Patriots need Brady-Gronk combo to come through | NevadaAppeal.com

Patriots need Brady-Gronk combo to come through

Sports fodder for a Friday morning…It’s difficult to envision the New England Patriots beating the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday without tight end Rob Gronkowski having a big day. And it’s even more difficult to envision Gronkowski having a big day against Seattle safeties Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas and linebacker Bobby Wagner. Tom Brady and the Pats like to throw a lot of underneath stuff to Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Brandon LaFell. And that’s where the Seahawks destroy people. There’s nothing about the Patriots that scares you except Brady-to-Gronkowski. Chancellor will take care of that.

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Unlike college football, which is basically just a video game decided by dumb calls by bad officials, the NFL still values defense and controlling the clock by running the ball. The Seahawks win both of those battles against the Patriots. The Patriots run an American Idol audition every week in practice just to figure out who’s going to run the ball for them on Sunday. Their defense is underrated but it’s nowhere near the level of Seattle’s headhunters. Seattle’s defense intimidated Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in last year’s Super Bowl. Manning can’t throw the ball more than 25 yards anymore and the Seahawks knew it. Brady doesn’t like throwing it more than 25 yards. The Seahawks know that, too.

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This year’s Super Bowl can’t get here fast enough. About all we learned the last two weeks about the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks is Tom Brady likes his footballs with a little less air and Marshawn Lynch doesn’t like to answer dumb questions. The NFL’s media needs to check into a rehab clinic first thing Monday morning. Something horribly wrong has happened to the good folks who cover the league. About all it takes to cover the league now, apparently, is a Twitter account and the skills to push the video button on a cell phone. Nobody, it seems, knows the first thing about the actual sport they are covering. The media, which have been on a steady decline since the internet took over in the late 1990s, exposed themselves the last two weeks.

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The Nevada Wolf Pack athletic department is going to have a difficult decision to make at the end of this men’s basketball season. Does it continue to show faith in head coach David Carter or does it cut its losses now and move on? It would be justified with either decision. Carter is a solid coach and recruiter and a great role model for young athletes who cares for his players on and off the court. He also truly loves the Wolf Pack basketball program and is a huge part of its greatest successes. He’s also the last tie to the Trent Johnson-Mark Fox era. Hey, it took the Pack three decades to finally say good-bye to Chris Ault. On the other hand, this will likely be Carter’s fourth losing season in the last five.

After six years he has yet to show he can build a program and get any momentum. For one reason or another, it always seems like he’s starting over every year. It’s also obvious the community has lost faith in his program, given all the empty seats at Lawlor Events Center Tuesday night when UNLV was in town. Coaching is not about coaching anymore. It’s about making money for the university. And Carter’s basketball program is leaving a lot of money on the table lately.

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The gut feeling here is Carter deserves one more year after this season. Despite the current five-game losing streak and ugly 33-50 record since March 19, 2012, Carter is finally playing his best players (namely Tyron Criswell and Eric Cooper) and the team seems to have turned a corner recently. The Pack should be fairly competitive and win a game or two at the Mountain West Tournament in March. All of the current starters will be back next year. There’s no reason why this same group of players can’t win 20 games next year, especially with starters A.J. West, Marqueze Coleman and Criswell as seniors. Carter, given his many years of loyalty to the program, deserves one more year.

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Criswell is worth the price of a ticket to a Wolf Pack game all by himself. At just 6-foot-3 he might be the best player in the Mountain West, inch for inch. He’s the Pack’s second best rebounder despite standing just 6-foot-3 and he plays the game the right way, with toughness, confidence and fearless aggression. He’s the Pack’s best all-around player. He can score inside and out and he’s not afraid to mess with the big boys inside. He’s built like a fullback and plays like a linebacker. Carter and his staff did an amazing job finding him at Central Community College in Nebraska last spring and stealing him from the Cornhuskers. The Pack is desperate to find a leader. They have found one in Criswell, whether they know it or not.

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The San Francisco 49ers need to watch this Super Bowl closely. They might just learn a thing or two from Patriots coach Bill Belichick about how to beat the Seahawks defense. If it’s possible, Belichick is going to find a way, within the rules or outside the rules. Don’t be shocked if Belichick just keeps the ball on the ground and attacks the Seahawks defensive front. The Patriots don’t have a star running back but they do have a half dozen guys who can rotate in and out and stay fresh and wear down the Seahawks. The last thing the Patriots should want is Brady tossing 45-50 passes into that Seahawks secondary. A couple of them might end up in the end zone behind him.