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New England Patriots Links 1/05/11 - Belichick's Roster Philosophy: 'The Best Players Are Going To Play'

Ian Rapoport reports that Bill Belichick's method of choosing a 53-man roster is simple.

"There's fair competition here, and the best players are going to play."

"Certainly, there are a lot of teams that keep their draft choices and hey, if the guy’s worth it, you should keep him," Belichick told the Herald. "But at the same time, I think I’m obligated to the other 52 players and the coaching staff and the organization to keep the best player — regardless of how the guy got here."

"It’s not always an easy thing to do or admit you made a mistake," Belichick said. "You picked one guy in the second round and one guy in the seventh round or as a free agent, it’s not the easiest thing to say, ‘Well, the free agent’s better than the draft choice.’ But at whatever point you realize that’s what it is, I think you’ve got to cut your losses and go with the better player or the guy that best fits your team."

Kerry J. Byrne (SI) Cold Hard Football Facts: Stats tell the story, good and bad, for all 12 Super Bowl XLV hopefuls.

The Cold, Hard Football Facts: You might have whiplash if you followed the sudden and unexpected improvement in New England's pass defense.

As recently as Thanksgiving, New England ranked a dismal 27th in Defensive Passer Rating (94.7). No team in history had won a championship with a pass defense even close to that porous. The Patriots weren't going to win one either.

Here's the performance of QBs against New England's defense through 10 games:

• 275 of 396, 69.4%, 3,002 yards, 7.58 YPA, 20 TDs, 13 INTs, 94.7 rating

But look again. Here's the performance of QBs against New England's defense in the past six games:

• 114 of 216, 52.8%, 1,343 yards, 6.2 YPA, 5 TDs, 12 INTs, 56.5 rating

Wow. What a difference. As a result, the Patriots end the year a respectable 13th in Defensive Passer Rating (81.2), about the leaguewide average. And they finish second in Passer Rating Differential (+28.5). The average NFL champion, dating all the way to 1940, has posted a Passer Rating Differential of +27.0.

Dominate the air wars, dominate on the scoreboard. And over the past six weeks nobody has dominated the passing battles on both sides of the ball like New England.



  • Ian Rapoport details the roster changes at key positions since the Patriots' devastating loss to the Ravens.
  • Karen Guregian gathers the opinions of other NFL QBs to judge Tom Brady's streak of games without an INT, and put it in perspective.
  • Mary Paoletti notes the last four Super Bowls have shown it doesn't take a top-ranked defense to win the title, and this Patriots defense may have what it takes.
  • Greg A. Bedard reviews the new OT rules and how they could add a twist to the playoffs.
  • Christopher Price writes about the intensifying pressure on the Patriots youngsters, as the playoffs get closer.
  • Robert Lee discusses the Patriots depleted defensive line.
  • Jerry Thornton wonders how Bill Belichick has not only motivated his team into believing they're not all that, but despite the fact of a 14-2 season, he has the fans buying into that philosophy too.
  • Steve Buckley knows Bill Belichick always believed in his team, even when nobody else did, just like Raymond Berry believed his 1985 team would go to the Super Bowl.
  • Mike Reiss highlights the stability the Patriots have achieved over the last 11 seasons under Bill Belichick.
  • Mike Reiss takes a look at the snaps played by Patriots defenders throughout the 2010 season, while analyzing the totals and what they might mean going forward.
  • Mike Reiss looks at and analyzes the snaps played by defenders in Sunday's season-finale against the Dolphins.
  • Michael Felger breaks down his choices for the four most valuable Patriots as the team begins preparations for the playoffs.
  • Karen Guregian Patriots Notebook: NBC analyst Rodney Harrison says the Pats young defense must step it up and show they can handle playoff pressure; Vince Wilfork thought it was "amazing" to be Sports Illustrated's newest cover boy; Patriots playoff tickets will go on sale Friday to the general public; The team set a record for household ratings in the Boston market this season.
  • Mike Reiss answers his weekly reader mailbag.
  • Bruce Allen (SB Nation Boston) Boston Sports Media Figure of the Year: Michael Felger.