Patriots

What they're saying: Eagles weigh in on the Belichick-or-Brady debate

What they're saying: Eagles weigh in on the Belichick-or-Brady debate

MINNEAPOLIS -- You probably can't go 10 minutes on Radio Row without hearing the question. We've been guilty of asking it. It's an amusing big-picture debate to kick around about a team that has been so successful that it entertains few of those these day.

Tom Brady or Bill Belichick?

The stock answer is another question: Why even bother? They're both obviously great. They both have obviously contributed to the success of the Patriots franchise. Their stories are very much intertwined.
That's just the way it is.

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While all of that is true . . . Belichick or Brady?

Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry fielded that question on Tuesday and rolled with the coaching half of the equation.

"I'm going to take Bill Belichick because he's the coach, and Tom doesnt get there by himself," Curry explained. "He's not out there playing defense. He's not calling the calls. He's not overseeing the entire team. Bill Belichick got him there, and then he just kept it going."

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Eagles corner Jalen Mills, meanwhile, took the other side.

"Brady," he said. "I'm a player not a coach as far as that goes. You always want to be around greatness, and he is a guy that is great at his position."

On and on the debate will rage this week, comparing a quarterback to his coach and vice versa. When it comes to the Patriots, because of all they've done since 2001, comparing them to other teams just doesn't generate the same type of chatter.

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If you're in town, make your way over the Radio Row and hear for yourself.

Here are a few of the others things the Eagles were saying on Tuesday . . .

Nick Foles on contemplating retirement after spending the 2015 season with the Rams: "It had nothing to do with starting. I really had to go with my heart in that situation. Getting the opportunity to step away, I went on a fly fishing/camping trip with my brother-in-law, Ryan, and coming back and just asking my wife Tori about it, I still didn’t have a clear decision about what I wanted to do.

“But that’s when I really prayed and really asked God for guidance. There wasn’t a sure path. I really just took a step on faith. I knew that I’d have more growth as a person going back to the game.”

Jay Ajayi on proving himself with the Eagles after a rocky breakup with the Dolphins: “It was more of just slowly showing who I was and just trying to feel it out. It’s a touchy situation, because at the end of the day, I didn’t come with this clean story line. Obviously, there was a story line of me being a bad teammate and all that stuff. So obviously some people may think that, so it was kind of let me just be myself, show who I am, be true to myself and everything will all work itself out, and it did."

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Georgia the new Rutgers? Contingent of Bulldogs growing in New England

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AP Photo

Georgia the new Rutgers? Contingent of Bulldogs growing in New England

FOXBORO -- David Andrews was excited. He just had a hard time showing it.

The Patriots center stayed up long enough to see his team pick at No. 23 in the first round of the NFL Draft, long enough to see his Georgia teammate Isaiah Wynn have his name called.

But the Thursday night prime time event isn't for everyone, and so Andrews wasn't fully conscious by the time the Patriots picked a second Bulldog, Sony Michel, at No. 31.

"I was in bed. My wife stayed up and watched it," Andrews said last week. "I was in bed and I saw Isaiah get drafted, and then I passed out. She came busting in th'.;e room about Sony getting drafted, and at that point, I really didn’t care. I was just trying to get to sleep, but . . . No, I was very happy for them. It was awesome to talk to them. They were here the next day. I didn’t really get to see them, but it’s good to see them around, see some familiar faces"

Suddenly, with five Georgia players on the roster -- Andrews, Wynn, Michel, Malcolm Mitchell and undrafted free agent John Atkins -- they now make up one of the largest contingents of players from one school in Bill Belichick's locker room.

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Iowa is right there with Georgia at five players (Aidrian Clayborn, Cole Croston, James Ferentz, Riley McCarron, Matt Tobin). Vanderbilt is next on the list with four (Adam Butler, Andrew Jelks, Jordan Matthews, Ralph Webb), even with Rutgers (Devin and Jason McCourty, Duron Harmon, Kenny Britt). Arkansas follows closely behind with three (Trey Flowers, Dietrich Wise, Cody Hollister).

If you look at the coaches involved in helping certain groups of players develop, the Patriots connections become even a little more clear.

At Iowa, it's Kirk Ferentz, who served as a Belichick assistant in Cleveland back in the 90s. At Vanderbilt, Belichick thinks highly enough of Derek Mason that he gave Mason and the Vandy coaching staff a behind-the-scenes look at spring workouts in New England last year. At Rutgers, Belichick's relationship with former Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano has been well-documented.

Then there are the coaches who've bounced around a bit and impacted multiple players on the Patriots roster at different spots.

Bret Bielema, who's been helping the Patriots this offseason (and was spotted with Belichick at The Preakness this weekend), coached all three Arkansas products as well as James White during his time at Wisconsin. Bo Pellini has coached three Patriots (Vincent Valentine and Rex Burkhead at Nebraska, Derek Rivers at Youngstown State).

Then there's that Georgia connection. Kirby Smart coached all three Bulldog rookies as well as the two Alabama products on the Patriots roster (Dont'a Hightower, Cyrus Jones) when Smart was coaching defense for the Crimson Tide. Former Georgia coach and current Miami sideline boss Mark Richt recruited all five Georgia players currently on the Patriots roster, and he coached both Miami rookies now in New England (Braxton Berrios, Trent Harris).

Asked why Belichick and the Patriots front office would be so interested in acquiring so many players from the same school, Andrews replied, "That’s a psychology question. Man, I don’t know . . .  

"You know, no, I don’t think there’s really like one thing. I think those are some great guys. They all work really hard. They’ve been great teammates to me, so that’s something you can always respect, and it’s guys like that you love having in your locker room and playing with.

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No matter how you look at it, the Georgia connection in New England is as strong as ever.

"Georgia the new Rutgers? Oh, I’m going to have to talk to Dev and Du about that and all those guys," Andrews said with a smile. "We might be now. We’ll have to see."

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Johnny Manziel signing with Hamilton of the CFL

Johnny Manziel signing with Hamilton of the CFL

Johnny Manziel won't be in the Patriots' plans at quarterback anytime soon.

The former Browns QB, Heisman winner in 2012 and first-round pick in 2014 announced on Saturday morning that he had decided to sign a contract to play in the CFL in order to "further my football career after a long break."

"I believe this is the best opportunity for me moving forward and I'm eager for what the future holds," Manziel tweeted. 

Manziel also announced that he'll be co-hosting the "Comeback Szn" podcast for Barstool Sports alongside his agent Erik Burkhardt and our buddy, former "Boston Sports Tonight" and "Football Fix" co-host, Kayce Smith.

"It's just a really good fit," Burkhardt said on "Comeback Szn." "Good offense. It's a really good league. It's been around forever, we vetted it well, and at the end of the day, like Johnny said, he wants to play ball."

Manziel, who's been out of football the past two years because of substance abuse and emotional problems, has battled bipolar disorder. He will play for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats under head coach June Jones, who has also coached in the NCAA and NFL ranks. Jones served as offensive coordinator of the Falcons (1991-93) before becoming their head coach (1994-96). He was also quarterbacks coach and interim head coach for the Chargers in 1998 before heading to the college ranks. Jones coached at Hawaii then at SMU, where he was the first person to offer Manziel a college scholarship. 

CFL rookie contracts are for two years, meaning the Tiger-Cats will have his rights through the end of the 2019 CFL season. 

Earlier this year, CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie reiterated the league's stance that they're not in the business of letting players break their contracts to pursue NFL opportunities.

The Patriots took a look at him this spring, but even if they had interest, the possibility of which we discussed on Quick Slants the Podcast last month, any marriage will have to wait. 

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