Curran: 48 lines on 24 football issues


Curran: 48 lines on 24 football issues

By Tom E. Curran

Twenty-four thoughts in 48 lines:

1. This Sunday is the two-year anniversary of the 59-0 blizzard blowout of the Tennessee Titans. If it snows Sunday, I will stab myself in the forehead.

2. The last time the Patriots scored fewer than 30 points in a regular-season game was last November 7 in Cleveland. Sundays output of 30 was the closest call for them to go sub-30 since the streak began.

3. Kyle Arrington was dumbfounded after the game at how Mark Sanchez stayed upright on Arringtons second-half blitz. The corner pound-for-pound one of the Patriots' strongest players vowed that wouldnt happen again.

4. It was kinda funny to hear Albert Haynesworth say that the media didnt give the Patriots a chance to win after Jerod Mayo got hurt. Somewhere, Rodney Harrison was smiling at the contrived slight.

5. Everything Rex Ryan says needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Still, requesting other teams give it their all to beat New England (The quote: "Don't focus on playing us. Take that preparation that you would have in playing us, and put it on beating New England. I think that would be a better thing. See if you can beat the big, bad Patriots and we'll see what happens.") and then barely showing up leaves Rex wide open for heckling.

6. Not that he seems to mind in the least. He walked off the field Sunday staring straight up into the stands with a smirk and a couple of mouthed expletives.

7. There is no better example of how highly evolved the Patriots offense is than the speed with which it is run. They stole a 13-yard completion in the red zone at the end of the third quarter of a 17-14 game against a hated division rival because the Jets . . . werent . . . ready.

8. To me, that shows the difference between guys like Tom Brady and maybe two or three other guys in the league (Brees, Rodgers, Manning the Elder) and everybody else. Court awareness.

9. And I hate to remind everyone of this but the day will come when Billy and Tommy are in Canton and we are seeing someone else doing that to the Patriots. And we will mutter, Are you bleeping bleeping me?

10. That play stands in contrast to the Drive to Nowhere from last January, the Patriots 14-play, eight-minute drive during the fourth quarter of the playoff loss to the Jets that yielded no points. That wasnt awesome.

11. Another week, another amateurish mistake from Chad Ochocinco. You might not have noticed it because CBS was showing a Rex Ryan sideline shot, but with less than four minutes remaining and the Patriots facing a third-and-4 from the Jets 46, Ocho made the Patriots have to burn their final timeout by heading to the wrong side of the formation.

12. And while the Patriots came back from that timeout and ran a successful direct-snap play to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the fact that Ocho left New England without a necessary timeout in case it needed to make a challenge is the little inside-the-game stuff that sometimes slips by unnoticed. But he does have nine catches so far, which is seven fewer than undrafted Bears rookie Dane Sanzenbacher.

13. I thought the biggest play in Sundays game was the 17-yard completion to Rob Gronkowski on third-and-13 from the Patriots 20 late in the third. It was 17-14 at the time and New England hadnt put together a sustained march in some time.

14. It was enjoyable to see Bill Belichick a little upbeat during Mondays press conference. Hes been tough this year, less willing to engage than at almost any time since Ive been covering him.

15. Always fun to when he makes the innocuous interesting, like when he discussed crowd noise (65,000 people just talking at the same time is loud) on Monday. The first appreciation I had for the mind-blowing noise at field level was in the Patriots' 1997 playoff loss at Three Rivers Stadium the roar of the crowd as Drew Bledsoe tried to mount a late-game drive seemed to swirl around the enclosed stadium and it felt as if I was standing in a washing machine.

16. All that said, its always strangely silent during the opening drives of the biggest games at Gillette Stadium. Everyones standing and seemingly leaned forward waiting for something to happen.

17. The Patriots appreciated the Bruins taking them up on their offer to bring the Stanley Cup over for the pregame Sunday. If the Bruins ever make a similar in-season request for some Patriots to swing by with the Lombardi Trophy for a ceremonial puck drop, Im not sure Belichick will agree to that.

18. I joked on Michael Felgers Sunday evening sports program that the Boston Cannons should come out next if the Patriots are having all these hack teams from middling professional sports trying to parade themselves in front of a packed house. I was kidding and, since I was quickly stuffing my face before kickoff, I didnt see how cool the ceremony actually was.

19. Watching the game in the press box puts writers at a decided disadvantage to those watching at home in many instances. One is the ability to pause, rewind and slo-mo replays to see what really happens thanks to my Twitter followers for helping me out when Im dying for a more detailed look.

20. I also didnt get to the great new Volkswagen commercial until late Monday night (Rocket man, burning up this fuse up here alone). Thought it was Burning up the feels so very long . . .

21. Lotta fun seeing Jets corner Kyle Wilson pose down after a pedestrian tackle of Rob Gronkowski. Even more fun when he practically assaulted Aaron Hernandez on the next play and got flagged for pass interference, defensive holding and crimes against nature.

22. Nobody really hates Tim Tebow for being a good guy whos proud of his upbringing, passion and faith. Its the reverence media outlets and large swaths of America have for him that makes people queasy.

23. Even if Matt Schaub was wearing a rocket pack, he wasnt going to score on any end-of-game-scramble against the Raiders on Sunday. Not at all.

24. Brandon Meriweather. Not making anyone rue the day he was released.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

Blount on free agency: 'I definitely want to go back to New England'

Blount on free agency: 'I definitely want to go back to New England'

LeGarrette Blount knows where he wants to be for 2017. Ever since he re-joined the Patriots in 2014 following a short stay in Pittsburgh, the 250-pound back has been very open about how he wants to play out the rest of his career in New England. 

Those feelings haven't changed, even as he faces free-agency after having recorded the best season of his seven-year career.

"I just want to make sure that I go to this free agency with an open mind, knowing that I definitely want to go back to New England," he told NFL Total Access on Monday. "I love it there. I love the culture. I love the players. I've become close with a lot of the guys. Obviously you know how my running back group is.

"We'll cross that bridge whenever we cross it. On that point, I feel great. I'm in amazing shape. I feel like I could play 100 more years if I have to."

Blount finished 2016 with career-highs in attempts (299) yards (1,161) and touchowns (18). His ability to help the Patriots close games in the fourth quarter was notable throughout the course of the season, and he was among the most effective goal-line backs in the league. His 18 rushing scores are a franchise record.

Toward the end of the season, as Dion Lewis worked his way back into the Patriots offense, Blount had his workload cut into, and his fumble in the Super Bowl was a near-catastrophic moment -- his devastated reaction to which was caught expertly by NFL Films. But a big-picture view of Blount's year would reveal that he  posted the most prodictive "big back" season the Patriots have had in more than a decade.

Blount signed a one-year deal with the Patriots last offseason after seeing his 2015 prematurely ended by way of a hip injury. He turned 30 in December.

Garoppolo's mom keeps him apprised of trade rumors: 'She's all over that stuff'

Garoppolo's mom keeps him apprised of trade rumors: 'She's all over that stuff'

Jimmy Garoppolo can't help but hear trade rumors that involve his name. He heard all about them during the week leading up to the Super Bowl. Now his mom's keeping him up to date. 

"My mom loves telling me the news updates," Garoppolo told ESPN's Adam Schefter, "so she’s all over that stuff, but it’s been working really well . . . 

"I’m telling you, she could be your assistant. She’s all over the place. Her and my dad on Twitter and stuff like that. I don’t even think they know how to tweet, but they always have something going on . . .

"They know what to hit me with and what to keep quiet. They know me so well that they know what I’d like to hear and what I don’t need to hear. There’s a couple slip-ups here and there, I’m not going to lie to you, but they’re just so excited about it. It’s an exciting time, and they’re loving it."

Garoppolo tried his best to deflect questions about his future as he prepared for Super Bowl LI, but he could only insulate himself so much from those conversations. After six quarters of well-played football, he's chummed the waters for quarterback-starved franchises. As the draft nears, offers are expected to hit the Gillette Stadium offices, and it will be up to Bill Belichick and his staff to determine whether they should part ways with Tom Brady's backup. 

Schefter asked Garoppolo about one team in particular that could be interested: the Chicago Bears. Their general manager Ryan Pace is an Eastern Illinois alum, like Garoppolo, and Garoppolo is a Chicago-area kid. 

"I get asked about [that possibility] all the time from my friends and family back in Chicago," Garoppolo said. "They’re good reporters, my family. But I keep telling them I really don’t know how it would feel until . . . if it was to happen, I wouldn’t know how I’d feel until it did, you know? So it’s kind of one of those things, it’s hard to say right now."

Garoppolo added: "For the most part I am just trying to stay level-headed, trying not to think about it, over think it too much because at the end of the day I am still under contract. It is not my decision if I get traded or if I don’t, so I am just trying to take it all in stride. At the end of the day, you just have to enjoy it. The NFL, it is a hard place to be, hard place to succeed and when you get an opportunity you have to go and take advantage of it."

The idea of getting an opportunity, though, is an enticing one. Before the 2016 season, Garoppolo was very open about how he looked forward to his opportunity to start with Brady suspended for the first four weeks of the season. And with Schefter, he acknowledged that there are times when it's hard not to be impatient when you're the guy behind the guy.

"There’s times," Garoppolo said. "Obviously the kickoff happens and you are ready to roll. The juices get flowing again. You get the adrenaline, the butterflies. It’s football, you have to love the atmosphere . . . 

"We all play the game. We all want to be out there on the field and get an opportunity to play. I guess we will cross that bridge when we get there is probably the best way to put it. We’re competitors at the end of the day. We want to be out there, I want to be out there competing and playing with my teammates.”