|Vince Wilfork on D&H: Patriots ‘haven’t played our best game yet’||09.22.14 at 9:12 pm ET|
With the Raiders driving deep into Patriots territory at the end of the game, Wilfork helped close out the New England victory with a key interception — the third of his career. Two of his interceptions have come against Oakland.
“That play I caught it, but that play probably wouldn’t have been possible without my teammates,” Wilfork said of the interception. “I just happened to be there to catch it. That’s the main thing.”
Continued Wilfork: “It was something I thought I was going to be able to get. I didn’t know when, but I actually called it earlier this year. I think going into this past week, I was talking to Chandler [Jones] and I told him, ‘I think I have one coming soon.’ A little vision I had. Some call vision that I saw in my sleep. A little birdie tapped me on the shoulder and was like, ‘You’ll be ready.’ ”
The Patriots defense allowed nine points to Oakland on Sunday and just 16 combined in the last two weeks. Wilfork said the defense still has room for improvement throughout the season.
“We haven’t played our best game yet, it has yet to come,” Wilfork said. “The more we practice at it, the more consistent we become, I think you’ll see the defense play a lot better. It’s just one of those things each week where you have to continue to just grind away. Things we make mistakes of, correct them and move forward. And get better each day. I think that’s one thing we have done from the first week to now. We’ve gotten better each week. And that’s the only thing you can ask for. It’s still early in the season.”
Patriots defensive end Chandler Jones, part of a defense that has allowed just 16 points combined in the last two games, made his weekly appearance on Middays with MFB on Monday to recap Sunday’s win. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
Jones and his teammates kept the Raiders out of the end zone in a 16-9 victory, but he said there are plenty of things the team needs to work on.
“I feel like we also have room for improvement, always room for improvement,” Jones said. “We definitely could have done better, but a win is a win, and we’ve got to keep moving forward. That’s our thing is to keep moving forward.”
Jones was complimentary of Raiders quarterback Derek Carr last week, and he said Carr was quick to offer thanks — among many comments he made during Sunday’s contest.
“I spoke to Derek Carr during the game, actually,” Jones said. “He was one of the quarterbacks that actually spoke the most — most of any quarterback I’ve ever played against. … Not trash, not trash at all. Stuff like [saying hello]. Or, ‘You’re not going to catch me. It was strange.”
Added Jones: “I had said in an interview before the game, I don’t see Derek Carr as being a rookie quarterback — which I don’t, he’s a very good player. I guess he’s one of those guys who reads articles about him, because early in the game he came up to me and said ‘Hey, Chandler, I really like what you said about me.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, thanks.’
“He’s a really good quarterback. He’s a very good quarterback. We didn’t get a chance to get him, because that’s credit to him. He has very good awareness in the pocket. There were a few times when I would have got another quarterback or someone that stood back there. He got away from me a few times, which is credit to him. He has very good scrambling abilities. He’s a young quarterback; I still don’t see him as a rookie quarterback. He’s a good player.”
|Vince Wilfork’s third career interception secures Patriots win||09.21.14 at 6:49 pm ET|
FOXBORO — With Oakland having first and goal, trailing by seven points with less than a minute to play in the Patriots’ home opener, the defense needed to come up with a big play.
It got that play, but coming from one of the most unlikely of players in that situation — defensive tackle Vince Wilfork.
Oakland quarterback Derek Carr’s pass intended for Denarius Moore was deflected by cornerback Logan Ryan back towards the line of scrimmage and Wilfork was there to snag the ball for his third career interception, sealing the Patriots 16-9 victory in its home opener.
“I think it was a team play,” said Wilfork. “Like I said, knowing the situation we were in, it was a three-man rush and the main thing I didn’t want to do was get tied up at the line of scrimmage because they had more guys to block. We only had three and they have five and sometimes they keep an extra guy in for them to make sure they have protection, so I just wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t get tied up and just read the quarterback. If everybody is going their job, which they were, he’d have to either scramble with the ball or come to a check down. And once he came to the check down, I was lucky to have some defenders already there that batted the ball around a little bit and I just happened to catch it.
“The credit doesn’t go all to me — the credit goes to the defense. Because without the coverage in the end zone, without the man-to-man coverage we were in, without the bobbled ball, without the two other guys on the line of scrimmage rushing with me, that play probably wouldn’t have happened, so that’s a great defensive play.”
Wilfork is now the Patriots franchise leader in interceptions by a defensive linemen with three — passing Anthony Pleasant, Richard Seymour and Henry Thomas — who all have two. His last interception also came against the Raiders, back in 2011 in Oakland — a 31-19 Patriots victory.
|Vince Wilfork on D&H: Patriots’ win over Vikings ‘huge step forward’||09.15.14 at 5:19 pm ET|
Against the Dolphins in Week 1, the Patriots defense allowed 23 unanswered points in the second half. Wilfork said after the game that the Patriots would step up their performance against the Vikings. The defense did just that, allowing just one touchdown early in the game against Minnesota.
“I think we did pretty well,” Wilfork said of the defense. “Everything wasn’t perfect, but it definitely was a step in the right direction. Going into that game just kind of felt that this week was a good week for us to get back on track and start playing the way we want to play. That was a huge step forward for us. We just have to continue to just keep grinding away, this week, weeks after this. It’s going to get tougher. Every game gets tougher. Every game is more important.”
Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson did not play in Sunday’s game because of a domestic abuse incident involving his son. Despite not having to go against one of the league’s best running backs, Wilfork said he wished the Patriots could have faced him.
“I was kind of bummed out because I really wanted us to face a good back,” Wilfork said. “Not saying that the backs they had weren’t good, but when you talk about Adrian Peterson, he’s one of the best in the game. I thought it’d be a good challenge for us defensively to go in off of a performance that we had a week before, with a running back that definitely knows what he’s doing. But we didn’t get it. But at the same time, we didn’t let that affect how we went into the game plan.”
|Vince Wilfork on D&H: ‘This defense is a lot better than what we’ve shown’||09.08.14 at 7:10 pm ET|
New England’s 33-20 loss included 23 unanswered points in the second half from the Dolphins. Wilfork said the loss bothered him so much that he got an early start at looking at video on the trip back to Foxboro.
“Just looking at the film, and it bothered me last, so I got a jump on it last night on the plane just to see there were the breakdowns were,” Wilfork said. “Just small things. But, you know, a bunch of small things amount to big things and that’s exactly what happened to us last night. We have to be able to regroup and get back focus, especially starting with the run game because going to Minnesota, with one of the best running backs in the game, and all they do is depend on their pounding game. We know it’s going to be a tough week. But at the same time, we know we have to get better, and we will.”
Dolphins Running backs Knowshon Moreno and Lamar Miller led the offensive charge with a combined 191 yards on the ground — 102 yards more than the Patriots’ ground attack.
“I know that they had good backs able to run the ball,” he said. “But giving up the yards we gave up, we’re way better than that. This defense is a lot better than what we’ve shown. It’s frustrating and you’re disappointed, but at the same time there’s a lot of football to play. Our main goal is to get better each week. We have a long season so we can’t hold our head down because the ball is going to keep rolling.
“You want to be a tough defense, you got to be able stop the run. You want to be a tough football team, you to go to be able to be able to run the ball and stop the run. Plain and simple.”
Even though the Patriots struggled on the defensive side of the ball Sunday, especially in the second half, Wilfork said the Patriots’ goal is to be one of the top defenses in the league.
“Our goal is to be one of the best defenses on the field, simple,” he noted. “I’m not being arrogant, I’m not being crazy, I’m speaking with confidence for my team, for myself. I’m speaking with a lot of confidence because I know what we have. I know the type of players that we have in that locker room. I understand the type of players that we have on the defensive line. And we have a bunch of good football players that can play the game.”
|Sealver Siliga says he’s ‘ready to play on Sunday’||09.01.14 at 8:27 pm ET|
FOXBORO — Rob Gronkowski wasn’t the only Patriots player Monday making a declaration of readiness to play this Sunday in the season opener.
After coming out of joint practices with the Redskins in early August with an injured left wrist, defensive tackle Sealver Siliga pronounced himself ready to play against the Dolphins in the 2014 opener. The addition of the 6-foot-2, 325-pound tackle to the defensive line adds some valuable depth behind Vince Wilfork and Joe Vellano.
“I feel good. I feel great, ready to get this going, ready to play on Sunday. It’s been a while. It’s been about a month since I’ve taken my last snap. That’s what [Monday] is for and the next few days, to get back out there and start running around with the fellas and see what I can pick up.”
The Patriots spent much of August taking a serious look at the interior of their defensive line, bringing in players like Jerel Worthy (released on Saturday) and Ben Bass (released) to compete with Vellano and Siliga. That didn’t stop with roster cuts as they picked up rookie Bruce Gaston from Arizona and Kelcy Quarles from the Giants on Sunday.
“This is the team that we’re going to go along with. I’m excited about the team the coaches have put together. I’m just going to go out there and work hard and wherever coach puts me out there, I’m going to do what I have to for the team.”
Siliga, who showed his value as a fixture in the middle of the defensive line last year, is a 24-year-old tackle trying to stick in New England after stops with the 49ers, Broncos and Seahawks early in his career.
“It’s a situation where I came from, I never want to feel comfortable,” Siliga said. “The last few years how they’ve turned out for me has helped me understand that every day I have in the NFL is a blessing so I don’t look at it as being comfortable.”
Siliga has been in Foxboro long enough to know there’s no shortage of leadership on defense.
“Definitely we have leaders in Vince and Mayo and Revis on the outside,” Siliga said. “If we all just stick together and everybody does their job, we should be OK.”
Will Siliga’s conditioning be up to snuff and ready for game action after sitting out the entire preseason?
“I was just making sure that I was staying in condition, and that my conditioning was up there and my strength stays up there and I make sure I hit the playbook and know all my stuff 100 percent,” he said. “I ran a lot, do extra stuff today and get ready.”
|5 most important Patriots not named Tom Brady||08.26.14 at 12:00 am ET|
There’s no need to debate who is the most important member of the Patriots. Quarterback Tom Brady has been the single most integral part of New England’s football success on a week-in, week-out basis for the last decade-plus. But who makes up the rest of the nucleus? With the 2014 regular season looming, here are the five most important Patriots not named Brady — in no particular order.
Wide receiver Julian Edelman — Edelman has emerged as Brady’s go-to target of choice over the last year-plus. The former college quarterback topped the 100-catch mark last season, becoming just the third pass-catcher of the Brady era to come away with at least 100 catches in a season (Troy Brown and Wes Welker are the other two.) Over the course of the summer, he displayed an almost creepy level of chemistry with the quarterback. In two preseason games, Edelman has showed that regardless of what happens with Rob Gronkowski‘s health in 2014, he will be one of the fundamental elements of the New England passing game. In two preseason games Brady targeted Edelman 10 times, and the receiver caught all 10 passes.
Tight end Rob Gronkowski — Gronkowski is the difference-maker, the sort of offensive option who can help New England get to its ultimately goal. The only question is his health — the big tight end played in his first 46 straight games in the NFL, but since his forearm snapped blocking on an extra point against the Colts in 2012, he’s only played in nine of a possible 26 games. It’s important to note that the Patriots looked like they learned to survive without him down the stretch and into the postseason last year. According to Football Outsiders, the Patriots averaged 32 points per game and 5.94 yards per play with Gronkowski in the lineup from Weeks 7-14. Without Gronkowski (from Week 15 through the end of their postseason run), New England averaged 30.8 points per game and 5.82 yards per play. It was a drop-off, but not the dramatic dip that some may have anticipated. At the same time, the real struggles in other areas (red zone presence, blocking) have created an environment where it’s simply not sustainable to think the Patriots could hope to win a Super Bowl without him.
Cornerback Darrelle Revis — Revis has only been a part of the New England roster for a few months, but he already figures to be a vital part of any success the Patriots have in 2014. Even for a future Hall of Famer it can be an occasionally dicey proposition joining a new team, but he’s managed to fit in seamlessly. As a new face, he has managed to walk a fine line between being deferential to the established veterans who were already on the roster, but at the same time he’s managed to carve out a leadership position of his own. He was the guy who led a group of defensive backs out to Arizona for offseason workouts with his trainer, and the younger defensive backs (including Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon) have confessed to picking his brain on more than one occasion. He hasn’t played a ton in the preseason (we had him at 36 snaps — with penalties — through the first three games of the preseason, and has one pass completed in his direction in that time), but it certainly appears he’s not hampered by any of the knee woes that managed to keep him sidelined for almost the entire duration of the 2012 season.
Read the rest of this entry »
Latest from Bleacher Report
- How Big of an Impact Will Easley Make for Pats?
- Patriots' Top Offseason Moves
- Assessing Every Patriots UDFA's Chances of Making the Roster
- Projecting Patriots' Roster Battles This Offseason
- Ranking Pats' Remaining Offseason Priorities
- Early Projections for Patriots' Final 53-Man Roster
- In-Depth Look at Each Pats Draft Pick