Curran: 48 lines on 24 football issues


Curran: 48 lines on 24 football issues

By Tom E. Curran

Twenty-four thoughts in 48 lines:

1. This Sunday is the two-year anniversary of the 59-0 blizzard blowout of the Tennessee Titans. If it snows Sunday, I will stab myself in the forehead.

2. The last time the Patriots scored fewer than 30 points in a regular-season game was last November 7 in Cleveland. Sundays output of 30 was the closest call for them to go sub-30 since the streak began.

3. Kyle Arrington was dumbfounded after the game at how Mark Sanchez stayed upright on Arringtons second-half blitz. The corner pound-for-pound one of the Patriots' strongest players vowed that wouldnt happen again.

4. It was kinda funny to hear Albert Haynesworth say that the media didnt give the Patriots a chance to win after Jerod Mayo got hurt. Somewhere, Rodney Harrison was smiling at the contrived slight.

5. Everything Rex Ryan says needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Still, requesting other teams give it their all to beat New England (The quote: "Don't focus on playing us. Take that preparation that you would have in playing us, and put it on beating New England. I think that would be a better thing. See if you can beat the big, bad Patriots and we'll see what happens.") and then barely showing up leaves Rex wide open for heckling.

6. Not that he seems to mind in the least. He walked off the field Sunday staring straight up into the stands with a smirk and a couple of mouthed expletives.

7. There is no better example of how highly evolved the Patriots offense is than the speed with which it is run. They stole a 13-yard completion in the red zone at the end of the third quarter of a 17-14 game against a hated division rival because the Jets . . . werent . . . ready.

8. To me, that shows the difference between guys like Tom Brady and maybe two or three other guys in the league (Brees, Rodgers, Manning the Elder) and everybody else. Court awareness.

9. And I hate to remind everyone of this but the day will come when Billy and Tommy are in Canton and we are seeing someone else doing that to the Patriots. And we will mutter, Are you bleeping bleeping me?

10. That play stands in contrast to the Drive to Nowhere from last January, the Patriots 14-play, eight-minute drive during the fourth quarter of the playoff loss to the Jets that yielded no points. That wasnt awesome.

11. Another week, another amateurish mistake from Chad Ochocinco. You might not have noticed it because CBS was showing a Rex Ryan sideline shot, but with less than four minutes remaining and the Patriots facing a third-and-4 from the Jets 46, Ocho made the Patriots have to burn their final timeout by heading to the wrong side of the formation.

12. And while the Patriots came back from that timeout and ran a successful direct-snap play to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the fact that Ocho left New England without a necessary timeout in case it needed to make a challenge is the little inside-the-game stuff that sometimes slips by unnoticed. But he does have nine catches so far, which is seven fewer than undrafted Bears rookie Dane Sanzenbacher.

13. I thought the biggest play in Sundays game was the 17-yard completion to Rob Gronkowski on third-and-13 from the Patriots 20 late in the third. It was 17-14 at the time and New England hadnt put together a sustained march in some time.

14. It was enjoyable to see Bill Belichick a little upbeat during Mondays press conference. Hes been tough this year, less willing to engage than at almost any time since Ive been covering him.

15. Always fun to when he makes the innocuous interesting, like when he discussed crowd noise (65,000 people just talking at the same time is loud) on Monday. The first appreciation I had for the mind-blowing noise at field level was in the Patriots' 1997 playoff loss at Three Rivers Stadium the roar of the crowd as Drew Bledsoe tried to mount a late-game drive seemed to swirl around the enclosed stadium and it felt as if I was standing in a washing machine.

16. All that said, its always strangely silent during the opening drives of the biggest games at Gillette Stadium. Everyones standing and seemingly leaned forward waiting for something to happen.

17. The Patriots appreciated the Bruins taking them up on their offer to bring the Stanley Cup over for the pregame Sunday. If the Bruins ever make a similar in-season request for some Patriots to swing by with the Lombardi Trophy for a ceremonial puck drop, Im not sure Belichick will agree to that.

18. I joked on Michael Felgers Sunday evening sports program that the Boston Cannons should come out next if the Patriots are having all these hack teams from middling professional sports trying to parade themselves in front of a packed house. I was kidding and, since I was quickly stuffing my face before kickoff, I didnt see how cool the ceremony actually was.

19. Watching the game in the press box puts writers at a decided disadvantage to those watching at home in many instances. One is the ability to pause, rewind and slo-mo replays to see what really happens thanks to my Twitter followers for helping me out when Im dying for a more detailed look.

20. I also didnt get to the great new Volkswagen commercial until late Monday night (Rocket man, burning up this fuse up here alone). Thought it was Burning up the feels so very long . . .

21. Lotta fun seeing Jets corner Kyle Wilson pose down after a pedestrian tackle of Rob Gronkowski. Even more fun when he practically assaulted Aaron Hernandez on the next play and got flagged for pass interference, defensive holding and crimes against nature.

22. Nobody really hates Tim Tebow for being a good guy whos proud of his upbringing, passion and faith. Its the reverence media outlets and large swaths of America have for him that makes people queasy.

23. Even if Matt Schaub was wearing a rocket pack, he wasnt going to score on any end-of-game-scramble against the Raiders on Sunday. Not at all.

24. Brandon Meriweather. Not making anyone rue the day he was released.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

Report: Patriots sign nine undrafted free agents


Report: Patriots sign nine undrafted free agents

The Patriots have reportedly added nine undrafted free agents after selecting nine players in the 2016 NFL Draft.

DJ Foster, RB/WR, Arizona State
Shaquille Powell, RB, Duke
De’Runnya Wilson, TE/WR, Miss State
Steven Scheu, TE, Vanderbilt
Woodrow Hamilton, DT, Mississippi State
CJ Johnson, LB, Mississippi State
V’Angelo Bentley, CB, Illinois
Jonathan Jones, CB, Auburn
Cre’Von LeBlanc, CB, Florida Atlantic

Foster is arguably the highest profile player the Patriots signed and was filmed celebrating the moment.

Foster has the versatility the Patriots looks for. He played running back over his first three collegiate seasons before shifting to wide receiver. He finished his career at Arizona State with 666 total touches for 4,813 yards and 32 touchdowns.

Stay tuned for more…

'Football makeup' central to Pats draft picks


'Football makeup' central to Pats draft picks

FOXBORO – The Patriots added nine players through the draft this weekend.

And when you looked at their resumes and backstories, almost all of them had one of those “Patriot markers” on them. Some had a character trait. Some were from a program that the Patriots particularly trust. Some showed the ability to overcome adversity or be adaptable. And there weren’t any guys that seem to present off-field risks.

None of these markers, of course, are guarantees of anything. They’re all in their early 20s, still in their formative years. There’s no way to project how money, geography, opportunity and competing at this level will change them.

The football, said Nick Caserio, obviously comes first. But who a young player is has to be a big part of the equation.

“It’s everything,” said the Patriots Director of Player Personnel. “I mean, it really is. We try to look each position on the board, each position they have their own particular factors and position skill set that we evaluate and we go through and we assign a grade …There’s certain things that a corner’s going to have to be able to do. There are certain things that a tight end’s going to have to be able to do. Everyone has their own particular skills that they’re going to have to do. Will he check every box? Well maybe not but does he check enough?

“The most important thing is to take the strengths of a player and try to put him into position to where he can utilize those strengths. Not ‘well he doesn’t do this’. Then we won’t put him in that position hopefully. So [we] try to identify what the skill is, how well they do it, and then put them in a position where they can actually see it. So there’s the physical component.”

Then, Caserio said, there’s the projection of how the person will perform.

“Call it ‘football makeup’ component is a central part of it as well,” he said. “Look, we’re not perfect. Some players work the way we think (others don’t). It comes with the territory. But you’re trying to create a profile of the player within our building and then how he’s going to handle everything that comes along with being a New England Patriot. Being in the program, the demands that we place on those players, so you factor everything in. Some players, they may check every single place both from a physical standpoint and from a football-makeup standpoint and you have others that maybe they check enough of them and then you feel comfortable about that level.”

Rolling through the players they took, it’s interesting to try and see what may have been a “football makeup” draw with each. Second-round corner Cyrus Jones played for Nick Saban at Alabama. He’s played in the biggest games and shown well in them. He’s a film junkie. He tackles well. He plays with a chip on his shoulder. He’s not the biggest corner. But he’s got an edge and he excels on special teams.

Third-rounder Joe Thuney is “very productive, very durable, very bright; probably as intelligent as anybody at that position,” said Caserio. He also can play anywhere on the line. Smarts and versatility are highly valued by the Patriots.

Third-round quarterback Jacoby Brissett is a gifted, charismatic leader who’s had a relationship with Bill Parcells since Brissett was in high school. “I can't even describe what type of person he is and what he's meant to my life,” said Brissett. “Just him grooming me as a man and preparing me for tough times, hard times, good times. He's been so helpful to me throughout this process and just keeping my steady and keeping a good head on my shoulders and you know I just can't thank him enough.”

Third-rounder Vincent Valentine from Nebraska? Versatile big man who can play all over the defensive line.

Malcolm Mitchell, the Georgia wide receiver? You couldn’t find a more likable and genuine kid, it seems. And the scouting report offered by longtime draft analyst Nolan Nawrocki? “A tough, passionate, crafty slot receiver who can be trusted to move the sticks in critical situations … Brings similar energy, toughness and attitude as Steelers 1998 third-round pick Hines Ward. Smart and versatile enough to contribute in multiple roles perhaps even at cornerback where he began his Georgia career and could be most attractive to a veteran coaching staff such as the Patriots or Steelers.”

Kamu Grugier-Hill? A safety who can play at the linebacker level and has huge special teams upside that comes with a recommendation from Eastern Illinois college teammate Jimmy Garoppolo. Another sixth-rounder, Elandon Roberts? Big-time character guy who doesn’t have great measurables but had great production. Seventh-rounder Ted Karras? A four-year starter at guard in the Big Ten with Illinois. Seventh-round wideout Devin Lucien? Dedicated student who was able to switch from UCLA to Arizona State as a graduate transfer and still go out and be very productive with the Sun Devils in his final collegiate season.

There aren’t any real injury dice rolls.

There any character dice rolls.

The “football makeup” seems to be there.


“They have no idea what they’re getting into,” said Bill Belichick on Saturday night. “It’s not their fault. We all had to go through it at some point or another. They’re going to get a big dose of what they probably haven’t had a whole lot of, certainly any time recently. It’s a big load. The competition level is going to step up. The volume is going to step up. It’s not a scholarship. In college they can’t take them away from you. In the NFL you’re fighting for a job so it’s a whole new ball game.”

In the end, football ability will be the main determinant as to whether they stay or go. But the Patriots made sure that – at least on the surface – they all appear to have the ability to withstand what’s going to be coming at them.