Posts Tagged ‘Pre season’
Tags: AFC, Bill Belichick, Bill Belichick Press Conference, New England Patriots, NFL, Pre season, Tom Brady
Tags: CBS, NFL, Patriots. Lions, Pre season
DETROIT LIONS VS. NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS:
The Detroit Lions will host the New England Patriots at Ford Field for preseason game No. 3 Saturday, August 27 at 8 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on CBS with Greg Gumbel handling play-by-play, Dan Dierdorf adding color commentary and Leslie Visser reporting from the sideline. Saturday will mark the seventh time Detroit and New England have met in the preseason, with the Lions
holding a 4-2 edge in the previous six.
PRESEASON MATCH_UP: AN OFFENSIVE EXHIBITION
This week’s game between the Lions and Patriots features two of the most productive off enses thus far through the fi rst two weeks of the preseason. Detroit (2nd with 32.0 pts/gm) and New England (1st
with 36.0 pts/gm) are the two highest scoring teams in the NFL with all of their touchdowns coming via their respective offenses.
Both teams rank in the Top-5 in both total off ense and passing off ense.
Detroit’s off ensive attack has been paced by the play of the team’s four quarterbacks. Through the first two games, Detroit has accumulated the top passer rating in the NFL (125.4) with all four quarterbacks seeing signifi cant action during preseason play.
Among the 19 passers in preseason play this year who have accumulated a passer rating over 100.0, Detroit is the only team that features three quarterbacks who have acquired a rating over that mark, including Matthew Stafford (138.7), Drew Stanton (112.6) and Zac Robinson (150.4).
Including QB Shaun Hill’s rating of 94.2, the Lions are the only team in the preseason with four quarterbacks ranked on the Top-30 in passer rating.
Detroit’s 6 touchdown passes and 67.7 completion percentage (42-of-62) leads the NFL through two weeks of the preseason.
The Lions got their second win of the preseason last week with a 30-28 victory in Cleveland.
Despite being down by 15 points in the third quarter, the Lions scored 17 unanswered points, eventually sealing the game on a 48-yard fi eld goal from K Dave Rayner in the fourth quarter.
The fi rst quarter showcased the fi rst team off ense, led by QB Matthew Staff ord. Staff ord set-up two scoring drives through the fi rst four series with a 4-yard touchdown pass to WR Nate Burleson and
a 25-yard fi eld goal from K Jason Hanson.
With WR Calvin Johnson sidelined against the Browns, Burleson becameStaff ord’s primary target, connecting with the receiver twice on a 30-yard catch and a 4-yard score.
Stafford: “He’s doing a great job. He keeps asking me why I have to make it so hard on him. I’m just trying to make him look good; if he keeps making those (catches) then he looks pretty good. He’s catching the ball great. (For the catch) down the sideline, he did a great job of keeping his feet in and then obviously the touchdown was a great catch.”
Aside from Johnson, TE Tony Scheffler was also out of the starting line-updue to stitches in his hand, and RB Jahvid Best left the game early after getting shaken up on the first offensive play.
Tags: Albert Haynesworth, Bill Belichick, New England Patriots, NFL, Patriots, Pre season
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference on Tuesday, August 23, 2011.
BB: All right well, we’ve got a long week here. It’s been good for us; we had a chance to have a couple days off, [the] coaching staff [got] kind of organized and hopefully get pointed in the right direction. We’ve got a lot of things to work on this week with the players, so with the extra time hopefully we can accelerate our preparations for the start of the regular season in terms of situations and, you know, working things as we get to the start of the season that we feel like we’ll need early in the year — things that we need to tune up situationally. So, that’s the plan for the week, hopefully we can string a few good days together here. This will be a big step for us this week if we can get some things accomplished.
Q: After two weeks do you have a feel for what the kickoffs are going to look like this year with two weeks of data in?
BB: I don’t know. I’m sure that will depend on each game – the game situations.
Q: Obviously in the preseason games you can see where your team is at a little bit, but are you looking forward specifically to your offensive line and what they bring? Detroit’s front is talented…
BB: Sure. Yeah, every game presents challenges and opportunities and gives our team a chance to go out there and perform against another team and evaluate. Each team is different, each matchup is different. So absolutely, it’s a great opportunity to go out and face an explosive team like Detroit. Offensively they do a lot of things. Defensively they’ve got a good front – they’ve kind of revamped their linebacker group. Obviously they’ve got a very good defensive scheme and coach with Gunther [Cunningham] and Jim Schwartz, [so] absolutely; it will be a really good test for us in all three phases of the game.
Q: What type of camp have you seen Leigh Bodden have with coming back after missing all of last year?
BB: Leigh’s had a good camp. He’s played both inside and outside, and it looks like he’s healthy. When he’s had the chance to participate, he is taking a lot of snaps and it looks like he’s done fine.
Q: It’s nice to see Ras-I Dowling get out there. What type of challenges lie ahead for him now the next couple of weeks?
BB: Guys that have missed time have some catching up to do. It’s good to see every player out there. It’s good to see every player that has missed time come back and rejoin the team and be able to go out and practice and compete. So, it’s good for the team, it’s good for those individuals because I know they’re working hard to get back out there. So, it’s a positive step and the competition on the field — that will be decided amongst the players.
Q: What kind of challenges could a guy going from year-one to year-two face that he may not be ready for or may not anticipate?
BB: I think by year two the other teams – not that they don’t do it through the course of your first year, but I think by the end of your first year other teams have a pretty good scouting report on each individual player. There’s a pretty good body of work for the most part. Sometimes in your rookie year your skills or maybe some of the things that you do might sneak up on some people or they may not be as well prepared for you individually. It kind of works the other way around too. Rookies don’t have the kind of preparation, but in some cases other teams don’t know them quite as well and I’d say by the end of the first year or well into the first year depending how the playing time goes – once everybody gets a chance to get a good look at the player they can start scheming up and try to attack their weaknesses individually, or from a scheme standpoint. So, I’d say that’s a big challenge for those guys as they get better known. Offensives and defenses do a better job of attacking them.
Q: Have you heard anything officially from the league if Albert Haynesworth will face any disciplinary actions?
BB: Whatever the league does, they’ll announce.
Q: Vince Wilfork spoke yesterday about where he is technique wise and the challenges without having OTAs this spring, and how much more difficult this camp is to get up to speed. Shaun Ellis touched on it today – can you talk about how important it is to get a technique where do you think the guys are?
BB: Well, I think in the NFL you build your fundamentals and techniques in the offseason program and then in the spring and training camp. I think as you get into the regular season it’s harder and harder to allocate the time to individual techniques because your preparations team-wide consume so much time with all the different schemes that you face weekly, and the smaller roster size and the limited amount of practice reps that you have relative to the number of things that can happen in the game. You spend more time in teamwork than you do in individual fundamental skills. So the time to build those is early in the season and you hope that you have a good base and that your overall playing – that you can keep those skills sharp, and I think that’s pretty much the way it’s been in the NFL. I think that’s still the way it is. So the more time you… and the better those skills are going into the season usually – the longer you’re going to sustain them.
Q: Would you consider someone like Albert Haynesworth behind in that area or does being a veteran help with that?
BB: Well, I think it helps every player to be out there in practice, of course. Otherwise, why would we practice?
BB: The progression?
Q: Have you seen them improve?
BB: They’ve been out there every day. They’ve worked hard. They’ve gotten better. They’ve improved. I think they came into last year – they certainly know a lot more now, let’s put it that way. They know a lot more about what we’re doing. They know a lot more about what our opponents are doing. They just have a better understanding of how to play the game at this level, and their year of experience was for them was valuable for them. They started at a much higher level and they both worked hard and have had good camps.
Q: When guys come here for the first time do you want them to watch the film from last year to see how everything was, or when they come here is it just focusing on moving forward?
BB: Well anytime we install a play, put in a kickoff return, running play, blitz or something, we usually show examples of that so that the new players sort of understand how that works and that they have the general concept of the play. I think the best way to learn is to understand what all 11 people are doing. If you just try to memorize your assignment on every play then ultimately if you don’t know what’s going on around you, you end up making decisions that impact the players around you, and if you really had an understanding of what the whole concept was, it’s probably less likely that that would happen. So, we try to teach the concept of the play. We show the play usually in multiple examples because of different things that can happen on the play, and it refreshes the veteran players who have done the play or maybe were even in the play when it was run before. But it also serves as a visual illustration to new players as opposed to X’s and O’s in a diagram – ‘Here’s actually the play against whatever its being shown against, and this is how it works or this is one of the problems we’ll have to adjust to with it and this is how we will handle it or whatever’. Those are what we call training tapes that are shown in conjunction with the installation of our plays – that’s part of the teaching tools. You show it on paper, you show examples of it on film, you go out on the field and spatially walk through the plays in the relationships and so forth. You go out there and practice it in individual drills: one on one, seven on seven, nine on seven – whatever the drills are, and then ultimately you bring it together in a team drill, and that’s kind of the teaching progression no matter how you’re – whatever you’re doing. So, that’s part of it. Do we look at last year or some other year? I mean, we’ve shown films from ‘03, ‘04, 2000. There are plays, there are situations that came up then that maybe haven’t come up since, but they’re still good teaching plays.
Q: With the talent that you’ve brought in at the defensive line what does that allow you to do differently with the linebackers?
BB: I don’t know. [We're] just trying to get everybody to understand their responsibilities and play up to their capabilities: learn the defense, understand the adjustments, start to understand different problems that the offense presents us and then we’ll eventually try to put everything together in terms of our scheme – both players, how we call things, and the frequency that we call them and so forth. So, I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see how it all turns out.
Q: How much more film work are you guys doing this preseason compared to in years past? Are you doing significantly more?
BB: In training camp?
BB: I don’t know. I would say there’s a lot of 16, 17, 18-hour days in training camp. That’s kind of the way they were my first year in ’75 [and] it’s kind of the way it’s been every other year since then – it’s the way it has been this year, so I’d say if we’re watching more film we’re having fewer meetings. If we’re having more meetings we’re watching less film. If we’re on the practice field longer maybe we’re having more meetings and watching more film. I don’t know, but we’re trying to – look everybody is here, there’s nothing else to do but get our football team ready for the season [and] that’s what everybody is doing. Whatever the jobs are, however the time’s allocated, whatever the priorities are, then that’s what we’re working on. And that varies a little bit from day-to-day or week-to-week, but that’s the process of getting your team ready for the regular season. So, I don’t know. Are we watching film? Yeah, we’re watching film. Are we having meetings? Yeah, we’re having meetings. Are we meeting with the players? Yeah. Are we practicing? We’re doing all those things. I don’t really see it any differently than any other training camp other than some of the practice times that have been regulated, but otherwise it’s a fine time to work on things during the day. If you’re not working on one thing you’re probably working on something else.
Q: I know you don’t love off the field stuff but are you pleased to see Haynesworth get wrapped up yesterday?
BB: Yeah, I mean that’s a personal matter so I don’t really have any comment on it.
Tags: Albert Haynesworth, BB, Bill Belichick, Brian Hoyer, Danny Woodhead, New England Patriots, NFL, Pre season, Ryan Mallett
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Friday, August 19, 2011.
BB: We spent all morning and most of the afternoon reviewing the film and talking about as a staff how things went and [we are] trying to evaluate what happened last night and also make plans going forward for some things that we need to do, work on, some decisions we need to make and so forth. I thought overall last night that we obviously got off to a good start, which was great. We got some great field position defensively and our offense was able to capitalize on that and get some points on the board, get the ball in the end zone, played good in the red area. Overall we had a pretty good night in the red area and on third down. I think the score is a little bit deceiving. I think in the first half we still made a lot of…there’s a lot of things we need to do better. In the second half, I think there were a lot of good things out there but a lot of those were negated by a few bad things. The score and the production and so forth looked like it shifted a lot from the first half to the second half but I would say, the overall play was probably not that far apart. The first half probably wasn’t quite as good as it looked [and] the second half probably wasn’t quite as bad as it looked. In any case, collectively as a team in all three phases of the game, we still have a lot of work to do, we have a lot of things we can do better and hopefully with this long week we have in front of us now with a couple extra days before the Detroit game, we’ll be able to allocate more time to getting things done at a higher level and also putting in some new things and expanding our installation as we head closer to the start of the regular season. That’s pretty much where we’re at for this afternoon.
Q: After looking at the film, what was the reason you were so effective pressuring quarterbacks Josh Freeman and Josh Johnson after that?
BB: They played a lot of people. They had about three different groups on the offensive line. A couple times, when we pressured, it looked like they just had a breakdown in assignments. They just didn’t block a guy. So we had a few of those. And then we had some good rushes up front at times and were able to beat some blockers and get pressure on the quarterback. But I would say it was a combination of things. A couple times, it was more them making a mistake than us making a great play. And there were times where we had good rushes when they should have had us blocked, but we were able to be disruptive with even an individual pass rush or a stunt that was called or something like that.
Q: What was your assessment of Nate Solder‘s work?
BB: I think Nate’s had a couple of good weeks. I’m sure he learned a lot of things last night. [He] did some good things. I think he built on last week’s game. There are still things that are coming up and that will continue to come up, I’m sure, on a weekly basis — different matchups or different situations against a certain play that he’ll learn from and hopefully be able to do it better the next time — but he’s making progress. He’s working hard. I think he’s competitive in every phase of the game: running game, pass protection, playing against athletic guys, playing against power and bigger guys. I think he can compete at all those levels. It’s just gaining a little more experience, consistency, working together with his teammates so that we can execute better as a group when we’re blocking two-on-two or three-on-three or four-on-four — that everybody can see the same thing and get it done right. But he’s making progress.
Q: Kyle Love is a guy we have seen more and more of over the last couple of weeks. How would you assess his play to this point in the preseason?
BB: I’d put Kyle in that whole group of second-year players. I think as a group those guys have certainly started this year at a much higher level than where they were at last year. They know more. They’re more confident. They still have a long way to go, but a lot of their fundamentals and their basic understanding of the offensive and defensive systems is way ahead of where it was last year. And I think that results in players like Kyle playing more aggressively, playing at a faster pace, with more confidence – less hesitation about what to do and more aggressiveness in doing what their assignment is. And that usually comes with more confidence and a better understanding of the system and your techniques and just being able to cut it loose more and I think he’s done a good job of that.
Q: Were you interested in seeing how Mallett responded to throwing the interception and how do you think he responded?
BB: Of course you don’t want to see negative plays happen, but eventually they’re going to happen in this league, so whether it was Tom [Brady] getting sacked in the two-minute drive or Ryan [Mallett] throwing an interception or Brian [Hoyer] throwing an interception that the corner dropped that would have been run back for a touchdown, you do want to see how players respond to those plays. Or a defensive player missing a tackle or giving up a completion, or a receiver dropping a ball and things like that. Look, that’s unfortunately part of the game and seeing how people respond to that type of adversity or negative play; do they go in the tank? Does one bad play become two? Does one missed block become three? Or do they bounce back and right the ship and then settle down and do a better job? I think that’s part of the evaluation with really all of our players and if they play enough they all have those plays. But it is interesting. We do talk about that, about how players respond when they have a bad play. How does that affect them on the coming plays? Ryan got a few blitzes there in the last series he was in. They gave him a couple of different looks: the weak safety look off the weak side, a couple of strong-side blitzes. He saw those plays pretty well after the interception, so I thought he did handle himself pretty well considering there were a couple of tough looks there. But again, overall, all the players, including every player that played in the game, we just all need to, and the coaches, too, we all need to play and coach with more consistency and more awareness and just sharpen it up. There’s no other way to put it. We all just have to to sharpen up our skills. Luckily we have a couple more games to do that with in the preseason before we get to Miami, but I think we all need it.
BB: No, I don’t have any updates. We got in pretty late last night and we’ve been scrambling around today trying to get caught up on the film and all those kinds of things. So we’ll see how they are when they come back in tomorrow. It usually takes 24-48 hours to sort things out, and then even then it becomes a day-to-day thing from there. So I don’t really have any updates. Hopefully they’ll be back sooner rather than later.
Q: Why was Danny Woodhead playing on the punt unit in the fourth quarter?
BB: When we go into any game, all players are told to be ready to play the entire 60 minutes. That’s what a game is. We don’t stop playing. We don’t stop coaching. Everybody’s ready to play the whole time from beginning to end. That’s every player and every coach. That’s part of the game. That’s how we approach them all.
Q: How did you feel Will Yeatman responded to the extended work?
BB: OK. I think again there were some things that were good. There were some other things that need a lot of improvement. Will’s coming off of a very limited amount of football experience in the last three years. He didn’t play two and three years ago and last year he played in the fall but without spring practice. So this year he’s starting it up again and the more he gets out there, the more he does things, the more confident and better technique-wise he does them. He’s a good athlete. He’s made a lot of progress, but he’s got a lot of ground to make up just from a football-playing experience standpoint. But he’s working hard to do that. Like last night there were some good signs and then again a lot of things he knows he still needs to work on.
BB: I think all three quarterbacks had a pretty decent number of snaps. By the time we get through practice and the preseason games and all that, we’ll distribute snaps as much as we can to get an evaluation of the players the way we feel like we need to evaluate them.
Q: Any update on the status of Albert Haynesworth and do you expect him back for the opener?
BB: He’s day-to-day.
Q: Is he working out at Gillette Stadium? Is he on-campus? He hasn’t been seen.
BB: All the players are here.
Tags: Mark LeVoir, New England Patriots, NFL, Pre season
The New England Patriots announced today that the club has released veteran OL Mark LeVoir.
LeVoir, 29, was claimed off waivers by the Patriots from the St. Louis Rams on Sept. 1, 2008. Originally signed by the Chicago Bears as a rookie free agent in 2006 out of Notre Dame, the 6-7, 310-pound tackle played in 32 games including two starts over three seasons in New England. He played in six games and was inactive for 10 in 2010, including the divisional playoff game vs. the New York Jets (1/16/11).
Tags: Gillette Stadium, NFL, Patriots, Pre season, Stephen Gostkowski, Training Camp
Tags: Bill Belichick, Gillette, NFL, Patriots, Pre season, Press Conference, Tampa Bay
Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his press conference on Tuesday, August 16, 2011.
BB: All right, so we’re kind of winding down here for the week of preparation with Tampa. [We're going to] finish up some situational stuff today, [and] review the things we’ve been working on for the last couple of days. I think this will be a good test for us. Tampa, really, I think has been an impressive team. Last year they were 10-6 and played a lot of good football. [They] really dominated Kansas City last week in the first preseason game. They’re fast. They’re aggressive. I mean, they’re obviously young. They have a lot of talented players and they play at a high tempo. So, I think this is a lot different type of style than what we saw last week from Jacksonville, so it will be interesting to see how we match up [against] not only different players, but a different style of play. So, that’s where we’re at here today.
Q: You said on Saturday this was a big week for your team. Have you seen what you wanted to see at this point from them?
BB: Yeah, I think the players have worked hard this week. I think we’ve improved in a lot of areas on the practice field. We’ll see whether that can transfer over into the games, but yeah, I do. I think they’ve got good attitudes. We’ve pushed them pretty hard, and I think they’ve tried to respond both physically and mentally off the field in preparation, meetings, and on the field in terms of some practices, and in drills and things that we all know we need to do to get better. Overall, I think that’s been good. We’ve had a lot of guys fighting through bumps and bruises, stuff like that – staying out there [and] working through it. They’re getting a lot done, so overall, I think that’s been good.
Q: Yesterday you talked about the return guys and how there may be more judgments on whether to bring the ball out or not. Under the new rules, what kind of instructions or coaching situations are you going to tell these guys to get the best judgments on whether to bring the ball our or not?
BB: Well, we have our rules and there’re a number of things to take into consideration in that, but one of the things now to take into consideration is the team kicking off from the 35 [yard line] instead of the 30 [yard line], so they’re five yards closer. So what our rules were when the kickoff was from the 30, we might have to adjust that a little bit. That’s one of the things that we’re kind of looking at just from the timing standpoint. We have rules for our returners, whether it be punts or kickoffs, and they encompass really all the situations that we can think of relative to the distance of the kick, the height of the kick, the situation in the game, the return that we have on and so forth. It’s a pretty extensive list and a lot of that is teamwork and communication on kickoff returns with the short returner. Usually on punts, you just have one guy back there [and] he has to make all the decisions. On kickoffs, you usually have two guys back there: the guy who’s catching it and the guy who’s in front of him. So, they work in conjunction with each other in terms of communication and decision making. It’s certainly a process. We’ve covered a lot of things – probably not everything that we will cover with those guys, and some of it we’re trying to fine tune ourselves.
Q: Is there a plus at all if you have a kicker who can hang it pretty well on kickoffs?
BB: There’s always advantages to that if you can cover it, yeah. Coverage is part of kicking and the placing of the ball and part of it’s the coverage unit.
Q: Is that something that Stephen Gostkowksi or whoever you have kicking off may be trying to work on?
BB. Yeah, sure. Yeah. It depends… again, if you can’t cover it very well, then you’d probably take every touchback you can get. If you feel you’ve got a lot of confidence in your coverage team and your kicker’s ability to place the ball with both location and hang time, then you might feel differently about that. That might not be the same every game; the situation may change. That’s one the thing about playing here that we have to be very aware of in the kicking game – just how situations change every single week. If you’re playing in a dome in St. Louis or Detroit or wherever, you know what it’s going to be every single week, so you can plan accordingly. In our situation, because the elements affect the kicking game first before they affect even the passing game, we have a lot of situations that we have to deal with: we’ve got crosswinds, we kick into the wind, we kick with the wind, we’ve got weather conditions in addition to all the other variables of just the team you’re playing and what they do and so forth. There’re a lot of different options there and things that we have to [consider]. And the bad side of it is defensively, on the return team, we have to be ready for all of those different things, too: where they’re going to kick it and what they’re going to do and how the elements affect us. It’s an interesting part of the game, it really is.
Q: Are you interested to see how the numbers turn out? I know you’ve talked about hidden yards within a game before and what it impacts. Say you’ve got it down at the one-yard line and they don’t get a good return because you hung it high. They’ve got it at the 15-yard line and that may alter their play calling, so they punt it away. Now you’ve got better field position. Are you going to be monitoring how the field is moving as a result of this, if at all?
BB: I think you bring up a number of points. I think we’ve probably talked about most of those. Field position is part of the equation. There’re are a lot of other things involved, but again, just on the whole thing, I think part of it gets down to how you feel you match up against your opponent. My guess would be, with all other things being equal, Chicago would see more touchbacks than some other teams would. But they may not because of the conditions that they play in – that may not statistically show up. But I think if they played on the same field as the other 31 teams in the same conditions, if you had a chance to kick it out of the end zone or not kick it out of the end zone, you would probably chose to kick it out of the end zone, if your kicker could do that. I think that’s part of it, but with the field position that can be created on kickoffs – again, as it was explained to me, what the league and the competition committee were trying to do was eliminate the kickoff returns, which I think they’ll do. They’ll eliminate a lot of them, particularly early in the season when weather is less of a factor. Then that creates some other opportunities and certainly there’s an opportunity for more momentum in the game, just like we saw last week in the Jacksonville game: score, kickoff, tackle them on the 11 [yard line], bad punt, score again. In two minutes, you’ve got a quick turn around. So, that can work both ways, too.
Q: As a defensive end, what kind of a run player is Andre Carter? Is he a two-way player?
BB. A two-way player? Like tight end, defensive end or…
Q: Not that kind of two-way player. Can he handle the run as well as he has rushed the passer in the past?
BB: Yeah, I would say so. I think handling the run is a strength of his.
Q: What skills does he show or what has he shown so far in practice?
BB: He’s a pretty talented player. He was a seventh pick in the draft or whatever it was, so I don’t think you stumbled into that spot. He’s got good size. He’s long — he’s got some length. He’s got power, plays hard, he’s got a real good motor. [He's] a well conditioned athlete. [He's] strong, runs well, plays hard, good athlete. He’s obviously been well coached – his family, his career at Cal [California] and so forth. He’s got a lot of things going for him: he’s a smart guy, he understands football, concepts, [he] can make adjustments quickly, works hard. [There're] quite a few positives there.
Q: Back to kickoff returns for a second…
BB: We’re really digging now, aren’t we? It’s the end of training camp. When was the last time we’ve had a press conference that’s gone into kickoff returns in such depth? Go ahead, I didn’t mean to cut you off.
Q: It’s okay.
BB: Hey, I could talk about kickoff returns all day, let me tell you that. That was my life for 10 years almost.
Q: If the intention of the league is to almost eliminate kickoff returns –
BB: That’s what they told us. I’m not speaking for anybody else. That’s what they told us, that they want to eliminate the play.
Q: When you’re building a roster, does that lessen the importance of a player who has the ability to do that to you?
BB: I think, really, you’ve got to think about it. If, instead of covering 60 kickoffs in a year, you think you’re only going to be covering 30, then is that coverage player as important? Or on the flipside of it, in the return game, if you’re going to be returning 30 instead of 60, is what the guys who block on the kickoff return – or if you have a designated kickoff returner, if you think you’re going to be returning more punts than kickoffs – I’d say usually, it’s the other way around, you’re going to be returning more kickoffs than punts. But if you think you’re going to be returning more punts than kickoffs, then maybe you put more of a priority on your punt returner than your kickoff returner, just as an example. So yeah, I think it affects it to some degree. I don’t think it’s the overriding thing; you know you’re going to have to cover them and you know you’re going to have to return them. It’s not like a hands team where it comes up twice a season. We know it’s going to come up, but with the same frequency? Probably not as much. Now, again, I think playing here in December, I’m not sure how much that rule is going to affect us. If you’re kicking with the wind, you can probably put it on the 20 [yard line] and kick some touchbacks. If you’re kicking into the wind, you’re not going to get a touchback – I don’t care who is kicking it. I think to some degree, in some places – here, Buffalo, New York, Chicago and places like that – it will probably have less effect. But again, you go to the dome stadiums or you go to the better climate stadiums where the conditions are pretty ideal most of the time, [if] the guy’s going to kick it out, they’re going to kick it out. If they can’t kick it out, then they’re not going to kick it out, but I think you’re going to find more of them that can.
Q: Brandon Tate obviously has some skills in that area. Would you consider trying him more in the punt return situation just because he may not be as effective or may not have the opportunities under these rules?
BB: I think the thing about our returners in our specific case, is that our guys can return punts and kickoffs. Whether it’s Brandon or Julian [Edelman] or Taylor Price or even Wes [Welker], those guys have really – they handle the ball well enough on punts. Usually what you get to on kickoffs is ball handing, and it’s a lot easier to catch a tumbling ball than it is to catch one that’s spiraling and spinning, so ball handling on kickoffs is a generally a little bit easier than it is on punts. I’m not saying it’s easy, but it’s more challenging on punts. And like I said, you’ve got another guy back there, and the ball is in the air longer, and there’s nobody coming down and hitting you when you catch it. Punt returners – there’s a lot of skill in the ball handling, the judgment of how quickly the coverage team’s on you, the inside the 10 [yard line] all that type of thing. You also have to have some initial quickness to avoid somebody right away, whereas on kickoffs you can usually build your speed and your momentum on your returns. It’s a little bit of a different skill. That’s why some teams have one guy do punts and another guy do kickoffs, but again, I think we’re fortunate in that our returners have all shown the ability to do both. I think in the end that’s an advantage when you can work on them in both, because there are some things that carry over into both the punt and kick returns. They’re different, but there’re some things that are the same, so our situation is, I think, pretty good on that. As opposed to, let’s say, when we had Bethel [Johnson] and Troy [Brown]; we had a kickoff returner and a punt returner where, really, Troy didn’t do kickoffs. Bethel returned a punt against San Francisco, but for the most part he just did kickoffs, so it was a lot different situation there.
Q: How would you assess Sergio Brown‘s camp so far?
BB: Well, I’m not going to get into an analysis of every player. I think just in general, we’re almost three weeks into it and I think really everybody that has been out there practicing has made a lot of progress. I’d say everybody has a long way to go, too. We’re a long way from where we need be individually or as a team. Sergio is in good condition, he’s worked hard, he hasn’t missed any time. He’s been out there on a consistent basis and he’s gotten better, like I would say everybody else has who has been out there on a consistent basis working at it. How could you not improve?
Q: Have you prepared for the Bucs like an actual game, or do you know now how many starters you will play?
BB: Well, I don’t even know who our starters are, so I couldn’t answer that question. I mean, you go into a preseason game and you don’t want to just tell your team, ‘We’re going to roll the ball out. Let’s start playing.’ How do you evaluate them? So we try to give them enough information so that we can evaluate their play. ‘Here’s the way we want to do this. Here’s the way we want to do that. We are going to do this thing because of this player,’ or ‘We’re going to do that thing because of that player that they have or this scheme that they run.’ I mean, that’s part of football: understanding what their strengths are and how to neutralize them. So, that’s part of the evaluation. Of course, they’re going to play a lot of people [and] we’re going to play a lot of people; that’s what preseason games are. So there are a lot of variables there in personnel, but I think you want to have your team well enough prepared that they can go out there and play rather than walk off the field and say, ‘We didn’t have any idea of what to do on this or that.” So then what do you find out about your team? That they didn’t have any idea of how to handle something. You want them to know well enough what to do so they can at least go out there and have a chance to do it. Does that mean win the game at all costs and run your triple reverse throw back pass – your secret play you’ve been working on – in this game? That’s not really the point of it. It’s to evaluate how the players play, but you have to give them enough so that they truly have the chance to play, and know what we’re doing, and have enough of an idea of what the opponents are doing so they can compete against it.
Tags: Gillette, Matt Light, New England, Patriots, Pre season
Tags: BB, Bill Belichick, Nate Solder, New England, Patriots, Pre season
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick addresses the media during his conference call on Friday, August 12, 2011.
BB: This afternoon we’ve been kind of pounding away here, going through the film and talking about last night and then now trying to get ready for the coming week. It’s obviously a big week for us in terms of building on where we’re at. Just a quick review on the game, [there were] definitely some encouraging things, some things I thought we did well. There were, of course, plenty of mistakes out there and lots of things we need to get corrected. Some things we haven’t gone over as thoroughly as what we’ll be able to cover. Other things, I feel like we’ve spent quite a bit of time on and we should be doing them better. That’s true for all the individuals that played. Coaching-wise, we still have a long way to go there, too, in terms of all of our communication and adjustments and just kind of getting back into game mode, which we haven’t done in a while – six months or so. [There is] A lot of work for all of us to do, but I feel like the players went out and played hard, gave a solid effort. They played with some energy, even though we got off to a slow start. Once we got going, I felt that they had some energy and some presence on the field. We handled some situations fairly well and we can certainly teach from them. I think it’s a start, so we’ll see where go from here, but I think we know more than we did yesterday at this time. We’ll just try to take that and continue to build towards the regular season and opening day.
Q: You mentioned some encouraging things. What are the areas you would put on that list?
BB: I think fundamentally we did some things fairly well: passing, catching, kicking, tackling, blocking, our footwork, our hand placement, we didn’t have a lot of penalties, things like that. It was far from perfect; I’m not saying that [it was perfect], but overall I’d say that we were able to play 80-some plays on offense and 50-some on defense without…we’ve all seen fumbled snaps, dropped balls, false starts, offsides penalties, missed tackles, just sloppy, poor football. We had some mistakes out there, but I thought overall that the fundamentals and techniques were at a decent, competent level.
Q: What did you learn about your depth last night with so many starters not playing?
BB: Well, I just think we gave some people an opportunity to play. And we can evaluate what they’ve done. They’ll get another chance to play and we’ll see how they improve on that. A lot of the players that didn’t play have played a lot of football before, whether it’s here, or in a couple cases, somewhere else. That will all start coming together a little bit more this week, and then in the succeeding preseason games. We just try to evaluate the guys that played last night, and I feel like we gave them a pretty good amount of playing time so that it wasn’t just a handful of plays or a series, but they were actually able to go in and play, come to the sideline, make adjustments, make corrections and go back out and play again. We were able to evaluate the players’ stamina and overall conditioning because they were in for consecutive series, things like that. Plus a lot of players last night participated in kicking game as well. Like I said, I think we learned a lot about the players who played. There were 30-some that didn’t play, and we’ll continue to evaluate them on the practice field and in other preseason games.
Q: One thing that you guys showed last night was Leigh Bodden playing sort of the slot cornerback. Do you like what you saw from him inside?
BB: Well, as you’ve seen in practice, we’ve used a lot of different players at different positions, mobbing them around. They’ve learned multiple responsibilities. Some of the things that we did last night we’ll do differently in other games so we can let people who are competing for positions, give them opportunities to compete there. Leigh has played inside before. He did that with Cleveland. Like in our game when we played them in whatever year that was, ’07 I think, so he’s done that in the past. Darius [Butler] has played in there. Kyle [Arrington] played in there. Jonathan [Wilhite] played in there. [Patrick] Chung has played in there. So, we’ve worked a number of different combinations and at some point in the preseason, as we’ll do with a lot of other things, we’ll have to narrow that down to who we feel has done the best job and what our best groups are and how everything fits together. But Leigh has played outside and he has the versatility to play inside. That helps him and it helps our team.
Q: In the first half, you guys had some good success defensively on third-down. How would you assess some of the edge pressure that you were able to generate on third-down in the first half?
BB: I think at times it was competitive; at other times, certainly a lot of room for improvement.
Q: Watching the film, was there anything that jumped out about how Nate Solder played that you didn’t see on the field? And what did you see out of Steve Maneri at the other tackle? Is he developing into an NFL tackle after moving from tight end?
BB: Steve is certainly way ahead of where he was last year. Last year he was converting from a tight end position at Temple to an offensive tackle in the NFL. This year, he’s got that whole year of experience of that conversion under his belt. From a technique standpoint, he’s worked hard in the offseason. He’s improved his strength and explosion and power and he’s still pretty athletic for his size, but he’s grown into the position and into the frame that he has and his techniques are a lot better. He’s still got a lot of things to work on, but I think we saw a lot of improvement from him since the last time we saw him in January. I would say similar comments on Nate. I think Nate improved quite a bit in the last few days that he’s been in camp. A couple of his techniques that he used in college we’ve asked him to change, and he’s done a good job of adapting to those. I think both players had some good plays and there were a lot more positives than negatives, but there were still plenty of things with both players that they need to correct and understand. And some things that I’m, sure when the opponents study them in future weeks, that if they don’t get corrected will become bigger problems after teams have had a chance to scout them a little bit. There were definitely some good things there and plenty of things they have to work on.
Q: What have been your initial impressions of Mark Anderson?
BB: Mark is a versatile player, a real hard working kid. He competes hard on the practice field. [He's] very attentive. [He] wants to do well, puts a lot into it, can play both sides. He actually played inside in Chicago as well – some 3-technique and worked some as an inside pass rusher, so he’s pretty adept when he lines up outside and comes inside. He’s been in there and kind of knows how to deal with the interior part of the pass rush with guards and more in front of the quarterback than on the edge. He’s flashed some good pass rushes through the course of camp in one-on-ones and in our teamwork and then again last night. He’s definitely adjusting to what we’re asking him to do and he’s got a pretty good skill set. He’s an experienced player who’s rushed against a lot of good players in this league, so he has a good set of moves and skills to attack them with. I think he got off to a good start last night and we’ll see where it goes from here, but I’m glad we have him.
Q: Buddy Farnham was talking about how he had played a little bit of defensive back here and there last year. Can you talk about what goes into asking a player to add to their role? Is it a give-and-take kind of conversation? And have you ever run into a situation where a player wasn’t receptive to taking on a new position?
BB: I can’t remember too many times when a player has not wanted to change positions. Normally when we talk to a player about taking on more responsibilities, it’s with the idea that those extra responsibilities – whether it’s on the same side of the ball or a different side of the ball or in the kicking game – it’s with the idea that those responsibilities will give him an opportunity to get on the field more and/or increase his value to the team in terms of making the roster or again, being on the field and having a bigger role on the team. I don’t think there are too many players that don’t want to play, that don’t want a bigger role. Now, when you make those moves, sometimes after the player does it, they don’t feel comfortable of confident in taking on those responsibilities and it doesn’t work out. But you usually don’t know that until you’ve given it a try. They player and the coaches don’t know that, but you go into it feeling like, ‘We’ll give it a shot and see how it goes,’ and then you evaluate it as you start to gain more information about the change. I can’t say that I’ve ever had too much resistance on that over my career. The intent is to not only make it better for the team, but to make it better for that individual player. I think we can all remember plenty of examples where that versatility has paid dividends for the players involved and the team. So, that’s the intent. Sometimes it works out; sometimes it doesn’t and you go back to where you were.
Q: Dane Fletcher looked like he was getting a lot of penetration last night. Has he added some quickness to his game?
BB: I think Dane’s made a big jump from his first year to his second year, again, similar to some of our first-year players. We just talked about Steve Maneri, Taylor Price or whoever you want to name. The fact that they have been through an NFL season in our system and all that, they’re way ahead of where they were last year. It looks like Dane has had a very good offseason. He looks good physically and he’s certainly a lot more confident and is reacting quicker and anticipating things better than he did, definitely, at this time last year. Although he made a lot of gains over the course of the season and by the end of the year, he was doing a real good job for us in that aspect. This year, he’s just starting from a much higher level. I don’t know how much quickness and strength he’s gained. It might be a little bit because he has worked hard and he’s in good condition, but I’d say more than that it’s probably his reactions, being able to recognize things quicker, anticipate them. Dane has started to take on a role, especially last night as the middle linebacker, of making calls, making adjustments, helping to tell other people what to do or how we’re going to handle a certain formation or a certain set. I think those are things that he really wouldn’t have been comfortable doing last year; somebody else would have been telling him. This year, he’s helping to tell other people. With that understanding and that confidence, allows the player to become more aggressive and to react quicker because there’s just less thinking involved and he’s just more ensured of what he’s doing. I think that they play faster even though they may not time better or that type of thing. They just play faster because of experience, confidence and knowledge.
Q: We haven’t talked to you since Logan Mankins signed his contract, so can you talk about what it means to have him for some years to come?
BB: That’s great. I think the world of Logan and he’s done a great job for us here since he’s come to the Patriots. I’m glad that he’ll be here for many years in the future. He’s one of our best players, one of our most consistent players. He’s been durable. He’s got a great work ethic. He’s really smart. He plays hard. He’s tough. There’re almost no negatives with Logan. He’s an outstanding person. He’s an outstanding player, and he does things the way that we would like our team to do them, so he’s a great example for all of us to look at because he plays hard, he’s unselfish, he’s tough, he puts the team first and he’s a winner. I’m glad we have him on our team.
Q: Did you get an explanation from the officials yesterday after the first two touchdowns? I know they have to confirm each touchdown, but that seemed like a long time. Did they give you any insight into what the regular season will be like as far as confirming touchdowns?
BB: I mean, that’s all handled on their side of it. As I understand it, the official upstairs, if he feels there’s something that needs to be looked at, then he buzzes the referee and he looks at it. And if he looks at the play and feels like there’s not really anything to question on the scoring play, then they go to the extra point. I think it’s really officiating mechanics. That’s not really something that I’m involved with. We’re just there to play the game, so whatever that timeframe is between the score and the next play for them to do their thing, then that’s what it is.
Tags: Bar Stool Sports, NFL, Patriots, Pre season, Tom Brady
The following are game notes from the New England Patriots Preseason game vs. the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on Thursday, August 11, 2011.
- The Patriots opened the preseason with a 47-12 victory. The 47 points against the Jaguars are the most points they have ever scored in a preseason contest. The previous best was a 45-7 win vs. Washington on Sept. 4, 1977.
- The last time the Patriots scored 40 or more points in a preseason game was a 41-0 win on August 26, 2006 vs. Washington.
- QB Brian Hoyer started the game and played the entire first half before being relieved by third-round pick QB Ryan Mallett to start the second half. Hoyer completed 15-of-21 passes for 171 yards with one touchdown for a quarterback rating of 111.4. Hoyer completed an 11-yard touchdown pass to WR Taylor Price and a 43-yard completion to WR Mathew Slater in the second quarter. Hoyer has never started a regular-season game but made his second career preseason start tonight. He started the preseason finale as a rookie on August 3, 2009 vs. the New York Giants. He completed 18-of-24 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown against the Giants.
- Six of the nine Patriots 2011 draft picks made their NFL debut tonight, including two that were in the starting lineup. First-round pick T Nate Solder started at left tackle and fifth-round pick TE Lee Smith both started on offense. Last season, four draft picks were in the starting lineup in the first preseason game. First-round pick CB Devin McCourty and second-round pick LB Brandon Spikes started against the Saints on defense, while second-round pick TE Rob Gronkowski and fourth-round pick TE Aaron Hernandez started on offense.
- 2010 third-round pick RB Stevan Ridley had three touchdowns on the night with two rushing touchdowns and one receiving touchdown. He scored on 1-yard touchdown runs in the first and third quarter and then added a 16-yard touchdown reception from QB Ryan Mallett in the third quarter. Ridley finished the game with a 16 rushes for 64 yards and also caught seven passes for 47 yards.
- Ridley’s multiple touchdown game marks the second consecutive season that the team had a rookie record multiple touchdowns in a preseason game. TE Rob Gronkowski had two touchdown receptions in a preseason game vs. St. Louis (8/26/10) last season.
- Ridley’s three touchdowns are the most for a rookie in a single preseason game since 2006 when RB Patrick Cobbs had four touchdowns (3 rushing and 1 receiving).
- PK Steven Gostkowski made a successful return to the field after being limited to just eight games last season due to a thigh injury. He kicked five extra points and two field goals with a 46 and 43-yard field goal in the second quarter. Rookie K Chris Koepplin handled kickoffs.
- 2010 third-round pick WR Taylor Price scored on an 11-yard touchdown pass from QB Brian Hoyer in the second quarter. Price turned a short completion from QB Ryan Mallett into a 50-yard perception early in the third quarter. He finished the game with a team-high 105 receiving yards on five receptions.
- Third-Round pick QB Ryan Mallett entered the game in the second half. His first NFL completion was a 3-yard pass to rookie RB Stevan Ridley. Mallett led the Patriots on a 13-play, 82-yard drive that was culminated with a 1-yard touchdown run by Ridley on his first series. The highlight of that drive was a short completion to WR Taylor Price that turned into a 50-yard reception. Mallett finished the game 12-of-19 for 164 yards and one touchdown, a 16-yard scoring pass to RB Stevan Ridley.
- LB Dane Fletcher had two tackles behind the scrimmage in the first half. He tackled Jacksonville RB Rashad Jennings for a six-yard loss in the first quarter and then tackled RB Montell Owens for no gain on a run in the second quarter.
- WR Mathew Slater, who has played mostly on special teams during his three seasons in New England and has no regular-season receptions, caught a 43-yard reception from QB Brian Hoyer in the second quarter to help set up a field goal.
- First-year WR Buddy Farnham played both wide receiver and safety and intercepted a QB Todd Bouman in the fourth quarter. On offense, he caught three passes for 34 yards. Last season in the preseason-finale vs. the New York Giants (9/2/10), he played both ways and broke up a Giants pass in the end zone in the third quarter.
- RB Richard Medlin, a rookie free agent from Fayetteville, scored two touchdowns with two 2-yard touchdown runs in the fourth quarter.