|12.03.13 at 8:35 am ET|
Targets have been compiled by the NFL since the start of the 2009 season, and while it remains a vaguely imperfect stat — a badly thrown ball from a quarterback can often go against the record of the receiver as opposed to the quarterback — it remains a good indication of the confidence level a passer might have in his pass catcher. Here’s a look at the target breakdown for the New England passing game after the first 12 games of the 2013 season:
WR Julian Edelman: 70 catches on 101 targets
TE Rob Gronkowski: 37 catches on 61 targets
WR Danny Amendola: 37 catches on 55 targets
WR Aaron Dobson: 35 catches on 72 targets
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 32 catches on 69 targets
RB Shane Vereen: 28 catches on 38 targets
RB Brandon Bolden: 19 catches on 25 targets
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 10 catches on 14 targets
RB Stevan Ridley: 9 catches on 10 targets
WR Austin Collie: 3 catches on 7 targets
FB James Develin: 3 catches on 3 targets
WR Josh Boyce: 2 catches on 7 targets
TE Matthew Mulligan: 1 catch on 2 targets
TE Zach Sudfeld: 0 catches on 3 targets
RB LeGarrette Blount: 0 catches on 2 targets
RB Leon Washington: 0 catches on 1 target
TE/OL Nate Solder: 0 catches on 1 target
Wide receiver: 179 catches on 311 targets
Running back/fullback: 59 catches on 79 targets
Tight end: 48 catches on 80 targets
Other: 0 catches on 1 target
|12.03.13 at 6:45 am ET|
The Patriots host Cleveland Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium. Here are five things you have to know about the Browns, who are last in the AFC North at 4-8.
1. Josh Gordon is everything to their offense — and we mean EVERYTHING
The 22-year-old wide receiver out of Utah has become one of the most dynamic offensive options in the league this season, with 64 catches for 1,249 yards (second in the league to Calvin “Megatron” Johnson) and seven touchdowns. The 6-foot-3, 225-pounder is in the midst of a truly great stretch — he’s had at least 125 receiving yards in four of Cleveland’s last five games, and became the first player in NFL history with back-to-back 200-yard receiving games last week, thanks to his 14-catch, 237-yard performance in Week 12 against the Steelers. There’s not much else to speak of offensively, other than young tight end Jordan Cameron, who has had an excellent year with 63 catches for 704 yards and six touchdowns.
2. No one is 100 percent sure who will play quarterback Sunday against New England
Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said Monday all possibilities were open after starter Brandon Weeden was diagnosed with a concussion during Cleveland’s loss to the Jags last weekend. (Weeden cannot play until he passes league-mandated concussion tests.) As for Jason Campbell, he missed the Jaguars game with a concussion. He has been cleared for activity but not to practice, according to Chudzinski. That leave open the possibility that rookie Alex “Trick Shot” Tanney could draw the start. Tanney was signed off the Dallas practice squad. He’s best known for putting together an impressive five-minute video of himself throwing footballs through hoops and off goalpost uprights at Monmouth College’s athletic facility.
3. They really can’t run the ball consistently
In what should be good news for the Patriots, the Browns enter the game with an average of just 82.3 rushing yards per game, 28th in the league. Cleveland has topped 100 yards on the ground in just three games this season, with a season high of 126 rushing yards in an October loss to the Lions. Old warhorse Willis McGahee is the Browns’ best option on the ground, but he only has 124 carries for 344 yards (a 2.8 yards per carry average) for two touchdowns.
4. They have something of an underrated defense
The Browns are in the Top 10 in most major defensive categories, including total yards (fourth at 306.8 yards per game), passing yards (fifth at 207.8) and rushing yards (fifth at 98.9 yards per game). It’s interesting that that hasn’t always translated to the scoreboard, as the Browns are 19th in points per game, yielding 24.8 yards per contest. Cornerback Joe Haden (four interceptions, 17 passes defensed) is probably the most notable defender, but he’s clearly a little peeved about the state of the team following the loss to the Jags. Haden, who allowed the game-winning touchdown, was emotional in the locker room after the game. “We (bleeping) can’t stand losing, it hurts,” Haden said. “I go out there and put my (bleeping) heart out there every time. Every time. You know what I’m saying? And we end up coming up short.”
5. They aren’t good at taking care of the football
Cleveland is minus-9 in the turnover department, having given the ball away 23 times (15 interceptions, eight fumbles) compared to 14 takeaways. Weeden has thrown nine interceptions.
|12.02.13 at 11:08 pm ET|
After saying there was something “fishy” and “highly suspicious” about the way the Patriots were able to make adjustments in the second half of New England’s 34-31 win over Houston on Sunday, Texans defensive lineman Antonio Smith quickly backtracked from his comments on Monday, saying it was all a joke.
“It tickles me how much the country loves the Patriots so much they take everything so seriously,” Smith told reporters Monday evening. “I wasn’t angry or serious and I didn’t say that’s why they beat us.”
After the Patriots rallied from a 10-point deficit with a 27-point second half to pin the 10th straight loss of the year on the Texans, Smith intimated something was up with the way things happened in the second half.
“You can tell they changed their scheme in the second half,” Smith told reporters after the game. “It’s miraculous they changed some things on offense that keyed on what we put on this week to stop what they were doing. They did things they never did all year before. It was a specific thing that was important to what we were going to do today, as to how we were going to call the defense. We’d not ever did it before, and they never changed like that before. It just let me know that something wasn’t right.
“Tom Brady and Bill Belichick are among the best at their craft because they work so hard at their craft. But you have to be a descendent of ‘Tones-tradamus’ to know what we put in this week to be able to change that fast. I’ve got the only crystal ball in existence. I don’t know what it is. Either teams are spying on us or something’s going on.”
On Monday, Smith was singing a difference tune, saying he wasn’t aware his comments created such a controversy.
“I was definitely surprised,” he said. “I didn’t think anything else about it after we talked until I woke up this morning and everybody wanted to kill me on Instagram.
“My teammates were telling me about ESPN. I don’t really watch ESPN that much, but [my teammates] pretty much got a good laugh out of it, me being the butt of everybody’s jokes today. I had no idea it would have that (kind of) effect.”
Smith said it was taken the wrong way.
“I said it, but you have to check the manner in which I said it,” he added. “I didn’t accuse them of beating us with cheating. Come on, don’t you have a sense of humor? Though it may be something I was curious about it, I wasn’t thinking they spied on us or they were cheating.
“Half the stuff I say is spontaneous and witty, and I don’t think anything else about it. I’m sorry I said the word spying. I was joking and having fun with it.”
Asked about it on Monday, Belichick said it was a league matter, while Brady dismissed it, saying he didn’t think much of the allegations. And Texans coach Gary Kubiak didn’t sound like he was too pleased with Smith’s comments.
“I have the utmost respect for their organization, their players, their coaches, their head coach,” Kubiak said. “I mean, the standard that they’ve been setting for a long, long time in this league. They did a great job (Sunday). They’ve been doing it for a long time.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|12.02.13 at 6:59 pm ET|
The Patriots announced Monday they have re-signed offensive lineman R.J. Dill to the practice squad and released tackle Patrick Ford from the practice squad.
Dill, 23, was originally signed to the New England practice squad on Sept. 3, and was released on Sept. 13. The 6-foot-6, 316-pounder was signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars as a rookie free agent out of Rutgers on April 28, and was released by the Jaguars on Aug. 30. He started all 13 games at right tackle for Rutgers in 2012 after transferring from Maryland following the 2011 season. Dill was a three-year starter at Maryland.
Ford, 23, was signed to the New England practice squad on Nov. 27. He was originally signed by the New York Jets as a rookie free agent out of Eastern Kentucky on Aug. 13, 2013, and was released on Aug. 26. The 6-foot-6, 305-pounder, was a three-year starter at Eastern Kentucky, serving as both a guard and tackle during his collegiate career. He spent the majority of his final two seasons at left tackle.
|12.02.13 at 1:18 pm ET|
Former Patriots offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi — a cancer survivor — is set to headline the feature event of the year for the Joe Andruzzi Foundation Monday night at Gillette Stadium. Andruzzi, as well as several local celebrities and current and former Patriots, will get together for the sixth annual gala to help raise money for his foundation, which helps cancer patients and their families and supports pediatric brain cancer research at Boston Children’s Hospital.
The Andruzzi’s will be joined at the gala by many of his former Patriots teammates, as well as current players, celebrities and sports stars from across New England.
It’s an important night for Andruzzi, who has been instrumental in helping raise thousands of dollars to help fight cancer.
“Our gala is such an important night for our Foundation, and with each year, I’m more appreciative I’m still here, and that my wife Jen and I get to do this work,” Andruzzi said. “We’re still in awe of how far we’ve come in six years, and humbled by our collective power to help others. The funds we raise at this year’s gala will continue to help us alleviate cancer’s financial burden on patients and families, as well as fund crucial pediatric brain cancer research, and we’re incredibly grateful to all those who have joined us along the way to make nights like tonight possible.”
|12.02.13 at 1:03 pm ET|
FOXBORO — After quickly dismissing the question in his post-game comments Sunday after a 34-31 win over the Texans, Bill Belichick was somewhat more effusive and forthcoming about his decision to sit Stevan Ridley Sunday after his three-game bout with fumblelitis.
Belichick was asked Monday in his conference call about the decision to bench Ridley when Julian Edelman has fumbled five times this season (including twice on one punt against Denver), recovering three of them. Ridley has four fumbles this season and hasn’t recovered a single one. Ridley has nine fumbles over three seasons.
How do Belichick determine when a player sits after fumbling and when he doesn’t?
“Well, that’s easy,” Belichick said. “We always do what we feel is best for the team in every situation. That’s the way it’s always been and that’s the way it will always be as long as I’m here. I have to do what I feel like is best with any decision, in any situation, with what I feel is the overall best decision for the football team. That’s what drives every decision I make, on everything: plays, players, you name it. I have to do what I feel like is best for the team.”
So, it’s never about sending a message?
“If I have a message to send to somebody, I’ll just sit down and talk to them and tell them what it is,” Belichick said. “I can have a conversation and do have a conversation with anybody on the team that I need to have a conversation with. That’s not a problem. There’s no sending a message. You sit down and talk to somebody man-to-man and talk about the situation so that we’re all on the same page as to whatever it happens to be and what the direction is going forward. That’s easy. There’s not sending a message. You just have a conversation with somebody. This isn’t cryptic. We’re just trying to win a football game, that’s all.”
Did Ridley specifically not play on Sunday because of his fumble issues?
“The inactive players every week are based on, in part injuries and ultimately what we feel like for that particular game is the best decision for the football team in that game to try to win,” Belichick said. “Along with every other decision on the team that I make, it’s made with what gives our team, in our opinion, the best opportunity to win on Sundays. That’s what all decisions are based on.”
Belichick was also asked whether he read the comments of Houston defensive lineman Antonio Smith, who was very suspicious of the adjustments the Patriots made to Houston’s defense after trailing at halftime Sunday, 17-7.
“Yeah, I saw them. I don’t have any comment on them. I think that’s a league matter,” Belichick said.
|12.02.13 at 12:24 pm ET|
Patriots defensive end Rob Ninkovich joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to talk about New England’s 34-31 win over the Texans on Sunday.
The Patriots moved to 9-3 on the season, but Houston defensive end Antonio Smith stole the spotlight with his comments after his team’s 10th straight loss. After the game Smith said he was “very suspicious” of New England’s adjustments in the second half, after the Patriots fell behind 17-7 in the first 30 minutes.
“It’s kind of a silly comment,” Ninkovich said. “I’m sure they’re a little upset that in the second half they couldn’t stop Tom [Brady] and our offense. It’s a comment where I really don’t know where that would come from.”
Stephen Gostkowski kicked the game-winning field goal with just over three minutes remaining to complete the comeback. The Texans also held a 31-28 lead in the fourth quarter.
“It’s an emotional game that we play, and people put a lot of heart and effort into preparing for a football game,” Ninkovich said, adding: “That’s a tough loss. … When you lose 10 in a row, I’m sure there’s a ton of frustration in that locker room.”
Ninkovich and his defensive unit did not play well against the hapless Texans. Rookie quarterback Case Keenum threw for 272 yards, and running back Ben Tate rushed for 102 yards and three touchdowns. Keenum also ran for a touchdown.
“We definitely do have to do a better job of playing our responsibilities and everyone doing their job,” said Ninkovich, who made four tackles and recorded two QB hits. “Good team defense is everybody playing their gap responsibly and not having those holes.”
The game was the Patriots’ second straight come-from-behind win. Two weeks ago, New England trailed the Broncos 24-0 heading into the third quarter. The Patriots went on to win 34-31 in overtime.
“We need to figure it out and play better, because you can’t spot a team 17, 24 [points], whatever it may be, in the first half and expect to win every game,” Ninkovich said.
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