Brady would welcome Moss back with open arms

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Brady would welcome Moss back with open arms

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
Sometimes you think things are gone and they return. Gout. Migraines. I'm sure you can come up with a few others.

Add "breathless speculation that Randy Moss will return to the New England Patriots" as another impossible to eradicate item.

Over the weekend, a report emerged that Moss would return to the Patriots if they came knocking.

In other words, he would abandon a retirement forced by rampant disinterest in his services if the team that threw up its hands first would have him back. Ummm, of course he would.

And I would consider becoming a touring PGA professional if the golfing powers-that-be handed me a tour card.

Neither scenario seems likely. A refresher: The Patriots traded Moss after four games in 2010 because he'd become a pain, Tom Brady's trust in him had eroded and Moss' output was on the wane. After he left New England, he did nothing to prove the Patriots wrong while New England went 14-2 and exploded offensively without him.

Moss, realizing he'd messed up the best football thing he'd ever had, spent the rest of the season pining for a return.

Tuesday on WEEI, Brady breathed life back into a story that has all the elements necessary to get it to dominate a days worth of news.

Asked if hed be surprised if he were throwing to Moss again, Brady said he wouldnt be surprised by anything. He added, I love Randy, he's one of the greatest receivers to ever play the game, one of the greatest players I've ever played with. Unfortunately, I dont make personnel decisions (or) I'd still have all my friends here. Troy (Brown) would still be here. David Patten would still be here. Deion (Branch) would never have left. It's just . . . Ive seen so many guys move on over the years and then guys come back, who knows, who knows. You never know what situation well be in even next week.

Then Brady added the quote that was the equivalent of putting the paddles to the chest of a flatlining man. I love the guy, hes a great friend of mine, and if he ever did come back and play, Id welcome him with open arms.

Follow this timeline. A reporter nobody heard of, Chip Fontanazza of West Virginia Metro News (and Ive been one of those as well, so sorry if you take offense, Chip), reported that an unnamed source told him Moss would return to the NFL if the right opportunity presented itself. And the source added that Moss would most likely only return to the Patriots.

Fontanazza, perhaps not coincidentally, talked to Moss 1-on-1 over the weekend. So either Moss told Fontanazza off camera and told Chip to keep his name off it, or a person in Moss entourage that day told Fontanazza hed come back for the Patriots.

OK, thats newsish. Not anything we didnt presume before the weekend arrived but confirmation, I guess.

And now, off Chips story, Brady had the question posed to him about Moss returning. I have no doubt Brady had heard nothing about the Moss story from the weekend. He doesnt pay attention to that stuff.

So he was caught a little off-guard. But hes too smooth to say anything but the right thing even when caught cold like that.

But Brady missed an opportunity to douse the story completely by saying, Were focused on the guys who are here right now.

Oversight or message sending? If he is sending a message that he would like Moss back, hes had a change of heart from last October.

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

Brady-Ryan marks rare case of NFL's top two quarterbacks meeting in Super Bowl

Brady-Ryan marks rare case of NFL's top two quarterbacks meeting in Super Bowl

For all the flack that Matt Ryan got heading into this season, he’s been a damn good quarterback. Is his career on the same level as Tom Brady’s? Of course not, but this regular season saw him stand as Brady’s peer, making him an MVP favorite.

One of Ryan’s biggest challengers for that hardware is the same man who stands in the way of him winning his first Super Bowl. Though he missed the first four games of the season due to suspension, Brady finished second in the league in passing yards per game and threw just two picks in 12 games while tossing 28 touchdowns.  

So Super Bowl LI will pin the quarterback with the best numbers overall (Ryan finished two touchdowns behind Aaron Rodgers for the league lead but threw for 516 more yards and had a higher completion percentage) against the quarterback with the best touchdown/interception ratio ever for a single season. 

In other words, this is a Super Bowl that puts what one could argue are the season’s two best quarterbacks each other. That’s pretty rare. 

Going back the last 25 years, there are four candidates for such meetings: Manning vs. Brees in Super Bowl XLIV, Favre and Elway in Super Bowl XXXII (this one is a stretch), Favre and Bledsoe in Super Bowl XXXI and Kelly and Rypien in Super Bowl XXVI.. 

Why haven’t the two best quarterbacks squared off in the Super Bowl more often? Because Brady and Peyton Manning played their entire careers in the same conference, silly. It’s taken other players entering their echelon to even set up such a scenario, and that’s why Brees’ Saints beating Manning’s Colts serves as the only example during Manning or Brady’s career. 

The strong performances of those who dominated the regular season have often carried over into their Super Bowl meetings, but not always. Drew Bledsoe and Jim Kelly (both throwing two touchdowns and four picks in Super Bowl losses) are examples of the wheels falling off in the final game. 

Here’s a breakdown of past occurrences. Note that all four of them saw the winning team score at least 30 points, something the Pats have done just once in Brady's four Super Bowl wins: 

Super Bowl XLIV: Brees vs. Manning

Brees led NFL with 34 touchdowns in regular season; Manning finished tied for second with 33

Final score: Saints 31, Colts 17

Brees: 32/39, 288 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Manning: 31/45, 333 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Brees completed a postseason in which he had no turnovers and did so in a nearly exactly average game for him that season, as e averaged 292.5 yards, 2.26 touchdowns and less than one interception per game in the regular season. The two quarterbacks also combined for just one sack. 
 
Super Bowl XXXII: Favre vs. Elway

Favre led NFL with 35 TDs in regular season, Elway finished second in TD/interception ratio

Final score: Broncos 31, Packers 24

Favre: 25/42, 256 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, fumble lost 
Elway: 12/22, 123 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT

Again, this is the forced one because Jeff George (3,917 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, nine interceptions) had the better regular season than Elway (3,635 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, 11 picks). Elway may have been the winning quarterback, but he didn’t have anything to do with the win. Terrell Davis carried the Broncos, playing through a migraine and rushing for 157 yards with three touchdowns en route to Super Bowl MVP honors. 

Super Bowl XXXI: Favre vs. Bledsoe

Favre led NFL with 39 TDs, Bledsoe third with 27

Final Score: Packers 35, Patriots 21

Favre: 14/27, 246 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Bledsoe: 25/48, 253 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT

Both quarterbacks took five sacks in this game. For Bledsoe, it was the most he took all season. The game was the third four-pick performance of his NFL career. 

Super Bowl XXVI: Kelly vs. Rypien

Kelly led NFL with 33 TDs, Rypien second with 28

Final score: Redskins 37, Bills 24

Rypien: 18/33, 292 yards, 2 TD, INT
Kelly: 28/58, 275 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT, fumble lost

Turns out five turnovers (and being sacked four times) is not a recipe for winning the Super Bowl. Kelly’s 58 passes thrown set a Super Bowl record.
 

Dimitroff, Pioli the first Belichick defectors to lead new team to Super Bowl

Dimitroff, Pioli the first Belichick defectors to lead new team to Super Bowl

Working for the Patriots makes you attractive to other teams. Many have left, but Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli are finally showing that major success can be attained in the process. 

Dimitroff and Pioli have built a team in Atlanta that will play for the franchise’s first Super Bowl title on Feb. 5. While many have been hired away from Bill Belichick's Patriots to lead other organizations, Dimitroff is the first of the defectors to get to the Super Bowl on his own. Adding an old friend in Pioli has played a part in that. 

Dimitroff served as New England’s director of college scouting from 2003 through 2007 before becoming Atlanta’s general manager in 2008. He hired Pioli in 2014 as an assistant GM after the longtime Patriots director and vice president of player personnel had a messy stint as the Chiefs’ GM. 

Executives and coaches (even Field Yates; yes, the fair-haired boy from the television) leaving the Patriots for better positions with other organizations has been common, but with the new positions have often come diminished success compared to New England. 

Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Bill O’Brien, Charlie Weis (in his brief return to the NFL in 2010) and Josh McDaniels make up the list of coordinators who have left winning with the Patriots to experience a dropoff without Brady and Belichick. John Robinson (Titans), Jason Licht (Buccaneers) and Bob Quinn (Lions) currently serve as GMs elsewhere, while former Pats secondary coach Joe Collier works with Dimitroff and Pioli as the Falcons’ director of pro personnel. 

It’s only fitting that Dimitroff and Pioli will have to go through Belichick in order to secure a title on their own. Winning without Belichick has proven hard enough for his former colleagues; winning against him will be even harder.