Philbin: Patriots in class of their own in AFC East

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Philbin: Patriots in class of their own in AFC East

FOXBORO -- The 8-3 Patriots can clinch the AFC East on Sunday with a win over the Miami Dolphins.

So you would think that Dolphins coach Joe Philbin would have had a message to his team this week. Something like, "Don't let them come into our building and win the division!"

Not so much. At least, Philbin hadn't planned on doing that, until he was informed that New England could clinch, in a conference call on Wednesday.

"Believe it or not, this is the honest to God truth, I didn't even know that," said Philbin when asked about Sunday's stipulations. "I'm not surprised, looking at what they've done the last five weeks.

"We're not worried, necessarily, about that. We're worried about how well they're executing in all three phases of the game. But as far as the standings, right now, that's not really a focus of ours."
Like his coach, Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill also didn't know that the Patriots can clinch the division with a win in Miami on Sunday, until asked about it on Wednesday's conference calls.
"I had no clue, until you just said that," said Tannehill. "So, I don't think it's anything that we're talking about in the locker room thus far. We're obviously just focused on a good Patriots team that is going to come in and play hard and play well."
Philbin is a Massachusetts native, so he's aware of how dominant the Patriots have been in the AFC East, even though he's in just his first season as the Dolphins coach.

"I think it's a good, competitive division," said Philbin. "Obviously there's some good rivals that we have, with all three teams. The three of us are a work in progress at this stage, and one team's playing very, very well."

While competitive, he acknowledges that the Patriots are in a class of their own, mainly because of their turnover ratio.

"Plus-24 is what I see," said Philbin. "That's a great place to start, if you want to talk about winning football games in the National Football League. It's a great credit to their players and their coaches. These guys do a fantastic job. I mean, we're minus-10, and that's not very good. And they're plus-24. That's outstanding. That's a tremendous place to build your program around. So I would say that's the one thing that jumps out at me."

Turner jokes that Celtics will retire his number

Turner jokes that Celtics will retire his number

It’s not the craziest thing someone has said on Twitter, but Evan Turner tweeted Monday that the Celtics should retire his number. 

It was a joke, of course, as the former Celtic was reacting to news that Isaiah Thomas had said he liked the No. 11 and would change his jersey number if so many people in Boston hadn’t already purchased his No. 4 jersey. 

After Turner joked that No. 11 was going to be retired, Thomas joked back that he would wear No. 11 as a tribute to the current Trail Blazer. 

Prior to being traded to Boston, Thomas wore No. 22 for Sacramento and No. 3 for Phoenix. 

Curran: McDaniels staying with Pats shouldn't be a shocker

Curran: McDaniels staying with Pats shouldn't be a shocker

For weeks the speculation regarding Josh McDaniels wasn't a matter of "if" but "when."

But while national media had McDaniels signed, sealed and delivered to multiple landing spots, the proposition that he'd leave at all was never a likelihood. 

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The Rams weren't attractive to him from the outset. Jacksonville didn't excite him, either. And on Monday, he passed on the 49ers opportunity. 

The lure of a blank slate in San Fran at quarterback and GM didn't outpace the uncertainty of going cross-country to work for a seemingly dysfunctional franchise that's cycled rapidly through coaches and has an unrealistic sense that it's a long, long way removed from its glory days, the only remnant remaining from that being perhaps the logo on the helmet. 

With four kids and a job McDaniels considers one of the 10 best on coaching -- head man or no -- he will stay on as the Patriots' offensive coordinator.

"I was really impressed with (Niners owner) Jed York and (team executive) Paraag Marathe . . . and the people that came from the 49ers organization," McDaniels said on a conference call this morning. "They did a great job with their presentation. Humbled to be included in that process. At this time it's just best for my family and myself to remain here in New England and focus on this year's playoffs and finish out the year however it turns out."

The same faulty speculative reasoning that had McDaniels as good as gone from the Patriots will move on undeterred today and surmise that McDaniels is staying with the Patriots because he knows, or has been promised, that he'll receive the head coaching job when Bill Belichick steps aside. 

While the Kraft family certainly thinks highly of McDaniels and that could come to pass, anyone tapping their foot and checking their watch waiting for Belichick to step down is in for a long wait. He's showing no signs of wrapping it up and, while I haven't been told directly McDaniels isn't the automatic successor, he wouldn't be taking interviews at all if he were assured that. 

What will be interesting to see is whether interest remains high in him for other jobs or the perception that he's never going to leave means teams don't bother to ask. San Fran obviously had its heart set on McDaniels. Even though Nick Caserio passed on the chance to interview with the Niners for their open GM job, the team did talk to Louis Riddick about the spot. He and McDaniels have high regard for each other. 

Between McDaniels, Caserio and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, the people closest to Belichick on the coaching flow chart all had chances to go somewhere else and all passed on the chance. It's another example of not why the Patriots are good but why they remain good. Stability.