Archive for the ‘ Football ’ Category

Week One of OTA’s in the Books, A Few Things We’ve Learned So Far

Given what’s transpired over this offseason, it feels like forever since the Patriots raised the Lombardi Trophy after beating the Seahawks en-route to their fourth Super Bowl title back in February.

It’s been an offseason riddled with an investigation that’s lead to a suspension of quarterback Tom Brady, with little evidence to justify how the Super Bowl MVP could potentially be a spectator in week one in 2015.  It’s been a complete and total mess that’s tarnished what should have been a relatively enjoyable offseason for the players and fans here in New England, but instead it’s been a long road back to the return of football in Foxboro last week.

Last week’s organized team activities signaled the start of a new season, returning a little normalcy to this football team and there were certainly some interesting things that came out of the sessions, which began last Tuesday.  Here’s a quick rundown of a few things we learned as the team started laying some of the groundwork for the upcoming season.

Dobson reportedly looked good during the team’s session on Friday.
(USA TODAY Images)


According to published reports, missing from Friday’s media portion of the practice were Ryan Wendell, Sebastian Vollmer, Jerod Mayo, Jordan Richards, Matthew Slater, Sealver Siliga, Chandler Jones, AJ Derby, Jamie Collins, Alan Branch, Malcolm Butler, Brandon LaFell, Dont’a Hightower and Chris Jones among the players not on hand.

Last week’s sessions weren’t mandatory, and one notable absence was Butler coming off of his Super Bowl heroics.  In his absence Logan Ryan was among players who saw increased reps, and he’s going to be a player to keep an eye on as he heads into his third season as the team begins sorting out the loss of free agents Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, as well as the release of Kyle Arrington and Alfonzo Dennard.

Newcomer Brandon Spikes got some increased reps with so many linebackers being absent, with Hightower (who is also recovering from offseason shoulder surgery), Mayo (who is also coming back from knee surgery), and Collins not reportedly on hand Friday.  Spikes seems relatively upbeat now that he’s back in New England, and his history of jarring hits should make him a fun player to watch this season if he’s able to have a strong camp and re-establish a role in the defense.

With LaFell absent both Aaron Dobson and Brian Tyms got some additional reps, and most reports seem to indicate that Dobson looked strong during Friday’ session.  Obviously it’s a little early to make any real determinations, but most reports have said Dobson has worked hard this offseason, so hopefully this might end up finally being a good year for the 6’3″ receiver out of Marshall.


Special teams captain Matthew Slater has been around for a while and he’s used to the fact New England’s seasons usually run well into the postseason, although fortunately this time around he walked away a Super Bowl champion.  Now it’s all about trying to hit the reset button as he heads into a new season, and he said on Thursday that they have to approach it that way because last year is now in the rear view mirror.

“Nobody cares what we did last season,” Slater said via “Obviously we have a bunch of new guys here, guys that weren’t here last year. It’s a new team, a new season. If we don’t approach it as such, we’re going to have some problems.”

Slater wasn’t on hand Friday but his comments on Thursday are somewhat telling as he talked about how important it was to recharge and get himself ready to go all-in at the start of each new year.

“I think it’s so important to recharge physically and mentally,” Slater said. “If you don’t, I think it can become problematic so it’s important to have that downtime and then transition to the next season.”


Tough to take much away from Friday’s outing, with Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo splitting the snaps and getting equal work in. Both reportedly were sharp during 11-on-11 drills, with Brady completing 7-of-11 passes while Garroppolo went 8-for-11, including a touchdown to Fred Davis at the end of the drill.

One thing mentioned by ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss is the fact that of all the back-ups the Patriots have had in recent years, Garoppolo appears to finally be the answer they’ve been looking for behind Brady.  That’s good news considering that ever since Matt Cassel was dealt years ago, there wasn’t a lot of confidence in previous back-ups Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallett.  Now it seems like New England may have a guy who can perform well enough in his absence, which might, unfortunately, be necessary should his suspension cause him to miss time.


There has been plenty of discussion about free agent acquisition Scott Chandler this offseason, who gives the Patriots a major weapon opposite Rob Gronkowski at the tight end position.  The media got a glimpse of him Friday, with the 6’7″ Chandler standing out in a big way during the team’s session.

The thought of what the two could do together is certainly enticing, and while it’s tough to take much away from what happens this early in the process, it’s still hard not to be a little intrigued about what the future might hold for the two this season.  This is a pretty strong offensive group in general that the Patriots will be fielding in 2015 since they’re returning a pretty productive unit from 2014 and if everyone’s healthy, one would expect they should be able to do some serious damage again this time around as well.

VIDEO: 2015 Patriots Player Preview Series – Julian Edelman

With the 2015 Patriots Training Camp now just a couple of months away, we’re going to be putting together a series of videos previewing a variety of Patriots players and today’s features veteran wide receiver receiver Julian Edelman:

If you’re on YouTube, be sure and subscribe to our new video channel via THIS LINK

If you liked the video be sure and also help us out by sharing it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter using the social media buttons located below.

After Kraft’s Announcement, There’s Got to Be More to It Than This

Kraft surprised everyone after ending his fight against the NFL on Tuesday. (USA TODAY Images)

Patriots owner Robert Kraft is one of the smartest guys in the league. He’s been through some difficult times both as an owner here in New England and as an ambassador of the NFL and he’s always come up with a plan of attack that after all was said and done, somehow eventually made sense.

That’s why after what we heard during his announcement on Tuesday, there’s got to be more to his decision to give up his fight against the NFL.

There’s got to be a reason why he believes it’s O.K. to just surrender a 1st and 4th round draft pick over something he seemed to believe with all his heart his team didn’t do. There’s got to be a reason why he’s not willing to continue this battle after he appeared to really feel so strongly that his club was being wrongly accused.

There has to be.

After all, four months ago a defiant Kraft was on a rampage, having seen his team win an AFC Championship and earn a well-deserved Super Bowl berth, only to have it torn down by allegations of intentionally using under-inflated footballs after blowing out the Colts, who we later found out phoned in the report leading up to it.

He led the charge and every Patriots fan lined up behind him.  He was defiant.  He was admirable.  He won over everyone’s hearts when he said in one of the most memorable press conferences that he planned on demanding an apology if the team was cleared of any wrongdoing.

When the Wells report came out a couple of weeks ago, he seemed as though he still believed just as deeply that Tom Brady and his organization weren’t being treated fairly in the investigation, expressing his frustration publicly over it.

“When I addressed the media at the Super Bowl on January 26 — over 14 weeks ago — I stated that I unconditionally believed that the New England Patriots had done nothing inappropriate in this process or in violation of the NFL rules and that I was disappointed in the way the league handled the initial investigation,” said Kraft.  “That sentiment has not changed.”

“I was convinced that Ted Wells’ investigation would find the same factual evidence supported by both scientific formula and independent research as we did and would ultimately exonerate the Patriots. Based on the explanations I have heard and the studies that have been done, I don’t know how the science of atmospheric conditions can be refuted or how conclusions to the contrary can be drawn without some definitive evidence.”

“To say we are disappointed in its findings, which do not include any incontrovertible or hard evidence of deliberate deflation of footballs at the AFC Championship Game, would be a gross understatement.”

Kraft was so adamant about his team’s innocence during Deflate-Gate that Tuesday’s announcement came as a surprise. (USA TODAY Images)

Over the weekend Kraft talked to the MMQB’s Peter King, expressing his frustration over the situation, doubting the evidence against them and how they were being treated.  And he sounded seriously angry over it.

“This whole thing has been very disturbing,” Kraft told King. “I’m still thinking things out very carefully. But when you work for something your whole life …

“I just get really worked up. To receive the harshest penalty in league history is just not fair. The anger and frustration with this process, to me, it wasn’t fair. If we’re giving all the power to the NFL and the office of the commissioner, this is something that can happen to all 32 teams. We need to have fair and balanced investigating and reporting. But in this report, every inference went against us … inferences from ambiguous, circumstantial evidence all went against us. That’s the thing that really bothers me.

“If they want to penalize us because there’s an aroma around this? That’s what this feels like. If you don’t have the so-called smoking gun, it really is frustrating. And they don’t have it. This thing never should have risen to this level.”

He’s right, it shouldn’t have.  The only problem is the league chose to mishandle the whole situation from the beginning.  Had they simply sent out a warning to both teams prior to the AFC Championship game and had the referees also properly checked the footballs both before the game, and at halftime (with gauges that both actually worked correctly and gave identical readings…you can’t make this up), this entire situation could have been avoided.  

Instead, that didn’t happen and the NFL took the Colts suspicions and ran with them, all the while failing to put together a proper protocol to fairly deal with it.  By the time it was over their independent investigation seemingly took that premise and crucified the Patriots over two ball boys texting ridiculous things back and forth. The best part was the NFL felt that 100 seconds in a bathroom was enough time to take over a dozen footballs out of a huge equipment bag, put them on a slightly sloped floor, take a little air evenly out of each one, and then put them all back in the bag.  

In 100 seconds. Experts argued that it was enough time in perfect circumstances, but given the readings and how close they were (and they could have potentially been even closer if the two gauges actually worked right) James McNally must have done an incredible job letting out that precise amount of air as he was allegedly furiously flying around with each of those footballs sprawled out all around him in that time frame.

That seems pretty unlikely, but it didn’t matter. Those two things were enough to reach a conclusion that it was “more probable than not” it happened and that somehow Brady was guilty for being “generally aware” of it.  The more I type that, the more ridiculous it sounds each and every time I do it.

Kraft seemed to feel the same way.  When the Patriots got upset and Kraft essentially declared war on the league, the battle seemed to be on and most fans out there stood behind him as he took on the multi-billionaire behemoth that is the NFL.  He was leading the march right down to New York, a place most people tend to strongly dislike anyway since it houses one of their AFC East rivals as well as another team they share a stadium with who twice stole Super Bowls in the closing seconds, one of which ruined a potentially perfect season.

There was talk he’d even take the league to court.  This sounded like a man so determined that he believed his team was innocent, that the sincerity he spoke with was beyond inspiring.  He’s been a guy who has always put the fans at the top of the list and now they were rallying behind both he and Brady more than ever before.   The best part was, it looked like the only man potentially powerful enough to take down Roger Goodell was poised to launch one of the biggest assaults in the history of the league and every fan in this region, and around the country, were ready to follow him into this epic fight.

Just three days ago he told King that he truly believed they didn’t do anything wrong, questioning the evidence – or the lack thereof – most notably the recollection of Walt Anderson and the fact that things like logic and science were ignored.

“Anderson has a pregame recollection of what gauge he used, and it’s disregarded, and the [Wells] Report just assumes he uses the other gauge,” Kraft told King. “Footballs have never been measured at halftime of any other game in NFL history. They have no idea how much footballs go down in cold weather or expand in warm weather. There is just no evidence that tampering with the footballs ever happened.”

Now here we are, just days later and their looming battle is suddenly no more.  Somewhere between Saturday and Tuesday something happened, and Kraft changed his mind.  As he spoke on Tuesday, what seemed to weigh heavily on him was whether or not he wanted to undergo what would likely be a long, drawn out battle that he didn’t sound ready for.

“I have two options: I can try to end it or extend it,” said Kraft on Tuesday.  “I have given a lot of thought to both options. The first thing that came to mind is 21 years ago, I had the privilege of going to a meeting similar to what we’re at here, in Orlando, and being welcomed in an NFL owners’ meeting. Here’s a fan and a former season ticket holder living a dream and being welcomed in that room. I got goosebumps that day. I vowed at that time that I would do everything that I could do to make the New England Patriots an elite team and hopefully respected throughout the country and at the same time, do whatever I could do to try to help the NFL become the most popular sport in America.”

“Before I make a final decision, I measure nine times and I cut once. I think maybe if I had made the decision last week it would be different than it is today. But believing in the strength of the partnership and the 32 teams, we have concentrated the power of adjudication of problems in the office of the commissioner. Although I might disagree with what is decided, I do have respect for the Commissioner and believe that he’s doing what he perceives to be in the best interest of the full 32.”

At that point, most fans braced themselves for what they hoped wasn’t coming.  But it did.

“So, in that spirit, I don’t want to continue the rhetoric that’s gone on for the last four months,” continued Kraft.  “I’m going to accept, reluctantly, what he has given to us and not continue this dialogue and rhetoric. We won’t appeal.”

Just like that, the battle was over.

It’s hard to understand, but the decision to accept the punishment is essentially an admission of guilt, whether most people, Kraft included, like it or not.  That’s hard to endure given that he just got everyone ready to follow him through whatever war was waiting, only to surrender without a shot being fired.

Now it’s just his quarterback continuing the fight, and Brady seems ready to see this through to the end.  His lawyers and the NFLPA seem to be gearing up for whatever obstacles remain ahead of them, and with a four game suspension staring him down, the hope now is that somehow they’ll get that ridiculous penalty thrown out.

Some believe Kraft’s decision to give up was a move done in good faith to hopefully buy his signal-caller an opportunity to be on the field for the season opener.  Other reports seem to signal the contrary, but the only one who truly knows the reasons behind Tuesday’s speech is Kraft.

But there’s got to be more to it than we know.  There has to be.

For now most fans are frustrated and confused, and rightly so.  But the story still needs to play out a little longer for us to truly know what his plan really is.

Kraft ended his speech Tuesday saying that he hopes fans trust his judgement.

“I know that a lot of Patriots fans are going to be disappointed in that decision,” said Kraft. “But I hope they trust my judgment and know that I really feel at this point in time that taking this off the agenda, this is the best thing for the New England Patriots, our fans and the NFL. I hope you all can respect that.”

It would just make it a little easier if we could understand it.

Hopefully we’ll eventually find out there’s more to this and it will all eventually make sense. Because up until right now, none of it, from the entire time this ridiculous mess blew up, and what just happened Tuesday, has made any sense at all.

Brady’s Agent Responds, “The Discipline is Ridiculous”

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady saw his agent, Don Yee, release a statement on Monday night in response to the league’s suspension of his client and he’s not impressed with the NFL’s penalty coming off of last week’s release of the Wells report.

Yee believes the four game suspension will get overturned in front of a “neutral” judge or arbitrator.

“The discipline is ridiculous and has no legitimate basis,” wrote Yee via ESPN Boston.  “In my opinion, this outcome was pre-determined; there was no fairness in the Wells investigation whatsoever.  There is no evidence that Tom directed footballs be set at pressures below the allowable limits.  In fact, the evidence shows Tom clearly emphasized that footballs be set at pressures within the rules.  Tom also cooperated with the investigation and answered every question presented to him.  The Wells report presents significant evidence, however, that the NFL lacks standards or protocols with respect to its handling of footballs prior to games; this is not the fault of Tom or the Patriots.  The report also presents significant evidence the NFL participated with the Colts in some type of pre-AFC Championship Game planning regarding the footballs.  This fact may raise serious questions about the integrity of the games we view on Sundays.  We will appeal, and if the hearing officer is completely independent and neutral, I am very confident the Wells Report will be exposed as an incredibly frail exercise in fact-finding and logic.  The NFL has a well-documented history of making poor disciplinary decisions that often are overturned when truly independent and neutral judges or arbitrators preside, and a former federal judge has found the commissioner has abused his discretion in the past, so this outcome does not surprise me.  Sadly, today’s decision diminishes the NFL as it tells its fans, players and coaches that the games on the field don’t count as much as the games played on Park Avenue.”

The league published the letter sent from NFL Executive President Troy Vincent, who informed him of his punishment that includes being suspended for the first four games of the upcoming 2015 season.

Here’s a look at what was sent to Brady via the NFL’s PR department:

“With respect to your particular involvement, the report established that there is substantial and credible evidence to conclude you were at least generally aware of the actions of the Patriots’ employees involved in the deflation of the footballs and that it was unlikely that their actions were done without your knowledge. Moreover, the report documents your failure to cooperate fully and candidly with the investigation, including by refusing to produce any relevant electronic evidence (emails, texts, etc.), despite being offered extraordinary safeguards by the investigators to protect unrelated personal information, and by providing testimony that the report concludes was not plausible and contradicted by other evidence.

“Your actions as set forth in the report clearly constitute conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in the game of professional football. The integrity of the game is of paramount importance to everyone in our league, and requires unshakable commitment to fairness and compliance with the playing rules. Each player, no matter how accomplished and otherwise respected, has an obligation to comply with the rules and must be held accountable for his actions when those rules are violated and the public’s confidence in the game is called into question.”

Full NFL Release on The Punishment for Brady, Patriots

The league released an official statement via their PR department following the suspension and penalty imposed on Tom Brady and the Patriots, and here’s a look at the full release from the NFL:

“The New England Patriots were notified today of the following discipline that has been imposed for violations of the NFL Policy on Integrity of the Game and Enforcement of Competitive Rules relating to the use of under-inflated footballs in the AFC Championship Game of this past season:

For the violation of the playing rules and the failure to cooperate in the subsequent investigation, the New England Patriots are fined $1 million and will forfeit the club’s first-round selection in the 2016 NFL Draft and the club’s fourth-round selection in the 2017 NFL Draft. If the Patriots have more than one selection in either of these rounds, the earlier selection shall be forfeited. The club may not trade or otherwise encumber these selections.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft advised Commissioner Roger Goodell last week that Patriots employees John Jastremski and James McNally have been indefinitely suspended without pay by the club, effective on May 6th. Neither of these individuals may be reinstated without the prior approval of NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations Troy Vincent. If they are reinstated by the Patriots, Jastremski is prohibited from having any role in the preparation, supervision, or handling of footballs to be used in NFL games during the 2015 season. McNally is barred from serving as a locker room attendant for the game officials, or having any involvement with the preparation, supervision, or handling of footballs or any other equipment on game day.

Quarterback Tom Brady will be suspended without pay for the first four games of the 2015 regular season for conduct detrimental to the integrity of the NFL. Brady may participate in all off-season, training camp and pre-season activities, including pre-season games.

Commissioner Goodell authorized the discipline that was imposed by NFL Executive President Troy Vincent, pursuant to the commissioner’s disciplinary authority under the NFL Constitution and Bylaws and the Collective Bargaining Agreement with the NFL Players Association.

“We reached these decisions after extensive discussion with Troy Vincent and many others,” Commissioner Goodell said. “We relied on the critical importance of protecting the integrity of the game and the thoroughness and independence of the Wells report.”

The NFL dropped the hammer in a big way on Monday, likely kicking off a declaration of war between the league and one of their all-time greats after handing down their penalty for Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the league has decided to severely penalize Brady and the Patriots, hitting him with a four game suspension, but it doesn’t stop there.  They’re also reportedly taking away New England’s first round pick in 2016, and a fourth round selection in 2017, as well as hitting the team with a $1-million fine.

As Schefter points out, the four game penalty would cause Brady to be a spectator until week five when the team heads to Indianapolis in a Sunday night battle against the Colts.

One would have to believe this suspension won’t fully stand and that Brady will likely be back sooner following an appeal with the NFLPA.  Brady said during his appearance at Salem State last week he’d have a response, “hopefully soon.”  Now we’ll have to see how he and agent Don Yee will handle this, and it should definitely be quite a battle considering the severity of the penalty given the lack of concrete evidence the league has against him.

Patriots to Release Veteran CB Arrington

Arrington was released by the Patriots Monday. (USA TODAY Images)

The Patriots’ secondary has already seen some big changes this offseason following the loss of Darrell Revis and Brandon Browner to free agency, and on Monday it looks like there will be yet another heading into 2015.

Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston reports that the Patriots appear to have informed Kyle Arrington of his release, seemingly marking the end of his tenure in New England.

Arrington struggled against Seattle in the Super Bowl but had been a pretty consistent contributor with that unit over the past couple of seasons, but it appears that the team might be looking to make a transition as they continue overhauling their secondary.  However, according to Reiss, there’s still a possibility Arrington could return.

Arrington played in 14 games in 2014 with just four starts, the fewest in five seasons after starting 14 in 2010 and 2011 and 12 in 2012 and 2013.  He finished last season with 39 combined tackles, one sack and four passes defended.

Brady was at a public event Thursday night with his first comments since the Wells report was released. (FILE PHOTO)

Tom Brady was at the O’Keefe Center at Salem State on Thursday night for a previously scheduled public appearance, which comes just one day removed from the revelation of the Wells report and became a locally televised event thanks to the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the investigation.

It appeared to be a successful event, with the announcement that the attendance for the evening having been the biggest in their history.  It was sponsored by local businessman Dennis Drinkwater, who is the owner of Giant Glass, while Brady was their guest speaker on the night.

The event was scheduled to begin around 7:30pm, but due to the number of people who appeared, the event started about 25 minutes late.

Following the introduction, Brady was brought out through the audience, who erupted into a deafening roar as people cheered and clapped as the Patriots signal caller took the stage.  The veteran, who was dressed in a dark blue suit jacket, khacki colored dress pants and an unbuttoned white dress shirt, sat in a chair on the stage across from reporter Jim Gray and received repeated “M-V-P” chants from a crowd who clearly rallied around him.

“This is like a Patriots pep rally,” said Brady.  “Thank you guys for being here.  Thank you very much.”

Gray asked some of the difficult questions to kick off the evening, which was broadcast locally on Comcast Sports New England among several other networks.  He lead things off by saying,  “We are going to keep this evening as to what it was supposed to be, however there is an elephant in the room.”

“Where?” responded a smiling Brady, which drew some laughs from the crowd.

When asked about his reaction to the Wells report, Brady said, “It’s only been 30 hours and I haven’t had enough to digest it fully but when I do, I’ll let you know.”

Brady said he’s planning a response, which he says will be, “Hopefully soon, hopefully soon.  There’s still a process that’s going forth right now” and that he wants to be “very comfortable” with his response.

He was asked about whether or not the Super Bowl should be considered “tainted”, to which Brady asked the crowd, “What do you think?” which drew quite a response.  He later responded, “Absolutely not.”

Brady was also asked about his absence from the White House, which he said,  “It’s a pretty cool place, you guys should go.”  He said that he’d be there next time if they’re lucky enough to make it back next season, but blamed the short notice and a previous family commitment for the reason he missed this one.

All in all it was a nice evening for a guy who, if this whole mess is bothering him, isn’t showing it visibly.  He credited a lot of people who care about him, including his family, friends and his fans.

Those fans will now be anxiously awaiting exactly what he has to say about all of this.

Wells Report Challenges Belichick’s Science Simulation

Belichick likely isn’t happy after Wednesday’s release of the Wells report. (USA TODAY Images)

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick spent a Saturday explaining a little science after their AFC Championship victory, which came after he was faced with allegations about the team deflating footballs prior their game against the Colts.

At the time, the press conference was called because he felt the team “needed to say something”, and then proceeded to give an extensive scientific explanation of the apparent loss in pressure during the game after the team simulated their pregame preparation of the footballs to try and understand what might have happened. Belichick said the “vigorous” rubbing process to prepare the balls he said “raised the PSI level approximately one pound” and that once the officials put the air pressure at 12.5 psi, that “once the football reached its equilibrium state, it was probably closer to 11.5″

Exponent, the company hired in the report to test the theory, is contesting that assertion after doing their own testing.  They’re claiming that after 20 minutes of rubbing, the pressure “increased in a given ball by approximately 0.7 psi,” and claimed that the football returned to its starting pressure within “fifteen and thirty minutes after the cessation of the rubbing.”

They also claim that the delay in time between when they were done being prepared (approximately 2:30pm) to when the officials inspected them (approximately 3:45pm) would have reduced the pressure and the new measurements have shown the difference.  They found that none of the footballs delivered an artificially high or low reading and were still at 12.5 psi.

“Based on these experiments, Exponent concluded that the average pressures recorded for the Patriots game balls during halftime of the AFC Championship Game were lower than the lowest average pressures attained by the simulations,” the report read.  “In other words, when tests were run using the most likely game-day conditions and circumstances, the Patriots halftime measurements could not be replicated, and the pressures observed for the Patriots footballs by Exponent during its experiments were all higher.”

“This absence of a credible scientific explanation for the Patriots halftime measurements tends to support a finding that human intervention may account for the additional loss of pressure exhibited by the Patriots balls.”

As a result, they’re ruling out Belichick’s testing and explanation for what occurred.

Needless to say if you think he was upset before about the amount of time he wasted going through the motions for that data, he’s likely not going be very happy after today’s news.