Curran: Debunking the 'What about 2008?' argument

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Curran: Debunking the 'What about 2008?' argument

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
Tom Brady was voted the top player in the NFL by his peers.Pretty easy call. His chief competition in the voting was Peyton Manning. But Manning had a down year in 2010. It was a bleak followup to his brilliant 2009, a season Manning capped by throwing the ball to the wrong team at crunch time in the Super Bowl. A different outcome against the Saints and Manning may have been No. 1 no matter what Brady did in 2010. But legacies are indelibly written by what happens in title games (see Namath, Joe) and Brady's three rings and two Super Bowl MVPs are non-refundable proof of how he's generally played in big spots. There was, however, a line of thinking that emerged among analysts and fans who weren't sold on Brady. If Brady is so great, the notion goes, why did the Patriots go 11-5 in 2008 without him? If Manning were ever lost for an extended period, the Colts would be a two-win team. It's a question that - if left dangling - seems a bit damning. Until you consider just how significant the dropoff actually was. The 2007 Patriots went 16-0 in the regular season and were 18-0 and leading the Giants in the Super Bowl until strange stuff happened. The 2008 Patriots didn't make the playoffs. In 2007, Brady threw 50 touchdowns and eight picks and New England scored an NFL record 75 touchdowns. Cassel threw 29 fewer touchdown passes for the Patriots in relie of Brady in 2008. To take it out a little further, consider what Matt Cassel has become. In 2010, he threw 27 touchdowns and 7 picks and made the Pro Bowl. Cassel is a really good player. The Patriots didn't faceplant completely in 2008 when Brady went down because they prepared for the eventuality of having to play without him. Yeah, they had success in 2008. But relative to the success they had when Brady was in there, the difference was stark. The Patriots have the best "program" in the NFL. That they went 14-2 last year when they were revamping is more proof. And what the 11-5 record in 2008 really demonstrates is just how great a gap there is between the program the Patriots have developed and the rest of the league aside from a handful of other elites.

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

Clayborn beats out Seymour, Vrabel to enter Patriots Hall of Fame

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Clayborn beats out Seymour, Vrabel to enter Patriots Hall of Fame

Raymond Clayborn has been voted into the Patriots Hall of Fame, beating out both Mike Vrabel and Richard Seymour for the honor. The corner, who is tied for the franchise record for interceptions with Ty Law (36), will be the 26th person inducted to the Hall. 

Clayborn was a three-time Pro Bowler (1983, 1985, 1986) during his 13-year Patriots career from 1977 through 1989. He was drafted by the Patriots in the first round (16th overall) out of Texas in 1977, and chipped in both in the secondary and as a kick returner. As a rookie in the return game, he averaged 31 yards per return and brought back three for touchdowns. 

Clayborn reacted to the news on Twitter soon after the announcement was made. 

"I was fortunate to be a season ticket holder during Raymond's entire Patriots career," Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft said in a statement. "For the first half of his career, he teamed with Michael Haynes to form one of the best corner tandems in league history. Throughout his career, Raymond was a physical, shutdown corner.

"One of my favorite memories was watching the 1985 team advance to the Super Bowl after Raymond helped us break the Orange Bowl curse when he stymied future Hall of Fame quarterback Dan Marino with a dominant performance against Pro Bowl receivers Mark Duper and Mark Clayton. Raymond had six passes defensed and an interception to help us claim our first conference title. It was the greatest upset victory in franchise history at the time and one the entire New England region celebrated. It is a well-deserved honor and I look forward to presenting him his hall of fame jacket."

Clayborn has been a finalist for each of the last four years but was not able to generate enough support in the annual online vote to beat out Ty Law (2014 inductee), Willie McGinest (2015) or Kevin Faulk (2016). Clayborn was eligible to be voted in by the senior committee since he's now been retired for 25 years, but he did not receive the requisite eight of 10 senior committee votes to be elected in that way. 

As it turns out, he didn't need to be. When Kraft called Clayborn with the news, he said Clayborn received over 40 percent of the vote to beat out the pair of three-time Super Bowl champs. 

Kyle Shanahan: One play I regret in Falcons' collapse vs. Patriots

Kyle Shanahan: One play I regret in Falcons' collapse vs. Patriots


Remember that Atlanta Falcons offensive game plan against the Patriots in the final five minutes of the Super Bowl?

Kyle Shanahan, then the Falcons offensive coordinator and now coach of the San Francisco 49ers won't forget it. If Atlanta had simply run the ball and kicked a field goal with an eight-point lead, the Falcons would have likely held off Tom Brady and the Pats' comeback from a 28-3 third-quarter deficit.

Shanahan told The Rich Eisen Show there's one play call he'd like to have back. 

"The second-and-10 that we got sacked on,” Shanahan said. “I wish I had dialed up something differently. And then the next play, we called an option to [Mohamed] Sanu, we got right back in field goal range, but we had a holding call on the play and it knocked us out some more, and an incompletion on the next one.”

Click here for the play: Patriots defensive lineman Trey Flowers sacked Matt Ryan for a 12-yard loss. 

"I go through every single play in the game, but when it comes down to it, the big one was the sack that we had on second-and-10,” Shanahan told Eisen. 

Shanahan probably won't see the Patriots again this season, unless it's in the Super Bowl. And with the 49ers rebuilding under him, that's not likely to happen.