Patriots

Patriots ‘other corner’ Ryan helps limit Jets’ Marshall

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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.

Brady to Oprah on Belichick: 'We don't agree on absolutely everything'

Brady to Oprah on Belichick: 'We don't agree on absolutely everything'

Most of the highlights of Tom Brady's sit-down with Oprah Winfrey were released here and here last week before the interview was broadcast Sunday morning on Winfrey's OWN channel.

Also, in the hour-long interview, the Patriots quarterback was asked by Winfrey, amid an offseason filled with reports of tension between him and coach Bill Belichick, “Is there something going on with you and Belichick?”

“Umm, no. I mean, I love him," Brady said. "I love that he is an incredible coach, mentor for me. He’s pushed me in a lot of ways. Like everything, we don’t agree on absolutely everything, but that’s relationships.”

When Winfrey asked about his "separate training place" - the TB12 Sports Therapy Center next to Gillette Stadium that Brady and business partner and trainer Alex Guerrero have run for five years - Brady said he wouldn't characterize it as separate.

“No, I wouldn’t say that,” said Brady, who stayed away from Patriots voluntary workouts this spring, has worked out on his own with teammates, but did report for mandatory mini-camp June 5-7. “I probably do some of my own techniques a little differently than the rest of the team. The team, I would say, like most teams, is very systematic in their approach. What I learned, I guess, is different than some of the things that are systematic, but that work for me.”

Brady said he's talked about those techniques with Belichick and Patriots owner Robert Kraft. Belichick restricted Guerrero's access to the Patriots sideline and team flights last season. 

“It’s nothing that I don’t talk about with my coach and owner,” Brady said. “It is what I want to do and is what I need to be the best player I can be. Hopefully, you can support that.”

More highlights from the Brady interview: 

On why he gave up his court fight in the Deflategate case and served his NFL-imposed four-game suspension:

"Too much anxiety," Brady said. "And I realized I couldn't win." Watch that clip here: 

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How this Super Bowl loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in February was a little easier to take than his others, watch here: 

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James Harrison on Patriots' culture: 'I didn't have a problem with it’

James Harrison on Patriots' culture: 'I didn't have a problem with it’

As adversaries and former players openly wonder if the football culture in Foxboro is "fun" enough, recently-retired Pittsburgh Steelers legend James Harrison is asking, why does it matter?

In an interview with CBS Sports Network earlier this week, the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year reflected on the final stop of his 15-year career, the Patriots, who signed him late in the 2017 regular season after Pittsburgh released him, as insurance for New England as they geared up for their run to Super Bowl LII.

The biggest takeaway from his time with the Patriots?

"Discipline. That’s the big thing," the five-time Pro Bowler said. "They’re not going to ask you to do anything that is outside of what you’re capable of doing. And it’s, you learn the system and you go out there and you play it. And like I said, it's very regimented, so if you’re a guy that’s not used to discipline, you’re not going to like it there."

Harrison said it was even stricter than his years with former Steelers coach Bill Cowher, with whom he won his first Super Bowl in 2006.

"Cowher wasn't as regimented as Bill [Belichick] was," Harrison said. "Like I say, I didn’t have a problem with it. You know, I enjoyed my time there, you know, I thanked them for the opportunity they gave me to continue to play."

Philadelphia Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson has repeatedly mocked the Patriots since his team them in Super Bowl LII, calling them "arrogant" and a "fear-based organization", even telling the Pardon My Take podcast, "I'd much rather have fun and win a Super Bowl than be miserable and win five Super Bowls."

Meanwhile, 49ers defensive end Cassius Marsh, who was released after eight games with the Pats in 2017, says he hated his time in New England and didn't have fun, telling the San Francisco Chronicle, "I confronted [Belichick] about all the things that were going on. I won't get into detail, but it was B.S. things they were doing. It just wasn't a fan."

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