EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

April 26, 2013

Thanks for nothing

New England stands pat while AFC East foes trip all over themselves on draft night

On Pro Football
Hector Longo

---- — FOXBORO — The athlete so many New Englanders craved to fill the void for Wes Welker, and Bill Belichick traded him.

He dumped Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson on the Minnesota Vikings via a late-hour trade that left the Patriots without a first-round pick and even the hardiest Belichick backers lurching for explanations.

For their dollar bill, the 29th pick, the Pats picked up a 50-cent piece, a quarter, a dime, a nickel and a penny. That was picks Nos. 52, 83, 102 and 229 overall.

It was vintage Belichick, the master insuring his moves with quantity. Throw enough of something at the wall, and something has to stick.

Add a second-, third-, fourth- and seventh-round pick to the mix and lessen the impact of your mistakes.

As disheartening as it can be to the fans, the rest of the pitiful AFC East should learn a thing or two from the Belichick method.

The Pats had to be giggling as the divisional foes “chasing them” all stumbled badly.

“We feel there are football players out there to help our team,” said Pats personnel guru Nick Caserio. “We’ll see how that goes tomorrow. We were ready to pick. We had players we were ready to discuss picking. ...”

Wouldn’t you have loved if Caserio actually finished that line with the truth?

“We had players we were ready to discuss picking … But to be honest we were laughing so hard at what Miami, the Jets and Buffalo were doing that we decided to just let them keep stumbling all over themselves.”

The evening opened with Miami, a sub-.500 football team with needs all over the place on defense and at the big-play spots on offense, bumping up nine spots for Oregon pass-rusher Dion Jordan.

Now, if this were New England or for that matter any real contender — Pittsburgh, Seattle, San Francisco, etc. — making a gutsy move like this, there’d be cartwheels in this corner.

But these are the Ryan Tannehill-led Dolphins. A franchise with one winning season in the last seven and no playoff wins since Tom Brady took over the Pats in 2001.

Suzy Kolber of ESPN reminded Jordan that he was headed to the franchise that produced Jason Taylor.

If Jordan doesn’t make a Taylor-esque impact immediately, this move helps assure that Miami still doesn’t matter.

The Jets and Bills quickly followed Miami into the idiot box.

New York, with picks 9 and 13, replaced Darrelle Revis with Alabama’s Dee Milliner and then spent their second No. 1 on defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson of Missouri.

“The Jet fans are not particularly impressed with this pick,” said NFL Network’s Mike Mayock.

Thanks Mike. Perhaps they remembered that New York’s pathetic offense, which it ignored in the offseason already, ranked 30th in yardage, 28th in points scored and 29th in turnover ratio last year.

Finally, you have the Bills. Change coaches, assistants, GMs, quarterbacks, and they are still the Bills — destined to win between four and seven games every year.

Buffalo backed up from No. 8 to No. 16, gaining a third-round pick overall.

And then they went off the board for Florida State QB E.J. Manuel, a guy most believed was destined for Round 2 or 3.

The Bills’ website called Manuel their “longterm quarterback of the future.”

That’s pretty reassuring from the franchise that less than two years ago handed Ryan Fitzpatrick $24 million guaranteed ($59 million overall) to perform said task.

Amazing, on a night where Bill Belichick’s only true trigger pull was the filet over the stuffed shrimp, the Patriots extended their insurmountable lead on the pitiful AFC East.