October 19, 2017

Archives for August 2009

NY Times Blog – The Belichick Way: Still the Best

There is a very interesting blog post on The Fifth Down, the New York Times Football blog, by KC Joyner. The entry is titled The Belichick Way: Still the Best.

Joyner starts out by telling us, “After reviewing the game notes from the 2008 season, I am convinced that Bill Belichick is the NFL’s version of The Beatles.”

After listing the accomplishments of The Beatles, for so many years, he draws it back to Belichick by stating: Even after all of these years, no one comes close to having the same kind of grasp that he has on operating a football team.

He then lists out what he thinks are the core principles of Belichick teams:

  • Make the game plan specific to the opponent.
  • Build your team so that it can go after any of these weaknesses.
  • Combine athletic ability with intelligence as often as possible.
  • A team doesn’t need a great running back to win.
  • If you can’t go after a specific weakness in your opponent, use every tool in the playbook to put your players into the highest percentage position possible.
  • Don’t ask players to do things they aren’t capable of.
  • The team’s psychological state cannot be ignored.
  • Teach players how to do the high percentage things.
  • Teach players that if the defense is giving you anything, take as much of it as you can.
  • Know how to work the clock in very creative ways.
  • Don’t let superstition get in the way of things.
  • Don’t let a macho attitude get in the way of things.

Each of these points are expanded on in detail in the post. Well worth a read.

Bruschi Takes a Bow Today

by Scott Benson, Patriots Daily Staff
August 31, 2009

Tedy Bruschi, a Patriot from beginning to end, will complete his storied 13-year NFL career by announcing his retirement later this morning.

His rise to prominence mirrored that of the only professional football team he would ever play for. A third-round pick that began as a sometimes-defensive end and special teams player, Bruschi went full-tilt, full-time for 10 years as a starting linebacker, captain, pro bowler, and three-time world champion.

Even a shocking, debilitating stroke in 2005 – suffered mere hours after his crowning NFL achievement – was not enough to stop him. He battled back to play four more seasons after his very life had hung in the balance.

As a result, few players have forged a more impenetrable bond with fans. From modest beginnings this Everyman reached the ultimate goal, armed only with his God-given abilities and honest, relentless effort. It was the kind of dream we have for ourselves, and in living it, Tedy Bruschi not only entertained us but lifted our very spirits.

But time…time we cannot deny. As the Patriots prepared for another season, this franchise icon almost seemed to linger behind. It was as if Bruschi, so much a part of the team’s history, was struggling to find his place in its future. Today he ends that search, though the example he set is sure to echo in the locker room and on the field for years to come.

Mere words are not sufficient to express our admiration and affection for him. Yet we, and so many over the next few days, will try. We can only hope that we do our jobs as well as Tedy Bruschi did over 13 unforgettable seasons.

E-mail Scott Benson at scott@patriotsdaily.com

This Week on PD, August 23-29

by the Patriots Daily Staff
August 30, 2009

Here’s a rundown of the top five most-read posts on Patriots Daily for the week of August 23 through August 29, 2009.

  1. Brady Comments Spark Media Overreaction – on Wednesday, Bruce Allen grew frustrated with the local media’s attempts to exploit a few Tom Brady comments on his contract.
  2. Pats Linebackers Still a Concern – also on Wednesday, Jeremy Gottlieb wondered about the depth and breadth of the Pats linebacking corps.
  3. Worry Wart – Preseason Game 3 at Washington – on Thursday, Chris Warner looked nervously ahead at the Redskins.
  4. Patriots/Redskins One of Just Two Preseason Games for CBS – on Tuesday, Bruce set the table for CBS’s coverage of the Patriots third preseason game.
  5. Take a Lap – TV Color Man Randy Cross – Last weekend, a team of PD researchers led by Scott Benson discovered images of the fabled Loch Ness Monster on Google Earth…wait a minute, that’s not Scotland!

We’re looking forward to the approaching season and we thank you for your continuing support.

Brady okay but sidelined until opener?

by Scott Benson, Patriots Daily Staff
August 29, 2009

Competing blog posts tonight say Tom Brady is not seriously hurt but will be held from this Thursday’s final preseason game with the Giants.

Chris Gasper, Mike Reiss and Ian Rapoport went at all angles of the injury today, from Reiss’s detailed breakdown of the play to Belichick’s typically evasive conference call to Rapoport goofy Encyclopedia Britannica clip art and link to comments from Neal ElAttrache. Then, the competing – but complimentary – entries tonight.

It’s good news. I think. Who knows, until he’s throwing with no problem? Hopefully, he’ll be doing just that a week from Wednesday at the latest.

Then we can go back to fretting about his knee.

E-mail Scott Benson at scott@patriotsdaily.com

Take a Lap – Coach Dean Pees

by Scott Benson, Patriots Daily Staff
August 29, 2009

I realize that it’s just the third pre-season game. I understand that they are in what is essentially a base alignment as serious game planning is being held for Buffalo and the rest of their regular season opponents. I recognize that what’s really important is how the Patriots defense plays in November and December, not August.

I know all that stuff. Still, Pats defensive coordinator Dean Pees – take a lap.

Maybe I have been expecting too much from a rebuilding Pats defense, but I was hoping to see more than this by now. Especially this week of the pre-season, often thought of as a dress rehearsal for the regular campaign. The Pats have improved incrementally on the pass rush (blitzes by Jerod Mayo in particular) so far, and last night tightened up on the run while showing taut coverage in spots. Overall, though, it’s still too easy to move the ball on them. Again, I understand the whole vanilla thing, but does vanilla necessarily have to mean mediocre?

E-mail Scott Benson at scott@patriotsdaily.com

PD Game Ball – WR Randy Moss

by Scott Benson, Patriots Daily Staff
August 29, 2009

Rookie Pat Chung set up last night’s 27-24 win over the Redskins with a darting 33 yard punt return, but this week’s PD game ball goes to veteran WR Randy Moss.

This is a new and different Patriots team in a new and different season, but Moss and quarterback Tom Brady clicked last night as if they had traveled back in time.

It began on New England’s second series with a series of crossing routes, slants and square-ins that had the chains moving and the Pats passing game in high synch, 2007-style.

Then, when a Brady pump fake (sold with vigor) caused DeAngelo Hall to stutter for just an instant, Moss slipped by the aggressive cornerback just enough that he could pull in a perfect throw (with Hall draped all over him) from Brady for the pair’s first touchdown connection of the summer.

On the Patriots next possession, Brady spread out the offense to attack a third and short inside the Washington 30. The Redskins choked off the quick conversion throw for Brady, leaving him to sidestep through a moving pocket until Moss again got behind a Washington corner (this time, Justin Tyron, who didn’t replicate Hall’s recovery) for his second straight score.

The game was barely into the second quarter. And all this without Wes Welker. Randy Moss, you get the PD game ball. It’s unlikely to be your last*.

* I say this as if I didn’t see Brady didn’t fall awkwardly on his shoulder after an Albert Haynesworth hit before the half. If appearances count for anything, Brady didn’t seem that concerned about it – he’ll probably be the only one who isn’t. Aside from Chad Ochocinco, I mean.

E-mail Scott Benson at scott@patriotsdaily.com

Gut Check – Preseason Game 3 at Washington

by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
August 29, 2009

A quick review of last night’s 27-24 scrimmage win for New England at Washington:

Commencement Weak: The Patriots opened with the spark of wet clay, messing up on special teams (see: Slater, Matthew), offense (three and out) and defense (touchdown given up with 38 penalty yards). Yuck.

Wait Til We Get Our Haynesworth On You: When Tom Brady started out hitting nine of 12 passes for 122 yards and two touchdowns, life was good. When he failed to connect with Joey Galloway and Fred Taylor on different occasions, life was still good, just less comfortable. When leviathan tackle Albert Haynesworth landed on Brady’s shoulder, life seemed just… lame.

Stairway to Kevin: Because, really, Kevin O’Connell provided less-stellar-confidence in the backup quarterback position.

Let’s just think happy thoughts and continue…

Three Is A Magic Number: Kudos to Stephen Gostkowski for his game-winning field goal in the final seconds. Not that he needed it, but it came as a nice shot of confidence.

Randy And Ready: If the first half is any indication, Randy Moss looks primed, with six receptions for 90 yards and two touchdowns, helping New England race out to a 17-7 lead.

Attending The Reception: Three catches for 30 yards in the first half? We’ll take that, Laurence Maroney.

Floor Matt: Will the real Matthew Slater come out to play? He returned the opening kickoff for a skimpy 17-yard gain and hit a punt returner on a fair catch (need we add: for the second week in a row). After that came a special-teams tackle and a downed punt at the two-yard line. Let’s get more of the latter, please.

The Rise Of Lenon: One play after a solid tackle, linebacker Paris Lenon fell for QB Jason Campbell’s ball fake and leapt, allowing Campbell’s jaunt into the end zone. Whether or not that will result in the Fall of Lenon remains to be determined.

In The Reads: Defensive back Jonathan Wilhite returned an interception 99 yards for a 24-17 lead midway through the third. A red zone stop? Be still my heart.

Email Chris Warner at chris.warner@patriotsdaily.com

Final Thoughts, August 28, 2009 at Redskins

by Scott Benson, Patriots Daily Staff
August 28, 2009

Friends, tonight we welcome the CBS NFL broadcast team of Jim Nantz and Phil Simms back into our homes for another exciting season. What a moment!

Here are a few final thoughts;

  • Staying on the media for a minute, it was bit of a shock at first to learn that the highly valued Mike Reiss was leaving the Boston Globe, boston.com and Reiss’s Pieces to join the new ESPN Boston multimedia venture as its Patriots correspondent.
  • It’s understandable in times of change that our first instinct be “who in f**k moved our cheese?” But as a message board friend so aptly asked earlier, what difference should this make to those of us who access all this from the Internet? So the most profound impact on us is that we’ll have to make a new bookmark or something. I don’t think I’m being impolite to say that 100% of my clicks to boston.com over the last few years have been because of Mike Reiss, and not boston.com, so I’ll just click somewhere else now.
  • I’ll let Bruce and the others who watch the media to take it from there. I’ll simply chalk this up to good things happening to good people.
  • So I’m figuring Nantz and Simms are going heavy on the Brady tonight.
  • I don’t know much about the Redskins beyond the cursory (I don’t like Jason Campbell as a quarterback, Clinton Portis may be a flake but he’s very hard to tackle, and Albert Haynesworth is their latest free agent prize) but I saw a pre-season replay on NFLN the other night, and rookie Brian Orakpo can really collapse a pocket. He never quite got there, but he was all around it.
  • I realize this is just the third practice game, but is Larry Maroney going to do something soon? In terms of pre-season production, the running back position still appears muddled. Fred Taylor was just okay last week, Maroney’s been stalled, and now Sammy Morris – their most consistent ball carrier, by the way – may be hurt. Kevin Faulk is solid, and BenJarvus Green-Ellis is the leading pre-season rusher, but it hasn’t come together yet.
  • What’s with the Patriots run defense? The opponents are averaging almost 5 yards an attempt. I was going to point this out as an issue until I realized the Pats D is also giving up 250 yards a game through the air. This is the point where I’m supposed to say something like “that’s something to watch tonight” but seriously, you won’t have to watch for it. You’ll know.
  • So what do you do with the starters tonight, especially Brady? Do you play it like a typical third pre-season game, like a regular season dress rehearsal? A full half, followed by a drive or two in the third? We’ve talked before about the importance of Brady playing through as much mental and physical scar tissue as he can while the games still don’t count. We wonder if that may mean a 35-40 minute workout tonight and a more-than-a-cameo appearance next week.
  • The injury report is out and no Welker OR Edelman, no Crable, no Springs, no Pryor or Brace, and no Faulk or Morris tonight. BJGE’s big break? Greg Lewis’s? Big Steve Williams will no doubt factor in as well. I have to assume that Pryor and Brace have practiced and played their way on the team already, so their absence tonight won’t have any impact on the final roster. How about Crable, though?
  • I also wanted to mention Rob Ninkovich, who didn’t look like much at first but last week he crossed our radar. He’s the team’s leading tackler in the pre-season, and if he makes the kind of progression he did last week, he may find a few people to take up his cause.
  • Hey, Bruce had a good exchange with a Redskins blogger earlier today. Hats off to the Boss for developing another entertaining new weekly feature.

E-mail Scott Benson at scott@patriotsdaily.com

DVR Alert – Patriots/Redskins Replays

Unlike the previous two preseason games, you’ll have to wait until tomorrow for a replay of tonight’s game against the Washington Redskins. Also, the NFL Network will only being showing this replay twice. Since it is a national CBS game, the announcers will remain the same, you’ll have Jim Nantz and Phil Simms calling the action from Fed-X Field. No Redskins announcers, sorry.

Here is the schedule for the two replays of this game:

Saturday, August 29

7:00 AM – NFL Preseason Game: New England Patriots vs. Washington Redskins (HD)

Monday, August 31

10:00 AM – NFL Preseason Game: New England Patriots vs. Washington Redskins (HD)

Trading Places – A Chat With A Redskins Blogger

This week we’re chatting with Rich Tandler from Real Redskins, which is a pretty impressive blog, content wise. Tandler has even written a book on the team, The Redskins Chronicle which appears to be a real labor of love. He includes in the book original accounts of all 1,040 games the Redskins played from when they arrived in D. C. in 1937 through the 2008 season, plus box scores.

Quick trivia question….where did the Redskins play before they moved to Washington in 1937? (answer below)

What’s been the biggest surprise of Redskins camp thus far?

It came in the last preseason game—the emergence of Chase Daniel as a threat to make the squad as the #3 quarterback. That’s not an insignificant role since both Jason Campbell and Todd Collins are in the final years of their contracts. It wasn’t so much that he came in and threw two TD’s against the Steelers, third team vs. third team, but the smooth performance and polished fundamentals he displayed in doing so. The Pats won’t see him on Friday night; they’ll see Colt Brennan, the incumbent #3 who will be fighting to hang on. Brennan is a gunslinger but what looked daring and natural last year looks sloppy this year.

What impact do you see Albert Haynesworth having on the team this year? Is he going to be worth the money?

While nobody can be worth that much money—actually, it’s more like $46 million over 3 years but who’s counting—Haynesworth could come close. On paper, he should draw enough attention in the middle to make rushing lanes for Andre Carter and Brian Orakpo straight lines to the quarterback. The added pressure on the QB should force more turnovers. The sacks and takeaways should turn the defense from a nice, bend-but-don’t-break-except-when-it-really-counts unit into a truly dominant defense. That’s how it’s drawn up on the board, we’ll see how it looks on grass. So far, there is no sign that Haynesworth is slacking off after his big payday. He’s in great shape, he has participated in everything and has proven to be a great teammate. So far, so good, but we’re not very far along. Ask me again in November.

What can Patriots fans expect from Shawn Springs? Does he have anything left?

If Springs stays on the field you have a smart, athletic cornerback and a great guy to have in the locker room. Actually, his reputation for being fragile has been somewhat overstated. He had problems with a sports hernia in 2006 and a calf injury that had him in and out of the lineup last year. Other than that he’s been reasonably durable.

Got any spare linebackers sitting around? We might be looking for some.

Although the Redskins are a 4-3 team they are installing a couple of 3-4 style hybrid strong side linebackers. First-round draft pick Brian Orakpo and holdover Chris Wilson are in a two-point stance on running downs and in a pass rushing position on third. Even given that, the LB position is pretty tight. What, Junior Seau of the AARP isn’t good enough?

How secure is Jim Zorn’s job? Do you see Daniel Snyder making a call to Mike Shanahan next offseason, even if Zorn does well?

I think that Zorn’s job security is better than most believe it is. Snyder stuck his neck way, way out when hired Zorn in a stunning ending to the Neverending Story that was the coaching search of 2008. If Zorn is at or near .500 after two years on the job I think that Snyder will look like a fool if he cans him. Everyone will say, rightly so, that he needed to give Zorn more time to prove himself. Bottom line, if Zorn goes 8-8 he’s safe. At 7-9 or even 6-10 he might be OK if it’s obvious that he still has the team. If they’re 5-11 or worse, Snyder’s on the horn to Shanny (and/or Cowher and/or Gruden).

Thanks, Rich!

Here’s the Q&A we did for Rich’s site: Behind Enemy Lines: The Patriots


Trivia answer: The franchise now known as the Washington Redskins was founded as the Boston Braves in 1932. The next year they became the Boston Redskins and played in Boston through the 1936 season. Yes, the NFL existed in Boston before the Patriots!

Actually the Redskins weren’t the first or only attempt to bring pro football to Boston. The famous Pottsville Maroons, moved to Boston in 1928 and became the Boston Bulldogs, but disbanded after that one season. Then, after the Redskins left, the expansion Boston Yanks were formed in 1944, played a few seasons and then moved to New York in 1949 and became the New York Bulldogs, but were disbanded the following year.

For more on the story of the Pottsville Maroons, you’d want to check out this book: Breaker Boys: The NFL’s Greatest Team and the Stolen 1925 Championship

Today In Patriots History – Stanley Enshrined

StanleyMorganTwo years ago today, on August 27th, 2007, the Patriots enshrined wide receiver Stanley Morgan into their Hall of Fame.

Morgan played 13 seasons in the NFL from 1977 to 1989 all for the Patriots. He retired as the franchise’s all time leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns. He remains the team leader in the latter two categories.

He was also my all time favorite Patriot prior to the championship era.

Stanley Morgan on Pro-Football-Reference.com.

Worry Wart – Preseason Game 3 at Washington

by Chris Warner,  Patriots Daily Staff
August 27, 2009

As tradition has it, the third preseason scrimmage features the best competition as starters seek their collective rhythm. After last week’s jubilee of ineptitude vs. Cincinnati, New England looks to rebound in the nation’s capital.

Please, let’s leave the political jokes and comments for another time (except one: RIP, Senator Ted). For now, a collection of concerns going into Friday’s game…

The Line, The Switch And Tom’s Wardrobe: Tackle Nick Kaczur and the offensive line took the blame last week for Tom Brady’s jersey-sullying sack, but Brady himself admitted he offered up the wrong protection scheme. If the Pats spread their offense, can they handle the proverbial guanostorm defenses will hurl at them, or will “Blitz Brady” prevail as every opponent’s game plan?

And The Crable Will Walk: Running, however, may be another story. Outside linebacker Shawn Crable came in for one play last week, and – as Jeremy Gottlieb pointed out in his column – pulled up lame. We assume that Crable will make the team. But when will he get to play? And how does Rob Ninkovich feel about all this?

Larry The Stable Guy: All running backs must synch up with the starting offensive line to prep for the season. Ergo, halfback Laurence Maroney needs to run with the first team. Hey, Laurence and the O-line? Four yards a carry (not 2.15). That’s all we’re asking.

Special, So Special, I Gotta Have Some Of Your Attention: The Pretenders’ anthem goes out to New England’s special teams, whose past two performances have been more up and down than Kingda Ka. This week, look for zero penalties and solid coverage.

It Only Takes A Second: A Second-string quarterback, that is. Does Kevin O’Connell still have the spot, or has Andrew Walter taken over? And can we discount the potential of rookie Brian Hoyer (11 for 19, 112 yards vs. Cincy)?

Email Chris Warner at chris.warner@patriotsdaily.com