It Is What It Is
NEED TO KNOW
Follow WEEI.com football writer Christopher Price at twitter.com/cpriceNFL. In addition, get the latest WEEI.com updates at twitter.com/WEEI.
A WEEI.com Patriots Blog
WEEI.com Blog Network

Jerod Mayo on D&H: ‘We’re confident in the game plan’

12.03.10 at 12:22 pm ET
By   |   Comments

Linebacker Jerod Mayo joined the Dale & Holley show Friday morning (listen to the interview at the Dale & Holley audio on demand page), and he said he believes the extra time off from playing on Thanksgiving will help his team in Monday night’s contest against the Jets. “Having those extra days off to prepare for a great team, we’re getting more comfortable in the game plan, we’re confident in the game plan,” Mayo said. “I think we’ll play fast on Monday night.”

Mayo explained how the team may have rested physically during the extended break but stayed mentally sharp. “Coach [Bill Belichick] gave us a couple of days off as far as the physical stretches on the body,” he said. “At the same time, we had to come in and watch film, watch a lot of film, and break down a lot of games. All that time that we weren’t on the practice field, we were definitely in the film room watching film.”

Mayo leads the NFL in tackles and looks much quicker on the field than a year ago. Though he wouldn’t outwardly blame his knee injury, Mayo did mention the brace was a bit of a hindrance. “I had a pretty bad injury or whatever, but the thing about it is it’s always better not having on a metal knee brace,” he said. “Any time you don’t have a knee brace, and you have two balanced legs, you’re always going to feel better and play better. I do feel better this year, and hopefully it continues.”

The Jets also had a long break, and consequently Mayo expects to see a different opponent Monday night than the one Patriots encountered earlier in the season. “You just have to assume they’re going to change a lot of things,” Mayo said. “They had the same amount of time off that we had, so I’m sure those guys have been working hard and preparing as well. We just have to go out and execute our game plan, and hopefully it’s the best one.”

Mayo, who said the young defense has improved greatly since the beginning of the season due to the players’ hard work, understands the implications of Monday night’s game, in addition to the national spotlight his team will be under. “This is a huge game for us,” he said. “It’s a Monday night game against a division rival. This game is huge. Both teams need it. This could be the difference between a wild card and a first-round bye. It’s a huge game and that’s how we’re approaching it.”

Read More: Jerod Mayo,

Fred Taylor on D&H: ‘I’m ready to play’ vs. Jets

12.03.10 at 12:09 pm ET
By   |   Comments

Running back Fred Taylor joined the Dale & Holley show Friday morning and pronounced himself ready to go on Monday night vs. the Jets, although he said the final decision is up to the Patriots coaching staff. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

“I’m ready to play,” Taylor said. “I’m going through practice preparing the best that I can. I’m ready to play. [The coaches] just said, ‘We’ll decide later.’ It’s a process. Things have to occur, and things have to be right. And I’m not trying to give you a politically correct answer, I’m just trying to do what’s best for the team, in that I don’t want to tip our hand to what’s going on in terms of personnel moves. That might be the best answer. But I’m ready to play.”

Taylor, out since Week 3 with turf toe, was dressed for the Patriots’ Thanksgiving Day win over the Lions but did not play. “I wanted some action on that day,” he admitted. “But it was more so an emergency-type deal, to get out there and go back through the rituals, get back in the routine, being out there with the team, going through pregame, and just be ready if anything had happened.”

Taylor continues to say highly complimentary things about fellow running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis. “He has what it takes,” Taylor said. “He has the tools physically. It doesn’t take great size to be a back. I think his frame is perfect. He’s 5-10 1/2, 5-11, 220 pounds deceptively. His speed is awesome. He has skill, he has moves. He wants to go downhill, north and south. He doesn’t want to spend any time laterally.

“If you have those qualities as a back, you’re halfway there. the next thing is just making plays when it’s time. And he’s been doing that. Going forward, I’m expecting a whole lot of good things from Benny, because he’s only going to get better.”

Taylor’s son Kelvin is a standout running back at Glades Day High School in Belle Glades, Fla. The sophomore rushed for a Florida playoff record 437 yards and five touchdowns in a win last Friday night. “He deserves it,” Taylor said. “He really works hard and he pays attention. He’s a good kid.”

Read More: BenJarvus Green Ellis, Fred Taylor,

Adam Schefter on D&C: Pats-Jets ‘may be highest-rated sporting event in cable TV history’

12.03.10 at 9:43 am ET
By   |   Comments

ESPN’s Adam Schefter made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about Monday’s showdown between the Patriots and Jets. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

“There’s a good reason that everybody is fired up about this game,” he said. “It’s going to be tremendous. ‘€¦ This may be the highest-rated sporting event in cable TV history.”

Schefter predicts a Patriots victory Monday, mainly due to the recent success of the New England offense. “I trust Tom Brady in this spot more than I trust Mark Sanchez,” he said. “I just believe that somehow, some way, despite the fact that Brady has struggled against Rex Ryan defenses, that he’ll find a way to get it done. I don’t know how, I don’t know why, and it may just be that I’m wrong. But Brady has been spot on this year. Spot on. As good as anybody in the league. You have to figure at home, where he’s done OK, he’s going to do OK again on Monday night.”

Schefter noted that this game may come down to one of the team’s kickers ‘€” Shayne Graham, who replaced the injured Stephen Gostkowski last month, or embattled Jets kicker Nick Folk. Said Schefter: “It’s interesting where the Jets have a kicker on the ropes; the Patriots have a new kicker that they don’t know they can count on. In a game that could be as closely contested as this one, there are two big question marks at the kicker position.”

Read More: adam schefter, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, Tom Brady

Ron Jaworski on D&C: ‘Nothing ruffles’ Tom Brady

12.03.10 at 7:33 am ET
By   |   Comments

ESPN NFL analyst and former quarterback Ron Jaworski checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning and talked about Monday’s showdown between the Patriots and Jets. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Jaworski said the Patriots defense should be OK Monday, as the Jets are a more conservative, run-oriented offense. However, New England’s defensive issues are an obvious concern in the long run.

“When you watch this defense giving up close to 400 yards, it’s not typical of a New England Patriots defense,” Jaworski said. “As I say, this is a defense continuing to be tinkered with by Bill [Belichick] and his entire defense staff. I’m looking at tape this week and I see just all kinds of rotations. It is somewhat amazing what I see as far as personnel packages and who is on the field. I don’t think they have found themselves yet. So, I think yes, it will be a problem as you move into the playoffs, where you’re going to see some juggernaut offenses. I know they make turnovers at opportune times, they make plays at opportune times. But I don’t think in this league you can give up 400 yards on the average in games and be a playoff and Super Bowl contender.”

On the other side of the ball, Jaworski said he could see the Patriots offense developing as far back as the draft, when New England selected a couple of tight ends in Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski who now are contributing. “Bill knows what he’s doing,” Jaworski said. “I would say he’s always got a vision of where his team is going to be down the road. And you could see the evolution of this football team, what was going on. They had fast, speedy tight ends, as well as guys that could block. So, you could see where this team was going.

“I thought that the acquisition of Deion Branch was really a stroke of brilliance, to bring him back,” Jaworski continued. “This is now a possession style of offense. Yeah, you’re going to get some plays down the field with [Brandon] Tate, and he’ll stretch the field. But Tom [Brady] is so good at spreading the field sideline to sideline. Sometimes we think of the spacing of offenses, and people think of the vertical game all the time. But where the Patriots are so good is sideline to sideline and finding the voids between people rather than over the top of people.”

Jaworski spent some time handing out compliments to Brady, especially for his mental toughness. “What I notice about Tom is nothing ruffles him,” Jaworski said. “There’s been a lot of player changes on that offense this year, and nothing seems to bother him. He’s like Father Time and just keeps moving along very smoothly.” Jaworski added that he rates Drew Brees as the third-best quarterback in the NFL, behind Brady and Peyton Manning.

Jaworski said he’s happy that Jon Gruden will remain with the network after rumors that the University of Miami was pursuing him for its coaching vacancy. However, Jaworski said he expects Gruden will eventually return to the sideline. “I think somewhere down the road, Jon will get involved in coaching, because he’s that good,” Jaworski said. “Working with Jon for three or four days every week now for the last couple of years, I realize now what an amazing talent he is as a coach, and way beyond that, what a motivator he is, what a hard-worker he is, how he prepares. … Jon is a teacher, and he loves that part of the game.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Jon Gruden, Ron Jaworski, Tom Brady

Fantasy Football Week 13 starts

12.02.10 at 10:22 pm ET
By   |   Comments

Week 13 ‘€” a bringer of many different scenarios for the fantasy kin. Some owners are sitting pretty up on a pedestal with a clinched playoff berth, and perhaps even a bye, in their back pockets. Others, sharing a similar fate to Life Alert’s poor Ms. Fletcher, have fallen and they simply cannot get up.

But for others still, the remainder of their seasons hangs in the balance of Week 13. With the majority of postseason action starting up next week, it’s either win or go home for many owners. Given the stress of such a high-pressured environment, managers lacking cojones often stick with a “what’s gotten me here so far” approach, even in the face of difficult matchups, only to succumb to a seventh-place finish.

Don’t let this happen to you. Play the matchup card and reap the benefits. For some owners, like those with Michael Vick facing Houston, or Adrian Peterson (if he plays, and it sounds like he will) against Buffalo, this is easy. But for others, benching a rock in your lineup for a lesser name can be a tough pill to swallow.

Now, I’m not suggesting you bench the elite performers ‘€” they generally find a way to produce regardless of who they’re lined up against. But if you’re not sure on a player and have another option on the bench or waivers, it might be time to roll the dice. And even if you’ve clinched or have no shot, revel in the feeling of knocking out an opposing foe. Below are some guys I believe could be that wild card to lead your team to the most glorious time of the year: fantasy playoffs.

QUARTERBACKS

Matt Cassel (Chiefs) vs. Broncos

After spending the majority of his college and pro football career riding the pine, Cassel finally received a full-time job with the Chiefs last season. Though his first year with the Chiefs was forgettable, Cassel’s second year couldn’t be better. Now that he’s fully adapted to the nuances of Charlie Weis‘ creative offense, Cassel has been arguably the hottest signal caller in the league. In his past seven games, the former USC backup has thrown for an insane 18:1 touchdown to interception ratio in his last seven contests, good for a 112.2 quarterback ranking ‘€” the best in the league over that span. Cassel’s ensuing fantasy production was equally impressive, as his 24.5 points per game trail only Vick.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Fantasy Football, Matt Cassel, Rumor Mill, Sam Bradford

Jersey Four: Santonio Holmes can’t be stopped and Rex Ryan has but one regret

12.02.10 at 6:42 pm ET
By   |   Comments

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – With apologies to the great Chris Price (and anyone who hates the Artist Formerly Known as Nicole Polizzi) here are the four things you need to know about the Jets after Thursday’s practice:

1. Santonio Holmes isn’t worried about Devin McCourty. The Jets receiver was asked about the Patriots secondary, a group that has obviously has had its ups and downs in 2010 – opposing quarterbacks have completed nearly 68 percent of their passes against the Patriots this season.

“If I could really speak my mind I would,” said Holmes, just before he began really speaking his mind. “But off the strength of me being a professional I’ll just say that I don’t worry about those guys. We have to worry about what we do here; I don’t care who they line up on the other side of the ball. It’s our job to get the job done.”

OK. Holmes was then asked more specifically about Devin McCourty, and if he felt a rookie could possibly shut him down.

“Negative,” said Holmes, who did not play in Week 2 because “negative” was not the result of his drug test, which led to a four-game suspension. “That was proven in the Super Bowl two years ago when they had a rookie follow me around the whole game. I wouldn’t do it if I was them.”

Holmes was Super Bowl XLIII MVP, catching nine passes for 131 yards and the game-winning TD for the Steelers. It was indeed a rookie cornerback – Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie - who covered Holmes for most of the contest.

While Holmes wouldn’t kick any praise McCourty’s way, Braylon Edwards - who declined comment on his pal LeBron James returning to Cleveland – sees a corner who has made huge improvements in his first season.

“So far what I’ve seen on film is that he’s a lot better than he was in Week 2,” Edwards said. “There are some things that he did during Week 2 that were rookie mistakes, typical things for a rookie. But lately he’s been more patient, he’s been strong at the line of scrimmage and he’s shown more confidence. He has played a lot better, made the interceptions we saw the past few weeks. He’s played a lot better, I just see a better player. I better bring my A-game.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Report: Patriots claim Thomas Clayton

12.02.10 at 6:15 pm ET
By   |   Comments

The Patriots have claimed running back Thomas Clayton on waivers for a second go-round in New England, according to ESPN. Clayton, who was with the Patriots in the preseason and for the first two months of the 2010 season before he was cut, is a 5-foot-11, 225-pounder who was drafted by San Francisco in the sixth round of the 2007 draft out of Kansas State. He’s played for the 49ers, Patriots and Browns, and had zero rushing yards in two games with Cleveland this season before he was waived by the Browns on Wednesday.

Read More: Thomas Clayton,
Latest on Twitter
Patriots Box Score
Patriots Schedule
Patriots Headlines
NFL Headlines
Tips & Feedback

Verify