Brady versus Ryan: Part II

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Brady versus Ryan: Part II

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

FOXBORO -- In a seven-day span Tom Brady will throw against two Ryan defenses; he dodges Rex to dance with Rob. And for as good as the Jets 'D' can be, the Cowboys aren't far behind.

Dallas, statistically, is toughest against the rush, allowing just 61.8 yards per game. The team's total defense is ranked fourth (291.8 yards per game), surrendering 230.0 passing yards on average.

Brady is up on these numbers. Of course.

"He's a great coach," Brady said about Rob. "He gets those guys playing hard. I think they're very talented. They've got a bunch of good skill type players over there . . . They really get pressure on the quarterback from everybody. They get pressure on the three-man rush, they get pressure on the four-man rush, when they blitz they get pressure. . . . So, we've got to make sure we really stand up to them."

Ryan had Brady's number last year in Cleveland. The Browns' 34-14 win over the Patriots sticks out sorely because it was the second of New England's only two losses in 2010. And because Cleveland's defense held the Patriots to its lowest point total of the season. (Rex's Jets beat them 28-14 on September 19.) Brady went 19-for-34 in front of a giddy dog pound that November day.

Despite the different personnel in Dallas, he knows what Rob Ryan can do.

"Everything's very well coordinated," the quarterback said. "They've got a bunch of different things that they do . . . it's certainly not easy to prepare for. They've got a bunch of different blitz looks, a bunch of different defensive packages. It's kind of a gameplay defense and you're never really sure what you're going to get until you get out there, so you've got to prepare for everything."

But then there are those guys you just have to brace yourself for. Like DeMarcus Ware.

Ware is the linebacker Texas Pop Warner quarterbacks hear ghost stories about. He doesn't currently lead the NFL in sacks (he's tied for fourth), but, firstly, the Cowboys are coming off a bye and secondly, the minute you think he's off his game he'll have you on the ground.

Brady was sacked three times when last these team's met -- a 48-27 New England win in October of 2007. One of the takedowns belongs to Ware.

"He can get after the quarterback as good as anybody we play," Brady said. "He's powerful, he's fast off the edge, he's got a bunch of different moves. It's not like you just set on the speed rush and he'll speed rush you and then he'll power you right into the quarterback.

"The first play of the 2011 season he sacked Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez . . . If he gets going early he's going to be a problem all day, so we've got to make sure we really account for him on every play."

There are new worries, too. Rob Ryan inherited a sneaky winner in Sean Lee, a 6-2, 245 pound linebacker, when he took over the Dallas defense. After a year of digesting an NFL system, Lee has been a bear on the Cowboys line this season. In his first career start, that 27-24 loss to the Jets, his 15 tackles lead the team. Lee also picked off a Sanchez pass and ran it back 37-yards, which set up a Dallas touchdown. He even threw in a fumble recovery to round things out.

Lee's pace through the subsequent weeks wasn't slowed: 36 stops, two interceptions, two fumble recoveries. And more homework for Tom Brady.

"He's not big in stature, almost Zach Thomas-like," Brady said, comparing Lee to the former Dolphins linebacker who made the Pro Bowl eight times, "but really dissects the passing game, reads the quarterback really well. That return he had for a touchdown against the Jets was a phenomenal play: read the quarterback, kind of figured out the route, anticipated the throw, made a great catch and a great run. He's very good.

"He's obviously very smart, you can see that from just watching him play," Brady added. "He communicates a lot. When the play is called into the defense you can see he's one of the guy's that's always trying to get everything communicated to the rest of the guys, which tells you how the coaches feel about him. And that defense, I would say, is not very easy. There's a lot that they do, so to put that on a second-year player, that tells you what they think of him."

The esteem of Dallas defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is more than enough of an endorsement to caution Brady. As the backlog shows, that's how it should be.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Rob Gronkowski appears to thoroughly enjoy himself at Daytona 500

Rob Gronkowski appears to thoroughly enjoy himself at Daytona 500

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski attended the Dayton 500 in true Gronkowski form.

He appeared to be there promoting Monster Energy drink, and was therefore hanging with the Monster Girls, who were also promoting the drink. Gronkowski's herniated disc injury, which required surgery in December 2016, does not seem to be slowing him down as he gets warmed up for the Summer of Gronk.

During the race coverage on FOX Sports, Gronk delivered a speed limit joke, which is sure to make the 13-year-old in you chuckle. (You can watch it here.)

[H/T NESN.com]

Curran: It's time to let the air out of Deflategate

Curran: It's time to let the air out of Deflategate

I think it’s time. Time to let the Deflategate wound scab over. Time to exit the active, raging, teeth-gnashing, petition-signing, lawsuit-filing portion of the program and let the hate follow its natural course into a slow-boil loathing.

If you are of Irish descent, you know how it works. Clear a big-ass space on the grudge shelf. Put Roger Goodell, Jeff Pash, Mike Kensil, Troy Vincent, Ryan Grigson, Jim Irsay, every shiv-wielding owner, all the cluck-clucking media and the legion of retired players and exiled GMs from Marshall Faulk to Joey Porter through Marty Hurney and into Bill Polian up there. Turn off light. Leave room.

When you need to piss yourself off -- in traffic, mowing the lawn, waiting for your coffee -- fetch ‘em down, blow the dust off and when you’re in a sufficiently foul mood, return grudge to shelf.

You rode the roller coaster. You’ve been there, done that and have all the T-shirts.

I came to this conclusion a few days ago, when ESPN’s Cari Champion interviewed Rob Gronkowski and asked about Goodell visiting Gillette. It was like playing “Get the Stick!” with a big goofy Lab. Champion threw the leading question, Gronk fetched -- tail-wagging --  and returned with a slobbery response that was completely implausible but still designed to dominate a four-hour news cycle.

"The fans are nuts, they’re wild, and they have the Patriots’ back no matter what,” said Gronkowski. “They have [Tom Brady’s] back. I’m telling you, he won’t get through the highway if the fans saw him. I don’t even think he can even land in the airport in Boston because Patriot fans are the best fans, they’re the most loyal fans. I’m telling you, they might just carry out Roger themselves. They couldn’t even get to the stadium in Foxboro if he landed in Boston."

Gronk’s just doing what he thinks he’s supposed to do. And Champion is, too. It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

Watch these mooks up in New England get all pissed off: “Hey, hey, Chowderhead . . . Roger Goodell . . . . ”

“F*** that guy, he better never show his face in Foxboro! But I want him to come to Foxboro so I can boo the ever-living s*** out of him and maybe barricade Route 1 like Gronk said we would!”

See? Works every time.

The irony is that the person mainly responsible for turning up the burner on this is Robert Kraft.

In May 2015, Kraft said at the owners meetings in San Francisco, “I don’t want to continue the rhetoric that’s gone on for the last four months. I’m going to accept, reluctantly, what he has given to us, and not continue this dialogue and rhetoric, and we won’t appeal.

“Now, I know that a lot of Patriots fans are going to be disappointed in that decision, but I hope they trust my judgment and know that I really feel at this point in time that taking this off the agenda, this is the best thing for the New England Patriots, our fans, and the NFL, and I hope you all can respect that.”

Well, that blew up like an ACME bomb. And -- from that moment on -- Kraft has tried to recoup the fanbase that believed he sold them out by issuing a succession of calls-to-arms that the region has dutifully responded to.

The most recent was throwing down the gauntlet to Goodell by expressly inviting him to the 2017 season opener.  I mean, it would have been a conversation point anyway, but now it’s metastasized into something that will be discussed throughout the offseason, ratcheting up in early September and hitting a crescendo on opening night.

There is appeal to seeing Goodell squirm while knowing the Maras, Rooneys and Irsays will be sipping highballs and lamenting the caddish treatment of Poor Roger. But I still like the football better.

Conversation about the historic import of SB51, the legacy of Brady and Belichick, prospects for the league in 2017? I’ll take those rather than an ESPN “personality” who spent a weekend in Newburyport at a friend’s wedding telling everyone what the mindset of the New England sports fan is.  

But that’s not what we’re going to get. There will instead be ever-escalating predictions of the terrors Goodell will be subjected to fueled by interviews with tatted-up kids from the mean streets of Marshfield who wanted “Hoodie” fired when he let Revis sign with the Jets.

Unless . . . unless the region en masse decides to let its loathing mature. Mature to the point that when the carrot gets dangled in its collective face it doesn’t leap at it with teeth bared but instead says, “No thanks. Already full.”

Yeah. I don’t think it’s gonna happen either.