Belichick: Patriots understand Baltimore's start

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Belichick: Patriots understand Baltimore's start

The Patriots and Ravens currently have something in common. They've played two games each, and according to the tape, both look a little bi-polar.
New England:
Beat Tennessee soundly, 34-13, in Week 1. Couldn't get out of their own way and lost to Kevin Kolb's Cardinals, 20-18, in Week 2.
Baltimore:
Beat Cincinnati soundly, 44-13, in Week 1. Couldn't get out of their own way and lost to Mike Vick's Eagles, 24-23, in Week 2.
It's not just one win followed by one loss, it's flipping from near-brilliant to largely flawed in seven days time.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick acknowledged the opportunity for empathy in his Tuesday conference call.
"I'm sure," Belichick said, "they got about the same feeling there that we have here."
After allowing less than 200 yards both in rushing or passing to start the season, the Ravens defense surrendered 486 net yards to Philadelphia. Rob Gronkowski should perhaps take note that tight end Brent Celek alone had 157 yards on eight catches.
Baltimore couldn't convert on third down (4-for-14), went away from Ray Rice (just nine carries in the second half), and couldn't capitalize on turnovers.
But Belichick refuses to rise and fall based on singular results.
"I think Baltimore played pretty well both weeks," he insisted. "Philadelphia's got a good football team. They have a lot of weapons and are pretty good defensively. Ravens were able to score on them and made plays in the kicking game both weeks. Cincinnati game was a very competitive game until the fourth quarter -- late in the third quarter -- and then it kind of got out of hand. Cincinnati's obviously a good football team, too.
"I think the Ravens are a good team. They played well. I'm sure they would have liked to have scored more points or given up a few less last week, I mean, that's obvious. It's the same feeling we have. I don't think it takes away from them as a football team."Funny. That's probably what the Patriots are hoping Baltimore believes about them.

NFL's Top 10 list revealed Monday night: Where does Tom Brady wind up?

NFL's Top 10 list revealed Monday night: Where does Tom Brady wind up?

NFL players vote every year on which players should make up the list of the best their game has to offer, but it's an imperfect system. And that's probably putting it lightly. 

The NFL Network will reveal the final 10 players on its annual Top 100 list Monday night at 8 p.m. It will be an order that has been chosen by some players, not all. Of those who took part, some hastily made their way through a handful of names at the end of last season handing over their choices. 

Yet it's the list the league ends up with, for better or for worse, prompting responses like JJ Watt's when he found out he was No. 35 this year after playing in three games last season. 

On NFL.com, the Top 100 list is described as the answer to the question, "Who are the top 100 players in the NFL today?" If that's the criteria -- and not simply performance in 2016 -- then Watt's complaint actually doesn't hold much water. If he's healthy, no one would argue that he's one of the best 35 players "in the NFL today."

This year, several Patriots players from 2016 made the cut: Rob Gronkowski (No. 23), LeGarrette Blount (No. 80), Julian Edelman (No. 71), Dont'a Hightower (No. 94) and Malcolm Butler (No. 99). 

Tom Brady will be the last of Bill Belichick's players to be named. He's lumped into a Top 10 that will include Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Ezekiel Elliott, Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Odell Beckham, Julio Jones, Von Miller and Khalil Mack.

Here's what we think the list should look like when the curtain falls on the finale of this flawed endeavor:

10. Elliott
9. Beckham
8. Bell
7. Brown
6. Ryan
5. Jones
4. Miller
3. Mack
2. Rodgers
1. Brady

David Harris gets Jerod Mayo's old No. 51 with Patriots

David Harris gets Jerod Mayo's old No. 51 with Patriots

If you're hoping to help lead the Patriots defense from the middle of the field, No. 51 wouldn't be a bad jersey to wear in that pursuit.

Those are the digits that were worn by longtime Patriots captain (and Quick Slants co-host) Jerod Mayo during his run with the team from 2008-15. Taking the torch from linebackers like Tedy Bruschi, Junior Seau and Mike Vrabel, Mayo was the defensive signal-caller and quarterback of the Patriots defense for the better part of a decade, eventually handing the reins to his understudy Dont'a Hightower. 

With Harris now in the mix, the defense will still be led by Hightower, who was a captain for the first time in 2016. But Harris figures to serve as a leader in his own right for the Patriots. The 33-year-old 'backer has been one of the game's most durable players at his position while with the Jets, and over time he established himself as a savvy communicator at the second level. 

Comparing Harris to Mayo comes easily because of their reputations as coach-on-the-field types. Back in 2014 when Darrelle Revis called New England home, he explained that what Mayo did for the Patriots defense reminded him of what Harris did in New York.

Now Harris has Mayo's old number, and in training camp he'll make a play for some of the duties Mayo held later in his career. How Harris will handle his new role, and how he may help his teammates take their games to new heights, is something we touched upon in this space earlier today

Harris wore No. 52 during his 10 years with the Jets. That number has belonged to Patriots linebacker Elandon Roberts since he came into the league last season as a rookie, and it looks like Roberts will hold onto it for the foreseeable future.

No. 51 has bounced around to a couple of different Patriots since Mayo's retirement. Last year it was claimed by Barkevious Mingo, who has since moved on to Indianapolis as a free agent. Through this year's spring workouts No. 51 was worn by undrafted rookie linebacker Brooks Ellis, who now shares No. 47 with fullback Glenn Gronkowski.