Bad outweighs the good for Arrington


Bad outweighs the good for Arrington

FOXBORO -- Kyle Arrington almost had a fantastic night.

The Giants were up 10-3 in the third quarter's final two minutes and poised, quivering on the New England 5. Quarterback Eli Manning looked into the end zone and saw Mario Manningham. He launched the ball.

Picked by Arrington.

The interception saved New England at least three points. When Tom Brady and the offense returned Arrington's favor with a touchdown and extra point, the pick turned into a game-tying 10-point swing. And this was his second point-shaving play. At the beginning of the quarter he got a finger on a slant thrown to Victor Cruz on a third-and-3 from the Patriots 4. The ball fell incomplete; New York settled for a field goal.

Seven points saved.

But it's the seven lost -- and 35-yards -- that'll be remembered by most.

Arrington was hit with a huge pass interference penalty in the fourth quarter. Manning was working a first-and-10 on the Giants 25 when he found Manningham running deep along the left sideline. Instead of turning to make a play on the ball, Arrington stayed facing the receiver and got his hands on Manningham. In a flash -- with one whistle -- New York moved up to New England's 40. The Giants got seven, the lead, and an enormous shift in momentum.

New England lost 24-20. In the locker room, Arrington appeared exhausted.

"Receiver had a step on me so I'm trying to make up ground on the thrown ball," he recalled. "Could have played it better or... I don't know. I have to see the film. I didn't think... It doesn't matter what I think. They called it."

He bit his tongue on debating the penalty. The urge to claim innocence is instinctual, but, to Arrington, also pointless. It was a moment of the irrevocable -- as impossible to change as it is to forget. Fellow cornerback and defensive captain Devin McCourty said he understands the frustration.

"It's probably the toughest play. A guy goes deep and, not many guys in the league are slow so, you really have to start running. As he stops and adjusts to the ball, sometimes, like I said to Kyle, those underthrows are the toughest to defend.

"Sometimes you're able to get your head around, sometimes you have to play his hands. Each situation is different and that pass interference call is going to go either way. As a defender it's tough; sometimes the ref sees it as pass interference, sometimes it's a no-call. You've just got to continue to play and try to get it out of there."

The Patriots defense unraveled.

Though Arrington wasn't alone in making mistakes, things continued to trend downward after his penalty. His disappointment after the game was different from that of his teammates; it was like the fall from interception to pass interference knocked the life out of him. Worse, he's part of a secondary beleaguered by doubt in the first place, so instead of coming up a hero, it's like he failed like the statistics said they would.

That's how it will be recalled, anyway.

Arrington says he has to learn and move on. There can be as much dwelling on the bad as there is the good: zero. It's the only way to survive.

"It's the National Football League; playing corner in this business, you have to have a short memory."

Report: NFL paid Goodell over $31 million in 2015


Report: NFL paid Goodell over $31 million in 2015

Roger Goodell's salary has reportedly fallen in recent years, but he's still paid handsomely for his work as NFL commissioner.

According to the Associated Press, Goodell earned just over $31 million for 2015. That's a seven percent decrease from the $34 million he received for 2014. 

The NFL's last tax return served as an indicator of Goodell's 2015 salary. The league's tax returns no longer have to be made public since it has changed its status from exempt to taxable, per the AP.

The next-highest paid executive at the NFL offices on Park Avenue? General counsel Jeff Pash, one of the most prominent players in the Deflategate sage, who earned $6.5 million in 2015, down from $7.5 million in 2014. 

Richardson suspended one game for violating personal conduct policy


Richardson suspended one game for violating personal conduct policy

The NFL announced this week that Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson has been suspended without pay for Week 1 of the 2016 regular season for violating the league's personal conduct policy. 

Richardson will miss his team's season-opener against the Bengals and will be eligible to return to the Jets active roster on Sep. 12. The Jets and the Patriots meet for the first of their two division games on Nov. 27. 

Richardson responded to the news of suspension on Thursday. 

In July of 2015, Richardson led police on a high-speed chase -- hitting speeds as high as 143 miles per hour -- in suburban St. Louis. Police reported a strong odor of marijuana in the car and inside found a loaded, semiautomatic handgun that was possessed legally. Richardson had a 12-year-old relative riding with him in his Bentley at the time of the incident.

In January, Richardson pleaded guilty to resisting arrest. Though he avoided jail time, he was sentenced to two years probation and 100 hours of community service. 

Richardson has been one of the league's best defensive linemen since entering the league as a first-rounder in 2013. He served a four-game suspension to start last season after violating the league's substance abuse policy.

PFF: Collins is 'the best linebacker in the AFC'


PFF: Collins is 'the best linebacker in the AFC'

He may have been left off of the NFL Network's Top 100 list, but Jamie Collins isn't flying under the radar at Pro Football Focus.

On PFF's list of the top 10 defensive players in the AFC, the Patriots linebacker came in at No. 8 and was given the description as the top linebacker in the conference.

Collins' versatility within the confines of the Patriots defense is what makes him so valuable, PFF's John Kosko explains: 

"He doesn’t dominate in any one role like Luke Kuechly does in pass coverage and run defense, but he is very good at all facets of the game. Collins has the athleticism to cover TEs and HBs effectively, the explosiveness to rush the passer, and the size and strength to defend the run. 

"The former Southern Mississippi linebacker is arguably the most versatile player in the NFL, and allows Bill Belichick to employ a defense that confuses opposing quarterbacks. With the only knock against Collins being his 34 missed tackles the past two seasons, the Patriot is the best linebacker in the AFC."

Collins graded out as the No. 5 linebacker in football last year, per PFF's numbers. He ranked behind only Carolina's Luke Kuechly, Minnesota's Anthony Barr, Indianapolis' Jerrell Freeman and Seattle's KJ Wright. 

Fellow Patriots linebacker Dont'a Hightower earned the 10th-highest grade for linebackers last season, according to PFF -- a grade that likely would have been higher had his snap-count (602 in 2015) approached that of Collins (792).

While Collins is a rare physical talent, the argument could be made that it's Hightower who is the more important player to the Patriots defense given his prowess as a pass-rusher and run-defender. He also has myriad responsibilities as the extension of the team's coaching staff in the defensive huddle. 

In order to slow down opposing passing games, many Patriots defensive packages employ either five or six defensive backs and just two linebackers. Lucky for them, they have two of the best in the conference.

Both Collins and Hightower are entering contract years this year, and finding a way to keep them in-house figures to be near the top of the list of priorities for the Patriots front office.