FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – An interesting dynamic is unfolding as it relates to the New England Patriots and former assistant to the coaching staff Michael Lombardi’s transition to the mainstream media, which has come to the forefront the last two days in the wake of the team’s shocking trade of linebacker Jamie Collins.
Lombardi, who worked for the team in 2014-2015 and whose responsibilities included being part of a limited group in the draft room, has been sharply critical of Collins’ play. In a Tuesday appearance on sports radio WEEI’s “Kirk and Callahan Show,” Lombardi shared his viewpoint that the trade -- which took some in the locker room by surprise -- was a pure football decision.
“Watch the tape. Jamie has not played particularly well. Sometimes freelancing is a problem, and I think sometimes effort is a problem,” he said.
Because Belichick doesn’t traditionally detail reasons for the team’s personnel decisions – and hasn’t in the case of Collins – Lombardi’s opinion has been viewed by some as reflective of the Patriots’ internal view of Collins.
Case in point: The second question Belichick was asked at his Wednesday news conference was in response to Lombardi’s remarks.
Belichick initially deflected the question, but the topic came up again midway through the news conference when Belichick was asked the following query: “Most people seem to be taking Mike Lombardi’s comments regarding the trade as being the opinion of the organization. What are your thoughts on that?”
Belichick answered by praising Lombardi, whom he has a long background with going back to the Cleveland Browns in the early 1990s. Lombardi has been critical of the Patriots' defense for weeks.
“Look, Mike is one of the smartest people that I know. He’s one of the smartest people I’ve worked with and he was a huge asset to me for the two years that he was here,” Belichick said. “Mike is a smart guy and he studies football and he knows it very well I would say on probably all teams. So you talk to Mike.”