Curran: Welker's joke was a matter of pride

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Curran: Welker's joke was a matter of pride

First things first. Of course it was a joke.

Wes Welker's primary motivation for playing brilliantly is not to "stick it in Bill's face."

But it defies logic to think Welker's pride wasn't hurt at the start of this season. No matter the logic behind tapering off Welker's reps and targets, it was an affront to have him begin the season as a spectator.

And, Week 2 offered even more of the same until Aaron Hernandez got hurt.

If one exceeds their designated role for five seasons, as Welker did, then gets stood up at the bargaining table, as Welker was, you're going to be a little cynical. And if you give up your leverage for the good of the team and then have to watch the succession plan unfold while you stand on the sidelines, you're going to be irked. Or blind with rage.

Now, because of the Hernandez injury and the hand injury to Welker's apprentice Julian Edelman, he's the hub again and he's tied for second in the NFL with 38 catches. He's been thrown to 47 times in the last four weeks.

Who wouldn't feel a little vindicated? Who wouldn't find it hard to resist pointing out to management that you were the best when they tried to replace you and you're the best still?

So that's what Welker did. With a wink and a smile.

Now, there are two ways the Patriots and Bill Belichick can go with this. They can get indignant and let their pride run wild. They can put Wes back in his place by benching, scolding or -- when Hernandez returns -- freezing him out. They can show them who's boss and make sure he never forgets it.

But haven't they done that enough? Haven't they already shown Welker they have him by the stones by the way they treated him this offseason?

(Yes, I know 9.5 million franchise tender is a lot of money; let's not pretend the NFL is the real world.)

The guy signed his tender on time, got to minicamp and training camp and clearly worked his ass off to keep himself in condition while the Patriots showed little urgency to get a contract extension done despite promises that they would.

Welker knows who's boss. He lives it every day knowing that, if he blows an ACL in practice or a game, his future is murky as hell despite what he's done. He knows he hasn't banked as much money as he should have despite his production and that the reason for that is standing on the sidelines in a sweatshirt.

Welker knows that, in the end, he's a widget. And what he said Sunday reflected the frustration of that reality.

Which brings us to the second way the Patriots and Belichick can go with this. They can smile, say they love Wes and his sense of humor and leave him the hell alone.

Welker took a two-second opportunity to save some face on Sunday with a joke probably best left unsaid.

Now the ball is in Belichick's court. He can get indignant and prideful over a public affront. Or he can let it go for the good of the team.

Ravens’ Suggs submits half-hearted effort at Brady snub

Ravens’ Suggs submits half-hearted effort at Brady snub

Terrell Suggs keeps doing his best to pump air into his one-sided “feud” with Tom Brady.

Ever since Brady begged for a flag on Suggs after a benign hit back in 2009, Suggs has made it his mission to speak truth to the perceived power of Brady.

“Everyone just seems to worship the guy so much,” he once said. “Not me, though.”

So, Suggs has called basically derided Brady as a crybaby and occasionally called into question the validity of the Patriots championships.

It’s clearly all for show. When Deflategate was at its height in June of 2015, Suggs said of Brady, “The guy is a winner. He’s won with whatever kind of personnel that he’s had. So I don’t think [Deflategate] really tarnished it … Everybody needs something to write about and needs something to talk about. It’s always something. I’m leaving that alone.”

This week, Suggs smirkingly refused to use Brady’s name when discussing the Patriots leading up to Monday night’s game.

Asked about Brady earning his 201st win as an NFL starter, Suggs said, "He's pretty good. Like I said, wins are wins and numbers are numbers. Numbers don't lie. He's pretty good."

Suggs went on, avoiding Brady’s name. It’s something he’s done in the past for whatever reason. But he’s also been complimentary of the Patriots and Brady as well, saying that, when it’s done, there will be three quarterbacks in the conversation for best-ever: Montana, Unitas and Brady. 

The only time Brady’s verbally stepped out against Suggs and the Ravens is in response to their barbs. In 2010, Brady stated that the Ravens, “Talk a lot for beating us once in nine years.”

Brady also chastised Ravens coach John Harbaugh – now there’s a guy who whines! – after the 2014 AFC Divisional Playoff Game when the Patriots snookered the Ravens with intricate formations. That’s about it for return fire.

 

One-sided feud: Brady praises Suggs for playmaking, instincts

One-sided feud: Brady praises Suggs for playmaking, instincts

FOXBORO -- Terrell Suggs kept up what has been a years-long campaign to mock Tom Brady's public perception by refusing to say Brady's name this week. 

Outside of a quick, "Talk a lot for beating us once in nine years" comment back in 2010, Brady has typically let the feud be one-sided. That continued on this week when Brady said the Ravens edge defender looked as good as ever during a Westwood One radio interview.

He continued his praise of Suggs during a press conference Thursday.

"I think every year, he's had pretty major injuries, and he comes back and looks like he didn't miss a beat," Brady said. "It's his 14th year, he's been a great player for as long as he's been in the league. I think he does a lot of things really well.

"He's got all the rush moves, he actually drops into coverage, he bats down balls, he butchers the tight ends coming off the line of scrimmage. He's really a playmaker for their team. It's not just sacking the quarterback, probably like most defensive ends. He makes plays in a lot of ways. I've seen him intercept slip screens, jumping up and picking [Ben] Roethlisberger off going the other way. 

"I think he has great instincts. He definitely plays with his instincts. If he feels like the ball's going to go inside, he rips inside and tries to take it away even though that's not his assignment. I think 99 percent of the time, the ball goes inside. I think he just has great instincts for what he's doing.

"You can't ever really count on the same thing from him. I think you just try to play him straight up and see what he's going to do because I think he makes a lot of really good decisions out there and he makes a lot of plays."

Brady didn't say Suggs' name during the course of his answer, but he left no doubt that there's a level of respect there for his game. 

I think all these games are kind of the same. I just look at the opp and look at what they do. The only thing that matters is what we do this week of practice and in the game. I think you just try to put everything aside and, whether it was that or whether it was playoff game a couple years ago, whether it was the rs game a couple years ago or C games, none of those really nmatter. It's really going to be about what this team does this week and like I said, coach will try to put a lot of urgerncy on that. We understand that. We know we're facing a team that's 7-5, their at the top of their division. They have a lot of conf in what they do and wso do we. It's going to be a good, tough matchup.