|NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi on D&C: Seamless transition from Bill O’Brien to Josh McDaniels at offensive coordinator||08.02.12 at 10:14 am ET|
NFL Network’s Michael Lombardi joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to talk about the Patriots season, the transition at offensive coordinator from Bill O’Brien back to Josh McDaniels, and the outlook on Brandon Lloyd. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
McDaniels, who was the team’s offensive coordinator from 2006-08, returns to take over from O’Brien, who left for the Penn State head coaching job.
“The uniqueness of this team will be vastly different than last year,” Lombardi said. “They’ll be able to control the pace of the game much better. People talk about all the points they scored, which is wonderful and they were up and down the field, but they could never could get control of the game. … With Josh McDaniels I think they’re going to have an emphasis on running the football more in terms of later in the game and being a power football team, something I think they really needed.”
Added Lombardi: “Now that Josh is back, I think you’ll get to see a little bit more of the 2004-05 Patriots.”
When asked about the Patriots’ prospects of winning the AFC East, Lombardi started with the quarterback position but cited some question marks in Tom Brady‘s protection.
“They should [win the division],” he said. “They have the best quarterback, and typically the team that wins the division always has the best quarterback. I think that carries on. I think the Patriots have to get their offensive line fixed without Logan Mankins in there right now. Brian Waters, hopefully he will come back because he played at a high level last year. Then where is Sebastian Vollmer in terms of his health and durability? Can he play 16 games at right tackle?”
The Patriots signed Lloyd in the offseason to a reported three-year, $12 million contract with the hope of replacing Chad Johnson as the team’s deep threat. Johnson’s one-year tenure with the Patriots was a disaster, as he only caught 15 passes for 276 yards.
“[Lloyd] knows the playbook probably as well as anybody,” Lombardi said. “Not a chance [he's as bad as Johnson].”
|Five early thoughts on free agency and the Patriots||03.13.12 at 6:52 pm ET|
After the first few hours of NFL free agency, here are five incredibly early Patriots’-related thoughts:
1. Devin McCourty is a happy man. The deal that sent wide receiver Brandon Marshall from Miami to Chicago for draft picks gets one of the premiere receivers in the division out of the AFC East, which should make life considerably easier for the New England secondary, and McCourty in particular. Marshall absolutely hammered McCourty and the Patriots last season, going for seven catches and 139 yards in the season opener and adding six catches for 143 yards and a touchdown when the two teams met again in December.
2. Wes Welker is a happy man. Before the start of free agency, the Patriots hit Welker with the franchise tag, which will likely mean the veteran wide receiver will get a $9 million payday for the 2012 season. But the next time the two sides sit down at the negotiating table, the landscape will be far different, especially after the Redskins reportedly signed fellow receiver Pierre Garcon to a five-year, $42.5 million deal, including $21.5 in guaranteed money. While Welker is a full five years older than Garcon, his numbers over the last three years have been demonstrably better than the former Colts’ pass catcher. So that effectively changes the market for Welker, who will likely look for something north of that when the two sides do decide to revisit talks.
3. BenJarvus Green-Ellis could be a happy man soon. There’s apparently some movement with Green-Ellis. The veteran running back was one of New England’s 16 unrestricted free agents who hit the market on Tuesday afternoon, but according to Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports, there are two “unknown teams” involved in a possible pursuit of the free agent, while the Patriots “want him back.” (In the past, the Chiefs have been mentioned as a possible suitor for Green-Ellis.) Cole says to look for a deal in the $3 million to $4 million range, which is probably a little too much for New England. Not saying the Patriots would be completely against signing him at that price — only that it would make New England take a long look at their in-house options at running back going forward and what might be available in free agency.
4. No Red Bryant for the Patriots. The talk about the defensive tackle possibly heading to New England hit a fever pitch Tuesday afternoon, but it was quickly squelched when the Seahawks locked up Bryant with one of the first big deals in free agency. The 6-foot-4, 332-pounder started all 16 games for Seattle last season, the team that drafted him in the fourth round out of Texas A&M in 2008. (As for another big defensive body, Mario Williams is making a visit to the Bills on Tuesday night, who appear to be very aggressive in their pursuit of what is likely the premiere defensive player on the market.)
5. As for the Patriots, they were mostly quiet. The one bit of news that did pop up specifically relating to the franchise was the report that New England was expected to re-sign special teams ace Matthew Slater some time on Tuesday, per Michael Lombardi of the NFL Network. Slater, who made the Pro Bowl this past season, just finished up his fourth season with the Patriots, having worked as a wide receiver, defensive back and special teamer. The 6-foot, 200-pounder, an unrestricted free agent, caught one pass for 46 yards this season, and also saw extensive time at safety.
The Patriots are expected to re-sign special teams ace Matthew Slater some time on Tuesday, according to Michael Lombardi of the NFL Network. Slater, who made the Pro Bowl this past season, just finished up his fourth season in New England, having worked as a wide receiver, defensive back and special teamer. The 6-foot, 200-pounder, an unrestricted free agent, caught one pass for 46 yards this season, and also saw extensive time at safety.
|Super Summary: Saturday morning roundup of Super Bowl coverage on WEEI.com||01.28.12 at 7:04 am ET|
The grocery cart of WEEI.com coverage of Super Bowl XLVI overfloweth:
– “I laughed, I cried, it was better than Cats.” No superlative can exaggerate the impact of the first ever Traggies, recognizing the top contributors and moments of the 2011 Patriots season. Mike Petraglia models for and then hands out the hardware, while also taking a look at the ferocious Giants pass rush that he describes as the biggest threat facing the Patriots in ye olde SB two-score-and-six, in the latest Trags Bag.
– More on all things pass rush: Giants defensive end Justin Tuck called Tom Brady a snake, and said that it is the Giants’ top priority to kill the snake. Somehow, this was a compliment rather than a statement that could be interpreted as having criminal intent. Deion Branch denied that Brady is a snake.
– More Brady: NFL analyst Michael Lombardi, in his interview on the Dennis & Callahan show, wondered which Brady will be on display in the Super Bowl, noting that the quarterback’s wildly inconsistent performances in his two playoff games this year suggest that it is Giants counterpart Eli Manning who is currently playing at the higher level. To listen to the complete interview, click here.
– And then there is this fascinating tidbit about Brady: A former Montreal Expos scout who tried to convince Brady to sign with his team (after the Expos selected him out of high school in the 18th round of the 1997 draft) watched him in Super Bowl XXXVI and thought, “Man, I could’ve ruined this guy’s career.” For a remarkable tale of Brady’s baseball career, click here.
– More from Lombardi, who acknowledges that “Rob Lowe might be right” about the future of Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. For what it’s worth, Peyton Manning and Colts owner Jim Irsay issued a kiss-and-make-up statement on Friday.
– And more from the chatty Giants defensive line: Osi Umenyiora said that Patriots offensive lineman Matt Light “gets under [his] skin.” Patriots guard Brian Waters dropped an LOL on such a proclamation.
– Evidently, the Patriots also have defensive players. Indeed, Peter King of Sports Illustrated was effusive in his praise of New England’s front seven, while also taking stock of whether Giants coach Tom Coughlin and quarterback Eli Manning are Hall of Fame-bound, in his weekly segment on the Mut & Merloni show. Highlights of King’s interview are here; the whole thing can be heard here.
– The latest on things Gronkable: Rob Gronkowski was the only member of the Patriots who did not practice, and he is listed as “questionable” for the game. (It is an odd thing to be “listed officially as questionable,” if you think about it.) While the Patriots have offered few details on the tight end’s injury, his father was more forthcoming, telling a TV station that he’s very proud of his son and, by the way, he has a high-ankle sprain but expects to play through pain.
– The two best slot receivers in the NFL will face off in the Super Bowl, and Giants receiver Victor Cruz says that he’s dipped into the Wes Welker playbook in an effort to achieve that status.
– Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty, in his interview on the Dennis & Callahan show, said that Cruz, Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham give the Giants a triple-threat that presents significant matchup problems.
– Is the Lombardi Trophy edible? You’d think so, because Branch and Kevin Faulk are hungry for it.
– Wonder what David Tyree is up to, four years removed from … well, you know? Here’s your answer.
– A camel named Princess is picking the Giants to win the Super Bowl. Is there bias involved? The camel resides in New Jersey. Has anyone asked the bongos at the Franklin Park Zoo for their picks?
|Michael Lombardi on D&C: Patriots D-line ‘has to play a lot better’||12.09.11 at 9:31 am ET|
NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about the Patriots and league news.
The Patriots visit Washington Sunday. The Redskins are only 4-8, but Lombardi said there are some concerns.
“Defensively, they’re a really good team,” he said. “They’re two outside rushers, Ryan Kerrigan, the rookie, and Brian Orakpo, they can put pressure on the quarterback. They do a wonderful job of tipping passes. They’re inside, Barry Cofield, has tipped seven passes, which is a lot. Some defensive backs don’t tip seven passes all season. So, they’re great at being able to tip the ball, they can put a lot of pressure on you, and they’re scheme is a little bit more complex than some of the schemes the Patriots have seen the last two weeks. They strength of this team is defensively, and they’re really good in the red zone. Once the Patriots move the ball — which they will move the ball effectively — they’ve got to score touchdowns.
“Offensively, it’s a work in progress. Rex Grossman makes too many mistakes. If he gets pressure up the middle he throws off his back foot. Never going to be good. Santana Moss is their best skill player. Anthony Armstrong has great vertical speed but he’s not a consistent player. I think he’s got six catches, two of them for touchdowns. So, he can make some plays.
“I think for the Patriots, they’ve got to handle the beginning of the game, the Mike Shanahan script, get through that. And then they’ve got to be able to build a lead and make Rex Grossman become desperate. If they let this running game have some balance and become effective with Roy Helu then I think it’s going to be a little bit of a tougher game. This offensive line, especially losing Trent Williams, is the weakest part of the team.”
The Patriots have turned heads by inserting offensive players into key roles in the defensive backfield. But Lombardi said the key for the defense starts up front.
“I think their defensive line has to play a lot better,” he said. “I think if you look at what happened in the fourth quarter of the Colts game, 16 first downs, obviously giving up all those points is something that probably [Bill] Belichick has driven his message home to the players all week long. I think the defensive line was disappointing in not being able to rush and put more pressure on [Dan] Orlovsky and make him get rid of the ball quicker.
“I think obviously they need Patrick Chung back. I think they need to get healthy in their secondary. They need Dane Fletcher back. They need more speed on defense. And I think as they get through this patchwork area of their team, they’ve got to get these other players back. Those are the ones they’re counting on — [Brandon] Spikes, they need Fletcher back, they need Chung back, and they need to get healthier as a full football team.”
|Michael Lombardi on D&C: Tim Tebow ‘going to be a problem’ for Patriots in two weeks||12.02.11 at 10:03 am ET|
NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi spent some time with the Dennis & Callahan show Friday to talk about news from around the league.
The Patriots welcome the 0-11 Colts to Foxboro Sunday.
“What’s interesting about it is the Colts actually run the ball better than any time since 2001 with their football team without [Peyton] Manning this year, because they’ve been forced to have to do it,” Lombardi said. “When you watch them play, the quarterbacking has been so bad, it’s really hard to evaluate the other players. Reggie Wayne is still a good player. And I think Pierre Garcon could still run vertically. But nobody seems to be able to do anything because their offensive line has been poor and their quarterback’s been even worse.”
The Eagles continued their free fall Thursday night with a 31-14 loss to the Seahawks, only days after getting blown out by the Patriots. Philadelphia dropped to 4-8 after entering the season with high expectations.
“I think ultimately, the team concept has to work.” Lombardi said. “The team has to be coordinated from the personnel to the integration of everybody liking each other in the locker room. You get the sense from Philadelphia it was a collection of players; it was never a team. And I think that’s been a problem.”
Eagles fans have been calling for coach Andy Reid to be fired, but Lombardi said that isn’t necessarily the move the team needs to make.
Said Lombardi: “I think what Andy needs to do is take a step back. And I think fear does the work of reason here. You take a step back and you say look, we’ve got to get tougher, we’ve got to become more versatile on offense, and we’ve got to become a better defense. And I think if he’s willing to make those changes, then that’s the change that should be made, not with Reid.”
|Michael Lombardi on D&C: Patriots are ‘the kind of team that gives Pittsburgh the most trouble’||10.27.11 at 10:39 am ET|
NFL Network analyst Michael Lombardi made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to discuss Sunday’s Patriots game against the Steelers and the latest news around the NFL.
New England quarterback Tom Brady has always performed well against the Steelers, running a 6-1 record against Pittsburgh while throwing for 2,008 yards, 14 touchdowns and just three interceptions, earning a 104.8 quarterback rating. Lombardi said Brady’s success against Pittsburgh is no surprise given Brady’s understanding of the Pittsburgh defense.
“Tom has a really good understanding of what Pittsburgh’s trying to accomplish with their defense,” Lombardi said. “Tom and the New England Patriots always have a game plan that’s set up to attack the checks and the adjustments within the Steelers’ defense so therefore, they’re able to get the right play off that attacks the weakness within the scheme. I think that’s really been the success.
“They have the kind of team that gives Pittsburgh the most trouble. When you can spread Pittsburgh out and you can make them defend the width of the field as opposed to trying to go in there and run the football on them, that gives them the most trouble. It puts their skill players, their corners, their safeties in a very tenuous position.”
The Steelers lead the AFC North with a 5-2 record, but Lombardi said those numbers are misleading. Pittsburgh has played just one team (Baltimore) with a winning record, and the Steelers lost that game 35-7. Lombardi said one of his greatest doubts about the Steelers is their defense against a strong offense.
“The only team they’ve played offensively that has any semblance of a passing game is Houston,” Lombardi said. “So they haven’t really faced anyone who attacks. Jacksonville obviously can’t do those things. Tennessee’s passing game is really sporadic at times, especially without Kenny Britt. I think this is going to be a true test of Pittsburgh.”
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