By Tom E. CurranThe Miami Dolphins reside in that NFL middle class that seems impossible for some teams to escape. They've won 7, 7, 11, 1, 6, 9, 4, 10, 9 and 11 games in the past decade. They're a nice enough team with a smart enough coach and, aside from Brandon Marshall (who recently got pin-cushioned by his wife - allegedly) no real stars. Their 2011 draft didn't change that. For all the agitating about the Dolphins needing a new quarterback or an improved running game, Miami wasn't positioned to take either with their first pick (No. 15) so they took Florida offensive lineman Mike Pouncey. Good, safe pick, although if Pouncey is installed at center he needs to improve his current penchant for snapping the ball all over the map when he's in the shotgun. Miami did get aggressive in the second round, trading up to 62 to take Kansas State running back Daniel Thomas, a 6-foot, 230-pounder. The Dolphins gave up a third, a fifth and a seventh to move up 17 spots. For his size, he's surprisingly fast and elusive and is a smart pick since Ronnie Brown's a would-be free agent. Miami came back in the fourth and took a wideout, 6-0, 192-pound Edmund Gates. A really interesting prospect from Division II Abilene Christian, he runs in the 4.3s and is - at 25 - seen as a mature, diligent, high-effort player who has great ability to go and get the ball. He doesn't have the experience against better competition yet and the lockout could impact him for 2011, though, since he'll need a fair amount of seasoning. The Dolphins rounded it out with an H-Back project named Charles Clay (179), a nose tackle from Alabama A&M named Frank Kearse (231) and a cornernamed Jimmy Wilson (235) from Montana who spent two years in jail on a murder charge for shooting his aunt's boyfriend. His first trial ended in a hung jury; the second in acquital. Miami did a thorough mining of Wilson's background, according to GM Jeff Ireland. SUMMARY: Nothing here that indicates to me the Dolphins are about to leave the middle class. Gates may make them more electric; Thomas is well thought of... I dunno. Hard to get awestruck by a draft that yields a center who has a hard time snapping the football. They told Patriots' third-rounder Ryan Mallett they'd draft him but never got around to it. Mediocre. TE, RB, QB, Wanna think wideout a bit
Phil Perry has been running a series on the 2007 Patriots vs. the 2017 Patriots. He breaks everything down position-by-position and compares what should go down as two of the best teams in franchise history. It’s really good stuff.
Also, a lot of people are idiots.
For some reason -- and it’s either because they’re rightfully excited for the upcoming team or because they’re still shell-shocked by 18-1 -- the 2007 Patriots have been shown a remarkable lack of love when it’s come to the reader votes. It’s insane.
2007 PATRIOTS vs. 2017 PATRIOTS:
And before you start with the “This is Boston and it only counts if you win” nonsense, remember that the 2017 team hasn’t done a thing yet, so by saying the 2017 Pats are better than the 2007 Pats, you’re saying the then-greatest offense of all time is worse than a current work in progress.
As if anyone should need the reminder, the 2007 Patriots rank as the No. 2 scoring team ever, and at the time they were No. 1. Their 36.8 points a game was dwarfed only by the 2013 Broncos, who averaged 37.9. Then again, the Patriots have four of the top 12 scoring teams ever, so there’s no reason to rule out what should be a loaded 2017 group registering high on that list as well.
But back to the ’07 team for a second. At the time of this writing, a poll of over 3,300 readers had 67 percent finding the 2017 receivers and tight ends being better than the group from 2007. If ever there were a poll that should be split 50-50, it’s that. In fact, I would take the 2007 group over the 2017, but that’s only because I saw Randy Moss play in every game and am not sure I will see Rob Gronkowski do the same.
Think about the options after the top guys in both groups. Donte’ Stallworth was a get in free agency -- a 27-year-old first-round pick with all the talent in the world and a few damn good seasons in New Orleans under his belt -- and the guy didn’t even have 50 catches for that 2007 team. No, it wasn’t because he wasn’t any good; it was because Tom Brady, Randy Moss and Wes Welker were so busy putting up a combined 31 touchdowns together that there was barely time for anyone else.
Laurence Maroney was the ’07 team’s lead back, but given how much the team threw and the fact that he missed three games, his 835-yard season with an average of 4.5 yards a pop was a lot better than has been remembered.
The only thing you can give the 2017 team over the 2007 one is that they figure to be well-rounded. The Patriots’ defense should be better than that ’07 group, even though the 2007 Pats gave up the fourth-fewest points in the league. Damn, the 2007 Patriots were so good.
Yes, that ’07 team lost, but it was still the best team in the league by a mile that season. Bad Super Bowl game plan, bad execution, obviously. But overall? There wasn’t a team close to as good as them that season.
The expectation is that something similar could play out this season. The Pats are so much better than everyone else that you’d be nuts to rule out 19-0 talk. Yet that hasn’t happened yet, and for now, the most explosive offense the Pats have ever seen — and very well may ever see — will be that 2007 one. They aren’t held in the same regard as the five championships, and for good reason, but to slight that offense — or really that team at all — is foolish.
Five-time Super Bowl champions. Seven-time AFC champs. Fourteen-time AFC East champs. Now, Bill Belichick's Patriots have another title.
NFL's most "badass" team.
The Tampa Bay Times polled a panel of 43 NFL writers and asked them for the top three most "badass" teams and players in the NFL.
- Scout on Garappolo: "Bill thinks he has the next great one"
- To Tony Dungy, Brady's the sixth-best all-time QB
- 2007 vs. 2017: The offensive line
- 2007 vs. 2017: The receivers
- 2007 vs. 2017: The front seven
The defending Super Bowl champion Patriots came out on top with 29 top-three votes.
Here's a sampling of the panelists' comments:
"They keep winning in a league designed to discourage dynasties." -Terez A. Paylor, Kansas City Star
"Hands down. They take a three-touchdown lead and keep throwing, and throwing, and don't give a damn what anybody thinks." -Tyler Dunne, Bleacher Report
"For a decade they've been toying with and laughing at the rest of the league. The biggest bullies on the block." — Ralph Vacchiano, SNY
"Behind the glitz and glamour of having the game's greatest quarterback, the Patriots ranked among the league's top 10 scoring defenses each of the past five seasons, including No. 1 in 2016." — Ryan Wood, Green Bay Press-Gazette
The most badass player? Veteran Steelers linebacker James Harrison. The highest-ranked Patriot on the list? Tom Brady at No. 6. Rob Gronkowski was tied with Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack at No. 8. Julian Edelman was among the others receiving votes.
Here are the full rankings:
MOST BADASS TEAM
1. Patriots (29 votes)
2. Seahawks (27)
3. Steelers (18)
4. Raiders (9)
5. Ravens (8)
6t. Broncos (6)
6t. Cowboys (6)
8. Bengals (4)
9t. Cardinals (2)
9t. Packers (2)
9t. Panthers (2)
9t. Texans (2)
Also receiving votes: Chiefs, Falcons, Rams, Titans (1 each)
MOST BADASS PLAYER
1. James Harrison, Steelers LB (14 votes)
2t. Marshawn Lynch, Raiders RB (10)
2t. J.J. Watt, Texans DE (10)
4t. Kam Chancellor, Seahawks S (8)
4t. Ndamukong Suh, Dolphins DT (8)
6. Tom Brady, Patriots QB (7)
7. Von Miller, Broncos LB (6)
8t. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots TE (5)
8t. Khalil Mack, Raiders LB (5)
10. Aaron Donald, Rams DT (4)