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Tom Brady: ‘What we’re doing isn’t good enough’

09.26.12 at 2:09 pm ET
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FOXBORO — Tom Brady had his best game of the year Sunday, completing 28-of-41 passes for 335 yards and a touchdown. He got Brandon Lloyd and Wes Welker both involved in the offense as both receivers gained over 100 yards.

But it wasn’t good enough.

And that – in short – was his message Wednesday.

The Patriots failed in their “four-minute” offense, which is designed to chew up clock with the lead, and the red zone, where the Patriots converted on just three of five chances for touchdowns, with one of those drives beginning at the Ravens 6 after a Steve Gregory interception.

“We have to obviously make improvements because what we’€™re doing isn’€™t good enough. That’€™s in any area ‘€“ that’€™s certainly that everyone has to look at what they can do better to really help the team win. So, it’€™s frustrating when we lose. It’€™s been two weeks in a row and obviously nobody feels very good about it. But all of our energy and focus is on this particular opponent and the challenges they present, certainly a big challenge for us. They’€™re a very good team, very well coached and they play well at home. It’€™s going to be a battle.”

“We talk about it all the time ‘€“ situational football. There’€™s red area, there’€™s third down, there’€™s short-yardage, there’€™s goal line, there’€™s two-minute and four-minute offense is critical when you’€™re winning the game and you have to figure out a way to keep their offense off the field and still move the ball offensively, get first downs and chew up the clock. It’€™s something that we obviously need some work on.”

Brady was asked if – as a quarterback and an offense – it’s a different mindset at the end of games when you’re trying to kill clock instead of scoring points.

“It’€™s different, but at the same time it’€™s just really a shift in your mind,” Brady said. “It’€™s the same thing on a two-minute drive or the same thing on a red area or a change of possession. Football is all about situational football and being able to adjust and adapt to the situation so that you’€™re really able to handle it well as a team and everybody knows what’€™s going on and everybody knows what we’€™re trying to do. The stuff we talk about and we work on, obviously when we do it well it looks great and when it doesn’€™t, it doesn’€™t look so good. We have a lot of things to work on and that’€™s obviously right at the top of the list.”

As a result of the 31-30 loss to the Ravens, the Patriots are under .500 for the first time since Sept. 2003, when they were 0-1 to start a season that ended with their second Super Bowl title. Appropriately, they head to Buffalo this weekend to face the Bills, where they lost last year in heartbreaking fashion 34-31 in Week 3 and where they lost 31-0 to start 2003.

“Yeah, it’€™s a very tough place to play,” Brady said. “I think we have to, I said the other day, dig ourselves out of a bit of a hole that we kind of put ourselves into. We’€™re sitting here at 1-2 and looking up at Buffalo and the Jets. It’€™s a big, obviously, big game for us in terms of conference and division standings. Any time you play a division opponent on the road it’€™s a big game. We lost up there last year, so we have to go out there and try to play better than we’€™ve been playing.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Devin McCourty: Hard work will help Patriots bounce back against Bills

09.26.12 at 1:56 pm ET
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FOXBORO — When it comes to climbing out of a 1-2 hole, Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty knows that there won’t be any quick fixes. Instead, it will come through hard work.

“We just have to keep playing,” McCourty said before practice on Wednesday. “Coach Belichick tells us that all the time. We just have to keep working hard and keep doing things that we’ve been doing. And things that we need to work on, we need to improve them and get back on the right page and get a win. We just have to keep going at it. There’s nothing special that we can do to turn it around right away. Just keep working and pressing.

“You just have to keep working. That’s the only way it can get done.”

McCourty played well over the first two games of the season and for a large portion of Sunday’s game against the Ravens. However, he dropped a pair of possible interceptions, and committed a game-changing penalty late in the fourth quarter that allowed Baltimore to get into field goal range for the game-winner.

Like his teammates, he must shake the collective memory of Sunday’s late meltdown against the Ravens before heading into Buffalo Sunday to face the Bills.

“I always want to perform well,” he said. “I count on myself to go out there and play well each week.”

McCourty will likely see plenty of time matched against Buffalo’s Stevie Johnson, the Bills leading receiving (13 catches, 172 yards and three touchdowns). According to McCourty, Johnson (a very good pass catcher and birthday cake aficionado) presents an interesting set of challenges.

“He’s tough to defend,” McCourty said. “When you watch him, he does some different things, especially at the line of scrimmage, things that you don’t see every week from wide receivers. He’s going to be a big challenge for us this week — in the secondary, we’re going to have to know where he’s at, and we’ll have to make some plays against him.

“It’s going to be a tough challenge,” he added. “They’re a team that does a lot of things well, especially their offense. They have a lot of guys who can spread you out and they have a lot of guys who are very good in space. We’ll really have to come ready to play. We’ll have to make some tackles in the open field. We’ll really have to go hard this week in practice and be ready to go.”

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Josh McDaniels talks about ‘limited opportunities’ for Rob Gronkowski against Ravens

09.25.12 at 4:34 pm ET
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Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski had just two catches on three targets for 21 yards on Sunday night against the Ravens — from a production standpoint, it was one of the worst days of his career. Last year against the Raiders, he had one catch for 15 yards, and also had two catches for 26 yards in the Super Bowl loss to the Giants.

One of the reasons Gronkowski might have been limited in the passing game is because he was utilized more in pass protection that usual. Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels talked about Gronkowski’€™s perormance on Sunday night, as well as his work as a pass blocker.

‘€œCertainly Rob can do a lot of good things for our team, so anytime that he gets involved in the passing game, I think it’€™s a positive thing for us,’€ McDaniels said on a conference call with reporters on Tuesday afternoon. ‘€œAt the same time, with the position that he plays there are definitely occasions when we ask him to protect and do things in the pass protection game that give some of our other players an opportunity to get open on other schemes too.

‘€œRob’€™s always worn multiple hats in that regard and I do think it just came out in the game the other night that it ended up that there were limited opportunities. It wasn’€™t that he wasn’€™t out in the pattern and it wasn’€™t that Tom did a poor job of reading the defense and what have you; I think it’€™s just a factor of the ball came out quick sometimes and we had some other people that were in situations to make plays based on what Baltimore did defensively to us.’€

Here are a few more highlights of McDaniels’€™ Q&A with the media:
Read the rest of this entry »

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Following the flags: Tracking Patriots penalties for 2012 season

09.25.12 at 4:04 pm ET
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Through three weeks, the Patriots have been flagged for 21 penalties (15th in the league) for a total of 163 yards (20th 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: three penalties (two offensive holding, false start), 20 yards
CB Devin McCourty: two penalties (defensive holding, defensive pass interference), 32 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
LB Brandon Spikes: one penalty (defensive holding), 5 yards
CB Kyle Arrington: one penalty (defensive holding), 5 yards
S Steve Gregory: one penalty (personal foul), 15 yards
CB Ras-I Dowling: one penalty (defensive pass interference) 9 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

Most penalized by position:
Cornerback: Four penalties for 46 yards
Specialists (punter, kicker, long snapper, coverage units): Three penalties for 19 yards
Tight end: Three 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
Offensive line: One penalty for five yards

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

Notes: The Patriots were called for 10 penalties in Sunday’s loss to the Ravens. The last time they were flagged at least 10 times was Nov. 14, 2010 in a win over the Steelers in Pittsburgh. … In the wake of Sunday’s game, New England jumped from 24th in the league in total penalties against to 15th. In addition, the Patriots went from 28th in total penalty yardage lost to 20th. … Interesting that after being flagged for eight penalties in the preseason, the New England offensive line has only been hit with one penalty in three regular-season games.

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In Focus: Charting offensive opportunities for Patriots skill position players

09.25.12 at 1:52 pm ET
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Every week over the course of the regular season, we’€™ll present a list of the Patriots’€™ ‘€œoffensive touches,’€ a running tally of which one of the offensive skill position players is getting the most looks. Like our weekly look at targets, it can occasionally be an inexact stat, but it remains a good barometer of how confident the coaches (and quarterback) are when it comes to the skill position players at their disposal. Three weeks into the regular season, here’€™s a breakdown of the New England offense for 2012:

RB Stevan Ridley: 57 (52 rushes, 5 catches). Nine negative runs.
RB Danny Woodhead: 31 (29 rushes, 2 catches). Two negative runs.
WR Brandon Lloyd: 22 (0 rushes, 22 catches).
WR Wes Welker: 16 (0 rushes, 16 catches).
TE Rob Gronkowski: 14 (0 rushes, 14 catches).
WR Julian Edelman: 12 (2 rushes, 10 catches). One negative reception, one negative run
TE Aaron Hernandez: 7 (1 rush, 6 catches).
RB Brandon Bolden: 7 (7 rushes, 0 catches). One negative run.
QB Tom Brady: 5 (5 rushes, 0 catches.) Seven sacks and two kneel downs.
WR Deion Branch: 2 (0 rushes, 2 catches)
TE Kellen Winslow: 1 (0 rushes, 1 catch)
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 1 (0 rushes, 1 catch)
TOTAL: 175 touches (96 rushes, 79 catches): 14 negative plays, plus seven sacks.

By position
Running back: 88 touches (81 rushes, 7 catches)
Tight end: 23 touches (1 rush, 22 catches)
Wide receiver: 52 touches (2 rushes, 50 catches)

Other offensive notes: New England, which was in the no-huddle an average of 28 percent in its previous four games with the Ravens, went no-huddle on 34 of their 77 snaps Sunday night against the Ravens, a rate of 44 percent. (They went no-huddle 12 plays in the first, five in the second, 14 in the third and three in the fourth.) Through three games, it’€™s a season-high for the Patriots. ‘€¦ Through three weeks, the Patriots have been in no huddle for 70 of their 222 plays from scrimmage, a rate of 31.5 percent. … Ridley is 11th in the league in rushing with 233 total yards, while Lloyd is sixth in the league with 22 catches and Welker is ninth in the league with 251 receiving yards. The 59-yarder Welker hit with Brady in the first half against the Ravens is the longest gain from scrimmage this season for the Patriots. … Thirteen of Lloyd’€™s catches have gone for a first down, tied for ninth-best in the league. … In a distinct departure from the norm, Brady is in the Top 5 in only one major passing category — completed passes. (He’€™s tied for fourth with 79.)

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Fantasy Football: Players you should be targeting on Week 4 waiver wire

09.25.12 at 10:42 am ET
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Welcome back to the waiver wire. After a long ugly weekend of watching replacement refs and the problems they create, we have some new names for you to target this week. We also have some old faces reappearing. As always, we strive to provide you options that are available in a reasonable amount of leagues. For even deeper, more comprehensive analysis, we invite you to join us at Rotobahn.com.

QUARTERBACKS

Christian Ponder, Vikings

If you’€™ve been a Rotobahn reader, then you know we like him. After Ponder got it done against a defense like San Francisco’€™s, it’€™s time more people jump on board. Ponder is a guy who should be rostered in all medium to large leagues, and some 10-team leagues too. He’€™s a nice, solid commodity.

Andy Dalton, Bengals

He has made some bad throws, but he’€™s played well overall. The keys to Dalton’€™s fantasy appeal are his weapons, led by A.J. Green, who is quickly becoming the scariest receiving threat this side of Calvin Johnson. Dalton can start for you when you need him to and he is a high-quality QB2. He should be owned in all formats.

Jake Locker, Titans

I was hard on Locker last week, and he’€™s still got a scattershot arm, but we got a look at what he can do for fantasy owners in Week 3. He’€™s a guy you can use to play matchups, and getting Kenny Britt‘€™s massive catch radius back certainly is a good thing for him. He should be rostered in all 12-team leagues as a QB2, and if he finds some consistency, he could move up into the top 12.

Shaun Hill, Lions

If you are a Stafford owner and if Stafford does indeed miss a game leading into his bye week, then Hill is a good way to deal with Week 4. Hill also can be your backup for Stafford once Detroit gets past its bye week. Hill proved once again that he is a dependable fantasy asset when receives playing time. He’€™s well versed and comfortable in Detroit’€™s system. He can start for you in any format as long as he is starting for Detroit. Stafford’s injury looks less serious than originally thought, but Hill still is a good way to protect yourself. The Lions kick off at 1 p.m. You can also use your normal backup if you are comfortable with that option.

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

09.25.12 at 9:06 am ET
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Through three weeks, the Patriots have seven quarterback hits and three sacks as a team. Here’€™s a quick look at some pass-rush numbers for the Patriots to this point in the 2012 season:

Quarterback hits
LB Brandon Spikes: Two
DE Jermaine Cunningham: One
DL Vince Wilfork: One
DE Trevor Scott: One
DE Chandler Jones: One
DE Rob Ninkovich: One

Sacks
Cunningham: One (seven yards)
Jones: One (one yard)
Ninkovich: One (zero yards)

By way of comparison, through three games last year, the Patriots had 16 quarterback hits and six sacks.

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