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Rodney Harrison on MFB: ‘There are Patriots haters across the country, that is just what it is’

01.20.15 at 12:13 pm ET
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NBC Sports NFL analyst Rodney Harrison made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Tuesday to discuss Deflategate and to look ahead to the Patriots-Seahawks Super Bowl. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

With the Colts reportedly notifying the league that they suspected the Patriots were playing with a deflated football, Harrison said a lot of that comes from the Patriots’ past success and people finding ways to detract from them constantly winning.

“There are Patriots haters across the country, that is just what it is,” Harrison said. “When you’ve had the level of success that the Patriots have had you get used to everywhere you go and people hate you — ‘I hate the Patriots.’ You have to have a lot of respect for the Patriots for what they have accomplished year in and year out. The Patriots are unlike a lot of organizations. You look at the Giants and the two Super Bowl wins that they have had — the Giants have been an organization that has been fluctuating up and down, you don’t know if they are going to win the Super Bowl one year or end up 4-12. The Patriots have been a pillar of consistency and I think they are the model franchise. Everyone talks about the Dallas Cowboys being America’s team — you can have popularity, the Patriots want victories. That is what the whole model around the Patriots is.

“Deflating balls and all that stuff, Indianapolis got their butts kicked. Flat out up and down the field. They didn’t even believe they could come in and beat the Patriots. They don’t believe they can come in [to Gillette Stadium] and win. They got blown out. Just relax, all the haters, we’ll see what happens in Arizona. It should be fun and it’s a great opportunity to prove everyone wrong. Once again, you cannot not credit Bill Belichick and what he’s done for the organization and the consistency they’ve had.”

With Spygate allegations surrounding Harrison’s Super Bowl wins when he played in New England, he said he never even thinks about that, or cares for that matter.

“I don’t give a damn. I don’t give a damn with what people say when it comes to that,” he said. “My Super Bowl rings, they are in a safe somewhere, they are put up. You cannot take away what we accomplished. I don’t care what people say, I don’t care how much they hate, how much negativity they bring. The Patriots have been a pillar of consistency, they continue to win and people, instead of hating on the Patriots, figure out what you’re doing and maybe you can be apart of it.”

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Read More: 2015 playoffs, Rodney Harrison, Russell Wilson, Tom Brady

Pressure points: Which Patriots defenders have done best job getting after QB in playoffs?

01.20.15 at 9:30 am ET
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Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones

Every week over the course of the 2014 season, we’€™ve looked at the Patriots pass rush numbers. Like all stats, the numbers have to be placed on context of game-situations and personnel. And while sacks can be overrated, when evaluated as part of a bigger picture that includes quarterback hits and quarterback pressures (the latter courtesy of Pro Football Focus), it gives us a good picture as to what defenders were consistently able to get after the quarterback. Based on the official NFL game books and PFF, here’€™s a look at the pass-rush numbers for the Patriots after two games of the 2014 postseason:

Sacks (via gamebooks)

Quarterback Hits (via gamebooks)
DE Chandler Jones: 4
DE Rob Ninkovich: 3
LB Jamie Collins: 2

Quarterback Hurries (via PFF)
DE Rob Ninkovich: 14
DE Chandler Jones: 10
LB Jamie Collins: 5
DT Sealver Siliga: 5
LB Dont’€™€™a Hightower: 3
DL Alan Branch: 3
DL Vince Wilfork: 2
DB Patrick Chung: 1
DL Chris Jones: 1
DL Joe Vellano: 1

By way of comparison, here’€™s a look at the pass rush numbers for the 2014 regular season.

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Tedy Bruschi on D&H: ‘It feels good to be a player in [Patriots] locker room knowing that you frustrate someone that much’

01.20.15 at 8:26 am ET
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ESPN NFL analyst and former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi joined Dale & Holley Monday afternoon for his weekly interview to discuss the Patriots upcoming trip to the Super Bowl and also deflationgate, offering a players perspective to the situation. To hear the full interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

The Colts reportedly notified the NFL that they suspected the Patriots of using a deflated football in Sunday’s AFC championship game. Being a former player on the Patriots, Bruschi said a lot of that comes from frustration and being a player on the Patriots when something like this happens is a good feeling.

“It’s a long line of people that want to step up and make an excuse as to why their team lost,” Bruschi said. “Tom [Brady] said it earlier that he’s heard it all and I echo that. I’ve heard it all too in terms of you want to look at the New England Patriots and all the success and you want to wonder why. A part of you thinks if you’re not a fan, not a player, not a coach, it’s like why couldn’t we achieve it. Well, you want to point the finger and make some type of reason. Get in line, it’s a long line.

“But, it feels good to be a player in that locker room knowing that you frustrate someone that much — that you frustrate someone that much that they are talking about some type of ball controversy, or fans or whatever because all they ever do in that locker room and on that team is move on from it. You laugh at it behind the scenes and you joke a little bit about it up there and you really just disregard it. Say however you want to feel about it, but who got the win and that is what is important.”

The Patriots have emptied their playbook the past two weeks with the double-pass touchdown and four offensive linemen formation against the Ravens, and then Sunday’s eligible tackle touchdown pass. Bruschi said there could be more of these to come.

“I am sure they have worked on this stuff before. It’s in the book,” said Bruschi.”They have a book full of stuff. I’m telling you, it takes the right situation for it to work. They tell the players, even defensively how it goes — this is the look. If we get this look, this is the play we’re going to run, this is the adjustment we’re going to make. I’m sure if that wasn’t there, Tom had other options to go to. Once you get to the line, you see the look. This is the look we’ve said, ‘If we have it we’re going to run it.’ It’s almost sort of like a fake punt.’ … Yes, they have a book full of them.”

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Read More: 2015 playoffs, Tedy Bruschi, Tom Brady,

Following the flags: Tracking Patriots penalties for postseason

01.20.15 at 8:15 am ET
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The Patriots ended the 2014 regular season with 120 penalties (tied for fourth in the league) for a total of 1,080 yards (third in the NFL). In their two playoff games, they have been flagged for 13 penalties and 105 yards. Here’€™€™€™s a breakdown of the calls that went against the Patriots to this point in the postseason, not including penalties that were declined or offset:

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Read More: 2015 playoffs, penalties,

Pro Football Focus’ Sam Monson on D&C: Tom Brady is ‘absolutely back on that Mount Rushmore’

01.20.15 at 7:37 am ET
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Tom Brady turned things around in a big way following Week 4 this season. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Tom Brady turned things around in a big way following Week 4 this season. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus joined the Dennis & Callahan show on Tuesday to talk Tom Brady’s season, after writing this past summer he has been on a significant decline. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

In June Monson wrote that Brady has been on a significant decline in recent years and no longer belongs in the upper echelon of elite quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers. Monson said Brady has “turned it around.”

“He turned it around. He’s absolutely back on that Mount Rushmore. He’s carved his face back into the mountain,” said Monson.

Monson said a lot went into the turnaround, especially after the first four games, which included the offensive line stepping up their play, and Brady getting a healthy Rob Gronkowski.

“It was a lot of things,” he said. “I started digging through numbers and I noticed a couple of downward trends in his number over the years, specifically how he was handling pressure and how he was getting worse in the face of pressure. I decided with the retirement of Dante Scarnecchia and the decline in the offensive line, the amount of pressure he was going to be getting this season was only going to increase, so the chances of him bouncing back were minimal. If you look at the first four games of this season, the line was a disaster and Brady was a disaster. The whole team really was a disaster, but that Kansas City game was really a turning point for the entire franchise.

“Everybody decided to hit rock bottom and just turn it around. Brady, he reversed his decline. He was missing a lot of throws earlier in the season that he shouldn’t miss, and he knows he shouldn’t miss. He started hitting those. He became more accurate. He got Rob Gronkowski more healthy and more involved in the offense. The offensive line did improve. They didn’t become good, but it became at least passable. It protected him enough to get it done.

“I think all the talk that came out of the Brady not top five, I think it got to him. He claims it doesn’t, but he was visibly taken back getting asked about it constantly. I think we just saw Brady rededicate himself to being one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL and chasing down another ring.”

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Read More: 2015 playoffs, Sam Monson, Tom Brady,

Julian Edelman remains Tom Brady’s favorite postseason target for fourth straight playoff game

01.20.15 at 7:00 am ET
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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 two games of the 2014 postseason. (By way of comparison, here’s the target breakdown for the 2014 regular season.)

WR Julian Edelman: 17 catches on 25 targets (68 percent)
TE Rob Gronkowski: 10 catches on 21 targets (48 percent)
WR Brandon LaFell: 9 catches on 13 targets (69 percent)
RB Shane Vereen: 7 catches on 9 targets (78 percent)
WR Danny Amendola: 6 catches on 9 targets (67 percent)
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 5 catches on 5 targets (100 percent)
RB Brandon Bolden: 1 catch on 1 target (100 percent)
LT/TE Nate Solder: 1 catch on 1 target (100 percent)
FB James Develin: 1 catch on 1 target (100 percent)

For what it’s worth, Saturday marked the fourth straight playoff game for New England where Edelman was Tom Brady‘s top target. The last time Edelman did not lead the Patriots’ pass catchers in targets in a playoff game was the loss to the Ravens in the 2012 AFC title contest.

Read More: 2015 playoffs, Julian Edelman, targets,

Tom Brady starts Super Bowl countdown on Facebook with shoutout to Revis Island

01.20.15 at 1:22 am ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady took to Facebook late Monday to begin what appears to be a countdown to Super Bowl XLIX with what looks like a shoutout to teammate Darrelle Revis.

Read More: 2015 playoffs, New England Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Super Bowl XLIX
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