INSIDERS: Releasing Davey Was Inevitable

With the first round of cuts already on the books, the Patriots head coach Bill Belichick felt it necessary to explain his reasoning for releasing long time reserve quarterback Rohan Davey. Davey, a fourth-round draft pick by Belichick in 2002 has never really taken the next step. The team announced his release this morning along with two other veterans RB, Cedric Cobbs and S, Dexter Reid.

INSIDERS: Releasing Davey Was Inevitable
By Jon Scott, Patriots Insider

Belichick talks about Davey

In his morning press conference, Belichik did his best to explain that while he appreciates all that Davey has done, circumstances required the team to release the veteran signal caller along with the others.

"I have a lot of respect for what those guys have done, especially Rohan [Davey] who has been here for three years, [and has won] a couple of championships, has been a great leader and has done really everything that we've asked him to do," Belichick said. "But, it's just one of those things."

One of those things meaning, with four quarterbacks on the roster one had to go. That one turned out to be the one with the least overall value to the team either in the short term or the long run.

"…I think really, what he [Davey] needs, is the opportunity to get to a place and get a start somewhere where there's a little more opportunity then maybe what there will be here," Belichick continued. "As he and I talked, that was a situation that was going to come up next year anyway."

Describing Davey's commitment to the team, Belichick cited Davey's leadership and willingness to do whatever the coaches asked of him. Yet those assets were not enough to convince the coaching staff that the team was better off releasing a different QB on the roster.

Belichick had spoken of Davey earlier this offseason when questions arose following Matt Cassel's strong showing in Cincinnati. "How is he (Davey) progressing?" Belichick was asked then.

"He really hasn't had any significant playing time since he's been here during the regular season," Belichick said. "He got good experience in Europe where he was able to do all those things [game management, work on mechanics] and get game plans and go out and execute. I think that was beneficial. We could not have simulated that [here]. But it's not playing in the NFL."

Experience was what many thought to be Davey's biggest drawback, and his time in NFL Europe didn't go unnoticed, especially by those on his own team. Tom Brady, the man Davey was working so hard to emulate, spoke about his long time backup.

"Rohan was a great worker, leader and competitor," Brady said. "I think he went over there and showed what he's capable of in NFL Europe two years ago. The times he played for us, he went out there and did a great job."
True. NFL Europe is not the NFL, and in spite of Davey's success there, it did not translate well when he returned to camp. Davey's inconsistency was evident right away, and the media asked him about it in one of the few times he was available for comment.

"All you can do is play the best you can," said Davey. "I've got a lot of confidence in what I can do with my abilities. As long as this team and my teammates and my coaches are confident that we can go out and do it, we'll go out and do it."

Confidence maybe. Ability maybe. But is that really what he thought all preseason, probably not. Davey responded to questions about the increased competition in camp. ''The goal every year is to come out and make the roster, but you can't really worry about making the team," Davey commented

The case to keep Davey

One thing Patriots fans should be concerned about is, if by some unforeseen circumstance, team leader Tom Brady is out of action for an extended period of time. The quarterback duties will fall on the shoulders of long time veteran Doug Flutie. Flutie, who has had significant playing time as a starter in the league, can do many things, including run an offense. The concern becomes his lack of familiarity with the Patriots offense.

While Flutie has the ability to throw a nice looking ball, he may not know where to go with it in certain coverages. Flutie has even said that learning the system makes him feel like a rookie again, not the physical portion, but the mental challenge.

Assuming Flutie is the number two and Cassel is the number three is only logical. In spite of the success Cassel found in his first NFL game, it quickly became obvious he had a lot to learn in his second outing against the Saints.

Retaining Davey would not only solve the problem of being familiar with the offense, it would have allowed the Patriots to continue to get him reps to work on his weak areas. Davey had the type of arm that enabled him to make all of the throws necessary, something that is a question with Flutie. He also has the knowlege of the system so he could make better calls against the defenses the Patriots are expected to face.

The case to release Davey

Davey could find the receiver he wanted on the field, his problems lie in the ability to throw a catchable ball. Davey can make all the throws necessary in the Patriots offense, it's that he wasn't doing so on a consistent basis. Flutie, who throws a better-looking ball, has shown touch on his passes.

Cassel, who has both a stronger arm, and a decent touch on his throws, only has to learn the scheme. Once he does that, his future is brighter for the Patriots than what Davey represented.

Three years of practices in the NFL and a year of experience in Europe and Davey never learned the art of touch passes. It's a shame for him, because of his willingness to put the time in to learn. But it's a situation that forced the coaching staff's hand when it came time to ask, "Will he ever change, or do we need to look in another direction?"

Another direction was the best solution for all involved.

What Happens Next?

"It's very difficult on him," Brady said. "I saw him this morning and he took it very hard. As you would as an athlete, your pride really takes a hit. One day it's going to happen to all of us. I know he has a bright future and hopefully finds a place that is happy to have him."

Belichick agrees with Brady's assessment that Davey's future is brighter than one would imagine.

"I think, in the end, the way it worked out, and I talked to Ro at length this morning, I think the way this worked out is best for everybody," Belichick explained. "He certainly deserves, and I'm sure he'll get, a good opportunity. He's going to be in the league, there's no question about that.

Where that future will be is now the question for Davey. Early rumors by those familiar with the situation have indicated Chicago, Miami and Cleveland as possible destinations. From what we're hearing, the Browns may be a bit of a stretch, but anything's possible.

A week ago not one expert wanted to go on the record saying Davey would be cut. Tomorrow you won't be able to get them to stop telling you why it happened. In effect, this discussion has already happened a number of times, and shouldn't be a surprise to anyone. Davey's release was inevitable, and the coaches knew it no matter how hard they hoped otherwise.

To borrow a phrase out of Belichick's repertoire, "It is what it is."

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