|Which Patriots should expect a call from the Hall?||08.03.13 at 11:10 pm ET|
The Pro Football Hall of Fame inducted the class of 2013 on Saturday night, with Bill Parcells, Larry Allen, Cris Carter, Jonathan Ogden, Dave Robinson, Warren Sapp and Curley Culp honored in Canton. The most recent round of inductions got us wondering: What members of the Patriots over the last decade-plus could eventually end up being fitted for a yellow jacket? Here are 13 possibilities, with their Patriots careers in parentheses.
Bill Belichick (head coach, 2000-present): Regardless of how his career ends, whenever Belichick decides to retire the hoodie, five rings (three as head coach, two as a coordinator) are certainly enough to land a spot.
Wes Welker (2007-2012): We wrote this column at the end of the 2012 season, and stand by it: Welker needs another 100 catches and another 1,000 receiving yards, and if he gets it, he’ll be at the center of a great debate when he does decide to hang them up. That would give him almost 900 career receptions and close to 10,000 career receiving yards, which would put him in the heart of a discussion that once included Carter (1,101 catches, 13,899 receiving yards and 130 touchdowns, inducted this year) and now will focus on Andre Reed (951 catches and 13,198 receiving yards and 87 touchdowns, not in) and Tim Brown (1,094 catches, 14,934 yards and 100 touchdowns, not in). One thing that would help his candidacy would be at least one ring.
Randy Moss (2007-2010): Moss drew some flak this past January when he said he was the ‘greatest receiver ever to play,” But he’s not too far off. Moss’s 156 receiving touchdowns are second only to Rice’s 197, and his 15,292 yards are third behind Rice’s 22,895 and Terrell Owens‘ 15,934. (For what it’s worth, if Moss could have hitched his wagon to Brady for more than three-plus seasons, he might have been able to catch Rice.) Like many of the guys on this list, his candidacy would be considered truly ironclad if he came away with a ring, and I’m not sure if that’s possible at this stage of his career. But his stats should be more than enough to get him to the Hall. That induction speech will be an all timer.
|Tom Brady on D&C: Feelings about Wes Welker’s departure ‘very personal to me’||05.23.13 at 8:00 am ET|
The biggest changes on the roster have come at wide receiver.
“There’s quite a few new guys on the roster, certainly at the receiver position, almost the entire group,” Brady said. “So, as many days of practice as we can get, as many opportunities that we can have to actually get out there and throw the ball together in a competitive environment, I think that’s where the improvement comes. We’ve only had two days of practice.
“It’s a very competitive position. I think there’s a lot of positions that are very competitive on our team. I’m excited to see — at this point, the work that we’ve put in, how well it’s paid off.”
The most heralded new receiver is former Ram Danny Amendola, who worked out with Brady in Los Angeles recently.
“Danny, he’s always had a lot of talent,” Brady said. “To watch him out there and play against him — when he was at the Rams he was very productive. It’s been fun to work with him. He’s got the tenacity to him and the drive and the determination and the work ethic. In a short period of time, it’s really easy to see. Like I said, he’s one of those guys where the more we throw, the better we’re going to be. So, we’re trying to always kind of talk and communicate through practice, through OTAs. We threw in the spring a lot, and hopefully as the summer continues leading up to training camp, we’ll get as many reps as we can together so we’re on the same page.”
Amendola has drawn comparisons to departed free agent Wes Welker.
“They’re [at] similar positions, they’re about the same height, they’ve both got very good ability,” Brady said. “Wes was so productive for so long. I think it’s unfair to compare anyone to Wes and what he was able to accomplish in his time here. Danny, he’s just been fun to work with. I think he’s come in really with an open mind and understanding of the way that we as Patriots, the way we need to play.
“Josh [McDaniels] is trying to get everyone on our entire offense up to speed with how we’re going to play offense this year, how we’re going to try to be more consistent than we’ve been the last few years. Danny’s really taken to that; all the receivers have. And all the receivers have really had, like I said, a willingness to come in and work and listen and try to get better.”
Asked his reaction to Welker’s departure, Brady said he understands the business of the league.
“I don’t think anything surprises me any more in the NFL,” he said. “I’ve been around long enough to see things happen at different times with the greatest players of all, whether that’s Wes, or Randy Moss being traded from the Raiders, or Brett Favre playing for the Jets and the Vikings. That’s what happens. Like I said, it’s a very tough, competitive business.
“Nobody appreciated Wes more than I did and what he was able to accomplish for our team. But he’s moved on. He’s in a good situation with another great team and a great quarterback. We’ve always kind of kept in touch, we always will. He’s one of my best friends. I certainly wish him the best.”
Brady has not publicly voiced any displeasure toward management about Welker’s departure, and he explained that there’s a reason for that.
“Of course I have feelings. But those feelings are very personal to me,” he said. “I used to get caught up in anger and frustration and disappointment. But I don’t make the decisions. These things aren’t up to me. At some point you’ve got to realize the things that are out of your control. You’ve just got to let go and focus on my job and what I need to do. Because the game moves on, the team moves on. There’s only so long you can dwell on the past. At some point you’ve got to move forward.
“Like I said, my job for my team is to be the best quarterback, and not the general manager and not the coach and not the owner. It’s to try to go out there and bring my own competitiveness to the field so that those guys that I’m playing with this year can really rely on me and count on me to be the best I can be.”
|Niners GM Trent Baalke heralds contributions of ex-Patriots receiver Randy Moss||02.21.13 at 10:46 am ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Niners GM Trent Baalke had nothing but good things to say about former Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss, who just wrapped up his first season with San Francisco.
According to Baalke, Moss, who had 28 catches for 434 yards and three touchdowns this past season for the Niners, is “one of the smartest football players” he’s ever been around. However, he wouldn’t guarantee a return to the Bay Area for the 37-year-old Moss, who is an unrestricted free agent.
“Randy is a pro. I can’t say enough good things about Randy, and I think if you ask anyone within our organization, they would say the same thing,” Baalke said Thursday morning at the scouting combine. “One of the first guys to work every day. One of the last guys to leave. A guy who takes great care of his body. Is probably on of the smartest football players — if not the smartest football player I’ve been around. He grasped the offense very quickly, and was a real leader in that group, in that room. We’re certainly happy that he was there. Is he going to return this year? I don’t know that yet.”
|Jerod Mayo and friends explain ‘The Patriot Way’ and what it means now||01.16.13 at 4:05 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The “Patriot Way’ means different things to different people, even inside the Patriots locker room.
So while, Ravens wide receiver was boldly predicting this year’s AFC championship ‘we’ll make it different, we’re gonna win,” Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo we’re humbly talking about what it’s like to be a part of a team where the individual doesn’t matter.
“I think Coach [Bill Belichick] always talks about doing your job,” Brady said. “You do your job so that everyone around you can do their job. When people trust each other, then you can play with anticipation and confidence and ultimately go out there and play aggressively. There’s no really no secret to it. It’s just coach puts a lot of pressure on us in practice every day to perform at a high level. When we don’t, we certainly hear about it. When you show up to work every day, you better have your game face on because you’ll end up on the low light film the next morning. I think the guys bring that attitude every day and over the course of a long season, it results in enough wins to get us into the playoffs, give us a chance.”
Brady pointed to past Patriots greats who helped teach him the ‘Patriot Way’.
“I think I was one of those guys that had to learn that too,” he added. “Tedy Bruschi took me aside and Willie McGinest took me aside and Lawyer Milloy took me aside. I think that’s part of the responsibility as a veteran player that you learn from these experiences and you try to convey the message to some of the younger players so they don’t have to learn the hard way. A lot of times you have to learn the hard way in life.
Wilfork echoed Brady’s old-school teachings from great Patriots of the recent past.
“I learned a long time ago with Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Willie McGinnest, Rodney Harrison, Richard Seymour, I learned from some of the best that played around here,” Wilfork said. “The first thing that comes to your mind is that you can’t be selfish playing here. It is not about you. It is about the team and if you buy into that you will be very successful, and that is the one thing that I think this organization has had for a long time. Guys that come in here that aren’t selfish and they put the team first because it is a team sport. It definitely is a team sport. You need everybody working on the same page. If you have one or two that are not you can be in big trouble. That is the Patriot Way. We put team first and we win as a team and we lose as a team. I have won a lot of games in my career being here and I wouldn’t change it for nothing.”
The other irony Wednesday was comment from Jerod Mayo, on a day when it snowed in the morning making the rush hour commute difficult. He reminded everyone of Adalius Thomas without dropping his name. It was three years ago when Thomas, Randy Moss, Derrick Burgess and Gary Guyton were sent home for being late to an 8 a.m. meeting on the morning of a snow storm.
“The ‘Patriot Way’ to me, starts at the top with the Kraft family,” Mayo said. “Not only being a good football player, but being a good person and falling in line. If you want to be a good football team, you’ll never be stuck in rush hour traffic. You are the first one here and the last one to leave. I think guys really buy into that, guys that come from other teams, I think they follow the lead of the bulk of this team and it has worked well here.”
For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots. WEEI 93.7FM will broadcast the AFC Championship game between the Patriots and Ravens on Sunday, January 20 at 6:30 p.m.
|Randy Moss returns to New England and has quick impact with touchdown grab||12.17.12 at 2:38 am ET|
FOXBORO — It didn’t take very long for former Patriots receiver Randy Moss to make an impact on Sunday night. Moss, who started in place of the injured Mario Manningham and played opposite Michael Crabtree, drew the coverage of rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard.
Moss caught a 12-yard strike from 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick on San Francisco’s third offensive play from scrimmage, and put the first score on the board three plays later. Moss was able to get behind Dennard down the left sideline, while Kaepernick lofted an easy 24-yard pass over the top of the Patriots defense.
It was Moss’ third touchdown catch of the year, and his first since the 49ers’ Week 8 matchup with the Cardinals on Oct. 29.
Moss’ ability to take the top off an opposing defense has stood out throughout his career, and on Sunday night, against his former team with whom he set records aplenty, Moss contributed in signature form. In doing so, he exposed an issue that has afflicted New England at different points throughout 2012.
Coming off of a game where the Patriots dominated so thoroughly on Monday night, the problems that had plagued this defensive secondary seemed to fall by the wayside until Moss opened up the scoring on the long play.
Moss declined to comment after the game on Sunday night; instead, he left his locker soon after the game had ended. He did tweet out at roughly 1:30 a.m., ‘The game is over!!i don’t wanna talk bout Tht.’
He was targeted two more times on the night, but did not pull in another pass after the first offensive possession for the 49ers.
Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo said that as a whole his team wasn’t very surprised by the play of Kaepernick and his ability to make the throws that he did.
‘We knew [Kaepernick] could throw the ball from watching film,’ Mayo said. ‘We didn’t know is they were going to throw it or not because it was raining a bit. But they came out and threw the ball, scored on us early. Like you said earlier, we fought back, but it wasn’t enough.’
When Dennard went down late in the second quarter with a knee injury, the Patriots applied a different scheme to cover Moss, with a combination of Kyle Arrington, Aqib Talib and safeties making sure the veteran receiver was accounted for.
Despite not having another catch after the first quarter, Moss was the second-leading San Francisco receiver, with 36 yards total on the night.
|Randy Moss: I still have a lot of love for Patriots, but I’m with Niners now||12.12.12 at 9:17 pm ET|
The former New England wide receiver, who called Foxboro home from 2007 until the early stages of the 2010 season, said that he didn’t want to compare the two organizations ‘because whatever I say is going to be the wrong thing to say,’ but said that the Patriots still hold a place in his heart.
‘Basically, I’ll leave it at that I still got love and respect for the New England Patriots and everything we did as a team. But now, I’m a 49er, so hopefully, like I said, we go up there Sunday night and give it a good game,’ said Moss, who caught 259 passes for 3,904 yards and 50 touchdowns in 52 regular-season games with the Patriots.
‘Hopefully, we can complement our defense, [but there’s] no telling what’s going to happen,’ he added. ‘But like I said, we have to play complementary football, and I think if we do that and try and not let Tom [Brady] and the [New England] offense run the score up on us, I think it’ll be a good game.’
Through 13 games, the 35-year-old Moss has 21 catches (on 37 targets) for 326 yards and two touchdowns for San Francisco. His best all-around outing of the year came in the season opener against the Packers, when he had four catches (on four targets) for 47 yards and a touchdown. Despite the dip in his numbers, the Niners praised Moss on Wednesday, with San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh saying he’s been a ‘great teammate.’
‘He’s a good teammate,’ said linebacker Aldon Smith. ‘He’s a guy I looked up to as a kid growing up, and being able to be in the locker room and sit next to him is cool. It’s a dream come true.’
‘He’s done a nice job,’ said Harbaugh. ‘He’s been a contributor, he’s produced, and he’s been a great teammate.’
He’s also getting a lot of respect in New England. Safety Devin McCourty spent training camp and the initial stages of the 2010 season as a teammate of Moss, and recalled Wednesday how the veteran receiver helped him grow up on a daily basis as a young defensive back.
‘He’s still a very, very good receiver,’ said McCourty. ‘I learned a lot just going against him when he was here. You see him out there, and he’s still able to make plays. I think one of the special things about him is that he’s still able to get vertical and run by guys. I guess one good thing is that we have some familiarity with him, and that can help us a little bit. But he’s still a very good receiver.’
“He does a great job of reading defenses,” said Wes Welker. “He knows when he’s about to get the ball and he knows when to kick into high gear and get open and make plays. He really understands defenses, how they’re trying to play them and how to attack them.”
‘I think Randy looks like Randy. He’s the greatest deep ball receiver I think that’s ever played,’ said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. ‘Nobody runs better patterns or has a better feel over the deep part of the field like Randy Moss. I still see him doing that. Because of his ability to do that, it certainly opens up a lot of other things as well because you have to respect the ability to stretch the field and go deep and get behind you.’
Former Patriots receiver Troy Brown said this week on Mut & Merloni that Patriots fans shouldn’t worry about former New England great Randy Moss giving the Pats trouble when the 49ers come to town Sunday. The reason? Because Bill Belichick won’t let him.
“If there’s somebody on that team that will beat the Patriots on Sunday, it will not be Randy Moss,” Brown said. “He will not score a touchdown on Sunday night.”
Brown explained that Belichick makes a point of it to limit his former players when they play again him.
“Just from what I know, when [Belichick] plays against former [Patriots] that have played for him, those particular players will not beat him,” Brown said. “I saw him put two guys on Terry Glenn when he came back with Dallas to play here. We were going to win the game. It was just the fact that he didn’t want Terry to catch a touchdown or make a big play.”
Brown knows Belichick better than most people, and going through the game logs, it’s pretty clear he has a point. Glenn, who made a name for himself in New England before talking his way off the team, had his least-productive game of the 2003 season when he played the Pats as a member of the Cowboys, catching just one ball for eight yards in a 12-0 Patriots win.
That stat line (one catch for eight yards and no touchdowns) was repeated by Moss when he played the Pats after they traded him to the Vikings in the 2010 season, suggesting that perhaps Belichick does indeed game-plan around star players who had played under him in New England. Here’s a look at how some of the more notable Patriots from the Belichick era have fared against him after leaving New England.
-Nov. 3, 2002: 28/45, 302 yards, TD, INT
-Dec. 8, 2002: 32/51, 328 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT
-Sept, 7, 2003: 17/28, 230 yards, TD, INT
-Dec. 27, 2003: 12/29, 83 yards, INT
-Oct. 3, 2004: 18/30, 247 yards, TD, INT
-Nov. 14, 2004: 8/19, 76 yards, 3 INT
-Sept. 7, 2003: 5 combined tackles (3 assisted), sack
-Dec. 27, 2003: 8 combined tackles (4 assisted)
-Nov. 14, 2004: 15 combined tackles* (5 assisted)
-Oct. 30, 2005: 3 combined tackles (2 assisted)
-Dec. 11, 2005: 8 combined tackles (4 assisted)
-Nov. 16 2003: 1 reception, 8 yards
-Dec. 4, 2005: 5 combined tackles (1 assisted)
-Dec. 26, 2005: 2 tackles, interception returned 74 yards for TD
-Nov. 13, 2008: 3 tackles
-Oct. 7 2007: 2 assisted tackles
-Oct. 31, 2010: 1 reception, 8 yards
-Oct. 2 2011: 3 tackles
It appears Brown has a point, as a couple of strong showings from Milloy and a pick-6 for for Law are the only bright spots on a rather lengthy list of games from star players. As for Belichick not letting those players beat him? Brown was right about that, too: In those games (there’s some overlap due to Bledsoe and Milloy’s time with the Bills), the Patriots went 11-2. Neither of those losses were the direct result of former Pats’ big games, though Milloy sacked Tom Brady in the memorable 31-0 drubbing Buffalo gave the Pats to open the 2003 season, a game in which Bledsoe only needed a mediocre performance (17/28, 230 yards, TD, INT) thanks to Brady’s four-interception day.
As the Patriots prepare for the 49ers, it’s safe to say that Moss isn’t the same player he was when he set the single-season touchdown reception record in 2007. He can “still run,” as Brown noted, but history shows it should be a quiet night for him on Sunday.