The Patriots went to Cleveland and did the expected, reaching 4-1 overall by overtaking the Browns, 33-13. They host Cincinnati next Sunday at 1 p.m.

Yup. That’s it. Not much to report. Well, except for a few small details…

Player/Game Observations

Genius Of Love: Oh, Tom Tom Club? Sure. Members of said establishment must have felt happy with the return of Tom Brady, who was suspended for no good reason whatsoever.  The world’s greatest quarterback returned with what some might call a vengeance, completing 28 of 40 passes (70 percent) for 406 yards and three touchdowns. Sunday, New England hosts the Bengals, who lost at Dallas last week, 28-14.

Loosen Up Your Too Tights: The recipient of Brady’s three TD passes was tight end and fantasy football roller-coaster Martellus Bennett, who ended up with six receptions for 67 yards. Though his line mate Rob Gronkowski didn’t score, he caught five passes for 109 yards, including this schoolyard romp through half of the Browns’ defense to set up the visitors’ first touchdown.

Before Brady’s return, Gronk had caught one pass for 11 yards. Bennett had one touchdown reception. So, yes: release the hounds!

What Can Brown Do For You? Stop the run, apparently. Second-year defensive lineman Malcom Brown had three tackles, a statistic which tells about as complete a story as my daughter does after knocking something over.

Sweetie, what happened?

“Nothing.”

I know it was an accident, but what happened?

“I don’t know.”

Brown consistently manipulates his blocker and causes problems for opposing offenses. Between him, veteran Alan Branch, and rookie Woodrow “All Right” Hamilton, the defensive line helped shut down the Brown’s previously vaunted rushing attack, as Isaiah Crowell – who came into the game averaging 6.5 yards per rush – tallied just 22 yards on 13 carries (1.7 ypc, which, by the way, is a stat that tells a story).

Mr. Roberts, Report To The Captain’s Cabin On The Double: This past spring, the Patriots drafted two smaller linebackers in the sixth round: Kamu Grugier-Hill out of Eastern Illinois at the 208th selection overall, and Elandon Roberts out of Houston at 214. Grugier-Hill is the better athlete, as he posted some notable pro day numbers, including a 4.45-second 40 and a 6.89-second 3-cone drill. He impressed onlookers in spring camps, but when it came time to winnow down the roster, New England cut Grugier-Hill and held on to Roberts. This week, Roberts got to show off the kind of instincts and strength that earned him a nation-best 88 solo tackles last season. The rookie notched seven stops at Cleveland, leading the team.

Perhaps his best play came with 6:03 left in the first half. With the Browns backed up against their own end zone and looking to give themselves some space, Roberts used his none-too-tortoise-like 4.60-40 speed to power toward the ballcarrier. On the way, he caught tackle Joe Thomas under the shoulder pads and took the perennial Pro-Bowler to the Magic Pan, while somehow making the tackle on Crowell for no gain. (You can see a clip of the play here.)  Roberts flexes his biceps after the play, and, as much as I dislike showing off, we all should feel fine about that.

Ghost Right-er: So, we’re not worried about Stephen Gostkowski missing to the right on a few kicks, are we? We’re not concerned that will come back at some grossly inopportune time and bite the team again?

No? Okay, good.

Nope, me neither. Hadn’t even crossed my mind.

We’re On To Cincinnati: There we go. Though now at 2-3, the Bengals are not to be overlooked, as their losses have come against the Steelers, Broncos, and a very peppy Cowboys club. Should be fun to watch.

Random Observations

Outside The Lines: I’m not here to rant against sideline reporters. They’re fine. Still, I have to admit, watching last Sunday’s game in Cleveland, right after Jamie Erdahl got through her pre-game bit on Brady, I realized I hadn’t paid attention to a single word. Something about playing catch, maybe? Who knows?

Also, if she’s at the game, what the heck is former kicker Jay Feely doing there? Two sideline reporters? That’s like having two appendixes. But, no, there’s Jay Feely, telling us what Brady was up to over his “break.” Family. Check. Just not sure of the usefulness. Plus, with his comically large necktie knots, Feely looks like an extra on Bugsy Malone.

So, yeah, fine: be the sideline reporter. Just let me ignore you.

Pretty In Pink: When considering whether or not to buy pink NFL gear to support breast cancer awareness, please keep some numbers in mind. On its website, the NFL boasts that,

Since 2009, the first year of the NFL’s “A Crucial Catch” campaign, the NFL’s work has raised nearly $15 million for the American Cancer Society, with the majority of the contributions coming from the sale of Breast Cancer Awareness-identified pink merchandise at retail and via the NFL Auction website.

Now, that’s great. It’s wonderful that $15 million has gone toward the ACS. But, the campaign has been happening for seven years now, which averages out to $2.14 million per year. Again, not too shabby, but remember that a) the league made $7.2 billion in 2014, which meant $226.4 million per team, and b) the NFL spent $12.5 million to prosecute the Deflategate case. If they wanted to spend more to support the ACS, they certainly could, but – just as they do with military veterans – the NFL uses righteous causes as PR fodder.

Sometimes they can’t even do that right, as evidenced by last season’s kerfluffle when Steeler running back DeAngelo Williams was denied permission to wear pink gear throughout the season to honor his mother, who died of breast cancer in May of 2014. Williams ended up dyeing the tips of his hair pink. The NFL said they could not make an exception to the uniform policy.

What? Of course they could. Here’s an example of how:

Hey, players, listen up. If you want to wear pink gear throughout the season to honor a loved one, please email me and let me know whom you’re doing it for. We will keep a list on our website to further promote breast cancer awareness. Thank you for supporting the program that we started.
Sincerely,

Roger “Media-Friendly-And-Decent-Human” Goodell 

Never forget: the NFL is a business. They don’t care about you beyond your wallet and what’s in it. Please consider donating directly to the ACS by clicking here.

Pryor Engagement: With the realization that Bill Belichick had some interest in drafting Ohio State QB/Browns WR Terrelle Pryor (thank you, Mike Reiss),  it’s always compelling to wonder what a great athlete could accomplish with a better team around him. Pryor has caught 24 passes this season for 338 yards and one TD. He has also rushed for 18 yards and passed for 40. Those 24 receptions have come after being targeted 45 times this year, which is a pretty rough ratio.

Not that New England is desperate for receivers, but it’s an intriguing “what if?”

You Should Have Seen The ’80s: Ah, shoulder pads. Watching Cleveland quarterback Cody Kessler get knocked down by Dont’a Hightower looked like a frame-by-frame homage to New England QB Jimmy Garoppolo’s hit by Miami linebacker Kiko Alonso, and it got me thinking. Why can’t someone figure out a way to protect a ball carrier’s shoulders? Think about flopping onto your side from a kneeling position. That would hurt your shoulder, right? I mean, maybe not injure it, but you’d feel it. Now imagine falling onto your shoulder from a standing position. Now, add a 250-pound linebacker driving your shoulder into the ground. Yeesh.

Is it possible to run a rod or slat of hard material through the back of the shoulder pads and attach it to the shoulder flap – something that could break the fall and take the stress off the shoulder if need be? Maybe, if the player wanted to raise his arms, it could be attached by an elastic that would bring it back into place when the arm went down? I dunno. Just spitballing. Seems like a recurring injury – the kind where we know exactly what happened the second it happened – should get a closer look in terms of prevention.

No, Really, What Can Brown Do For You? I know they’re called the Browns, but do they have to wear that abysmal color? For a brief period in the early ’90s, Brown University experimented with red and black uniforms, which are the colors of the school’s seal.   Cleveland could go with the colors of any of various Brown family crests, none of which seems to feature the color brown prominently. Seriously, brown denotes rust and rot, among other things. Adding bright orange doesn’t help. At best, Cleveland’s football team could be an advertisement for Reese’s peanut butter cups.

Lions aren’t really blue. I’ve never seen a purple raven. So, Browns, consider keeping the name and ditching the color.

(Very proud of myself for not referring to Cleveland coach Hue Jackson, as in, “Looking For A New Hue.” So I guess now I’m not so proud of myself.)

Whitehurst, Right Now, There Is No Other Place I Want To Be: Sure, we can all sit back on our couches and make fun of Charlie Whitehurst, aka “Clipboard Jesus.” Thin on QBs after Kessler’s injury, the Browns gave Whitehurst the reins and watched him do as well as expected, completing 14 of 24 passes for 182 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Whitehurst banged up his knee Sunday and was cut by the Browns on Tuesday. He’s been in the league for 11 years. He’s played for five different teams (Browns, Colts, Titans, Seahawks, and Chargers, twice). He has sat through seven seasons where he threw as many NFL passes as I did (which, coincidentally, is the same number of Olympic gold medals I’ve won, or times I’ve climbed Mt. Everest).

But here’s the thing about Charlie Whitehurst: he’s 34 years old. These days he gets a base salary of about $950,000 a year. He has never played in more than seven games in a season (Titans, 2014), and he should be able to literally walk away from the league in good health. As I said, we can all sit back and laugh at Whitehurst all we want; in the end, I have to imagine he’ll have a few chuckles saved up for himself.

For The Last Time, What Can Brown Do For You? The Patriots’ website posted a video of Belichick bringing the team to the statue of NFL great Jim Brown. Once at the base of the statue, Belichick calls Brown the greatest player that ever played, and goes on to call him a great person. I can’t be the only one who flinched. While Brown may well be the greatest player ever, and he has in many cases acted as a “great ambassador” (Belichick’s words), he has also compiled a disturbing police record of domestic abuse.

On The Big Lead website this past February, Stephen Douglas recounted the numerous occasions that Brown has been implicated in domestic violence incidents. They began in 1965 and occurred at least once each decade until 2000, when Brown went to jail rather than serve probation and attend a domestic violence counseling program. Now that he’s 80 years old, I have to hope that he’s slowed down and left these problems in the past. But let’s not go overboard praising him as a person, at least without mentioning some of his troubles.

Sox 2BU: Well, that certainly wasn’t the way I wanted David Ortiz’s last game to go. If anything, the 2016 Red Sox remind us of how stunning the 2013 Sox were. That team won it all with a .211 World Series batting average, and that included Ortiz’s Zeus-like .688 BA. Mike Napoli batted just .154, but he had four World Series RBIs. Jonny Gomes batted a mere .118 (!), but he had three RBIs. Hell, Mike Carp batted .000 (0 for 2) and still managed to push a run across the plate (a forceout at second got Xander Bogaerts home). It’s not average, it’s timing, and this year’s club lacked it.

Hunh. Seems like a bummer to end on that note. Hmmm…

Pumpkin Peeve Of The Week: Pumpkin Spice Sweet Potato Chips. Suck it, Whole Foods.

Chris Warner can be reached via email (chris.warner@patriotsdaily.com) or Twitter @cwarn89 

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15 thoughts on “Pats Thursday Observations, Browns Review

  1. So, I guess I’ll be the first to toss up a WTF(?) with regard to that gasbag “reporter” hectoring Brady about Trump’s lewd comments on that tape that was leaked last week, forcing Brady to leave the podium; and then, of course, getting all self-righteous and indignant about it on Twitter later on (the mediot, not Brady). Also, Felger, of course, had to chime in later in the day and make it sound like it was a legitimate question to ask, and took Brady to task for not addressing it.

    What, in God’s name, does any of that have to do with football, with last week’s game against Cleveland, and this week’s preparation for Cincinnati? The guy is not exactly “besties” with Trump, OK? He’s played golf with him, hung out with him a few times, and had one of his hats with the campaign slogan on it in his locker last year, for whatever reason (probably just took it from him, tossed it in his locker and forgot he even had it, if I had to guess). They’re casual friends, at most, like a lot of celebrities whose paths cross on occasion.

    So, apparently, that gives the media the right to grill Brady about the audio tape, demand an answer, and then act all offended when he refuses?

    Is it any wonder why I consider most media people to be lower than pond scum? And I’d feel the same way if a mediot grilled him about the Wikileaks documents/email leaks if Brady had a Hillary sticker stuck to his locker as well.

    Keep freakin’ politics out of the game. Sports are supposed to be a refuge from the real world, aren’t they?

    I know. I know…..I’m north of 50 years old and I’m still hopelessly naïve.

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    1. “I wish athletes were more vocal and used their platform more often”

      Something you hear, esp from the “sports” media who tend to be quite political themselves. That is, up until they hear something diametric from their political views, right?

      It’s due to bias, plain and simple. No surprise people are vomiting all over themselves with how most are–which I don’t care about but stuff like this, being the losers they are and facing no consequences, it comes out. Change the name of the candidate/party person around all you want and see if it makes sense.

      Strange thing that the Patriots deleted the Q and A from the media copy transcript. I’d like to know if any editing like this is normal.

      On that, I thought it was funny that Tomato Can Dan tweeted about the removal, ending his tweet with

      Like old Soviet Union #TassNewsAgency

      Had to chuckle considering how bias and corrupt for his employer is.

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      1. Shank making a TASS news agency reference regarding the Patriots?

        Is that the same guy who LIED about the Patriots having the “third-lowest payroll in the NFL” the day after the horrific Divisional Round loss to the Jets in 2010 (January 2011) in order to make his “enemy” Bob Kraft look bad? The same Shank who was then too gutless to let his name be attached to the (completely buried) “correction” the Globe printed a few days later (after the internet warriors bombarded the Globe with the actual truth about the Patriots payroll that season).

        Yeah, I’m really concerned about what the CHB thinks of this whole topic. I just wish he’d go away, like, now. Haunt us no longer!

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    2. The big problem I see with this, that no one seems to mention is that the reporter brought Brady’s kids into the question. He didn’t just ask Brady what he thought of Trump’s words – he asked what he would think if his kids heard Trump’s words. That would piss me off and I’m sure it pissed Brady off, especially given his recent history with the jackals of the media.

      And even if there was no mention of his kids, there’s no benefit for Brady at all in taking the bait, because if he answers that he’s appalled at Trump, then that’s big news: You’ll get “Brady Disses Trump” and then someone is going to ask Trump what he thinks about Brady and the whole thing will become one big media snowball. And god help TB12 if he actually says anything to support Trump. So yeah, engaging in some mediot’s personal crusade would have been unwise at best.

      And I hear very few voices (Thornton, maybe Curran) in the media saying that he had the right to say nothing. It’s absurd – since when is it required of me or anyone else to tell any media knucklehead everything we think about any given subject they want to introduce? If I don’t want to comment on politics, that lack of comment shouldn’t be inferred to mean anything. I saw that piece on PFT about how Brady ‘tacitly implied’ that Trump’s words were not a big deal to him (Brady). It’s unbelievable. The guy was just pissed at the question and knew it was better for everyone if he just did not dignify it with a response.

      Every time I think I can’t hate the media any more, they stoop even lower.

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      1. I didn’t realize he brought the kids into question. What a DB.

        Love your last sentence, by the way. I feel exactly the same way about the media. They never seem to hit rock-bottom; they always find a lower level.

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      2. I was going to post something similar. Brady’s children are 9 years old and younger. Why would anyone think of a scenario where they could or should have heard comments like that?

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  2. Great article Chris. Although Feely’s knots can’t hold a collar stay to Merril’s.

    I always enjoy your contributions for the depth/analysis and today’s ’80’s references were a fitting add. Too bad it had to be highjacked. I guess some people just need attention.

    Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. LOL, yes. I’m just looking for attention.

      The name of the site is still Boston Sports MEDIA Watch. The media’s attempt to drag politics into Brady’s presser the other day, and then to get all self-righteous about his refusal to let them do it is absolutely, positively worth discussing in the comments section of this site, whether or not Bruce or anyone else pens an article about it.

      BTW, I’m not on Facebook, or Twitter, or any other social media to speak of, and I don’t comment on any other internet sites. So “attention” is the last think I seek when it comes to the internet. I do think, however, that what the media tried to do to Brady this week vis a vis his relationship with Trump is noteworthy, so I brought it up because I was interested in hearing what other people in the BSMW community thought about it.

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    1. Couldn’t care less what Schilling says at this point, but the fact that it’s Tomase taking him on is beyond ironic.

      I noticed a ton of “timelines” this morning from Tomase’s fellow mediots talking about how he was “killing it” vis a vis the Schilling thing. Naturally. Those asshats ALWAYS fall all over themselves defending and complimenting one another.

      No mention, of course, of how Tomase is a discredited hack whose fake story continues to be cited by national media outlets as “evidence” that the Patriots are the cheatingest cheaters who ever cheated.

      Remind me, again, why he has a job — a rather significant job — in journalism, and in THIS market, too?

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      1. I must know less about social media than even you b/c I am confused how one not be
        “on” twitter and still follow “timelines”?

        Or maybe “on” means having one’s own account not just following others ? I honestly don’t know which is admittedly par for the course on such things.

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        1. Some of the sports-oriented websites show “snippets” of what people are posting on Twitter at the bottom of their home pages, so I can get a general idea of what some people are saying. Also, even though I’m not on Twitter I can still click on Twitter links and read what some people are posting, if I’m so inclined (I’m not usually inclined, but sometimes my interest in piqued).

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    2. I don’t know what their fascination is with pedophilia – after being all self-righteous about Penn State and the Catholic Church, they now use it as the subjects of jokes and humor. If they joked about rape in the same way they would be come down on hard. By the way, pedophilia is defined by age as pre-pubescent (before age 13).

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  3. Couple thoughts on Brady and Trump…

    I think that one of the main reasons Brady publicly expressed “support” for Trump last year was….deflategate. Of everything we know about Brady, one of the most important things to him is loyalty; sticking with your friends.

    As we all know, 2015 was a pretty lonely year for Brady in that regard. While Pats fans and some famous people with New England ties expressed support and defended him all along the way, he wasn’t getting much support from other public figures. Most people within the media and pop culture who “defended” Brady did so from a “it’s not a big deal if they deflated footballs, they would’ve beat the Colts with beachballs!” angle. That line of “defense” implied guilt that Brady has emphatically denied to this day.

    This is where Trump comes in. The Donald was – by far – the highest profile person outside of football to defend Brady every step of the way. After the Wells report was released, Trump tweeted his support. After Judge Berman overturned the ruling, Trump tweeted his support. He even suggested that Brady employ the go-to Trump move and sue the NFL for defamation.

    This is important because it speaks to the loyalty that we know Brady finds so important. Had Brady known how polarizing Trump’s campaign would become, I doubt he would’ve displayed the hat in the locker. At the time, Trump was mostly a novelty and Brady was expressing support for a friend. Even though the hat was gone within a few weeks, the media kept asking him about Trump through the end of the season. And while some Pats and Brady fans (myself included) didn’t particularly understand or like Brady’s public admiration of the Donald, I really think he was just returning that loyal friend favor by publicly supporting someone who had stood by him in his darkest time.

    It would be interesting to learn how Brady really felt about Trump at that time. And if those feelings have changed at all over the last 13 months. But that’s never going to happen.

    As another poster already mentioned in this thread, Brady is in a no-win situation at this point. If he says he’s appalled, it’s a media story and invites Trump to fire back about how Brady’s actually a disgusting loser. If he says that’s not the Trump he knows, or it’s not a big deal, even bigger media story. I think he’s very happy to take the Belichickian route at this point and say he’s #OnToCincinatti. And as a fan who understands how the media treats “gotcha” issues, and how the media has treated Brady in general over the last year-and-a-half, I have zero problem with him taking that approach.

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  4. Trenni fitting right in to the trash that is ‘EEI. Didn’t take long. I’ll let my cut and paste Twitter friends capture the screen shots.

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