Tag Archives: Patriots corner backs

Raymond Clayborn to be honored today at Gillette Stadium

John Morgan
September 24, 2017 at 11:30 am ET

The Patriots will honor the newest member of the franchise’s Hall of Fame today. During a half time ceremony at Gillette Stadium the Pats will hold a ceremony for Raymond Clayborn. The legendary number 26 is coincidentally the 26th person to join the Patriots Hall of Fame.

While I most certainly hoped Clayborn would get the nod this year, I wasn’t expecting it to turn out this way. I was very pleasantly surprised that the voting by Patriot Nation looked beyond recent star players. Thank you to all Patriot fans who did a bit of research that resulted in Clayborn’s induction. Fans could have easily gone along with the more recent memories. Richard Seymour, a future Pro Football Hall of Famer in my opinion, was a finalist. So was Mike Vrabel, a key defender for three championship teams, and one of the most versatile players in NFL history.

Clayborn set the franchise record with 36 career interceptions (since tied by Ty Law). He returned three kickoffs for touchdown his rookie year, averaging 31 yards per return that season. Clayborn became a starter his second season and along with Mike Haynes combined for one of the best cornerback tandems in NFL history.

Don’t take my word on it; consider what the Pro Football Hall of Fame CB had to say on the subject.

“(NFL.com) did a poll of the top cornerback tandems, and they had myself and Lester Hayes at No. 1,” recalled Haynes. “You know what? Myself and Raymond might have been just as good. Really. Raymond Clayborn was a star.”

Clayborn was a three-time First Team All Pro but stats alone do not adequately state his impact. He was part of a core group of players that turned the franchise around from the worst team in the league to one of the NFL’s best. Perhaps if he had a Super Bowl ring – which was earned but stolen away in the Ben Dreith travesty – he and some other players from the late seventies would have been held in higher regard. Clayborn played in a team record 161 consecutive games and was named to the Patriots All-Decade Team for both the 1970s and 1980s.

Congratulations to Raymond Clayborn on this well deserved honor.

Just Say No to Revis… Patriots Should Pass

Steve Balestrieri
March 18, 2017 at 4:10 pm ET

The Patriots made a big splash in free agency with the signing of CB Stephon Gilmore, formerly of the Bills and he’s locked up for the next several years. They’re also locked into an ugly struggle with Malcolm Butler their restricted free agent corner because of it.

They tendered Butler with a first round pick and the former UDFA corner is upset that the team paid Gilmore the money he feels he’s earned. Now he’s trying to find a home in New Orleans who may very well work out a deal for him. But if Butler goes, should New England bring back Darrelle Revis who was released by the Jets? I’d say a resounding no.

Revis came to New England on essentially a one-year deal and played very well during the Super Bowl run in 2014. He did everything that was asked of him and by all accounts was a good soldier and teammate that year. Butler himself stated that Revis was a big help to him and he credits Revis with helping him to become the player he is today. So, can the Patriots catch lightning in a bottle twice? Again, no.


Darelle Revis had a solid 2014 in helping the Patriots win a Super Bowl. (USA TODAY Images)

The Patriots tried to bring back Revis in 2015 and offered him a big money deal worth in the neighborhood of $35 million. But the Jets were intent on bringing him back, even to the point of tampering with Revis. They didn’t need to. Revis who in retrospect, really wanted to go back to New York, got twice that amount from Gang Green. But he didn’t just get his ring, his money, and be on his way. Revis took parting shots at both Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

Worse, during the Deflategate saga as it unfolded, Revis went out of his way to criticize Brady and the Patriots, basically calling them cheaters. Do you think that Bill Belichick may hold a little bit of a grudge there for this? It is possible. The backlash over his comments about Brady, Belichick, and the Patriots prompted Revis to send his mother to get his Super Bowl ring at the team ceremony in 2015. Except that the Patriots didn’t allow his mother into the celebration.

But the fans and even many members of the media are clamoring for a Revis – Patriots Part Deux, basically ignoring the fact that the past two years, Revis has been flat out awful, especially in 2016.

The 31-year old Revis has been a shadow of himself the past two years and in 2016, teams didn’t shy away from Revis, they attacked him, and sought his side of the field out. For the first time in his career, Revis allowed two touchdowns in a game to the same receiver. In this case, it was against New England and was rookie Malcolm Mitchell.

Revis was overweight, out-of-shape and lost a step. He claims to have already lost 10 pounds this off-season and wants a final shot at redemption. The Jets still owe him $6 million this year, so a one-year deal would be affordable. But would the Patriots pull the trigger again? If they’re smart…in a word no.

While Belichick can bring out the best in players, he doesn’t have a magic elixir that is going to make a player gain those steps he’s lost overnight. No doubt, he’s seen the decline in Revis and knows that he can’t do anything to stop the inevitable slide that has already begun in his game.

It never fails to amaze how fickle some people are. For the past two years, fans and media here in New England have been all over the “Revis is fading” storyline while touting Bill Belichick as brilliant for letting him walk to the Jets in 2015. Many of those same people now are clamoring for his return…And if he signs with his hometown Steelers, as he’s been politicking to do, watch those same people jump back on the “he’s finished” bandwagon.

But while the Pats possibly need another corner if Butler moves to New Orleans, they aren’t in a crisis. Gilmore, Eric Rowe can hold down the corners. And 2nd-year player Cyrus Jones should be much improved in 2017 or Justin Coleman can compete in the slot. And there is the draft.

But as much as Bill Belichick loves to stick it to the Jets, he knows what he sees. Revis is done, or very close to being done. That ship has sailed. And the Patriots should pass.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Ty Law Named Finalist for Pro Football Hall of Fame

John Morgan
January 3, 2017 at 11:39 pm ET

Former New England Patriot corner Ty Law has been named as a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

 

The Pats drafted Law 23rd overall in 1995 out of Michigan. Law is one of a select few to have won three Super Bowl rings with the Patriots. His pick-six off Kurt Warner and the heavily favored St Louis Rams in Super Bowl 36 is an iconic moment in New England sports history.

 

Law was named to five Pro Bowls and was twice a first team All Pro. He was named to the Patriots’ All-Decade Team for both the 1990s and the 2000s, and was also selected to the Patriots’ 50th Anniversary Team. In 2014 Law was honored as a member of the New England Patriots Hall of Fame.

 

In 1998 Law led the NFL with nine interceptions, and again led the league in 2005 with ten picks. Law finished his career with 59 interceptions, including six in the post-season. Five of those playoff picks came against NFL golden boy Peyton Manning. Further proof of how Law shone bright in the clutch is evidenced by 25 of his interceptions coming in the month of December.

 

Other finalists for the 2017 Hall of Fame class include running back LaDainian Tomlinson. LdT seemed to be a polar opposite of Ty Law when it came to games that took place after Thanksgiving – but he’ll still probably get enshrined in his first year of eligibility. Defensive end Jason Taylor and safety Brian Dawkins are two others on the ballot for the first time.

 

The fifteen finalists will be pared down once more to a group of no more than five. WR Isaac Bruce, G Kevin Mawae and OT Tony Boselli join Law in advancing this far for the first time. WR Terrell Owens, K Morten Andersen and G Alan Faneca were in the round of 15 last year, and return for another shot at Canton.

 

Former head coach Don Coryell, RB Terrell Davis, OT Joe Jacoby, S John Lynch, and QB Kurt Warner are also on the final 15 last. That group made it to the final ten a year ago.

 

As part of a separate voting process Paul Tagliabue and – no, this is not a misprint – Jerry Jones have received nominations as well as contributors. Safety Kenny Easley was also nominated by the veteran’s committee.

 

Notable names missing the final cut include HC Jimmy Johnson, LB Clay Matthews Jr, S Darren Woodson, S Steve Atwater, LB Karl Mecklenburg, OT Chris Hinton, RB Edgerrin James, WR Torry Holt and WR Hines Ward.

 

Patriots Free Agent Profile – Tarell Brown

Steve Balestrieri
February 5, 2016 at 6:00 am ET

The Patriots have a couple of decisions to make in regard to free agents this offseason, but they are mainly to do with their role players and not with the starters like last year or the upcoming 2017 season.

One of their free agent signings was CB Tarell Brown who came on-board on July 23, just prior to training camp which started on July 30. Brown signed a 1-year deal worth $2 million dollars. Brown had spent seven seasons with the 49ers and Raiders after being drafted in the 5th round of the 2007 NFL Draft.

Brown was known as a smart, solid, fundamentally sound player. A good starter as a number 2 cornerback. Of course when the Patriots signed him, I immediately (and wrongly) pegged him as a depth player only with little chance of becoming a starter. He did arrive with a foot injury issue, which is why the Patriots had him in for visits twice before signing him in July.

But what drew Brown to New England wasn’t just that the team had a huge turnover at the corner position. But that the players are expected to be prepared every day and held to a higher standard than other teams do.

“That’s one of the reasons why I came here is just because these guys are held to a higher standard,” Brown said during training camp. “Day in and day out, you compete and that’s what we’re here to do and there’s nothing less than winning is accepted.”

What drew the Patriots and Bill Belichick to Brown was his studious, analytical side of playing the position. One of the things that the Patriots do and do a lot of on defense is what is commonly referred to as “mixing things up.” That just doesn’t mean switching from man-to-man to zone, which every team does. But depending upon the call by the defense, the situation and the opposition, a player’s responsibility will change. Sometimes players will rotate sides and a hallmark of the Belichick way is knowing what all the other parts are responsible doing.

Brown had a week to try to learn the defense and he reportedly spent a lot of time with Devin McCourty learning the calls, the responsibilities and the different coverages.

“It’s a craft,” Brown said of  playing corner. “You gotta be able to study and be a student of the game. It’s not just about athletic ability anymore. You can get away with that in college, but once you get to the NFL, being able to study, being able to enjoy and understand your craft and when to use things, that’s what’s important.”

When camp opened, Brown’s foot was still an issue, but he caught on very quickly and was turning heads early in the sessions. On August 2, he was arguably the best player on the field, breaking up passes to Edelman in the end zone, a deep pass to Tyms where he was beaten initially but reacted well to the ball being in the air and knocked it away at the last moment, and another deep pass to Brandon Gibson.

Once the season started he was the #2 corner opposite Malcolm Butler and played well. When the team went to the nickel look with three corners, he’d move inside and Logan Ryan would come in and take his place outside. But his foot issues were never fully behind him and he was only able to play in three games with two starts before being placed on IR on October 17.

The 5’11, 190-pound Brown just turned 31 in January and would be very interested in coming back for a second stint with the team.

Why Brown Will Return: Brown, provided he’s healthy gives the Patriots a savvy, smart veteran who will be able to compete for the #2 corner position and be versatile enough to slide inside to play the slot.

His analytical approach and work ethic definitely resonates with Belichick and the Patriots. He’d be a very good sounding board for the younger players. Plus, he’s a proven veteran who can step in and play whenever and wherever he’s needed.

Another thing in his favor was, after he was placed on IR, he stayed in Foxboro and did his rehab there. He helped out in any way he could the corners on the roster in the film room and with their technique. Those are the kind of things that endear a player to the coaching staff. His salary won’t break the bank and he’d be very affordable.

Why Brown Won’t Return: The Patriots may decide that his foot injury will be one of those chronic type injuries that will haunt him for the rest of his career and therefore become a guy that they feel they can’t rely upon.

Or they could decide just to go younger and bring in another young guy. Butler and Ryan are still young and will be starting their third and fourth years respectively. Coleman is only going to be 23 when the OTAs begin, and Darryl Roberts who got the start in the first preseason game, is just 25 and entering his second season.

But the main issue with Brown will be his health, specifically his foot.

Bottom Line:  Brown was a pleasant surprise for the Patriots last summer. He signed a week before camp and had a solid summer that translated into an opening night start against the Steelers. He played well when he was on the field.  While his injury issue is the driving force here, he’d compete once again for starting reps.

Considering he won’t command a ton of money against the salary cap, I think there’s a 70 percent chance of the Patriots bringing him back for another year. They could basically set it up much like last year’s contract where there’d be a very small signing or roster bonus,  or possibly just a straight salary deal. That way if they decide they don’t want to keep him at the end of training camp, there would be no issue with dead money against the cap.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.