Pioli key component of Pats' success

FOXBORO, Mass. -- Here are five observations on the New England Patriots, based on their July 30-Aug. 1 practices and their Aug. 18 preseason game against New Orleans:

1. Because of the salary cap, you can't keep all of your players. When you have success, you probably won't be able to hold on to all of your coaches, as the Patriots learned after last year. But if you can keep your management together, you have a chance to keep a good thing going.

Had he jumped to Seattle, Scott Pioli, New England's vice president of player personnel and Bill Belichick's right-hand man, would have ensured that generations of Piolis would have lived the really good life (the Seahawks reportedly offered him in the area of $15 million to run the club). But remaining with the Patriots offered Pioli the best opportunity to continue winning Super Bowls and, perhaps, to add to his two consecutive NFL Executive of the Year awards. Over the summer, owner Robert Kraft rewarded Pioli for his loyalty by extending his contract, which was due to expire after the 2006 draft.