Morning Huddle 12/17 – New England Patriots News, Notes, and Links

Ian Logue
December 17, 2013 at 8:52 am ET

One bright spot to take away from Sunday’s game against the Dolphins was the fact the Patriots’ defense saw one of their better performances of the last three weeks getting after the quarterback, finishing with four sacks along with five quarterback hits on quarterback Ryan Tannehill during their 24-20 loss in Miami.

Chandler Jones is having a terrific year with 11.5 sacks thus far.
(USA TODAY Images)

Going back to week 11, the Patriots finished with 2, 1, 1 respectively in terms of sacks coming into Sunday’s contest, so the fact they were able to get after Tannehill as much as they did as well as bring him down four  times was a big improvement.  Sealver Siliga, Kyle Arrington, Chandler Jones, and Joe Vellano each accounted for a sack in contributing to that total.

However, they’ve also done a good job at putting hits on opposing quarterbacks in recent weeks, and Sunday was no exception.  The defense had five hits on Tannehill, with Chandler Jones getting two, while Vellano, Arrington, and Siliga each had one.

Jones’ sack total this season is up to 11.5, which is nearly double the 6 he finished with in 2012.  He was banged up last season and played in just 14 games, although he’s clearly ahead of last year’s pace through 14 games.  The sack he had Sunday was his first since week 12 against Denver.

Overall with the way it stands right now, Jones currently leads the team with 21 total quarterback hits on the season, with Rob Ninkovich coming in next with 15.  Ninkovich didn’t register one on Sunday, the first time since going back to their week nine match-up against Pittsburgh that he failed to get a hit on the opposing quarterback.  He has six sacks on the season, but was blanked in that category Sunday against Miami.

Getting pressure and disrupting Joe Flacco is going to likely be a big key to this weekend’s contest, especially playing on the road.  Baltimore’s a loud place to play and it’s a building where the Patriots have struggled in recent years, including a 31-30 loss on the road there last season.  That ended up being a memorable night for Ravens receiver Torrey Smith, who fought back the emotion of the loss of his younger brother less than 24 hours after he died in a motorcycle accident.  Smith went out and scored two touchdowns and caught six passes for 127 yards during the Ravens’ win, which dropped the Patriots to 1-2, putting them below .500 for the first time since Week 1 of 2003.  Baltimore also finished with 503 total yards offensively.