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Around the AFC East: Dolphins, Bills pull off narrow victories

09.15.13 at 5:12 pm ET
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With the Patriots having Sunday off, it gave us a chance to check out what’s going on in the rest of the AFC East. Here’s a quick look at what happened in the rest of the division over the weekend:

Dolphins (2-0): Miami won a highly entertaining contest Sunday against the Colts and Andrew Luck, coming away with a 24-20 victory to stay unbeaten on the year. Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill went 23-for-34 for 319 yards and one touchdown to give Indy its first home loss in 12 months. Miami, which is 2-0 for just the second time since 2004, saw Mike Wallace (nine catches, 115 yards) and Charles Clay (five catches, 109 yards) go over 100 yards receiving. The Dolphins needed the firepower, as Luck had the Colts in position to pull off another comeback win — he had the ball at the Miami 23-yard line with 1:45 left, but tossed three incompletes and was sacked on fourth down to finish things.

Next up: Sunday, Sept. 22 vs. Falcons

Jets (1-1): Like the Patriots, New York also had the weekend off, but managed to make its share of headlines with the decision to place quarterback Mark Sanchez on injured reserve with a designation to return. While coach Rex Ryan said he believed Sanchez could contribute later in the season, the move means that Sanchez will be on the shelf for the next eight weeks. (The earliest Sanchez could be back is Nov. 17 at Buffalo, following the Jets’ bye week.) That means that for the foreseeable future, the quarterback job belongs to rookie Geno Smith, who was a bit of a mixed bag in Thursday’s loss to the Patriots. The West Virginia product was 15-for-35 for 214 yards, and was sacked four times and intercepted three times.

Next up: Sunday, Sept. 22 vs. Bills

Bills (1-1): Buffalo got its first win of the season on Sunday with a dramatic 24-23 victory over the Panthers, thanks in large part to rookie quarterback EJ Manuel, who connected with wide receiver Stevie Johnson on a 2-yard touchdown pass with two seconds left to lift the Bills. Manuel engineered a game-winning drive late in the fourth, a nine-play, 80-yard series where he went 6-for-8 for 51 yards. (He ended the game 27-for-39 for 296 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.) Manuel got some help down the stretch when Carolina (and former Boston College) linebacker Luke Kuechly was penalized for pass interference on a third down play with less than a minute to go to help keep Buffalo alive.

Next up: Sunday, Sept. 22 at Jets

Read More: Andrew Luck, EJ Manuel, Geno Smith, Luke Kuechly

Tom Brady Confidence Index, Week 2: Julian Edelman on the rise

09.15.13 at 4:22 pm ET
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This past preseason, we debuted the Tom Brady Confidence Index, a by-the-numbers look at the comfort level the quarterback had with the rest of the offensive skill position players when it came to the passing game. Because of the reaction we got, we’€™ve decided to make it a semi-regular feature, and expand it to include overall offensive touches (receptions and carries, with more weight to carries in clutch situations) and how comfortable the quarterback might appear to be with some of his teammates when it came to trusting them in certain situations.

As always, we rate each of the skill position players and their relationship/comfort level with Brady on a scale of 0 (Taylor Price) to 100 (Wes Welker) on their body of work to this point in the season.

(Disclaimer: While most aspects of this blog deal in mathematical specifics as it relates to football, this entry is more of a tongue-in-cheek approach to Brady and how he relates to the rest of the New England offense. Bottom line? Don’t take the rating system too seriously.)

Wide receiver Julian Edelman: 89 (last week: 75) season stats: 20 catches, 27 targets, 157 yards, two touchdowns. Despite the fact that he wasn’t immune from Brady’s wrath, he was the only receiver Thursday night who displayed anything close to a working chemistry with the quarterback, finishing with 13 catches (on a whopping 18 targets) for 78 yards. (He now has a rather unique record as a result.) Through two games, he leads the team in receptions (20), yards (157) and touchdowns (two). Provided he stays healthy, he will be absolutely essential to the New England passing game, particularly if Amendola is on the shelf for anything more than two weeks.

Wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins: 62 (last week: 61) season stats: six catches, 21 targets, 89 yards. The only reason this isn’t lower is because it’s clear Brady will be going to him again and again in hopes of developing some sort of connection with the rookie. Going back and rewatching the tape from Week 2 as opposed to Week 1, there was some improvement there, even though Thompkins went from four catches against the Bills to two against the Jets. First, he was facing a higher level of competition against New York (he was matched frequently with Antonio Cromartie) and second, there was more confidence and precision in his routes against New York than their was against Buffalo. It will be interesting to see how he responds this week, as he will likely face All-World cornerback Darrelle Revis when New England meets the Bucs.

Running back Stevan Ridley: 51 (last week: 22) season stats: 25 carries, 85 yards, 3.4 YPC, five negative plays, one fumble lost. He didn’t fumble this week — which, given the rainy second half and the fact that he was facing a front seven that was better than we maybe gave them credit for — is a good sign for the running back. The final numbers weren’t terrific (16 carries, 40 yards), but given the week he had and the body of work he’s already assembled, it’s an improvement from Week 1.
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Read More: Aaron Dobson, Danny Amendola, James Develin, Julian Edelman

Reports vary on severity of Danny Amendola’s injury

09.15.13 at 1:42 pm ET
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Danny Amendola could miss a significant stretch of time, but it’s not yet known how long he’ll be sidelined because there are varying reports when it comes to the severity of his injury.

On Sunday, Jay Glazer of Fox Sports reported that the Patriots receiver tore the adductors in his hips, but it’s unclear how long he’ll be out because doctors are split on whether he has a sports hernia. (Per Glazer, if Amendola does have a hernia, he’ll need surgery. That would keep him out between three and four weeks.)

However, that report is on the heels of a story from Jason LaCanfora of CBS Sports, which said Amendola “could miss significant time” with a groin problem. That report also added that Amendola would “definitely be back this season.” LaCanfora writes, “There is no set timetable for Amendola’s return, and projecting specific weeks would be guessing, sources said, but it is being measured in weeks and not months and it’s certainly possible the slot stalwart does not play again in the first half of the season.”

Amendola was injured in the Week 1 win over the Bills, a game where he finished with 10 catches for 104 yards.

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Fantasy Football Live Chat, 11 a.m.: Set your lineups for Week 2

09.15.13 at 9:44 am ET
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Join Fantasy Football expert Pete Davidson of and in a live chat heading into Week 2 of the NFL season. The fun starts at 11 a.m. Sunday, so get your questions in now …


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Bill Belichick on rumors of a new deal: ‘I don’t talk about my personal contract situation’

09.14.13 at 11:31 am ET
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The day after a report surfaced that he has agreed to a contract that would keep him in Foxboro for “a long time” — per the NFL Network — Bill Belichick didn’t offer any clarification on a potential new deal.

“I don’t talk about my personal contract situation,” he said at a Friday press conference. “Sorry.”

According to ESPN, Belichick reportedly last received a new deal in 2007, one that stretched through the 2013 season and paid him $7.5 million annually, according to Forbes. In 2007, he briefly addressed his employment situation, saying he couldn’t see it “changing anytime soon.”

‘€œI don’€™t talk about contracts, but I would say I like working here, I like the organization ‘€” ownership, coaches, scouts, players, and the guys I work with,’€ he said in July 2007. ‘€œI appreciate the opportunity to work here, and it’€™s a good situation. I don’€™t see that changing anytime soon.’€

According to Forbes, Belichick has been one of the highest-paid coaches in American professional sports for the last several years. At $7.5 million, he’s currently tied for second on the list of highest-paid coaches (with Chiefs coach Andy Reid), trailing only Saints coach Sean Payton, who reportedly hauls in a cool $8 million annually.

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In Focus: Charting offensive opportunities for Patriots skill position players

09.14.13 at 10:00 am ET
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Every week over the course of the regular season, we’€™ll present a list of the Patriots’€™ ‘€œoffensive touches,’€ a running tally of which one of the offensive skill position players is getting the most looks. Like our weekly look at targets, it can occasionally be an inexact stat, but it remains a good barometer of how confident the coaches (and quarterback) are when it comes to the skill position players at their disposal. Two weeks into the regular season, here’€™s a breakdown of the New England offense for 2013:

RB Stevan Ridley: 25 (25 rushes, 0 catches), 5 negative plays, 1 fumble lost
RB Shane Vereen: 21 (14 rushes, 7 catches)
WR Julian Edelman: 21 (1 rushes, 20 catches)
RB LeGarrette Blount: 11 (11 rushes, 0 catches), 2 negative plays
WR Danny Amendola: 10 (0 rushes, 10 catches)
QB Tom Brady: 7 (7 rushes, 0 catches), 3 sacks, 4 kneeldowns, 1 fumble lost
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 6 (0 rushes, 6 catches)
WR Aaron Dobson: 3 (0 rushes, 3 catches)
RB Leon Washington: 1 (1 rush, 0 catches)
FB James Develin: 1 (0 rushes, 1 catch)
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 1 (0 rushes, 1 catch)

Some offensive notes: No counting Brady’s game-ending kneel down, the Patriots finished with six negative plays against the Jets — four on runs from Ridley, one on a run from Blount, and another on a sack of the quarterback. On the year, the Patriots have run 153 plays from scrimmage, and have come away with a total of 10 negative plays. (Even though we did last week, going forward — even though they technically count — we will take kneel downs out of the mix when it comes to adding up the negative plays. Doesn’t seem quite fair.) ‘€¦ When it comes to no huddle, through two weeks, the Patriots have gone no huddle on a total of 13 plays (eight the first week against the Bills and five on Thursday against the Jets). That represents 11.8 percent of their total plays from scrimmage. (By way of comparison, the Patriots were in no huddle an average of 25 percent for the last two regular seasons.).

One more thing: Regardless of whether or not they are catching the ball, the level of involvement for Thompkins and Dobson is absolutely unprecedented when you’re talking about rookie receivers in the New England offense. Simply put, no two wide receivers have been so much a part of the passing game in their first two games as Thompkins and Dobson, Thompkins in particular. While targets can sometimes be an inexact measuring stick, it’s still amazing that Thompkins has 21 targets through the first two games, which would put him on pace for a ridiculous 168 targets. (For some comparison, Wes Welker led the 2012 team with 175 targets.) It’s not sustainable for several reasons, including the fact that his chances will inevitably drop when Amendola and Vereen return and Rob Gronkowski gets on the field. But he’s almost halfway to 50, and he’s almost certain to break Edelman’s unofficial rookie record for receivers under Brady — 54, set in 2009. (Targets were first compiled by the league in 2009, but the only other rookie receiver under Tom Brady who could have come close was Deion Branch, who had 43 catches as a rookie in 2002.)

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Following the flags: Tracking Patriots penalties for the 2013 season

09.14.13 at 7:30 am ET
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Through two weeks, the Patriots have been flagged for seven penalties for a total of 66 yards. Here’€™s a breakdown of the calls that have gone against the Patriots, not including penalties that were declined or offset:

Most penalized players, listed by total flags and with total yardage lost:
CB Alfonzo Dennard: one penalty (unnecessary roughness), 15 yards
LB Jerod Mayo: one penalty (unnecessary roughness), 15 yards
DL Chandler Jones: one penalty (roughing the passer), 15 yards
OL Logan Mankins: one penalty (offensive holding), 10 yards
OL Dan Connolly: one penalty (false start), 5 yards
OL Nate Solder: one penalty (false start), 5 yards
OL Marcus Cannon: one penalty (false start), 1 yard

Most penalized by position
Offensive line: 21 yards
Cornerback: 15 yards
Linebacker: 15 yards
Defensive line: 15 yards

Most frequently called penalties
False start: Three
Unnecessary roughness: Two
Offensive holding: One
Roughing the passer: One

Read More: penalties,
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