Brady-Manning XIII and the hype machine

903993.jpg

Brady-Manning XIII and the hype machine

FOXBORO -- The two best quarterbacks of their generation -- arguably of any generation -- will meet once again at Gillette Stadium on Sunday in Brady-Manning XIII. And it could be the last time.

If there's going to be a XIV, it'll have to come in the postseason or the two teams will have to finish in the same place in their respective divisions. And it'll have to come soon because the boys are getting up there -- Peyton Manning will be 37 in March; Tom Brady turns 36 next August.

They've gone through this process enough by now to know how it works in the days leading up to their teams' meeting. Their job is simple. Lob verbal bouquets infused with the baby's breath of respect and admiration until Friday. And then try to eviscerate the other guy's defense on Sunday.

This ain't the Decatur Staleys against the Providence Steamrollers and it's not 1931. Brady and Manning don't need to carnival bark to help this game get attention. We all take care of that for them.

Asked if he wearies of speaking about playing "against" someone who he only touches when he shakes hands with Manning before and after the game, Brady said, "At the end of the day, its the Patriots versus the Broncos. I have a job to do and the defensive guys have a job to do," Brady said.

He did, however, indicate that there may be a different mindset with the Patriots offense against Manning than when it faces a garden variety Locker, Kolb or Fitzpatrick.

"You're not blind to the fact that theres a great player on the other side of the ball that is capable of having a great performance," Brady allowed. "I think you realize that thats a part of the game. He's going to complete passes, they're going to gain yards. Its just a matter of us playing a better 60-minute game, being good on third down, being good in the red area, situationally being good."

And if you listened closely, you heard Brady allude to the history between these teams. He may not have meant to, but when Brady talked about the competitiveness of these matchups, he seemed to reference the 2009 meeting in Indy and the infamous Fourth-and-2 game.

"If we have an opportunity to win the game at the end, thats what youve got to do," Brady added. "It seems like it has always come down to the end against him. When he was playing for the Colts, it was always close games. Theyve been in every game theyve played this year, right down to the end. The two games they lost, the other team was in a four-minute offense and really made a couple critical first downs there at the end to win to not give them the ball back."

Plumbing the interpersonal relationship between Manning and Brady has yielded little. They're friends and maintain contact but they don't seem to run in the same circles.

The competition and rivalry we as media or fan "experts" are forever taking stock of is not the cutthroat one that, say, Magic-Bird was in the early days.

"He's a friend of mine," said Brady. "We dont talk much during the season, but I think hes someone that certainly Ive always looked up to and admired and really respected the way he plays the position, the way he works, the way he leads. Hes been a phenomenal player and we played against him a long time at the Colts -- it felt like very year -- so you see a lot of those games and obviously I have learned a lot from him."

But neither Brady nor Manning will be thinking about the day they played golf at Cypress Point or how they both missed full seasons but came back to play again or whether they'll enter the Hall of Fame on the same August day in the next decade or so.
They will be worried about themselves and their jobs, said Brady.

"We have to score more points than the other team," he pointed out (helpfully). "If they score 10, weve got to score 11. If they score 40, weve got to score 41. I think thats more the mindset. Hopefully the defense goes out there and plays a great game. At the same time, you have to expect to play a great game as well. You cant think that you're going to score 20 points and think its good enough or 30 points and think its good enough. Whatever they score, we have to score more."

Has Brissett removed Patriots' need for veteran quarterback help?

patriots_jacoby_brissett_082716.jpg

Has Brissett removed Patriots' need for veteran quarterback help?

FOXBORO – Talked to Jacoby Brissett on Sunday. His session with the media was as efficient and frills-free as his Friday night performance against the Carolina Panthers.

Brissett, the third-rounder From NC State, keeps improving. From 7-for-13 for 63 yards in the first game of the preseason to 9-for-13 for 87 yards Week 2 to a 9-for-9, 85-yard, one touchdown performance against Carolina.

He’s completed all manner of passes – inside, outside, checkdowns, tight windows – and looked preternaturally comfortable doing so.

Maybe I have a little recency bias working, but I don’t recall a drafted quarterback looking as poised and in command in his rookie preseason as Brissett has so far. Jimmy Garoppolo may have had more impressive game-by-game numbers, but Brissett oozes composure that that I don’t think Garoppolo matched.

Encircled by a media horde Sunday, Brissett was pleasant and perfunctory when asked about his performance.

“Definitely it was progress,” he said, adding that he’s, "still learning. I’m sure I’ll be learning until I leave here."

 Even though he was 9-for-9, Brissett said that watching film he could see “things you messed up on and could have done better.”

Asked for an example, Brissett talk about speed. At the line of scrimmage, going through progressions and delivering the ball, Brissett said all of it can improve.

The interesting question the Patriots face now is whether they are prepared to allow Brissett to be the lone backup to the still relatively green Garoppolo. Or does the team need an experienced backup to call on if Jimmy melts down?

Thursday night could be a telling evening for that. With Garoppolo unlikely to play a ton so the team can make sure he’s good to go for the opener, it comes down to who benefits more from reps against the Giants, Tom Brady or Brissett?

It shouldn’t be close. Brissett needs the reps.

Meanwhile, we made mention of Brissett’s relationship with Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells after he was drafted and I figured revisiting that on Sunday wouldn’t hurt.

Brissett said he’s circled up with Parcells “here and there” but smiled knowingly and said, “He’s not the head coach here so you kinda need to listen to what your coach here is saying.”

Ex-Patriot Ridley signs with Colts

ridley_benched.jpg

Ex-Patriot Ridley signs with Colts

After being cut from the Detriot Lions last week, Stevan Ridely has signed with the Indianapolis Colts.

The running back played for the Patriots for four seasons (2011-2014), averaging 4.3 yards per carry while scoring 22 touchdowns in 52 games. He only played in six game in his final year with New England as a result of a torn ACL and MCL.

Ridley played for the AFC-East rival New York Jets in 2015 with a limited role in the nine games he played.

 

Belichick discusses risk of exposing players to waiver claims

Belichick discusses risk of exposing players to waiver claims

Bill Belichick knows the data. Knows the risk involved in exposing a player to a waiver claim at this time of the year and long ago came to the uneasy truce that you can’t keep ‘em all and somebody else might snag ‘em.

This summer, the Patriots don’t have a mass of easy releases, especially among their rookies and first-year players.

There are a lot of very intriguing players who’ve looked good either in practices, games or both. Good enough to make the Pats think twice about whether they want to leave them exposed.

Top of mind for me there are corners Jonathan Jones and Cre’Von LeBlanc, linebacker Elandon Roberts, wide receiver DeAndre Carter, defensive lineman Woodrow Hamilton and running back D.J. Foster who appear to be right on the roster bubble but are impressive.

“It’s something you take into consideration, it’s a hard thing to predict,” Belichick said when asked about weighing the risk of a released player the Patriots would like to re-sign to their practice squad getting claimed. “There’s going to be, I don’t know, certainly going to be a lot of players, probably over 1,000 players that will be exposed to waivers in the next eight calendar days or whatever it’ll be. I think the average claim is somewhere in the high 20s there…so that’s what the odds are. We’ve had years where we haven’t had any of our players claimed and we’ve had years where we’ve had multiple players claimed. I think at the end you just have to do what you think is best for your team.”

Belichick has given us terrific insight this week into how he and Nick Caserio strategize their roster decisions. When asked about the team’s releases in advance of the cutdown deadlines, Belichick mentioned the team wanted to have the ability to accommodate new players who may come available.

Enter the Barkevious.

He also got into projecting young players against established performance levels of veterans and weighing current contributions against future ones.

"That’s the $64,000 question," Belichick said on Tuesday. "That’s what it is. It’s been like that since the day I got into this league. From all of the personnel meetings I’ve ever been in it’s a [matter of] a player who’s more experienced [and] more ready to help the team now, versus a player that’s not as ready now but at some point you think the pendulum will swing in his favor. Will you do that? Can you do that? What are the consequences of making that move? What are the consequences of not making that move? How likely, as you said, is it that you could keep both players in some capacity?

"That’s what it’s about, trying to balance now with later. We’re going to field a team in November, we’re going to field a team next year, we’re going to field a team in 2018. Not that we’re getting too far ahead of ourselves, but we’re going to be in business in those years, so we have to sort of have an eye on those moving forward and a lot of the other factors that go into that. Those are all tough decisions. They’re all things that you really have to think about."

As is the risk of having a player scooped.

“It’s pretty hard to predict what’s going to happen when you put players on the wire because in all honesty, you don’t know what the other [31] teams are going to do and who they’re going to put on the wire,” Belichick explained. “Even though you put a player out there that you don’t want to lose, if another team happens to put a player out there that may be a team that needs that position and would be better with your player, your player gets claimed. Sometimes we waive players that we didn’t think would get claimed and they were, so that’s really hard to predict.

“In the end, you’ve got to make the decision that you feel like is best for your football team, and if you really want that player and you just can’t bear to live without them, then you shouldn’t be exposing them to the wire,” he concluded. “That’s the reality of it. We keep an eye on them, but I don’t think it’s an overriding factor. If you’re prepared to waive them, then you’ve got to be prepared to lose them. That’s just the way it is.”