|Bill Belichick isn’t giving Brandon Browner (or his team) an excuse for all the penalties||12.16.14 at 5:57 pm ET|
When the new emphasis on defensive holding and hands to the face was announced at the start of training camp, there was the understanding that certain players would struggle more than others adjusting.
It appears no one on the Patriots has had a harder time than Brandon Browner. As Chris Price points out, Browner has been flagged for 13 penalties (4 defensive holding, illegal contact, encroachment, 4 defensive pass interference, illegal use of hands, facemask, unnecessary roughness) 118 yards. Those 13 penalties are six more than the next closest perpetrator (Brandon LaFell, Logan Ryan six apiece).
On Tuesday, Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked if he cuts Browner some slack for his team lead in the dubious category because of the physical style he brings to the secondary.
“Penalties have been an issue for us all year as a team,” Belichick said. “We’ve had a lot of penalties, more than we want, way more than we want. We’re trying to decrease that number and the frequency. [We’re] certainly not there yet, but we continue to make it a priority and address it and work to reduce them. I think there’s definitely been some progress, but we’re not there yet. That goes for everybody.”
By not singling out Browner publicly, Belichick made it clear that he’s expecting cleaner play across the board.
“It’s everybody’s responsibility to play penalty free in their area, whether it’s the coaches on play-calling and substitution and things like that, or whether it’s the individual players based on their techniques and whatever the situation is that they’re in: offense, defense, special teams. Whatever it happens to be, it’s to play penalty free,” Belichick said. “That always has been an emphasis point for us, and it will continue to be one for everybody.”
Read the rest of this entry »
FOXBORO — Devin McCourty is considered one of the hardest working and most generous people inside the Patriots locker room. Now, that generosity and leadership on and off the field has been recognized by the team.
On Tuesday, the Patriots announced that the fifth-year defensive back is their nominee for the annual NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, presented by Nationwide.
All 32 teams nominate players for the league-wide annual distinction given to a player who shows commitment to volunteer work and philanthropy in their community.
Three of the 32 nominees will be selected as finalists for the award, named for the legendary Chicago Bears running back who died in 1999. Finalists will be announced in January 2015. The winner will be announced in Arizona, the site of Super Bowl XLIX, during the fourth annual NFL Honors awards show, a two-hour primetime special to air nationally on Saturday, Jan. 31, from 9-11 p.m. ET on NBC.
Since joining the organization in 2010, McCourty has been one of the most active players in the New England community, regularly volunteering to assist the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation’s many initiatives, volunteering countless hours to help others. McCourty has also teamed with his twin brother, Jason, who plays for the Tennessee Titans, to start a foundation to help fight Sickle Cell, a disease that has affected members of his own family.
|Patriots seeking revenge Sunday against Dolphins||12.11.14 at 7:00 am ET|
FOXBORO — Week 1 of the regular season did not go as planned for the Patriots when they took on the Dolphins, and 13 weeks later they haven’t forgotten.
Miami came back from a 20-10 halftime deficit to beat the Patriots, 33-20 in South Florida. It was the first time the Patriots lost a season-opener since 2003. Devin McCourty and the rest of the team have “revenge” on their minds this Sunday when the Dolphins come to Gillette Stadium.
“I guess you could call it that,” said McCourty. “You don’t want to lose. All athletes and competitors hate to lose. If you get a chance to play a team that beat you before, you want to go out and play a lot better than you did the first time.”
McCourty couldn’t point to one particular thing that went wrong in the second half, but the Patriots did get badly beaten on the ground, as Miami finished the game with 191 yards rushing.
“We just didn’t play as well as we should have in that second half,” McCourty said. “There was a bunch of different things throughout the second half that went wrong, but overall we didn’t come out and finish the game the way we should have. It’s rare in this league you’re going to play one half and get a win.”
It has been over three months since the Week 1 game, and a lot has changed for both teams with injuries, players returning from injuries, signings, etc. The Patriots are a completely different team as after starting 2-2, they have won eight of their last nine games.
The defensive captain has noticed a difference in the way the team prepares.
“I think we are playing good football now, but for us the key is maybe we didn’t understand then because we were just starting out, but I think we have a greater understanding now how we play Sunday starts today,” McCourty said. “Starts how we practice throughout the week and I think that is what helped this team and what our focus is — coming out today, having a good day of practice and then letting that push throughout out the week and that really prepares us for Sunday.”
The Patriots also have a chance to win their sixth straight AFC East title with a win, but that isn’t something on McCourty’s mind.
“To me our focus is beating a team that beat us,” he said. “I think as a team we want to make sure we end the season the right way against a division team. We know it is going to be tough. They have a lot to play for towards the end of the season just like us.”
|Bill Belichick on D&H: Jamie Collins ‘did a real good job’ stepping up as defensive signal caller||12.08.14 at 6:42 pm ET|
The decision to head out to California a week early to practice instead of coming back to New England paid off as the Patriots came away with a 23-14 win over the Chargers Sunday night. As many of the players have stated, Belichick said there were plenty of benefits to the decision.
“I think we watched a lot of film, players watched a lot of film with each other,” Belichick said. “They hung around more, talked more football, just hung out together and I think that’s a good thing.
“The schedule was the main thing. It was kind of the decision to go out there and try and pick up the benefit at the end of the week in terms of not traveling cross-country two days before the game, or go to Green Bay, come back here [Foxboro], turnaround, go back out there, turnaround come back. It just seemed like it would be more efficient for us to go from halfway across the country to just finish it off and get out there and get set up. And also it’s December, practicing here in December and playing in San Diego, I felt like we’d get better quality relative to game conditions out there.”
Jamie Collins filled in admirably as the Patriots’ defensive signal caller this weekend with Dont’a Hightower out with a shoulder injury. The linebacker finished with eight tackles and two sacks of Philip Rivers.
Said Belichick: “I thought he did a great job, I thought did a real good job. San Diego’s a team that’s spent a lot of time at the line of scrimmage, similar to the Denver offense. They used a lot of formationing, three receivers away from the ball, three open, four open, sometimes five open with the back out. They did that quite a bit, which Jamie usually was the adjuster on that and he went out to make those adjustments. And a lot of the time the back would come back in, so we had to make another adjustment to the defense. And he’s right in the middle of it, communicating with the linebackers, with the inside coverage players, with the defensive line, getting that coordinated. He and [Dont’a] Hightower have done a good job since Jerod [Mayo] got injured and last night a lot more of it fell to Jamie. I thought he handled it very well.”
|Brandon Browner on 15-yard penalty: ‘If you make a big hit nowadays, they tend to call a penalty’||at 1:42 am ET|
Even though Devin McCourty’s interception returned for a touchdown was called back because of a Brandon Browner helmet-to-helmet hit on LaDarius Green, it was still a game-changing play for the Patriots as they seemed to rally following the questionable call and came away with a 23-14 win over the Chargers.
With the Patriots trailing 14-13 with 6:44 left in the third quarter, on 1st-and-10 Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers hit LaDarius Green with a pass at the New England 44-yard-line. Green couldn’t handle the initial pass and the ball hung around his finger tips. In came Browner who delivered a huge hit on Green — knocking him down on the field for several minutes after the play — and the ball popped in the air, which McCourty caught and returned it for a touchdown.
The play was called back as Browner was called for a helmet-to-helmet hit on a defenseless receiver, even though replays showed Browner’s shoulder went right into Green’s shoulder. Since the hit was so hard, and by the way Green hit the ground, it looked more violent than it really was.
“It’s just part of the game nowadays If you make a big hit nowadays, they tend to call a penalty,” Browner told reporters following the game. “I felt it was pretty clean. I hit him with my shoulder to his chest. You know, that’s just the nature of the game.”
“At the moment it was tough, but I think that set the tone right there,” Browner added. “You win some, you lose some. Good thing that didn’t bite us in the butt. I’m really happy we won the game.”
The drive ended with an Akeem Ayers interception, and the Patriots came away with the win, scoring the last 20 points of the game, so the penalty didn’t come back to hurt the team. But, for plays like that in the future, Browner wishes they could be reviewed to make sure they were called correctly on the field, so what happened to him doesn’t happen again.
“Most definitely,” Browner said. “I think that’s a smart thing to do, instead of costing guys 15 yards and that cost us six points. … I think whoever handles those things, I think they should. They review everything else. You took away a hard effort play. That’s all it was. Hard effort.”
Some of Browner’s former teammates in Seattle weighed in on Twitter during the game:
I see you @bbrowner27 ðªðªð¨ð¨ð¨
‘ Kameron (@Kam_Chancellor) December 8, 2014
Richard Sherman seemed to agree it was a bad call, as he retweeted a tweet from Stephen A. Smith.
Something has to be done. It just HAS to be. That was NOT an illegal hit by Browner AT ALL. Not even a little bit. Absolutely DISGRACEFUL!!!
‘ Stephen A Smith (@stephenasmith) December 8, 2014
|Darrelle Revis: Jordy Nelson pushed off to get separation on first-half touchdown||12.01.14 at 12:29 am ET|
Darrelle Revis told reporters after Sunday’s 26-21 loss to the Packers that one of the key plays in the game — a 45-yard touchdown strike in the second quarter from Aaron Rodgers to Jordy Nelson — developed as the result of a push-off from Nelson.
Nelson was able to gain separation from Revis and haul in the pass from Rodgers. He raced for the end zone and just made it ahead of Revis and safety Devin McCourty for a touchdown that gave the Packers a 23-14 lead just before the half.
“I felt it was a push-off,” Revis told reporters after the game. “But at the same time, I’m not going to use that as an excuse. He made a great play. There’s two great teams playing. I have a lot of respect for Jordy, Aaron Rodgers and their whole wide receiver group. He made a great play and scored at the end of the half.
“We’re going to take this loss on the chin and go back to the drawing board and correct what we need to correct,” he added. “But that’s the game within the game. Push-off, not push-off. Call, no call, you’ve got to play.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Devin McCourty has put together impressive flag-free season||11.28.14 at 1:53 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Among the several notable things worth mentioning about the season safety Devin McCourty is enjoying is the fact that he’s the only Patriots player on either side of the ball who has played at least 700 snaps who has yet to be flagged for a penalty.
McCourty has played 711 snaps this season, according to Pro Football Focus, and has yet to be penalized. He’s only one of a handful of New England regulars who has yet to be penalized this season, a group that includes veteran defensive lineman Vince Wilfork (no flags in 584 snaps) and running back Shane Vereen (no penalties in 439 snaps).
“I don’t even know if it’s a good thing — I should probably have some,” he said with a sheepish smile this week. “But I don’t know. There are different things they ask me to do in this defense — sometimes, I’m in the middle of the field and I’m not in man-to-man coverage, and that probably takes away some of the chances. I think when you’re playing safety, and you’re just focused so much on the quarterback and playing the ball, that takes away some penalties.
“But I have no straight answer — I didn’t know that,” he added with a grin. “I didn’t come prepared to answer that question.”
Ina year where flags are up across the league, the idea that someone could play as much as McCourty and not have drawn a flag is impressive. However, to McCourty’s point, there are several safeties across the league who have played 700-plus snaps this season and have yet to be flagged — McCourty is part of a group that includes Seattle’s Earl Thomas, San Francisco’s Antoine Bethea, Cleveland’s Donte Whitner and Denver’s Rahim Moore.
In a year where the Patriots have occasionally struggled with penalties, McCourty acknowledged it’s a point of emphasis for the team as a while moving forward.
“I think that’s really the focus for us now as a unit — just making sure we have less penalties as a group,” he said. “That gives us a better chance to win football games.”