Patriots expect the unexpected from Rob Ryan


Patriots expect the unexpected from Rob Ryan

By A. Sherrod Blakely

If you see the New England Patriots run a lot of the same stuff offensively as they did against the New York Jets, well, there will be a reason for that.

The defense that the Dallas Cowboys will throw on the field Sunday against the Patriots, literally came from the same gene pool as what the Pats saw in last Sunday's 30-21 win over the New York Jets.

Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan is the twin brother of Jets head coach Rex Ryan who like his twin, is very much a defensive-minded coach.

"There's definitely some carryover," said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

Figuring out how much of that has carried over and how much will be unique to Rob Ryan, will be among the many challenges facing the Patriots and offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien.

In preparing for Sunday's game, O'Brien is aware that his players will see some familiar schemes against the Cowboys.

"Obviously, with them being brothers, they talk and there's a little bit of similarity," O'Brien said. "But I would say Rob is his own guy."

Clearly Rex Ryan is the more recognizable Ryan brother, in part because of what he says and how his teams have played defensively.

But Rob Ryan, to his credit, is no slouch either.

The Cowboys come into Sunday's game ranked fourth in the NFL in total defense (291.8 yards allowed per game), and feature one of the league's top linebackers in DeMarcus Ware, a seven year veteran who is among O'Brien's biggest concerns heading into Sunday's matchup.

This season, Ware has 12 tackles and five sacks, which is tied for fourth in the NFL.

"He's definitely a guy that can affect a game," O'Brien said. "He's having a real good year. Rob Ryan and his staff, they do a great job of moving him around so you can't really get a beat on where he is."

Which is exactly what we have come to expect from the Ryan brothers.

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

NFLPA tells rookies to be like Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski is a model citizen in the NFL. In fact, the NFL Players Association is advising rookies to be more like Gronk, according to The Boston Globe

The New England Patriots tight end has developed a name for himself on and off the football field. With that attention comes branding. And at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere from May 18 to 20, the NFLPA encouraged rookies to develop their own brand -- much like Gronkowski.

“Some people think he’s just this extension of a frat boy, and that it’s sort of accidental,” Ahmad Nassar said, via The Globe. Nassar is the president of NFL Players Inc., the for-profit subsidiary of the NFLPA. “And that’s wrong. It’s not accidental, it’s very purposeful. So the message there is, really good branding is where you don’t even feel it. You think, ‘Oh, that’s just Gronk being Gronk.’ Actually, that’s his brand, but it’s so good and so ingrained and so authentic, you don’t even know it’s a brand or think it.”

Gronkowski's "Summer of Gronk" has indirectly become one of his streams of income. The tight end makes appearances for magazines and sponsors. Because of his earnings from branding and endorsements, he didn't touch his NFL salary during the early years of his career.

Gronk was one of three players who were the topics of discussion during the symposium. Dak Prescott and Odell Beckham were also used as examples of players who have been able to generate additional income from endorsements. Beckham, in particular, has been in the spotlight off the football field. He's appeared on the cover of Madden, and just signed a deal with NIke which is reportedly worth $25 million over five years with upwards of $48 million over eight years. His deal, which is a record for an NFL player, will pay him more than his contract with the Giants.

“A lot of people talk to the players about, ‘You should be careful with your money and you should treat your family this way and you should treat your girlfriend or your wife.’ Which is fine. I think that’s valuable,” Nassar said, via The Globe. “But we don’t often give them a chance to answer the question: How do you see yourself as a brand? Because Gronk, Odell, none of those guys accidentally ended up where they are from a branding and marketing standpoint.”

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivers video message at funeral of Navy SEAL

Tom Brady delivered a video message last week at the funeral of Navy SEAL Kyle Milliken, a Maine native and former UConn track athlete killed in Somalia on May 5.

Bill Speros of The Boston Herald, in a column this Memorial Day weekend, wrote about Milliken and Brady's message.   

Milliken ran track at Cheverus High School in Falmouth, Maine, and at UConn, where he graduated in 2001. Milliken lived in Virginia Beach, Va., with his wife, Erin, and two children.  He other Navy SEALs participated in a training exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011 where he met and posed for pictures with Brady.

Speros wrote that at Milliken’s funeral in Virginia Beach, Va., Brady's video offered condolences and thanked Milliken’s family for its sacrifice and spoke of how Milliken was considered a “glue guy” by UConn track coach Greg Roy.

Milliken had served in Iraq and Afghanistan, earning four Bronze Star Medals and was based in Virginia since 2004.  He was killed in a nighttime firefight with Al-Shabaab militants near Barij, about 40 miles from the Somali capital of Mogadishu. He was 38.

The Pentagon said Milliken was the first American serviceman killed in combat in Somalia since the "Black Hawk Down" battle that killed 18 Americans in 1993. 

In a statement to the Herald, Patriots owner Robert Kraft said: “It was an honor to host Kyle and his team for an exercise at Gillette Stadium in 2011. It gave new meaning to the stadium being known as home of the Patriots. We were deeply saddened to hear of Kyle’s death earlier this month.

“As Memorial Day weekend approaches, we are reminded of the sacrifices made by patriots like Kyle and so many others who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend and protect our rights as Americans. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt appreciation are extended to the Milliken family and the many families who will be remembering lives lost this Memorial Day weekend.”