"Secrets" Author Undertands Need For Change
By KEN CASTRO
Despite a brisk off-season permeated by unexpected transactions and nervous speculation, Patriots fans can rest assured that it should be business as usual when camp opens this summer.
According to James Lavin, author of Management Secrets of the New England Patriots, the defending champions are in no danger of falling to the level of the National Football Leagues lesser lights anytime soon.
Patriots Insider got a handle on Lavins notions regarding the recent player and staff movements. True to form, his revelations are thought provoking.
The Patriots often do something that appears to violate their philosophy but is actually quite shrewd, said Lavin who is currently working on Volume 2 of Management Secrets. Signing David Terrell is a great example. Terrell has a history of showboating and off-field incidents and has been an underachiever, so he's not a Patriot-type player, right? Well, where have we heard that before? Signing Terrell makes sense in several ways according to Lavin.
They're not giving him a roster spot but a chance to compete for a roster spot and an incentive-based contract, so they can dump him with little financial consequence, he says. Secondly, The Bears had cut Terrell, so the Patriots surrendered no draft picks; Terrell has matured in the NFL and grown more humble. Also, like Corey Dillon last year, Terrell is hungry to prove his doubters wrong. Lavin believes that a certain signal-caller is high on Terrell as well, Tom Brady wants him on his team, he said. Brady worked very productively with him at Michigan and will help Terrell fit into the team and be productive on the field.
Lavin was also quick to point out that none of Terrell's incidents were severe and that he had a reasonably productive season in 2004, in spite of a Bears offense has been totally unstable, with revolving quarterbacks and playbooks. Terrell is probably better than he looks in his old system. Put that all together, and signing Terrell is another heads-we-win; tails-we-don't-lose gamble, he said.
As for the defections, Lavin stated that in some cases, they are actually choices by the team, not the players. The Patriots wanted younger/cheaper offensive linemen than Joe Andruzzi, who wanted desperately to stay, he said. The Patriots effectively imposed mandatory retirement on Roman Phifer, who probably would have played till 65 if the Patriots hadn't cut him. They haven't agreed on a price with Troy Brown and never would have paid him $5 million. David Patten wanted more money. The Patriots are finding many competitive players willing to earn less to play for them. Everyone understands the Patriots underpay a bit and let you leave for more money or stay for the great organization. Each player makes his own decision, but no one is shocked when the Patriots refuse to pay top dollar. Besides, every NFL team must let popular players go each season. Witness the dismantling of the Tennessee Titans.
Weis and Crennel's departures reflect the Patriots achievement more than any other factor, offers Lavin. Nothing speaks louder about an organization than what former employees say. And virtually every former Patriot raves about the team. Patriots players are smart enough to understand the business implications of the salary cap, and they're too competitive and self-motivated to give anything less than 100%, regardless of their salary or which excellent players are wearing the Patriots uniform alongside them.
Lavin has found few negatives about the manner in which the team has conducted business since winning the Super Bowl. But he does offer this caveat One thing they may have bungled is the offensive coordinator replacement for Weis, he said. Belichick likes to have replacements ready at every position and has long known that Weis might leave.
Last December Lavin predicted that "Belichick will do everything possible to promote someone from inside the organization" for the coordinator openings. Mangini was promoted on the defensive side but, apparently, no offensive assistant was ready, he said. Reading tea leaves suggests that Belichick's favorite candidates were too young. Belichick must realize from his experiences in Cleveland and New England how much better his teams perform when he focuses on head coaching challenges and does not try to simultaneously coordinate the offense or defense.
In an ideal world, a team is a mix of young, mid-career and veteran players and coaches. But there are so many dimensions to coaching that this one fell through the cracks. Or perhaps Belichick secretly plans to let Ernie Adams call the plays. Adams, who possesses photographic memory, would make an intriguing play-caller.
On the Draft front, Lavin sees the Pats sticking with a time-honored philosophy of stocking obvious talent, even in the absence of need.
James Lavin is the Author of Management Secrets of the New England Patriots, a book which can be purchased through online retailers like Amazon or Barnes and Noble. For more on Lavin and his book, you can visit his website at: www.patriotsbook.com.
Ken Castro is a freelance sports journalist covering New England area sports teams for the AP, and local periodicals. He continues to assist the Patriots Insider with coverage of the New England Patriots football team. You can read more of his articles on PatriotsInsider.com by searching for "Ken Castro", or you can send him an e-mail here
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