Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe reports on press conferences held yesterday by Patriots coordinators Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis. "Their boss, Bill Belichick, has granted permission for the two to speak with the media three times since the beginning of training camp, about six weeks apart. The last time was during the bye week (Week 3)," writes Cafardo.
Michael Felger of The Boston Herald attempts to determine why Crennel has yet to receive a head-coaching offer, despite his unquestioned status as one of the NFL's top coordinators. "Of course, the ability to withstand, and scheme around, devastating injuries has become the storyline of the 2004 Patriots, just like it was for the 2003 edition," writes Felger. "In both cases, Crennel's defense has gone above and beyond."
Felger also extends credit to defensive-backs coach Eric Mangini, whose brainchild it was to employ Troy Brown on the defensive side of the ball. "One of the untold facets of the story is the time Mangini and Brown have invested to make it work," writes Felger. "Basically, it's all come after hours, because Mangini and Brown spend all their regular practice and meeting time with their respective units. It isn't until after practice that he and Mangini go over their on-field work. It isn't until after the regular film sessions that he and Mangini meet in a dark room to go over tape."
In his notebook, Felger highlights the joy of having a new toy to play with. In this case, the toy is Corey Dillon, and the joy is Charlie Weis'. "Gone is the dink-and-dunk passing scheme that Weis was forced to go to in lieu of a dependable running game," writes Felger. "Gone are the disproportionate run-pass ratios. Gone is the view of Tom Brady [news] as a horizontal passer." Also in the notebook, Felger updates Rosevelt Colvin's progress, and explains the Asante Samuel benching from last weekend.
The Herald also runs another excerpt from Felger's book, Tales From the Patriots Sidelines.
In his notebook, Michael Parente of The Woonsocket Call addresses the age factor for Crennel, the shifting in the Pats secondary, and another two-way player receiving little fanfare, Don Davis.
Mike Reiss of The MetroWest Daily News takes a look at Weis and Crennel, both of whom should receive offers this off-season, and breaks down who would be the better choice for a team looking to hire. Among other factors, Reiss weighs their age, coaching experience, and organization, in an attempt to discover a discernible edge for one of the two.
Alan Greenberg of The Hartford Courant notes the team is scoring nearly five points per game more than last season, citing the arrival of Dillon as the key to that improvement. Dillon, who has rushed for 900 yards this season, is on pace to break Curtis Martin's franchise record for yards in a season, despite the fact he missed the Pittsburgh game. Also, as Greenberg points out, "in half a season, Dillon already dwarfed the output of the man he replaced, Antowain Smith, now a Titans reserve. Last year, Smith ran for 642 yards and a 3.5 average."
Mike Lowe of The Portland Press Herald spotlights two-way throwback man, Troy Brown. Brown, in his 12th season with the Patriots, has seen it all here in New England: losing seasons, winning seasons, losing a Super Bowl, and winning two. He remains a perfect example of the Patriots mantra: unblinkingly accepting a role on the defense, despite being in what some would suggest is the twilight of his career.
On SportsIllustrated.com, Dr. Z provides his weekly Power Rankings. As seems to be the chic move these days, the Dr. places the defending champs at number two behind the Steelers.