Morning Huddle 10/30 - Patriots Address Their Run Defense, Gronkowksi Soon to be a Cartoon? - Today's Links

Ian Logue
October 30, 2013 at 09:01am ET

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Looking at the Patriots acquisition of Eagles defensive tackle Isaac Sopoaga on Tuesday, it's hard not to believe New England did a good job addressing a need that has certainly come into focus in recent weeks.

With Tommy Kelly still sidelined the Patriots made a move to help out their run defense on Tuesday.
(USA TODAY Images)

The Dolphins and Jets both racked up 156 and 177 yards respectively over the last two games, which highlighted a need that needed to be addressed because not only does trying to stop the run tire the defense, it also keeps their offense off the field.  The Jets held the ball for 46:13 compared to just 23:40 for the Patriots during the overtime win two weeks ago, and the Dolphins, despite their second half meltdown, held it for 34:59 compared to 25:01.

The biggest number that stood out from Sunday's game was the fact the Dolphins had six rushes for over 10 yards, the highest total New England had allowed all season.

That's not exactly a recipe for success.  Obviously after losing Vince Wilfork for the season with an Achilles injury, that was a big blow and they've been even further hampered after losing Tommy Kelly with a knee injury.  There's still no timetable on Kelly's return, and as a result teams have really started attacking this undermanned group by running the football inside more.

We've seen Joe Vellano and Chris Jones step up in recent weeks, and Vellano has been a big surprise in the run game.  According to Vellano is tied for second in the league for defensive tackles in stops with 16, and he's also tied for second in tackles with 21 along with five assists.  He's been in on 184 run snaps (also the second highest total), which gives him an 8.7 stop percentage.

Sopoaga should be a nice addition, and he also made the list for tackles, albeit he came in at #36 in that category having been in on 118 plays against the run with seven tackles and five stops, giving him a percentage of 4.2.  At this point the big thing they really need is a larger presence inside, and at 6'2", 330 pounds, the former fourth round pick certainly gives them that.  If he can tie some people up, it will certainly allow some of the other guys around him to be more effective.

He'll have to get right to work this morning, as the team will now get set to begin their preparations for the Steelers at Gillette Stadium.


Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has already been similar to a cartoon character in terms of his demeanor and some of the funny things he does, and according to Deadspin he may become one fore real after Gronkowski and his brothers have pitched an animated series called, "The Gronks".  It would reportedly be a fictionalized look at the adventures of the Gronkowski clan, with Rob and his four brothers.  We've seen a lot of marketing surrounding the tight end and there are certainly worse things he could be doing.  So if this keeps him from bodyslamming his buddies in nightclubs, fans should be pretty happy.


An interesting note considering all the injuries we've seen here so far this season.  Bill Cowher made a mention on "The NFL Today" on CBS recently surrounding the fact that maybe it's time for the league to expand the game day roster to 50, saying, "The quality of the game is going to suffer and when an injury happens there is a trickle-down affect where players are having to play more plays and more injuries can occur. It's a CBA issue, but it is something that has to be addressed."  It's a good point considering teams could rotate in more players and reduce the number of snaps.   However, the only problem that could come into play is the fact there are so many percentages tied into playing time that by diluting them, it could potentially cost players money.  Either way, it's certainly something that may need to be considered if the injuries as a whole continue to be a problem in the coming years.


For those who had hoped the Google Rumors regarding the future of the NFL Sunday Ticket package might come to fruition, it appears that the league may be staying on Direct TV after all.  The deal, which expires after next season, looks like it may get renewed. According to Sports Business Daily, NFL Network President Steve Bornstein said that talks "are going well."  That's bad news for those of us who were hoping to avoid getting a satellite dish and for those who get frustrated trying to watch a pixelated mess at home on a rainy Sunday afternoon.  Bornstein did say that Google could "compliment" what they currently offer, but considering the amount of money Direct TV pays for the exclusivity of this package, it's tough to say if they'd permit them to carry live games.  Needless to say we'll just have to see how it plays out.



Patriots used blitz to rally back against Dolphins - Ben Volin - Volin looks at Sunday's game and writes that after New England's defense blitzed one extra pass rusher seven times on 19 dropbacks in the first half, Bill Belichick's team went crazy and called for 22 of 31 dropbacks in the second half and shut down Miami's offense.

Steelers aren't showing much mettle these days - Ben Volin - Volin takes a closer look at the Pittsburgh Steelers, who are set to visit Gillette Stadium this weekend.

Patriots’ deal with Eagles lands Isaac Sopoaga - Michael Whitmer - Whitmer has an article on newly acquired Isaac Sopoaga, who the Patriots grabbed at the trade deadline yesterday.


Notebook: Deadline deal lands Isaac Sopoaga - Karen Guregian - Guregian files her notebook this morning, which leads off with the acquisition of Sopoaga, but also has a bit on Danny Amendola, who is looking forward to being more of a contributor than he has been in the second half of the season.

Time to hand out midseason awards - Karen Guregian - Guregian has her midseason awards, with some interesting points and memorable moments in this piece.


A week to revisit Mesko vs. Allen - Mike Reiss - Reiss looks at the differences between punter Ryan Allen and former punter Zoltan Mesko, although Reiss wrote this under the pretense that Mesko would experience a homecoming this weekend but he was waived by the Steelers after this was published.


Patriots place Sebastian Vollmer on season-ending injured reserve - Christopher Price - Price writes that Vollmer was officially placed on injured reserve on Tuesday.

Taking a look at negative numbers for Patriots offense - Christopher Price - Price has a breakdown of the number of negative plays throughout this season.


Bill Belichick, Patriots dress up for Halloween - Dan Hanzus - Hanzus has pictures of Bill Belichick and his wife Linda dressed up in a pirate outfit - you'll have to see it to believe it.


Patriots' Cole goes from adversity to prosperity - Glen Farley - Farley has a good article this morning on Marquice Cole, who has done an admirable job despite being released and re-signed three times so far this season.


Patriots Journal: Sopoaga trade will bolster depleted D-line - Kevin McNamara - McNamara looks at the acquisition of Sopoaga and writes that his addition should help the Patriots' run defense.


Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen Reportedly Buy NYC Home - PHOTO GALLERY - ABC has photos of Gisele and Tom's new $14-million apartment they recently purchased in New York City.