November 21st, 2011
Patriots players of the week
The offensive, defensive and special-teams players of the week in the Patriots' Week 10 win over the Steelers:
Offensive: QB Tom Brady
After weeks of inefficiency and poor production, Brady went back to what worked: the short-to-intermediate passing game, with one big deep throw to Brandon Tate. He threw for 350 yards Discount Minesota Twins 5 Cuddyer Dark Blue Cool Base Jerseys On Sale, becoming the first QB in 30 years to throw for 300-plus yards against the Steelers in three consecutive games. He was extremely vocal early on, rallying the troops after failing to convert a third down, and the rest was history. Brady threw three TD passes to TE Rob Gronkowski (the runner-up for offensive player of the week honors) and rushed for another. This is the Brady the Patriots need the rest of the way.
Defensive: S Patrick Chung
In his first game since injuring his knee in Week Seven, Chung made a huge impact in one of the Patriots' better defensive performances. He led the team with 10 tackles and added a pass defensed. His coverage on Antwan Randle-El allowed him to break up a pass that S James Sanders grabbed and brought back for a pick-six. Chung also blitzed often off the edge early in the game They said it- Patriots Tuesday edition_310, helping apply pressure to Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and open up sacks for the defensive line. The team ended up sacking Big Ben five times.
Special Teams: P Zoltan Mesko
The rookie continued his great season, dropping three of his five punts inside the 20 with a long of 53. He helped the Pats win the field-position game Discount Boston Red Sox Red Sox 8 Yastrzemski Grey Jerseys On Sale hey said it- Patriots T, forcing the Steelers into a long field. His net average was short, only 31.8 yards, but he averaged 40.2 yards a punt.
They said it: Patriots Tuesday edition
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, director of player personnel Nick Caserio and DL coach Pepper Johnson spoke to reporters during Tuesday's conference call. The following quotes are from transcripts provided by the Patriots.
Belichick on DE-OLB Eric Moore: "He played some inside and more of a four-technique where the ends play in a 3-4 and also played some outside and wider alignments. He's a pretty versatile guy and looks like he can play in some different spots. ... Since he's been here, he's done a nice job of showing us the versatility that he has playing in different spots Discount 10/11 Barcelona #7 DAVID VILLA Away LS Soccer Jersey On Sale, both sides of the line: left and right, some inside, some outside, shown a little bit in coverage, pass rush."
Belichick on OG Ryan Wendell who had his first career start on Sunday: "I think (Wendell) did some good things in the game. He had a couple tough matchups there with (Marcus) Stroud and Kyle Williams and (Paul) Posluszny; those are some good athletes and defensive players that everybody on the front had to block sooner or later along the line. He had some good plays and some that could have been a little better. ... There are certainly some things he can improve on, but I thought he did a solid job in there."
Belichick on rookie P Zoltan Mesko: "I'd say, overall efensive coordinator Pe, he's done a good job on his plus-50 punting. I'd say that's been probably a strong area for him. ... He's more consistent than he was earlier in the year. (He) still has a ways to go. He's got good potential for his position. ... I think he's got a chance to be a good, solid player, but there are still a lot of things he can do. ... Overall, there've been some challenges and he's done a decent job addressing them and made some progress, and there's still a long way to go."
Caserio on Tom Brady's record of most consecutive pass attempts without an interception: "I think Tom deserves a lot of the credit. I mean atriots fantasy focus_9, he and (QB coach) Billy (O'Brien), the amount of time and preparation they put in on a week-to-week basis. ... Tom is probably one of the most prepared players. He prepares as hard as anybody on our team and anybody in the league. He makes good decisions with the football. ... He practices the same way. He wants to be perfect."
Johnson on DL Landon Cohen's first game with the Patriots: "He came in here very hungry and ready to play. He asks a lot of great questions to get himself prepared to go out there on the field. Playing football and just doing some of the things that he natrually does is easy. Like I said Replica 10/11 Juventus #14 AQUILANI Away Soccer Jersey On Sale, he had some different techniques and stuff that we asked differently of him. It's going to take him a little while to get used to it, but for the most part he did very well in the role he played Sunday."
Johnson on the possibility of NT Vince Wilfork being selected to the Pro Bowl: "I will be very excited. I think this guy has been working his butt off from the first day he stepped in here. Every year Wholesale Chelsea Black-Blue Strip Jerseys On Sale, it never ceases to amaze me that he takes his game up to another level. This year he really got broad with his shoulders. He has taken a lot of players with him as far as helping guys and helping me in that classroom. He's doing a lot of different things that we ask him to do and he should be rewarded for it."
Defensive coordinator Pees parting ways with Patriots
Updated Jan. 14, 2010 @ 6:10 p.m. ET
Defensive coordinator Dean Pees is leaving the Patriots. Although the team released a statement from Pees Thursday saying that he would not seek a renewal of his contract, the Providence Journal is reporting that the Patriots fired him.
The Patriots ranked 11th in yards allowed and fifth in points allowed but were a disappointing 22nd in sack percentage and 23rd in rushing yards allowed per attempt.
Pees had called the defense for the past four seasons. The former Kent State head coach came on the recommendation of Nick Saban atriots fantasy focus_9, who worked with Pees at Michigan State.
Romeo Crennel, the one-time defensive coordinator in New England Clearance Astros 58 Abad Grey Youth jerseys On Sale Report- Patriots re-sign OLT Light_100, took the Chiefs' job, rejoining Charlie Weis and Scott Pioli in Kansas City.
Pees had been hospitalized for shortness of breath during the Patriots' Week 17 loss to the Texans.
The Patriots released the following statement from Pees:
"My contract with the New England Patriots will expire in a couple of weeks and I have informed Mr. Kraft and Coach Belichick that I will not seek to renew it. I enjoyed my time in New England, but feel this is the right time to pursue other opportunities. I had the privilege of working with some great coaches and great players over the past six seasons and leave the Patriots with some wonderful memories that will last a lifetime. In addition to the players and coaching staff Wholesale Packers 50 Hawk Green Jerseys 2011 Super Bowl On Sale, I want to thank the Kraft family Wholesale 10/11 Atletico Madrid #20 SIMAO Home Soccer Jersey For Sale, the media and the fans for all of their support."
Patriots fantasy focus
The Patriots always provide quite the fantasy conundrum considering how much the ball is spread around in New England. In 2010, Tom Brady shared the rock plenty, but with such a high-octane offense, many of his skill players turned in solid fantasy seasons.
Here's a player-by-player look at the Patriots from a fantasy perspective heading into 2011.
QB Tom Brady: There's no reason to think that last year's MVP shouldn't be one of the first QBs off the board in fantasy drafts. Brady had offseason ankle surgery and should be 100 percent for training camp. He might not put together another season with 36 TD passes and four interceptions, but he is still one of the best in the game. And while all other Patriots skill players can be somewhat risky draft choices becuase of the way the offense works, Brady is as safe as they come.
RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis: "The Law Firm" was a fantasy revelation in 2010 thanks to 13 rushing touchdowns. He was also New England's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2004. Green-Ellis is locked in as the team's No. 1 back heading into this season after working his way up thanks to injuries and the trade of Laurence Maroney. With two rookie backs on the squad, he might share carries more than he did last season, but you can count on Green-Ellis getting the touches near the goal line, and that's what matters for fantasy.
RB Danny Woodhead: The diminutive Jets castoff had more than 900 total yards in 2010 and should be a big part of the offense again. Here's the big stat, for those worried about taking the Pats' No. 2 back: Woodhead got 11 touches per game, and would be solid in PPR leagues. He could see a dip in production with Shane Vereen Supply Denver Broncos 30 Terrell Davis Premier White Throwback Jerseys For Sale, who has similar skills as Woodhead, now on the roster. Woodhead is worthy of being a flex or No. 3 back on fantasy teams.
RB Shane Vereen: The rookie has the tools that Bill Belichick likes in a running back. He is a solid receiver and smart. Vereen Wholesale Detroit Red Wings 3 PHANEU Red Jerseys For Sale, a second-round pick, wasn't picked that high to sit on the bench, and he will get his chance to impress the coaching staff. But don't expect him to get the type of production Green-Ellis and Woodhead will Report- Patriots re-sign OLT Light_100, unless there's an injury.
WR Chad Ochocinco: The always entertaining receiver got his wish of joining Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Ochocinco's numbers took a dip last season, but he should work very well in the Pats' offense. Ochocinco might not put up the fantasy numbers he did earlier in his career with Carson Palmer, considering how often Brady spreads it around, but look for him to be the most targeted wideout near the goal line, and he is worthy of being a No. 2 WR in fantasy.
WR Wes Welker: Coming off ACL and MCL surgery, Welker still had a big season and turned it on down the stretch in 2010. He will be healthier in 2011 with more ability to break tackles. Welker is perfect for PPR leagues as Brady's top target. He hauled in seven touchdowns last season and, unless the Patriots make a splash in free agency, will be the team's No. 1 receiver in terms of production.
WR Deion Branch: Branch was solid getting yards after the catch and even being a deep threat at times for Brady after returning to New England last season. He put up big numbers during a four-game stretch in the middle of the team's eight-game winning streak but also had very ineffective games toward the end of the season. He benefits by working well in the Patriots' system, but he shouldn't be counted on to be any higher than a No. 3 receiver in fantasy.
WR Brandon Tate: If the Patriots have it their way, Tate will use his speed that we have seen on kickoff returns and become a legitimate deep threat. He has potential, but he has yet to make a big impact. He likely will be undrafted in most leagues, so keep an eye on him in the first few weeks to see how involved he is with the offense. Tate could be the sleeper.
WR Julian Edelman: Edelman always plays well when given the opportunity to start, which happens when Welker is out. Unfortunately, that was one game last season, the season finale. He's a dangerous punt returner and could get more involved in the passing game, but needs to show more consistency before being considered in fantasy.
TE Rob Gronkowski: Gronk was a red-zone force in his rookie season, using his 6-foot-6 frame to haul in 10 touchdown catches. The Patriots used Gronkowski often, as he is a good run blocker as well. With as many snaps as he gets on the field, he is one of the top fantasy tight ends in the game Patriots’ DB revival keyed by revelatory safety_8, especially the way Brady looks to get him the ball.
TE Aaron Hernandez: While Gronkowski is a big threat near the goal line, Hernandez is like a receiver in between the 20s, but also got some scores late in the season. He is versatile with some speed and lines up in the slot at times. The Patriots could use him as a deep threat as well. He should be just as productive as he was in his rookie season.
Patriots' 60-second rant: Offense hasn't lost step without Mankins
The Patriots lead the league in points scored per game. They have the 10th-best offense in the league and have allowed eight sacks through five games. They trail only the Seahawks and Jets for fewest QB hits allowed, with 16.
The trade deadline passed on Tuesday, and OG Logan Mankins is still a Patriot. Technically. He hasn't played for them this year or reported to a practice, waiting for a contract extension that meets his requests.
But how badly do the Pats, and their proficient offense Wholesale San Francisco Giants 48 Sandoval Black Cool Base Jerseys For Sale, really need Mankins? And what will happen if he does Report- Patriots re-sign OLT Light_100, in fact Patriots’ DB revival keyed by revelatory safety_8, return in Week 11 to get credit for his accrued year?
Mankins is a two-time Pro Bowler. It's silly to think the offensive line is better without him. But Dan Connolly has filled in nicely while also serving as a fullback in short-yardage situations.
The Patriots traded away their main locker-room distraction two weeks ago when they sent Randy Moss to the Vikings. They are not a team with controversial figures, and Mankins' potential return to the team in Week 11 will bring media scrutiny as to how it affects their chemistry.
Guard is an interesting position. CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell asked the question a couple of weeks back, wondering if anyone notices when a guard is missing. The Bears will tell you that not having competent players at the guard position could be detrimental. It's generally easy to see who the best and worst guards are, and Mankins is one of the best, but has Connolly been that much of a drop-off?
We won't know how this affects the Patriots until Mankins returns to the team. What we learned Tuesday was that he wouldn't be the third Patriots starter traded (in addition to Moss and RB Laurence Maroney). Head coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft have shown little problem trading players to stockpile draft picks, but their asking price for Mankins was reportedly too high.
For now Discount Tennessee Titans 92 Albert Haynesworth dark blue Jerseys On Sale, Mankins remains a Pat, and what looms is an awkward locker-room situation in Week 11 if he decides to return to a team that is doing just fine without him.
Patriots players of the week
The Patriots' offensive, defensive and special-teams players of the game from their Week 17 win over the Dolphins.
Offense: TE Rob Gronkowski
Defense: OLB Rob Ninkovich
Special Teams: WR Julian Edelman
Only thing wrong with Brady is perception
In sports, an athlete is often defined by his numbers Discount 2010 Super Bowl New Orleans Saints 88 Jeremy Shockey Gold Jersey On Sale, the one he wears and the ones that sometimes wrap around his neck like dead weight. Such is now the case with Tom Brady.
Before a 59-0 rout of Tennessee last week Replica 10/11 Real Madrid #24 KHEDIRA Home Soccer Jersey On Sale, the Patriots' quarterback had not quite been himself through the first five weeks of this season, uncharacteristically inaccurate at times and a bit testy when asked too often what is "wrong'' with the Patriots' struggling passing game. That he is barely a year removed from major surgery to repair a torn ACL and MCL in his left knee seems to have been all but forgotten. All that is remembered are the numbers. They see number 12 and think of the numbers "50'' and "589.''
Those are the record number of touchdown passes he threw and points his team scored in 2007, his last healthy season and very likely the last time in a long time a team is going to go 16-0 in the regular season. Both were numbers never before reached by a quarterback or an NFL offense, eclipsing the play of both Peyton Manning and the 1998 Minnesota Vikings, but now they have become, for many people, Brady's measuring stick.
That is absurd on the face of it, but that's what the world has become, a place that measures a man by only his best and worst days. It would be like saying Eric Dickerson never really did much after 1984, the year he rushed for a record 2,105 yards, or asking what went wrong with Jerry Rice after 1995, the year he gained 1,848 yards receiving. But so it goes with numbers and instant analysis.
These days it seems numbers all too often define an athlete. He has good ones or bad ones that reveal his strengths or his weaknesses, and nothing else matters. All too often Cheap 10/11 Manchester City #8 WRIGHT-PHILLIPS Home Soccer Jersey For Sale, however, they are numbers without context, simply figures on a piece of paper that tell us far less than the talking heads on television and sports talk radio insist they do.
Look at the numbers, for example, and Vinny Testaverde was a better quarterback than Johnny Unitas. No disrespect to Testaverde, who had an admirable pro career, but that would be like comparing frozen orange juice concentrate to fresh-squeezed and calling the former more tasty than the latter.
Six games into the 2009 season, Brady is indeed well off the pace he set in '07. He is also ahead of the pace he set in the Super Bowl-winning years of '03 and '04 and comparable to '05 and '06, the last seasons before he went supernova on the NFL.
More importantly Cheap Men Air Max 90 Current On Sale - Discount Men Air Max 90 Current Store, he is experiencing the same kind of early drop-off the year after a serious knee injury that plagued Peyton Manning, Carson Palmer and Donovan McNabb the year they returned from knee surgery. In fact, his drop-off has been less precipitous than the early-game struggles of McNabb and Palmer. As for Manning, the Colts were 3-4 after seven games last season, and he was clearly not himself. By the end of the year Indianapolis was 12-4 and Manning was the league MVP for the third time.
Where Brady and his numbers end up is unknown to us, but if history is the measuring stick instead of a snapshot in time, it seems a fair bet to believe he will end up where he's been for most of his professional career — at or near the top when all the dust settles.
So the next time the question is asked, "What's wrong with Tom Brady?'' when he overthrows a wide-open Randy Moss or hits Wes Welker in the foot, as he has done more times this season than anyone thought possible, you know the answer. Nothing, really, except that he's saddled now with something the numbers "50'' and "589'' seem to make people forget — the guy's human, even if he sometimes made you believe otherwise.
Ron Borges is a columnist for the Boston Herald.
PFW has launched its brand-new NFL Draft Newsletter series, with the first issue now ready for mailing. Produced by PFW's player personnel department under the direction of Nolan Nawrocki, the series consists of four information-packed issues. For more info or to subscribe — click here for PDF e-pub or here for print format.