Scott Chandler is ready to begin a new career in New England. (Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Scott Chandler knows the situation he’s in coming to Foxboro. He leaves Buffalo where he was clearly the best pass-catching tight end in the Bills’ offense and comes to New England where he will be the second-most recognizable tight end behind Rob Gronkowski.
During a conference call Friday, Chandler called Bill Belichick a straight shooter.
Did Belichick lay out to him what it will mean to be the second tight end in a potent offense behind Rob Gronkowski?
“We didn’t get into that too terribly much,” Chandler said. “I think what I want to do is be part of a team that’s a winning team. Whatever that role that the coaches define for me there, I want to do whatever I can to help the team win.
“I’ve talked to Rob on the field after games and that’s about it. I’m sure we’ll get to know each other and get along well. He seems like a fun guy to be around. Obviously he’s a great player. I’m looking forward to being able to learn from him and watch him do his thing. He’s pretty fun to watch.”
Chandler, like Gronk, is a tall tight end, at 6-foot-7, and – like Gronk – could provide more blocking along the offensive line as he has developed that part of his game.
“I think it’s one of those things that it can be tough, but I’ve been dealing with it for a while now,” Chandler added. “You learn to sink or swim pretty quick in this league. You want to do whatever you can to get low and stay low. It’s hard, but you learn how to deal with it because if you can’t get the job done, they’re going to find someone else.”
Chandler, who signed a two-year, $5.3 million contract on March 13, will be more than happy to make some personal sacrifices to attain more team glory. In five non-playoff seasons in Buffalo, Chandler caught 17 touchdowns, including 28 catches on 42 targets and four touchdowns in nine games against the Patriots.
“I think you go into a game just wanting to do what it takes for your team to win and sometimes that means catching the ball and sometimes that means blocking well,” Chandler said. “I’ve probably had games that I didn’t have very good stats, but they were some of my better games throughout my career. It just so happened that in those games I needed to catch the ball a little bit and I was able to do that.”
Belichick can trust that Chandler has been taught well. Before playing for the Bills, he played his college ball under Belichick’s good friend and Iowa head coach Kirk Ferentz.
“Coach Ferentz had a big impact; just getting a different type of coach than I had in high school,” Chandler said. “In high school we were running the spread offense and throwing the ball every play and you get to Coach Ferentz and he runs a very pro-type program there. You’re laid out what’s expected of you and you’re expected to carry that out. If you’re not, you’re not going to play. I really appreciate that approach. He tells you what you need to do to get on the field. I was able to go there and have a successful career. Obviously he’s built a great program there. I know he and Coach [Bill] Belichick have a lot in common in the way they approach coaching. I’m excited to get in and deal with Coach Belichick.”
Chandler explained how the relationship between Ferentz and Belichick might help him in New England.
“I think Coach Belichick is a real straightforward guy,” Chandler said. “I haven’t had too much interaction with him, but from what I’ve heard, he’s just a guy who is going to tell it like it is. That’s an approach that after bouncing around and sometimes you have guys who beat around the bush and don’t tell you really what’s going on, but Coach Belichick seems to do that. That’s an approach that you can appreciate as a vet.”
By all reports, the battle for free agent Chandler came down to the Ravens and Patriots. Chandler said Friday he was pretty much in a no-lose situation.
“I think I was a in a pretty good spot,” he said. “They’re two really good organizations. That’s really what it came down to. I’ve been playing for a while and I wanted to be a part of an organization that has a pretty good chance to win. Mr. Kraft has done an amazing job of not only creating that ‘ and Coach Belichick has a pretty big hand in that ‘ not only creating it, but sustaining it for a long period of time. I’m looking forward to going into this year and doing whatever I can to be a part of that.
“I think that comes down to the organization that Mr. [Robert] Kraft has set up here. It’s been a top-flight organization since I’ve been playing for sure, and longer than that. I think that was a big factor, was just going to a good organization.
“I think if you get into those kind of things, you end up making this game more about you and really it’s about the team. I just want to come in and do what I can to be a part of the Patriot culture and just do my part. I don’t really want to get into those feelings of vengeance or anything because they’re not really there for me. I had a great five years in Buffalo and it’s time for me to be a Patriot now.”