Setting the table for Patriots-Texans

900599.jpg

Setting the table for Patriots-Texans

Idle Friday thoughts while cleaning out the desk drawer of my mind and riffling through Springsteen and Neil Young lyrics to find something apt to apply to this weekend's game at Gillette Field.

Wade Phillips dawdled into a verbal snafu Thursday when he used the words "not" and "a real athletic guy" when discussing Wes Welker. Phillips was actually describing Welker in relation to A.J. Green, who is 6-foot-4 and can jump out of the gym. Wes Welker is 5-9 and cannot jump out of the gym. "Ah, Welkers not Green, Phillips said. Hes a good player, but hes not that big or a real athletic guy. Hes a quick guy that gets open on option routes. The perceived slight on Welker was quickly seized upon forcing Phillips to take to Twitter to stomp out flames of indignation.

Wade Phillips @sonofbum Wes Welker is a great athlete and one of the best receivers of all time- twistthataround
Twitter. It's a helluva place.
It's been amusing this week to listen to the media weigh in on what players should and shouldn't use for motivation. Ummm, they're the players... they can use whatever they want.

You think Gary Kubiak doesn't know how to brain battle and get into some gamesmanship with the Patriots? The Texans head coach strayed from his customary sharing of injury information early in the week. Asked the status of tight end Garrett Graham, Kubiak said, "Were going to talk about injuries on Wednesday. So well update you guys. Thatll be the first time well talk about that.

Why? "Ive got a new philosophy, thats what I was told," Kubiak replied. "That was my philosophy, starting today so thats my philosophy. Well talk about it on Wednesday.The Patriots, you may have heard, are less forthcoming than most teams about injuries.

With both Brian Kelly (Everett) and Chip Kelly (Manch-vegas, New Hampshire) and Bill O'Brien (Dorchester) all being courted for NFL head coaching jobs - and opting to stay at Notre Dame, Oregon and Penn State respectively, the tide of coaches with New England (mainly Massachusetts) ties taking over top spots in the NFL was stemmed a bit. In addition to those three, Medway's Pete Carmichael (offensive assistant for the Saints) was in the mix and could soon get his shot at a head job. And the Dolphins staff is littered with Mass guys led by head coach Joe Philbin (Springfield), OC Mike Sherman (Norwood), line coach Jim Turner (Braintree), wide receivers coach Ken O'Keefe (Worcester Academy), and strength coach Dave Puloka (Arlington).

The key player on the NFC side of the playoffs? Justin Smith. The Niners defensive tackle left the game against the Patriots with a torn triceps and the decline of the San Fran defense was breathtaking. He'll be back for the Divisional Playoff game against the Packers, but what level he can play at may determine whether San Fran has another game next week.

It will be interesting to see what happens next with Armond Armstead, the defensive tackle the Patriots worked out earlier this week. Armstead went undrafted in 2012 after having a star-crossed college career at USC. Released by the CFL's Toronto Argonauts (reportedly by mutual agreement if an NFL opportunity arose), Armstead had six sacks for Toronto this past season. The 6-5, 298-pound Armstead is not eligible to be added to the Patriots roster during the playoffs because of NFLCFL rules. He could be a target for 2013, though.

Wow. The Jets Mike Westhoff, their retiring special teams coach, carpet-bombed the organization on the radio Friday morning. Given the performance of the Jets special teams in 2012, this is one of those pot-calling-the-kettle-a-glass-house deals. Here's a route to the full audio from The Joe Rose Show.

The always insightful Matt Bowen from National Football Post goes inside the Xs and Os of the Patriots play-action game against the Texans. The question to me is whether Wade Phillips has it in him to back off his blitzing nature and drop more guys into coverage and make Tom Brady process more defenders. If he doesn't, the Texans are meat.

The more I consider this Patriots-Texans game, the more I believe it won't be the same blowout as last time. Patriots 41, Texans 14.

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

How does Derek Carr's new deal impact Jimmy Garoppolo?

Ever since Derek Carr signed a five-year, $125 million extension with the Raiders to give him the highest average annual contract value in league history, some version of the same question has been posed over and over again. 

What does this mean for other quarterbacks looking for new deals? 

Despite the fact that Carr's average annual value surpasses the previous high set by Andrew Luck ($24.6 million), and despite the fact that Carr's contract provides him the security that alluded him while he was on his rookie contract, his recent haul may not mean much for the likes of Matthew Stafford, Kirk Cousins and other top-end quarterbacks.

They were already expecting monster paydays down the road that would hit (or eclipse) the $25 million range, and Carr's record-setting contract may not even serve as a suitable baseline for them, as ESPN's Dan Graziano lays out.

So if Carr's contract did little more for upper-echelon quarterbacks than confirm for them where the market was already headed, then does it mean anything for someone like Jimmy Garoppolo? 

Carr and Garoppolo were both second-round picks in 2014, but from that point, they've obviously taken very different roads as pros. Carr started 47 consecutive games in his first three years and by last season he had established himself as one of the most valuable players in the league. Garoppolo, by comparison, has started two games. 

Both players still hold loads of promise, but unless Garoppolo sees substantial playing time in 2017 and then hits the open market, he won't approach Carr's deal when his rookie contract is up.  

ESPN's Mike Reiss projected that a fair deal for Garoppolo on the open market might fall between the $19 million that was guaranteed to Chicago's Mike Glennon and Carr's contract, which includes $40 million fully guaranteed and $70 million in total guarantees, per NFL Media.

Perhaps something in the range of what Brock Osweiler received from the Texans after Osweiler started seven games for the Broncos in 2015 would be considered fair: four years, with $37 million guaranteed. Because Osweiler (before his deal or since) never seemed as polished as Garoppolo was in his two games as a starter in 2016, and because the salary cap continues to soar, the argument could be made that Garoppolo deserves something even richer. 

Though Garoppolo is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency following the 2017 season, there is a chance he doesn't get there quite that quickly. The Patriots could try to come to some kind of agreement with their backup quarterback on an extension that would keep him in New England, or they could place the franchise tag on him following the season. 

Either way, Garoppolo will get paid. But until he sees more time on the field, a deal that would pay him in the same range as his draft classmate will probably be out of reach.

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Patriots release camp dates; open practices begin July 27

Football is coming.

The Patriots announced on Thursday that veterans will report to training camp on Wednesday, July 26 and that the first public practice will take place the following day.

Each of the team's first four practices -- from July 27-30 -- are scheduled to take place on the practice fields behind Gillette Stadium "in the nine o'clock hour," according to the Patriots. Updates to the training camp schedule, including more specific start times for practices, can be found at patriots.com/trainingcamp.

The Patriots Hall of Fame will hold its induction ceremony for former corner Raymond Clayborn on Saturday, July 29 around midday following that morning's training camp practice. Held on the plaza outside the Hall at Patriot Place, the ceremony will be free and open to the public.

The Patriots will host the Jaguars for two days of joint practices open to the public on Monday, Aug. 7 and Tuesday, Aug. 8. The preseason opener for both clubs will take place at Gillette Stadium on Aug. 10.