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Bill Belichick Signs CB Leonard Johnson, Loves "Schiano Men" in the Patriots Secondary

The Patriots have continued their love-affair with former players of ex-head coach Greg Schiano.

The New England Patriots have brought aboard former Tampa Bay Buccaneers cornerback Leonard Johnson to replace back-up cornerback Rashaan Melvin, who has been signed to the practice squad. Running back James White also did enough against the Eagles to allow the Patriots to release back-up Trey Williams. Happy days.

But who is Johnson? Johnson is 5'10, 200 lbs and was undrafted in 2012 after being a four-year starter for Iowa State. He plays inside and outside, in man and in zone, and was regarded as a 3rd round prospect, before a neck injury and a terrible 40-time at the combine (4.71) sunk his stock. He rebounded with a reasonable 4.56 time at his pro day, but the damage was done.

Johnson signed with the Buccaneers out of the draft in 2012 and started 17 games over the next three seasons. He wasn't the best fit for new head coach Lovie Smith's Tampa-2 defense, but the cornerback signed a one-year deal for the 2015 season. A broken leg led to his placement on the injured reserve and his eventual release.

It's clear that Johnson will fit a need in the secondary and his versatility is a great match for the Patriots scheme, but there's an important connection that means Leonard is probably going to thrive.

Johnson, folks, is a Schiano Man. What does this mean? A Schiano Man is a player that fits the model of former Rutgers and Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano. What does that entail? Well, here's a quote from Monday Morning Quarterback about the type of player back in 2013 (emphasis added).

In speaking with agents of several Bucs players recently, I have sensed a common theme: There is an atmosphere of fear and distrust under the current regime in Tampa. Players have told their agents about coaches roaming through the locker room (typically the players' sanctuary away from coaches) and staff videotaping players on the sidelines during losses to single out players laughing or horsing around. The players also speak to the influx of multiple Rutgers players from Schiano's past and the use of the phrase "Schiano Men," a term that clearly does not apply to Freeman.

Freeman may be the next player shipped out by Schiano, joining a list that includes Aqib Talib, Dezmon Briscoe, LeGarrette Blount and Kellen Winslow, Jr., as well as this week's casualties Ahmad Black and Kevin Ogletree. There appears to be a pattern of players, despite their talents, ending up on the wrong side of the coaching staff, with directives from Schiano to general manager Mark Dominik to remove them from the roster.

A Schiano Man brings his lunchpail to work and doesn't laugh when the game doesn't fall the right way. A Schiano Man is a mentality, a way of life, that supersedes talent in the depth chart. Safety Devin McCourty is a Schiano Man, as is Logan Ryan, Duron Harmon, and Jonathan Freeny. So are former Patriots Jonathan Casillas, Tim Wright, and Dekoda Watson.

Other names that might not be exact fits are the aforementioned Talib, Blount, and Darrelle Revis.

Greg Schiano is a confidant of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, often seen around the building in the offseason and accompanying the team to the NFL Combine. While Schiano isn't an employee (he's still getting paid $3 million per season by the Buccaneers through the 2016 season), he's been functioning in a similar capacity to "Assistant to the Coaching Staff" Mike Lombardi.

Next season, Schiano will head to Ohio State to serve as defensive coordinator with fellow-Bill Belichick acolyte Urban Meyer. Schiano will be replacing Chris Ash, who is going to be the next Rutgers head coach. Full circle, and such.

Lombardi is responsible for bringing in running back Dion Lewis, as well as helping the Patriots draft room from 2010-2012, prior to joining the Browns staff for the 2013 season. While the title for Lombardi is likely a way to let the personnel man still collect checks from Cleveland (pure speculation on my part), Schiano has played a big role in the Patriots scouting and selection of players.

"[Rutgers players are] very good with their preparation, work great in the weight room in the offseason, good communication," Belichick said of the players who worked under Schiano in college. "They obviously were very well coached at Rutgers by coach Schiano and his staff. They have a great understanding of football and defensive communication and concepts."

"Ooh, Greg Schiano," McCourty said when asked by NESN to compare the coaching difficulty of Belichick or Schiano. "Toughest coach I've ever played for. "He's more of a yeller and a screamer. He'll get right in your face. Bill's more sarcastic. Both can be pretty brutal, but I'm gonna go with Coach Schiano."

Belichick really appreciates the secondary developed by Schiano and lauds their communication ability. Hopefully Leonard learned a lot in his two years with Schiano in Tampa because all of these Rutgers defenders have panned out extremely well in New England.