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1996 Season

Click here for entire Bruschi Article Archive

NFL Draft Profile - Tedy Bruschi
(The Sports Network)

             ***** NFL Draft Profile - Tedy Bruschi *****

Team: New England Patriots  Round: Three              Selection: 86

Position: Defensive End     School: Arizona           Year: Senior

Height: 6-1                 Weight: 250

High School: Roseville High School (Roseville, California)



Notes:
     In his senior year,  became  the  NCAA's  all-time  career  sacks leader  with  52...A consensus All-American in '94 and '95, three-time first-team All-Pac-10 selection and the 1995 Pac-10  Defensive  Player of  the  Year...Ended  the  season with 14.5 sacks for minus 96 yards, finishing second in the nation by only half a sack...75 career tackles for  loss ranks fifth all-time...Voted Most Valuable Player in the '93 Fiesta Bowl.

Author not available, NFL Draft Profile - Tedy Bruschi. , The Sports Network, 04-20-1996.

Joel Buchsbaum's Pro Football Weekly Draft Day Preview: (as printed in Patriots Football Weekly)

Click on thumbnail to enlarge.

 

PATRIOT'S TAKE UA'S BRUSCHI
Arizona Republic - Sunday, April 21, 1996
By: Paola Boivin, Staff writer

    One  of  Tedy  Bruschi's  pre-draft  wishes  was  to  land on a team with a defensive-minded head coach. Tedy Bruschi, meet Bill Parcells. The  New  England  Patriots  selected  the Arizona standout in the third round of the NFL draft Saturday. Parcells led  the  New  York  Giants to two Super Bowl victories with a dominating defense. "This is the type of situation I was hoping for," Bruschi said. "I can't wait to get started. I'd been waiting for this day for so long." He was the 86th pick overall and the 10th linebacker selected. He  was  the  only player from an Arizona university to be picked on the first  day  of  the  two-day draft. His early selection quieted critics who thought his size (6 feet) would make him a much lower pick.


    He  had  56  tackles  and 14 1/2 sacks as a senior and 39 tackles and 10sacks  as  a  junior.  He  was  a consensus All-American both years and the Pac-10 Player of the Year in 1995.  Bruschi's  intensity  and speed off the ball made him a key component of the  Arizona Wildcats' Desert Swarm defense. Critics thought his size might keep  him  from  having a true NFL position because he is not big enough to play on the defensive line. But the Patriots thought differently and expect Bruschi to add some depth to the linebacker position.


     New  England's defense takes on a new look this season, switching from a 3-4  scheme to a 4-3. The Patriots already have two inside linebackers they feel strongly about. They  gave  Monty  Brown,  a  free  agent  from  Buffalo, a $1.5 million contract  in  the  off-season and have high expectations for Ted Johnson, a second-round pick from Colorado a year ago.  Parcells did not say Saturday how he expected to use Bruschi.


BRUSCHI QUICK ON HIS FEET
Boston Globe - TUESDAY, July 23, 1996
By: Michael Madden, Globe Staff


SMITHFIELD,  R.I.  --  Rookies  come in all the usual pro football sizes --big,  bigger  and  biggest -- and usually come in one of only a few styles. The  awestruck  rookie.  The  perplexed  rookie.  The terrified rookie. The reticent rookie.


    And then comes Tedy Bruschi.


    ``If they told me to play punter, I would have kicked,'' which means, of course,  that  he  wouldn't  have  kicked. But Bruschi, a third-round draft choice  as a lineman out of Arizona, was at middle linebacker for the first three  days  of  camp  and  now  has  been  switched to outside linebacker.


``Whatever they want me to do, I'll do it.'

 

     OK, all rookies say that.

  

    ``I've  got  confidence  in  myself I can do that,'' Bruschi said of the sudden  switch.  ``It's  a transition I've already made. I feel comfortable with it.'' OK, most rookies say that even if all might not believe it.

 

    Ah,  but  when  a  member  of  the  electronic media made a statement to Bruschi  --  basically  that  he was fast -- the rookie did not immediately bite  the  bait and babble on as most athletes do. ``Right . . . yeah . . . is there a question in there?'' he replied.

 

    Another media statement -- sans question -- that he was quick.


     ``That I'm quick? . . . that's the question? . . . what's the question .. . what's the question?''


    Another try. The Patriots haven't had much speed. The coach said Bruschi was speedy . . .


    ``If  he  said  I'm  quick,  well,  I  . . . what's the question? You're telling  me that the Patriots want speed. Everybody wants speed. I mean, what? What? What's up, man? Talk to me, man.''


     When  it  was  mentioned  to  Bruschi that he didn't look that big for a linebacker,  his brow furrowed. ``I guess you hear that a lot,'' the rookie was told.

 

     ``Yeah.''

 

    You don't like it?

 

     ``I've heard it enough. I don't really want to talk about it.''


    In  sum,  in  short,  and in substance, the rookie is a thinking man. He listens  to questions. Like when another member of the media suggested that all these moves -- from the line to middle linebacker to outside linebacker -- must have caused a few mental gymnastics.


    ``Mental gymnastics?'' said the rookie with a laugh. ``The Olympics have already gotten to you.''


   But  it  has been, as Bruschi readily conceded, ``a roller-coaster ride, like  I'm  flipping around out there in my head,'' already giving up the DL role for which he was so honored in Arizona's ``Desert Swarm'' defense.


     ``Mike''  is  pro  football jargon for middle linebacker and ``Buck'' is jargon  for  an  outside  'backer,  and Bruschi said that while he was just getting  friendly  with  ``Mike,''  he's  sure  he'll be on good terms with ``Buck'' as well.


     ``I think I have the mental capacity to do it,'' he said. ``Yeah, it's a lot of stuff to learn. `Buck' has a lot of adjusting there, a lot of things to  read,  and  while  it's  a  position  that  requires a lot, if you just concentrate and focus in on it, it can be picked up.''


     Bruschi  was  given  word  of  the  switch over the weekend by defensive coordinator  Al  Groh,  then  had a chat with coach Bill Parcells.  Parcells said  the move was made because the rookie has made an early impression and because he's quick. ``Now he's outside and that's where he's going to be,'' Parcells  said.  ``I  didn't want to wait too long before making the change because  if  you  wait,  then  he's  a  week  behind  in  his  new position and it's too late to catch up.''


    The  coach  said he sees some similarities in Bruschi and Chris Slade as both  played  defensive  line  in college, and both are quick and good pass rushers.  If  something  should  happen to Slade ``then we wouldn't have to change the defense,'' Parcells said. Bruschi, by the way, tied  the  NCAA  Division 1 record with 52 sacks, a mark set by the Chiefs' Derrick Thomas at Alabama.

 

     ``Chris  Slade  already  has given me a lot of tips and pointers,'' said the  6-foot,  249-pound rookie. ``Chris has helped me out and I'm listening to  everything  he  says  and  everything  Coach Groh says and I'm going to listen to it all very intently.''


     Slade  can  relate to the rookie since he was thrust into a new position upon  joining the Patriots. ``I can understand where Tedy is coming from,'' said  Slade,  ``since,  as  you remember, three years ago I was in the same position.  Playing  rush on every down, rushing the passer, having to go to outside linebacker. It's a tough adjustment. I know.''


     But  Slade  has  seen,  as  have the coaches and any fan with eyes, that ``Tedy's  done a great job so far. Of course, he's learning how to play the position,  and  he's  listening, and it's coming on slowly, how to play the position,  but  he  wants  to  be  good.  He wants to learn how to play the position.''


     Mistakes will be plentiful for Bruschi, who concedes that his chances at pass  coverage  at  Arizona  came  ``sparingly.'' Slade knows this, just as Slade  recalls the many times that Andre Tippett and Vincent Brown took him aside and gave him pointers when he was a confused rookie.


    ``They  taught  me  how to play the position,'' said Slade. ``Now I just want to pass it on to him.''


Pats turn pass-rushing Bruschi inside-out

By Ed Duckworth,

 New England Sports Service 07/23/96
SMITHFIELD, R.I. -- The New England Patriots' media guide claims rookie linebacker Tedy Bruschi stands 6 feet tall and weighs 245 pounds. The truth is, he appears shorter and lighter.
But there is no disputing the claim that Bruschi is capable of running 40 yards in 4.82 seconds. Indeed, when his responsibility during practice is to rush the passer, he appears twice as fast.
"He has some of the characteristics of (veteran Chris Slade)," coach Bill Parcells said of Bruschi yesterday at Bryant College. "He's quick off the ball, real quick."
Bruschi, the Pats' third-round draft pick out of the University of Arizona, made the most of his speed in college. He tied the NCAA record of 52 quarterback sacks.
To maximize his ability to blow past slower-reacting offensive tackles, Parcells yesterday shifted Bruschi from inside to outside linebacker.
"I've been pleased with what I've seen from him," Parcells said. "We used him in the middle the first couple of days just to see what he could do, but now he's going to stay on the outside."
Bruschi isn't complaining.
"I'll try to do whatever they ask," he said. "If they told me they wanted me to be the punter, I'd be out there trying to kick it. I just want to contribute."
Bruschi contributed plenty at Arizona, where he was an All-Pac 10 Conference selection three years in a row. He was especially devastating as a senior when he registered 56 tackles and 141/2 sacks, knocked down four passes and forced a fumble.
"He needs to work on his pass coverage, but he's smart, aggressive and very quick," Parcells said. "He and Chris (Slade) played the same position in college, so my thought is that if something happened that forced us to put him out there, we won't have to change our defense."
Slade says he has no qualms about helping Bruschi learn the ins and outs of linebacking in the NFL.
"I understand where he's coming from totally," the former Virginia star said. "I was there myself three years ago. Back then, Andre Tippett and Vincent Brown tutored me. So if there's anything I can do for Tedy, I will."
Slade, who carries 242 pounds on a 6-foot-5 frame, says Bruschi should concentrate on improving his leverage.
"In this league, even if guys are bigger and stronger, you can beat them by using your quickness. The trick is in learning how to use your hands so that you get a good first step into the backfield."
Bruschi says he is trying to acclimate himself to the high speed of pro football.
"This isn't like college, where only a few guys could move," he said. "Everybody here is fast, and the practices are a lot more physical. So there's an adjustment you have to make. There's a huge difference in the level of competition."
Bruschi isn't lacking for confidence in his abilities, however, nor is he concerned about being moved to the outside.
"This is more similar to what I played in college," he said. "I'm on the edge of the line of scrimmage, usually driving toward the inside."
Bruschi, a San Francisco native who majored in communications at Arizona, described his experience with the Pats so far as "a real roller coaster ride.
"Things are flipping around inside my head. I was just starting to become familiar with one set of assignments when they told me I should forget about them and learn a new set.
"There are a lot of adjustments and new reads I have to learn, but I think I can pick them up. I know one thing. Any time (defensive coordinator) Al Groh or Chris Slade has something to tell me, I'm going to be listening. They know; I don't."

PATRIOTS TO USE BRUSCHI'S SPEED IN RUSHING QBS
Arizona Republic  - Monday, July 29, 1996
By: Associated Press


SMITHFIELD, R.I. - Tedy  Bruschi knows he isn't one of the tallest linebackers around, so it's understandable that he doesn't want to be reminded of it. "I've  heard it enough, I don't feel like commenting on it anymore," the New  England  Patriots'  third-round  draft  choice  said when asked if his compact size would hinder his development as a professional.

 

    Bruschi,  an  All-American  at Arizona, is listed in the Patriots' media guide  as  6  feet,  245  pounds,  although  the  height measurement may be exaggerated by at least two inches. But he's been throwing his weight around in practices, despite having to adapt to two position changes since joining the Patriots.


    Bruschi  set  an NCAA record with 52 sacks at Arizona. But that was as a defensive  lineman,  and in the first six days of his pro career, he's gone from being a defensive end to a middle linebacker to an outside linebacker. "It  doesn't  matter that much," the 23-year-old native of San Francisco said about the switches. "If I had stayed at 'mike' (middle linebacker), it would  have been fine with me. But the coaches said they saw something that made them want me at (outside linebacker), so whatever they wanted, I'm not going to argue with."


    Patriots  Coach  Bill  Parcells said he wants to use Bruschi's explosive speed in an outside rushing lane to the quarterback. "If  we'd  have waited a week, he'd get so far behind at a position that he might not catch up," Parcells said. "I just wanted to look at him in the middle  really  quick,  and  that's  what we did in the rookie camp. I just think he's better suited for where he is now."
    Bruschi,  who starred in Arizona's "Desert Swarm" defensive scheme, said the  switch  to  the  outside  is  more  in  tune  with  how  he rushed the quarterback while in college. "I  was making some progress (in the middle), I was coming along with it and  starting  to feel comfortable with it," he said. "Then I got switched, so I'm sort of back to ground zero, but I've got some great guys helping me out. "Chris  Slade  has really taken me under his wing and given me some tips and pointers." Parcells  said  he  sees  Bruschi  as an insurance policy for Slade, his incumbent at right outside linebacker.


    "We  thought that if you put him with Slade, if something ever happened, we really wouldn't have to change too much," Parcells said. But  playing  outside  linebacker  involves more than simply rushing the quarterback. Bruschi also has to learn pass coverage, and he readily admits he needs work in that area.


   "It's  been  a roller-coaster ride, like I've been flipping around in my head,"  he said. "But I think I have the mental capacity to handle it. It's a  lot  of  stuff  . . . there are a lot of adjustments and things to read, it's  a position that requires a lot, but if you just concentrate and focus on it, it can be picked up."

 

    Bruschi's  self-confidence, bordering on cockiness, leads him to believe he can meet the challenge presented him by the Patriots. "I'm  confident in myself," he said. "So whatever they put me at, I feel the confidence in myself that I can succeed at it."

 

SEEING IS BELIEVING TO BRUSCHI: PATRIOTS ROOKIE LB GETTING A GOOD LOOK
Boston Globe- FRIDAY, August 9, 1996
By: Jim Greenidge, Globe Staff

SMITHFIELD, R.I. -- It seemed every other phrase uttered by Patriots rookie strong  linebacker  Tedy  Bruschi  involved the eyes: ``I've got to see him with my eyes''; ``I've got to read him with my eyes.''


    Those  aren't words that Bruschi, a third-round draft choice out of the University of Arizona, used nearly as much, if at all, as a collegian.


    The  6-foot,  245-pounder  was  nothing  but  an all-out charger last season,  tying  the  NCAA  Division  1-A  career  record for sacks with 52, joining  former Alabama star and current Kansas City Chiefs All-Pro Derrick Thomas in the record book.


     During  his  collegiate  career,  including  three  years  as a starter, Bruschi  had 74 tackles for losses, sixth among Division 1-A players, along with 185 tackles (137 solos), six fumbles and five recoveries.


     Now,  however, Bruschi, who hails from Roseville, Calif., has to see things  being  played  out  before  him. It's not all hit the helmet and go forward for Bruschi, who was a consensus All-American and an All-Pacific-10
performer last season.


    ``It's just getting my eyes right as to who to key on and then decide on  run  or pass,'' Bruschi said. ``I've got all these coverages, all these responsibilities  in my head, but I've got to see what it is first and then I  can apply my role. Coach Bill Parcells says you've got to key on certain people, you've got to get your read, and sometimes I find my  eyes  wandering. I didn't do that in college, where I was a real attack player.  Attack. Attack. Attack. Now I have to read my keys and use my eyes to see whether I should attack or drop back.


      ``In  college,  I  didn't have any pass coverage. If it was a pass, I was  still  going  forward,  still heading towards the quarterback. Here if it's a pass, I have to go backwards and defend against the pass.''


    Bruschi  has plenty of company at his position -- Chris Slade as the starter,  backed  up by former University of New Hampshire star Dwayne Sabb and  Bobby  Abrams, who has missed nearly all of training camp with a right ankle  problem.  In the Patriots' 24-7 loss at Green Bay last Friday in the exhibition  opener,  Bruschi  had one tackle from the line of scrimmage and also saw action in every special teams situation.

 

    With  Slade  sidelined by a groin injury and Abrams also a spectator, Bruschi is getting plenty of action in practice this week.


    ``The  more reps I get, the more comfortable I am with everything,'' he said.  ``Chris  Slade has really been good to me and has given me pointers. Dwayne  Sabb  and  Bobby  Abrams  also having been putting their 2 cents in trying to help me out.


    ``I'm  trying  get my zone drops down, but the main thing I've got to do  is  fix  my eyes, where my eyes have got to be, who I have to read, who are  my keys, and once I get those things down, it's going to start to come slowly  but  surely.  Without  Slade out there, it's given me more time and I've  been  trying  to  take  advantage  as  best  I can. It's worked to my advantage -- but I want him back in there real soon.''


    Camp has been difficult, but that's what Bruschi expected. ``A lot of the  veterans  said  it  would  be real tough, but this is all I know,'' he said. ``I don't know what Baltimore's camp is like or what Miami's is like. I  just  know this camp. This is my first one. This is the only one I know. But I've been going with the flow.

 

    ``Comparing  this  to  camp  at  the  college  level,  this  is  more physical.  We  weren't probably as physical as much as we are  here,  and  the length of the camp for one of these things here at the pro  level  is  twice  as  long.  It's  fast  here,  everybody's  fast  and everybody's big, but with my speed, I can accept it.''


    In the exhibition opener, Bruschi got a taste of what to anticipate, though  he  couldn't  have foreseen the 11-stitch cut on his right shoulder that  he  suffered  when  he  struck  a  Packer  helmet, forcing him to the sidelines  briefly  in  the  third  quarter. ``I had no idea what was going on,''  Bruschi  said.  ``An official told me that I should get the gash and the blood taken care of, so I went to the sidelines."

 

    The  action was flashy. ``The speed was something I had to adapt to, just  seeing things,'' Bruschi said. ``I knew it would be intense and I was out  there  going  100 percent on special teams as well as from the line of scrimmage.  But it was fun. I had a lot of fun out there. My first play was on  a  kickoff  return  and the Green Bay Packers were on the other side. I sort of had to shake myself up there and sort of get in the moment.

 

    ``It  was  fun,  and  as  the  game  went on, I adapted and got into things.  But  for  this  Dallas  game  Monday,  I'm  more anxious.  I  got  the  first  one under my belt. I know what it's like. One game's  not  a lot, but I have an idea what it's going to be like and I can adjust  to  the speed. The first game answered a lot of questions for me -- what the speed is like, how the players on the other side of the ball are.


    ``All  of  those questions have been answered, and now I can focus on other things."

 

     Such as relaxing.


PASS RUSHERS MAKE IMPACT ROOKIE BRUSCHI, FOR ONE, QUICK TO IMPRESS
Boston Globe - MONDAY, August 19, 1996
By: Michael Madden, Globe Staff


PATRIOTS NOTEBOOK
FOXBOROUGH -- Forget about it, said Tedy Bruschi. Forget about anything and everything  in an exhibition game ``because a couple of weeks from now, you won't  even  be  able  to  remember the score. It's just one day, one game. Forget about it.''

 

    Forget about it?

 

    Forget  about  a  New England pass rush that had speed from both ends, a defensive  line  that  had  Rodney Peete and Ty Detmer running for cover, a pass  rush  that had three sacks and many more hurries? Bless the memory of Kenny  Sims,  but  ``New  England'' and ``pass rush'' are terms that seldom have been used in the same sentence in the past.

  

    Willie  McGinest had an outstanding game, making Philadelphia Pro Bowler Steve  Wallace  a  left-out  tackle  this  day  instead  of  a left tackle. ``Wallace  is  a  cagey guy, and he's been around,'' said McGinest, ``and I had to use a lot of different moves on him.''

 

    But  it  was  the  rookie,  Bruschi, who caught many an eye early in the first quarter with his speedy rush from the left side. Bruschi sacked Peete once and chased him into the arms of Mike Jones for another sack.


    ``I really don't have much to say to you guys now because I want to feel good  about myself when it counts,'' said Bruschi. ``It's just a preaseason game,  and  when  I  got  in there I did some good things, but I want to do those things in the regular season.''

 

    The  draft  mavens  questioned Bruschi's size (he is 6 feet, 245 pounds) when  the  Patriots took him out of Arizona in the third round. Bruschi may forget  exhibition  games, but he does remember the words from April. ``You guys  had  the  most  questions about me, the guy from Arizona that all the draft  analysts  had  questions  about, but I never had any questions about myself,'' he said.


    Coach  Bill  Parcells  has  had fewer and fewer questions about Bruschi, saying  after  the game, ``Bruschi did some good things.'' The defense this season,  Parcells continued, ``has got better players, we've got more speed and we're getting more pressure.''

 

    Bruschi  typifies all those elements, the speedy linebacker who lines up at  left end in passing situations and is quick to the QB. Chris Slade (hip flexor) did not play, therefore Bruschi saw more action than expected.


    ``I  always  try  to  stay positive about myself,'' said Bruschi, noting that he thought he could play in the NFL. ``I know I can do this and I feel confident about myself and my ability.''
 

Cut-down day

 8/26/96 By Eric Gongola, Standard-Times staff writer.

Some newcomers to the Patriots' locker room slept better than others last night. Photo


It's cut-down day in the NFL, and that means a shake of the hand and walking papers for eight of the players who were a part of this team just two days ago, when New England hosted and toasted Philadelphia in the first of two preseason games at Foxboro.


Guys like third-round draft pick Tedy Bruschi have it easy. Or at least easier than most.

 
    As an All-American defensive end at Arizona, Bruschi tied Derrick Thomas' Division I-A record for quarterback sacks with 52. He has made a smooth and convincing transition to middle linebacker for the Patriots and can look forward to soaking up some Miami sunshine when his new team opens the regular season in less than two weeks against the Dolphins.


Parcells credited him for doing "some nice things" in Sunday's 31-10 dismantling of the Eagles, including a sack of Philly quarterback Rodney Peete.


"But I've heard the flip side of that when I mess up in practice," said Bruschi, deflecting is coach's praise. "What I want to be is consistent. I want to show the coach that I can make plays and help this team week to week."

 
Week to week.


Rookie free agent Ray Lucas wishes he could view his professional football career in such long-sighted terms. Instead, the former record-setting quarterback at Rutgers could be shopping his business administration degree to corporate America by the end of the week.


"The first time I came in here and saw Drew (Bledsoe) and Curtis (Martin) I got their autographs," Lucas said. "That was the first thing on my mind, not just to come in and play but to make sure I get their autographs. This is a cut-throat business. I could be here today and gone tomorrow. This is just a memorable experience for me." 


Lucas tried out at safety in his first day of training camp this summer. The next morning he was running routes as a wide receiver. These are the things you have to do when you're trying to avoid going to work in a coat and tie every day.

 
"I don't know if I've got a spot on my roster for him, but he's an interesting kid," said Parcells after Lucas blocked a punt and chased the ball out of bounds at the Eagles' 1-yard line in the second half Sunday. "He told us at the half he could get one. ... Usually, when you get a quarterback, he acts like a quarterback. But this kid acts like a linebacker."

 
The media swarmed Bruschi's locker Sunday afternoon like moths on a light bulb. Quizzed about the changes in his life over the past four weeks -- a new career, a new position, a new home -- he scratched at his closely shaved head and joked that his new haircut posed the biggest adjustment.


Across the room, where Lucas shares a locker with kicker Adam Vinatieri, the crowd was smaller around the 24-year-old whose NFL heroes are his own age, if not younger.

 
"Earlier in camp when I knew cuts were coming I got nervous and couldn't sleep," he said. "Now I don't worry about it. All you can do is play. I hope I put (Parcells) in a tough position, but if I think about it too much I'd just go back to not sleeping and won't eat right and my stomach will start to hurt ..."


Both Bruschi and Lucas have taken their shots and dished out even more on special teams this preseason. For Bruschi, it's just part of the job. For Lucas, it could mean his livelihood.


"At Arizona they really emphasize the special teams and they do that here, too, so I'm used to it," Bruschi said. "I look at it as something you have to do to win ballgames."


Lucas sees it as that and more.


"Even when I was still in school I'd ask (former college teammate Alcides Catanho) what are you doing down there? Everybody thought Al wasn't going to pan out,' Lucas said, "and then he ends up on special teams and he's making all kinds of tackles.


"Al told me no matter what happens, if they put you on special teams, make plays. You don't have make tackles, but make plays. The name of the game is to be physical. I listen and I learn."


Bruschi shrugged off Sunday's exhibition victory. For him, the learning process has just begun, and he knows it. "I guess today was encouraging, but it will be really encouraging once the regular season comes and I'm helping this team out," he said, adding that no one remembers preseason games after a couple of days.

 
Unless you're Ray Lucas, who would face a final cutdown next Sunday, should he survive this one.


"I'll run that play through my mind every night for the rest of life probably," he said of his blocked punt and subsequent recovery that was initially ruled a touchdown, even though Lucas knew he had rolled his feet out of bounds.


"My heart was in my throat," he said. "That was my first big play in the NFL. I felt like crying. ... It feels good when veterans like (defensive end) Mike Jones and even Ben Coates and Drew come up and say, "Hey, good job.' These are the guys I was watching on television last year."


Two days ago they were his teammates. Today, they could be nothing more than treasured autographs in a very thin book of dreams.

 

Tedy won't brush aside blame
Steve Buckley
Boston Herald

Monday,  November 18, 1996

FOXBORO - Tedy Bruschi stood there for what seemed like hours yesterday, perhaps hoping that the sea of questioners washing in front of his locker would simply disappear.

    Poor Bruschi. Earlier in the day, in the opening minutes of what would be a 34-8 loss to the Denver Broncos at Foxboro Stadium, the Pats' rookie had dropped a pass from Tom Tupa on a fake punt.

    As if being blamed for dropping the pass weren't enough, the line of questioning suggested Bruschi was being blamed for everything from the all-important "loss of momentum" to the shortage of quality television programming for children.

    "I missed it," he kept saying. "I'm not one to make excuses. The ball was right there and I missed it. It's as easy as that."

    Bruschi's day caved in on him on the fourth play of the day from scrimmage, after a Drew Bledsoe completion to Curtis Martin brought the Pats 1 yard shy of a first down at the New England 32.

    On came Tupa to do the punting. But instead of punting, the man who also serves the Pats as a backup quarterback cocked his arm and delivered a perfect pass to the rookie linebacker out of Arizona.

    The ball hit Bruschi square in the belly. The ball came out. First down, Denver, at the New England 32. Five plays later, Broncos quarterback John Elway connected with Terrell Davis for the Broncos' first touchdown of the day.

    "It was a perfectly executed play, and the player was in a position to make the catch," said Patriots coach Bill Parcells.


    "You try to do things to give your team a chance. We practiced that play all week. It was perfectly executed."

    Well, yes . . . all except the part where the receiver catches the ball.

    "I thought we converted it when I heard the people cheering," said Tupa. "It was there. But it was, as things turned out, one of the many things we didn't get done today."

    To his credit, Bruschi made no excuses. Any question that allowed him room to speak of hands in his face or deflections or other intangibles was dismissed.

    "I dropped it," he said for the 10th time. "It was one play. It was a big play. Let's just say there are better days ahead and let it go at that."


Rookies inspire Patriots

Web posted 1/17/97

The Associated Press

FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) - Every once in a while, his New England Patriots teammates remind Tedy Bruschi he's just a rookie.

 

    The linebacker glanced toward a smiling Chris Slade in the adjacent locker Thursday and said, ``I've still got to buy him breakfast, and I've still got to drive him to practice.''  Other than that, there are few signs that Bruschi is in his first NFL season. The same goes for wide receiver Terry Glenn, strong safety Lawyer Milloy and kicker Adam Vinatieri.  All were instrumental in getting the Patriots to the Super Bowl.

 

    Glenn set an NFL rookie record with 90 catches. Milloy started every game after Game 6 and quickly gained a reputation as a hard hitter. Vinatieri became a dependable kicker after some early troubles, and Bruschi was valuable as a special-teams player and linebacker on passing downs.  ``It would be a little uncommon for rookie players to come in and play as well as they have,'' coach Bill Parcells said.  Then, he added, ``We knew that they were going to be good players pretty fast.''

 

    They are key members of New England's second consecutive strong rookie class. Cornerback Ty Law, linebacker Ted Johnson, running back Curtis Martin and center Dave Wohlabaugh all were drafted in 1995.  Martin led the AFC in rushing last season, Johnson was the team's leading tackler this season and all four have started for two years.  ``I'm not going to say it's easy,'' Johnson said. ``You've got coach Parcells, who is not the easiest coach for a rookie to play under, and the pressure that we've been under the last month or so.  ``I've been impressed with the way the guys handled it. I don't sense any letdown from the younger players.''

 

    In the Patriots' opening 28-3 playoff win against Pittsburgh, Glenn caught a 53-yard pass on their second offensive play that set up Martin's 2-yard touchdown run on the next play.  In their 20-6 win against Jacksonville in Sunday's AFC Championship game, Bruschi's interception with 1:52 left snuffed out the Jaguars' last slim hope.  Milloy has 12 tackles and an interception in the two games, and Vinatieri made two of his three field-goal attempts against Jacksonville.

 

    ``As soon as I got on the field in my first game, I didn't feel like a rookie anymore,'' said Milloy, a second-round draft choice.  Now they're headed to the NFL championship game Jan. 26 against the Green Bay Packers, who won the first two Super Bowls.  ``I feel very fortunate,'' Milloy said. ``I guess I won't have that true feeling of it until the year I don't go.

 

    ``We all come from winning programs, myself at the University of Washington, Terry at Ohio State. I don't think that we came in wanting to play like rookies. We wanted to come in and contribute and produce early.''

 

Other rookies have made lesser contributions.  Running back Marrio Grier, a sixth-round pick, has been solid on special teams and played an increased role on offense when fullback Sam Gash was lost for the season with a knee injury Dec. 8.  Ray Lucas, a free-agent quarterback from Rutgers, was activated from the practice squad for the Dec. 15 game against Dallas and has contributed on special teams.

 

    ``Next thing you know, you're activated and playing the last two games, we win two playoff games and I'm going to the Super Bowl,'' he said.  The Patriots' average age of 26.19 years was the youngest of the NFL's 12 playoff teams. Only four of their starters are older than 30.  Yet they have been extremely disciplined on and off the field all season.

 

    ``I trust this team,'' Parcells said. ``I have good kids on this team, and I haven't had any problems.''  Bruschi, a third-round choice from Arizona, remembers rookie camp in the spring and living at a motel near Foxboro Stadium with other first-year players.

 

    ``We have a bond because we've gone through the same things,'' Bruschi said. ``So it's nice to see Terry and Lawyer and other guys do well because they're part of your class, so you feel proud.''

Super Bowl Matchup

By Bob McGinn
of the Journal Sentinel staff

Jan. 22, 1997

Packer pass protection vs. Patriot pass rush

New Orleans -- Rookie linebacker Tedy Bruschi, as unlikely a key figure in Super Bowl XXXI as New England is a participant, summed up the Patriots' defensive philosophy against the Green Bay Packers.

"Unnerve them," said Bruschi, a third-round draft choice from Arizona. "Get them off their rhythm. Put pressure on (Brett) Favre."

Unfortunately for New England, only one of the six defensive linemen that the Patriots play on a rotating basis possesses the skill and quickness to get after Favre on a consistent basis.

That's right end Willie McGinest, a linebacker in 1994-'95, who weighs just 255 pounds.

"They have to find a way to get pressure because if they're just rushing the front four, the only guy who has a chance is McGinest," a personnel director for another American Football Conference team said. "Their other guys are just run-down guys, big and thick guys who hold up the line of scrimmage."

After 18 games, McGinest has 9 of the 19 sacks by the defensive line. That has forced Patriots coach Bill Parcells and defensive lieutenants Bill Belichick and Al Groh to use linebackers (14 sacks) and defensive backs (3 sacks) to generate pressure.

That's where Bruschi comes in.

Standing just a half-inch over 6 feet and weighing only 242 pounds, Bruschi doesn't really have a position in the base defense. Nevertheless, he tied the NCAA record for career sacks with 52 because he has a rare knack for beating blockers with relentless effort, good technique and instinct.

Playing to his strengths, the Patriots are using Bruschi in a multidimensional role in their 4-0-7 and various other nickel packages that caused confusion for Jacksonville in the AFC Championship Game.

"I rush the passer from defensive tackle, defensive end and linebacker," Bruschi said. "I drop back in coverage, mirror the quarterback, cover the back man-to-man."

On passing downs, Bruschi and one of the pedestrian linemen man the tackles while the two speed-rushing thoroughbreds, outside linebacker Chris Slade and McGinest, play the ends. Bruschi, with four sacks, wears No. 54 and will stand up or put his hand down. Sometimes Slade and McGinest will stand up, too.

"If Bruschi lines up as a rush guy, he's just a guy," said an offensive assistant for a recent Patriots' opponent. "But if you have a hard time identifying him, if you don't look at defenses like that, if you don't count him as a down guy . . . ."

The coach didn't finish his thought, but his message was clear: Favre and the entire offense must account for Bruschi, Slade and McGinest at all times and block them with linemen as often as possible.

Packers offensive coordinator Sherman Lewis thought the inexperience of the Jaguars' offense and quarterback Mark Brunell were reasons why New England's defense was so disruptive.

"I think they were (confused) and I don't know why," Lewis said about the Jaguars. "I don't think what they do is that difficult. But Jacksonville is a lot younger than we are. We've seen other teams play pretty much the same thing. That's no problem."

If the Packers can handle the three rush linebackers on turf, then the Patriots would be forced to send five or six defenders, and they aren't a big blitzing team. Scouts say New England uses corner blitzes effectively from the weak side, especially from the quarterback's left.

Also, the Patriots will zone blitz involving secondary personnel, but more often than not their blitzes will feature man coverage behind them.

They just try to bring more people than you can pick up realizing that you then have to throw hot," an offensive coach said, referring to the trained response by the quarterback of dumping the ball quickly. "But if you can get them blitzing, in a situation where they've got to blitz to stop the run, for example, and single up those corners, you can exploit those guys."

When the Packers last played at the Superdome, the New Orleans Saints tried to blitz and Favre threw four touchdown passes in the first half in a 34-23 victory late last season.

"Yeah, they'll try to disrupt him (Favre) -- every team we've played has done that," offensive line coach Tom Lovat said. "But think of how many times he's burned those situations. I might be a little careful if I was setting a defense this time of year for him."

Green Bay's offensive line might have played its best two games of the season in the playoffs, but the group is admired more as a group than as individuals by scouts who have pored over Packers' tapes in recent weeks.

"One thing the Packers have going for them is their offensive line coach," a scout who has analyzed both teams said of Lovat. "He's one of the best in the business. He gets them to play."

Green Bay has averaged 152.1 yards rushing in the last six games. But the Patriots were sixth against the rush, and Lewis called second-year player Ted Johnson "one of the top middle backers in the league if not the best I've seen all year. I think he's the key to their defense."

When the Patriots insert seven defensive backs, journeymen Mike McGruder and Jerome Henderson probably will play the slots and safety Corwin Brown will operate almost as a cover linebacker.

"They're fairly basic," Green Bay tight ends coach Andy Reid said. "Very, very sound. You see very few mistakes. They're going to make you drive the length of the field to beat them.

"For right now, we have rules for the things they have shown. We think they're good solid rules.

"Without seeing ghosts, you try to say, 'Well, what can they do off of this to give you a tough time?' If it's different, then you have to adjust."

BRUSCHI QUICK TO LEARN PATRIOTS' GAME
Arizona Republic - Thursday, January 23, 1997
By: Steve Schoenfeld, Staff writer


NEW ORLEANS - Rookie  linebacker  Tedy  Bruschi has followed the instructions New England Patriots  Coach  Bill Parcells gave him on surviving Super Bowl week in New Orleans.  Rule No. 1 was to keep his hands on his wallet. Parcells  also  told  him where to go and not to go as the team prepares for  Sunday's game against the NFC-champion Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl XXXI.

 

    "He  gave  us do's and don'ts about the town," Bruschi said. "He said to stay  away  from certain places -- the casinos, public parks, cemeteries. I don't know why I would want to go to a cemetery. "He  said it's a town where a lot of bad things happen. I believe him. I believe whatever he says. I'd run through two brick walls for him."

 

    Bruschi,  the  third-round draft pick from Arizona, is Parcells' kind of guy.  It  doesn't  matter  that he's barely 6 feet. It didn't keep him from tying  an  NCAA  Division  I-A  career sack record of 52, and that was as a defensive  lineman. Parcells drafted him as a middle linebacker, a position Bruschi never had played. But  after  three  days  at that spot, Parcells moved Bruschi to outside linebacker,  and  he  has  been  there ever since, except in certain nickel situations.

 

    In  the  AFC  title  game  11 days ago, Bruschi intercepted Jacksonville quarterback Mark  Brunell once, broke up another pass and shadowed him the entire game. "I  don't  have very good hearing," Bruschi said. "So I didn't care what people  (doubters)  said  about me. I don't look to prove people wrong. But there  always  have  been  some  questions about me. I heard the same thing about whether I could play defensive end in college. Look at me."


    Bruschi, 6-0, 245 pounds, said many NFL scouts wondered, "Can the guy go backwards? All through college, he was going forward." That's  because  he  was  an attacking defensive end at UA. He never was used in pass coverage. His  role  with New England is more diversified. And he has picked it up quickly.


    "He's  so  fast and aggressive," said Patriots defensive end Mike Jones, formerly  with the Cardinals. "He gives (offensive linemen) so much trouble with  his  speed. He's so versatile. He's a headhunter on special teams. He just makes plays."


    Through  it  all,  Bruschi  has been able to escape Parcells' wrath. The coach can be brutal in practice on young players. "Coach  Parcells  wants  things  done  right," Bruschi said. "It took me awhile to realize what exactly he wants. There was a lot of, 'Bruschi, what the  heck  are  you  doing?'  You  have  to  realize he wants to win.  Coach Parcells' way is the winning way."

 

    Bruschi,  pronounced  Brew-ski,  also has become a fan favorite in Green Bay because  of  his  last  name.  The  Cheeseheads  like  their brews and bratwurst. Bruschi appreciates their support. "Hey, Green Bay, thanks a lot," he said. "Have a drink on me."

 

PLAYOFFS REFLECT WELL ON BRUSCHI
Boston Globe  - MONDAY, January 27, 1997
By: Gordon Edes, Globe Staff

NEW  ORLEANS  --  Brett Favre should have thought about this even before he shaved off his beard to become more photogenic for milk commercials and the like.

 

    Any time the Green Bay quarterback looked in the mirror yesterday, the plan was for him to see Tedy Bruschi.  Mark  Brunell of the Jaguars and Kordell Stewart of the Steelers could have told Favre that. They saw their playoff losses to the Patriots through the same looking glass.

 

    "Mirror, shadow, whatever," said Bruschi, the rookie third-rounder out of Arizona for whom Patriots coaches devised a special role. In  passing  situations,  the  plan goes, Bruschi enters the game with strict  orders:  He  must  not allow scrambling quarterbacks like Favre and Brunell and Stewart the license to roam at will. Where they go, he goes.


    The Patriots could not be happier with the execution. Three weeks ago, Stewart misfired on all 10 of his throws, did not free-lance with his usual flair, and wound up more a zero than a "Slash" in the Patriots' rout of the Steelers. Bruschi made two solo tackles in the 28-3 win.


    Against Carolina in the AFC title game, Bruschi made two more tackles, intercepted  a  Brunell  pass  late  in the fourth quarter and dramatically shrank  the  real  estate  in which Brunell was allowed to operate. Result: Patriots 20, Jaguars 6.


    But after seeing what Brunell had done to beat Denver, it was obvious the Jaguars' quarterback was going to require special attention. "His  threat  was  so big because he could run so well," Bruschi said. "You  got  him third and 5, disciplined guys are rushing the passer and the coverage  is tight, then he just sort of pops out and picks up 5 yards just by diving forward.


     "We  had  to  really  put a mirror on him to stop that tactic. I don't know if it worked perfectly, but it helped us to win the game. It took away his scramble."


    When Bruschi looked in the mirror after being drafted by the Patriots, he wasn't sure what he saw. At Arizona, the 6-foot, 245-pound native of San Francisco  played  end on the Wildcats' "Desert Swarm" defense. A consensus All-American, he tied the NCAA record for career sacks of 52 set by Derrick Thomas at Alabama.

 

    The  gaudy  numbers bespoke a certain first-round draft pick. His size, however,  made  him  an in-betweener, and 85 players were picked before him before the Patriots took him on the third round.


    In training camp, the Patriots revealed their confusion about how best to use him. The first three days of camp, Bruschi was at middle linebacker. On Day 4, he was moved outside.


    In  49  starts  at  Arizona,  Bruschi  had never intercepted a pass or scored  a  touchdown.  In his rookie season with the Patriots, he did both, running  back  a  blocked punt for a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens Oct. 6 and picking off Brunell.


    But  ask most Patriots fans, and they remember Bruschi for the play he didn't  make:  He  dropped  Tom Tupa's pass on a fake punt on the Patriots' first series against Denver, setting the tone for a disastrous 34-8 beating by the Broncos Nov. 17.


    "It's  one  of  those  big moments where you have to be ready for it," Bruschi said. "I messed up." That  clouded  the mirror, but only momentarily. Yesterday, the mirror was back in place.

 

 

 

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