Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the New England Patriots:
1. Bill Parcells’ candidacy to the Patriots Hall of Fame gets great support from this address because of the role he played in reviving the dormant franchise in 1993 and laying a significant part of the foundation personnel-wise for the Super Bowl championship years under Bill Belichick. But I’m sure I wasn’t the only one chuckling at the excerpt from his new book about how he held Belichick accountable for trying to break his contract as Jets head coach in 2000. If there’s one main reason Parcells isn’t in the Patriots Hall, it’s because he basically did the same thing in 1996 -- angling for his next job while still under contract in New England and his team in the Super Bowl.
2a. Patriots defensive lineman Chris Jones should expect a fine from the NFL for his low hit on Jets quarterback Geno Smith in the fourth quarter Thursday night. The play should have been penalized as it was essentially the same hit that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady absorbed in 2008 when he tore his ACL. You can’t go low on the quarterback. I was surprised there wasn’t more of an uproar from the Jets’ side on that play instead of the absolute non-story that surfaced Friday about how an official moved linebacker Dont'a Hightower away from the snapper on the final play, which is standard operating procedure.
2b. From watching Jones over the last year and a half, I’d say he is anything but a dirty player. He explained after the game that he was trying to dip and left guard Oday Aboushi was on his back as he surged toward Smith. Jones and Smith had trained together at IMG before the 2013 draft, so they have a background together. “He’s a good dude,” Jones said after the game. “It was a football play, it was unfortunate, and I was trying my hardest to get to him. I was happy to see him get up.”
3. When a team includes playing time incentives in players' contracts, it can create a conflict between individual and team goals. The thought came to mind after watching the Patriots’ offensive tackle usage/rotation the last four weeks -- with Marcus Cannon subbing in for left tackle Nate Solder and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer at times -- while remembering that Vollmer has significant money in playing-time incentives this year ($1 million for 80 percent of the snaps and $2 million for 90 percent of the snaps). I don’t think the Patriots are doing it to save money, but if you’re Vollmer, how does that thought not at least cross your mind, especially when seeing Cannon struggle a bit?
Vollmer’s playing time this season
at Dolphins: 85 of 86
at Vikings: 65 of 65
vs. Raiders: 75 of 75
at Chiefs: 39 of 50
vs. Bengals: 76 of 86
at Bills: 60 of 71
vs. Jets: 54 of 57
Total: 454 of 490 (92.6 percent)
4. My biggest takeaway from the Seahawks' trading receiver Percy Harvin to the Jets for a mid-to-late-round conditional draft pick -- which is an admission that they made a mistake in acquiring him last year for first-, third- and seventh-round picks -- is that it highlights how trading for a player goes well beyond his on-field talents. The Seahawks knew what they were getting in Harvin football-wise when they had acquired him from the Vikings in 2013, but what was harder to project was how he’d fit into the locker room culture. It obviously didn’t go well, which is why some teams shy away from investing big in players until they’ve spent time with them through the draft-and-develop process. Bill Belichick sometimes says that when you bring a player onto a team, you get everything that comes with him. This is a shining example of it.
5. The Patriots have given up 190 or more yards rushing in three of their seven games this season -- 191 to the Dolphins, 207 to the Chiefs and 218 to the Jets on Thursday night. For those who have questioned Belichick for his decision in the preseason to release veteran defensive tackle Tommy Kelly, who felt he was being phased out and was hoping to be let go, this is the strongest evidence to support your viewpoint. Hard to think Kelly, who is playing well for the Cardinals (251 of 358 snaps played; 70.1 percent), couldn’t have helped the Patriots this season.
6. One of many differences between the Patriots and Jets was highlighted with this contrast: The Jets’ game captains at midfield for the opening coin toss included former Patriots tight end Zach Sudfeld and former Patriots linebackerA.J. Edds, as well as Malden, Mass., native Breno Giacomini. Meanwhile, the Patriots didn’t do anything out of the ordinary until players gathered in the post-game locker room behind closed doors and former Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis was given the honor of breaking the team down (as shown on Patriots.com), which he did by saying “On 3! 1 ... 2 ... 3 ... Pats!”
7. Looking ahead to next Sunday’s Patriots-Bears game at Gillette Stadium, one thing that stands out is how Chicago has been a very good road team this year (3-1). The Bears' win at San Francisco on Sept. 14 was one of the best road victories in the NFL this season, as the 49ers were playing the first-ever regular-season home game at their new stadium. As for the Patriots, it’s probably not a stretch to say they’ve managed cornerback Brandon Browner’s return from suspension with having him at his best with this game in mind. With the Bears having bigger top-end receivers in Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery, this is the type of game the Patriots probably had in mind when putting together a Browner/Revis cornerback tandem in the offseason.
8. Did You Know, Part I: Since Jay Cutler joined the Bears, the team is 21-5 in games that he starts and does not throw an interception. When he throws multiple interceptions (as he has done three times this season), the Bears are 4-18.
9a. Did You Know, Part II: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Andrew Luck’s 17 touchdown passes is tied for the most in Colts history through the team’s first six games of a season. Peyton Manning had 17 in the team’s first six games in 2004 and Johnny Unitas had 17 in the team’s first six games in 1959.
9b. Unitas. Manning. Luck. How lucky are the Colts? The Patriots visit Indianapolis on Nov. 16 with Luck looking for his first career win over New England.
10. Here’s a fun one to watch for when the Texans visit the Steelers on ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” tomorrow: Safety Ross Ventrone, who appeared in eight games for the Patriots in 2011 but hadn’t played again until suiting up for Pittsburgh last week, will probably be active and participating on special teams. We remember Ventrone because he was waived by the Patriots 11 times between 2010 and 2012; that’s why when a player shuffles back and forth between the practice squad and roster, we often refer to it as the “Ventrone.”