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New York Times (via American Enterprise Institute) deconstructs Wells report, finds it ‘deeply flawed’

06.12.15 at 6:44 pm ET
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The credibility of the Ted Wells report continues to erode.  (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

The credibility of the Ted Wells report continues to erode. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Another serious blow has been delivered to the credibility of the centerpiece of the NFL’s attack on Tom Brady and the Patriots.

In an opinion piece published in Friday’s New York Times, a group of scientific and economic experts from the American Enterprise Institute systematically deconstruct the Ted Wells report and determine that the findings of wrongdoing are “deeply flawed” based on the lack of scientific merit.

Why would the NFL be concerned about this?

The American Enterprise Institute was the same group that presented its findings on the “Bountygate” scandal to the NFL in Nov. 2012. Saints officials were accused of offering bonuses to Saints players who injured members of opposing teams ‘€” a policy alleged to have been in place from 2009 to 2011. The league handed out several suspensions, including a year ban of head coach Sean Payton.

But in 2012, AEI published an analysis of NFL injury data that found that the Saints injured fewer opposing players than all but two teams did in 2009, and fewer than all but one team did from 2009 to 2011. Even if Saints officials offered “bounties,” there was no reliable and sustainable evidence that Saints players “were influenced” by them.

After presenting the report, the league vacated the players’€™ suspensions a month later.

Almost three years later, AEI is coming to the defense of another target in the crosshairs of the league. The following is some of what Kevin Hassett and Stan Veuger found, and was published by the Times.

Our study, written with our colleague Joseph Sullivan, examines the evidence and methodology of the Wells report and concludes that it is deeply flawed. (We have no financial stake in the outcome of Deflategate.)

The Wells report’€™s main finding is that the Patriots balls declined in pressure more than the Colts balls did in the first half of their game, and that the decline is highly statistically significant. For the sake of argument, let’€™s grant this finding for now. Even still, it alone does not prove misconduct. There are, after all, two possibilities. The first is that the Patriots balls declined too much. The second ‘€” overlooked by the Wells report ‘€” is that the Colts balls declined too little.

[The full report can be found here]

The latter possibility appears to be more likely. The Wells report notes the expected pressure for the footballs at halftime in the Patriots-Colts game, factoring in the decline in pressure to be expected when a ball, inflated in a warm room, has been moved to a cold outdoor field. If the Patriots deflated their balls, their pressure levels at halftime should have fallen below the expected level, while the Colts balls at halftime should have hovered around that level.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: American Enterprise Institute, Bountygate, Deflategate, New England Patriots

After Patriots cut him loose, Tampa Bay claims TE Tim Wright

06.12.15 at 4:22 pm ET
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Tim Wright

Tim Wright

The Buccaneers claimed Tim Wright off waivers from the Patriots on Friday, one day after the third-year tight end had been cut loose by New England.

It’s a homecoming for Wright, who was dealt by Tampa to the Patriots last August with a fourth-round pick in exchange for Logan Mankins. In 2014 with New England, Wright played in 16 games with two starts and contributed 26 catches for 259 yards and six touchdowns.

In his relatively short time with the Patriots, he distinguished himself as a dependable receiver — his 79 percent catch rate (26 catches on 33 targets) was a high for any New England offensive skill position player who was targeted at least 20 times in a single season since 2009. However, he saw his playing time drop off at the end of the regular season and into the playoffs. That, as well as the offseason additions of free agents Fred Davis and Scott Chandler and the drafting of A.J. Derby, likely combined to make Wright expendable.

Read More: Logan Mankins, Tim Wright,

Patriots officially sign Matt Flynn

06.12.15 at 3:28 pm ET
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Matt Flynn is set to join the Patriots after two stints with the Packers. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Matt Flynn is set to join the Patriots after two stints with the Packers. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — It’s official. Aaron Rodgers‘ former backup is now fighting for the same job behind Tom Brady.

The Patriots made the signing of veteran signal caller Matt Flynn official on Friday, as the Patriots give some serious internal competition to Jimmy Garoppolo for the backup role, and likely the starting job to start the season with Brady’s suspension looming.

Former SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert had been sharing reps with Brady and Garoppolo in OTA practices before his release on Thursday.

Flynn, 29, is a veteran of seven NFL seasons with Green Bay (2008-11, 2013-14), Seattle (2012), Oakland (2013) and Buffalo (2013). The 6-foot-2, 225-pounder, originally entered the NFL as a seventh-round draft pick (209th overall) in the 2008 NFL Draft by Green Bay out of Louisiana State.

He has played in 51 NFL games with seven starts and has completed 219-of-357 passes for 2,541 yards with 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Filling in for a concussed Aaron Rodgers, Flynn made his first NFL start in a Sunday Night Football game against New England on Dec. 19, 2010 at Gillette Stadium, completing 24-of-37 passes for 251 yards with three touchdowns and one interception.

After serving as Green Bay’€™s backup quarterback from 2008 through 2011, Flynn was signed by Seattle as an unrestricted free agent on March 18, 2012. He was traded by Seattle to Oakland on April 1, 2013, and spent the first five weeks of the year with the Raiders before being released on Oct. 7, 2013.

Flynn was signed by Buffalo on Oct. 14, 2013 and was with the Bills for three games before being released on Nov. 4, 2013. He was re-signed by Green Bay on Nov. 12, 2013. Last season, Flynn played in seven games for the Packers and completed 8-of-16 passes for 66 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.

Read More: aaron rodgers, Garrett Gilbert, Green Bay Packers, Jimmy Garoppolo

Brandon Spikes cited for role in last weekend’s car accident on Route 495 in Foxboro

06.12.15 at 11:23 am ET
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Former Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes has been officially charged in connection with last weekend’s incident early Sunday morning on Route 495 in Foxboro.

The Mass State Police, in a statement released Friday morning, say Spikes has been cited for leaving the scene of a personal injury crash, operating a motor vehicle negligently to endanger, speeding and failure to stay within marked lanes.

He will be summonsed to appear in Wrentham District Court, at a date yet to be determined. Spikes was released by the Patriots Monday morning, once word was spread he was being investigated for his role in the incident.

After a week long investigation, it was determined that Spikes’ Mercedes Maybach was the car that struck the Nissan Murano which caused minor injuries to the three occupants and Spikes was indeed the one driving the Maybach.

To read the full release from the Mass State Police, click here.

Read More: Brandon Spikes,

When it comes to getting up to speed, Patriots rookie Jordan Richards on fast track

06.12.15 at 7:30 am ET
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Safety Jordan Richards was taken 64th overall by the Patriots. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Safety Jordan Richards was taken 64th overall by the Patriots. (Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — Jordan Richards, who has been on the scene in Foxboro for roughly one week — he had to finish his academic obligations at Stanford before he could participate on any organized team activities with the Patriots — is trying to get up to speed at a rapid pace.

“There’s a sense of urgency,” he confessed following Thursday’s OTA session with his new team on the practice fields behind Gillette. “There’s never a moment I can’t be learning something — where I can’t be asking a question of a player or a coach. That’s what I’m trying to do, each and every moment I’m in this facility, I’m just trying to learn and get this stuff down.

“Obviously, this is my first time going through this, while for other guys, it isn’t. I’m just trying to catch up as much as I can so I can help this football team and not make mistakes.”

Of course, the defensive back — New England’s second-round pick out of Stanford — isn’t starting completely from square one. While he was wrapping things up in California, he was able to stay connected with the team “electronically.” Now, he’s able to put that learning to use on the field.

“You’re learning as much as you can electronically — I was still in school and I couldn’t come out here until I graduated and finished up my responsibilities at Stanford,” he said of the last few weeks. “I did that, and I was trying to learn the playbook as best I can electronically and writing down my questions when I got here so I could ask those questions and get an answer. Now, we’re here and I can be a full-time football player. That’s what we’re all about.

“(But) it just feels good to be playing football again on a team. To just try and make every day worthwhile and learn from the other guys and from our coaches and just try and put the best stuff on tape.”

Richards, who gained a rep at Stanford as one of the smarter players on the roster — his teammates used to refer to him as “Coach Richards,” and Stanford safeties coach Duane Akina said his teammates regularly deferred to him when it came to making the calls — said the biggest challenge to this point has been learning the “new language” of life in the NFL.

“It’s obviously a different defense than I played in college, and so you just gave to learn and ask questions and make sure you’re in the right spot — aligned right. And that way, you can help the team,” he said.

“One of (Patriots safety coach) coach (Brian) Flores’ three keys he gave me on the first day when I first talked to him was communication. On the back end, that’s imperative. If we make mistakes, bad things happen. As coach Akina said, the band strikes up and they start playing. We can’t make mistakes on the back end.”

Read More: Jordan Richards,

Patriots will get their Super Bowl rings Sunday in private ceremony

06.12.15 at 12:22 am ET
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The Patriots will get their rings for winning Super Bowl XLIX on Sunday in a ceremony at the home of owner Robert Kraft.

The fourth title ring earned by the franchise, this will mark the third time the ceremony has been held at the Kraft home. In the wake of the win in Super Bowl XXXVI, the first came in June 2002, and was part of a team get-together at a private waterfront ceremony at the Boston Harbor Hotel. The second and third were also held in June (2004 and 2005), but at Kraft’€™s home in Brookline.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Read More: Robert Kraft, Super Bowl XLIX,

As Patriots hit reset button at cornerback, coach Josh Boyer sounds ready for challenge

06.11.15 at 5:32 pm ET
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Josh Boyer likes what he's seen from the New England corners to this point in the offseason. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Josh Boyer likes what he’s seen from the New England corners to this point in the offseason. (Elsa/Getty Images)

FOXBORO — For a guy who just lost his top three cornerbacks, Josh Boyer is pretty upbeat.

The Patriots cornerbacks coach saw Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner walk in free agency and Kyle Arrington released this past offseason. But he understands the reality of the situation — the only thing that’s permanent in the NFL is change.

“I think each year is new, and it’s a natural transition, a natural progression,” he said after an OTA session on the fields behind Gillette Stadium on Thursday. “I think everybody that’s here — players, coaches, I think everybody understands there’s going to be turnover. There will be things like that. Again, it’s just an all-new start.”

That all-new start includes veteran free-agent pickups Robert McClain, Bradley Fletcher and Derek Cox, as well as rookies Darryl Roberts and Jimmy Jean. They join a group of returnees that includes Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan, as well as former practice squadder Justin Green.

“I think all of our guys in our group have worked extremely hard, whether it’s in the classroom or the weight room,” Boyer said of the new additions. “The field work (and) the offseason coaching sessions we get to do out here.

“Again, when you get to a competitive situation in training camp, that’s what you’ll see. The chemistry that you’re building. Right now, you’re just trying to see if guys can pick up this, can they pick up that.”

Boyer indicated Thursday that there’s been some good carryover for the veterans, even during these early stages of the season.

“I think it’s like anything else in any other profession. I’m sure all you guys have had experience at other places — there’s some carryover, and then, there’s things that are different,” he said, gesturing toward the media. “I think it’s the same for the guys who have come in from different programs. I think there’s a little bit that carries over, and then, I think there’s a little bit that’s new.

“I think the important thing for all of our guys to remember is whether or not it’s corners or safeties, linebackers, defensive line, offensive players. It’s for everybody to get on the same page. That’s how you build a team, and this is just the infancy stages of building a team. And that’s really what we’re trying to do.”

On Thursday, a lot of the focus was on Butler, who was disciplined for missing the first OTA workout because of a missed flight, and was subsequently forced to sit out practice sessions. He was back on the field in front of the media for the first time Thursday, and looked like he hadn’t missed a beat.

“I think Malcolm has had a productive offseason. I think he’s been pretty productive. What we’re asking him to do, I think he’s improving,” Boyer said of Butler. “(But) I think we need to continue to improve. I think (Butler) needs to continue to build on that. And then when I think when we get to training camp and get into a competitive situation against our offense and we start working a little bit against the Saints, I think you’re going to see some things there. Not just Malcolm (but) everybody in our group.

“All that stuff will play out in time.”

Read More: Brandon Browner, Darrelle Revis, Josh Boyer, Kyle Arrington
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