NEW ORLEANS – With the lone exception of the attention gained by the starting quarterback decision, this week has been remarkably void of any controversy and unnecessary hype. Head Coach Bill Belichick's choice of Tom Brady as his starter barely came as news to those close to the team since it's been Brady who's directed the ship most of the year while Drew Bledsoe recovered from his chest injury.
But another story that could have a dramatic impact on the Patriots next season that is barely getting noticed in these parts is the rumor indicating that offensive coordinator Charlie Weis' days in New England could be numbered. In fact, according to one published report, they could be down to three.
Weis is close friends with John Fox, who was named the Carolina Panthers head coach last week after working as the New York Giants defensive coordinator in 2001. The story, which appeared in both the Boston Globe and the Boston Herald, indicated that Weis' contract with the Patriots is up and as of Monday he could be headed elsewhere.
In addition to becoming Fox's offensive coordinator, Weis could get interest in a head coaching position in Tampa Bay, who has yet to fill the spot vacated when the Bucs fired Tony Dungy with the understanding they had Bill Parcells lined up to replace him. Parcells changed his mind and the Bucs are still searching.
Weis wisely refused to discuss the matter, saying only "we'll deal with that next week. I wouldn't even comment on that right now."
Director of player personnel Scott Pioli also was asked about Weis' future and similarly sidestepped the landmine that could cause a distraction with the game so close. "I hope Charlie sticks around," Pioli said. "I want Charlie to stick around. He's done a real good job. I think it's something we'll probably talk about on the plane ride home."
The most logical move for Weis would appear to be to stay put unless he receives a head coaching offer. Carolina just finished arguably the worst season in NFL history by losing a record 15 straight games in one year. Even though the Patriots offense probably lacks the firepower its point total would suggest it possesses, the situation in New England would still appear to be much more favorable than in Carolina.
After successfully moving the subject to the Rams, Weis articulated his respect for the St. Louis offense but was quick to add their defensive improvement as being equally as impressive. He gave a quick rundown of what he believes the Patriots must do to win on Sunday.
"There are three things we need to do to win this game," Weis began. "We turned the ball over at our 3-yard line, we turned the ball over on our own 15-yard line that led to a score for them and we turned the ball over in plus territory again in the second half. If we have any chance of winning this game, we better hold onto and take of the football. That's No. 1.
"No. 2, in addition to scoring touchdowns, you want to hold the ball. The best way to keep an offense from scoring is having them sitting on the sideline. You want to be able to control the game. Last but not least, you better be able to produce, not only on third down, but you better be able to produce both in the red zone and on the goal line and not come away with field goals. Because if you're settling for field goals they have too much firepower and they can score too quick and put you out of the game in a hurry."