Archive for November, 2010

Tuesday Patriots Buzz Links 11/30

The Patriots are back at work today after having been giving a short break from Bill Belichick following their Thanksgiving day win over the Lions last week, and now it’s time to start getting ready to face the Jets next Monday night at Gillette Stadium.

Forget the hype, this is a game that has plenty of meaning as it could potentially decide who wins the AFC East, and at this rate – should New England continue to play well – could even be the difference between a first round bye along with deciding home field.  It’s a game they need to get, and everything that will go along with it this week will simply add a little flavor to what should be an interesting rematch.

Ian Rapoport has an article this morning on the fact that the Patriots are about to embark on a key stretch drive that starts with the Jets, and points out that in Belichick’s 11 years, his teams boast a record of 131-87 before Thanksgiving (60 percent). In games following the holiday, he is 41-12 (76.4 percent).  Rapoport also points out that the combined post Thanksgiving records of the Super Bowl years is 15-1.

Rich Garven of the Worcester Telegram also writes this morning that this is “crunch time” for the Patriots, and writes that this is the time where the contenders separate themselves from the pretenders.

“I think it’s just obvious that there are fewer games,” Patriots coach Bill Belichick said yesterday during a conference call. “A lot of teams are packed closely together, whether it be in division races or overall records, and there aren’t many games left. So each game becomes more important, more critical and has more influence in the final standings. I think that’s obvious.
 
“We just go into it with that kind of emphasis. Right now, you just want to be in good position where you are still in contention.”

Bob Glauber of Newsday had an article syndicated by the Boston Herald this morning on the fact that head coach Bill Belichick was talking up the Jets quite a bit during a conference call yesterday with the media. 

“The Jets are really an impressive team to watch,” Belichick told reporters. “It’s easy to see why they have the best record in the league. They do a great job at everything. Their return game is good. Their kicking and coverage teams are good. Offensively, they can run it; they can throw it. They’ve got big-play receivers, production out of the tight ends, (LaDainian) Tomlinson is the leading receiver, a lot of production out of the backs. They’re doing a good job with the offensive line, mixing some personnel groups in there. They give you a lot to get ready for, and of course defensively, they’re a good coverage team, good pressure team, strong against the run, good situational team.”

Shalise Manza Young of the Globe also reported that when asked by the media about the situation going on out in Denver regarding “SpyGate II”, Belichick wouldn’t touch the subject.

Mark Cannizzaro of the New York Post writes that while the Jets may be underdogs coming into Foxboro next week, head coach Rex Ryan certainly isn’t feeling that way.

“In general court of public opinion, are we the underdog? Absolutely. Do I think we’re the underdog? No, I think we’re going to win,” Ryan said.
 
“When you look at them and see they’re a good team, they’ve got Tom Brady and they’re on a roll. It’s easy to make that pick and say they’re the favorite,” Woody said. “I would say underdogs, but I think we kind of like being in that role.”

If you’re interested in hearing what Rex Ryan had to say yesterday, here is a transcript of his press conference that was posted on the Boston Globe’s website.

Jeff Howe of NESN.com has a 10-day series in the works on “reasons to get excited” for the Jets game, with today’s edition focusing on Wes Welker and how he’ll fare against Darrelle Revis Monday night.

Speaking of Revis, NECN has quotes from his interview last night with ESPN’s Chris Berman, where the defensive back predicted a victory for his team.

“A prediction? I gotta represent for the New York Jets,” he said. “We’re gonna win it. We’re confident. We know it’s going to be tough, but we’re just trying to get to 10-2.”

Revis also made a mistake in saying that, “[A win] will mean that we’ve accomplished everything we want this year,” he said.  Yes – I guess that would make sense since the Jets continually say that this game is “their Super Bowl”.

The Herald’s Ian Rapoport also has an article on Revis, and wonders now that Randy Moss is gone, who will he be covering Monday night?

Mike Reiss has a tidbit from ESPNNewYork.com this morning where Jets head coach Rex Ryan talks about the success that his former player, Danny Woodhead, is having here in New England.

“They just run their offense a little different than we do. He’s perfect for what they do. Kevin Faulk had that role for years and was so successful. Danny Woodhead is doing a great job doing that.”

Eric Wilbur of the Boston Globe has an article this morning about the fact he’s tired of the subject of Tom Brady’s hair, bringing out a Dr. Suess “Sam-I-Am” quote and writing, “I do not, could not, will not care. I do not care about Tom Brady’s hair.”

 Monique Walker of the Boston Globe has an article this morning on the fact that defensive lineman Gerard Warren is trying to help all of the first year players avoid the “rookie wall”, which veterans also warned him about during his first year in the NFL.

“They were talking about that when I first came into the league,’’ Warren said. “If I recall, the second half of the season I made my biggest improvement my rookie year. For that to take place, the rookie wall couldn’t take effect, right? So I don’t believe in it.’’

Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe has his “On Football” column this morning, and writes that it’s going to be the development of their defense over these final weeks that will decide how much of a chance they stand to compete in the postseason.

Instead Gerry Callahan of the Boston Herald feels that the best defense for the Patriots is going to be Tom Brady on offense, who will decide just how far they go during the remainder of the season.

That’s it for this morning.  Due to a work schedule conflict today’s “Tuesday Morning Quarterback” is going to get moved back one day to tomorrow morning, so you’ll see that following the headlines.

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Monday Patriots Buzz Links 11/29

One week from tonight the New York Jets will visit Foxboro for their second meeting against the Patriots at Gillette Stadium.  The players are off again today after head coach Bill Belichick gave them four days off following their win over the Detroit Lions Thursday, and they’ll be returning to work tomorrow.  Belichick will reportedly be holding a conference call with the media later today, as will director of player personnel Nick Caserio.

Otherwise it’s a fairly quiet morning news-wise, but here are today’s headlines:

Ian Rapoport has an article this morning on former Jets runningback Danny Woodhead, who told him that he’s not planning on using his release by New York as extra motivation.

“I’m not, man,” Woodhead told the Herald after Thursday’s 45-24 Thanksgiving win against the Lions. “That’s not how I am, not who I am. People might say different because I was a Jet. But we got to go into it as another game.”

Rapoport also has an article this morning on the upcoming showdown, and spoke to Vince Wilfork, who told him that he thinks the team will be O.K. if they just play the way they know they’re capable of.

“One thing I do know, it’s a division game. It’s the Jets. A tough football team,” nose tackle Vince Wilfork said. “They beat us the first time. So, we got to walk away with a ‘W.’ That’s plain and simple. I think if we play the way we need to play, I think we’ll be OK. I really think we’ll be OK.”

Jim Donaldson of the Providence Journal feels that it’s too bad that this game is still over a week away.  Donaldson writes that if the game was tonight even though they really wouldn’t be ready to go, the fans definitely would be.

Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com takes a look at what’s on the line when these two teams finally do meet, and points out how important it is for the Patriots to take care of business next Monday night from a standings and seedings perspective.

Reiss also has an entry this morning “cleaning out the notebook” with some bits of information, including the fact that tomorrow is the deadline for the Patriots game against Chicago in two weeks potentially being “flexed” out of the 1:00pm spot.  Reiss believes the game will likely be moved to 4:15pm to reach a larger audience.

Kirk Minihane of WEEI.com has a report card from Thursday’s game and wonders if Tom Brady has ever looked any better than he did against the Lions last week.

Shalise Manza Young of the Boston Globe has an article this morning on tight end Alge Crumpler, who according to Belichick has been exactly what he expected.

“As a player I’d say probably [Crumpler is] what we expected,’’ Belichick said. “You hear about guys, and you research them, but you never really know until you’re with them on a day-to-day basis for a long period of time. So everything about him was positive and good, but I’d say after being with him that he’s really up there in the exceptional range, as good as we’ve had kind of guy.’’

Glen Farley of the Patriot Ledger has an article this morning on Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty, who he feels has played with a ‘veteran’s presence’ so far this season.

Dan Shaughnessy has a column this morning on “SpyGate II” out in Denver, and feels that it’s unfortunate that this incident brings back memories of 2007 because the national media is associating the Patriots with it since former New England assistant Josh McDaniels is now the Broncos head coach.

USA Today has an article on McDaniels, who claims he had no inside knowledge of the Patriots version of “SpyGate”.

Tom Curran of NECN has a different opinion, after Fox’ Jay Glazer reported that McDaniels told his Broncos coaching staff on Friday that the Patriots practice of videotaping opponents was something “that was practiced, that was coached, that was worked on.”

We’ll have more on this in tomorrow’s “Tuesday Morning Quarterback”.

That’s it for this morning.  Hope everyone has a good day and we’ll have more later on this afternoon so be sure to check back.

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Patriots to Honor Tedy Bruschi Next Monday Night

The Patriots will reportedly honor former linebacker Tedy Bruschi next Monday night whent he Jets visit Foxboro for Monday night Football at Gillette Stadium.

Next Monday night will be “Tedy Bruschi Night”, as the team will recognize him in ceremony and he’ll be on hand for the event.   In Sunday’s Boston Globe, owner Robert Kraft said: “Tedy was kind enough to let us honor him. We know he’s working for ESPN, and knowing what a beloved rival the New York Jets are, we thought it was appropriate.”

Bruschi was a former 3rd round draft pick taken during the 1996 draft (86th overall) and played 13 seasons here in New England.

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Sunday Patriots Buzz Links 11/28

A quiet Sunday here in New England as the Patriots don’t have a game today, and neither to the New York Jets – who New England will face off against one week from tomorrow.  The timing of the contest was well conceived by the league, and it will give us over a week of hype heading into this match-up.

It’s already started.  The New York papers are eating up every one of Rex Ryan’s comments, and as usual he’s talking up a big game.  His team already beat the Patriots earlier this year in their first meeting, and now they’re going for the sweep – with Gary Myers of the Daily News writing this morning that now is the time for the Jets to prove there is a new order in the AFC East.

“We beat them. So it’s 1-0. I think the pressure is on them,” said Jets defensive end Shaun Ellis, the most senior member of the team in his 11th season. “We’re going up there to win. We’re going to be relaxed and go in there, play our game and see what happens. In the end, they got to beat us. For years, we’ve been going up there trying to get revenge.”

Jeff Howe of NESN.com has an article on the fact that Ryan’s trash talking has definitely made this match-up ‘intoxicating’ over the past couple of seasons, and he referenced some comments from this week that should definitely have the players – and fans – fired up for this one.

“I don’t care what people believe. I know what I believe,” Ryan told the Herald. “Our football team believes that we can beat anybody. They’ve won 25 straight at home, we’ve won eight straight on the road, so we plan on making it nine. I know it’s going to be tough, but we’re just the men for the job.”

Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald has her NFL Notes column for this morning, and recently spoke to Fox Sports NFL Analyst Brian Baldinger, who made some interesting observations on the evolution of New England’s offense.  Baldinger says that the trade of Moss helped them develop an offense which eliminated the lower percentage throws and makes them better suited at beating the Jets.  He feels this current personnel group allows them a better chance to accomplish that.

“I think (the Jets) have much better luck against guys like Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco and Andre Johnson than they do against Wes Welker and Deion Branch and Danny Woodhead,” Baldinger said. “I think those matchups are much tougher. If you look, they’ve already benched their safety Brodney Pool, and started Eric Smith (against Cincinnati) because they haven’t covered tight ends well. The middle of the field has been a problem.”

Speaking of Moss, Steve Buckley of the Herald writes that the receiver’s “hasty business plans” blew up in his face, as he’s already been traded twice this season and is now with yet another team that appears to be imploding.

Meanwhile Mike Reiss has his “Quick-hit thoughts” for this morning, and it’s definitely a great read.  Reiss gives his thoughts on the videotaping incident surrounding the Broncos, as well as how he feels about former Patriots assisatant Josh McDaniels’ future in Denver.

Speaking of McDaniels, Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald has an article this morning on the situation out in Denver, which is bizarre to say the least.  Video operation director Steve Scarnecchia, the son of Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia, reportedly videotaped the walkthrough of the 49ers before their meeting out in London.  According to the report McDaniels refused to watch the video when it was presented to him, and as a result of the violation Scarnecchia took the fall and was fired.  The team was subsequently fined by the league $50,000, and McDaniels was also slapped with a $50,000 penalty.

In other news, Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe has an article this morning with some comments from owner Robert Kraft on the current labor situation.  Kraft is focused on getting a deal done and feels more confident now than he did six weeks ago that they’ll work things out and ensure there’s football in 2011.

“I want to assure our fans and everyone else that I’m doing everything within my power to try to help to see if there isn’t a way we can’t have labor peace before the season ends,’’ Kraft said. “In my mind, it’s possible and actually something that should happen.
 
“Knowing what I know now — and I’m privileged to see a lot of what’s going on — there’s a wonderful opportunity for everyone associated with the NFL to grow together.
 
“I came out right away after our last [labor] meeting and said I believe [a deal will happen]. And I believe it even more now six weeks later.

Jeff Howe of NESN.com has an article on defensive back Kyle Arrington, who surprised everyone – including the Colts – when he was lined up in a three point stance and spent the majority of the game chasing quarterback Peyton Manning out of the pocket.

Dan Shaughnessy has a must-read column this morning on the effect that some of our own pro athletes recently had while visiting sick kids at the Children’s Hospital in Boston.  It’s an absolutely fantastic read, so be sure and check it out.

And finally a great story out of Florida by Boston Globe writer Stan Grossfield, who writes that Fred Taylor recently had his number retired at his old high school, and then watched his son – a sophmore in high school – rush for 265 yards, including four first-half touchdowns, a 93-yard run from scrimmage, and an 80-yard kick return.  Hopefully we’ll get to see his dad put on a few final performances here in New England in the coming weeks that will allow him to finish his career strong, and maybe if all goes well he’ll leave with some jewelry to go along with it.

That’s it for this morning.  Hope everyone has a great Sunday and we’ll see you tomorrow.

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The Best and Worst: Patriots at Lions

Looking back at Thursday afternoon’s game between the Patriots and Lions, here’s a look at the Best and Worst from New England’s 45-24 win over Detroit.

THE BEST PERFORMERS FROM THURSDAY’S GAME

Jerod Mayo – Once again Mayo lead the team in tackles and seemed to be everywhere throughout the game, finishing with 12 combined tackles and also had a pass deflection.

Deion Branch – Did a great job on the 79-yard touchdown, shaking off his defender twice en-route to the endzone on what for now was the longest play of the year for the Patriots.  It tied things up 24-24 with just over 5:00 left in the third quarter. He also later scored on a 22-yard strike to put them up for good at 31-24.

Tom Brady – Brady finished 21-of-27 for 341 yards and four touchdown passes on Sunday, along with 0 interceptions.  That performance earned him a perfect QB rating of 158.3 – and his play under center was the primary reason they won the game.

Julian Edelman – Didn’t have a reception, but did a decent job returning punts, returning 3 punts for 47-yards including a 28-yard return early in the first quarter that helped give them good field position and lead to a field goal.  Also had a block that helped Welker get into the endzone on his second touchdown.

Patrick Chung – Chung finished with five combined tackles along with a QB hit and two passes defensed, including one where he knocked away a potential touchdown at the end of the game.

Wes Welker – Made a big block at the end of the first half and helped push BenJarvus Green-Ellis into the endzone for a touchdown.  That score at the time put New England within 4 at 14-10.  Also made a touchdown reception where he battled with two defenders to get in, and it knotted the score at the time 17-17.

Devin McCourty – Made an outstanding interception in front of Calvin Johnson, outleaping him and taking it away.  Also had another pick later on that he returned all the way down to the 10-yard line which set up their final touchdown to seal it, and also finished with four tackles. The two interceptions gave him 5 on the season, which ties him with Earl Thomas of Seattle for most among rookies.

Danny Woodhead – Was recently rewarded with a contract extension and played inspired Sunday, including a play where he ran hard and lost his helmet on the tackle.  He finished with 8 carries for 32 yards, along with a couple of receptions.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis – Had a great day running the ball, and also had a big run at the end of the half for a touchdown run.  He finished with 12-carries for 59-yards along with 2-touchdowns on the afternoon.

Rob Gronkowski – Made a couple of great catches on Sunday, both of which came with a defender right on him.  His last one helped set up Welker’s second touchdown to put them up 38-24.  He finished with five receptions for 65 yards on the day.

Zoltan Mesko – Mesko had a great game punting the football, with three kicks that averaged 51-yards, including one inside the 20-yard line.  He’s done a good job overall this season with helping New England win the field position battle, and Thursday’s game was yet another example of why drafting him has turned out to be such a great decision.

THE WORST PERFORMERS FROM THURSDAY’S GAME

Kyle Arrington – Fell down on the touchdown reception by Calvin Johnson and was no match for the receiver.  Also failed to prevent #12 (Williams) from picking up 7 on a 3rd and 8, and it later lead to a first down, and after that a touchdown for Detroit.  Later allowed a big catch by Johnson which set up the Lions final touchdown.  On the play he got completely spun around, and the Lions went on to score to put them up 24-17.  The one bright spot for Arrington was a play where he came in hard from the left to attempt to block the 46-yard field goal attempt that was missed by the Lions.  His presence likely helped cause the miss.

Brandon Tate – Had a miserable day returning the football on kickoffs, and didn’t fare much better offensively.  He had a pass that went in and out of his hands early in the 2nd quarter on a deep throw from Brady, and finished without a reception.  He did have an end around that he ran for a gain, but otherwise he continues to struggle trying to establish a role in the offense.

Gary Guyton – Probably one of the most frustrating players to watch on the defensive side of the ball.  He generally makes one really good play, and then a series of ones where he’s out of position or late getting to where he’s supposed to be.  Thursday was one of those games.  He had a passed defensed, a sack, and a tackle for a loss, but the numbers don’t show each of the times where he missed an open field tackle and failed to make a play that he could have.

THE SCUFFLE:  After reviewing the video, it appears that Avril (#92) went after Logan Mankins, and Matt Light stepped in and pinned him to the turf.  The scuffle ensued, and Light backed out waving his arms – with Belichick coming out to also make sure it got broken up and no one did anything to get ejected, or potentially suspended for next week’s game.

GAME NOTES:  Coming into Thursday’s game against the Lions, Tom Brady had never thrown a touchdown pass against Detroit.  That streak came to an end, as he tossed four on the afternoon….. Brady also set a franchise record extending his current streak of passes without an interception to 199…Fred Taylor was active on Thursday for the first time in eight games, but didn’t play…After the game head coach Bill Belichick gave the players four days off, they’re not required to be back at the facility until Tuesday.  It’s the first time they’ve had a break like that since July…. Deion Branch’s final touchdown reception was also Brady’s 247th career touchdown pass, which tied him with Boomer Esiason for 14th all time.

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Patriots Reach Contract Extension With Woodhead

It looks like Danny Woodhead has something to be thankful for today on this Thanksgiving.

Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald reported Thursday that the Patriots and Woodhead have reached a deal on an extension to keep him in New England through 2012.

According to the report Woodhead received $425,000 as a signing bonus to go with his $395,000 in 2010 salary.  He’s also reportedly slated to earn $550,000 in 2011 and $700,000 in 2012, along with playing time incentives worth a possible $575,000 next year and a possible $600,000 in 2012.

Woodhead played well on Thursday against the Lions, rushing for 32 yards on 8 carries (4.0 avg) during their 45-24 win over Detroit.

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Patriots Inactives Against the Lions

The Patriots official Twitter channel released today’s inactives, which are Brandon DeaderickMark LeVoir, Rich Ohrnberger, Stephen Neal, Taylor Price, Myron Pryor, Jonathan Wilhite, and Mike Wright.

No real surprise with Wright being out for this week.  He suffered a concussion Sunday against the Colts, and having him sit out this game makes sense, because he’ll now have the long week to hopefully recover in time for their match-up against the Jets in two weeks.

As for Deaderick, he’s somewhat of a surprise because he’s been contributing quite a bit in recent weeks and has gotten a fair amount of playing time.  He’s been rotating in and out of the line-up, with Mike Reiss pointing out that he played in 17 of  72 snaps last week against Indianapolis, and 24 of 78 against Pittsburgh the week before.  Needless to say his absence makes them a little thinner up front, especially with Wright and Pryor also sitting out.

The team also posted the Lions inactives, which includes former Patriot Zac Robinson (3rd QB), along with Jason Hanson, Matthew Stafford, Jason Fox, Willie Young, Tony Scheffler, L. Jackson, and Donald Thomas.

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Thursday Patriots Buzz Links 11/25

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, and obviously we’ve got football this afternoon as the Patriots are set to take on the Detriot Lions at 12:30pm on CBS.  This is only the fourth Thanksgiving day game for New England, with the last one being back in 2002 when they beat the Lions 20-12.  Today could potentially be a tough game, as the Lions have played their opponents close, losing five games by just five points or less.

The Detroit Free Press believes that the Lions could redefine their season with a win over the Patriots today, and could be just the win they need to start moving back in the right direction.

Dave Birkett of the Free Press appears to be a bit less optimistic, and has his “Hot Topics” for today’s game.  He points out that the Lions have lost six straight turkey-day games by an average of 23.2 points, and eight of nine since 2001. 

The Detroit News has a preview to this afternoon’s game, and they list Lions safety Louis Delmas as the player to watch in this one against New England’s passing attack.

Mike Reiss of ESPNBoston.com has “10 Things To Watch” in today’s game, one of which includes some unconvential plays by the Lions, which will likely be tried to give them a spark – much in the same way Cleveland did a few weeks ago.

Reiss also points out that New England will be without their top interior rushers this afternoon, with Mike Wright among those who were downgraded to “out” yesterday.

Ian Rapoport of the Boston Herald has “Five Questions Facing the team” for today, with an obvious one being “avoiding the dreaded letdown”.  It’s a worthwhile concern, as the Lions will likely pull out all the stops to make a solid showing in front of their home crowd – and a national television audience.

Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald writes that the Patriots “can’t take a pass on the Lions’ today, and points out that Detroit currently has the sixth-ranked passing offense in the NFL, averaging 255.9 yards per game.

Guregian also has an article on New England’s two-man running attack, which has been successful with BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead so far this season.

Dan Shaughnessy of the Boston Globe has a column this morning about the Lions, and writes that as bad as they’ve been, each year they’re “inadvertant guests” in our living rooms - and that usually means that this holiday is upon us.

Shalise Manza Young of the Globe also has an article on the Lions being part of Thanksgiving, which was born 71-years ago and she talks about the history of this tradition.

Monique Walker of the Boston Globe has an article on Tom Brady, who is officially listed as “questionable” for today’s game.  Walker notes that the last time Brady was listed as “questionable”, was back on Dec. 17, 2005, when he had right shoulder and shin ailments. He went out and threw three touchdown passes and completed 20 of 31 passes for 258 yards in a 28-0 win over Tampa Bay.

Ian Rapoport also writes that while Brady may be “iffy”, it’s purely on paper and he expects him to play today.

And finally, Mike Clis of the Denver Post has an article on what Thanksgiving was like in the Gronkowski household, and it’s a short but good read.

That’s it for this morning.  We’ll have updates much later this afternoon following dinner and time with the family.  In the meantime I hope all of you have a good holiday, and best wishes.

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Bill Belichick Press Conference 11/23

Here is the complete transcript of Bill Belichick’s press conference from Tuesday, courtesy of the Patriots PR Department. 

BB: How are we doing this morning, afternoon, whatever it is? We’re just trying to scramble together here. [Today is a] big day for us today in terms of our preparation, trying to get as much done as we can – as many situations as we can. We can’t get them all, but we’ll get as much as we can and then a couple of leftover things, we’ll try to tie those up tomorrow and head to Detroit. I think this game is very unique. It’s unlike any other game you’ll play for a number of years. Just the short preparation, how quick the turnaround is, basically no practice. We’re just out there walking through some stuff today, jogging through it at a low tempo. [Then we’ll] just tee up and be ready to go on Thursday. So, it’s very unique and different for the players, the coaches – equal footing for both teams, it’s just different. It’s always good to play on Thanksgiving. I think it’s a great part of the holiday. It’s good to be a part of it. So, we’re all looking forward to the game, but it’s a tough one to get ready for.
 
Q: I’m sure it’s different for each individual player, but how does this short turnaround affect the players’ bodies?
 
BB: That’s a good question. I don’t know. I don’t know. You can talk to the players. And you’re right; I’m sure it’s different for each guy. It’s a quick turnaround. It’s a quick turnaround. Good thing is, with every short week, is a long week. Where you go quick, then you have extra time. Where you have extra time, then somewhere along the line, you have to go quick. So, it all evens out in the end.
 
Q: You used a package in a game where Kyle Arrington blitzed. Is that something you saw in training camp that you implemented this past week?
 
BB: When you do the drills in training camp, you have your linebackers blitz against your tight ends and running backs. Then somewhere along the line, you usually have your defensive backs blitz against your backs because their involved in pickup and you have different secondary blitzers. You kind of get a feel for who’s got a natural feel for the blitz and who doesn’t, as far as timing and technique and that kind of thing. Guys that pressure well, you have a tendency to bring then more frequently than guys where that’s not as good of a strength in their game. I’m not saying you don’t bring them, too, but there’s guys you want to bring, [then] there’s other guys that you bring because it’s good for the scheme, but maybe they’re not necessarily your best blitzers. 
 
Q: So can Arrington stuff the run, too? Is he going to be challenging [Brandon] Deaderick?
 
BB: In a two-gap? Yeah. We got to work on that.
 
Q: One thing you said about moving Vince Wilfork along the line is that it forces other teams, at the very least, to prepare for it. Is that a small victory for you?
 
BB: I don’t really know what [the Lions] are preparing for. I doubt that they’re losing a lot of sleep over it. It’s not like [Wilfork] had six sacks or anything. But, you’d have to talk to them. I don’t really know how they’re looking at it. Maybe it’s a problem, maybe it isn’t. I have no idea.
 
Q: Can you talk about Devin McCourty and how he has stepped in as a rookie?
 
BB: Devin’s really been a consistent player for us all year, from the first rookie mini-camp after the draft to all through the season. In the spring, spring workouts, training camp, preseason, he’s really the same guy every day: very alert, attentive, very professional. You wouldn’t know he’s a rookie; he acts and prepares like he’s been doing it for five or six years. He’s very attentive. He understands a lot of little things. When you give him a coaching point, he understands that it doesn’t apply to everything [and] it may only apply to one, particular situation or one little thing. But when that comes up again, he’s usually on it. He’s made a lot of improvement. Josh [Boyer] has done a good job with him, of making him aware of things that could make him a better player. And [Devin’s] done a good job of working on those things and improving on them. We see him doing things now that he wasn’t doing in October. We [saw] him doing things in September that he wasn’t doing in August, and that’s really a great feeling to have as a coach, but I think it’s also great for him as a player. He can see how much he’s improved and his techniques have improved in man-to-man coverage, zone coverage, ball skills, reading the quarterback, tackling, leverage, all those things. He’s done a good job for us and he continues to work hard and get better. He’s a great kid to coach. I’m glad he’s on our team. [He] works hard at special teams. Whatever you ask him to do, he gives you his best every play and that’s worth a lot.
 
Q: What did you think of the way Darius Butler played and can you assess that situation going forward?
 
BB: Well, we have confidence in all the guys we put out there. I think Darius did some good things. [It] wasn’t perfect, but he’s worked hard in practice and I think he’s improved on some things that maybe weren’t quite at the level that he would want them to be at earlier in the season. And those have been showing up better in practice. I thought he did some good things in the game. The key for him is to keep working hard, stay focused and pay attention to little details in the techniques and executing the defense. He has a lot of talent. He’s a smart kid, but it’s about being able to apply it on the field and take those coaching points [from] practice and the meetings and make those part of the execution on the field on Sundays, or Thursdays.
 
Q: Are you usually curious about how a guy will respond from being removed from the lineup?
 
BB: Well, in our defense and offense, we have a lot of guys that are in some plays and out others in different packages and different substitution groups and so forth. We don’t really worry about that. Everyone has different roles to play. Those roles change from game to game, from month to month, sometimes from year to year. That’s part of playing a team sport. Everybody can’t dot the “I.”
 
Q:  Is balance one of the goals of the offense? I know you’re going to say that scoring points is the goal, but…
 
BB: That is the goal. That’s why we send them out there.
 
Q: Is balance a good way to obtain that ultimate goal of scoring points?
 
BB: Well, if you can do it, then sure. I think that’s the toughest thing for the defense to defend is when you’ve got to defend everything. You have to defend inside runs, outside runs, short passes, intermediate passes, deep passes, screens, reverses. If you can make a lot of things work than it’s hard for the defense to say, ‘Well, we’re going to take this away,’ because there’s so many other things that are a problem. On the other hand, if you can do something real well and you can just keep doing it, or do a couple things real well – you don’t have to do 20 things well, sometimes you can do one or two things well – and they complement each other, then that’s hard for a defense to stop, too. It isn’t all about how many things you can do; it’s basically about how many things you can do well. But I think, in this league, if you can only do one thing well, it’s going to be hard against NFL defenses to make that go very far. It might get you a little ways, but sooner or later, somebody’s going to be able to handle it and then you have to have something else.
 
Q: Have you seen increased consistency with you running game and the blocking game?
 
BB: Yeah, I think there are some things that are better. I think there’re some things that have definitely improved. A lot of our techniques have improved. Still, it’s a different matchup each week. If you’re fundamentally doing things well, then that’s a huge start. That goes a long way. Then you still have to execute it against a particular scheme and the players [of] your next opponent – what they use. That’s a new challenge every week. So, whether you did it good or not so good the week before, it’s really a new week. But if you’re doing things fundamentally well, your footwork, your techniques, your leverage, your blocking position and all that, then there’s a pretty good chance that good things are going to happen. And if you’re doing it bad, then there’s almost no chance that anything good is going to happen, so you have to get those fundamentals and those techniques as perfect as you can on a consistent basis if you’re going to have any kind of success and be able to sustain it. Otherwise, you luck into a play every now and then, but that usually it doesn’t last if you don’t consistently do things well.
 
Q: What have you seen from Ndamukong Suh? Is he already playing at above a rookie level?
 
BB: Well he was the first guy picked, so I don’t know what you… he was taken pretty high, but he’s a good player. He’s a very good player. He’s strong. He’s very athletic. He’s a big man; he’s a very powerful man. But, he’s athletic. He runs well. He’s got good feet. He gets over and around things easily, but he’s very strong. He’s an explosive guy. He’s a good player. He’s got a great future ahead of him. He plays hard. I think there’s a lot to like about him.
 
Q: Do you see any similarities between Calvin Johnson and Randy Moss and does it help you guys at all, having practiced against Randy to prepare for Johnson?
 
BB: I would see them as two different players. [They’re] both good players, but there’s a lot of differences.
 
Q: What do you think about the Lions’ offensive weapons, in general?
 
BB: I think they have real good offensive weapons. Both quarterbacks are good; they’ve been productive. Their tight ends – they’ve got good depth at that position. Running backs – they’re all very good in the passing game; they’re elusive. They’re quick. They’re hard to tackle. They make a lot of plays in space. Their receivers are, for the most part, big. They’re physical guys. They’re hard to matchup against. [Nate] Burleson’s a good slot receiver. They use all those guys. Guys like [Stefan] Logan who don’t play as much, they sprinkle them in, get some plays out of them. They do a real good job throwing the ball. They do a good job in the running game, with their backs, in terms of when they can get them in space, when they have a little space to work with, they’re tough to tackle. They use some of their passing plays like running plays. I know it goes on as passing yardage, but it’s throws behind the line of scrimmage like screens, wide routes and check downs and things like that, so they’re effective at doing those things. I think they have a real good group of skilled players. [Jahvid] Best has certainly been a good addition to their team. But, really, all their backs… [Maurice] Morris was really productive for them last week against Dallas. They’ve got a good group.
 
Q: Is Calvin Johnson, instead of similar to Randy Moss, similar to Brandon Marshall? Or is he his own unique player?
 
BB: I would say [he’s] more similar to Marshall than Moss.
 
Q: How is Johnson different from Randy?
 
BB: I would say they are totally different players. How are they the same? They’re both tall.
 
Q: Is he one of those guys that when he’s covered, he’s still not covered?
 
BB: Yeah, no, he’s never covered. He’s never covered. The play against Green Bay, there’s 10 seconds left to go in the half, [Charles] Woodson’s on him, the safety’s over the top, they throw it up to him, he goes up for a touchdown and gets it. I mean, it looks like Shaquille O’Neal going up for a rebound against two point guards. He’s never covered. He’s never covered. There’s always an opportunity somewhere. He’s got such a great catching radius. He’s so big that he can catch the ball in such a wide amount of space that if the quarterback puts it where the defender can’t reach it, then this guy’s got great hands, he’s got tremendous ball skills. Yeah, I would say, he’s definitely not covered even when he’s covered. You got to worry about it. And they have a lot of confidence in him and they should. They throw some balls to him that you look at and say, ‘Wow, that’s pretty tight coverage. I don’t know if he should be throwing it there.’ Then he comes up with the catch and you understand why – I don’t want to say the ball is being forced in there – but it’s tight coverage, but it isn’t good enough because he’s got really good ball skills and he’s a big target. He’s an impressive player.
 
Q: Even if being tall is their only similarity, do you think your guys have benefitted from practicing against Randy, now going up against Johnson?
 
BB: We benefit from practicing against everybody. We have a good group of receivers and we have a good group of defensive backs and those guys compete against each other every day. You cover different types of players and, as a receiver, you go against different types of corners. Some guys are faster. Some guys are quicker. Some guys are more physical. Some guys are more instinctive. Some play techniques a little differently. So, that’s the great thing about training camp and about doing one-on-one drills. Whether it’s pass protection, pass rush, or one-on-one pass coverage or pass defense, you match up against different types of players and, ultimately, over the course of a year, you will see players like that, sooner or later: big receivers, short receivers, fast receivers, quick receivers, receivers that run real good routes, receivers that use their speed to try and get open, receivers that are real physical and knock you around, you see all that over the course of a year. So, you definitely benefit from practicing against different players and players with different skill sets.
 
Q: Last week you had three corners in the game and it looked like Patrick Chung was playing a star position. How did he look there?
 
BB: You were at the game. Sometimes we were good in pass defense. Sometimes we had trouble. The Colts had a great passing attack, no question about that. They’ve got a great quarterback, great receivers. At times we were okay. At times, we had trouble.
 
Q: What kind of advantage is it to have a safety that can do that? That is obviously a lot of versatility from Chung.
 
BB: Yeah, well, sure it is. One of the problems with the Colts is you can’t substitute. So, whoever you put out there, you have to live with until you don’t know when – until you take a timeout or there’s some kind of stoppage in play or a guy gets tackled over on your sideline or something. So, when you play the Colts, you’re in a whole different ball game because you don’t have the ability to substitute like you do in a lot of other games, let’s put it that way. Defensively, that’s a whole different game plan and strategical decision because of the way and the style that they play. But, Patrick is versatile. He does a lot of things for us. He can play in the deep part of the field. He can play zone coverage, play man-to-man coverage, good blitzer. [He] plays in the kicking game, so he has a lot of skills that help us. [He’s] a smart kid, works hard. So, he’s got a lot going for him.

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Lions Defensive Tackle Ndamukong Suh Conference Call

Here is the complete transcript of Lions Defensive Tackle Ndamukong Suh’s Conference Call, courtesy of the Patriots PR Department.

Q: Could you give some general thoughts about playing on Thanksgiving and facing the Patriots?
 
NS: I’m definitely excited about it. As a kid growing up, I saw [the Lions] Thanksgiving early morning…Without a doubt, definitely it was exciting when I found out I was going to play for the Detroit Lions in the Thanksgiving game. It’s something that I grew up watching, West Coast early mornings for myself. And then, playing against the Patriots; [is] definitely a great challenge – going against Tom Brady and the group of guys that he has on the offensive side of the ball. I’m definitely looking forward to it and excited for it.
 
Q: I’m not sure if you’ve seen the film or not, but were you a little jealous of Wes Welker’s field goal kicking form?
 
NS: I have no clue what you’re talking about. I didn’t even know he kicked field goals or did anything of that sort. I have not seen him kicking or anything of that sort or didn’t know he did it. There’s nothing that I really can be jealous of.
 
Q: He actually made one in a game earlier this year, and I know you attempted one also, so I don’t know if you saw it on SportsCenter or anything like that.
 
NS: No, I didn’t see it.
 
Q: What have been the major adjustments for you in coming from college to pros?
 
NS: The biggest changes that I’ve noticed from college to the NFL was that you’ve got to prepare like you’re going against a Texas or an Oklahoma every week because you’re going against great players; you’re going against veterans that have been in the game for a long period of time. And whereas in college you have really four easy games at the beginning of the season, maybe one hard game non-conference and then you get into the Big 12 play. And even sometimes in the Big 12 play you have one or two teams that aren’t up to par talent-wise, that’s probably the biggest thing that I’ve noticed that you’ve got to be able to come in with a new focus. Going against a new player, you’ve got to figure out how you’re going to beat that guy.
 
Q: What challenges does the Patriots offense pose for you? 
 
NS: They definitely give time to Tom Brady to get the ball out especially in their play action; that I’ve noticed. He’s had quite a bit of time in play-action plays. And getting the ball down the field, he’s letting his receivers move down. The biggest thing that I’ve noticed in the running game, they like to stretch the ball out wide and give the running back opportunities to cut it back and to make plays. So you’ve got to be able to force them up field and not play lateral with them on the line of scrimmage. 
 
Q: Does it help them having a complementary attack? Being able to run the ball, does that help the passing game?
 
NS: Yeah, without a doubt. Especially when they’re doing play action off of stretches and things of that sort, you’re kind of getting sucked into running with them and trying to push them up the field. And then obviously, you later realize that they’re going deep with the ball so the transition in that…they’re a great play-action fake as well as Tom Brady is obviously a vet at doing that. And that’s definitely something that you have to take keen notice because he does a great job with it.

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