Archive for the ‘NFL’ Category

Without Chandler Jones, Three Patriots Tasked with Role of One

Friday, October 31st, 2014
New England called upon Dominique Easley, Akeem Ayers and Zach Moore to encompass Chandler Jones’ responsibilities in Week 8 against the Bears. (Winslow Townson – USA Today Sports Images)

New England called upon Dominique Easley, Akeem Ayers and Zach Moore to encompass Chandler Jones’ role against the Bears. (Winslow Townson – USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

The New England Patriots have been without Chandler Jones for only one game thus far into the 2014 campaign.

That one game saw the front seven send three different players out to succeed the role of one.

Dominique Easley, Akeem Ayers and Zach Moore – each of whom brought their own traits to the defensive rotation. Each of whom brought forth their own third to replace the snaps of a player who had logged 417 through seven contests, per Pro Football Focus.

Only it hinged on more than volume for them in Week 8 against the Chicago Bears; it hinged on how they encountered their alignments, and how they left their impact within them. (more…)


Five Away: Charting Tom Brady’s 30-of-35 Performance vs. Bears

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014
Tom Brady played a complete game against the Bears on Sunday, even though he didn’t finish it. (Winslow Townson - USA Today Sports Images)

Tom Brady played a complete game against the Bears on Sunday, even though he didn’t finish it. (Winslow Townson – USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Efficient and prolific are seldom seen in the same sentence.

Tom Brady was both against the Chicago Bears on Sunday. The 37-year-old quarterback operated a short-tempered New England Patriots offense with brevity on the way to completing 30 passes for 354 yards and five touchdowns.

In doing so, the 14-year pro crossed all three passing thresholds for the third time in his career and first time since 2007, according to Pro Football Reference.

Brady could have crossed more had he stayed in for the final 5:15, only New England’s collective performance at Gillette Stadium did not require him to. The offensive line preserved ground, the rushing committee gained ground, and the defense broke ground, affording second-round quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo a call from the bullpen with a 25-point lead in hand.

And with that, after 68 snaps of command, No. 12 headed to the dugout just shy of pitching all nine innings. He headed off without that final strikeout to seal it all into memory. But he didn’t need it; Brady’s 100th regular-season start in Foxborough was a near-perfect game to those who saw it.

Five incompletions over his 35 attempts were all that stood in the way. (more…)


Patriots Gameday Notes to Monitor Sunday Afternoon vs. Bears

Saturday, October 25th, 2014
The last time the Bears traveled to Foxborough, Bernard Berrian and Muhsin Muhammad got the starts out wide. Eight years have since passed, and it will be Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall this time. (Dennis Wierzbicki - USA Today Sports Images)

The last time the Bears traveled to Foxborough, Bernard Berrian and Muhsin Muhammad got the starts out wide. Eight years have since passed, and it will be Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall this time. (Dennis Wierzbicki – USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Eight years have passed since the Chicago Bears last visited Gillette Stadium to face the New England Patriots. The date was Nov. 26, 2006, and the final score was a Patriots’ 17-13 victory, but the game itself has been remembered for what transpired with 11:34 to play.

It was then, with the score tied at 10 apiece, that Tom Brady took a 3rd-and-9 snap from shotgun and felt the pocket collapse. He ran. And four seconds later, he juked, heading right as eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher headed left.

The one-on-one gauntlet ended in a first down, and ultimately a touchdown.

Much has changed since then. Urlacher is now awaiting immortality in Canton, Brady is now 37, and Chicago’s roster is no longer headlined by the likes of halfback Thomas Jones, wideout Bernard Berrian, D-lineman Tommie Harris, deep man Nathan Vasher or return man Devin Hester.

As for New England’s roster, suffice to say tight end Ben Watson will not be leading the team in receiving this time around.

Things will be different on both sides of the ball when the 3-4 Bears and 5-2 Patriots encounter each other in Foxborough at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Here is a closer look at what to monitor when the two do. (more…)


Saturday Slate: College Prospects to Watch in Week 9

Friday, October 24th, 2014

2015 NFL Draft

NEPD Staff Writer: CJ Sousa

Whatever your opinion might be about the controversial ending to the Notre Dame vs Florida State game Saturday night, this one fact can’t be debated. Jameis Winston can flat out ball on a football field. He had one horrendous decision in the second quarter when he was in full retreat mode backwards, stopped, and flung a pass high over the middle which was easily intercepted. However, take away that one play from Winston, and he played a flawless game. He came out on fire in the second half, completing his first thirteen passes and he ended the night with 273 yards and 2 touchdowns.

(more…)


Akeem Ayers Brings Uncertainty, But Could Bring More to Patriots

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014
After more than three seasons in Tennessee, Akeem Ayers has arrived in Foxborough. But his purpose remains to be seen. (Jerome Miron - USA Today Sports Images)

After more than three seasons in Tennessee, Akeem Ayers has arrived in Foxborough. But his purpose remains to be seen. (Jerome Miron – USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Akeem Ayers played 10 snaps over two games for the Tennessee Titans this season, and he was inactive for five more. But the New England Patriots saw something in the 2011 39th overall draft pick; something that could potentially help a depleted front seven at minimal expense.

Time will tell if that something pays off.

There is reason to temper expectations for a 6’3” 255-pound linebacker that took only sixth-round pick to acquire – along with a seventh-rounder – from Tennessee on Tuesday afternoon. Yet there is also reason to expect Ayers will have a purpose in New England’s defense if he can acclimate to it. (more…)


Well-Traveled Jonas Gray Awaiting Role in Patriots Backfield

Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014
On his third team since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2012, Jonas Gray waited until last Thursday to play in his first NFL regular-season game. (NFL Game Rewind)

On his third team since entering the league as an undrafted rookie in 2012, Jonas Gray waited until last Thursday to play in his first NFL regular-season game. (NFL Game Rewind)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

Jonas Gray waited. The Pontiac, Mich., native found himself in a crowded Notre Dame backfield consisting of Armando Allen, Robert Hughes, James Aldridge and Theo Riddick, garnering a total of 75 carries over his first three years in South Bend.

But he found his way into an expanded role as a Fighting Irish senior in 2011, filtering in behind Cierre Wood to take 114 carries 791 yards on his way to the first 12 touchdowns of his collegiate career. With those 12 scores, though, Gray’s collegiate career was over.

He had started five games and appeared in 34. Yet as the 2012 NFL draft got underway that April, Gray would have to wait once more. His name was not among the 253 players and 19 running backs selected over three days and seven rounds.

It was among the Miami Dolphins’ undrafted signings, instead. Only the 5’10”, 230-pound undrafted rookie would never play in a regular-season game for Miami; he was placed on the physically unable to perform list with a knee injury during the 2012 training camp. He was later released following the 2013 training camp.

Gray cleared waivers and joined the Baltimore Ravens’ practice squad, where he remained for the duration of the campaign. But when the Ravens’ campaign ended in Week 17, so did Gray’s tenure with the team.

He embarked on a new tenure with the New England Patriots on Jan. 2, 2014. The reserve/futures signee proceeded to hold onto a spot on the 90-man roster, then 75-man roster seven months later. He played in all four preseason games, and led the team with 142 rushing yards on 37 carries.

Gray continued to hold on, even after he was waived during August’s final cuts. And when Stevan Ridley was lost for the season only six weeks in, the 24-year-old was promoted from the practice squad and handled an opportunity he never had in Miami or Baltimore. (more…)


Inside Out: How Chris Ivory, Jets Broke Rightward vs. Patriots

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014
Chris Ivory and the Jets broke ground against the Patriots (Mark L. Baer - USA Today Sports Images)

Chris Ivory and the Jets broke ground against the Patriots on Thursday night in Foxborough, and it wasn’t all through the middle.  (Mark L. Baer – USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

The New York Jets ran the ball 43 times against the New England Patriots last Thursday night. In the process, 218 rushing yards were gained, and that output marked the most a Jets team had registered versus a Patriots team since 1990.

It could have been the four days of preparation. It could have been the fact Rob Ninkovich and Vince Wilfork had combined for 288 defensive snaps since Week 6. It could have been alignment and tackling technique. Or, it could have simply been the urgency of a 1-5 Jets squad on the road versus a division rival.

Whatever was at play, 14 of New York’s carries went through the right B- and C-gaps of the offensive line to the tune of 87 yards while New England fought for containment. (more…)







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