|10.20.16 at 12:39 pm ET|
The drama continues to build.
Through the first five games of the season, the Patriots had three players — safety Devin McCourty and offensive linemen David Andrews and Joe Thuney — play every possible snap.
But Sunday against the Bengals, McCourty missed one defensive snap. That doesn’t sound like much — 67 out of 68 snaps was still the highest percentage for any New England player on the defensive side of the ball — but it’s enough to knock him out of the running when it comes to our Last Man Standing competition.
The battle is now between the two young offensive linemen. It’s been a remarkable run for Thuney, the rookie guard out of North Carolina State, who is currently in the top 20 in the league when it comes to total offensive snaps played. Andrews continues to remain as the man in the middle for the New England offensive line; in his second year as an undrafted free agent out of Georgia, he’s worked with three different quarterbacks, all while setting the standard for durability.
|10.20.16 at 11:19 am ET|
This is shaping up to be one of those year’s with no slam-dunk MVP candidate. So after six weeks, who has the best shot at the title? In no particular order, here’s our current top 10.
Quarterback Tom Brady: Despite the fact that he missed the first four games, the quarterback has suddenly injected himself into the MVP discussion with a dynamite pair of games, the likes of which we haven’t seen from him before.
Tom Brady has a passer rating of 135.5 after his first 2 games of 2016, his highest rating after 2 games of any career season #Patriots
— NFL Research (@NFLResearch) October 16, 2016
As strange as it sounds, even after his four-game exile to start the season. he’s as good a candidate as anyone at this point on the calendar. Overall, Brady has completed 76 percent of his passes and thrown for 782 yards, to go along with six touchdowns and no interceptions. Unless someone on a high-profile team gets hot and separates himself from the rest of the pack (like a 20-sack season from Von Miller, for example), he should be able to stick around and be a part of the conversation, provided he stays healthy. (At least the oddsmakers like his chances.)
Linebacker Von Miller: You can certainly make a case for the best defensive player on the best defense in the league, especially (as we said) if he’s able to break out with some sort of big numbers. He’s on his way with a league-best 7.5 sacks in six games. From this viewpoint, as long as the Broncos remain in the race, Miller will get plenty of votes.
Running back Ezekiel Elliott: Why not? The Elliott/Dak Prescott combo has injected new life into the Dallas offense. Elliott has 703 rushing yards through six games, and a 2,000-yard season and postseason berth for the Cowboys would certainly get him MVP consideration. He could end up splitting votes with Prescott — who will be the default Dallas candidate, especially if he continues to play well — but from this viewpoint, we’d be more inclined to cast our ballot for Elliott.
Quarterback Matt Ryan: The Falcons are a surprising 4-2, and the 31-year-old Ryan is a big reason why. The former BC product has completed 68 percent of his passes for 2,075 yards, with 15 touchdowns, three interceptions, and a passer rating of 117.9 (best in the NFL among starters). It might not be sustainable, but he’s made as good a case as anyone to be consider the first ex-Boston College player to win an NFL MVP award.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger: Roethlisberger is out for this week’s game against the Patriots, but through the first six games, he’s led the Steelers to a 4-2 starts, and has been right there when it comes to statistical totals. The Steelers’ signal-caller is at or near the top of the league in most major passing categories, including completion rate (64 percent), total passing yards (1,685), touchdowns (16), just six picks and a passer rating of 99.2.
Quarterback Russell Wilson: Wilson will never overwhelm you with crazy numbers, but his ability to keep his head in big games as the quarterback for one of the best teams in the league wins him a spot on this list. The Seahawks are 4-1, while Wilson is clicking with a 66 percent completion rate, 1,334 passing yards, five touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 97. Again, not overwhelming, but his performance as the centerpiece of one of the best team’s in the league should be enough to keep him in the conversation.
|10.20.16 at 9:45 am ET|
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell broke his silence on the declining TV ratings on Wednesday, blaming the drop on a numbers of issues.
“I don’t think there is a single reason for it. We look at all those factors. Everyone has theories,” he said while at the fall owners’ meetings. “We also know that two primetime games that saw our most dramatic decrease went straight up against two very significant debates. Another one of our primetime games was on Thursday night on NFL Network, as opposed to a network broadcast, which will always get a lower rating. There are a lot of factors to be considered. We don’t make excuses. We try to look at what’s causing it and make changes.
“We don’t think we’ve lost viewers. When you look at ratings, you have to look a little deeper than that. It’s viewers, but also how long they’re engaging for. A lot of times, people will leave a game for whatever reason.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|10.20.16 at 9:20 am ET|
FOXBORO — When Bill Belichick and Tom Brady talk about the Pittsburgh Steelers, the enormous respect they have for the organization is obvious.
This is the 15th anniversary of New England’s first AFC championship encounter with the Steelers in Pittsburgh. The two franchises have been the most successful in the AFC in the Super Bowl era.
The Steelers have six Super Bowl titles and the Patriots own four.
Since 1995, the two teams have combined for a remarkable run of dominance in the AFC. In that stretch, the Patriots have been to seven Super Bowls and 10 AFC championship games. The Steelers have been to four Super Bowls, winning twice and have made it to the AFC championship eight times.
“They’ve been one of the best for a long time,” Brady said Wednesday. “The history of the Steeler organization with so many great players and teams and championships, you know you’re always going to get a dog fight when you play them.
“I have a lot of respect for them. They play the game the right way. They’re always physical. They’re a tough, physical group and that’s pretty much what comes out of Pittsburgh. They play well, they’re coached well. They’re just a great organization.”
Belichick has an even greater appreciation for what the Rooney family has accomplished, going back to 1975, Belichick’s first year in the NFL. That was the year he was an assistant under Ted Marchibroda in Baltimore. That year, the Colts lost to the powerhouse Steel Curtain in the the AFC divisional round, 21-10, as Andy Russell returned a fumble for a game-changing score.
That was the second of four Vince Lombardi trophies in six years for head coach Chuck Noll and the Steelers, as they built the dynasty that continues today. After Noll, the Steelers have had just two head coaches, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin, a remarkable run of consistency in the organization. Unlike the Bengals, who have had the same head coach for 14 years, the Steelers have actually had playoff success under Cowher and Tomlin, with each head coach winning a Super Bowl.
|10.19.16 at 5:28 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger injured his knee in Sunday’s loss to the Dolphins.
Instead of perhaps having the Patriots guess for a few days with who would start at quarterback this Sunday, the Steelers officially ruled Roethlisberger out on Tuesday and named Landry Jones the starter.
“We’re a transparent group. We don’t hide. We are who we are,” Steelers coaching Mike Tomlin said on a conference call with New England reporters on Wednesday. “He had a surgical procedure to address his knee issue so to eliminate any potential questions or distractions regarding his availability and get firmly focused on the task at hand with the man playing quarterback that’s playing quarterback this week. That’s the approach.”
Another topic that came up on the call were technological issues on the sidelines.
The Patriots had trouble this past Sunday and the last time the two teams met, the Steelers had issues when they heard the Patriots’ radio broadcast over their headsets during the Week 1 matchup in 2015 at Gillette Stadium.
“We’ve had some technological issues on the sidelines, particularly in recent years, so that’s nothing new,” Tomlin said.
The Patriots enter the game 5-1, while the Steelers are 4-2, but are expected to be without Roethlisberger for 4-6 weeks after surgery on Monday.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|10.19.16 at 4:42 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Matthew Slater took to the podium on Wednesday to talk about the Steelers and where he thinks the Patriots stand after six weeks.
But before hand, Matthew the special teams captain had an announcement about an initiative to help victims of those affected by another Matthew.
Hundreds of people were killed in Haiti by Hurricane Matthew earlier this month and thousands were affected in both Haiti and the Carolinas, specifically North Carolina where he and his wife, Shahzrad, have family.
“My wife and I will be hosting an event Oct. 25, next Tuesday, from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. It’s called Matthew vs. Matthew and the idea behind this is, we have family in the Carolinas and living up here in the Boston area, we’ve met a lot of people that have ties to Haiti.
“Hurricane Matthew has obviously had a devastating effect on a lot of people so we wanted to do something that would provide some relief efforts for the people affected by this. The event is at Splitsville, right up here at Patriot Place, next Tuesday; a lot of the guys [will be there].”
The website for more information about the event next Tuesday is matthewvsmatthew.org.
“We’ll have some great auction items and it’ll be a great time, but most importantly, every penny we raise will go directly to an organization called ‘Samaritan’s Purse.’ That’s already on the ground in the Carolinas and in Haiti,” Slater added. “They do tremendous work. It’s an organization I’ve had a long-standing relationship with. I can’t take the credit for this. This is my wife’s idea, but it’s something I wanted to let you guys know [about] and get the word out there.”
|10.19.16 at 4:18 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Tight end Martellus Bennett (ankle), linebacker Jamie Collins (hip), linebacker Elandon Roberts (ankle) and wide receiver Julian Edelman (foot) were among the 10 players limited in Wednesday’s practice, the team announced Wednesday afternoon.
Collins missed last Sunday’s win over the Bengals because of the hip issue.
The news of who is on the list is just as big as who isn’t on the injury report: tight end Rob Gronkowski, who had been suffering from hamstring issues and a stomach bug this year, is not on the first one of the week.
Here’s the complete list.
Tight end Martellus Bennett (ankle)
Running back Brandon Bolden (knee)
Linebacker Jamie Collins (hip)
Wide receiver Julian Edelman (foot)
Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo (right shoulder)
Defensive lineman Woodrow Hamilton (shoulder)
Linebacker Shea McClellin (concussion)
Wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell (hamstring)
Linebacker Elandon Roberts (ankle)
Defensive lineman Vincent Valentine (back)
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
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