|Rex Ryan says ‘we’re gonna beat’ Patriots if Jets fans bring it||10.15.13 at 3:30 pm ET|
How much of a difference can fans make this Sunday at MetLife Stadium? According to Jets coach Rex Ryan, all the difference in the world.
Ryan made a challenge and a guarantee Tuesday on his weekly appearance on ESPN New York 98.7 FM.
He is asked Jets fans to re-create the loud environment that was present at the old Giants Stadium on Sept. 20, 2009, when the Patriots failed to reach the end zone and lost to the Jets, 16-9.
That day, led by linebackers Bart Scott and David Harris, the Jets hit Tom Brady early, often and hard bringing the Jets fans to a frenzy inside the stadium. Harris had three hits on Brady, Scott one and Darrelle Revis picked off a pass.
“If you make it like that,” Ryan told the radio audience, “we’re gonna beat this team.”
Like many newer stadiums, MetLife Stadium does not have a loud, intimate atmosphere. Rather, it’s cavernous and filled with club suite holders who watch much of the game behind glass doors. The louder fans are usually found in the upper level, far, far removed from the field.
Ryan recalled Tuesday that it was so loud that day in 2009 that he could feel the ground shaking beneath his feet. This, of course, will be New England’s first visit to MetLife Stadium since the epic “butt fumble” last Thanksgiving and – the Patriots hope – the first of two trips this season as Super Bowl XLVIII will be played there on Feb. 2, 2014.
|Darrelle Revis on Patriots rookie wide receivers: ‘They are improving’||09.22.13 at 6:18 pm ET|
FOXBORO – Going into the season there was no denying the Patriots offense would be different than the offenses of the past. 87 percent of last years completions are no longer with the team, and going into Week 3 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers they were without star wide receiver Danny Amendola for a second straight week dealing with a groin injury.
Sunday against the Bucs the Patriots rolled out Julian Edelman and three rookie wideouts in Kenbrell Thompkins, Aaron Dobson and Josh Boyce. Not exactly a star-studded offense, but the one constant that remains is quarterback Tom Brady.
“Yeah, he’s the best,” said Buccaneers cornerback Darrelle Revis, who faced Brady for six seasons when he was with the Jets. “I think what they do is hard play action to suck the linebackers up and he threw it right over the top of them. He did that a lot. He sells the play action very well and he got us a couple of times on those routes.”
A perfect example came close to halftime on the second Patriots touchdown of the day. With 47 seconds left in the half and the ball on the Bucs 5-yard line, Brady’s picturesque, play-action fake fooled the linebackers and secondary just enough so that Thompkins was able to sneak past them and Brady found him for his second touchdown of the game, giving the Patriots a 14-3 lead at the time. Thompkins became the first Patriots rookie since Rob Gronkowski in 2010 to catch two touchdown passes in a game.
“That’s a play we work on every day in practice,” Thompkins said. “To go out there, for me to be open, and to have Tom [Brady] trust me to throw me the ball felt good.”
After struggling to get on the same page for the first two weeks, Brady and the rookies took a step in the right direction in Sunday’s 23-3 win. Dobson and Thompkins combined for 10 catches, 93 yards and two touchdowns on 17 targets. This after completing passes on 9 of 21 targets between the two in the first two games.
“They’re doing a great job,” Brady said. “They’ve worked really hard to understand what we’re trying to do on a weekly basis and it changes a lot with our offense. It’s not like we do the same thing week to week all the time – we try and attack teams in different ways. Today we definitely made some adjustments throughout the first quarter, second quarter, and we did a good job adjusting and really trying to understand what we need to do to put drives together.”
|10 things you have to know about Bucs-Patriots||09.21.13 at 9:00 am ET|
Here’s everything you need to know about Sunday’s Patriots-Buccaneers game.
Our three favorite matchups on the afternoon:
1. Cornerback Aqib Talib against wide receiver Vincent Jackson – Talib was not necessarily brought in to shut down the opposing team’s No. 1 receiver — it was more to match up in man coverage on the longest and most physical of the pass catchers — but this is one of the those occasions where Jackson fits both descriptions. The 6-foot-5, 230-pounder is one of the best and most versatile receivers the Patriots have faced over the last few years. (Remember how he scalded Devin McCourty early in the 2011 season when he was with the Chargers? In that one, he had 10 catches for 172 yards and two touchdowns.) Part of his brilliance comes in the fact that he can line up in multiple spots, including the slot. Earlier in the week, Talib did an excellent job breaking down Jackson’s vast array of talents, saying Jackson “runs routes like a smaller guy, and he runs deep balls like a 6-foot-4 guy. He has the best of both worlds as a wideout [and is] real hard to defend. He brings that quickness to the table, so he can get in the slot and still get open. He definitely brings both sides to the table.”
2. Quarterback Tom Brady against cornerback Darrelle Revis – We’re not going to fully commit to the idea of Revis manning up on Julian Edelman — Revis himself reportedly has voiced displeasure over the fact that the Bucs aren’t playing enough man-to-man — but the the all-world corner matching skills with Brady certainly will provide some compelling theatre. Since 2009, Revis has faced Brady and the Patriots on seven occasions, and according to Pro Football Focus, the quarterback has done pretty well against the corner. In all, Brady has completed 20-of-39 passes for 257 yards and two touchdowns with one interception with Revis in coverage. Revis will get his shot at bettering those numbers when the two meet again Sunday.
3. The Bucs against themselves – The Buccaneers have a world of individual talent on both sides of the ball, but through the first two games of the year they’ve have done a good job of self-destructing. Through two games, no team had more penalties (23) and more penalty yardage assessed against it than Tampa Bay (220). The Bucs have lost a pair of field goal games at the buzzer, one in the season opener to the Jets (when a late flag — the third of three personal fouls assessed to Tampa Bay) allowed New York to get into field goal range as time expired) and last week vs. the Saints, when Drew Brees led New Orleans to a 16-14 last-second win. Toss in the various reports of team unrest, a case of MRSA, and a reported trade request made by Tampa quarterback Josh Freeman, and it’s shaping up to be a long year for the Bucs. Not saying they won’t give you everything they have, but to this point, Tampa has come up short in the biggest moments of the 2013 season.
4. Under-the-radar opponent Patriots fans need to know – He’s not a household name, but Dashon Goldson is one of the more underrated defensive backs out there, and he will present problems for the Patriots for several reasons, not the least of which being he’s developed a rep as a headhunter. Goldson, who appealed and won the decision after a one-game suspension for an incident against the Saints last week, will play on Sunday, with a track record of recklessness. He’s committed a whopping 15 personal fouls since the start of the 2010 season, the most in the league, and while his latest violation didn’t get him suspended, it was Goldson’s fifth for unnecessary roughness since 2011 and his second in the first two weeks of the 2013 season.
5. By the numbers: Percentage-wise, no receiver accounts for more of his team’s total receptions through the first two games of the season than Jackson. He’s caught 12 of the 24 passes Tampa quarterback Josh Freeman has completed over the course of his first two games, a 50 percent rate. The only two receivers who were close to Jackson in terms of percentage over the first two weeks were Edelman and Philly’s DeSean Jackson, both of whom accounted for 42 percent of their teams receptions in that same span.
(One more for good measure: through two weeks, the Patriots offense has gone no-huddle on 13 plays, or 11.8 percent of time. For comparison, the Pats went no-huddle an average of 25 percent per game over the last two years.)
6. Quote of note – “I just assume he’s not playing until they tell me that he’s going to play. We’ve dealt with him injured for a lot of last season too, so you just don’t want to … I think we know how to play without him. It’ll be a nice little influx of really rare talent when he gets back. I love having him on the field with me, I love working with him. He’s been great to work with since the day he got here, so whenever he’s back on the game field it’ll be exciting for all of us.” -- Brady on the potential return of Rob Gronkowski
After being listed as doubtful for the first two games of the regular season, the tight end was upgraded to questionable when the final injury report of the week came out on Friday.
7. Patriots fans should be worried about … Freeman and the Bucs hitting on the deep ball. This clearly was a talking point this week in Foxboro — by my count, no fewer than three defensive players referenced separately the fact that Tampa led the league in big plays last year. (The Bucs actually were first in the NFL in pass plays of 40-plus yards in 2012 with 16.) Another talking point that was likely referenced this week, although one not for media consumption, was GTFB. It’s a simple, four-word philosophy – not repeatable in polite company — for New England defensive backs that drives home the danger of allowing the big play.
8. Bucs fans should be worried about … another excellent performance from the New England defense. Yes, the first two games came at the expense of rookie quarterbacks, but the numbers are undeniably impressive. The defense yielded three touchdowns on 29 offensive drives, allowed an average of 15.5 points per game, forced six turnovers and has held opponents to a 32.3 conversion rate when it comes to third down (eighth-best in the league). Again, the numbers were against occasionally ragged offenses, but still need to be singled out as exemplary.
9. One more thing – The rookie receivers will again be in the spotlight Sunday, as the Patriots will continue to force-feed them in an attempt to see if they can join Edelman in helping move the chains. We wrote about this earlier in the week, but it certainly bears repeating: Over the first two weeks of the 2013 season, New England has relied on its rookie receivers in a way no other Tom Brady-offense has done in the past. While targets can occasionally be an imperfect stat, the fact that Kenbrell Thompkins has been targeted 21 times through two games (and is on pace for 168 targets over the course of the regular season) gives you a good idea of what’s going on. Thompkins is already almost halfway to the rookie receiving record for targets in New England, established by Edelman in 2009 (54). There was some marked improvement for Thompkins between Week 1 and Week 2, and Aaron Dobson was really in a no-win situation last week — he made his first start during a short week with no padded practices — and so any sort of progression this week should be taken as a good sign. The Patriots and Brady will need them to step their collective game up this week against the Bucs.
|Peter King on M&M: Patriots better off giving Rob Gronkowski more time||09.20.13 at 1:01 pm ET|
Sports Illustrated’s Peter King, during his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Friday, talked about the Patriots’ matchup Sunday against the Buccaneers.
Rob Gronkowski appears close to returning, with reports that he might play Sunday after practicing this week. However, King expects the Patriots to be cautious with the oft-injured tight end.
“The day I was in camp I just got the sense there that the last thing they were going is to do is something dumb and rush Gronkowski back. Because remember, in the past they rushed him back and it screwed things up,” King said. “So, you’re better off trying to win a fire-drill game against a team you should be able to beat — not easily, but you should be able to beat — in Tampa, and then have this guy for the last 13 weeks.
“If I were them, that’s probably the way I would try to handle it — keeping in mind, the way they played against the Jets, they could lose to any team in the league right now except for Jacksonville. But it’s worse if you play Gronkowski, you have doubts, and he gets hurt again. Then you know that you made a mistake. So, I do agree with the proceed-with-caution mantra here.”
The Buccaneers come in at 0-2 and have had some internal issues, with reports of discord between some key players and second-year coach Greg Schiano.
“I think the Bucs feel they’ve got a snitch the building,” King said. “Or the agent of a player or something like that. They don’t know where a lot of the noise is coming from, but they’re a little concerned about that, that there’s somebody leaking out stuff. … Somebody inside the building or who knows a little something wants the public to think Schiano is doing the wrong things.”
Cornerback Darrelle Revis is one of those disgruntled players, although he reportedly cleared the air with Schiano this week. With Julian Edelman, the Patriots’ only healthy and reliable receiver through two weeks.
“That’s exactly what I would do if I were them,” King said. “I’d say, hey, Kenbrell Thompkins, have at it. Zach Sudfeld, if that’s who’s going to play.”
Touching on the Browns’s surprising trade of running back Trent Richardson to the Colts this week, King questioned how the move would be received in the Cleveland locker room.
“My only question is, what are you saying to the veterans on the team?” King said. “In football, a lot of these guys have such short careers. And you’re saying, ‘They’re asking me to take the next 14 weeks, the next 14 games to go fly around, risk the end of my career when they have pretty much made it clear they’re playing for 2014. I think it’s dangerous.”
|Bill Belichick on Darrelle Revis: ‘Definitely looks like he’s back and playing well’||09.17.13 at 3:13 pm ET|
Bill Belichick has seen enough of shutdown corner Darrelle Revis over the years to know what kind of impact he can have on a team’s secondary. In the case of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it’s a significant improvement.
Revis’ presence figures to be particularly important this week as the Buccaneers may or may not have star safety Dashon Goldson, who is appealing his one-game suspension for a hit on Saints back Darren Sproles.
Revis is coming back from a torn ACL in his left knee he suffered with the Jets in Sept. 2012. The Buccaneers took a chance that he would be close to 100 percent when the ’13 season rolled around. Last week against the Saints, Revis played 70 of 73 snaps on defense, a sign that he is close to full strength after playing just 53 of 75 snaps in Week 1 against his former team.
Is that a sign that Revis is ready to reclaim Revis Island?
“Yeah, he’s good,” Belichick said Tuesday in a conference call. “I thought he played well against the Jets with some limited playing time – not limited, but I’d say he played about two-thirds of the game, something like that. Then of course this past week, he played almost every snap against New Orleans. It definitely looks like he’s back and playing well.”
Last week, the Bucs lost the game as the Saints drove for a game-winning field goal as time expired. But they did intercept Drew Brees twice, including an 85-yard return by Mason Foster that gave Tampa Bay a fourth-quarter lead. Brees completed 26-of-46 passes for 322 yards but only a touchdown and 67.5 quarterback rating.
In the six seasons with the Jets, Revis was a cornerstone of the Jets’ secondary, with his reputation for man-to-man shutdown defense, creating the “Revis Island” legend. He is 3-6 in nine career games against the Patriots, including 2-5 against Tom Brady with two interceptions. Now, the Bucs are mixing it up, throwing in some zone and blitz schemes.
“They mix it up,” Belichick said. “They play plenty of man. They blitz, they play man, they play zone – they play everything. They do a good job mixing it up; you see it all back there.”
“When they’re in nickel, after they got Revis back, then it was Revis and [Leonard] Johnson and they bring [Johnthan] Banks in and Johnson goes inside and plays at the inside spot. When they go to six defensive backs, then they bring [Mark] Barron down and put [Ahmad] Black in at safety. Then Barron kind of plays like a linebacker when they go to dime but in their nickel package, it’s almost always three corners, not three safeties. But when they go to their dime stuff, then it’s three safeties with Barron playing at linebacker level and three corners, the same three corners.”
Belichick also detailed how Tampa Bay’s secondary looks when they go with six defensive backs or the so-called dime package.
“When the Saints went to their three wide receiver, one tight end package, they brought [Mark] Barron down a decent amount,” Belichick said of the safety who plays a lot like a linebacker. “They were in dime a decent amount, it was like 40 plays or something like that, it was a pretty good number of plays, maybe it’s in the 30s. But anyway, they brought Barron down and matched him up a number of times on [Jimmy] Graham. But [Lavonte] David does a good job too when they’re in nickel. David is a good cover linebacker and [Mason] Foster and Jonathan [Casillas]. They’ve got good depth at linebacker and good depth in the secondary; good depth on the defensive line too for that matter. This is a good defensive football team; probably as good as any we’ve seen or will see. They’re good in the secondary, they’re good at linebacker and they’re good up front. They’re well coached and have a good scheme. They’re very good defensively, no question.”
Belichick was asked if he laughs at the schedule-makers who scheduled a Patriots match-up with Revis just three weeks into the season, just like the divisional games with the Jets.
“Well, at least we only have to play against him once, hopefully,” Belichick said. “Well, hopefully we’ll play against him twice but no, I mean we’re seeing him once.”
|Five Monday evening thoughts on the Patriots, the Bucs and Danny Amendola||09.16.13 at 11:42 pm ET|
Emptying out the notebook at the end of a relatively eventful Monday for the Patriots:
1. Tampa Bay safety Dashon Goldson has been suspended for this week’s game against the Patriots for repeated personal fouls, with the latest coming after a hit on Darren Sproles in Sunday’s game against the Saints. (According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Goldson has been flagged for 15 personal fouls since 2010, the most in the league in that time.) Goldson has appealed the ban, so there’s the possibility he could still play, but as of right now, it figures Tampa Bay will start backup Ahmad Black at the free safety spot. It will be interesting to see if the Patriots try to attack Black if Goldson isn’t in the lineup. (For what it’s worth, Goldson had a free agent visit with the Patriots in 2011 after the lockout ended and was reportedly offered a one-year deal, but he ended up returning to San Francisco. He signed a new contract with the Bucs this past offseason.)
2. Your semi-regular reminder that Tommy Kelly is awesome. The defensive tackle is fast becoming a media favorite for his no-nonsense style, and the former Raider didn’t disappoint when he talked with reporters on Monday. Asked about the two wins the Patriots were able to come away with to open the season, Kelly — who never finished about .500 in his nine seasons with the Raiders — was philosophical. “It’s always good. Even if they’re ugly 2-0 victories, a victory is a victory. I’d rather have ugly wins than pretty losses any day, you know, and I had a lot of pretty losses in my career, so I’ll take the ugly wins. All that counts, man,” he said. “It’s going to stack up. I know as the weeks go by, we going to get better as a team. Timing’s going to get better, offense is going to get better. Just handle your own job, and that’s how you going to win.”
3. Just because Darrelle Revis is in a different uniform doesn’t mean Bill Belichick is taking him lightly. On a conference call with the media on Monday morning, the Patriots coach was asked about the all-world cornerback and how he’s being used in his first year with the Bucs.
“He’s played on both sides,” Belichick said of Revis, who went from 55 snaps in Week 1 to 71 snaps in Week 2. “I’m sure they can do all of what you said: put him on one side, flip him – which they have done – or match up him, which sometimes when they flip him, I’m not sure if they’re matching up or whether they’re just flipping. We’ll have to take a little closer look at that. He’s, I’m sure, capable of all three and has played on both sides.”
Revis’ situation in Tampa certainly bears watching — according to some reports, he’s already upset with Greg Schiano and his strict coaching style. In addition, he’s also a little frustrated by the lack of man-to-man coverage on defense.
4. Matthew Slater is the latest injury the Patriots will be forced to deal with. The special teams captain is dealing with a hand or wrist injury, depending on who you believe, and his status for Sunday’s game is in question. The popular Slater apparently suffered the injury in Thursday’s win over the Jets — if he’s not able to go Sunday against the Bucs, it will be interesting to see who will be asked to take over his role as leader of the New England special teams unit.
5. Danny Amendola is the latest Patriots smokescreen. Yes, the wide receiver was on the field for the start of practice on Monday. However, as we’ve stated on several occasions, there are no coincidences around Gillette Stadium. There are roughly eight million places he could go to work out, but to have him on the field — even for a few moments — sends a message to Tampa Bay that there’s a chance he could be out there on Sunday. As a result, Schiano and Bucs defensive coordinator Bill Sheridan to have to spend at least a few moments game-planning for the possibility of Amendola on the field on Sunday.
We’ll know a little more about the health of the receiver when the first injury report of the week is issued on Wednesday afternoon, and while it’s likely he’ll be listed as “limited,” it remains highly unlikely he’ll be able to play. In the end, when it comes to Amendola and his medical situation, we defer to the great Will Carroll, one of the best when it comes to sports injuries. He clears up some of the questions people might have when it comes to whether he has a strained groin or sports hernia, and what might be the best course of action for all involved.
“The adductor muscles are what we normally think of as the ‘groin.’ They pull the legs in to the midline, from spread to closed. Where they attach at the pelvis is very near where the oblique muscles attach,” Carroll wrote in an email to WEEI.com. “A sports hernia is when the adductors win the tug-of-war with the obliques. If Amendola has a strained groin, it’s seldom the case that first, the sports hernia occurred. Because they’re close and pain is seldom localized, it’s tough to diagnose without an MRI, but I have to assume the Pats have that. The injury is on one side of the bone or the other and depending on which, the Pats medical staff will treat it as one or the other.”
|Darrelle Revis still thinks Tom Brady, Peyton Manning are ‘both great’||08.13.13 at 3:22 pm ET|
FOXBORO — When he was with the Jets, Darrelle Revis had some of that swagger that came with playing for Rex Ryan. But one thing is for sure, he always had respect for Patriots superstar quarterback Tom Brady.
That, apparently, hasn’t changed.
Speaking after Tuesday’s practice, one in which he was limited to 7-on-7 drills due to his recovery from left ACL surgery, Revis made it clear that he still respects the quarterback who once gave him fits in the AFC East.
Asked if he still thinks Brady is one of the best, Revis didn’t hesitate.
“Oh yeah, it’s between him and Peyton Manning, but it’s a good race between both of them,” Revis said. “They’re both great. I played against both of them. They’re awesome quarterbacks. They’re tough, they’re tough to game plan against as well.”
That makes one think what he thinks of Atlanta’s Matt Ryan, New Orleans’ Drew Brees and Carolina’s Cam Newton, all of whom he’ll face twice a season in the NFC South.
Tuesday was a big day for Revis, who was back in pads for the practice but is being guarded carefully by head coach Greg Schiano, who indicated that there’s a possibility that Revis won’t play in any of Tampa Bay’s four preseason games but still be ready for the season opener Sept. 8 against his former team at MetLife Stadium.
Revis said he received words of encouragement from Patriots owner Robert Kraft, who was on hand for the joint practice.
“The New York Jets-Patriots, that’s a crazy rivalry, it really is. It’s almost like a hatred but now I’m a Buccaneer and this is something new for me, being in camp with another team. I’m just taking it in in stride. It was funny because Mr. Kraft came up to me and said some encouraging words and some good words. So, it just shows you how much respect you have with another team when you’re not on that side of the ball.”
The Bucs and Revis open the season Sept. 8 on the road against his former team at MetLife Stadium before visiting the Patriots in Week 3.
“It’s fine, it’s fine,” Revis said. “The schedule is what the schedule is going to be and we know we have them Week 3. It’s something new for me. I’m just trying to take it in stride. It’s kind of weird watching 1-on-1s and seeing Tom throw at our DBs. I wish I could be out here to practice because that would give me some tips if I could be out here in 1-on-1s and go against Tom because it’s good competition at the end of the day.”
Speaking of Brady, it was the Patriots quarterback who had to come back from left ACL surgery when Bernard Pollard hit him in the 2008 season opener against Kansas City. Brady came back and led the Patriots to the playoffs in 2009. That’s inspiration enough for Revis.
“Yeah, I think I’ll be fine,” said Revis, who injured his knee Sept. 23, 2012 against the Dolphins. “At the end of the day, you have to go through the ACL process and waiting, and let’s do this and do these drills, let’s do these exercises, let’s be patient, let’s not get on the field yet, let’s get on the field so, I’ll be fine. Trust me, I’ll be fine. I’m working. I’m back to my old self. I’m getting there. It’s just the confidence and getting that knee drive and breaking on balls.”
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