Quick-hit thoughts after NFL & Pats

January, 16, 2011
1/16/11
6:00
AM ET
Quick-hit thoughts around the NFL and with the Patriots:

1. One of the signs that Patriots players see as they enter Gillette Stadium reads "Stay hungry, stay humble." It's been their mantra this season.

2. As clever as it was, I thought Patriots receiver Wes Welker showed poor judgement with his Thursday "foot"-filled news conference. The Jets' trash talk is so ridiculous that the best approach is to simply ignore it.

3. I think the Rams would be a solid landing spot for Josh McDaniels. McDaniels is being smart about his next step, realizing the importance of having a good, young quarterback to work with as an offensive coordinator. I could envision McDaniels and Sam Bradford hitting it off and producing explosive results.

4. When Patriots coach Bill Belichick dissected plays on "Patriots All-Access" this week, he highlighted Jets center Nick Mangold and Patriots left guard Logan Mankins. "Two of the best linemen in the game," Belichick said, in a remark that made me think the Patriots won't be letting Mankins walk as a free agent in the offseason (it will be the franchise tag or a contract extension).

5. Green Bay's Tramon Williams has exploded onto the scene as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, and more people are taking notice as he's had a huge two games in the playoffs. I had to look up where he played in college (Louisiana Tech) and learned that Williams went undrafted in 2006 before signing with Houston. He was cut by the Texans at the end of training camp and didn't hook on in Green Bay until late November of that year. Classic late bloomer.

6. When John Fox was hired as Carolina's coach in 2002, they were coming off a disastrous season and picking second in the draft (DE Julius Peppers). Fox had them in the Super Bowl in the 2003 season. Last week, Fox was hired as Denver's head coach and there is a striking similarity: The Broncos are coming off a disastrous season and pick second in the draft, so Fox has a prior blueprint that could help.

7. Jets receiver Braylon Edwards tweeted the following last night: "I just heard the most inspirational message of my life from former Jet Dennis Byrd, who suffered a career ending neck injury." Byrd's "Rise & Walk" is one of the favorite football books I've read.

8. Four thoughts in one on Saturday's games: I read NFL.com's Michael Lombardi tweet that the Ravens' offense needs an overhaul and think he nailed it by pointing out there is not enough speed/playmakers on the outside. ... Ben Roethlisberger's third-and-19 connection to rookie Antonio Brown on the game-winning drive had me asking "Who?" Brown is a sixth-round pick out of Central Michigan, another great find by Kevin Colbert, one of the most underrated personnel men in the NFL. ... The Falcons just bombed. Bad time to play their worst game of the season. The Packers can make a lot of defenses look bad, but that's the area -- defense -- that I think Atlanta needs to focus on this offseason. ... Packers look hot. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers is elite.

9. I thought this piece from Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork.com was some great insight on how the Jets' secondary hopes to play against Tom Brady and the Patriots today. The Jets would like to duplicate the Packers' approach from Dec. 19.

10. I think the top need for the Patriots in the 2011 NFL draft is on the defensive line. They are scary thin entering today's playoff game, and even though some injured players figure to be back next season, more reinforcements are needed.

Mike Reiss

ESPN New England Patriots reporter

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