|11.18.12 at 3:26 pm ET|
FOXBORO — In a cryptic message two hours before kickoff Sunday against the Colts, Patrick Chung tweeted Gotta love business. That tweet was taken down just minutes later.
About 20 minutes after Chung’s tweet, he was scratched for a fourth straight game. Chung has been practicing with the team and participated on a limited basis during all three practices this week before getting scratched on Sunday.
Chung injured his shoulder against the Seahawks, and this week a hamstring injury was added next to his name on the official injury report.
With the addition of Steve Gregory in the offseason, the move of Devin McCourty to his old spot at strong safety and the addition of left corner Aqib Talib, there has been rampant speculation that Chung, in the final year of his rookie contract, is playing his final season for the Patriots.
Chung was signed to a four-year, $5 million rookie contract after being drafted in the second round (34th overall) out of Oregon in the 2009 NFL draft.
|11.18.12 at 3:00 pm ET|
|11.18.12 at 12:55 pm ET|
FOXBORO — It will be seasonably chilly when the Patriots and Colts kick off at 4:25 p.m. at Gillette Stadium as the forecast calls for clear skies and temperatures in the low 40s, with a brisk breeze of 10 mph coming out of the northeast.
Temperatures are expected to dip into the mid-to-upper 30s by the end of the game at 7:30.
There will be plenty of matchups to watch today, beginning with the expected debut of left cornerback Aqib Talib, who practiced all week with the team after serving the fourth game of his four-game suspension for admitted Adderall use in violation of the NFL’s performance enhancing drug policy.
Talib was acquired from Tampa Bay on Nov. 2 along with a seventh round pick in 2013 for New England’s fourth-round pick next April.
Talib is a welcome addition to a secondary and defense that allowed 481 total yards and a Patriots record 35 first downs allowed in a narrow 37-31 win over the Bills last Sunday at Gillette.
How the Patriots and Bill Belichick handle rookie quarterback Andrew Luck is another matchup worth watching. Luck has been a much better and more efficient quarterback at his home of Lucas Oil Stadium than on the road. At home, Luck has compiled a 4-1 record, with eight touchdowns, two interceptions and a QB rating of 88.7. On the road, he is 2-2 with wins over Tennessee and Jacksonville but has thrown only two touchdowns and has been intercepted twice.
The Patriots are 6-3 for the seventh straight season, matching the all-time record of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Even more remarkable, the Patriots are a combined 17-0 in the second-half of the regular season, dating back to their last loss, a 34-27 loss to the Texans, the same game that Wes Welker suffered a torn ACL.
The Patriots enter the game ranked No. 1 in the NFL in two key categories: total points averaged (33.1) and total yards averaged per game (430.3). While the Colts are ranked fifth at 387.3 yards per game, they have not converted those yards into points, as they averaging just 20.7 points a game.
This is the 10th straight year the Patriots and Colts have met in the regular season. The Patriots are 5-4 in the previous nine, with all four of the losses coming at the hands of Peyton Manning. This is the third straight season the Patriots have hosted the Colts in Foxboro.
|11.17.12 at 10:27 pm ET|
Join Fantasy Football expert Pete Davidson of WEEI.com and Rotobahn.com in a live chat, starting at 11 a.m. Sunday. Davidson will answer all your questions, helping set lineups heading into Sunday’s games. Get your questions in now …
|11.17.12 at 10:58 am ET|
The Patriots, suddenly in control of the AFC East, face the drastically improved Colts and their prodigy quarterback, Andrew Luck on Sunday in Foxboro. Here are some numbers I found previewing this pre-holiday tussle:
* – As you probably should have expected, Colts’ quarterback Andrew Luck is coming along nicely as a rookie. This is evidenced by his completion percentage and interception percentage by month this season:
September: 53.3% / 3.3%
October: 57.2% / 2.4%
November: 64.9% / 1.4%
* – Two weeks ago against the Dolphins, Luck converted FIVE times (all passes) on third down and 11 yards or more. That’s tied for the most such conversions in a single game since at least 2003, matching the Vikings (against the Jets) in 2010 and the Raiders (against the Cardinals) in 2006. Going into that game, the Colts had five such conversions over their last 16 games and Miami had allowed five in their last 20. Want some context? As bad as New England’s pass defense has been, even they’ve allowed only four such conversions over their last full season (16 games).
Actually, New England has been quite effective defending the passing game on third down and 11 or more, as their 4.72 net yards per pass play allowed (that includes sack yards lost) is fifth best in the league. They were in the top ten in this category last season as well.
* – The Patriots have scored in the 3rd quarter in each of their last 18 games, the longest streak in the NFL since at least 1997:
18 – Patriots (2011-12)
17 – Falcons (1997-98)
17 – Ravens (2008-09)
16 – Four different teams
Note this: New England has scored seven or more points in the 3rd quarter in all but two games this season. But in the 4th quarter, they’ve managed seven or more points just three times.
Note this too: The Patriots have been outscored in the 3rd quarter only once in their last 17 games.
* – On first downs this season, Tom Brady and the Patriots continue to do well, putting up a +1.65 rating (my rating) which ranks 7th thanks to 65% completions, 0.6% interceptions (the third lowest/best mark on first down passes in the league), and a league low 10 yards lost via sack. Andrew Luck and the Colts haven’t been nearly as efficient on first down, completing just 58% (27th) with a league high 3.4% interceptions leading to a rating of -0.50 (22nd).
Note this: New England’s defense has allowed 70% completions (fourth highest/worst) and nine touchdowns on first downs this season. Only the Buccaneers (10) have allowed more touchdown passes on first down than the Patriots.
* – So far in 2012, the Colts have blitzed on 45.3% of opponent passing plays, the highest percentage in the league:
45.3% – Colts
44.1% – Texans
43.9% – Cardinals
Their blitzes have proven effective as well, as their opponents have put up a passing rating of +1.57 when they don’t blitz (second highest/worst in the league) thanks to only -20 sack yards and one interception (both league lows) on 174 no-blitz pass plays. But when the Colts have sent extra rushers, the passing rating allowed drops to +0.13 (17th), with -101 sack yards (fourth) in 144 blitz pass plays. The rating difference when blitzing vs. not blitzing (-1.44) is the fifth largest in the league.
Note this: Tom Brady and the Patriots’ offense aren’t particularly fazed by opponent blitzes, as evidenced by their higher passing rating against blitzes (+2.66, 8 touchdowns, 0 interceptions against 101 blitzes) than non-blitzes (+1.06 on 268 non-blitzes). Read the rest of this entry »
|11.16.12 at 6:44 pm ET|
FOXBORO — As important as it is for Aqib Talib to pick up the Patriots system quickly, his teammates are confident they can work with him and make the transition seamless.
“He has a few things you just can’t see,” Arrington said. “He’s 6-1, fluid, and he’s just a good player. [I] can’t speak highly enough about him.”
But as Talib himself pointed out Thursday, the work he’s putting in on and off the practice field seems to be paying dividends.
“It’s like he’s been here all year. Can’t talk highly enough about his work ethic, as well. He’s one of the first ones here and the last to leave,” Arrington added. “He’s definitely buying into the ‘Patriot Way.'”
Belichick hinted Friday that he likes the way the existing members of the secondary have reacted to Talib’s addition.
“Well, it’s all tied together,” Belichick said. “Everybody has to know what everybody is doing out there. We have to be able to make our adjustments. It’s all part of it.”
Arrington has a special appreciation for Talib, having played with him in 2008 with the Buccaneers, when Talib was a rookie.
“Funny how things work out,” Arrington said.
“Aqib’s a great player,” Gregory said. “He’s in the process of really trying to pick up the system, and get out there and get a feel for what we’re doing, and it’s fun to have him around. He’s a great athlete, he covers well, and it’s great to have him around. He’s doing a really great job so far. He’s a smart football player and he seems to be picking it up really fast, so that’s a good thing.
“He’s a veteran guy, too. He understands terminologies, schemes and things like that. He’s definitely ahead of the curve.”
“He has great ability and his size, he can do a lot,” McCourty added. “So, it’ll be key for us, when he gets out there, help him out a little bit. Keep repeating things to him so he can start hearing them over and over again and getting accustomed to the system. But a lot of it will be us helping him out so he can go out and play good football.”
McCourty could be spending a lot of time talking to Talib during games since he’s been playing the strong side (or defensive left side) where Talib figures to be lining up at cornerback. What’s impressed McCourty the most? His ability to pick up the Patriots communication signals on the fly after just a few practices.
“He’s a new guy, everything’s new for him,” McCourty said. “I think he’s done a good job of staying in here, talking to guys, staying and getting a little extra [coaching and teaching] to make sure he knows what’s going on. You can tell he’s very football savvy and he knows what’s going on out there. You tell him things once or twice on the field, he has it correct for the next day. You don’t have to say anything to him. So, I’m excited for us to get out there as a group and start to work. I think we’ve practiced hard this week so just go out and try to execute in the game.”
|11.16.12 at 6:13 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Defensive end Chandler Jones has seen a drop-off in his numbers over the last few weeks — after five sacks in his first six games, he’s had one in his last three. And while the rookie has certainly drawn the attention of opposing offensive coordinators, he said it’s not because of the rookie wall.
‘Personally, I feel like my pass rush could be better, as an individual,’ Jones said after practice on Friday. ‘That’s just something I have to work on, to get better at my pass rush.’
Asked if he’s seeing more double teams, Jones was noncommittal.
‘I just go out there and play football,’ he said. ‘If you’ve been a dominant pass rusher, or if you’ve been pretty successful, if I was an offensive coordinator, I would double-team someone who’s a good pass rusher. But yeah, I just go out there and play football.’
Jones faces a new challenge on Sunday as he goes up against the Colts offense and Indy left tackle Anthony Castonzo. The former Boston College offensive lineman is in charge of protecting the blind side of rookie quarterback Andrew Luck, and Jones knows it’ll be a difficult test.
‘Anthony Castonzo is a good player. He’s tall, he’s athletic. He’s long. You just have to get to him. You can’t have Andrew Luck sitting back there and picking us apart. We have to pressure him,’ Jones said. ‘You can’t let [Luck] sit in the pocket being comfortable. I feel like he’s doing a phenomenal job over in Indy. It’s our job — me, as a defensive end — to make him uncomfortable back there.’
Patriots coach Bill Belichick said this week that Luck is more mobile and more athletic than people think, which presents a new challenge for Jones and the rest of the New England pass rush.
‘He’s a big body quarterback — I’ve seen him shed a few guys off,’ Jones said of Luck. ‘If you get him, you have to get him down and you can’t let him throw the ball.’
One teammate who should be able to offer some support is fellow defensive end Rob Ninkovich. Jones is quick to praise Ninkovich — the two have combined to form the nucleus of New England pass rush, as they have combined for 17 of the teams’ 34 quarterback hits and 12 of the 20 sacks. Jones calls Ninkovich ‘a great leader and a great helper as well.’
‘I’ve learned a lot from Rob. Every single day, I’m learning something,’ said Jones, who has six sacks and nine quarterback hits over the first nine games. ‘If we’re watching film, if he sees me doing something wrong or taking the wrong step, he’s like, ‘Hey Chandler, try doing this with that.’ If you have someone like that in your room, it’s just a great aspect to have.’
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