|Pro Football Focus shows love for Patriots with All-Pro team||01.04.17 at 11:21 am ET|
FOXBORO — Pro Football Focus released its All-Pro team on Wednesday and the Patriots were well-represented.
The Patriots had two players named to the first-team in Tom Brady and Malcolm Butler. They also had three players get named to the second-team in Dont’a Hightower, Devin McCourty and Marcus Cannon. Of those players, Cannon and Butler were not named to the Pro Bowl.
[UPDATE: James Develin was named to the second-team, as well.]
Pro Football Focus noted Brady had the highest-graded season of the past decade at PFF. It also noted Cannon made the second-team because of his run blocking, which distinguishes him from the rest of the solid group of tackles in the league.
It’s nice to see Cannon get recognized on a national level for his play this season, as he’s arguably been the Patriots’ best offensive linemen this season.
Although making the Pro Bowl, LeGarrette Blount and Matthew Slater did not make Pro Football Focus’ list.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|Success of Patriots offensive line in 2016 is rooted in consistency and continuity||01.03.17 at 11:50 am ET|
Who gets the award as the Patriots’ ironman for the 2016 regular season? Rookie guard Joe Thuney came awfully close, keeping his consecutive snap streak alive deep into the year. While no one went wire-to-wire, the durability of New England’s offensive line was very impressive; the Patriots were fundamentally able to roll out the same five guys over the course of the season. That level of continuity and consistency played a sizable role in the fact that quarterback Tom Brady had excellent protection all year long, as well as the fact that running back LeGarrette Blount was just the fifth 1,000-yard back of the Bill Belichick Era.
Here’s a look at the top 10 snap counts for both sides of the ball for this past regular season. (Note: The data here is from a combination of sources, including personal press box tallies, as well as cross-checks with official NFL boxscores and Pro Football Reference.)
1. LG Joe Thuney: 1,114 snaps
2. C David Andrews: 1,114 snaps
3. RT Marcus Cannon: 1,031 snaps
4. LT Nate Solder: 1,029 snaps
5. RG Shaq Mason: 1,017 snaps
6. WR Julian Edelman: 874 snaps
7. TE Martellus Bennett: 867 snaps
8. WR Chris Hogan: 829 snaps
9. QB Tom Brady: 817 snaps
10. WR Malcolm Mitchell: 538 snaps
1. S Devin McCourty: 1,022 snaps
2. CB Malcolm Butler: 1,008 snaps
3. S Patrick Chung: 1,006 snaps
4. CB Logan Ryan: 897 snaps
5. LB Dont’a Hightower: 708 snaps
6. DE Chris Long: 677 snaps
7. DL Alan Branch: 626 snaps
8. DL Malcom Brown: 596 snaps
9. DL Jabaal Sheard: 579 snaps
10. DL Trey Flowers: 563 snaps
|What was the biggest key to Patriots’ win over Broncos? Marcus Cannon shutting down Von Miller||12.19.16 at 6:08 pm ET|
Going into Sunday’s game against the Broncos, there was great concern when it came to protecting Tom Brady, as the last time the Patriots faced the Broncos Brady was hit 20 times in the AFC title game, a 20-18 loss for the Patriots.
Sunday was a much different story partly because of the game plan, but also because of the strong play of the offensive line.
Brady was sacked just twice and hit only five times in the Patriots’ 16-3 win.
A major part in that was right tackle Marcus Cannon keeping Von Miller in check, as he finished the game with five tackles and no sacks or quarterback hits.
“He’s one of the best players in the league at any position, I’m talking about [Von] Miller, and their entire defense is tremendous. They’re really well-coached,” offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said on Monday’s conference call. “Coach [Wade] Phillips does a great job. Their entire staff does a great job. They always have a great game plan, and they make every yard hard. We tried to have some presence on him, but I thought Marcus [Cannon] did a really consistent job of just trying to make it hard on him and keep him from having an easy path inside to the quarterback; tried to be physical when we had our opportunities. We ran the ball a lot, so that was a change for us in the last few games we’ve played against them.
“Marcus is continuing to improve and get better and better each week. He’s answered every challenge that’s been put in front of him and this was certainly one of if not the top players in the league, so Marcus did a nice job of doing his assignment, playing within the scheme, and trying to just make it tough for him to make big plays and impact the game in a negative fashion.”
Cannon also helped in the run game, as the Patriots rushed for 136 yards, including a season-high 95 for Dion Lewis.
Bill Belichick was impressed too, and noted how because of the way Denver played defense it was Miller consistently lining up opposite Cannon, instead of moving him around like they’ve done in the past.
“Denver put [Von] Miller on our right side most all the entire game,” Belichick said on Monday’s conference call. “Previously he had been mainly playing the ‘Sam’ in their base defense and going to the tight end. Yesterday he was almost always on our right, so those two really were matched up a lot. But I think Marcus [Cannon] did a real solid job for us, as he always does. Sometimes he was on Miller, sometimes he wasn’t. He was on defensive ends or combination blocking the linebackers and so forth. They certainly saw plenty of each other. I thought Marcus competed well.
“Our offensive line competed well against that front seven which is a very good group. But Marcus, he did a good job for us in the running game and the passing game. He’s done that for us all year.”
It was games like Sunday that prove Cannon is in fact worth his new five-year, $32 million contract.
|Scouting Report: What you have to know about Patriots-Broncos||12.17.16 at 12:24 pm ET|
Everything you need to know for Sunday’s game between the Patriots (11-2) and Broncos (8-5) in Denver.
WHEN THE PATRIOTS RUN THE BALL
First, a mea culpa: I was completely wrong last week when it came to New England’s run game. I didn’t think the Patriots would have the stones to run it as much as they did against the Ravens, and I was stone cold wrong. LeGarrette Blount was immense in the win over Baltimore, leading the way against the toughest run defense in the league. With that out of the way, let me tell you that unless Blount (248 carries, 1,028 yards, 14 TDs) gets the ball 20-plus times against the Broncos, something is amiss. At 29th overall, Denver is one of the worst run defenses in the league, as the Broncos allow 127.2 rushing yards per game. Meanwhile, Blount and the New England run game is on a roll, with at least 80 yards per game in the last five contests. (That includes 171 rushing yards as a team against the Niners last month.) Expect the Patriots to go all-in on the likes of Blount, as well as James White (33 carries, 132 yards) and Dion Lewis (19 carries, 88 yards) in an attempt to overmatch the Broncos. The real impact should be felt in the second half; if New England is up double-digits in the third and fourth quarter, the Patriots will lean heavily on their big back down the stretch in hopes of getting them to the finish line. A winnable matchup for New England.
WHEN THE PATRIOTS PASS THE BALL
Strength against strength. The Patriots are one of the best passing teams in the league (fourth at 280 yards per game, even without Tom Brady for the first month of the season), while the Broncos boast the best pass defense in the game (183 yards allowed per contest). When you throw in the fact that Brady has traditionally struggled in Denver (he’s pretty much a .500 proposition when facing Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips), it shouldn’t give you the same level of confidence if he was going up against, say, a Jack Del Rio defense. Denver has more interceptions (12) than touchdowns allowed (10). Aqib Talib and Darian Stewart have three interceptions each, while Von Miller (13.5 sacks) and Shane Ray (6 sacks) lead the pass rush. Additionally, the Broncos’ 38 sacks are second in the league to Carolina (39).
On Sunday, Brady (69 percent completion rate, 2,876 yards, 22 TDs, 2 INTs, 113.6 passer rating) will look for a variety of targets, including Julian Edelman (79 catches, 126 targets, 791 yards, 2 TDs), Martellus Bennett (48 catches, 62 targets, 614 yards, 5 TDs) and Malcolm Mitchell (28 catches, 42 targets, 358 yards, 4 TDs). Our guess is that Aqib Talib gets Edelman, at least for a sizable portion of the day. And while those guys can’t be discounted, it’s the running backs out of the backfield who could be the difference-makers on Sunday: the Broncos have occasionally struggled to defend backs in the passing game, and if that remains the case, the James White/Dion Lewis combo (50 catches, 474 yards, 4 TDs for White; 12 catches, 76 yards for Lewis) could be a big focus for Brady and the Patriots’ passing game on Sunday.
One other potential area of focus for the Patriots: Denver has a fluid situation at inside linebacker, as inside linebacker Todd Davis is returning from a strained oblique that knocked him out of last week’s game, while fellow inside linebacker Brandon Marshall has already been ruled out because of a hamstring. With Denver’s defensive line and secondary so strong, there could be some vulnerabilities when it comes to short crossing patterns over the middle.
|Marcus Cannon: ‘Blessed’ to get new deal from Patriots||11.30.16 at 12:46 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Marcus Cannon said Wednesday he feels “blessed” to have received a contract extension from the Patriots.
“It doesn’t validate anything,” the right tackle said of the new five-year deal he agreed to earlier in the week, a contract that could keep him in New England for the rest of his career. “I still have to come out here and do things better. There are still things I need to work on.
“But like I was saying, I’m very thankful of the opportunity they’ve given me. I’m very blessed.”
The 6-foot-5, 363-pound Cannon is in his sixth season with the Patriots, and while he struggled at times over the course of his career in New England, it appears that the stability that comes with only playing right tackle has agreed with him. The 28-year-old, who has bounced up and down the offensive line over the course of his career, has been the right tackle since the start of the season, and has done well.
“Marcus is having a good season. He’s been a good player for us,” said Bill Belichick. “Marcus has always done a solid job for us whenever he’s played. I’m glad we have him going forward. He works hard. A quiet kid but he’s very dependable, team oriented. He’s done a good job for us in the running game and the passing game. He’s been a good player.”
There are two other possible reasons behind his improvement: one, he was reunited with Dante Scarnecchia, who returned to work as the offensive line coach this past season. And two, it looks like he dropped some weight, and is lighter on his feet. That helps out when it comes to footwork and technique, especially when it comes to defeating pass rushers off the edge.
“Just changed some stuff here and there,” Cannon said when asked about his weight loss. “We have a great strength and conditioning coach; he helped a lot. Just put some good people in my corner. He helped me be the best I can be.”
When it comes to Scarnecchia, he said the return of the veteran coach has been “great” when it comes to his professional development.
“Just doing everything that he tells us to do as an offensive line and trying to get better every day,” he said. “I just love playing with the guys in this unit. Come in every day, work together. We leave together. We’re a tight-knit group.”
In the end, Cannon said the contract doesn’t necessarily provide validation for he level of work he’s put in over the last few years. But he won’t deny that there’s a sense of comfort that comes with the possibility of him being able to finish his career in New England.
“I’m always trying to get better. There are things I have to work on still. Small things, big things. I’m never just happy with where I’m at,” he said. “[But] I’m thankful they’ve given me this opportunity, and they trust me enough to re-sign me.”
For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.
FOXBORO — On Tuesday, there was a report of the Patriots extending right tackle Marcus Cannon for five years and although Bill Belichick wouldn’t directly confirm the deal, he all but said it was true while praising the TCU product.
“Marcus is having a good season,” Belichick said on Wednesday. “He’s been a good player for us. He’s had to fill in when Sebastian [Vollmer] and Nate [Solder] in previous years. We felt like we’ve had three good tackles and usually two of the three have ended up playing, how ever it went. It’s varied from year-to-year over the last few years, but Marcus has always done a solid job for us whenever he’s played. I’m glad we have him going forward.
“He works hard. Quiet kid, but he’s very dependable. Team-oriented. He’s done a good job for us in the running game, in the passing game. Good player.”
Cannon has started 10 of the 11 games this year, as he missed Week 5 with a calf injury. He’s having his best season as a professional, which is likely due to having offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia back on the staff, but also losing weight in the offseason.
The extension is reportedly worth $32.5 million with $14.5 million guaranteed. This likely means Vollmer is done in New England as the 32-year-old will be a free agent after the season.
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
|Patriots reportedly sign OL Marcus Cannon to 5-year contract extension||11.29.16 at 2:49 pm ET|
The Patriots have signed one of their upcoming unrestricted free agents.
No it’s not Dont’a Hightower or Martellus Bennett — it’s right tackle Marcus Cannon.
According to ESPN’s Field Yates and Mike Reiss, the Patriots and Cannon have agreed on a five-year contract extension.
[UPDATE 3:45 p.m.: NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport reports the deal is worth $32.5 million with $14.5 million guaranteed.]
Cannon has played very well this season, which likely has had a lot to do with the return of offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. The right tackle likely would have been one of the biggest names in terms of offensive linemen on the market, so the Patriots did a good job signing him early.
It also likely means Sebastian Vollmer has played his last game as a Patriot. He is on injured reserve and will be a free agent.
“The improvement we’ve noticed has really been this year,” Scarnecchia said during the bye week about Cannon. “We asked him to play a different way and do things differently. He’s such a good guy, he really tries to do them that way, and I think he’s made great strides. He’s improved over the course of this season, and that is all you can ask of any player. He’s a big man that moves very well and uses his hands much better in pass protection. He can be a real force in the run game, so I’m pleased with where he is. But neither one of us is satisfied, so we just keep moving forward.”
For more Patriots news, visit weei.com/patriots.
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