|09.09.11 at 10:17 am ET|
Patriots president Jonathan Kraft joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about Monday’s season-opener, the NFL lockout and his father’s role in ending it, Peyton Manning‘s injury, the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and much more.
The Patriots’ signing of controversial defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth was seen by some as a departure from the team’s philosophy of staying away from players with checkered pasts. Kraft explained the team’s view.
“Before Albert was signed to the team, we sat down and talked to him,” Kraft said. “It was pretty clear that Albert, like some other players who maybe have had a similar spotlight shone on them when they’ve signed here — like Randy [Moss] or Corey [Dillon] or maybe even Bryan Cox — I think when you sit and talk to Albert, what you hear is an intense frustration of a man.
“Football’s a very hard game to play. When you’re intelligent — and Albert’s very intelligent and he understands everything you’re doing to play the game — and you’re not in situations where you have a real opportunity, or where he perceived there to be a real lack of commitment to winning, you get frustrated. I think that plays out in different ways with all types of people, some of which might be appropriate, some of which might not be.
“But the biggest thing Albert said was, ‘I love to play football and I want to win.’ And much like the other players I mentioned, when we traded for him was willing to restructure his contract. And effectively, he controlled where he went, because he wasn’t going to restructure with other people, much like Randy wasn’t, much like Corey wasn’t. And he basically, and this was actions speaking louder than words, walked away from effectively guaranteed millions and millions and millions of dollars to come in and play for a base salary that’s a little bit over the minimum and a chance to earn more money if he’s on the field and performs.
“To us, those actions speak greatly about what someone’s intentions are. And since he’s been in the building, he is very well-liked in the locker room, he’s been a great teammate, and my limited experience with him has only been extremely positive.”
Kraft was asked if he, his father or Bill Belichick told Haynesworth what won’t be tolerated in Foxboro.
Said Kraft: “Bill has his own conversations, so I haven’t been privy to what Bill says one-on-one to those guys. But when Robert [Kraft] and I sit down with them, the first thing that gets said — and Robert said it very clearly in this case — is that when you’re a Patriot, you are carrying our family’s last name. And there are certain expectations that come with that that go well beyond what goes on on the football field and how you are as a football player. And if you don’t feel you can live up to that and honor that and respect that, then it’s probably better that we not move forward with this relationship.”
|09.09.11 at 9:00 am ET|
It’s finally football season and I hope you enjoy these weekly previews as much as I look forward to bringing them to you. Since the Patriots don’t play until Monday, here are a couple of nuggets on each of the Sunday games to whet your appetite.
Obviously, there are serious drawbacks to using 2010 stats at this point considering the massive personnel turnover experienced by every team in the league. But until the teams generate some stats for 2011, as someone once said, “it is what it is”.
For those of you that are new to these previews, when I refer to passing rating, I’m not talking about the NFL’s official (and convoluted) system. My rating takes average net yards per pass attempt (net yards equals passing yards minus sack yards lost) minus the league average net yards per attempt (for that particular situation). Then it adds 30 times the touchdown percentage and subtracts 50 times the interception percentage. If you think about it, throwing 20 touchdowns and 12 picks (1.67 TD/INT ratio) will cancel out that adjustment.
Enough with the mumbo jumbo. Enjoy the stats, and enjoy the games, and be sure to check back Monday morning for my preview of the Patriots and the Dolphins:
Steelers at Ravens
* – Ravens opponents started 22 drives on the Baltimore side of the 50-yard-line last year but they managed only two touchdowns on those drives (9.1%), the lowest/best percentage in the league. Pittsburgh opponents started 19 such drives and scored four touchdowns (21.1%), the second lowest percentage in the league.
* – When the Steelers blitzed last season, they recorded 29 sacks for 224 yards lost, both league highs.
Bengals at Browns
* – Bengals’ opponents tried wide receiver screens (caught behind the line of scrimmage) 22 times last season and completed 21 (95%), the highest such completion percentage allowed in the NFL.The rest of the league allowed 67% completions on those throws.
* – Browns’opponents completed nine touchdown passes over the middle of the field last season, the most in the NFL.
Colts at Texans
* – The two defenses in this game ranked last (Houston) and next-to-last (Indianapolis) in first down efficiency last season, allowing first down gains of four or more yards 54.2% and 54.0% of the time, respectively.
* – Colts’ opponents targeted the tight end 92 times last season and completed 80.4% of those tries, the highest such completion percentage allowed in the league:
80.4% – Colts
73.8% – Lions
71.0% – Falcons
Big day for Houston tight end Owen Daniels on Sunday?
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|09.09.11 at 8:04 am ET|
Patriots defensive back Devin McCourty joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning as part of Patriots Friday.
McCourty, in just his second season in Foxboro, was named one of the team’s captains this week.
“It’s an honor. Still hearing it is kind of weird, but I’m getting used to it now,” he said.
Asked why he thinks his teammates bestowed him with the title, he said: “I think just going out and doing my job, kind of what coach [Bill] Belichick harps on, being a guy that’s just leading by example, and every day bringing that attitude into the facility. I think that’s probably the biggest reason why guys voted me as a captain, just seeing how I perform, how I go about attacking different things we do.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
On his memories of 9/11: “I’m from New York and I went to high school right along with the border in Montvale, New Jersey. We were all in high school when it first happened. The news traveled through the high school, with people not really believing it. Our principal came over the loudspeaker and actually announced it. Probably a few hours later, we were all sent home. It was just a crazy feeling, being in high school and hearing that news and kind of not believing it at first and then seeing it was actually true. I had friends and everything that had parents that worked in the building, so it was real nerve-wracking.”
On if the players discuss current events in the locker room: “Current events are always discussed. You have a bunch of guys that are in this facility for hours. You talk about football a lot, trust me. But different times when you’re in the locker room or eating lunch or something, guys talk about a bunch of different things that you probably would never imagine, that happen all across the world.”
On Monday’s game vs. the Dolphins: “I think they’ll just have a lot of energy, opening the season, Monday Night Football, it’s a home game, division opponent, I think the energy level and the excitement, those will be huge in the stadium that night. We feel like we know they’re going to be very prepared and ready to play against us. We have to, more importantly, match their energy and make sure we’re ready to go when kickoff happens.”
|09.08.11 at 4:41 pm ET|
FOXBORO — There was a very telling moment for the Patriots defense during the third preseason game in Detroit.
It came late in the first half when Shaun Hill found Aaron Brown for a 9-yard TD connection over the middle.
The key to the play was when Brown seal his man – Jerod Mayo – to the outside and cut back in over the middle, where there wasn’t a Patriots defender to be found. Mayo pointed to the middle, trying in vain to inform his teammates of the breakdown but it was too late and no one came over to help.
He and teammate Patrick Chung immediately had words, trying to figure out what went wrong. The Patriots had themselves a “teaching” moment.
Mayo, who was named a defensive captain for the second straight year on Thursday, knows the responsibility is his to make sure everyone is on the same page.
“Everyone is learning defense at the same pace and communication is huge, and it starts with me. If there’s a busted call or busted play out there it’s probably my fault.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick confirmed on Wednesday that Mayo would again be the primary signal-caller on defense in 2011.
“Making sure everyone is on the same page is my job and hopefully I get it done,” Mayo said.
|09.08.11 at 4:28 pm ET|
As for the Dolphins, they listed just two players on their practice report:
Did Not Practice
RB Charles Clay (hamstring)
RB Daniel Thomas (hamstring)
|09.08.11 at 4:21 pm ET|
Here’s the Patriots‘ Thursday afternoon practice report:
DE Mark Anderson (knee)
CB Kyle Arrington (hip)
OL Dan Connolly (foot)
LB Jermaine Cunningham (groin)
LB Dane Fletcher (thumb)
WR Taylor Price (hamstring)
RB Stevan Ridley (ankle)
LB Jeff Tarpinian (knee)
RB Shane Vereen (hamstring)
OL Ryan Wendell (calf)
Did Not Practice
OL Sebastian Vollmer (back)
|09.08.11 at 1:41 pm ET|
FOXBORO — For the second consecutive day, the only player absent from the start of Patriots’ practice was right tackle Sebastian Vollmer. New England practiced in the stadium for the second consecutive day under gloomy skies as preparation continued for the regular-season opener Monday night against Miami.
If Vollmer is unable to go on against the Dolphins, New England could make rookie tackle Nate Solder as a starter for the season-opener — Solder has swung between right and left tackle over the course of the preseason.