Ex-Patriot star Ty Law, now a football analyst for Comcast SportsNet New England, says Tom Brady is 'sending a message to the rest of the league right now' in his analysis of the Pats' 38-24 victory over the Dolphins Monday night, but also assures CSN's Kyle Draper that coach Bill Belichick 'is not satisfied' with his defense.
Brandon Browner helped the Patriots win a Super Bowl with his physical play in the secondary, highlighting his one-year stint with the team by making one of the most important jams at the line of scrimmage in the history of the NFL, clearing space at the goal line for Malcolm Butler's championship-saving interception.
One season later, as a member of the Saints, he put together one of the ugliest year-long performances of any player at his position. He committed 24 penalties (most in the league), allowed 17.2 yards per catch (second-most in the league among players who played at least 75 percent of his team's snaps), and quarterbacks had a rating of 122.5 when throwing in his direction (worst in the league, according to Pro Football Focus).
Browner was released after one year in New Orleans -- though he was happy to point out to Saints fans on Instagram that he made good money for that one year -- and has been since been signed by the Seahawks, where he was a member of their vaunted Legion of Boom secondary from 2011-13.
Browner will make the league minimum in Seattle after last season's effort, and he'll be changing positions.
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll told ESPN that Browner will be used similarly to the way he was used at times in New England. Rather than forcing him to play on the outside in man-to-man coverage, he'll be in the box as a safety, where his physicality will be best served. He'll still be asked to cover from time to time, but those assignments will pit him primarily against tight ends -- something Patriots coach Bill Belichick liked to do in 2014 -- instead of quicker, smaller wideouts.
"He was wide open to it," Carroll said of the positional change. "I had the chance to see him play in positions like he's being asked to play now when he was in New England, and we saw some really good things we thought we could mix into our stuff, and he's very much looked the part. But I really think it's about him; we like the guy so much."
How the shift will work remains to be seen, but Browner seems to have no other choice. It would seem unlikely that any team would be willing to trot him out as a boundary corner any time in the near future so he's embracing the in-the-box challenge.
It's something he's done before with the Patriots, but now it's a full-time gig and his best opportunity to continue his career.
"Being on the outside, it’s more of a man-to-man concept: You’re a corner on an island," Browner said. "Being in that box, you’re accounted for from the linemen in the run. You’ll get some run keys from the end man on the line of scrimmage. Things are just a little different. But you’re a football player in there. Playing corner, it’s more of a one-on-one thing. We’re playing basketball out there on that island. When you’re in that box, that’s football, I think."
Tom Brady and David Ortiz have shared the spotlight in this region for more than a decade now as the faces of their respective franchises. They have a unique perspective on what it takes to the longevity that eludes most other athletes, and they know what it's like to be among the most recognizable faces in this part of the country.
There seems to be a certain level of mutual respect between the two local stars, something that Ortiz made quite clear in an interview with SI.com. Asked about Brady and Deflategate, the Red Sox slugger pulled no punches.
"I think it’s stupid, to be honest with you," Ortiz said. "Put it this way: You’re talking about the one player that everybody wants to watch play. We’re not just talking about any player. We’re talking about Tom Brady. If I turn on the TV on Sunday to watch a Patriots game and I know that Tom Brady is not playing, I would turn off the TV. I don’t want to watch that game."
Brady's four-game suspension was upheld by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this offseason, but the quarterback and the NFLPA recently filed a petition to request a rehearing. The Patriots organization submitted an amicus brief to the court last week that criticized the NFL's process and supported Brady's request to have his case heard once again.
FOXBORO -- Late last year, Bill Belichick went out of his way to explain just how far then-rookie defensive lineman Malcom Brown had progressed over the course of his first professional season.
From the sounds of it, the first-round defensive tackle's on-the-field growth was atypical.
"I think he’s really come on through the season, which isn’t always the case with first-year players," Belichick said on Dec. 30. "It took him a while to get to that point through training camp and the early part of the season, but he’s become much better and more consistent in every phase of the game – running game, passing game, play recognition, communication, adjustments – just everything. It seems like every week he just builds on it.
"He’s really hit a good slope, good incline. He’s worked hard. There is a lot on every rookie’s plate. There’s a lot on his plate as a rookie in the different situations that he plays in and the number of things that we do on the front, so it’s not easy, but he’s improved his techniques, his fundamental play and he’s improved his communication and overall understanding of the multiples that are involved. It’s been good."
Brown finished the year as the Patriots interior defensive lineman with the most snaps played (his 517 snaps trailed only Jabaal Sheard, Chandler Jones and Rob Ninkovich among defensive linemen), and he established himself as a trustworthy option in the team's steady rotation on the interior of its front.
According to one of Brown's newest teammates, free-agent acquisition Terrance Knighton, Brown is now serving as a leader on the interior of the defensive line. Though he's only in his second season, Brown's understanding of the Patriots defense gives him a leg up on players who may have more experience in the league but are new to New England.
"Malcom Brown has basically been leading the group," Knighton said after an OTA practice last Thursday. "Being in his second year, he's probably the most experienced guy in it right now as far as this team. I'm picking his brain to see how things are done around here."
Knighton acknowledged that once the Patriots have Alan Branch back on the field -- Branch was one of 17 players missing from Thursday's OTA -- they'll get another player with a sound understanding of the defense. But right now, Brown is looked to as a source of information for veterans like Knighton and Markus Kuhn as well as rookie fourth-rounder Vincent Valentine.
"Young guy, obviously played at a high level last year and you can tell he's feeding off of that," Knighton said of Brown. "He's only continued, from what I've seen on tape to now. That's one of the things I try to talk to about with the young guys is being on the up, and not going up and down in your career. That's something I've been through in my career so I just try to share knowledge and help guys out."
Brown, who turned 22 in February, certainly ended last season "on the up." In the early going this offseason, it seems as though he's on track to continue that trajectory.