Good morning, here are Sunday’s Patriots news notes and what’s happening around the division:
That’s Why The Patriots Win…Part 1: Last week was interesting to see both Tom Brady and Stephen Gostkowski reach big career milestones and how they and the team handled them.
Brady reached the 400 touchdown pass plateau, becoming just the fourth QB in NFL history to do so joining Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and Dan Marino as the only QBs to throw for 400 yards. While the top three also rank in the Top 13 of having the most career interceptions as well, Brady remains far down the list at 61st.
However there was little fanfare done on the sideline or with the Patriots announcing his milestone over the PA system in regards to Brady’s touchdown pass. No hiding the ball from him via his teammates, unless Danny Amendola giving the ball away to a fan counts as a keep away. There was the normal chest-bumping after a touchdown drive and right back to work as Brady sat with Josh McDaniels looking at film.
Bill Belichick came over and with the NFL having him miked-up for the day, we heard only, “Nice drive….good job.”
Gostkowski broke the NFL record for most consecutive extra points with his 423rd on Sunday as well. And he went right back to the bench and that was it. Again, very little was made about each milestone during the game.
While we’re sure that the team will have congratulated both in the confines of the locker room after the game or during practice before the bye week break, they’re all about focusing on team goals during the game.
It is a testament to Bill Belichick that his players buy in to his team first goals so much when you see a player of Brady’s stature attain a goal like that, and shrug it off and go right back to film….That’s why they win.
“Fully Inflated” Success: Speaking of Brady, remember all the talk about how he needed a deflated ball to achieve his success? Since the halftime at the AFC Championship Game in January, Brady’s numbers are (with a fully inflated ball), as follows: He’s completed 145 of 197 passes, good for 73.6 percent, 1571 yards for 8.0 yards per attempt, 15 touchdowns and 2 INTs for a quarterback rating of 117.7. Perhaps the NFL front office should force him to play with those “alleged” deflated footballs after all.
That’s Why The Patriots Win…Part 2: Every team studies film, and look for tendencies in their opponents. That is what life in the NFL is all about; but we’re pretty certain in stating here that no one breaks down tendencies and finds the little nuances in opponents’ game film like Belichick and the Patriots.
Go back to the Super Bowl and Malcolm Butler’s game changing interception, while most every pundits were lambasting Pete Carroll on the play call, the Patriots through advanced film study, found that was a play that the Seahawks used frequently. They practiced it…and failed three times in the week leading up to the big game. It was well chronicled in the Patriots DVD “Three Games to Glory”. Once they saw the formation, they trotted out Butler and the rest is history.
Fast forward to last week against Jacksonville; again every team practices special teams but no one practices them harder and more than the Patriots do. Color analyst Rich Gannon a former NFL quarterback remarked during the telecast that he was amazed at seeing how much time they dedicated to special teams last week with Belichick calling out different scenarios for the team to react to.
During Jacksonville’s fake punt, both Matthew Slater and Pat Chung on the inside read that a fake punt was coming and once the up-man raised his arms reacted accordingly. Slater using his excellent speed, raced down the line of scrimmage and nailed the runner after a gain of two yards, eight yards short of the first down.
Belichick spoke after the game about how they practiced Jacksonville’s fake punt during practice last week.
“You know, it was actually a play that we ran in practice and James White got us on it, and we made some corrections on that in practice and then were able to carry those over into the game. Slate got a good read on it, and he’s a hard guy to outrun. He did a good job of tracking it down and making the tackle.”
“That’s part of their job, but I thought the whole unit reacted well to it because we had to obviously stop it on both sides,” said Belichick. “We didn’t know which side they were running it to. Matt had good width and was able to track it down. It was a good job of staying at home, being responsible.” That’s why they win.
Oops! Was That a Cell-phone Ben? During the Thursday night telecast between the Steelers and Ravens, the cameras zoomed in on Pittsburgh QB Ben Roethlisberger looking like he was using a cell phone which is against the NFL’s rules on the Steelers’ sideline. When someone from the booth let Ben know he was on-camera, he quickly pocketed the device and looked around like he got with his hand in the proverbial cookie jar.
While the value of a phone during a game is debatable, it IS against the rules and the pictures clearly show what appears to be a phone with buttons on it. The video and still photos can be seen from a post by Kevin Duffy from MassLive.com. We read that the NFL quickly checked into this and it was nothing more than a wristband that the QBs use. Wristbands with buttons? Maybe the Steelers have an interactive wristband that calls the plays for them.
While I think it is no big deal whether or not Roethlisberger had a phone on the sideline, the fact remains that had he been a member of New England, it would have been the leading story on nearly every major news outlet…especially the “worldwide leader”.
Belichick Continues Tinkering with Defense, Adds Three Players: This was a busy week for a team on their bye week, personnel wise, especially a team that is 3-0. But Bill Belichick is always looking to improve the team and the roster. This week, the door at Gillette was a revolving one with players coming and going.
The big news is that the team traded a 6th round draft pick to the Bears for LB Jon Bostic early in the week. Then later this week, they traded backup tight end Michael Hoomanawanui to the Saints for DL Akiem Hicks. They also signed DT Khyri Thornton to the active roster. It looks like the team is beefing up the front seven, especially the defensive line with a game against the Cowboys and their outstanding offensive line next Sunday.
Bostic will be interesting to watch as he learns the Patriots system; a year ago he was the Bears leading tackler. Now with a new coach and a new system he was on the outside looking in and just 24 years old, the former 2nd round draft pick has plenty of youth still on his side. For now, he’ll play special teams until he learns the defense.
Hicks is another interesting case, the Saints spent a 3rd round draft pick on him and he flashed at times but there were questions to his dedication and motivation. With a new team and a fresh start, it will be intriguing to see what the Patriots have in store for him. A big 6’5, 324 lineman, Hicks can be a disruptive influence inside and rush the quarterback as well as stuff the run.
Kudos go to Julian Edelman as he not only received a plaque from his alma mater at Kent State for being inducted into their athletics Hall of Fame but he also served as the Grandmarshall of the school’s homecoming parade.
Edelman was an option-quarterback for the Golden Flashes before transitioning to wide receiver. Edelman is also on the cover of this month’s Boston Common magazine. In the feature article Edelman speaks well of Boston and the people here stating, “I was always an outcast in a lot of places because I was so competitive,” Edelman said. “But that’s what Boston is, and that’s why I love it here. This city is the epitome of what I strive for: Blue collar. Old school. Dirt in the fingernails. I came up from that.”
East Bound and Down…Notes Around the AFC East:
Jets Playing Dolphins in “3rd World” London?: One of the more bizarre aspects of the Jets playing the Miami Dolphins in London early on Sunday morning is the Jets packing list. Included in plane’s cargo hold besides the normal equipment was 350 rolls of toilet paper.
News flash Jets HQs, London isn’t a third world rat’s nest with no TP in the “loo”. But apparently the Jets staff wanted to ensure that the team’s players, coaches and employees had a measure of comfort. Supposedly a Jets intern told the staff that the paper in London is “thin because the plumbing is so bad”.
We had no idea the Jets behinds were so….sensitive. But if that helps you win on Sunday…then go all Charmin on the Fins. But five rolls per man for a long weekend?
Philbin, Fins Coaches Out This Weekend? : On a more serious note for this week’s game, word has been leaked out that the Dolphins’ players are not happy with the coaching staff and they’re not looking inward but pointing their fingers squarely at the coaches.
Rand Getlin of NFL.com posted a story earlier that frustration is already boiling over with the players and that they’re frustrated by the play-calling on both sides of the ball and are ready “to throw in the towel. It isn’t the players. We have all the talent in the world,” according to one of Miami’s players.
Despite adding several players including DT Ndamukong Suh, Miami is one punt return in Washington from being 0-3. Expectations were sky high this season and after back-to-back losses to the Jaguars and Bills 41-14, the latter where it seemed the team played with no passion or fire, something has got to give.
This will be a big game for the Dolphins coaching staff as they’re facing a Jets team smarting from a loss that was very preventable last week against the Eagles. A loss could mean a big change in the coaching staff in Miami….even with “all the talent in the world.”
Bills without McCoy and Watkins when facing the Giants: The Bills want to continue their winning ways today when facing off against their cross-state rivals the Giants. But they’ll be without RB LeSean McCoy as well as Sammie Watkins this week.
McCoy re-injured his hamstring at practice this week, an injury he originally suffered in training camp this August and will be out indefinitely. McCoy stated that he won’t return early and wants to be 100 percent physically when he does return.
The Bills will also be without safety Aaron Williams who was injured in the Patriots game, guard John Miller and WR Marquise Goodwin. The Giants, already smarting with no Jason Pierre-Paul on their pass rush will be without their best pass rusher Robert Ayers who also has a hamstring issue. Only two teams (Miami and San Diego), have less sacks than the Giants with three, and Ayers has one of them. Tyrod Taylor should have plenty of time to throw in the passing game. Victor Cruz also remains out for the G-men.
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