|Bill O’Brien: This week is about the Patriots in the Super Bowl, not Penn State||01.31.12 at 12:15 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — On the eve of national college football signing day, Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien maintained that his focus is on the Patriots for one more game, not on his future job as Penn State head coach.
“This is a week about the Patriots and really not about Penn State,” O’Brien said on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium. “I’m trying to do the best I can to put together with the staff a great game plan for Sunday.
“I’ll be in Penn State on Monday or Tuesday after game and we’ll go from there. We’ve got a lot of great people in place up at Penn State that are doing a great job up there seeing that through.”
Speaking of Brady, he complimented Brady as one of the best quarterbacks ever to run the quarterback sneak, scoring twice against the Dolphins on Christmas Eve and the game-winning score against the Ravens in the AFC championship.
“He’s probably one of the best quarterback sneak guys in the history of the game,” O’Brien said. “He just does a really good job, he’s got a knack for it, understands when to do it and really does a good job with it.”
“I don’t coach that. that was all him. He made a great play and that’s why he’s a great teammate because he knew that was a big play for us in that game.”
|Heath Evans on D&C: ‘I’m going to second-guess Bill Belichick’ on some decisions before Super Bowl XLII||at 10:33 am ET|
Former Patriot Heath Evans made an appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to provide a player perspective on the Super Bowl matchup between the Patriots and Giants. Evans was a member of the 2007 team that saw its bid for a perfect season end in the waning moments of Super Bowl XLII thanks to an incredible drive by the Giants that engineered New York to a 17-14 win.
Evans eventually won a Super Bowl with the Saints before retiring after the 2010 season. Now, looking back on the 2008 heart-breaker against the Giants, Evans said he does second-guess some of Bill Belichick‘s decisions prior to the game itself.
“I’m going to do something stupid and I’m going to second-guess Bill Belichick,” Evans said. “We all completely agreed with the full pads Thursday Friday Saturday in Foxboro, the bye week. When we get to Phoenix, Wednesday was kind of a lackluster practice and I think Bill kind of thought maybe we were overlooking the [Giants] team. I don’t think we were. It was just, you have a bad day. Bill opted to put us in pads again on Thursday, which is that the reason we lost the game? Probably not. But if there was a way to freshen us up ‘¦”
Evans also weighed in on the upcoming Super Bowl, noting that he does not expect Rob Gronkowski‘s high ankle sprain to hurt the team as much as people may expect. Gronkowski, Evans noted, seems tough enough to play through the injury. If he is unable to go, Evans said the Patriots coaching staff will be able to use a slightly different style of offense so that instead of having someone else fill in for Gronkowski, they will be able to play someone else in a situation that best helps that player to succeed.
Evans claimed that the most important factor in the game will not be Gronkowski or the secondary, but rather the protection of the quarterback.
“My thought is this, it is protecting Brady, but it’s not just by pass protection,” Evans said. “It’s by running the football. You flash back to 2007, the game plan was to run the football. We had some key mistakes early on in the game. Josh McDaniels, Bill Belichick elected to get away from the run game, put the weight of the world on Tom Brady‘s shoulders. Ultimately, he did his job.
“Yes, 14 points, people said, ‘No, you should have scored more,’ but he drove us down the field. We scored. Just left a little too much time for young Eli Manning at the time.”
INDIANAPOLIS — The Ventrone brothers both played for the same high school, the same college and the same NFL team.
Ray Ventrone made his first NFL tackle in Super Bowl XLVI in Glendale, and delivered a devastating tackle on Dominik Hixon in the fourth quarter, a hit on kickoff coverage that appeared to set a good tone for the Patriots before Eli Manning began a drive that would make him a Super Bowl legend.
“Yeah, I watch it and I feel like I’m back in that game every time I see it on NFL Network,” Ventrone told WEEI.com by phone from his Cleveland-area home on Monday.
“It’s really great that my brother is going to be able to experience everything this week that goes with being in the biggest football game there is,” Ventrone said of 25-year-old Ross, who is four years younger. “It’s cool my brother gets to experience what I did. I just told him to take everything in and enjoy it.”
In keeping with his role with the Patriots all season, Ross Ventrone may or may not get into the game on Sunday against the Giants. But Ray pointed out Monday that Ross is hardly bothered by the 20 or so transactions for his brother this season, including numerous cuts, activations and practice squad assignments. Ross has played in eight games this season and is currently on the practice squad and has yet to appear in the playoffs.
“Ross understands how everything goes,” Ray said. “Honestly, he’s not bothered by it. He was able to play in NFL games. I don’t think he would trade that for anything. He played in eight games. He’d give me the rundown on how he played. Football players in general, even the ones in this league, I don’t think always understand how lucky we are to do what we do”
|Bill Belichick explains how Ray Perkins took the Giants out of the ‘country club’ culture||at 6:35 am ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Before there was Bill Parcells, there was Ray Perkins.
“I can say before I got to New York, and coach Perkins was like that, too, we had tough, physical practices, too,” Belichick said Monday. “He definitely set the tone. When I got there in 1979, relative to what the Giants had done previous to that, it was kind of a country-club atmosphere, from what I understood. I wasn’t there. It was a little bit different than what I had been used to. I learned a lot from the mental and physical toughness standpoint that Ray, and then Bill, built their teams with. Maybe I took it a little too far in Cleveland, I don’t know. It was kind of the same thing when I got there. People said that we were too demanding and we were doing too much. I was thinking to myself, ‘I was with the Giants for 12 years. I saw this every day for 12 years. Don’t tell me we can’t go out there and have 9-on-7 two days in a row. I know we can.’ ‘
Perkins coached the team until 1983 when Parcells took over.
The “toughness” of a team was a topic of conversation Monday when Belichick came out and announced his team spent Monday going through a “crisp” first day of practice in full pads here in Indianapolis.
Belichick also reminisced fondly about his days on the Giants coaching staff from 1979-90, with the last several years spent with Tom Coughlin, who served as wide receivers coach while Belichick worked on the defense. Belichick reminded everyone that, back in the day, there was never any question from the players about going full contact in practice. Now, thanks to the new NFL collective bargaining agreement, teams are allowed only one practice in full pads per week during the season.
‘It was awesome,” Belichick said of his Giants’ days. “We had a great staff and great players. One of the biggest things I learned, that I can’t do today, but I know, is how tough those players were. We practiced every day in pads, every single day in pads. There were years that we practiced every single day on the turf before we had the grass practice fields up there on the hill, or it was being rebuilt or something happened. How we did 9-on-7, which is a good-tempo running drill, and how we did that on a regular basis. In training camp, we went out in pads every day. We hit every day. We did 9-on-7 every day. There was no way Bill (Parcells) would go out on the field without doing 9-on-7. We’d skip stretching before we’d skip 9-on-7. Going back to last year, and even this year, going out in pads, working on 9-on-7, having more contact work in practice, we’d get that look a little bit like, ‘I don’t know if the players can do it.’ I’m thinking to myself, ‘Can’t do it?’
“We were in pads on Fridays with the Giants, and nobody said anything. That’s the way it was. You went out there and practiced. I know what players are capable of doing because of how demanding we were with them from a physical standpoint, and that certainly didn’t lessen their aggressiveness or their toughness in games. That was a physical defense. That was a physical offensive line. Even getting ready for the Super Bowl against Buffalo, the way we ran the ball in that game. That started on the practice field with the tempo in practice. When you get those guys crashing into each other ‘ Jumbo (Elliott) and Mark Bavaro blocking (Lawrence) Taylor, (Carl) Banks, (Jim) Burt and all them ‘ they just lined up and played football. I know it was a different era, but it will never be like that again. I learned players can be tough, they can be physical, they can do more than they think they can do from that standpoint.”
|Pat Chung not in mood to talk about Rodney Harrison, David Tyree||01.30.12 at 6:32 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — After a win over the Redskins that saw Rex Grossman throw for 252 yards and a pair of touchdowns, Rodney Harrison referred to the New England secondary as “probably” the worst he’s seen in the last decade.
On Tuesday, Pat Chung was asked if the comments made by the former New England safety served as motivation for the secondary over the last five games.
“It is honestly the first time I heard that,” Chung said.
That seemed impossible to me, given a) that Harrison said it on the most prominent football show in America and b) Vince Wilfork, among others, weighed in on the comments the very next. But Chung was adamant.
“I’m telling you, never,” Chung insisted. “Doesn’t matter if he did or didn’t, anyway. That’s his job, mine is to play football. All we are worried about is this game. That’s it. We are not worried about anyone else. Just keep playing and continue to do the positives.”
Chung, who says he talks to Harrison “every couple of weeks or so,” also passed on this Patriots-Giants Super Bowl question:
Does David Tyree make The Catch if Pat Chung, and not Rodney Harrison, is the safety?
“Come on,” Chung said. laughing. “I’m not going to answer that, man. This is a totally different team, different players, different time. I’m not going to touch that one. It was an amazing catch, though.”
|Chad Ochocinco won’t be standing up for ‘Media Day’||at 6:08 pm ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — In an event seemingly made for Chad Ochocinco, the star Patriots wide receiver won’t be one of the 18 featured Patriots during “Media Day” on Tuesday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Sunday night, Ochocinco tweeted NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL spokesman Greg Aiello, a man who helps coordinate the event. Earlier Sunday, he was asked by a follower if he plans something special for “Media Day.”
Ocho tweeted: Cant talk, strep throat. It’s expected that Ochocinco, like every participant in every Super Bowl, will be available to all media, even if he is off to the side.
Just last year, it would’ve been nearly impossible to imagine Ochocinco not getting his own podium with his reality show background and his ability to shine in the spotlight. Before using him as a shoulder to cry and lean on this season, Ochocinco co-hosted his own reality show with Terrell Owens and formed his own “news” network called OCNN. Ochocinco has sent a reporter to cover “Media Day” just last year.
Interestingly, Rob Gronkowski will have one of the 18 featured spots during the one-hour availability beginning at 10 a.m. It will be Gronkowski’s first public availability since injuring his left ankle during the AFC championship.
Once the Patriots clear the field, there will be an hour break and then the Giants will follow from Noon-1 on the same Lucas Oil Field that will host Super Bowl XLVI on Sunday.
CBS Sports NFL analyst Boomer Esiason made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about how much of a role Rob Gronkowski‘s injury will play in the Super Bowl, what this game means to both Eli Manning and Tom Brady‘s legacy, and why it’s not likely that Peyton Manning will be a Colt next season.
‘Last Friday if you would have asked me, I would’ve picked the Giants to win,’ Esiason said. ‘I really would have because of the way they played and the fact that they were really playing extremely well in the last five games. They had the much tougher road to get to the Super Bowl.”
Added Esiason: ‘What gives me pause is the extra two weeks, and you know coach [Bill] Belichick: He’s smart, he gets it, he understands what’s going on. I don’t necessarily know that there’s a coach in the history of this league that has a better pulse of his team. … This is one of the best game managers I have ever seen as a coach. He’s going to have to be on his game. He’s really going to have to be on his game.
‘And I still can’t believe, and this is not a knock against the Patriots, I can’t believe that they’re favored. I can’t believe it, because the NFC was a much better conference this year. the Giants went on the road, they beat some really good teams, Eli has been really, really solid through the postseason and the last couple of games of the regular season, and they’re just flying high and they’re healthy and they have everybody back. It’s shocking to me that the Giants are not the favorites in this game.’
Esiason, who suffered two high ankle sprains similar to the one that Gronkowski incurred in the game against the Ravens, said that the injury could be a game-changing factor, because even if Gronkowski plays, he isn’t likely to be 100 percent.
“If they would have played yesterday, there would have been no way he would have been on the field,” Esiason said.
Added Esiason: “When you have 90 catches during the year, 50 catches during the playoffs and you become an uncoverable tool and weapon that Tom Brady has, that is a significant, significant loss.”
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