Curran: 34 lines about 17 issues


Curran: 34 lines about 17 issues

Seventeen thoughts in 34 lines . . .

Bodog is an on-line gambling site that releases odds on anything you could possibly want to wager on and a few things you probably wouldnt. Anyway, the Patriots remain steady this week at 4-to-1 to win the Super Bowl in February.

Green Bays odds got a little shorter this week theyre at 3-to-1. Easiest play on the Bodog board has got to be the over on the total number of interceptions Carson Palmer will throw (.5).

On Thursday, Tony Romo divulged his theory for why Jason Garrett went conservative at the end of Sundays game against the Patriots. He believed Garrett believed in his defense.

It hasnt been the vogue opinion the notion that Garrett didnt trust Romo has had more traction but I agree with it. If Dallas ran once then twice threw incomplete, Garrett would have been labeled a moron for stopping the clock and not forcing the Patriots to use timeouts.

The Patriots were supposed to be in the hunt for Brandon Lloyd, the wideout who ultimately was traded to St. Louis. In trying to determine the level of Patriots interest before the trade was announced, Im not sure they were even in the mix.

Hows that happen? Team executives or agents trying to drum up interest and make the perceived trade market seem hotter than it really is.

So what does that do to the perception the Patriots were in the running for Lloyd because they were giving up on Chad Ochocinco? It kinda kills it.

If you want to be a successful New England Patriot (and who wouldnt?!?!), dont get drafted by the team in the second round. Bethel Johnson, Eugene Wilson, Marquise Hill, Terrence Wheatley, Sebastian Vollmer, Darius Butler, Ron Brace, Patrick Chung, Brandon Spikes, Jermaine Cunningham, Rob Gronkowski, Shane Vereen and Ras-I Dowling are the picks since 2004.

Wilson, Vollmer, Chung and Gronkowski are the four you can say, Yeah, pretty much worth spending a pick that high on. And 4 out of 13 in the second round doesnt seem a real high yield (although all evidence is not yet in on Brace, Spikes, Cunningham, Vereen and Dowling).

Teams play dumb against the Patriots. So far this season, New Englands accepted 50 penalties for 432 yards against their opponents in six games.

The only team benefiting more from their opponents lack of discipline? The Lions theyve accepted 60 penalties for 445 yards so far.

Another interesting statistic is passes not caught on which a player was targeted. Surprisingly, Wes Welker is tied for fifth with Brandon Marshall in that category with 24.

That Welker leads the NFL with 51 catches for 785 yards - numbers that lead the No. 2 guy by 12 catches and 110 yards, respectively and had 24 more throws his way with which he could have augmented those stats is pretty amazing.

One more interesting Welkerian stat? He leads the NFL in yards after catch with 397 (Matt Forte is second with 347) and the next seven YAC leaders after Welker are all running backs.

Meanwhile, while its important to highlight the fact Welker is relatively underpaid for his production, the question of why hes steamrolling toward free agency wont be fully filled in until two things are known: One, what are the Patriots offering; two, what is Welker expecting?

The success of the Patriots and the style in which both the organization and Bill Belichick operate invites scrutiny and judgment. Of everything.

You know it wears him out, and after he alluded to that on WEEI earlier this week I tried to flesh out that story a little more by asking him about the sensationalism of media now compared to years gone by. Look, its the way of the world were all living in it, was the thrust of the answer.

Well try that one again. Enjoy the bye, bye.

Garoppolo: Panthers offer ‘closest thing we’ll get to Week 1’

Garoppolo: Panthers offer ‘closest thing we’ll get to Week 1’

One throw could have very well changed the overall assessment of Jimmy Garoppolo’s performance last Thursday against Chicago. 

Garoppolo had looked completely poised, on rhythm and decisive, carving up the Bears on four straight drives, including an impressive march to open the third quarter. And then, on third down in the red zone, the Pats quarterback correctly read man-under coverage, with a single high safety floating. But with his first two reads covered, Garoppolo pivoted back to his right and threw almost sight unseen to James White. One problem: Bears linebacker John Timu was sitting in the passing lane and dropped what should have an interception.

“Yeah, the linebacker made a nice jump on it,” said Garoppolo. “It’s unfortunate what happened.”

What happened was the Pats escaped with three points and Garoppolo exiting to excellent reviews. But that was a gift from the football gods, though the third-year pro shrugged it off.

“It was just one of those bang-bang plays,” said Garoppolo. “In the red zone, there are tight windows down there, so sometimes you’re going to make throws that get tipped or whatever it may be. You don’t try to make those happen, but sometimes it happens down there.”

A deeper review of the Pats approach versus the Bears showed a greater emphasis on Garoppolo getting rid of the ball the moment those feet settled on repeated three- and five-step drops. That resulted in the best performance by the Pats signal caller since before that full practice scrimmage in which the QB on the other side - a fella by the name of Tom Brady - went 25-for-25. That day, Garoppolo waded into choppy waters and took nearly two weeks to find solid footing. 

“I think part of that comes with just learning the offense overall,” said Garoppolo when asked about his decision making. “Year after year, you’re going to be more comfortable in the system, whatever it may be. I think I’m progressing the right way. There’s obviously a long way to go, you always want to be as precise and decisive as you can be, but I think I’m working in the right direction.”

No denying that, although now comes another test, the preseason tilt Friday night in Carolina against the defending NFC champion Panthers. There may be a greater strain put on Garoppolo and the starters, but as for the idea this is the closest thing to a dress rehearsal for the regular season, Bill Belichick reminds you not to get it twisted.

“I think this is a good opportunity for us to compete against arguably as good as any team in the league. [With] all that being said, we’re not talking about a regular-season game here, “ he said. “We’re not talking about game planning and all of those kind of things, which I can’t imagine would happen in this game, but they’re going to happen in a couple of weeks so it’s a whole different ballgame. I don’t think you can compare this game to a regular-season game even though I’ve heard people try to do that. I’m not sure what game they’re looking at. “

Maybe the same thing as Garoppolo is…

“It’s pretty much the closest thing we’ll get to Week 1, so we’ll see how it goes,” he said.






Patriots trading for Browns OLB Barkevious Mingo

Patriots trading for Browns OLB Barkevious Mingo

The Patriots are in the final stages of trading for Browns outside linebacker Barkevious Mingo. 

Mingo, the sixth overall pick in the 2013 draft, is in the fourth and final year of his rookie deal as his fifth-year rookie option was not picked up by the Browns. The Patriots reportedly will send a fifth-round pick in the 2017 draft to Cleveland for Mingo.

The LSU product was selected by the Browns when Michael Lombardi was the team's general manager in 2013. Lombardi was let go after one season in Cleveland and was an assistant to the Patriots coaching staff Patriots in 2014 and 2015. The Patriots have shown an affinity for other former Browns who overlapped with Lombardi, making moves to acquire Jabaal Sheard and Dion Lewis.

Mingo, 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, has played in all but two regular-season games over the course of his three years and has recorded seven sacks.

With the trade for Mingo, the Patriots have added some depth to what was already a deep position on their roster. Between Sheard, Rob Ninkovich, Chris Long, Shea McClellin, Trey Flowers and Geneo Grissom, it seemed as though the Patriots had a wealth of options to choose from. However, injuries have plagued the group of late: Ninkovich is dealing with a torn triceps muscle that has kept him out of practice in recent weeks; Sheard has what's been reported by the Boston Herald as a sprained MCL; and McClellin has also missed practice time lately as he has rehabbed an injury. 

At the moment, the Patriots still don't have much in the way of long-term depth at the position given that Sheard, Ninkovich, Long and Mingo are all in the final years of their contracts. McClellin, Flowers and Grissom's deals takes them through the 2018 season.

Before playing the Browns in a regular-season game in 2013, Patriots coach Bill Belichick commented briefly on the Browns defense and perhaps foreshadowed his eventual interest in a pair of their players. 

"Overall, I think they’ve been a pretty impressive team to watch on film," Belichick said at the time. "Defensively they’ve got a lot of good players. They’re very good up front. They’ve got good depth and a good quality of players there . . . Sheard and [Paul] Kruger and Mingo are very athletic. They make a lot of plays."

He added: "Kruger and Sheard have done a good job as edge rushers . . . They’re good in the running game, they definitely generate pressure on the quarterback. Mingo, the rookie, is mixed in there and creates some negative plays in the pass rush and [has] done a good job for them being disruptive."

According to Pro Football Focus, Mingo generated eight quarterback hurries, no sacks and no quarterback hits last season. In 2014, he had two sacks, five hits, 20 hurries, and he was graded by PFF as the 17th-best edge defender against the run.

The 2013 NFL draft class -- particularly at the top -- has been noted for its lack of impact players, but the Patriots have now traded for two of the top-10 players in that draft in the span of several months. Guard Jonathan Cooper, who was acquired by the Patriots in a trade with the Cardinals, was the No. 7 overall pick that year. 

Phil Perry contributed to this report.