|Julian Edelman creates inspired ‘Star Wars’-Patriots mashup||04.17.15 at 11:38 pm ET|
Let’s face it — Tom Brady could post a half-million videos of him jumping off cliffs or Photoshopping his body into a full cast as an April Fools prank, but he’d never be able to come up with something like this. Julian Edelman just changed the social media game in the Patriots locker room with this little number.
|Resetting Patriots depth chart: Wide receiver||04.11.15 at 9:10 am ET|
With the majority of free agency completed and the draft looming, we’re going to take a look at the Patriots depth chart by position, and try and assess the level of need going forward. We started with special teams and tight end. Now, it’s wide receiver:
Current depth chart: Julian Edelman (92 catches, 134 targets, 972 yards, 4 TDs), Brandon LaFell (74 catches, 119 targets, 953 yards, 7 TDs), Danny Amendola (27 catches, 42 targets, 200 yards, 1 TD), Brian Tyms (5 catches, 11 targets, 82 yards, 1 TD), Aaron Dobson (3 catches, 5 targets, 38 yards ‘ ended season on injured reserve), Brandon Gibson (29 catches, 51 targets, 295 yards, 1 TD for Miami last year), Josh Boyce, Jonathan Krause, Greg Orton and Kevin Dorsey.
Lost in free agency: None.
Gained in free agency: Gibson and Dorsey, both of whom were officially added on March 11. While Dorsey figures to be a special teamer/depth signing, the addition of Gibson could add some competition to the mix. The 27-year-old is a 6-foot, 210-pounder who entered the NFL as a sixth-round draft pick by Philadelphia in 2009 out of Washington State. He’s played in 76 games with 46 starts and has 233 receptions for 2,711 yards and 13 touchdowns. Gibson does have some positional versatility, but did spend an awful lot of time in the slot the last two seasons with the Dolphins, but it will be interesting to see where he lines up with the Patriots.
Other changes: None. Edelman figures to remain the No. 1 option at wide receiver, while LaFell had a very strong first year in New England, and Amendola came on strong down the stretch. (Prior to Week 16 against the Jets, Amendola had 15 catches for 113 yards and one touchdown on the season. In the five remaining games ‘ including the playoffs ‘ he had 23 catches for 224 yards and three touchdowns.) This remains a big offseason for Dobson, who suffered a lost season in 2014 ‘ offseason foot surgery meant he got off to a slow start, and he was eventually shut down in November after a hamstring injury. He’s only 23, but from this viewpoint, the franchise would love to see more urgency and consistency from him in 2015 as he tries to take his game to the next level.
Is this an area of need going into the draft? Not on the surface, but there are some rumblings that the Patriots might surprise people by going after a wide receiver with one of their high value picks, either on the first or second day. This report from Jason LaCanfora seems to suggest New England is at least considering a handful of names in the first round, including Louisville‘s DaVante Parker, Central Florida’s Breshad Perriman or Mizzou’s Dorial Green-Beckham as possibilities. For a team that would appear to have serious needs at other spots ‘ cornerback, offensive line ‘ a wide receiver in the first round would represent one of the bigger draft curveballs in recent Patriots’ draft history. (For the record, Bill Belichick has never taken a wide receiver in the first round since he took over in New England in 2000.)
|NFL passes 5 new rules, including ‘Julian Edelman rule’||03.24.15 at 7:49 pm ET|
The NFL is continuing to take player safety seriously, and to further the trend the league passed five new rules directed to player safety on Tuesday at the league meetings in Arizona.
In the Super Bowl Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman took a huge shot over the middle of the field from Seahawks safety Kam Chancellor. Edelman appeared dazed, but stayed in the game, still appearing dazed a few plays after. With one of the rule changes, that may not have happened.
A rule passed Tuesday now says there will be an injury spotter, who can stop the game if he/she sees a player may have suffered a brain injury. The ATC spotter (athletic trainers) would be able to notify the side judge who can then call a medical timeout to remove the player from the game.
“You’d have to talk to the medical people about that. I was coaching the game,” Bill Belichick said of the play and if he thought Edelman should have came out of the game.
The other four changes are:
1. Defensive players can no longer push teammates at the line of scrimmage on punts.
2. Peel back blocks are banned.
3. Once a pass is intercepted, receivers now have defenseless receiver protection.
4. Running backs can no longer chop block a defensive player engaged by the waist outside the tackle box.
It’s worth noting Belichick’s proposal for fixed cameras on all boundary lines to aid in instant replay was tabled to allow for additional time for research and development.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
The Patriots have been at the center of many of the discussions regarding potential rules changes this offseason with several proposals, as well as some tweaks that may have been suggested by New England’s conference rivals following a bitter playoff defeat.
And now, in a roundabout way, there’s another rule change that may be put into place in 2015 because of the Patriots. In the second half of Super Bowl XLIX, wide receiver Julian Edelman helped move the chains with a big third-down reception, but after he withstood a bone-rattling hit, it appeared he was wobbly when he got to his feet. Edelman himself dismissed concussion talk after the game, but some people speculated if the receiver was indeed concussed as the result of the hit.
On Monday at the league meetings in Arizona, the competition committee discussed a new proposal where an independent official — what committee members referred to as an ATC spotter who viewed the game from a press box or similar vantage point — would have the power to radio to an official to stop the game if he notices a player who should go through the concussion protocol. The player would then be removed from the game and checked by trainers.
Falcons president Rich McKay, who serves on the competition committee, was asked if the Edelman play spurred the decision to be more proactive when it comes to concussion issues.
“The Edelman situation was a play we looked at, and it was part of the issue,” he said. “There were a couple of other plays that go back a couple of years that we looked at and really it came a little bit from the health and safety committee just saying, ‘We got the ATC spotters, they’ve got a really good vantage point, they’ve got technology in their booth, they’re communicating pretty well with our trainers and doctors and we’ve got a pretty good rhythm going there, why would we miss a player where a player shouldn’t come out?’ And maybe this becomes the fail-safe. So that was the genesis of it.
“We do not expect this to be a rule that gets used a lot. We expect it to be a fail-safe when people just don’t see this player and the distress the player may have had, the ATC spotter does and stops the game.”
McKay also expanded on some of the logistical aspects of what happens when the player is removed from the game.
“(The team) will be able to substitute. In the case of the offense, bring in the new player, the defense will have the chance to match up,” he added. “But we will start the play clock where it was, unless it was inside 10 seconds. Then we will reset back to 10. But the thinking is, we didn’t want to create a situation where a team could potentially gain a competitive advantage or disadvantage through this process.”
The proposal will be voted on this week.
|Julian Edelman on Patriots free agency: ‘[Bill Belichick] always has a plan; I trust what he’s doing’||03.14.15 at 2:53 pm ET|
The Patriots have been relatively quiet this week with the start of NFL free agency, losing notably Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, and possibly Vince Wilfork, while only adding tight end Scott Chander and defensive end/outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard as notable names.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman talked about how he trusts Bill Belichick during times like this, among many other things while appearing on “The Rich Eisen Show” Friday. (Video can be found at the bottom of the post)
“It’s a tough part of the year because it happens every year and you have friends that go to another place, or you have teammates that it doesn’t work out with,” Edelman said of free agency. “Everyone has to deal with it, so it’s kind of one of those things where you wish them luck, but coach always has a plan and he is always going to do what is best for the team. He reminds us he’s been doing it for 30, 40 years now. … Whatever coach does, you know he is always going to do what is best for the team. He always has a plan; I trust what he’s doing.”
Edelman looked back on what the day was like when he was drafted in the seventh round by the Patriots. Because it was the seventh round, Edelman said he was already thinking about teams he could potentially sign with as an undrafted free agent. He played quarterback at Kent State, but was a wide receiver going into the draft.
“When I got drafted Nick Caserio was on the phone, or it was Berj [Najarian], they go we just selected you,” Edelman recalled. “It was the seventh round so I was over here looking at teams I would going to potentially sign with as a priority as a free agent and so they call and they draft me and put Bill on the phone and Bill goes [impersonating Belichick], ‘We don’t really know what you’re going to play, you can play football. We’ll see you at camp.’ I was like alright, see you at camp. I got drafted there, so it was kind of we don’t know what you’re going to do, but you can play football kind of thing.”
Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
|Sunday NFL Notes: Nick Caserio looks ahead to offseason, proclaims ‘our team is going to be different’||02.22.15 at 7:00 am ET|
With Chris Price taking a well-deserved vacation this week, we’ll keep the Sunday NFL Notes going, hoping to live up to the high standard he sets every week.
1. At the NFL combine in Indianapolis this week, Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio gave a 1-on-1 interview with Jackie Brittain of Patriots.com, hitting on a number of subjects (the interview can be seen here). One of those subjects was free agency and how it relates to what happens with cornerback Darrelle Revis. “We’re going through an evaluation process,” said Caserio. “When we get back here from the combine, we’ll actually go through pretty comprehensive analysis of our roster, go through player by player, strengths, weaknesses, what we see their role as and what their future’s gonna be moving forward. Those are decisions that will be made at the appropriate time. The reality is our team is going to be different from what it was last year. That’s just a reality of the NFL and a reality that every team faces. We’ll go through, and in the end we’ll do what we feel is best for the organization moving forward.”
As it stands now, the Patriots’ top order of business is Revis and getting him signed long-term instead of paying him $20 million for 2015. Then, they have Devin McCourty and Stephen Gostkowski as free agents, with the possibility of placing the franchise tag on either of them. Also set to become free agents are running backs Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, so when Caserio says the team is going to be different next year, he isn’t lying.
2. In addition to Caserio at the combine, the Patriots have a number of coaches and executives present in Indianapolis this week. Coach Bill Belichick is there as always, and also accompanying him are recently retired assistant coaches in special teams coach Scott O’Brien and offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. O’Brien retired after this past season, but will stay in the organization, while Scarnecchia is assisting Belichick at the combine like he did last year. Also seen at the combine this week was former Rutgers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano, as he’s been seen helping out the Patriots and Belichick a number of times over the last year. Current Patriots offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo has also been seen helping run drills during the week.
3. There aren’t too many local players at the combine this week. Representing the New England schools are: running back Tyler Varga from Yale, wide receiver Geremy Davis from UConn, tight end Jean Stifrin from UMass, offensive lineman Andy Gallik from Boston College, defensive lineman Zach Hodges from Harvard and defensive back Bryon Jones from UConn. While none of these players are expected to go very high in the draft, getting invited to the combine is a big accomplishment in itself. Stifrin from UMass has a pretty interesting story, as he is 27 years old — much older than most of the other combine participants. MassLive.com’s Kevin Duffy did a good job going into Stifrin’s past and telling his story.
4. The Schiano-Belichick connection has led to a number of Rutgers players becoming Patriots over the past few years. That pipeline may have gotten even stronger lately, as Josh McDaniels‘ brother Ben has been named offensive coordinator at the school. So, who could be the next Rutgers player drafted by the Patriots? Tight end Tyler Kroft could be a possibility and join former Rutgers player Tim Wright as Rob Gronkowski‘s backup. Kroft is looked at as more of a receiving threat than an in-line blocking tight end, so he would be a great complement to Gronkowski, given Gronkowski’s size and Kroft’s lack there of. Kroft weighed in at 246 pounds at the combine, the 16th heaviest tight end out of the 19 attending the workouts.
5. Here are a few interesting stats we dug up following the season:
- The Patriots were 13-0 this season when scoring 23 or more points and are 160-12 under Belichick.
- The Patriots finished 11-0 this season when scoring first.
- Going into the Super Bowl the Seahawks allowed an average of 6.8 points per game in the second half of games this year — the Patriots scored 14 in Super Bowl XLIX.
- According to Elias, the Patriots were the first team to reach the Super Bowl without having a player with 100 rush attempts during the season.
|Sunday NFL Notes: Post-Super Bowl victory tour has put Julian Edelman in national spotlight||02.15.15 at 5:30 am ET|
1. If the first two weeks following the Super Bowl win over the Seahawks are any indication, the Patriot who stands to get the biggest uptick in recognition — and potential financial bounce as an endorser — is wide receiver Julian Edelman. Keeping in mind that guys like Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski were high-profile even before the 2014 season, Edelman has been America’s Guest since the end of the Super Bowl. Following a trip to Disneyland with cornerback Malcolm Butler, the former seventh-round pick has appeared on several network talk shows, including “Live with Kelly and Michael” and “Late Night with Seth Myers.” He also made a guest appearance as a presenter at the Grammys with Butler, and sat down for a quick Q and A with the New York Times (where he wouldn’t get into any talk about a Super Bowl concussion.) The charismatic and photogenic Edelman has always been keenly aware of his image and has done well when it comes to marketing himself — he has promoted his JE11 gear in the same fashion as the quarterback has marketed the TB12 brand. He’s also had a knack for starring in some offbeat videos, including a Google Glass promotion and the “Burger Tyme” and “Smoothie Tyme” videos, which vaguely recall a Zack Galifinakis style of humor. While the quarterback will always be the go-to guy on the roster as the No. 1 choice for endorsement possibilities, look for Edelman to raise his profile and cash in in his own right this offseason after a terrific playoff run.
2. While it’s always a little dicey to try and figure out scenarios for 2015 with the 2014 season just barely in the books, there are a few things we can point to when it comes to how next season is going to shape up. There’s a lot of time between now and the start of the season and the team-building process for 2015 is barely underway, but based on the 2014 win-loss records and list of opponents that’s already been named (the dates and times figure to be posted in April), we can tell you that the 2015 Patriots figure to have the 11th easiest schedule in the league in 2015. Their opponents posted a 122-134-1 record (.477) in 2014, but it is worth noting that there are few middle-of-the-road teams on the slate: New England will play 10 games against teams that finished .500 or better, including two contests against divisional foes Buffalo and Miami. At the same time, the Patriots will also face the Jets, Titans and Jags, all of whom failed to win more than five games in 2014. By way of comparison, the Falcons (whose 2015 opponents had a winning percent of .409 in 2014) have the easiest slate next year, while the Texans and Colts (.417) are tied for second and the Bucs are third (.425). On the other end of the spectrum, the Steelers (.579), Bengals (.563), Niners (.561) and Seahawks (.559) have the toughest schedules in 2015, at least at this point.
3. As the offseason really kicks into gear, there are various reports of Patriots players getting surgery and otherwise cleaning up medical issues that needed to be addressed since the end of the season. Earlier this month, the Boston Herald was the first to report the news that linebacker Dont’a Hightower played in the Super Bowl with a torn labrum — an injury he had since November — and is expected to undergo offseason surgery. And on Thursday, defensive lineman Sealver Siliga posted an Instagram picture of himself, apparently following surgery. Siliga didn’t specific what sort of injury he had worked on, but the defensive lineman was on injured reserve/designated for return for a sizable portion of the year because of a foot injury, returning in December and playing a key role up front for the New England defense. Expect more similar injury stories (and resulting surgeries) to leak out over the next few months.
4. A few stats on quarterbacks, age and their postseason chances: The last 12 years, only four over-30 quarterbacks won Super Bowls: 37-year-old Brady (Super Bowl XLIX), 31-year-old Eli Manning (Super Bowl XLVI), 31-year-old Drew Brees (Super Bowl XLIV) and 30-year-old Peyton Manning (Super Bowl XLI). In that same vein, because it’s never too early to start speculating about 2015, the 37-year-old Brady became the second-oldest quarterback to win a Super Bowl when he led the Patriots past the Seahawks. Brady became one of five quarterbacks age 35 or older to win a title, joining a group that includes John Elway, Roger Staubach, Jim Plunkett and Johnny Unitas. If Brady wins the Super Bowl again next season, he will be the second oldest quarterback to do it, 36 days younger than 38-year-old Elway when he won his second following the 1998 season. (Elway retired the following spring.)
5. Going back and revisiting our coverage from the week, and we were remiss that we didn’t pass along this note from a piece via MMQB.com on Joe Namath and his thoughts on Brady. In stark contrast to many former players who have taken their shots at the Patriots quarterback, Namath was effusive in the praise of the quarterback, saying that when it comes to quarterbacking, “one’s ever been better than Tom Brady…I go back to watching the guys earlier in some of the darker days, in the ’50s. One of my first heroes was Otto Graham. Come on, 10 straight title games in Cleveland. He was just spectacular. Bobby Layne was a unique quarterback, really terrific. Getting into the modern era, Peyton Manning has had his wonderful performances. Don’t tell me anybody is better than Aaron Rodgers, either. Better than, better than, better than. The best, the best, the best. To each his own. I have a hard time calling anybody in any sport ‘the best’ because of the changes in the game, certainly, and because of the greats that were ahead of them. But I will say, no one has ever played the game better than Tom Brady. You start looking at numbers, and sometimes statistics tell a story, and sometimes they don’t tell the whole story. It’s such a team game. But Tom has answered the bell. He has answered every challenge. He’s great. He’s great. No one has ever done it better.”
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