When it comes to talent, Pats can still pick it

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When it comes to talent, Pats can still pick it

By Tom E. Curran
CSNNE.com Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
FOXBORO - The release of Brandon Meriweather on Saturday meant that not a single player from the 2007 draft remains on the Patriots. That draft - and the 2006 and 2008 ones - have been rightly labeled as awful and discussed throughout the last few days. But just how bad are the Patriots at collecting personnel? Despite those drafts, a look at the waiver wire claims on players the Patriots let go shows they still know how to collect useful players. A total of 16 teams put in claims on five of the players the Pats let go. Five claims were put in on tight end Lee Smith (he wound up in Buffalo). Four were put in on guard Thomas Austin (Houston). Three each were put in on tight end Will Yeatman and Brandon Tate (Miami and Cincinnati). And one was put in on Landon Cohen (Seattle). The Cowboys had the second highest level of interest in released players. Five total claims were put in on three of their players. Add in James Sanders and Brandon Meriweather, signed by the Falcons and Bears respectively in short order after they were cut, and it's obvious that the guys at the end of the Patriots roster are good enough to play elsewhere. Or at least seem to have value. As Bill Belichick points out, there are a number of ways to collect players. The draft - important as it is - is just one of them. Yeatman was undrafted out of Maryland and signed by the Patriots. Austin was picked up last September after the Vikings released him. Smith was a fifth-rounder. Tate was a third-rounder. Cohen was picked up after being waived last year by the Jaguars.The Patriots deserve to have those drafts bashed. And free agent signings during the same period like Adalius Thomas and Shawn Springs. But a more complete picture shows that they are still at the top of the league when it comes to collecting players and putting them to good use. Asked about the number of released players who attracted interest, Belichick said on Monday, "Ithink weve had a competitive camp. We have whatever it is, what 11 guys on other teams now. We had a competitive camp. We had a lot of guys battling it out in a lot of different positions. I cant really speak to what other teams did, but the fact that they are with other teams probably says something about what the level of competition was at different positions on our team."Undeniably. Belichick would have no doubt liked to have a shot at adding players like Yeatman and Smith to the practice squad. But he says he has no illusions about what might happen when a player is let go. "Anytime you release a player I think you have a pretty good expectation that hes not going to be here," Belichick explained. "If you want him then you keep him on the roster. Once youve put him out there then you can expect to lose him. "I just dont think you can release a player and expect to keep the player. If you do thats pretty its nice if it happens if thats what you want, but theres got to be a good probability that that isnt going to happen. Its certainly not anything you can count on; its not anything that we ever count on, I can tell you that. Once theyre on the wire then 31 other teams if anybody wants him, hes theres."Belichick downplayed the impact the rookie Yeatman can have in Miami where he can give the Dolphins intel on what the Patriots plans are for the season opener next Monday. "I think theres a lot more to it than that," said Belichick. "Could they tell you something that may be helpful? I dont know. I know we worked on a lot of things in training camp. We had however many practice it was for preseason games thats a lot of stuff. We hadnt begun our game plans for Miami yet, and I doubt that theyd begun their game plans for us either. I mean, theres a whole volume of stuff there its all on film. I think we have a pretty good idea of what Miamis going to do not exactly, but Im sure they have a pretty good idea of what were going to do. We play each other twice a year, so I dont know. "Whatever information anybody gets on that I think is very marginal, very marginal," he added. "In all honesty, sometimes it can be more harm than good. They do this, they do that, watch out for this, watch out for that, then they dont do it, then its just a waste of time working on stuff that you didnt know they had, and they still didnt use it. So, I think its marginal."Tom E. Curran can be reached at tcurran@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran.

Tom Brady explains why he thinks Bill Belichick is the best of all time

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Tom Brady explains why he thinks Bill Belichick is the best of all time

Tom Brady may be biased, but he believes that Patriots coach Bill Belichick is the best to ever walk a sideline. 

That's what Brady told Westwood One's Jim Gray in an interview before the radio broadcast of Monday night's game between the Falcons and Saints. After Belichick helped cook up a game plan for the Patriots to beat the Texans on short rest with rookie third-round quarterback Jacoby Brissett behind center, Brady may not have many people argue with him. 

"I definitely think so," Brady answered when he was asked if Belichick was "the best coach to have ever done this."

"I think whatever hand he's been dealt, he finds a way to win. That's the mark of a great coach. Sitting in those meetings for the last 16 years and watching him prepare the team, there's no [other] coach I'd ever want to play for. He's just remarkable in every aspect. It's a privilege to play for him. I look forward to going back out there and, you know, getting yelled at by him. He's tough on the players and he expects the very best out of each of us every day. That ends up getting the best out of players. He's so consistent with his approach, and it's paid of for our team for a long time."

Brady said it's that consistency that stands out to him and separates Belichick from any of his peers.

"I think his consistency is just what's remarkable," Brady explained. "It's so much of what you don't see on these Sunday afternoons. But it's the way the offseason program is run in April. It's his urgency and enthusiasm at that time of year when no one's watching. His OTA schedule and his emphasis over the course of those practices in May and June when no one's really watching. There's no scoreboard to compete against. But we always feel like we're in competing against the other teams, even when there is no scoreboard.

"You go to training camp, and you can't waste days in training camp because you don't get those days back. Those days in training camp are going to prepare you for what's going to happen in Septmeber. There's urgency throughout the entire offseason to get us to the month of September, and then once September comes it's all about winning games and making improvements towards October.

"Then once you make improvements toward October, you can be in a really good position to really capitalize come November. That's when the playoff races start to shape up and you really see where you're at and there's a lot of scouting done at that point. That's whenn you really see the team develop and how the depth of the team really takes place. Coach Belichick is always understanding where the roster needs to be at and which positions we may need a little more depth at based on injuries over the course of the season.

"Then comes December when it's the last stretch of the season when you need to be at your best. He prepares us all the way throughout the season. His consistency has been remarkable. It's been fun to see from this point obvously for the last four weeks, but I've experienced that every day. That part of it doesn't really surprise me, but to see the way that my teammates have come out and played and performed under pressure on a Sunday night game, and the first home game, and a Thursday national TV game, it's just been so much fun to watch."

Rex and the Bills can’t afford to go belly-up vs. Patriots

Rex and the Bills can’t afford to go belly-up vs. Patriots

An unexpected – and convincing – win over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday put some bounce back into the step of Rex Ryan.

Now, instead of gazing at his cavernous navel, wallowing in an 0-3 start and ticking off the reasons it isn’t really his fault, he’s buoyant.

After opening his press conference by mocking Bill Belichick’s deadpan approach to injuries, Ryan was asked what a win over the Patriots would do.

“It would mean a lot to our football team,” he said. “I think when you look at it, they’ve been the standard of this league. Not just in our conference or division or whatever. They’ve been the standard of the league. So you want to put yourself up against the best. I think everybody saw what happened when everybody’s: “No Tom Brady, this team is going to be a disaster.” Well they’re 3-0 last time I checked and beat some pretty good football teams. So, yeah, it’ll mean a lot. We need a win in the worst way. But, as far as the Patriots, I think, my admiration is really for Belichick more than anything. As a coach, that’s the guy, that’s the best. He’ll go down as probably the best in the history of the game. So, I like poking fun at him and all that stuff but there’s no coach I respect more than him.”

We are now in Year Seven of having Rex as an AFC East foil for Belichick. Given the start in Buffalo and the way things ended last year, we may not see a Year Eight. So the candor – even if it’s nonsense – will be missed when it’s gone.

With Tom Brady down for one more week, Jimmy Garoppolo likely being a close call with his AC joint separation and Jacoby Brissett having injured his thumb, there is uncertainty for Ryan to deal with. And he knows it will drag.

“I expect them immediately to tell us,” Ryan responded when asked when he thought he’d find out who the Bills would be defending. "As soon as they tell us, we’ll be like, 'yeah, ok.' Nobody would believe it anyway, Nah, I don’t know. We’re not going to find out until kickoff…

“We’ll we’ll be prepared for them,” he added. “We’re looking at all their talents and all that. The Patriots are a little different. They may take an entire game plan, and throw that away and look at you differently then they look at other teams. So, I’m watching them play Miami, and they’re chipping their defensive ends. Will they do that to us? I don’t know. Looks like to us, they do a lot of empty. So, we’ll see how they decide to play us, we’ll be ready for everything.”

Ryan gave due credit to the Patriots for their 3-0 start, saying, “Brady’s probably the best player in the league. So, it’s hard to replace guys like that. But, they are a team. They’ve always been built as a team anyway. But it has been impressive. …They have an excellent football team. They do a great job, guys, they know their roles. They have a lot of veteran players that have been in systems for a long time. You take Julian Edelman, he replaces a [Wes] Welker. They just keep rolling on. So they draft and they get players to fit their system and they do a phenomenal job of it.”

Sunday's win over Arizona probably afforded Ryan only a little bit of time. If the Bills go belly-up in Foxboro against a third-string rookie, he'll be back on the clock.