Archive for the ‘NFL’ Category

When Cameron Fleming Enters, It’s Straightforward for Patriots

Thursday, September 18th, 2014
Rookie offensive tackle Cameron Fleming served as an eligible tight end for the second consecutive week. (NFL Game Rewind)

Rookie tackle Cameron Fleming served as an eligible tight end for the second consecutive week. And for the Vikings, the results of his presence were telling. (NFL Game Rewind)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Cameron Fleming graduated from Stanford with a degree in aeronautics and astronautics in June. But it wasn’t rocket science when the fourth-round pick reported as an eligible tight end for the New England Patriots on Sunday.

It was straightforward power. (more…)


Nate Ebner Stepping into Hybrid Linebacker Role for Patriots

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014
Nate Ebner worked next to linebackers Jerod Mayo and Dont'a Hightower on Sunday. (NFL Game Rewind)

A core special-teamer, Nate Ebner got to work next to linebackers Jerod Mayo and Dont’a Hightower on Sunday against the Vikings. (NFL Game Rewind)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

There were no expectations for Nate Ebner when the New England Patriots selected him at pick No. 197 overall in the 2012 NFL draft.

The youngest ever national sevens rugby player turned Ohio State football walk-on was still learning the game, having never played a down at Hilliard Davidson High School just 20 minutes away. But it didn’t take long for the 6’0”, 210-pound Ebner to find his purpose in Foxborough, the same way he did on his way to becoming a team captain and Bo-Rein Award recipient in Columbus.

By being a core special-teamer.

Ebner went on to play 15 games as a Patriots rookie in 2012, registering 12 tackles as a big-four player. And in 2013, he registered another nine tackles to go with two fumble recoveries. Yet, heading into his third season in New England, the 25-year-old had played a total of 41 snaps on the defensive side of the ball, according to Pro Football Focus. Just five transpired over the season prior.

It remained to be seen how, or where, he would play another. With former Patriots draft choices Patrick Chung, Tavon Wilson and Duron Harmon all filtering in next to free safety Devin McCourty, options abound. But, even as cornerbacks Kyle Arrington and Logan Ryan spelled on the back end of the secondary, Ebner ultimately remained in the fold to do the same.

That was evidenced last Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.

Ebner played 14 snaps on defense over the course of New England’s 30-7 win. Yet on 11 of those snaps, he was the third safety on the field. And he was, in a sense, not a safety at all.

(more…)


On the Edge: Tracking the Alignment of Patriots Pass-Rusher Chandler Jones vs. Vikings

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014
Chandler Jones merged over to the edge of the Patriots defensive line on Sunday. It made a difference. (Bruce Kluckhohn - USA Today Sports Images)

After playing primarily 3-4 defensive end in Week 1, Chandler Jones merged to the edge of the Patriots defensive line on Sunday. (Bruce Kluckhohn – USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Chandler Jones will play anywhere. But when the New England Patriots defense brought down quarterback Matt Cassel and the Minnesota Vikings offense Sunday, the 6’5”, 265-pounder’s versatility took a back seat to his innate ability.

He was put in position to get the most out of it.

A week after lining up primarily as a five-technique defensive end in a 3-4 front, Jones kicked out and stood up over the course of his 61 official snaps. And instead of occupying blocks for New England’s outside linebackers to slice through, the third-year pro received the green light to do so himself.

His length and quickness saw him to arc around offensive tackles. His strength and hand use saw him overpower tight ends.

Eight tackles and two sacks were the byproduct. It started early on. (more…)


Without the Football: Exploring the Presence of Patriots Halfback Shane Vereen

Thursday, September 11th, 2014
In a 33-20 defeat, Shane Vereen left an impact on the Dolphins defense. (Steve Mitchell - USA Today Sports Images)

In Sunday’s 33-20 loss, Shane Vereen left an imprint on the Dolphins defense. His seven carries and five catches were only part of why. (Steve Mitchell – USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

There’s something to be said for dictating an opponent’s movements. Shane Vereen’s utilization has helped him do so.

That was on display Sunday, as the New England Patriots opened up the 2014 season against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium. The 5’10”, 205-pound running back caught five passes for 35 yards, and he handled seven carries for 36 yards and a goal-line touchdown as well.

But Vereen’s impact in a 33-20 defeat was about more than what he did with the football. Over his 53 snaps, it was often about what he did without it.

Force adjustments. (more…)


Front in Transition: Charting the Patriots’ Defensive Shift Beyond Rob Ninkovich vs. Dolphins

Tuesday, September 9th, 2014
The Patriots showcased 17 different personnel combinations along the defensive line versus the Dolphins. Rob Ninkovich was part of only four. (Brad Barr - USA Today Sports Images)

The Patriots showcased 17 different personnel combinations along the defensive front versus the Dolphins. Rob Ninkovich was part of nine. (Brad Barr – USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Over the course of 2013, the New England Patriots defensive line altered through 58 personnel groupings.

Part of it was scheme, as some players departed to the sidelines during short yardage or passing downs. Part of it was attrition, as some stayed on the sidelines for the duration.

Rob Ninkovich was not one of them.

His No. 50 jersey was spotted on the field for 1,114 snaps last season – according to Pro Football Focus – second to only teammate Chandler Jones among the league’s 4-3 defensive ends. And by the conclusion of Week 17, there were only 54 snaps in which Ninkovich hadn’t been seen on it.

In Sunday’s 33-20 loss to the Miami Dolphins in 2014 regular-season opener, there were 39.

Ninkovich was one of the first 11 on the field for the tilt at Sun Life Stadium. But the 6’2”, 260-pound edge-rusher was not a constant across from Jones.

That wasn’t necessarily a deviation from the 2013 campaign, which saw Ninkovich step back to outside linebacker when the Patriots moved from a four-man line to a three-man line. Yet something was different on Sept. 7. (more…)


Saturday Slate: Week 2 Matchups to Watch in College Football

Friday, September 5th, 2014

NEPD Staff Writer: CJ Sousa

Nothing quite beats opening weekend of college football. There’s no preseason, no practice runs. Week 1 as usual provided entertainment all the way through. Before I get into the Week 2 matchups you should be watching, lets recap Week 1.

What we learned: Kenny Football! Kenny Heisman! Kenny Trill! Kenny.. Sumlin? Seriously, Kenny Hill looked great.   His throws’ were accurate and on time all night long. But it’s time Kevin Sumlin gets recognized as one of the best offensive minds in football. Receivers were open… all… night… long. South Carolina’s defense had no answers, as they were too busy running sideline-to-sideline trying to catch their breath all night. (more…)


2014 NFL Season Predictions and Prognostications

Thursday, September 4th, 2014
Is this the year Tom Brady and the Patriots end the Super Bowl drought?

Is this the year Tom Brady and the Patriots end the Super Bowl drought?

NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

The 2014 NFL Season finally kicks off tonight when Green Bay travels to Seattle to take on the defending Super Bowl champions. For the next five months our daily lives will be consumed by football until a champion is crowned in  Phoenix, Arizona on February 1st. Is this the year the Patriots finally clear the final hurdle and win their fourth Lombardi Trophy? Is this the year the Jacksonville Jaguars return to respectability? Well, I think we all know the answer to the last question, but there are plenty of other questions to be answered. Here are my predictions for the 2014 NFL Season.

(more…)







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