Ugliness started on Patriots sidelines

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Ugliness started on Patriots sidelines

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
DETROIT - There was no hemming and hawing from Bill Belichick Saturday night in Detroit. No"the other guys are getting paid too" nod to well-laid Patriot plans blown up by the Lions. The Patriots head coach put the focus squarely where it needed to be after his team's 34-10 beatdown in Detroit. He started with himself. "Well, there was no question about who the better team was tonight," he said dourly. "I think that obviously I did a poor job of having the team ready to play. We didnt really do anything very well, in any phase of the game, certainly not good enough to win. Lions are a good team, they played well. Jim did a great job with his team and they were a lot more efficient, a lot more ready to play, and played a lot better than our team did. I dont feel very good about the job that I did, dont feel very good about really anything we did tonight. We really werent competitive and weve obviously got a lot of work to do."Belichick discarded a request for specifics. In this instance, it wasn't a case of the Patriots being "outcoached" by Jim Schwartz and his staff. This was about New England's effort, decision-making, precision andpost-snap communication on both sides of the ball. They were not prepared to play in this game. You could see it before the game was 10 minutes old. Detroit had plays of 12, 8, 37, 6, 52 and 9 yards on its first 11 offensive snaps. On the Patriots' third play from scrimmage, Chad Ochocinco's hold wiped out a 15-yard completion to Rob Gronkowski. On the sixth play, Tom Brady was strip-sacked. The second Patriots offensive drive was their best of the night. They converted four straight first downs but then were stopped on the fifth, a third-and-1 carry for BenJarvus Green-Ellis with 31 seconds left in the first quarter. They settled for a field goal. They converted one third down after that and finished 5-for-16 on third down for the night. Lions coach Jim Schwartz probably gave the most telling evaluation of how it went badly for New England. "We say a lot of times in the preseason: you want to see players win, you don't want to see scheme win," Schwartz explained. "I think we saw some good match-ups today and not just our first group against their first group. A lot of times our twos matched up against their ones on defense and sometimes our threes matched up and we won some of those battles. Same thing defensively."Regardless of how improved the Lions are, the Patriots' starters should not be beaten individually by any third-stringers when the rosters are at 90 players. Period. "We just didn't come to play," said safety Brandon Meriweather. "Coach was telling us all week how good this team was and how we had to come out and start fast and we just didn't come out the way we wanted to. I don't know what happened. The more we tried to get over that hump, the more we fell behind."As Tom Brady pointed out, there's no need for a confidence crisis. And the fact Belichick's team didn't answer the bell for this game is not a sign of Patriots apocalypse. It's happened before and will happen again. "We need to go back to the drawing board and learn from the mistakes that were made," said veteran defensive tackle Gerard Warren. "I've seenperformances like this quitea few times in preseason. Just got to learn from the mistakes in the game and try to get better. Losing's always bad. Preseason or regular season. That's not what we want to put on film, not what we practiced all week." Said Belichick, "I don't think theres any other solution than to go back and work harder and try to correct a lot of mistakes. We need to do everything better. I dont think theres any one area that should be highlighted any more than anything else. I thought we had problems in every phase of the game. We obviously werent coached very well, and we didnt play very well.Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Easley on character concerns: 'It's all rumors' until sources step forward

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Easley on character concerns: 'It's all rumors' until sources step forward

When Dominique Easley was released by the Patriots this spring, it wasn't because he wasn't productive when he was on the field. In fact, on a per-snap basis, he was one of the most productive interior pass-rushers in the league last season, according to Pro Football Focus. 

Instead, there were some off-the-field factors, as well as injury concerns, that led to the Patriots choosing to cut ties with their 2014 first-round pick. 

As our Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran put it, there were "philosophical differences" between Easley and the team.

Other, more scathing reports of Easley's impact in New England were released, including one report from the Boston Globe that included a quote from a former teammate saying he was a "locker room cancer."

Since then, Easley has landed with the Rams and has a chance to contribute to one of the most talented defensive lines in football. In an interview on Sirius XM NFL Radio with Phil Savage and Amber Theoharis, Easley said he hopes that his new team will get to see that he's a better person than some have indicated.

"Just really," Easley said, "just hopefully that the Rams get to see what a great person and a great hardworker I am, and really, just a great person."

Easley went on to say that he's not sure who would speak of him negatively or why. He explained that it's not his "main goal" to prove there's nothing to worry about with his character, but clearly it's somewhere on the list. 

"There's been, obviously, stuff said about me," Easley said. "We don't know where it came from. I would say the person doesn't want to come out and say it, neither. As far as I know, it's all rumors until that person comes out and say that it was from them, and they can prove that they actually know who I am, or been around me long enough to know who I am and how I am as a person."

PFT: NFL plans to interview Manning about Al Jazeera PED allegations

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PFT: NFL plans to interview Manning about Al Jazeera PED allegations

Peyton Manning is retired, but that doesn't mean he's exempt from the interviews that the NFL plans to conduct as it looks into the allegations made by Al Jazeera's December PED documentary. 

It was reported last week by USA Today that the league's senior vice president of labor policy and league affairs Adolpho Birch informed the NFLPA that players named in Al Jazeera's report would be interviewed in July. 

Among those scheduled to be interviewed are Packers linebackers Julius Peppers and Clay Matthews and Steelers linebacker James Harrison. Former Packers linebacker Mike Neal will also be interviewed.

(Harrison has taken issue with the league's request, and said on social media that he would only meet with the league if commissioner Roger Goodell showed up to his home.)

Manning was not mentioned in the letter obtained by USA Today detailing the league's interview plans, but Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk followed up on Monday to see if the NFL intended to speak with Manning. It does.

The former Broncos and Colts quarterback has been very vocal about just how strongly he denies Al Jazeera's claim that his wife, Ashley, received HGH for his use. Despite the fact that he's no longer playing, it will come as no surprise if, given his stance, Manning cooperates fully with the league as it seeks more information regarding the report. 

As Florio points out, if Manning hopes to return to the NFL at some point as an executive -- as many believe he will -- this is something he'll want to put to bed beforehand. That process will start with an interview.