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

Target Practice: Tracking opportunities in Patriots passing game

10.09.12 at 3:45 pm ET
By   |   Comments

Targets have been compiled by the NFL since the start of the 2009 season, and while it remains an 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 through the first five weeks of the 2012 regular season:

WR Wes Welker: 38 catches on 52 targets
WR Brandon Lloyd: 28 catches on 45 targets
TE Rob Gronkowski: 23 catches on 34 targets
WR Julian Edelman: 10 catches on 15 targets
TE Aaron Hernandez: Six catches on eight targets
RB Stevan Ridley: Five catches on eight targets
RB Danny Woodhead: Five catches on six targets
WR Deion Branch: Three catches on five targets
RB Brandon Bolden: Two catches on two targets
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: One catch on one target
TE Kellen Winslow: One catch on two targets
TE Daniel Fells: One catch on four targets
RB Shane Vereen: One catch on two targets
TOTALS: 124 catches on 184 targets

By position
Wide receiver: 79 catches on 117 targets
Tight end: 32 catches on 49 targets
Running back: 13 catches on 18 targets

Read More: targets,

Pressure points: Which Pats defenders have done best job getting after QB in 2012?

10.09.12 at 11:18 am ET
By   |   Comments

Through five weeks, the Patriots have 17 quarterback hits and eight sacks as a team. Based on gamebooks, here’€™s a quick look at some pass-rush numbers for the Patriots to this point in the 2012 season:

Quarterback hits
DE Chandler Jones: Five
DE Jermaine Cunningham: Three
DE Rob Ninkovich: Three
LB Brandon Spikes: Two
DL Vince Wilfork: One
DE Trevor Scott: One
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: One
LB Jerod Mayo: One

Sacks
Ninkovich: Three (11 yards)
Jones: Two (Six yards)
Cunningham: One (seven yards)
Hightower: One (zero yards)
Mayo: One (seven yards)

Read More: pressure points,

Fantasy Football: Week 6 waiver wire

10.09.12 at 10:52 am ET
By   |   Comments

Welcome to the Week 6 waiver wire. The bye weeks are in full swing, so it’€™s always a good idea to keep your bench strength at a maximum, and that’€™s what we are here for. Go to Rotobahn.com for full free agent rankings if you play in deeper leagues. We’€™ll be adding players all day as we continue to work through the Week 5 film.

QUARTERBACKS

Carson Palmer, Raiders

If he was dropped on his bye week, we suggest that you pick him up. He’€™s been playing pretty good football and the Raiders will be throwing a lot in 2012.

Christian Ponder, Vikings

He’€™s getting more love in the marketplace, but he’€™s still available in a lot of leagues and he makes a fine QB2 or matchup QB if you lack a strong No. 1 option.

Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins

He stands tall in the pocket and gets it done with marginal personnel. The Dolphins have finally found their quarterback. Tannehill can be a solid backup for you in most formats.

Brandon Weeden, Browns

He was impressive again in Week 5. We like Weeden, as we said in preseason, and he is starting to show it on the field. He can be your QB2 in a deep league. Grab him if he’€™s available. The Browns have more offensive talent than they are given credit for.

RUNNING BACKS

Rashard Mendenhall, Steelers

This one is obvious, but he is still unowned in some Yahoo leagues … and after last week, he needs to be owned everywhere. He looked pretty darn good in his first action since knee surgery.

Alex Green, Packers

He’€™s our guy for those of you who go back with us. He may finally get his chance this week after filling in well for Cedric Benson in Week 5. It appears that Benson could be out long term, so pick up Green in any league where you need a starter for Week 6 and beyond. He has a chance to make a name for himself now. Green is a great fit for the Packers offense. Tons of upside here. Check out this article I wrote on Green last year before his season-ending injury.

David Wilson, Giants

He’€™s a potential star. His upside alone makes him a guy you should want on your roster. Is he going to be given a bigger role after last week’€™s touchdown run?

Brandon Bolden, Patriots

He looks really good toting the rock, and Ridley now has fumbled in consecutive games. That is a risky way to keep your job under Bill Belichick. Bolden is a guy to own, especially in deep formats and long term. This kid is not a fluke.

Kendall Hunter, 49ers

He’s flashed his talents the last few weeks with the 49ers holding big leads and we expect him to be a bigger factor as the weeks wear on. The big reason to own Hunter is that Frank Gore is oft-injured and Hunter would start in his absence. Hunter is a very good handcuff option.

Pierre Thomas, Saints

He is playing well right now and he makes solid flex or bye week replacement in medium to large leagues. Thomas is involved in the passing game too, so he has PPR appeal too.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Brandon Bolden, Carson Palmer, Christian Ponder, Rashard Mendenhall

WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 6: Patriots return to top 5

10.09.12 at 10:19 am ET
By   |   Comments

For the third straight week the Falcons (1), Texans (2) and 49ers (3) remain at the top of the WEEI NFL Power Rankings. At a combined 14-1, those teams have one major thing in common: balance. They are strong on both the offensive and defensive side of the ball.

One team that is no stranger to the top five is the Patriots. Tom Brady and company hop back in at No. 5 after a three-week absence. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers are the latest team to get bounced after their loss to the Colts. Green Bay drops to No. 7.

One division that has gone from rags to riches is the NFC West. The 49ers (3), Cardinals (10), Seahawks (16) and Rams (25) are all bolstered by solid defense and are progressing week to week.

Week 6 has the potential to be the most impactful week yet. In a rematch of the NFC championship, the 49ers will be out for revenge against the Giants (8). Meanwhile, the Texans will battle the Packers as Green Bay attempts to avoid dropping to 2-4.

1. (1) Falcons (5-0) ‘€” Matt Ryan has led the Falcons to their first 5-0 start in franchise history. Mike Smith‘s team put up 17 points in the fourth quarter to remain perfect. Great teams win close games and find ways to prevail. The Falcons have proven they are capable of that so far.

2. (2) Texans (5-0) ‘€” The pulse of the Texans defense may be out for the year. The early reports suggest Brian Cushing suffered a torn ACL in Monday night’s win over the Jets, and that could be a crippling blow.

3. (3) 49ers (4-1) ‘€” The Niners have outscored their opponents 79-3 in their last two games. That’s a pretty remarkable statistic. It shows how dominant this team is but also how terrible the Jets and Bills are as well. They’ll face some real competition next week against the Giants but there are reasons to be concerned. Alex Smith has a sprained middle finger on his throwing hand.

4. (5) Ravens (4-1) ‘€” It wasn’t pretty but the Ravens improved to 4-1 without scoring a touchdown. Ray Rice rushed for over 100 yards and that usually means a Ravens victory. Baltimore is 13-2 when Rice rushes for over 100 yards. For John Harbaugh, the formula to victory is simple: Get Ray Rice the rock.

5. (7) Patriots (3-2) ‘€” As long as the defense remains opportunistic, the Patriots will continue to roll. The defense has forced key turnovers in crucial moments throughout the season. A solid giveaway/takeaway number is usually a great indicator of how good a team really is, and the Pats and the Falcons top the NFL with a plus-10.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Alex Smith, Brian Cushing, Chuck Pagano, Matt Ryan

Following the flags: Tracking Patriots penalties for 2012 season

10.09.12 at 8:14 am ET
By   |   Comments

Through five weeks, the Patriots have been flagged for 28 penalties (28th in the league) for a total of 232 yards (25th in the league). Here’€™s a breakdown of the calls that have gone against the Patriots this year, not including penalties that were declined or offset:

Most penalized players, listed by total flags and with total yardage lost:
TE Rob Gronkowski: four penalties (two offensive holding, false start, offensive pass interference), 30 yards
CB Devin McCourty: three penalties (defensive holding, two defensive pass interference), 51 yards
WR Julian Edelman: two penalties (false start, offensive pass interference), 15 yards
Team: two penalties (illegal formation, illegal block above the waist), 15 yards
ST Niko Koutouvides: two penalties (defensive holding, illegal block above the waist), 14 yards
LB Jerod Mayo: two penalties (defensive pass interference) 8 yards
S Steve Gregory: one penalty (personal foul), 15 yards
S Tavon Wilson: one penalty (offensive holding’€“punt return team), 10 yards
CB Ras-I Dowling: one penalty (defensive pass interference) 9 yards
LB Brandon Spikes: one penalty (defensive holding), 5 yards
CB Kyle Arrington: one penalty (defensive holding), 5 yards
DE Chandler Jones: one penalty (defensive offsides) 5 yards
LS Danny Aiken: one penalty (false start) 5 yards
OL Donald Thomas: one penalty (false start) 5 yards
DL Vince Wilfork: one penalty (encroachment), 5 yards
G Logan Mankins: one penalty (false start), 5 yards
ST Nate Ebner: one penalty (offensive holding), 5 yards
OT Nate Solder: one penalty (false start), 5 yards
C Ryan Wendell: one penalty (offensive holding), 5 yards

Most penalized by position:
Cornerback: Five penalties for 65 yards
Specialists (punter, kicker, long snapper, kick/punt units): Five penalties for 34 yards
Tight end: Four penalties for 30 yards
Offensive line: Four penalties for 20 yards
Linebacker: Three penalties for 13 yards
Team: Two penalties for 15 yards
Wide receiver: Two penalties for 15 yards
Defensive line: Two penalties for 10 yards
Safety: One penalty for 15 yards

Most frequently called penalties on the Patriots:
False start: Six
Defensive pass interference: Five
Offensive holding: Five
Defensive holding: Three
Illegal block above the waist: Two
Defensive offsides: Two
Offensive pass interference: Two
Illegal formation: One
Personal foul: One
Encroachment: One

Notes: By way of comparison, through five games last year, the Patriots had 34 penalties and 318 penalty yards. This year, through five games, they have been flagged for 28 penalties and 232 yards. (Here’s a look at the Patriots penalty information through the first five games of the 2011 season.) … Four Patriots were called for their first penalties of the season last week against the Broncos: Mankins, Ebner, Solder and Wendell. It’s interesting to note that Wendell and Solder — who have played every offensive snap this season — picked up their first penalties of the season on Sunday.

Read More: penalties,

More catches, less comedy for Wes Welker going forward

10.08.12 at 5:26 pm ET
By   |   Comments

FOXBORO — Wes Welker might choose his words a little more carefully the next time around.

As the wide receiver plays out the season under the franchise tag, the questions of where Welker stands with the team and coach Bill Belichick going forward will continue to pop up. Welker didn’t help matters Sunday when he said it was “nice to stick it in Bill’s face” with his 13-catch performance against the Broncos after not being as big a part of the offense earlier in the season.

“I mean, it was a joke,” Welker said. “I don’t know what else to say about it. It was a joke. Bill and I, whether y’all believe it or not, have a good relationship and it was a joke. I’ll make sure to keep that in-house going forward.”

Given Welker’s situation, he admitted it’s hard for him to say anything without it receiving extra attention.

“Yeah, obviously, so you’ve just got to be careful with what you say,” Welker said. “Bill does a good job of challenging us and being a great coach and doing things necessary that he needs to do. I made a joke about it, and it won’t happen again.”

Welker has been punished for what he’s said in the past, as cryptic jabs at Jets coach Rex Ryan‘s foot fetish cost him playing time early in the Pats‘ playoff loss to the Jets in the divisional round in the 2010 season. He said he doesn’t expect any repercussions for Sunday’s comment.

“I don’t think so at all,” he said. “We’re just concentrating on Seattle this week and getting ready for the game.”

In the Patriots’ season-opening win against the Titans, Welker was thrown to just five times and had three receptions for 14 yards. He was kept quiet in the first half of the Pats’ Week 2 loss to the Cardinals, but he finished that game with five catches for 95 yards on 11 targets. His numbers have steadily increased since then (eight catches for 142 yards in Week 3, nine for 129 in Week 4 and 13 for 104 Sunday), so much so that Welker is tied with Minnesota’s Percy Harvin for second in the league with 38 receptions. Only Atlanta’s Tony Gonzalez (39) is ahead of Welker and Harvin.

After all the questions of his comment and his relationship with Belichick, Welker was given the opportunity to agree that Belichick is the best coach ever, to which he responded, “No doubt he is, and that’s not a joke.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Wes Welker,

Bill Belichick on fumbles: ‘There’s nothing more important than possession of the ball’

10.08.12 at 3:43 pm ET
By   |   Comments

FOXBORO — Though Patriots running back Stevan Ridley turned in a 151-yard performance on the ground in Sunday’s win over the Broncos, one problem of the second-year back’s reared its ugly head when he lost a fumble in the fourth quarter.

The fumble was Ridley’s second of the season, the first of which he’s lost. Ridley’s fumble in last season’s playoff game against the Broncos cost him playing time in the team’s final two playoff games, and he entered this season with concerns about ball security.

Bill Belichick didn’t single Ridley out Monday at Gillette Stadium, saying that ball security is something he focuses on with every player who has the ball.

“We work on ball security with every player who handles the ball every week every day,” Belichick said, later adding that ball security is the “highest priority with everybody.”

It should be worth noting that Brandon Bolden also had issues with ball security in the preseason, giving the Patriots two running backs who have been extremely effective thus far (four 100-yard performances between the two of them through five games), but have a history of putting the ball on the ground. Regardless of who drops it, it’s something that Belichick views as unacceptable.

“There’s nothing ore important than possession of the ball,” Belichick said. “We can’t afford to lose it. It’s as simple as that.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, Brandon Bolden, Stevan Ridley,
Latest on Twitter
Draft Kings
Player News
Patriots Headlines
NFL Headlines
Tips & Feedback

Verify