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BenJarvus Green-Ellis: ‘One of my only regrets’ was not winning a Super Bowl for Robert Kraft

03.26.12 at 2:54 pm ET
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Former Patriots running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis recently joined ESPN 1530 in Cincinnati with Mo Egger to discuss his decision to sign with the Bengals, his thoughts on Cincinnati when he was with the Patriots and not being able to bring a Super Bowl to Robert Kraft in his last season with New England.

What attracted you to Cincinnati? ‘€œI was just intrigued by the fact that to just go play with a young football team that never ever won. It seemed like they are working hard all trying to obtain one goal and that’€™s play winning football. Coach [Marvin] Lewis and his staff and coach [Jay] Gruden and Mr. [Mike] Brown and all those people with the Bengals when I went there and I really enjoyed myself and I felt like there was no place else where I could fit in and hopefully I go in and work hard and all that.’€

As you played for the Patriots were the Bengals a team you paid attention to all the time? ‘€œWell, being an NFL player I see all the teams play each and every year through film study. Obviously I’€™ve seen Cincinnati on film before, but I’€™ve obviously watched them and seen the way they have been working hard as a team and everyone seems like they are trying to obtain one goal and that’€™s winning, so that’€™s the only thing I am here for to help the Cincinnati Bengals win some more football games.’€

Can you talk about your emotions in the Super Bowl loss and the days following it? ‘€œIt was a hard fought and competitive game that we just didn’€™t come out on top of. I congratulate the New York football Giants on winning a Super Bowl this year and being a champion. I felt like they were the one team that were champions and there were 31 losers and we were one of them this year, but we worked hard to get to where we were and we just didn’€™t come away with everything we wanted. That’€™s the only one regret that I have in all my years in the league was this past season and not being able to bring home that Super Bowl to Mr. Kraft. I felt like that was one of the things to help ease his pain going through everything with his wife, so that was one of my only regrets about leaving New England and not bringing Mr. Kraft that Super Bowl this past season.’€

Click here to listen to the complete interview. For more on the Q&A, click here.

Read More: BenJarvus Green Ellis, Robert Kraft,

Report: Patriots close to deal with FB Tony Fiammetta

03.26.12 at 1:34 pm ET
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The Patriots are close to signing fullback Tony Fiammetta, according to Greg Bedard of the Boston Globe. The 6-foot, 242-pound Fiammetta, a fourth-round choice of Carolina out of Syracuse in 2009, had seven starts in 2010 with the Panthers and finished with 22 yards rushing and 34 yards receiving.

Fiammetta would be the second fullback the Patriots have added this offseason. They recently came to terms with Spencer Larsen on a two-year deal. They would join fullback Lousaka Polite in an interesting positional battle in 2012.

Read More: Lousaka Polite, Spencer Larsen, Tony Fiammetta,

Tim Tebow will be disaster for Jets

03.26.12 at 11:32 am ET
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There’s a line in “All the President’s Men” that captures the Jets perfectly. Bob Woodward is running dry on sources. It looks like he and Carl Bernstein aren’t going to crack the Watergate story after all. He’s worn out, pissed off and finally ready to give up, surrender to Mitchell and Nixon and Hunt and Haldeman and Erlichman.

Woodward meets up with Deep Throat — the source, not the film Tim Tebow would never watch — and tells him exactly that. It’s basically over.

Deep Throat — we now know is Mark Felt, who comes to think of it looked a hell of a lot like Hal Holbrook — gives the closest version of a pep talk you’ll ever get from a CIA operative in the basement of a garage. And it ends with this:

“Look, forget the myths the media’s created about the White House- the truth is, these are not very bright guys, and things got out of hand. ”

Change “White House” to “NFL” and you’ve got the Jets and the addition of Tim Tebow.

I thought Tebow to the Patriots made sense. I didn’t think it was going to happen but I thought it made sound football sense. Terrific athlete, a head coach willing to look at a player and see something else, all that stuff. Almost as important, the Patriots were one of three or four franchises in the NFL where Tebow would be zero distraction to the day-to-day operations of a football team.

Put it another way: For the Tim Tebow experiment to really succeed, he needed to go to a place where the quarterback was an untouchable, the coach had unimpeachable job security and the motivation to bring Tebow in was as football player only, not some ploy to steal headlines or sell tickets.

And that’s why the Jets and Tim Tebow will be an absolute disaster, a train wreck that will end with Tebow either a) being released or b) traded to Jacksonville for even less value in a year or two.

This is how a clueless organization does things. They botch any real shot at Peyton Manning and scramble to save face. Instead of taking a step back, just pause for minute and look at things from a big picture perspective, the Jets dive in and make a deal for a quarterback that isn’t as good as the guy they have. And that guy — Mark Sanchez — isn’t good enough in their eyes, or else there is no way they deal for Tebow. Desperation meets stupidity meets a desire to monopolize the front page of the New York Post for a couple of weeks in March.

(Helps when you have a Hall of Fame QB, but you would never see the Patriots do this the way the Jets are. The courtship, the huge press conference, putting his jersey on the front of the team web page. It’s just reeks of minor leagues. The Patriots would have had a conference call the day after the trade and that’s it.)

This is a pissed off little brother, plain and simple. The Jets have watched the Giants win two Super Bowls the last five years — against the team that was supposed to be their rival — and this was the best answer they could come up with. And when you start making organizational decisions based on desire to be relevant off the field you are basically screwed. There’s a reason why they don’t hand out rings or raise banners in March.

Mark Sanchez isn’t a franchise quarterback, not by the longest shot. Is there a chance he could develop into a top 10-15 guy over the next couple of years? It’s possible, sure, this is a QB with four road playoff wins, including one that saw him outplay Tom Brady. Point is, you could do worse.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Jets, Mark Sanchez, Rex Ryan, Tim Tebow

Cosell: When it comes to identifying Patriots’ defensive front, mind the gap

03.26.12 at 11:09 am ET
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During the 2011 season, much was made about the Patriots’ apparent decision to move from a 3-4 defense to a 4-3. With the acquisition of veteran defensive linemen like Andre Carter, Mark Anderson and Albert Haynesworth — all defenders who appeared to be a better fit in a 4-3 — it certainly appeared Bill Belichick was making a seismic shift in defensive sensibility.

But it turns out that the idea of 4-3 vs. 3-4 scheme in New England wasn’€™t as simple as having someone on the edge put their hand on the ground instead of stand up. Greg Cosell of NFL Films, who serves as the executive producer of ESPN’€™s ‘€œNFL Matchup,’€ said that when it comes to the Patriots, the differences between a three-man front and a four-man front are more complex than you’€™d think.

‘€œYou have to understand one thing — fronts are not determined by who’€™s in a three-point stance and who is in a two-point stance. Fronts are determined by gap concepts,’€ Cosell said. ‘€œAnd I guarantee if you look at a lot of the Patriots’€™ ‘€˜three-man fronts’€™ in the past where there’€™s actually two linebackers standing up on the outside, you’€™ll see that they’€™re actually in four-man front principles.’€

Some of the versatility of defenders like Vince Wilfork and Rob Ninkovich allow the Patriots to present one front when they’€™re actually in a different look altogether.

‘€œWith the Patriots, it’€™s complicated. You’€™ll see a three-technique. You’€™ll see a nose shade, not a nose tackle. Sure, there were snaps where they played a true 3-4 with a true nose tackle or a zero technique and two ends who are five techniques. But just because you have three down linemen, it doesn’€™t mean you are playing a 3-4.’€

With the Patriots cutting Haynesworth and losing Anderson in free agency to Buffalo and the future of Carter uncertain because of injury, Cosell believes the Patriots won’€™t necessarily brand themselves a 3-4 or 4-3 team going forward, no matter who they might draft (or otherwise acquire), saying there’€™s ‘€œno need for them to make a delineation between 3-4 and 4-3. You don’€™t need to do that.’€

Instead, look for them to continue to add versatile linemen and keep people guessing.

‘€œIn Houston, Wade Phillips‘€™ defense is not a 3-4. It’€™s a 4-3. It just has the weak side defensive end — which was DeMarcus Ware in Dallas and was Mario Williams in Houston — stand up in a two-point stance. But every gap tells you it’€™s a 4-3,’€ Cosell said. ‘€œPeople immediately assume because you see three down linemen and you see two outside linebackers standing up, that’€™s a 3-4. No. Belichick is smarter than that.’€

Read More: Albert Haynesworth, Andre Carter, Bill Belichick, DeMarcus Ware

Upcoming schedule of notable Pro Days

03.26.12 at 8:38 am ET
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Per NFL.com, here’s a list of notable upcoming Pro Days:

March 26: Indiana State
March 27: Arkansas State, Coastal Carolina, Merrimack College, Stephen F. Austin, Washburn
March 28: Central Florida, Connecticut, Newberry, Northern Iowa, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Carolina State
March 29: Brigham Young, Georgia Southern
March 30: Bethune-Cookman, Dartmouth
April 3: Abilene Christian, Notre Dame, Stonybrook
April 4: SMU

Taking a closer look at what Chad Ochocinco’s restructured deal means

03.25.12 at 3:42 pm ET
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Chad Ochocinco isn’t stupid.

The wide receiver, who earned $6 million in salary and bonuses last season but only came away with 15 catches for 276 yards and a touchdown, was scheduled to make $3 million in base salary in 2012. However, the news that he has agreed to reduce his contract to a $1 million base salary for 2012 signals shows that he’s committed to doing as much as possible to make it work in New England.

When it comes to the wide receiver position, Ochocinco faces a far different situation than the one he encountered when he first joined the Patriots last summer. Now, he’s part of a far more crowded group at receiver — New England has spent the offseason treating the wide receiver spot like it did with defensive line last offseason, importing several veterans in hopes of trying to add depth and create some good positional battles at the spot. Brandon Lloyd and Anthony Gonzalez were acquired in free agency, as well as familiar face Donte Stallworth. In addition, figure that Wes Welker (provided he signs his franchise tender) and Deion Branch will also be in the mix. In all, the Patriots now have 10 receivers under contract, presuming Welker inks his tender.

As a result, Ochocinco can certainly see the writing on the wall. He’ll head into the 2012 facing a healthy positional battle on the outside, one that will include Branch, Stallworth and Lloyd. On a team that frequently utilizes two-tight end sets (as well as Welker in the slot), that likely means one outside receiver will be left out in the cold when it comes to regular snaps in 2012. Of course, this doesn’t guarantee him a roster spot, but the move means that any roster decision regarding whether or not to keep to cut Ochocinco won’t come down to his contract.

When Ochocinco did speak with the media over the last year, he’s always made it a point of saying it’s not about the money, but about winning. By agreeing to restructure his contract, he’s shown a willingness to put his money where his mouth is.

Read More: Anthony Gonzalez, Brandon Lloyd, Chad Ochocinco, Deion Branch

Resetting the complete list of the Patriots’ 17 unrestricted free agents

03.25.12 at 12:21 pm ET
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Here’s a quick update on the status of the 17 unrestricted free agents on the Patriots’ roster at the start of free agency:

Running back Kevin Faulk: Has yet to sign. Reportedly contemplating retirement.
Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis: Signed a three-year contract with Cincinnati.
Wide receiver Deion Branch: Signed one-year deal with the Patriots.
Wide receiver/Special teamer Matt Slater: Signed three-year contract with the Patriots.
Wide receiver Wes Welker: Receiver franchise tag, has yet to sign the tender.
Offensive lineman Dan Connolly: Signed three-year contract with the Patriots.
Center Dan Koppen: Has yet to sign.
Defensive end Mark Anderson: Signed four-year contract with Buffalo.
Defensive end Andre Carter: Has yet to sign.
Defensive end Shaun Ellis: Has yet to sign.
Defensive tackle Gerard Warren: Has yet to sign.
Linebacker Gary Guyton: Has yet to sign
Linebacker Niko Koutouvides: Signed one-year deal with the Patriots.
Linebacker Tracy White: Signed one-year deal with the Patriots.
Cornerback Nate Jones: Has yet to sign.
Cornerback Antwaun Molden: Has yet to sign.
Safety James Ihedigbo: Has yet to sign.

Read More: 2012 NFL Free Agency,
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