|Niners GM Trent Baalke heralds contributions of ex-Patriots receiver Randy Moss||02.21.13 at 10:46 am ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Niners GM Trent Baalke had nothing but good things to say about former Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss, who just wrapped up his first season with San Francisco.
According to Baalke, Moss, who had 28 catches for 434 yards and three touchdowns this past season for the Niners, is “one of the smartest football players” he’s ever been around. However, he wouldn’t guarantee a return to the Bay Area for the 37-year-old Moss, who is an unrestricted free agent.
“Randy is a pro. I can’t say enough good things about Randy, and I think if you ask anyone within our organization, they would say the same thing,” Baalke said Thursday morning at the scouting combine. “One of the first guys to work every day. One of the last guys to leave. A guy who takes great care of his body. Is probably on of the smartest football players — if not the smartest football player I’ve been around. He grasped the offense very quickly, and was a real leader in that group, in that room. We’re certainly happy that he was there. Is he going to return this year? I don’t know that yet.”
|Jerod Mayo and friends explain ‘The Patriot Way’ and what it means now||01.16.13 at 4:05 pm ET|
FOXBORO — The “Patriot Way’ means different things to different people, even inside the Patriots locker room.
So while, Ravens wide receiver was boldly predicting this year’s AFC championship ‘we’ll make it different, we’re gonna win,” Tom Brady, Vince Wilfork and Jerod Mayo we’re humbly talking about what it’s like to be a part of a team where the individual doesn’t matter.
“I think Coach [Bill Belichick] always talks about doing your job,” Brady said. “You do your job so that everyone around you can do their job. When people trust each other, then you can play with anticipation and confidence and ultimately go out there and play aggressively. There’s no really no secret to it. It’s just coach puts a lot of pressure on us in practice every day to perform at a high level. When we don’t, we certainly hear about it. When you show up to work every day, you better have your game face on because you’ll end up on the low light film the next morning. I think the guys bring that attitude every day and over the course of a long season, it results in enough wins to get us into the playoffs, give us a chance.”
Brady pointed to past Patriots greats who helped teach him the ‘Patriot Way’.
“I think I was one of those guys that had to learn that too,” he added. “Tedy Bruschi took me aside and Willie McGinest took me aside and Lawyer Milloy took me aside. I think that’s part of the responsibility as a veteran player that you learn from these experiences and you try to convey the message to some of the younger players so they don’t have to learn the hard way. A lot of times you have to learn the hard way in life.
Wilfork echoed Brady’s old-school teachings from great Patriots of the recent past.
“I learned a long time ago with Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel, Willie McGinnest, Rodney Harrison, Richard Seymour, I learned from some of the best that played around here,” Wilfork said. “The first thing that comes to your mind is that you can’t be selfish playing here. It is not about you. It is about the team and if you buy into that you will be very successful, and that is the one thing that I think this organization has had for a long time. Guys that come in here that aren’t selfish and they put the team first because it is a team sport. It definitely is a team sport. You need everybody working on the same page. If you have one or two that are not you can be in big trouble. That is the Patriot Way. We put team first and we win as a team and we lose as a team. I have won a lot of games in my career being here and I wouldn’t change it for nothing.”
The other irony Wednesday was comment from Jerod Mayo, on a day when it snowed in the morning making the rush hour commute difficult. He reminded everyone of Adalius Thomas without dropping his name. It was three years ago when Thomas, Randy Moss, Derrick Burgess and Gary Guyton were sent home for being late to an 8 a.m. meeting on the morning of a snow storm.
“The ‘Patriot Way’ to me, starts at the top with the Kraft family,” Mayo said. “Not only being a good football player, but being a good person and falling in line. If you want to be a good football team, you’ll never be stuck in rush hour traffic. You are the first one here and the last one to leave. I think guys really buy into that, guys that come from other teams, I think they follow the lead of the bulk of this team and it has worked well here.”
For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots. WEEI 93.7FM will broadcast the AFC Championship game between the Patriots and Ravens on Sunday, January 20 at 6:30 p.m.
|Randy Moss returns to New England and has quick impact with touchdown grab||12.17.12 at 2:38 am ET|
FOXBORO — It didn’t take very long for former Patriots receiver Randy Moss to make an impact on Sunday night. Moss, who started in place of the injured Mario Manningham and played opposite Michael Crabtree, drew the coverage of rookie cornerback Alfonzo Dennard.
Moss caught a 12-yard strike from 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick on San Francisco’s third offensive play from scrimmage, and put the first score on the board three plays later. Moss was able to get behind Dennard down the left sideline, while Kaepernick lofted an easy 24-yard pass over the top of the Patriots defense.
It was Moss’ third touchdown catch of the year, and his first since the 49ers’ Week 8 matchup with the Cardinals on Oct. 29.
Moss’ ability to take the top off an opposing defense has stood out throughout his career, and on Sunday night, against his former team with whom he set records aplenty, Moss contributed in signature form. In doing so, he exposed an issue that has afflicted New England at different points throughout 2012.
Coming off of a game where the Patriots dominated so thoroughly on Monday night, the problems that had plagued this defensive secondary seemed to fall by the wayside until Moss opened up the scoring on the long play.
Moss declined to comment after the game on Sunday night; instead, he left his locker soon after the game had ended. He did tweet out at roughly 1:30 a.m., “The game is over!!i don’t wanna talk bout Tht.”
He was targeted two more times on the night, but did not pull in another pass after the first offensive possession for the 49ers.
Patriots linebacker Jerod Mayo said that as a whole his team wasn’t very surprised by the play of Kaepernick and his ability to make the throws that he did.
“We knew [Kaepernick] could throw the ball from watching film,” Mayo said. “We didn’t know is they were going to throw it or not because it was raining a bit. But they came out and threw the ball, scored on us early. Like you said earlier, we fought back, but it wasn’t enough.”
When Dennard went down late in the second quarter with a knee injury, the Patriots applied a different scheme to cover Moss, with a combination of Kyle Arrington, Aqib Talib and safeties making sure the veteran receiver was accounted for.
Despite not having another catch after the first quarter, Moss was the second-leading San Francisco receiver, with 36 yards total on the night.
|Randy Moss: I still have a lot of love for Patriots, but I’m with Niners now||12.12.12 at 9:17 pm ET|
Randy Moss said Wednesday he’s still got fond memories of his time with the Patriots, but now, he’s a member of the 49ers.
The former New England wide receiver, who called Foxboro home from 2007 until the early stages of the 2010 season, said that he didn’t want to compare the two organizations “because whatever I say is going to be the wrong thing to say,” but said that the Patriots still hold a place in his heart.
“Basically, I’ll leave it at that I still got love and respect for the New England Patriots and everything we did as a team. But now, I’m a 49er, so hopefully, like I said, we go up there Sunday night and give it a good game,” said Moss, who caught 259 passes for 3,904 yards and 50 touchdowns in 52 regular-season games with the Patriots.
“Hopefully, we can complement our defense, [but there’s] no telling what’s going to happen,” he added. “But like I said, we have to play complementary football, and I think if we do that and try and not let Tom [Brady] and the [New England] offense run the score up on us, I think it’ll be a good game.”
Through 13 games, the 35-year-old Moss has 21 catches (on 37 targets) for 326 yards and two touchdowns for San Francisco. His best all-around outing of the year came in the season opener against the Packers, when he had four catches (on four targets) for 47 yards and a touchdown. Despite the dip in his numbers, the Niners praised Moss on Wednesday, with San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh saying he’s been a “great teammate.”
“He’s a good teammate,” said linebacker Aldon Smith. “He’s a guy I looked up to as a kid growing up, and being able to be in the locker room and sit next to him is cool. It’s a dream come true.”
“He’s done a nice job,” said Harbaugh. “He’s been a contributor, he’s produced, and he’s been a great teammate.”
He’s also getting a lot of respect in New England. Safety Devin McCourty spent training camp and the initial stages of the 2010 season as a teammate of Moss, and recalled Wednesday how the veteran receiver helped him grow up on a daily basis as a young defensive back.
“He’s still a very, very good receiver,” said McCourty. “I learned a lot just going against him when he was here. You see him out there, and he’s still able to make plays. I think one of the special things about him is that he’s still able to get vertical and run by guys. I guess one good thing is that we have some familiarity with him, and that can help us a little bit. But he’s still a very good receiver.”
“He does a great job of reading defenses,” said Wes Welker. “He knows when he’s about to get the ball and he knows when to kick into high gear and get open and make plays. He really understands defenses, how they’re trying to play them and how to attack them.”
“I think Randy looks like Randy. He’s the greatest deep ball receiver I think that’s ever played,” said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. “Nobody runs better patterns or has a better feel over the deep part of the field like Randy Moss. I still see him doing that. Because of his ability to do that, it certainly opens up a lot of other things as well because you have to respect the ability to stretch the field and go deep and get behind you.”
Former Patriots receiver Troy Brown said this week on Mut & Merloni that Patriots fans shouldn’t worry about former New England great Randy Moss giving the Pats trouble when the 49ers come to town Sunday. The reason? Because Bill Belichick won’t let him.
“If there’s somebody on that team that will beat the Patriots on Sunday, it will not be Randy Moss,” Brown said. “He will not score a touchdown on Sunday night.”
Brown explained that Belichick makes a point of it to limit his former players when they play again him.
“Just from what I know, when [Belichick] plays against former [Patriots] that have played for him, those particular players will not beat him,” Brown said. “I saw him put two guys on Terry Glenn when he came back with Dallas to play here. We were going to win the game. It was just the fact that he didn’t want Terry to catch a touchdown or make a big play.”
Brown knows Belichick better than most people, and going through the game logs, it’s pretty clear he has a point. Glenn, who made a name for himself in New England before talking his way off the team, had his least-productive game of the 2003 season when he played the Pats as a member of the Cowboys, catching just one ball for eight yards in a 12-0 Patriots win.
That stat line (one catch for eight yards and no touchdowns) was repeated by Moss when he played the Pats after they traded him to the Vikings in the 2010 season, suggesting that perhaps Belichick does indeed game-plan around star players who had played under him in New England. Here’s a look at how some of the more notable Patriots from the Belichick era have fared against him after leaving New England.
-Nov. 3, 2002: 28/45, 302 yards, TD, INT
-Dec. 8, 2002: 32/51, 328 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT
-Sept, 7, 2003: 17/28, 230 yards, TD, INT
-Dec. 27, 2003: 12/29, 83 yards, INT
-Oct. 3, 2004: 18/30, 247 yards, TD, INT
-Nov. 14, 2004: 8/19, 76 yards, 3 INT
-Sept. 7, 2003: 5 combined tackles (3 assisted), sack
-Dec. 27, 2003: 8 combined tackles (4 assisted)
-Nov. 14, 2004: 15 combined tackles* (5 assisted)
-Oct. 30, 2005: 3 combined tackles (2 assisted)
-Dec. 11, 2005: 8 combined tackles (4 assisted)
-Nov. 16 2003: 1 reception, 8 yards
-Dec. 4, 2005: 5 combined tackles (1 assisted)
-Dec. 26, 2005: 2 tackles, interception returned 74 yards for TD
-Nov. 13, 2008: 3 tackles
-Oct. 7 2007: 2 assisted tackles
-Oct. 31, 2010: 1 reception, 8 yards
-Oct. 2 2011: 3 tackles
It appears Brown has a point, as a couple of strong showings from Milloy and a pick-6 for for Law are the only bright spots on a rather lengthy list of games from star players. As for Belichick not letting those players beat him? Brown was right about that, too: In those games (there’s some overlap due to Bledsoe and Milloy’s time with the Bills), the Patriots went 11-2. Neither of those losses were the direct result of former Pats’ big games, though Milloy sacked Tom Brady in the memorable 31-0 drubbing Buffalo gave the Pats to open the 2003 season, a game in which Bledsoe only needed a mediocre performance (17/28, 230 yards, TD, INT) thanks to Brady’s four-interception day.
As the Patriots prepare for the 49ers, it’s safe to say that Moss isn’t the same player he was when he set the single-season touchdown reception record in 2007. He can “still run,” as Brown noted, but history shows it should be a quiet night for him on Sunday.
|Rob Gronkowski continues his march into history||10.28.12 at 9:59 pm ET|
As Rob Gronkowski marched in the end zone, his attempt to pay homage to the Changing of the Guard — in his words to reporters, “That little nutcracker dude that’s guarding the house” — more closely resembled a mechanical toy soldier. And in some ways, his mechanical march perfectly embodied what the third-year tight end has become.
Simply put, he is a touchdown machine. In 2½ NFL seasons, he’s established himself as one of the foremost scoring threats in league history, someone who has assumed end zone residence as no one else at his position in the modern history of the game.
That notion was underscored on Sunday against an overmatched Rams team, as Gronkowski delivered one of the most dominating games of his career. He matched a career high with eight catches and two touchdowns while amassing 146 receiving yards, the second most of his career. He nearly had a third score, in fact, getting touched down at the 1-yard line on a tremendous diving catch at the end of the first quarter.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about the performance — aside from the celebration and charming absurdity of its explanation — was the fact that it was almost unremarkable. It simply represented what has become a characteristic romp over NFL defenses, which have yet to identify a defensive grouping — defensive linemen are too big and slow; linebackers too small and slow; safeties and defensive backs too small — to prevent Gronkowski from getting to the end zone.
The result? Gronkowski has scored 34 touchdowns in 40 games in his career, and he now is marching through end zones and into history books in a fashion befitting his robotic Sunday celebration.
Gronkowski now has 11 games with multiple touchdown catches in his career. He joins Jerry Rice as the only players in NFL history with that many multi-TD games in his first three seasons; but Gronkowski, of course, still has eight games left this year to set a new standard. No tight end has come remotely close to such a figure. Read the rest of this entry »
|Wes Welker: ‘You have to be able to put it away’||10.14.12 at 9:05 pm ET|
What should’ve been entertaining talk about one of the great streaks of his career and another chance to poke fun at his head coach turned into Wes Welker trying to explain how the explosive Patriots offense suddenly went cold in a 24-23 shocking loss to the Seahawks in Seattle.
The Patriots put up over 300 yards of passing in just over two quarters of football. Welker, himself, had seven catches on eight targets in the first half from Tom Brady. He had 102 yards of receiving and a 46-yard touchdown pass under his belt as the Patriots went to the locker room with a 17-10 lead.
That lead grew to 23-10 on a pair of Stephen Gostkowski field goals but the Patriots certainly had the sense that they were leaving way too many points on the field.
There was the blown opportunity from the Seattle 24 with 40 seconds left in the first half that ended with Brady taking the first of his two intentional grounding calls in the game, as the Patriots got greedy and turned down the sure field goal and looked into the end zone. There were the two Brady interceptions in the second half, one coming in the red zone. And there was the second intentional grounding near midfield that forced the Patriots into third and long and eventually, a punt.
For a team that prides itself in being the very best offense in the game, they were an unacceptable 1-for-6 in the red zone, with an incompletion, an interception and three field goals to go along with Brady’s one-yard TD pass to Aaron Hernandez.
Now, the stat they’re going to hear all week and in their sleep is four points, the combined margin in New England’s three losses this season. With a chance to beat the Cardinals at home, Gostkowski hooks a 42-yard field goal wide left in the final seconds. Leading the Ravens, 30-21, in the fourth quarter, the Ravens find a way to score the final 10 points and beat New England at the gun on a disputed field goal.
And now Sunday, a rookie quarterback throws a pair of fourth-quarter TDs as Brady and the Patriots offense can’t convert key first downs and protect a 23-10 fourth-quarter lead.
“We talk about playing a good 60 minutes of football and we seem to come up a little bit short,” Welker said. “These close games like this, especially when you have the lead in the fourth quarter, you have to be able to put it away. We weren’t able to do that today.”
Welker finished with 10 catches and 138 yards, becoming the first Patriots receiver since Randy Moss in 2007 amass four straight games of 100 yards receiving. But instead of talking about that, Welker and the Patriots are wondering how and why they are 3-3.
“Right now, it’s really frustrating,” Welker said. “We just have to get back to work and really work on these things and make sure we’re pushing through and win the games in the end.”
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