Patriots ‘other corner’ Ryan helps limit Jets’ Marshall


Patriots ‘other corner’ Ryan helps limit Jets’ Marshall

FOXBORO - Youth over age. The promise of ascending players over those that are descending, albeit from a high level. Cost control over big dollars and over guaranteed dollars. Those were topic starters and conversations the Patriots player personnel department had with its boss this offseason, And by boss, I mean Bill Belichick. Duh.

In choosing Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan and a bunch of free agents, the Pats chose to make the future the present and live with the consequences.

At 6-0, Belichick's team is the beast of the AFC East, again. So, exactly what consequences did the Pats suffer from those decisions to walk away from Darelle Revis and Brandon Browner and Kyle Arrington (and Alfonzo Dennard, but that's a story not worth telling)? On the surface, zero. Zip. Zilch. But if you're actually paying attention, you know it's very much a work in progress. Injuries and poor performance have left the Pats rolling out Justin Coleman and some dude named Rashaan Melvin as their third and fourth corners. Recipe for success? Maybe, if you're the other team.

As for Butler, he was given the task of following Eric Decker for nearly the entire afternoon. It wasn't pretty, especially through the Jets second touchdown drive. Decker kept reeling in third-down pass plays, to keep the drive going and the clock running. But Butler kept at it, remained competitive, and when asked by our own Tom Curran if he was experiencing a loss of confidence, said, “No no no no no no no no no no no no.” Or something awfully close (I paraphrased because I was too lazy to cross check the quote). Butler seems to have the head and the confidence for this challenge.

“[Receivers] are going to catch balls," noted Butler. "It doesn’t matter who you are. You’re going to get a ball caught on you. But you try your best to limit them and not give up a catch almost every play. Some of those games come, but like I said before, I thought I played well, held them off long enough, and got the ‘W.’ That’s all that matters.”

As for the No. 2 corner, Logan Ryan, he helped to limit the beastly Brandon Marshall to a relatively quiet day by Marshall's standards. That Ryan had consistent safety help should not diminish what the ex-Rutgers standout did, or better yet, is doing. Ryan had interceptions in the previous two games and quarterbacks have found that they're better off attacking the top corner, Butler, than the "other" guy.

“You know, it’s a position that’s always pressured," said Ryan after the game. "You don’t want to make the wrong step. A lot can go wrong, a lot can go right as well, so it’s just a pressure position. It’s the NFL, so it’s a competitive league. It’s not going to be perfect, but you just want to finish with more points than they have.”

The Pats did, and Ryan played an important role. I asked him if he drew any satisfaction in preventing Marshall from doing to him as he's done to nearly every other corner this season.

“Yeah man, he’s a huge competitor and I had to match his energy level and just try my best with that guy," he replied. "I knew he’s not going to get completely shut down or anything like that. He’s too good. He’s too big..."

“He’s a guy who wants to ball. Good or bad play, he wants to ball again like any great competitor would, so I knew to keep bringing it because after the first quarter, after the second quarter, he’s going to keep wanting the ball. He’s going to demand the ball and they’re going to find a way to get that guy the ball. That’s why he’s been having those games – that 100-yard streak he’s been having – so he’s definitely a big part of their offense, so I knew the ball would be coming my way.”

But not very often and not very successfully. Marshall was upset following the game, yelling at a teammate as he exited the field, then accepting blame in the locker room. Ryan and company frustrated him. That's a win for the new No. 2 corner and, if he holds up, maybe for the decision-makers who chose young and cheap, and potentially ascending, players over older, and infinitely more expensive, ones. But only time will tell, and by that, I mean the months of January and - if all goes well - February.

Patriots-Steelers practice report: Branch misses second straight day


Patriots-Steelers practice report: Branch misses second straight day

<p>Thursday's practice participation/injury report for Sunday's Patriots-Steelers game:</p><p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS</strong></span></p><p><strong>DID NOT PARTICIPATE</strong><br>DL Alan Branch (knee)<br>CB Johnson Bademosi (Illness)</p><p><strong>LIMITED PARTICIPATION</strong><br>CB Malcolm Butler (ankle)<br>DL Trey Flowers (ribs)<br>CB Stephon Gilmore (ankle)<br>LB David Harris (ankle)<br>WR Chris Hogan (shoulder)<br>DB Brandon King (hamstring)<br>DL Eric Lee (ankle)<br>WR Matthew Slater (hamstring)<br>LB Kyle Van Noy (calf)<br>OT LaAdrian Waddle (ankle)<br>DL Deatrich Wise Jr. (foot)</p><p><strong>FULL PARTICIPATION</strong><br>QB Tom Brady (Achilles)<br>WR Brandin Cooks (hand)</p><p><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>PITTSBURGH STEELERS</strong></span></p><p><strong>DID NOT PARTICIPATE</strong><br>TE Vance McDonald (shoulder)<br>CB Coty Sensabaugh (shoulder)</p><p><strong>LIMITED PARTICIPATION</strong><br>CB Joe Haden (fibula)<br>LB Tyler Matakevich (shoulder)<br>WR JuJu Smith-Schuster (hamstring)<br>C Maurkice Pouncey (hip)</p><p><strong>FULL PARTICIPATION</strong><br>WR Martavis Bryant (not injury related)<br>DE Stephon Tuitt (illness)</p>

Shananan: Brady influence on Jimmy G may have created QB monster


Shananan: Brady influence on Jimmy G may have created QB monster

Jimmy G, all new and shiny to San Francisco 49ers fans, continues to captivate after leading his team to consecutive wins.

With his first home start coming this weekend against Tennessee, there were some insightful questions posed to head coach Kyle Shanahan about Garoppolo’s style this week. What did he take from Tom Brady? What does he do differently?


It’s interesting to read Shanahan’s take on it, particularly Garoppolo’s leadership ability.

Asked about that in relation to Brady, Shanahan said, “Anytime you get an opportunity to hang around someone and just watch their process and how they go about their job, especially someone like Tom, where you have the guy who’s arguably the best of all time and has had an unbelievable career, I think it’s been great for Jimmy to watch how he carries himself.

“When you’re a quarterback you’re almost CEO of the company to a certain degree,” Shanahan continued. “I think people look at Tom that way. There’s just this certain way to act and handle things and talk to people. Jimmy is very good at that stuff. I’m sure it helped getting to watch someone who’s probably the best at it.”

That’s what’s jumped off the screen to me watching Garoppolo. The ability to divorce himself from the chaos of pressure situations and manage the team and his communication with the sidelines. That he’s seen the best in the business to do it – Brady and the New England coaching staff – has to make him feel empowered to take charge. It may not be a stretch to say that he’s probably as adept as anyone on the Niners coaching staff at doing it because of the level at which he was taught and the reps he took.

Shanahan also talked about Garoppolo being able to conquer his “quick-twitch” tendencies as a scrambler because he saw the rewards Brady reaped by staying stationary as much as he could.

“They are wired two totally different ways as athletes,” said Shanahan. “Tom is a slower moving guy, which gets him a lot of patience in the pocket and he stays there very calm and I think that’s also how he moves naturally, where Jimmy is more a quick-twitch guy who sometimes it’s harder to get those type of guys to slow down and be patient in the pocket, because they just move faster.
“I think that’s what has been impressive with Jimmy and I’m sure he does get that from watching a guy like Tom do it,” he added. “You want both in your game. Jimmy does have both. That’s what allows him to stay in the pocket and let things develop. When there isn’t one he does have a chance to get outside of there and extend the play.”
Shanahan alludes to the possibility that Garoppolo may not be as disciplined had he not apprenticed behind Brady.  
“Sometimes the better athlete you are growing up, you don’t sit in that pocket very long. You drop back and you just run. Usually, you’re a better athlete than everyone else, so you just run around and get touchdowns and make plays and some guys go to college and continue to do that,” he said. “A lot of people win Heismans doing that kind of stuff.
“Eventually, you get to the NFL and you can’t always do that,” Shanahan said. “You have to learn how to sit in the pocket and let a play develop and I think that’s tough for guys who have been great athletes because it’s all about reps and you’ve just never had to do it before. Then you’ve got some guys, to me, like [former NFL QB] Peyton [Manning], probably Tom, I don’t think they were ever that fast or running around on a football field just making plays with their legs. I’m sure since Pop Warner and early on, they learned to sit in that pocket and go through progressions and do stuff. That’s why those guys are a little bit better at it when they get to the league, because they have been doing it their entire life and they don’t have to just learn versus NFL defenses. When you have both of that aspect, it definitely gives you a higher ceiling to be successful.”
As Garoppolo continues to have success, he will inevitably keep pushing the boundaries of what works and what doesn’t. Shanahan seems to expect that.
Asked about Gaoppolo as a risk-taker, he said, “He’s definitely taken some. So, we’ll see as this goes. You want guys to be aggressive and let it rip. You just don’t want guys to guess. You want guys to see it and believe it in and not hesitate and think about it and let it go.
“When guys do that, it usually gives them a chance to be great. It’s also going to give you some games where you have a lot of picks and stuff and you just didn’t see it right and it’s how you respond to those and what do you learn from them. Does it make you more gun-shy and do you get worse as it goes because of it? Or do you learn why you saw it wrong, why you made that pick and you get better? I think if you look at a lot of the great quarterbacks through all-time, a lot of them, especially early in their careers, they have had a lot of picks. They have had a lot of pick-sixes and stuff. Those guys learn from it and get better from it and the guys who don’t, it usually gets a lot worse.”
So far, it couldn’t be going much better for Garoppolo. Or Shanahan.