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Josh McDaniels: Overall offensive execution was lacking against Bengals

10.08.13 at 3:50 pm ET
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Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels acknowledged Tuesday the “overall execution” on offense in last Sunday’s loss to the Bengals “wasn’t what we wanted it to be.”

Asked specifically about the number of drops — and whether the inclement conditions played a role — he said it wasn’t just the drops.

“We had some throws that were a little off, and we had some guys that tried to make some tough catches and didn’€™t come up with them — and that’€™s football,” he said. “We certainly don’€™t accept it and we’€™re not going to just stand there and not try to improve and get better at it every week.

“There’€™s no magic potion or formula you use, and you certainly try to give them every opportunity during the course of the week to practice the things that they’€™re going to do on Sunday, and then hopefully those happen to carry over.”

McDaniels was also asked about some of the play-calling, specifically the decision to not run the ball much down the stretch against the Bengals — New England called just six carries in the second half.

“You want to stay balanced on something like that, as much as you can, and I know that some of the situations that come up in the game certainly skew those numbers,” he explained. “We had had two two-minute situations there in the second quarter and then a few situations certainly towards the end of the game where we’€™re in much more of a pass mode. But our intention is never to really get out of whack in terms of run/pass ratio on any of those things, and certainly that’€™s something that I will always try to maintain a good balance on. If I ever get out of balance, I definitely want to try to bring it back to as close to 50/50 or somewhere near there as I can.”

Here are some of the rest of the highlights from the Q&A:
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In Focus: Charting offensive opportunities for Patriots skill position players

10.08.13 at 1:27 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. Five weeks into the regular season, here’€™s a breakdown of the New England offense for 2013:

RB Stevan Ridley: 50 (47 rushes, 3 catches), 7 negative plays, 1 fumble lost
RB LeGarrette Blount: 46 (46 rushes, 0 catches), 4 negative plays, 1 fumble lost
WR Julian Edelman: 38 (2 rushes, 36 catches)
RB Brandon Bolden: 26 (14 rushes, 12 catches), 1 negative reception
RB Shane Vereen: 21 (14 rushes, 7 catches)
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 18 (0 rushes, 18 catches)
QB Tom Brady: 17 (17 rushes, 0 catches), 10 sacks, 10 kneeldowns, 2 fumbles lost
WR Danny Amendola: 14 (0 rushes, 14 catches)
WR Aaron Dobson: 13 (0 rushes, 13 catches), 1 negative reception
TE Michael Hoomanawanui: 4 (0 rushes, 4 catches)
FB James Develin: 2 (0 rushes, 2 catches)
RB Leon Washington: 1 (1 rush, 0 catches)
TE Matthew Mulligan: 1 (0 rushes, 1 catch)
WR Josh Boyce: 1 (0 rushes, 1 catch)

Some offensive notes: Overall, the Patriots were in the shotgun for 33 of their 60 snaps against the Bengals, a rate of 55 percent — a season high. (That was coming off a 24 percent rate the week before against the Falcons, which was a season low.) Overall, the Patriots have been in shotgun 43 percent of the time this season. By way of comparison, New England was in shotgun 44 percent of the time through the first five games of 2012. ‘€¦ The Patriots didn’€™t run any no-huddle against the Bengals, marking the third time since the start of the 2012 season they didn’€™t use no-huddle in a game and the second consecutive contest. On the year, the Patriots have operated out of a no-huddle on 17 of their 347 plays from scrimmage, a rate of five percent. That’€™s a sizable step down from the last two years when they averaged 25 percent during the regular season. ‘€¦ New England has run 347 offensive plays this year in four games. Not counting kneeldowns, 23 have been for negative yardage. The Patriots ran 60 plays Sunday, and five were for negative yards — four sacks of Brady and one negative reception for Dobson. ‘€¦ Through five games in 2012, the Patriots were scoring an average of 33 points per game. This year, they’re averaging 19 points per game through the same stretch.

By way of comparison, here’s a look at the offensive breakdown through five games last year.

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WEEI NFL Power Rankings, Week 6: Patriots plummet to No. 9

10.08.13 at 1:04 pm ET
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The Broncos steamroll their way to the No. 1 spot after another dominant performance from Peyton Manning and the offense. John Elway‘s undefeated team has looked unstoppable and is a lock for the top spot again next week as the No. 32 Jaguars travel to Denver in Week 6.

Only three undefeated teams remain. The Saints (2) and Chiefs (8) both missed the playoffs last year but look primed to return after starting 5-0. Meanwhile, the Jaguars (32) and Giants (30) continue to search for a win. The two teams have a combined 31 turnovers.

Upsets were the theme in Week 5. The Seahawks (3), Patriots (9) and Falcons (20) all drop in the rankings after losing games in which they were favored. There could be more shakeup looming with the Packers (7) traveling to Baltimore (11) and the undefeated Saints heading to New England this Sunday.

1. (2) Broncos (5-0) — Not much more can be said about the Broncos offense. It’s not too early to start talking about an undefeated season. Unless you put up at least 40 points, you’re not beating Denver. The 46 points-per-game average is 16 points higher than the second-place Cowboys. 

2. (3) Saints (5-0) —  Drew Brees threw a career-high 19 interceptions last year. The Saints defense was historically bad. This is a completely different team. New Orleans is winning close games, protecting the football and playing great defense.

3. (1) Seahawks (4-1) — The Seahawks went 2-for-12 on third down Sunday against the Colts. There’s no reason for major panic in Seattle, however, as injured starting tight end Zach Miller should be ready to go next week and Percy Harvin‘s return is on the horizon. That will dramatically help the offense.

4. (4) 49ers (3-2) — Protect the football, dominate defensively and pound the ground game. That’s been the Niners’ formula for success the last couple of years.  Not many teams can win a game when the starting quarterback completes just six passes.

5. (6) Colts (4-1) —  Andrew Luck‘s resiliency and poise in big situations has been extremely impressive. He now has nine game-winning drives in his young career.

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Read More: Drew Brees, Geno Smith, NFL Power Rankings, Peyton Manning

Pressure Points: Which New England defenders have done best job getting after QB this season?

10.08.13 at 12:59 pm ET
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Every week over the course of the 2013 season, we’€™ll provide a look at the Patriots pass rush numbers. While sacks can be overrated, when evaluated as part of a bigger picture that includes quarterback hits and quarterback pressures (the latter courtesy of Pro Football Focus), it should provide a good picture as to which defenders are consistently able to get after the quarterback. Through five games, the Patriots have 13 sacks (tied for 14th), 32 quarterback hits and 51 quarterback hurries. Based on the official NFL game books and PFF, here’€™s a quick look at some pass-rush numbers for the Patriots to this point in the 2013 season:

Quarterback sacks

DL Chandler Jones: 3.5 (24.5 yards)
DL Tommy Kelly: 2.5 (14.5 yards)
DE Michael Buchanan: 2 (15 yards)
DL Chris Jones: 1.5 (13 yards)
LB Jerod Mayo: 1.5 (5 yards)
DL Joe Vellano: 1 (13 yards)
DE Rob Ninkovich: 1 (5 yards)

Quarterback hits (per NFL game books)

DE Chandler Jones: 9
DL Tommy Kelly: 6
DE Rob Ninkovich: 5
DE Michael Buchanan: 4
LB Jerod Mayo: 2
DL Chris Jones: 2
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: 1
DL Vince Wilfork: 1
DE Jake Bequette: 1
DL Joe Vellano: 1

Quarterback hurries (per PFF)

DE Rob Ninkovich: 15
DE Chandler Jones: 14
DL Tommy Kelly: 6
DL Joe Vellano: 4
DL Vince Wilfork: 3
DE Michael Buchanan: 2
LB Jerod Mayo: 2
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: 2
DE Jake Bequette: 1
LB Brandon Spikes: 1

For comparisons sake, here’s a look at the pressure totals through five games last season.

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Reports: Rob Gronkowski will be OK to play this week

10.08.13 at 12:46 pm ET
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Multiple outlets are now reporting that Rob Gronkowski should be cleared to play this week, and will be good to go when the Patriots meet the Saints at Gillette Stadium.

ESPN and Pro Football Talk are reporting that Gronkowski should be OK to play this week. The tight end, who went through multiple surgeries on his forearm and back over the course of the offseason, has not seen game action over the first five contests of the season. His return is also expected to give a kickstart to the offense, which has been sluggish to this point in the year — the Patriots are coming off a six-point performance in a defeat to the Bengals in Cincinnati, the lowest offensive output of the Tom Brady era.

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

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Fantasy Football: Week 6 waiver wire

10.08.13 at 10:52 am ET
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Welcome to the Week 6 waiver wire. As always, these are strong pickup options in typical 10-team leagues. Obviously, they are even better options if they happen to be available in larger formats. The ownership rates have been obtained from Yahoo! and represents ownership rates in all its leagues. If you are looking for more obscure talent, you should head on over to Rotobahn.com, where we cater to those who play in larger leagues. I’€™ll be adding talent throughout the day as I continue to work through the Week 5 games. I’€™ll be back on Friday with my starts and sits column and the Fantasy Football Podcast with Jim Hackett. If you need any last-minute lineup help, feel free to join our Sunday morning chat here at WEEI. It’€™s all sponsored by our friends at Mohegan Sun.

QUARTERBACKS

Jay Cutler, Bears

He’€™s still unowned in 41 percent of leagues, and he should be owned in almost all leagues. The new offense has allowed Cutler to post fantasy-viable numbers even in defeat. With Alshon Jeffery starting to establish himself, the Bears are becoming very hard to defend on the outside.

Terrelle Pryor, Raiders

He’€™s playing well and he’€™s over his recent concussion. You can still add him in 71 percent of leagues, and I’€™d be adding him if I needed more upside at quarterback. Pryor is getting it done with his arm and with his feet.

Sam Bradford, Rams

He’€™s not perfect, but he can post very good numbers when the matchup is right. Bradford has the 10th-most points in fantasy football among quarterbacks. He makes a nice QB2 for sure, especially if he has a nice matchup when your QB1 has his bye week.

Joe Flacco, Ravens

You can get him in 40 percent of leagues, and he has a home start against Green Bay this week. That’€™s a decent fantasy play if your starter is on the bye or if you were starting Michael Vick.

Nick Foles, Eagles

If you own Vick and all else fails, you can turn to Foles and get decent play. Foles looked up to the task last week when he filled in for the injured Vick, and that’€™s expected to continue in Week 6. In fact, if Foles plays well enough, he could steal the gig.

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Read More: Danny Woodhead, Jay Cutler, Le'Veon Bell, Nick Foles

Following the flags: Tracking Patriots penalties for 2013 season

10.08.13 at 9:30 am ET
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Through five weeks, the Patriots have been flagged for 22 penalties for a total of 209 yards. (They weren’€™t flagged for a penalty in Sunday’€™s loss to the Bengals, the first time since Nov. 30, 2009 that New England went a whole game without a penalty.) Here’€™s a breakdown of the calls that have gone against the Patriots, not including penalties that were declined or offset:

Most penalized players, listed by total flags and with total yardage lost:
CB Kyle Arrington: two penalties (defensive pass interference, defensive holding), 25 yards
OL Logan Mankins: two penalties (two offensive holding), 20 yards
OL Dan Connolly: two penalties (two false starts), 10 yards
OL Marcus Cannon: two penalties (two false starts), 6 yards
CB Aqib Talib: one penalty (defensive pass interference), 38 yards
CB Alfonzo Dennard: one penalty (unnecessary roughness), 15 yards
LB Dont’a Hightower: one penalty (facemask), 15 yards
LB Jerod Mayo: one penalty (unnecessary roughness), 15 yards
DL Chandler Jones: two penalties (roughing the passer, neutral zone infraction), 20 yards
S Duron Harmon: one penalty (offensive holding’€“special teams), 10 yards
TE Michael Hoomanawanui (false start), 5 yards
CB Marquice Cole: one penalty (12 men on the field), 5 yards
OL Nate Solder: one penalty (false start), 5 yards
WR Julian Edelman: one penalty (illegal shift), 5 yards
QB Tom Brady: one penalty (delay of game), 5 yards
Team: one penalty (illegal shift), 5 yards
S Kanorris Davis: one penalty (illegal formation), 5 yards

Most penalized by position
Cornerback: 83 yards
Offensive line: 41 yards
Defensive line: 20 yards
Linebacker: 30 yards
Safety: 15 yards
Tight end: 5 yards
Team: 5 yards
Wide receiver: 5 yards
Quarterback: 5 yards

Most frequently called penalties
False start: Six
Offensive holding: Three
Unnecessary roughness: Two
Defensive pass interference: Two
Illegal shift: Two
Roughing the passer: One
Neutral zone infraction: One
Twelve men on the field: One
Illegal formation: One
Facemask: One
Defensive holding: One
Delay of game: One

By way of comparison, here’s how the penalties broke down through five games last year.

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