|Josh McDaniels expecting Chuck Pagano, Colts to blitz Patriots||11.10.14 at 2:32 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Normally, opposing teams try to stay away from blitzing Tom Brady because of his ability to read at the line of scrimmage and make big plays.
But Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels says Colts head coach Chuck Pagano is a little different.
Pagano, according to McDaniels, has been using the blitz to try and pressure quarterbacks since his secondary has been burned for big play after big play this year. The Colts defense is allowing 263.3 yards passing, including 31 plays of 20 or more yards and nine plays of 40 or more yards.
But the Colts have had their fair share of success getting to the quarterback, registering 24 sacks, tied for ninth-most in the NFL this season. Pagano is in his third season as Colts head coach, coming from the pressure based defensive schemes in Baltimore, where he served as defensive coordinator in 2011.
“I definitely think there is an element of that, certainly,” McDaniels said. “Chuck Pagano, obviously, that’s his background, and there is some of that there. But I also think there is a great blend here, and they’ve kind of created their own little package, and they do different things off of it each week.
In 2013, the Colts blitzed 33 percent of the time, according to the experts at Pro Football Focus.
“I think they really present a lot of different issues for you,” McDaniels said. “They blitz quite a bit more than most of the teams that we’ve played, which is going to be, I would say, a very critical factor in the game, our ability to handle that. They play a lot of tight man coverage. They have guys who do a really good job of covering man-to-man [in] one-on-one situations on the outside.”
Greg Toler and veteran Vontae Davis are the corners, while Sergio Brown and Mike Adams are the safeties. Brown and nickel corner Darius Butler are former Patriots who have faced Tom Brady in practice.
“They ask their safeties and linebackers to do the same thing, and they’ve got guys who can do that. They’ve been stopping the run, creating turnovers and getting to the quarterback, so there are not a lot of holes. I definitely see some of what we had faced in the past in Baltimore, but certainly this is their own defense. They’ve added different flavors to it, and we’ve got a big challenge ahead of us this week.”
Of course, if Brady is able to solve the blitz and get the ball to Rob Gronkowski, there is the potential for big plays in open space.
“I think with any skilled player, if you have an opportunity to release clean into the route in the passing game, it takes away something that you’re not really having to worry about or think about at the line of scrimmage, and then you can focus a little bit more on reading the coverage or whatever the route is that you’re running. I think that he gets played at the line of scrimmage some and some not.
“It’s kind of a mixture of all different things, but I would say that’s true for most or all of our skill players, especially our receivers. There are plenty of times where they get jammed and then there are some times when their corner plays them off. We work extremely hard on trying to help our guys release into the pattern. We spend a lot of time in practice doing that. [Tight ends] coach [Brian] Daboll [and] [wide receivers] coach [Chad] O’Shea do a great job of that. He knows that there are going to be challenges each week that different teams present, and we’ve got to do a good job of being prepared for those.”
|Report: Ray Rice told Roger Goodell in June that he hit Janay Palmer||09.11.14 at 9:53 pm ET|
The news keeps getting worse for Roger Goodell.
According to an ESPN “Outside the Lines” report Thursday, Ray Rice told the NFL commissioner in a meeting on June 16 that he punched his then-fiancee Janay Palmer in a casino elevator. OTL cited four sources that indicated Rice’s admission to Goodell in a disciplinary hearing.
If true, the assertion directly contradicts Goodell’s statement this week that “when we met with Ray Rice and his representatives, it was ambiguous about what actually happened.”
Goodell made that claim Tuesday during an interview with CBS News, saying the latest video released by TMZ Sports about the incident was “inconsistent” with what the former Baltimore Ravens running back had told him.
But the four sources close to Rice say that during the disciplinary meeting in the commissioner’s office in New York on June 16, Rice made it clear to Goodell he had hit Janay Rice, then his fiancee, in the face inside a Revel Casino Hotel elevator in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and had knocked her unconscious. Goodell and the Ravens insisted prior to the release of the TMZ elevator video released this week that they had no knowledge of what happened inside the elevator.
“Ray didn’t lie to the commissioner,” a source with knowledge of the meeting told “Outside the Lines.” “He told the full truth to Goodell — he made it clear he had hit her, and he told Goodell he was sorry and that it wouldn’t happen again.”
“He told the truth,” a second source said. “This is a public lynching of Ray.”
A third source with knowledge of Rice’s discussion with the commissioner told ESPN that “there was no ambiguity about what happened [in the elevator].” A fourth source also confirmed how the information was relayed at the meeting; however, a fifth source with knowledge of the meeting said Rice told Goodell he had “slapped” his fiancee.
|Bengals, Colts win, forcing Patriots to win to earn bye||12.29.13 at 4:41 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots will have to earn their first-round bye.
The Bengals beat the Ravens, 34-17, in Cincinnati and the Colts beat the Jaguars, 30-10, at Indianapolis. Those two results mean the Patriots will have to beat the Bills to earn a weekend off when the playoffs begin next weekend.
If the Patriots lose, the Broncos will be the No. 1 seed and the Bengals will be the No. 2 and both will advance to the divisional round and have next weekend off.
A Patriots loss would also ensure the Patriots would play the Chiefs next weekend in the 4-5 matchup at Gillette Stadium.
Cincinnati’s win also eliminated the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens from the playoffs as the Steelers won and the Dolphins lost.
A win over the Chiefs would put San Diego into the playoffs as the No. 6 seed while a Chargers loss would allow the Steelers to earn the final spot with an 8-8 record.
|Patriots Thursday injury report: Rob Ninkovich (ankle) added to report||12.26.13 at 5:17 pm ET|
The Patriots returned to the practice field Thursday outside Gillette Stadium and there was one more name on the injury report. Rob Ninkovich showed up for the first time this week with an injured ankle suffered in the Patriots’ win in Baltimore Sunday.
Meanwhile safety Steve Gregory (finger/knee) and running back Shane Vereen (groin) joined Ninkovich as limited Thursday and were among the 12 Patriots limited at practice. Gregory, Ninkovich and Vereen were all injured in the win over the Ravens. Vereen left in the first quarter and did not return.
Wide receiver Josh Boyce (ankle) and safety Devin McCourty (concussion) were the only two players not practicing Thursday. McCourty (concussion) left Sunday’s game against the Ravens with a head injury in the second half, and did not return. In addition, Boyce has been nagged by an ankle issue he’s been dealing with since a loss to Miami earlier this month.
Here’s the complete report:
Did Not Practice
WR Josh Boyce (ankle)
S Devin McCourty (concussion)
CB Kyle Arrington (groin)
OT Marcus Cannon (ankle)
CB Alfonzo Dennard (knee/shoulder)
WR Aaron Dobson (foot)
LB Dane Fletcher (groin)
S Steve Gregory (finger/knee)
DL Rob Ninkovhich (ankle)
OT Nate Solder (concussion)
LB Brandon Spikes (knee)
OT Will Svitek (ankle)
WR Kenbrell Thompkins (hip)
RB Shane Vereen (groin)
FOXBORO — Devin McCourty and Josh Boyce were the only two Patriots players not in attendance Thursday as the Patriots returned to the practice field after having Christmas Day off. Both players also missed the light walkthrough inside Dana Farber Field House on Tuesday before getting the holiday off on Wednesday.
Both players were projected as not participating Wednesday if the team had held a practice. The Patriots were required to issue the report per NFL guidelines.
McCourty suffered a concussion in the third quarter of Sunday’s win over the Ravens when he went low, trying to make a tackle on Baltimore Ravens tight end Ed Dickson.
Boyce missed the game on Sunday altogether with an ankle injury suffered on a kickoff return in the fourth quarter of the loss in Miami on Dec. 15.
The Patriots practiced in sweats and shells on the lower grass fields on Thursday and will practice again on Friday as they get ready for the Buffalo Bills on Sunday at Gillette Stadium in the regular season finale. With a win, the Patriots would improve to 12-4 and clinch a first-round bye in the upcoming AFC playoffs.
|Josh McDaniels says Pats want to dictate offensive style ‘regardless of who we’re playing’||12.23.13 at 2:25 pm ET|
On Monday, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said the Patriots simply wanted to dictate and not be dictated to.
That’s how McDaniels summed up the somewhat head-turning decision to take it to the Ravens on the ground Sunday, choosing to attack Baltimore’s apparent strength on defense.
The Patriots ran the ball 34 times for 142 yards, averaging 4.2 yards a pop against a defense that was yielding just 102 yards a game coming in, seventh-best in the NFL.
“We certainly want to try to do things that we feel like we can do well regardless of who we’re playing, and then we also want to try to factor in the different variables in terms of matchups, personnel, all of the different things that go into each player, each series in the game, you want to factor into those things too, because they can certainly give you the best chance to be successful,” McDaniels said. “You’re not going to trick the Ravens. You’re not going to beat them that way, and so you’re going to have to stand in there, but you know it’s going to be a tough, physical game, you know it’s going to be a situation where you’re going to have to fight it out for four quarters, and I thought our guys did a good job of staying in there and slugging it out with them.
“It wasn’t always pretty, but in the end it was effective enough for us. I thought the important things were we took advantage of the opportunities that we had in the red zone, we didn’t turn the ball over, and then the guys really stayed committed to making yards in the running game and giving us an opportunity to stay ahead on the sticks, and then did a good job of finishing the last drive.”
Logan Mankins said after Sunday’s game that the offensive line was very aware of the commitment to the run and wanted to give McDaniels every reason to keep grinding away on the ground.
The other area that had to make McDaniels and Bill Belichick happy was their execution in the red zone. The Patriots were a perfect 3-for-3, LeGarrette Blount running it in twice while Tom Brady found Shane Vereen in the flat for the third.
“Obviously it’s good to score touchdowns when you’re down there,” McDaniels said. “I think we only had four plays down in the red zone, maybe five, and we had three trips and only four or five plays I think total. We were fortunate to run it in twice, once on the goal line, and guys did a good job.
“That’s always a tough situation against a good defense. You’re trying to get a yard and you just bang it out, and guys did a good job of letting LeGarrette [Blount] get to the line of scrimmage, then he muscled his way in there. And then we were able to come up with a play in the passing game there with Shane [Vereen] where the guys executed well, and then we were running the ball effectively on that last drive and got it into the red zone and just stayed with that formula, and they got it in there too. Each week in the red area, it’s its own game. Statistics from the past, they don’t really determine what’s going to happen from one week to the next, they just kind of tell you what happened in the past. This is a week to week thing, and we’ve got to do a good job of preparing now for a very good Buffalo defense, and the challenge will be a little different in terms of maybe the scheme or the players this week, but again, if we do a good job then we’ll give ourselves a great chance, and if we don’t and Buffalo executes better than we do, then you could find some struggles. The guys did a good of executing, and they deserve the credit.”
|Logan Mankins really loves to stick it to so-called ‘experts’||12.22.13 at 10:24 pm ET|
BALTIMORE — The smile on his face said it all.
In the afterglow of a 41-7 romp over the defending Super Bowl champion Ravens, Logan Mankins was asked if he thought the Patriots and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels proved a point with their physical, pounding running game on Sunday.
“When he called the runs, we did a good job of encouraging him to keep calling them,” Mankins said of McDaniels. “If you go out there and get stuffed on the line of scrimmage every time, it’s hard for him to call it again. But if you’re productive, then it makes it easy for him to keep calling it.”
The Patriots ran the ball 34 times for 142 yards – a 4.2 yards per carry average. They passed just 26 times. Mankins started his first game of the season at left tackle in place of Nate Solder and contained Terrell Suggs all day.
“Well, the experts, I know they always have all the answers,” Mankins beamed. “They really had them when they picked the winner of this game. So, when they don’t mention us as physical I always say, ‘Just go ask the guy that lines up from us if we’re physical.'”