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BRUSCHI POSITION: POSITIVE BACKUP LB HAPPY JUST
TO BE IN NFL
Boston Globe - SATURDAY, September 26, 1998
By: Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff
FOXBOROUGH - Year by year, his role expands. He spends more time on the field.
Little by little, the old prejudices -- that he is undersized, that he's a
defensive end learning to be a linebacker --
become less intense. And now Tedy Bruschi doesn't have to look over his shoulder
"Sometimes I'm driving along in my car with my wife," he
said, "and I'll turn to her and say, `I'm
living in a fantasy.' To play professional football -- whether
I'm playing 10 plays or 30 or whether I'm just on special
teams -- what an incredible thing."
The 6-foot-1-inch, 245-pounder never takes a moment of
his NFL life for granted. When he's on the field, he still
hits people as if they've done him wrong. While some of
his teammates are caught up in trivial stuff, Bruschi focuses constantly on
getting better. For someone who loves the game so much, it might be
difficult not to be a starter, but Bruschi emphatically dispels that notion.
"Whether I play
10 plays or 30, I thank God for the chance to be in there at all. I
think everyone wants to play all the time, but I'm the plug linebacker and
right now (starter) Todd Collins is having a great year. He's
playing as well as I've seen him play since I've been here."
For the selfish or the diffident, this would be a
hard role to accept. But Bruschi takes a different perspective. He figures
that every year he's made progress toward a starter's role, a
role he might have with several other NFL teams, ones that
don't have the likes of Collins, Chris Slade, and Ted Johnson.
"My role has expanded between this year and last year," said
Bruschi. "I don't know if I could start somewhere else. That's not for me to
say. "All I know is that as each
year goes along, I'm developing as a linebacker. When I
first came in, I had been a defensive lineman all my life. It
took me a while to be able to say I'm a linebacker and to think like
a linebacker. I'm starting to learn the defense and doing some good
things. I can still rush the passer and go crazy on special
teams like I do."
In his third season, Bruschi's role has
begun to evolve. He's getting more playing time, and in more significant
situations. He's no longer just a complementary player. Now he's essential. He
knows Collins is a very good linebacker, hard to replace. So he's patient.
"In my rookie year under Bill Parcells, I was mostly a
dime rusher," he said, "and once in a while, we'd drop back in coverage. When
Pete (Carroll) came in, I was a nickel
linebacker. Now I'm a nickel linebacker, dime
inebacker, and I'm a rusher in a package we call the dollar package. It's
expanded each year. Each year I'm learning the regular plug position
that Todd plays.
"I've always considered myself in competition for it,
and (the coaching staff) told me I'd push for playing
time this year. I see Todd and I've learned a lot from him. I'm on the verge of
making a bigger step, and maybe that will be next year."
He takes a realistic view
of his situation vis a vis Collins. "Todd can do a better job
than me right now at plugger," said Bruschi. "I look forward
to the defense stopping them on first down for 2 or less
yards, because I say to myself, `OK, I'm coming in.' I don't
harp on the things that are out of my control. Last year I played 10
plays some games and 30 some others. I didn't complain when I played 10
and I didn't complain when I played 30."
Bruschi laid a big hit on Eddie
George in a big-time situation last week. The Oilers led
the Patriots, 16-13, with less than seven minutes remaining when, on third
and 13 from the Tennessee 17, Steve McNair swung a pass to George in the
left flat. No sooner had George caught the ball than Bruschi dropped
him for a 4-yard loss. Bruschi had noticed the play being used throughout
the game. When it was called this time, it came as no
surprise to him.
It got the Patriots going. The Oilers had to
punt, and eventually, the New England offense cranked it up and marched to the
winning score. "Sometimes after a play like that," said Bruschi, "I
just shake my head and say, `I can't believe I just did that in an NFL game.' "
SUNDAY'S KEY MATCHUP BRUSCHI VS. FLUTIE
Boston Globe - FRIDAY, November 13, 1998
By: Nick Cafardo, Globe Staff
Tedy Bruschi will have to play the entire game at outside
linebacker Sunday against the Bills because of starter Todd Collins's severe
Bruschi normally is assigned to rush the
passer, and that role likely will not change, given that Chris Slade is
banged up and his pursuit might be limited.
Patriots coach Pete
Carroll said he normally employs a spy to cover mobile
quarterbacks like Doug Flutie, Mark Brunell, and Steve Young.
On Sunday against Flutie, it could be Bruschi or even
strong safety Lawyer Milloy. Regardless, Bruschi's strength is his quickness,
and he must have a big hand in keeping Flutie in check.
One thing the Patriots can't do
is overpursue Flutie, who looks for linemen and linebackers who attempt to
gain an advantage by jumping at the line of scrimmage. The Patriots seemed
to overpursue John Elway in Week 1, and the Broncos veteran
escaped and killed them with key completions. On the flip side, the Patriots did
contain Tennessee's Steve McNair.
Football; Filling a tall order;
Patriots' Bruschi set for big game
Friday, November 13, 1998
FOXBORO -- Tedy Bruschi certainly can empathize with Doug Flutie.
There have been times in
Bruschi's career, much like Flutie's, when he's heard the same maddening
criticisms. He's too short, people would say, sometimes louder than either cared
to hear. But when the Patriots play Sunday against the Buffalo Bills, both
"undersized" players will get a chance to shine. Flutie has been the story of
the NFL as he's made a successful return to the league after eight years in the
CFL. Bruschi most likely will be making a start at outside linebacker in place
of injured Todd Collins.
Bruschi admitted that he looks up to Flutie - so to speak.
"I can relate to him, being a 6-foot-1 defensive lineman through high school and
college," said Bruschi. "Now I'm an average-size linebacker, which is nice. But
my whole career I was kind of looked down upon in terms of a guy that was too
small or couldn't get things done because of his size.
"And I can relate to Flutie. His (situation) was more extreme
than mine because a 5-10 quarterback is just unheard of in the NFL and I
understand that. But I think it's been nice to see some of the things that he's
been doing, for a so-called little guy in the world. That's why people are
taking to him. Everyone's got doubts about him but he's taking them to heart and
he's sort of saying, 'Here I am, still 5-10, but now I'm on top of the world.'"
Bruschi would like to knock
Flutie off that perch on Sunday. Like the Bills, the Pats are 5-4 and the game
is crucial to both teams' playoff chances Bruschi will be a big part of the
Pats' efforts. Normally brought in on passing downs, Bruschi will have to play
virtually the entire game because of injuries.
"I've had some games this year where I've pretty much felt
like I've been out there the whole time with the multiple packages. But now that
I'll have a starting role, there are more things that I have to prepare myself
for," he said. "I'll have to study more this week and just do more than I've
Chris Slade is questionable
as well, severely thinning out the linebacking corps. "This club's a little thin
at a lot of positions, but that's the way it goes," said Bruschi. "Guys get hurt
and we've got some more guys hurt than some other teams, but it comes down on
guys like myself, guys like Chris Sullivan and other guys who are usually in
what I wouldn't call backup roles, but more contributing roles. Now it's time to
step up and be in a starting role."
Bruschi is still smarting from Sunday's 41-10 pounding at the
hands of the Atlanta Falcons. "I think by Sunday it'll be behind us, but I
sort of still feel the effects of a game like that," said Bruschi. "You probably
should be hurting after a game like that. I take it to heart personally myself
because I don't want that ever to happen again and to have it happen, period, is
something I don't feel very good about. It's just something where we'll see what
kind of fighters we are if we can bounce back from a knockdown like that."
If they have to knock Flutie down to right themselves, so be
"I'm sort of glad that he's done well for himself. When
a little guy does well, I'm happy about that," said Bruschi. "But in terms of
stopping him this week, it's like having a running back with an arm out there.
He's had some awesome scrambles getting away from (defensive) linemen who
haven't been able to bring him down. It seems like he's wrapped up sometimes and
he gets out. But that's the type of player he is. He just makes things happen
and I think the big thing with us is just hustle, hustle and play hard until
TIME FOR BRUSCHI TO BEAR DOWN
Boston Globe - SATURDAY, November 28, 1998
By: Jim Greenidge, Globe Staff
FOXBOROUGH - Linebacker Tedy Bruschi usually gets
the bulk of his playing time on third-and-long situations,
but with starter Todd Collins sidelined with a groin injury, Bruschi will get
his third start this season. And trying to control Bills
quarterback Doug Flutie will be no easy task.
"Flutie has probably given us
the most problems at quarterback than anybody the whole year,"
said Bruschi. Flutie was 14 of 26 for 178 yards with one touchdown and two
interceptions in Buffalo's 13-10 win against the Patriots Nov. 15
"We haven't been able to do it lately, but when we put
pressure on guys, they're usually not able to take
advantage of it like he does and get outside the pocket and
still make plays," Bruschi said. "He has that ability to
do so. On third-and-long the last time, he was able to scramble out and make the
first downs. He picks the lane, whatever lanes are open."
Sizing up the enemy: Bruschi can relate to Flutie -- within reason
By Ed Duckworth,
New England Sports Service 11/12/98
FOXBORO -- All things considered, it probably figures that Tedy Bruschi of the
New England Patriots should be a big fan of Doug Flutie of the Buffalo Bills.
He is. Well, he has been until now, anyhow.
"When you're a 5-10 quarterback like he is or a 6-1
linebacker like me," Bruschi said yesterday, "people are always going to
question your ability to do a job in the NFL.
"So I've been glad to see Doug come back to this league
and do a great job for the Bills. It's been nice to see him do things for us
Bruschi (pictured at right) claims he has enjoyed seeing
Flutie scrambling around and making plays on the run against Buffalo's opponents
But now that Bruschi knows he will be starting at
linebacker for the Pats in place of the injured Todd Collins this weekend, the
former Arizona star is hoping Flutie won't take advantage of him
"He's a great player because he's such a creative
player," the 6-1, 245-pound linebacker said. "The only way a defense can contain
him is by being disciplined and staying in its (pass rushing) lanes."
Bruschi and Flutie both recognize the Pats and Bills have
plenty on the line Sunday (1 p.m., Channels 7 and 10) in their AFC East matchup
at Rich Stadium.
"Neither team can afford to lose and still like its
chances of making the playoffs," Bruschi said. "So, yeah, there's going to be
pressure on us. But there's going to be pressure on them, too."
Bruschi says he is confident the banged-up Pats will find
a way to win in spite of what he describes as the "great respect" he has for
"My whole career, I've sort of been looked down upon
because of my size," he said. "I'm sure it has been that way for Doug, too. His
situation probably was even more extreme than mine, in fact, because a 5-10
quarterback is unheard of in the NFL."
Since taking over for Rob Johnson as the Bills' starter
Oct. 11, Flutie has put the 5-4 Bills into the AFC East playoff race by guiding
them to four victories in five games.
The 36-year-old former Boston College All-American has
done it with his hands as well as his feet, completing 86 of 147 passes for
1,283 yards and seven touchdowns, and gaining an additional 83 yards and one
"They say he's not as fast as he once was," said Bruschi,
"but he can still scoot to the outside if he gets the chance. And he still
throws the ball as long and accurately as he ever did."
According to the Pats' linebacker, Flutie also has a
mystique working for him.
"The guys on his team expect him to do great things
because he's been doing great things as long as he's been playing football,"
Bruschi added. "That's something very few players have. He's a winner."
Bruschi first heard about (and became an instant fan of)
Flutie as a schoolboy back in 1984, when the quarterback uncorked his memorable
"Hail Mary" pass to Gerard Phelan that enabled BC to upset Miami.
"I can still remember seeing that No. 22 jumping around
after completing that pass," recalled Bruschi, who watched on television. "I've
been sort of keeping an eye on him ever since."
Like a lot of others, Bruschi, a third-round draft pick
in '96 because of his size, even though he tied the NCAA record for sacks during
his Pac-10 career, believed Flutie would finish his pro career in the Canadian
Football League before the Bills signed the quarterback this past summer.
"It's really kind of neat that he's getting this
opportunity now," the linebacker said. "I imagine that a lot of scouts have to
be kicking themselves for letting him stay in the CFL all those (six) years."
Bruschi says it's natural that fans root for Flutie,
given his lack of size.
"The average-sized guy can relate to him and the problems
he has to face and overcome to win," he said. "Doug's an underdog, for sure, and
even though a lot of personnel guys and football experts still question his
ability, he's winning games.
"The fact he's overcome so much to succeed makes his
appeal stronger and his story more dramatic," Bruschi added. "He's taken all
kinds of shots, but he's still confounding his critics by making plays and
"It's as if he's saying, 'Yeah, I may be only 5-10, but
I'm as good as anybody.' That's the kind of athlete Americans love."
Bruschi respects Flutie, too, but on Sunday he'll be
aiming to take him down.
"We're in a do-or-die situation," the Pats' linebacker
added. "To me, Doug Flutie is going to be like any other opposing quarterback --
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