|12.31.10 at 12:31 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated and NBC Sports NFL analyst Peter King checked in for his weekly Patriots Friday appearance on the Dale & Holley show with guest hosts Chris Price and Eric Frede. To hear the interview, including King’s thoughts on Patriots defensive back Brandon Meriweather and the Pro Bowl, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
King lauded the Patriots for the turnaround in Foxboro this season, crediting Bill Belichick and director of player personnel Nick Caserio. Said King: “It’s an amazing job by this organization. ‘¦ I think it’s a tremendous tribute to Belichick.”
Asked if Caserio will receive attention around the league for his contributions, King wasn’t so sure, due to the fact that the Patriots protect him so well. “Nobody knows who he is,” King said. “He’s under a rock. I’ve never met the guy.”
King said the Patriots would do well to give Tom Brady extra time on the bench Sunday vs. Miami, mainly to see what they have behind him. “I just think it’s smart if you have a good picture of what [Brian] Hoyer can do,” King said, noting that the Dolphins defense would be a good test.
Looking at the playoff picture, King said he foresees a Steelers-Patriots AFC championship game. As for which NFC team would have the best chance to knock off the Pats if they reach the Super Bowl, King went with the Saints and Packers, due to their quarterbacks.
Giants coach Tom Coughlin has come under fire for his team’s season-ending struggles, but King said he doesn’t expect Coughlin will lose his job. “I don’t think, unless there’s a disaster Sunday, that Coughlin will be fired,” he said.
The Brett Favre punishment was a topic of discussion as well. King said the NFL simply could not prove Favre sent the pornographic text messages to Jenn Sterger, and it did not appear to be a situation where Sterger was offended by Favre’s alleged pursuit.
“I think, at the end of the day, the NFL feels that she was not sexually harassed,” King said, adding that he supports that claim. “I don’t see this rising to the level of sexual harassment.”
However, King noted that Favre makes $1 million per game, and a larger fine would have sent a better message. “To me, a $50,000 fine is really a wrist slap,” he said, adding: “I don’t think $50,000 is enough at all. I think [$250,000] is much more palatable.”
|12.31.10 at 12:25 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It’s gotten to the point where the mere suggestion of taking a week off for rest or – even worse – to avoid injury is an insult to the work ethic and principles of Tom Brady.
That was most definitely his reaction on Friday when he resolved to play in the first game of the new calendar year.
“We’re playing, that’s just the way it is,” Brady said. “I don’t get into a whole lot of evaluation of why. It’s a football game, I’m the starting quarterback on this team and I’m going to play.”
Told that Wes Welker also intends to play and doesn’t think about a repeat of the 2009 season finale – when he tore the ACL and MCL in his left knee – Brady said the thinking throughout the locker room is to play until Bill Belichick says otherwise.
“I think all those other guys take the same approach so I don’t think we approach this week any different. We leave that up to the coach,” Brady said.
Brady left no doubt that he intends to start and play in the season finale against the Miami Dolphins this Sunday at Gillette Stadium, despite the fact the Patriots have already wrapped up the No. 1 seed and home field advantage throughout the AFC playoffs.
“That’s the focus of what’s really been the trademark of this team, is to always make improvements over the course of the season,” Brady said. “I don’t think we take weeks off, I don’t think we take days off. We’re always trying to get better.”
The Patriots are also trying to finish with a perfect home regular-season record for the third time in four seasons. Brady has won an NFL-record 27 consecutive starts at Gillette Stadium.
“I just think the approach that we’ve always taken here throughout training camp was listen, ‘Whatever we do this week will certainly help us down the road.’ That’s why we need it to be good this week. So, I don’t think you can sit here and say this week is not important of for example this week, ‘Well, let’s just go out there and rest for a week.’ How are we going to get better, then? How are we going to get better?”
So, in practice No. 106 of the season, Brady said it’s just another week, just another chance to improve.
“We have to get better today. We got better yesterday. We got better on Wednesday. We’re going to have a better team this Sunday. That’ll certainly help us down the road.”
|12.31.10 at 12:17 pm ET|
FOXBORO — One day after returning to practice from a hip injury, Aaron Hernandez was not spotted at the open portion of Patriots practice Friday outside Gillette Stadium. Also missing were Dan Connolly, Mike Wright and Ron Brace.
Hernandez was limited on Thursday while Connolly and Wright have been out with concussions. Brace suffered an elbow injury against the Bills on Sunday and has missed practice all week. The team practice on the lower grass field outside Gillette in very mild, sunny conditions.
The Patriots look to finish the season 14-2 for the third time in the last 10 years with a win over the Dolphins in the regular-season finale at Gillette on Sunday. Bill Belichick will become the first coach in NFL history with four seasons of at least 14 wins with a victory.
|12.31.10 at 11:44 am ET|
Running back Fred Taylor joined guest hosts Chris Price and Eric Frede for his regular appearance on the Dale & Holley show as part of WEEI’s Patriots Friday. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Taylor was featured in a Boston Globe story this week, and in it he talked about his future in the league after an injury-plagued 2010 season.
“I have been considering retirement since about Year 8 or 9,” he said. “I said, ‘Well, when I make it to 10, I’ll shut it down.’ But good things continue to happen for me, and my motivation was 1) to try and make the Pro Bowl, after all those years of being snubbed. Another thing is to try and win the championship.
“I just kept going in the offseason, trying to recommit myself and rededicate myself to the game. And then when I got around the younger guys, the inspiration came from the camaraderie and competing against old guys in the offseason workouts and trying to develop a foundation. And that spark just turns into a flame. Going into training camp, just being with the fellas and competing, I mean, I love that stuff. So, I hadn’t run away from the game.
“But I did say in the interview, it is close. I’m a lot closer to that moment than I am as far as continuing to play. I have to be realistic. I’ve been beat up last year, with the ankle surgeries, and then this year, with both big toes slowing me down.
“Not being able to do the things that I love to do and being able to do the type of job I’m capable of and the reasons they brought me here is very frustrating. It’s not easy to deal with. I try to keep a focus and continue to try to push forward, It’s not easy, man. I don’t want my legacy to be defined as a guy who couldn’t stay on the field. I think if I continue this path, it will pretty much be that. That’s not me. I always felt like I was a decent quality of a player. Not to be able to show that or help the team the way I think I’m capable of, it would just be a waste of my time as well as the organization’s.
“So, I have to go into this offseason and I’ll continue to train. I’ll continue to be with the guys and work out hard and see what happens from that standpoint. We’ll see going forward. I don’t want to say either way it’s a guarantee or not.”
|12.31.10 at 11:00 am ET|
Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Friday as part of WEEI’s Patriots Friday. Joining guest hosts Eric Frede and Chris Price, Mayo talked about Sunday’s regular-season finale against the Dolphins as the Patriots prepare to head into the playoffs with a bye week before hosting a conference semifinal. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
“We’re going out there with the mindset to win,” Mayo said of Sunday. “We really don’t want to head into the playoffs after a loss, so I think everybody that’s healthy and able to play will play.”
Mayo said Bill Belichick has showed no signs of letting up on the team this week. Said Mayo: “He’s telling us, ‘Be ready to go.’ That’s what we’re doing. We’re preparing like this is a regular game, like our record is 0-0. We’re going out there trying to win this game. Like I said, everybody that can play will play. How much, we don’t know. But we’re preparing for 60 minutes.”
Mayo said the defense needs to continue to progress and can’t afford to take a week off. “This performance this Sunday is very vital to our success in the playoffs,” he said. “We’re going out here trying to pitch a shutout and win this game.”
Talking about the leadership role he’s developed on this young Patriots defense, Mayo said: “This year, I’ve been a little bit more vocal, just based on the fact that I’ve been here and been playing a lot of football for the Patriots. But I’m still in the process of earning my stripes, and hopefully it continues.”
|12.31.10 at 9:35 am ET|
As far as the standings are concerned, Sunday’s final game of the regular season against the Dolphins is meaningless. However, there will still be football played in Foxboro and the stats still count. Here are a few things to keep an eye on:
* – The Patriots won last Sunday by 31 points despite Buffalo taking an early 3-0 lead. It tied their largest winning margin ever in a game in which their opponent scored first:
31 – at Buffalo, 12/26/2010
31 – vs Miami, 10/15/1967
28 – vs Denver, 9/16/1961
28 – vs Buffalo, 11/11/1984
27 – at Miami, 10/4/2010
Note this: It was the largest winning margin ever by New England in a road game where their opponent scored first.
* – Despite Miami having almost as many drives of 10 or more plays this season as the Patriots (NE has 27 to Miami’s 26), the Pats have been MUCH more efficient, averaging 4.78 points (ranked first) compared to just 3.15 points for the Dolphins (24th).
Note this: Despite allowing an NFL high 33 drives of 10 or more plays this year, the Pats’ defense has allowed 3.94 points on those drives, the eighth highest average allowed in the league.
And this: If New England allows one drive of 10+ plays this Sunday, they will have allowed more such drives in 2010 than in any season since 2004.
* – Miami’s defense has been VERY good recently at limiting opponents on first down, allowing four or more yards only 38.5 percent of the time over the last five games, second best in the league in that span. Of course, the Patriots offense will provide a stern test, as they have been successful on 53.3 percent of their first down plays over the last five games (also ranked second).
* – Despite limiting the Bills to 3-for-10 last week on third downs, the Patriots are still on pace to allow the highest third down conversion percentage in the NFL in the last 15 years:
48.2% – Patriots, 2010
47.4% – Raiders, 2004
47.4% – Colts, 2008
47.4% – Chiefs, 2008
Since they began tracking the stat in 1992, the Patriots’ previous worst such season was 2008, when they allowed 44.4 percent conversions.
* – Both offenses have been quite good right out of the gate as both rank in the league’s top five in points scored on their first possession of the game:
49 – Eagles
48 – Saints
40 – Dolphins
38 – Patriots
38 – Falcons
The Patriots and Dolphins are also two of just five teams that have not committed a turnover on their first possession of a game this season. Miami is the ONLY team that has not committed a turnover on their first possession of EITHER half of a game this year.
* – New England has scored 134 points off opponent turnovers this season (five defensive touchdowns along with 12 touchdowns and five field goals on drives following takeaways) while allowing just 24 points following Patriots’ turnovers, a net of +110 points, by far the highest in the league:
+110 – Patriots
+ 72 – Packers
+ 59 – Chiefs
Note this: Miami’s net is -39 points, the fourth worst mark in the NFL.
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|12.31.10 at 9:28 am ET|
ESPN NFL insider Adam Schefter made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Calllahan show Friday morning with guest hosts Bob Ryan and Bob Neumeier to talk about the Patriots and news from the NFL. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Schefter said Bill Belichick is his choice as the NFL’s coach of the year. “You look at the job that he’s done, and you could argue ‘¦ that the job he’s done this year is more impressive than the job he did in 2007, and as compelling or better than the job he did in 2001, when the Patriots first really launched themselves into the national conversation and became the franchise that we know today,” Schefter said.
Schefter was not one of the many media people who predicted the Jets would topple the Patriots and win the AFC East this season. He explained why he believed in the Patriots and wasn’t convinced by the Jets.
Said Schefter: “I never bought it, and I’ll tell you why I didn’t buy it. Because, again, it’s a quarterback league. And on my visit to Patriots training camp, the one thing that I sensed ‘ and it’s easy to say it now but I’m telling I’ve been consistent on this all along ‘there was a real quiet confidence there in their young talent. They really thought they had a lot of really good, young football players.
“And the reason I stayed with the Patriots and didn’t go to the flavor of the month in New York was because the best quarterback, the most proven quarterback, the most consistent quarterback is Tom Brady. And it’s a quarterback league. And you have to go with the quarterback every time.
“The best and most proven and decorated coach in the division is Bill Belichick. Any team that has the coach and the quarterback, I don’t know how you go against them. And that was why I picked them to win the division at the beginning of the year.”
Asked which team has the best chance to knock off the Patriots in the playoffs, Schefter made it clear the choice is easy. “Baltimore,” he said. “They did it last year. They almost did it in the regular season this year. It’s the only team, to me, that I could see coming into Foxboro and beating the Patriots. ‘¦ To me, there’s nothing about the Patriots that unnerves the Baltimore Ravens. Nothing.”
Added Schefter: “Maybe the Jets could give them a game on the right Sunday. The Jets beat them earlier in the year. But I think the Jets would be a little psyched out coming back to the place where they got trampled, 45-3, in the Boston Massacre.”
The Saints went into Atlanta and knocked off the NFC-leading Falcons on Monday night. Said Schefter: “More than anything it was a message: Beware of New Orleans in the postseason. ‘¦ It’s the world champs, and they’re not done yet.”
Looking at coaches whose futures are considered in jeopardy, Schefter said he thinks that Tony Sparano (Dolphins), Tom Coughlin (Giants), Gary Kubiak (Texans) and Leslie Frazier (Vikings) will return to their teams next season, while Eric Mangini (Browns), Marvin Lewis (Bengals), Jeff Fisher (Titans) and John Fox (Panthers) are likely to depart.