As usual, I overcompensated on the Q&As and reached out to too many Pats writers to get the deal on Brandon Spikes. However, screw it. We can run another one and Here's Derek from Foxboro Blog to dish more dirt on Spikes.
1) Can you tell me a little about Brandon Spikes time in NE?
Brandon Spikes was one of the more interesting characters on the team the past few seasons. When he first showed up to camp, he made Belichick break from his usual tight-lipped stance on rookies and commented on Spikes' "unique" style of play. It was clear that Belichick was intrigued by this player and the ways he would be able to use him on defense. Spikes had a productive rookie season, but things began to take a turn when he was suspended for four games late in the year for violating the league's substance policy. For whatever reason, he wasn't able to keep up the positive momentum after the suspension. He continued to be a hard hitter and the "enforcer" on New England's defense, but never seemed totally in line with what Belichick was trying to accomplish and marched to the beat of his own drum. Spikes was the only player on the entire New England roster to skip the voluntary OTA's this past season, which seemed to foreshadow that he wouldn't be returning this year. When he decided to skip a team meeting because of the snow late in the season, Belichick seemed to have enough and placed Spikes on IR despite the huge rash of injuries to the Patriots's defense that had left them thin a linebacker.
2) What are his strengths and weaknesses?
Spikes is a hard hitter who's great at attacking the run. He's a liability in coverage, which limits his usefulness. You definitely have to pick your spots of when you put him on the field as he'll get torched in the passing game.
3) There was a lot of talk in NE about Spikes' attitude with Belichick and that he was lazy. I also read he was pissed off coming into camp last year. Can you set the record straight about him there?
As I mentioned above, Spikes was the only player on the entire roster to skip the voluntary OTA's preferring to work out on his own. When asked about his absence, Spikes explained that he felt he could better prepare himself for the season alone than he could by taking part in team activities. I don't know that rift with him and Belichick was due to "laziness" per se, but rather with Spikes' preference to do things "his way" instead of the "Patriot Way".
4) What is your reaction to the Bills signing him to a 1-year, 3-million dollar deal?
Clearly it's a low-risk proposition for the Bills and the familiarity with Pepper Johnson should help Spikes get acclimated to his new environment. Spikes needed a fresh start and overall, I think you'll be happy with him as a player. If he was a better personality fit, I think New England fans would be more upset about his departure. He was generally well liked by the fans, but we all saw the writing on the wall here for quite some time.
5) Can you tell me a few games in which you thought he looked really good in and what he did?
One game that stands out was Week 4 of the 2012 season against the Bills in which Spikes forced two fumbles. When Spikes can tee off on players, he's at his best. He's great at jarring the ball loose and forcing turnovers.
6) Anything else worth mentioning about his time in NE or any interesting stats?
Spikes recently tweeted to New England fans that "It was 'real' and it was 'fun', but it wasn't 'real fun'. To that, I would counter that Spikes was "real" and he was "good", but he wasn't "real good". To Patriots fans, Spikes represents missed potential as he should have had a much better career in New England what ultimately played out. He had the potential to be amazing, but just never caught on in the system. I think he'll do better in Buffalo where he's no longer a 2nd round pick, but rather a low-risk free agent. There's a different expectation level there and I don't think you'll be disappointed with him.
For Q&A archives for Bills FA signings: