NFL

NFL AM: Patriots Pick A Scapegoat, Fire O-Line Coach

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Patriots fire offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo:

The New England Patriots fell just two points short of reaching Super Bowl 50 and having a chance to repeat as champions. On Monday, the team fired offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo after two seasons as the Patriots offensive line coach.

Honestly, it’s absurd.

A season ago if you were to search DeGuglielmo’s name, you could find stories about how the Patriots offensive line came together under their O-line coach to help them reach and ultimately win Super Bowl XLIX.

You may remember the Patriots got off to an excruciatingly slow start where Tom Brady was being given so little time in the pocket that some said it was a decline in the quarterback’s play. You may even remember one reporter famously asking if head coach Bill Belichick would “evaluate the quarterback position.” The question was so ridiculous that it even got a laugh out of the Patriots head coach.

Fast forward to last February, and DeGuglielmo was being touted by the Patriots as one of the unsung heroes of that championship run and lauded for turning around a unit poor enough for some to question Brady’s play.

Here we are a year later, and after New England’s offensive line was decimated by injury and short on talent all season long, DeGuglielmo is being shown the door for their underperformance in the AFC Championship game.

The reality is that DeGuglielmo did a good job of taking a make-shift offensive line and getting it to perform well enough for New England to reach the AFC Championship game, and be just a few plays short of reaching their second consecutive Super Bowl.

This victory was all about the plan set forth by Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who called a brilliant game in shutting down Brady and the New England offense. The offensive line was dominated, but Brady didn’t play his best football either. Wide receivers and tight ends didn’t get open nearly as much as they usually do either. Certainly the play of the pass catching options and of Brady is greatly affected by the offensive line play, but there’s no word that the Patriots’ wide receivers coach or quarterback coach is in danger of losing their job.

This Patriots team just wasn’t as talented as they were a season ago. Between injuries and departures, the only reason we had to believe they should beat the Broncos Sunday was Belichick and Brady. Outside of the fact that the pair always seems to come through when they shouldn’t, just about everything else says Denver matches up very well with New England.

In the end, despite the fact that the Broncos did match-up well with the Patriots, and battered Brady all day long, New England was a 2-point conversion away from forcing overtime.

DeGuglielmo should once again be applauded for doing a good job with less than great talent, and he probably would be gainfully employed if New England once again punched their ticket to the Super Bowl. Instead, he’s the scapegoat for a team that probably overachieved, and that’s pretty unfortunate.

The countdown to Super Bowl 50 begins:

One of the best things about Media Day during Super Bowl week is that we get to learn more about players we don’t know much about as they’re asked everything from football strategy to the outlandish when at the podium for one of the league’s stranger annual events.

While Media Day may get us some of the more interesting quotes leading into the big game, the teams are already gearing up for the game and giving us plenty to talk about.

Aqib Talib isn’t always known as the kind of guy who compliments or even respects his opponents, so it was a surprise Monday when the Broncos’ veteran corner almost gushed about what Cam Newton brings to the table for the Carolina Panthers.

“He’s throwing the ball amazing right now,” Talib said Monday. “And then you know what he can do with his legs. So he’s the best of both worlds, man.”

Those comments alone were surprising enough from a guy like Talib, but the Broncos cornerback didn’t stop there as he continued about the unique challenges Newton provides.

“Super unique,” Talib said of the Panthers’ starting quarterback. “I’ve never seen nobody that size. You look like the typical NFL quarterback. You can sit in the pocket and throw it. And then you can run with all … you probably could play any position in the NFL that you wanted to. So he’s definitely a unique player. Like I said he’s probably the most dangerous quarterback in the NFL right now.”

In Carolina, one of the top stories is the broken arm suffered by long-time linebacker Thomas Davis. Carolina has a lot of great players, and Davis isn’t even the best linebacker on his team, but he still may be the heartbeat.

The Panthers’ linebacker has fought back from three ACL tears, and has been the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award recipient, because he’s every bit the man that he is linebacker, so he’s the kind of guy teammates want to play with and fans want to root for. If he weren’t able to go Super Bowl Sunday, it would be an absolute shame. Nobody deserves the moment more than Davis, so fans and teammates alike are really hoping he can find his way onto the field on February 7th.

Davis has already undergone surgery on his broken arm, and vows to join his teammates on the field in just under two weeks.

I believe in our training staff,” Davis said after Sunday’s victory. “I’ll do everything in my power to be ready to go. I wouldn’t miss the Super Bowl for the world. We’ve worked too hard to get to this point.”

Panthers head coach Ron Rivera addressed Davis’ situation and sounded optimistic that his veteran linebacker could be on the field for the biggest game of his career.

“If it all goes well, it should be something he will be able to play with,” Rivera said.

Hopefully the recovery is quick and Davis gets on the field for Super Bowl Sunday, because he’s one of the guys that needs to be spoken about before and after this game. Davis is a standard bearer for what a football player should be on and off of the field, and it would be as much of a shame for the rest of us if he can’t be out there as it will for him.

Championship round team’s players replaced in Pro Bowl:

Being good enough to reach the conference championships means you’ve got a lot of good football players. Because even the teams who lose the conference championships have players that won’t bother going to the farce that is the Pro Bowl, that means lots of replacements.

Here’s a list of the players replacing the championship round players. Be prepared to wonder why the hell they’re still doing this thing. We know they’ve tried to spice it up with the fantasy draft and all that, but it’s still an awful product that nobody wants to watch. We’re sure there’s some people who enjoy the new format, but we haven’t spoken to any of those 12 individuals just yet.

Buccaneers’ rookie quarterback Jameis Winston will replace Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady.

Bills’ quarterback Tyrod Taylor will replace Panthers’ quarterback Cam Newton.

Vikings’ second-year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will replace Cardinals’ quarterback Carson Palmer.

Raiders’ running back Latavius Murray will replace Panthers’ running back Johnathan Stewart.

Colts’ receiver TY Hilton will replace Cardinals’ receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

Bills’ guard Richie Incognito will replace Cardinals’ guard Mike Iupati.

Buccaneers guard Logan Mankins will replace Panthers’ guard Trai Turner.

Bills’ Center Eric Wood will replace Panthers’ center Ryan Kalil.

Browns tight end Gary Barnidge will replace Patriots’ tight end Rob Gronkowski.

Titans’ tight end Delanie Walker will replace Panthers tight end Greg Olsen.

Titans’ defensive tackle Jurrell Casey will replace Panthers’ defensive tackle Kawann Short.

Ravens’ linebacker Elvis Dumervil will replace Panthers’ linebacker Thomas Davis.

Buccaneers’ linebacker Lavonte David will replace Broncos’ linebacker DeMarcus Ware.

Chiefs’ linebacker Derrick Johnson will replace Panthers’ linebacker Luke Kuechly.

Packers’ linebacker Julius Peppers will replace Broncos’ linebacker Von Miler.

Colts’ corner Vontae Davis will replace Broncos’ corner Chris Harris.

Falcons’ corner Desmond Trufant will replace Panthers’ corner Josh Norman.

Dolphins’ corner Brent Grimes will replace Broncos’ corner Aqib Talib.


About Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan

Pat Donovan has covered the NFL for almost a decade and is a host and producer for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers radio flagship 620WDAE/95.3FM. Pat covers the NFC South and NFC East for Football Insiders. Follow him on Twitter, @PatDonovanNFL.