By Alan Segel
There is a saying in sports that stats are for losers. Certainly if you are an NFL fan and came across an NFL starter with just 6 receptions, 52 yards, and 2 touchdowns your first inclination might be to think he is an underachiever and maybe a loser. However, despite that stat line, Algernon Darius Crumpler is most definitely not an underachiever or loser for the 2010 Patriots. The Pats tight end is much more than that and his value goes way beyond some less than gaudy numbers. If you don’t believe me, how about the Patriots commander-in-chief. He definitely agrees that Alge Crumpler’s value goes way beyond the stats.
” I think stats can be overrated in a lot of ways,” suggests Coach Bill Belichick. “Alge’s been a big contribution to this football team in a lot of ways, probably too many to mention. He’s played a lot of football for us. He’s played well and he’s done a good job in all the phases of the game. He’s had a lot of different roles and he’s performed well in all of them.”
It has been that way for Crumpler since he signed with the Pats on March 24th of 2010. He came to the Patriots after a two-year stint with the Tennessee Titans and before that he spent seven years(01-07) with the Atlanta Falcons. He was not just a role player in those locales. In Atlanta, he averaged 45 receptions and 5 touchdowns a year while in Tennessee, where he did transition a bit, he averaged 25 catches a year. He made the pro-bowl three straight years(03-04-05) so when he came to New England he did not come here as a pass catching all-star. He signed on board for something more important. He signed on as a player that was vital for Bill Belichick. He signed on knowing he would be sacrificing numbers for a chance at wins. Not all players can do that and Belichick has noticed and appreciated.
” You see a lot of players’ roles change and it’s not a problem and then you see other guys have a harder time making that adjustment,” said Belichick. “Without having worked with Alge before, I didn’t really know exactly how it would go with him, but really, since day one, whatever we’ve asked him to do, he’s not only tried to do them but he’s very receptive to everything. So, he’s been great.”
It is the type of attitude that Crumpler has had since he started playing football. He is a team player and everything he does individually is geared toward making him more valuable to his team and teammates.
“All I’ve ever wanted to do is just enjoy the game I have played since I was a little kid and grow as a player,” says Crumpler. “I did not think it was a tough transition. I just felt like I was coming in and doing what the coach asked me to do. Ultimately all I wanted was to win. I felt like if I had a selfish attitude coming in here maybe things wouldn’t go as well. But, I am excited about where we are as a team and I am excited the way I can help contribute to this team and I want to continue forward.”
Continuing forward for Crumpler meant sacrificing numbers, blocking and mentoring two young, but talented, rookie tight ends. He relished the assignment, took it to heart, and to say the results have been spectacular might be an understatement and then some. On the blocking front, where he once helped Chris Johnson gain 2,006 yards in Tennessee, he has helped the Patriots law-firm(BenJarvus Green-Ellis) get 1,008 convictions(sorry..I meant yards). You can also take a look at the success of Aaron Hernandez(45-563 yds-6tds) and Rob Gronkowski(42-546yds-10tds) and look directly at Crumpler. However, Crumpler wants none of the credit individually.
“It is always a collective effort,” says the Pats tight end. “They’re taught by Coach Belichick, taught by Brian Ferentz(offensive assistant), taught by Tom Brady, taught by Billy O’Brien(quarterback coach). I just kind of help by being there.
“They can pick my brain and do the things they do but we just go out and play. I mean if there are some things I can help them with I’ll definitely do that. But you’re talking about two young very talented individuals that have come in and really helped this team.”
Crumpler’s thought process always is team oriented. He realizes that players that have a me first attitude can sabotage the collective success. He has seen players with a great deal of talent on different teams waste that opportunity for success. There is a difference he suggests about being a Patriot and being inside the Patriots locker-room.
“I feel like this is a very unselfish team,” says Crumpler. “We are well coached, we have a great quarterback and we have guys in this locker-room that believe in each other and go out and do everything. The best part about it is that when we walk outside of the doors we can ignore the noise, manage the expectations and don’t believe the hype. We come here to work and we go out on Sunday and play.”
Crumpler is very upbeat about this Patriots team and what it can accomplish over the next several weeks. He does have experience in the post-season. His 2004 Atlanta Falcons went 11-5 and advanced to the NFC Championship before losing to the Eagles 27-10. He likes the fact the Patriots can focus on the team they’re playing and not look at the bigger picture. He says this team “never gets ahead of itself ” and if they continue to do that they will be fine. He is definitely enjoying himself but more so he is enjoying the team’s success. However, there is one thing he regrets and thinks about what might have been.
“I kind of wish I played in this organization for a long time,” says Crumpler. “I really do. A lot of the things that I felt like I stand for as a player are what this organization is. Accountability, preparation, and just focusing on doing your job. Not focusing on a thousand appearances and me,me,me. Just focused on making your teammates better, getting better as a player. Just doing the one thing he(Bill Belichick)asks you to do. Do your job and your job only.”
In Crumpler’s case his job is not a simple one. It is multi-faceted. He is a blocking, mentoring, pass-catching, and guidance counselor tight end. According to Bill Belichick he does each job with a great amount of ability. Belichick says, ” if I ask him to do anything he will try to do it that way.”
It is what makes him so valuable to this Patriots team.