Nolan's defense could give Pats trouble on Monday

288390.jpg

Nolan's defense could give Pats trouble on Monday

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - Last October, the Patriots beat the Dolphins in Miami 41-14. Their longest touchdown drive was 15 yards. Three return touchdowns in the second half and that 15-yard TD drive set up by a blocked punt accounted for 28 of the 41.My point, the Patriots' offense had a quiet night down there. Monday could be the same story. The Dolphins are not seen as an NFL power in 2011, but their defense is underrated. "I don't know how people rating 'em but trust me, they look good on film," warned Patriots wide receiver Deion Branch. The key, Branch said, is the unpredictability of defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. "Coach Nolan's doing a great job," lauded Branch. "Everywhere he's been though, even when he was in San Francisco, guys were aggressive. They got two good corners, safeties are good . . . they bring everything. It's hard to get a good grip on what they're doing because once he gets you with something, he comes back and hits you with something else. They're always going to hit you with another look."The secondary is decent but the depth and talent of the Miami front-seven iswhat will keep the Dolphins in games. Paul Soliai, Randy Starks, Kendall Langford and Jared Odrick are the key guys on the front; Cameron Wake,Karlos Dansby, Jason Taylor andKevin Burnett areblitz threats among the linebackers. "Honestly, it's all about adjusting on the fly," said Branch. "For a coach like Nolan, you don't know what you're gonna get, we have to be on our game. They're gonna be thinking, 'We have to get to 12 before this or that happens.' Overall, first game, hostile environment, we have to be ready."Much easier said than done. And that's why this may be a much closergame than expected. Vegas has installed the Patriots as seven-point favorites.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Brady hears from Manning and Favre on wins record, but not Goodell

brady_patriots_rams_12416.jpg

Brady hears from Manning and Favre on wins record, but not Goodell

The congratulatory messages rolled in for Tom Brady following win No. 201 on Sunday. He heard praise from his teammates and coach Bill Belichick and he received a game ball from Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Two of the guys he recently passed on the all-time wins list reached out as well.

Both Brett Favre (199 career wins) and Peyton Manning (200) touched base with the new record-holder after he surpassed the two retired quarterbacks in back-to-back weeks. 

Favre posted a video online to show his support for Brady, which Brady saw after a friend sent it his way, he told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show.

"We were in touch this week a few times just with a couple of things that we were talking about football-wise," Brady said of Favre. "We exchanged some text messages, too. He’s a great guy. He’s someone I’ve always looked up to . . . There’s nobody physically or mentally tougher than that guy and endured the streak that he had. It was incredible. I’ve always really looked up to him. It was really cool."

Manning checked in, as he's wont to do, with something a little more traditional.

"I did hear from Peyton. He's someone that I've always been in touch with for a long time. I've known him for 16 years. He sent me a very nice note," Brady said. "I have a lot of respect for him and all that he accomplished, too. He's a great guy. We share a lot of things in common and I just always appreciate him as well."

Kirk and Callahan co-host Gerry Callahan acknowledged that the NFL sent out a tweet recognizing Brady's achievement, but he wondered if Brady had heard anything from commissioner Roger Goodell. Brady laughed when he heard the question initially. When he didn't respond at first, Callahan circled up again.

"I don't hear anything from the league," Brady said.