|Why working with Bill Parcells gives Mike Zimmer valuable insight against Bill Belichick||09.11.14 at 2:12 pm ET|
As one of the most respected defensive minds in the NFL, Mike Zimmer knows a good offense when he sees one.
And in New England, the Vikings new head coach sees an offense that put up 20 points in a half against a good Miami Dolphins defense before running out of gas and forgetting to protect its quarterback in the second half last Sunday.
Oh yeah, he also sees Tom Brady.
“New England is a tough team to pressure,” Zimmer said. “Brady does a great job of getting the ball out, they do a good job in protection of knowing who to block, their backs do a great job in protection. They’ve got the screens that they use so often and the receivers [Julian Edelman] and Gronkowski, they know where to get to on the [reads] and hots. They do a great job.
“You know it’s never an easy thing, I know [Miami] played better in the second half, but the first half, New England did a good job. In the second half, [Miami] just made some plays. Against New England you have to make some plays from time to time in order to get them off the field. You have to be good on third downs.”
Zimmer worked with Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle when they were in Cincinnati together, with Zimmer working as the D.C. and Coyle in charge of the defensive backs.
“I don’t know exactly what Miami was trying to do defensively, I know obviously Kevin Coyle is a very good friend of mine but we have not talked about the game,” Zimmer said. “We kind of know each other’s systems well. It’s hard for me to know exactly what Miami was doing.”
Zimmer is not new to the Patriots, or their way of thinking. Before taking over as Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator in 2008, Zimmer worked for someone pretty familiar with Bill Belichick. Zimmer was Bill Parcells‘ defensive coordinator in Dallas between 2003 and ’06. Zimmer installed a 3-4 look that Parcells preferred, despite Zimmer having never worked with it.
|Bill Belichick ramping up for another pressure-packed attack from Mike Zimmer||09.09.14 at 6:48 pm ET|
If there’s one silver lining of Sunday’s blitzkrieg of the Patriots offensive line, especially in the second half, it’s that the Patriots will likely see more of the same this week in Minnesota and have another chance to prove that they can handle the pressure.
As Bill Belichick pointed out Tuesday, new Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer and Miami defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle worked together for Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati for four seasons (2008-11) when Zimmer was the defensive coordinator and Coyle was the defensive backs coach.
There, Zimmer and Coyle came up with a defensive scheme that was considered one of the most aggressive in the NFL, using heavy pressure packages, including blitzes, along with building a bruising defensive front that could bring pressure on its own.
Move the quarterback off the spot in the pocket and make him uncomfortable. In 2009, it produced a division championship. In 2011, the Bengals with a new quarterback in Andy Dalton, but the Zimmer-Coyle defense still in place, went back to the playoffs as a wild card.
Now, Zimmer is in charge of the entire Vikings program and he brings with him another aggressive approach, and a defensive that generated an NFL-leading five sacks in Week 1, led by two from defensive end Everson Griffen.
“I’d say their defense looks quite a bit like the Cincinnati defense,” Belichick said. “I think there’s quite a bit of carryover from what they did in Cincinnati, especially when you get to their sub third-down packages. Yeah, I think there’s quite a bit of carryover.”
|James White trying to be ‘level-headed’ as he prepares for hopeful NFL debut in hometown||09.07.14 at 10:56 am ET|
MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — James White was the first Patriots player on the field Sunday morning at about 10:15, nearly three hours before kickoff, running laps around the field.
Who could blame him for getting a head start on his warmups.
White attended St. Thomas Aquinas High School in nearby Fort Lauderdale, and was a part of the 2009 St. Thomas Aquinas mythical high school “National Championship” team. At Aquinas he primarily split time with Bengals tailback Giovani Bernard.
“My freshman year, my high school played in the state championship [at Sun Life],” White said of returning to field the Patriots will be on Sunday.
“I do have a lot of family in the area and I expect most of them to come to the game. It’ll definitely be great for me.”
As it turned out, White watched Sunday from the sidelines, as he was inactive for the game. Still, White feels the preseason has prepared him for the experience of eventually playing in a regular season game.
“The preseason games definitely help,” he said. “It’s definitely an experience that, especially for a rookie, you can’t take for granted. It definitely gets you ready for this first game. But at the same time, it antes up a little bit, that first game, first regular season game, especially against a division opponent like the Dolphins.”
White played in all four preseason games, carrying the ball 29 times for 80 yards while returning two kickoffs for an 18-yard average.
“You have to stay level-headed. You’re going to be excited,” he said. “It’s your first game but at the same time, if you get an opportunity to play you just want to go out there and do your job. Of course there’s excitement but at the same time you have to stay level-headed.
“It’ll definitely mean a lot. It’s something you dream about all your life, to get an opportunity to play in the NFL. You just want to go out there and make the most of it.”
|Tom Brady isn’t afraid of (preseason) blitzes: ‘You figure out how to solve the problem’||08.21.14 at 6:08 pm ET|
FOXBORO — As far as Tom Brady is concerned, go ahead and bring the heat, even in the preseason.
And certainly, with the Carolina Panthers coming to town Friday, the opponent certainly has the wherewithal to execute a blitz or two.
But usually, in the preseason, defensive coordinators like to hold off on showing too much on film when it comes to exotic or advanced defensive approaches. And offensive coordinators, similarly, do the same.
However, usual and customary are not two words commonly used to describe Rex Ryan. The Jets coach watched last Saturday as his defense was torched by Andy Dalton for 144 yards on 8-for-8 passing and a touchdown. His response? Start blitzing the Bengals second and third stringers along the offensive line.
Bengals offensive line coach Paul Alexander took some offense.
But if the Panthers want to do the same from the start against Tom Brady, the Patriots quarterback says he’d have no problem with it, since there is no “wrong” defense to play, even in the third preseason game.
“They can blitz, they can do whatever they want to do,” Brady said. “Every defense is right. Like every call, there is risk and reward to everything. If they’re going to blitz, then you’ve got to figure out a way to beat the blitz. If you don’t fix the blitz, they’re just going to keep running them. It’s the same thing on offense.”
Then Brady got to the heart of the matter and revealed what competition is all about, even in games that don’t count.
“If you see a weakness, you’re just going to keep going to it, and that’s what separates pro-caliber players from guys who aren’t. There are guys who can fix problems and know that this is what a team is trying to do, and then you figure out how to solve the problem, and then they’ve got to work on something else. But if you know there are weaknesses, that’s what you go after. That’s what pro football is all about.
“We’ve got two games left, and they’re both very important for our season, for our preparation leading up to the opener. Coach told us we’re going to get a lot of work, and what that means I don’t know. I don’t think anyone ever knows with him. But we’ll be prepared and ready to go for 60 minutes, and hopefully it’s a good 60 minutes. We’ve had a couple doozies in the third preseason game lately, and it’d be nice to have a good one.”
Brady also took some time to talk about the other Ohio team, which named its starting quarterback this week, old friend and teammate Brian Hoyer, Brady’s back-up between 2009 and 2011. Hoyer was chosen as the Browns starting QB over Johnny Manziel this week by Cleveland coach Mike Pettine.
“I love Brian. He’s just such a great guy, person and friend. We’ve always kept in touch,” Brady said. “I’m proud of him. He’s fought through some tough circumstances over the years, being released here, going to Arizona, getting a little bit of an opportunity there, and then really taking advantage of his opportunity in Cleveland. It’s great for him, and he’s a great player, so I’m very happy for him.”
FOXBORO — Every once in a while, there’s a player perfectly suited to play with Tom Brady.
But there’s one player who fits into that category, a player who most certainly has flown under the radar since his arrival in New England as an all-purpose player.
Since being released off Cincinnati’s practice squad in the middle of the 2012 season, James Develin has found a home in New England. Develin is the kind of Patriot Bill Belichick, and by extension, Tom Brady, loves having around. He was a defensive end at Brown before switching over to tight end and fullback with the Bengals and the Patriots.
He played in all 16 games last season for the Patriots, carrying the ball four times for 10 yards. But that hardly tells the story for the fullback. Three of those carries were for first downs. The other? his first career touchdown. He was targeted four times in the passing game, catching all four passes for 62 yards and three first downs.
On Wednesday, Brady was asked about Develin’s evolution as a player.
“He’s done such a great job,” Brady said. “He’s such a selfless player, great teammate. I don’t think there is a better fullback in the league, so I’m so happy he’s on our team, and what he’s been able to accomplish for our team has been awesome. He brings so much in terms of his toughness, his attitude. It’s that one position on offense that can really bring a lot of toughness. You get it out of that fullback position. He does whatever the team asks him to do. I can’t say enough good things about him because I think so highly of him.”
|Darrelle Revis: Day 1 vs. Redskins shows ‘physical’ Patriots D ‘getting better every day’||08.04.14 at 7:56 pm ET|
RICHMOND, Va. — Redskins coach Jay Gruden knows an aggressive defense when he sees one. As the offensive coordinator of the Bengals and newly minted Andy Dalton, he went up against the Ravens and Steelers twice a year.
On Monday, he complimented the Patriots’ aggressiveness, particularly from the secondary led by Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. He called it a “learning experience” for his offense.
“They didn’t have a problem today,” Gruden said. “There’s no referees out there. They have two very physical corners and some of their backups did a nice job as well. It’s a great test for our guys. We’re going to have to work on our releases. I think we got knocked off quite a bit today. I liked the fact that they were physical because teams are going to be physical with our guys until we can fight it off and make them pay.”
Revis had a different perspective but came away with the same feeling.
“We’re getting better every day,” Revis said. “We’re improving every day and this is the time in training camp where we get closer. It’s going well. Everybody is playing at a high level and we just have to continue that high level of playing going into the season.”
But Revis cautioned that he wasn’t focused on Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin, or Tom Brady, for that matter.
“I wasn’t really focusing on how they looked,” Revis said. “I’m trying to make sure I do my job and look good out here as well. It’s just competing. That’s all we’re trying to do. Both sides are trying to get each other looks out there and just compete.
“Competition kicks at that time and there might be a couple of words out there at times. It’s all in good [spirit]. We know the Redskins just like they know us. Some of us are friends with each other. It goes back and forth. It’s just competition.”
|Danny Woodhead: ‘If people are shocked, they’re shocked’||01.05.14 at 6:01 pm ET|
CINCINNATI — So many times in New England, Danny Woodhead was the silent little engine that could.
On Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, Woodhead – as he did so often in Foxboro – let his feet and hands do the talking in a 27-10 Chargers win over the Bengals that put Woodhead into familiar territory.
For the fourth straight season, the former Patriot finds himself in the AFC divisional playoffs. He figures to be another big weapon for Philip Rivers and the Chargers when they take on Peyton Manning and the Broncos next Sunday.
Sunday, he set the tone early with a five-yard TD run right up the middle, putting San Diego up, 7-0, and sending a message that the team that came within a bad call on an overtime field goal by Kansas City last week had come to Cincinnati with every intention of winning. The 11-5 Bengals, champions of the AFC North, were favored by a touchdown on their home turf in the rematch of the iconic “Freezer Bowl” in the 1981 AFC championship.
“We practiced all week with the idea of coming in here to win,” Woodhead said. “We were underdogs. If people are shocked, they’re shocked. There’s nothing we can do about that. Our job was to go out there and execute.”
That’s exactly what Woodhead, Rivers and the Chargers did against a Bengals team that didn’t lose all season at home before Sunday. The Chargers committed no turnovers in 56 snaps. Woodhead carried the ball 15 times for 54 yards and gained another 14 on two catches.
The Patriots let him go after the 2012 season and he signed a two-year, $3.5 million contract with the Chargers in March, a deal that included a $1 million signing bonus. The Chargers wanted a threat in the backfield that would be hard to account for in open space. He was that and more Sunday as he cut through big holes his offensive line established.
“I just try to take advantage of every opportunity I’m given. Our offensive line was great today and set the tempo early,” Woodhead said. “We ran and ran and we just build momentum.”
Woodhead was there so many times on Sunday like he was in New England. Every time Rivers needed a big play to put the game away in the second half, it was Woodhead’s number that was called. He carried the ball three times on San Diego’s opening drive of the third quarter, which ended in a touchdown that put the Chargers ahead for good.
Now, as was the case in New England with Tom Brady, Woodhead is into the second round with a playoff-proven quarterback. Rivers was spectacular only in his efficiency Sunday, throwing just 16 passes and completing 12 for 128 yards and a touchdown and a 118.8 quarterback rating.
“Philip is a great quarterback who has done it in the past in the playoffs,” Woodhead said. “Everybody knows he’s a great quarterback. We went about our business and just executed today.”
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