Bell tolls unexpectedly for Brandon Meriweather

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Bell tolls unexpectedly for Brandon Meriweather

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran Despite all the very legible tea leaves and the paragraphs of writing on the wall, it just didn't seem reasonable to release Brandon Meriweather. No, he wasn't the Pro Bowl-caliber player his resume can claim he is,but neither was he an outright stiff. So, despite all the veteran safeties the team worked out and signed, and despite Meriweather playing late in the final preseason game, I figured he was safe. And he figured he was safe. "Why everybody feel like Im in trouble? he asked me Thursday night after the Patriots final preseason game. Hey, maybe they know something we dont. Maybe they know something that Belichick didnt tell us. He usually comes and tell us if theres something going on. Hes good with stuff like that so, you know, Im just going to keep working hard and keep playing.It seemed a bad sign for him to be running around with the scrubs in the second half, I told him. "Iwouldnt say that. Coaches want to see me play and the other guys play too. I wouldnt say its because Im going downhill or anything like that, its when Coach Belichick wanted to play me.I nodded and agreed. Of course that was it. Josh Barrett was on the field with Patrick Chung in the first half. Barrett had never played for the Patriots. He needed reps. And Sergio Brown was out there with Chung. Made sense. Get him some time as well. Meriweather's assets and limitations were well known after four seasons on the team. And with James Sanders released earlier in the week,Bill Belichick couldn't be cutting his most senior safety even if he was a bit of a clown at times. On Friday, Belichick indicated Meriweather had a good training camp. He discounted the fact Meriweather -- a first-round pick in 2007 -- was on the field in the second half - and added "(His camp) has been good. Brandon has been out there every day. Hes worked hard. Hes been able to do everything and I think hes gotten better, worked a lot on his man-to-man coverage. Hes out there practicing like everybody else is."Not anymore. Meriweather doesn't figure to be out of work long. Although there will be significant questions for him to overcome before another team hires him. Within minutes of his release becoming public, an NFC personnel man called me to ask, "What's the deal with Meriweather?"I told him Meriweather can play but that he's kind of immature and easily led. Not a bad kid but one who seems to put himself in strange spots off the field and on.For the Patriots, the question is simple. Now what? Chung is obviously a front-line safety. Brown and Barrett? Totally unproven. James Ihedigbo covers like a defensive tackle. The Patriots have a handful of talented corners and they don't get hung up on the cornersafety definition. Some players are simply hybrid defensive backs. Maybe that's their plan. Or maybe the plan is to scour the releases on Saturday and get a player somebody else gave up on to take a twirl here. Friday, I did some kicking around just to make sure my instincts were right. Meriweather wouldn't be cut. I was told it seemed a reasonable assumption, but to leave myself some wiggle room. Wiggle.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Bean: The 2007 Patriots don't get nearly enough love

Bean: The 2007 Patriots don't get nearly enough love

Phil Perry has been running a series on the 2007 Patriots vs. the 2017 Patriots. He breaks everything down position-by-position and compares what should go down as two of the best teams in franchise history. It’s really good stuff. 

Also, a lot of people are idiots. 

    For some reason -- and it’s either because they’re rightfully excited for the upcoming team or because they’re still shell-shocked by 18-1 -- the 2007 Patriots have been shown a remarkable lack of love when it’s come to the reader votes. It’s insane. 

    2007 PATRIOTS vs. 2017 PATRIOTS:

    And before you start with the “This is Boston and it only counts if you win” nonsense, remember that the 2017 team hasn’t done a thing yet, so by saying the 2017 Pats are better than the 2007 Pats, you’re saying the then-greatest offense of all time is worse than a current work in progress.

    As if anyone should need the reminder, the 2007 Patriots rank as the No. 2 scoring team ever, and at the time they were No. 1. Their 36.8 points a game was dwarfed only by the 2013 Broncos, who averaged 37.9. Then again, the Patriots have four of the top 12 scoring teams ever, so there’s no reason to rule out what should be a loaded 2017 group registering high on that list as well. 

    But back to the ’07 team for a second. At the time of this writing, a poll of over 3,300 readers had 67 percent finding the 2017 receivers and tight ends being better than the group from 2007. If ever there were a poll that should be split 50-50, it’s that. In fact, I would take the 2007 group over the 2017, but that’s only because I saw Randy Moss play in every game and am not sure I will see Rob Gronkowski do the same. 

    Think about the options after the top guys in both groups. Donte’ Stallworth was a get in free agency -- a 27-year-old first-round pick with all the talent in the world and a few damn good seasons in New Orleans under his belt -- and the guy didn’t even have 50 catches for that 2007 team. No, it wasn’t because he wasn’t any good; it was because Tom Brady, Randy Moss and Wes Welker were so busy putting up a combined 31 touchdowns together that there was barely time for anyone else. 

    Laurence Maroney was the ’07 team’s lead back, but given how much the team threw and the fact that he missed three games, his 835-yard season with an average of 4.5 yards a pop was a lot better than has been remembered. 

    The only thing you can give the 2017 team over the 2007 one is that they figure to be well-rounded. The Patriots’ defense should be better than that ’07 group, even though the 2007 Pats gave up the fourth-fewest points in the league. Damn, the 2007 Patriots were so good.  

    Yes, that ’07 team lost, but it was still the best team in the league by a mile that season. Bad Super Bowl game plan, bad execution, obviously. But overall? There wasn’t a team close to as good as them that season. 

    The expectation is that something similar could play out this season. The Pats are so much better than everyone else that you’d be nuts to rule out 19-0 talk. Yet that hasn’t happened yet, and for now, the most explosive offense the Pats have ever seen — and very well may ever see — will be that 2007 one. They aren’t held in the same regard as the five championships, and for good reason, but to slight that offense — or really that team at all — is foolish. 

    Poll ranks Patriots as NFL's most 'badass' team

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    Poll ranks Patriots as NFL's most 'badass' team

    Five-time Super Bowl champions. Seven-time AFC champs. Fourteen-time AFC East champs. Now, Bill Belichick's Patriots have another title.

    NFL's most "badass" team.

    The Tampa Bay Times polled a panel of 43 NFL writers and asked them for the top three most "badass" teams and players in the NFL.

    MORE PATRIOTS

    The defending Super Bowl champion Patriots came out on top with 29 top-three votes. 

    Here's a sampling of the panelists' comments:

    "They keep winning in a league designed to discourage dynasties." -Terez A. Paylor, Kansas City Star

    "Hands down. They take a three-touchdown lead and keep throwing, and throwing, and don't give a damn what anybody thinks." -Tyler Dunne, Bleacher Report

    "For a decade they've been toying with and laughing at the rest of the league. The biggest bullies on the block." — Ralph Vacchiano, SNY

    "Behind the glitz and glamour of having the game's greatest quarterback, the Patriots ranked among the league's top 10 scoring defenses each of the past five seasons, including No. 1 in 2016." — Ryan Wood, Green Bay Press-Gazette

    The most badass player? Veteran Steelers linebacker James Harrison. The highest-ranked Patriot on the list? Tom Brady at No. 6. Rob Gronkowski was tied with Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack at No. 8. Julian Edelman was among the others receiving votes. 

    Here are the full rankings: 

    MOST BADASS TEAM 

    1. Patriots (29 votes)

    2. Seahawks (27)

    3. Steelers (18)

    4. Raiders (9)

    5. Ravens (8)

    6t. Broncos (6)

    6t. Cowboys (6)

    8. Bengals (4)

    9t. Cardinals (2)

    9t. Packers (2)

    9t. Panthers (2)

    9t. Texans (2)

    Also receiving votes: Chiefs, Falcons, Rams, Titans (1 each)

    MOST BADASS PLAYER

    1. James Harrison, Steelers LB (14 votes)

    2t. Marshawn Lynch, Raiders RB (10)

    2t. J.J. Watt, Texans DE (10)

    4t. Kam Chancellor, Seahawks S (8)

    4t. Ndamukong Suh, Dolphins DT (8)

    6. Tom Brady, Patriots QB (7)

    7. Von Miller, Broncos LB (6)

    8t. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots TE (5)

    8t. Khalil Mack, Raiders LB (5)

    10. Aaron Donald, Rams DT (4)