|11.06.14 at 8:28 pm ET|
Before officially taking advantage of the Patriots’ five days off on their bye week, tight end Rob Gronkowski joined the “Dan Patrick Show” answering a wide variety of questions from his play on the football field to fashion in the locker room.
Gronkowski clearly wasn’t officially 100 percent to begin the year as he was still coming back from a torn ACL suffered last December. The tight end had just 14 catches total in the first four weeks, compared to 36 and five touchdowns in the last five weeks. He says he stayed level-headed and never was frustrated because the team had a plan for him all along.
“I wasn’t frustrated at all,” Gronkowski said. “We had a game plan and just going out there doing whatever I could do, I was just happy to be out there on the field with my teammates and doing my job every single week with what I was capable of doing and going out there and playing.”
As for now, he says he is 100 percent and is actually sick of being asked the same question every single week.
“Yeah, I am. I am good to go,” he said. “I am actually kind of sick of everyone asking me every single week if I am 100 percent. It doesn’t matter. When I am out there, I’m out there. I’m giving it all I got every single game if I am out there.”
Everyone is still talking about his spectacular one-handed catch at the 1-yard during the fourth quarter in last Sunday’s win over the Broncos — a catch Tom Brady called one of the best he’s ever seen. Gronkowski has no idea how he made the catch.
|11.06.14 at 7:42 pm ET|
Talk Patriots with WEEI.com football columnist Christopher Price Friday at noon. Get your questions in now!
|11.06.14 at 6:47 pm ET|
The Patriots have come a long way since Sept. 29 in Kansas City. And no one knows this more than owner Robert Kraft.
In an interview with Sirius XM Thursday, Kraft told host Stephen A. Smith that he had serious doubts about the potential of his team to turn things around, let alone reach the playoffs. There was good reason for Kraft’s concern, of course. Kraft was there in person when his team had its doors blown off, 41-14, by Alex Smith and the Chiefs.
People were openly questioning the immediate future of Tom Brady as quarterback, wondering if it might be time to consider Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback. The team was 2-2 but it felt like 0-4 to many in New England.
“I know all the sages in the media were calling for us to trade [Brady], or sit him, and Belichick had lost it,” Kraft told Smith. “But maybe in a way it was a good thing because it just shook us up. In moments of crisis you either rise to great things or your crumble. And our guys came together. We have a great group of guys in the locker room. They really rallied.”
And Brady was reportedly wondering privately what the priorities of the ownership were and why he didn’t have enough weapons. There was a lot of fallout from the loss, most of it negative at the time.
“It might be the worst beating that I’ve had as an owner, and definitely in the Belichick era it was the worst in 15 years,” Kraft said.
But the Patriots have responded with a five-game winning streak that has made Kraft feel proud. His quarterback has risen from the ashes of that beating to put himself directly in the MVP conversation, with 18 touchdown passes and just one interception. With Brady leading the way, the Patriots have the best record in the AFC and are heading into the bye after devastating Peyton Manning yet again in a 43-21 destruction of the Broncos.
“I was definitely worried, because you don’t know. And remember, this isn’t a game of robots,” Kraft said. “First of all, you have the physical well-being of your players. Sometimes it’s a physical game, and sometimes guys are hurting. The great thing about the sport of football is it truly is a team game. You could be the greatest quarterback in the world, and if you don’t have a good offensive line, or receivers, or don’t have a defense that can get you the ball back. It’s a total team effort.
“When you have probably a third to 40-percent of your roster as turnover, you don’t know if the mental toughness is there. I’m just happy it came back. The last five games have been outstanding.”
Next up, Andrew Luck and the Colts in Indianapolis on Nov. 16 at Lucas Oil Field.
|11.06.14 at 3:12 pm ET|
After starting the year 2-2 and getting blowout in Week 4 against Kansas City, the team has come back and won five games in a row, now having the best record in the AFC.
“I will say this team is really resilient, a hard-working team,” said McCourty. “I don’t think anyone comes in this season and expects us to lose the opener and then a couple weeks later go get blown out in a big game on the road. I think this team has kept battling and we will continue to be that way.”
Following the bye week the Patriots have a stretch of games where they will go up against some of the best quarterbacks in the league in Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford, Aaron Rodgers and Philip Rivers. This is something McCourty and the rest of the Patriots secondary look forward to, rather than dread.
“I honestly think the group we have now, we get kind of excited about these games because we know we are going to be tested,” McCourty said. “We know a lot people think we have a good secondary, we have some pretty big names. It gives us a chance to prove we are good players and go out there and try and make plays. … I think we embrace the challenge of going against these really good offenses and we have a stretch of facing really good QB’s.”
A few players in the secondary have said this is the best group they have been apart of, but even with that said, McCourty notes nothing is decided after Week 9 in the regular season.
“The key for us is to keep doing it,” he said. “We’ve all probably at one point in our careers played on good secondary’s, good defenses midway through the season, but it is all about how you finish it and continue to be a good defense and good secondary.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|11.06.14 at 12:14 pm ET|
We have taken lots of time this season to talk about the Patriots penalty woes over the first nine games of the season — as well as the new points of emphasis that have created an occasionally flag-happy environment. But on the flip side, there’s also something to be said about showing an ability to avoid penalties to this point in the year. The following players have played at least 350 snaps this season (per Pro Football Focus) and have yet to be flagged:
Defensive end/outside linebacker Rob Ninkovich — 584 defensive snaps — This is nothing new for Ninkovich, as he played 1,256 snaps last season (per PFF) and was only penalized once. In all, he has two penalties since the start of the 2012 season. PFF has him as one of two 3-4 outside linebackers in the league with at least 500 snaps and no penalties — Oakland rookie Khalil Mack is the other.
Safety Devin McCourty — 581 defensive snaps — Like Ninkovich, this is hardly a shocker, as he’s almost always at or near the top of the list in most snaps and fewest penalties. McCourty has taken just one penalty since the start of the 2013 season. (Per PFF, McCourty is one of nine safeties with at least 580 snaps who has yet to draw a penalty this season.)
Defensive lineman Vince Wilfork — 485 defensive snaps — The veteran defensive lineman had an abbreviated 2013 season because of an Achilles’ injury, but he’s on an impressive streak of 13 straight regular-season games (dating back to last season) without a penalty. That represents a seismic turnaround for the big man, who led the team with six penalties in 2012.
Running back Shane Vereen — 357 offensive snaps — The only Patriots offensive player who has at least 350 snaps who has yet to be hit with a penalty, Vereen leads a group of running backs who have yet to be flagged for a penalty this season. Remarkably, Vereen has not been flagged for a single penalty in his NFL career.
|11.06.14 at 9:22 am ET|
It will be a busy summer off the field for some Patriots players as a few are scheduled to appear in two movies scheduled to come out.
“Tom’s in the movie. He plays himself, but he does an amazing job. Funny, funny moment,” Wahlberg said of “Ted 2.”
Wahlberg went onto describe the scene Brady will be in.
“There were moments where I was always improvising when doing the scene with him. There are times when I’m supposed to be a super fan, so I’m trying to calm myself down before I knock on my door,” Wahlberg said. “But I’m pretending that I don’t know who he is. I keep saying he looks like different people.
“Then of course, I’m playing an air conditioning guy, so I’m asking him to sign the paper, and I ask him if he can sign that to me and Ted and put No. 12 there, and can you put Eli Manning sucks. And he put Wes Welker is a traitor, and we keep playing around and I’m staring at his eyes, and I’m like, ‘They’re bluer than Daytona Beach in MTV Spring Break.”
Wahlberg also said the quarterback isn’t the only player who will be appearing on the big screen.
“We got [Rob Gronkowski], we got [Stevan] Ridley and we got [Julian] Edelman all in the ‘Entourage’ movie. And Tom’s in the ‘Entourage’ movie,” Wahlberg said. “So, I got him in two movies. It’s going to be a big summer for those guys.”
Wahlberg, who was born in Boston, is an actor in “Ted 2″ (scheduled to debut June 26, 2015) and is one of the producers for “Entourage” (scheduled to debut June 5, 2015).
|11.06.14 at 8:15 am ET|
With the Patriots on the bye week, here’s a look at who has worked as the lead official for each New England game this year, and the corresponding penalties for each game, not counting the flags that were offset or declined. (For a more comprehensive penalty breakdown of the Patriots through nine games, check out our weekly penalty watch update here.)
Sept. 7 at Miami: Walt Anderson — 9 penalties, 100 yards (Dolphins — 4 penalties, 26 yards)
Sept. 14 at Minnesota: Tony Corrente — 15 penalties, 163 yards (Vikings — 7 penalties, 58 yards)
Sept. 21 vs. Oakland: Pete Morelli — 6 penalties, 59 yards (Raiders — 6 penalties, 49 yards)
Sept. 29 at Kansas City: John Parry — 3 penalties, 30 yards (Chiefs — 4 penalties, 35 yards)
Oct. 5 vs. Cincinnati: Jerome Boger — 12 penalties, 114 yards (Bengals — 4 penalties, 37 yards)
Oct. 12 at Buffalo: Walt Coleman — 9 penalties, 60 yards (Bills — 8 penalties, 107 yards)
Oct. 16 vs. Jets: Bill Leavy — 9 penalties, 64 yards (Jets — 7 penalties, 70 yards)
Oct. 23 vs. Bears: Brad Allen — 7 penalties, 38 yards (Bears — 5 penalties, 41 yards)
Nov. 2 vs. Denver: Walt Anderson — 9 penalties, 71 yards (Broncos — 10 penalties, 72 yards)
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