Patriots vs. Steelers: Toppling Big Ben

Leigh Bodden

In a shocking move, Leigh Bodden was released today.


NEPD Staff Writer: Doug Kyed

For the next three weeks the Patriots have not only got a tough slate, but they’ve also got three teams us fans love to hate. The Pats have got the Steelers this week, the Giants next week and the Jets November 13th.

Leigh Bodden’s release was a bit of a surprise today, but I think that speaks well to Kyle Arrington’s performance so far this year and last year. You’d think it would speak well for Ras-I Dowling’s health, but he’s been out of practice two weeks in a row now. Antwaun Molden and Philip Adams will have to get tested in game duty, so expect to see both of them this week against Pittsburgh.

The Patriots are likely the healthiest they’ve been since week 1 of the preseason, here’s some things I’m looking out for against the Steelers:

PRESSURE BEN
Ben Roethlisberger has been under pressure all season and is third in the league with 20 sacks. The Patriots can’t let Roethlisberger get comfortable in the pocket, or else he’ll be able to throw all day to his speedy receivers. The more time Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders have to get open the more trouble the New England defensive backs will have with them.

Roethlisberger has had his worst games of the season when he’s been sacked four and five times (weeks 1 and 4). In week 6, Roethlisberger came away from the first half without getting sacked and threw for 181 yards and a touchdown, in the second half, Roethlisberger was pressured for three sacks and threw for only 19 yards all half.

According to Pro Football Focus, the Steelers offensive line has allowed 78 pressures this season, which is seventh worst in the league. Pittsburgh has allowed the fifth most hurries this season with 54, but have allowed only 9 QB hits, which is probably more due to Roethlisberger’s pocket presence than the offensive line.

FORCE THE STEELERS TO RUN
Obviously this relates to the above point, but the Patriots have been much better against the run this year than they have been against the pass. New England is 8th in yards/game and tied for 16th in average yards/carry. The combination of the defensive line and linebackers have done a really nice job lately of not letting running backs get big chunks of yards at a time. All of the Steelers running backs present a nice matchup for the Patriots, since they’re generally better at stopping the run up the middle.

With Ras-I Dowling likely out (Update: Dowling is now on IR) and Leigh Bodden released today, it might be tough, but I’d like to see the Patriots flood the middle of the field with defensive backs. In that situation, I still feel like the front three/four + one or two linebackers could stop the Steelers run game. The Steelers have been middle of the road in run blocking.

STAY HEALTHY
The bye week was timed pretty well to let a bunch of the Patriots ailing players healthy, the key will be to come out of Pittsburgh in one piece. The only players missing at practice today were Dane Fletcher and Ras-I Dowling. It’s really unfortunate that Dowling can’t seem to stay healthy. Dowling and Fletcher are two players that could really help the Patriots in Pittsburgh.

The following players were limited in practice: Josh Barrett, Leigh Bodden, BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Albert Haynesworth, Jerod Mayo and Sebastian Vollmer. Obviously Mayo is the most important of those players that we’d like to see playing in Pittsburgh.

GET BRADY GOING EARLY
It’s been well documented this week that Tom Brady seems to excel against the Pittsburgh Steelers, I’d like to see him go off for 400 yards like he was doing early in the season again. The Steelers’ pass defense has been excellent this season, so I think it’s important to get Brady on a roll early. If the Patriots can get in a habit of getting up early using their no huddle and then killing the clock with Green-Ellis and Stevan Ridley late, this team could be unstoppable.

LIMIT TURNOVERS
Shockingly, Brady has been on a bit of an interception run recently starting in Buffalo with four interceptions, and then having one against the Jets and two against Dallas. Brady needs to stop forcing throws and his receivers need to stop letting balls clang off their hands.

Brady’s play obviously isn’t a worry to me, but limiting little mistakes can go a long way against teams like the Steelers, Giants and Jets. Force them to make mistakes, don’t make your own.

Aaron Hernandez has made a couple mistakes recently as well, letting a TD slip through is fingers and fumbling a ball away in Dallas. Hernandez is a very talented player and an important cog in the Patriots’ offense, but Belichick hates turnovers and Hernandez can’t start being known as a turnover guy.

LIMIT BIG PLAYS
This is a huge one. The Patriots have improved drastically in allowing big plays since the Buffalo game and that needs to continue against this talented Pittsburgh offense. Mike Wallace seems to go for a 50+ yard play every game and whoever is covering him (most likely Devin McCourty or Dowling) will need help over the top from a safety in limiting him. Wallace is one of the best receivers currently in the game, and he might be the fastest no. 1 guy. The CBs need to do a good job of jamming him at the line, and the safeties will have to do a good job of limiting him in space. The Pats are a little shallow at cornerback with Dowling likely out and Bodden cut, so Antwaun Molden, Philip Adams and the safeties will have to step up.

Tags: Game Preview, Ras-I Dowling

12 Responses to “Patriots vs. Steelers: Toppling Big Ben”

  1. JMC says:

    You should probably add: ‘Keep the Defense Off the Field’.

  2. DWE says:

    ?How was his money guarenteed for the year? Signing bonus…O.K., but games played….I thought the NFL didn’t have guaranteed contracts…..

    Also don’t understand why the hell they are just paying people to release them. Nor all the talk of BB being a so-called genius regarding all sort’s of thing’s….the salary cap, drafting techniques(not paying top dollar for what he can get for the cheeper price and produce in the same ballpark). He released Brandon Merriweather out right for nothing? Didn’t even dangle him for even a cheep draft pick?? WTF

    Bodden has IMO always been a little overrated & a little over priced but at least he knew the system and could have helped out during an injury stage by another player, but you just let him go outright as well?? Why not see what can be gotten for him before the trade deadline?????

    Even if you got next too nothing for either of them, this would still be something rather than nothing?
    So what if Merriweather only garnered a 5th or 6th round pick or even a late seventh round pick…… from “ANY” team, or Bodden the same of a mere late 6th or seventh rounder maybe?…hell even a late seventh rounder is better then nothing is it not?
    *This isn’t, and further more hasn’t been making any scence at all. Wasn’t BB literally top of the class regarding “Money” in Connecticut. Did he not graduate with a degree……..in “Money”? HONER’S I SAY…. Yes he did.

    I know an old school fella’ from the back home area that himself is so smart it freaks me out when I speak with him, his knowledge on almost anything is amazing. He has met Belichick in his younger day’s and say’s point blank that BB is by no means a sloutch, that he’s got more brains in his head than anyone who doesn’t know him personally could ever give him credit for. That if you think BB is merely a Football Coach, then your sadley mistaken…..

    Then can someone tell me why he is just letting Worthy Players that have…….”VALUE”, go without the thought even of getting a smallest bit back for them??? WTF

    Yet 4.5 Mil up front for what maybe and or maybe not could have worked? Ocho will be worth his 2/3 mill a year for the three years, but “NO INSENTIVE PROGRAM FOR HIM”. Just 4.5 Mill up front knowing he hans’t played in a real offensive machine like N.E has? Haynsworth’s contract was renegotiated and is “INSENTIVE BASED”. Why not OCHO’s? It was and has proven to be a 4.5 million dollar MISTAKE.

    More Mistakes……Nothing for Merriweather, simply cut. and nothing now for Bodden…..done just “after” the trade deadline?
    Neither move makes any scence regarding the when and the why, especially the “Money”/”Value” factors involved………..

    I’d be curious to hear what NE Draft and it’s Blogger’s feel that either Merriweather or Bodden could have gotten us? Either a player or a Pick at any level rather than just letting people with clear “VALUE”….(BB’s middle name), walk?

    How about give Cincci Merriweather for the OCHO deal and keep one of those precious picks for example…….

    • TD says:

      The new CBA requires teams to pay vet’s their full salary for the year if they play in game #1. However, I believe Bodden’s cap number now comes off and they can sign and/or extend players (Welker, Mayo).

      I heard that Bodden was the 2nd highest cap hit after Brady. You know how much BB hates heavy hitters that either don’t play or don’t perform.

    • cash says:

      How do you know they didnt try to trade those guys and no one wanted them? I remember hearing about Merriweather being on the trading block before they released him.
      Bodden was ok, but he was not happy being the #3 CB. You could see it in his attitude, I dont think he complained but I bet BB thought it was best to cut ties with him now before any kind of locker room tensions came about.

  3. qwerty says:

    Given Leigh Bodden/s high salary and not being #1 CB, his days were definitely numbered. Like everyone, the surprise was that they didn’t wait till the season is over. Bodden already guaranteed his salary for year so there was nothing much to gain and a lot to lose.

    Given how thin the Patriots are at CB even if Dowling is healthy, I just don’t agree with the move unless there is a legitimate replacement.

    Trimming a few players is one thing but getting rid of so many is excessive especially if they are all going to be replaced by unproven or questionable players.

    Coming down the stretch you want someone who has some experience. A secondary that stays together will have less communication problems late in the season.

  4. Bill says:

    I don’t understand the release of Bodden.

    I’ve often wondered how many highly paid players and coaches just want to make the playoffs to justify their salaries. But lack any interest in a second, and third playoff game because their weekly paycheck is dramatically reduced.

    Haynesworth received the label of not wanting to be a team player on a super bowl contender. Maybe Belichick and Brady now just want to make the playoffs(and lose) and then spend the remainder of the playoff weeks on a beach in Costa Rica or on a boat named V rings.

    • John Major says:

      I want to make a comment about Tom Brady to you. I read the comments you made about him last week and I strongly disagree. I have him ranked #2 out of all the QB’s. Aaron Rodgers is probably the only one you can say is slightly better ( not by much). I would keep him until the end of his contract in 2014. I would consider trading him at the age of 38 but not now. If Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, and Tom Brady are all 100 percent healthy going into the playoffs, then they will be very hard to beat!

      • DWE says:

        If he’s healthy & we keep guy’s like Welker(even though he’s gonna’ garner a big chunk for all that he does), keep Hernandez and other key element’s that we all know we have that don’t need to be named……

        If in the interum, BB and Co. actually make SMART moves in the draft and regulate free agenency like we used too…….

        Letting Brady go after his current contract is up is absolutley ludicris!!

        If we(meaning the team), slide in a bad ars O-lineman inbetween to compliment *Mankin’s, *Solder, *The Wonder Twin TE’s * Hernandez and *Gronk, *Vollmer & Connolly have been great pick-up’s, *light for (1) more year,……..What I’m saying is: We’ll need a new Center since the one we’ve had has been around for a long time and IMO will go down as a Patriot Great, we’ll need a New Tackle for replacement of Matt Light and we’ll aslo want obviously a staple at the Guard possition.

        3 offensive possition to fill in 2 years knowing one can be done through veteran experiance-mean’s only two new young studd offensive lineman in two years isn’t or rather shouldn’t be an issue……!

        As far as the Defense, that’s already being redone as we speak and should be continued. Letting Tom Brady go after his 2014 contract is up…….with his specific skills and knowledge of the game and also staying at the same place his entire stay in the NFL with an elusive number 4 title on the horizon, is just plain stupid!

        New england has the chance to do what many have not done, and it can be done with what was literally ther laughing stock of the NFL ever since it’s existence……The New England Patriot’s. You couldn’t give season tickets away….even if it was during the summer with no snow!

        For this franchise to not fix the “D” and beef back up the “O” and shoot for Title Number Four ….WITH Tom Brady at the helm…….again, it’s just plain STUPID.

        Only if he get’s snapped like a twig on the field sometime inbetween do you not give this chance for him, the franchise itself and the long time fans.

  5. Dan says:

    This wasn’t a message to McCourty, this was a player not able to play his position, because of injury, effort, conditioning, or whatever. As bad as they are in the defensive backfield they would not cut/waive a good player without good cause.
    Bodden was over-rated since day one, he was an average corner and benefited greatly by the Pat’s PR hit after losing the playoffs forcing them to sign Wilfork to huge bucks, Tully getting way too much money (and is gone), and paying Bodden.
    My guess is he’s just too banged up and doesn’t want to accept the 3rd corner role, but my guessing doesn’t matter; the simple fact that he’s cut tells a story.
    I’m hoping they have some move in the works…that would be great to see, or they have someone ready to play back there who they feel is better.
    It also goes to show all these stiffs who don’t understand why BB keeps drafting corners…every team needs 3-4 good ones, hoping a few end up being better than good, and it’s not easy to figure out. So, expect another one drafted high next year. 1st or 2nd round…it’s a must need position and teams have to stick their necks out, like drafting an injury prone Dowling.

    • DWE says:

      Agreed on most, but case in point would be the drafting of another CB and or Safety next year high, expected 1st or 2nd round as you say/suggest…….

      Why the h8^l then did he not get something for Brandon Merriweather?
      and furthermore, why the hell did he wait until after the trade deadline to cut him outright after paying him?

      *we have (2) first rounder’s and (2) second rounders yes.
      we have merely a single 3rd and a single 4rth after that. The rest have been given away….. either for Ocho, Fat Albert, Tracy White and other.

      So even if you merely get a late 6th rounder for Merriweither and a late 7th for Bodden( just an example ), then why would you let them go outright and not utilize their “Value”.?

      Even if we didn’t use those possable and minimal late 6th and a late 7th for guys like Bodden and Merriweather if done so, if a team want’s to trade during the Draft process….we’d at least have an extra “CHIP” to toss them so they trade with us VS another team.

      Take into consideration as we all know and “expect”, that BB will trade/pass on & move around on the board lokking for even more Substitute/Value/Mediocri players instead of the Clay Mathiews types( which is constently beating a dead horse), with those (2) first’s and (2) second’s……. Getting whatever we could from guy’s “”Value” isn’t being done, even if their was a good or better “REASON” for letting them go.

      *Sorry, but nobodies much gonna’ convince me that either of the two examples of Merriweather and/or Bodden couldn’t garner at very least late 6th and sevnth rounders instead of just letting people walk for nothing.

  6. Ryan says:

    Not exactly sure what to think on Leigh Bodden. He was definitely a good player in our secondary. Have to think that Bill understands this move more than we ever will. It certainly won’t help our defense. Maybe it will pressure McCourty to play better.



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