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

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski is a model citizen in the NFL. In fact, the NFL Players Association is advising rookies to be more like Gronk, according to The Boston Globe

The New England Patriots tight end has developed a name for himself on and off the football field. With that attention comes branding. And at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere from May 18 to 20, the NFLPA encouraged rookies to develop their own brand -- much like Gronkowski.

“Some people think he’s just this extension of a frat boy, and that it’s sort of accidental,” Ahmad Nassar said, via The Globe. Nassar is the president of NFL Players Inc., the for-profit subsidiary of the NFLPA. “And that’s wrong. It’s not accidental, it’s very purposeful. So the message there is, really good branding is where you don’t even feel it. You think, ‘Oh, that’s just Gronk being Gronk.’ Actually, that’s his brand, but it’s so good and so ingrained and so authentic, you don’t even know it’s a brand or think it.”

Gronkowski's "Summer of Gronk" has indirectly become one of his streams of income. The tight end makes appearances for magazines and sponsors. Because of his earnings from branding and endorsements, he didn't touch his NFL salary during the early years of his career.

Gronk was one of three players who were the topics of discussion during the symposium. Dak Prescott and Odell Beckham were also used as examples of players who have been able to generate additional income from endorsements. Beckham, in particular, has been in the spotlight off the football field. He's appeared on the cover of Madden, and just signed a deal with NIke which is reportedly worth $25 million over five years with upwards of $48 million over eight years. His deal, which is a record for an NFL player, will pay him more than his contract with the Giants.

“A lot of people talk to the players about, ‘You should be careful with your money and you should treat your family this way and you should treat your girlfriend or your wife.’ Which is fine. I think that’s valuable,” Nassar said, via The Globe. “But we don’t often give them a chance to answer the question: How do you see yourself as a brand? Because Gronk, Odell, none of those guys accidentally ended up where they are from a branding and marketing standpoint.”

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL


Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”