Why Did Official Not Hand the Jets Another Free Field Goal?

My congratulations to NJ.com’s Dom Cosentino, a Jet’s “beat writer” who found a way to get himself a nice chunk of web traffic for a story that will be forgotten by the end of the day since it was debunked before noon. Don’t hate the player, hate the game. Cosentino made a nice score for NJ.com (which I’m assuming is a site intended to house FAQs for “What’s that smell?” and “Can I mix coffee milk and whey protein?”) and did his job observing something most people didn’t. He also covered his bases by correctly observing that the Jets didn’t play well enough to win… because they didn’t. I’m not here to vilify Cosentino, I’m more out to counter troll. The Jets fanbase looking for a controversy is looking for nothing more than sympathy for not being granted another teeball do-over to celebrate on their way to another failed season missing the playoffs.

For anyone looking for a rebuttal to the Patriots hater on your Facebook wall sharing this bunk without reading it consider the following.

  • IT HAPPENS ALL THE TIME. Officials re-adjust players on the field constantly. As cited above the NFL has accurately recognized that this is standard procedure. If you are arguing otherwise you are either brand new to football or you are roleplaying D&D NFL Conspiracy Edition. We’ve all seen this happen before and no one raised an eyebrow before a slow news day on a Friday with Jets fans looking for sympathy. Receivers check in with the side judges who nudge them into formation. DB’s check in with officials who warn them about holding penalties before they’re called. If you claim you’ve never seen this before you are lying.
  • The Jets got a gimmie win in their annual October Super Bowl last year at the hands of Jerome Boger, a Foot Locker aficionado universally recognized as one of the 3 worst officials in the NFL. You all know the situation. Boger broke out a rule that no one had ever heard of and that was never enforced again in the total 256 games played in the season across the NFL or since then. The only we learned from this debacle is not to mess with whatever loan shark that Boger is presumably still mixed up with that has him tanking games on purpose to keep his thumbs from getting Soprano-ed. You got your free win, Jets fans. Don’t be greedy. If you’re wondering why the officials did what they did what you’re really wondering is why they didn’t roll out the red carpet and give the Jets the Stonecutters “Another Strike for the Chosen One!” treatment… AGAIN. This game was on the level. You lost. Just face it.
  • It’s a moot point entirely because the LB wouldn’t have even been there for the snap. Hightower would have cleared out as soon as the tackles shifted inside… the thing that they planned for the sake of blocking the field goal… which worked. If Hightower had been standing there not only would it have been good for a flag, but he also would have been in the way of Chris Jones the guy who actually blocked the field goal. Profootballtalk even recognized this in it’s usual backhanded way.
  • If I’m a Jets fan I’d probably be wondering why a 58 yard field goal had a trajectory low enough that 6’1″ 309 lb Chris Jones was able to block it? If you look at the replay he didn’t get an especially amazing push inside, and was even on the decent from his jump when the ball hit his hand. Nothing against Jones but he’s not Manute Bol.
  • Geno Smith played a gutsy game, and gained a morsel of respect from Patriots fans for getting up and finishing the game after a knee injury in the 3rd. Realistically, he exploited a Patriots defense that was unprepared on a short week for Marty Mornhinweg’s goofball offense. The linebackers struggled to stay disciplined and shade outside on the read option and the Jets capitalized. Smith straight up missed the throw to Jace Amaro on the 2 point conversion though. They drew coverage against Patrick Chung who just physically cannot cover linebackers. Teams that “deserve to win” don’t blow 2 point conversions with the game on the line. It’s that simple.
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Reasonable Vs. Unreasonable Fixes for the Patriots

Something has to give. The modern day Patriots are a notoriously slow starting bunch. I’ve been willing to give them the benefit of the doubt in previous years but I think we can all agree that this feels less like the beginning of Major League and a lot more like the beginning of World War Z, as in it sucks from the get go but you still have no idea what you’re in for. This kind of uncertain climate brings out a certain side in New Englanders… a stupid one. A really really you can’t believe you’re hearing it and you’re worried for your own sanity by being around it stupid kind of attitude. Well for all you Chicken Littles blowing angry bubbles in your iced Dunkins here’s a breakdown of what is and isn’t reasonable to demand out of the Patriots right here and now.

UNREASONABLE: BENCH BRADY AND “Fahkin Staaah’t Garaaappolo!!”

Just fuck you. Tom F. Brady has given 13 years of legendary football to this franchise, and you know this. I will spot him a slow start and a bad game, and you will too you fucking mouth breather pink hat mongoloid. I don’t care if I sound like a Brady apologist. The fucking T-1000 couldn’t stay cool long enough to make accurate throws consistently with the way this offensive line is laying down and dying. The speed at which the casual Patriots fan goes from throwing rose pedals at Brady’s feet during the good times and calling for his head when he falters makes me want to puke on myself and eat it. I would take the calls for Brady to step down a lot more seriously if this hadn’t been going on for YEARS now. Since returning from his ACL injury in 2009 the local talk radio switch boards have lit up daily with fairweather drama queens begging for Brady to be replaced by a cavalcade of jabronies: Tim Tebow, Ryan Mallet, Cam Newton, Johnny Manziel, the wildcat offense to name just a few. In that time, with all that bitching and moaning in the background Brady has only managed a measley 2 AFC Offensive Player of the Years, 5 Pro Bowl selections, 3 Conference Championship appearances, 1 AFC Championship, and 1 NFL MVP. But who’s counting? Exactly how does being a Patriot fan involve the incessant thirst for the demise of the greatest Patriot of all time (that’s right Geno Cappeletti fanboys, I said it) instead of standing by him when he needs the support? I love Jimmy G.. His time will come. It’s not today. Goto hell and die twice if you don’t like it.

REASONABLE: BENCH SHANE VEREEEN

UPDATE (10/6/14): Vereen played hard straight ahead football last night against the Bengals and had no problem dropping the shoulder to get the extra yard. Well done.

People aren’t going to like this, but someone needs to go under the bus and believe me that Vereen deserves it. You’ve probably in denial, and it probably has something to do with the former Cal RB stashed on your fantasy bench waiting for a breakout game. And why not? The 3rd year RB is lightning fast and had over 600 all purpose yards last season. He’s awesome right? Well, he’s had a whole offseason of people telling him he’s the second coming of Larry Centers and forgot how to play Patriots football.

Long story short: Vereen blew 3 separate potential first downs Monday night in Kansas City by inexplicably stopping his motion dead with the line to gain in sight just to make an extra juke move he didn’t need. It’s like he thought the imaginary first down line on TV was covered in barbed wire ebola fire ants and had to do whatever he could to not get there. Couple that with the alligator arm effort that got him benched during the Miami game, and you’ve got a pattern. The Patriots have converted just 21 of 58 third downs and 4 of them belong directly to Vereen. He’s also twice choked on easy passes out of the backfield by failing to turn around and see the ball… and it certainly wasn’t because he was busy blocking.

For all the parallels drawn between Vereen and Kevin Faulk could you EVER imagine Faulk not selling out for a must-convert 3rd down? Faulk might have fumbled it… let’s be real, but he knew where the line to gain was when he walked onto the field and if it took diving or dropping the shoulder to run through somebody he made every effort to get it. That was Kevin Faulk. That’s Patriots football. Think of the effort and sacrifice still being made by guys like Julian Edelman, Vince Wilfork, Matthew Slater and even Stevan Ridley (who is running hard regardless of how little help he’s getting up front) the taxes their putting on their bodies to try and turn this team around. Do you really think it’s right that Vereen should be on the field with the offense hinging on his lackluster efforts? Play rookie RB James White, who is finally healthy, and give Vereen some time to think about how important first downs are from the bench.

UNREASONABLE: FIRE MCDANIELS – HIRE CHARLIE WEISS

I can’t believe I’m hearing this but I am. Really guys? The same Charlie Weiss that just went 6-22 in just over two years as the head coach in at the University of Kansas? Good one. Thanks for calling though. If you’re not satisfied with that consider the fact that NBC Sports ran an hour long feature titled Notre Dame Reborn, which gives you an idea of exactly what the Charlie Weiss years did to the program (they had to die first to be reborn get it?) and how hard they had to work just to recover from his tidal wave of failure.

REASONABLE TIGHTEN THE LEASH ON JOSH MCDANIELS

McD, we love you. 2007, the memories, the glory, the FU touchdowns. We’ll never forget it… but all that is over. Literally. Seven years have passed. Peyton Manning owns all those records now, and this offense sucks… SUCKS.

I don’t know what goes on in the offensive meetings, or the game planning. But watching these games it really seems like the Pats consistently spend the first 2 and a half quarters stubbornly working through a narrow game plan that just doesn’t stand a chance. Why even say “seems like?” That’s exactly what is happening. Case in point the Patriots ran Vereen out of the shotgun on a draw to the right side 3 times in the first half Monday night for a net gain of 2 yards. It doesn’t work. Run someone else somewhere else. I don’t even know how to explain it. The offense just seems dead set on going every which direction but down the field…. Draw. Screen. Slant. PUNT. Draw. Slant. Screen. PUNT. Slant. Draw. Nonsensical 30 yard pass to Edelman in triple coverage. PUNT. Turn the page already.

This isn’t news either. This has been going on consistently since McDaniels was re-hired as offensive coordinator in 2012. That year they started the season 3-3 with a humiliating loss to Arizona. They struggled out of the gate again in 2013, ending Brady’s 52 game touchdown streak in a pointless 13-6 loss to Cincinnati. It took 3 quarters of the 2013 season to get LaGarrette Blount going. The play calling game after game insisted that Blount HAD to run between the tackles: something he had struggled with consistently throughout his career. At this point if McDaniels showed up Sunday night in a tweed blazer and straw hat with a fumblerooski scrawled on a tiny chalkboard I’d have to struggle to feign surprise.

What happened to Danny Amendola running the Welker routes over the middle of the field? What happened to those unstoppable Gronkowski routes down the seam with only some hapless DB waiting to get trucked? What happened to Kenbrell Thompkins, who was a healthy scratch for absolutely no reason, and the back shoulder throw he and Brady spent all last season getting down to a science? Thompkins had 21 first downs with Brady last season. What happened to ALL the red zone plays this team used to thrive off of? Here is a look at where the Patriots have ranked scoring TD’s in the red zone with McDaniels (source: TeamRankings.com):

2012 2013 2014
TD Percentage 67.50% 58.11% 54.55%
NFL Ranking 3rd 8th 18th

There is nothing in the current conceivable Patriots playbook that resembles anything they’ve had success with or should scare anyone. Belichick has cracked the whip on his coordinators before with Eric Mangini (who had play calling privileges completely removed at one point) and Bill O’Brien. Both times it landed the Patriots in a conference championship and both coaches took credit for the Hoodie’s hard work and parlayed it into multiple head coaching positions. Tighten it up. Less experimenting. More consistency. Please.

UNREASONABLE: “BLAH BLAH BLAH, THE DRAFT”

The draft is seven months away. This season is now. I can nitpick Belichick’s draft history all day, and I have, but it means nothing right now. Name a team that you think has the draft figured out and can draft a dominant wide receiver without screwing up something else.

  • AJ Green in Cincinnati? Their playoff record is what?
  • Julio Jones in Atlanta? The team that won 4 games a year ago?
  • Dez Bryant in Dallas? The team that’s gone 8-8 three years in a row?
  • Jordy Nelson in Green Bay? That’s the only position the Packers can draft for. Their offensive line is almost worse than ours.
  • Calvin Johnson in Detroit? Those were “HIRE Matt Millen” banners everywhere that were just typo-ed, right?
  • 8th Overall Pick Tavon Austin in St. Louis? The blockbuster slot receiver statistically inferior in every way to Tiquan Underwood playing for the perennial last place Rams?Maybe the lone exception to the rule is Demaryius Thomas in Denver and that was after 2 years of being treated as a bust with our own Josh McDaniels at the helm. Thomas and the Broncos didn’t really become a legit team until Peyton Manning fell into their laps via a freak occurrence aka Jim Irsay’s impulsive stupidity. The draft is a two way street for everybody. Even the returning Super Bowl champion (and still the most dominant team in the league) Seahawks did most of their best work with Percy Harvin on the sidelines. Get over it.REASONABLE GET TIM WRIGHT ON THE FIELD ALREADY

    Am I going insane? Are we all going insane together? Did the Patriots not trade away the centerpiece of their offensive line for an insignificant draft pick and a desperately needed pass catching tight end? Rutgers alumn Tim Wright has been literally, figuratively and existentially non-existent as a Patriot. Look at his snap count over the first 4 games. Can you even figure out if he’s gaining ground or losing it?

    I get it. It’s a complicated magical offense. It’s hard to learn. However, we’re four weeks deep into the season and I’m still expected to believe that either Tim Wright doesn’t know the offense or that the Patriots are somehow better off without him. Do you know how long Hershel Walker was a Viking before he made debut? One practice. He knew 12 plays and still ran for 148 yards. I know Wright isn’t an ideal blocker, and it’s somehow really important to establish a 1940’s power running game but did I miss something about Aaron Hernandez’s blocking aptitude? Attleboro’s most Wanted wasn’t exactly the hispanic Daniel Graham on the line of scrimmage, but he did what he did and made up for it by catching passes. A lot of them. This WAS the offense that made the two TE set the wave of the future. It made being a tight end cool again. Did you catch that bubble screen Kansas City ran with two TE’s out wide and Charles in the middle? Did it look familiar? That’s because the Patriots invented that play. They ran the same thing with Gronkowski and Hernandez with the screen to Welker against Miami. It was an unstoppable piece of magic that *GASP* worked to the strengths of the personnel on the roster instead of forcing something that isn’t there.

    UNREASONABLE: CALL A PLAYERS ONLY MEETING TO GIVE DAVE DEGUGLIELMO A FULL METAL JACKET SOAP BEATING

    Hey… I said it’s unreasonable. I didn’t say it was impossible, or for that matter unwarranted… or that I wouldn’t enjoy it. There is no excuse for this offensive line sucking as bad as it does. I don’t care if there are rookies in the middle of the line. A quick skim of the depth charts around the league and I count 8 teams with rookies listed as starting offensive linemen. Is there an obnoxious round table discussion going on somewhere with Steven A. Smith and some jobber third rate NFL retiree turned “broadcaster” talking about why eight different teams’ offensive lines are falling apart before our eyes? No, they’re talking about one team. This team. Rookies and 2nd years don’t explain why all of a sudden veteran Dan Connolly has no idea what he’s doing. They don’t explain why Nate Solder was so late blocking Tamba Hali on his strip sack that he might as well have been blocking Hali’s 2nd grade class picture.

    Three months of OTAs, mini-camps, off season workouts. A month of training camp. Four preseason games. Four weeks in the regular season. NINE MONTHS on the job as the Patriots offensive line coach and Dave DeGugliemo has zero coordination from his offensive line. So if you’d like to do something brash and unreasonable let’s compromise on this one.

    REASONABLE MAYBE BRING IN A VETERAN OFFENSIVE LINEMAN

    It’s borderline unreasonable at this point. The time to get a worthwhile guard is in the offseason. That time was spent trading away the best interior offensive lineman on the roster. What’s done is done. The OG pickings are ironically slim. But the Falcons just worked out former Titan Leroy Harris and former Cowboy Uche Nwaneri who are experienced offensive lineman still in playing shape. In all fairness, I think the plan was to feature 2nd year guard Josh Kline who did not suck last year in limited time, but unfortunately is injured right now. The current line is anchored by veterans Nate Solder and Sebastian Vollmer both of which have proven skills but are quieter guys lacking your prototypical “Punch Channing Crowder In the Face With His Helmet Off” traits of great New England O-liners. Something is definitely off without a veteran presence around.

    Of course we all know the one guy who, no matter how bad of an idea it should seem or would seem to a not-desperate team, deserves to at least be discussed inside Gillette. He’s big. He’s mean. He knows how to single handedly dismantle a locker room through a media distraction so awful you almost can’t even believe there wasn’t a clobbered fiance or sex boat involved. But when he puts his mind to it he can still play some pretty good football. I won’t say his name. I’ll just say he reminds me of an unlikable Chris Farley and everyone knows he’s desperate to play football again.

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Patriots Seven Round Draft Board 2014



After realizing how much time I had been wasting trying to profile individual players for years, and how impractical it would be for me to do something like that again I decided to go for it in one mess. Here I’ve come up with 3 targets or scenarios per round for the Patriots and 3 players that should also be on the radar. If you’d like to comment and call me an idiot for not having your guy on here that’s fine. Just keep in mind that once the picks start rolling in we usually all look like idiots because plenty of NFL teams are run by idiots. Take it all with a grain of salt. These are just my opinions based off what I’ve seen and heard. I reserve my right to change my mind at any time.

Ra’Shede Hageman – DT Minnesota
Build: 6’6″ 310 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 5.02 (Combine)
Years Started: 2
Relevant Stats: 13 TFL, 2 Sacks, 8 PBU, 1 INT
If you follow the Patskrieg Facebook you know that I’m crazy about the Minnesota DT. He’s an unpolished player but if you follow his tape over the last 2 years you start to see a guy realizing his potential as a force of nature. He was a tight end in high school (just like Warren Sapp) and you can still see the movement skills even at 310 pounds. When you’re buying into Hageman you’re buying his physical skillset and potential. He didn’t play as many snaps as some of the other higher ranked DTs and didn’t have a huge sack total. What he did do was record 15.5 stuffs (well above the average amongst the top of the class) and have 9 batted passes which no other DT even came close to. He’s going to take a year or so working with NFL coaches but he could be absolutely dominant and set up the defense for years to come when he does.

Calvin Pryor – S Louisville
Build: 5’11 207 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 4.58 (Combine)
Years Started: 3 (Started as a true freshman)
Relevant Stats: 3 INTs, 4 PBUs, 2 FF, Tackles – 54 UA 21 A

If we’re ready to move on from the Steve Gregory era let’s really move on by drafting his polar opposite. Pryor is a big bruiser safety in the mold of Adrian Wilson (who is still on the Patriots roster). I’m hesitant to put a safety on a very short list of worthwhile first round picks since there are several very good safeties in the first 3 or 4 rounds. However, this would be a chance to put a high end safety on the roster. In three years at Louisville he started 2 and 1/2, caused 8 forced fumbles, and 7 INTs. This is the player everyone wanted DJ Swearinger to be a year ago. I have zero connection as of right now between the Patriots and Pryor. In fact, in classic Belichick fashion they’ve reportedly looked at Hakeem Smith (3 INTs 5 PBUs) who played opposite Pryor at Louisville. There’s your spoiler on this year’s Hipster Belichick pick. Either way, I think HaHa Clinton-Dix is the first safety off the board, leaving Pryor potentially available at 29.

TRADE
Build: Last year turned 29th overall into a 2nd, 3rd, 4th & 7th
Years Used: So so many
Relevant Stats: Batting 1.000 in Pissing Everyone Off

This will go over like a Martin Sheen Boston accent but I can absolutely see it happening, and I don’t think it’s a bad idea at all. Given how stacked this draft is I would very much prefer to have multiple picks in the 2nd and 3rd rounds rather than take a 1st round pick for the sake of taking one. Bleacher Report already named this the “Worst Case Scenario” for round 1. I’m going to respectfully disagree. Taking a first rounder for the sake of taking one seems materialistic and pointless to me. Be very careful though. I’m giving a thumbs up to a trade that gives the Pats at least an extra 2nd round pick. The price for last year’s 29th pick was a 2nd, 3rd, 4th and a 7th from Minnesota. I would expect nothing less. Once we get into the 2nd and 3rd rounds I think you’ll see what I mean.

Also On the Radar:

  • I’m on the fence about Notre Dame’s Stephon Tuitt. He’s played out of position at DE when he’s built like a DT, but has some of the more evolved pass rushing skills in this class.
  • You wouldn’t see me cry if Belichick took LSU WR Odell Beckham who I’d take well over Mike Evans
  • Virginia Tech’s Kyle Fuller is a large and very talented corner from Virginia Tech who remains a dark horse for the 1st round Stanford’s
  • David Yankey who is graded lower than UCLA’s Xavier Su’a-Filo but would be a better fit in New England because of his zone blocking experience. I’d pass on Louis Nix, and contrary to a lot of mock drafts I think Jace Amaro in the first is a reach. More on both of them in a minute.


I really honestly believe that the 2nd round is the key to this draft. Materializing an additional pick in the 2nd round might make some people unhappy, since it typically means trading out of the first. I think you’ve got 3 players here that if you can grab the lot of them you instantly get better at 3 major positional needs with players who can contribute right away.

DaQuan Jones – DT Penn State
Build: 6-4 322 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 5.35 (Combine)
Years Started: 2
Relevant Stats: 11 TFL, 3 Sacks, Tackles – 33 UA, 23 A

I may end up looking stupid 3 years from now for saying this, but Hageman is a wish and Penn State’s DaQuan Jones is a must. Speaking from both the tape and the numbers, DaQuan Jones should be ranked much higher than he is. Much higher. John Pollard of Stats LLC put together some very telling numbers about the value of this DT class.

He played more snaps than Nix, Hageman, Quarles, Jernigan, guys who are ranked higher than him. Stamina and conditioning are enormous considerations for grading big DTs. The game is evolving to a point where you can’t just have 1 or 2 down DT’s anymore. It says a lot about an athlete to play at 300+ pounds and be able to play 100+ more snaps than his peers. He also produced consistently across those snaps.

The Penn State product didn’t put up big sack numbers but he made things happen at, and behind the line of scrimmage. Having a stuff differential comparable to Aaron Donald (one of the top rated DT’s in the class) is important. Also, Hageman gets a nod for having by far the most batted balls.

He has a better motor and lateral quickness than Nix and does a better job of keeping square to the line of scrimmage. Jones weighed in at the Combine at 322 lbs and moves much much quicker than that. Unlike a lot of players in the 320+ range he isn’t a top heavy NT prototype with a big gut. His lower body makes for a really massive powerful frame. Jones is a stud and if he’s available in the 2nd the Pats need to go get him. He also gets graded on a curve for having Bill O’Brien as a coach and not turning out terrible.

Troy Niklas – TE Notre Dame
Build: 6’7″ 270 lbs
40 Yard Dash: N/A
Years Started: 1.5
Relevant Stats: 498 Yards 5 TDs

This likely isn’t the name you want to hear. Ebron, Seferian-Jenkins, and Amaro are the consensus top 3 TE’s. They’re all pretty good but hear me out. Two of them have arrests on their resume, and one played at UNC which has me uneasy to begin with. Flying just a little bit under the radar is Notre Dame’s Troy Niklas, who is a beast in the making. With only 1 year starting experience Niklas was a surprise to end up in the 2014 draft. That’s a concern, but if you remember correctly Gronk only had 2 years of college experience as well. Granted he started both years and put up incredible numbers but he still only played 2 years. Niklas played behind former 1st round pick Tyler Eifert, and was used as more of a traditional TE when he finally got the call to start. So he doesn’t have the outrageous statistical production of the top 3 TE’s but he has more experience as an in-line blocker but with the same impressive hands and ability to catch away from his body as the others do. Everyone is looking for the Pats to draft the next Aaron Hernandez, but I’ve got to ask what’s wrong with drafting another Rob Gronkowski? If it were up to me I’d say let the rest of the league fight over the top 3 TE’s (they don’t even know what to do with them anyways), prioritize your early picks, and grab Niklas in the 2nd, as the rumor is that he won’t last longer than that. If you’re obsessed with drafting Amaro ask yourself if you’re not just being a draft racist and your brain insists you need to replace one hispanic guy with another. The first step to overcoming draft racism is admitting to it.

Weston Richburg – C/G Colorado State
Build: 6’3″ 298 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 5.10 (Combine)
Years Started: 4

I’ve heard his name mocked to the Patriots a handful of times and I’ve decided to bite. Originally he was a 3rd round consensus, but I had him highlighted as a 2nd round priority. Now, of course, just before I post this rumors emerge that he’s graded by some scouts as the top center in the draft and could be a late 1st. The Patriots re-signed Ryan Wendell but I’ve got to believe that he’s insurance on whoever the future new center will be. Richburg will get downgraded some for the level of competition he faced, but he’s just too good to ignore. Four year starting offensive linemen always impress me because it means they have an advanced intellectual concept of the game. He’s an excellent athlete with an ideal body type for an interior lineman, anchors well and has experience in a zone blocking scheme, started 50 games at Colorado State, and looks like a natural knee bender. He’s fast too and just seems to have a knack for getting to the 2nd level to block. He kind of came out of nowhere and was a scarcely recruited 2 star prospect and a shotputter in high school. He had some kind of eligibility issue in 2009 but put in extra time training and working at his parent’s gas station and eventually made the first team the following season. We know the Pats are fans of that kind of attitude. I think once he got going as a Patriot he could make a case to be a week 1 starter and would be an enormous asset to the run game. Without having met the guy first hand it’s impossible for me to say that he’s a sure thing, but everything he’s put on tape would hint towards it. Rumor has it the Pats have had a private workout with Richburg.

Also on the Radar:

  • I’ve had TCU’s Jason Verrett on just about every draft wishlist I could think of. If he were 2 inches taller he’d be a top 20 lock. But I think he’ll be off the board early in the 2nd if he isn’t gone in the 1st and I see no indication of the Patriots scouting him.
  • Northern Illinois’ Jimmie Ward is also a big consideration here, and the Patriots quietly attended his Pro Day.
  • Arizona State’s Will Sutton should some love here too because he’s getting less than he deserves in the press. Check him out in the charts above. He produced nicely and maintained good movement even after gaining weight.

Will Clarke – DE West Virginia
Build: 6’6″ 270 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 4.77 (Combine)
Years Started: 2
Relevant Stats: 17.5 TFL, 6 Sacks, 3 PBU, 1 FF, Tackles – 36 UA 14 A

I’ve looked at a lot of 4-3 DEs and as deep as this draft is I’m having a lot of trouble finding one I like. There are speed guys that lack technique, productive players that are just undersized, and the usual crop of one tricky ponies. From the tape I have no idea why Will Clarke is so under exposed in this draft class. He’s 6’6″ 270 lbs and has a lightning fast first step. He reminds me in every way of Chandler Jones right down to the fact that Jones was projected as a 3rd rounder early last April. This is the round Belichick has proven to want to take a chance on pass rushers, even when it doesn’t work out. There’s room for a young DE on this roster and Clarke fits the mold. There needs to be a viable #3 option at DE on this team, and with all respect to Andre Carter (seriously) it can’t be Andre Carter in 2014. Clarke was 240 lbs coming out of high school and ran a 4.80 40. In his time at WVU he put on 30 lbs of mass and at the Combine ran a faster 40 than he did earlier. I absolutely love his potential as a 4-3 DE as a guy who can take some snaps from Jones or Ninkovich.

*Look for #98 playing DE

Davante Adams – WR Fresno State
Build: 6’1″ 212 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 4.47 – 4.50 (Pro Day)
Years Started: 2
Relevant Stats: 1718 Yards, 24 TDs

If Davante Adams was an inch taller he’d dead set on being a 2nd round pick. He also posted 2 40’s in the 4.5 range that didn’t help him either. Still, Adams dominated for 2 seasons at Fresno State with Derrick Carr throwing to him. He’s leaving for the NFL at only 21 years old opting not to risk starting over with a new QB. Adams still blew me away every time I watched him. My latest deal breaker criteria for grading WR’s is that I don’t even want to look at a WR who can’t high point a football and competing for a ball at it’s apex is something Adams did consistently for the Bulldogs. He’s a natural pass catcher with extremely quick transitional skills. To be a true Patriots WR you’ve got to be tenacious and that’s why I think he’d be a good fit. The 2nd round is potentially going to see a lot of fighting for QB’s, TE’s and offensive linemen. That’s why I think Adams might slip through the cracks and end up in the 3rd. It’d be criminal not to even consider him.

Billy Turner – OT North Dakota State
Build: 6-5 315 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 5.16 (Combine)
Years Started: 4

If you play for North Dakota State and want to crack the NFL you’d better dominate. That’s just what the 6’5″ 315 lb tackle did. Turner started 56 of his 57 games player at NDS and lead his team to 3 FCS national championship games. He had a lot of positive buzz after a strong Senior Bowl prompting talk that he could find his way into the 2nd day of the draft. I wouldn’t expect him to pressure Solder for a starting LT job, but if Vollmer either didn’t come back or had further injuries in 2014 I think Turner could be a force at RT. He has experience in zone blocking but does his best work as a straight ahead bulldozer. Turner would need some work before being in the conversation to back up Nate Solder, but could be ready for week 1 to plug in on the right side.

Also on the Radar:

  • Alabama’s Adrian Hubbard gets a mention because of his versatility. He didn’t exactly take over games but he played a role similar to Jamie Collins in that he could line up as a DE or a LB at any given time.
  • I’m honestly hoping they shy away from smaller WR’s given the stockpile at home but South Carolina’s explosive 5’9″ receiver Bruce Ellington also gets consideration for having multiple meetings with the Patriots already.
  • Another SC player Kelcy Quarles could be floating around somewhere. I liked Quarles a lot in his gameplay, but really disliked watching him move in the Combine. I thought he ran way too narrow for a DT. Still he’s a physically impressive prospect that the Patriots have looked at up close.

Stephen Houston – RB Indiana
Build: 5’11” 230 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 4.46 (Pro Day)
Years Started: 3
Relevant Stats: Rushing: 753 Yds (6.7/carry) 8 TDs, Rec: 164 Yds

Bigtime sleeper here to the point where I’m getting antsy over the idea of drafting him weeks away. I like the idea of drafting RB’s that come from 2-back systems. It worked with Stevan Ridley in LSU and I see it working going forward. It saves a bunch of wear & tear on the player, and adapts them to the committee back system that we have in New England. Indiana’s Stephen Houston was thought of as a late round pick prior to his pro day. The 230 lb bruiser somehow managed a 40″ vertical and an 11 ft broad jump, which would have bested every RB at the Combine. He averaged only about 140 carries per season, but averaged a career 5.56 yard per carry including a 6.72 his senior year. Houston is a big thick back that genuinely dislikes being tackled. I think he’s a very comparable player to Carlos Hyde but with a little more burst to his first step. The Patriots have a very deep RB core right now even with Blount leaving, but I still think they take a RB somewhere considering both Ridley and Vereen are in contract years. This is a great spot and a great player to take a shot on. Let’s not go crazy but I see a little Christian Okoye in his game. I’ll also throw it out there that he was the first Hoosier to have back to back 700+ rushing yard seasons since BenJarvis Green-Ellis. The Pats have worked out Houston.

Dezmen Southward – S Wisconsin
Build: 6’0″ 2.11
40 Yard Dash: 4.44 (Pro Day)
Years Started: 2
Relevant Stats: 1 INT, 5 PBU, 1 FF, 3 TFL

I’ve written about Southward on the Patskrieg Facebook before and I’m still a fan of his. Southward was only a 2 star recruit out of high school after starting his football career as a senior. He was a starter that year and lead St. Thomas Aquinas HS (alma mater of Michael Irvin and a long list of NFL players) to a national championship. He plays compact and fast, staying nice and low in his backpedal, getting a strong push on his breaks, and waiting for his opportunities. He’s 6’1″ 212 lbs and you barely notice it because of how well he bends. Originally I had FSU’s Terrence Brooks as a 2nd round target, but I like Southward’s tackling and movement skills better so I re-prioritized. Contrary to Calvin Pryor I wouldn’t expect Southward to compete for a starting job week 1. I think that’s Duron Harmon’s job to win or lose (I have no idea what Tavon Wilson did to get in Belichick’s doghouse last year but he was practically forgotten). But you can’t go wrong with a player like this in the 4th or later as he has the potential to be a big contributor. The Patriots were one of a number of teams present for Southward’s Pro Day at Wisconsin, and I believe they’ve also brought him in for an official visit.

Kevin Norwood – WR Alabama
Build: 6’2″ 198 lbs
40 Yard Dash: 4.42 (Combine)
Years Started: 2
Relevant Stats: 568 Yds 7 TDs

I don’t 100% know where Norwood fits in the 2014 Patriots roster. I don’t know if he beats out Thompkins or LaFell for a WR spot. Quite frankly I don’t know what the ceiling is for him. What I do know is that he’s a bigtime underexposed sleeper that could be well worth the risk of taking a late round flyer on. The Mississippi native was a 4 star recruit out of high school, finishing his senior year with 12 TDs and 11 INTs as a corner. We’re all agreed Odell Beckham is a top tier receiver right? Norwood is 3 inches taller, ran an almost identical 40 (4.48) and has 10 inch hands (tied for 2nd largest at the Combine amongst WR’s). He can catch away from his body, at the apex, in traffic, on the sideline, while getting hit, all of it. He just didn’t get much of a chance in a very crowded Alabama offense that featured future 1st round pick Amari Cooper and a perennial stable of top tier RB talent. Who knows what he could have done if he had been counted on to be the focal point of his offense. Still, he played all over the field at Alabama lining up both in the slot and on the outside. He needs to work on sharpening his route running but he knows how to be in the right place at the right time, and come up with a catch in a tough situation. The Patriots have very quietly met with him.

Also on the Radar:

  • I guess I’ll put Iowa’s C.J. Fiedorowicz here even though I think Niklas has a much higher potential. I’d rank him below Niklas and above Colorado State’s Crockett Gillmore who looks very ordinary.
  • Minnesota safety Brock Vereen brother of some guy named Shane that plays for some team is a Patriots type player (instinctive with leadership qualities) who the team has scouted.
  • Rutgers Brandon Coleman has also been floating around in 4th round consideration, and I’d look pretty stupid if I didn’t at least mention the top rated Rutgers prospect despite a disappointing season.


The Patriots currently do not have a 5th round pick. There are mock drafts out there that have the Patriots picking in the 5th with no mention of this fact. Hit Alt-F4 if you find one please. I’d say they wasted it trading for Isaac Sopoaga, but the truth is Sopoaga wasted the pick for us by being terrible. If you know the Patriots though, you know that they seem to end up with mid round picks no matter what things look like at the start of the draft, so I’ll take a look at some 5th round targets just in case.

Michael Sam – DE Missouri
Build: 6’2″ 261
40 Yard Dash: 4.73 (Pro Day) 4.91 (Combine)
Years Started: 1.5
Relevant Stats: 19 TFL, 11.5 Sacks, 2 FF, Tackles – 31 UA 17 A. SEC Defensive POY 2013
OOOOOooooooooOOOoo controversial pick. Yes, I’ve gone on record saying that Sam isn’t the type of player the Patriots normally draft. He’s shorter than your average Belichick pass rusher, and I usually skewer similar players for being one trick ponies. However, the more Michael Sam I watched the more I came to realize the fact that he’s underrated if anything. I kept looking for a reason to count him out. I kept expecting top tier DE Kony Ealy to be the reason for Sam’s success. From what I’ve seen, Michael Sam was the star of that defense. I don’t have the numbers but t looked like Sam played significantly more snaps than Ealy and shined in run support as well as just running at the QB. All I’m saying is that there are much worse players to waste a 5th round pick on. PFT reported that the Patriots are one of a short list of teams with a real interest in Sam.

Xavius Boyd – Western Kentucky
Build: 6’1″ 236
40 Yard Dash: “4.6/low 4.7 range”
Years Started: 3
Relevant Stats: 15.5 TFL, 7.5 Sacks, 1 FF, Tackles – 68 UA 35 A
If increasing linebacker speed is on your agenda for 2014 I think Boyd makes for an intriguing pick. He finished his senior year with 15.5 TFLs, and 7.5 sacks. He’s a sideline to sideline type of backer that likely fits best as a mike linebacker and could upgrade the overall speed of the defense. He was the Sun Belt Conference Defensive POY with 105 tackles. The fourth round might be a reach for a small school prospect but the Bears, Cowboys, 49ers, Raiders, Chargers and Patriots have all interviewed or worked out the former Hilltopper.

Lonnie Ballentine – S Memphis
Build: 6’3″ 219
40 Yard Dash: 4.39
Years Started: 2
Relevant Stats: 5 PBU, Tackles – 37 UA 21 A

You’ve got to wonder where this guy has been hiding. Ballentine is a 6’3 219 lb DB from Memphis that at one time had offers on the table from almost every major SEC school and a pair of ACC schools. He chose to commit to Memphis though, a seemingly strange decision that may have had something to do with having a wife and kid in the area. His triangle numbers are ideal posting a 4.38 and a 4.40 at the Memphis Pro Day. For his height and size those are WR numbers. His play is just what you’re looking for too: fast and physical.

Also on the Radar:

  • Georgia QB Aaron Murray is an obvious consideration. He was a 4 year starter that could be available at a huge bargain after suffering a gruesome ACL injury. He’s smaller than your typical Patriots QB but clearly has the skills.
  • I’d like to see the Pats take a look at USC TE Xavier Grimble. He ran a 4.90 but I think he’s much faster than that on the field. The former 4 star recruit may have still been feeling the effects of a calf injury that kept him from running at the Combine. I’d suggest 5 star recruit AC Leonard who ended up transferring from Florida to Tenn State after a domestic assault arrest, but I’m not down with that.
  • This could also be a good time to pick up a quality special teamer like Rice DB Phillip Gaines (4.38 40), or Liberty DB Walt Aikens (4.37 – 4.44 40’s).


Kenny Guiton – QB Ohio State
Build: 6’3″ 208
40 Yard Dash: 4.78
Years Started: 0.5
Relevant Stats: Pass: 749 Yards, 14 TDs (2 INTs), 68.8% Completion Rush: 330 yds, 5 TDs

A couple thoughts on drafting a QB in this class:

  • Stop mocking Tom Savage to the Patriots. He’s not very good. He played for 3 teams in 5 years, turns 24 this month, and didn’t crack a 60% completion rate until the final of his 5 years in school. Let’s pretend that it takes a little more than playing for a mid-western school and being named Tom to be a starting QB for the Patriots.
  • Which is it? Do you want to WIN NOW! DRAFT HIGH! or DRAFT A QB! WE NEED A NEW TOM BRADY!! Because you can’t have both. If you want a QB in the first round then the other positional needs don’t get met.
  • Words can’t express how little I want Foxboro to be the “The House That Johnny Built” so let’s forget about that too.

This might be a case of doing your UDFA shopping a couple days early but OSU’s Kenny Guiton fascinates me. He saw limited action, seeing action in only 7 games last year, while sitting behind Braxton Miller. Watching him play he reminds me almost of a black Matt Cassel (that’s a compliment I promise): big tall frame, strong arm, and deceptively fast. He wasn’t a slouch with the football either: 68.8% completion rate, 14 TDs, 2 INTs. Those aren’t typical backup stats. Buckeye fans loved this kid, and you can tell why. He’s got a gun and has strangely good downfield accuracy. His mechanics look a little wonky but I think the physical tools and instincts are there. Whether he can grasp the New England offense is something I’ll never be able to tell you, but I like what I see in Guiton a lot more than some bigger names in the middle of the QB class.

Lorenzo Taliafero – RB Coastal Carolina
Build: 6’0″ 229
40 Yard Dash: 4.58 (Combine)
Years Started: 1 (2 year JUCO starter)
Relevant Stats: 1729 Yds, 27 TDs

I’ll be honest in saying that I know very little about this Coastal Carolina prospect and didn’t pay any attention to him until the Combine. I saw Walter Cherepinksy mention to a reader on Facebook that the Patriots liked him, so I put him here. As with most small schools if you want to be taken seriously you’d better dominate, and the 229 lb RB did. 1,729 yards and 27 TDs across 15 games in his 2013 season is certainly what you’d call dominant. He had 31 yards on 8 carries in the Senior Bowl, so he can hang with top tier competition. His lateral movement definitely jumped out at me in the Combine when I saw just how much he weighed. It seemed like he was more of a straight ahead runner at Coastal Carolina, and didn’t really use his hip flexibility to his advantage. I could write more on him but Steelers Depot already did an incredible job breaking him down, and anything else I said would just be ripping them off. They do point out that he’s an exceptional pass blocker, which is usually something young RB’s struggle with.

Jordan Tripp – LB Montana
Build: 6’3″ 234 lbs
40: 4.67 (Combine)
Years Started: 4
Relevant Stats: Tackles – 49 (UA) 51 (A), 3 INT, 5 TFL, 2 Sacks, 1 FF, 1 Blocked Kick
Mike Dussault loves Michigan State’s Max Bullough at this spot, at basically the same position, but I can connect Montana LB Jordan Tripp to the Patriots via a private workout, so I’ll go with Tripp here as the Pats could very well elect to replace one speedy Montana LB (Dane Fletcher) with another. There’s a good chance he’ll be off the board well in advance of the 6th round, but I’m just not sure where to put him. He’s a very similar player to Fletcher, quick, rangy, and seems to have a knack for knowing when to make his break on a gap to pressure the quarterback.

Also On the Radar:

  • Texas A&M’s Ben Malena was the Aggie’s feature back but was 2nd to Manziel in yardage. He also ran an unimpressive 4.60 Pro Day 40. He’s much quicker than he is fast and has the tools to be an effective 3rd down back in the NFL.
  • Andre Williams the 230 lb RB from BC got a look from the Patriots and fits the mold of what they’re looking for. He only put up 2100 yards his final season and left as a Heisman finalist if that means anything to you.
  • FSU RB Devonta Freeman is another big RB that the Patriots have looked at. What can I say? I like the idea of drafting a RB here.

Andrew Norwell – OG Ohio State
Build: 6’6″ 315 lbs
40: 5.28 (Pro Day)
Years Started: 3 (Backup RT as true freshman)

Who? For reference sake I am normally not an Ohio State mark but let me introduce you to Andrew Norwell from Cincinnati, Ohio. Andrew was a 4 star recruit out of high school and a 3 year starter at Ohio State. He’s not a physical freak (beyond being 6’6″ and 315 lbs) would need some breaking in at the next level but I see a player with the right mentality to play for the Patriots. He’s a find somebody to hit kind of lineman who, even as far back as high school had scouts noticing his fondness for getting an extra shove in. He can play in a zone or power blocking scheme and has experience at RT and both guard positions. After being a first team All Big Ten selection two years in a row I’m a little lost as to how he was a Combine snub, and is basically invisible. That kind of spiteful inertia has worked out well for the Patriots in the past. What grabbed me about Norwell was watching him neutralize Cal’s DeAndre Coleman who is supposed to be one of the top DT’s in the draft. Like I said, he’ll need to work on his quickness, but I like his chances as a depth player in an offensive line that needs to get meaner to get better.

*Look for #78 at the LG position

Dustin Vaughan – QB West Texas A&M
Build: 6’5″ 235 lbs
40: 4.95 (Combine)
Years Started: 3
Relevant Stats: 5,401 Yards, 53 TDs, 66.% Comp

6-5 Dustin Vaughan was the only player at any level of college football in 2013 to throw for over 5,000 yards and 53 TDs. He’s a former National Honor Society member, a pre-med biology major… I get it Dustin, you’re better than me. Gawd. Over achieve much? Yes, he’s a D-II quarterback who carved up crappy D-II defenses but he shined enough to be the only D-II quarterback invited to the Combine. There’s a lot to like about his technique. He’s got quick feet in the pocket, a decent arm and has a noticeably quick delivery. One of the things I generally disliked about a lot of bigger name QB’s in this year’s draft is their slow delivery. Some of these guys look like a ride at the Brockton Fair and are way too eager to get in the habit of lofting passing to the sideline or into the flat. Vaughan snaps his passes decisively and goes through his progressions like he’s got somewhere to be. I don’t know what his priorities look like between being 2 players behind Tom Brady on a depth chart, or being a doctor. He could up and leave any time he wanted to and 6 years from now be a proctologist making bank laughing at the idea of carrying Ryan Mallett’s pads to practice. I don’t know. I just think he’s worth a check in the 7th.

Blake Annen – TE Cincinnati
Build: 6’4″ 247
40: 4.41 (Pro Day)
Years Started: 1
Relevant Stats: Rush: 183 YDs 2 TDs
Originally I had Malena here, but I swapped him out with Cincy’s Blake Annen after a Reddit reader accused me of not having “a single tight end” on the list. I actually list 4 TE’s but who’s counting? Statistically speaking, Blake Annen barely existed for the Bearcats. Still, there’s only so long that the NFL will ignore a 250 lb TE that runs a 4.41 (not a typo) 40. Unlike a lot of TE’s with that kind of speed that are basically just out to play basketball on grass, Annen is actually pretty good at finishing his blocks. I’m still trying to figure out just what happened to him in Cincinnati. I kept thinking I was going to find out he was a football walk on after coming to Cincy on a basketball scholarship or something. Wasn’t the case. He was one of the top TE’s in Ohio coming out of high school where caught for 800 yards, so his hands work. The Bearcats had 5 receivers with over 400 yards, so it may have just been a case of not enough balls to go around. Still, the Patriots took a chance on a Bearcat receiver with some sparse production a year ago in Kenbrell Thompkins and that went well. They also took a shot on another super fast/inexperienced TE with Zach Sudfeld the same year which was a disaster. In fact, I still can’t get over how astonished Sudfeld seemed to be every time a football came near him. This is the 7th round though, and the late 7th/UDFA period is where you take gambles on projects like Annen. The Patriots, and Eagles have both worked him out.

Also On the Radar:

  • We know that the Patriots have looked at 6’1″ CB Al Louis-Jean who was a 4 star recruit from my alma mater Brockton High. He started his college career in Miami, had some disciplinary issues, and a season ending injury. He left Miami for BC and it looks like he didn’t get along with them too well either despite putting together some limited but impressive tape. He opted to skip his junior and senior years to declare for the draft (a very Brockton decision of him) but the potential is there.
  • Also coming out of BC is LT Matt Patchan who was a 5 star recruit originally committed to Florida. He had a string of unfortunate injuries that cost him his spot as a Gator. He was able to put in a full senior year at BC and looked great.
  • Going out with a bang I’ll mention that the Patriots and Broncos have both worked out Boise State C Matt Paradis who started 25 games and was a business finance major.
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Three Reasons Why Signing Eric Decker Is A Terrible Idea


…But all you really need is one.

I’m getting really used to this idea of putting things in numbered lists. It keeps things so concise. One thing that isn’t growing on me, however, is the perennial suggestion that the Patriots should go after the highest paid WR on the market. No matter who it is. No matter what else is going on. Every single year. It’s an idea that local journalists propagate every year knowing that it’s the wrong move and will never happen and thankfully has never materialized in New England. This year that receiver happens to be soon-to-be-former Bronco Eric Decker. Decker’s name has been at the forefront of such bulldozing-ly awful article’s as Jackie MacMullan’s (who presumably blacked out during any given unwatchable NBA game and woke up the next day with Mike Reiss’ stolen laptop and a finished article on ESPN Boston) letter to Belichick told through the unspoken thoughts of Tom Brady (it’s as great as it sounds).

Decker, who has spent the last few seasons as a #2 WR behind star wideout Demaryius Thomas, is going to command #1 WR money. We know this because history tells us so. Plenty of real football fans are content to see players like Dwayne Bowe re-sign with the Chiefs and have one of the worst seasons in his entire career, or guys like Mike Wallace get his payday with a clueless Dolphins franchise. But the problem is people read these articles and get in the “why not us” mentality all too easily…. Why not willingly over spend on a #2 wide receiver that miraculously broke out of his shell when teams were forced to double cover Demaryius Thomas? Why not go all out for a big bodied wideout who, as Patskrieg FB reader and Boston Phoenix writer Janssen McCormick put it turns into Harvey Whippleman when DB’s get physical? Why not put all your eggs in one basket? Isn’t it easier to carry that way? Here are some facts and opinions that I would hope would dissuade Patriots fans from praying for a Decker deal when free agency begins this upcoming Tuesday.

1. Proven Fact: Buying the Most Expensive Wide Receiver On the Market DOES NOT Fix An Offense

Here are some cold hard facts I’ve compiled from the last 5 seasons. Listed below were the biggest name / highest paid free agent wide receivers and what happened to the teams that broke the bank for them. Note: This does not include WR’s that re-signed with their teams, or players that were traded for. This is only in terms of the highest paid WR’s to sign with a new team on their own. This chart details how much they signed for, the team’s overall offensive rank the season before the signing, and the rank in the season following, and their record that year.

What To Take Away From This List:

  • None of these teams made the playoffs.
  • None of these teams finished above .500.
  • None of these teams had a significant improvement in their offense. In fact half of them either stayed the same or got significantly worse.
  • Vincent Jackson has been a unanimous success in Tampa, yet their offense as a whole somehow tanked after they signed him.
  • Antonio Bryant didn’t even make it through Bengal’s training camp before he was cut, and Cincy threw away another season.
  • Seattle, the team that gets hit twice here, eventually succeeded after cutting TJ and phasing Rice out of their offense.
  • Remember what a foregone conclusion it was that Houshmandzadeh was going to blow the doors off whatever team he ended up with? I stayed up until 2 AM the night he went free agent expecting him to sign with Minnesota and team up with Adrian Peterson. How did no one stop for a minute to think that maybe a nutcase like Housh wasn’t ready to carry an offense?
  • That’s just great. Thank you spellcheck. Now everyone knows I lazily made the table in Word.

In all fairness, most of these teams had to suffer through terrible quarterback play or stupid coaches or both. But that just goes to show you what type of franchises are willing to go full Dibiase on a guy that’s typically another team’s #2 WR just because he’s the biggest name on the market. Honestly, this should be the whole piece right here. The sheer history should tell you what a bad move it is. But I said 3 things for some reason so let’s keep going.

2. The Randy Moss Offense Was A Freak Occurrence

There was a time when the Patriots ended up with the top WR in the game and the results were incredible. That receiver’s name was Randall Gene Moss and it was a unicorn-class celestial miracle likely never to happen again. Seriously, a future first-ballot Hall of Famer with life left in him just sitting there festering on a horrible team, available for practically nothing with no risk, looking for a team like the Patriots, and willing to re-negotiate his contract for almost half the money… When will that EVER happen again?

The most expensive wide receiver on the Patriots roster in 2007 wasn’t even Randy Moss. After a nightmarish 2006 WR corps the Patriots went out and got:

  • Donte Stallworth – 6 years $30 million. The deal seemed big on the surface but was predominantly incentive based and gave the Pats the ability to release him for cheap whenever they wanted
  • Wes Welker – A relative unknown rescued from wasting away in Miami, seized for a 2nd and a 7th round pick and re-signed for a 5 year $18.1 million contract.
  • Kelly Washington – UFA who the Patriots signed for a $300,000 signing bonus, and another incentive heavy contract worth up to $22 million over 5 years.

    Moss got his money, Welker saw his money, everyone else was dropped no strings attached and the Patriots turned in an 18-1 season with an offense that should have broken their bank account but never did. So even when they did land the best WR in the game, the solution wasn’t throwing money around stupidly.

    3. I Thought Aaron Dobson Was the Answer?

    A lot of people who convinced you that last year’s 2nd round pick Aaron Dobson was a star in the making are the same people pleading for Decker to save the day. Off the top of my head I’ll pick on NESN’s Doug Kyed who opined towards the end of last season that Dobson was actually a better pick than Cordarrelle Patterson because his rushing and kick return stats shouldn’t factor into a comparison between the two….? Whatever that’s supposed to mean.

    But less than a month later Kyed wrote another article calling Decker his ideal free agent signing on the grounds that we need to sink more money into the wide receiver position to compliment Amendola on the inside.

    I like Doug Kyed and think he’s a smart football guy, but he has a tendency to be overly literal. I’ll also add the fact that no one, short of maybe an ex-girlfriend of his back in West Virginia, has dumped on Dobson more than I have. After almost a year of shredding him to pieces day in and day out I still think he deserves a chance to prove himself as a starting WR as opposed to over-spending at the position. In my humble opinion he played like a guy who was overwhelmed with the game. He looked nervous, uncomfortable, and at times shocked that he was making the plays he was. When you approach a sport like that there’s no way to concentrate on your technique. Between Dobson, Thompkins and Boyce (who will never again be called “Joyce Boyce” or “Josh Joyce” by the legendary Dan Dierdorf) there is enough talent for at least one of them to become a solid football player. I would be much happier letting them develop this off-season installing a lower cost talent across the field from them like Kenny Britt and playing the percentages that somewhere in between three talented 2nd-years and one potential star veteran something will develop. It almost has to.

    Honorable Mentions For Free Agents To Also Stop Talking About

    • Champ Bailey – It’s over. Did you see him play late last year? He looked like later years Kirk Gibson using the last bits of his pain threshold to hobble to his locker for a fistfull of chaw minus the World Series home run.
    • Tony Gonzalez – It’s over. He couldn’t coast to a Super Bowl in Atlanta. Gonzalez is searching Monster for “Trophy Raiser” and “Tears of Joy Confetti Snapshot Model” He’s not interested in learning a new offense and grinding out another season of football.
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Six Things Football Outsiders Should Know About Michael Sam


Hi. If you’re reading this you’re likely not a football fan. That’s okay. Really. You’ve also likely heard of former Missouri DE Michael Sam who will be entering the NFL draft this year as potentially the league’s first openly gay NFL player. IMHO that’s pretty cool. However, if the early signs are any indication you’re also going to be under the impression that there is a war going on to enforce some kind of hetero-normative agenda that keeps Michael Sam out of the NFL because of his sexuality. You’ll likely get mad, head to Facebook or Twitter and lay into the NFL for keeping the dark ages alive. That’s okay too. Really. But hear me out first. I wrote this piece to give football outsiders such as yourself a few things to consider before you blow your stack. We don’t know much about eachother. But I know our side (football fans) usually get our jocks in a bunch when we think your side (the general non-football public) butts into our business. I know your side thinks our side are a bunch of neanderthals with too much free time. And I know your side likes your internets in the form of neatly numbered lists (we have one thing in common already). So I thought I’d bridge the gap via a friendly numbered list.

The draft is a very tricky and confusing thing. Those of us that follow it every day still don’t fully understand it. Hell, the Browns don’t even understand it. So in this article I’d like to introduce you to the draft and the realities of the NFL as they relate to this new situation. As usual, comments emails agree/disagree statements are always welcome. But here are 6 things I think you should know.

1. “Draft Stock” is Not NASDAQ & Is Not A Tangible Thing

The internet would like you to think that it can predict the draft. It can not. I know this because I publish a draft blog and I’m wrong a lot. Teams have their own notes and opinions on prospects and the molecules of information that make it to the public rarely tell the whole story. The number one rule you have to know is that the draft happens when the teams turn in their picks. Not a moment before. Real actual football fans make this same mistake every year and confuse mock drafts and arbitrary rankings with real life. “Draft Stock” is a pretty obtuse term. Some websites base it off actual first hand information from scouts and sources. Most of the internet, however, uses “Draft Stock” an imaginary intangible term meant to quantify players on a scale derived from their own opinion that bears zero impact on the decision making process of NFL teams. Perceived “draft stock” can go up and down all day long on the internet. It’s not real. “Draft Stock” is not a NASDAQ type commodity. You can track it, but it isn’t backed by anything. It’s an educated guess that you have to hope is actually educated.

Case in point take Rob Rang of CBSSports.com’s piece titled Examining Why Michael Sam’s NFL Draft Stock Is Falling. It’s the kind of headline that’s supposed to spark some outrage as you’re whizzing through your Facebook feed. The article sites a 70 place drop in Sam’s stock on NFLDraftScout.com. Holy shit, 70 places. That’s his stock! He like… needs that maaan.

Calm down and consider a couple of things here.

  • #1 Who owns NFLDraftScout.com? CBS does. Essentially, CBS is reporting on it’s own downgrading of a player on their own grading scale.
  • #2 The article was posted at 8:00 AM the morning after this information went public. It hadn’t even been news for 24 hours. The NFL hadn’t even had time to react yet, so it’s safe to assume that this dip in “stock” is someone at DraftScout’s opinion more than anything that came from an NFL front office.
  • #3 Sam’s actual Draftscout profile still lists him as a 3-4 round projection. So unless the NFL added an extra 70 picks in the 3rd round there’s even less reason to take a drop in “draft stock” seriously.

The article doesn’t explicitly say that “draft stock” is a real thing. Rob Rang is a dedicated draft writer (despite mocking the Patriots to take Jake Locker with a first round pick which is still awful) who I don’t think would do anything overtly misleading. In fact he says some very honest things in the article. The headline, however, is enough to put a dose of angry social justice into people and garner a few thousand extra clicks.

For the record I love DraftScout and reference it daily. They’re very good at what they do and maybe there is some truth to the dip in perceived draft stock. But THE DRAFT DOESN’T HAPPEN UNTIL IT HAPPENS. People are already getting fired about about the possibility of Michael Sam going undrafted. Please…folks… settle down. The draft hasn’t even happened yet.

I’ve spoken to the editor of Walterfootball.com, a well respected site that starts preparing mock drafts a year in advance, who broke out his entire mock draft projections on Sam. They ranged from 2nd – 5th & beyond with no distinguishable pattern per se.

One final note on “draft stock” is that there is no limit to how quickly or how drastically “stock” fluctuates. This time 2 years ago Chandler Jones was a 5th round pick. He went 21st overall. Jimmy Clausen was considered a top 5 pick who fell to the middle of the 2nd round (and we eventually found out why). And last year at this time no one had even heard of University of Houston DB DJ Hayden (who almost died in a college practice) who got some attention in the press just days before the draft and went 12th overall to the Raiders.

2. Please Understand There Are Actual Football Reasons to Downgrade Michael Sam

I can’t help but shake the feeling that the internet is not only capable of but is dying to lose its collective shit when Michael Sam doesn’t go in the first two rounds. Yes, his stats are outstanding. He was the SEC defensive player of the year. And in my opinion he has one of the fastest first steps in the entire draft class. But please, opinionated masses of the internet, trust me when I say that there is more than that when considering draft picks and real reasons why there are more appealing picks than Michael Sams. Here’s a crash course on how legit NFL prospects like Sam get scrutinized by NFL scouts:

  • Inflated Stats 9 of his 11 sacks came from just 3 games. Three sacks in a game is tremendous but NFL teams like to see consistent production. All 3 of those games were blowout wins for Missouri against inferior competition. Teams pass more in blowouts and are more vulnerable to sacks.
  • Inexperience He’s a year and a half starter with only 1 year of solid production. NFL teams have a tendency to be weary of players with fewer than 2 years of strong statistical production as a starter.
  • One-Dimensional Skill Set Sam is an explosively quick DE but lacks a range of pass rush moves. Every year flashy college pass rushers fizzle out in the NFL for the simple reason that they were just more athletic in everyone in college and now they’re not. It’s not enough to just be fast or strong in the NFL. You need technique. It’s coachable, but not every player can make that leap.
  • Limited Scheme Diversity We already know he can’t play linebacker. There are two places for a player like Sam: 4-3 Defensive End and 3-4 Outside Linebacker. They’re very similar positions. The fundamental difference is that a 3-4 OLB has to be able to drop back and cover receivers. Sam already proved in the Senior Bowl that he can’t do that. That alone may take him off the board for teams that use a 3-4 defense.
  • Awards Aren’t Everything Being the SEC DPOY isn’t a guarantee. Of the 10 previous players to earn the award 8 of them were first round picks, 3 of which (Rolondo McClain, Glenn Dorsey, and David Pollack were largely considered “busts” (a term for a highly ranked player who disappoints in the NFL) in various degrees. Also Chad Lavalais lasted only 2 seasons in the NFL after being taken in the 5th round of the 2003 draft.
  • He’s Maybe Too Short For the Patriots I’m inclined to agree with Bob Kraft that the Patriots would be a great fit for a player in Sam’s situation. However, history isn’t on his side as far as his physical build. 6’2″ 255 lbs might sound really big but Bill Belichick traditionally drafts pass rushers in the 6’3″ – 6’5″ range. It might sound negligible to you, but that’s the way Coach Belichick has trended. Worth noting though is the fact that Sam has a very similar build to current Patriots starter Rob Ninkovich who, despite flourishing in New England, was not drafted by the Patriots.

    Important Disclaimer: There are exceptions to every single one of these items. These same red flags get raised on players every single year. Half of these things can be said about Jason Pierre-Paul who went in the first round and is one of the best pass rushers in the NFL right now.

    Judge for yourself:

    3. Misinformation Is Part of the Game

    Ask yourself: if a team wants to draft Michael Sam, what sense does it make for them to let the world know it? What sense does it make for them to say “We think this guy is great and can’t wait to draft him?” Every team drafting ahead of them now knows who they like and gets a chance to prioritize their picks knowing that Sam won’t make it past that team.

    NFL teams don’t admit to this but they routinely do clandestine misinformation campaigns like having an anonymous scout leak a report to the press that they’re concerned about X player because of…. “character issues,” troubling fake medical reports, concerns about his technique, etc. Just a few weeks before the 2013 draft “anonymous sources” were all of a sudden concerned that the draft’s top corner couldn’t back up in a straight line.

    It’s underhanded and unethical and sometimes ever drags a semi-innocent young man’s name through the mud. But it’s part of the process. The draft is about execs from 32 teams playing high stakes poker with eachother to make eachother guess what they’re thinking. It is 100% possible that at least one team is interested enough in Michael Sam that they’re willing to perpetuate drama on him to drive his “stock” down. Again… You won’t know until after the pick comes in and maybe not even after that.

    4. You Might Not Be Doing Him the Favor You Think You Are

    I’ve never been in an NFL locker room. I can’t tell you the difference between what they say about homosexual players in public and what they really mean. I just don’t have that knowledge. One thing I can tell you for certain that the evidence will support is that NFL teams hate media circuses. And there’s typically a 3-step process to how that plays out. Circus-Avoidance-Judgement:

    Remember Tim Tebow? He was the first Evangelical football player ever except that he wasn’t. At all. There’s an Evangelical minister in the NFL Hall of Fame. Remember Lauren Silberman? She was the first female football player ever except that she wasn’t. She had no background in football whatsoever, and didn’t even know how to do the one thing she showed up to do.

    Religious fanatics who flocked to Tebow no matter how bad he played made a joke out of the game. They created a media frenzy that was considered so toxic and undesirable that no one wanted to touch the former first round pick except the drama queen Jets, and the Patriots who shut the media blitz down immediately. TV feminists who applauded Lauren Silberman were dead wrong. If she accomplished anything it was making it impossible for any future serious female NFL prospects to ever live down the name Lauren Silberman. Kicking and screaming that the world should love a football player for exclusively non-football reasons makes us… well… hate your guts and theirs.

    5. The League Might Actually WANT A Gay Player

    Strange as it may sound, a gay NFL player might actually work out well for the league. As popular as the NFL is the company has taken a beating in the public eye in the past few years: head trauma controversy, PED use, and of course… homophobia. This has manifested itself most recently in story of Viking’s special teams coach Mike Priefer harassing former Vikings punter Chris Kluwe for his public support of gay marriage (if you’re unfamiliar with the story please see Kluwe’s first hand account via Deadspin). The scandal ostensibly forced Kluwe, a very productive and capable punter, right out of the NFL.

    There is a very real possibility that the NFL’s prayers have been answered by having an openly gay draft prospect. Teams with lingering PR issues, like the Vikings, could potentially do themselves a huge favor by landing some positive press welcoming a homosexual player onto their team. If he turns out to be good then that’s a bonus. If not, they tried.

    Walterfootball even reported that after speaking with a handful of NFL Scouts, with mixed responses, at least one team thinks [NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell] is going to be confidentially pressuring general managers to not let Sam fall so low to avoid a public-relations problem and allegations of discrimination. Is this ideal? Of course not. Really we’d like to see a player appreciated on his merits. But I’d just like to make the case that a homophobic agenda isn’t an inevitability just because it’s football.

    Again, these are things the public won’t know until well after the draft if ever.

    6. Maybe Accept the Idea That All Football Fans Aren’t Bigots

    I get the feeling that there is still a generalized view of football fans as mindless BBQ fingered red faced Fox News watching macho maniacs. 13 million people watch Monday Night Football every week. We come from different parts of the country with different backgrounds, experiences, and world views. We’re your neighbors co-workers and friends. This football fan in particular has two lesbian aunts that I love very dearly. Think of how many people you share an office and a Facebook with that play fantasy football. Do you think that they turn into bloodthirsty homophobes when your back is turned?

    There will probably be people that shout homophobic things at Sam from the stands. They’re in the minority. There will probably chunks of overzealous Christians that will threaten to boycott the league over it. They’re in the minority (and BUH BYYYE WE’LL MISSS YOUUUU). The rest of us aren’t here for a political soap opera, hate speech, or to make our last stand at the heterosexual Alamo. We just want to watch a game, and if Michael Sam can play some football worth watching he’s always welcome here. So maybe chill with the assumptions and homophobic stereotyping.

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Mike Klis Is A Hypocrite & The Denver Media Is Just Hard To Watch


It’s been a real pleasure to deal with the Denver Press in 2 of the last 3 post seasons. From the team that was nailed for salary cap violations and signal stealing dusting off Spygate (again), to the latest fairy tale of kindly “Uncle Foxy’s” heart breaking for his team, it’s just been a blast interacting with maybe the least knowledgeable sports journalism town without an office in New Jersey. As funny as it is, it’s really just hard to watch.

Hey… Remember 2 years ago, when the Patriots hired offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to help with the 2011 playoff run and the Denver media turned into one big long Morrisey song crying their eyes out? I do. Denver had a serious ethical dilemma with a team hiring a guy who had some first hand knowledge of a playoff opponent. I say some because McDaniels had been removed from Denver for an entire season and a half. McDaniels was fired Dec 7th, 2010. The game in question was January 14th, 2012. I’ll stop there because I wrote about it in depth, back when it actually happened. Hiring a coach that late is a little strange, but well within the NFL rules. In fact, it was reviewed that off season by the competition committee who actually declined to change the rule.

Here is what Denver Post writer Mike Klis had to say about it before the game:

It’s two years later and New England and Denver find themselves head to head again in the playoffs. Two days after officializing an AFCCG matchup against New England the Broncos made a very interesting free agent signing in former Patriots DB/ST Marquice Cole. I have no beef with this move. Cole is a very good special teamer and has playoff experience as a DB. He’s young with a limited skill set and should absolutely, as Aqib Talib put it “Get that check, baby.”

But wait a minute. Isn’t this exactly the kind of thing Mike Klis fell to his knees and begged the league to outlaw? Isn’t this a blow to fairness and competition? Isn’t this more of an underhanded “so Belichick” kind of move rather than an Uncle Foxy night of bouncing Shannon Sharpe on his knee at the deaf orphan soup kitchen? A guy with inside knowledge of one team catching on with another team just before they go to battle? Won’t someone please think of the children?!

In a shock to absolutely no one, Klis was singing a different tune this time around.

You love that there’s not much he can do to help out?? What happened Denver? What happened Patriots haters? What happened “spirit of fair competition? Did you somewhere in the last 2 years accept the concept that not everything is the Kennedy assassination? That you can actually figure out things about a football team by watching them play? Where’s the outrage that burned so prominently and attention-grabbing-ly two years ago?

The only thing that’s different about the two situations is that Cole has actually been to a Patriots practice THIS YEAR and could tell you about the team the Patriots fielded THIS YEAR. McDaniels knew next to nothing about a completely remodeled offense and defense from his time in Denver. Figuring out the present Broncos was nothing that, as Cole points out and Klis just loooooves, couldn’t be figured out just by scouting and film. This should put into perspective just how petty and ridiculous the McDaniels crying was, what a troop of hypocrites and click-baiters Mike Klis and the Denver Post are, and just how sad it is to see a grown man whimper about a double standard because it doesn’t work out for his football team.

For the record Denver fans have been a little testy about the Patriots grabbing Greg Orton a WR released from the Denver practice squad. Orton was signed on Dec 31st, before there was ever even a guarantee that the two teams would meet. Kudos to Mike Klis for having the self control not to write another scathing op-ed, although in all fairness judging by his demonstrated football I.Q. Klis probably has no idea who is on the Denver practice squad.

P.S. A sincere thank you to everyone who has been sharing and reading my last piece on the truth about Peyton Manning. It more than doubled my all time record for views in a day and is somehow still going strong. It’s an honor for this hack amateur know-nothing blogger to think that anyone gets a few minutes of enjoyment out of what I write. Please feel free to follow the Patskrieg Facebook for more frequent updates.

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PEYTON MANNING: Here He Is America… The Guy You Sided With Over Tom Brady


Freud wrote volumes on it: how we view ourselves in others. Pro wrestling blessed us with a much simpler dichotomy: Babyfaces (the hero, the charismatic crowd favorite) and Heels (the bad guy that finds that raw nerve inside you and sinks his teeth in). I once had a long and shockingly deep talk about wrestling with my friend Joe who wrestling fans might know as Joey Numbas, co-host of the Wrestling Soup show. We talked about what makes a Babyface, and soon enough Brady came up. On the surface the supernaturally handsome Brady looks like an easy fit for a babyface: looks, a quiet charm, an underdog past. But somewhere along the lines people (outside New England that is) just stopped seeing him that way. “The nature of people is to cheer what they like to be, and boo what they hate most about themselves,” Joe said to me. “The only time it doesn’t work is when the bright eyed babyface is too strong,” he continued “the whole country hates Tom Brady because he’s too good, and you need your babyface to suck enough that people care.” Did Brady do himself in? The three Super Bowl rings. The super model wife. A combined fortune big enough for neither of them to ever have to work again. A .768 career winning percentage. Did a life that was just too perfect turn him heel? If the internet is any indication of real life (and according to the internet it very much is) Brady had super kicked the NFL world through a barbershop window.

Tom Brady. Peyton Manning. Two QB’s intertwined for eternity as the elite QB’s of the 21st century. Yet we’re led to believe that one is a cheating pretty boy that a crooked league wants to put over like a scheming Vince McMahon. And the other is Peyton Manning: class act, pedigreed super star, and the only man capable of reading a defense without stealing their signals. Being a Brady hater certainly doesn’t make you a Manning fan by default. However, it is my opinion that Manning has been afforded a free pass by an America that either ignores or just plain chooses not to know certain things about the man thought of as Brady’s stalwart foil. So I thought we should reacquaint ourselves before this Sunday’s AFC Championship. So here he is America… The guy you sided with over Tom Brady.


Peyton Manning: The Guy With A History of Sexual Assault

Oh you didn’t know about this? Well then I’ll lead off with it because a lot of people don’t seem to either. This includes the same NFL analysts that never miss a chance to recall Spygate choose not to remember Manning’s sticky past. In fact, this developmental milestone is completely absent from Manning’s Wikipedia article. But it happened. In 1996 Peyton Manning, while in college at the University of Tennessee, was accused of sexual assault by a female trainer. Manning’s side of the story was that he was in the training room and dropped his pants to moon a cross country athlete as a prank, unbeknownst to the fact that the female trainer was in the same room. Whoops. The testimony of trainer Jamie Ann Naughright, however, was much different:

Naughright and her lawyer provided a different version of events. In a court filing, her lawyer wrote that she was examining Manning to see why Manning was having pain in one of his feet and was crouched behind him when “entirely unprovoked, Peyton Manning decided to pull down his shorts and sit on Dr. Naughright’s head and face.”

As Naughright described it in a deposition entered into the court record: “It was the gluteus maximus, the rectum, the testicles and the area in between the testicles. And all that was on my face when I pushed him up. … To get leverage, I took my head out to push him up and off.”

You read that correctly. The trainer bent over to check him for a stress fracture in his foot and he planted his bare ass (testicles and all) on her face as a laugh. The incident was dubbed a “mooning” by a Tennessee football coach in an effort to downplay the severity of what happened. The University of Tennessee agreed and dubbed the incident “horseplay” (as quoted by the Assoc. Press) and no charges were filed. A year later Naughright sued UT citing 33 incidents of sexual harassment including Manning. Her case was convincing enough to land her a $300,000 settlement.

Scandals have become synonymous with Ben Roethelisberger, Ray Lewis, Michael Vick, etc and yes they all deserve it. Manning’s sexual assault, although thoroughly documented, is neither common knowledge nor readily associated with him. Have you ever heard a journalist so much as mention it, much less pour it on as in Lewis’ mere association to a crime? What exactly earned Manning the free pass from a career of rape jokes and scrutiny?


Peyton Manning: The Guy Who Got Sued For Defamation of Character By the Woman He Sexually Assaulted

You didn’t know that either? In 2002 the Mannings had an auto-biography ghost written for them called Manning: A Father, His Sons & a Football Legacy (currently available for $0.01 used on Amazon, cool legacy). The book addressed the teabagging/mooning and very slyly without naming her outright slammed Naughright as an individual with a love of dirty language and lewd behavior. If you’re new to rape culture that’s the long way of saying “She was asking for it.” Naughright’s superior at Southern Florida, her new place of work at the time, had reportedly received a mysterious sealed envelope that contained the passages in Manning’s book about her. Despite favorable reviews throughout the several years she worked there she was suspiciously demoted shortly after and then eventually fired. She took the Mannings to court on a defamation case that included a devastating letter from Malcolm Saxon (the guy Peyton claimed he was “mooning”) to Peyton urging to him “do the right thing” and “maintain some dignity and admit what happened.” The defamation case was settled on confidential undisclosed terms. Considering the $300K Tennessee shelled out I can only imagine what the Manning royal family handed over to make her go away.


Peyton Manning: The Guy Who Can’t Not Endorse EVERYTHING

Gatorade, Oreos, DirecTV, Sony, Wheaties, Buick, Reebok, Sprint, Master Card, Papa Fucking John’s… I LOVE products! That’s the list off the top of my head of products he cashes checks from. He’s on TV 24 hours a day orange barrel re-routing into one side of your brain and out the other. Peyton has reached that late 90’s Hugh Grant level of unwanted over saturation where you can literally change the channel from one commercial of Peyton and find another at random on the next channel and not want to see either, and he’s been there for a long time. You can helplessly repeat in sync “Haay Peyton, just fiiired up the grill” followed by a fist pump your brain doesn’t even know you’re doing. But tell me who are cynical football fans sick of? Tom Brady. The guy who does Uggs print ads because he’s too much of a goof to be trusted on camera. People who associate Brady as some kind of too-cool Hollywood glitterati must not have been alive for the most wooden and painful to watch episode of Saturday Night Live this side of 1990. An acting performance once dubbed by former teammate Rosevelt Colvin in the Boston Metro (I am not going looking for the Metro article to cite) as “Terrible… Not even good enough to be in Coming to America II.”


Peyton Manning: The Guy Whose Team Cheated and Never Got Caught

There’s only so many times by so many teams that you can be accused of generating fake crowd noise into your dome before someone needs to take note of it. The RCA Dome, the former home of the Manning era Colts was a funhouse of surprises for visiting teams. This included, as ESPN noted after a very public audio blunder by CBS (clip no longer available on Youtube), several teams informally but only the Patriots and Steelers formerly lodging such a complaint. This was a year after there was suspicion that the Colts, in an effort to put the squeeze on several Patriots defenders battling the flu during the AFC Championship (game which featured a miraculous 18 point comeback in the 2nd half) the Colts had the temperature in the dome raised significantly. Rosevelt Colvin had to leave the game with cramps because of the heat… in a dome… an architectural concept invented solely for controlling weather and climate.

Belichick complained for years about oddities and suspicious malfunctions of the coach to QB helmet communications, calling it “unusual” and “basically useless” after an early season game in 2007 (won by the Patriots). Apparently the same Indian burial ground that the RCA Dome was founded on migrated to Lucas Oil Stadium where the communication problems continued. For more information Google “4th and 2.”


Peyton Manning: The Guy Who Never Yells At His Teammates

I don’t get what the fascination is with Brady yelling at his receivers but Patriot haters can’t stop themselves from bringing it up. It’s a really blood boiling point of focus for casual football fans longing for anything but football to watch, but don’t have the guts to just get it over with and let their friends see them buying an US Magazine. For them, professionals like Peyton would never yell at his teammates…

Ever.

Not even in a 2002 Sports Illustrated article when a team of lip readers caught Manning dropping the F bomb no fewer than 9 times in a game.


Peyton Manning: The Guy Who ACUTALLY Influenced the No-Contact Rules

Everyone knows if Tom Brady hadn’t been such a Mary about getting his ACL eradicated life would be better. We wouldn’t have all these pansy “roughing the quarterback” calls. Eggheads wouldn’t be butting in with all this “concussion” B.S. Football players would have guaranteed permanent debilitating brain damage to look forward to. And everything would be a big bacon sunset. Right?

People gripe about the so-called “Brady Rules” implemented in the last few years designed to protect quarterbacks from flagrant and dangerous hits. That’s all well and good except that it’s bullshit. Low hits on quarterbacks were outlawed for the 2006 season, 2 years before Brady’s injury. Long enough for Bernard Pollard to read it. And it wasn’t until 2010 (2 years AFTER Brady’s ACL injury) that the league started handing out 5 and 6 figure fines for hits to the head. This was damage control after public pressure to combat the effects of irreversible brain damage caused from the game. Brady never lobbied for any of these rules. He did, however, pay for them with a pointless devastating knee injury that cost him a full season in his prime. The downside of these rules is that it gives the officials a non-reviewable opportunity to judge a hit on the quarterback in real time, leading to a lot of bad calls and yes Brady has benefitted from a few so has Manning, so have a lot of teams. The other downside is that it forces 2nd rate teams to have to develop a quarterback instead of just injuring other teams’ quarterbacks. It’s a real bum out for some fans who apparently would rather see a league full of Damon Huard’s and Derek Anderson’s behind center while all the starting quarterbacks are in body casts.

Chest puffing fans and the media tend to leave out a very important stepping stone in contact rules, and the fact that Colts owner Jim Irsay lobbied for it. Namely I refer to the 2004 re-evaluation of the illegal contact rules for defending recievers. There were rules for illegal contact prior to this, but referees were generally more permissive and held a “let them play” attitude (that fans are still screaming for today). However, after a Colts loss in the 2003 AFC Championship game owner Jim Irsay cried publicly to the NFL Competition Committee for a re-emphasis on illegal contact. The committee, which featured Colts head coach Tony Dungy and then Rams coach Mike Martz (who 3 years prior had lost to the Patriots in the Super Bowl) of course granted this request. And there it was… a handful of people with a vested biased interest refocused the game to fit their needs and significantly decrease the physical nature of the game.

The results of this ruling were longer games, more penalties, more non-reviewable violations that could effect a game at any time, a dramatic shift in the game in favor of the offense, exponentially increasing passing statistics, and of course a critical “face guarding” penalty on Ellis Hobbs in the 2006 AFCCG which sparked a Colts comeback on their way to Manning’s 1st and only Super Bowl win… a penalty that there was “no such thing as” according to Greg Aiello NFL Vice President of Communications who admitted that Hobbs never made contact with the receiver. It’s also worth noting that after several days of searching there is no video or photographic evidence of the phantom PI on Hobbs. I wonder why.


Peyton Manning: The Man Who Almost Got Away With Stealing the 2005 Steelers Super Bowl Run

January 15th, 2006. Steelers at Indianapolis. A date that almost lived in NFL infamy. With the Colts driving down the field in the 4th quarter, future Hall of Fame-er Peyton Manning throws an interception to a diving Troy Polamalu. He caught the ball cleanly, stood up, ran down the field, fumbled, and had the ball recovered by his teammates. The Steelers would have had the ball at their own 48 with 5:14 remaining in the game and an 11 point lead. Referee Pete Morelli reviewed the play, and ruled that Polamalu never had control of the ball.

Morelli was wrong. The NFL immediately admitted the call was wrong. This was 2006, and the NFL rarely made such public admissions, and opposing players even more rarely accused the referees of defrauding the game after a win. No video or photographic evidence exists of this play anywhere on the internet that I could find. Yet it didn’t stop the Colts from completing their fraudulent drive with a touchdown, and coming within 1 missed field goal of stealing a playoff win and letting slimey Jim Irsay re-write history with Manning as the hero. SBNation named it the #2 Greatest Win In Steelers History for upsetting both Manning and the officials in an upsidedown affair that was a victory for real football fans everywhere.


Peyton Manning: The Guy Whose Legacy of Sketchy League Treatment Followed Him To Denver

Any Patriot hater worth his throbbing forehead vein and capslock key knows that the weekly injury report from Foxboro means a Tom Brady shoulder injury. The injustice… How about a failed drug test that took 2 years to disclose. I refer you to Von Miller’s four game suspension earlier this year in regards to a series of failed drug tests that were never made public. PFT’s Mike Florio opined on the matter:

[I]t’s still unclear why it has taken so long to get the appeal resolved. In late 2011, there was some suspicion that the league tapped the brakes on a couple of potential suspensions in order to avoid derailing Tebowmania. In 2012, the Broncos were among the league’s darlings, given the arrival of Peyton Manning.

New team. New colors. Same story. The league openly bends time and space for Manning. The story goes away and your regularly scheduled Patriots conspiracy theories resume.

UPDATE 10/08/14: You can also count the Broncos as the team whose Vice President of Football Operations’ son privately got away with assaulting his girlfriend and dragging her out of the car by her hair. John Elway III (24 year old son of former NFL Superstar and current Broncos exec John Elway) ended an argument with his girlfriend on the night of May 31, 2014 by dragging her out of the car by her hair and shoving her to the ground. Something like this normally makes national headlines and lands somebody a serious assault charge on their record. But when you have Daddy Elway type money, and a Colorado judicial system that worships said rich daddy you can get away with secretly getting your court date moved up to a private hearing off the court docket and having your assault charge reduced to a misdemeanor “disturbing the peace.” If you’re looking for the number of times Jonathan Kraft has beaten a woman I’ll save you the Googling and let you know that it’s zero. I guess there’s just something about being a spoiled baby that gets whatever he wants that breeds that kind of behavior in their spoiled baby children.

And last but not least please don’t ever forget the team you’ve sided with…

The Denver Broncos: The Team That Stole Signals, Won Two Super Bowls, And Bragged About it


“Our guy keeps a pair of binoculars on their signal-callers every game,” says Broncos coach Mike Shanahan. “With any luck, we have their defensive signals figured out by halftime. Sometimes, by the end of the first quarter.”

Sound familiar to anyone? Another fact you rarely hear. You’d think the Broncos fans and press might be a little quieter with the Spygate talk considering their team won a pair of Super Bowls using nearly the exact same tactics that the Patriots were condemned for. I’ll hand it over to Jerry Thorton at Barstool Sports to remind you of the $29 million in cap money Denver hid to win those 2 Super Bowls too.

Disclaimer & Tl;DR: I actually have an immense respect for Peyton Manning the football player. I’ve always been impressed by the story Manning going out of his way to introduce himself to Brady when he was a nobody. He probably (maybe) regrets the whole teabagging incident. And if he offered I’d probably take a ride in his Buick while we get OnStar directions to go egg Mike Vanderjagt’s house. But if you think you’re taking the high road by siding with Manning over Brady you’re barking up the wrong forehead.

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Football is Great. But Pay Attention to What’s Important This Thanksgiving

My Nana (in the middle) in her back yard. Cambridge, MA. A long long time ago.

It was Thanksgiving 2010 and the Patriots had drawn a softball matchup with the Detroit Lions. It was a 12:30 game and I was told we weren’t eating until 3:00. I could cram in most of the game, fly out of the house around 2:00 with the Pats presumably sitting on a triple digit lead and make it to my cousin’s house with time to spare. But somehow the sure thing blowout started to go wrong.

At 1:30 I started getting phone calls from my family wondering where the hell I was. They were “waiting for me” to eat. On top of that Detroit got an early jump on a sleepy New England team and went to the half with a 17-10 lead. I punched a few walls, begrudgingly put on a wrinkled sweater and took off up 95-N with a vengeance.

Screaming down the highway my brother called me, again, asking where I was. I told him I was almost there and right on cue missed the exit as I was hanging up the phone. I yelled and punched the steering wheel calming down just in time to hear Brady connect with Deion Branch for a game tying 79 yard touchdown over the radio. I gave the horn a celebration honk as I blew through a red light to make a U-turn at the bottom of an off-ramp somewhere.

The Pats had the ball on the Detroit 20 yard line as I screeched to a stop outside my cousins house. I punched the radio off and stormed into the house, putting on the blinders and heading straight for the crowd gathered around the TV. Brady his Branch right by the sticks for his second touchdown and the lead was ours.

I walked right past my Nana who was sitting sleepily in a rocking chair.

I took my ribbing from my family about being “late” and fired back that they should have just been honest about what time I was supposed to be there. I could have stopped and said hi to my Nana then and I didn’t. All of a sudden food was being served and it was time to sit down. I wasn’t proud of walking past her. She was always the first person I sought out to sit with and have the same conversation we always seemed to have in her later years. “Oh Michael!” she’d say laughing in a first generation Italian accent that doesn’t exist anymore “I mean Danny!” my brother’s name, “you startled me!” Somehow I was always startling her. “How are you?” I’m great Nana. “Where’s Danny… I mean Michael… is he coming?” Danny’s right over there. I’m Michael and I’m right here. She’d laugh and ask me if I was “going with any girls these days?” And then the whole thing would repeat itself, and she’d laugh every time. One missing hello wouldn’t be the end of the world.

I was there for a few hours as I watched her drift in and out of sleep. Even from across the room I could see that she was more lethargic than usual sitting in the rocking chair that would have been occupied by my grandfather who had passed away a year prior. Every time she woke up I was already in the middle of something else, and assumed that there was still plenty of time to go talk to her. She slept most of the day as the family swirled around her, talking loudly and clanging dishes pots and pans cleaning up the short lived Thanksgiving meal. Eventually it would finally be time to leave, so I woke my Nana up from her nap to say goodbye. “Oh Michael,” she said with an exhausted laugh “I don’t know why I’m so tired today.” I told her she should get her rest and that I just wanted to see how she was doing and say goodbye. She told me she was sorry she was so tired and she would talk to me next time.

The next morning I woke up to a phone call from my brother. My Nana had died. Sometime in the middle of the night she had gotten up walked down the hall and her body just gave out. We had no warning. She died in the house she had lived in her whole life steps away from the kitchen she had been born in.

45-24 Patriots was the final score. I don’t think about that game much. I think about taking my first bus trips holding my Nana’s hand through Harvard Square and I know that for as long as I’m alive I’ll never get over not giving her a hug and a kiss the minute I walked in the door. Today I’ve got a fancy technology desk job at a place where my grandfather, her husband, once worked as a janitor. I hope somewhere she knows that it’s my way of telling her what I never got to articulate while she was here; that I appreciated all the love and sacrifice that she passed down so my brother and I could one day have a better life. The clock ran out, and I never got the chance.

It’s Thanksgiving and football is great. But make sure you give the most of your attention to the people and things that matter most. There won’t always be time.

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One Absolute Truth About Push-Gate: It Kills the Tuck Rule Debate

If You Accept the Push Rule – You Accept the Tuck Rule.


Patriot Haters have a vivid and celebrated imagination. And just like nothing tops charm of the original Star Wars, nothing will beat the origins of the Patriot Hater fantasy series: The Tuck Rule Game. In the closing minutes of a divisional playoff game the Raiders appeared to cause a young Tom Brady to cough up a game ending fumble, only to have it all reversed. Introducing the Tuck Rule: a bizarre never before heard of (except that it wasn’t) technicality that allowed the referee to interpret via instant replay the intent of the QB to attempt to pull the ball back into his body. Even saying it out loud in hindsight it makes no sense. Why would anyone put this in the rules? And yet, it was still a rule.

2013’s Push Gate had Patriots Nation crying foul. The controversy exposed a spontaneous emergence of NFL rules aficionados, that I could have sworn a week ago were conspiracy happy zealots convinced the rules didn’t apply to the Patriots. Ever. Their new rally cry: “rules are rules” and “let’s move on”. Okay, you win. 913 (b2) is in the rulebook. Let’s accept that. Let’s “move on.” Despite reports that the rule may have been changed after the fact, everything appears to be on the level with the actual rule.

But Here’s The Thing…

You know what else was in the rulebook? The Tuck Rule. Contrary to popular opinion the Tuck Rule was not a figment of referee Walt Coleman’s imagination invented to save the day for Tom Brady. The rule officially became a part of the NFL rules and procedures in 1999: NFL Rule 3, Section 22, Article 2, Note 2. It was in place for almost 3 years before the January 19, 2002 AFC Divisional Playoff Game between the Patriots and Raiders when the rule became famous. It was even enforced earlier in the 2002 season to negate a strip sack on Jets QB Vinny Testaverde that actually cost New England the game.

It was a very curious time to enforce an obscure rule with a vague premise. As Jon Gruden put it during week 1’s MNF broadcast while discussing the rule’s abolishment in 2013 “No one alive had ever heard of the Tuck Rule.” He’s not wrong. How would anyone have known about a rule that had barely been enforced in the 2 years it existed? But it was in the rule book, and it was in the rule book well before the “Tuck Rule Game.”

Of course the Tuck Rule debut looked bad. Why wouldn’t it? The season was on the line and one bizarre speech by a ref who didn’t even look convinced of his own rationale changed everything. It very well should have raised an eyebrow. It was a terrible rule. The NFL even had the motive to want to screw the Raiders. That’s the thing so many folks either don’t realize or choose to forget. Al Davis and the NFL publicly butted heads for years through multiple lawsuits and cat fights. The legal battles alone likely cost the NFL millions. If the Tuck Rule was a conspiracy then really the most probable rationale was to stick it to Al Davis, rather than to elevate unknown 6th round pick Tom Brady to stardom. The Raiders still aren’t over it. No one blames them. But guess what… It was in the rule book.

Now let me get to my point.

Fast forward to October 2013. The Jets attempt a 56 yard field goal in OT, well outside kicker Nick Folk’s career limit, and a seemingly normal missed field goal turns into a point of controversy. Something practically unnoticeable hands the game over to the Jets. Mike Pereira (who would defend Aaron Hernandez if he owned a black & white striped Foot Locker uni) insists that the call was correct, and points out that it was the first time the rule was ever called:

The timing of this spontaneous enforcement of the rule should set off red flags with any football fan. It essentially cancelled out 4+ quarters of football and rolled out a red carpet for a Jets win. Any fan who pretends this doesn’t look suspicious, or that they knew about the rule in depth, or that they could spot this rule infraction in real time is lying through their teeth.

But why get upset at the officials? All they did was enforce a published and documented rule. Right? Therein lies the logic trap, Pats Haters. If you accept that the referees did their job last Sunday, then you accept that they did their job with the Tuck Rule. Grit your teeth and do the math.

Nothing changes here. The levity of the game shouldn’t make any difference. Unveiling a rule that had up until then never once been called should look suspicious. Saying that the Jets won the game by the book is fine, and technically correct in every way. But if that’s the logic you subscribe to then you don’t get to pick and choose when the rules matter and when they don’t. If the Jets beat the Patriots fair and square then Brady’s 2001-2002 Patriots beat the Raiders. Fair and square. By the rules.

If you want to waive the rules in our face, fine. The rules are great. We’re nothing without them. Hooray for rules. But there’s no way around it IF YOU ACCEPT THAT THE PUSH RULE WAS VALID. THEN YOU ACCEPT THAT THE TUCK RULE WAS VALID. You don’t have to like it, but no one ever likes the rules. Do they? So “move on” from that already.

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Five Questions No One Is Asking About the Buffalo Game

1. So Ryan Wendell Forget How to Snap A Football?

A year ago we reluctantly gave Wendell the benefit of the doubt when the former UDFA and multiple time practice squad member took over one of the most difficult/important jobs in the league as Brady’s center. It paid off great. He was outstanding last year and sent longtime anchor Dan Koppen packing. The O-line was stronger than ever. But what the hell happened yesterday? Wendell’s snaps were consistently low or off target. Brady is good enough to adjust on the fly but not even the best can deal with it all game. It seemed like any time he had to lineup in shotgun the snap was guaranteed low or off target. That’s dangerous in a timing route system and even more so against a pass rush that came as fast as Buffalo did Sunday. They were bringing multiple pass rushers consistently and getting good penetration all over. To me that was where this game started to go wrong. The seconds lost salvaging a bad snap were throwing off the synch of the offense early and often. Which leads me to…

2. What the Hell Was the Rush To Get That Goal Line Snap Off?

It was fourth and goal in a critical situation. A full play clock to work with. Wendell was struggling with his snaps all day. And the Patriots rush to the line of scrimmage and snap the ball with 13 seconds left on the play clock? WHY? Settle down and run the play correctly. And even then, I’m still curious as to what exactly the play was. If you look at the replay you’ll see Develin take off on the strong side with Blount behind him. If they had run this play they had a touchdown. Develin found his gap correctly and had a linebacker blocked. All Blount would have had to do was truck a DB and it was 6 points. But I’m not certain that’s what the call was. Blount appears to be running full speed behind Develin and doesn’t turn his head towards Brady until he sees the fumble. Look how far away he is from the ball.

The only other play I can think of would have been a Brady misdirection type sneak out of the weak side. They’ve run it before with success. But here it would have been doomed. Look at the far side of the defense: #25 Da’Norris Searcy was right there waiting for it.

He’s lined up wide of the tackle, but the fact that he didn’t jump immediately makes me think he was was almost in a spy assignment waiting for something sneaky to come through that back door. The play was completely doomed unless they actually calmed down and checked into another play with the 13 seconds they had left. That’s all very very easy for me to sit here and say in hindsight but the fact is they had the time to settle down and run the play right and they rushed it.

3. Has Doug Marrone Ever Watched A Patriots Game?

I ask this for a couple reasons. First and foremost, anyone with a 5th grade understanding of the game knows you do whatever you have to do to keep Brady off the field. Especially in the 4th quarter. ESPECIALLY WITH A LEAD. Buffalo had a 4 point lead with 11:03 left in the 3rd quarter. They had 4 possessions to chew up as much time as they could and did the following:

  • 6 plays. 27 yards. 2:46 elapsed.
  • 3 plays. -2 yards. 1:00 elapsed.
  • 6 plays. 18 yards. 1:58 elapsed.
  • 3 plays. 4 yards. 1:11 elapsed.

DRIVE TOTALS: 18 plays. 47 yards. 6:55 TOP
AVERAGE: 23 seconds per play. 2.61 yards per play

Part of this was the defense doing its job and coming up with stops when it had to. But what kind of rocks do you need to have in your brain to know that this wasn’t the time to make a statement about your awesome no-huddle offense? Run the ball. Go with some high percentage plays. Chew up the clock. If you don’t Brady is happy to do it for you.

And did Marrone even take a peak at the AFCCG or maybe Scott Chandler’s track record against the Patriots? New England struggles against tight ends on the regular. They were the 29th ranked team against TE’s a year ago with the exact same safety personnel. Chandler had 4 touchdowns in 5 career games against the Patriots and they barely even looked at him. Who set up their first touchdown drive with a 19 yard reception? Surprise. Scott Chandler. What works works even if throwing to a big bulky white guy doesn’t fit your Fast & Furious dream offense. Marrone should have gotten the game ball from Belichick. No question. MVP performance.

4. How Did CBS Actually Get Worse At Broadcasting Football?

If I had the patience or the stomach I’d go back and re-watch the game to count how many different names Dan Dierdorf called KenBRELL Thompkins other than his own. I understand the kid isn’t Jerry Rice if you did your homework at all you knew Thompkins was going to get a lot of looks that day. Do your homework and learn his name.

And holy shit do any of the producers actually watch football? The sideline camera ops were totally out of position to get a useable replay angle the entire game. The first Ridley “fumble” went to break without even checking the replay. They come back from a 60 second break with a replay of Ridley’s ass hitting the ground and half the Buffalo defense eclipsing the play. That was the replay they chose to lead with with an entire break to think about it. This went on for the entire game. I’ve worked on major market sports broadcasts before. The camera director meets with all the camera ops before the game and gives them their individual assignments. Somehow with all those cameras they consistently found ways to get bad angles on every replay and really not seem to care that they were producing a garbage product.

Also, I get that white uniforms in a day game don’t translate very well to video but CBS day games always look like butts. The camera is either washed out or too dark. I’m also in the minority of people that refuse to pay for an HD set top box from Comcast after paying $90 a month to watch SD broadcasts on an HDTV. So I get to deal with macroblocking and image artifacts all game because if you’re not watching HDTV in 2013 no one cares about you. Still the FOX broadcast looked 100 fold better and that was played in broad daylight as well. FOX also had the foresight to include some actual stats with its score ticker to accommodate the ultra underground little known cult phenomenon known as fantasy football.

5. How Did Brandon Spikes Get Dehydrated In the First Quarter?

Fifty Five plays with about 300% intensity on average, so I’ll almost always give him the benefit of the doubt. But this should never happen. If he was dealing with the flu or something then sit him. The last thing this team needs right now is a flu outbreak. Patriots S&C coach has been very vocal about the importance of proper hydration in his players, so I find it very hard to believe that this was a matter of improper game prep on Spikes’ part. This was a really bizarre turn of events and tells me that someone isn’t doing their job somewhere. Whoever it is, they’re on a lengthy list right now.

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