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WEEI NFL Power Rankings: Week 2

09.14.10 at 11:54 am ET
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Maybe that’s what Rex Ryan was talking about on “Hard Knocks” when he screamed to Darrelle Revis‘ agents, “Watch what happens Monday night!” What a crazy opening weekend around the National Football League. After months of trash talk, the “team to beat” in the NFL didn’t even look like it had a playoff caliber offense, never mind Super Bowl caliber. The Jets fall to No.9.

The Colts, Cowboys, and Chargers all lost to teams that didn’t even make the playoffs last year. The Lions were close to opening their season with a rare win, the Steelers didn’t need Ben Roethlisberger to beat the Falcons, and the Patriots shocked many around the league with a dominating win over the Bengals.

Despite all the madness that happened in Week 1, it’s still early and difficult to react too drastically. The Saints remain at No.1 after a very un-Saints-like victory over the Vikings Thursday night to kick off the season. The Ravens jump ahead two spots after the team’s defense physically dominated the Jets on Monday Night Football. Ray Lewis and Baltimore are at No. 2. The newest member of the top five is New England. The Patriots jumped out of the gate with a strong performance at home and their defense proved it can make big plays and put pressure on the passer. Tom Brady and the Pats are at No. 5.

Other notable teams that dropped in the rankings are the Cowboys, Chargers and Falcons. Following a bunch of head scratching and “what were they thinking?!” plays, the Cowboys fall hard to the No. 10 spot.

1. (Last week, 1) 1-0-0 The Saints played great defense, allowing just 171 passing yards and one touchdown. It was a sloppy game, but the defending champs did what they had to do and won. I’m guessing this will be the last time the Saints score 14 or less points all season.

2. (4) 1-0-0 WOW. Although the Jets offense is anemic, the Ravens defense played smash mouth football and was very impressive. Baltimore’s D held Mark Sanchez and the Jets to just nine points, 176 yards and six first downs. The Ravens also got the type of production they were hoping for from offseason acquisition Anquan Boldin.

3. (3) 1-0-0 Green Bay is a solid team all around. The key to its Super Bowl hopes lies within the team’s offensive line. If they can protect Aaron Rodgers, the Packers can compete for the championship.

4. (2) 0-1-0 The Texans followed the Dolphins’ format on how to beat the Colts — run the ball. Although the Dolphins were unsuccessful last year, the Texans ran the ball down Indy’s throat and managed to come out victorious. The Colts are too good to let that happen much more this season and will bounce back. They’re still the favorite to win the AFC South.

5. (8) 1-0-0 The Patriots were very impressive in all three areas of the game: offense, defense and special teams. Enough can’t be said about the performance of the offensive and defensive lines. Brady was well protected and the Patriots found the pass rush everyone in New England has been looking for.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: NFL Power Rankings, Ray Lewis, Rex Ryan,

Rex Ryan postgame comments

09.14.10 at 8:40 am ET
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Here’s a sampling of thoughts from a subdued Rex Ryan following the 10-9 Jets loss to the Ravens on Monday night (with thanks to thejetsblog.com) …

Opening Statement:

This is obviously a very disappointing loss. That goes without saying. Every loss is tough. You have to tip your hat to the Ravens. Both of us knew it was going to be this kind of game. The two teams are built very similarly. They won the important downs, (especially) third down. We converted 1-of-11 on third down and they were 58 percent. That stat alone gets you beat, let alone 14 penalties. You have to give them credit.

We weren’€™t close in rushing attempts and completions, and that’€™s one of our staples as an organization. They ran the ball 34 times, and that’€™s important. I don’€™t know how many balls they completed, but it seemed like a bunch. One thing about this ‘€“ it is a long season. It is one game, and I will say this: As everyone knows, I have confidence in every man in our locker room. There’€™s no question. We weren’€™t at our best today, but that’€™s a credit to the Ravens. I know we can get better, and that’€™s the challenge to us. We have to get better, and I believe we will.

Ryan was asked about the penalties (The Jets were flagged 14 times for 125 yards)

In the first half alone, I think we gave up five first downs on defense on holding calls, pass interference, and all that kind of stuff. That’€™s not who we are or how we play. We pride ourselves on being one of the least penalized defenses in the league. Today was a joke. They just threw it up there ‘€“ shoot, I don’€™t blame them. Hope for a completion or a penalty. We’€™ve got to do a better job than that, and I believe we will.

Nose tackle Kris Jenkins left the game in the first quarter with a left knee injury, the same knee that required an operation to repair a torn ACL in October 2009.

Obviously, it’€™s a huge loss. There are very few Kris Jenkins out there. Baltimore has one in Haloti Ngata, who’€™s a great player. That’€™s a huge loss. I have no idea what the extent of the injury is, so I’€™m hopeful that it’€™s not serious, but clearly it was enough for him not to return to the game. We’€™re definitely hoping that he’€™ll be OK.

Ryan was asked about Mark Sanchez, who threw for just 74 yards and at times looked lost in the defeat.

I was alarmed that we couldn’€™t get off the field on defense more than I was alarmed that we did so little today offensively. That’€™s a pretty good team with an excellent defense. He (Sanchez) wasn’€™t the only one. He did misfire on a few passes, but quite honestly, he’€™s not the only guy that needs to improve. There’€™s a bunch of us that need to improve, and I believe we will.

Does the Patriots game mean even more after this loss?

It’€™s hard to make up games, that’€™s for sure. We all saw their game. New England looked pretty darn good. There are no easy games in this league. New England looks like they are right at the top, so we are going to have to play our best, no question.


Read More: Mark Sanchez, New York Jets, Rex Ryan,

Is Marques Murrell the latest member of the Pats’ shadow roster?

09.13.10 at 8:46 pm ET
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FOXBORO ‘€” Outside linebacker Marques Murrell was cut by the Patriots today, as New England made room on the roster for offensive lineman Quinn Ojinnaka. But when the media made its way into the locker room for media availability, Murrell still had a locker. In addition, it was clear that the locker was essentially untouched ‘€” Murrell had a lot of his personal gear left.

So what gives?

‘€œWe just had to make room,’€ shrugged Patriots coach Bill Belichick said Monday when asked about the move. ‘€œ[Murrell] played in the game [Sunday], so obviously we feel comfortable playing him, but we just had to make room.’€

It’€™s unlikely that Murrell, who is signed through 2011, was just late to clean his stuff out of his locker. The move is a strong indication that the outside linebacker is the latest member of the Patriots’€™ shadow roster. An unofficial designation that’€™s common around the league, it’€™s for players who do not have practice squad eligibility, but need to be rotated off the roster because of a personnel glitch.

However, both the team and player have an understanding that he won’€™t be out of work for long, and they inevitably find their way back ‘€” occasionally because of injury ‘€” because they represent an excellent value.

Over the years, Patriots’€™ shadow roster players have included tight end Marcellus Rivers (who was signed, released and re-signed all within a month in 2007), safety Ray Ventrone, cornerback Hank Poteat and linebacker Chad Brown, all of whom were signed and released and returned on multiple occasions.

Probably the textbook shadow roster player for the Belichick-Era Patriots was offensive lineman Gene Mruczkowski ‘€” he was cut and re-signed by New England a dozen times between 2003 and 2007. An interior lineman, Mruczkowski’s biggest season in New England was 2004, when he played in 13 games, including Super Bowl XXXIX.

It’€™s unlikely Murrell is going to leave that kind of a legacy ‘€” considering New England’€™s lack of depth outside, it wouldn’€™t be a surprise to see him back in the locker room sooner rather than later.

Read More: Marques Murrell,

Proof that Moss led the cheers before heading to podium

09.13.10 at 7:31 pm ET
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Just moments before going up the podium after the Patriots’ 38-24 win over the Bengals Sunday, using much of a 16-minute question and answer session to talk about contract issues, Randy Moss led the cheers in the Pats‘ locker room after a brief speech from head coach Bill Belichick. Thanks to the folks at Patriots Today on Patriots.com, here is video from the scene:

It was also reported earlier in the day by the Boston Herald that Moss and Belichick had met, and discussed the wideout’s post-game comments.

Bits from Belichick

09.13.10 at 6:20 pm ET
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Patriots coach Bill Belichick just wrapped up his Monday afternoon press conference. Here are a few quick highlights:

On the release of Marques Murrell to make room for Quinn Ojinnaka:
We just had to make room. He played in the game yesterday, so we feel comfortable playing him. We just had to make room.

(For what it’€™s worth, don’€™t worry too much about Murrell ‘€” during media availability Monday afternoon, he still had a locker, and it looked like it hadn’€™t been touched. Chances are he’€™s back on the roster sooner rather than later.)

On Randy Moss‘€™s statements from Sunday:
I feel the same way I’€™ve felt about Randy the last three years. He’€™s a good football player. I’€™m glad he’€™s on our team. I think he adds a lot to our football team. He’€™s got good energy. Everybody likes him. He’€™s fun to have on the team. He’€™s a good player.

Did you have a problem with the forum in which he expressed his opinion?
I really wasn’€™t even aware of it until today. You had the access. ‘€¦ You guys must have loved it [laughter].

Did you sit down and talk about it at all?
I’€™ll keep the conversations between myself and the players private. I think that’€™s where they should stay.

On working on an opponent that has a short week, like the Jets do this week:
I think both teams know each other pretty well. It’€™s just the reversal of what it was last year. I don’€™t think that was a big factor in the game. Both teams know each other real well. It’€™s early in the year, so it won’€™t be like what it’€™ll be when we play them a second time ‘€” they’€™ll be a lot more information and it’€™ll be a lot more current. But we know them, they know us. If you’€™re going to play somebody on a short week, I think it’€™s easier to play somebody you’€™re pretty familiar with ‘€” you know the personnel, you know most of the schemes. They’€™ll have some wrinkles, no doubt about that, along with a couple of new guys we haven’€™t faced before that weren’€™t with the Jets and vice-versa. There’€™s a lot of carryover from last time we faced them.

Is Wes Welker about where you thought he would be after Week 1?
Yeah, I really didn’€™t have an expectation as to where he would be or wouldn’€™t be. I just took it day by day, and everyday he came out on the field, I looked at him, saw what it looked like, saw him keep improving and it was just kind of the way it’€™s been through all spring, through training camp, preseason and now the regular season. So  ‘€¦ we felt comfortable putting him out there based on what the medical recommendations were and then what we saw on the field confirmed it. He continued to get better, so ‘€¦ we didn’€™t really have any expectations for where he would be. We just took it day to day, and tried to evaluate what I saw.

Read More: Bill Belichick,

Belichick on The Big Show: ‘Everybody loves [Moss]‘

09.13.10 at 6:01 pm ET
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Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, during his weekly interview on The Big Show, said that while he did not see or hear Randy Moss‘ 16-minute interview following New England’s 38-24 victory on Sunday, he did not have any reaction to the wide receiver’s suggestion that he was not appreciated by the Patriots. Belichick insisted that Moss has not been a distraction during this time in New England, and that he remains a valued member of the team both on and off the field.

“I feel the same way about Randy as I have for the last three-plus years,” said Belichick. “Good guy to have on our team. Players, coaches, everybody loves him. He’€™s got a great personality. Very enthusiastic. And he’€™s a good football player. I’€™m glad he’€™s here. …

“He adds a lot to our football team in a lot of ways: on the field, off the field. I think guys look up to him and his energy and enthusiasm for the game carries over. It helps our football team.”

Belichick declined to shed any light on whether he had talked to Moss since yesterday.

“Any conversations I have with the players I think should be stay between myself and the players,” Belichick said.

Belichick also broke down his team’s victory over the Bengals, looked ahead to the Week 2 contest against the Jets and discussed his enjoyment of Cincinnati receiver Chad Ochocinco.

“He’€™s a fun guy. He really is. He’€™s got a great personality,” said Belichick. “He loves football, and he loves to compete. We were out at the Pro Bowl after the ‘€˜06 season. He would tell the corners what route he was going to run. ‘€˜I’€™m going to run an in-cut, and you still can’€™t cover me.’€™

“He just likes to compete. He loves football. I respect that. I definitely respect that. I don’€™t think everyone has to have the same personality out there. I’€™m glad we all don’€™t. It makes it a lot more interesting. He loves football. I enjoyed the time out there with him at the Pro Bowl. I worked him out at USC the year he was coming out, spent some time with him there. Just on the field, he’€™s a fun-loving guy that his teammates like. He competes hard. I respect that.”

To listen to the complete interview, visit The Big Show Audio On-Demand page.

Read More: Bill Belichick, Chad Ochocinco, Randy Moss,

How the Patriots got off to the races

09.13.10 at 5:59 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Bill Belichick has always harped on the importance of scoring in all three phases of the game.

Yes, it’s great that Tom Brady threw three touchdowns on Sunday and it’s heartwarming and inspiring that two of them went to the NFL’s bionic man, Wes Welker.

But when you stop and look at Sunday’s 38-24 win over the Bengals, the difference in the game was evident. Gary Guyton returned an ill-advised Carson Palmer pass 59 yards for a touchdown with 5:38 left in the first half to make turn a 17-0 lead into a 24-0 cushion.

‘€œAll I could think of was, ‘€˜Run, Gary, run. And get the touchdown,’€™ Guyton said. “There was definitely a fear. If I get caught by the quarterback, I won’€™t hear the last of it. All I was thinking about was running.

‘€œI was just looking at the pylon. It was the closest thing to me. So I was just running. Keep on running, that’€™s all.’€

Guyton, in his third year out of Georgia Tech, had the responsibility of covering the talented rookie tight end Jermaine Gresham on the play. He stayed with him on an edge route off the line of scrimmage and read Palmer’s eyes perfectly before making a very athletic grab of the pass.

‘€œI was reading my responsibility,” Guyton said. “And once I looked back at the quarterback, the ball was in the air, so I decided to make a play on it. I just put my arms out, squeezed the ball and kept on running.

‘€œIt is. It’€™s my first one. Going into my third year, so I finally got me a pick and a touchdown.’€

After putting together a 12-play drive that ended on a 54-yard Mike Nugent field goal, and after pumping fluids into Chad Ochocinco and fixing the shoe problems of Terrell Owens [no joke] the Bengals sensed a bit of momentum coming out of halftime.

That lasted all of 12 seconds.

Speedy Brandon Tate did to the Bengals what he did to the St. Louis Rams on the opening play of the game back on Aug. 26. He shredded the Bengals’ coverage unit and returned a kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown.

Nugent, fresh from his 54-yard effort, hit a knuckleball that hit at about the 15 and bounced strangely to Tate.

‘€œFirst, they did like a squib kick that kind of messed up our reads, but I just got it, made a guy or two miss and I was off to the races,” Tate said. “To tell you the truth, I thought it was going to mess up everybody. I thought everybody was going to stop blocking and try to get back and get the ball, but everyone stayed to their assignment. So, like I said, my hat goes off to my teammates.

“I figured once I beat the kicker, I just threw my head back and took off.’€

In doing so Tate and the Patriots essentially turned the second half into garbage time.

Belichick is more than aware that 28 is greater than 21 and with the Bengals’ offense, though dormant for most of the first half, a turnover here, a stop there and a hot Palmer against a sometimes spotty Patriots D, and 21 points doesn’t look so insurmountable.

“We made some plays when we needed to make them,” Belichick said. “That was good. Two returns for touchdowns ‘€“ you hope for that, but you never really can go into a game planning on that. So to get 14 kind of bonus points like that, retuning a kick, returning an interception for a touchdown, that’s a great boost to the scoreboard there. You usually don’€™t count on those points.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Brandon Tate, Cincinnati Bengals, Gary Guyton
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