|Texans CB Johnathan Joseph: ‘We were a better team’ than Patriots||01.16.13 at 8:51 am ET|
The Texans were sent home by the Patriots on Sunday, a month after being routed by New England in the regular season, but Houston cornerback Johnathan Joseph isn’t convinced the results tell the true story.
“For whatever reason, we didn’t advance,” Joseph said Monday, as quoted by CSNHouston. “I still can’t put that over because I think we were a better team. I think we just didn’t make the plays at the right time.”
Joseph, headed to his second consecutive Pro Bowl, was part of a secondary that allowed 640 yards and seven touchdowns in the two games at Foxboro in which Houston was outscored 83-42. But stats aside, Joseph insists the Texans were right there with the Pats.
“Just four or five plays,” he said. “You take a few of those plays that they made and go the other way, it’s a different ballgame.”
|Stevan Ridley knows full well Pats ‘can’t have’ his turnovers||01.11.13 at 6:13 pm ET|
FOXBORO — One of the highlights of media availability in the last week has been the Patriots working on ball security, especially Stevan Ridley. Bill Belichick has had Ridley carry a ball in each hand with a defender on each side trying to pry the ball loose. He has been the only Patriot spotted with such focus on taking care of the ball.
Of course, there’s good reason for that. There were the two fumbles at the end of the 2011 season, including in the divisional rout over the Broncos. Then there were the two fumbles in back-to-back games this season against the Texans and the 49ers. His fumble on the first drive of the game against Houston could’ve been costly but Aaron Hernandez raced over and recovered it before the Texans could pounce. He wasn’t as lucky the next week against the 49ers. He hasn’t fumbled since in 38 carries.
“Can’t have it, can’t have it,” Ridley said Friday. “It’s crunch time, man. And turnovers, however they come — fumbles, interceptions, drops, whatever — we can’t have that.”
Then, he turned the focus on himself.
“I don’t want to be that guy that they’re pointing the finger at, and saying, ‘My bad.’ I’m trying to play solid football and play perfect football,” he said.
Of course, if Ridley and the Patriots are going to have offensive success against the Texans Sunday, they need to replicate what they did to J.J. Watt the last time, when they held the All-Pro without a sack or a tackle for a loss.
“He’s a playmaker,” Ridley said. “For us, whether it’s in the backfield, catching him on the way out, running routes, whatever we have to do, we have to get away from him, put two hats on him, make sure he’s blocked, make sure he’s covered up because he’s the leader of their defense. If he get momentum, we’re going to have trouble all night.”
Ridley was then asked about Texans defensive coordinator Wade Phillips and the suggestion that Wes Welker is not the “physical” receiver that A.J. Green is and may not require Johnathan Joseph to cover him.
“I have no idea that he said anything about that but Wes Welker is a very important part of our offense,” Ridley said laughing. “We need everybody we can get, and that’s somebody who’s been on the field for the Patriots for a long time, somebody we depend on in crunch situations so I don’t know about his size or whatever that is but Wes gets the job done and I’ll be looking be looking for ’83′ on Sunday.”
|Free Agent Snapshot: Cortland Finnegan||02.19.12 at 1:55 pm ET|
We continue our look at 15 possible fits for the Patriots in free agency this offseason with a breakdown of cornerback Cortland Finnegan. With the understanding that the NFL’s franchise tag window is from February 20 to March 5 (which means some of these players we list could ultimately be retained by their team) here are some players worth keeping an eye on that might be a fit in New England when free agency begins March 13:
Weight: 188 pounds
Now this would be an interesting pickup. Finnegan is a feisty sort who is never been one to back down from a physical confrontation (just ask Andre Johnson), a strong, man-to-man corner who could bring a jolt to the New England secondary. Finnegan has played in the slot and on the outside, and brings the sort of physical, versatile presence the Patriots need at defensive back.
Pro Football Focus had Finnegan as Tennessee’s most complete defender, with an overall grade of +15.8 (third among all cornerbacks), with a +9.6 grade in overall pass coverage. (By way of comparison, PFF had Sterling Moore rated as New England’s best defensive back, with an overall grade of +5.5, and +4.4 in pass coverage.) PFF also says that when quarterbacks threw at Finnegan, they were 52-for-82 for 456 yards and two touchdowns — not Revisesque numbers, but certainly better than any New England defensive back over the lat season.
It appears unlikely that the Titans will not try and make a move to retain Finnegan — as of last week, Tennessee hasn’t made any movement in talks with the defensive back, and would not franchise him. When it comes to him landing in New England, he would come with some baggage — he was named one of the dirtiest players in the league in 2010 — but it wouldn’t be the first time the Patriots took a chance on someone with a past.
Why it might not work: As was the case with Brent Grimes, the biggest roadblock might be money. Finnegan and Grimes are two of the best unrestricted free agent corners on the market, and will likely be compensated justly. In addition, this story figures Finnegan might be a good fit in Detroit with former Tennessee defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, and also lists St. Louis, Dallas, Oakland, San Francisco, Atlanta, Tampa Bay and Jacksonville as possible landing spots for the cornerback, while saying that Finnegan would command a contract similar to the five-year, $48.75-million deal Johnathan Joseph signed last offseason with Houston.
|Analysis: Some thoughts on the Patriots and the Pro Bowl||12.28.11 at 12:54 am ET|
Five thoughts on the news that the Patriots had eight players named to the AFC Pro Bowl roster on Tuesday:
•The Patriots led the AFC with eight players on the roster, a number that feels about right. However, in my mind, there were four guys who might feel like they’ve gotten hosed: left tackle Matt Light, punter Zoltan Mesko, cornerback Kyle Arrington and tight end Aaron Hernandez. Light is having one of the finest seasons of his lengthy career, while Miami’s Jake Long and New York’s D’Brickashaw Ferguson made it on rep. (We’ll concede the other spot to Cleveland’s Joe Thomas.) Ferguson in particular was a curious choice. As for Mesko, he probably doesn’t have the same case as Light, but if Oakland’s Shane Lechler (who is having a very good year) comes down with an “injury,” expect Mesko to get a call. While Arrington leads the conference in interceptions, it’s hard to argue with the trio of New York’s Darrelle Revis, Denver’s Champ Bailey and Houston’s Johnathan Joseph. Hernandez has a beef as well, as he lost out to San Diego’s Antonio Gates, who is having a subpar season with the Chargers.
•Three no-brainers for New England? Tom Brady, Wes Welker and Rob Gronkowski. Brady was named to the Pro Bowl for the seventh time in his career, and has 4,897 passing yards and 36 touchdowns in one of the best seasons of his career. Welker, the NFL’s leading receiver with 116 catches 1,518 yards and nine touchdowns, makes it for the fourth time. Meanwhile, Gronkowski, who has 82 catches for 1,219 yards and 15 receiving touchdowns, will be making his first appearance on the AFC roster. “It was a great surprise, an honor,” Gronkowski said on the NFL Network. “The teammates around me have helped me get to this level. With the veteran receivers, Aaron [Hernandez] at the other tight end, we have so many weapons, I’m just the one who happens to get (the ball).”
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