Archive for the ‘NFL’ Category

Five Throws: Revisiting the Role of Patriots Tight End Tim Wright

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014
Tim Wright's role in New England's offense remains uncertain. But there are glimpses.

Tim Wright’s role in New England’s offense remains uncertain. But there are glimpses. (NFL Game Rewind)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

On Aug. 26, the New England Patriots traded six-time Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a fourth-round pick and second-year tight end Tim Wright. The first three weeks of the regular season have since passed, and the addition of the converted Rutgers wide receiver has remained a subtle one.

It wasn’t expected to be. The manner in which Wright arrived and Mankins departed was far from it, but there was a belief that the 6’4”, 220-pound target would be able to add a different dynamic. There was a belief that, while not a blocker of the same caliber as Brandon LaFell, Wright would carve a purpose as an offline receiver in New England’s offense.

He still could. (more…)


Patriots’ Stock Report: Trying to Find a Silver Lining in Foxborough…

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2014

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who has struggled to find rhythm with his offense this season, getting ready during warm-ups before Sunday’s game. (Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)

NEPD Staff Writer: Ken Vetrano

There’s really no sugar coating the Patriots lack luster beginning to 2014, they’ve underperformed and shown a lack of execution and discipline that’s not typical of Bill Belichick coached teams. New England’s offense can’t get in rhythm, and at this point card board cut outs of last year’s offensive line would be an upgrade to the current cast being shuffled on field. Not much progression has been shown on that side of the ball, and I have a feeling things are going to get worse before they get better.

(more…)


Second Glance: Observations From Patriots’ 16-9 Win vs. Raiders

Monday, September 22nd, 2014
The Patriots walked away with a win against the Raiders on Sunday. But the team remains unsolidified on both sides of the ball. (Winslow Townson - USA Today Sports Images)

The Patriots walked away with a win against the Raiders on Sunday. But the team remains in flux on both sides of the ball. (Winslow Townson – USA Today Sports Images)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

They don’t award style points in the NFL. The New England Patriots’ 16-9 win over the Oakland Raiders evidenced why.

The Week 3 home opener at Gillette Stadium netted a total of 10 punts between Oakland’s Marquette King and New England’s Ryan Allen. It saw a total of six field goals between Sebastian Janikowski and Stephen Gostkowski. And by the time defensive tackle Vince Wilfork clung onto his third career interception and the Patriots clung onto the victory, every point in the game had been scored by a player whose last name ended in “-kowski.”

Neither backfield crossed the century mark in rushing. Neither passing game threw for over 235 yards. And combined, the offenses of the Patriots and Raiders converted on just one of six red-zone opportunities.

It wasn’t how it was drawn up. It was, however, more of what it has been for head coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots thus far in 2014.

Upon second glance, here are seven observations from Sunday’s tilt. (more…)


Patriots Figure to Hit the Ground Running vs. Raiders Defense

Friday, September 19th, 2014
Stevan Ridley amassed 97 rushing yards and a touchdown over 10 carries against the Raiders as a rookie. (Cary Edmondson - US Presswire)

Stevan Ridley rushed for 97 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries against the Raiders as a rookie in 2011. He will face them again Sunday. (Cary Edmondson – US Presswire)

NEPD Editor: Oliver Thomas

For the New England Patriots’ offense, Week 3 starts on the ground.

The Oakland Raiders have allowed a 32nd-ranked 400 rushing yards through two regular-season games. The unit has conceded five yards per carry, with four carries of at least 20 yards and two of at least 40 yards along the way. (more…)


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…)







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