|First half thoughts: Aaron Dobson debuts with TD, Tom Brady plays (as holder), Tim Wright catches on||08.28.14 at 8:59 pm ET|
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Some quick takeaways from the first half between the Patriots and Giants, which ended in a 10-10 tie at MetLife Stadium.
Jimmy Garoppolo started as expected and stuttered a bit at first on the opening two drives. But then he found his rhythm in the second quarter, leading the Patriots on an impressive 82-yard drive, capped by a perfect 33-yard lob down the left sideline to Aaron Dobson, who went high in the air to haul it down. Dobson was making his preseason debut and looked comfortable in his first 30 minutes of play.
While Tom Brady was not expected to play a single down in the game, he did see action, as he was the holder after Dobson’s touchdown. He held without any incident.
Also making a debut Thursday night was tight end Tim Wright. He started the game for the Patriots and was targeted twice in the opening three series. He caught his first pass early in the second quarter, a short nine-yard screen.
Wright then caught a pass of 11 yards that set up Stephen Gostkowski‘s 37-yard field goal with 14 seconds left in the first half, tying the game, 10-10. The snap was high on the field goal but Brady was not the holder for the field goal but rather Ryan Allen, the normal player at the position.
Earlier in the drive, Garoppolo also connected for 29 yards to James White on a wheel play out of the backfield, very similar to the route that Tom Brady and Shane Vereen run so successfully. Then he took a sack on the next play, pushing the Patriots back to the Giants 30.
Garoppolo finished the first 30 minutes completing 11-of-19 for 163 yards and the one touchdown. Garoppolo did have a moment he wishes he could have back, throwing inside on a route that Josh Boyce broke out on. Garoppolo was picked on the play by Zack Bowman at the Patriots 39. It set up a field goal, with some help from a 38-yard run by former Boston College star Andre Williams. Dobson caught two passes on three targets for 51 yards while Tim Wright was also targeted three times, catching two for 20 yards.
As for the starting left guard spot, Josh Kline, as will likely be the case in the season opener, got the call in the first game since the trade of Logan Mankins to Tampa Bay. Kline was the only projected offensive line starter on the field to begin the game. Jordan Devey got the call at left tackle, Bryan Stork was the center while Chris Barker was the right guard and Cameron Fleming started at right tackle.
James Morris, the rookie undrafted linebacker out of Iowa, had to be helped off the field late in the second quarter with a right knee injury. His return is questionable. Morris has impressed the Patriots coaching staff in training camp and got the start at middle linebacker on Thursday night.
Brandon Browner was one of the projected starters to play a majority of snaps in the first half, in part because his four-game suspension begins at the start of the regular season. Receiver Brian Tyms is in the same position, as he will miss the first four games (if he makes the squad) due to a PED violation for testing positive for Adderall.
|Rob Gronkowski, Sebastian Vollmer, Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower among Patriots not dressing||at 7:22 pm ET|
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The Patriots are expected to give most of the playing time to second and third-team units Thursday night here at MetLife Stadium.
There were nine players not spotted in uniform for warmups.
Running back: Brandon Bolden
Linebackers: Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower
Tight ends: Rob Gronkowski and Michael Hoomanawanui
Offensive lineman: Sebastian Vollmer
Defensive linemen: Dominique Easley, Chris Jones, Sealver Siliga
New tight end Tim Wright did dress and is wearing No. 81. He could see playing time in the preseason finale.
|Mike Petraglia, Chris Price on Jimmy Garoppolo starting, Ryan Mallett trade bait||08.25.14 at 2:55 pm ET|
FOXBORO — WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Chris Price break down the decision to make Jimmy Garoppolo the starting quarterback this Thursday night against the New York Giants in the Patriots’ preseason finale, and what it means for the future of Ryan Mallett in New England.
|Patriots announce release of Tommy Kelly, Will Smith and James Anderson, cut TE Justin Jones||at 2:05 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The Patriots made four roster cuts on Monday, in advance of Tuesday’s deadline to get the roster down to 75 players.
Jones, 22, originally signed with the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of East Carolina on May 12, 2014. He was released on Aug. 10 and then re-signed on Aug. 18. Jones was a three-year starter and finished his career with 52 receptions for 598 yards and 12 touchdowns. The 6-foot-8, 277-pounder was not eligible to play last season. As a junior in 2012, he played in 13 games with five starts and caught 25 passes for 346 yards and three touchdowns.
Anderson, 30, is a veteran of eight NFL seasons with the Carolina Panthers (2006-12) and the Chicago Bears (2013) who signed with the Patriots as a free agent on June 4, 2014. The 6-foot-2, 235-pounder originally entered the NFL as a third-round draft pick of Carolina out of Virginia Tech in 2006.
He was released by Carolina on March 12, 2013, and was signed by Chicago as a free agent on March 24, 2013. Anderson has played in 110 NFL games with 69 starts and has registered 556 total tackles, 12 sacks, three interceptions, 23 passes defensed, five forced fumbles and eight fumble recoveries.
Kelly, 33, is a veteran of 10 NFL seasons with the Oakland Raiders (2004-12) and the Patriots (2013). He originally entered the NFL as a rookie free agent with the Raiders out of Mississippi State in 2004. Kelly was released by Oakland on March 27, 2013, and signed with the Patriots as a free agent on April 10, 2013.
|Bill Belichick goes deep on special teams and explains why he hates the extra point||01.04.14 at 12:53 pm ET|
Bill Belichick is fond of reminding everyone who watches football that the outcome of many games is often determined by much more than the offense and defense.
In 1976, just two seasons into his NFL career, Belichick got one of his first big NFL assignments, serving as an assistant special teams coach for the Detroit Lions. He would serve the same role two seasons later for the Denver Broncos, in addition to becoming a defensive coaching assistant.
In 1979, Belichick began his 12-year stint with the New York Giants alongside head coach Ray Perkins as a defensive assistant and special teams coach.
So, whether it’s Jacoby Jones in the Super Bowl last year or the Troy Brown punt return for a touchdown in the 2001 AFC championship game, Belichick knows full well many postseason games between evenly matched teams come down to the kicking game. Does he anticipate seeing more of the same things over the next few weeks?
“Who knows what the difference in a game in a close game is going to be. But certainly the kicking game is always an important part of every game and any close game, especially when you have points involved, which we have with the field goals but potentially in a return game or blocked kick or that type of thing,” Belichick began. “Those are kind of bonus points. I don’t think you ever go into the game thinking, ‘We’re going to get seven points from our punt return team or we’re going to get seven points from our kickoff coverage team to recover a fumble and run back for a touchdown.’
“Those are kind of bonus points you don’t really count on. You hope you get a couple of them over the course of the year but statistically that’s about what it’s going to be. So, a big play in that area is a huge play really because it’s like bonus points. I mean really I’ve always had a great appreciation for the kicking game. I think that I was fortunate when I grew up when Coach [Wayne] Hardin was the coach at Navy, he emphasized the kicking game a lot.
“Plays like the quick kick and some plays in the return game and so forth that kind of caught my eye as a kid and always sort of stayed interested in. I had an opportunity to coach it and I think it’s one of the great things about football is it brings that third element to the game besides offense and defense. It adds the kicking game, the specialists, all the different rules and strategical situations that can occur on kickoffs, punts and field goals and fakes and all those kind of things, field position plays. I think that’s an integral part of the game.
|Bill Belichick on fumbles: ‘We just can’t overcome those, not for very long’||11.26.13 at 11:37 am ET|
Are the Patriots reaching a breaking point with Stevan Ridley and his fumbles?
Bill Belichick wouldn’t mention him by name but the coach continues to send a message with benchings against Carolina (18 snaps) and Denver (final 82 snaps of the game) that he can’t have what Ridley even conceded after Sunday’s game is a “sickening” trend with losing the football.
“Ball security is the paramount issue for your football team every week, our football team every week,” Belichick said.
Another reason Belichick didn’t want to mention Ridley by name was the fact that Ridley wasn’t alone. Yes, his fumble led to the 60-yard TD return by Von Miller. But Tom Brady put the ball on the ground twice and so did Julian Edelman (on one play). In all, the Patriots fumbled six times and were rescued somewhat by the fact Denver fumbled five times.
The Patriots were able to overcome it on Sunday night against a future hall of fame quarterback. But that will surely be the recipe for disaster going forward in the cold weather.
“We fumbled the ball, whatever it was, six times,” Belichick said. “We can’t go on like that. We just can’t. There were multiple situations and multiple things involved and it hurt us the week before in Carolina. We’re just not going to be able to overcome turning the ball over, however you turn it over. Whether it’s fumbles or interceptions or muffed punts or tipped interceptions, whatever it is, fumbled snaps ‘ we just can’t overcome those, not for very long.
You might get it for awhile but in the end, it’s just too big an advantage go give to the other team. We have to take better care of the ball. Obviously they had a hard time taking care of it last night too. There were multiple turnovers throughout the game. Certainly the conditions were part of it but in general we have to do a better job of coaching and playing and securing the ball. That includes everybody, everybody who touches it. It’s not limited to one guy, it’s anybody who touches the ball. That’s the center, the quarterback, the running backs, the receivers, the returners, the holders, the kickers, the snappers ‘ everybody. Everybody that touches the ball, we have to take better care of it.”
|Bill Belichick recalls how Bill Parcells taught him how to manage the winds of change||10.28.13 at 12:11 pm ET|
FOXBORO — As the Patriots were facing a third-and-10 at Miami’s 30 yard line with 18 seconds left in the third quarter Sunday, Bill Belichick recalled the 1986 NFC championship game, and a valuable lesson he learned from Bill Parcells.
“I’d say one of the biggest decisions and most critical decisions that I’ve ever been a part of on that was in the 1986 NFC Championship Game against the Redskins,” Belichick recalled Monday in a conference call. “It was a windy day in Giants Stadium. We’ve had many of those and we won the toss and Coach [Bill] Parcells elected to take the wind which wasn’t very common. It wasn’t a very common decision because, let’s face it, you take it in the first quarter you’re not going to have it in the second quarter.
“That was what he decided to do and we were able to really take advantage of that situation against the Redskins. We got three stops and 17 points and we had a 17-0 lead at the end of the first quarter in part due to the wind, good defense and good offense helped of course. But the field position was huge and that ended up being the final score of the game. That decision, the initial points and the way that the game started really was a huge part of what was reflected in a huge degree to that decision that Bill made. That was a good lesson for me to learn in my career. It was a great decision by Coach Parcells.”
Sunday was another windy day for Belichick, this time with a 20 MPH breeze out of the north and behind the Patriots for 18 more seconds in a tie game. Belichick decided to call the first of his three second half timeouts after second down so he could be assured of holding the wind for the last two plays of the quarter and a potential go-ahead field goal.
Sure enough, third down was an incomplete pass and Stephen Gostkowski was brought on for the 48-yard field goal that would give the Patriots the lead for good. As it turned out, the incompletion probably saved Belichick another timeout. Gostkowski made it easily and Belichick talked about the decision to use the timeout in great detail Monday.
“We were at that point where we were in field goal range but it was a long field goal and it felt like if we changed ends of the field then that field goal range might not be there as evidenced by when we went for it on fourth down in the fourth quarter going into the wind in a similar field position situation,” Belichick said. “When the clock was running there, we wanted to try to give ourselves a chance. Of course in a close game like that, the game was tied at the time, you hate to waste timeouts because they can be valuable at the end, as we’ve seen many times this year, but I felt like it was worth it to be able to have a better opportunity on the kick. Not saying that Steve couldn’t have made it going the other way, I just think it would have been a harder kick based on the conditions that were out there yesterday. Then we threw the incomplete pass and that might have helped us there, because had we completed the pass and not gotten the first down, then that would have been another situation and decision whether to use another timeout to preserve that but fortunately we didn’t have to do that.
“If we had converted, then obviously we would have then gone into the fourth quarter but it would have been closer to the goal line, at least at the start, if we had picked up the first down and then been able to, even if we got stopped, it would have been a kick that I would have felt better about going that direction. It wasn’t just the direction of the wind, there was also significant crosswind that all the specialists had to deal with. Yeah, of course, back to the first days I remember watching football, playing, watching, being a part of it, the wind conditions are always a factor in the kicking game first and then in the passing game.”