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In Focus: Charting offensive opportunities for Patriots skill position players

12.11.12 at 6:06 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. Thirteen games into the regular season, here’€™s a breakdown of the New England offense for 2012:

RB Stevan Ridley: 249 (243 rushes, 6 catches). 24 negative runs.
WR Wes Welker: 95 (0 rushes, 95 catches). 2 negative receptions.
RB Danny Woodhead: 86 (58 rushes, 28 catches). 2 negative runs, 1 negative reception.
RB Shane Vereen: 61 (54 rushes, 7 catches). 3 negative run.
WR Brandon Lloyd: 57 (0 rushes, 57 catches).
TE Rob Gronkowski: 53 (0 rushes, 53 catches).
RB Brandon Bolden: 47 (45 rushes, 2 catches). 7 negative runs.
TE Aaron Hernandez: 36 (1 rush, 35 catches). 2 negative receptions.
WR Julian Edelman: 25 (4 rushes, 21 catches). 1 negative reception, 1 negative run.
QB Tom Brady: 20 (20 rushes, 0 catches.) 20 sacks, 8 kneel downs, 1 negative run.
WR Deion Branch: 9 (0 rushes, 9 catches).
QB Ryan Mallett: 8 (8 rushes, all kneel downs).
TE Daniel Fells: 3 (0 rushes, 3 catches).
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 2 (0 rushes, 2 catches).
TE Kellen Winslow: 1 (0 rushes, 1 catch).
WR Donte Stallworth: 1 (0 rushes, 1 catch)
RB Lex Hilliard: 1 (1 rush, 0 catches)
TOTAL: 754 touches (434 rushes, 320 catches): 44 negative plays, plus 20 sacks and 16 kneel downs.

By position
Running back: 444 touches (401 rushes, 43 catches). 36 negative runs, 1 negative reception.
Wide receiver: 187 touches (4 rushes, 183 catches). 3 negative receptions, 1 negative run.
Tight end: 95 touches (1 rush, 94 catches). 2 negative receptions.
Quarterback: 28 touches (28 rushes, 0 catches), 1 negative run.

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Fantasy Football: Week 15 waiver wire

12.11.12 at 8:47 am ET
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Welcome to the waiver wire for Week 15. In most leagues, this is semifinal week and that’€™s high stakes, indeed.

As I mentioned last week, we are looking for upside and startable commodities vs. the depth players we were pushing throughout the bye weeks. The other thing to pay attention to are the key handcuffs to your lynchpin players. I will be updating last week’€™s handcuff article at Rotobahn for those looking to lock up their key insurance policies. I will be back next week for those who make the big game and we will be doing our 11a.m. Sunday morning chat this week for those who are looking for some lineup advice. Good luck to all this week!


Colin Kaepernick, 49ers

He’€™s not state of the art just yet, but Kaepernick is the future in San Francisco. He can be your present in Week 15 as the 49ers head to New England. Kaepernick can start for you in 12-team leagues if you need a player. His matchup at Seattle in Week 16 is a bit more problematic.

Russell Wilson, Seahawks

He has a nice matchup in Week 15 at Buffalo, so he is worth an add if you need a plug-and-play QB. Wilson is viable in 12-team leagues. His struggles last week were due to San Francicso’s running game dominating the contest, not the passing game’€™s failures.

Nick Foles, Eagles

We like this kid some and he showed significant improvement in Week 14 in a very solid matchup vs. the Bucs. Things get tougher this week against the Bengals, who are solid defensively, but we’€™d add Foles for his Week 16 matchup at home against the Redskins, who give up plenty of points via the pass. If you need to piece together your last few weeks, then Foles can help you.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Following the flags: Tracking Patriots penalties for 2012 season

12.11.12 at 7:04 am ET
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Through 13 games, the Patriots have been flagged for 79 penalties (21st in the league) for a total of 680 yards (18th 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:
LB Jerod Mayo: five penalties (two defensive pass interference, unnecessary roughness, illegal contact, roughing the passer) 43 yards
LB Brandon Spikes: five penalties (two defensive holding, unnecessary roughness, roughing the passer, encroachment), 41 yards
DL Vince Wilfork: five penalties (three encroachment, defensive offsides, facemask), 35 yards
Team: five penalties (illegal formation, illegal shift, illegal block above the waist, defensive holding, two 12 men on the field), 31 yards
TE Rob Gronkowski: four penalties (two offensive holding, false start, offensive pass interference), 35 yards
CB Kyle Arrington: three penalties (two defensive pass interference, defensive holding), 60 yards
CB Devin McCourty: three penalties (defensive holding, two defensive pass interference), 51 yards
TE Aaron Hernandez: three penalties (two offensive pass interference, false start), 25 yards
OL Donald Thomas: three penalties (false start, two offensive holding), 25 yards
CB Alfonzo Dennard: three penalties (defensive holding, two unnecessary roughness), 21 yards
OT Sebastian Vollmer: three penalties (illegal formation, false start, offensive holding), 20 yards
TE Daniel Fells: three penalties (false start, offensive pass interference, offensive holding), 18 yards Read the rest of this entry »

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Target Practice: Tracking opportunities in Patriots passing game

12.11.12 at 6:43 am ET
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Targets have been compiled by the NFL since the start of the 2009 season, and while it remains an 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 the New England passing game through the first 13 games of the 2012 regular season:

WR Wes Welker:
95 catches on 142 targets
WR Brandon Lloyd: 57 catches on 98 targets
TE Rob Gronkowski: 53 catches on 75 targets
TE Aaron Hernandez: 35 catches on 51 targets
RB Danny Woodhead: 28 catches on 35 targets
WR Julian Edelman: 21 catches on 32 targets
WR Deion Branch: Nine catches on 20 targets
RB Shane Vereen: Seven catches on 12 targets
RB Stevan Ridley: Six catches on 11 targets
TE Daniel Fells: Three catches on nine targets
RB Brandon Bolden: Two catches on two targets
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: Two catches on three targets
TE Kellen Winslow: One catch on two targets
WR Donte’ Stallworth: One catch on two targets
TE Visanthe Shiancoe: Zero catches on one target

TOTALS: 320 catches on 495 targets

By position
Wide receiver: 183 catches on 294 targets
Tight end: 94 catches on 141 targets
Running back: 43 catches on 60 targets

By way of comparison, here’s a look at how the targets broke down through 13 games last season.

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

12.11.12 at 6:28 am ET
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Through 13 games, the Patriots have 54 quarterback hits and 28 sacks as a team (tied for 19th in the league). Based on gamebooks, here’€™s a quick look at some pass-rush numbers for the Patriots to this point in the 2012 season:

Quarterback hits
DE Rob Ninkovich: 11
DE Chandler Jones: Nine
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: Seven
DE Jermaine Cunningham: Six
LB Jerod Mayo: Five
DL Justin Francis: Four
LB Brandon Spikes: Four
DE Trevor Scott: Three
DL Vince Wilfork: Two
DL Brandon Deaderick: One
DL Kyle Love: One
CB Kyle Arrington: One Read the rest of this entry »

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Texans feel things could be different if they meet Patriots again

12.11.12 at 2:31 am ET
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FOXBORO — Leading up to this match-up during the week, many were calling this game possibly the biggest in Texans history. Houston has never taken one loss this far into a season, and traveling to face a Patriots team with a 9-3 record on Monday Night Football only upped the ante.

But it was clear who the superior team was on Monday night in Foxboro.

There’€™s probably a lot to be said about experience; the Patriots have it in December, January and February. The Texans, not as much.

Since the Texans and Patriots now account for two of the top three teams in the AFC, the likelihood of them meeting again down the playoff road is a high one. Whether this game takes place in Houston or Foxboro is yet to be seen, if it happens at all. And if it does, several members of the Texans said they now know what to look for from this veteran New England team, and themselves as well.

‘€œIt’€™s a teaching moment,’€ defensive end Whitney Mercilus said after the game. ‘€œThis is a good team and we can’€™t slack off. Too many penalties and things like that; beating ourselves. We’ve got to be able to move the ball offensively and defensively. We’€™ve got to get to the passer and help out our secondary. We can’€™t get gashed in the run. We’ve got to get better.’€

When asked why he thought the outcome might be different should the they meet again, defensive end Antonio Smith paused for a few seconds thinking about the question, and then said, ‘€œWe know what to expect.’€

‘€œNow you know what you’€™re dealing with,’€ he said. ‘€œThere aren’t any surprises. This team hadn’t faced a Patriots team in their house this late in the year when it’€™s playoffs coming since I’ve been here. I think the last time we beat them was in our house. And hopefully we can get our stuff together and win the rest of these games so that they’ve got to come in our house. It’€™s just another battle; we’€™ll see how it is then.’€ Read the rest of this entry »

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Donte’ Stallworth: My MVP vote ‘would definitely’ go to Tom Brady

12.11.12 at 2:28 am ET
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FOXBORO — Not much has changed in five years for the Patriots offense in terms of their production.

Just ask Donte’ Stallworth, who Monday night caught his first touchdown with the Patriots since catching three during the 16-0 regular season of 2007.

Tom Brady threw four touchdown passes, including a 67-yard TD strike to Stallworth, who made a one-handed grab of the perfectly-placed ball, putting the Patriots up 28-0 in the third quarter. Brady was the NFL MVP the last time Stallworth played with him. And not much has changed, at least in the receiver’s eyes.

“If I had a [MVP] vote, it would definitely go to him,” Stallworth said. “It’s just typical Brady. You see him playing like that, year-in and year-out. He’s been one of the best players in this league for a long time. He works hard for what he gets and he deserves it.”

As for the TD play, Stallworth said it was just “typical Brady” reading the deep coverage and putting the ball where it had to be.

‘€œThat particular play is something that we had worked on, even in the spring,” Stallworth said. “It was just an opportunity where they were kind of flat-footed and it gave me an opportunity to run by the guy and Tommy made a great throw. He put it up for me to catch it and that’€™s what I did.

‘€œWe had a game plan that we wanted to execute and I felt like for the most part we did. We came in and we wanted to play a 60-minute game. You watch those guys (the Texans) on film all year and there is a reason why they came in here at 11-1. They are a really good team. Today we just played well and ended up winning the game.’€

As for scoring in his first game back with the Patriots after being cut at the end of camp, Stallworth said he was only too happy to get his second chance.

‘€œJust being out here with the guys,” he said. “When I first got signed earlier this week it was really good being back around the guys, being back here in the locker room with the fellas. It’€™s been a good week. I wanted to come in and make sure that I was prepared. I’€™ve been studying hard all week and I felt like I was prepared coming in. The coaches did a good job of preparing me. My coach, Chad O’€™Shea, did a great job of preparing me and we ended up making some plays today and winning the ball game.’€

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