From the desk of our Managing Editor, here is the Postseason Bye-Week Edition of Patriots Dispatches.
Patriots ‘Bye-ing’ Their Time
For the eighth straight season, the New England Patriots are enjoying a bye week to start the postseason. It’s a position with which the Pats are quite familiar.
As there is in every year, many of the team’s walking wounded are using this time to heal, as much as possible.
New England is surely pleased to see the return of defensive tackle Alan Branch and running back Rex Burkhead. Both have been dealing with right knee injuries. Branch had not played or practiced since sustaining his injury against the Dolphins in Miami in Week 14. Burkhead was injured a week later at Pittsburgh and was sidelined until today’s session. Their return to practice could signify a readiness to return to action on January 13.
Wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell (knee) continues to make progress in his attempt to return from injured reserve. He has now appeared in five consecutive practices dating back to last week. Also, wide receiver Chris Hogan continues to show promise and looks to be set for a return to action.
As always, watchful eyes are on quarterback Tom Brady. While he has taken Wednesday workouts off in recent weeks to treat an Achilles heel problem, Brady has been practicing during the bye week. Many believe that Brady is at the very least, ‘bothered’ by this injury. The time off can only serve to help him in that regard.
Of course, the same can be said for everyone on the team.
Snow Days = No Days Off
With Winter Storm Grayson set to drop something called a ‘Bomb Cyclone’ on much of New England on Thursday, many have been encouraged (if not, ordered) to stay home, safe and off of the roadways. However, any fan of the New England Patriots knows that there are no days off in Foxboro.
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Many Patriots players told reporters that head coach Bill Belichick (a stickler for routine and “process,”) reiterated to them the importance of being on time for practice Thursday morning, regardless of weather.
“He’s mentioned that he doesn’t care,” Patriots safety Devin McCourty told reporters. “Don’t call and say your car got stuck. I think everyone knows there are two hotels up here at Patriot Place, so stay there for the night. Find a way.”
Belichick has historically had little patience for tardiness, no matter what the cause. In 2009, for example, linebacker Adalius Thomas told ESPN he showed up nine minutes late for a team meeting after snowfall nearly caused him to get into an accident on the way to the facility. Belichick sent him home.
Regardless of the stormy weather, it’s unlikely that anyone on this team will look to put the coach’s patience to the test.
HC of the NYJ?
January 4 holds a very special place in New England Patriots lore.
Why, you ask?
Let’s step back 18 years to Jan. 4, 2000. It was the day that Bill Belichick made a decision that incensed New York Jets fans and paved the way for a Patriots dynasty.
A mere 24 hours earlier, Belichick accepted the role of Jets head coach after Bill Parcells stepped down from the position. Belichick had been Parcells’ right-hand man in New York, serving as his assistant head coach and defensive coordinator from 1997 to 1999. When Parcells gave up his post after the 1999 season, he planned to hand the reins to his pupil. Belichick, of course, had other plans. He came armed to his introductory press conference on Jan. 4 with a single sheet of paper that contained just seven words: “I resign as HC of the NYJ.” He then shocked Jets by doing just that, ending his one-day tenure as Jets head coach in under 10 seconds.
Less than a month later, on Jan. 27, 2000, Belichick accepted a job as head coach of the Patriots, New York’s bitter AFC East rival. Fast forward to 2018, where the coaching legend has guided New England to five Super Bowl titles and is eyeing a sixth as the team enters this season’s playoffs as the AFC’s No. 1 overall seed.
Since then, Patriots Nation has remained overwhelmingly grateful. Its safe to say that they hope Belichick will continue to patrol the New England sidelines for many years to come.
–Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and National Columnist for Full Press Coverage Sports Media. He covers the New England Patriots and the AFC East Division. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC