Quick-hit thoughts around NFL & Patriots

January, 13, 2013
1/13/13
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[+] EnlargeBill Belichick
AP Photo/Damian StrohmeyerWould Bill Belichick even consider running out the clock with a chance to win a playoff game?
Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:

1. Bill Belichick said this week, "You don't win a war by digging a foxhole and sitting in it. You have to go out there and attack." I think Broncos coach John Fox is going to think long and hard about that this offseason, after kneeling on the ball at the end of the fourth quarter to go to overtime against the Ravens on Saturday. The Broncos, with Peyton Manning, had the ball at their own 20, with two timeouts and 31 seconds left.

2. I know it probably won't be a popular thought with a Patriots-based audience, but I don't buy the idea that Manning's legacy is somehow tainted by Saturday's playoff loss and his so-so postseason record. Manning and the Broncos wilted when it mattered most Saturday -- the defense was a big part of that -- but I don't think that means Manning suddenly isn't in the discussion when we talk about the great quarterbacks who have played this game.

3. Watching the Ravens' defense, it reminds me a little of the 2007 Patriots unit -- a lot of veteran players, not particularly fast, but you have to respect their savvy, their know-how and how they rise up in the big game. Belichick has spent the past five years or so attempting to inject the New England defense with more youth and athleticism, and that looks like what the Ravens need to address in the years to come.

4. Caught up with rookie Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones on Friday to get his thoughts on his former coach at Syracuse, Doug Marrone, being hired as Bills coach. Jones wanted to keep the focus on Sunday's game against the Texans but offered this: "He definitely showed me the business side of things and off the field, becoming a better man, life skills and things of that sort. He's straightforward."

5. Might it be déjà vu with an AFC East team with the No. 8 overall pick in the draft? Last year, the Dolphins drafted quarterback Ryan Tannehill eighth overall, pairing him with his former head coach at Texas A&M, Mike Sherman, who was the first-year Dolphins offensive coordinator. This year, the Bills have the No. 8 overall pick, and Marrone, the first-year coach, could pick his former Syracuse quarterback, Ryan Nassib, if he's available.

[+] EnlargeDoug Marone
AP Photo/David DupreyDoug Marrone takes over a Bills team that hasn't made a playoff appearance in 13 consecutive seasons, the NFL's longest drought.
6. Josh McDaniels' tenure as Broncos head coach (2009-10) isn't viewed favorably by many, but he did draft some quality players who played key roles for the team this season. While it's easier to focus on the misses -- and he had his fair share of those, particularly in the second round -- consider that running back Knowshon Moreno (2009, first round), receiver Demaryius Thomas (2010, first round), starting guard Zane Beadles (2010, second round) and receiver Eric Decker (2010, third round) all were integral parts of the offense in 2012. Those were all McDaniels' picks.

7. Speaking of McDaniels and his draft picks, this question was posed to me Friday during a radio interview: What do you think is the possibility of the Patriots potentially being interested in Tim Tebow in the offseason? With the Jaguars declaring no interest, some will naturally connect the dots to the Patriots as a good fit. With the understanding that the Patriots won't be doing anything to take Tom Brady off the field, I could envision a scenario in which it possibly would be a consideration, somewhat similar to 2005, when Belichick seemed to like having Doug Flutie around.

8. The Browns' hiring of Rob Chudzinski as head coach is a tough sell to the Cleveland fan base, especially the way the process unfolded and the perception that Oregon's Chip Kelly and Marrone were their top choices. It sort of reminded me of the Falcons in 2008 when they hired general manager Thomas Dimitroff and then head coach Mike Smith, and there was a letdown of sorts in Atlanta because Bill Parcells had been under consideration. The takeaway: Buzz can be overrated.

9. Did You Know, Part 1: Since the NFL moved to a 12-team playoff format in 1990, the No. 1 seed in the AFC has compiled a 13-10 record in the divisional playoffs.

10. Did You Know, Part 2: Belichick is 17-7 in the playoffs as a head coach, tied with Joe Gibbs for the third-most playoff wins in NFL history. Only Tom Landry (20) and Don Shula (19) have more.

11. Did You Know, Part 3: Deion Branch (54) needs five receptions and Wes Welker (53) needs six receptions to pass Troy Brown for most postseason receptions in Patriots history.

12. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has played under one head coach and the same offensive system since entering the NFL in 2000, while 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (2005, first round) and Rams quarterback Sam Bradford (2010, first round) have combined to play under 10 offensive coordinators. The Smith/Bradford stat came from ESPN.com's Mike Sando, and I made the connection to Brady because I think that has been an important part of his development over the years. With a win Sunday, Brady becomes the NFL's all-time winningest playoff quarterback.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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