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NFL Preseason Week 1 Preview: Patriots @ Redskins

Tom Brady Patriots Boston Sports Then & Now

It is time. The first real action of the 2014 NFL season is upon us. After 14 days of training camp and joint practices in Washington, New England will take on the Redskins tomorrow night at FedEx field with a 7:30 kickoff. Crowds of close to 22,000 have flooded Bon Secours Training Center to catch a glimpse of the AFC East powerhouse. As with every first week in the preseason, the main priority is health and maintenance – don’t expect to see starters going more than a few series.

The real opportunity in this game is for rookies and at risk players to display their game speed and an early understanding of the playbook. Belichick is no stranger to bringing in proven veterans in the offseason. Whether it’s to help groom the youngbloods or add a positive presence in the locker-room, someone like Will Smith can only benefit the organization.

It’s hard not to mention new additions Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Brandon LaFell. In one off-season, the Patriots may have transformed their defensive backs to the best in the NFL. Despite a four game suspension to start the year, Browner has displayed his physical presence early and often in 2014. Remember how good Rodney Harrison was at safety? It’s hard to deny Brandon’s elite athleticism as one of, if not, the largest corner in this league. While Revis has dazzled in camp, matching up with DeSean Jackson should be an early challenge for the Pro Bowl veteran. Brandon LaFell has flashed signs of brilliance in the back of the end zone thus far. With Gronk strictly participating in individual drills, LaFell’s 6′ 2″ height has become a point of emphasis for Brady and the offense. Look for TB12 to establish a game connection with LaFell tomorrow night.

As for the rest of the squad, here are three areas to keep an eye on:

1) Defensive Line: It’s no secret that New England struggled here in 2013. Losing both Wilfork and Kelly, the plugs in the middle, left the Patriots vulnerable the second half of the year. Big Vince has showed he’s “back” with an interception and TD rumble in a recent practice; however, how will the veterans respond in real game speed? Ninkovich and Jones excelled last year and need to keep up the edge presence to take the pressure off the vets and rookie Dominique Easley. It’ll also be great to take a look at the Florida 1st round pick. Furthermore, with Sealver Siliga hurting his hand, expect Joe Vellano, Michael Buchanan and Jake Bequette to get some serious playing time.

2) Quarterback: Yes, the Patriots drafted Jimmy Garoppolo ahead of a much needed tight end in the 2nd round this year. Yes, Ryan Mallett’s contract is up after the season. Yes, Tom Brady claims he will be playing until he is 40. What does this all result in? Media speculation and a little fire under Brady. Jimmy has not looked good in training camp and while Redskins coach Jay Gruden claims, “Brady is a hall-of-famer and the best of all time”, there’s no denying he is getting older. The Mallett vs. Garoppolo battle will be on tomorrow night.

3) Running Back: The early word on Wisconsin 4th round pick James White is quite positive, he is more than just a change-of-pace back. We all know the ball security issues Ridley has struggled with; however, there is no denying that he is our best pure back. Losing Blount to the Steelers will hurt, no way the Patriots get to the AFC Championship without him. Brandon Bolden may now be our “powerback” but White needs to step up in Blount’s absence in 2014. Vereen has shown great potential to be a more explosive Woodhead, but continues to nurse ailing injuries. Will this be the year he stays on the field? Let’s see who shines tomorrow night.

Prediction: Garoppolo shines, impresses doubters and the Patriots edge out a meaningless game with Belichick calling two timeouts in the 4th quarter.

 

Brady’s Heir Apparent? Patriots Pick QB Jimmy Garoppolo In 2nd Round (VIDEO)

New England welcomes the record-breaking Eastern Illinois QB who shares the same agent as Tom Brady



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With the 62nd pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Bill Belichick stocked for the future rather than selecting an immediate impact player. The early analysis on Jimmy G praises his quick release, fundamental footwork and athleticism. With TB12 going on 37 and backup Ryan Mallett’s contract expiring after the season, the future isn’t too clear. Mallett hasn’t shown much growth under TB12′s guidance and this selection can be viewed as an insurance policy.

Is it sexy? No; however, he did throw for 5,050 yards, 53 TD and 9 INT in 2013. Garoppolo was also the Offensive MVP of the East-West Shrine (NCAA all-star) game. It should be noted that 6′ 5″ TE C.J. Fiedorowicz, who worked out for the Pats, was selected three picks later. Belichick was quoted later in the night, “Given the situation we have at QB, I think we had to address the position – better to be early than late”. Yes, he could provide value down the road but NE acquired multiple players to win in 2014, not 2018.

The Patriots then traded their 3rd round pick (93rd) to the Jaguars for an early 4th rounder (105th pick) and another 6th round selection. New England now has three 4th round and three 6th round picks tomorrow. You can count on Bill and company adding some skill players to surround Brady Saturday. In the meantime, check out some highlight videos for Jimmy below:

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An In-Depth Look At The 2014 Patriots Schedule

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For the second year in a row, the New England Patriots have a Week 10 bye. Bill Belichick and crew had a Week 9 bye in 2012 – exactly half way through the season. While the position of the break may be advantageous, their out-of-division schedule is quite the opposite.

Tom Brady will lead the Pats against the AFC West and NFC North, two of the more competitive divisions as-of-late. The tough stretch comes right before (and after) the bye, as the Bears and Broncos travel to Gillette 10/26 and 11/02 respectively. After the break, New England travels to Indianapolis for Sunday Night Football, hosts the Lions and then ship to Green Bay for a 4:25 game in the Tundra and another Sunday Night Football game in San Diego.

The Patriots wrap up the season with three 1:00 division games ending with the Bills in the season finale. Other highlights include a Thursday Night game at home against the Jets, Monday Night Football at Kansas City and Sunday Night Football the week after against the Bengals. New England have six primetime slots, seven including their 4:25 matchup at home against the Broncos. It will be definitely be an uphill battle this year but with a revamped defense, anticipation is high for the 2014 Patriots.

Celtics Tweets of Interest: Boston Stronger Than Ever

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The Celtics wrap up their expected, yet disappointing 2013-’14 campaign tonight. They have a 25-56 record and currently hold the fifth worst record in the league.

Concurrently, yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of the bombings at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The Celtics will certainly pay tribute to the victims, the first responders, and the people of Boston. Last year the citizens of Boston grieved for the deaths of Krystle Campbell, Sean Collier, Lingzi Lu, and Martin Richard. This year Boston is running in their honor and all of the others who suffered injuries because we are resilient and we are prideful. An attack on Boston only brought its people together. On Marathon Monday, we will cheer louder than ever for all of the runners in the beloved 26.2 mile race. Today Boston continues to recover after a year, yet we remain strong and defiant to the acts of terrorism. We will never give in to hatred because like Boston.com’s Chad Finn said, Boston is a family. Like their fans, the Celtics hope they can pick themselves up because in April 2015, the fans want to be able to see the Celtics fight for a playoff berth. Here are the tweets commemorating the city of Boston:

The city of Boston will never forget the tragic day of April 15th, 2013. The Celtics sent this tweet on Tuesday uniting the fans of Boston. Boston is known for their traditions, which include their sports teams and the deep-rooted passion from the fans of the Bruins, Celtics, Patriots, Red Sox, and Revolution. The Celtics recognized the unity between all of the teams with this message.

Celtics captain Rajon Rondo changed his Twitter avatar to the Boston Marathon ribbon. He shared the slogan that galvanized the city of Boston.

Patriots Pulse: Aqib Talib Signs With The Broncos

Just like last year, the Patriots top free agent signed with the teams’ now biggest rival, the Denver Broncos. Late Tuesday night it was reported that star Cornerback Aqib Talib was signing a 6 year deal with Denver worth $57 Million.

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Talib is just the latest player the Patriots have let walk and go to a rival. Of course last year the big story was Wes Welker signing with the Broncos after the Patriots wouldn’t pay him nearly what he wanted.

Talib played a huge role for the Patriots in the 2013 season especially with the injuries they faced all year on defense. If it wasn’t for Talib, the Patriots may not have won as many games as they did last year. In the 13 games he played in for the Patriots, Talib had 4 interceptions, and made quarterbacks think twice before targeting a receiver that Talib was covering.

If the season were to start today, the Patriots top Corner would be Logan Ryan, and despite a decent season from him this year it hard to tell what he’ll do in his second year in the league. Ryan also had it easier because Talib did such a good job on his coverage’s, Quarterbacks were able to target receivers covered by Logan Ryan more because he was the easier target to try and beat.

There’s still plenty of time for the Patriots to pick up a decent Cornerback before the season starts, but nothing they have done in years past would indicate that they are willing to spend money on a good free agent. The best Corner out there is Darrelle Revis, but he still belongs to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the price to trade for him would be pretty high.

One concern the Patriots may have had about Talib was his ability to stay healthy. He missed three games this season, and left the AFC Championship game early for the second year in a row after getting injured. Although Talib may not have been the difference maker against the Broncos, he could have at least kept the conference championship game closer than what it was.

Talib was acquired from Tampa Bay during the 2012 season and immediately became a force on the Patriots defense. He accepted a one year deal from the club after the 2012 season, and that turned out to be a good move for him, because he wouldn’t have gotten a deal anywhere near as good as he got from the Broncos.

As the Bronco’s continue to improve on both defense and offense, the Patriots will need to make some good, smart moves to stay in the race in the AFC.

Tom Brady Still Better Than Peyton Manning When The Game Matters Most

The dust has settled on another football season, and like most years, it ended for Peyton Manning in the same manner. Despite being the best offensive player during the regular season, Manning let up in the most crucial game where it meant the most. Before the Super Bowl sports pundits discussed for two weeks how this game would be a legacy game for Manning, and Peyton did make a statement about his legacy. That legacy being that he is not a good playoff quarterback.

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The Super Bowl loss made his playoff record sub .500 again, like it had been until he defeated the Patriots in the AFC Championship this year to reach .500 at 11-11. Now standing at 11-12 lifetime in the postseason with just one Super Bowl title, the discussion of Peyton being the greatest quarterback of all time can now be stopped. In three Super Bowls he’s now 1-2, and his first Super Bowl appearance didn’t come until his 8th season in the league.

Tom Brady, despite recent struggles, has the most playoff victories of all time with 18, and has just 8 losses. He hasn’t won a title in 9 seasons now, but he’s led the Patriots to 2 Super Bowls in that span, and only got knocked out of the first round of the playoffs twice. Even if Brady never wins another title, he’ll be remembered as one of the best playoff quarterbacks of all time, which is the opposite of Peyton. The only other quarterback to start 5 Super Bowls was Joe Montana for the 49ers.

If you compare Peyton and Brady, it’s important to also realize who each quarterback had as offensive weapons. With the Colts, Manning always had Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, and Dallas Clark, all of whom were elite receivers for Manning to throw to. When Brady won his three championships, he had relative unknowns he was passing to. Some of the biggest names Brady had was Troy Brown and Deion Branch. Had Brady had the core that Peyton did during his Colts days, he may have an extra championship or two. Read more

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