Curran: Putting the 'Patriot Way' in perspective

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Curran: Putting the 'Patriot Way' in perspective

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - A well-done preview of the 2011 Patriots was presented by Andy Benoit in the New York Times. In it, Benoit shrugs away the notion of the "Patriot Way" saying scheme and personnel are the bellwethers of success in New England, not a workmanlike, selfless approach. "Locker room chemistry and teamwork and all those convenient Disney movie elements are great, but in the end, football is about the battle that takes place on that 10053 piece of turf," writes Benoit. "And those battles often dont come down to wanting it more or overcoming adversity they come down to out-scheming and out-executing the enemy."I'm with Benoit. The notion that grown men walk into Foxboro and become lemmings incapable of independent thought because Bill Belichick is in charge ispablum. Butdismissing the fact that sometalented players often tamp down their self-interest for the Patriots is not a myth. Those that do so - and it's not been unanimous - are still in it for themselves. They all want something- theirnext contract, validation, accolades, the chance for their children to see them play in the NFL, a championship ring, the satisfaction of playing the most evolved version of professional football we've seen - requires a little professional self-denial and a lot of trust inThe Hoodie. On Tuesday, wide receiver Deion Branch - a malcontent when he left here in 2006, a smiling foot soldier now - spelled out why so-called "bad boys" keep it under wraps. "When you label somebody a bad boy, you never know what somebody's been through," Branch cautions. "Say if I'm acting up somewhere else. My reasons for acting up may be because of this or that. Coming here, you know it's all business. You come in here and do your job. You do your job, everything'll be straight. Everybody wants to win. We play this game because it's a great job, but guys want to win. I think winning satisfies everything. And that's what we're all about over here."While Belichick exerts a certain amount of Big Brother-ly authority over his playerspublic comments and talking points, he does not tend to impose great personal restrictions on veteran players. Expectations? Yes. But he lets them be adults. "It ain't nothing where guys are hard on each other around here," Branch insisted. "You're still a man, everybody respects each other but you have to come to work. Come in and do a job. They pay you."It's really not that complicated. And Belichick has figured that the old guy who's a good guy and still can play, he might like it here. A guy like Andre Carter, formerly of the Redskins. He was asked Tuesday about whether Albert Haynesworth can change his reputation in New England. "That's up to Haynesworth," Carter answered. That's the crux of it. It is up to the player here. For some, it's Eden. For others it's Parris Island. "There'sa lot of veteran guys, a lot of great leadership, you see a lot of guys up-and-coming," Carter said when asked about the mix in New England. "This is just a great organization. It's all about one team and that's something I've admired. Everybody comes here to work."I'm going to go hard until I can't go no more," Carter promised.
Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

Quick Slants The Column: On booing Goodell and overvaluing Jimmy G

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Quick Slants The Column: On booing Goodell and overvaluing Jimmy G

Big night, Philadelphia. How you gonna treat the man NFL owners pay $35 million to be their meat shield? The first round of the draft is one of the few Roger Goodell appearances the league can’t manage. Released from the protection of John Mara’s coat pocket, Goodell has to hear a voice vote from fans every time he approaches the mic. He can grin, bang nipples and backslap all he wants with the first-rounders and sling that “Welcome to the family!” line of BS. He can hit the stage with the ghosts of Reggie White, Buddy Ryan and Chuck Bednarik. Philly’s too smart to get caught watching the paint dry. 

Got into a brief and spirited debate on the topic of Jimmy Garoppolo this morning on our “Boston Sports Tonight” email chain. I opined that perhaps Garoppolo is a bit overrated. Overvalued may have been a better adjective. Here’s why. With a fleet of teams dying for a quarterback they can build around, the Patriots squelched all Jimmy G suitors by declaring him untouchable. We may ultimately find out it was all a ruse and the team winds up getting a boatload of picks in exchange for him but from everything I’ve been told since September that’s not happening. Garoppolo will stay a Patriot and the team will figure out later how to proceed with him once his contract is up in March.

If Garoppolo isn’t franchised and doesn’t sign an extension to back up Tom Brady until Brady either retires (not on the horizon) or is traded (gasp), then why did the team pass on the haul it could have had? The theory most often posited is that Garoppolo is Brady insurance. If Brady gets hurt in 2017 and Jacoby Brissett is the next-man-up, the team is cooked. But that reality has existed throughout Brady’s tenure whether he had Rohan Davey, Matt Gutierrez, Matt Cassel, Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallett behind him. It didn’t faze them then. Garoppolo is better than all of them. Potentially. And that’s probably why the Patriots don’t want to make a decision on him before they have to. They look at all these forever .500 teams trying to find a quarterback answer and think, “There, but for the grace of God and the presence of Brady, go I.” Garoppolo isn’t going to be better than Brady. But he fits the suit better than anyone they’ve ever had and they like the fact they found him, developed him and were right about him. Clearly they believe he is a greater asset as a backup with a soon-to-expire contract and a complicated future than the collection of young players they’d be able to draft with whatever picks they got back in a deal. This, of course, runs counter to the way the team has traditionally done business. Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio have found innovative ways to acquire, stockpile and flip picks. The fact the team’s already got its 2017 draft haul of Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy, Dwayne Allen and Mike Gillislee thanks to pick-flipping. Garoppolo could yield the next batch of picks the Patriots could use in the “rent-to-own” model they’ve shrewdly adopted. But Garoppolo is the extreme outlier. And the Brady-Garoppolo-what’ll-they-do dance is fascinating because it highlights the confluence of everything – draft, free agency, cap management, trades, potential vs. proven, old vs. young, icon vs. phenom – at the most important position in sports on the greatest franchise of this era. 

Which brings me to this: we’ll have former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis in studio tonight at 9pm on Boston Sports Tonight helping us through the first round of the draft. Looking forward to his insight on why Garoppolo is persona-non-tradeable. Put the over-under on “Tommys” at about 47.

Patriots seven-round mock draft: Shakeup in the secondary

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Patriots seven-round mock draft: Shakeup in the secondary

In order to shake things up a bit in our third and final mock draft of the pre-draft season -- you can find our first two here and here -- we went ahead and made a trade for the Patriots.

In a move silimar to the one they pulled off involving Chandler Jones last year, in this mock draft the Patriots dealt Malcolm Butler to the Saints in order to pick up some draft capital. But instead of receiving the No. 32 pick overall in return, Bill Belichick pulled in a haul of picks that provided nearly equal value: No. 42 overall (second round), No. 103 (third round) and No. 196 overall (sixth round). 

That deal bumped the total number of Patriots selections from six to nine, and by picking up a second-rounder they gave themselves an opportunity at a top-end talent.

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