Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Patriots Resume' - Nate Ebner

What if New England Patriots' head ball coach Bill Belichick required resumes from his players - what would those look like?  We take a stab at them, in alphabetical order...

Dear Coach,

Just letting you know that there is no pressure on you whatsoever to select me for the football team, so don't stress out over it, ok?  I'll be fine; I can always just go play rugby.

I didn't play high school football and I initially didn't play in college, naturally, having no experience in football whatsoever, but figured that hanging on the football team at Ohio State was better for my education since as far as I'd probably have to travel would be California, while playing rugby took me all over the world.

So football is like my second choice, and I know you understand that from your experience with Lacrosse - so don't worry about me, I have options.

It's not a threat, it's the truth.  When I was in high school, I was the youngest player ever to be named the U.S. National Rugby Union team, and was named Most Valuable Player of the team in the 2007 and 2008 seasons while attending Ohio State University, but gave it up in 2009 to concentrate on my education...

...subsequently walking onto the football team and making the squad as a special teams maven, earning the moniker of the best special teams player by being named the Ike Kelly Award winner. The move to quit international competition in Rugby proved fortuitous to my education, as I made the Big 10 All-Academic honoree three years in a row.

I figured once I graduated I could go back to playing rugby because no one wants a crazy special teams only guy, but there you were in the sixth round of the 2012 draft, making my life complicated all over again!

The Olympics are coming up next year, and Rugby has been added to the docket for the first time in nearly a century - so I suppose my career choices have reached a crossroads, but that has nothing to do with me being here.  I'm signed through this season, and I intend on honoring my contract.

As you know, I've got a screw loose.  I've said that on many occasions when asked about my favorite work on special teams: "Kickoffs. I enjoy running down the field as fast as I can.  It's mayhem. It's exciting. It's crazy. It's such a rush...it's just one big blur, then it's over." In fact, my teammates in Columbus nicknamed me "Leonidas", after the Greek warrior-king because I kinda look like him, but mostly because of my crazy look on the football field.

So, I do enjoy football.  I like to intimidate the opposing players.  I like to hit them.  I like running full speed and I like the collisions and I love to work out - and if it's all the same to you, let's let 2015 play out and we'll worry about contacts and stuff next offseason...

Sincerely,

Leonidas

Resume'

Education: 

Ohio State University

Work Experience:

2012 - present: New England Patriots
                         Regular season: 36 defensive tackles, 37 special teams tackles, 2 fumble recoveries
                         Playoffs: 9 special teams tackles

Awards:

2014 - Super Bowl Champion
2011 - Bo Rein Award (Most inspirational player at OSU)
2011 - Ike Kelly Award (Best special teams player at OSU)
2008 - MVP IRB 20 and under World Championships
2007 - MVP IRB 19 and under World Championships

Personal Information:

Born December 14, 1988 at Dublin, Ohio
Height: 6' 0"
Weight: 210

Website:

Nate Ebner Player Profile - Foxborough Free Press

Goodell Gives Brady "The Treatment", Patriots Respond With War Declaration On NFL

Years ago, back before many of us were born, there was a young politician from Texas named Lyndon Johnson who, during one of his first attempts at running for public office, found himself trailing his opponent in the polls by double digits with a scant two weeks left before election day.

An aggressive debater and with an intimidating persona, Johnson held himself to be a champion of the people - but if he couldn't win an election against an corrupt incumbent old-timer, no one would ever know.  So Johnson called his campaign staff together one afternoon for a luncheon, the purpose of which was to reveal a new, eleventh-hour strategy.

At the end of the meeting, Johnson asked his campaign manager to stay for a moment longer and, getting right up in his face with what was to become known as "The Treatment" - noses nearly touching, the physically imposing Johnson ordered the meek campaign manager to "leak" to the local press a tale of his opponent frequently enjoying carnal knowledge of his barnyard sows.

The campaign manager balked.

"Sir" he stammered, "There is no way that anyone is ever going to believe that!" to which Johnson replied, "I know, but let's make the son of a bitch deny it."

Putting adversaries on the spot and a subject of public ridicule is as old as politics itself.  Nothing derails even the most finely executed plan like having to stop the train to deny rumors and innuendo - and there's not a walk in life that can't be subjected to its evil grip.

Just ask Tom Brady.

Every day since the beginning of the so-called "Deflategate" saga, someone has been giving someone else involved in this filthy drama the Johnson treatment, putting each other on the defensive with leaks regarding their character.

First it was National Football League vice president of game day operations Mike Kensil stomping up the sidelines at the AFC Championship game like a power hungry teenaged babysitter to tell Patriots' equipment manager Mike Schoenfield that he and the team were "In big fucking trouble", like he was poised to tell their mothers that they tinkered with the air pressure in footballs, hoping that panic would take over and Schoenfield would start singing out names and offering to cooperate fully...

...then came erroneous leak after leak from the NFL offices intended to cast a shadow over a franchise that already were viewed by the general populace as not having the best reputation in the game, moving on to the damning Wells Report which NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell used as a springboard to suspend the certain Hall of Fame quarterback.

The appellate process after that, resulting in a month-long series of leaks from the NFL offices that would have been enough to sink an aircraft carrier, ended in Goodell upholding his own ruling, simultaneously filing a suit in a Manhattan federal court to have a judge confirm his ruling (as is common in civil suits involving money) as pre-emptive strike to try and avoid having to face a judge in a more labor-friendly venue.

To have a judge confirm a ruling in arbitration case in which money damages are involved is standard operating procedure to force the issue, but in a case like this one, it is completely unnecessary and, indeed, inappropriate except to satisfy a long-since vanquished "First-to-file" rule wherein one party files a suit simply in anticipation of a lawsuit filed by the opposition - in this case, Brady.

Goodell's motivation for upholding an obviously flawed process? Tom Brady's habit of destroying cell phones once he's finished using them, something that team owner Robert Kraft addressed at an impromptu press conference on Wednesday morning, just hours after Brady himself released a statement on the matter on his Facebook account.

"I replaced my broken Samsung phone with a new iPhone AFTER my attorneys made it clear to the NFL that my actual phone device would not be subjected to investigation under ANY circumstances" Brady wrote. "As a member of a union, I was under no obligation to set a new precedence going forward, nor was I made aware at any time during Mr. Wells investigation that failing to subject my phone to investigation would result in ANY discipline."

Brady went on to give a chronology of sorts, explaining in detail how he and his legal team offered to reconcile the situation after Brady had been disciplined by handing over not only detailed pages of text information from the phone, but also email records - saying that there "is no smoking gun" and that this controversy "was manufactured to distract from the fact they have zero evidence of wrong-doing."

Kraft then delivered a scathing soliloquy aimed at commissioner Goodell and the National Football League, in which he opined that the league rushing to federal court before anyone knew what was going on was "only a tactic that a lawyer would recommend" and that the league is "more concerned about being right than anything else."

As you should remember, Kraft gave up his fight against the NFL's harsh penalties against the team during an awkward press conference on the eve of the owner's meeting in San Francisco, to which this blog opined that Kraft was laying in wait for the legal processes to play out on Brady, at which time he would petition the league for redress - but in Wednesday's impromptu presser, Kraft admitted that he did so solely because he thought it would help in Brady's exoneration.

Instead, the league has upheld the Brady suspension and filed their motion in federal court.

"I was wrong to place my faith in the league" Kraft angrily admitted in a drop-the-microphone moment after issuing an apology to the fans, an event that has sent reverberations through the football world and certainly throughout New England, as the Patriots have officially declared war on the National Football League.

Goodell's "tactic" should have no bearing on Brady's suit and, indeed, makes the league look like it is afraid of what would happen in an actual court battle, because they certainly must be aware of the fact that the Federal Arbitration Act provides very clear grounds in which they are compelled to overturn or vacate both punishments and awards, no matter the venue.  These are:

1. Where the award is the result of corruption, fraud or undue means;
2. Where the arbitrators were evidently partial or corrupt;
3. Where the arbitrators were guilty of misconduct in refusing to postpone the hearing or to hear pertinent evidence, or whether their misbehavior prejudiced the rights of any party;
4. Where the arbitrators exceeded their own powers or imperfectly executed them so that a mutual, final and definite award was not made.

In lay terms, the courts can overturn Goodell's ruling on the basis of undue means (improper processes, which the NFLPA has already addressed), Bias, prejudice and exceeding the scope of their own power - all of which seem to be a given and tie into each other within the word of the law.

One thing is for certain, however. No matter what the outcome of the pending lawsuit that the NFLPA is expected to file in Minneapolis on Wednesday, Brady will forever be considered as guilty to a public that is ignorant by their own free will, determined to hear only that which they wish to hear - which is exactly what Goodell was counting on as evidenced by the wording of his decision to uphold Brady's suspension.

Make no mistake, this is a heavyweight fight between the most popular and most well-financed league in the world of sports and their most popular and most celebrated ambassador - hardly a fight where anyone wins, rather, a fight that everyone loses as the reputations and character of everyone involved comes under intense scrutiny.

Shots have been fired across the bows of both the Patriots and the League in a war that no one wins, because it has irreparably harmed the game of football by posing teams and fans against each other, not on the field of battle, but on a playing field that has no business being part of the sport.

That said, time to give the "Son of a bitch" that runs the National Football League the Johnson Treatment, and to force him to deny that this was all a set up from the beginning, which is going to be very difficult once the judge gets hold of the electronic communications from the league offices during the discovery process.

When that happens, Goodell is going to wish that HE had smashed everything in his entire office, and tossed the hard drives into the Hudson...




Monday, July 27, 2015

Patriots Resume' - Dominique Easley

What if New England Patriots' head ball coach Bill Belichick required resumes from his players - what would those look like?  We take a stab at them, in alphabetical order...

Dear Coach,

People don't get that sometimes when you make an investment, you don't necessarily reap dividends right away - so when you drafted me in the first round last season, many thought I would be able to contribute right away, not seeing that I was one investment that needed a little time to mature...

...not as in my behavior or the way that I conduct my affairs, but on the football field.  I needed time to heal, so when I did get on the field, the explosion off the snap wasn't what people were expecting, nor was my impact felt immediately.

Nor, it would seem, that you are going to see me perform on the practice field when camp starts in a few days, since you've placed me on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list, meaning that I have not been medically cleared to participate - but I will be soon.

I hear the rumblings.  The media wondering aloud why you "wasted" a first round draft pick on me when I was projected to be a 3rd or 4th rounder because my surgically repaired knees weren't worth risking such high draft capital on. They didn't care that there were rumors that the Seahawks were ready to pounce on me a couple of picks later, nor did the fans who read their columns.

To be fair, they haven't really seen the best of me, but from what they have seen and read of my college days, they should know that I'm an aggressive three-tech who is as slippery as I am strong. Yeah, I've shredded both ACLs and tried to come back from the latest one perhaps a bit too early last season, but you shut me down so I could have an extra couple of months to fully recover, and soon the fans are going to see why you drafted me.

And I'm surrounded by aggressive players, not a slouch in the bunch.  Chandler? Sheard? Malcom Brown? All jackrabbits with high motors. Hightower? Collins? Mayo? Ninkovich? come on, man, that doesn't sound like a bunch of passive neanderthals waiting for the red zone to ball - this isn't going to be that stupid bend-but-don't-break stuff that you've had to piece together before.

No, you've put together a real monster of a front seven, building slowly and meticulously through the draft and free agency, biding your time until we're all ready to ball, then you're going to turn us loose - and heaven help anyone who stands in our way.

You know it, I know it and all the other cats on this defense knows it - and when the lights shine on opening night, the entire football world will know it, and I'm proud and thankful that I'm going to be part of it.

Sincerely,

Dom

Resume'

Education: 

University of Florida

Work Experience:

2014 - Present: New England Patriots
                          9 tackles, 1 sack, 1 interception, 1 pass defended

Awards:

2014 - Super Bowl Champion

Personal Information:

Born 28 April, 1992 at Staten Island, New York
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 285

Website:

Dominique Easley Player Profile - Foxborough Free Press

Patriots Resume' - Tarell Brown

What if New England Patriots' head ball coach Bill Belichick required resumes from his players - what would those look like?  We take a stab at them, in alphabetical order...

Dear Coach,

Thanks for taking a chance on me!

By signing me this past weekend to a one-year deal, I immediately become the most expereinced corner on the team, and I'm not that far removed from being an impact corner on a Super Bowl team, as my career has been all in the Bay Area, playing with San Francisco for seven seasons before taking a one-year "prove it" deal with Oakland last season.

A broken bone in my foot derailed my aggressive play at free agency in 2015, so I am essentially starting over with another "prove it" deal here in Foxborough.

My injury history is well documented, as I lost part of my 2013 season with the 49ers because of broken ribs, then lost the last couple of games with the Raiders last season to have surgery on my foot.  Still, I was widely considered one of the better free agent corners on the market this spring, but nobody except you took the plunge, despite visiting with several teams who were still wary of the broken bone in my foot.

A starter for most of my career defies my 5th round draft status back in 2007.  Compared favorably to one of your former players, Randall Gay, I am not what you would call flashy - just a smart, studious corner who does his job and prevents the big play, logging 61 passes defended in as many starts.

I bring a plethora of starting experience in the post season and have played in a Super Bowl - which I know several of the players on your depth chart have as well, and now teamed with your holdovers from last season (Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan) combined with your previous free agent moves (Bradley Fletcher, Derek Cox and Robert McClain), I know that this is a secondary in the midst of a transition, but a transition to what has yet to be decided.

But the secondary has a nice mix of youth and veteran presence, and with your elite safety corps backing us up, this cornerback corps has the makings of a unit that may surprise some folks - and I'm happy to be part of that!

Thanks again,

Tarell

Resume'

Education: 

University of Texas

Work Experience:

2007 - 2013: San Francisco 49ers
                      Regular season: 240 tackles, 61 passes defended, 11 interceptions (1 touchdown)
                      Playoffs: 30 tackles, 7 passes defended, 2 interceptions, 1 forced fumble
2014: Oakland Raiders
           Regular season: 55 tackles, 4 passes defended

Awards:

2012 - NFC Champion (San Francisco)
2007 - Tomas Herrion Award (Making the most of his opportunities to make a significant
impact in a rookie season / San Francisco)

Personal Information:

Born: 6 January 1985 at New York City
Height: 5' 10"
Weight: 190

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Patriots Resume' - Aaron Dobson

What if New England Patriots' head ball coach Bill Belichick required resumes from his players - what would those look like?  We take a stab at them, in alphabetical order...

Dear Coach,

The pin is out, the hammy is healed and I'm ready to ball.

I'm not going to use anything as an excuse for missing so much time, because it's not like I was slacking, or that I couldn't pick up the offensive scheme.  I had a broken bone in my foot, the resulting surgeries - plural - requiring massive recovery time, and once the foot was ready last season, the hamstring went rogue and you put me on the IR.

I understand the fans' frustration - second round pick who made spectacular play after spectacular play in college, never dropping a pass my entire senior year on nearly 100 targets, running past defensive backs like they were standing still, and then I get to the pros and it unravels. I get the frustration, but I'm healthy and ready to put it all back together.

At my best, I'm a glider who has the ability to run underneath a ball and make a quarterback look good on his deep throws, with fly paper for hands and a nose for the end zone. I gain my separation from corners with a burst off of my stride - a "second gear" that places all of my body weight on the ball of my foot to gain the proper plantar flexion - but with that broken bone in my foot, I lost full range of motion, and as a result, my burst.

Of course, you are privy to all of this, but did you know that I'm quite the cornerback as well?

Yup, in high school I played both ways and heisted 10 balls in two years, seven of those picks in my senior season, just in case you're planning on using any receivers as cornerbacks this year like you have at points in the past with astonishing success, but that's a concern for another time - right now I'm going to come out in camp, play hard and dedicate to my craft, taking my snaps where I can get them.

I'm under no delusion. I know what people are expecting of me, but I'm not necessarily a deep threat though I certainly have the speed to separate deep - but in this offense I'm more of a horizontal threat, in that I run a lot of crossers, fades and back shoulder stuff along the sidelines for 15 to 20 yards a pop and I'm tall enough to handle the seam.


You're going to see all of this very very soon, and it will feel good to be back out there contributing to the team.

Sincerely,

Dobson


Resume'

Education: 

Marshall University

Work Experience:

2013 - Present: New England Patriots
                         Regular season: 40 receptions, 557 yards (13.9 avg.), 4 touchdowns
                         Playoffs: 2 receptions, 33 yards (16.5 avg.)

Awards:

2014 - Super Bowl Champion
2011 - Beef O' Brady's Bowl MVP

Personal Information:

Born July 23, 1991 at Dunbar, West Virginia
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 200

Website:

Aaron Dobson Player Profile - Foxborough Free Press

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Patriots Resume - James Develin

What if New England Patriots' head ball coach Bill Belichick required resumes from his players - what would those look like?  We take a stab at them, in alphabetical order...

Dear Coach,

As an Ivy leaguer, I am pretty good with numbers and such, and I tend to see things in black and white instead of the vague surrealistic fog that most players in my position drift through.

Not that there's any writing on the wall, mind you, and $660,000 is nothing to sneeze at, but with no signing bonuses and no incentives and no guaranteed money - well - I have no delusions about a secure spot on the roster, especially since there was no market for me when I hit the waiver wire in 2013, and no market this offseason as an exclusive rights free agent.

I mean, I'm a fullback - and not just a fullback, but a former college defensive end who made the transition to fullback on your practice squad as a rookie in 2012, then arrived on the scene as kind of a novelty the following season, quickly hitting the ceiling of my potential as a blocking back and occasional pass catcher.

I've made a career out of just hanging around, playing the Arena league for the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz, the Florida Tuskers of the now-defunct United Football league and finally landing a practice squad gig with the Cincinnati Bengals after those two short stints, eventually being cut from all of them, but I found a home here, surviving two brief periods on the waiver wire only to return to Foxborough.

But now, you have so many options.  I mean, as pass catchers go, you brought in Chandler and Derby as tight ends and the Mundine kid from Kansas, a multi-tool Hback who is faster and is a far more experienced route runner - and I'm basically a lead blocker.  There's no way that I bring enough in any other facet of the game to compete with any of these guys, except maybe my special teams work.

But here's the thing: I bring a toughness to the position that no one else can match, and I know that my teammates trust me to throw the big block to open the hole or to give Tommy enough time to throw.  That said, the competition will be tough, but as you know from these couple of seasons coaching me, tough is my middle name, and I will fight to the end to make this team.

I am motivated to that end, and a motivated me will be very tough to cut.  Just sayin'...

Sincerely,

The Devil

Resume'

Education: 

Brown University

Work Experience:

2010 - Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz (AFL)
2010 - Florida Tuskers (UFL)
2010 - 2012 - Cincinnati Bengals (Practice squad only)
2012 - Present - New England Patriots
                           Regular season: 7 carries, 15 yards (2.1 avg.), 1 touchdown
                                                      10 receptions, 105 yards (10.5 avg.)
                           Playoffs: 1 carry, 0 yards; 2 receptions, 7 yards (3.5 avg.), 1 touchdown

Awards:

2014 - Super Bowl Champion

Personal Information:

Born 23 July, 1988 at Boyertown, Pennsylvania
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 255

Website:

James Develin Player Profile - Foxborough Free Press

Monday, July 20, 2015

Patriots' Resume' - A. J. Derby

What if New England Patriots' head ball coach Bill Belichick required resumes from his players - what would those look like?  We take a stab at them, in alphabetical order...

Dear Coach,

I know I'm probably headed to the Practice squad, but what else could I have expected from being a member of the Patriots?

I mean. you have Gronk, Chandler, Hooman and my former homie Jake Bequette already on the roster, you're probably only keeping three of them on the 53, with Develin able to fill in as an Hback, and Fleming and Cannon doing well as end-of-the-line eligible tackles...

...and I've only played the position for one college season at Arkansas after being a backup quarterback for a couple of years and trying out linebacker for size before settling on tight end.

In fact, I'm a wonderful toy to have on the practice squad - in one fell swoop, I can triple up as the opposition's quarterback, an athletic linebacker and their "move" tight end.

But, what if?  What if I tear it up in camp?  Will you keep four?

I know, I know.  If "ifs" and "buts" were candy and nuts, every day would be Christmas.  I've heard it a thousand times and it only cracks me up when you say it.  You don't suffer fools or rookies happily, especially when both are combined into one cocky and stubborn kid that gave up a chance to be a full-time starter at linebacker at Iowa because I knew I could play quarterback...

...then spending a year playing quarterback at a community college only to end up a part-time quarterback-turned-tight end at Arkansas.

That's right, there were many who thought that I wasn't the sharpest crayon in the box for doing that, nor for when I got put in the poke for drunkenly punching out a bus window my freshman year - but there are others who see me as high-spirited and relentless and, apparently, you are one of those people.

I'm encouraged, because I know you've taken another college quarterback that you drafted in the late rounds and made him the hardest cover in the league, and I'm looking forward to you and the other coaches forming me into a weapon like Edelman.

I still want to play quarterback and maybe I'll get my chance one day, but I know that I have to make the team first, and that certainly isn't going to be at quarterback, not with Brady and Jimmy Football around, so I'll settle for tight end (even if it's on the practice squad) - but you know where to find me if you need me for a trick play or three...

...hey, you let Edelman do it in a freaking playoff game.  It ain't gonna kill you to turn me loose with a few in the preseason!

Sincerely,

A.J.

Resume'

Education: 

University of Arkansas
                       19 completions on 36 attempts, 178 yards, 1 touchdown, 1 interception
                       22 catches, 330 yards, 3 touchdowns
                       3 special teams tackles

Work Experience:

2015 - New England Patriots

Personal Information:

Born September 20, 1991 at Iowa City, Iowa
Height: 6' 4"
Weight: 255

Website:

A.J. Derby Player Profile - Foxborough Free Press



Deflategate - Impact Of Appellate Process goes Far Beyond Brady, Patriots

Roger Goodell is a despot.

Despot, tyrant, absolute monarch - label him as you will, for they all work. As the commissioner of the National Football League, Goodell has adopted a policy of, as Plato put it, "One who rules without law, looks to his own advantage rather than that of his subjects, and uses extreme and cruel tactics - against his own people as well as others."

Though it may seem to some that Goodell bases his rulings regarding punishment according to public opinion, Goodell actually uses public opinion as a mechanism to build his own power under the guise of satiating public outcry toward a certain subject, riding the wave of sentiment until the wave breaks on the shores of despotism, ruling with an iron fist that many do not recognize until, alas, it is too late to do anything about it.

Future Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre experienced this form of authority at the start of Goodell's reign, as he was fined $50,000 for refusing to hand over his private cell phone during a league investigation regarding a sexual harassment case against him.

Former Baltimore Ravens' running back Ray Rice also felt the sting of Goodell's whip.  Sentenced to a two game suspension for hitting his wife and knocking her cold in a casino elevator, public rage after a video of the incident emerged forced the commissioner to re-examine his ruling, swiftly suspending Rice indefinitely...

...but this wasn't just happenstance.  Goodell told the public that he hadn't seen the video before it was released, and that two-games was the precedence set forth for domestic violence cases. Then, stating that he was appalled and sickened by the video evidence, rode that wave of public sentiment to impose the closest thing to a death penalty as he legally could, setting an entirely new and broad precedence that gave him far-reaching authority in sentencing.

The proof of this comes in the cases of both Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy, where Peterson was also suspended indefinitely for using a switch to discipline his own child, then Hardy for the 2014 season for slugging his girlfriend, then the commissioner revisited the case once more evidence was brought to light this past off season, using that to suspend the talented defensive end for 10 more games of the upcoming 2015 season.

All of these incidents fall under the "Conduct detrimental to the League" tab of the league's punishment manual, and as egregious as these crimes were and are, precedence has to have a play in sentencing to provide guidelines and limitations on the power demonstrated by the commissioner, or else the entirety of the punishment system becomes no more than the whim of the tyrant.

Federal court rulings against Goodell in these matters have had little effect on his mindset, as he has continued to rule excessively against the players under his purview.  Rice had his sentence set aside and is now eligible to play.  Same with Peterson, though Goodell resisted court orders to immediately reinstate the running back and is now facing a contempt of court charge from a federal magistrate.

Hardy's 10 game suspension was reduced to four games by an independent arbitrator, though the defensive end still maintains his stance that he will take his case to federal court to have it set aside - but none of these outcomes have had any bearing on Goodell's decision-making process.

Part of the reason why Goodell has been able to wield so much power over this process is because he has adopted the lowest standard of proof in the justice system, an evil thing called a "Preponderance of the Evidence", also known as a "Balance of Probabilities", meaning that to find a player guilty of a deed subject to punishment, all the league has to show is that a player "More likely than not" committed the deed.

In the aforementioned cases, there was video evidence, police reports and eyewitness testimony as to the guilt of the accused - but what happens when there is no video evidence, police reports or eyewitness testimony?

Enter Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

The so-called "Deflategate" saga has been dissected and over-reported, ad nauseum, and even though all of the evidence in the case is circumstantial at best, an "independent investigator"found that it is
"more likely than not" that Brady had knowledge of Patriots' equipment managers deflating footballs in order to give the team a competitive advantage over the Indianapolis Colts in last season's AFC Championship Game - and Brady was suspended and the Patriots fined and stripped of two draft picks.

Why? Because Goodell finally has a case so ambiguous in nature that to win any sort of victory in the appellate process will set a precedence that will give him unbridled authority to wield that same power over any player or team that crosses him, with only the "More probable than not" standard needing to be satisfied to invoke punishment.

And it's the Players' fault that it even comes down to this.

In 2011, the NFLPA signed off on a Collective bargaining Agreement that gave Goodell absolute power of the discipline of players, something that former Pittsburgh Steelers' receiver Hines Ward opined about shortly thereafter as nothing short of electing a dictator.

"...it should be noted that we (the Steelers) were the only team that voted against it" Ward said of the CBA in an interview given in 2012. "In order to go to the appeal committee, we had to go right back to Roger Goodell. So that was one of the big things we voted no against because we felt like it was going to be unfair."

Many viewed Ward's statements as being unjustifiably paranoid, being as the 31 other teams voted to ratify the agreement - at least three of which probably wished they had paid a little closer attention to the small print, a group that includes the Patriots - but how was anyone to know that Goodell would go right out and start abusing his new-found power?

Ward's remarks were in response to the "Bountygate" controversy and how the Saints players and coaches were bullied by the league's vast legal network and subsequently were railroaded by the appellate processes that essentially made Goodell judge, jury and executioner when it came to players indiscretion, either real or imagined.

Of course, Ward was speaking in regard of Article 46 of the CBA, specifically section 2, subsection (a) which states, "...the commissioner may serve as hearing officer for any appeal under Section 1(a) of this Article at his discretion." There's a bunch of other mumbo-jumbo stated before that sentence, which the sentence rendered void at the discretion of the commissioner...

...and while the current Collective Bargaining Agreement can not be addressed until the end of the 2021 season, the NFLPA and Brady himself can put serious limitations on the commissioner's breadth of punitive measures by being successful in petitioning the federal court to set aside Brady's suspension.  The caveat, however, is that if Brady and his legal team are unsuccessful, the door is open for the commissioner to cement his authority, the precedence set making it extremely unlikely that another player could successfully petition for such in the future.

The same thing is true if Brady just accepts whatever the ruling is to avoid a distraction for the team, as some Patriots' beat writers are suggesting.  If Brady were to accept Goodell's ruling - assuming it's anything short of complete exoneration - it will be the equivalent of a coronation for Goodell, and his reign of unreasonable terror can go by, unabated, for another six years.

But, why Brady?  Why not Rice or Peterson or Hardy?

Because the differences between Brady's case and the others is that the Commissioner had indisputable evidence of the other three beating defenseless women or children, and all Goodell has against Brady is a report from a clearly biased "independent investigator" that has had so many holes blown in it that it resembles the partitions at an adult video arcade.

While a victory by Brady doesn't guarantee that the commissioner will cease in leveling his unreasonable and far-reaching punishments, it will set precedence that in ambiguous cases with merely circumstantial evidence are to be held to a higher standard of proof and that Goodell will be constrained to abiding by Article 46, Section 2(a) of the CBA...

...which requires the NFL and NFLPA to designate a pool of independent hearing officers that both the league and the players' counsel must agree upon in a case-by-case basis.  This didn't happen in Brady's appellate process, as Goodell invoked his right as commissioner to designate himself as the hearing officer - and the only way that is going to change is if the courts also find in Brady's favor on the stipulation that the commissioner is not an unbiased hearing officer, given that he is the person that dishes out the punishment to begin with.

In Brady's favor is a ruling in the State of Missouri Supreme Court that the commissioner is incapable of being objective in such an arena, declaring unconscionable Section 8.3 of the NFL's Constitution and Bylaws that state the "Commissioner shall have full and complete and final jurisdiction and authority to arbitrate any dispute between any player, coach, and/or any other employee of the team." by stating that "In effect, the Commissioner is required to arbitrate claims against his employers."

And while that doesn't necessarily fall neatly into this case, it does give relevancy to the NFLPA's claim because it also potentially gives the NFLPA a "hammer for challenging in court the ability of the commissioner to continue to serve as the arbitrator over claims brought by players."

This is why Brady absolutely must fight this punishment all the way to the end.  Forget that Brady could miss four games.  Forget that the Patriots stand to lose two draft picks - those are small potatoes in the grand scheme of Goodell's power play, and there may never be a better time to challenge the Commissioner's dominion over the teams and players that the CBA allows in its language.

It's either that or wait for six years when the NFLPA's contempt for Goodell is such that common ground on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement will be so narrow that a work stoppage will be sure to occur, with the very future of the NFL at stake.


Sunday, July 19, 2015

Patriots Resume' - Jamie Collins

What if New England Patriots' head ball coach Bill Belichick required resumes from his players - what would those look like?  We take a stab at them, in alphabetical order...

Dear Coach,

I used to be a safety.

I play like a safety.  I play with that last line of defense attitude.  You've seen me cover tight ends, you've seen me rush the quarterback and you've seen me in run support.  I'm just a big, long safety playing linebacker. Watch me in coverage. I jump into the tight end's hip pocket and stay there. I get my head around to look for the ball, which accounts for my 4 career interceptions and 16 passes defended in just two seasons.

Those are safety numbers.  Hell, those are cornerback numbers on some teams.  But I'm a linebacker, and a pretty damned good one.

Of course, you already know that.  I have been a high school quarterback, defensive end, linebacker and defensive back, and repeated the feat in college, sans the quarterback play.  I took state in track and field in high school in both the shot put and discus throw, and placed second in the triple jump and the high jump...

...and then coming out of college I blew up the combine, setting a record broad jump and finishing at or near the top of five of the seven measurables - but what those measurables will not tell you is what is in my heart.  Dedication to the game of football, dedication to my craft, dedication to my team and responsibility and accountability to my team mates.

In my senior year at Southern Miss, our team sucked, both literally and figuratively, but I never stopped fighting, never stopped trying, never once let my teammates down. All of us had every excuse we needed to not try, to give up - but we didn't, and I'm proud of that. I could have all of the athletic talent in the world, but it is my attitude that makes me the player that I am.

Many publications are lauding my efforts last year as a "Breakout" season, but I don't think they've seen the best of Jamie Collins. Consider that in the Super Bowl, Russell Wilson faked me out of my socks on a boot action, and Marshawn Lynch used me like a snot rag on that sick wheel route to start the Seahawks' final drive - and that just won't do.

I'm better than that, and I am motivated to make those plays this season.  There is always room for improvement, right?  You tell us that all the time in practice, and I'm glad to hear it because, as you know, football has a short memory - football won't let you dwell on past failures, nor will it allow you to dine on past successes.  No, football wants a player to strive for perfection on each and every play, practice rep and in game plan study.

You require that as well, so it's like college all over again, only I get paid and we win a lot of games. I wasn't used to that in school, but it's definitely easy to get used to in the pros - and winning it all last year seems so surreal, like a dream that you swear is real, but still can't quite believe it.  That said, I'm ready to do that again!



Sincerely,

J.C.

Resume'

Education: 

University of Southern Mississippi

Work Experience:

2014 - Present - New England Patriots
                           Regular season: 194 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 3 fumble recoveries
                           11 passes defended, 2 interceptions
                           Playoffs: 36 tackles, 1 sack, 5 passes defended, 2 interceptions

Awards:

2014 - Super Bowl Champion
2013 - Pro Football Focus All Rookie Team
2013 - Set Combine record in Broad Jump (11' 7")


Personal Information:

Born October 20, 1989 at McCall Creek, Mississippi
Height: 6' 3"
Weight: 250

Website:

Jamie Collins Player Profile - Foxborough Free Press

Patriots' Resume' - Scott Chandler

What if New England Patriots' head ball coach Bill Belichick required resumes from his players - what would those look like?  We take a stab at them, in alphabetical order...

Dear Coach,

From the moment the Buffalo Bills dumped me in a cap-related move, you were all over my agent, trumping the tight end-needy Baltimore Ravens at every turn, finally out-hustling them for my services.  The contract wasn't really that huge, but for a guy approaching 30 and playing in the football wasteland which is Buffalo for the past four seasons, the allure of shiny trophies and competing for and with legendary men made coming here a no-brainer.

This is my eighth year in the National Football League, and this is the first time that I'll be running routes and catching passes from a legitimate NFL quarterback.  Not to discount Ryan Fitzpatrick, E.J. Manual or Kyle Orton but, come on, they are not Tom Brady.

Those Bills teams were built upon a power running game, but when the inevitiable injuries started piling up in the backfield and those guys were forced to the air, they became sitting ducks behind an offensive line that was constructed to accommodate the running game, and proved to be leaky at best in pass protection - leaving them no time to get the ball downfield and making me a fourth or fifth option as a safety valve.

But I'm more than that - you know it and I know it.  My game is all about locating the soft spot in the zone and showing the quarterback my numbers, which jibes well with what the Patriots do in clearing out the underneath zones with Gronkowski up the seam, LaFell to the intermediate zone and Edelman to the sticks - leaving the middle of the field wide open - and with my size and huge hands coupled with Brady's accuracy and legendary short-area velocity, well, that's pretty much a match made in football heaven.

Just for fun, I look at my fantasy projections from week-to-week and year-to-year, and those folks aren't expecting much out of me, but I think they fail to see who's throwing me the ball and how many other weapons there are on this team - and just by default I should have a career season, topping 2013's 53/655/2 line.

But this isn't fantasy - certainly it's not for our opponents, who are going to have to try and find a way to stop a potent passing game with towering pass catchers and the best quarterback in the history of the league throwing us the ball.

Can you say juggernaut?

Sincerely,

Scott

P.S. Sorry about always going off on your defenses over the years, you just never had a coverage 'backer that could handle me!  Hopefully that's the case with all of our opponents this season!


Resume'

Education: 

University of Iowa

Work Experience:

2015 - Present - New England Patriots
2010 - 2014 - Buffalo Bills
                       182 receptions, 2120 yards (11.6 avg.), 17 touchdowns
2010 - Dallas Cowboys (Practice squad only)
2009 - New York Giants & Dallas Cowboys (6 games with Giants, no stats)
2007 - 2009 - San Diego Chargers (9 games, no stats)

Personal Information:

Born July 23, 1985 at Bedford, Texas
Height: 6' 7"
Weight: 260

Website:

Scott Chandler Player Page - Foxborough Free Press

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Patriots' Resume - Joe Cardona

What if New England Patriots' head ball coach Bill Belichick required resumes from his players - what would those look like?  We take a stab at them, in alphabetical order...

Dear Sir,

What a weird couple of months it has been, even for a guy whose only job is to snap a football to your kickers.

Obviously, the position is important to you.  You have one of the best kickers in the league and one of the best punters as well, and how the ball gets to them is just as important as what they do with it once the ball is in play - and the ball gets to them fast coming out of my hands.

My snaps have been clocked at 41 miles per hour - not exactly a rocket until one stops to consider that the ball is coming from off the turf and through my legs, with zero follow through. Keeping that in mind, 41 mph is considered to be elite by long snapper standards.

To get that much velocity on the ball with the proper spin takes a lot of confidence, but not as much confidence as it takes for a professional football coach to spend a draft pick on a guy who may or may not have been able to play for him.

As you know, the Navy expects that people they admit to the Academy will in return serve a five-year commitment in the active service of our country, which I fully intend on doing - but your connections to the school (Your father is held in high esteem from being a coach there) must have made you feel good about selecting me in the 5th round, and also may have had something to do with my first duty station...

...a one-year gig at the Naval Academy Preparatory School in Newport, Rhode Island, which is just an hour south of Foxborough on I-95.  What happens after that is a matter of some conjecture, but there is some precedence to fall back on.

In 1986, the Los Angeles Raiders drafted Napoleon McCallum in the fourth round, and after a short stint as a recruiter at the Academy, he was assigned to a ship home ported in Long Beach, so he was able to play for the Raiders as a rookie - unfortunately, there is also a precedence standing  in which he was transferred to a ship ported in Oakland after the season, forcing McCallum to take a four-year hiatus from playing football.

Will that happen here?  The Navy puts me where they put me, and all I can do is hope for the best. Regardless, my strange journey continues - and it gets even more strange when you stop to consider that I am only the fourth player in the history of the league to be drafted purely as a long snapper...

...which puts me in exclusive company along with Baltimore's Joe Maese (2001, 6th round), Seattle's Tyler Schmidt (2008, 6th round) and New England's jake Ingram (2009, 6th round) - and I hope to be around long enough to be better than any of them.

Sincerely,

LTJG Joe Cardona

Resume'

Education: 

United States Naval Academy

Work Experience:

2015 - New England Patriots

Personal Information:

Born April 16, 1992 at El Cajon, California
Height: 6' 2"
Weight: 242


Patriots Resume' - Marcus Cannon

What if New England Patriots' head ball coach Bill Belichick required resumes from his players - what would those look like?  We take a stab at them, in alphabetical order...

Dear Coach,

Well, its been four years.  When you first drafted me you obviously saw something in me to take such a risk.  After all, my physical at the combine revealed irregularities in my blood work, and upon further examination, I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma - but there you were in the fifth round on my cell phone telling me I was a Patriot.

Cancer sucks, right?  You started me out my first year under the non-football injury reserve list so that I could get through my treatments and have time to recover.  There was never any promises as to whether I would even be able to play anymore - and knowing how you feel about what you call "Draft Capital", drafting me at all says a lot.

But I ended up coming off the list in November and played in seven games, and have played in all but two games since - mostly as a swing tackle, with a handful of starts at right tackle, but as a guard on a few forgettable occasions.

Most of my draft profiles said the same thing, that I was too slow out of my stance to ever be a regular left tackle in the NFL, and that unless I went to a team that needed a right tackle, I would end up transitioning to guard where my frame and leg drive would make me a dominating run blocker - but I guess getting out of my stance on the interior has to be a little faster out of a three point stance, because opposing defensive tackles were beating me like I stole something.

So I'm back to swing tackle, where I can fill in at right tackle and alternating with Cam Fleming to become the sixth lineman in the four minute offense, pulling from the end of the line on the weak side and driving through the hole created by the guards and Stork...

...and I must be doing ok in that capacity, judging from the incredible pay raise you gave me right before the Super Bowl - and with the line transitioning to a more heavy, wall blocking look, I'm sure you'll get your money's worth and then some - because if there's one thing that I do well, it's pulling into the middle and taking on those puny middle linebackers...

Sincerely,

Marcus

Resume'

Education: 

Texas Christian University (TCU)

Work Experience:

2011-Present: New England Patriots

Awards:

2014 Super Bowl Champion
2011 Ed Block Courage Award
2010 College All American

Personal Information:

Born May 6, 188 at Odessa, Texas
Height - 6' 5"
Weight - 335

Website:

Marcus Cannon Player Profile - Foxborough Free Press

Friday, July 17, 2015

Fundamentally Speaking - Part 2: Recognizing Single-Digit Offensive Alignments

In Part 1 of this series, we saw how the number of running backs and tight ends in a personnel grouping determines its number designation, and also how looks can be deceiving in relationship to how these players are aligned within the designation, so now let's deal with each designation and the typical defensive alignment that is best suited to counter each.

The single-digit groupings are not as prevalent in the New England Patriots concept-driven scheme as they would be in a more conventional offensive attack for two reasons: first, the Patriots are not built to use four and five wide receivers at one time, though they certainly could if the situation dictated such and, secondly, rarely does the situation dictate such.

Why?  Well, let's look at the single-digit groupings on the chart to the right.  The "00" grouping is used in a quick attack, spread concept designed to move the ball down the field quickly, normally at the end of a half or, more prevalent, at the end of regulation - and usually in a circumstance where a desperate, last-ditch "Hail Mary" play is called for.

How many of these circumstances do the Patriots find themselves in?

Right, not very many.  The Patriots have evolved into a "heavy" team, meaning bulk and technique over speed and other-worldly athleticism.  When training camp breaks, there is every chance that New England's depth chart at tight end and wide receiver will include up to four massive pass catching tight ends and three of their five receivers standing 6' 2" or taller...

...but no certified deep threats on the outside to stretch the field - but that's ok, since the Patriots can make the defense defend the entire field based on sheer size alone - and since all of their pass catchers are magic with the ball in their hands after the catch, the benefits of going heavy is easy to see.

Time was, the Patriots could spread out teams when they had a legitimate deep threat - in fact, they had two at one time with Dante Stallworth and Randy Moss in 2007. That turned out to be a fun experiment that yielded a top-scoring offense which disappeared along with the rest of the Patriots' offense when the spotlight shined brightest.

They can still spread teams out, but now their "deep threat" is 6' 6", 265 pound tight end Rob Gronkowski, who is deemed such because he is too fast for most linebackers and too big for most defensive backs to handle.  And when the Patriots go five wide, there is usually a running back in the mix as well, as Belichick uses his passing backs split wide or as a flanker more successfully than most.

As a result, the Patriots offense is not built like a traditional pro set offense, thanks both to the presence of one Rob Gronkowski and a stable of reliable possession receivers, sans a legitimate deep threat.  Quarterback Tom Brady has never been a consistently accurate deep ball thrower, so it doesn't make a lot of sense to employ receivers who only function well deep.

Gronkowski is the deep threat in this offense, but only because he can not be matched up with.  The Patriots move him all over the formation, to create mismatches elsewhere on the field, and very few teams have a weapon that they can consistently do that with.  Most try to cover him with their speediest linebacker, perhaps with a strong safety over the top.

That means that with Gronkowski basically double-teamed, either someone else is open or the opposition has sacrificed run support in order to have everyone covered - which bodes well for underneath targets like Edelman, who is a master at quick-twitch separation and for the passing backs, who can wheel out into the flat after Gronkowski clears the zone...

That said, the single-digit groupings preclude the use of a running back in the formation - and since the Patriots regularly employ a back in each concept, rare is the occasion that you will see any of these, but that doesn't mean there is not a place for them in the playbook.

00 Grouping - Rarely will you see the Patriots in this formation, at least as long as Gronkowski is on the team and healthy, because being the most physically dynamic pass catcher on the team, his very presence creates matchup nightmares for defensive coordinators.


As you can see from the graphic above, this formation is not conducive to the way the Patriots are built.  Even though the premium on the offense has always been the short passing game, New England uses their tight ends and running backs as primary pass catchers and usually keep only five receivers on the roster - which doesn't preclude them from running this spread formation, just makes it very unlikely given the number of quality tight ends and passing backs on the roster.

The 01 Personnel package is far more likely to be seen by Patriots' fans, as the no running back, one tight end alignment works in more favor of their depth charts, but still does not take full advantage of all that the Patriots are on offense.


The graphic above is just one possible usage of the 01 Personnel package, and the one that most teams would have to run with considering their talent at tight end.  Gronkowski is the Patriots most dangerous pass catcher as well as a terrific blocker in the running game, so it makes little sense to ever leave the man-child out of the huddle.

The "02" grouping is one that you will see on a more regular basis this season than in the past, due primarily to the presence of a second threat in the tight end corps with Scott Chandler joining the Patriots in free agency - and while Chandler isn't quite the complete beast that Gronkowski is athletically, he is still a massive target at 6' 7", and teams will be hard pressed to find someone that can high point the ball on Chandler, or Gronkowski.


The tight ends make this formation nearly impossible to defend without sacrificing coverage elsewhere.  As mentioned, the Patriots are set up to use their passing backs in most formations, but without a proven passing back on the roster because of Shane Vereen's departure, we may see more of this grouping that normal until one of the remaining backs on the roster steps up to claim the job.

Next in Part 3 of this series, the "teen" groupings, which is where you will find most of the more familiar alignments that the Patriots use on offense...

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Brady Unaffected By Battle He's Destined To Win

Tom Brady just doesn't care.

While the rest of the football universe awaits NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's ruling from last month's marathon appeal session, the New England Patriots' quarterback has summoned his inner-Bill Murray, donning a bucket hat and rolling around on the manicured lawn of some golf course in western Montana.

It is doubtful that Brady is moonlighting as a greenskeeper to make ends meet in the face of losing four games worth of pay, living in the back of a large wooden shed with riding lawnmowers as furniture - and it's equally ridiculous to ponder that he keeps himself occupied in the evenings by tending to a fresh patch of an experimental grass, a hybrid of Kentucky bluegrass, featherbed bent and California sensemilia.

Looking relaxed and carefree on a golf course is fitting, however, in that Brady's ascension from a lowly 6th round draft pick to Super Bowl MVP in the space of two seasons qualifies as a Cinderella story in most circles, but it is unclear if he's carrying a kit bag full of C-4 along with murderous intent towards rodents, or even if he mutilated a row of innocent mums with a scythe.

What is clear is that he isn't worried about what Goodell has to say.

Why?  Well, first there's the fact that Brady and his insanely beautiful squeeze have more money than God, so the money that he stands to lose from his four game suspension is about what he blows at the Kentucky Derby each spring - in other words, disposable income. Secondly, Brady's been around long enough to know that sweating stuff out of his control causes his finely tuned body to lose its balance - and then, so much for avocado-based ice cream.

But the biggest reason for Brady's nonchalance is that he knows that he will extract out of the system exactly what he wants, be it through exoneration by Goodell or through the federal appeals process - the only question being, which will it be?

It really doesn't matter which, because as much as the Wells' Report was a predetermined fiction novel full of word-twisting and selective science, the results of a Federal appeal is all but a given in Brady's favor.  The Wells Report has been shot so full of holes that it's of no use to anyone on either side, whatever's on Tom Brady's personal cell phone the only evidence of any wrong-doing on his part, if anything at all.

Brady testified under oath at his appeal hearing with the commissioner, a brilliant stratagem that effectively relieves Brady of having to say another word to anyone at all, leaving the sure first-ballot Hall-of-Fame quarterback free to concentrate on family and football, first vacationing in Montana and then back to Foxborough for training camp, all without giving a second thought to the process.

And why should he?  He's earned the Dr. Evil approach of going on about his business and assuming that everything goes according to plan - because chances are pretty good that while Brady's attorney, Jeffery Kessler, hammers the league in court, Brady will be exacting his revenge against a league full of folks who have been calling him a cheater for the past six months.

Whether that be by Goodell's hand or by Kessler manipulating the court docket to ensure the case doesn't see a court room until after the season, it makes no difference.

But Goodell can't possibly want this to end up in court, because if it does, the discovery process in itself will exonerate Brady as well as implicate several of Goodell's Machiavellian henchmen as the antagonistic frauds that they are by Kessler requesting the email records of everyone from Indianapolis Colts' general manager Ryan Grigson to Mike Kensil, to officiating boss Dean Blandino and his fixer Alberto Riveron.

Why? Well, only to make those last three gentlemen appear to be co-conspirators in what amounts to a high-style bag job intent on catching the Patriots in the act of using improperly inflated footballs. Blandino is on public record as saying he knew nothing of the Colts' accusatory email until after the AFC Championship game was played - and of course while that statement was not made under oath, Blandino is not bound to it, like Brady is his.

He could always change his story under oath and save himself a perjury charge, but at the same time proving Kessler's case that the NFL's sole intent was to set up the Patriots.  At that point, the NFL loses every shred of credibility in the court room and lead counsel Jeff Pash will be in prevent defense - as if he won't be already.

After all, trying to set precedence for future punishments based on such flimsy evidence, and against someone who isn't even under the auspices of the word of that rule is problematic at best.  According to the National Football League Players' Association (NFLPA), the NFL has handed down a punishment to a player when the rule applies only to equipment handlers...

...yet Wells connected the dots to Brady by fathoming that he was "generally aware" that the equipment managers were deflating footballs in order to gain a competitive advantage, and also that because of Brady's refusal to hand over his private cell phone to investigators, he impeded an investigation, therefore behaving in a a manner detrimental to the league.

For that, there is a standing precedence from the Brett Favre sexual harrassment case a decade ago, but Favre was fined $50,000 and the whole thing got swept under the carpet. There currently is no standing precedence for tampering with a football, though a $25,000 fine to the team for each infraction is the only recourse according to the league's punitive schedule.

In other words, even if the footballs were deflated in accordance with the flawed science in the Wells Report, the sum of deflating 11 of the 12 footballs used in the AFC Championship game comes out to a $275 thousand fine for the team, and the precedence set for refusing to turn over a cell phone to investigators is $50 thousand - and that's a far cry from the $1 million fine and the subtraction of two draft pics that the NFL hit the team with, and the four-game suspension that Brady is currently set to fight.

Precedence is precedence, and for the league to be allowed to circumvent standing procedure renders their rule book nothing more than a set of soft guidelines, and further perpetuates the kangaroo court over which Goodell currently presides. That wisdom cuts the other way as well, in that if Goodell rescinds the penalties and issues a new proclamation more in line with set standards, it would potentially sap the NFL of its authority to set new precedence over future matters.

It's a fine line for sure, but that's for the NFL to worry about, not Brady.  Brady isn't the one who went completely out of his mind on a preternatural power trip.  Brady isn't the one who tried to pass off a $5 million red herring as an indictment of someones character, and Brady isn't the one who tried to set up the face of the NFL and the model franchise that he plays for as multiple-offenders.

Roger Goodell did all of that, but maybe - just maybe - there is a way out of this that no one sees coming and that would satisfy all involved plus pacify the other 31 franchises at the same time.

The hiring of former Arizona Cardinals' General manager Rod Graves to the position of Senior Vice President of Football Administration barely made a blip on most fans' radar screens - all except those fans that took exception to the fact that Graves also held the same position with the New York Jets - but to those in the know, his title may as well say "Senior Vice President of Keeping Roger Goodell out of hot water."

Or as noted NFL columnist Mike Florio mused, Graves' job description includes "Preventing hiccups from becoming hashtags."

Makes sense, particularly in light of the big piles of cow cookies that Goodell and his court jesters have repeatedly stepped in over the past two years, and is presented to the general public as a soft-spoken voice of reason who will "oversee all club and game related initiatives concerning the competition committee, general managers and head coaches." according to the introductory email generated by the league...

...and given his experience with the competition committee that he was a part of with the league's Management Council Executive Committee during his time in Arizona, it appears that the job was custom made for him as a ruse to mask the idea that Goodell needed a confidant that hasn't been a part of these piles of mule muffins - a shrewed maneuver that will lend a bit of integrity - by default, but integrity nevertheless - to an office that blew their wad on that notion a long time ago.

Graves was a miserable failure as a General Manager in Arizona, though he miraculously held on to his job for 13 years as Bill Bidwell's mouthpiece, which makes him the perfect candidate to do Roger Goodell's bidding - and while it hasn't been specifically mentioned, it is presumed that Graves' job title is actually what used to be now-retired Joel Bussert's gig as Senior Vice President of Player Personnel and Football Operations - a job that will make him a direct liaison between the two sides that currently don't trust one another.

And the perfect way to debut Graves in this capacity is for Goodell to either have him toe the company line to reinforce Goodell's hard line against the Patriots and Brady - sending all of this to court - or to switch gears by exonerating Brady, and giving most of the credit to Graves, who brings an outsiders' viewpoint to a static situation, then pledging to move on with Graves at the point.

Of course, this is all speculation.  Maybe the Graves hiring means nothing at all.  But in a situation that screams "Damage Control", this is a scenario that makes a lot of sense for both sides.

Either way, Patriots' fans can expect to see Tom Brady under center on opening night.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Patriots Resume' - Malcom Brown

What if New England Patriots' head ball coach Bill Belichick required resumes from his players - what would those look like?  We take a stab at them, in alphabetical order...

Dear Coach,

I am not Vince Wilfork, nor am I his "replacement", no matter how many columnists and fans place that label on me.

I am a run-stuffer, but I can do it any way you ask me to.  I can penetrate and blow up plays in the backfield.  I can bull a double team three yards deep in the backfield, re-establishing the line of scrimmage.  I have the quickness to beat those same double teams, the elite hand usage to shed and toss aside my mirror, and my burst through the gap and closing speed to the quarterback in the pass rush is unheard of for a man my size.

You see the speed in my tape.  My combine 40 was disappointing to a lot of experts, but you look at my tape and tell me that the guy you see runs a 5.05 - Track speed is one thing, playing speed is quite another.

I'm not just a nose tackle, either.  I can play the three-tech - in fact many draft experts project me as a one-gap tackle in the 4-3, but I'm even more that that. I have the hands and the edge speed to play the five.  I can rush from a standing position or blow back the guard from the four-point stance meaning that I am a true every down player, especially in your complex, rotational scheme.

I'm a pretty neat toy to have - I can play anywhere along the line, and combined with the versatility of guys like Easley and Sheard and Moore, you could switch between four and three man fronts without batting an eye.

All of this may seem rather brazen for a soft-spoken, humble under-graduate from Texas, but I'm not the same person on the field as I am off of it.  Off the field, I am a young father helping my wife raise our two daughters, something made infinitely easier with the the contract I just signed - on the field, however, there are no kid gloves.  I'm a hands fighter and was generally accepted as having the best hands and shedding technique in the class.

As I stated before, I am no Vince Wilfork.  Conversely, Wilfork is no Malcom Brown.  We are different people, different players with different skill sets.  I'm sure you'll find my brand of athleticism as enticing and as useful as his was.

Sincerely,

Malcom (Hook 'em, Horns!)

Resume'

Education: 

University of Texas

Work Experience:

2015 - New England Patriots

Awards:

2015 - 1st round draft pick, New England Patriots
2014 - Consensus All-American
2014 - First-team All Big 12
2009 - Under Armour High School All American

Personal Information:

Born - February 2, 1994 at Brenham, Texas
Height - 6' 2"
Weight - 320

Monday, July 13, 2015

Patriots Resume' - Malcolm Butler

What if New England Patriots' head ball coach Bill Belichick required resumes from his players - what would those look like?  We take a stab at them, in alphabetical order...

Dear Coach,

Being on time is important.  I hear you loud and clear.

It's part of what Edelman refers to when he preaches your mantra, "Dependability is more important than ability."  Jo Jo went on the radio a few days ago and expounded upon this - and history teaches us that this is true with you.

Not too many years ago, you pieced together a secondary that had been depleted by injury with a bunch of no-names and a couple of receivers who were nothing if not dependable and reliable and accountable, and won the AFC Championship when one of those no-names, Sterling Moore, stepped up and made two incredible plays to keep the Baltimore Ravens out of the end zone with just seconds to play.

He tweeted after the game that he was "Just doing my job, and we still have one game to play."

Moore's name lives in Patriots' lore, but he disappeared just as quickly as he appeared on the scene. He was put back on the practice squad and got snatched up by the Dallas Cowboys shortly after, but how many fans can tell you where he is now?  I am not going out like that.

Sure I made perhaps the most clutch play in Super Bowl history, one that pretty much ensures that I won't ever fade into the background due to the enormity of the moment - but I'm here to tell you that I'm no one hit wonder.

People tend to just remember that one play, and the one preceding it when I tipped the ball into the air and Jermaine Kearse had the ball land right in his lap, but it's not like I just came in out of nowhere to make those plays.

You put me in for Arrington in the second half because he was having a tough time with Seattle's tall receivers, and by the time the last seconds were ticking down in the 4th quarter, I had already stopped Marshawn Lynch for a minimal gain on the ground and defended three passes thrown to Kearse - and I feel like if people take in the entire body of work, they will realize that I am a good cornerback.

I feel that if people take in my attitude, that they recognize that I am a professional football player who is here to stay.  If they take in my past, they will know that my struggles give me the strength for one more play when I have nothing left, and that if they watch the highlights of the Super Bowl, they will recognize that I was the most competitive corner on the field.

Last season, my opportunities to see the field were limited because of the tremendous talent ahead of me on the depth chart - this year, there's no excuse for me not being on the field.  I know that I will never make anyone forget Revis and Browner, nor would I want to - rather, I want to make everyone know that Malcolm Butler is a damned good corner in his own right - and that I'm here to stay.

Sincerely,

The Butler

Resume'

Education: 

University of West Alabama

Work Experience:

2014 - Present - New England Patriots
                           Regular season: 18 tackles, 7 passes defended
                           Post season: 3 tackles, 3 passes defended, 1 interception

Awards:

2014 - Super Bowl Champion

Personal Information:

Born - March 2, 1990 at Vicksburg, Mississippi
Height - 5' 11"
Weight - 190

Website:  

Malcolm Butler Player Profile - Foxborough Free Press


Fundamentally Speaking - Part 1: Recognizing Offensive Alignments

The New England Patriots' offense is unique in the sense that they have been built to give themselves the tactical advantage in just about any personnel grouping - but how can you tell one personnel grouping from another?

Personnel groupings are relatively easy to identify.  By rule, there are five linemen in a formation, one quarterback and five so-called "skill position" players.  These personnel groupings acknowledge only the skill position numbers, as they are the only positions in the alignment that are not set in stone.

An offensive coordinator could elect to use any number of skill position players in just about any capacity that they see fit in order to give themselves a tactical advantage against the weaknesses of a given defensive alignment.

Consequently, many of these personnel groupings can tip the defense off to what kind of play is coming, allowing the defense to adjust their play call on the field.

In the chart to the left, you can see that the number of the grouping is dependent on the number of running backs in the formation (which constitutes the first number) and the number of tight ends in the formation (which constitutes the second number).

In other words, the number of running backs is the first number and the number of tight ends is the second number in a double digit moniker.

For example, if a team wanted to spread out the Patriots' defense, they would go to a "00 Personnel", which is five wide receivers or "Five Wide" - or if they wanted to go into their goal line or "Jumbo Package", they would call for a "23 Personnel", meaning two running backs and three tight ends in the formation with no receivers - though a coordinator could elect to try and surprise and out-maneuver their opponent by choosing instead to go with an unconventional approach, like on the game-winning defensive play from last February's Super Bowl.

The Seattle Seahawks have a second and goal from just outside the one yard line with only seconds to play.  In this position, and with one of the league's premier running backs in their backfield, just about everyone on the planet expected Seattle to run the football, given that they had two time outs remaining and could stop the clock if Marshawn Lynch couldn't cross the plane of the goal line.

But the Seahawks opened up in the "11 Personnel", which meant that they had one running back (Lynch) and just one tight end.  Normally in a goal-to-go situation, you would expect to see a "22 Personnel" (2 backs, 2 tight ends) or a "23 Personnel" (2 backs, 3 tight ends) Jumbo package, which is what the Patriots were expecting - so when Seattle broke huddle in the "11", the coaches started screaming for cornerback Malcolm Butler to get on the field, as the Seahawks had three receivers and New England had only two cornerbacks.

This formation tipped off the Patriots that the play was going to be a pick play to the right, as Seattle receivers Kearse and Lockette were in a stack formation, isolated away from the formation - and it didn't hurt that Seahawks' quarterback Russell Wilson telegraphed his intent by locking his eyes on his primary receiver, Lockette, seconds before the snap.

The slot receiver went in motion from the weak side to the strong side (the strong side for the purpose of this text meaning the side that the tight end is aligned on), taking Patriots' corner Darrelle Revis with him, while Lynch moved to the strong side as well, trying to sell the play going to the left - but Wilson locking in on his target pre-snap and Butler's familiarity with the play through film study and practice doomed Seattle to the end result of this play, the game-saving Butler interception.

So, we've seen how the number of running backs and tight ends in a formation determine its number designation, and also how looks can be deceiving in relationship to how these players are aligned within the designation, so now let's deal with each designation and the typical defensive alignment that is best suited to counter each.

The problem we face here, however, is that the Patriots offense is not built like a traditional pro set offense, thanks both to the presence of one Rob Gronkowski and a stable of reliable possession receivers, sans a legitimate deep threat.  Quarterback Tom Brady has never been a consistently accurate deep ball thrower, so it doesn't make a lot of sense to employ receivers who only function well deep.

Gronkowski is the deep threat in this offense, but only because he can not be matched up with.  The Patriots move him all over the formation, to create mismatches elsewhere on the field, and very few teams have a weapon that they can consistently do that with.  Most try to cover him with their speediest linebacker, perhaps with a strong safety over the top.

That means that with Gronkowski basically double-teamed, either someone else is open or the opposition has sacrificed run support in order to have everyone covered...

Next in part 2, the single-digit groupings and how rare it is for the Patriots to use any of them...


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Patriots Resume' - Alan Branch

What if New England Patriots' head ball coach Bill Belichick required resumes from his players - what would those look like?  We take a stab at them, in alphabetical order...

Dear Coach,

I know that you really aren't one for stats, other than the numbers on the scoreboard, so it's obvious that you don't care what people have said about my supposed lack of production on the stat sheet - particularly given my high draft status way back in the day.

What I do doesn't get a lot of recognition.  It doesn't show up on the stat sheet and, in fact, only those who really pay attention will understand the importance of my work - but you do and the guys playing behind me on the second level do, and that's all that matters.

What I do, is I get in the way.  They don't come much bigger or wider than me, so it's tough for an offensive lineman to move me out of the way - as a matter of fact, once you signed me in the middle of last season and Siliga returned from the IR, together we made quite an impact:

"In the first half of the season before the two behemoths saw the field, the Patriots' run defense was surrendering an abysmal 4.53 yards per carry to opposing running backs, including an alarming 5.32 right up the gut - which is merely a side effect of a combination of Wilfork trying to hold the nose by himself with no pure rotational nose tackle to spell him, and with Easley a shell of his enormous potential as he recovered from offseason ACL surgery. 
But once Siliga and Branch were available to be rotated into the lineup, the average yards per carry given up by the Patriots on the ground dropped by nearly a full yard per carry to 3.63, most of that division coming up the middle, where New England held opposing runners to a stupid good 2.8 yards per carry, the best in the league during that time frame." - Foxborough Free Press - June 13, 2015

Even though I'm too tall to be considered an ideal candidate for nose tackle, lining up next to people like Wilfork and Siliga - who are true nose tackles - allows me to do what I do best as an under 4-3 rush tackle, which is taking advantage of them eating up the double team so I can overwhelm the weak side guard...and give the tackle a big shot just for fun.

Of course, Wilfork is gone, but you drafted another huge, athletic nose guy in Malcom Brown, and with him and Siliga alternating at the nose and me and Easley at the three-tech, stopping the run and re-establishing the line of scrimmage three yards deep in the opponent's backfield should be the norm, and with ends like Chandler Jones, Sheard and Nink coming off the edge, quarterbacks are going to be running for their lives.

I don't get to the play a lot, but that's not my job - what is my job is shoving the guard back into the play, causing the running back to re-route, either funneling inside into the teeth of the run defense, or to swing wide where the perimeter defenders can close down the corner.  I am so effective at this that I can also play the five-tech as an end in the 3-4, making it possible for you to switch between the two base fronts with relative ease.

In fact, I have been recognized as a top 10 run-stuffing 3-4 defensive end both in Buffalo and now here, meaning that you have at least five talented hybrid five-techs on the roster, giving you the versatility you desire, and I'm happy to be part of that - and I also appreciate that you recognized this as well, signing me to a new two-year contract as soon as free agency started.

Let's start blowing stuff up!

Sincerely,

Branch

Resume'

Education: 

University of Michigan

Work Experience:

2014 - Present - New England Patriots
                           14 Tackles, 1 pass defended
2013-2014 - Buffalo Bills
                     21 tackles
2011 - 2012 - Seattle Seahawks
                       37 tackles, 3 passes defended, 4 sacks
2007 - 2010 - Arizona Cardinals
                       54 tackles, 3 passes defended, 2 forced fumbles, 4 sacks

Awards:

2014 - Super Bowl Champion
2006 - ESPN All American

Personal Information:

Born - December 29, 1984 at Rio Rancho, New Mexico
Height - 6' 6"
Weight - 350

Website

Alan Branch Player Page - Foxborough Free Press