|Vince Wilfork ‘disappointed’ in Patriots run defense||10.17.14 at 2:05 am ET|
FOXBORO — Although the Patriots beat the Jets 27-25 on Thursday Night Football to move to 5-2 on the year and won their third straight game in the process — there are still plenty of improvements to be made — particularly when it comes to defending the run.
Not given any favors with the loss of Jerod Mayo to season-ending knee surgery this week, the Patriots allowed 218 yards on 43 carries to the Jets — including a 21-carry, 107-yard performance to running back Chris Ivory. The 218 yards were the most rushing yards the Jets have had in a game since Oct. 14, 2012 against the Colts.
This is something the defense is not taking lightly.
“I’m very stingy when it comes to the rush defense,” defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said. “That’s the one thing I’m disappointed in [the run defense]. We’ll fix it, we always do and hopefully we can get this thing rolling consistently.”
Thursday marked the third game this season where the Patriots have allowed 190 or more rushing yards — the Dolphins ran for 191 in Week 1 and Kansas City ran for 207 in Week 4. Also, Bill Belichick has allowed more than 200 yards rushing to an opponent 13 times during his tenure in New England and two of them have come this year.
“Luckily we played well in the red area, kept them out of the end zone and kept the points down, but didn’t do a good enough job in the running game — didn’t do a good enough job on run force, didn’t do a good enough job on third down obviously,” Belichick said. “We just weren’t consistent in any phase of the game.”
The Patriots entered Thursday with the fifth-best overall defense in the league, but the passing defense carrying the group as they are fourth in the NFL defending the pass, compared to 14th against the run. This is much improved as just two weeks ago they were 23rd.
|Setting the scene: Patriots take on Jets at rain-soaked Gillette||10.16.14 at 5:26 pm ET|
FOXBORO — For the second straight year, the Patriots will play the Jets at Gillette Stadium on a rainy Thursday night. Steady rain with a chance of thunderstorms is in the forecast for the entirety of the game. But temperatures will be very mild, with a kickoff temperature of 64 degrees expected for the 8:25 p.m. start. Temperatures are expected to remain above 60 throughout the night.
A 7 MPH breeze out of the southeast is also in the forecast throughout the game.
In 2013, the Patriots held their home opener against the Jets on Sept. 12 and squeezed out a 13-10 win as the driving rain pelted players, coaches and fans.
The Patriots have won their last five regular season games against the Jets at Gillette Stadium, not including the 28-21 loss to New York in the 2010 playoffs. Overall, the Patriots have won 20 of the last 27 meetings between the two AFC East arch-rivals.
The Patriots will be playing the first game since losing starting linebacker Jerod Mayo and starting tailback Stevan Ridley to season-ending knee injuries. Both were placed on injured reserve. Taking their place are running back Jonas Gray and offensive lineman Chris Barker, who have been activated off the practice squad and are eligible to dress for the game.
Tom Brady enters the game with a perfect 6-0 record in Thursday night games. Bill Belichick is 7-2, with his last loss coming with Matt Cassel at the helm of a 34-31 overtime loss to the Jets on Nov. 13, 2008. Belichick’s only other Thursday loss was the 34-9 Thanksgiving blowout at the hands of the Detroit Lions in his first season in New England in 2000.
The game will also feature the Patriots paying tribute to Ty Law, the cornerback who was inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame on Aug. 1. The halftime ceremony will be similar to the ones that former Patriots Tedy Bruschi and Troy Brown have enjoyed past primetime games.
The national anthem will be performed by Joey McIntyre of “New Kids on the Block” fame. The game is on the NFL Network as well as CBS nationally. McIntyre stars in the new CBS show, “The McCarthys.”
|Patriots promote RB Jonas Gray, OL Chris Barker, place Stevan Ridley, Jerod Mayo on IR||at 4:32 pm ET|
FOXBORO — In a move that was expected, practice squad running back Jonas Gray has been promoted to fill the spot on injured running back Stevan Ridley for tonight’s game against the Jets.
Gray impressed the Patriots in training camp and the preseason with his tough physical running style. The second-year back out of Notre Dame played in all four preseason games this year, totaling 37 carries for 142 yards and a 3.8 yard per carry average.
The other injured Patriot from Sunday who is lost for the season, Jerod Mayo, will be replaced by offensive lineman Chris Barker. This move was made with the uncertainty with regard to center Bryan Stork and left guard Dan Connolly. Stork missed the last game in Buffalo with a head injury after leaving in the first half against the Bengals on Oct. 5. Connolly left in the first half last Sunday against the Bills, also with a head injury.
Both Ridley and Mayo were placed on season-ending injured reserve before the 4 p.m. deadline to have Gray and Barker activated. The moves were first reported by ESPN’s Field Yates and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.
‘ Field Yates (@FieldYates) October 16, 2014
‘ Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 16, 2014
|Report: Jerod Mayo has surgery to repair patellar tendon||at 11:30 am ET|
According to Tom E. Curran, Mayo had surgery Thursday morning to repair his patellar tendon, which he injured in Sunday’s win over the Bills. Mayo is hoping for a six-month recovery time.
It is the second season in a row Mayo has suffered a season-ending injury in Week 6, as last year he tore his pectoral muscle against the Saints. In his five-plus games played this season, he leads the team in tackles with 37.
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
‘ Tom E. Curran (@tomecurran) October 16, 2014
|Dont’a Hightower ‘hopeful’ he will be able to play Thursday vs. Jets||10.14.14 at 6:31 pm ET|
FOXBORO — After missing the last two games because of a knee injury, Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower stood at his locker already knowing the question would be coming.
Will he be ready to play Thursday night against the Jets?
“The next question is do I think am I going play Thursday? That is day-to-day,” Hightower said. “I am holding up, doing everything they’ve asked me to do, so hopefully I will be out there.”
Hightower has missed the last two games after having a strong start to the season — recording 20 tackles in the four games he’s played — as well as coming along in terms of pass coverage, something that was a bit suspect in past years.
In his third season, Hightower only missed two games in his career prior to this year, so standing on the sidelines has been tough — but he’s done what he can to help the defense.
“It definitely sucks,” he said “Definitely these last couple games coming up are definitely games we want to have and seeing those guys out there having fun and playing the way we have been playing and not being able to have a part of — the most I can do is help give those guys checks and alerts from the sideline and doing my part. Hopefully that was the last game of the season I’ll have to do that.’
With fellow inside linebacker Jerod Mayo going down with a season-ending leg injury, the Patriots need Hightower back even more now. While no one person can replace Mayo — a captain — it will take a number players on the defensive side of the ball, including Hightower, who should become more of a leader for the group.
The unit went through the same thing last year when Mayo also went down for the season in Week 6 with a torn pectoral muscle. Going through the same thing last year should help them moving forward this season.
|Bill Belichick and Patriots ‘haven’t decided yet’ how to replace Jerod Mayo, Stevan Ridley||at 3:57 pm ET|
FOXBORO — In a compressed week, Wednesday becomes Saturday. And with a game Thursday night against their AFC East rivals from New York, the Patriots could announce roster moves to fill the void created by injuries to Jerod Mayo and Stevan Ridley, both of whom are expected to miss the rest of the season with lower leg injuries.
That is, of course, if the Patriots decide they need to put both on season-ending injured reserve to create roster space for a move like running back Jonas Gray from the practice squad. Belichick acknowledged he’s spoken with player personnel director Nick Caserio about their roster options.
“I think that’s something that we’re just going to have to evaluate here in the next day or two,” Belichick said Tuesday. “I’ve talked with Nick Caserio and our coaching staff and Nick’s staff and we’ll just have to try to figure it all out here. It’s a real short week. So, we’ll just have to take all those things into consideration and try to figure out what we’re going to do ‘ if we would make one and who it would be and so forth. We haven’t decided that yet. We’ll see how it goes here.”
While Deontae Skinner figures to move up on depth chart and get more playing time to help with the loss of Mayo, the running back situation could be different. Brandon Bolden figures to get more carries but there is the chance for someone like Jonas Gray to be promoted from the practice squad. If that’s the case, then the Patriots need to make the move by Wednesday.
“We tell the practice squad, all those players every week, that they’re one sprained ankle or one day away from being active,” Belichick said. “We’ve made those moves as late as the day before the game ‘ Saturdays on a Sunday game and things like that. Those players prepare every week to be ready to play both on offense or defense and in the kicking game. As you know, we’ve done that before. That’s the same for them every week.
“There’s no difference for them this week or from any other week. They’re on the roster, on the practice squad, they’re potentially on the roster for the game. So, they prepare for the game as if they are on the roster. If that happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, then we go to next week.”
NBC Sports NFL analyst Rodney Harrison made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Tuesday to discuss the Patriots’ injury issues and the upcoming game against the Jets. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Harrison said he expects Thursday’s game will be a tough one despite the Jets coming in with a 1-5 record and struggling badly on offense.
“I think it will be competitive,” Harrison said. “The Jets, they have such a hatred for the Patriots. Rex Ryan, he’s had success against Tom Brady, he knows what to expect. And I think he will have this team ready. And this team, they’re 1-5, they’re not very good. Geno Smith, he stinks, Michael Vick doesn’t want to play, they haven’t practiced well. This team has lost a lot of players, young guys in the secondary. Tom can really eat up this defense.
“But just knowing Rex, and just knowing how much he dislikes the Patriots, I think this game will be a lot more competitive than what people think.”
Added Harrison of the Jets: “They’re going to have to win on defense, because they’re offense is nothing.”
Smith, the second-year quarterback, has struggled on the field and made some questionable comments off it, which leads Harrison to question his approach.
“When they talked about drafting him, I never viewed him as a top first- or second-round pick. I thought maybe he was a guy that could probably go between Rounds 3 and 5. I just wasn’t really impressed with him,” Harrison said.
“Sometimes when you’re a young quarterback and you’re struggling, sometimes it’s best just to be quiet and not say too much in the media, just come off as a very humble guy, just trying to learn the system. But he continues to talk, he continues to put his foot in his mouth.
“What he needs to do is stop turning the ball over, bottom line. Every game this year he’s turned the ball over, and they just don’t have a chance if he continues to turn the ball over.”