|Jason Cole on M&M: ‘[Tom] Brady outplayed [Peyton Manning] by a large margin’ on Sunday||11.26.13 at 3:40 pm ET|
Yahoo! Sports’ Jason Cole joined Mut & Merloni on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the play of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning in New England’s 34-31 victory over Denver on Sunday night, as well as the status of the AFC and Super Bowl XLVIII.
One of the top story lines of Sunday’s game was, of course, the matchup between Brady and Manning. Brady once again seemed to have the advantage in the contest, as he finished the night with three touchdown passes, a 107.4 quarterback rating and the win, while Manning only managed 150 passing yards with two touchdowns, one interception and a 70.4 QBR.
“I thought Brady outplayed him by a large margin, and I thought Peyton looked really uncomfortable, and not because he was getting rushed,” Cole said. “He just didn’t look comfortable throwing the ball, he didn’t throw with much authority. I think that because of the way New England disrupted his receivers, similar to what they did against New Orleans earlier this season, he never had his timing down, and perhaps that’s because they had to throw so little in the first half and didn’t throw much in the third quarter.”
Added Cole: “[Manning] just never seemed to get into a groove, so the doubts about him in big games, particularly cold-weather big games, persists. He’s not answered that, and makes me really concerned about [Denver] going in the playoffs.”
While the Broncos (9-2) and Patriots (8-3) are in line for the top two seeds in the AFC at the moment, the Chiefs (9-2) are a worthy competitor in the conference, despite losing two straight games to Denver and San Diego.
“Kansas City, when they are healthy, in a playoff situation [can be a threat]. That’s similar to what we saw on Sunday night between the Patriots and the Broncos, which is if you allow defenses to bump receivers and knock them off their routes, hold them up at the line, I think that helps the defense so much, and I think Kansas City will be able to do more of that when they get into the postseason,” Cole said. “To me, they have a chance to get their defense back in line and be competitive in the postseason. But that’s the only other team, I think, that can challenge New England or Denver at this point and time.”
|Yahoo! Sports’ Jason Cole on M&M: Wes Welker ‘realizes this is the best place for him to be’||03.05.13 at 1:47 pm ET|
Yahoo! Sports writer Jason Cole, who posted a story Tuesday morning indicating that Wes Welker has “mild disdain” for the Patriots because of how the team limited his role in the offense in the early part of last season, joined Mut & Merloni on Tuesday afternoon to talk about the situation.
Although Cole’s article suggests that a new contract for Welker will not be as easy as some thought after Tom Brady renegotiated his deal and freed up some money for the team, he said ultimately he expects Welker will be a Patriot when the 2013 season begins.
“He’s probably going to stay, because he realizes this is the best place for him to be,” Cole said. “Even if that costs him a little bit of money vs. what he can make somewhere else, you’d make the good choice and stay with a team that knows you well, is going to pay you decently and is going to give you every opportunity.
“Is he a little bit concerned about how things could go here in the future? A little bit. But I think that that’s going to get outweighed by the fact that playing with Tom Brady is the best option for him.”
Cole said the Patriots learned early last year how difficult it is to replace Welker, a rare case of Bill Belichick failing to prove a point.
“With the Patriots it’s always about who’s in charge, who’s the boss here. And that’s OK. That’s how Bill does things,” Cole said. “And I know that another part of this was they wanted to get [Aaron] Hernandez to take over more of that role so that they were ready to move on from Wes.
“And they also had a belief that Brandon Lloyd could be that guy. Because remember, Brandon Lloyd is Josh McDaniels‘ guy. That was the guy he ‘discovered’ when he was in Denver and turned him into a legitimate receiver. And it took an entire season for everybody to realize that Brandon Lloyd is just a guy. Pretty good, but he’s not a game-breaker, he’s not a game-changer. He’s not that consistent. You need to have Welker over there for the consistency. And as much as you might want to funnel the ball more to a guy like Hernandez and [Rob] Gronkowski, they get hurt.
“So, what do you want to do here? You need to have Welker, you need to have him over there catching a hundred, 110 balls a season and moving the chains along and doing that job.”
Added Cole: “I think that at the beginning of last year there was a distinct feeling within the coaching staff, ‘OK, we can set it up to move along, to move to somebody else.’ And then they discovered no, they really can’t, Welker’s still the guy.”
|Jason Cole on M&M: Wes Welker is ‘only one I would even think about’ franchising||02.19.13 at 1:51 pm ET|
Yahoo! Sports writer Jason Cole talked with Mut & Merloni on Tuesday to discuss Aqib Talib and other free agent defensive backs, and potential wide receiver options for the Patriots. The Patriots have three players on whom they could place the franchise tag: Talib, Wes Welker and Sebastian Vollmer. Vollmer has had a lingering back issue, while Talib has a history of behavioral problems.
“Well the only one that I would even think about [franchising] would be Welker,” Cole said. “That’s if I want to pay him the $11.4 million. That’s the only guy I would think about.
“Vollmer. you just mentioned the back issue. … I think you can get him back at a fairly reasonable price if you want to get him back. Aqib, I would just never throw $10 million at Aqib Talib, guaranteed for one year. I would want to keep him, but I think he’s one of those guys who’s only going to get 7 or 8 million dollars out on the open market. … When’s the next blowup going to happen?”
If the Patriots do not retain Talib, they’ll probably look toward the free agent market.
“The market is not great,” Cole said, adding: “But you’re going to have some guys like Eric Wright out there. You’re going to have Aqib, Sean Smith, some guys who are not quite worth that franchise tag. I’ve just got to say that if I’m guaranteeing $10 million to a guy who has had behavioral issues in the past and doesn’t have the greatest amount of self-control. Aqib’s former teammates in Tampa, they’d say, ‘Look, he’s great to be around 95 percent of the time, but when that switch in his head flips, and he loses control, he’s very difficult to manage and it gets really out of control.’ ”
While Talib’s talent is undeniable, his work ethic and behavior issues have to be a red flag.
“People in Tampa said that didn’t always grind it out,” Cole said. “But there’s a certain point where if he’s playing well, how much does that really make a difference? … [Work ethic] doesn’t concern me as much as giving guaranteed money to a guy who has only shown me a short period of time that he’s turned his life around.”
Likewise, if the Patriots do not keep Welker, they might look to replace him through free agency.
“[Greg] Jennings I really like because I think he would fit exactly what [the Patriots] are trying to do. He’s really smart, he’d pick it up really quickly. Their biggest problem is they don’t have an over-the-top threat. They don’t have anybody to stretch in the field vertically. Even with [Rob] Gronkowski healthy, he’s not the kind of burner who scares any big defense. … Maybe that’s Mike Wallace, maybe it’s [Dwayne] Bowe. More likely it’s Wallace, but Bowe is also another guy; he’s had his own behavioral issues, too. But you take a chance on some of these guys.”
|Five thoughts on the second day of NFL free agency and how it all relates to the Patriots||03.14.12 at 2:44 pm ET|
Here are five thoughts on what’s gone on during Day 2 of NFL free agency and how it relates to the Patriots:
1. Per a league source, the Patriots will host safety Steve Gregory on a visit Wednesday afternoon. Gregory is a 29-year-old undrafted free agent out of Syracuse who has spent six years in the NFL, all with the Chargers. The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder does have some positional versatility — he has worked as a safety, and also spent time in the slot and on special teams. Hard-nosed and versatile, Gregory (who was suspended for PEDs in 2010) had 67 tackles and one interception in 2011. As some have already noted, there’s a belief that Gregory was out of position playing alongside free safety Eric Weddle in San Diego, and could be better suited playing more of a free safety role next to someone like Patrick Chung. (It tells you something about the state of the safety position that Gregory is starting to develop a following — a league source indicates that Gregory has at least four other teams who are interested in his services, including the Broncos and Panthers, with a few more teams poised to inquire about him by the end of the day.)
2. In addition, the Patriots have reportedly expressed interest in safety LaRon Landy, late of the Redskins. The five-year veteran was plagued with injuries last season, including an Achilles tendon problem that forced him to injured reserve in mid-December. The 6-foot, 220-pound Landry is a really interesting case — he has some working knowledge of a Bill Belichick-type of system, as he played in college for Nick Saban when Saban was at LSU. Because he’s coming off an injury, he’s likely to come at a discounted price. And with the depressed safety market, he could be the best value out there, especially when you consider the fact that he played very well over the first three years of his career (including a 90-tackle season in 2009). But the 27-year-old has had major injury problems over the last two years — he’s played in just 17 games the last two seasons, and fair or not, there are concerns about him being able to stay on the field. (According to Jason Cole of Yahoo! Sports, the Jets, Eagles, Lions and Bears have also apparently expressed interest in Landry.) And I’m not even sure what to make of his arms.
3. BenJarvus Green-Ellis continues to be the biggest name available among current Patriots’ free agents. The running back, who was attached to two “unknown teams” on Wednesday at a price of roughly $3 million to $4 million a year, will reportedly take a visit with Cincinnati, according to Cole. (It’s not known if the Bengals were one of those two teams that were previously listed on Tuesday.) Cincinnati would be a good landing spot for Green-Ellis — the Bengals have a lot of room under the cap, and the running back would give a playoff team a positive, dependable presence in the backfield. It’s also interesting to see the feedback from Patriots’ fan on Twitter regarding Green-Ellis’ situation. When faced with the prospect of losing Green-Ellis to a bigger deal somewhere else, almost everyone has wished him well. Speaks to his likeability among the New England fan base.
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|Five early thoughts on free agency and the Patriots||03.13.12 at 6:52 pm ET|
After the first few hours of NFL free agency, here are five incredibly early Patriots’-related thoughts:
1. Devin McCourty is a happy man. The deal that sent wide receiver Brandon Marshall from Miami to Chicago for draft picks gets one of the premiere receivers in the division out of the AFC East, which should make life considerably easier for the New England secondary, and McCourty in particular. Marshall absolutely hammered McCourty and the Patriots last season, going for seven catches and 139 yards in the season opener and adding six catches for 143 yards and a touchdown when the two teams met again in December.
2. Wes Welker is a happy man. Before the start of free agency, the Patriots hit Welker with the franchise tag, which will likely mean the veteran wide receiver will get a $9 million payday for the 2012 season. But the next time the two sides sit down at the negotiating table, the landscape will be far different, especially after the Redskins reportedly signed fellow receiver Pierre Garcon to a five-year, $42.5 million deal, including $21.5 in guaranteed money. While Welker is a full five years older than Garcon, his numbers over the last three years have been demonstrably better than the former Colts’ pass catcher. So that effectively changes the market for Welker, who will likely look for something north of that when the two sides do decide to revisit talks.
3. BenJarvus Green-Ellis could be a happy man soon. There’s apparently some movement with Green-Ellis. The veteran running back was one of New England’s 16 unrestricted free agents who hit the market on Tuesday afternoon, but according to Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports, there are two “unknown teams” involved in a possible pursuit of the free agent, while the Patriots “want him back.” (In the past, the Chiefs have been mentioned as a possible suitor for Green-Ellis.) Cole says to look for a deal in the $3 million to $4 million range, which is probably a little too much for New England. Not saying the Patriots would be completely against signing him at that price — only that it would make New England take a long look at their in-house options at running back going forward and what might be available in free agency.
4. No Red Bryant for the Patriots. The talk about the defensive tackle possibly heading to New England hit a fever pitch Tuesday afternoon, but it was quickly squelched when the Seahawks locked up Bryant with one of the first big deals in free agency. The 6-foot-4, 332-pounder started all 16 games for Seattle last season, the team that drafted him in the fourth round out of Texas A&M in 2008. (As for another big defensive body, Mario Williams is making a visit to the Bills on Tuesday night, who appear to be very aggressive in their pursuit of what is likely the premiere defensive player on the market.)
5. As for the Patriots, they were mostly quiet. The one bit of news that did pop up specifically relating to the franchise was the report that New England was expected to re-sign special teams ace Matthew Slater some time on Tuesday, per Michael Lombardi of the NFL Network. Slater, who made the Pro Bowl this past season, just finished up his fourth season with the Patriots, having worked as a wide receiver, defensive back and special teamer. The 6-foot, 200-pounder, an unrestricted free agent, caught one pass for 46 yards this season, and also saw extensive time at safety.
|Jason Cole on M&M: Chad Ochocinco ‘the happiest I have ever seen him’||08.11.11 at 1:43 pm ET|
Yahoo! Sports NFL reporter Jason Cole joined the Mut & Merloni show on Thursday to discuss Albert Haynesworth‘s contract, Chad Ochocinco joining the Patriots and other Patriots and NFL news. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Haynesworth and Ochocinco restructured their contracts on Tuesday. Cole reported that Haynesworth’s base salary will be $1.5 million as opposed to the $5.4 million that he was supposed to earn. He has incentives built in to the contract such as $1 million if he plays in 20 percent of the plays, among other things.
“It gives Albert a huge incentive to be in shape all year and get himself healthy,” Cole said. “Albert has had some injury issues in the past. Even when he has been at the top of his game he has generally missed a game or two, sometimes three, during a season. He is going to have to stay on top of that as much as possible. If they can get him healthy and get him on the field, he could be a huge difference maker.”
Next season Haynesworth will be due $6.7 million, and he will have to prove this season that he deserves that kind of money.
“I think it is one of those things where you revisit from year to year,” Cole said. “If he has all those incentives and makes the $5.8 million as a Pro Bowler, I think they are more than happy to pay him $7 million next year, or deal with it however you want to deal with it. … If Albert Haynesworth earns the money this year, he will be worth it next year.”
Cole said the Patriots got Haynesworth and Ochocinco at the right time.
“It always good to get a guy when he is desperate to leave another place,” he said. “To get away from whatever environment he has been in, especially like Ochocinco in Cincinnati. I saw Chad about a week ago and that is the happiest I have ever seen him. He was ecstatic. He probably would have crawled from Cincinnati to Boston to play for the Patriots.”
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