|09.24.10 at 10:58 am ET|
Stephen Neal joined the Dale & Holley show for his weekly interview and talked about the loss to the Jets and Friday preparations.
First and foremost, however, is the Buffalo Bills. “They have a good team,” Neal said. “I don’t care what anybody says. They have a good powerful hard-working front. They have good linebackers and they got a great secondary. They’re a good challenge for us this week. We’re going to have to do everything right.”
Asked if it was hard for the team to block out their 13-game winning streak against the Bills, Neal said, “Last year, in the first game of the season, we were barely able to sneak one away from them. We’ve been in in some battles with them. I respect the Bills. I respect their coaching staff, all their players. It’s always a battle when we go in there or they come here. The past, I don’t even look at the past. It’s not that big of a deal.”
Neal also talked about the team’s preparations and how the team practices on Fridays. “It’s more of a mental day,” Neal said. “Really just getting your mind sharp and prepared and focused for the game on Sunday.” Neal continued: “We’re not banging into each other as hard today. We’re still practicing but it’s not one of the days where you’re trying to make each other bleed. It’s not a bloodbath out there. It’s more of a mental preparation. We go through all the situations that we do each and every week.”
Asked what still bothered him about the Jets loss, Neal said, “I had a couple of plays I wish I could have had back. I was late off the ball one time and caused some pressure on third down. Each third down is super critical, especially in the second half. We’re putting that behind us and focusing on the Buffalo Bills.”
|09.24.10 at 9:58 am ET|
Not quite as much buzz for this game as there was for the first two Pats games, but it’s a divisional rival, and New England is missing an important cog in Kevin Faulk. So, what do you need to get you ready? NUMBERS!:
* – Buffalo has scored points on just 3 of their 22 offensive possessions in 2010 (2 touchdowns, 1 field goal), the lowest percentage in the league (14%). The Steelers have fewer touchdowns, though, with 1, but they have 7 FG.
The Patriots have ALLOWED points on 9 of 21 opponent possessions (43%), tied with Houston for the highest such percentage in the league.
* – You probably knew this, but the New England defense has allowed 4.85 yards/play in the first half this season (13th) and 5.85 yards/play in the 2nd half (23rd).
This did surprise me, though: Against the Jets, the Patriots allowed 5.30 yards/play in the 2nd half (13th last week, thought it would be worse). Can you guess who had the WORST second half defense last week in terms of yards/play allowed? The Saints, who allowed 8.46 yards/play to the 49ers in their last second win in San Francisco on Monday night.
* – New England has allowed at least 1 touchdown in the 4th quarter of their last 5 games, the longest current streak in the NFL (3 teams currently have a 3 game streak). The last time the Patriots had such a streak in 5 straight was at the beginning of the 2005 season.
* – Buffalo has allowed their opponent to score on both of their game opening drives this season, joining Detroit and Minnesota as the only teams to have done so. It’s quite a turnaround from 2009, when the Bills allowed only 3 such scores during the entire season (and Minnesota allowed just 2).
New England’s offense put points on the board on their opening possession 5 times last season and once so far in 2010 (an opening day TD against Cincinnati).
* – The Bills have averaged 3.95 yards on first down so far in 2010, the lowest average in the NFL and nearly a full yard below their average last season (26th ranked 4.95).
New England, averaging 6.84 yards on first down, ranks 3rd so far (they were 4th last season), but the Bills have been stout on defense, allowing 4.31 first down yards (5th).
* – New England averaged 2.60 yards per rush last week against the Jets, their lowest since they managed only a 1.69 average 33 games ago against the Giants.
* – The Patriots rushed 13 times in the first quarter last week, the most in the NFL and the most in a first quarter by the Pats since they also ran it 13 times in the opening stanza of week 2 of 2006 (63 games).
The strange thing about this, especially considering that it was a close game, was that New England eventually ran the ball just 7 more times the rest of the game, meaning 65% of their rushing attempts came in the first quarter. That’s the highest single game percentage in the NFL in over three years.
Only 3 times in all of 2009 did a team attempt even 50% of all their running plays for a game in the first quarter.
* – New England’s offense has found themselves in 2nd and 10 or more yards 14 times this season and are 0-14 at converting those 2nd down plays. Last season, they converted 2nd and 10+ on 24 different occasions.
* – The Patriots have attempted 16 passes more than 10 yards downfield this season and have completed just 4. That 25% completion percentage is the lowest in the NFL. The Pats went 2-7 in week one and 2-9 last Sunday on those throws.
I guess the bright side is that they have at least 2 completions on those passes in their last 18 consecutive games, which is actually the 7th longest current streak in the league right now (Houston, 50).
* – The Patriots have allowed their opponents 6 different drives of 10 or more plays already this season, tied with Washington for the most in the NFL. Fortunately, they’ve allowed points on just 2 of those 6 drives.
* – Through 2 games, the Patriots are averaging 8.8 yards per pass play when opponents blitz (2nd) and 5.6 per pass play when they don’t (21st).
But you can’t see THIS in yards per play averages: Last week, the Jets blitzed on 65% of pass plays and Brady went 13-24 with 2 INT and 0 TD versus blitzes and 7-12 with 2 TD and 0 INT versus non-blitzes.
* – After allowing 20+ first downs only 8 times in their previous 35 games, the Pats have now allowed 20+ in each of their last 3 regular season contests. It’s their first such streak of 3 games or more since they had an 8-gamer in 2005. New England has not allowed an average of 20+ first downs in a season since 2000 (20.4).
Note that Buffalo has not reached 20 first downs in any of their last 7 games.
* – The Patriots and Chiefs are the only teams that have yet to allow a kickoff return of 20+ yards this season. Contrast that to the Rams, against whom all 6 KOR’s have gone for 20+. Last season, 73% of all kickoff returns against New England went for 20+, the 4th highest percentage in the league.
* – The Bills have lost an NFL-high 85 yards through two weeks on negative plays, including 71 on pass plays (also a league high).
* – New England receivers are averaging 2.22 yards AFTER CONTACT this season (5th), while the Bills pass catchers have averaged just 1.07 YACO yards (30th). The Bears lead the NFL at 3.20, while the Chiefs (0.96) bring up the rear, slightly worse than Green Bay (0.97).
Please don’t confuse YACO yards (yards gained after CONTACT) with YAC yards (yards gained after CATCH)!
* – Only one team has yet to ATTEMPT a pass from inside their opponent’s 30 yard line in 2010: The Buffalo Bills. That’s not much of a switch, as only Cleveland (62) and Oakland (65) had fewer such pass attempts last season than Buffalo (74).
* – Somewhat related: Buffalo has driven inside their opponents’ 30 yard line just 3 times this season, but they’ve scored each time and their average of 5.67 points per such drive ranks 2nd in the league.
The Patriots defense has allowed opponents to drive inside their 30 on 7 occasions and has allowed an average of 6.57 points on those possessions, the worst in the NFL. Last season, they ranked 10th best allowing an average of 4.28.
New England has 9 such drives but has come away empty 4 times, tied with San Diego, San Francisco, and Carolina for the most such empty trips this season. The Pats’ 3.44 points average on those drives ranks 26th.
* – Through two weeks, 7 different teams have committed just 1 (or zero) fumbles and the Patriots and Bills are two of those teams. The Bills are one of just 6 teams that has yet to LOSE a fumble and are also one of just 7 that has yet to RECOVER an opponent’s fumble.
* – Through 2 games, the Bills have a total of 32 first half passing yards, by far the fewest in the NFL. It’s the fewest by the Bills over consecutive first halfs since the 2003 season.
* – Despite converting just 5-11 third downs against the Jets last week (45%), the Patriots still lead the NFL with a 58% conversion rate of third downs. Last year, they ranked 8th at 44%.
After finishing dead last at coverting third downs in 2009 (26%), Buffalo hasn’t fared much better early in 2010, converting at just 27%.
Defensively, each team has allowed 50% conversions so far this season, among the league’s worst marks.
* – Somewhat related, Buffalo went just 20 for 120 on third and 6+ last year (17%), the lowest percentage in the league. This year, they’re off to another last place start (1 for 18; 6%).
* – Tom Brady still appears to be as accurate as ever as 73.2% of his passes have been rules “catchable” (4th), the same as his ranking last season. However, Patriots receivers have dropped 7 passes already, accounting for 13.5% of catchable balls, the 4th highest percentage in the NFL so far. Those guys weren’t great last year, either, dropping 8.9% of catchable throws (8th highest percentage).
Bills quarterbacks have thrown just 63.5% catchable balls (25th, after ranking 24th last season) and receivers have dropped 12.1% of those catchable passes (7th worst).
* – If you take away any yards after the catch, Buffalo’s 11 pass completions last week would have gained a total of 11 yards last Sunday, their second lowest total since they began tracking yards AT catch in 1992. The strange thing is that their total was not the lowest in the league LAST WEEK. Pittsburgh managed -1 (minus 1) yards AT catch in their win against Tennessee.
* – Buffalo, Miami, and San Diego are the only teams that have not allowed a first down via penalty yet this season. New England allowed 3 first downs via flags last week against the Jets, the most by a Pats defense since week 11 of 2008.
* – Through 2 weeks, Buffalo’s average yards per pass attempt (4.63) is the lowest in the NFL:
The lowest single season mark ever is 4.23, by the 1968 Bills. Since 1990, the lowest is 4.88, by the 1992 Seattle Seahawks.
* – The Patriots have scored 25 touchdowns in the 2nd quarter since the start of last season, the most in the NFL in that span:
The Raiders have just 6 such touchdowns in that same span.
Check back tomorrow for a massive batch of “Around the NFL” nuggets! Enjoy your football weekend!
|09.24.10 at 8:16 am ET|
Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning and talked about Sunday’s game vs. the Bills, as the Patriots try to rebound from last Sunday’s collapse vs. the Jets. “We’re trying to get that bad taste out of our mouths, and we’re ready to go,” Mayo said.
To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Mayo said the Bills present some interesting challenges. “First and foremost, we really don’t know what to expect from the quarterback position,” he said. “They’re coming in with a new guy [Harvard product Ryan Fitzpatrick], and he can make a lot of throws. That’s one of the things that scares me. At the same time, they have a three-headed monster at running back.”
Asked if human nature would cause the Patriots to be less motivated to play the Bills as compared to one of the team’s more intense rivals, Mayo said: “Coach [Bill] Belichick doesn’t let human nature take over. We approach every week the same. He does a good job of letting us know the importance of each game.”
The Patriots never officially named offensive and defensive coordinators this season. Asked who the team’s defensive coordinator is, Mayo said: “Bill Belichick.” Asked if Belichick sometimes has to desert the defense to attend to duties as head coach, Mayo indicated that’s not the case. “He’s always with us,” Mayo said. “He’s the defensive coach. He’s there. He does everything that [former defensive coordinator Dean] Pees used to do.”
|09.23.10 at 4:15 pm ET|
Bills Practice Report for Thursday
Did Not Practice
LB Paul Posluszny (knee)
LB Keith Ellison (knee)
G Andy Levitre (neck)
S Cary Harris (hamstring)
|09.23.10 at 3:56 pm ET|
QB Tom Brady (right shoulder)
|09.23.10 at 2:02 pm ET|
FOXBORO ‘ There are a couple of guys in the Patriots locker room who are well aware of what Kevin Faulk is about to go through.
The veteran running back has apparently already chatted with Tom Brady and Wes Welker ‘ two teammates who have gone through season-ending knee injuries ‘ about what to expect over the next stage of his professional life.
According to Welker, the initial stages are the toughest.
‘I kind of told him the first couple of days are really the worst, not only physically, but mentally,’ Welker said. ‘Just trying to encourage him through those times. If he has any questions or anything … I feel like I’m an expert on it.
‘You work so hard to get to this point and get to play football, do something you love. And all of a sudden, it’s kind of taken from you, and there’s nothing you can do about it. It’s definitely kind of a tough time.’
Welker said that when he saw Faulk go down late in Sunday’s loss to the Jets, he didn’t know the running back had suffered a serious knee injury.
‘I was kind of over by there, but I didn’t know exactly what had happened or what the deal was,’ Welker said. ‘I [thought] he’d be OK, because he’d always bounced back from stuff like that and the way he kind of hopped up to his feet. It was just one of those things ‘ such a freak deal. You hate to see it, but it was just part of the game.’
As for Brady, he and Faulk are two of the only links back to the days of Foxboro Stadium, and have developed a close relationship. He’s confident Faulk will be able to return from the injury.
‘Kevin will come back from it,’ Brady said. ‘He’s come back from everything in his life. Kevin’s a fighter. He’s a warrior. It’s just about hard work, that’s all it is. Kev will do that.’
|09.23.10 at 1:48 pm ET|
FOXBORO ‘ Vince Wilfork has already moved on
The veteran nose tackle has turned the page on the bitter loss to the Jets, and ‘ echoing the words of teammate Tom Brady Tuesday on WAAF, who said ‘the season is not lost’ ‘ wants to make sure people aren’t panicking quite yet about the state of the Patriots.
‘We can’t hit a panic button. We just have to play better, execute better,’ Wilfork said this morning. ‘Then I think we’ll be OK. A little division game this week. We have a chance to turn it around this week. Get back to playing some good football.’
On paper, this week fairly reeks of ‘trap game.’ The Bills are a bit of a mess ‘ they’ve started the year 0-2 and have scored a grand total of 19 points in their two losses, and have just made a quarterback change going from Trent Edwards to Ryan Fitzpatrick. When it comes to the AFC East, if there’s a team the Patriots might overlook, it’s Buffalo, who hasn’t beaten New England since 2003.
‘This is the National Football League. It’s early. I always expect the best out of a team we’re playing. Teams normally play the best when they play us, too. So, it’s any given Sunday,’ Wilfork said. ‘But we know what we need to do. This week is about how well we can play. It’s the Patriots. Can we get better? It’s about what we can do in putting it on the field Sunday.’
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