SOUTH BOSTON — As big-name talent leaves New England for big paydays elsewhere in the NFL, former Patriots left tackle Matt Light has weighed in with his thoughts on what's different in Foxboro from the days when he played.
"The culture has changed so much in that locker room," Light told Butch Stearns as he was preparing to host his annual "Speed of Light" fundraiser for The Light Foundation. "When you lose a veteran presence, it's more than what it meant five or ten years ago. It's a different story today when guys walk into a system like a Belichick system and they have a lot of demands placed on them.
"It's not just show up and do your job. It's show up, do your job, work hard, be attentive, put the team first – all the core principles of the Patriot way – and that's a lot more than a lot of other organizations ask of you. So if the culture's different it's going to be harder to train guys in the Patriot way than it was five or ten years ago."
Light anchored the offensive line in New England from 2001-2011 and played in five Super Bowls, winning three. He's seen marquee players come and go, but feels a change in atmosphere, league-wide, is contributing to a different set of realities for this year's Patriots.
"In the past, as a team, were we able to overcome things like the loss of a Richard Seymour or a Lawyer Milloy or a Ty Law - the list goes on and on and on – yeah, we were. It wasn't always perfect and we had a long stretch there where we didn't do real well throughout the playoff run. But, today when kids walk into the organization they have a greater sense of entitlement. I watched that happen towards the end of my career.
"You have guys that are more worried about their brand and social media and everything else but there's not a toughness like there was before. Overall that toughness and that mentality, we crafted a lot of that through training camp and minicamp and all these things. Look at the league today. I was part of that CBA that got signed and helped push it through, but didn't really think of all the ramifications. Guys aren't as prepared to play the game of football. It was a sloppy playoff run in a lot of cases, but it was also a sloppy product overall, league-wide, when you look at this whole season. I don't think the toughness level is there. I don't think the commitment level is there as much and I think it's harder to get through to a lot of these young guys that are walking in from organizations where they've been placed on a pedestal and are asked now to jump in with both feet and make a huge commitment."
Light was especially disappointed to see Nate Solder leave in free agency.
“Nate Solder going to the Giants, that’s a major blow," he said. "I think it’s going to be very difficult to replace a guy like Nate, because, number one, he’s a ginormous mammal and he’s a guy that really has a lot of experience in this system – a guy that other guys look up to and a guy that you could always depend on. Those are qualities that are hard to find today. So he leaves a big void on the offensive line and a void on an offensive line that already had some issues that needed to be addressed and this is going to be another big one that they’re going to have to deal with.”
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