|Shane Vereen on Stevan Ridley: ‘We’re there when he needs us’||12.05.13 at 2:47 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Shane Vereen has the back of teammate Stevan Ridley.
Both running backs came into the league in 2011. Both have battled issues at one point or another. Injuries limited Vereen to just five games in his rookie season of 2011 while a broken wrist in the season opener forced him to miss eight games this season.
But now it’s Ridley who is struggling to find the field. Ridley has lost all four of his fumbles this season and was benched for the game in Houston on Sunday. After Ridley declined to speak with reporters on Thursday, Vereen moments later came to his defense.
“Everybody goes through their ups and downs, and when you’re down, you need teammates, you need friends to help bring you back to where you should be and start playing with confidence again,” Vereen said. “Stevan is a great player. We’re there when he needs us. But he knows what he has to do and we fully expect him to do that.”
While Vereen is fourth in rushing yardage behind Ridley, LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden, he is the No. 1 receiver among the running backs corps with 28 catches for 220 yards and a touchdown.
“We’ve definitely got work to do, but we’ve put ourselves in a pretty good situation, but there’s room to improve,” Vereen said. “We need to improve if we want to continue playing.”
Ridley also said on Thursday that he feels good and the wrist injury is no longer an issue, despite still wearing a brace for games.
“I haven’t had any problems with it, haven’t had any issues with it,” Vereen said. “Really, there’s not too much thought about it at all.”
|Bill Belichick on S&H: Antonio Smith comments likely due to ‘some frustration’||12.03.13 at 9:52 am ET|
Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined Salk & Holley on Monday afternoon to discuss New England’s 34-31 victory over the Texans on Sunday, the decision to bench Stevan Ridley in the game, and Antonio Smith‘s postgame comments regarding the Patriots’ second-half comeback.
Sunday’s game against Houston started off in similar fashion to the Patriots’ previous game against the Broncos, as New England looked sluggish and unfocused over the first two quarters. At the end of the first half, the 2-9 Texans had built a 17-7 lead.
“We’ve just got to do a better job, I’ve got to do a better job preparing the team for the beginning part of the game. We’ve got to do a better job executing then,” Belichick said. “It wasn’t great. I didn’t think we took advantage of some of the opportunities that we had and we gave them some, and obviously the interception set them up and fortunately we were able to hold them to three on that.
“We gave up two good drives defensively. … We were trying to find our rhythm and our execution on a number of things yesterday, and it wasn’t a great feeling.”
New England’s first-half slump would not last, as Tom Brady and company outscored the Texans by a 27-14 margin in the final two quarters to come away with the 34-31 victory.
One notable move that Belichick made before Sunday’s game was to list Ridley as inactive. Despite showing talent out of the backfield with 2,280 career yards in 42 NFL games, Ridley has struggled with holding on to the football, as he has nine fumbles in his career, with six of those being recovered by the opposing team.
“We make those decisions week to week,” Belichick said. “Every week, we have to make a decision as to who we feel are the players that we’ll activate for the game, and sometimes injuries and the availability of a player takes care of that. After that, it comes down to decisions that we make as a coaching staff. … That’s the way that it is every week.”
After the game, Smith, the Texans defensive lineman, made postgame comments questioning the Patriots’ ability to turn around their play in the second half, calling their adjustments “highly suspicious.” (Smith said Monday that he was joking.)
“I’m sure [Houston] is frustrated,” Belichick said. They lost to us twice last year and lost to us again down there at home. We’ve seen that before and I’m sure there was some frustration. … There’s nothing we can do about, we just have to worry about what we can do.”
|Bill Belichick on Stevan Ridley benching: ‘There’s no sending a message’||12.02.13 at 1:03 pm ET|
FOXBORO — After quickly dismissing the question in his post-game comments Sunday after a 34-31 win over the Texans, Bill Belichick was somewhat more effusive and forthcoming about his decision to sit Stevan Ridley Sunday after his three-game bout with fumblelitis.
Belichick was asked Monday in his conference call about the decision to bench Ridley when Julian Edelman has fumbled five times this season (including twice on one punt against Denver), recovering three of them. Ridley has four fumbles this season and hasn’t recovered a single one. Ridley has nine fumbles over three seasons.
How do Belichick determine when a player sits after fumbling and when he doesn’t?
“Well, that’s easy,” Belichick said. “We always do what we feel is best for the team in every situation. That’s the way it’s always been and that’s the way it will always be as long as I’m here. I have to do what I feel like is best with any decision, in any situation, with what I feel is the overall best decision for the football team. That’s what drives every decision I make, on everything: plays, players, you name it. I have to do what I feel like is best for the team.”
So, it’s never about sending a message?
“If I have a message to send to somebody, I’ll just sit down and talk to them and tell them what it is,” Belichick said. “I can have a conversation and do have a conversation with anybody on the team that I need to have a conversation with. That’s not a problem. There’s no sending a message. You sit down and talk to somebody man-to-man and talk about the situation so that we’re all on the same page as to whatever it happens to be and what the direction is going forward. That’s easy. There’s not sending a message. You just have a conversation with somebody. This isn’t cryptic. We’re just trying to win a football game, that’s all.”
Did Ridley specifically not play on Sunday because of his fumble issues?
“The inactive players every week are based on, in part injuries and ultimately what we feel like for that particular game is the best decision for the football team in that game to try to win,” Belichick said. “Along with every other decision on the team that I make, it’s made with what gives our team, in our opinion, the best opportunity to win on Sundays. That’s what all decisions are based on.”
Belichick was also asked whether he read the comments of Houston defensive lineman Antonio Smith, who was very suspicious of the adjustments the Patriots made to Houston’s defense after trailing at halftime Sunday, 17-7.
“Yeah, I saw them. I don’t have any comment on them. I think that’s a league matter,” Belichick said.
|Josh McDaniels expresses ‘great confidence’ in Stevan Ridley||11.26.13 at 4:16 pm ET|
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels said Tuesday that despite Stevan Ridley’s recent struggles with ball security, he has “great confidence” in the running back Stevan Ridley. However, he added that Ridley’s issues are just part of a bigger problem when it comes to fumbles.
“When things happen like this, in back-to-back games – or in this case a few games in a row – I think you certainly have to address what you can address in terms of trying to fix the problem,” McDaniels said of Ridley, who has lost fumbles in three straight games and four this season. “I have great confidence in Stevan as a runner. He’s been very productive in our offense. He’s done a lot of things. At the same time, obviously, ball security is the most important factor for our offense and for our team when we have the ball. We have to be part of the solution. We have to work with him.”
McDaniels was quick to point out that Ridley wasn’t the only player who put the ball on the ground Sunday against Denver. The Patriots had six fumbles, and lost three of them.
“He certainly wasn’t the only one that put the ball [on the ground] or got the ball knocked off of him the other night. We had way too many balls out, or balls on the ground, and turned the ball over a significant number of times. We were fortunate to overcome that, which is very rare,” he said. “I think our entire offense, we need to do a better job of taking care of the football, protecting when we have it, and making smart decisions and not giving the defense the opportunity to either strip it off of us, knock it off of us, whatever it may be. That’s a team thing. Our confidence, as an offense, you want to be able to protect the football no matter who you give it to. That’s our goal and that’s our focus, and we’ll work with everybody to try to fix the issues that certainly came up the other night.”
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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 on S&H: ‘I don’t think [Tom Brady] is mentally affected by the conditions’||at 10:41 am ET|
Patriots coach Bill Belichick joined Salk & Holley on Monday afternoon to discuss New England’s thrilling 34-31 comeback victory against the Broncos, as well as the performance of Tom Brady in cold-weather conditions and Stevan Ridley‘s fumbling issues.
The Patriots got off to a rough start in Sunday night’s game, as New England trailed 24-0 at halftime after fumbling the ball away three times.
“The good things that we were doing were overwritten by the bad things that were much worse than the good things,” Belichick said. “We just didn’t play very consistently in any phase of the game. … I was a lot more disappointed in the way we played in the first half in Carolina than I was [Sunday], even though we had plenty of problems [Sunday], but we just made mistakes that really hurt ourselves that I felt like we could overcome if we just got those straightened out.”
New England responded in the second half, outscoring Denver by a 31-7 margin to force the game to overtime. At the start of the extra 15 minutes of play, the Patriots won the coin toss but decided to give the ball to the Broncos and take the wind. It was a controversial call for Belichick, as he was giving the ball to a high-powered Denver offense that currently ranks first in the NFL in yards per game (451.5) and points per game (39.0).
“I met with the captains for a couple of seconds before they went out there and explained to them what we wanted to do,” Belichick said. “There were a couple of questions to make sure that it was right, but I think we got it right. … I just feel like as head coach, you’ve got to do what you feel is best for your football team. It doesn’t always work out the way you want it to, and there’s criticism when it doesn’t. I understand that.”
Brady was superb in the game, throwing for 344 yards and three touchdowns despite playing in one of the coldest games at Foxboro in years. Brady has excelled in cold-weather conditions throughout his career, as he boasts a 24-5 record with a 62.7 completion percentage in outdoor games with below-freezing temperatures.
“No. 1, he’s mentally tough,” Belichick said. I don’t think he’s affected by the conditions from a mental standpoint. No. 2, he has big hands. He can grip the ball. His hands aren’t small. It doesn’t slide off. He can get around the ball, and No. 3, he throws a tight spiral. His ball is very tight, always has been. … Of course, the wind is going to affect any throw, but it doesn’t affect a tight spiral like it does the balls that aren’t tight. … I don’t think he is mentally affected by the conditions.”
Despite the win, there is concern over the play of Ridley, who fumbled during New England’s first drive on Sunday, allowing Von Miller to scoop up the loose ball and return it 60 yards for a Denver touchdown. Despite his obvious talents, Ridley has struggled mightily with protecting the ball, as he’s lost seven fumbles since the end of the 2011 season.
“I don’t think any of our backs have an issue that I would say would prevent them from being a productive player,” Belichick said. “Look, there are some plays that happen in football that are plays that happen in football. Then there are other plays that are caused by a lack of discipline, a lack of technique, just carelessness. Those are the ones we have to eliminate.”
|Adam Schefter on D&C: Tom Brady owns ‘slight edge’ over Peyton Manning||11.25.13 at 12:08 pm ET|
ESPN’s Adam Schefter joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday to discuss the Patriots’ 34-31 overtime win over the Broncos on Sunday.
New England came back from a 24-0 halftime deficit in the bitter cold at Gillette Stadium to improve to 8-3 on the season.
“The first thing I thought yesterday morning when I woke up and headed outside in the Northeast corridor here, I walked into that weather and it was biting cold and it was freezing, and I said to myself, ‘This is Patriot weather, this is conducive to a Patriot victory,’ ” Schefter said.
The Patriots and Tom Brady seem to flourish in adverse weather conditions, while the Broncos’ Peyton Manning seemingly wilts. Brady tore up Denver’s defense, throwing for 344 yards and three touchdowns. Manning completed 19-of-36 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. However, it took him until late in the fourth quarter to eclipse the 100-yard mark.
“If you look historically, Peyton Manning just hasn’t produced as well in that type of setting, and the Denver strength is its offense,” Schefter said, adding: “When you take an offense like that and put it in weather like last night, it neutralizes things, and it takes away an advantage Denver might have in that area.”
Brady now owns a career 10-4 record over Manning.
“I’d give the slight edge to Brady based on the number of championships he’s won, and the players he’s played with,” Schefter said when asked which QB he would prefer. “But you’re talking about splitting hairs.”
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