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Nick Caserio says Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner don’t signal change in ‘D’ philosophy 07.27.14 at 1:26 pm ET
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Darrelle Revis will be in the spotlight during his first training camp with the Patriots. (AP)

Darrelle Revis will be in the spotlight during his first training camp with the Patriots. (AP)

FOXBORO — When Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner were brought into the fold by the Patriots in the offseason, there was a presumption that the Patriots were about to alter their defensive approach somewhat, perhaps going with a more physical attack at the line of scrimmage and playing more pure bump-and-run.

But on Sunday, Patriots director of personnel Nick Caserio clarified that thinking. He said Revis and Browner help the Patriots do more defensively but won’t change their overall approach.

“I think our philosophy is the same every year,” Caserio said. “We try to look at our team, try to improve our team and do what we think is in our best interest. Both guys have been successful in their systems that they’€™ve played in. They’€™re in a new system with a new team. No real change in terms of what we look for. Their measurables may be a little bit different but there’€™s really no change in terms of how we approach it.”

Steve Palazzolo of Pro Football Focus would beg to differ, arguing that it means more matching up in the secondary than we’ve seen before.

So, watching Browner help the Seahawks last season on their run to a Super Bowl title didn’t factor specifically into his signing?

“No, I think we just look at our team and we try to find players that we think are going to help our football team, regardless of who they played for, regardless of where they come from,” Caserio insisted. “I mean, really it has no bearing on it.”

But Caserio did admit that when you have a special player like Revis, a defense can perform at a different level because it can do different things.

“When we go into a game, really each week, the game plan changes week to week,” Caserio said. “So, you figure out who you’€™re playing against, what are we trying to stop, what are we trying to take away? Then the game plan is implemented based on those types of things. You try to deploy your players and deploy your assets the best you can. Certain weeks it may be one thing, other weeks it may be another thing.

“So, you really just ‘€“ whatever their skills, whatever they do well, you try to put them at the position where they can be successful to utilize those. Then look at, ‘€˜OK, who are we playing? OK, how does that particular skill, how does that player match up relative to some other players?’€™ So, it’€™s really week to week and it’€™s really based on the opponent, which those get into some more of the game plan type specific things once we get into the season.”

Caserio maintained Sunday they are not do anything to accommodate Revis in their defense but rather the other way around.

“I think the approach is, ‘€˜What do we need to do to help us win the football game?’€™ That’€™s what we’€™ll try to do ‘€“ whether it’€™s offensively, defensively or in the kicking game.”

Read More: Brandon Browner, Darrelle Revis, New England Patriots, nfl
Tom Brady tops ESPN anonymous NFL insider poll for best quarterback in NFL 07.02.14 at 12:31 pm ET
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Despite turning 37 next month, Tom Brady hasn't lost any respect among top NFL insiders, finishing at the top in a recent ESPN anonymous league insider survey. (AP)

Despite turning 37 next month, Tom Brady hasn’t lost any respect among top NFL insiders, finishing at the top in a recent ESPN anonymous league insider poll. (AP)

Tom Brady will turn 37 years old in a month, but that doesn’t mean the quarterback is losing any respect among top league insiders.

In an ESPN poll (insider only), NFL Insider Mike Sando anonymously polled 26 league insiders, including eight general managers, two former general managers, four pro personnel evaluators, seven coordinators, two head coaches, two position coaches and a top executive to get their ranking on each of the projected 32 starting NFL quarterbacks. The rankings were given on a 1-5 scale, with one being the best and five the worst. Sando then was able to separate the quarterbacks into tiers, 1-4.

Brady came out at the top with a 1.04 average rating, tying Peyton Manning, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. Those four and Andrew Luck (1.5 average ranking) made up the first tier. Only one voter did not put Brady in the top tier as that pro personnel evaluator only had Manning in tier 1.

“Brady did a lot of good things with limited resources, but I saw holes when they put the onus on him to carry it all, as you saw when Denver beat him,” the personnel evaluator said. “Brady has to have more of a running game at this stage. He cannot line up with five wides and win it as consistently as before. I still think Brady is a top-five quarterback, but I would not say he is the best right now.”

Another veteran offensive assistant doesn’t see things the same way and said Brady, Manning and Brees were all pretty much interchangeable.

“Brady might be the best because he does it with the least every year, just about,” the offensive assistant said. “To me, there is no falloff with that guy. If he played with what Rodgers and Peyton and Brees have played with, it would not even be close. He has not had an outside guy since Randy Moss. These other guys have outside guys coming out of their ears, especially Peyton and Rodgers. It is such a difference when you have outside guys that can stretch, like Manning had in Indy. Then he’d kill you with the inside guys. Brady doesn’t have half the skill players that Manning has. The thing that is scary is that sneakily, the Patriots were pretty good last year anyway.”

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Read More: aaron rodgers, Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady
Numbers game: Tom Brady can move up several all-time statistical lists in 2014 06.23.14 at 1:43 pm ET
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Quarterback Tom Brady is in the Top 10 of most of the NFL's major all-time statistical categories. (AP)

Quarterback Tom Brady is in the top 10 of most of the NFL’s major all-time statistical categories. (AP)

When it comes to covering the NFL, one of the greatest single resource tools is the statistical database at Pro Football Reference. And sparked by the discussion regarding whether or not Adrian Peterson has a legitimate shot at catching Emmitt Smith for the all-time rushing record, we decided to take a look at where Tom Brady stands — at least statistically — when it comes to measuring his individual numbers against some of the best in the game.

Career passing touchdowns — 359, fifth overall.
Like most of the rest of the categories, he’s a step or two behind Drew Brees. In this case, Brees has 363 career passing touchdowns, fourth on the list. However, Brady and Brees should be able to pass Dan Marino within the next two years, as the former Miami quarterback is third  all time with 420. Meanwhile, Brett Favre (508) and Peyton Manning (491) are at the top of the list.

Career passing yards — 49,149, seventh overall.
He’ll likely pass Warren Moon (49,325 career passing yards) relatively early in the season to move into sixth place. Brees is fifth overall at 51,081, and he will almost certainly add to that total in 2014. He and Brady should pass John Elway this year, as the former Broncos QB is fourth overall at 51,475 career yards. After that, it gets a little dicey — the top three are far removed from the rest of the field, at least at this point. Favre is first overall with 71,838 yards, Manning is No. 2 at 64,964, while Marino is third at 61,361. Again, once Manning, Brees and Brady are all done, they will all be in the Top 5 all time, provided they stay on their current pace.

Career passes completed — 4,178, fifth overall.
Brady is part of a top five of Favre (6,300, first), Manning (5,532, second), Marino (4,967, third) and Brees (4,481). Assuming that Brees is going to keep slinging it for at least the next three years, it appears unlikely Brady could pass him, but the Patriots quarterback could pass Marino between now and the end of his career, which would likely have him fourth when he decides to call it a career.

Career passing attempts — 6,586, good for ninth overall.
Brady figures to pass Vinny Testaverde for the eighth spot some time in the first month of the season, as he’s only 115 attempts behind Testaverde. In fact, he could rise a couple of notches on this list, as Drew Bledsoe (6,717, seventh) and Moon (6,823, fifth) are within reach this season. Of course, he probably won’t leapfrog Brees, who is sixth overall at 6,799. For comparisons sake, Favre (10,169) and Manning (8,452) are 1-2.

Career interceptions — 134, 70th overall
When you’re talking about the Brady/Brees/Manning group, one area where he’s better than his contemporaries (although you could say it’s because he’s attempted fewer passes) is interceptions. Among current active quarterbacks, Manning has 219 career picks (19th place on the all-time list), while Brees is second at 177 (38th in NFL history). Eli Manning is third with 171 (43rd on the all-time list), Jon Kitna is fourth with 165. Brady is seventh with 134 career interceptions, 70th overall. Again, by way of comparison, Favre is tops with 336 career interceptions, 59 more than George Blanda, who is second overall at 277.

Career completion percentage (minimum 1,500 pass attempts) — 63.4 percent, 11th overall
One statistical area that’s hard to define is career completion percentage. PFR has a minimum of 1,500 pass attempts needed to qualify, so you see quarterbacks on this list that might not necessarily be considered elite-level signal callers. However, it’s still a good indication of a quarterback’s decision making skills and his comfort level in the offense. At this point, Brady has a 63.4 percent career completion rate, which is 11th on the all-time list. Chad Pennington is the all-time leader with a 66 percent completion rate. Compared to the other lists — including Brady — nine of the top 12 quarterbacks on the list are still active, with Brees (65.9 percent, second), Aaron Rodgers (65.8 percent, third) and Manning (65.5 percent, fourth) rounding out the active quarterbacks who are currently in the top five.

Read More: aaron rodgers, Brett Favre, Chad Pennington, Dan Marino
Aqib Talib on Tom Brady-Peyton Manning debate: ‘You’ve got to go Peyton Manning’ 05.28.14 at 10:59 am ET
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Who’s the better quarterback: Tom Brady or Peyton Manning? It’s the popular question that has consumed football fans for the last decade and has led to countless heated debates on TV and radio and even in the workplace.

Aqib Talib thinks he knows the answer.

The former Patriots cornerback, who signed a six-year, $57 million deal with Manning’s Broncos this offseason, told NFL Network that he thinks Manning — the reigning MVP — is a better quarterback than his former teammate in New England.

“You’ve got to go Peyton Manning,” said Talib, who was named the No. 79 overall player in the 2014 in the network’s Top 100 players series. “Tom is a good friend of mine … what’€™s up Tom, baby?

“[Manning] had an awesome year. He tore it up. He like set the record for touchdowns. He beat Tom in the AFC championship. You’ve got to give it to Peyton. Tom knows — that’€™s my dog, man, he knows.”

Talib said it’s “definitely a different scenery” in Denver.

Another cornerback likely to join Talib on that list is Patriots newcomer Darrelle Revis, whom the Patriots opted to sign on a one-year deal rather than give Talib a long-term contract.

“[Bill Belichick] sure didn’t want to give me that money, so hey, man, he gave it to Revis,” Talib said. “It is what it is.’€

Talib also commented on Wes Welker, who ended the corner’s season in the AFC championship game with a big hit in the middle of the field that infuriated Belichick.

“Man, me and Wes, we’re good, man. It’€™s a football play, man,” Talib said. “It just so happened it happened on a stage in the AFC championship game. I watched the play 1,000 times. I’€™m sure Wes didn’t do it on purpose.”

Read More: Aqib Talib, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady,
Peyton Manning, David Letterman have some fun at Bill Belichick’s expense 05.05.14 at 11:20 pm ET
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Peyton Manning appeared with David Letterman on “The Late Show” Monday evening, and when the Broncos quarterback was asked about a tongue-in-cheek plan to sabotage field mics to prevent “Omaha” audibles, the Broncos quarterback and talk show host took a shot at Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

“These TV mics pick up everything. I don’t like it. I am not a fan of it, Dave. It reveals terminology that the opponent you will play the next week can use. I don’t like Bill Belichick hearing our plays that we are using,” Manning said.

“I think I know how to fix it, Dave,” Manning added. “You have to get up there and say some really negative things about commissioner Roger Goodell. ‘Blue 20! Blue 20! Roger Goodell is a no-good you know what,’ and I think they’ll just kind of turn down that volume a bit.”

“But, as we know about Bill Belichick, he brings his own microphones,” responded Letterman. “So you don’t have to worry about that.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, David Letterman, Peyton Manning, welcome to the offseason
Why Matthew Slater feels ‘there’s a lot to be excited about’ with Darrelle Revis, 2014 Patriots 04.22.14 at 4:01 pm ET
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Matthew Slater has shown the ability to fight his way up the ladder in his time in New England. (AP)

Matthew Slater has shown the ability to fight his way up the ladder in his time in New England. (AP)

FOXBORO — Matthew Slater is a natural-born optimist.

Every time the Patriots special teams captain speaks, you can hear it in his voice. So, it should come as no surprise that Slater is like all the other Patriots players who are reacting to the addition of cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner and the chances for the 2014 Patriots.

“I’ve gotten a few chances to visit with Revis,” Slater said Tuesday, taking a break from his workout at Gillette. “Obviously, competing against him over the years, got a chance to meet him and spend some time with him in Hawaii this year. Really a good guy, does everything the right way, plays the game the right way, and you respect that about a guy, no matter who he plays for. If he plays the game hard and plays the game the right way, you respect it and he’s definitely one of those guys.

“I don’t really follow a whole lot of football in the offseason. I heard it and that would be great if he came [to the Patriots] I thought. Obviously, when you get a player like that, you’re excited about the opportunity to play with them. You know what he brings to the table. They’re 31 other teams out there that are trying to get done what they need to get done. And we’ve got to try to focus on us and improve.”

Slater and Revis spent time together in Hawaii this past January, when Slater participated in his third straight Pro Bowl. His father, Jackie Slater, was a seven-time Pro-Bowler. With 10 Pro Bowl nods between them, the Slaters are the second most nominated family in NFL history. (Archie, Eli and Peyton Manning have 18).

Revis is just one of a handful of new additions that will be on hand this spring and summer when the Patriots get back on the field to begin practicing for real. In addition to Revis and Browner, there’s wide receiver Brandon LaFell and all the draft picks and rookie free agents who will be descending upon Foxboro. This week marks the true beginning for NFL teams, as players are permitted back at their club’s facilities for offseason weight lifting and training.

“There’s a lot to be excited about,” Slater said. ‘There’s some extremely talented players that we’ve added to the roster along with some extremely talented players that we’ve had here for a while. All that is on paper. It really doesn’t mean anything right now. We haven’t even had one practice together. We have a long ways to go.

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Read More: Archie Manning, Darrelle Revis, Eli Manning, Jackie Slater
Which QB does best job spreading ball around in passing game? 02.18.14 at 6:00 am ET
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Piggybacking on a column we did last year about Tom Brady‘€™s ability to work in new receivers and spread the ball around — and with another full season in the books — we figured we should take another look at some of the league wide numbers when it comes to ball distribution in the passing game.

Using the 250-catch barometer as the mark for involvement, three over-30 veterans continue to set the standard when it comes to getting everyone involved in the passing game, as Brady, Peyton Manning and Drew Brees have managed to make stars out a variety of pass catchers on the way to record-setting seasons.

Using numbers culled from Pro Football Reference — which utilizes stats dating back to 1999 — the three are head and shoulders above the rest of the quarterbacking field when it comes to finding equilibrium in the passing game:

- Since 2001, Brady has completed at least 250 passes in the regular season to four different pass catchers over the course of his 13-year career as a starter: Wes Welker (563), Deion Branch (328), Troy Brown (323) and Kevin Faulk (310). Providing they stay healthy — and, in the case of Julian Edelman, return for 2013 — two more receivers could be added to the mix: Rob Gronkowski had 39 catches in an injury-shortened 2013 season, bringing his total of receptions via Brady to 223. And his 105 catches in 2013 boosted Edelman to 166 career receptions from Brady.

For those of you asking about guys who just missed out on the 250-catch mark with Brady, two jump off the page: one, Randy Moss caught 192 passes from Brady while the two were together in New England, including 98 catches in 2007 and 83 in 2009. And two, Aaron Hernandez finished with 166.

- In that same span, Manning has completed at least 250 passes to three different receivers: Reggie Wayne (779), Marvin Harrison (677) and Dallas Clark (387). Depending on how long he plays, Denver’€™s Demaryius Thomas could also be part of that group as well — he has 185 catches from Manning over the last two seasons, and could reach 250 in 2014 if he and the quarterback can both stay healthy.

To be fair to Manning, that time frame of 2001-2013 does cut off the first three seasons — from 1998 through 2000 — of his career. As a result, some of his early numbers aren’€™t included, particularly the formative years with Harrison, who had 276 regular-season catches with the Colts in that span. Our cutoff also means the work of an excellent pass-catching back like Edgerrin James goes unrewarded. He caught 230 passes from Manning from 2001-2005 before he departed Indy for the Cardinals. In all, James ended up catching a total of 355 passes from Manning while the two were together from 1999-2005.

- While Brady and Manning have impressive totals, when it comes to finding a variety of targets, they’€™re nowhere near Brees. When you combine his work in San Diego and New Orleans, the 35-year-old has complied at least 250 passes to six different receivers: Marques Colston (605), Lance Moore (346), Jimmy Graham (298 over the last four seasons), Reggie Bush (294), Pierre Thomas (284) and LaDainian Tomlinson (254). And a seventh — Darren Sproles — can hit 250 receptions from Brees in 2014. He’€™s already at 235 catches and counting.

When it comes to the next generation, it appears unlikely that anyone will be able to connect with six different pass catchers for at least 250 receptions. Among the quarterbacks who have been in the league for 7-10 seasons, Green Bay’s Aaron Rodgers has Greg Jennings (324) and Jordy Nelson (252), but just missed out when Donald Driver (241) called it a career. However, his two wild cards are free agents James Jones (216) and Jermichael Finley (214) — if they both return and are healthy, Rodgers is seemingly a lock to get four pass-catchers to 250-plus receptions.

Ben Roethlisberger also has a good chance of getting to four — he’€™s completed at least 250 passes to three different receivers: Hines Ward (513), Heath Miller (420) and Antonio Brown (250), and could make it four if free agent Emmanuel Sanders (146) ends up sticking around Pittsburgh. Meanwhile Atlanta’€™s Matt Ryan has three, having connected for 250-plus with Roddy White (520), Tony Gonzalez (383) and Harry Douglas (205). And New York‘€™s Eli Manning has Hakeem Nicks (306) and Victor Cruz (241) — he appears to have just missed with Plaxico Burress (244) and Steve Smith (213).

As for the quarterbacks who have between two and five full years in the league, Detroit’€™s Matthew Stafford has found tremendous success with Calvin Johnson (353 catches from Stafford), but Brandon Pettigrew (215) and Nate Burleson (154) are also within hailing distance of the 250-catch mark, providing Burleson somehow makes it back to Detroit. In addition, Indy’€™s Andrew Luck has Wayne (145), T.Y. Hilton (133) and Coby Fleener (78), while Cincinnati’€™s Andy Dalton has benefitted from working with AJ Green (256), Jermaine Gresham (165) and Andrew Hawkins (85).

Read More: aaron rodgers, Andrew Luck, Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger
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