|09.28.10 at 8:40 am ET|
After many shocks and surprises across the league through three weeks, the “Steel Curtain” rises up and has asserted supremacy over the rest of the NFL in this week’s edition of the WEEI.com NFL Power Rankings. Behind Charlie Batch, the unbeaten Pittsburgh Steelers are ranked No. 1 as they have one more game to play until Pro Bowl quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returns. The Steelers have a huge test coming up against the Baltimore Ravens this Sunday at home.
Peyton Manning and the Colts are breathing down the Steelers neck at No. 2 after their second straight dominating win. Falling to No. 3 are Drew Brees and the defending champs. The Saints are out of the top spot for the first time this season after kicker Garret Hartley missed a 29-yard field goal to win the game in overtime.
Rounding out the top five are the Green Bay Packers who fall from the No. 2 spot. Despite the loss to the Bears on Monday night, the Packers remain two spots ahead. Green Bay still had a good chance to take down “Da Bears” on the road despite turnovers and penalties. Additionally, the Bears close-call win over the Lions in Week 1 and the inconsistent play of Jay Cutler still makes them a suspect team. The boys from the “Windy City” climb to No.7.
The winless Browns and Bills remain in the basement going into Week 4.
Surely there will be many brash and passionate opinions this week as some 3-0 teams aren’t even in the “Fine 15,” and some teams who have won head to head matchups aren’t ahead of the teams they’ve beat. Leave your comments below.
1. (4) 3-0-0 The Steelers have the opportunity to be 4-0 before Roethlisberger returns from a four-game suspension. With a defense that is allowing just 11 points a game, Pittsburgh is looking more and more like the team to beat in the AFC.
2. (3) 2-1-0 Peyton Manning can make any receiver effective. Without Pierre Garcon and Anthony Gonzalez, Manning found backups Austin Collie and Blair White all over the field. Can anyone argue, barring an injury to Manning, that this team won’t win at least 12 games this year?
3. (Last week, 1) 2-1-0 The Saints need to improve their rush defense dramatically (they currently rank 30th). The way to beat the defending champs is to pound the ball on the ground and keep Drew Brees and the offense off the field. That’s what the Falcons did on Sunday and it turned out badly for New Orleans.
4. (11) 2-1-0 The Falcons showed that they are one of the top tier teams in the league after knocking off the defending champs in New Orleans. Atlanta’s only loss came in overtime against a great Steelers team. If Atlanta’s rushing attack can remain effective, the Falcons can do some damage in the NFC.
5. (2) 2-1-0 Eighteen penalties in one game is very alarming for a team many think is one of the best in the NFC. The Packers beat themselves Monday night and can’t afford to play like the way they did again if they want to contend for a Super Bowl. The good thing Green Bay can take away from the loss was the play of Aaron Rodgers — an unbelievable and gutty performance from a quarterback that has made his way into the conversation of best QB in the league.
|09.27.10 at 10:02 pm ET|
Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined The Big Show on Monday to discuss Sunday’s victory over the Bills and the forthcoming Monday night tilt against the Dolphins.
Belichick said that the communication and technique of the team’s young defense is still a work in progress, but he isn’t making any excuses for the group’s youth. The coach also praised BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead, two of the players who stepped up on Sunday in Kevin Faulk’s absence.
Following is a transcript of the conversation. To hear the interview, visit The Big Show audio on demand page.
Let’s get to the game. Some good things, some things not so good. How do you evaluate when you get a chance today to look back at it a little more up close and personal?
I think that sums it up. There were some things that we did well, and we did some things that we didn’t do so well or could do better. So we correct those and learn from them and hope that we can get better next week. There was some definite improvement from last week and the Jet game, we just still have a lot of things that we can work on and keep improving.
Should we expect that the progress is going to be slower on the defensive side of the ball? In that their is less experience and it seems like you’re experimenting a little bit more with people on that side of the ball. Do you expect that to take a bit longer? I mean, the offense has been around a lot of the same people.
My expectations are to go out there and improve every day. So that’s what practice and meetings are for and hopefully we’ll play better each week. We’ve got experienced guys on both sides of the ball, we’ve got inexperienced guys on both sides of the ball so from a team concept we just need to come together and execute as a unit.
How long does it take for a defensive back, new guys coming in to understand the concepts? What are the extremes you can go to make sure they understand what they should do?
Well I’d like to think that everybody has a pretty good understanding of it by the time they come out of training camp. That’s what the expectations are that you go through the spring practices and the OTAs and in training camp you work those things in camp and preseason games. You’d like to think everybody at that point would have a pretty good understanding of the offense, defense, special teams, whatever it happens to be.
|09.27.10 at 7:03 pm ET|
The Patriots announced Monday evening they have released offensive tackle Steve Maneri. Here’s the full text of the statement from the team:
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots released rookie T Steve Maneri today.
Maneri, 6-6, 290 pounds, was claimed and awarded to New England off waivers from Houston on Sept. 5, 2010. He originally signed with Houston as a rookie free agent on May 7, 2010 out of Temple. Maneri was inactive for the first three games of the season for the Patriots.
|09.27.10 at 5:41 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Patriots coach Bill Belichick just wrapped up his Monday afternoon press conference, and touched on a number of topics, including the benefits of using a no-huddle offense, the personnel changes the team made for last Sunday’s game against the Bills and the death of Pro Football Hall of Famer George Blanda. Here are some of the highlights:
On using a no-huddle in the second half — was that to push the tempo?
“No, I thought we had a pretty good tempo the whole game. It was a little different look for the second half, something we did but didn’t do it a lot of in the first half, and didn’t do it consecutively. A little different look. But I thought our tempo was good the whole game. I think there were a number of plays where, I’d say for the majority of time, we had plenty of time at the line of scrimmage and didn’t make any adjustments. The tempo was better definitely than what it was the previous week in New York.”
On the benefits of running the no-huddle:
“They don’t substitute, but we don’t substitute either, so. Whoever is out there is out there, and that’s the matchup. I think it just ‘uptempos’ the offense a little bit, and can give the quarterback more time at the line if he wants to audible, I guess. Just a little different style of play.”
Were the changes to starting lineup performance-related?
“What the starting lineup usually is the reflection of is what the personnel matchups are on that particular play. You can put up whoever you want on the first play and you’ll probably get a different combination of people based on what that is and who the matchups are. You saw that the whole game. Whatever that first play is, whoever matches up on him, if you want to call them the starters, then they’re the starters.”
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|09.27.10 at 1:37 pm ET|
Patriots defensive lineman Vince Wilfork joined the Dale & Holley show on Monday. He believes that situational game planning and a solid week of practice was the key in the Patriots edging the Bills 38-30, especially in the final minutes.
“We knew, at some point in that game, what was going to happen if they needed to get eight points, or to get a touchdown to win, we knew exactly what they were going to revert to,” Wilfork said. “All week we did a good job, everybody, we did a good job of knowing what situation we were in, everybody was aware. I think we started off, we came out in the second half and tried to finish.
“It’s a positive step. I’m not saying everything is perfect, but it’s a positive step.”
Following are more highlights from the interview. To listen, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
On the win, and where the team goes from here:
We had a good week of practice, we thought our game plan going into this game was good, and we felt comfortable with it. No one said it was going to be easy, it’s a division game, I don’t care what the records are, it doesn’t mean anything, especially when it’s division. And we are rivals, and that’s what we do. Buffalo came out and played a real good game, stayed with their game plan.
We have to keep building on it. If we can keep doing that, and being aware of situations and how a team wants to play us and wants to attack us when certain situations occur, we’ll be in good shape. We’ll be in good shape. I’m very proud of the team, how we rallied and we kept our poise. We stayed even keel.
On his relationship with Brandon Meriweather:
He’ll argue with me, and I’ll let him get it out. Once he calms down and cools off he’ll come back and say, “You’re right, I see what you’re saying.” Brandon, he learns. That’s one thing. You tell him something, and he might not agree with it at first, but until he sees the big picture, he understands what’s going on. That’s all you can ask for. You have to learn. You can’t make the same mistakes over and over and over and just keep doing them without learning. He’s good with that, he takes it in stride and just goes about his business.
|09.27.10 at 12:49 pm ET|
In Sunday’s 38-30 win over the Bills, Brandon Meriweather recorded a game-clinching interception. It was his first of the season and 10th of his career, and it made him the 31st Patriot to tally 10 or more career interceptions. When he joined the Dale & Holley show on Monday, Meriweather expressed relief in making the play. “It’s nice to get your first one out of the way,” he said. “It’s nice to get it off your chest, now you can relax.”
He said the interception was a combination of a poor throw and solid coverage, saying, “To get an NFL quarterback to make a bad throw, it has to be good coverage.”
Following are the highlights of the interview. To listen, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
On the touchdown he surrendered to C.J. Spiller:
I was out there covering him, and I saw him do a screen drop so I tried to go over the top of the block and cover the screen so I could make a one-on-one tackle. I didn’t realize there was a lot more space out there than I realized, so I pretty much gave him an alley to the outside. … If he would’ve done exactly what I thought, it would have been a great play. But sometimes you lose some.
On why the Patriots have had so much success against the Bills:
Great coaching. I think our coaches do a good job. Bill [Belichick] and the rest of the coaches get us ready for situational football, like what happened at the end of the game, and what happened at the end of the half. We go over situations like that all the time, and I think that was the difference in the game.
On if their success against the Bills makes them take them lightly:
No. First of all, it’s a division game. If you have to psyche yourself up for a division game, you don’t have to be playing in that game. And then it’s Buffalo, our rivals, a rivalry game. Every little thing should amp you up to play that game, you don’t have to amp yourself up.
|09.27.10 at 11:40 am ET|
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show on Monday, a day after a stellar performance against the Bills in which he completed 21-of-27 passes for 252 yards and three touchdowns to lead his team to a 38-30 victory. While most of the football world found the game to be too close, Brady agreed with the common philosophy of a win being a win regardless of the score or opponent.
Following is a transcript of the interview, in which Brady also discusses the defensive struggles, replacing Kevin Faulk, the home crowd, and more. To listen to the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Is a win just a win, even though the fan base doesn’t always agree?
We knew what we were preparing for. When you look on the other side of the ball, you realize the kind of talented players the other team has. Anybody can make those plays to win games on a weekly basis. As you watch yesterday, and the Cowboys are 0-2 and Houston’s 2-0, and that game’s not very close [a Dallas win]. You really never know, you really never know.
I don’t think you go into any of these games thinking, “Oh, man, this is going to be a breeze.” I think there’s things that you say, “OK, well, there’s maybe a little margin for error when you play certain teams.” But, at the same time, if you don’t play well, you’re going to lose the game. It doesn’t matter who’s guarding you, if you drop back and you can’t hit a pass. It could be Deion Sanders out there covering him, or it could be John Dennis out there covering, it’s not going to matter.
At some point, you’ve got to go out there and make the plays that need to be made. At times we did that yesterday, and with our offense I think there were times where we didn’t really do that. I think that was evidenced by just the ups and downs a little bit about what we were doing.
How much influence does the game from the week before have on preparing for the next opponent?
I said yesterday after the game, these games end, and then really you just watch the film and then you move on. I’m telling you, you can’t sit here and think, “Man, I wish we won by two touchdowns last week.” It just doesn’t matter. The reality is, now the clock’s starting on Miami. All the preparation that we put into Buffalo, and their schemes, certainly is good because you’ve got another three days of practice as well as another 60 plays of experience for players who need some experience.
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