Belichick defends cornerbacks performance


Belichick defends cornerbacks performance

FOXBORO -- The Patriots had myriad problems in pass defense Sunday against Pittsburgh as the 50 pass attempts by Ben Roethlisberger showed. Bill Belichick said Wednesday that the team's issues at corner barely registered.After speaking about the scouting process that brought corners Antwaun Molden and Phillip Adams aboard, I asked Belichick if the performance of those two players against Pittsburgh made him feel OK with last Friday's release of Leigh Bodden. "I think they both played competitively in the game," said Belichick. "I'd say the problems we had in the Pittsburgh game, I wouldn't put that at the top of the list."While Bodden wasn't reminding anyone of Champ Bailey over the first six games of 2011, there seemed -- to the layperson -- no indication that Molden and Adams were upgrades. In fact, Molden got the hook in the third quarter after playing terrified (sorry, no other word for it) and confused. Molden played 42 of the 80 defensive snaps. Adams came in and played 19 snaps. Belichick asked me for an example of poor corner play. Three popped to mind -- Molden and James Ihedigbo butchering a goal-line play by not getting their signals straight (touchdown Pittsburgh); Molden sprinting downfield away from Mike Wallace when Patrick Chung came on a safety blitz giving a 25-yard cushion that turned into a 12-yard gain; the miscommunication that led to an end zone double team and an Antonio Brown touchdown (Molden again).Belichick got the point and interjected, "I wouldn't say that every play was a good play. The number of plays that happened on the perimeter of the field relative to the plays that happened well inside the numbers I don't think there was any comparison."Perhaps not. Butif corner play -- whether it be Molden, Adams or Devin McCourty(Kyle Arrington played pretty well it seemed) -- wasn't at the top of the list, it was in the top three. The communication on the back-end was awful. The safety play seemed addled. The schemes being used were questionable as well. And the fact that a player the team will sink 4 million into this season was home watching instead of on the field makes one wonder how exactly that makes the team better.

Bovada: Brady third in MVP race behind Elliot, Carr


Bovada: Brady third in MVP race behind Elliot, Carr

Tom Brady has racked up some impressive numbers over eight games, but are they enough to surpass Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott or Raiders quarterback Derek Carr in the MVP race?

The Patriots have gone 7-1 since Brady returned from his four-game suspension to start the year, and the league's all-time winningest quarterback has completed 68.9 percent of his passes in that stretch (third in the league) for 2,470 yards. He has 19 touchdowns, he's been picked once, and he is averaging 8.2 yards per attempt (third), giving him a 113.1 quarterback rating (first). 

According to Bovada, he's currently the third-best bet to win MVP at 15/2, down from 4/1 last week. Ahead of him? Both Elliott (12/5) and Carr (7/2). 

The Carr comparison is an interesting one for obvious reasons. Because they play the same position, it's easier to match up their stats. In 12 games, Carr has completed 65.5 percent of his passes (12th) for 3,375 yards (fourth), 24 touchdowns (seventh) and five interceptions. He's averaging 7.4 yards per attempt (15th), and  he has a rating of 100.3 (seventh).

While Carr has the statistical advantage of playing in four more games than Brady has, he's also led his team to a record of 10-2 and the No. 1 seed in the AFC at the moment. (The Raiders hold the strength-of-victory tiebreaker edge over the Patriots, who are also 10-2.)

Meanwhile, Elliott, the talented rookie out of Ohio State who has the benefit of running behind arguably the league's best offensive line, has racked up 263 carries for 1,285 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. He's also posted 28 catches for 322 yards and a score. He leads the league in total rush yards, he's second in the league in rushing touchdowns behind Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount, and he's fourth in yards per attempt (4.9).

Gronkowski nominated for Walter Payton Man of the Year Award


Gronkowski nominated for Walter Payton Man of the Year Award

FOXBORO -- Rob Gronkowski is up for one of the NFL's most prestigious awards, and it's not simply for what he's done while on the football field. 

The Patriots tight end is the team's nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, it was announced on Wednesday. Each year the award recognizes one player for his excellence on and off the field.

“We’re proud to honor these outstanding men who represent the NFL’s best on and off the field,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. “Our players have a unique platform to make a difference far beyond the field of play. We salute these individuals who are exemplary in their commitment to making a positive impact in communities across the globe through their dedicated service and philanthropic efforts.”

The winner will be announced in Houston on the night before Super Bowl LI.

Gronkowski was named the 14th Patriots Ron Burton Community Service Award winner in August.

"Rob is just as fun to watch at a community event as he is on the game field," Patriots owner Robert Kraft said at the time. "Giving back to the community is a big part of being 'Gronk.' "