Barrett, Brown provide safety in numbers for Pats

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Barrett, Brown provide safety in numbers for Pats

By Phil Perry
CSNNE.com

Yesterday it was reported, and then confirmed by our Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran, that Patrick Chung won't play on Sunday after undergoing right thumb surgery earlier in the week. Though the Patriots safety was present at the start of Friday's practice, he won't be playing against the Bills in two days.

That leaves Josh Barrett and Sergio Brown -- the next safeties on the Patriots depth chart -- as the two most likely to pick up the slack against Buffalo's spread offense, which ranks at the top of the league in points scored (39.5 points per game).

Brown grabbed his first interception of his career last week against the Chargers, and Barrett has made four tackles in each of the Patriots two games this season. But with Chung out, both will be asked to play a bigger role in the secondary.

"You always want to have the feeling you have something to prove," Barrett said. "This could be one of those occasions where guys are going to have to step up, me included, and prove that we're worthy of a spot on this team."

Chung has 14 tackles and a sack through two games and has been counted on to be a stabilizing force among a position in New England that has seen a lot of turnover lately. All-Pro safety Brandon Meriweather was released during the preseason, as was former starter James Sanders.

Now with Chung out, the Patriots turn to Barrett, who has a cast on his right hand and missed all of last season on injured reserve for the Broncos, and Brown, an undrafted free agent out of Notre Dame in just his second season in the league. In terms of name recognition, Brown and Barrett aren't on the same level as the players the Patriots trotted out last season. Still, they believe they're prepared.

"You gotta be ready to play at all times," said Brown. "Every time we get out there and get a chance to play I'm excited. You just gotta pick up whoever is not in. You gotta pick up wherever the last person left off at."

As the longest-tenured safety on the Patriots, Chung was key in getting both Barrett and Brown accustomed to the Patriots system. Now they'll be making calls out on the field without him, coordinating between each other, the linebackers and cornerbacks on where they need to be. It's not clear who will fill into Chung's role specifically, but both Barrett and Brown -- as well as safety James Ihedigbo -- know how to play both safety spots.

"You can't not know both spots," Bill Belichick said. "Their responsibilities on the play are based on the defense we're in. If the formation changes or personnel groups change, they change with it. They have to have their responsibilities whether it's on their side of the field, or the middle of the field, or in combination with the linebackers or with the corners on their side of the field."

As the Patriots' last line of defense, Barrett and Brown will have to adjust on the fly to the formations Buffalo shows. It'll require communication, something they've worked on whenever they can.

"We're pretty comfortable with each other," Brown said. "We go through practice and we have our times when we do great and our times when we don't do great, but that's why we practice. We talk on every play to make sure we have everything straightened out."

Barrett added, "It goes beyond practice. It's in individual times, meetings rooms . . . so when we're on the field, it's seamless, it's smooth, it's quick."

They'll have to exhibit all of those qualities Sunday if they hope to stop one of the best offenses in the NFL without Chung.

Follow Phil Perry on Twitter at @PhilAPerry.

Are Patriots still 'pissed off' at Ravens for Deflategate role?

Are Patriots still 'pissed off' at Ravens for Deflategate role?

The Patriots should always be motivated heading into games against the Ravens. After all, Baltimore might be the team’s primary rival. 

Yet Monday’s matchup might be about more than past meetings. It could be a revenge game for the Ravens’ role in the Deflategate fiasco. 

As Tom E. Curran notes in the above video, the then-recently eliminated Ravens set off the ordeal when they tipped off the Colts entering the 2014 AFC Championship game. From there, the year-and-a-half-long saga played itself out, ultimately resulting in Tom Brady accepting a four-game suspension from the league. 

Curran and Mike Giardi discussed whether Monday could be a revenge game, with them both concluding that they feel the Patriots are still “pissed off” at the Ravens. 

"I’m just reading the tea leaves,” Curran said. “Bill Belichick will usually throw bouquet after bouquet at the Baltimore Ravens any time they play, from Ozzie Newsome, to George Kokinis, to Eric DeCosta, to John Harbaugh, Dean Pees, everyone. Not a lot of that today. Make of that what you will; I don’t think it’s a coincidence because I do know that when the Patriots were going through the process early on, the fact that the Ravens had dropped a dime -- their assistant special teams coach Jerry Rosburg calling the Indianapolis Colts and saying, “Look there was some foolishness going on with the K balls.’

“Additionally, when that email from the Colts to the NFL was sent to Mike Kensil, it said, 'It’s well-known throughout the league that the Patriots screw with the balls after they’ve been checked by the officials.' So if that conversation was going on during the week between those two teams, one certainly has to surmise that they also spoke about the fact of deflating footballs. 

“So as much as John Harbaugh has tried to dissuade anyone from thinking there was involvement, Dean Pees was interviewed by Ted Wells, Jerry Rosburg was interviewed by Ted Wells. Those are the only two principals from other organizations who were involved, so yeah, I think they’re still probably pretty pissed off about it.” 

What if Belichick had coached the Ravens? 'I think we would've been competitive'

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What if Belichick had coached the Ravens? 'I think we would've been competitive'

FOXBORO -- Ever wonder what might've been if Bill Belichick had remained the coach of the Browns, and later the Ravens, after they moved from Cleveland? He says he doesn't.

"I haven't spent a lot of time thinking about it, no," Belichick told Baltimore reporters during a conference call on Wednesday. "I try to think ahead and make the best of the situation that I’m in, which is what I tried to do when I was in Cleveland. I took a team that wasn’t very good in 1991, prior to free agency and all of that, had a real good team in 1994. The team moved in 1995."

The decision to move the team helped undo the Browns season in 1995, and Belichick was later fired. There's little denying, though, that he left the pieces of a competitive roster behind. And he helped stock the Ravens' cupboard with valuable assets.

Five years after Belichick's tenure in Cleveland had expired, the franchise won a Super Bowl with linebacker Ray Lewis -- drafted with a pick Belichick had acquired -- as its foundational piece. 

"We made a trade that provided two first-round picks that Ozzie [Newsome] did a great job with," Belichick continued. "Ozzie and Ray Lewis were two of the cornerstones of that eventual championship team.

"I have a lot of confidence in my ability, I had a lot of confidence in the coaching staff and the players that we had at that time – 1995 wasn’t obviously a great year for us. I don’t think we need to talk about that. We all know what happened. But yeah, I think we would have been competitive if I had been the head coach there. I think we would have been competitive. We had a good team, we had a good staff, and we had a lot of good players.

"Ozzie did a good job with that team and made it better, and they won a championship five years later [with] some of the same players that we started with. But you know, it wasn’t my choice, Ted [Marchibroda] came in there and was going to transition that for what they needed at that point in time. But I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about it, no."