PHILADELPHIA — The NFL is supposed to be a copycat league, so why haven’t more organizations tried to emulate what Bill Belichick has put together in New England?
The easiest answer is many have tried and failed because mimicking the DNA of the Patriots’ way can’t be accomplished without the best coach/quarterback combination of the generation and perhaps of all time.
Believe it or not, though, there are other coaches as smart and as football savvy as Belichick, and Brady himself will tell you there are far more talented signal-callers than him. Yet, it’s the evil empire in Foxborough with the five Super Bowl rings.
So what gives? Why are the Patriots the Patriots?
According to LeGarrette Blount, the 250-pound bruising running back who just signed a one-year deal with Philadelphia after an 18-touchdown season with the reigning Super Bowl champions, it’s about establishing your own identity and not trying to mimic the success of others.
“I’ve been a part of something special,” Blount told FanRagSports.com at the NovaCare Complex on Thursday. “I don’t think you need to bring the culture of New England here. (The Eagles) have a culture of their own. They have had a lot of great players of their own: B-Dawk (Brian Dawkins), (running backs coach) Duce (Staley). I don’t think you need to bring the culture of any team here.”
So Blount, 30, is trying to start something similar but different in his new home which features a far younger nucleus in its second year together, Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz, the No. 2 overall pick in 2016 who showed quite a bit of promise during his rookie season.
“We had the best quarterback probably to ever play football,” Blount said when asked about playing with Brady. “Tom is an amazing player. He’s a smart player, and when he’s out there, he demands a lot of respect from any team you’re playing against.”
It’s unfair to make any comparisons with Wentz, but Blount believes he will remain in good hands.
“(Wentz) has the potential to be a really special player,” the Oregon product said. “He has all the tools needed and all the grinding that is needed. He has the mindset to maximize his abilities if he continues to work hard.”
Having a bell-cow back figures to help that process along. Blount is expected to get every opportunity to be that guy because the Eagles’ depth chart currently features specialist Darren Sproles, unproven second-year players like Wendell Smallwood and Byron Marshall, along with undersized rookie fourth-round pick Donnel Pumphrey and undrafted rookie free agent Corey Clement, a local South Jersey product who starred at Wisconsin.
“I’m excited to be here and compete for a job,” Blount said. “Whatever they want me to do I’m here for. I’m a very coachable player.”
Blount is used to winning but isn’t worried about being a Band-Aid in a rebuilding project. Many wonder if the Eagles are resetting around Wentz or trying to win now by signing veterans like Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Blount to short-term contracts.
Despite the Jekyll and Hyde-like tendencies when it comes to roster building, Blount sees a team ready to compete.
“Every team is trying to win championships,” Blount said. “No team is going out there expecting to not win. I think every team is expecting to win. You build the team around players who you know will help you do that. Carson (Wentz) is one of the type of players you want to build around. I think they’re trying to win now. For sure.”
The Eagles haven’t promised anything to Blount other than the chance to contribute, and his role as RB1 is hardly set in stone, but his resume as a two-time 1,000-yard runner gives him a leg up on his competition.
And then there are those intangibles Blount brings from his two stints with football royalty and the two rings that came out of it, sojourns that have taught him it’s not about copying the Patriots’ way, it’s about finding your own way.
-John McMullen is a national football columnist for FanRagSports.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen Also catch John each week during the NFL season ESPN South Jersey, ESPN Southwest Florida, ESPN Lexington, CBS Baltimore, KDWN in Las Vegas, and check @JFMcMullen for John’s upcoming appearances on SB Nation Radio, FOX Sports Radio, CBS Sports Radio as well as dozens of local radio stations across North America.
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