|12.04.10 at 10:49 am ET|
Welcome to Week 13 of the NFL season! With the Patriots playing Monday night, we’re doing things the opposite of usual thisweek, bringing you the NFL preview first with the big Pats-Jets preview coming Monday! Hopefully, this collection ofstatistical bits and pieces will help you enjoy all the action.
STEELERS AT RAVENS
* – Baltimore has allowed points of 15-of-16 opponent drives of 10+ plays this season (NFL high 94 percent) while the Steelers have averaged 4.13 points on those offensive possessions, ranked fifth.
* – Opponents are just 5-of-17 on third and three yards or less against the Steelers’ defense over the last six weeks (29 percent). Prior to that, they had allowed 16-of-26 (62 percent).
* – Baltimore has lost 35 yards on completions for negative yards this season, the most in the NFL.
* – Pittsburgh is the only NFL team that has not yet converted a fourth down try (0-for-2).
* – Baltimore has allowed an league high 27.2 average yards per kickoff return this season. HOWEVER…
* – 80 percent of the Ravens’ kickoffs have reached the end zone and 56 percent have been touchbacks, both NFL highs. That touchback percentage is on pace to OBLITERATE the NFL single season record:
56% – Ravens, 2010
38% – Dolphins, 2006
37% – Falcons, 2009
Compare that to the Steelers: Only 22 percent of their kicks reached the end zone (29th). Perhaps that explains why Jeff Reed was let go?
* – 69.2 percent of Baltimore’s rushing yards have come on runs of less than 10 yards, the highest percentage in the league:
69.2% – Ravens
66.9% – Colts
64.8% – Jets
Note this: 73.9 percent of rushing yards ALLOWED by Pittsburgh have come on those short runs, again the highest percentage in the league.
* – The Ravens are the only team that has allowed points on every red zone trip by their opponents this season (26-of-26).
JAGUARS AT TITANS
* – Over the last six weeks, the Jaguars are second in average first downs per game:
24.2 – Chiefs
23.6 – Jaguars
23.6 – Saints
* – Tennessee has allowed only two touchdowns all season from outside the 20-yard-line, the fewest in the league. Six other teams are tied for the second fewest with four. Beyond that, their defense also leads the league by allowing the fewest average points per red zone trip:
3.79 – Titans
3.95 – Cardinals
3.97 – Dolphins
* – Jacksonville has “won” the first down battle by +9 in each of their last three games. The longest streak of +9 net first downs or more in the NFL since 1991 is five straight games, by the 2005 Colts.
SAINTS AT BENGALS
* – The Saints lead the NFL at converting third downs (49.7 percent). That includes a league high 39.5 percent on third-and-long (six yards or more):
39.5% – Saints
37.5% – Chargers
37.4% – Falcons
Note this: The Bengals have ALLOWED just 22.4 percent on third and six or more, third best in the NFL.
* – A league high 34 percent of points allowed by Cincinnati have come following Bengals’ turnovers.
* – Cincinnati has allowed touchdowns on a league high 87 percent of opponents’ goal-to-go chances this season (13-of-15).
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|12.03.10 at 9:56 pm ET|
ESPN NFL analyst Cris Carter, in an appearance on The Big Show on Friday, suggested that the Patriots dealt wide receiver Randy Moss at the perfect time. That said, he also insisted that the Patriots offense is far less dynamic in Moss’ absence, and he offered a harsh critique of receiver Deion Branch.
Though he praised Branch as a “great route-runner,” Carter also suggested that Branch is too frequently injured and often “disappears” in games.
“The ceiling with Moss with their offense is a lot higher. ‘¦ They can be really dynamic. Like frightening. Now, if they don’t play well offensively, they’ll lose, because they have a defense that doesn’t dominate the games,” said Carter. “Deion disappears too much against regular corners. He disappears in the game. He’s made, like, three guest appearances since the Super Bowl. … Look at his stats. Look at his game.
“He’s just a guy. You guys have to be real about it,” Carter added. “Great players, they don’t get hurt as much as the other players. There’s a difference between great ones and good ones and average ones.”
As for Moss, with whom Carter has a close relationship dating to their time together in Minnesota, the ESPN analyst suggested that the ex-Patriots receiver regretted both his ill-timed rant about the Patriots after a Week 1 win, and that Moss wished that he had never left New England.
“When they got Randy, they got the absolute best out of him. And when they got rid of Randy, they got rid of him at the right time,” said Carter. “When he spoke out against them, he made a serious mistake. I know personally that Randy wishes he could have that back. … He wishes he had never left New England. He definitely wanted out of Minnesota with Brad [Childress] because he didn’t really respect his offensive philosophy.”
As for Moss’ status going forward, Carter said that it was an understatement to say that he’s “hurt” his value this coming offseason in free agency.
“Hurt? Is there another word?” Carter wondered. “Randy has shown us nothing lately that he’s still in the elite category. If you’re elite, you should be able to beat the cover-2s. You should be double-teamed and still impact the game.”
|12.03.10 at 6:00 pm ET|
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. – Here are the four things you really, really need to know about the Jets following Friday’s practice (would a third “really” have been over the top?):
1. Losing Jim Leonhard for the season is a massive hit. Rex Ryan was a long way from wacky (meaning no wigs and no Tom Brady jokes) as he made his way to the podium for his press conference after practice, and it was quickly apparent why his mood was somber if not stunned. Leonhard – described as the “heart and soul of the defense” by a number of players on Friday – suffered a severe injury to his right shin at the end of practice and is out for Monday night and the rest of the 2010 season.
“It’s a huge blow to us,” said Ryan of the injury. “This is a big loss for us. An excellent football player ‘¦ just a huge part of what we do.”
Leonhard has 66 tackles, one interception and a fumble recovery this season, but according to defensive coordinator Mike Pettine his value cannot be measured only by statistics.
“A lot of it starts with off the field,” said Pettine. “He’s not just a great football player, but a great person. His personality ‘¦ keeps the room very light. On the field, he really did quarterback the back end, he was a big part of getting guys lined up and he was usually a guy who was in the right place at the right time doing his job. Again, that’s something we are really going to miss.”
Ryan indicated that Eric Smith will likely get the start at safety in Leonhard’s place on Monday.
|12.03.10 at 5:49 pm ET|
David Givens, appearing as a guest host on The Big Show on Friday, discussed what happened to his career after he left the New England Patriots. Givens signed a six-year, $24 million deal with the Tennessee Titans for the 2006 season, but he shattered his knee in that season and never played again. He was released by Tennessee in 2008.
Givens became emotional as he discussed the circumstances that led to the end of his playing career. To listen to him discuss the situation, click here. A transcript of his comments is below:
‘Long story short, I had a career-ending injury with the Titans that basically could have been prevented,” said Givens. “They found a microfracture when I signed with the team that they didn’t tell me about. Week 3, I banged my knee to the ground. It microfractured a good amount. They told me it was a big bruise. That bruise was a microfracture that could potentially break, and I had no idea. I was never informed about it.
“The Collective Bargaining Agreement states that guys with injuries or something detrimental to their career, they’re supposed to be informed in writing as well as verbally. It never was done. I went out there playing, playing, playing. I didn’t notice the issue because I had pain all over my body. I didn’t notice until I smashed my knee into the ground. When I smashed my knee into the ground in Week 3, I was told it was a bruise.
“So I kept playing. Actually, Week 3, I was sat down. It’s very hard to talk about. They focused on fixing my thumb, because I ripped my thumb up and missed about two or three days. The team had ample opportunity to tell me that bruise was an issue that they’d found way back early in the season. That never was done.
“The game I came back, I ended up going out there, made a simple cut. Nobody touched me. My knee shattered, broke. Career was over.”
Givens said he learned to make the best of the situation. Still, while he is moving on, he said that he continues to harbor “no respect” for the Titans organization.
“The good thing about it is I learned from it. I learn from negative things that happened. I learn from bad situations. The thing I learned from it is that you have to be strong through adversity, bounce back, control what you can and move on. The law suit is still pending with the Titans,” said Givens. “It’s an organization that I have no respect for, as opposed to the Patriots. I respect the Patriots tremendously. You can see what’s going on right now with guys fighting every week, the team clearing the bench. Obviously, it’s an organization that does things a little bit differently. I’ve been there, and I don’t like it.”
Givens was asked whether he regretted his decision not to re-sign with the Patriots.
“Initially, when I was going through the process, no. I thought it was the best thing for me at the time. If I could do it over again, to be honest, I would probably do the same thing. I don’t regret anything I’ve ever done in my life,” said Givens. “At the time, I thought it was the best business decision. Was it? No it wasn’t. From the Super Bowl rings that I’ve obtained here, when it comes to business, the best business decision would have been to stay here. …
“I wish my career could have ended on my own doing as opposed to a medical staff misleading me. But it didn’t happen that way. When you are a captain of every team since five years old, and you are a team player and put your life on the line for your team and coaches and trainers and all that, you would expect for things to go a little differently than it did in my situation.”
|12.03.10 at 5:34 pm ET|
Light said he doesn’t really care about the playoff scenarios that are affected by this game, as he doesn’t need any more motivation. “There is no bigger reason to get excited and amped up than Jets week,” he said. “Playing here at home, Monday night. It’s pretty simple: We’re going to be ready to go, and we’ve got to go out there and we’ve got to start fast and we’ve got to execute.”
Asked how the Patriots will combat the aggressive Jets defense, Light said the key is communication among the linemen. “Ultimately, it comes down to more of what you do and how well you execute, given the different looks they give you,” he said. “Because they’re going to give you something that you haven’t seen. They’re going to give you a lot of the overload stuff, the walking around, the different personnel packages. And they’re going to throw a lot of different guys at you from different angles. Keeping all that in consideration, for us up front anyway, it’s going to come down to, how well can we communicate. That’s always a big thing. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing.”
Added Light: “Everybody’s got to be alert. We’ve got to be ready for everything. And we’ve got to play at a fast pace ‘ mentally and physically.”
Light said even the loss this week of Stephen Neal, who was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury, shouldn’t be a devastating blow for a resilient Patriots team, with the likes of Dan Connolly ready to step in. “For the work that we put in up front and the things we do to get ourselves prepared, there shouldn’t be an excuse for anybody, whatever the reason is,” he said. “Obviously, it’s tough when you lose a guy like Steve. Obviously, him being put on IR and all that, that’s a tough situation for him, first and foremost. But for us, too. And I think that we’ve been pretty resilient. We’ve got a a lot of guys that work hard, and they understand the system. They understand their role and their responsibility in it.”
Reports out of Jets practice Friday indicate that safety Jim Leonhard broke a bone in his leg and is done for the season. “He’s a great player,” Light said. “Instinctively, he just seems to be around the ball a lot and is really a big part of their defense. But even saying that, they’ve got so many guys that they rotate through there. ‘¦ I think they have a lot of guys that they have confidence in.”
|12.03.10 at 5:16 pm ET|
|12.03.10 at 4:50 pm ET|
The five most important things you need to know about the Patriots on Friday:
1. The official game status won’t be released until Sunday, but based on how things have gone for the last week or so, it’s a safe bet the Patriots will be without cornerback Jonathan Wilhite (hip) and defensive linemen Myron Pryor (back) and Mike Wright (neck/concussion) on Monday night. As was the case for the last week or so, all three missed practice again on Friday, and with the absence coming so late in the week (even for a Monday game), it means New England will be without all three.
Without Pryor and Wright, the Patriots will lose some depth along their defensive line, as well as some good interior pass rush ‘ Wright leads the team in sacks with 5.5 sacks. Look for more responsibility on the shoulders of starters like Vince Wilfork, Gerard Warren, Brandon Deaderick and Ron Brace, as well as backup Kyle Love.
And presuming Wilhite is a no-go for Monday night, that means New England will likely turn to Darius Butler at corner. It’ll be a shot at redemption for the UConn product, who was roasted badly by Braylon Edwards in the Week 2 matchup between the Patriots and Jets and was relegated to backup duty after that. (In fact, if the Patriots use Kyle Arrington as an outside linebacker/defensive end, as they have done the last couple of weeks, Butler could see some time on the exterior against the likes of Edwards.)
2. The loss of Jim Leonhard for the Jets means New York has fewer options when it comes to defending the Patriots, particularly in the passing game. Jets coach Rex Ryan told reporters that New York would go with Eric Smith in Leonhard’s place, but the dropoff is sizable. Another area where Leonhard’s difference could be felt is in special teams, where he’s the Jets No. 1 punt returner. Rookie Kyle Wilson has also been returning punts this season for the Jets ‘ however, putting a rookie into the position of having to catch a key punt in a game at windy Gillette Stadium could be an awful tall order. (According to special teams coach Mike Westhoff, that role will likely fall to wide receiver Jerricho Cotchery.)
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