|01.10.12 at 5:49 pm ET|
Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here’s the complete transcript of the Q&A between the New England media and Denver quarterback Tim Tebow:
Q: Can you talk about the fact that you guys played four weeks ago? What does that game mean, what did you learn from it and how do you carry that into this week’s game?
TT: I feel like it was a good learning experience. I think it’s a privilege for us to play again, the New England Patriots and [Bill] Belichick and [Tom] Brady. We’re very excited about that. We’re very excited about being able to move onto the next round in the playoffs and play a team like this in the playoffs. I think there’s a lot that we can learn from our first matchup ‘ different things that we did well, different things that we didn’t do so well and ways that we can improve. I think that there are a lot of things that we can learn and improve on and hopefully just do a little bit better this time around.
Q: How much, if at all, has this New England defense changed since you saw them the first time around?
TT: I feel like they’re a very good defense. I feel like they’re coached well. I feel like every game they go into they have a different game plan. There are different things they’re trying to accomplish and maybe they’re trying to get to certain things in a different way. I think they’re overall coached very well; they have a lot of great players there up front and in the secondary. They make a lot of plays. I think for us, we just have to be very sound and execute. I’m sure our coaches will have a great game plan and we have to execute and probably make great sideline adjustments.
Q: Did you guys feel like it was much your fault that you guys lost that game as it was the Patriots winning? I’m not asking you to downgrade what the Patriots did, but it seemed like you guys had a hand in the loss.
TT: I think we did some things well and then I think we definitely made some mistakes that made it a little bit easier as far as the three turnovers. I think we have to correct on that. You have to give them a lot of credit, they came and they played well. We have to definitely minimize the turnovers, convert better on third downs and when we get in the red zone, try to punch it in. You have to give them credit; they’re a very good team as well.
Q: How did you celebrate on Sunday night?
TT: Honestly, just when we left the stadium, just went home and hung out with my close family, a few friends and my brothers and sisters and brothers-in-law. Just hung out at the house and played with my nieces and nephews and had a good time.
|01.10.12 at 2:15 pm ET|
“He’s on offense and I’m on offense, so I’m not really going versus him,” Gronkowski said Tuesday. “I’m worried about the Denver defense. that’s all I’m focused about, getting better, doing my own job and not worrying about anyone else, especially on their offensive side. Just starting up on their defensive side, trying to get better so I’m prepared come Saturday night.
“You have to watch film on them. They’re great players. They’re both outstanding players, especially Von Miller, just being a rookie, doing what he’s doing. You have to be ready, watch film on them, not just their defensive ends but their whole defense. They’re all good, they’re all fast and we have to learn what they can do so we’re prepared when it comes down to game time.”
Then there’s Stevan Ridley, who was still healing his wounds from his alma mater getting spanked 21-0 Monday night by Bama in the BCS title game. Asked if it helps that every game seems do-or-die during the week, Ridley said with a smile it doesn’t hurt.
‘I know to coach Bill, every game is serious, playoff, regular season, preseason, it’s that game,” Ridley said. “We’re going to take it one game at a time and put all our emphasis into that. This week we’re focusing on Denver and whatever we have to do to win, that’s what we’re going to go out and do.
‘It’s another game. You know coach Bill, he puts so much emphasis on each week. We don’t look ahead or behind, we’re looking at that upcoming game so it’s another game to us. That’s how we’re treating it. It’s going to be a playoff atmosphere and it’s going to be a big-time game. But we’re going to just go out there and play football and stay calm and try to play a sound football game.’
What were Ridley’s thoughts on the the Broncos and Tebow last Sunday?
‘They came to play, Tebow came to be play, their team came to play and they want to win just like every other team,” Ridley added. “It’s a nice story being written about Tebow. He’s a player, he’s a quarterback, he’s a winner. I don’t care what they say, the guy wins. We’re going to have to come in here and play solid football if we want to win this game.
‘Their defense is solid. They’ve been doing good things for them. I think that’s what they really don’t talk about that much. It’s a lot about Tebow but not so much about their defense. But they’re really playing solid football all the way around, in all three phases.’
Both Gronkowski and Ridley admit they can’t stop Tebow but they can play a role in helping to protect Tom Brady. It was Brady who was “de-cleated” when Elvis Dumervil came in unblocked in the fourth quarter on Dec. 18 and drilled Brady in the ribs, lifting him off the ground and driving him to the turf for a loud and thunderous sack.
|01.10.12 at 12:23 am ET|
With the Patriots off this weekend and the postseason ready to begin, we’ve got the Patriots Positional Playoff Preview, a weeklong, position-by-position look at the Patriots and how they look heading into the postseason. We’ve already looked at the offensive side of the ball, as well as the defensive line. Now, it’s the linebackers:
Depth chart (stats from coaches film review): Rob Ninkovich (62 tackles, 46 solo, 6.5 sacks, 9 quarterback hits, 2 interceptions), Gary Guyton (46 tackles, 33 solo, 1 interception), Jerod Mayo (103 tackles, 67 solo, 1 sack, 6 quarterback hits, 2 interceptions), Dane Fletcher (37 tackles, 25 solo, 6 quarterback hits), Brandon Spikes (51 tackles, 36 solo, 1 quarterback hit), Tracy White (25 tackles, 19 solo). Jeff Tarpinian and Jermaine Cunningham are on injured reserve.
Overview: It was a rocky year for the New England linebackers, who, in truth, have been asked to do a lot. There have been shifts from a three-man front to a four-man front and back again over the course of the year. Mayo, Fletcher and Spikes were all sidelined at one time or another for multiple weeks with injuries. And the Patriots defense hasn’t played all that well for large chunks of the season. But now, with the postseason looming, they appear to be healthy, and while the stats aren’t where they should be, they remain a key part to the success of the New England defense.
One of the most intriguing members of the New England linebacking corps is Ninkovich. In my mind, he was most affected by the move from a three-man front to a four-man front at the start of the season, and appeared to struggle at times with the change in responsibilities. However, over the second half of the season, his numbers have improved, particularly when it came to setting the edge against the run and rushing the passer. (He had 14 quarterback pressures and four sacks over one five-game stretch toward the end of the season, and was third on the team behind Andre Carter and Mark Anderson in both sacks with 6.5 and quarterback hits with nine.) He has lined up as a down lineman on occasion, as well as an outside linebacker, and his versatility and smarts make him one of the most important parts of the New England defense.
One opposing scouts take on the Patriots’ wide receivers heading into the postseason: ‘Getting Mayo back is huge while other guys filled in and got reps. The all seem to execute and know what they are supposed to be doing. Lack a great playmaker, but Ninkovich is a productive guy run and pass. All play with great motor and instincts. Benefit from beef in front of them on the inside running game. Can be tested if blockers can get on them.’
Read the rest of this entry »
|01.09.12 at 7:57 pm ET|
Among the Broncos on Monday, the news that former head coach Josh McDaniels joined the Patriots coaching staff in advance of their Saturday playoff game against New England was met with a collective shrug.
McDaniels, who served as the head coach in Denver for almost two seasons, was fired late in the 2010 season with a 3-9 record in 2010 after losing 17 of his last 22 games. On Saturday, McDaniels, who was offensive coordinator with the Patriots from 2006 through 2008, will be working for his old team (after being let out his contract with St. Louis) against the team he used to coach.
Under his watch in Denver, he drafted many of the members of the current roster, including linebacker Robert Ayers, wide receiver Demaryius Thomas and quarterback Tim Tebow.
‘I thank God for that,’ Ayers said when he was asked about McDaniels taking him in he first round of the 2009 draft. ‘God put me in a situation to get drafted where I did and blessed me with the ability. Josh McDaniels pulled the trigger on me with the 18th pick. I thank God, and I also give him a little credit for that too.’
‘I guess it’s another coach,’ said Thomas. ‘He drafted me and Tim. It’ll be good to see him, but it’s another game.’
‘I don’t really pay too much attention to that. We can’t let stuff not on our side distract us. We have a tough team to play. The only thing we can be focused on is football right now,’ said wide receiver Eddie Royal. ‘I don’t think too many guys are going to be thinking about that. We have to worry about stopping Tom Brady and scoring points on this defense. I don’t think you can worry about who’s coaching them.’
Regardless of whether or not McDaniels gives the Patriots an edge ‘ its extraordinary to see a team get the opportunity to hire the former head coach of a team in the week before a playoff game against that team ‘ Denver coach John Fox doesn’t believe there will be much of an advantage gained by New England having McDaniels on the other sideline.
‘When you do this for a living you have a pretty good idea of most of the players. You [studied] them in college or coached them before and guys just move cities, that’s kind of what this league is,’ said Fox, who was the head coach in Carolina from 2002 through 2010 before joining Denver.
‘I mean, we’re going to go play Carolina next year. I don’t think that’s going to be a huge advantage for me. Plus, their team has changed and so has ours. I don’t think it’s a big deal.’
|01.09.12 at 11:24 am ET|
Former Patriots defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel is set to be introduced as Chiefs coach at a Monday afternoon press conference. According to a report from Sirius/XM’s Radio’s Adam Caplan, Crennel received a three-year deal from the team.
Crennel previously posted a 24-40 record in four seasons as Browns coach from 2005-08.
|01.09.12 at 10:19 am ET|
With the Patriots’ playoff opponent determined after the Broncos edged the Steelers on Sunday, Tom Brady spoke with Dennis & Callahan Monday morning about facing Tim Tebow for the second time in a month and if new offensive assistant Josh McDaniels will be able to offer any insight about the team he used to coach.
“He obviously has some inside information on that team and those players, as he coached them. I haven’t seen Josh yet, so I really don’t know,” Brady said. “I think coach [Bill] Belichick has a pretty good idea of what he’s going to want Josh to do. I talked to Josh briefly but I really haven’t had a chance to sit down with him. He’s a great coach and we’re lucky to have him. I’m excited to get back to work with him. How that plays into this week, we’ll see. We’ll try to figure that out here in the next five or six days.”
Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Are you on your way into the stadium?
Yeah, just kind of getting the day going. Once the outcome of the game was really settled for us, we moved on pretty quick. We’re excited to get ready to play Denver.
So, all of that film work you did on Pittsburgh last week has gone to waste, correct?
[Laughing] Well, we did a lot of work on everybody, all the potential opponents. Denver, we played them three weeks ago. A lot of the stuff that we’ve done and prepared for for that particular game — I’ve seen every game except the last two, so it’s not a ton of film study to get caught up on these guys.
Did you watch last night’s game live?
Yeah, I did. I saw parts of it. I don’t watch it as much as I used to because I just get too anxious. I’m checking the score every five minutes, but I’m not really going play by play. At the end of the game, I heard my friend screaming in the other room.
What do you make of the Tebow phenomenon?
He’s a good player, and I think it’s a lot for the defense to prepare for. I know in our preparations for him this last time, it’s a challenge. It’s a very different style. But they’re very effective. They have a very good team. It’s certainly not about one player on this team. I know a lot of people make it out to be one player on a lot of teams, but the reason why the Denver Broncos are in this position is because of their team as a whole. Certainly, the way that Tim played yesterday, it was just a great win all around by them.
We’ve got a big challenge. We realized going into Denver how challenging a game that would be. We were the beneficiaries of some turnovers. We’re going to hopefully get some turnovers this weekend.
Read the rest of this entry »
|01.08.12 at 8:24 pm ET|
Five very early thoughts on a Patriots-Broncos divisional playoff game, set for Saturday night at Gillette Stadium:
1. The first time these two teams met was back on Dec. 18, when Tim Tebow guided the Broncos to an early lead by running all over the Patriots. (Denver had 15 carries for 167 yards in the first quarter and a 16-7 lead.) But the Patriots were able to keep their heads about them, step back, make the adjustments and outscore the Broncos 34-7 down the stretch. (It was the second of four straight come-from-behind wins down the stretch for the Patriots, and the fourth-biggest comeback of the season for New England.) Tebow finished 11-for-22 for 194 yards. He had no passing touchdowns and no interceptions, but one rushing touchdown and 93 yards on the ground. In contrast, Tom Brady went 23-for-34 for 320 yards and two touchdowns.
2. The rehiring of Josh McDaniels has already started to pay dividends. There may not be anyone currently outside of the Broncos organization who has a better handle on the strengths and weaknesses of Tebow than New England’s new offensive assistant. McDaniels, who coached Denver for the 2009 season and most of the 2010 season, moved up in the 2009 draft to use a first-round pick on Tebow in his first year as a head coach. And while McDaniels was fired on Dec. 6, 2010, two weeks before Tebow made his first start with the Broncos, the two had already managed to forge a pretty close relationship, one borne out of the fact that just about no one in the Denver area wanted either one of them back in the spring of 2009. You can bet that before Demaryius Thomas crossed the goal line on Sunday evening, McDaniels had a full dossier on Tebow on Bill Belichick‘s desk.
3. Gap discipline. Gap discipline. Gap discipline. One of the things that the Patriots were able to do an excellent job with over the final three quarters of the last time these two teams met was maintain their gap discipline, something an opposing scout told us as being important when it came to holding Tebow in check. Look for New England to use that as a point of emphasis once again this week.
4. Looking back to that first contest between the two teams last month, the game between the Patriots and Broncos last month turned into the second quarter. Three plays in, the Broncos, who spent much of the first 15 minutes doing whatever they wanted to do to the New England defense, were facing a fourth-and-1 at the New England eight-yard line with a 13-7 lead. But faced with the prospect of delivering the killing blow to a weary Patriots’ defense, Denver coach John Fox instead opted for a field goal instead of going for it on fourth down, and Matt Prater connected n a 26-yarder, making it 16-7. The Patriots, who were staggered at that point, took advantage of the opening, quickly turning momentum in their direction. They used three Denver turnovers in the second quarter — and a successful fourth-down conversion of their own — to put up 20 points of their own in the second quarter on the way to a 41-23 win over the Broncos.
5. Another thing that stood out from that game was the fact that the Patriots’ offensive line was able to do an excellent job keeping the Denver pass rushers in check. According to Pro Football Focus, Brady was only pressured on six of his 36 dropbacks, and linebacker Von Miller was held without a sack, quarterback hit or pressure for the first time in his young career. There were some savage shots (Elvis Dumervil delivered one of the best hits all season on a sack of Brady, while the Broncos had two sacks as a team to go along with three quarterback hits), but for the most part, the New England offensive line did a very good job turning away the Denver pass rush. One of the reasons the Patriots were able to have success keeping Brady upright in that game was their use of tight end Rob Gronkowski as a blocker more than a pass catcher. Gronkowski, who had four catches for 53 yards that afternoon against the Broncos (statistically, it was one of the worst games of the season), was on the field for 76 snaps, and on 41 of those, he was a blocker (PFF has him listed as a blocker on 39 running plays and two pass plays). It marked the second time this season where he spent more than 40 snaps in a game as a blocker, with the other time coming in the game against the first game against the Jets where he had four catches for 31 yards and no touchdowns.