Patriots sitting pretty with 33rd pick


Patriots sitting pretty with 33rd pick

By Tom E. Curran

INDIANAPOLIS - In 1995, USC quarterback Rob Johnson slipped down the draft board and out of the first day of the draft. From the time Round 3 ended until the start of Round 4 the next day, the Jacksonville Jaguar were inundated with offers for that 99th pick. Everybody wanted Johnson. An enviable spot for the Jags, who - in the end - stayed put and drafted Johnson. The Patriots couldthis year find themselves in a situation similar to the Jags. And don't be surprised if they make a move. Thanks to a deal last year with the Carolina Panthers, New England holds the first pick in the second round (33rd overall). And with the first round on Thursday and Rounds 2 and 3 on Friday night, teams will have all day to drool over prospects that slipped out of the first round. "Anytime you have the first pick in any new day it's a valuable pick," confirmed Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland on Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. Even more valuable when it's the second round in a deep draft.NFL Network draft expert Mike Mayock has said he believes there are nine defensive endoutside linebackers with first round grades. It's unlikely they're all going to go, so some team is going to see extreme value in trying to get that first crack at the board on Friday night. And the Patriots love to deal down and add picks. Add that fact to the reality they pick 17th and 28th in the first round and won't be jonesing for a selection at that point. The revised format instituted last year so that the draft could be on in prime time on Thursday and Friday nights has been roundly praised."I thought it was very positive," Ireland said when asked about the change. "I wasn't that positive about it going into it but I felt it worked out well. I didn't reset the board but I did rethink some things based on the way things shook out. It gave me more time to prepare and strategize alittle more. I liked the format."The Patriots areloving it.

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Belichick asked if playing at home helps: 'Go ask Dallas and Kansas City'

Belichick asked if playing at home helps: 'Go ask Dallas and Kansas City'

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick knows that how you play, not where, is what matters most. 

That's why when he was asked on Wednesday about the advantage the Patriots will have by playing at Gillette Stadium in the AFC title game, he wasn't willing to go all-in on how a comfortable environment will positively impact his team.

"I don’t know," he said. "Go ask Dallas and Kansas City."

The Patriots apparently thought enough of home-field advantage that they played their starters throughout their regular-season finale win in Miami, exposing their best players to potential injury in order to maintain their positive momentum while simultaneously ensuring a better road to the Super Bowl. 

The Patriots fans in attendance on Sunday will help when the Patriots take on the Steelers, Belichick acknowledged. But there's much more to it than that. 

"Yeah, of course," he said, "but the game is won by the players on the field. That’s who wins football games – the players. And they’ll decide it Sunday night."

And if you needed any further proof, just ask the Cowboys and Chiefs how helpful their home crowds were in the Divisional Round. 

Tomlin not letting up on Brown after ill-advised Facebook Live video

Tomlin not letting up on Brown after ill-advised Facebook Live video

FOXBORO – Mike Tomlin didn’t sidestep questions related to Antonio Brown’s ill-advised locker room broadcast.

Instead, Tomlin actually seemed to up the ante during a conference call with New England media. Asked whether Brown seemed to get the message that Tomlin delivered and take it seriously, Tomlin said, “I think time always tells those stories.”

Tomlin easily could have used a “we’re moving on” message or talked about how Brown simply made a youthful mistake but he opted not to. Which isn’t surprising.

The number one criticism of Tomlin is that the Steelers head coach runs a loose ship and that the lack of discipline and accountability is a big issue.

Seeing Brown run a live broadcast from the locker room while Tomlin’s trying to make a point doesn’t just keep that perception afloat, it advances it to a place it’s never been.

It’s not a stretch to say that Brown’s actions imperiled Tomlin’s reputation. There’s no wonder he isn’t willing to let Brown off the hook.

Brown addressed the controversy on Wednesday saying, “I absolutely regret the Facebook Live situation. It’s a total distraction to the organization. A total distraction to my teammates. Obviously disrespect to my coach. I’ve got utmost respect to my coach so I totally regret that.”

Tomlin on Tuesday went as far as to suggest other players doing team-distracting things like Brown wind up getting passed around the league despite their great talent. “That's often why you see great players move from team to team,” said Tomlin. “Don't want that to happen to Antonio Brown.

Tomlin expressed embarrassment that the language he used in the postgame in the privacy of his locker room was served up for public consumption.

“As a parent, I’m not into public displays of that type of language so I was more embarrassed about that aspect of it not necessarily the content or the message of the video,” said Tomlin.

As to referring to the Patriots as “those a*******,” Tomlin said, “Man, you could have applied that sentiment to any opponent. You could have made that tape two weeks earlier and applied it to that opponent. It’s not about the nameless great faces that we play, it’s about our overall preparation and that was the sentiment of the message that I was sending to the guys not necessarily about the New England Patriots, they just happened to be who we’re playing this week.”

Tomlin also addressed the time element he referenced in his postgame speech when he said the Patriots had a day-and-a-half head start on his team. 

“I was just trying to instill a sense of urgency in our group regarding preparation and I wanted them to understand that we didn’t have a lot of time to pat ourselves on the back based on the performance of the last game,” he explained. “That we needed to transition and transition quickly and start the preparation, whether it was actual preparation or just from a mentality standpoint.”

Because of Brown’s decision, it’s probably been a lot harder to make that transition than Tomlin ever hoped.