Well mostly anyway, at least that's how new defensive coordinator Eric Mangini feels. Mangini conducted a press conference Tuesday at Gillette Stadium and addressed the media for the first time since being named Romeo Crennel's successor back in February.
Mangini touched on a variety of topics during his 15-minute session, but most of the questions dealt with the transition period the Patriots defense will deal with. While he expects some changes simply as a result of a different person being in charge, Mangini believes the philosophies and schemes will largely remain the same.
"I think being with Bill for a long time has definitely helped as opposed to going to a completely new scheme with a new person," Mangini said. "Seeing some of the things we've seen together and being able to reference past experiences definitely helps as we move forward and we make changes and build on the defense. It definitely helps to be familiar with someone, to have the experience and see how the defense played out against the different offensive schemes we've faced over the years."
"Any time you add a new person to the mix you're going to get differences just because each coordinator, each person who's calling the plays has their own fingerprint and their own way of doing things," Mangini continued. "The way Romeo may have approached one situation, I may approach it differently.
"I couldn't really say right now what specifically would be the difference, but I know that we've had differences of opinion on what defense you call in a situation and that's going to happen whenever you add a new person to the mix. Even though there are going to be similarities, just by virtue of me being new in this role there will be some things that are different."
The attitude among the players seems to be on par with the coach. Linebacker Rosevelt Colvin said the fact that Mangini has been here working with the secondary has eased any potential problems with the change, but acknowledged there are some differences between the two.
"Mangini has his own personality and RAC (Crennel) has his own," Colvin said. "It's not like Eric never said anything or spoke in front of the team or the defense. His role is a little bit different, but if Bill didn't have confidence in him, he wouldn't be up there. So regardless of who's calling the plays, it's up to us to execute. He's a good coach, and it obviously shows in the way he's approached the game the last few years, and hopefully it'll continue this season."
Thus far Mangini feels the progress has been adequate. The Patriots turned in their best performance of the summer in their most recent outing – a 27-3 shellacking of Green Bay last Friday – and the defense in particular was on top of its game.
There had been some signs of trouble over the first two games, most notably stopping the run and preventing third downs from being converted. But neither was a problem against the Packers.
"I think we're making progress from where we were in mini-camp and training camp," Mangini said. "These guys work really hard and they study, which helps. We're getting a little bit better each week. I think [Chad Brown and Monty Beisel] are making progress but I think more importantly, defensively, as a group, we're making progress. If we don't play good team defense, regardless of Monty and Chad, then that's going to be an issue. We need to play good team defense across the board."
The Patriots released seven players to get to the 65-man roster limit (plus exemptions). The lone surprise of the group was running back/return specialist Chad Morton, who spent the summer on the active/physically unable to perform list and wasn't able to practice.
In addition to Morton, the Patriots said goodbye to wide receiver Jason Anderson, kicker Robbie Gould, guard Ryan Krug, cornerback Hank Poteat and defensive linemen Santonio Thomas andIfo Pili.
Wide receiverBethel Johnson and linebacker Tedy Bruschi remained on the active/PUP list. Bruschi has already said he will not play in 2005, but Johnson could still be activated and be eligible for the opening day roster.
The Patriots need to be down to the 53-man limit by Sept. 4, at which time all NFL Europe roster exemptions will expire.
A few big NFL names got their walking papers Tuesday, including Atlanta wide receiverPeerless Price and Bengals wideoutPeter Warrick. In Warrick's case there had been talk this offseason that his 2005 salary of $2.28 million would be too rich for Cincinnati's blood and when the former fourth overall pick refused to rework his deal his release became a very real possibility. According to ESPN.com, the Patriots were one of a handful of teams that showed interest in trading for the former Florida State star this offseason, although a deal never came to fruition.
Former New England defensive end Brandon Mitchell was also among those released by the Falcons as the team got down to the 65-man limit.
Thursday's matchup with the New York Giants will matchBill Belichick against Tom Coughlin, who spent three years (1988-90) with Belichick as part of the Giants staff.
"When I was with the Giants, I was the defensive coordinator but I also coached the secondary and he coached the wide receivers," Belichick said. "So we worked together on a daily basis with 1-on-1 drills, 7-on-7 drills. I would tell him how the passing game was being run by opponents and he would tell me how the coverages were going. Tom's a very thorough coach and I learned a lot about receivers working with him."… Footballoutsiders.com, using information provided by STATS, Inc., had an interesting chart featuring a pair of Patriots receivers. Deion Branch and David Givens finished first and second, respectively, in lowest percentage of dropped passes in 2004. According to the numbers, Branch had no drops in 51 passes thrown in his direction while Givens dropped just one in 106 opportunities. … According to Pro Football Weekly, wide receiver Eugene Baker was waived at some point during the week of Aug. 22-28.