Category Archives: New England Patriots

Connecting the dots with John Simon

Just a guess here, but an educated one (if you ask me).

The Patriots now have a lot of picks tonight and early on Saturday after their late first-round trade with the Vikings.

Bill Belichick values smart, tough, versatile players. He believes he can never have enough pass rushers.

Belichick and Urban Meyer are close friends. Belichick has drafted Meyer players in the past — several times over.

Belichick had a lot of success with a guy named Mike Vrabel, who now coaches under Meyer and last season coached John Simon. Meyer loved Simon so much last season that he said if he had another son, he’d name him John Simon.

He was half-joking. It was almost as good as the game earlier in the season when Meyer said “John Simon, that’s a grown-ass man. Excuse my language. That’s a guy.”

It would be a half-surprise if the Patriots didn’t take that guy some time tonight or Saturday. Simon had some injury issues last season and early in the draft process, but if he’s healthy he fits the bill and “the Patriot Way.”

Enjoy Foxborough, John.

Cost probably too high for Browns to chase QB

Traders up. The real fun in the NFL Draft starts Friday evening.

The Browns picked early and shut it down early on Thursday; with no second-round pick as ammo, they knew there was no way they’d buy back into the first round, even if they wanted to.

But what about the second round — and specifically for a quarterback? And specifically for West Virginia’s Geno Smith, who remains on the board?

How much it would cost remains to be seen. “Too much” is probably the answer.

The great part about this three-day draft format is four months of pure speculation turns into 18 or so hours of more speculation, usually centered around a few players. Smith is certainly this year’s “buzz” guy, not just because quarterback is always the buzz position. Mike Glennon, maybe the most NFL-ready quarterback at January’s Senior Bowl, and Matt Barkley also could get early second-round attention after E.J. Manuel went to Buffalo and became the only QB picked in the first round.

That pick was, um, interesting.

The chances the Browns, currently holding pick No. 68 in the third round as their next selection, go up and get Smith (or another quarterback) are slim. The Browns would almost certainly have to give up a 2014 first-rounder to get into the top of the second round, and in case Smith’s long wait in the green room Thursday night during the first round didn’t remind Browns fans of Brady Quinn, making such a trade would.

Jacksonville picks first Friday, at 33, followed by San Francisco and Philadelphia. The first two will take plenty of calls based on the value of their picks in this format, firstly, and also from quarterback-seeking teams based on fact that the Eagles, at very least, showed interest in Smith in the pre-draft process.

There’s a little thing called a trade value chart that every NFL team uses, to some extent, anyway. The numbers and values on the chart aren’t absolute — and there might even be multiple charts — but they do provide either a baseline or a ballpark figure on perceived trade value.

During Thursday’s first round, it was a good market for teams coming up and a bad one for teams looking for a potential trade down. On Friday, at least early, it will be the other way around.

The chart says Jacksonville’s pick is worth 580 value points. That’s too much for a 2014 first-round pick as the Browns don’t expect to be a playoff team and this year’s 14th pick was worth 1,100 value points; their pick at 68 (250), even coupled with a second-rounder next year, probably comes up short.

About that 580, well, that’s actually low. The value on Jacksonville’s pick would go up because it’s an extremely valuable pick as the first pick of the rest of the draft. The Browns would either have to give next year’s first-rounder (not happening) or put together a package that includes either Jabaal Sheard or Phil Taylor, plus that 68th pick and some other combination of things to swap in a package that leans Jacksonville’s way.

The Jaguars will answer the phone because they need lots of players. The Browns need too many themselves to give away valuable picks, especially in multiples. Despite what they’ve said, you still have to believe they are willing to part with one of their young defensive linemen as they transition to a 3-4, and it might be Sheard after the selection of Barkevious Mingo.

Thirty-one other teams know that, too, which probably drives down his value. And these hypothetical deals revolve around value.

If the Browns are really in the quarterback market and are interested in New England backup Ryan Mallett — and again, it’s purely a hypothetical at this point — it’s possible the Patriots asking price came down when they acquired the Vikings third and fourth round picks late Thursday night.

Then again, it’s just as possible that New England would want a second-rounder next year. Same story. Mike Lombardi has the number if it gets to that point.

As for Smith, if he gets past the Eagles at No. 35, how far does he slide? The Cardinals at No. 38, Jets at 39 and Raiders at 42 could be interested. The Jaguars and 49ers will anxiously await their calls. The Bengals, holding pick No. 37 and needing a running back and a safety, could be interested in selling their pick and trading down.

The Browns figure to be active in seeking a chance to either move up into the second round and/or acquire another third-round pick. Unless we’re all missing something with Geno Smith, it just seems the price for the Browns to be involved will be too high.

Andruzzi lends a hand in Boston

Plenty of harrowing images emerged from the tragedy in Boston Monday.

Featured in one of the many that showed folks lending a helping hand was former Cleveland Browns and New England Patriots offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi.

The photo, which made the rounds on Twitter, shows Andruzzi coming to the aid of an injured woman. MSNBC also had a short video clip of Andruzzi coming to help.

A winner of the Ed Block Courage Award and three Super Bowls during his 10-year NFL career, Andruzzi is a cancer survivor and  established the Joe Andruzzi Foundation in 2008 after his battle with non-Hodgkins lymphoma. The foundation funds pediatric cancer research and as part of its efforts sponsors runners in the Boston Marathon each year.

Andruzzi has three brothers who are New York City firemen and were among the responders on 9/11. Apparently, doing good deeds is in his genes.

Update 4/16/2013 12:31 a.m.

Andruzzi released a statement in response to multiple media requests: “Marathon Monday should be about uplifting stories, personal challenges and fundraising milestones, but today’s bombings irrevocably changed that. While I appreciate the interest in hearing our perspective on today’s horrific events, the spotlight should remain firmly on the countless individuals – first responders, medics, EMTs, runners who crossed the finish line and kept on running straight to give blood, and the countless civilians who did whatever they could to save lives. They were the true heroes. Our thoughts prayers go out to all those affected by this senseless tragedy.”

Bucs, Pats beat trade deadline with deal

At a few minutes after 4 this afternoon, it appeared all was quiet at the NFL trade deadline.

Then the Tampa Bay Bucs announced they had traded suspended and oft-troubled cornerback Aqib Talib to the New England Patriots.

The league moved the deadline back 48 hours this week because Hurricane Sandy closed the league office early in the week and made things complicated for the day to day operations of several teams.

Unless something else changes or is announced, speculation involving Carolina Panthers running back DeAngelo Williams and a handful of teams, including the Bengals, was apparently just speculation.

There was one other deal this week. Jacksonville sent backup wide receiver to Mike Thomas to Detroit, which made a small ripple only because the Jags and Lions play each other this weekend.

Stats show Belichick’s choice was the right one

Just discovered something called the Harvard College Sports Analysis Collective.

Which sounds impressive.

It does have Harvard in the name, right?

The HSAC “is a student-run organization at Harvard College dedicated to the quantitative analysis of sports strategy and management.”

That’s a fancy way of saying they study sports statistics.

This group of fine young people took a look at Bill Belichick’s decision to give up the touchdown late in the Super Bowl, and decided that Belichick made the right choice. They even said Ahmad Bradshaw “made the wrong choice by scoring.”

It referred to a site called Advanced NFL Stats, and that site has a way-cool chart that shows the Giants win percentage went from .94 to .85 following the Bradshaw touchdown.

The Giants chances to win were at .20 when Brady threw toward Wes Welker on that fateful play. When Welker dropped the pass, the Giants chances went to .26.

Which means the Giants odds increased from one-in-five to one-in-four thanks to that missed pass and catch.

The number jumped .48 when Manning found Mario Manningham on the memorable play down the sideline, and it became .67 when Manning found Hakeem Nicks for a first down at the 34. Manning’s pass to Nicks at the 18 made it .8.

Point: This chart is really way cool, and Belichick did the right thing in giving Brady the ball back.

Problem was – as the chart shows – there wasn’t enough time for Brady to do anything.

I seriously wonder if stuff like this will become a trend in football the way it is in baseball, whether we’ll have stats gurus on the payroll and on the sideline at crucial times.

It’s silly to say Super Bowl loss tarnishes Brady

This is the age of instant reaction and analysis. What happened yesterday becomes the news yesterday and by today is old news. Breaking news lasts perhaps six minutes.

So when a game ends and a championship is won, the immediate discussion turns to goats and stars and legacies and Hall of Fame spots.

So it is with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, whose legacy has been questioned since the game ended.

This is laughable.

Brady and Belichick have won three Super Bowls. They have been in two more. Which means they have sustained excellence for a decade. That’s not easy.

New England wins because of Brady. He makes average receivers great. Think about David Givens, who started for four years in New England with Brady, signed a big contract from Tennessee and disappeared from the NFL landscape.

Brady’s list of guys he’s thrown to includes Randy Moss, but it also includes guys like Givens, Reche Caldwell, Deion Branch and Jabar Gaffney. Ever hear of any of them after they got done catching Brady’s passes.

Branch is a prime example. He was traded to Seattle, where he was supposed to be a first  receiver. He was average at best as a Seahawk, but when he returned to the Patriots he suddenly improve.

It’s not a coincidence.

This season Brady won with one of the worst pass defenses in the league. He had to excel for his team to get to the Super Bowl, and he did.

Expectations and image have become so vital.

Everyone knows David Tyree. He’s celebrated for that catch in the Super Bowl against Brady, but that was the last catch of his career. He never caught another NFL pass.

Brady won as a rookie and everyone loved him and celebrated him, but he didn’t have near the game he had Sunday against the Giants. He’s lost two Super Bowls when the opposing team made impossible catches to beat him.

Brady could have played better in Sunday’s game, yes. He could have thrown a few key passes better.

But Brady remains the best of this generation, better than Peyton Manning and Eli Manning and Drew Brees and anyone else who’s played in the last decade. To say a loss tarnishes his legacy is really ludicrous.

His legacy will take him right to Canton five years after he retires.