|Bill Belichick not very happy with his offense Sunday: ‘We had mistakes everywhere’||12.22.14 at 1:35 pm ET|
The film confirmed for Bill Belichick what he thought during Sunday’s game against the Jets. The offense wasn’t very good.
But Belichick didn’t single out any particular area, like the offensive line. The Patriots head coach, instead, chose to put everyone in the same boat.
Asked for his assessment of the offensive line’s struggles, he said the problems were more a result of execution than communication, though both played a factor with the absence of starting left guard Dan Connolly to a neck issue. The first example of the execution and communication problems came on the very first drive, when left tackle Nate Solder and Connolly’s first half replacement Josh Kline appeared to miscommunicate on inside and outside responsibilities. The breakdown allowed Calvin Pace to rush outside and David Harris to rush inside, with both getting to Tom Brady.
“I think we had a lot of communication – or I’d say execution issues on offense,” Belichick said in a Monday conference call. “We just didn’t execute very well, I’d say, in any part of the game. All the players were involved, all the coaches were involved. We just didn’t execute very well. We had mistakes everywhere, multiple mistakes everywhere. You could point to any spot and find some because they were everywhere.
“We just have to try to correct them today and move on. But I don’t think there was any one single thing that I would point to. I think it was an accumulation of a lot of lack of execution plays. That being said, there were a lot of times good things that happened on the play, but one part of the play that was poorly executed and I thought we didn’t have much to show for it. But we didn’t execute the passing game very well. We didn’t execute the running game very well, blocking, passing, catching. It was just [that] none of it really was very good.”
Adding to the complexity, the Patriots rotated their line frequently with tackle-eligible formations. In the second half, the Patriots moved Ryan Wendell from right guard over to left guard and moved Marcus Cannon to right guard. Belichick saw some improvement with those changes, as the Patriots put together a fourth quarter go-ahead drive and killed the final five minutes of the game with an effective run game.
“There were times when we were OK, there were times when we weren’t,” Belichick added. “You could put any player’s name into that question offensively and the answer would be the same. We need all of our players to play better. We need our good players to play better. We need to do a better job of coaching. We need to do a lot of things better. Fifty yards of offense in the first half, that’s not going to win many games. We were lucky to even be in the game.”
In a repeat of the Oct. 16 game at Gillette, the Jets were dominating the stats. The Patriots had just 52 total yards on 25 plays while the Jets had 176 yards on 35 plays. Still, the Jets led just 10-7 at the break.
|Setting the scene from MetLife: Patriots look stay on track against Jets||12.21.14 at 10:09 am ET|
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Partly cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 40s are expected for what could be the final road game of the year for the Patriots until the Super Bowl. There is no significant precipitation in the forecast and winds should be light out of the northwest at 8 MPH.
The 11-3 Patriots are 10.5-point favorites against the 3-11 Jets in what many expect to be the home farewell for Rex Ryan in the Meadowlands.
But the Patriots will not be in a sentimental mood, realizing they need a win to cement their place atop the AFC as the No. 1 seed, which carries home field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Patriots will clinch the No. 1 seed With a win over the Jets and a Broncos‘ loss in Cincinnati Monday night to the Bengals. The Patriots and Broncos enter their Week 16 games with identical 11-3 records, with the Patriots holding the tiebreaker by virtue of their win on Nov. 2 at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots clinch at least a first-round bye with a win.
For the first time since 2012, the Patriots will play a game without Julian Edelman. He did not make the trip due to a concussion. Tim Wright, Brian Tyms and Danny Amendola are expected to see more reps. Also out are LeGarrette Blount with a shoulder injury and Kyle Arrington with a hamstring injury. Jonas Gray figures to see a heavier load in the run game. If rookie running back James White is activated, it would mark just the third game this season he’s been active, and the first time since Oct. 26 against the Bears.
The Patriots are no doubt aware of what the Redskins accomplished on Saturday against the Eagles at FedEx Field. The Eagles entered the game with a 9-5 mark and with hopes of winning the NFC East. The Redskins were 3-11 and finishing out the string on another miserable season.
This game has significance for Patriots owner Robert Kraft. With a win, he would earn his 250th win in his 368th game as owner. According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, that would tie Chicago Bears‘ legend George Halas for the fastest to 250 wins as an NFL owner.
The Patriots are naturally looking to extend their dominance of the AFC East as well. The Patriots are 66-18 (.786) in the division since 2001, the best intra-divisional record of any team in the NFL over that period. The Colts are second at 62-23 (.729).
This is the 108th matchup between the two old AFL rivals, with the Patriots holding a 54-52-1 win. The Patriots have dominated the rivalry of late, winning 21 of the last 29 games.
Chris Price has a complete breakdown of what to look for in today’s positional matchups.
It figures to be a somber pregame, with a moment of silence expected for the two Brooklyn police officers murdered while in their patrol cars Saturday.
|Why stopping the Jets on third down means everything to Patriots||12.19.14 at 8:02 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Before Chris Jones saved the day with a blocked field goal attempt by Nick Folk on the game’s last play, Bill Belichick remembers exactly how the Patriots found themselves in such a precarious position with the lowly Jets on Oct. 16 at Gillette Stadium.
The Patriots allowed Geno Smith and the Jets to convert 9-of-16 third down chances to extend drives.
“Yeah, killed us,” Belichick recalled Friday morning.
Devin McCourty was a bit more expansive.
“Big point [of emphasis],” McCourty said. “They dominated third down and that gave the ability to dominate the time of possession and keep our offense off the field, keep them in long drive, help them really be able to pound the ball against us. We’ve got to play better on third down.
“Every week, we talk about third down and red area being a lot of times the determining factor in a game. I think it’s no different this week and now, coming up to a game where we’ve already played them, they were over 50 percent on third. It was evidence in watching that film, that third down really killed us.”
If there’s one sure way to keep the 3-11 Jets hanging around on Sunday at MetLife Stadium, it’s allowing them to convert 56 percent of their chances on third down, keeping the Patriots’ defense on the field for extended period.
“Third down was a big problem for us in that game on both sides of the ball,” Belichick said. “It’s been a problem for us with them. We don’t have the ball very long on offense and we’re out there on the field too long on defense. It’s us converting them and it’s us, well, it’s converting them on both sides.”
By contrast, the Patriots converted just 6-of-13 chances (46 percent) on that soggy Thursday night. That night in October, the Jets found a way to convert nine third downs, outrush the Patriots 218-63, outdistance the Patriots in first downs (28-16) and outlast New England in time of possession (40:54-19:06). The Patriots somehow found a way to win.
“It’s us converting them offensively to stay on the field and it’s us converting them defensively to get off the field and get the ball back for our offense and with good field position,” Belichick added. “We haven’t made them punt very much. We just have too many, they have too many extended drives and we’ve had too many short ones.”
FOXBORO — It’s not just Vince Wilfork‘s job to plug the middle anymore.
For years, the Patriots run defense hinged on the ability of the veteran nose tackle to stay on the field, sometimes for the whole game.
With the emergence of Sealver Siliga last year and the addition of Alan Branch this season, the Patriots have some big bodies backing up the big man along the Patriots defensive line.
And with the Jets on deck Sunday at MetLife Stadium, the Patriots have picked a good time to get healthy in the middle of the line where New York loves to run Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson behind Pro Bowl center Nick Mangold.
“I’d say the combination of getting Alan and Siliga back,” Belichick said. “It was two weeks ago, right? Well, Branch was longer than that, Siliga and even Chandler [Jones] last week. Those players have definitely given our line more depth and more versatility really.
“Branch is a big guy, Siliga is a big guy, Chandler is more of an edge guy, but when you put them all together, it looks a little different than it did a few weeks ago. The guys that are coming back like Siliga and Branch [has] now been here going on two months, but they have improved. Just like Chandler, his timing and some of the things that he does this week will probably be fundamentally a little better than they were last week.”
Branch, released by the Bills after an August DUI, was considered a project when the team signed him to a one-year deal Oct. 29 after being claimed him off the waiver wire. But now, he is playing on short yardage and early down situations, seeing 16 snaps on Sunday.
“Alan has done a good job. He’s had some versatility,” Belichick said Friday. “He’s got length, but he’s also got size. He’s very athletic, [he] runs five flat or whatever. He has good quickness and can move. So, he has the versatility to play some different spots and do some different things along the defensive front.”
But just because he’s playing short yardage and on first and second down doesn’t mean Belichick would hesitate to leave him on the field. Read the rest of this entry »
Continuing a theme of wanting to play hard for their coach and showing they can compete (at least for a day) with the big, bad Patriots in the AFC East, Jeremy Kerley has thrown down the gauntlet.
“This game is personal,” Kerley told New York’s Newsday on Thursday. “It’s as big as people want it to be, or it’s as small as people want it to be. But for us, it’s personal.”
The reason, according to Kerley, is that there is a sense in the Jets locker room and in the building in Florham Park, New Jersey that no one up in Foxboro respects the Jets.
“You can’t give respect to someone who doesn’t respect you,” Kerley told Kimberly Martin of Newsday. “If you don’t give me any respect, I don’t care what you’ve got. I’m coming for you.”
All of this despite Bill Belichick insisting on Wednesday and again on Friday that this will be a very difficult challenge for the 11-3 Patriots, who desperately need the win to stay out in front of the Broncos for top seed in the AFC.
The 3-11 Jets are battling for position atop the NFL draft order in the spring.
Whether it’s this season’s records or the fact the Patriots have utterly dominated the series in the Bill Belichick era in Foxboro (21-8), the Jets are playing the disrespect card to the hilt.
“They don’t honestly respect us as a franchise,” Willie Colon said. “It just doesn’t seem like we get any respect. And maybe it needs to be earned. Respect is earned, it’s not given.”
Except for a shocking playoff loss in Jan. 2011, the Patriots have made life miserable for Rex Ryan, winning eight of the 12 meetings between the two since Ryan’s tenure with the Jets began in 2009. There has been plenty of speculation that the 13th meeting will be the final episode in the drama, as Ryan could be given his walking papers after the season.
“Is it special to beat the Patriots? They’re the ones that you try to beat,” Ryan said. “Even though the year hasn’t gone the way we wanted it to, sure you want to beat them, without question.”
As for Colon, he acknowledged that the Patriots are “the top dog every year,” but added, “I don’t like ’em and it is what it is. Listen, I don’t take anything from New England. They win with whatever they have. So you’ve got to be able to respect them.”
FOXBORO — On a day when Boston, New England and the basketball world is talking about Rajon Rondo heading to Dallas, Bill Belichick heaped a huge amount of praise upon Rondo’s new rival in the Western Conference.
On Friday, Belichick accepted the praise and returned the favor.
“It’s flattering he would say that,” Belichick said of the five-time champion Spurs coach. “It means a lot coming from his stature and given the amount of respect I have for him and our organization has for that organization because I think it extends well beyond me. That’s a very flattering comment.
“Tremendous respect for Gregg. I think the consistency they’ve had there, the level that they’ve played at. I love the way he coaches that team. I love to watch that team. He’s really good, really good. It’s not like I watch a hundred basketball games a year or anything like that but I think he handles himself and his team, I admire it. I really do.”
Belichick has often interacted with other coaches in Boston, like former Red Sox manager Terry Francona, ex-Celtics coach Doc Rivers, Bruins coach Claude Julien and Boston College hockey coach Jerry York. In some cases, he’s even invited them into Gillette to speak to his team.
It’s not quite at that level with Popovich, at least not yet.
“We’ve had a lot of indirect conversation. Put it that way,” Belichick said.
Reminded that Popovich’s job just got a lot tougher with Dallas acquiring Rondo in a trade with the Celtics Thursday night, Belichick showed that single-minded focus he shares with Popovich.
“Right now, I’m really worried about the Jets. I can’t worry about everybody else’s team and what their challenges are and all that,” Belichick said. “I’m sure every team has a lot of challenges. We have a big one and that’s really my job to deal with that one.”
|Bill Belichick says Rex Ryan is ‘buttering’ him up by calling him a first ballot Hall of Famer||12.17.14 at 2:25 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Earlier in the week, Rex Ryan said Bill Belichick was a first ballot Hall of Famer. On Wednesday, Belichick was appreciative of the comment, but even with all the possible outside distractions Sunday’s game possesses, he’s focused on the game and nothing else.
“It’s a very flattering comment, but it sounds like Rex is just buttering me up,” Belichick said on a conference call with the New York media Wednesday. “I know they’re working hard, like they always do, play us very competitively. We’ve really had a hard time with them, including the last time we played them. We’re going to have to do a good job getting ready to go here stopping a team that runs the ball well, that stops the run well, that’s got a lot of explosive guys in the kicking game, that’s well coached, that’s tough, that beat us down there last year. We have our work cut out for us.”
Asked if he has any memories of games between the two over the years, Belichick wouldn’t get into them as he is focused on getting his team to 12-3 and a step closer to the overall No. 1 seed in the AFC.
With the Jets entering the game with a record of 3-11, it seems likely Ryan will be fired at the end of the season, as the Jets will miss the playoffs for a fourth straight season.
“Well of course, they’re one of our AFC East rivals,” said Belichick. “This is really about this game, not about some other game. We’ve played a lot of games against a lot of teams in the past. Right now the only one that matters is this one on Sunday. That’s really where all my focus is. [I’m] trying to do the best I can to help our team prepare for Sunday’s game.”
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