"Woo!" McGinest laughed. "See you at the party!"
"I'm going to be exhaling for the next two months," Colvin said.
Welcome to the offseason, where Patriots players – who held their breath and tongues for months – finally get to relax. If only it were that easy for everyone.
Despite good salary cap management and copious consideration for the future, there still will be plenty of decisions for both the Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles. As Patriots defensive end Ty Warren said after New England's Super Bowl win, "It's going to be a different team next year, but I don't have to think about that right now."
Nope. That would be coach Bill Belichick's problem.
Both Belichick and Eagles coach Andy Reid have their work cut out for them if they are to fulfill the prophesizing for the outside world, which is assuming both of these teams should be in the Super Bowl hunt well into the future. Then again, we figured the same thing about the Carolina Panthers last year. While Belichick and the Patriots seem so adept at setting the league's postseason curve, it's now up to Reid and the Eagles to spend this offseason keeping pace.
Expect to see some shuffling for both.
- The coaching staffs
If the Eagles believe continuity had a lot to do with New England's success, then they have to like what's going to happen with their own coaching staff. In a word – nothing.
Offensive coordinator Brad Childress was a candidate for several jobs this season, but he will be back, as will defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. Having them all together again should do nothing but help put the finishing touches on units that consistently have maintained high standards over the last several seasons.
Meanwhile, New England has a new hurdle, having to replace coordinators Charlie Weis and Romeo Crennel, who have departed to captain Notre Dame and the Cleveland Browns, respectively. Their replacements will come from within, and the leading candidates are tight ends coach Jeff Davidson for the offensive coordinator position and defensive backs coach Eric Mangini for the defensive opening.
While it's too early to say it will be a seamless transition, it's worth noting the experience factor. Davidson has been in the offense since 1997 and has had a front row during the scheme's development, not to mention the maturation of quarterback Tom Brady.
As for Mangini, he has been around since 2000 and might deserve two Super Bowl rings for the coaching job he did with the banged-up secondary this season. His most amazing move of all might have been getting wide receiver Troy Brown involved in practices with the secondary during the preseason. That was some amazing foresight that paid off huge down the stretch.
- Talent, talent, talent
The Patriots really only have one tough decision to make with their roster, and that's the status of defensive back Ty Law.
Like other big names cut loose in the past, Law's 2005 salary cap weight (more than $12 million) has reached critical mass. It's a situation that will have to be worked out, either with Law reworking his new deal and taking less money, or the Patriots cutting him and moving on to other options. Considering his injury and the fact New England was able to win without him, Law doesn't have a great deal of leverage.
The Patriots' other pressing issues are the free-agent status of kicker Adam Vinatieri and the contract of Brady. Vinatieri will be back, either signed to a new long-term deal or given New England's franchise tag. As for Brady, he has two years left on his current contract, and the Patriots would like to get an extension finished this offseason.
There has been some consternation about whether Brady would seek to be paid like Atlanta's Michael Vick and Indianapolis' Peyton Manning – especially with the implications that would have on New England's roster. But some think Brady will be willing to take less to ensure success. It's too early to know whether that's truth or fiction, but Brady seemed to make a gesture of his feelings toward ownership after the Super Bowl, when he sought out Robert Kraft and gave him the game's final ball.
Philadelphia will have a few decisions, too.
Defensive tackle Corey Simon and middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter are heading for free agency, and it's looking like the Eagles will have to choose between the two. Trotter, who left the team once via free agency, sounds like a man who wants to stay – and Philadelphia would be happy to keep him at a fair price. The odd man out might be Simon, since the Eagles will be looking to add another weapon on offense and might be reluctant to sink another major contract into the defensive line.
- Mental health
For both teams, the one commodity likely to go unchanged will be emotion.
While the Patriots have mastered the art of the middle – never getting too high or too low – the Eagles will be tasked with getting themselves in check for next season. At times, Philadelphia almost seemed emotionally drained near the end of Sunday's game. Even a few of the Patriots' defensive players suggested the Eagles' lack of offensive urgency came from being emotionally tapped at the end.
For sure, Philadelphia now has the taste of ultimate disappointment. What the Eagles do with it will determine whether they are on this stage again next season or fade into the background. One certainty – New England doesn't have any secrets and isn't likely to change its mindset anytime soon.
As Patriots linebacker Willie McGinest put it, "We don't do nothin' around here. Nothin' but win Super Bowls."
It's up to the Eagles and the rest of the NFL to change that.
- New England
- the Eagles