|11.25.14 at 8:55 pm ET|
With long-term injuries to important players on the Patriots defense so far this season — Chandler Jones (out since Week 7), Jerod Mayo (season-ending injured reserve) and Sealver Siliga (short-term injured reserve designated for return) — the Patriots have had a number of players step up to fill the voids.
A few of those players weren’t even with the team at the start of the regular season.
On Oct. 21, linebacker Akeem Ayers and a seventh-round pick in next year’s draft were traded to the Patriots for a sixth-round pick, also in next year’s draft. Ayers played in that Sunday’s game against the Bears and recorded a sack and five tackles. In his four games with the Patriots, Ayers has recorded a sack in three of the four games.
On Oct. 28, linebacker Jonathan Casillas, along with a 2015 sixth-round pick was traded to the Patriots from Tampa Bay for a 2015 fifth-round pick. Casillas played in the Nov. 2 game against the Broncos and recorded three tackles, but has been most known for his contributions on special teams.
A day later, Oct. 29, the Patriots announced they had signed veteran defensive tackle Alan Branch. Branch also played in the Denver game that Sunday, and has been a major contributor in stopping the run.
With all these new players joining the team and learning a new system, it wouldn’t be a surprise for each player to take a few weeks to settle in, but that hasn’t happened — the players have fit in right away. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia says a lot of that has to do with the leaders the Patriots have on defense, and to go along with the work ethics of all three new players.
“Specifically talking about [Casillas and Ayers] I will say those guys work extremely hard,” Patricia said on Tuesday’s conference call. “They are true professionals as far as their ability to study, learn the game, understand what we are doing from the systems standpoint and have matriculated into what we are trying to do defensively fairly quickly from their study and their work ethic. They have really fallen right in line. We have great guys on defense.
“I say this all the time, but I can’t stress to you the importance of the leaders that we have on defense — Vince Wilfork and Dont’a Hightower and Devin McCourty and [Darrelle] Revis and [Brandon] Browner, the list goes on. The way that these guys approach and attack each week to try to learn the opponent, study their film and prepare themselves to play every week is really a tribute to their professionalism. I think that’s something that can’t be understated. As a group, these guys work extremely hard to get ready to compete every week. We have a difficult task every week and this week is no different than the next. It’s a very huge challenge for us to get ready to handle.”
|11.25.14 at 7:17 pm ET|
Detroit offensive lineman Dominic Raiola said Tuesday he has no regrets about what happened between him and Patriots defensive lineman Zach Moore last Sunday.
In the waning moments of New England’s 34-9 win over the Lions, Raiola could be seen diving at Moore’s knees, as well as trying to punch him in the back of the head. Raiola said Tuesday he wasn’t going to be fined by the NFL for the incident.
“There’s no fine,” Raiola told reporters. “It’s during the game. I don’t know about regrets, I don’t live life with regrets. I didn’t intentionally try to hurt anybody. I didn’t try to do anything out of the ordinary.
“So, just play the game,” he added. “I didn’t make it a big deal, everybody else did.’
Moore shrugged off what happened, while Patriots coach Bill Belichick took a swipe at Raiola the day after the incident, reminding people that Raiola was likely frustrated about what happened because he’s never beaten the Patriots in his 14 seasons in the NFL.
“I don’t really care what he said,” Raiola said when asked about Belichick’s comments. “Not a lot of people beat those guys. I didn’t make it an issue. I just finished the game.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|11.25.14 at 4:01 pm ET|
Through 11 games, the Patriots have been flagged for 95 penalties (second-most in the league) for a total of 836 yards (most in the NFL). To this point in the season, here’s a breakdown of the calls that have gone against the Patriots, not including penalties that were declined or offset:
|11.25.14 at 3:43 pm ET|
When it comes to playing it home, no one in the NFL is better than the Patriots.
But, right up there with New England is the Packers at Lambeau Field — the place the Patriots will be traveling to on Sunday, as Green Bay is 71-29 at home during the regular season since 2002, the fifth-best winning percentage in the league.
The Packers have been especially great this season as the Green Bay is a perfect 5-0 at home and have outscored its opponents 219-85, averaging 43.8 points per game. Getting off to quick starts has been a huge key for the Packers, as in the first half of their last four home games, they have outscored their opponents 128-9.
Bill Belichick knows getting off to a good start is key, particularly on the road against Green Bay. It does help the Patriots will enter the game averaging 18.8 points per game in the first half this year, the second-most in the league, behind none other than the Packers at 20.2.
“We’re playing Green Bay in Green Bay,” Belichick said on Tuesday’s conference call. “That’s where they’ve been very dominant really in terms of getting ahead and playing from ahead, first quarter. The numbers are staggering: 128 to 9 in the first half and [opponents] get outscored by 110 points in four games. It’s got to be of historical type proportions, but we have to find some way to do that. Like I said, the games got so far away from Chicago and Philadelphia that no matter what you have, what kind of game plan, whatever you’re trying to do, the game got out of hand so fast, they had no chance really to be able to do it.”
|11.25.14 at 12:25 pm ET|
NBC Sports NFL analyst Rodney Harrison made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Tuesday to discuss the end of the Patriots’ game with the Lions and to look ahead to this weeks game against the Packers. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
At the end of the Patriots’ 34-9 win over the Lions this past Sunday, Lions center Dominic Raiola dove at the knees of Patriots defensive tackle Zach Moore when the Lions were taking a knee to end the game, as well as appearing to take a swing at him earlier on the drive. It was reported Monday he likely would not be fined. Harrison said it comes down to playing the full 60 minutes and Raiola was in the wrong.
“I don’t know how the NFL is going to respond, but I think you have 60 minutes to play football,” said Harrision. “[Detroit has] a lot of issues for him to worry about. When you look at the Patriots, the Patriots each and every week — it’s not they did something different, they play 60 minutes. That’s [what they are taught] — to play 60 minutes and never expect to come out of the game, you don’t care if you are losing by 50 or winning by 50. I think it was a real childish and immature act.
“I think it could have got somebody hurt and I think in a situation like that you have other concerns. He should be concerned with Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, that offense and them not being able to move the ball and put up points. I was very disappointed in what he did — a veteran player should know better than that. You have an opportunity to play 60 minutes, shut up and play 60 minutes. You got your butt kicked flat out and getting your butt kicked each week. Do something about it, don’t try and cheap shot somebody and take somebody’s knees out. There’s no place for that.”
Harrison also looked ahead to the Patriots’ upcoming game against the Packers, who are playing just as well as the Patriots of late — winning seven of their last eight games and currently leading the NFC North with an 8-3 record. The Vikings put up a tough fight against them last Sunday, with the Packers winning by a score of 24-21, and Harrison said they did a good job of limiting the big plays from Aaron Rodgers and the rest of the offense.
|11.25.14 at 10:29 am ET|
Welcome to the Week 13 waiver wire! I have to say, I am surprised at the amount of high-quality options that are still available in most leagues. If you need to do some fine-tuning this week, you are in pretty good shape based on current ownership rates. The fact that you are here reading this means you still have something to play for and that’s good news in and of itself. Let’s make Week 13 count!
As always, the ownership percentages are listed for each player. These rates of ownership are based on Yahoo! leagues, which tend to be smaller and more representative of the 10-team leagues most of us play in. Obviously, these numbers are mostly for perspective. What really matters is which players are available in your particular league, and you’ll need to do the legwork on that.
If you play in a large format with 12 or more teams, check out my expanded waiver wire over at Rotobahn. It will be posted early this afternoon. Check it out – it’s free.
As I have said in recent weeks, Manning has a good closing schedule and one of the best young receivers in the game. You can ride Manning and Odell Beckham down the stretch in most leagues and you’ll be very competitive. Not bad for a couple of waiver wire players.
Mark Sanchez, Eagles — 53 percent
Again, it wasn’t pretty, but at the end of the day the numbers are there and I expect that to continue for the most part for Sanchez. The Eagles do play Seattle at home in Week 14, but that’s the only game where you may want to pull him.
Ryan Tannehill, Dolphins — 65 percent
His schedule is mediocre down the stretch, but he’s been productive in some tough matchups, so consider him a viable option in all formats. Tannehill travels to play the Jets this week on Monday night.
|11.25.14 at 10:01 am ET|
ESPN NFL analyst and former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi joined Dale & Holley Monday afternoon for his weekly interview touching on a number of subjects, including the benching of Jonas Gray, the Patriots’ secondary and to preview the upcoming game with the Packers. To hear the full interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
On Sunday, running back Jonas Gray didn’t play a single snap after being sent home from the facility on Friday for being late. LeGarrette Blount, who was re-signed by the Patriots last Thursday, saw the bulk of the carries Gray would have likely seen. The running game wasn’t a major part of the game plan against the Lions’ defense, so Gray wouldn’t have likely seen much time as it was, but Bruschi said his lack of playing time was surely discipline related.
“I think it was discipline,” said Bruschi. “Bill [Belichick] would tell you, ‘We do what is best for the team’ — I laugh when he gives those robotic responses and you know it is going to come out of his mouth, but to me that looked like discipline. To me it looked like he was served up a fresh slice of humble pie. Why would LeGarrette Blount get every single carry? Could it be just a one week thing and Jonas Gray is sharing the carries this week versus Green Bay? Absolutely. It’s all up to Bill.”
Bruschi added: “For a head coach meeting you know never to be late for those, or a certain meeting. I don’t remember doing that and we used to have something, a little thing called a slice of humble pie might have been served for Jonas Gray because I hear the kid is a good kid, but I don’t know what is going on throughout the week, but if you are late like that, Bill does a great job of using these types of examples to send messages and usually the younger players need the messages sent to them harder and more strict than the older players sometimes because all of the younger players coming up through the system will remember this their entire careers.”
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