Celtics

My Slant: Patriots defense - 2011 vs 2012?

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My Slant: Patriots defense - 2011 vs 2012?

Tom E. Curran makes the comparison between last year's Patriots defense and this year's edition.

We know, the defense has been bad, but Curran has something to say about it.

"These defensive passing numbers through eight games, 2,544 passing yards against, a 65 completion rate, 41 pass plays of more than 20 yards, 48 third down conversion rate, 14 touchdowns given up. Awful right? A team either already mired in disaster or headed there."

But wait...

Those are the Patriots defensive numbers from last year.

They were 5-3 at that point and went on to reach the Super Bowl.

This year's squad has allowed fewer yards (2,102), the same completion percentage, better on third down, more TDs (16), and fewer completions (39) of 20 yards.

So as Curran notes, the Patriots have won with numbers like this and they can do it again. But is that a route the Patriots have to take? Do they have to make it that difficult on themselves?

Look a little further back. Curran says with the exception of Rodney Harrison, who was a top-5 player at his position, the talent level is about the same between the successful Patriots defenses and the defense of today. In fact, this year's defense is younger and faster than the Harrison-led defenses.

But when you look at the defenses of the Eric Mangini and Romeo Crennel years, problems got fixed and didn't re-surface. We're still seeing the same problems we've seen for the last two years on defense.

So is it coaching?

Is it players?

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics drop back-to-back games

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BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: Celtics drop back-to-back games

0:41 - Michael Holley, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith give their thoughts on Kyrie Irving’s struggles, not having Gordon Hayward, and the Celtics losing for the 2nd time in as many nights.

6:31 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins BST to discuss the message delivered by Hayward to the fans before the game, what was going on with Kyrie’s shot, and why they failed in stopping The Greek Freak.

10:33 - Albert Breer joins BST to preview the Falcons/Patriots Sunday night game and if Atlanta is in the middle of a Super Bowl hangover.

15:40 - In a new game called On The Clock, each person gets 40 seconds to rant on their selected subject including if Red Sox fans can root for the Yankees if the playoffs and how painful the Bruins season will be. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Former Patriots defensive end Chris Long is donating his salary

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Former Patriots defensive end Chris Long is donating his salary

PHILADELPHIA - Chris Long is donating the rest of his year's salary to increase educational equality.

The Philadelphia Eagles' defensive end already gave up his first six game checks to provide two scholarships for students in Charlottesville, Virginia. Now, he's using the next 10 to launch the Pledge 10 for Tomorrow campaign.

"My wife and I have been passionate about education being a gateway for upward mobility and equality," Long told The Associated Press. "I think we can all agree that equity in education can help affect change that we all want to see in this country."

Long signed a two-year, $4.5 million contract with the Eagles, including a $500,000 signing bonus and $1.5 million guaranteed. His base salary in 2017 is $1 million.

The charitable initiative encourages people to make donations to improve equal education opportunities. Long began his career in St. Louis in 2008 and played for the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots last season. Long's foundation has selected four organizations whose missions focus on making education easily accessible to underserved youth while also providing students the support they need to develop strong social and emotional character.

The four organizations are based in the three communities in which Long has played during his NFL career. The city that raises the most money during the season will receive an additional $50,000 donation.

"There's a lot of opportunities to help out and they're wonderful organizations," Long said. "We have such a great platform as football players and hopefully fans get behind it."

Long grew up in Charlottesville and starred in high school at St. Anne's-Belfield before going to the University of Virginia. He was moved to start the scholarship program following the violent protests in Charlottesville in August.

"Our hometown is a wonderful place and I feel like people got the wrong idea about what the residents of Charlottesville are all about," he said.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE