It Is What It Is
Follow football writer Christopher Price at In addition, get the latest updates at
A Patriots Blog Blog Network

Following the flags: Tracking Patriots penalties for 2012 season

11.29.12 at 12:21 pm ET
By   |   Comments

Through 11 games, the Patriots have been flagged for 67 penalties (21st in the league) for a total of 573 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
TE Rob Gronkowski: four penalties (two offensive holding, false start, offensive pass interference), 35 yards
Team: four penalties (illegal formation, illegal shift, illegal block above the waist, defensive holding), 25 yards
CB Devin McCourty: three penalties (defensive holding, two defensive pass interference), 51 yards
CB Alfonzo Dennard: three penalties (defensive holding, two unnecessary roughness), 21 yards
CB Kyle Arrington: two penalties (defensive pass interference, defensive holding), 45 yards
QB Tom Brady: two penalties (two intentional grounding), 19 yards
CB Ras-I Dowling: two penalties (defensive pass interference, defensive holding), 19 yards
TE Aaron Hernandez: two penalties (offensive pass interference, false start), 15 yards
WR Julian Edelman: two penalties (false start, offensive pass interference), 15 yards
OL Donald Thomas: two penalties (false start, offensive holding), 15 yards
OT Nate Solder: two penalties (offensive holding, false start), 15 yards
ST Niko Koutouvides: two penalties (defensive holding, illegal block above the waist), 14 yards
TE Daniel Fells: two penalties (false start, offensive pass interference), 12 yards
OT Sebastian Vollmer: two penalties (illegal formation, false start), 10 yards
DL Jermaine Cunningham: two penalties (encroachment, defensive holding), 10 yards
DE Chandler Jones: two penalties (encroachment, defensive offsides) 10 yards
RB Stevan Ridley: two penalties (false start, chop block), 5 yards
S Pat Chung: one penalty (defensive pass interference), 40 yards
S Steve Gregory: one penalty (personal foul), 15 yards
WR Brandon Lloyd: one penalty (offensive pass interference), 10 yards
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: one penalty (defensive holding), 10 yards
C Ryan Wendell: one penalty (offensive holding), 10 yards
S Tavon Wilson: one penalty (offensive holding’€“punt return team), 10 yards
ST Nate Ebner: one penalty (offensive holding), 10 yards
LS Danny Aiken: one penalty (false start) 5 yards
G Logan Mankins: one penalty (false start), 5 yards
ST Matthew Slater: one penalty (offsides on free kick), 5 yards
DL Jake Bequette: one penalty (encroachment), 5 yards
DE Rob Ninkovich: one penalty (encroachment) 3 yards

Most penalized by position:
Linebacker: 11 penalties for 89 yards
Defensive line: 11 penalties for 63 yards
Cornerback: 10 penalties for 131 yards
Offensive line: Eight penalties for 55 yards
Tight end: Eight penalties for 62 yards
Specialists (punter, kicker, long snapper, kick/punt units): Six penalties for 44 yards
Team: Four penalties for 25 yards
Wide receiver: Three penalties for 25 yards
Safety: Two penalties for 55 yards
Quarterback: Two penalties for 19 yards
Running back: Two penalties for 5 yards

Most frequently called penalties:
False start: 10
Defensive holding: Nine
Encroachment: Eight
Defensive pass interference: Seven
Offensive holding: Seven
Offensive pass interference: Five
Unnecessary roughness: Four
Defensive offsides: Three
Roughing the passer: Two
Illegal block above the waist: Two
Illegal formation: Two
Intentional grounding: Two
Personal foul: One
Illegal shift: One
Offsides on free kick: One
Facemask: One
Illegal contact: One
Chop block: One

Read More: penalties,

10 things to know about Ryan Tannehill

11.28.12 at 7:35 pm ET
By   |   Comments

On Sunday, the Patriots will have the opportunity to clinch the AFC East, but they’ll have to beat Ryan Tannehill and the Dolphins in order to do it.

Tannehill, the third quarterback taken in the 2012 draft behind Andrew Luck and Robert Griffin III, was selected by the Dolphins eighth overall with the hopes that he could finally provide some stability at a position that has been in flux since the retirement of Dan Marino.

Thus far, Tannehill has put up lackluster numbers, completing 197 of 334 passes for 2,373 yards with seven touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a 72.9 quarterback rating. In the process, he’s led the Dolphins to a 5-6 record which, while not outstanding, is good for second place in the AFC East.

The Dolphins certainly hope that Tannehill is the long-term solution, so the Patriots figure to see plenty of Tannehill over the next however many years. Here’s an introduction to the rookie with nine more things to know about Tannehill:

He played a lot of receiver in college

Though Tannehill was recruited to Texas A&M as a quarterback, he was moved to receiver in his redshirt freshman season after competing for the starting job at quarterback.

Tannehill stuck at receiver for his first two seasons and played the first six games of his junior year there before getting more snaps splitting time at quarterback with Jerrod Johnson and, eventually, earning the starting job. He completed 152 of 234 passes for 1,638 yards with 13 touchdowns and six picks as a junior and went 327 of 531 for 3,744 yards with 29 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in his senior year.

His wife has gotten a lot of attention

We’ll get this one out of the way early. Put it this way: When you Google Ryan Tannehill’s name, “Ryan Tannehill wife” is the first item below his name on autocomplete.

Tannehill met his wife, Lauren, at Texas A&M and the two were married in January. Over the course of the pre-draft process through the draft and the Dolphins’ appearance on “Hard Knocks,” Lauren gained more and more attention from fans. She currently has over 17,700 followers on twitter.

When Tannehill was asked after being drafted why he got married at 23 years of age, he responded by pointing to her and asking, “Do you blame me?”

He’s one of 10 rookie quarterbacks to start from Week 1 on in the last five years

Think about that. Remember the days when a team would draft a quarterback in the first round and have a veteran signal-caller around to start the season and help him ease into life as an NFL quarterback? That’s becoming a thing of the past. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill,

Bill Belichick: Super second-half history has ‘no bearing’ on this week

11.28.12 at 3:09 pm ET
By   |   Comments

FOXBORO — Fresh from his 200th win as an NFL head coach, Bill Belichick was in rare form Wednesday. That is to say, he wanted nothing to do with talking about how great his team has been or will be.

Dating back to Jan. 3, 2010, the Patriots are 19-0 in regular season games played in the second half of the season.

They are 3-0 this season and he was asked how significant that past history is in developing confidence in his team.

“I don’t think what our record was two years ago has anything to do with this week’s game,” Belichick said without missing a beat or batting an eye. “We’re just trying to focus on what we can do to play well this week.

“I don’t really concern myself too much with what happened in the past or what didn’t happen in the past. Right now we’re just worried about Miam [and] about doing a good job in going down there and playing well Sunday.”

The numbers are pretty overwhelming.

Belichick’s Patriots have posted a perfect second half in four seasons (2003, ’07, ’10, ’11) and have posted a “pedestrian” 7-1 in two more seasons. Both times they went 7-1 in the second half (’01 and ’04), they won the Super Bowl. Three of the four times they’ve gone 8-0, they’ve made it to the Super Bowl, winning once.

“We can look back at other years and talk about them,” Belichick said without even cracking a smile. “I don’t know whether that’s true this year or not. We’ll see.”

Belichick’s Patriots are on a five-game winning streak, and at 8-3, can clinch their 10th AFC East title in 12 years with a win on Sunday in South Florida. They lead the NFL in scoring with 407 points, turnover differential (+24) and total yards per game (435.8). Everything is pointing in the right direction.

“I think we’ve done some things well in the last couple of games,” Belichick said. “I don’t think that really has any bearing on this game. Different team, different match ups, different schemes. It’s all different. Whether we did or didn’t last week, or some other week, or some other year, I don’t think, any of it really matters.”

All that matters to Belichick is shortening the season while his team gets better and better. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: AFC East, Bill Belichick, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots

Tom Brady and ‘mentally tough’ Pats ready to turn up the heat in Miami for an AFC East title

11.28.12 at 1:57 pm ET
By   |   Comments

FOXBORO -‘€“ Tom Brady is a lot of things. All-world quarterback. Super-model spouse. And weather watcher – especially when it affects what he does on his workdays.

The forecast calls for mostly sunny skies and 80 degrees in South Florida for the 1 p.m. kickoff between the Patriots and Dolphins. Still, the Patriots chose to practice outdoors Wednesday as the begin preparations.

What’s at stake?

If the Patriots win, they clinch the AFC East by virtue of their 5-0 record in the division and a four-game lead over the Dolphins with four games remaining. They will own every tie-breaker as the Dolphins will already have three division losses.

“Well, there’€™s always motivation for us to go out there and win and this is a great opportunity for us,” Brady said. “We haven’€™t played these guys all season; it’€™s the first time getting a shot at them and we play them down there in their stadium. They won last week against Seattle, so I hope we go play well. We’€™ve been playing well since we lost to Seattle, I think, and hopefully we can keep it going. But they present plenty of challenges for us and they’€™ve beaten some pretty good teams this year. It should be a fun game.”

With a division title for the 10th time in 12 seasons, the Patriots will assure themselves of a home game in the playoffs. But of course, their sights are set much higher, like a No. 1 or 2 seed and a first-round bye.

“It’€™s very important,” Brady said. “We’€™re always trying to win every game we play and certainly playing against the Dolphins, a team we know very well playing them twice a year, it would to be a nice little day if we can go down there in Florida, which is always a tough place to play, especially this time of year when we haven’€™t really played a warm weather game in a while. So it will be fun.”

About the weather, how does he and the team go about preparing for that warm weather when it’€™s cold up out on the practice fields like Wednesday?

“I don’€™t know. That’€™s a good question,” Brady said. “We’€™re out on the grass fields in 35 degree weather; I don’€™t think it’€™s going to be 35 down there on Sunday. But we’€™ll just try to be a little bit mentally tough. I think that’€™s the only way you can do it.”

Here’s the rest of Wednesday’s Q and A with Brady in Foxboro: Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: AFC East, New England Patriots, nfl, Tom Brady

What would Jason Babin bring to Patriots?

11.28.12 at 11:58 am ET
By   |   Comments

It’s rare that a veteran pass rusher simply drops out of the sky at this time of the season, but Jason Babin‘s release has prompted all sorts of speculation as to whether or not the Patriots might be interested in the 32-year-old defensive end out of Western Michigan.

The 6-foot-3, 267-pound Babin — who we profiled here as a free agent possibility for the Patriots in 2011 — signed a five-year, $27.7 million contract with the Eagles, as part of Philly’s “Dream Team” summer of 2011.

He certainly is an intriguing possibility for New England. The Patriots, who are tied for 21st in the league with 23 sacks, have 43 quarterback hits through 11 games and could use a jolt at the defensive end spot. Chandler Jones has missed one game because of an ankle injury, while Jermaine Cunningham will sit for the next four games because of a violation of the league’s policy on PEDs.

In the short term, it would appear that there are few drawbacks to the idea of adding Babin. Despite the fact that he’s over 30, Babin still has shown a good ability to get after opposing quarterbacks. Purely a situational pass rusher — there are similarities between his game and what Mark Anderson brought to the Patriots over the first three-quarters of the 2011 season — Babin posted 5.5 sacks this season in 446 defensive snaps with the Eagles, per Pro Football Focus. (He had a career-high 18 sacks with Philadelphia in 2011.)

Babin has graded out as the Eagles’ third-best pass rusher at +5.9. PFF also has him with 20 quarterback hurries and 10 quarterback hits. One of the more interesting things is that Babin, who has struggled occasionally in the past when it comes to stopping the run, actually has performed fairly well in that role this season with Philadelphia, grading out positively at +1.9.

If Babin does sign with New England, expect him to work purely as a situational pass rusher in a 4-3 scheme. There are two questions when it comes to Babin: one, whether or not he would make it through waivers to reach the Patriots. And two, whether or not the Patriots would make a financial commitment to him (even on a very limited basis). Gut feeling? If he does make it through waivers on Wednesday, the Patriots would express serious interest in landing Babin.

For more on Babin, check out this video clip, which was part of the “NFL Top 100″ series from 2011:

Read More: Jason Babin,

Josh McDaniels: The way Dante Scarnecchia works ‘demands respect’

11.27.12 at 5:10 pm ET
By   |   Comments

FOXBORO — All year, there have been concerns about the stability of the Patriots offensive line.

But somehow, some way, the Patriots have managed to cope with losses of Matt Light and Brian Waters at the beginning of the season. They have adapted to the loss of Logan Mankins and Dan Connolly for stretches at a time.

And last Thursday, they had to overcome the absence of Sebastian Vollmer to a late scratch. Ryan Wendell and Nate Solder have had their moments – mostly good.

But, without question, the one constant throughout it all has been their offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. At the beginning of the season, with the questions on the offensive line, there were many who wondered if Tom Brady would stay upright enough to be as productive as in years past. Well, Brady has thrown 24 touchdowns and just three interceptions, and the team has posted 407 points through 11 games, an average of exactly 37 points per game, better than even the 2007 team when they scored 589 points in a season.

So, when Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels spoke on a conference call Tuesday, he was quick to give Scarnecchia credit for keeping it all together and developing back-up talent like Wendell, Nick McDonald, Marcus Cannon and Donald Thomas. Look at it as a way of saying, ‘Thanks, Dante.”

“I have an incredible respect and appreciation for [Scarnecchia],” McDaniels said. “I think when you talk about those players and the roles that they play on our team and the contributions that they’€™ve made, I don’€™t think you can talk about them without mentioning Dante because he does an incredible job of preparing all of them as if they’re all going to start and play for four quarters. He makes sure that they have reps. He makes sure that they understand all the communication and I have an incredible appreciation and respect for him as their coach. With the guys you mentioned, the inside guys with Ryan being a starter and playing, I would say, really solidly inside for us all year, he’s a smart guy, he’s been in our program.

“I think it’€™s a tribute to him and what he’s gone through in terms of working his way from the practice squad to learning multiple positions and being on the ready for a number of years now and trying to improve himself all the while. And then this year, he really gets his opportunity and I think he’s really making the most of it. He’€™s a smart guy. He can play more than one position in there. Certainly he’s just playing center for us this year, but I think the value that he brings in there, the intelligence that he has and his ability to work hand in hand with Tom [Tom Brady] and our system and get the communication to the other linemen is invaluable. Again, I think his overall execution and performance has been really good for us.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Dante Scarnecchia, Josh McDaniels, New England Patriots, nfl

Stevan Ridley latest proof against first-round running backs in New England

11.27.12 at 4:44 pm ET
By   |   Comments

As every team has learned over the years, there is no position that carries a guarantee early in the NFL draft. Name a position, and a team has swung and missed on it in the first round.

The values of the various positions are debated year-round by draftniks, and there may be no discussion interesting than that of whether there is sufficient value in spending a first-round pick on a running back. The argument for it obvious: You can end up with a Barry Sanders, a LaDainian Tomlinson or an Adrian Peterson. The argument against it is that if given the same opportunity, a later-round back will provide similar numbers at a fraction of the cost, both in terms of money and draft pick.

Around these parts, football fans have seen enough over the years to suggest that running backs aren’t worth top draft currency. The likes of Curtis Martin (third-round) and BenJarvus Green-Ellis (undrafted) have proven to be lead backs (and in Martin’s case, a Hall of Famer), while the Patriots didn’t get long-term returns on their first-round investments in John Stephens, Robert Edwards and Laurence Maroney.

This season, Stevan Ridley, a third-round pick in the 2011 draft, is providing further proof that running backs aren’t worth a first-round pick. Of course, a third-round pick is nothing to sneeze at — teams should expect to get starters with their third-rounders — but what Ridley has been able to give the Pats has been as good as, if not better, than what other teams have gotten from their first-round backs.

Ridley, who is seventh in the league with 939 rushing yards, is one of 17 running backs on pace to finish the season with at least 1,000 yards on the ground. Of the 17, seven were first-round picks. Two were second-round picks (Ray Rice, LeSean McCoy), four were third-round picks (Ridley, Jamaal Charles, Frank Gore and Shonn Greene), one was a sixth-round pick (Alfred Morris), one was a seventh-round pick (Ahmad Bradshaw) and two were undrafted in Arian Foster (second in the league in rushing yards) and Green-Ellis. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Stevan Ridley,
Latest on Twitter
Draft Kings
Patriots Box Score
Patriots Schedule
Player News
Patriots Headlines
NFL Headlines
Tips & Feedback