Curran's Mailbag: These aren't the 2010 Patriots


Curran's Mailbag: These aren't the 2010 Patriots

What is it with us and the ability to look at a cloudless sky and automatically assume we are just in the eye of a hurricane?

I swear, 90 percent of New Englanders could hit the lottery and immediately start grousing about the taxes they'll have to pay.

We'd dumb into inheriting an oceanfront home and -- instead of breaking out the umbrella and beach chair -- spend the day inside trying to determine the likelihood of tsunami.

So it is with the Patriots getting the Houston Texans in the AFC Divisional Playoffs next weekend.

"Remember that time the Patriots beat the Jets 45-3 in December and then lost to the Jets in the playoffs at home...? That wasn't awesome..."

That was also 2010 when the Patriots -- in spite of a 14-2 record -- were a REBUILDING team. Still one of the most underrated seasons the Patriots have had under Bill Belichick. Rookie tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. Randy Moss jettisoned and washed-up Deion Branch returning midstream. Danny Woodhead and BenJarvus Green-Ellis as scrap-heap guys in the backfield. A broken Wes Welker hurrying back from his ACL to catch 86 passes. No suitable outside pass rusher and a defense with rookie Brandon Spikes, useless Brandon Meriweather, retread Rob Ninkovich and bargain bin Kyle Arrington at one corner.

When those Patriots annihilated the Jets, New York lost Jim Leonhard on Friday afternoon in practice. And those Jets had already shown the Patriots more than a few times they could stop their offense as it was then constituted.

So when they came into Gillette for the Divisional Round, they were pulling an upset but one that came over a flawed team that had outwitted and outlasted opponents to get to 14-2.

These Patriots? Actually more stocked for the Texans rematch with Rob Gronkowski coming back and a week of rest to get dented guys fixed. And those Texans? They were an A.J. Dalton overthrow away from being down 20-19 with two minutes remaining.

Now . . . MAILBAG!!!

Q: @tomecurran Ray Lewis is GREAT, but ever notice after loss he doesn't face media or puts blame on himself? - Sgt Football @SgtFootball A: Sarge, I was in that Ravens locker room a lot from 2006 through 2009 when I was at Lewis was never hard to find after a loss. You can quibble with aspects of his persona but being criticizing him for being unavailable to the media is not one I'd choose.
Q: CSN reporters? Some of the funniest sports follows on twitter. @tomecurran @RattoCSN & @RoobCSN, all worth your time. - RumfordJohnny @RumfordJohnny A: Ray Ratto is the funniest sportswriter in America. The prevailing tendency of columnists to get a little older and reach a point where they hate sports and only write for their equally jaded media peers hasn't visited Ray. For instance, Ray could name most of the players on not only the local teams but upcoming opponents on whom he columnizes. Don't always get that around here, especially since Bob Ryan semi-retired. Shame. (And I'm aware that wasn't a question per se. Good jumping off point for a rant, though.)Q: @tomecurran @profootballtalk why hasn't A. Peterson been asked about PED use in his much better than usual recovery? - Sgt Football @SgtFootball
A: It definitely is. Not sure asking him about it is the fastest path to finding out. Actually, the fastest path to finding out would be for the NFL to get HGH approved ASAP but that's not going to happen. From Rivers to Brady to Welker to Peterson to Manning to the incredible rise of J.J. Watt from pizza boy to best defensive player in all of football, recoveries from ACL's and improvements in performance stretch credulity.
Q: @tomecurran "The Texans got past Cincinnati Saturday in a Wild Card matchup XX-XX." ---- Premature publication? - Chris S @cmsarro A: Yup. Had to run out of the house at 7:25 p.m. Saturday before that game went final. We missed on the update...who won, anyway?
Q: @tomecurran early thoughts on next weeks matchup? - brian flanagan @soxoct27 A: Sure. It will come down -- once again -- to Vince Wilfork beating the hell out of Chris Myers and gumming up the Houston stretch running play with Arian Foster. If the Bengals could have won that matchup -- or not been as susceptible to checkdown and tight end action as they were -- they would be heading to Denver. Foster got the ball 40 times! Eight on receptions. Owen Daniels was targeted 11 times and caught nine for 91. That's protecting the Pro Bowl quarterback from doing something stupid. The Patriots may challenge Schaub to beat them.

Q: @tomecurran What time? - JOHNNY J3 RODRIGUES @johnnyrod1 A: 4:30 p.m. EST next SundayQ: @tomecurran So do you think this game was more Texans defense or Bengals ineffective offense? - Norm Welch @rednckdaddyA: Oh, the Bengals were plenty ineffective. For A.J. Green to not even be targeted in the first half? For BJGE to get three carries? Plenty ineffective.Q: @tomecurran Think they wear the lettermen jackets next week? - Eric Paulson @epaulson89 A: Have to. Don't they?Q: @tomecurran How the hell do you not tell Belichick to (stop it) when you ask questions and he gives such a (unpleasant) response? - Ryan Hammond @RealRyanHammondA: Trying to work on being less sensitive in 2013.

Q: @tomecurran Why would we want (Scott Pioli) back? We have Nick Caserio now, who is doing a good job. - Drive for SB 47 @PatriotsExtra A: I mentioned on the Twitter that Pioli returning seemed unlikely because it would be a step back to the warm bosom of the Patriots that might give the perception he was uncomfortable away from New England. It is worth noting, though, that two years ago the Chiefs were an 11-5 playoff team and Matt Cassel was a 27-7 TD-to-INT guy and Pioli's name wasn't mud the way it became when the team went south and those waiting to assail him because he made their lives harder with the way he wanted to run his franchise were able to get out the torches and pitchforks.
Q: @tomecurran why are you guys already talking about the Broncos??? - Kax @Kaxi A: Because they are the most likely impediment for the Patriots getting to the Super Bowl. We are allowed to look ahead because we don't play for the team and, hence, won't be asked to stop Arian Foster.

Q: @tomecurran Name the last highly successful NFL coach (SB's) that was significantly overweight like Andy Reid? Why is this not discussed? - Dean Harrington @DeansDeskA: Mike Holmgren in Seattle. John Madden. I dunno, skinny guys can stink too. Just ask Mike Nolan. Interesting launch point for a book I recently saw recommended as well, called "Why We Get Fat" by Gary Taubes. Give it a read. Helps explain a lot including why the Boston effort to lose 1 million pounds in 2012 finished up 939,000 pounds short.

Sanu on Patriots' Super Bowl comeback: Lady Gaga's long halftime hurt Falcons

Sanu on Patriots' Super Bowl comeback: Lady Gaga's long halftime hurt Falcons

Three weeks removed from his team blowing a 25-point, second-half lead in the Super Bowl, Mohamed Sanu offered a possible explanation for the Atlanta Falcons losing their edge against the Patriots.

Lady Gaga.

More specifically, it was the half-hour-plus halftime show that interrupted the Falcons' rhythm, the receiver said Friday on the NFL Network's "Good Morning Football."

“Usually, halftime is only like 15 minutes, and when you’re not on the field for like an hour, it’s just like going to work out, like a great workout, and you go sit on the couch for an hour and then try to start working out again,” Sanu said.

Sanu was asked if the delay was something you can simulate in practice. 

"It's really the energy [you can't duplicate]," he said. "I don't know if you can simulate something like that. That was my first time experiencing something like that."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick did simulate it. In his Super Bowl practices, he had his team take long breaks in the middle.

Sanu also addressed the Falcons' pass-first play-calling that didn't eat up clock while the Patriots came back.

"The thought [that they weren't running the ball more] crossed your mind, but as a player, you're going to do what the coach [Dan Quinn] wants you to do." Sanu said. "He's called plays like that all the time."


It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade


It's official: Patriots nab third-round compensatory pick in Collins trade

The Patriots received a conditional fourth-round pick in 2018 from the Browns in return for Jamie Collins. That's how the trade was described on the league's transaction wire. 

The "condition" of that fourth-rounder? Well, if the Browns received a third-round compensatory pick in 2017, the Patriots would nab that pick instead. 

On Friday, the NFL announced that the Browns had in fact been awarded a third-round compensatory pick, which meant that almost three full weeks after Super Bowl LI, everything was still coming up Patriots.

In actuality, the odds were pretty good all along that the Patriots would get what they got

Cleveland lost Pro Bowl center Alex Mack in free agency last offseason when he opted to sign with the Falcons. Because compensatory picks are based on free agents lost and free agents acquired, and because the Browns did not sign any similarly-impactful free agents, there was a good chance Mack's departure would render a third-round comp pick that would be shipped to New England.

Had Mack suffered a significant injury that forced his play to drop off or limited his time on the field, a third-rounder may have been out of the question, but he played well (named a Pro Bowler and a Second Team All-Pro) and stayed healthy -- lucky for the Patriots -- missing just 17 total snaps in the regular season. 

The Browns comp pick that will be sent to New England is No. 103 overall. The Patriots were also awarded a fifth-round comp pick, No. 185 overall. That was a result of the league weighing the departures of Akiem Hicks and Tavon Wilson against the arrival of Shea McClellin.

The Patriots now have nine selections in this year's draft: One first-rounder; one second-rounder; two third-rounders; one fourth-rounder*; two fifth-rounders; two seventh-rounders.

The third-round compensatory pick acquired by the Patriots carries additional value this year in that it is the first year in which compensatory picks can be traded. A near top-100 overall selection may allow the Patriots to move up the draft board or build assets in the middle rounds should they be inclined to deal. And we know they oftentimes are. 

* The Patriots forfeited their highest fourth-round selection in this year's draft as part of their Deflategate punishment. They acquired a fourth-round pick from the Seahawks last year. Because that would have been the higher of their two selections, that's the one they'll lose. They will make their own fourth-round pick at No. 137 overall.