Curran: Five first-half thoughts from Patriots-Packers


Curran: Five first-half thoughts from Patriots-Packers

By Tom E. Curran

FOXBORO - Just a little bit of luck heading the wrong way can change a game. And when Brandon Meriweather's bad angle on a ball thrown to James Jones and wiped out cornerback Devin McCourty, one of the many breaks going New England's way over the past two months fell to an opponent. Here's five keys from the first half of a game led -- shockingly -- 17-14 by Green Bay. 1. FLYNN EFFECTIVENESSThe assumed ineffectiveness of Matt Flynn hasn't yet come to pass. He went 11 of 17 for 143 yards.A huge chunk came on that 66-yard touchdown pass to James Jones, but he also engineered a drive in the second quarter that consumed 6:26 and included four third-down conversions before ending with a one-yard touchdown pass to Greg Jennings. 2. PENALTIES EMERGEThe Patriots have five penalties for 37 yards in the first half. Entering the game, New England was the fourth-least penalized team in the NFL (55). Included in there, a pass interference that made it first-and-goal at the one, an offensive hold that led to a three-and-outand an offsides that turned a third-and-nine into a third-and-four.3. CONNOLLY ... UNSTOPPABLEThe explosiveness of Patriots offensive lineman Dan Connolly was on full display late in the half when he took a squibbed kickoff and returned it 71 yards past a seemingly confused Packers kick coverage team all the way down to the Green Bay 4. Tom Brady hit Aaron Hernandez for a touchdown. 4. DEFENSIVE STRIKESKyle Arrington, who explained to me last week the work he does during the week on his legs to keep them strong and live, showed that power during a 36-yard interception return for a score. It was the eighth return touchdown of the year for New England. 5. PATRIOTS KILLED IT ON GROUNDNew England hadeight carries for74 yards in the first half, a tremendous, eight yards per carry average. But they went away from it a bit in the second quarter.
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Jerod Mayo: 'Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year'

Jerod Mayo: 'Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year'

Jerod Mayo still has faith in New England Patriots cornerback Cyrus Jones.

The cornerback, who was the Patriots' top pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, struggled mightily in his rookie season. He fumbled his way out of a role on special teams, where he served as a returner.

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He then failed to perform at nickel cornerback, and the Patriots traded for Eric Rowe, who pushed Jones down the depth chart and often onto the inactives on game day. Jones' emotional outburst during Week 5 when he got ejected for punching Browns receiver Andrew Hawkins didn't help.

Despite all that, Mayo thinks Jones will turn things around.

"I think Cyrus Jones will probably be most improved this year," Mayo said in the latest edition of "The Ex Pats" podcast. "I want people to remember a rookie [Matthew] Slater. A rookie Matt Slater was terrible. He would sit here on this podcast and tell you he's terrible, and I think Cyrus Jones is more athletic than Matthew Slater. I think -- I know for a fact, because I've seen it time and time again, the biggest leap not only in athleticsm but also in confidence is from year one to year two."

Jones admitted to the Baltimore Sun that his rookie was "hell." He added he felt "embarrassed." The 23-year-old cornerback said he didn't feel like he was a part of New England's Super Bowl LI win.

“Failure is another opportunity to begin again more intelligently,” Jones wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post.

Mayo seems to think Jones has learned his lesson, and will rebound with the help of Bill Belichick. And the Patriots may need Butler to be the most-improved player. Malcolm Butler's future with New England has become uncertain, and the remaining top cornerbacks are over 6-feet.

The Patriots need a slot corner. Jones is the next man up.

"As much as the media has kind of battered this young kid, Bill's going to boost him up this entire offseason," Mayo said. "Bill -- he's the best at putting lowlights up after a game . . . But during the offseason, he kind of -- it's individualized coach. He knows this guy's confidence is in the toilet. He's going to boost him up as much as possible.

"You know [Jones] can play football. He played in the SEC. He played on the top team on the country, and was a standout performer. So this is a confidence issue. This entire thing is a confidence issue, and I think they fix that."

Report: Patriots asked Seahawks about a trade for Richard Sherman

Report: Patriots asked Seahawks about a trade for Richard Sherman

PHOENIX -- The Patriots pulled off what many considered a surprise free-agent signing when they acquired corner Stephon Gilmore. As it turns out, before they picked up the former Bills cover man, they inquried about a separate move that would have been even more eye-opening. 

According to NFL Media's Ian Rapoport, ahead of coming to a deal with Gilmore, the Patriots were among the teams that spoke to the Seahawks about a potential trade for Richard Sherman.


During the NFC coaches breakfast on Wednesday morning at the Arizona Biltmore, Seattle coach Pete Carroll acknowledged that multiple teams have contacted the Seahawks about Sherman. But, Carroll said, "I don't see anything happening at all."

Sherman, who turns 29 next season, will make $11.431 million for 2017. He's due $11 million in the final year of his contract in 2018.