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Nuggetpalooza’s Pats schedule preview: New York Jets

09.09.10 at 10:44 am ET
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nuggetpalooza-small11The Patriots travel to New York on Sept. 19 at 4:15 p.m. They host the Jets on Monday night, Dec. 6, at 8:30.

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What The Jets Did Well Last Season:

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* – Limited Opponents 1st Down Success: Only 38% of opponents’ first down plays gained 4 or more yards last season, the best mark in the league.

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* – Got Off The Field On Defense: 34% of opponents’ possessions ended in “three and out” last season, the best mark in the league.  It helped that they allowed just 31.5% conversions on third down, also the best mark in the NFL.

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* – Few Short Field Scores Allowed: The Jets allowed only 6 scoring drives of fewer than 50 yards last season, 2nd fewest in the NFL:

5 – New England Patriots
6 – New York Jets
7 – Baltimore Ravens
7 – Pittsburgh Steelers

The NFL average was 13 such drives and poor Seattle allowed a whopping 22.

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* – Successful Offense On 4th Down: The Jets went 15 for 20 on 4th down tries in 2009 (75%), the highest percentage in the NFL.

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* – Blitzing Opposing Passers Effectively: It was no secret that the Jets blitzed like crazy last season.  The actual figure was that they brought extra rushers on 56% of opponent pass plays.  Only New Orleans (50%) was anywhere close.  And it worked, too.  Opponents posted a passer rating versus blitzes of 54, the lowest in the league, as was the 49% completions allowed.  The 4.6 yards per pass play allowed when blitzing was 2nd (Indianapolis, 4.5).

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* – No Quick Strikes Allowed: The Jets were the only team in the NFL that did not allow a single point in the first four plays of an opponent possession in 2009.  Compare that to Tampa Bay, who allowed 13 such touchdowns.

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* – Defended The Long Pass: Opponents completed just 7 of 65 (10.8%) passes of 21+ air yards (where the first touch is 21+ yards beyond the line of scrimmage) last season, easily the best mark in the league:

10.8% – New York Jets
16.0% – San Diego Chargers
17.3% – Chicago Bears

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* – Broke Off Numerous Big Runs: Jets’ runners had 19 different rushes of 20+ yards last season, tied with Carolina for the 2nd most in the NFL (Tennessee, 24).

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* – Forced Opponents Into Fair Catches: 49% of Jets’ punts were fair caught in 2009, the 2nd highest percentage in the NFL (Houston, 50%).

Read the rest of this entry »

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Sources: Tom Brady involved in car accident

09.09.10 at 8:06 am ET
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Tom Brady's Audi was severely damaged in an early-morning accident Thursday morning, but the quarterback appeared to be unhurt. (AP)

Tom Brady's Audi was severely damaged in an early-morning accident Thursday morning, but the quarterback appeared to be unhurt. (AP)

Sources have told the Dennis & Callahan Show that Tom Brady was involved in a car accident near his home at the corner of Commonwealth and Gloucester in Boston Thursday morning.

According to the report, Brady was “shaken” in what is being described as a “serious” two-car accident that took place just after 6:30 Thursday morning. An Audi with New Jersey plates (belonging to Brady) apparently hit a Ford minivan at an intersection. The jaws of life were used to remove a man in the back of the van who was taken to Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

One report from WHDH-TV said Brady had a green light while the minivan ran the red, and as a result, Brady hit the side of the minivan, causing the crash. One or both cars struck a pole, and the pole fell.

Sources indicate that Brady had to be extricated from the vehicle, but did not go to the hospital, declining medical attention and walking away from the scene. As of roughly 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, he was reportedly on his way to work at Gillette Stadium.

UPDATE, 9:22 a.m.: Via Twitter, the Patriots have just made a statement: “Patriots QB Tom Brady was in a car accident this AM He was not hospitalized and is expected at Gillette Stadium today.”

UPDATE, 11:15 a.m.: Brady arrived at Gillette Stadium and participated in the team’s walkthrough.

Click here for Channel 7 video of the accident scene.

Check back and listen for more information as it becomes available …

For more Patriots news see the team page at weei.com/patriots.

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Welker actually likes change in umpire location

09.09.10 at 12:00 am ET
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Wes Welker may have lost one of his advantages this season with the movement of the umpire. (AP)

FOXBORO — Over the last three years, few slot receivers have done a better job at going over the middle than Wes Welker. Since arriving in Foxboro prior to the 2007 season, Welker has spent plenty of time operating in that five- to seven-yard range, hauling in pass after pass from Tom Brady and scooting upfield for yardage after the catch.

The numbers are hard to dispute — in 14 games last season, Welker led the NFL with 123 receptions and finished second in receiving yards with 1,348. Since joining the Patriots prior to the 2007 season, he’s caught 346 passes, more than anyone else in the league in that time.

But some of his critics believe Welker has been able to gain that separation using the umpire as a pick. The thinking is that Welker would seek out the umpire in an attempt to try and “rub off” the defender — with that little extra daylight, he would make the catch and then turn upfield, leaving the defender tangled with the official.

While Welker isn’t the first pass-catcher to be accused of doing it, one official even went on the record with his thoughts last year. NFL umpire Paul King told the Worcester Telegram & Gazette the Patriots “do it all the time with [Wes] Welker. … [New England] likes to use [the umpire] as a pick.”

This season, the NFL has decreed the umpire will move from behind the defensive line to behind the offense, with the new positioning going into effect at the start of this past preseason. The league decided to make the move after several umpires had been injured in recent years in collisions with players — there were more than 100 occasions last season when umpires were knocked down by players.

On Wednesday, Welker was asked if he noticed any change in his offensive style as a result. He said the change in the umpires’ location is actually a relief, because it was the umpires who were getting in his way, not the other way around.

“I mean, they’ve said it’s always going to be an advantage to me, but I always felt like he got in my way more than he got in the defender’s way, to me,” Welker said of the umpire. “I’m actually kind of excited to have him out of the way, and let me work that middle.

“I never really noticed him a lot of the time when he was there. Only when he was in the way. Like I said, I always felt like he was in my way more than the defenders. Every once and a while, I’d get a good pick from him, and I was able to do something with it.”

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Playing the role of Ochocinco … Darnell Jenkins

09.08.10 at 9:27 pm ET
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Saints Patriots Football

Darnell Jenkins (10) will be playing the role of Chad Ochocinco this week in practice. (AP)

FOXBORO — Darnell Jenkins isn’t going to be watching “The Ultimate Catch,” but when it comes to doing what he can to imitate Chad Ochocinco, he’s willing to do almost anything else.

The 27-year-old practice squad receiver and former Miami product has been asked to serve as a decoy version of Ochocinco this week in practice to help the New England defense do as much as it can to prepare for No. 85. Jenkins, 5-foot-10 and 191 pounds, is three inches shorter than Ochocinco, but is roughly the same weight, and will be running the same routes as the Cincinnati receiver as part of the scout team.

Jenkins, who said he spent time around Ochocinco when the two were younger, said dealing with his own responsibilities as well as handling the work that goes into being Ochocinco isn’t that hard.

“It’s not really difficult — I study my plays day in and day out,” he said on Wednesday morning. “I concentrate and focus more in meetings and everything to get the basics down. I’m still learning the fundamentals of what we go over because they emphasize it daily. That’s basically what you have to do and what you have to know.

“Just know our system and what we have to do and everything else will take care of itself,” he added. “As far as practicing, showing the defense a good look … that’s nothing compared to what we have to learn.”

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Bill on Ochocinco: ‘We have a lot of things in common’

09.08.10 at 7:33 pm ET
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FOXBORO — It’s a strange relationship, but make no mistake, Bill Belichick is a fan of Chad Ochocinco. Belichick answered multiple questions about the Cincinnati wide receiver on Wednesday, ranging from how he met the Bengals star wide reciever to his Twitter account.

“The first time I met Chad was at USC when I worked him out there on the USC campus”, said Belichick. “We kind of ran him into the ground. It was a good workout. It was very impressive.

“I like Chad. I like him as a player. I like him as a person. I like his enthusiasm and the fun he has with football, and I like how he competes on the football field. I have a lot of respect for that. We’re an odd couple, but in the end I think we have a lot of things in common.”

Belichick was then asked if he follows No. 85 on twitter.

“I don’t do Twitter or MyFace or any of that stuff.”

The outspoken wide receiver said recently via his Twitter account that he was going to shoot one of the muskets in the endzone after he scores a touchdown.

Wrote Ochocinco: “Does anyone know if i need gun powder to shoot the musket when I score this [Sunday]?”

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How the Pats make Ocho eat humble pie

09.08.10 at 7:08 pm ET
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For all the talk and bluster about grabbing a musket and firing a shot after he scores a touchdown at Gillette Stadium, Chad Ochocinco knows talk is cheap – especially when you’re talking about the Patriots.

At least, it has been for him.

Whether it was when he was Chad Johnson or Ochocinco, it’s always been tough for No. 85 to find his groove against the Patriots. And he knows the numbers don’t lie.

In three games against New England – all Patriots wins – Ocho has been held to 14 catches and 197 yards and has had the chance to dance in the end zone exactly once. It was a five-yard catch from Carson Palmer on Dec. 12, 2004 in New England’s 35-28 win at Gillette Stadium.

In the two games since then, Ocho has been held to nine grabs, 117 yards and zero chances to celebrate in the end zone.

Belichick, who as WEEI.com colleague Chris Price points out, has a great respect and admiration for Ocho, has not been afraid to double-team him in certain situations.

“Of course, nothing is going to change,” Ocho declared. “He’s done the same thing every time I’ve played the Patriots since I’ve been in the NFL. I don’t think it’s going to change this time, either. I’m going to wait for my opportunities to come and, when they do, I’m going to make the most of them.”

So for all the talk about Darius Butler and Devin McCourty combining for one year of NFL experience, Ochocinco maintains he’s not licking his chops.

“No, not at all,” Ochocinco said. “They play football just like I play football. They look good on film. I’m sure their coaches will put them in a position to be able to make plays, so I’m going to approach this game very humbly. There’s not too many times I play against the Patriots and have enormous games. They game plan very well. They’re very smart. I have to play sound football myself in order to be successful.”

So, it should not come as a surprise that while he promised – via twitter – to trash talk Butler the entire game, he also has tremendous regard for the way Bill Belichick uses his players like Butler on the field.

“Yeah, he’s pretty good,” Ochocinco said of Butler. “Not only is he good at Tweeting, but he’s good on the field also. I watched film on him. He looked extremely well. He looked to be as young as he is, so… I’m looking forward to the matchup against him and the rest of the defense.”

What about his own team? Can Ocho exist in the reality world of the NFL with Terrell Owens? Can quarterback Carson Palmer distribute the ball in a way to keep everyone happy on the Cincy offense? The funny responses were few and far between. Instead, a short and to-the-point reply.

“Yup, I think we’ll be fine,” he said. “We’ll be fine.”

As for his new partner in crime – or crime-stopping as it were since he is Robin and T-O is playing Batman to begin the season, he said he can’t wait to get on the field with Owens.

“Oh man, beautiful man, beautiful,” he said glowingly. “It’s going to be a freaking symphony out there. We’re going to go hand in hand… a lot of people are waiting on us not to work and all this other hoopla or whatever. We’re making each other better, pushing one another. It’s going to be wonderful, to be able to have two athletes of this caliber on the field at the same time, on the same team. A lot of people say, ‘How do they work together.’ What we’re going to do is, we’re going to prove and show you how we work.”

“We have the players that we believe can go out there and play. But unless we execute the offense, we’re just people on paper.

So that was it. Very little hyperbole, no bragging and no big-time predictions on Wednesday’s conference call. It sounded like Ocho was saving his bullets for that musket on Sunday afternoon.

“It’s Week 1,” he said of the lack of pre-game hype. “You can’t let loose in Week 1. You have to enjoy it, man. Enjoy the show.

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Highlights from Tom Brady press conference, 9/8

09.08.10 at 6:54 pm ET
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Thanks to the Patriots’ PR staff, here are some of the highlights from this morning’s press conference between coach Tom Brady and the media:

Q: Carson Palmer said he did not feel right that first year back after his knee injury. How much better this year do you feel?

TB: I felt pretty good last year. I don’t think it had much to do with my knee at all, the way we ended up playing last year. There were a lot of things we didn’t do well and there were things we worked hard to improve on, so my knee is not going to be the issue this year, hopefully. It’s just a matter of us going out and playing well, playing good football, playing the way we’re capable [of playing] and executing. It’s a totally new team for us this year. We have a lot of new guys, a lot of guys that have been here that know what we’re doing, but I said earlier today that we’re always looking for ways to reinvent ourselves.

 Q: Does it ever enter your mind about the first contract you signed and how the expectations have changed?

 TB: No, I mean I hate when athletes say it’s not about the money. It’s our job, so… I think you love playing the game and that’s why we do it. I think we’re fortunate to get paid for something that we love. If we weren’t getting paid, we’d have to find something else to do. There’s no better job in the word that I’d rather have, to do what I’m doing. That’s why I want to do it for a long time. Everything else in my life pales in comparison to how much I love this. In that sense, it’s about winning games. That’s what we’re here for. We’re expected to go out and win games. That’s the real motivation for all of us. That’s definitely the real motivation on our list.

Q: Are you excited about the possibility of being here for the extended future? 

 TB: I don’t assume anything anymore in life. I don’t think anything is guaranteed to us beyond what we have today and I really feel that way. That’s the approach I’ve taken over the years, because you never really know when your last day will be. I really try to just take it one day at a time. I know it’s a cliché and all that, but it’s the truth. I think it’s a great message for all of us. No matter what your job, you’re living and enjoying today and that’s what’s most important to me.

 Q: Is getting a contract done before the season starts important to you considering what you just said?

 TB: It’s not even a part of my thoughts right now. I haven’t thought about it yesterday, today… I’m just thinking about the team we have to play. I owe that to this team. They have a lot of things going on, too, but when they come into work, they’re focused on the team. I think that’s my responsibility and my role and that’s what I love to do anyway. That’s what I’m going to continue to try to do.

Q: How disappointed are you that Logan Mankins is not here to start the season? 

 TB: Logan is a great friend and I think all of us in this locker room have to focus on what we’re doing because he hasn’t been here and we’re all trying to get our job done.  We’d all love Logan here. Everybody in this building would, but he’s not. We have to move on and play a game this weekend. Who knows what’s going to happen?

 Q: How does that first game from 2008 shape your mindset for the business side of things for you?

 TB: That’s a big part of it. This is a physical game. I’ve had four surgeries in eight years – my shoulder and my knee and my groin… and another one, too. But, pretty much every other year you’re having a surgery. Some are major… all surgeries are major as far as I’m concerned now. You count your blessings when you come off the field; I think you have a new appreciation when you do come off the field, win or lose. You’re trying to win every time out, obviously. But I think you also pinch yourself every time you walk off the field healthy and say, ‘Man, at least I get a chance to go out next week and play also.’

 Q: Are you confident that you will have a new contract before this one expires?

 TB: I don’t know. I don’t know. I have no idea. We’ve had a chance to deal with it this offseason and we are where we’re at. I’m excited with where we’re at for this season. I think that’s what I owe this team. I don’t assume anything. I just want to come out and play football. That’s where I’m at.

Q: Randy Moss said he feels unwanted. Can you talk about the camp he’s had and your relationship with him at this point?

 TB: I want him. He knows that. I tell him every day. He’s everything we look for in a receiver. He’s been a great player for his whole career. Look at what he’s done here in terms of his productivity. Look at what he’s done this preseason in training camp. He’s been a great example, a great leader. We’re lucky to have him, we really are. He’s something.

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