|Which teams are most likely to deal on NFL draft weekend?||04.27.15 at 9:39 pm ET|
With draft weekend approaching, which teams will be the most inclined to make some moves? From our viewpoint — in no particular order — here are the teams most likely to deal, as well as a couple of scenarios thrown in for good measure. (On this same topic, make sure you read this excellent piece from Andrew Healy at Football Outsiders on draft trade value. His study reveals that the biggest buyer of draft value since 2000 has been New England. The biggest seller? Washington.)
New England and Philadelphia — basically, football BFF’s Bill Belichick and Chip Kelly: Provided they stay in their current positions, these two will likely be trade partners for a very long time. Belichick was a semi-regular draft weekend trade partner with the Eagles when Andy Reid was in Philly, and given his background with Kelly, there’s certainly reason to think that there will be at least one swap this weekend between the Patriots and Eagles. For what it’s worth, since he took control of the Patriots in 2000, by our count, Belichick has made 102 trades. In all, he’s made the most deals with Oakland (9), followed by Denver, Chicago, Tampa Bay and Green Bay (all 6). That’s followed by Houston, New Orleans, Baltimore and Philly (5).
Atlanta: Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff has been known to make a big splash from time to time — remember wide receiver Julio Jones? — and given the fact that Atlanta holds the eighth overall pick in the draft (and has a desperate need for a pass rusher), they could be one of those teams looking to potentially move up to take Vic Beasley or Dante Fowler, Jr., two individuals who may not make it out of the top 5.
Cleveland: In our chat with him on “NFL Sunday,” draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah of the NFL Network pointed to the Browns and Ravens as two of the teams who might be more inclined to pull off a draft weekend deal. Cleveland has Nos. 12 and 19 in the first round — the Browns are one of two teams with two first-round selections. And based on what we saw last year with the big deal with the Bills, they certainly wouldn’t shy away from trying to swing a big first-round deal to try and move up. Cleveland certainly has some needs across the board, and will have a real chance to address those issues come Thursday.
Baltimore: Like Belichick, Ravens GM Ozzie Newsome is a big fan of compensatory picks, and while those can’t be dealt away, the three comp selections that Baltimore acquired this offseason — in addition to the fourth and fifth rounders Newsome got from Detroit in exchange for defensive tackle Haloti Ngata — certainly gives Newsome the sort of potential draft capital he might need if he wants to try and climb the board. One thing that Patriots fans might want to keep in mind here is that Newsome and Belichick are very tight (Belichick has made five draft weekend deals with the Ravens). If the Patriots see a potential target sliding down the board and could put together a package for Baltimore’s 26th overall pick, that certainly remains a possibility.
San Diego sends Chargers QB Philip Rivers to Tennessee for the No. 2 overall pick: This sounds like an interesting deal, but it apparently stalled out over the weekend. It would be a fascinating swap that would fundamentally be a Rivers-for-Mariota deal between San Diego and Tennessee, with multiple picks presumably going in both directions. While that would appear to mean the Chargers would be hitting the reset button with a rookie quarterback as opposed to the 33-year-old Rivers, as Jeremiah reminded us in our Sunday conversation with him, while the front office has changed in San Diego, the Chargers have never been shy about making big draft weekend deals. Individuals like Rivers (2004) and LaDanian Tomlinson (2001) landed in San Diego after draft swaps.
|Who are Bill Belichick’s favorite trade partners?||03.19.15 at 4:13 pm ET|
If you’re of the mind that the Patriots need to make some deals in hopes of shoring up the secondary of defensive line in the wake of the personnel losses of Darrelle Revis or Vince Wilfork, you should be checking out the rosters in Houston, Baltimore, Philadelphia and Tampa Bay.
History tells us that when it comes to dealing, Bill Belichick has a relatively small circle of teams — and more specifically, individuals — he prefers to deal with more than others. Since he took control of the Patriots in 2000, by our count, Belichick has made 102 trades. In all, he’s made the most deals with Oakland (9), followed by Denver, Chicago, Tampa Bay and Green Bay (all 6). That’s followed by Houston, New Orleans, Baltimore and Philly (5).
The Raiders have been Belichick’s most frequent trade partner, and deals with Oakland have arguably produced the most blockbusters, including the trades of Richard Seymour and Randy Moss. However, it’s worth noting that since the death of Al Davis in October 2011, the Patriots have not made a single deal with Oakland. (The last trade between New England and Oakland came when the two teams swapped picks on draft weekend in April of that year.) That’s not to rule out any sort of future trades between the two teams — only to suggest that the Raiders might not necessarily be the first team Belichick targets when he picks up the phone to talk about a deal this time around.
As for the best of the rest, it’s also unlikely that the Patriots and Broncos look to make a deal anytime soon, given the nature of their rivalry, as well as the fact that old friends Mike Shanahan or Josh McDaniels are no longer with Denver. Tampa Bay and Green Bay remain intriguing trade partners, as the Packers and GM Ted Thompson have shown a willingness to work with Belichick in the past on more than a few occasions over the last decade, with the last trade between the two teams coming last summer when New England acquired defensive tackle Jerel Worthy for a draft pick. And while the Patriots and Bears made a couple of notable deals a little over a decade ago (New England acquired Ted Washington in 2003 and a swap of draft picks that same year netted the Patriots Ty Warren), the two teams haven’t made a deal since 2007.
(Two teams we do know who are likely off Belichick’s trade radar: the Colts and Jets. While New York received compensation for losing Belichick to the Patriots in 2000, since he arrived in New England, Belichick has not made a personnel swap with either Indy or the Jets.)
That brings us to the Texans, Ravens, Eagles and Bucs. All four of these franchises have shown a willingness to work with the Patriots in the past, and given the deep relationship Belichick has with most of the decision-makers in each one of the four teams, it makes it a possibility that they could put together another deal in the not-too-distant future.
|What we learned Sunday: J.J. Watt is a beast, Steve Smith is awesome and Adam Vinatieri is ageless||09.28.14 at 8:55 pm ET|
With the Patriots set to play Monday night, here’s a quick look at what we learned around the league Sunday, mostly from a New England perspective.
1. J.J. Watt could be an MVP.
Remarkably, the last defensive player to win MVP was Lawrence Taylor in 1986, but if he continues on his current path, Houston’s J.J. Watt could certainly make a case to be the next defensive player to take home the honor. The defensive lineman had six quarterback hurries and a pass defense before picking off an EJ Manuel pass and rumbling 80 yards for the pick-six to help lift the Texans past the Bills.
Through the first three games, the Patriots offense has five touchdowns. Watt has two of his own this year, and is just the second player since the merger with a receive touchdown and interception in the same season. (Ex-Pats linebacker and current Houston assistant Mike Vrabel was the first to turn the trick back in 2005.)
2. EJ Manuel is apparently suffering from a crisis of confidence. The second-year Buffalo quarterback was apparently pretty shaken in the wake of Sunday’s loss to the Texans. Manuel ended the day 21-for-44 for 225 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions against the Texans as the Bills lost their second straight to fall to 2-2 on the young season. To be fair, things were a little shaky around Manuel, given the fact that his offensive line was struggling, there were a couple of key drops and the fire-breathing monster known as Watt was on the other side of the ball. Coach Doug Marrone said after the game there were no plans to hand the reins to backup Kyle Orton, but the idea of jumpstarting the offense with a switch at quarterback has to be entering the minds of the Buffalo coaching staff.
3. Maybe the Dolphins weren’t as dysfunctional as we thought. The week of back-and-forth between Miami coach Joe Philbin and quarterback Ryan Tannehill ended Sunday in London, where the Dolphins absolutely crushed the Raiders, 38-14, at Wembley Stadium. Tannehill, who engaged in a weird public exchange with his coach after Philbin refused to name him the starter in the media, was an impressive 23-for-31 for 278 yards and two touchdowns in the win. Meanwhile, the Raiders, who looked good last week when they came to Foxboro and put a scare in the Patriots, were a mess. Their issues were compounded by the fact that rookie quarterback Derek Carr left the game in the third quarter, and told the media after the game that he has a high ankle sprain and sprained MCL. Yikes.
4. The Jets are in trouble. New York struggled at home against the Lions, and it was another bad outing for quarterback Geno Smith, who was 17-for-33 for 209 yards, one touchdown and one pick in a 24-17 loss to Detroit. After the game, Rex Ryan said he was standing by Smith. “I’m confident in Geno. If Geno’s healthy, then Geno Smith will start,” Ryan told reporters after the game. “I’m not gonna replace him. I feel good about Geno, and again, I think he’s gonna get it turned. He’s a tough, resilient young man, and I think we’re gonna win.” Meanwhile, it doesn’t sound like Jets fans are going to stand by Geno.
Geno Smith yelled “F— You” to a fan who was taunting him as he walked off the field. ‘ Steve Overmyer (@OvermyerTV) September 28, 2014
Jets defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson told reporters after the game that fans who were booing Smith should “shut up.” Yikes.
5. Not everyone needs a punter.
Sunday’s game between the Packers and Bears was either the second or third game in NFL history without a punt. Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers threw for 302 yards and four touchdowns in the 38-17 win over Chicago. The Packers, who had been suffering from offensive inconsistency over the course of the first three games of the year, scored on their first six possessions and finished with 358 total yards on the way to their fifth consecutive victory at Soldier Field. It was a bit of a redemption for Rodgers, who told Green Bay fans to “R-E-L-A-X” this week when they started worrying about the Packers‘ 1-2 start.
6. No one knows what to make of the Steelers.
There are weeks where the Steelers look ready to crush all those who come before them. Then, there are occasions like Sunday, where they melt down in the fourth quarter and end up losing a game to a Tampa Bay team ‘¦ that lost to the Falcons by six touchdowns a week ago. Mike Glennon hit Vincent Jackson with the game-winner with six seconds left on the way to a shocking 27-24 win over host Pittsburgh. The Steelers, who were poised to move to 3-1 with the win, fell back to .500 with the surprising last-second loss. (Pittsburgh committed a whopping 13 penalties for 125 yards.)
7. Steve Smith is never not awesome.
As promised, the gritty receiver one-upped his old team. The former Panther lit up Carolina for seven catches — including an awesome reception on a tipped ball he ended up taking for a touchdown — for 139 yards and a pair of scores on the way to a 38-10 win over the Panthers. There wasn’t “blood and guts” like he promised, but Smith, who played 13 seasons in Carolina before he was cut in the offseason, clearly enjoyed making his old team eat a little crow after the contest. “I’m 35 years old and I ran by those guys like they were schoolyard kids,” the veteran said after the game. Meanwhile, while we were all upset about the state of the Panthers’ offense, it’s worth noting that Carolina has yielded 75 points in two games.
I want to know what this kid is thinking.
8. Adam Vinatieri is some sort of superhuman.
It’s remarkable to think that the former Patriots kicker is now in his ninth season in Indy, and while the 41-year-old isn’t the kicker he once was, he’s still money when it comes to working extra points and field goals. Through four games, he’s 8-for-8 on field goal attempts and 16-for-16 on extra-point attempts, including a pair of field goals and five extra points Sunday in the 41-17 win over the Titans.
Oh, and this happened 18 years ago.
9. Chip Kelly can feel Bill Belichick‘s pain.
Philly went West on Sunday and nearly knocked off the Niners, despite the fact that the Eagles continue to have serious offensive line issues. Pro Bowl left guard Evan Mathis went down in Week 1, and with starting right tackle Lane Johnson already serving a four-game suspension, things got even worse when starting center Jason Kelce went down last week with a sports hernia. Despite those woes, Philly nearly pulled off the upset, despite the fact that the Eagles’ offense didn’t pass midfield until the fourth quarter and it had just two more first downs (five) than turnovers (three) late in the third quarter. Things should get better next week when Johnson is eligible to return from his ban, but the fact that Kelce and Mathis won’t be back until the second half of the season should provide some interesting phone conversation between BFF’s Kelly and Belichick when it comes to commiserating about their woes.
10. The Patriots are in first place.
The Bills’ loss to the Texans in Houston allowed the 2-1 Patriots to sneak into first place in the AFC East.
|Option play: Bill Belichick, Patriots ready for Miami’s new-look offense||09.02.14 at 2:40 pm ET|
The Patriots will be facing a new offensive coordinator on Sunday, as Bill Lazor is in his first season as OC with the Dolphins. Lazor, who served as the quarterbacks coach in Philly last season, figures to bring a slice of the uptempo style that Chip Kelly and the Eagles delivered last season.
So how do you prepare for a new OC when there’s little meaningful film of his schemes as a coordinator at the NFL level? Bill Belichick said Tuesday that the Patriots have already tried to get a sense of the new-look Miami offense by taking a look back at the uptempo Philly offense last year.
“I would say that they look very similar to the way the Eagles look offensively; different than what Miami looked like last year,” Belichick said of the Dolphins. “I’d say it’s quite substantial.”
Substantial might be an understatement. Measured situation-neutral offensive pace – a formula from the site Football Outsiders that eliminates things like two-minute drills and late-game clock-killing situations to get a truer idea of the offense’s intentions when it comes to offensive pace – the 2012 Dolphins were ninth overall at one play every 29.23 seconds, and last year, on average, they ran one play every 30.08 seconds, 14th quickest in the NFL.
That contrasts with the speed of Philly’s offense: under Kelly last year, the Eagles were the fastest team in the league, getting off a play once every 23.88 seconds.
Read the rest of this entry »
|Bill Belichick: Eagles joint practices ‘as productive as any’||08.17.14 at 12:00 pm ET|
By all accounts it was a good week of joint practices and second preseason game for the Patriots and Eagles.
You know it really was a good week when Bill Belichick is calling it the best week of joint practices he’s ever had in four years of holding them.
“The practices and the game combined, I would say probably were as productive as any week we’ve had with any team in training camp since we’ve been doing this,” Belichick said during Saturday’s conference call.
It was the second year of joint practices between the Patriots and Eagles. Belichick and Eagles coach Chip Kelly have known eachother since Kelly was a coach at the University of New Hampshire. The two didn’t change much from last year’s week in Philadelphia practice plan wise.
“Coach Kelly and his staff and the Eagles and their players — it was a real good working environment that was productive and competitive, but not over the top where anybody was really put in any unnecessary risk or any type of after the whistle or cheap shots or anything like that. It was really good,” said Belichick.
The Patriots started the somewhat new phase of joint practices in the league in 2010 when they had them with the Saints and Falcons. In 2012 they did them again with the Saints and added the Buccaneers. Last year the Buccaneers came to Foxboro and the Patriots went to Philadelphia. Finally this year, the Patriots were in Washington last week before welcoming the Eagles. Belichick usually holds them with other coaches in the league he is familiar with and respects, including Greg Schiano, Mike Smith, Sean Payton and last week Jay Gruden.
Many players and coaches speak to the value of the sessions as often times teams get tired of going up against the same players on their own team day-after-day. It also gives teams a chance to go against different schemes that their own team may not use on a consistent basis.
Kelly agreed with Belichick that it was a beneficial week — even with the Eagles losing 42-35 on Friday night.
|Darrelle Revis says despite not being tested in debut, he was ‘ready at all times’||08.16.14 at 12:52 am ET|
FOXBORO — It wasn’t much of a test for a preseason debut.
Darrelle Revis suited up like he did against the Redskins the week before but this time he actually stepped on the field for game action. He might as well not have.
Whether it was his reputation as the game’s best shut-down corner or wanting simply to test other parts of their offense, Eagles head coach Chip Kelly and quarterback Nick Foles didn’t challenge Revis all night long in a 42-35 Patriots’ win that evened New England’s preseason record at 1-1.
With Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper out, Revis was matched up against Arrelious Benn. Revis played on Philadelphia’s first three series (the first series was one play and a turnover) and not a single pass was thrown to Benn.
“I don’t know what their game plan is,” Revis said. “My thing is just to go out there and do my job. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, then it doesn’t. But you always have to be ready at all times.”
Perhaps just as impressive is that for all the penalties that were called against both secondaries, not a single yellow cloth landed on Revis Island.
“It’s a new rule in 2014 that they’re emphasizing about illegal contact down the field on plays with the wide receiver and the defensive backs,” Revis said. “Like I said before, we have to do the best that we can by being comfortable with the new rules and trying to do the right things out there on the field. I don’t know how many penalties it was. It was a lot, just watching the game and going through it, but I don’t know. It was a lot, but at the same time, the refs are going to call what they see.”
Of course to Revis, it’s all about the secondary getting better as a unit, with he and Devin McCourty leading the charge. Malcolm Butler started opposite Revis and continued to show progress, stripping a receiver in the second half and recovering the ball. Kyle Arrington even got the starting nod at safety with McCourty.
“We’re getting better every week,” Revis said. “We’re trying to reach our peak by the time Week 1 comes around. We’ve been working hard and we’ve made a lot of great plays out there today on defense so those are the types of things we are looking for. The coaches always stress turnovers to us so we’re just trying to do a good job of that and tonight we did.”
|Chip Kelly reflects on meeting Bill Belichick for the first time, returning home to New England||08.14.14 at 6:00 am ET|
FOXBORO — It’s been a homecoming week for Eagles head coach Chip Kelly.
The former Oregon and University of New Hampshire coach and a New Hampshire native to this day — returned back to New England this week for the Eagles’ joint practices and Friday’s preseason game with the Patriots. Kelly coached at New Hampshire from 1994-2006 with roles varying from running backs coach, offensive line coach and offensive coordinator. Even though he’s returning home, the 50-year-old isn’t thinking of his return to New England as anything less than a business trip.
“We’re here to go to work and it’s a little bit of a ways away, but a couple people — a couple former players of mine at New Hampshire I saw yesterday after practice,” Kelly said. “That part was good, but it’s really a business trip for us getting ready to prepare against a really good team — giving ourselves an opportunity to test ourselves against an outstanding opponent. We’re kind of looking at it from that stand point.”
Kelly’s relationship with Bill Belichick goes back to his time with the Wildcats when the UNH staff would come down to check out Patriots practices. He’s always valued his time spent with Belichick.
“When he was coaching here and I was the coach at New Hampshire I used to come down and visit practice,” Kelly said of the first time he met Belichick. “He was very gracious — he’s always been really gracious to the local college coaches — they were always open for us to come in and watch and visit. In the NFL they start camp a little bit earlier than colleges so you get a chance to come down for that last week of July and first couple days of camp. At that time I think they were down at Bryant [University], but he’s been always been very gracious and always great at this time being able to share football knowledge.”
Even though he’s all business this week, Kelly has a soft spot for the place he calls home and where he grew up — Dover, New Hampshire.
‘That’s where you grow up, it’s your family,” Kelly said. “I think everyone does that — I don’t know many people that move away or something like that — there is always a place in your heart where you grew up and that you’re a part of. I’m fortunate that I get a chance to go home — my family still lives up there and I have a lot of really, really good friends there that I grew up with and I think that’s foundations we all built upon.”