âI thought it was a real good performance by our team today. Those guys really did a good job. We had a good week of practice, they were obviously ready to go today. The players played well, got good contributions from all three phases of the game and had a lot of guys step up and make plays. I donât want a single anybody out, there were so many guys that contributed. It was a good solid effort. Iâm proud of our team. So the results are what they are and weâll see how it goes here going forward. But hopefully thisâll be a good game that we can step off from and keep working to improve and get better in our next outing.â
On if he was aware of the Houston Colts outcome before the game:
âYeah, we got the score before the game but we canât really worry about what everybody else is doing. Weâve got to do what we can do, and whatever else happens, happens.â
On what went into the decision to play Rob Gronkowski today:
âHe was ready to play.â
On if he would still have played had Houston not lost during the early game:
âHe was ready to play.â
On the fact that having just wrapped up the division title and a first-round bye he doesnât look overjoyed:
âWe wrapped up the division a month ago.Â Unless I missed itâŠâ
On the fact itâs pretty good news that they donât have to go on the road initially and have a bye:
âWhatever it is, it is. Whatever it is, it is. When we have to play, weâll play.â
On how big of an advantage it is in his estimation:
âI donât know. I donât know.â
On the play of the defensive front seven:
âThey did a good job. Itâs team defense and guys were covered, the quarterback had to hold the ball, that helped our pass rush, guys rushed well, guys covered well, but you know, when the receivers are open, it doesnât matter what your pass rush is. If you make the quarterback hold the ball that helps the pass rush. It was good team defense. We did a good job in the running game. There were some long yardage situations and of course we got ahead in the game, that obviously made them have to throw more so that work to our advantage too. But it was good team defense today. Again, I couldnât single anybody out, but the guys on the backend played well, the guys up front played well. There was a big turnover to start the game, put us in good field position early and of course Dontâa [Hightower] jumped on that fumble there down on the goal line, whichâŠ You know we had several fumbles against them in the last game and only recovered one. So it was good to be able to get that one.â
On the fact Justin Francis played well:
âWell, again I think some of that is overrated. There were several times when one guy came in and flushed the quarterback out and somebody else got him. So if we get them as a team, we get them. But they all did a good job, Justin, Chandler [Jones], Vince [Wilfork], Brandon [Deaderick], Kyle [Love], Trevor [Scott], Rob [Ninkovich], they all do a good job.â
On his thoughts on the fact Rob Ninkovich left the game in the capacity he did:
âWeâll see what it is. I donât know, weâll see what it is.â
On his thoughts on his teamâs toughness:
âYeah, it was certainly good today. It wasnât too good a couple weeks ago where we handed the ball away the whole game, or the first half of it anyway. But no, it was good today. The conditions werenât easy, but the players handled them well, they handled the ball well for the most part. I think we dropped some balls, but overall we took care of it, didnât turn it over and that was good. We tackled okay, so I think our overall execution on todayâs game on a lot of areas given the elements and all that, was good. Hopefully we can do that on a consistent basis.â
On Ninkovichâs versatility and the value that he has to the team:
âWell, heâs mainly played defensive end this year, but heâs also, of course, played in the kicking game and at times he plays some linebacker but heâs done that before in the past for us. Itâs pretty common, thereâs a lot of guys in the league who play linebacker that then go to rush on third down. Weâre in a four-man front so heâs been rushing most of the time. Heâs a tough kid, heâs very competitive and heâs got good versatility and his ability to help us in the kicking game as well as defensively over the years including this year, thatâs pretty valuable too. He does a good job.â
On if he feels good about where his defense is now at the end of the season:
âI donât know. We played good today, weâll see what happens the next time we play. I donât know. Every week is its own challenge so weâll see how we do against somebody else and what that matchup is. Today they did a good job. I mean anytime you can hold a team to no points in this league, you have to be doing something right.â
Taking a look at the rushing chart it appears the Jaguars didn’t have a lot of confidence running in between the guards or the tackles during Sunday’s game, registering just one carry off tackle while the majority were either up the middle or around the ends.
Here’s a breakdown of how how they attacked New England:
M.Owens: 10 Carries, 42 Yards (4.2 avg) 3 First Downs
R.Murphy: 10 Carries, 29 Yards (2.9 avg) 2 First Downs
C.Henne: 2 Carries, 22 Yards (11.0 avg) 2 First Downs
G.Jones: 1 Carry, 0 Yards
R.Murphy: 1 Carry, 4 Yards (4.0 avg)
No Carries Registered
No Carries Registered
M.Owens: 6 Carries 18 Yards (3.0 avg)
R.Murphy: 6 Carries 14 Yards (2.3 avg)
C.Henne: 1 Carry, 7 Yards
G.Jones: 1 Carry, 0 Yards
R.Murphy: 1 Carry, -3 Yards
No Carries Registered
M.Owens: 4 Carries, 24 Yards (6.0 avg)
C.Henne: 1 Carry, 15 Yards
R.Murphy: 2 Carries, 14 Yards (7.0 avg)
Coming off of last Sunday night’s frustrating loss to the San Francisco 49ers, most people thought the Patriots were poised to come out and have a big day against a lowly Jaguars team that was 2-12 before they took the field against them.
Instead the Jaguars picked up where the 49ers left off and were extremely physical, making life tough on the Patriots in the first half and even brought this one right down to the wire before New England’s defense managed to do just enough to keep them out of the endzone on their final drive for the victory.
After the game you would never have guessed they won it by what you saw from Tom Brady and Vince Wilfork, who were both clearly upset at the way their team played in this one. Â There’s no question that the fact the Jaguars are so bad was the reason New England was able to play poorly yet still escape with a win. Â Obviously it’s been a long season but they still need to try and put together some momentum heading into the postseason, especially if they hope to go deep into the playoffs.
Miami has been playing better in recent weeks and in all likelihood next weekend’s game is going to be a little tougher than their first meeting a few weeks ago. Â Without getting into too much detail, let’s get on with it:
1) Obviously next week’s game just got a little more interesting – This year in the NFL has been nothing short of crazy in terms of the way things have gone on a week-to-week basis. Â The Patriots went from seemingly out of contention of a first round bye to potentially playing for a number one seed next weekend against Miami. Â After Houston’s loss to Minnesota – among a couple of other scenarios – Â New England is now in a situation where they can earn a No. 2 seed if Houston loses to the Colts next weekend, and even the No. 1 seed should the Broncos also fall to the Chiefs. Â The latter is certainly more unlikely unless the Chiefs players want to send Romeo Crennel off in style, but considering how bleak things seemed after their loss to the 49ers, the fact the Patriots are even in this situation is amazing. Â But then again, it doesn’t mean anything if they don’t take care of business against the Dolphins.
2) You have to love Vince Wilfork – Wilfork had one of those moments on Sunday that just makes you really appreciate what a great player, and more importantly, what a great teammate he is as well. Â With the Jaguars threatening to tie things up Chandler Jones hit Chad Henne on a fourth and goal play from the Patriots 10-yard line. Â Patrick Chung managed to pick off the pass and killed the drive, but it was what happened during the return that set off Wilfork. Â Jaguars offensive lineman Steve Vallos hit Trevor Scott from behind toward the end of the play, knocking him face-first into the ground. Â Unfortunately for Vallos, he did it right in front of Wilfork who took exception to it and retaliated – in a big way – against him and it lead to a penalty for unnecessary roughness. Â Wilfork didn’t care, and he said as much after the game. Â âThat was protecting my teammate, plain and simple,â Wilfork said during his press conference. âYouâre not going to sit right in front of me and take a cheap shot at my guy with me standing behind you, that wonât fly. Plain and simple.” Â It was his 6th penalty of the year, but one that will definitely be remembered by fans who love the type of player – and person – he really is.
Tom Brady’s gotten knocked around quite a bit in recent weeks. (FILE:USPresswire)
3) Brady’s gotten hammered these last two weeks – After sitting out practice this week with a sore shoulder, it was tough watching the Jaguars once again and take shots at him. Â Obviously teams have seen the film and they know that by knocking him around that’s the best chance they have to force him to make a bad throw. Â It’s certainly been even more evident in recent weeks and it’s definitely a little alarming considering how important he obviously is to this football team. Â Head coach Bill Belichick was asked about it after the game and deflected it by saying they “always try to protect the quarterback” and “thatâs part of football.Â Guys get hit.â Â Very true, but it’s been happening a little more than normal recently, some of which have been pretty big. Â That definitely can’t continue.
4) Watching Aqib Talib on Sunday was brutal – After not being able to get through warm ups, cornerback Aqib Talib started Sunday’s game on the sideline as he continues battling through a hip injury. Â Instead after watching his team struggle in pass coverage during the early part of the contest Talib ended up on the field anyway, and was seen clutching his hip while chasing down Jacksonville’s receivers. Â It’s really too bad the offense wasn’t able to have a big day against them and allow Talib to sit this one out, but give him a lot of credit. Â He fought through the pain and helped them earn a win and it’s tough not to have even more respect for him after Sunday’s effort.
5) The Jaguars apparently didn’t feel they had a shot to rush between the guards or tackles against the PatriotsÂ - Looking at the rushing chart the Jaguars apparently planned to either run outside or pound the middle against New England, and that’s about it. Â It’s probably the first time all season I’ve ever seen a chart so lopsided as most teams tend to alternate a lot of the rushes between the guards and tackle, while also mixing in runs straight up the middle. Â Jacksonville didn’t do that. Â Here’s how it broke down: Left End 1 carry, 24 yards, Left Tackle 0 Carries, Left Guard 0 carries, Middle 12 carries, 40 yards (3.3 avg), Right Guard 1 carry, 16 yards, Right Tackle 0 carries, Right End 7 carries, 23 yards (3.3 avg). Â It worked out as the Patriots held the Jaguars to 16 carries of 5 yards or less, including 4 for either no gain or a loss.
6) The return of Rob Gronkowski is much needed – I’ve mentioned this previously but Gronk’s absence has hurt them both in the passing game and in protection, and it’s pretty clear they really need him back in the lineup. Â With Edelman also out teams are absolutely pounding Wes Welker and it’s cut down on the opportunities for them to create match-up issues to open up their passing game. Â To make matters worse, for those times where Brady needs a little extra help keeping pass rushers away Gronk’s physical style of play also takes away that aspect of their game as well. Â There’s a reason why they’ve invested so much in him and that’s because of the many aspects of his game that he brings. Â With the Miami game seemingly holding a little more importance there’s probably a good chance we’ll see him finally get some snaps next Sunday.
7) Another milestone for Wes Welker – It’s tough watching Welker knowing that the Patriots will have to spend the offseason figuring out exactly how to replace him. Â Obviously the plan for now is to just enjoy what he brings to this football team for this year, but watching him battle three defenders to make a play makes you appreciate what he managed to accomplish Sunday. Â He reached another milestone thanks to his 10 catch performance, giving him his 18th career game with 10 or more receptions, putting him ahead of Jerry Rice for most all time. Â He’s definitely a special player, and with teams coming after him each week he somehow manages to still play well. Â It’s just amazing to watch.
8) Deion Branch just doesn’t have it anymore – After last season I thought for sure that was Branch’s last hurrah, especially after he was let go before this season. Â Instead injuries have thrust him back onto the field, but he just doesn’t have the speed or quickness to get any type of separation. Â It’s painful to watch because I’d rather remember him for the player he was instead of the player he currently is. Â One would have to believe this really will be his last year, and let’s hope the receiving core doesn’t deal with any further injuries as they begin their playoff run.
9) Chandler Jones had a good afternoon – Jones is still getting his feet wet after getting back into the line-up, but Sunday was definitely one of his better games since he’s returned from his injury. Â That’s good news for Patriots fans who have high hopes for the rookie to come up big during the postseason. Â It was a little easy to forget about him when they were having success rushing the quarterback while he was out, but there’s no denying they’re definitely better off now that he’s back. Â The fact he appears to be getting stronger each week should have any fan excited about what to expect in the coming weeks.
10) Not a great day for Brandon Bolden – After coming back from his suspension for using a banned substance Bolden saw some action Sunday against Jacksonville, but carried 5 times for just 3 yards, including a loss of a yard on a 2nd and 1 play at the Jacksonville 1 yard line. Â Obviously it will take him a little time before he gets comfortable again, but it certainly wasn’t the performance he was probably hoping for, especially for a guy who was averaging 5 yards a carry. Â Hopefully he settles in and is able to get back to where he was before he was suspended.
11) Ridley bounced back well Sunday- After a rough outing against the 49ers, Ridley had a good afternoon against the Jacksonville, carrying 18 times for 84 yards. Â He didn’t show much hesitation and hit the hole hard against the Jaguars, which was good to see considering all the criticism he received this week. Â Although having talked to a large amount of people who still think he fumbled twice last weekend, I’ll reiterate that he fumbled just once on what was in essence a textbook tackle where the defender put their helmet right on the ball in wet weather. Â Ridley likely learned his lesson, and if you’ve seen any interviews or witnessed his words off the field, he’s an intelligent guy who has the desire to work hard and be a great running back. Â After seeing what he’s done this season it’s hard not to be excited about what the future holds, and people need to stop being so critical about a guy who clearly has a tremendous career ahead.
12) Miami’s comments after the last game raise the stakesÂ - Speaking of Ridley, it’s going to be interesting to see how he does Sunday against Miami. Â Ridley carried a season high 10 times in the fourth quarter against them a few weeks ago, and there were guys on Miami’s defense who felt disrespected about the fact Ridley kept running their way over that span. Â He was a key factor in running out the clock in that one and you can bet the Patriots will run him their way again this time around as well if they can’t stop him – regardless of how “disrespected” the Dolphins feel. Â However, Miami was tough against Ridley early on in that game and it wasn’t an easy win for New England, with the final score ending in a mirror image of the Jacksonville game. Â Fortunately with the stakes now raised hopefully we’ll see the Patriots start off a little better against them this time around and end the year with something to build on heading into the playoffs.
Leave it to the NFL to try and make the final weekend a little more interesting.
As New England prepares for their final regular season game next weekend at home against the Dolphins, the league has moved their start time to 4:25, setting it up for more fans to keep an eye on other games that could affect the playoff seeding.
One key game for fans to watch is the match-up between Indianapolis and Houston, which has a 1:00pm start time in Indianapolis and could potentially hold implications for the Patriots. Â The Texans lost on Sunday, and should they lose to the Colts next weekend it could open up an opportunity for the Patriots to earn a first-round bye in the playoffs.
Houston is currently the No. 1 seed in the AFC, with Denver currently holding the No. 2 seed. Â Should the Broncos also lose (they’re playing against Kansas City), New England would potentially become the No. 1 seed – provided they take care of business against Miami.
One would have to believe the odds are better that the Colts, who battle the Texans at home, will come away with a win while the Chiefs – unless they’re going to go all out to send Romeo Crennel off with a win – will have a much harder time with Peyton Manning out in Denver.
Either way there’s a good chance most fans in New England will be watching intently to the outcome of the 1:00 game to see what happens with Houston. Â That will certainly set the stage for a meaningful match-up when it’s over against the Dolphins, which is clearly what the league is hoping for.
Needless to say be sure and adjust your DVR’s accordingly.
âOkay, well itâs always good to win. We kind of got off to a slow start here, but I thought we were able to make some plays to get back in the game right before the half, and then to take the lead in the third quarter or right at the start of the third quarter, fourth quarter. We had a couple good stops defensively at the end of the game. Thereâs always more work to do and we have another week to work on things before we get into the playoffs. Hopefully we can continue to make progress and be ready next week.â
On his thoughts on the defense especially in the final seconds:
âWell I mean we had some pressure, I thought we had pretty good coverage. We donât really want to put ourselves in that situation but fortunately we were able to bail out of it.Â Weâve had a couple of those, we had one in the Denver game in a similar situation.Â They stepped up and made the plays and those were the plays we need to make to win and defensively I think we made them.Â We had good compound coverage prior to that, knocked the ball out, we might have had a shot at that one but we didnât. But we had decent field position on defense and they just didnât have enough time to get it down.
On the injuries in the secondary and the play of Marquice Cole:
âHe did a good job.Â Marquice played inside on the nickel position for us, Devin [McCourty], we moved him back outside, Patrick [Chung], Tavon [Wilson] played inside.Â So we had some moving parts there in the secondary but overall it looked like we held up O.K.â
On if itâs a challenge trying to find the best combination back there on defense:
âNot really. I mean those guys have all played there all year.Â Coleâs played in the slot all year, Devinâs played outside so that wasnât a big thing, Kyle [Arrington]âŠso no not really.Â Theyâve all done that.â
On his thoughts about the start that they got off to:
âItâs obviously not what we want.â
On if it surprised him:
âThey gave us a little different approach offensively. I donât thinkâŠyou know, we made some adjustments once we kind of saw what they were doing. I think our players and coaches, we all got a better look at it. They did a good job starting the game off with a little different style and they were able to get the advantage on us but I think eventually we settled down and handled it.â
On his thoughts on the penalty of Patrick Chung:
âI donât know. I think Iâll have to take a closer look at it. I donât know, I mean, I donât know what he couldâve done. I donât know.â
On the fact it looked like Tom Brady was taking a lot of shots at the end, and if heâs concerned about the hits accumulating on him:
âWell, always try toâŠI mean we donât design any plays for that.Â We always try to protect the quarterback.Â But thatâs part of football.Â Guys get hit.”
On his thoughts on coming away with a win despite the fact it wasnât their best game:
âYeah, I mean we played pretty terrible out there.Â It came down to the wire and our defense made some plays but that was a bad 60 minutes of football. We got outcompeted out there, outfought. we were lucky to win.â
On if he felt like they came out there flat:
âYeah, we started slow, couldnât do anything offensively, couldnât make any plays. They made plenty of plays. We were lucky to be in it at halftime, didnât really do anything in the second half in the run game or the passing game so itâs just a poor effort overall.â
On if he felt like the team was beyond having a flat performance, or if a game like this could happen at any time:
âWe just didnât play well. We just didnât compete. If you donât compete in the NFL itâs going to be close.â
On if he believes it was more about execution than competitiveness:
âIt was both. Execution was terrible, that was easy to see. We didnât do anything.â
On if the Jaguars played an competed harder than a 2-12 team normally competes:
âThey played good.Â They didnât give us anything. Â I mean, we had to fight for it and they made plenty of plays on us. It just wasnât a very good performance.â
On if heâs concerned about the fact theyâve gotten down early two weeks in a row now:
âSure, you get very concerned when you donât play well. Thatâs very evident by the way we performed. We better have a good week of practice or itâs Â going to be just as tough against Miami.â
Sunday night’s loss to the 49ers was one of those games that more or less leaves you in one of those situations where you’re left a little conflicted about how it turned out.
On one hand you’re angry and frustrated that they allowed quarterback Colin Kaepernick to run rampant and have his way in building a 31-3 lead, and on the other you’re resolved to at least be happy about the fact they battled back and made it a game before San Francisco ultimately delivered the knock out blow in a crazy 41-34 finish.
At the end of the day the only solace is the fact it wasn’t a playoff game and fortunately New England will play on and live to fight another day. Â The other part of what you’re left to wonder about is how different the game would have been with Rob Gronkowski on the field, and whether or not his presence would have been the difference. Â Offensively having him would have probably helped more in keeping him in for additional protection, which was a big problem in the first half and could have been a key factor during their final possession where San Francisco was able to prevent Brady from completing the comeback.
It was interesting watching this week’s “Sound FX” on NFL Network and hearing the 49ers talk about the fact New England had “never been in no fight” before, and the words “physical” and “pound ‘em” was a huge point of emphasis before they took the field. Â If the Patriots believe that was a one time thing, there’s probably a good chance that won’t be the case, especially in a copycat league where people obviously jump on any strategy that works. Â As we head into these final two games it’s going to be interesting to see how team’s approach them, and the first one starts Sunday when they head down to Jacksonville.
That being said, here are 12 thoughts for Sunday’s game:
1) Good teams are supposed to beat up on bad teams – As much as you hate to think about it, this is one of those games where if the Patriots don’t blow out Jacksonville it would almost be a disappointment. Â Taking a closer look, bad almost doesn’t even do the Jaguars justice. Â They’re 31st in the league in nearly every offensive category, from points per game (a dismal average of 15.6) to 3rd down efficiency (28.6%), to total yards (3,977 – over 2,000 less than New England). Â This is one of those games where we should see New England’s defense go out and have big day, with Tom Brady and the offense hopefully feasting against a defense that’s allowed an average of 394.1 yards per game. Â Needless to say it’s going to be curious to see how this one turns out.
2) Bill Belichick’s handling of Stevan Ridley is a little troubling – Ridley obviously had a bad night against San Francisco with the one fumble he gave up, giving him four on the season. Â The non-call was because he was clearly down, but the one that did count was kind of hard to hold against him, albeit one that should teach him a lesson. Â The one he lost came after Donte Whitner’sÂ helmet hit him just where it should have – right on the football on a night where the rain was coming down and the ball was wet. Â Ridley lost his grip on the football and unfortunately the 49ers recovered it and returned it 66 yards to set up a touchdown.
At the time it put San Francisco up 24-3 and that was the last time Ridley touched the ball. Â Danny Woodhead ultimately had a good game and that was great to see, but as we head into this stretch run they’re going to need Ridley’s head in the right place. Â Losing the ball and seeing the 49ers score off it had to be frustrating enough as a punishment, but not having them go back to him is something that has happened before and it just doesn’t seem like the best approach – at least not from a confidence standpoint. Unfortunately you just have to take it for what it is, the weather was terrible and Whitner made a good play. Hopefully that play is simply a reminder that he needs to be a little more careful in the elements should he find himself in a similar situation again.
3) Brady had a defining moment Sunday night – What Brady did Sunday night to get them back into the game was one of the most impressive performances we’ve ever seen from the Patriots quarterback. Â Most fans have seen a lot of football this season and if you can honestly say you’d feel confident about a team coming back from a 31-3 third quarter deficit, you’re clearly not telling the truth. Â It’s different if it’s midway through the second quarter and a game gets blown open like that, because there’s still so much football left to be played. Â For New England they started out just as bad in the second half as they were in the first, and it seemed as though the game was more or less out of reach.
Not for Brady.
The score didn’t matter and he went out and made everyone on that field believe they were going to come back. Â That’s something that really can’t be ignored and looking back is something that really reminds you of how special he is. Â They could have rolled over, but they didn’t and they fought back in the face of what seemed like a pretty hopeless situation. Â The bad news is they didn’t finish, which kept his name out of the record books on what would have been an even more memorable night than it ended up being.
4) Brandon Lloyd is peaking at the right time – We’ve had plenty of discussion over the course of the season about the fact Lloyd hasn’t been quite as exciting a player as most had hoped. Â Injuries have thrust him into a bigger role recently and he’s gotten better each week, with last week’s performance (10 catches, 190 yards) being his best so far as a Patriot. Â He had 7 catches the week before for 89 yards including a 37-yard touchdown, and not having a player like him during the postseason ultimately cost them a championship. Â Hopefully he continues having success in these final weeks.
5) Sitting Rob Gronkowski this week is the right move – This was mentioned earlier but it’s tough not to realize how critical having Gronkowski healthy during this postseason is going to be – especially considering they may need him for three games this time around just to potentially earn a repeat trip to the Super Bowl. Â There’s no point in playing him in a road game that – barring miraculous performances by Kansas City and Cleveland this weekend – really isn’t a ‘must-win’ game for them. Â Seeing him get a few snaps at home next week wouldn’t be a surprise, but having him sit this week definitely makes plenty of sense.
6) Patriots need to account for Jaguars defensive end Jason Babin Sunday – Babin has been a bright spot for them in recent weeks, having forced two fumbles over the course of the last two games. Â Ridley meanwhile is coming off of a game where – as we mentioned – he coughed up the ball and you can bet Jacksonville will try and go after him. Â Hopefully Babin’s streak comes to an end this weekend.
All signs seem to point to a good day running the ball Sunday in Jacksonville. (FILE:USPresswire)
7) New England should be able to run the ball on Sunday – If ever there was a team primed to give up a ton of rushing yards, the Jaguars are that team. Looking at what other teams have been able to do against them in recent weeks, Sunday should be a big afternoon for the Patriots ground game. Â Jacksonville allowedÂ 242 yards rushing to the Bills back on December 2nd, 166 to the Jets the two weeks ago, and 180 to the Dolphins last Sunday. Â Needless to say their run defense isn’t their strong suit and it should be a good opportunity for New England to have a decent day.
8) Chad Henne definitely makes me a little nervous – It’s tough not to wish this game featured Blaine Gabbert instead of ChadÂ Henne. Â The last time we saw Gabbert was during the 2011 preseason and he seemed like he had a bright future. Â We won’t get to see him this week due to the fact he suffered a torn labrum this year and was placed on injured reserve, and that’s put Henne at the helm over the last four games. Â As most people may know he had a monster game against the Patriots while playing for the Miami Dolphins last season, finishing 30-of-49 passing for 416 yards and two touchdowns during a wild night on Monday Night Football. Â Jacksonville has some offensive firepower, with receiversÂ Justin Blackmon andÂ Cecil Shorts both as dangerous targets who will probably have their moments at some point in this game. Â New England does have a history of guys like Henne coming alive against them in recent years, and hopefully Sunday isn’t one of those days.
9) The Josh McDaniels situation is interesting – The thought process from most when McDaniels returned to New England was that Bill Belichick was eventually going to turn the reigns over to McDaniels once he – God forbid – decides to finally call it a career. Â It would leave him set up in an ideal situation with a terrific owner in a stable franchise. Â The news this week that the Browns are potentially interested in luring him to Cleveland seems like an opportunity you wouldn’t believe he would be interested in, but he’s an Ohio native with a chance to coach there. Â That would be the equivalent of growing up in New England and working out in Green Bay with a chance to coach the Packers in a few years, only to find out the Patriots want you to coach here. Â Tough to say if I’d turn down that chance, so should he move on – I completely understand why.
10) Kyle Arrington has been a disappointment this year – Fans have complained about the drafts and offseason moves in recent years, but when you really look at what’s gone on, what has transpired could never have been foreseen. Â After Devin McCourty’s impressive rookie season and the play of Leigh Bodden that year, New England thought they had everything in place for a solid follow up year on both sides of the field. Â Instead, McCourty struggled, and Leigh Bodden ended up sidelined with a back injury that ultimately seems to have ended his career. Â Over the course of the season Kyle Arrington emerged as a solid cornerback on one side, and most thought McCourty would be able to come back this year and rebound having had a full offseason to work out the kinks.
Instead Arrington kept the streak of not being able to have a good follow up year going and has seen himself struggle quite a bit this year, while McCourty has ultimately ended up back at safety for the second straight year. Â It’s tough to build a roster if you can’t predict the future, and the Patriots simply haven’t had secondary players put together solid back-to-back years. Â For Arrington it’s frustrating because he played so well and came such a long way last season, but getting burned on that play Sunday night where he gave up what ultimately was the game winning touchdown was ridiculous considering he simply completely missed the tackle. Â Plays like that shouldn’t be happening against him, and as much as you really want to see him succeed, he’s been someone who has regressed this season.
11) This has been a tough season for Wes Welker – Welker may be enjoying the huge paycheck he got by signing his franchise tender but you have to admit, he’s really had to earn it this year. Â Watching film over the past few weeks one thing that has really stood out is the fact he’s basically had to fight for the majority of his catches this season. Â Teams have clearly focused on beating him up and being physical with him this year and the fact he’s still managed to catch 100 passes is extremely impressive. Â Through 14 games last season Welker had 104 catches for 1380 yards and 9 touchdowns, so his totals are similar, he just hasn’t seen the endzone as much. Â But he’s battled hard all year and after having his role questioned early on, he’s definitely shown how valuable he really is.
12) It has to be miserable being a Jaguars fan – Jacksonville went from being a championship contender in the early years of their franchise to declining to the point where they’ve been more or less irrelevant over the past few years. Â It has to be frustrating, especially considering the fact they just can’t put together any form of stability at several skill positions, with quarterback being the most obvious. Â Imagine if the situation was reversed and it was New England dealing with a 2-12 season, things would be pretty ugly. Â The worst part about the whole situation is the fact they have a great new owner in Shahid Kahn, who really loves the fans and is trying to turn things around with that franchise. Â If you watch a recent feature that aired on 60-Minutes on himÂ it’s hard not to root for them, but it should be a good reminder of how good fans here have had it over the last decade.
Patriots fans will have to wait at least another week before Rob Gronkowski returns to action. (FILE:USPresswire)
Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski may have returned to practice recently, but it appears Bill Belichick is being careful before bringing him back into game action.
According to Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe, Gronkowski will sit out Sunday’s match-up down in Jacksonville against the Jaguars as he continues recovering from the broken forearm he suffered last month in their win over Indianapolis.
Gronkowski returned to practice on December 14th but has been limited since coming back, which is certainly the best move considering New England’s best postseason hopes will rely on making sure he’s completely healthy.
She also points out that Gronkowski told the media he would speak next week, which is an indication that we may see him on the field next Sunday in their regular season finale at home against Miami.
Before his injury Gronkowski had made 53 catches for 748 yards and 10 touchdowns, and also accounts for 43 of the team’s 226 passing first downs (good for 3rd on the team). He also has 10 receptions for 73 yards inside the red zone, with 8 of his 10 touchdowns coming down in scoring territory.
As mentioned in this other film review entry, third down was a big problem in the first half last night and the fact the 49ers were able to create pressure using just four guys up front was obviously an issue.
While the other one pointed out a match-up where Dan Connolly just got beat by Ray McDonald, San Francisco was creative with some of the things they did with moving around Aldon Smith, which is highlighted on this 3rd and 8 play early in the first quarter at midfield.
On this play you can see Aldon Smith (circled) lining up on the end. They’re going to have him wait for half a second for Justin Smith to tie up Nate Solder and Logan Mankins, and then Smith is going to slide down and come in past Mankins spot at left guard.
In this frame you can see Aldon Smith come in behind Justin Smith, who is now engaged with Mankins and Solder. He’s going to slip in behind Mankins and make a bee-line for Brady.
In this frame Mankins obviously spots what they’re up to and tries to reach back to slow him down but Smith is already past him and has Brady in his sights. At this point Brady has no time to get the ball off to Danny Woodhead (breaking on the right hand side), or Wes Welker who is actually open outside this frame and would have been the guy Brady would have likely hit for a first down.
In this frame Smith grabs Brady and he’s forced to just throw it away. It’s one of many creative things San Francsico did Sunday night, and there were quite a few instances for much of the evening where they were able to do similar things which gave them problems.