September 25, 2016

Legends of Troy

logoby Chris Warner
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Coach Bill Belichick has said that if you only do one thing on his team, you’d better do it well. Over his 15 years in Foxboro, Troy Brown did plenty of things well, helping his team evolve from the early-90’s ooze to the upright level of today.

Everyone who follows New England’s football team has his or her favorite Troy Brown play. Over the course of 192 games, playing offense, defense and special teams, there’s been ample opportunity to admire Troy (you’ll excuse me if I feel compelled to call him by his first name).

Hence, in no particular order, a brief rundown of favorites. Many of them can be seen on the Patriots website in the “Troy Brown Retires” video.

Best High School Play

Fake Field Goal vs. Rams, November 7, 2004 – Jogging away from his teammates toward the sideline, Troy dropped out of the Ram’s radar long enough to walk into the end zone and gather in a four-yard touchdown pass from Adam Vinatieri halfway through the third quarter. The score stretched a 19-13 lead to 26-13. Also worth mentioning about this game: Troy played defensive back after Asante Samuel went out with an injury (There was an Earthwind Moreland appearance… remind me how they went 14-2 again?). Troy’s stat line included three receptions (30 yards), three tackles, one broken-up pass.

The Best Offense is a Good Defense, or Vice-Versa Play

Interception vs. Cincinnati, December 12, 2004 – Troy stepped in front of Chad Johnson to pick off a Jon Kitna pass in the end zone, preserving a two-TD lead early in the fourth. This play confirmed that Troy’s time in the defensive backfield was more than a desperate measure; the man could do the job. New England eked out a 35-28 final, which meant that Troy’s pick probably prevented overtime. Troy’s line: Two receptions (27 yards), two tackles, one interception.

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A Man Among Men

logoby Scott Benson
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How to describe a football player like Troy Brown?

Longshot. An eighth-round pick who went on to a 15 year NFL career.  

Mainstay. Every snap of that career was taken as a New England Patriot. No player has ever gained more yardage for the team.

Specialist. The team’s all-time leader in punt returns, whose most memorable special teams play may have been when he recovered – and lateraled – a blocked field goal.

Generalist. The kicking game, offense, defense – whenever and wherever he was called on, he held down every point of the proverbial three-legged stool. Even when his flame began to dim, he found a way to get on the field and contribute.

Playmaker. His career reached its apex when Bill Belichick made him a full-time receiver in 2000, and he went on to become the team’s all-time leader in receptions (and second all time in yardage with 6,366, to Stanley Morgan’s impenetrable 10.3K). A quick, slithery route runner and after the catch threat, he was the man who got the ball on third down (and first and second and fourth) for the team that went on to win New England’s first world championship.

Champion. Three catches on the game-winning drive set up Lombardi #2, before he played both ways in the Super Bowl XXXIX capper.

Teacher. Richard Seymour, himself a three-time champion and five-time pro bowler, said it; “he taught me as a player nothing is going to be given to you. You have to go out and earn it, and work hard for everything you get. He did that by example.”

Icon. Make no mistake; we love him first because he came through like a champ in so many do-or-die situations for the Patriots. But it goes deeper than that, doesn’t it?

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College Scout, 9/27/08

logoby Greg Doyle
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Let’s take a look at today’s national TV games for some teams and players we haven’t featured yet this year.

Michigan State at Indiana (12:00 PM EST ESPN)

3-1 Michigan State hosts 2-1 Indiana in a game that features two good offenses. Michigan State probably has the stronger overall team here and could start out its Big 10 schedule with a win if they can protect their homefield today.

Michigan State RB Javon Ringer (#23)

Ringer is a guy putting up fantastic stats. He has decent size, but not too big at 200. Well built guy who runs well and can catch. Has had a torn ACL in his past and knee problems have continued to crop up off and on. Low to the ground and good speed around the corner. Ringer reportedly works hard and is a good team player. But a couple things concern me; his durability and the fact Michigan State has often looked in other directions in goal line and short yardage situations. No doubt he’ll play in the NFL, but could be more of a change of pace back. His stats are also inflated by the spread offense. I see him as a 2nd or 3rd round choice. Here are some highlights of Ringer.

Michigan State S Otis Wiley (#21)

This Flint, Michigan native weighs in at 210 lbs. and has really taken his game to a new level as the Spartans strong safety this season. This is his third season as a starter for Michigan State. Right now he is tied for the lead in the nation with 4 INTs and he has taken one back for a touchdown. He struggled a bit last year to learn a new defense and was actually benched for several games. Has good speed, coverage ability and likes to hit. Can really lay the lumber and support in the run game. Well respected team leader who was voted captain this season, which would attract the Patriots. Also a good punt returner. Reportedly has good character, he seems to fit what the Patriots would want at safety and is worth keeping an eye on.

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The Only Colors You’ll Ever See On My Back

logoby Scott Benson
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As Chris Gasper and Karen Guregian report this morning, it was a hell of a sendoff yesterday for Troy Brown, who ended his NFL career after 15 seasons with the Patriots.

Team owner Robert Kraft said, “Troy Brown to me is the consummate Patriot.”

Head coach Bill Belichick said, “It has truly been an honor and a privilege to coach Troy.”

Brown, flanked by his wife and two boys, said, “I will always be a Patriot.”

The team announced that its nationally televised game with the Jets on November 13 will be Troy Brown Night.

Meanwhile, here at PD, we’re gathering our thoughts for a series of tributes to the man who rose from an eighth round draft pick to become one of the greatest players in the history of the franchise. I’ll be back on Sunday with some thoughts, and Chris Warner will be here on Monday to look at some of Troy’s most memorable plays. On Tuesday, Tyler Carter will be here with A Very Special Turning Point focusing on a signature Brown play, and Dan Snapp will wrap things up on Wednesday with a look at one of the most unique players it’s ever been our pleasure to watch.

We hope you’ll join us.

Troy To Announce Retirement Today?

logoby Scott Benson
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The Globe’s Chris Gasper is reporting this morning that the Patriots will hold a 10 a.m. press conference today at which Troy Brown, the team’s all-time leading receiver and punt returner, will announce his retirement from the NFL after 15 seasons.

Over the next week, we here at PD will try to sum up Brown’s magnificent career and everything he’s meant to the Patriots and their fans.

For a task that tall, we may need a month. In the meantime, we invite you to leave your thoughts on Troy’s retirement in our comments section.

Good Bye, or Goodbye?

logoby Dan Snapp
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Crisis, they say, breeds opportunity.

When the NFL schedule makers posted the ’08 season, the timing of the Patriots’ bye seemed pointless. Now it looks provident.

If the Pats are to make a real season out of it, this would be the week to plant the seeds. That could mean radical changes, with new players brought in and old ones losing their starting jobs. It could mean new schemes and focuses. Or it could simply be a matter of returning to fundamentals. Stopping the single wing might be a good start.

Perhaps that’s too much to be made of one measly defeat, but man, what a wretched stink bomb of a loss. The Belichick era has seen its share of calamitous results, notably against Tennessee in ’02, San Diego in ’05, and the Dolphins seemingly every other year. But this one seemed worse, conjuring up dark memories of the pre-Parcells Pats, replete with a record day for the opposing running back and a QB who seemingly couldn’t complete anything past five yards.

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No Answer for Miami Wildcat Strikes

logoby Tyler Carter
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Bill Belichick’s opening statement from his morning-after press conference following the Patriot’s worst home loss during his tenure:

“we all obviously feel bad…it was a total team loss. I don’t think we did a good job coaching, starting with me, and didn’t do a good job of playing. We got pretty well beat in every phase…other than special teams.”

Let’s start by assessing the dismal play of the offense:

As the unit and coaches adjust to life without…you know who, they’ve complimented their currently favored run & shoot, spread strategy by returning somewhat to their smash mouth, ‘run to set up the pass’ roots.  Such an offense is predicated on patience and effective run-blocking, the latter being the linchpin to the whole operation.  If you can’t give your backs room to maneuver, you can’t run the ball effectively.  If you can’t run the ball, you can’t lure an extra defender(s) up to the LOS for run support with play action.  If you can’t sell the play action, your deep threats (Moss, etc.) will constantly face double or even triple teams.  For those who still would have preferred the Patriots take some shots down the field despite such coverage, there are not one, not two, not three but four instances where his future HOF predecessor did that very thing to the tune of 4 interceptions, and none resulted in wins.  In short, forcing the ball against a competent defense that’s expecting it is rarely the answer.  But I digress.

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Sleeping With The Fishes

logoby Scott Benson
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Oy. Of all the weeks for Chris Warner to have off.

The Patriots just got blown off their home field by a team that had won one of its last twenty games. Let’s get this over with.

Patriots on Offense

A shit stew so vile its aftertaste may linger for weeks. If you like 13 play, 39 yard drives that stumble and lurch every miserable step of the way towards a crummy, worthless field goal, then this is your offense. On a good week.

Matt Cassel played so badly that he would have found a way to lose this game even if he had a good offensive line, which he doesn’t, not by a long shot. Let’s start there, with these Patriots – their offensive line sucks. Pro Bowl, my ass – they just got punked by a washed up has-been like Joey Porter.

You’d think getting creamed in the Super Bowl and almost single-handedly losing the biggest game in the world in front of millions of people would have been enough to light a fire under their asses, but apparently not.

None of this is intended as a defense for Cassel – he was horrible, and his lackluster, bewildered play was enough to extinguish in one day any hopes that he might rise to this occasion. But there can be no argument – the Patriots offensive line is five piles of useless right now, and the next time they give a long-term deal to any of these guys, they ought to have their heads examined. Mankins included.

It’s useless to even talk about the running backs or receivers at this point. They’re irrelevant until the Patriots can block somebody. Then maybe we can talk about the “unchanged” game plan that suddenly has just two pass plays – short, and shorter.

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The Sunday Links

logoby Scott Benson
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The Patriots will try to win a record 22nd consecutive regular season game today when the Miami Dolphins visit Gillette Stadium for the Pats second divisional battle in two weeks.

Yesterday’s opening ceremony for the team’s new Hall of Fame also dominates this morning’s headlines.

Oh, dear. Is that a Dan Shaughnessy football column I see linked on today’s Globe? And look – Dan is writing about Bill Parcells. Leave it to Shaughnessy to find the fresh angle. The same sort of inventiveness that makes Tony Kornheiser America’s most popular football analyst also keeps Dan at the top of the sports pages, every day, whether you can stand another friggin’ minute of it or not.

I’m sure the actual working press doesn’t mind turning over all those column inches for another perfunctory Amos Alonzo Shaughnessy mess, but nevertheless, he shall never have their Sunday Links.

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College Scout – 9/20/08

logoby Greg Doyle
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Some really good games on the docket today. We can’t preview all of them, but there are some exciting games so you may want to commit a few hours today or tonight to some great college football. Let’s take a look at some potential NFL draft picks in a few key games.

Wake Forest at Florida State (7:00 PM EST ESPN2)

Florida State didn’t exactly open with the iron this year, starting with Western Carolina and Chattanooga the first two games. They outscored them by a combined 115 to 7. But they’ll be tested here by a tough, well-coached Wake Forest team. Should be a fun ACC game to watch.

Wake Forest MLB Stanley Arnoux (#43)

Arnoux has NFL size at 6’1″ 245. Was Wake’s third leading tackler as a junior and showed ability to play all downs and get out in coverage as well. Has a knack for big plays, as Uconn found out in last year’s bowl game as Arnoux made several huge plays to stymie Connecticut drives. Wake’s coach Jim Grobe has said Arnoux may be their best defensive player. A smart, productive player with size to play inside and coverage ability to play outside and who also has a knack for big plays? Sounds like a potential Patriot to me. Also has good speed having been clocked at 4.6/40. Though right now he isn’t talented enough physically to be anything but a later round pick, if he can play special teams he’ll be on an NFL roster. And with a good combine could move into the mid-rounds. Definitely a sleeper and underrated player.

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Patriots Daily Buffet Table – Patriots vs. Dolphins (9/21/08)

logoby Patriots Daily Kitchen Staff
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Patriots versus Dolphins this week, as we’re treated to our second AFC East matchup of the season. It’s been a busy off season for the fishies. Zach Thomas and Jason Taylor are gone. Bill Parcells is now the GM in Miami. Or at least he was when this was written. Ol’ Tuna doesn’t like to stick around for long. So while Bill may no longer be shopping for the groceries in Miami, the Buffet Table is still preparing for this game.

We’ll be shopping for MahiMahi this week. Also known as Dolphinfish, MahiMahi are fast growing but short lived fish. They’re a lot like the Dolphins, they start off every season fast but then fade down the stretch.

It’s an easy fish to cook. Like most fast growing and short lived fish, it does not have a strong fishy flavor. It’s a fish that people who think they don’t like fish should try. It cooks quickly enough that Parcells should still be in Miami if he was there when you first put the MahiMahi on the grill.

Bill Parcells’ Frequent Shopper Card MahiMahi (serves 6)

Ingredients:
MahiMahi filets, 2.5 to 3 pounds

Rub:
1/2 cup dark spiced rum
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 habanero pepper
1 mango

Other:
Vegetable oil

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Playing with a Porpoise

logoby Britt Schramm
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Well, I guess that the demise of the New England Patriots was greatly exaggerated by the New york media and the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets! fans last week.  Sure, Cassel played a very controlled, high percentage game but the rest of the team shockingly showed up with a game plan and made the recently crowned (and crowed about) AFC East Team To Beat look like the last year’s model.  Guess the saying is true – that’s why you play the games.

Speaking of playing the games, this week’s opponents are trying to shed their moniker of The 32nd Best Team in the NFL.   However, they’ve done nothing to change that name as they’re still winless for 2008.

This Week – Miami Dolphins (0-2; Against AFC East 0-1)

Two-Faced Team but Single Problem

Two weeks into the season and the Dolphins are a tale of two teams.  The first game at home, they almost made the first game for Favre a losing one.  The Fish held the Jets to only 194 yards, 2 scores, and 5 of 13 in 3rd down efficiency which resulted in six punts.  Individually, Pennington hit a smidge over 60% of his passes for 2 scores, one INT for a decent 82.6 QB rating.  Emerging TE Anthony Fasano was leading receiver with 8 catches for 84 yards. 

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