Football teams trying to replicate the Patriots system by hiring coaches or executives away from New England have not found much success over the years.
Bill O’Brien had a promising first year at Penn State, but Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel, Scott Pioli, Eric Mangini and Josh McDaniels haven’t been able to come close to replicating the winning that Bill Belichick and the Patriots have done. That isn’t stopping a Boston team from another sport from looking to the Patriots’ way of doing business for a way to help themselves recover from a horrible season.
Red Sox General Manager Ben Cherington said Tuesday that the team has used the Patriots as a guide during their offseason. Cherington says that the team is prioritizing versatility in their free agent signings after watching the Patriots make good use of it on the football field.
I think we’ve learned a lesson from the lack of protection in different areas and depth in different areas,” said Cherington, via CSNNewEngland.com. “I guess it’s a little bit of a page out of the Patriots’ book, having guys who can cover different things. It’s important. Seems to me that the teams who get the six-month season and can afford the real droughts, tend to be the ones that have a bunch of guys who can cover different spots. Inevitably, you’re going to have guys out. That has been something we’ve talked about a lot.”
Whether it is shifting Devin McCourty between corner and safety, last season’s occasional running play by Aaron Hernandez or Troy Brown’s late career moonlighting as a defensive back, the Patriots have certainly made good use of versatility over the years. Having a catcher who can also play first or a pitcher who can start or relieve works along those lines and makes a lot of sense, although the difference in financial versatility between baseball and football makes it hard to take too much inspiration from the gridiron to the diamond.
The Red Sox roster has been larded in recent years with overpaid veteran players who no longer produced at a level equal to their salary. In the NFL, generally speaking, such players get cut or reduce their salaries to give teams a chance to spend money on players more likely to help the team. Baseball’s fully guaranteed contracts make for different decisions when it comes to team building and make it much harder to back out of mistakes than it is in the NFL.