Patriots notebook: Dubbing them 'America's team'

Glen Farley

In the wake of “Spygate” and in the midst of a perfect regular season, the 2007 New England Patriots have been called a lot of things.  

On Thursday, NBC’s John Madden dubbed them “America’s team.”

“They never say you’re flying under the radar when you’re the New England Patriots,” Madden said during a conference call previewing the start of the NFL playoffs this weekend. “All the accolades that they get, they deserve them. They played so well. You watch them offensively -- they were darn near perfect, defensively they were perfect. They have great talent that plays well and is coached well. They’re just fun to watch. 

“When you’re ‘America’s team,’ what that means is that there’s a large part of the people that are rooting for you, but there’s also going to be a large part of the people that are rooting against you. I think what makes for ‘America’s team’ is not everyone loves them.

“I don’t know that everyone loves the Patriots, but what they’ve done and what they're doing, you sure as hell have to respect.”

Hit the ground running

Laurence Maroney hopes the Patriots will hit the postseason running.

“I think we’re going to need the running game in the playoffs to balance things,” said the second-year running back, who finished the regular season with 835 yards on the ground. “I don’t think we’re going to try to come in and overdo the run, overdo the pass. I think we’re going to need both of them to come in and produce very well.”

While the Patriots boasted the NFL’s top total offense (411.3 yards per game) and passing offense (295.7 yards), their rushing game ranked a rather run-of-the-mill 13th (115.6).

After producing a total of 160 yards on 49 attempts over the previous three-game stretch, however, the Patriots churned out 131 yards against the New York Jets and a season-high 196 versus the Miami Dolphins.

Although limited to 44 yards on 26 attempts (1.7 yards per carry) in last Saturday night’s 38-35 win over the New York Giants in their regular-season finale, the Patriots’ ground game did account for 14 of their 22 second-half points via a pair of touchdowns and a two-point conversion by Maroney.  

“It’s good for any team when you get your running game going a little bit,” said running back Kevin Faulk. “At the same time, you’ve just got to be consistent.”

Not Josh-ing

Josh McDaniels isn't going anywhere.

The 31-year-old Patriots' offensive coordinator will not interview for any head coaching

jobs this year.

"I am very grateful for the chance to interview for NFL head coaching positions but I have decided not to pursue those opportunities at this time. I plan to focus all my attention on our postseason preparation," McDaniels said.

Both the Atlanta Falcons and the Baltimore Ravens had sought permission from the Patriots to interview for their vacant head coaching jobs.

No kidding around

Thirty-five-year-old strong safety Rodney Harrison said he no longer looks at first-round draft pick Brandon Meriweather as a rookie – except when it benefits him and other members of the team’s secondary, that is.

“He’s not a rookie,” Harrison said. “He still brings us doughnuts and coffee (as part of his rookie initiation). In that sense (he is), but he’s no longer a rookie. He’s out there playing. He’s playing football. (But) he’d better continue with those doughnuts and cookies or he’ll get tied up.”

The Enterprise