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Browns could still be suitors for Jimmy Garoppolo after Brock Osweiler trade 03.09.17 at 4:24 pm ET
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Brock Osweiler signed a $72 million contract with the Texans last year. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Brock Osweiler signed a $72 million contract with the Texans last year. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The Browns have traded for a quarterback, but it might not take them out of the running for Jimmy Garoppolo.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Browns have acquired Brock Osweiler, a 2018 second-round pick and 2017 sixth-round selection from the Texans in exchange for a fourth-rounder this year. Cleveland, which had over $100 million in cap space entering free agency, will take on the entirety of Osweiler’s contract.

Osweiler, 26, was abysmal in Houston last season, completing only 59 percent of his passes and posting a QB rating of 72.2.

With those numbers in mind, it’s apparent the Browns aren’t counting on him to be their next franchise quarterback –– or even start next season. Schefter reports Cleveland will likely try to trade Osweiler, though it remains uncertain how many suitors they’ll be for his services. With the Bears signing Mike Glennon and the 49ers bringing Brian Hoyer aboard, it looks like Osweiler’s market will be limited.

Given the Browns’ plethora of cap space, they could be willing to pay Osweiler his full $16 million salary this season and then cut bait with him next year, or cut him now.

Essentially, they’ve bought Houston’s 2018 second-round pick, which is a strategy teams often employ in the NBA.

Throughout the last several months, the Browns have been viewed as a likely destination for Garoppolo. That still doesn’t change, despite Osweiler’s presence. It seems like he was acquired just so Cleveland could secure another draft pick. The Browns are still apparently looking for a quarterback, and Garoppolo remains one of the most enticing options out there. That is, if the Patriots make him available.

Read More: Brock Osweiler, Cleveland Browns, Jimmy Garoppolo, New England Patriots
Scouting Report: What you have to know about Texans-Patriots 01.13.17 at 3:01 pm ET
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Tom Brady will make the 32nd postseason start of his career Saturday against Houston. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Tom Brady will make the 32nd postseason start of his career Saturday against Houston. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Everything you need to know for Saturday’s divisional playoff contest between the Patriots and Texans at Gillette Stadium.

WHEN THE PATRIOTS RUN THE BALL

This may not be a big component of the game in the early going, but it will be before things are all said and done. LeGarrette Blount (299 carries, 1,161 rushing yards, a league-high 18 rushing touchdowns) was able to run for big yardage when these two teams met back in September (24 carries, 105 yards, 2 TDs), and while it’s dicey to try and compare these two teams now to what happened a few months ago, stats tell us that the Texans are still vulnerable when it comes to rush defense; they finished the year 12th in the NFL against the run, yielding an average of 99.7 rushing yards per game. One thing with Blount, as we saw in September? There are few guys in the league better when it comes to executing in a four-minute offense. In the second half of that win over Houston, he had 17 carries for 94 yards and a pair of touchdowns. It’s not so much Blount’s total yards that matter, but when he gets them. One other guy worth watching will be Dion Lewis (64 carries, 283 yards), who got a significant uptick in reps between the tackles over the last month of the season as a changeup offering to the wrecking-ball approach of Blount.

WHEN THE PATRIOTS PASS THE BALL

If they’re all healthy, we’re an advocate for the idea of dressing all five receivers and giving New England the sort of depth in the passing game that they haven’t had in a playoff game in a long time. Basically, give Tom Brady (67 percent completion rate, 3,554 passing yards, 28 TDs, 2 INTs) as many options as possible when it comes to the quick hitters; you get the ball out as fast as possible, it minimizes the chances of the Houston pass rush getting after the quarterback. Expect the bulk of the targets to go to Julian Edelman (98 catches, 159 targets, 1,106 yards, 3 TDs), who has been as rock solid as they come over the second half of the season. Martellus Bennett (55 catches, 73 targets, 701 yards, 7 TDs) and Chris Hogan (38 catches, 58 targets, 680 yards, 4 TDs) will also figure into the mix.

Over the course of the season, the Texans were second against the pass (201.6 yards allowed per game), while their 17 takeaways were tied for 26th in the league. Safety Quentin Demps, who has been dogged by a hamstring issue, leads Houston with six interceptions. Per Football Outsiders, the Texans aren’t great at slowing backs in the passing game, which means there could be more chances for Lewis (17 catches) and James White (60 catches) on Saturday. Meanwhile, Whitney Mercilus (7.5 sacks), Jadaveon Clowney (6 sacks) and Benardrick McKinney (5 sacks) lead one of the better pass rush groups in the league. Look for lots of heavy sets with an extra blocker (Cam Fleming) when it comes to helping the tackles keep Brady as clean as possible. For what it’s worth, Brady has gone up against a Romeo Crennel-led defense on three occasions, and has averaged 20-for-32 (63 percent) for 242 yards, just over two touchdowns, no interceptions and two sacks per game.

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Read More: A.J. Bouye, Brock Osweiler, Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola
DL Alan Branch appears to be OK after missing two practices in last week 01.11.17 at 3:21 pm ET
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Alan Branch

Alan Branch

FOXBORO — Defensive lineman Alan Branch, who missed last Thursday’s practice, as well as Tuesday’s practice, said Wednesday he was ready to go.

The veteran, who played in all 16 regular-season games, was spotted at the start of Wednesday’s session at Gillette Stadium.

“I feel good. I feel ready to go,” Branch said. “I can’t wait for this weekend to play ball.”

Branch was part of a defense that managed to shutout the Texans back in Week Three by a 27-0 count. Branch was asked what sort of challenges Houston presents now as opposed to the team New England faced earlier in the year.

“I think they have the same challenges; we just played a pretty good game,” said Branch of that September showdown. “But they have the same challenges. They can run the ball consistently. [Lamar] Miller is a great running back. [Brock] Osweiler he has a big arm and he makes good decisions. We just have to go out there and be on our p’s and q’s and be in our gaps and have good communication and be where we’re supposed to be.”

For More Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Alan Branch, Brock Osweiler, Lamar Miller,
5 things about Texans: Brock Osweiler leads popgun offense into Foxboro for divisional playoff showdown 01.09.17 at 1:11 pm ET
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Bill O'Brien brings his Texans into Foxboro for a playoff date with the Patriots on Saturday. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Bill O’Brien brings his Texans into Foxboro for a playoff date with the Patriots on Saturday. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Five things you have to know about the Texans, who will come to Gillette Stadium this weekend for a divisional playoff contest against the Patriots.

1. Brock Osweiler played his best game of the season on Saturday against the Raiders. We can probably narrow that down even more by saying Osweiler had his best half of the season in the first two quarters Saturday against the Raiders, going 12-for-18 for 146 yards and a touchdown pass. After Houston went into super-conservative mode in the second half and fundamentally turned the game over to its defense, Osweiler finished the game 14-for-25 for 168 yards, with a rushing touchdown and a passing touchdown. Good numbers for him. If he’s able to replicate those on Saturday night against the Patriots, Houston will probably be happy. It probably won’t be enough, but you have to take what you can get. For the record, in three career starts against New England, Osweiler is 1-2, and has gone 47-for-83 (57 percent) with 466 yards, one touchdown and two picks in those three games.

2. Osweiler leans heavily on his two tight ends. There are plenty of reasons why, but it’s probably no coincidence that the Houston offense — with Bill O’Brien and George Godsey, both of whom have roots in New England — love to favor the tight ends in the passing game. Osweiler favors C.J. Fiedorowicz (54 catches, 89 targets, 559 yards, 4 TDs on the season) and Ryan Griffin (50 catches, 74 targets, 442 yards, 2 TDs). They made up two of Osweiler’s top three targets in the passing game this past season. The Patriots have occasionally had issues containing tight ends; look for that to be the focus of the New England pass defense heading into Saturday. Of course, Osweiler also leans on DeAndre Hopkins (a team-high 78 catches, 151 targets, 954 yards and 4 TDs), but it’s tight ends he really likes. They’ve also been able to get good production out of the running game, as Lamar Miller (268 carries, 1,073 rushing yards, 5 TDs) is the closest the Texans have to a lead back.

3. But the truth is that the offense is middle-of-the-road at best. The Houston offense has trouble putting together long drives — the Texans’ 10-play, 75-yard drive against Oakland on Saturday that resulted in a 38-yard field goal from Nick Novak marked the first time all year the Texans started a drive inside their own 10-yard line that resulted in points. But it’s more than just an inability to drive the field for a consistent length of time — the bottom line is that Houston struggles to score. The Texans (279 points on the season) scored fewer points than the last-place Jaguars (318). Hell, Houston barely scored more points this year than the Browns (264). They were held to 13 points or less on five occasions. Overall, Houston is 29th in the league in passing, (198.5 yards per game), eighth in rushing (116.2 yards per game) and tied for 28th in scoring average (17.4 points per game).

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Read More: Bill O'Brien, Brock Osweiler, C.J. Fiedorowicz, DeAndre Hopkins
6 Patriots’ related thoughts on Saturday’s wild-card win for Texans: No more reaction shots of J.J. Watt, please 01.07.17 at 8:11 pm ET
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Bill Belichick and Bill O'Brien are tight. You'll be reminded of that if it's Patriots-Texans next Saturday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Bill Belichick and Bill O’Brien are tight. You’ll be reminded of that if it’s Patriots-Texans next Saturday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

The Texans beat the Raiders, 27-14 on Saturday in Houston. So here’s the scenario: If the Steelers win on Sunday, the Patriots will face the Texans Saturday night in Foxboro. If the Dolphins win, it’ll be New England-Miami at Gillette Stadium.

Anyway, here are six quick takeaways from Saturday’s game from a Patriots’ perspective.

1. In the first half on Saturday, Houston had a 10-play, 75-yard drive that ended with a 38-yard field goal from Nick Novak. Why was that notable? It was just the first drive of the year for the Texans that started inside their own 10-yard line that resulted in points. Not the type of offense that’s in it for the long haul. However, all in all, quarterback Brock Osweiler had one of his better games of the year. It wasn’t overwhelming, but in the first half, he was 12-for-18 for 146 yards and a touchdown pass, doing a relatively (for him) good job executing the game plan. In the second half, there appeared to be a real concerted effort to play an overly conservative game, and he ended the game 14-for-25 for 168 yards, with a rushing touchdown and a passing touchdown. There were no picks and no sacks. Again, he wasn’t a world-beater, but he was OK. Because you’re going to see these totals a lot if it’s going to be Patriots-Texans, it’s worth noting that Osweiler is 1-2 in his career against New England, and has gone 47-for-83 (57 percent) with 466 yards, one touchdown and two picks in those three games.

2. If it is Patriots-Texans, I’m going to be fascinated to see how Romeo Crennel decides to deploy Jadaveon Clowney. At first glance, Clowney appeared to line up almost exclusively on the right side opposite Oakland’s backup left tackle Menelik Watson. (Starter Donald Penn was out because of a knee injury.) Did the Texans do that because they knew Clowney would be facing a backup? Likely. Would the Texans try and do the same against New England left tackle Nate Solder? It’s debatable. Food for thought.

3. If Houston has to travel to Gillette Stadium next week, you have to wonder if the Texans would take J.J. Watt on the road with them. Not sure how much of this was the fault of Watt, but let’s just say he seems reticent to put out the spotlight that always seems to be on him … at all times. It stands in pretty obvious contrast to the way the Patriots operate when one of their stars like, say, Rob Gronkowski is out. He’s not on the sidelines. He’s out of sight, out of mind, and the potential for distraction is minimized. That’s clearly not the case with Watt, who was such a part of the broadcast that one alert Tweeter wondered if they had a Watt cam dedicated solely to tracking the injured defensive lineman.

4. It was a win-lose afternoon in the Brady household. The quarterback opens an Instagram account? Win. The quarterback won’t get a chance to face a Jack Del Rio defense? Lose. Brady has historically shredded Del Rio’s defenses. In nine games against a team that has either had Del Rio as the defensive coordinator or head coach, Brady is 8-1. Overall, in those nine games against Del Rio, Brady has averaged a 69 percent completion rate, with just over two touchdown passes and 264 yards passing per game

5. In that same vein, here’s a look at how Brady has done when he’s faced Crennel:

2007 (as head coach in Cleveland) Brady went 22-for-38 for 265 yards with three touchdowns and no picks in a 34-17 win.
2011 (as defensive coordinator in Kansas City) Brady went 15-for-27 for 234 yards, with two touchdowns and three sacks in a 34-3 win.
2015 (as defensive coordinator in Houston) Brady went 22-for-30 for 226 yards, 2 TDs, 3 sacks in 27-6 win.

Overall, that averages out to 20-for-32 (63 percent) for 242 yards, just over two touchdowns, no interceptions and two sacks per game. The number that sticks out? No picks. If the two meet again Saturday, Crennel and the Texans are going to have to force turnovers against Brady and the Patriots if they want to have a chance of winning. (For what it’s worth, Houston had 11 interceptions on the season, tied for 21st in the league.)

6. If it is the Texans, there’s going to be a lot of talk about the student vs. the master (Bill Belichick vs. O’Brien) and the New England roots of the Houston coaching staff, a group that includes Crennel, offensive coordinator George Godsey and Mike Vrabel. But above all that, attention should be paid to the possibility of it being the final game of Vince Wilfork’s terrific career. The former Patriots’ All-Pro hinted last week that he could retire at the end of the season. If that’s the case, the idea of the 35-year-old going out in a game at Gillette Stadium seems especially fitting.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Bill O'Brien, Brock Osweiler, Jack Del Rio
Getting to know Patriots’ potential divisional round opponents 01.02.17 at 10:57 am ET
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Could we see a renewal of the LeGarrette Blount-Ndamukong Suh feud in the divisional round? (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

Could we see a renewal of the LeGarrette Blount-Ndamukong Suh feud in the divisional round? (Steve Mitchell/USA Today Sports)

With the playoff picture now set, we know Miami, Oakland and Houston are the three teams that could end up coming into Foxboro for the divisional playoff round next Saturday. Here’s a quick look at where each one of those teams stand coming into the postseason.

Miami (finished regular season at 10-6, second place in AFC East): The Dolphins are a little like last years Chiefs in that they struggled in the early going, found something that worked (in this case, give the ball to Jay Ajayi and get out of the way) and got on a hot streak. There are plenty of questions on both sides of the ball heading into the postseason — can they win with a backup quarterback instead of Ryan Tannehill? And can they find a way to fix one of the leakiest run defenses in the league? — but they’ve made the postseason. And considering the fact that this is their first postseason appearance since 2008, that should be more than enough when it comes to this stage of their development.

Numbers you need to know — Offense: 218.8 passing yards per game (26th), 114 rushing yards per game (9th), 22.7 points per game (17th); Defense: 242.2 passing yards per game allowed (15th), 140.4 rushing yards per game allowed (30th), 23.8 points per game allowed (18th).

History with the 2016 Patriots: New England won both games against Miami this year, 31-24 and 35-14.

What we’d be most excited to see? BFF’s LeGarrette Blount and Ndamukong Suh getting after it in a playoff situation.

Oakland (finished regular season at 12-4, second place in AFC West: Man oh man, what might have been. If the Raiders had managed to stay healthy — specifically, quarterback Derek Carr — Oakland had the potential to be a terrific thorn in New England’s side. But Carr suffered a serious knee injury late last month, and the Raiders have had to turn to backup Matt McGloin. McGloin is no Derek Carr. Oakland is still talented enough to win a wild-card game. (Give Khalil Mack 10 guys from Foxboro High on the defensive side of the ball, and he could win the thing on his own.) But the injury to Carr will be too much for them to overcome when they get to the divisional playoff round.

Numbers you need to know — Offense: 253.2 passing yards per game (13th), 120.1 rushing yards per game (6th), 26 points per game (7th); Defense: 257.5 passing yards per game allowed (24th), 117.6 rushing yards per game allowed (23rd), 24.1 points per game allowed (20th).

History with the 2016 Patriots: None.

What we’d be most excited to see? The simple idea of another Patriots-Raiders divisional playoff game on a (potentially snowy) Saturday night in Foxboro? The NFL should send Walt Coleman to referee the game just for [bleeps] and giggles. That, and Tom Brady facing a Jack Del Rio defense.

Houston (finished the regular season 9-7, first place in AFC South): Even though the Texans are the fourth seed (hey, someone had to win the AFC South), they’re the weakest of the six teams in the postseason. Houston has a good defense, but there’s very little offense there to speak of, primarily because of the wild instability at the quarterback position. Brock Osweiler has put up some godawful performances in 2016, but backup Tom Savage might not be ready for prime time either.

Numbers you need to know — Offense: 198.5 passing yards per game (29th), 116.2 rushing yards per game (8th), 17.4 points per game (tied for 28th): Defense: 201.6 passing yards per game allowed (2nd), 99.7 rushing yards per game allowed (12th), 20.5 points per game allowed (11th).

History with the 2016 Patriots: New England crushed Houston in a Thursday night contest in September, 27-0, with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback.

What we’d be most excited to see? A reunion of all the former Patriots on the Houston roster, as well as the coaching staff. Vince Wilfork, Mike Vrabel, Bill O’Brien and Romeo Crennel coming back to Foxboro in a playoff environment? The stories would write themselves.

Read More: Brock Osweiler, Jacoby Brissett, Jay Ajayi, matt moore
Brock Osweiler offers insight into how Jimmy Garoppolo feels backing up Tom Brady 09.20.16 at 6:22 pm ET
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Brock Osweiler knows exactly what Jimmy Garoppolo is going through. (Erik Williams/USA Today Sports)

Brock Osweiler knows exactly what Jimmy Garoppolo is going through. (Erik Williams/USA Today Sports)

FOXBORO — No one knows what Jimmy Garoppolo is going through better than Brock Osweiler.

Osweiler backed up Peyton Manning in Denver for four seasons, so he knows what it’s like to play behind a legendary quarterback and even get into games and play well, as Osweiler did so in eight games last season.

The current Texans quarterback said it isn’t easy as some may think.

“I know how difficult it is,” Osweiler said on a conference call Tuesday. “A lot of people think, ‘Oh, playing backup quarterback, that’s the best position in the world.’ What they don’t understand is when we leave the building at 5 o’clock on Wednesday or Thursday, you still need to go home and study and prepare just like you’re the starter and usually you won’t get any reps on Sunday but you have to approach as if you are the starter. To see somebody like Jimmy who’s stayed patient, stayed disciplined, constantly gotten better, absolutely. You’re very happy to see someone have success like that.”

Osweiler offered some advice for Garoppolo with what it’s like to play behind such a great quarterback and also what it takes to be successful.

“One, it takes a lot of patience and two, it takes a lot of discipline,” he said. “I do know what Jimmy’s going through right now, I’ve been in those shoes. I was in those shoes for 3.5 years before I really got my opportunity. I say patience because that’s a long time to sit and not play. The discipline comes in just because you’re not playing, doesn’t mean you don’t work hard.”

Garoppolo made the most of his opportunity this season before injuring his right shoulder, as over six quarters he is 42-for-60 passing for 498 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions for a quarterback rating of 117.2.

The current Texans quarterback is aware of how well Garoppolo has played.

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Read More: Brock Osweiler, Jimmy Garoppolo, Tom Brady,
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