Vinny Cerrato’s office is remarkable. All the walls are whiteboard, covered with the rosters of every team in the league. Each player is color-coded, with detailed notes, and it’s all sorted by position. It’s one of those things where the scale of it all defies description, but for sensory overload, it’s sort of like the interior design version of the ESPNHD screen during NFL draft coverage.
Anyhow, I was able to stop staring at the walls for long enough to ask Cerrato just a few more questions after his address to the media today.
The New England Patriots get a lot of press for great decisions. From your perspective, why do their decisions seem so strong?
“Tom Brady.” [He laughs.]
That certainly helps. Following on Tom Brady, then, let me ask you about Jason Campbell. It’s a year to year thing with him?
“We just evaluate him as we go.”
Has he improved anything specific over this season?
“He improved his turnovers. Like I said to the press, he brought us from behind a few times to win games, which is big. And he improved a lot, I think, fundamentally. And I think he improved a lot from listening to Jim, managing the game at the line of scrimmage.”
Is deciding the quarterback position one of the most important for an organization?
“The most. The most. The most. It is the most important position on a football team. You can’t win without one.”
So how does having that Tom Brady-like quarterback affect personnel decisions?
“It makes everything easy…er. Easier.”
You’ve been asked a lot about the second round picks, but you’re out at practice everyday. What have you seen from Chad Rinehart, Colt Brennan – some of the other draft picks people may not have seen?
“They get individual work and then basically they are running scout team plays the whole time, so it’s harder for them. They get their ten minutes of individuals each day to improve on their fundamentals and then they are running the other team’s plays.
“I think both of those guys are making strides. They will get their opportunity come this offseason.”
It seems like after every offseason, the moves are characterized in a specific way, like “Oh, they’re building through the draft,” or collecting free agents. Do you all decide that approach now, or just see how things come at you?
“No, because the first thing that comes is free agency. You have to look at it, evaluate it, see what your needs are and see what the market is and does it make sense for your team or does it not make sense for your team. Then the draft comes next.
“A lot of things determine whether you are a player or you’re not a player in free agency. Might be that the talent is there, might be that the market is too high, might be that the position that we are looking for is not available or maybe the draft is really strong in that area and you can get it in the draft and not have to pay a whole lot.”
Are there any positions that you’ve IDed that you want to look at as an upgrade for this offseason?
“I think that’ll all come when we finish evaluations.”
How about the radio show? Did you wind up enjoying that experience?
“Yeah, I enjoyed it. I think it gave the fans the opportunity to ask me the questions. I think it gave an opportunity for people to feel like they were in touch with what was going on because they were hearing it right from me.”
Was it good to be able to talk to fans directly? Or what was it like?
“When you lost, on a Monday it was rough. When you won it was very easy. When you won, the Monday show was very easy. When we lost it wasn’t as easy. The Friday show was fun, just ’cause I had a bunch of guests and it was like you’re just sitting around, talking with your buddies. You know, you’re shooting the breeze, so Friday’s show was simple.”
Will you do the show again next year, you think?
“Yeah, we’ll see. We’ll see how it goes. Probably.”
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