Curran: Belichick does things his way, like it or not

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Curran: Belichick does things his way, like it or not

We have another snit. Panties are twisted. Egos are bruised. Fingers are being wagged. The arrogant Patriots are at it again. Bill Belichick didnt talk to Steve Tasker after the AFC Championship game. And all the prominent Patriots have pulled out of the Pro Bowl.

Its funny. Our truck commercials tell us real Americans are independent, hard-working iconoclasts who march to their own beat. Our erectile dysfunction commercials insinuate that men of a certain age can manage just fine on their own with a wrench and a little blue pill.

But when a 60-something head coach tells The Man to screw again its a tsunami of indignation.

The great Charlie Pierce last year described Belichick as the last anarchist and it is so true. Hes going to do whatever he wants. Yet even the edgy, wacky morning radio guys will take Belichick to task for not reporting to Steve Taskers side when summoned.

Shannon Sharpe of CBS believes that Belichick not talking to Tasker is unacceptable.

"You can't be a poor sport all the time," Shannon schoolmarmed in Sundays postgame telecast. "You're not going to win every time. And he does this every time he loses. It is unacceptable."

Shannons brother, Sterling, spent an NFL career shunning the mic until he needed to make a real-world paycheck, but forget that, Shannon was on a roll. Especially telling was this observation by Sharpe, "Bill Belichick makes it very easy for you to root against the Patriots."

First of all, three grunts, two shrugs and a snort were not going to make the nation draw Belichick close to its protective bosom.

Second of all, that bit about Belichick making it easy to root against the Patriots? Thats the crux of why Belichick isnt interested in seeking out Steve Tasker for a 2012 postscript.

If you do what the suits league, corporate or media expect, they will then bestow upon you their support. If you do not? The suits will endeavor to make your life more difficult.

You see it on Park Avenue in New York and Morrissey Boulevard in Boston. Contingent objectivity. Quid pro quo coverage.

But Belichick has it sussed. As long as he does well what he is paid handsomely for coaching the Patriots he can perform for the cameras or not perform at his own whim.

If he doesnt want to talk to Steve Tasker or dress nicely on the sidelines or loan his image to EA Sports or speak at the NFL Combine or at the Coaches Breakfast at the owners meetings, whats anyone going to do about it?

Generally, he knows the rules better than the people who make them. And its only after the Patriots appear to be benefiting from something shrewd that the NFL moves to add a point of emphasis.

For entertainment purposes, the league would take 32 Rex Ryans. Pre-sell the games, carnival bark all week, make great TV. Rex wants to be loved and even though hes losing consistently he is. And hes been allowed to overstay his usefulness as a result.

Belichick couldnt care less whether hes loved or loathed. And if the football results ever dip, well see how radioactive he becomes.

Another irony worth noting. At about the same time Shannon Sharpe was tearing Belichick a new one for not performing for the cameras, Ravens coach John Harbaugh was processing a postgame conversation with Belichick he said hell treasure forever.

So classy, so gracious, is how Harbaugh described Belichick to Peter King of NBC and Sports Illustrated. Complimentary about how we played, about our game plan, about how tough it is to play us.

In the end, CBS was just fine without 90 seconds of Belichick. That meant more time for them to devote to Ray Lewis. Ray Ray would never miss a chance to speak to the masses. Would never bring the league into disrepute. Would never be slow to produce evidence like Belichick was back in 2007. Hes accessible, win or lose. And thats why its easy to root for Ray Lewis, right Shannon Sharpe?

Report: Patriots fill open roster spot with former Browns DL Hughes

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Report: Patriots fill open roster spot with former Browns DL Hughes

The Patriots opened a roster spot by waiving defensive tackle Anthony Johnson, but they won't be adding a quarterback to take his place. 

According to Field Yates of ESPN, the team has swapped one defensive tackle for another by adding former Browns big man John Hughes, a 6-foot-2, 320-pounder who played under former assistant to the Patriots coaching staff Mike Lombardi when Lombardi was Cleveland's general manager in 2013. 

Hughes was released last week after spending just over four years with the team that drafted him in the third round in 2012. He signed a four-year extension with the Browns last season that was worth $12.8 million. 

With the Patriots, Hughes figures to work in as part of the rotation on the interior of the defensive line along with Malcom Brown, Alan Branch and rookie third-round pick Vincent Valentine. Unlike Johnson, who was more of a penetrating pass-rusher, Hughes should factor in as more of a space-eating type. He has 5.5 career sacks in 53 games. 

Johnson is the latest in a long line of Browns who played under Lombardi to end up in New England. The two most notable Patriots who spent 2013 in Cleveland are defensive end Jabaal Sheard and running back Dion Lewis. Linebacker Barkevious Mingo, who arrived in New England in a trade this summer, was drafted by Lombardi's front office as the No. 6 overall pick in 2013.

Pats exploit 'element of unknown' with Garoppolo or Brissett at QB

Pats exploit 'element of unknown' with Garoppolo or Brissett at QB

There’s no way to spin rookie Jacoby Brissett starting a game rather than three-year NFL veteran Jimmy Garoppolo or future Hall of Famer Tom Brady as preferable.
 
But can the disadvantages be mitigated? Can the fact there is no “book” on a player be helpful?
 
“I think there’s always an element of the unknown when you’re dealing with a player or something you haven’t seen or scouted as much,” said Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on a conference call Monday afternoon. “I don’t know if there’s an advantage there, it’s just that you don’t have as much information on a player or on some scheme that they may use, which then forces you to figure some things out as the game goes along and do some quick self-scouting as you move through the first cquarter, the first half, whatever it is, just to make sure that if it is something new you haven’t seen before, if it is a player that you haven’t played against and don’t have a lot of volume of tape on, that you have an opportunity to evaluate quickly what is going on.

"What’s happening in the game? How much of an impact is that player having? Are they trying to  do something that’s disrupting what you’re trying to do with their scheme? I think that happens a lot of weeks during the course of the year based on health and availability, new players, guys being called up, someone that just got signed and you don’t really have a lot of experience watching them play in their system. I would say that’s a common occurrence for us.”
 
With a fullback or UDFA guard pressed into duty, there’s not a helluva lot that will be altered in terms of scheme. With players like Garoppolo and Brissett, though, the Patriots' long-established offense can take on an entirely different look if different areas are emphasized.
 
For instance, jet sweep is a play the team won’t use much with Tom Brady except as a “keep ‘em honest” on the edges kind of play. With Garoppolo, quickness when he gets outside the pocket has to be respected so if he fakes that jet sweep and rolls to the outside, he’s a run-pass threat with speed and downfield accuracy. With Brissett, he’s a threat with elusiveness, size and power as a runner. Additionally, if the Patriots wanted to try the old Elway Throwback to the opposite sideline, Brissett may have more arm power than either Brady or Garoppolo.
 
McDaniels said the Patriots aren’t looking necessarily for ways to “surprise” opponents as much as they are looking for ways to accentuate players’ strengths.  
 
“We’ve got to take the guys that we get to play with, based on health and other factors, and then we consider the defense that we’re getting ready to play against, and the great players and the scheme that they use, and then we try to formulate the right plan to allow our players to go out there and play fast, play well, and do the things that suit their talents the best,” McDaniels explained. “I don’t think that our mindset has changed.

"Some of the variables have changed from one week to the next, which is always the case,  and of course, when you get a group of guys a plan and then you work so hard to get ready for Sunday or Thursday night and go out there and watch them play and execute and take care of the ball and do the things you need to do to try to win, and then they enjoy it so much, that’s really the thing that you take the most satisfaction from as a coach.”