Fitzgerald, Cardinals offense has Pats coaches on guard


Fitzgerald, Cardinals offense has Pats coaches on guard

Every conference call with Bill Belichick kicks off with highlights of the week's opponent. Tuesday, his lauding of Arizona -- from the Cardinals' kicking game to its defense -- seemed to stretch on and on.

The offense in particular drew heaps of the coach's respect.

And Larry Fitzgerald, of course.

"He does everything well," Belichick said. "Hes a great, great receiver; will go down as one of the all-time greats and might end up being the best one ever, I dont know. He has size, quickness, ability to separate and gets open, exceptional hands. Hes good short, deep, with the ball in his hands after the catch; strong, very smart, sets up his routes well. They move him around, they put him in a lot of different spots, its hard to even find him; you have no idea where hes going to line up from play to play. He has a very big route tree; he runs all the routes with double moves off of them and complementary moves so one route sets up another.

"Its very hard to defend him. Its very hard to find him and then its very hard to defend him. Again, hes just as dangerous going down the field as he is taking a shorter pass and running with it so thats not really the answer either just letting him catch it in front of you and not give up any big plays because he can make plays there too. You have to try to keep the ball out of his hands, but thats not easy."

New England's 'D' looked improved from 2011 in last Sunday's game against Tennessee. Surrendering 284 net yards to the Titans was nearly brilliant in light of last year's 411.1 average yards surrendered per game.

But nobody's celebrating. Matt Patricia is too busy hunkering down in front of a very full plate.

Even with the cruel simplification of Arizona's quarterback scouting -- John Skelton suffered an ankle injury in Week 1 and will miss two to four weeks, making way for Kevin Kolb -- the defensive coordinator sees the Cardinals offense as a dangerous one.

"I think, in general, just trying to prepare for Arizona as a whole, with as many skill players and the quality offensive scheme that they have as far as the blocking and the run game," Patricia said. "Obviously, Larry Fitzgerald is a fantastic player for them who does numerous things in multiple roles and is a real significant player in their offense.

"Early Doucet and Andre Roberts, all of those guys, including the running backs and the quarterbacks, do a great job with the system thats in place, so I think really theyll just be able to keep moving no matter what the situation may be out there and be able to run their offense the way they want to run it."

Making sure that doesn't happen must be the fun part.

Kraft on possible Patriots reunion with Revis: 'I would love it'

Kraft on possible Patriots reunion with Revis: 'I would love it'

It was reported last week that multiple NFL executives are convinced that Darrelle Revis will return to the New England Patriots next season.

Talking with the New York Daily News, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said he’d be open to a reunion with the 31-year-old cornerback.

“I would love it,” Kraft said. “Speaking for myself, if he wanted to come back, he’s a great competitor, I’d welcome him if he wanted to come.”

Asked if the team has had discussions with Revis, Kraft said “ask my boy,” in reference to coach Bill Belichick.

Revis spent the 2014 season with the Patriots, helping them win Super Bowl XLIX. He bolted back to the New York Jets the next season, signing a five-year, $70 million contract ($39 million guaranteed).

The Jets released Revis earlier this month after the incident in Pittsburgh. A judge dismissed the charges.

Kraft says intention is not to trade Butler: 'We hope he's with us'

Kraft says intention is not to trade Butler: 'We hope he's with us'

PHOENIX -- The idea that Malcolm Butler could be traded by the Patriots before the start of the 2017 season has been floated for weeks. But if Robert Kraft had his way, he'd like for the hero of Super Bowl XLIX to stick around. 

At the Biltmore hotel on Day 2 of the league's annual meetings, Kraft was asked if he anticipated having Butler back in New England for next season.

"I sure hope so," he said. "We have [a first-round tender] out to him, and I know he has the ability to go out in the market and get someone to sign him, and then we either match it or get the first-round draft pick.

"I'm rooting, I hope, he's with us and signs his offer sheet and plays for us. I have a great affection for him. He was part of probably the greatest play in the history of our team, but there are a lot of people involved in that."

The Patriots can't trade any player who isn't under contract, and they can't talk about a trade for a player not on their roster. Therefore, even if the Patriots hoped to deal Butler and get something in return for the Pro Bowl-caliber corner before he hits unrestricted free agency in 2018, it's not something that the owner of the team would be at liberty to discuss with dozens of microphones in front of his face. 

The tender offer of $3.91 million for one season is still out there for Butler. He could sign it and play in New England. He could sign it and be traded. For now, Kraft says he's hoping for the former -- and insists that the Patriots didn't have designs on the latter all along.

"I don't want to, in any way, take away from his rights [as a restricted free agent]," he said, adding, "I want to be clear. I hope he's with us."