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Updated    12/05/10

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1998 Season

Click here for entire Bruschi Article Archive

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 anymore.


    "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 groin pull.


    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
STEVE CONROY
Boston Herald
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 been doing."

 

     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 it.


     "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 he's down."


TIME FOR BRUSCHI TO BEAR DOWN
Boston Globe - SATURDAY, November 28, 1998
By: Jim Greenidge, Globe Staff
PATRIOTS NOTEBOOK

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 little guys."


Bruschi (pictured at right) claims he has enjoyed seeing Flutie scrambling around and making plays on the run against Buffalo's opponents this fall.


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 Flutie.


"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 score rushing.


"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 winning.

 
"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 -- the enemy."

 

 

 

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