Sounds like Mankins intends to play the field


Sounds like Mankins intends to play the field

By Tom E. Curran

It doesn't sound like bygones are necessarily bygones for Logan Mankins. Tuesday at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii, Mankins took a sarcastic swipe at Patriots owner Robert Kraft and said "32 teams" are in play for his services once free agency opens.
Speaking to Karen Guregian of The Boston Herald, Mankins was asked whether he apologized to Patriots owner Robert Kraft for questioning Kraft's integrity last summer.
"Well, everyone knows I apologized to Mr. Kraft. He told everyone," Mankins said in what Guregian said was a tone laced with sarcasm. Mankins was one of the players caught up in a CBA loophole that prevented him from becoming a free agent last spring. He was instead a restricted free agent bound to the Patriots. Mankins expected a contract extension anyway. The Patriots offered a five-year deal that would have made Mankins one of the highest-paid players at his position in the league. Mankins and his agent, Frank Bauer, turned their nose up to that and went on the offensive. Mankins joined the Patriots after missing seven games and was brilliant, being selected not only for the Pro Bowl but also as an All-Pro. His price tag has only gone up. And while he didn't rule out the Patriots, the fact he basically lumped them in with everyone else shows the mindset Mankins is working with. "There are 32 teams in play," Mankins told Guregian. "Whatever one I feel is the best situation for me.Theres always a possibility for the Patriots. But to tell you the truth, I havent given it much thought right now. If there was a CBA, Im sure Id be thinking about it a lot more."The Patriots could franchise Mankins (if there's a franchise tag when the new CBA is ratified), but that won't likely be a hit with Mankins. Based on the cordial relations the Pats and Mankins seemed to have from the time he reported (three weeks earlier than he needed to to get an accrued season) through the end of the year, I wondered if an informal agreement had been reached between Mankins and the team. An agreement that would see him signed before the ink was dry on a new CBA. But his comments on Tuesday indicate he - at least outwardly - has no such special allegiance to the Patriots.

Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

QUICK SLANTS PODCAST: Belichick ignoring noise? Or trying to change the narrative?


QUICK SLANTS PODCAST: Belichick ignoring noise? Or trying to change the narrative?

3:00 Why has Bill Belichick been so surprisingly positive of his team’s performance in tight wins?

6:30 Phil Perry breaks down what grades he gave the Patriots on his report card following the win over the Jets

15:00 Reaction to the Austin-Seferian Jenkins overturned touchdown, and what changes need to be made in the NFL replay system. 

23:00 Why was Patriots offensive line much more effective against Jets?


25:00 Patriots-Falcons preview, how did Falcons blow a 17 point lead to the Dolphins?

What's missing from Patriots? A defense that has a clue

What's missing from Patriots? A defense that has a clue

FOXBORO - We’re not quite at the point of fire and brimstone coming down from the skies, or 40 years of darkness, or even dogs and cats living together, but this Patriots season isn’t headed down the right path, despite a 4-2 record and the top spot in the AFC East. 

There are several elements that appear missing at this juncture - chief among them a defense that actually has a clue. Please don’t celebrate holding the Jets to 17 points - I’m looking at you, Dont’a Hightower. Josh McCown threw for just 194 yards against the Cleveland freakin’ Browns for goodness sake, but he got you for 354 and two scores?! Even the 2009 Patriots defense is offended by that.


We’d be foolish to think the Pats can’t get this leaky unit fixed for reasons so obvious I won’t state them in this space so as not to waste my time or yours. We also know - long before Bill Belichick’s 6 1/2-minute explanation on the Monday conference call - that it's not supposed to be perfect right now. Actually, it’ll never be perfect. That’s not how this game works. 

Yet week after week, we see uncommon breakdowns and one defender looking at the next as if to say, “I thought you had him?” or more to the point, “what the hell were you doing?” It started Sunday at MetLife on the third play of the game. Malcolm Butler, playing 10 yards off Robby Anderson, looking as if he’s never played the position before, inexplicably turning his back on Anderson even though the wide receiver makes no real move to the post. That results in just about the easiest completion of McCown’s life, a 23-yarder on third-and-10. 

On the same series, on another third-and-long, the Pats rushed four and dropped seven into coverage. Defensive end Cassius Marsh continued his season-long trend of rushing so far upfield he ended up in Hoboken. With Deatrich Wise ridden outside on the opposite edge, McCown wisely stepped up and found prime real estate with New York City views. He wanted to throw and could have when the Pats fouled up a crossing route from the backside of the play. But with that much room to roam, McCown took off, scooting for a quick 16 yards and another first down.

Fittingly, that drive ended with a Jets touchdown on yet another dumb play, this one courtesy of Mr. Hit or Miss, Elandon Roberts. Channeling his inner Brandon Spikes, the second-year pro blew off his key and responsibility on third-and-goal from the 1, charging hard to the line. This, despite one of the most feeble play-action fakes you’ll see. In fact, I’m not even sure it was a real play-action fake. Anyway, score it as a touchdown to Austin Seferian-Jenkins and an indictment on David Harris, who apparently can’t vault past the erratic Roberts on the depth chart.

Similar to the week prior in Tampa, the Pats found better footing after that. They forced three straight three-and-outs in the second quarter and then helped turn the game when Butler intercepted an ill-advised throw by McCown just prior to the half. They got another turnover to start the third, with Butler coming off the edge on fourth-and-1 and forcing McCown into panic mode. The veteran QB fired an off-target throw to - get this - a wide open receiver who went uncovered on a drag route and Devin McCourty was gifted an interception.

But this group frowns on prosperity. It took a little-seen rule to prevent a Seferian-Jenkins touchdown in the fourth, and on the game’s final drive, the Pats allowed a 32-yard completion on fourth-and-12. Then, on what turned out to be the Jets final play, the Pats let Tavaris Cadet leak out of the backfield and run unchecked 20 yards down the field. Had McCown not soiled himself again, Gang Green would have had a first down and at least one crack at the end zone. Then, who knows what the heck happens?

It was just a season ago that the Patriots led the entire NFL in scoring defense. If you’ll recall, we spent a better part of the year wondering if that defense was championship quality. Turns out they were. Right now, we’re wondering once again if this defense is of that ilk, but through an entirely different prism. It’s on the players and staff to change the current outlook, or those cats and dogs will have to figure out their shared space.