|12.02.14 at 10:16 pm ET|
Green Bay rookie defensive back Ha Ha Clinton-Dix made a huge play in Sunday’s game against the Patriots, knocking the ball away from tight end Rob Gronkowski on a fourth-quarter pass play in the end zone to help the Packers come away with the win. When compared to many of the defenders Gronkowski has gone against this year, Clinton-Dix did as well as could be expected. Following the game, he gave a shout-out to Gronkowski.
— Ha Ha Clinton-Dix (@haha_cd6) December 2, 2014
|12.02.14 at 8:26 pm ET|
It’s been a revolving door at the running back position over the last several weeks for the Patriots, with seemingly a different player being featured every week.
Shane Vereen, Jonas Gray, LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden have all received at least three carries over the last three games, including three of them scoring touchdowns.
Against Indianapolis it was Gray rushing for 201 yards and four touchdowns, against the Lions it was Blount rushing for two touchdowns in his first game back as a Patriot and this past Sunday Bolden scored his first touchdown of the season against the Packers — all while Vereen has continued to be a dependable third-down back out of the backfield.
So, how exactly is it determined who will be the featured back that particular game?
“We have confidence in all of our backs, and they can all do a lot of the things we do in our offense,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said on Wednesday’s conference call. “And then there are some things that we do with them that are a little bit more specific. I think there are so many variables that go into how we use them on a weekly basis — the style, the game plan, the personnel groupings we’re using, what we anticipate getting from the defense and the types of things that we choose to do during the course of the game.
“They are all ready to go, and sometimes, we kind of know what their role is heading into the game, and then however the game unfolds and the way we’re being played and what we choose to do as the game goes on sometimes will certainly impact who ends up playing in different situations or who plays more or what have you. They’re all ready to go. We have a lot of confidence in all of them, and we would anticipate all of them playing that go to the game.”
|12.02.14 at 7:32 pm ET|
With several players showing up at Monday night’s Clippers game in L.A., we’ve already seen some of the bonding that’s gone on in SoCal since the Patriots arrived there late, late Sunday night/early Monday morning.
And while this is strictly a business trip to San Diego (with some rather large late-season implications at stake), Bill Belichick shed some light Tuesday on what he sees as some added side benefits to a week together in the stretch run of the season.
“I think it is a good opportunity to be together as a team: players, coaches, young players, veteran players, offense, defense, so forth,” Belichick said in a conference call. “I think it’s a good environment for us to prepare for the game and a good opportunity to spend a little bit of extra time together, however that exactly works out. Hopefully, it will be all in a positive way for our team and that we have a great week of preparation for the Chargers, which is what we’re here for and that’s what our focus is. But as a byproduct of that, if it’s team-building and opportunities to build relationships within the team, I think that’s good, too.”
Of course, this happened to a lesser extent in training camp in Richmond, Va., when the Patriots practiced all week against the Redskins and then had their preseason game at FedEx Field.
The decision to head out to San Diego early was made weeks ago as the Patriots’ coaching staff, led by Belichick, tried to minimize the impact of going cross-country to play the Chargers, a week after playing in Green Bay. It became obvious to the staff that heading out West a week early would accomplish a number of objectives.
“It’s kind of a two-combination thing there. One was the travel, going from Green Bay back to Foxboro and then to turn around and come back here probably on Friday [is] just a lot of travel for the team at this time of year,” Belichick said. “We were able to get in here Sunday night and really have kind of a pretty normal day yesterday and a normal Tuesday today without too much ‘ any more than normal type of fatigue. And just being acclimated to the conditions that we’re going to be playing in, so [we’ll] get in the conditions out here and go through it for a few days and play on Sunday as close as we can get.”
A Navy brat, Belichick is more than aware that San Diego is a huge Navy town, with one of the largest installations of its kind located there. Will Belichick take some time to appreciate the Naval history?
“Right now, we’re just kind of trying to get going here on the Chargers,” Belichick said. “It is a big Navy town and I’m proud of that. So, I don’t know, we’ll see how it goes. But right now, our focus is just on San Diego, nothing else really but that.”
|12.02.14 at 6:18 pm ET|
The two often invited the other to speak to their teams, hang out at games and practice.
Two seasons ago, on a Monday night, Belichick invited Rivers onto the sideline before a game with the Texans.
On Tuesday, during a conference call, Belichick was asked about Rivers’ invitation to several Patriots’ players, including Rob Gronkowski. Gronk hung out with Justin Bieber before the Clippers routed the Minnesota Timberwolves, 127-101, at Staples Center. Before the game, Rivers called the Patriots a “real football team.”
“I love Doc,” Belichick said. “We have a great relationship. I think he’s obviously done a tremendous job in Boston and now with the Clippers, so always pulling for Doc personally.”
Belichick acknowledged just how close he considers Rivers to his own football team.
“He talked to our team, has a relationship with players on our team,” Belichick said. ‘I have tremendous respect for him. He is so well-respected on this team — the players, the coaches and all of us who have interacted with him and the way he handles himself, his team and his passion for his sport of basketball.
‘But, also his appreciation for our team, professional athletes, football players, what we do through the relationships and the challenges of playing and competing at this level. So, it’s all great with Doc.”
Belichick said Rivers still has the cache to speak to the Patriots, like he did in 2012 before the Patriots dispatched the Texans, 42-14, on Monday night football.
“I think all of the times he talked with the team and the messages that he has delivered were outstanding,” Belichick said. “Nobody understands sports — especially someone who is not in football — better than he does. He has a great ability to relate to our athletes our team.
“I am very appreciative of the friendship that I have with him. I have the utmost respect for Doc. Everything that he has done for us, can do and any support he gives us is very appreciated.”
|12.02.14 at 5:10 pm ET|
With the Patriots going from the freezing temperatures of Green Bay to the balmy climes of San Diego this weekend, New England will have run the gamut of conditions over the first 13 weeks of the 2014 regular season. Via official gamebooks, here’s a look at the conditions at kickoff for each game — it’s interesting to note that the Patriots are 0-2 when the temperatures have been 80 degrees or more at kickoff. (For what it’s worth, weather.com has the forecast for Sunday getting into the high 60s in San Diego.)
Week 1 at Miami (loss): 89 degrees, Humidity: 61 percent, Wind: 15 SE mph
Week 2 at Minnesota (win): 58 degrees, Wind: Southeast
Week 3 vs. Oakland (win): 78 degrees, Humidity: 67 percent, Wind: SSE 11 mph
Week 4 at Kansas City (loss): 82 degrees, Humidity: 42 percent, Wind: Northeast 3 mph
Week 5 vs, Cincinnati (win): 47 degrees. Humidity: 71 percent, Wind: West 2 mph
Week 6 at Buffalo (win): 55 degrees, Humidity: 45 percent, Wind: SE 6 mph
Week 7 vs. New York Jets (win): 64 degrees, Humidity: 93 percent, Wind: South 9 mph
Week 8 vs. Chicago (win): 54 degrees, Humidity: 53 percent, Wind: West 14 with gusts to 25 mph
Week 9 vs. Denver (win): 35 degrees, Humidity: 63 percent, Wind: NW 19 with gusts to 26 mph
Week 10: Bye
Week 11 at Indy (win): Roof closed at Lucas Oil Stadium
Week 12 vs. Detroit (win): 58 degrees, Humidity: 40 percent, Wind: WSW 7 mph
Week 13 at Green Bay (loss): 28 degrees, Humidity: 60 percent, Wind: NW 14 mph
|12.02.14 at 4:44 pm ET|
Every week, we list the Patriots’ “offensive 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. Here’s a breakdown of the 2014 New England offense after 12 games:
RB Shane Vereen: 125 (81 carries, 44 catches) 3 negative catch, 6 negative runs
RB Stevan Ridley: 98 (94 carries, 4 catches), 8 negative runs
WR Julian Edelman: 85 (8 carries, 77 catches)
RB Jonas Gray: 71 (71 carries)
TE Rob Gronkowski: 65 (65 catches)
WR Brandon LaFell: 53 (53 catches)
TE Tim Wright: 25 (1 carry, 24 catches), 1 negative rush
RB LeGarrette Blount: 22 (22 carries), 1 negative run
QB Tom Brady: 20 (20 carries), 15 sacks, 8 kneeldowns
RB Brandon Bolden: 20 (19 carries, 1 catch), 3 negative runs
RB James White: 12 (9 carries, 3 catches)
WR Danny Amendola: 11 (11 catches)
FB James Develin: 7 (1 carry, 6 catches)
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 6 (6 catches)
QB Jimmy Garoppolo: 6 (6 carries) 2 sacks, 6 kneeldowns
WR Aaron Dobson: 3 (3 catches)
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 3 (3 catches)
WR Brian Tyms: 1 (1 catch)
Notes: The Patriots had two negative plays from scrimmage on Sunday against the Packers – one negative run from Bolden and a sack of Brady. It tied for the second-fewest total on the season. (New England had zero negative plays from scrimmage in last month’s win over the Colts). … On the season, New England has run 812 plays from scrimmage, and 40 of them have gone for negative yardage (5 percent), not including kneeldowns. … Against the Packers, the Patriots ran 54 plays, with 30 of them coming in shotgun (56 percent). In addition, the game-book lists them as having run zero no-huddle plays. (That ties a season-low — the last time it happened was the November win over the Colts in Indy.) … On the season, the Patriots have run 67 of their 812 plays out of no-huddle (8 percent) and 286 snaps in shotgun (35 percent). … By way of comparison, over the course of the 2013 regular season, the Patriots were in shotgun for 42 percent of their offensive snaps and they ran no-huddle on 11 percent of their snaps. … It’s also worth mentioning that Vereen has crossed the 40-catch/40-carry barrier for the second straight season. It marks the first time a New England running back has put together back-to-back seasons of at least 40 catches and 40 carries since Kevin Faulk did it in 2007 and 2008. Vereen is one of six running backs with at least 80 carries and 40 catches this season, a group that includes DeMarco Murray (Dallas), Le’Veon Bell (Pittsburgh), Andre Ellington (Arizona), Matt Forte (Chicago) and Fred Jackson (Buffalo).
|12.02.14 at 4:01 pm ET|
Through 12 games, the Patriots have been flagged for 99 penalties (fourth-most in the league) for a total of 861 yards (most in the NFL). To this point in the season, here’s a breakdown of the calls that have gone against the Patriots, not including penalties that were declined or offset:
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