the AFC Championship, and how he was especially curious how Manning had success drawing the Chargers into encroachment/offside penalties. That included the usage of television copies of Broncos-Chargers games.

"Not just watched them so much as listened to them," Belichick told Lupica. "I listened to the rhythm of his cadence in those games, and then I listened to his cadence in that first playoff game, and realized he’d changed, like, four different cadences. And got ’em with that! And you know something? He would have gotten me, too."

Belichick, who drew a comparison between Manning and Joe Montana in terms of the challenge of preparing a team to face them, also shared his thoughts on the Broncos-Seahawks Super Bowl matchup.

"I think Seattle is a tough matchup for Denver," Belichick told Lupica. "They don’t have to do things much differently than they have been doing. They’re looking for enough pass rush and doing enough to jam (Manning’s) receivers to cause problems for him doing the things he likes to do. And the amount of zone they play could be a problem for him. But of course that becomes a problem for Seattle if Manning is picking them apart.”

Sound bites from Robert Kraft at Bowl

January, 31, 2014
Jan 31
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell will hold his “state of the NFL” news conference on Friday, which is usually attended by most team owners. New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is in attendance and expected address reporters later in the day.

This morning, Kraft was a guest on “CBS This Morning” and CNBC’s “Squawk Box”, and one of the common threads in the interviews is that Kraft is a big proponent of a cold-weather Super Bowl.

Here were some of the sound bites from Kraft:

Looking ahead to the Patriots’ 2014 season (CNBC): “The good news is, I believe we’re the third youngest team in the NFL. People don’t realize that. We have a great young crop of players, and we’re still privileged to have Tom Brady and Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo -- core veterans. I think we have the best coach and best quarterback in the NFL.”

On quarterback Brady, who turns 37 in August, and his current standing (CNBC): “I’ll just tell you, all week this week, he’s been in the stadium, working with our offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to see what they can do to improve. There is a great focus.”

On an NFL franchise potentially located in London (CBS): “We have three games there; [I think] they’re sold out next year. We’ve played there a couple times. I think that’s a great place. I really believe that before the decade is out we’ll have a team there.”

On the Thursday night broadcast package out for bid (CBS): “We have a Thursday night package that’s in the bidding process now, and you talk about the great interest of football, the interest in our Thursday night package from all our broadcast partners is tremendous. We are the only way to get a mass audience watching, as you will see this Sunday. I would hope the next few weeks we’ll choose the right partner.”

What the Brady vs. Peyton Manning rivalry has meant for football (CBS): “It’s wonderful. We’re going to play them again next year, and it might be the last time the two of them -- the two greatest quarterbacks in the modern era are on the field [together]. They have great respect for one another. They’ve played 15 times, and my guy Tommy has won 10 of them. Not that we’re competitive [panel laughter].”

Who is he rooting for in the Super Bowl (CBS): “I have people on both sides. I love Wes Welker. I’ve hired two coaches in my career, Pete Carroll and Bill Belichick, in 20 years. I get torn, but to be honest, it’s hard to root for anybody when you’re in my position. ... [Pete] is such a great guy, one of the nicest men. He’s a different profile than most of the coaches; he’s like an energetic, enthusiastic young man on the sideline. He has a great family. He’s a very special person. ... Wes Welker is also a pretty special guy.”

Decker, McDaniels & Patriots' interest

January, 28, 2014
Jan 28
During Super Bowl media day on Tuesday, Denver Broncos receiver Eric Decker was asked about the role former Denver head coach and current New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels played in his career.

"He did draft me, and I’m very thankful that he gave me the opportunity to be playing in the NFL, especially with such a great organization like Denver," said Decker, who was a third-round draft choice out of Minnesota in 2010. "I’ve got a lot of respect for him as a coach. He’s a brilliant mind, offensively. I’m sure, like any coach, he’s excited and he’s happy for the guys that he drafted."

That McDaniels targeted Decker didn't come as a surprise to his former colleagues in New England, as Decker was also a player on the Patriots' radar as their third-round pick approached.

But Decker went off the board at No. 87, a few spots before where the Patriots were picking. At No. 90, the Patriots selected receiver Taylor Price.

Decker was one of McDaniels' best draft picks, having slipped to the late third round because a foot injury cut short his final season at Minnesota and affected his pre-draft workouts. The big target (6-foot-3, 214 pounds) has proven to be a durable NFL player, not missing a game over the past three seasons.

These types of scenarios unfold in every draft, and it's a timely one to revisit with the Broncos playing in the Super Bowl and with Decker scheduled to become a free agent in the offseason.