|Peter King on M&M: Falcons’ Matt Ryan still needs to prove himself in postseason||09.27.13 at 11:56 am ET|
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King made his weekly appearance on Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss the Patriots and NFL news.
The Patriots are preparing for a Sunday night showdown with the Falcons, who are led by Matt Ryan. King said the former Boston College star needs to prove himself in the playoffs before he’s considered among the elite.
“I really like him,” King said. “I like him a lot. I think he’s on his way to being a long-term premier quarterback in the NFL. But I think we all know that if a guy doesn’t play great in the postseason, he’ll never be considered one of the all-time greats. And Matt Ryan hasn’t played great in the postseason.
“He did have a good postseason last year, obviously. He played well against the Seahawks, outdueling Russell Wilson — even though you could argue that Russell Wilson played a better game that day. And he played OK against the 49ers — and probably would like to have a couple of decisions on the last drive back. Because if he made a couple of decisions differently, they’d have been playing in the Super Bowl. … I think he’s a top-10 quarterback. Let’s see how he does in the playoffs the next three or four years.”
Broncos linebacker Von Miller was banned six games to start this season. According to multiple reports, four of the games were for violating the league’s substance-abuse policy and two were for conspiring with a sample collector to cheat his test. King said the NFL kept the second part of the punishment relatively light because “this was going to be a long, hard fight with the union.”
“I know the NFL has heard rumors that other players have attempted to do the same thing, perhaps in Miami, perhaps in other places,” King said. “It will be interesting to see what if anything the investigation that the NFL — I’m not saying it’s a formal investigation, but the NFL is looking into the specimen-collecting process right now. But just know that the NFLPA is very much going to fight for Von Miller and probably would have stretched this out for a long time — the hearing for a long time, as long as they could. And who knows when Von Miller ultimately would have been suspended.”
|Adam Schefter on D&C: Trent Richardson trade not about money||09.23.13 at 10:33 am ET|
ESPN’s Adam Schefter joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to discuss a number of NFL news stories from the past week.
On Wednesday, the Browns shocked the NFL world by trading running back Trent Richardson, whom they took with the third overall pick in the 2012 draft, to the Colts for a 2014 first-round pick. Some speculated that Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam traded Richardson as a way to alleviate some of the potential financial cost for a pending lawsuit against his truck stop company, Pilot Flying J. Schefter vehemently denied that speculation.
“I don’t think money had anything to do with it,” said Schefter. “They gave Trent Richardson a $13 million signing bonus right after he was drafted. … So, that makes no sense to me at all.
“I was in Cleveland this summer and I’m taking to [the Browns] and Trent Richardson’s name came up and they say, ‘Yeah, he’s pretty good,’ and I’m like, ‘pretty good? That’s it? The No. 3 pick in the draft?’ And I could tell then that this team does not feel enamored with this guy right now.”
Then, on Friday, San Francisco’s star third-year defensive end Aldon Smith was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence and marijuana possession. The 49ers took heat when they decided to play Smith in their 27-7 loss to the Colts before giving him a leave of absence. Schefter had no problem with the 49ers’ decision.
“Aldon Smith has an issue, and he knows he needs treatment, and he’s taken an excused leave of absence, starting today to go seek help. They were concerned that if you take some young 23-year-old kid, who’s got an issue, and you take him away from the football field on Sunday, that it would not be the best decision for him and it would not be safe,” Schefter said.
Smith’s treatment will force him to miss at least the team’s Thursday night game against the Rams, and perhaps even more time.
|NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: Oregon DE/OLB Dion Jordan||04.06.13 at 7:36 am ET|
WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that might be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2013 NFL draft. Here is one in a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.
Position: Defensive end/outside linebacker
Weight: 248 pounds
Achievements: 2011 All-Pac-12 first team (coaches)
What he brings: If NFL teams were simply looking for the best athletic specimen in the draft, Jordon would be this year’s top prospect. However, the former Duck has to prove that he can bulk up and add power to that athleticism skill in order to fully translate to the pro game. That being said, there are some that still believe he might be the top defensive player in this year’s crop of rookies.
Jordan has drawn a lot of comparisons to the top pass rush prospects in the past few years. Mike Mayock, for one, has referred to him as a “raw Aldon Smith.” However, Jordan is much more of an overall defender than pure pass-rusher. Unlike many players who are lumped in as 3-4 outside linebackers to get after the quarterback and drop back into a zone to keep offenses honest, Jordan has real coverage skills in space and was even tasked with man up against slot players while at Oregon. On the flip side, he’s still a ways away from being able to play consistently as a 4-3 defensive end if tasked to do so. However, treating Jordan like another Chandler Jones would be a waste of his skills in space, despite their similarities as long, flexible pass-rushers.
Jordan’s numbers during the season (10.5 tackles for loss, 5.0 sacks) weren’t stellar, although that can easily be attributed to him playing since October with a torn labrum, for which he recently had surgery. However, the edge rusher went on to put up some great performances in the scouting process, running a 4.60 40 time and 7.02 3-cone drill at the combine while also adding nearly 25 pounds to his frame. That last part has played a large part in Jordan’s rise up draft boards, as scouts were tentative of how a 225-pound edge rusher would perform. Now, though, Jordan has shown he has the work ethic to bulk up in addition to maintaining his athleticism at a higher weight.
Don’t get confused by the former tight end recruit’s “athlete” label. Jordan can play. His pass-rushing ability is elite among prospects, combining incredible length, bend and technique to get past pass-blockers on top of an explosive first step (did we mention he was athletic?). When moving in space or in coverage, he can take on blockers, move sideline to sideline and take down ball-carriers with authority like any pure linebacker prospect. At the same time, he also can stick with skill position players in coverage that no other potential 4-3 end has any business covering. All of this comes with a set of elite outside pass-rush skills. He’s versatile and can do whatever you need of a outside linebacker/defensive end “tweener.” Just don’t ask him to eat up interior linemen on running downs.
Where the Patriots could get him: Round 1 (through trade)
Notes: Earlier this week, any thought of Jordan ending up on the Patriots was nothing more than a pipe dream, considering Jordan’s status as a top-10 prospect and Bill Belichick’s reluctance to trade up more than a few picks in the draft, if he does so at all. However, with news emerging last week that Jordan would be visiting with the Patriots, there may be something there. Belichick is smart enough to know that Jordan won’t fall to No. 29, so he may have something in the works. Or not. He’s been known to do strange things before.
As mentioned earlier, Jordan is recovering from surgery to repair a torn labrum suffered early in the season. While the rehab rendered him unable to perform at his pro day, Jordan’s stock is more or less intact at this point, and he didn’t really need to prove much else. Meanwhile, reports have placed the former Duck’s timetable to return at about the start of training camp, which should put teams looking to draft him more at ease.
Jordan’s main draw is his athleticism, as shown by the fact that his 40 time blew many other top prospects out of the water (yes, we’re talking to you, Manti Te’o). However, there are some concerns as to whether or not he can bulk up his frame to the level of Smith and Jones, who both weigh in at about 260 pounds. Jordan’s current weight of 248 pounds certainly will suffice for 3-4 defenses that want to make full use of his coverage skills and agility in space. But teams that would want him to become an elite pass-rush threat (i.e. the Patriots) would need him to add more to his frame if he were to slide in as a 4-3 end.
Video: Here’s a compilation of highlights from Jordan’s 2012 season.
|Randy Moss: I still have a lot of love for Patriots, but I’m with Niners now||12.12.12 at 9:17 pm ET|
Randy Moss said Wednesday he’s still got fond memories of his time with the Patriots, but now, he’s a member of the 49ers.
The former New England wide receiver, who called Foxboro home from 2007 until the early stages of the 2010 season, said that he didn’t want to compare the two organizations “because whatever I say is going to be the wrong thing to say,” but said that the Patriots still hold a place in his heart.
“Basically, I’ll leave it at that I still got love and respect for the New England Patriots and everything we did as a team. But now, I’m a 49er, so hopefully, like I said, we go up there Sunday night and give it a good game,” said Moss, who caught 259 passes for 3,904 yards and 50 touchdowns in 52 regular-season games with the Patriots.
“Hopefully, we can complement our defense, [but there’s] no telling what’s going to happen,” he added. “But like I said, we have to play complementary football, and I think if we do that and try and not let Tom [Brady] and the [New England] offense run the score up on us, I think it’ll be a good game.”
Through 13 games, the 35-year-old Moss has 21 catches (on 37 targets) for 326 yards and two touchdowns for San Francisco. His best all-around outing of the year came in the season opener against the Packers, when he had four catches (on four targets) for 47 yards and a touchdown. Despite the dip in his numbers, the Niners praised Moss on Wednesday, with San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh saying he’s been a “great teammate.”
“He’s a good teammate,” said linebacker Aldon Smith. “He’s a guy I looked up to as a kid growing up, and being able to be in the locker room and sit next to him is cool. It’s a dream come true.”
“He’s done a nice job,” said Harbaugh. “He’s been a contributor, he’s produced, and he’s been a great teammate.”
He’s also getting a lot of respect in New England. Safety Devin McCourty spent training camp and the initial stages of the 2010 season as a teammate of Moss, and recalled Wednesday how the veteran receiver helped him grow up on a daily basis as a young defensive back.
“He’s still a very, very good receiver,” said McCourty. “I learned a lot just going against him when he was here. You see him out there, and he’s still able to make plays. I think one of the special things about him is that he’s still able to get vertical and run by guys. I guess one good thing is that we have some familiarity with him, and that can help us a little bit. But he’s still a very good receiver.”
“He does a great job of reading defenses,” said Wes Welker. “He knows when he’s about to get the ball and he knows when to kick into high gear and get open and make plays. He really understands defenses, how they’re trying to play them and how to attack them.”
“I think Randy looks like Randy. He’s the greatest deep ball receiver I think that’s ever played,” said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. “Nobody runs better patterns or has a better feel over the deep part of the field like Randy Moss. I still see him doing that. Because of his ability to do that, it certainly opens up a lot of other things as well because you have to respect the ability to stretch the field and go deep and get behind you.”
|Josh McDaniels knows the value of a quick start against superstar pass rushers||12.11.12 at 11:58 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots scored the first three times they had the ball Monday night.
How important was getting off to a fast start in a game against a team that was thought to be superior to the Patriots?
“I think it’s always something you’d like to do, is get off to a good start and get ahead in the game,” Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said. “You always try to run the best plays you can or put the groupings out there that you think can give you the most success or try to put the players in the best positions to be successful as many times as you can and that starts with the beginning of the game.
“I don’t think that changes based on who you’re playing. You always try to get out there and play well early. And against a really good team as we played yesterday, to go out there and put some points on the board in the first quarter, credit goes to the players. They did a great job of executing some of those things and really made some adjustments there and made some critical plays under pressure that helped us get off to a good start yesterday and play from ahead.”
McDaniels spent all week scheming against – J.J. Watt – one of the most dangerous defensive players in the NFL.
Watt did have three hits of the six hits on Tom Brady, forced a fumble on Danny Woodhead that resulted in a Brandon Lloyd recovery for a touchdown in the end zone. But he did not have a sack and the Patriots were able to throw deep
“He’s a great player and I don’t think we felt like we were going to be able to just [keep] him from making any plays, hopefully you can contain him from making any impact plays, where he tips the ball up in the air and get an interception, which has happened multiple times this year or sack the quarterback, strip-sack the quarterback – all those kinds of plays that he’s making throughout the course of the season that have changed the course of games or the outcome even. That’s what we’re trying to prevent. When you can get help on a special player like that, you can try to, but there’s so many ways to avoid that as the defensive play caller, too.”
Could that help this Sunday against the 49ers’ Aldon Smith, the only pass rusher who has more sacks (19.5) than Watt?
“We can’t control what other people are saying or what’s being said outside of the building, obviously,” McDaniels said. “The thing we can do is come to work every day. I’ve seen a number of players already in today getting film and treatment and all those things and just prepare and go through our normal process of preparation. I know that’s the best way to focus on our next opponent and control the things that we can control and I think that our guys are really intent on having another good week of preparation as we did last week and just trying to put the best performance we can out there on Sunday night against a really, really talented defense. I mean, this is as good as we’re going to face. We certainly have a great deal of respect for the way they’re coached, the way they way, the style of defense they have. They have great players at all three levels of their defense, Pro-Bowl caliber players. This will be a tremendous challenge for us. Really, we’re going to have our hands full with just the preparation and getting ourselves ready to play against a really, really special defense.
“We’re just getting ready to play them. I’m sure they’re going to come in here and play hard, just like they always do and that’s what we’re going to do, too. Extra this or that, I’m not sure that anybody needs it this time of the year. We’re all fighting to win each and every game that we can and I’m sure they’re going to come in here and play hard and hopefully we can have a great week of preparation and put our best performance out there on Sunday night.”
|Will Patriots draft the next Jason Pierre-Paul this year?||02.25.12 at 2:39 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Before the Super Bowl, we took a look at why the Pats haven’t landed a guy like Jason Pierre-Paul in the draft. This year, they’ll have a chance.
There was once a time when college pass-rushers with only one dominant season were called “one-year wonders.” That was a red flag for NFL teams. Thanks to the last two drafts, defensive ends and outside linebackers with only one big year — take Illinois pass-rusher Whitney Mercilus, for example — don’t need to be referred to as one-year-wonders. Now, they can be called the next JPP, or the next Aldon Smith, two players who had only one good season of college production but became star pass-rushers in the NFL.
Mercilus, who measured in at 6-foot-3 and 260 pounds at the scouting combine, had just one sack as a freshman. As a sophomore, he repeated the total — one sack.
Then, 2011 happened. Mercilus went from little production to 16 sacks and nine forced fumbles. He declared for the draft after the big year, and though the NFL advisory committee gave him a third-round grade, he figures to be drafted anywhere from the late first round to the second round.
“I just was able to put everything together,” Mercilus said of his breakout season. “I was still learning the game as a rusher as a sophomore and redshirt freshman. Last year, I started studying myself more, seeing what I did best and just put it all together for the 2011 season. I broke out that season.”
Now, there are the aforementioned two ways of looking at Mercilus’ situation. He takes one-year wonder as an insult. The way he sees it, last year was just the first year of his dominance.
“I think it’s a negative label, because once you have it, you have it,” Mercilus said of his ability. “Once you’re able to produce like that and you put it all together, in your mind you know you’re able to repeat that success.”
Then there’s the idea that he’s the next JPP. Pierre-Paul had played only one season of FBS ball at South Florida (with only seven starts), but he showed in that season that he was a special type of player with his ability to get after the quarterback.
“People say I’m raw,” Pierre-Paul said at the 2010 combine. “I just say I’m God-gifted.”
Indeed, people did say Pierre-Paul was raw, just like they’re saying Mercilus is raw now. Mercilus isn’t quite as athletic as Pierre-Paul, who had played two years of junior college before transferring to South Florida, but he does identify with being a premier pass-rusher who’s doubted for his lack of sustained college success.
In the case of Pierre-Paul, all of that doubt ended when he was selected 15th overall by the Giants, became an All-Pro with 16.5 sacks in his second season and won the Super Bowl.
“Hey, he’s in the NFL. If I can get compared to somebody who’s on the Giants like that right now, I’m thankful for that,” Mercilus said of Pierre-Paul. “I’m just trying to upgrade my game and do things correctly, improve my pass-rush technique, be able to play the run a little bit better and just do things like that and just be a solid player overall.”
With both Pierre-Paul and Smith, the latter of whom had a standout freshman season at Missouri (11.5 sacks) but did little as a sophomore before declaring, it seemed the star pass-rushers would be out of reach given where the Pats were selecting. Given that the Pats have two first-round picks (Nos. 27 and 31) and two more in the second round, they’ll be able to get Mercilus if they want him.
This could be the year that the Patriots finally answer the question of whether they’d roll the dice with a high-risk, high-reward pass-rusher. Given the success of Pierre and Smith (14 sacks as a rookie this past year after being drafted seventh overall by the 49ers), it might be worth it.
|Mock Draft, Take 6: Could Robert Quinn go first overall?||03.21.11 at 12:14 am ET|
We’ve got a new No. 1 pick in the latest edition of the WEEI.com mock draft, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see it continue to change as we get closer. That’s generally the kind of madness that occurs when there isn’t a quarterback worthy of the top pick in a given year. Last year, it was only a matter of time before people realized Sam Bradford should have been the first overall pick. This year, there isn’t that simple solution, as Blaine Gabbert is very good, but not special.
Meanwhile, two of the Patriots’ first three picks are different from the last edition, and Boston College’s Anthony Castonzo is moving up.
1. Carolina (2-14) Robert Quinn, DE/OLB, North Carolina Da’Quan Bowers was hanging on by a thread to the top spot, and with word emerging that teams are concerned with his knee, he drops out of this position for the first time. Some have Cam Newton going in this spot, but I don’t buy it. The last time the Panthers were in this situation was 2002. They had to choose between a quarterback who was not a slam-dunk (Joey Harrington) and a star pass-rusher (Julius Peppers). Marty Hurney and the Panthers chose correctly last time, and they would be correct to go with the pass-rusher (who just so happens to be a local guy) this time.
2. Denver (4-12) Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU If you can come out of a draft with the best player, it’s not a bad thing at all. That’s exactly what will happen for the Broncos if they opt to grab Peterson. He would start alongside Champ Bailey immediately, and take over as the No. 1 when the 32-year-old (he’ll be 33 at the start of next season) decides to retire. Given his talent, it wouldn’t be surprising it all to see Peterson have as big an impact as Bailey has had over the course of his career.
3. Buffalo (4-12) Von Miller, OLB, Texas A&M Not to ogle a linebacker’s 40 time, but a sub-4.5 40 at Miller’s Pro Day only confirms that the Butkus Award winner can get to the quarterback in a hurry. Miller’s addition would give the Bills a type of exciting player on defense that they simply don’t have. The only question is his size, but he hasn’t been stopped in the past. With the Bills planning on being scheme diverse this season, Miller should be able to fit in both the 3-4 and 4-3.
4. Cincinnati (4-12) Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri Perhaps ignored in the midst of the whole Cam Newton debate is how good Gabbert actually is. He is by no means a top-tier quarterback, but he is the only signal-caller in this draft that seems a safe bet to be a solid starter in the league throughout his career. In a quarterback class this weak, that goes a long way. Carson Palmer apparently means business with his demand to be moved, so if the Bengals end having to do so once a new CBA is in place, it makes sense to grab a quarterback here.
5. Arizona (5-11) Marcell Dareus, DL, Alabama There isn’t much not to like about Dareus, but because he’s clearly this draft’s best five-technique prospect, he might be a better choice for a 3-4 team. Some like him to go as high as No. 1 overall, but since Ron Rivera is sticking with a 4-3 defense, Quinn makes more sense for the Panthers than Dareus if they want an end. That being said, the Cardinals would have to be ecstatic to see Dareus available at No. 5.
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