Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones

Every week over the course of the 2014 season, we’€™€™€™ll€™€ provide a look at the Patriots pass rush numbers. Like all stats, the numbers have to be placed on context of game-situations and personnel. And while sacks can be overrated, when evaluated as part of a bigger picture that includes quarterback hits and quarterback pressures (the latter courtesy of Pro Football Focus), it should provide a good picture as to which defenders are consistently able to get after the quarterback. Currently, the Patriots are tied for ninth in the league in sacks with seven. Based on the official NFL game books and PFF, here’€™€™€™€™€™s a look at the pass-rush numbers for the Patriots after three games for the 2014 regular season:

Sacks (via gamebooks)
LB Dont’€™a Hightower: 2 (22 yards)
DE Chandler Jones: 2 (7 yards)
DE Rob Ninkovich: 1 (10 yards)
LB Jerod Mayo: 1 (9 yards)
DB Kyle Arrington: 1 (0 yards)

Quarterback Hits (via gamebooks)
LB Dont’€™€™a Hightower: 4
DE Rob Ninkovich: 3
DE Chandler Jones: 3
LB Jerod Mayo: 2

Quarterback Hurries (via PFF)
DE Chandler Jones: 6
LB Jerod Mayo: 5
LB/DE Rob Ninkovich: 4
LB Dont’€™€™a Hightower: 4
DL Sealver Siliga: 2
DL Joe Vellano: 2
DL Vince Wilfork: 2
DL Chris Jones: 1
DL Dominique Easley: 1
DB Tavon Wilson: 1

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Targets have been compiled by the NFL since the start of the 2009 season, and while it remains a vaguely imperfect stat ‘€” a badly thrown ball from a quarterback can often go against the record of the receiver as opposed to the quarterback ‘€” it remains a good indication of the confidence level a passer might have in his pass catcher. Here’€™€™s a look at the target breakdown after three regular-season games this year.

WR Julian Edelman: 22 catches on 28 targets
TE Rob Gronkowski: 11 catches on 23 targets
RB Shane Vereen: 10 catches on 16 targets
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 6 catches on 11 targets
WR Brandon LaFell: 4 catches on 14 targets
TE Tim Wright: 4 catches on 5 targets
WR Danny Amendola: 3 catches on 7 targets
RB Stevan Ridley: 3 catches on 3 targets
FB James Develin: 2 catches on 2 targets
RB Brandon Bolden: 1 catch on 3 targets
WR Aaron Dobson: 1 catch on 2 targets
TE Michael Hoomananwanui: 1 catch on 1 target

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Darrelle Revis went head-to-head with James Jones for much of the day Sunday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Darrelle Revis went head-to-head with James Jones for much of the day Sunday. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

With the understanding that the all-22 game film (which is usually made available sometime on Tuesday) could shed some more light on how his afternoon went, here are a few preliminary notes on Darrelle Revis‘ performance Sunday against the Raiders.

– By our unscientific count, Revis played 58 snaps on the afternoon. He was lined up on the left side 34 times, and on the right for 24 snaps. Rookie quarterback Derek Carr threw in his direction seven times, and completed five passes for 63 total yards, with one of the incompletions coming on a pair of offsetting penalties. Carr clearly wasn’t intimidated by Revis, throwing two key passes in his direction in the fourth quarter with the game in the balance. (One of those was completed along the Oakland — more on that shortly — and another fell incomplete.)

– Veteran James Jones did most of the damage against Revis, catching three passes for 43 yards. The sweetest connection of the afternoon came late in the fourth quarter — on Oakland’s final drive of the day, Carr delivered an impressive back-shoulder throw to Jones along the Raiders sideline for an 18-yard pickup that was as nice a throw-and-catch as we’ve seen all season, given the situation. Jones added a 13-harder over the middle, and had a 12-yard pickup on an out route. (Jones did not catch anything else when matched up with anyone else all day.)

– One thing that did catch our eye as it relates to Revis: the Patriots moved him from one side to another all afternoon, and matched him up on various receivers throughout the day, including Rod Streater (who had one catch for nine yards on Revis in the early going) and Denarius Moore (who also had an 11-yard reception when matched against Revis). However, on Oakland’s final drive, he appeared to be almost solely focused on going head-to-head with Jones. On the Raiders last eight plays, he was against Jones on five occasions, including matching up with him in the slot on one play while Logan Ryan went against Andre Holmes on the outside. (That was the play where Ryan was flagged for pass interference.)

– By our count, through three weeks, Revis has yielded eight catches on 16 targets for 103 yards, with one interception and three pass breakups. (We’ll have more after watching the all-22 when it’s released, which we’ll include in the weekly edition of the “Revis Report.”)

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Bill Belichick has been less than thrilled at the amount of penalties this year. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick has been less than thrilled at the amount of penalties this year. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

For a Bill Belichick team, the numbers are astounding.

Through the first three games of the season, the Patriots have been flagged for 30 penalties and 322 yards (not counting penalties that were declined or offset). New England is third in the league in penalties incurred (the Niners are first with 36, followed by the Steelers at 31), and leads the league in most penalty yardage (the Rams are second at 305).

Following 15 penalties in their second regular-season game against the Vikings — the most for any Belichick team in one game — the Patriots managed to cut back slightly Sunday against Oakland, finishing with six for 95 yards.

“It was one of the best things we did [Sunday],”€ Belichick said after the narrow escape against the Raiders. “We had fewer penalties in all three phases of the game. That was certainly a positive. We need to play more that way. It wasn’€™t perfect, but that was an improvement in all three areas.”

There was a marked improvement across the board, but at the same time, if the 2014 Patriots stay on their current pace, they’€™ll finish the year with 160 penalties and 1,717 penalty yards. That would set a mark for a Belichick-coached Patriots team (the 2003 team had 111 penalties and 998 penalty yards) and break the franchise record for penalties in a season (114, set in 1985) and most penalty yards in a season (1,051, set in 1992). It also would set an NFL record — the current league mark is 158 penalties, set by the 1998 Chiefs.

The penalties are all the more remarkable considering the fact that the Patriots were one of the least-penalized teams in the league last season when they took 69 penalties for 625 penalty yards, finishing second to the Colts in fewest total penalties and third in least penalty yards, trailing only Indy and Miami. It’€™s also interesting that all of this has taken place without cornerback Brandon Browner, who has been serving his four-game suspension to start the year. In his career with the Seahawks, Browner established a knack for physical. punishing play, but it was a style that drew plenty of attention from officials. He took five penalties in eight games in 2013, and he was flagged for 10 in 2012.

The popular narrative is that the increase in flags for the Patriots simply is representative of the new points of emphasis this year. But while we did see an increase in flags over the first couple of weeks of the preseason, the penalty numbers have come back to earth, and as a result have been relatively comparable to what we saw last year. According to Pro Football Reference, over the course of the first three weeks of the 2013 season there were 618 penalties called. With one game left in the third week of the 2014 season, there have been 645 penalties. An increase, yes, but not the dramatic spike that many believed would take place across the league.

As it relates to the Patriots, through three games it appears the crackdown on hand-checking and physical play by defensive backs hasn’€™t been the heart of their penalty problem. The Patriots have been flagged twice for defensive holding and have taken no penalties for illegal contact. New England has taken three defensive pass interference calls in three games, with two of them going against Logan Ryan. If there’€™s one player who has struggled the most with the points of emphasis, it’€™s been Ryan. The second-year defensive back out of Rutgers leads the team with four penalties — including one defensive holding and two defensive pass interference calls — and 73 penalty yards.

Instead, most of the penalties this season have come up front. The offensive line has been flagged more than any other positional group, having taken nine penalties through three games, almost one-third of the total calls against the Patriots. Offensive holding has been the most common penalty against the Patriots this year (six), with false starts (four) second.

To be clear, leading the league in penalties doesn’€™t necessarily mean you can’€™t be an elite team. After all, the Seahawks led the league in penalties last season but still managed to win the Super Bowl — Seattle was whistled for 128 penalties and was assessed 1,183 in penalty yards, both tops in the league. And then, there’€™s the fact that the two teams left standing at the end of the 2013 season were two of the top four teams in the league when it came to penalties (the Broncos were fourth in the league in penalties against). But that approach runs counter to the Patriots’€™ philosophy, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. The New England offense is struggling to find some consistency right now, with every yard a precious commodity. Giving some of that yardage back because of an infraction is a luxury the Patriots cannot afford.

In the end, since he arrived prior to the start of the 2000 season, Belichick and the Patriots frequently have rewritten the record books, setting marks in several categories. Only time will tell if the 2014 Patriots will end up penning another, less memorable chapter to add to their franchise history.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork joined Dale & Holley on Monday to discuss the Patriots’€™ 16-9 win over the Raiders. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

With the Raiders driving deep into Patriots territory at the end of the game, Wilfork helped close out the New England victory with a key interception — the third of his career. Two of his interceptions have come against Oakland.

“That play I caught it, but that play probably wouldn’t have been possible without my teammates,” Wilfork said of the interception. “I just happened to be there to catch it. That’€™s the main thing.”

Continued Wilfork: “It was something I thought I was going to be able to get. I didn’t know when, but I actually called it earlier this year. I think going into this past week, I was talking to Chandler [Jones] and I told him, ‘€˜I think I have one coming soon.’€™ A little vision I had. Some call vision that I saw in my sleep. A little birdie tapped me on the shoulder and was like, ‘€˜You’€™ll be ready.’ ”

The Patriots defense allowed nine points to Oakland on Sunday and just 16 combined in the last two weeks. Wilfork said the defense still has room for improvement throughout the season.

“We haven’€™t played our best game yet, it has yet to come,” Wilfork said. “The more we practice at it, the more consistent we become, I think you’€™ll see the defense play a lot better. It’€™s just one of those things each week where you have to continue to just grind away. Things we make mistakes of, correct them and move forward. And get better each day. I think that’€™s one thing we have done from the first week to now. We’ve gotten better each week. And that’€™s the only thing you can ask for. It’€™s still early in the season.”

Oakland running back Darren McFadden is one of the top tailbacks in the league when healthy. The Patriots held him to just 3.3 yards per carry on 18 rushes.

Said Wilfork: “He’€™s a tough runner. He hits a different level every time he touches the ball. He explodes so quickly. There was one play yesterday that I went out and arm tackled him and he was by me so fast. It just shows you the explosiveness that he has as a running back. Not too many running backs have that. But he’€™s one of them. He’€™s fast, he’€™s powerful, he’€™s big and he can run. He’€™s a good back. … I think we did a real good job yesterday of handling the run game.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

On Darrelle Revis‘€™ performance with the Patriots: “He’€™s every bit of a New England Patriot player. He’€™s unselfish, he’€™s a guy that just comes in and puts his head down and goes to work. Every day he’€™s competing. Any time you see guys at that level of their game, to compete the way they compete in practice and get upset if you complete a pass, that’€™s a special player. It kind of rubbed off on the other guys back in the secondary, just seeing how he approached the game.”

On the rest of the defensive corps: “The one thing that I really love about this defense is that the guys that aren’t starters that know their roles, they come in and compete every day. They’€™re not mad that they’€™re not starting. They’€™re not pouting. They’€™re coming to work and competing every day. We always want to be the best at what whatever we do. And it’€™s just going to make our team a lot better, especially our defense.”

On playing in Kansas City and a loud environment: “They’€™re going to be riled up. They’€™re going to be ready to go. I played there once as a rookie, and I tell you it was probably one of the loudest stadiums I’ve been in. I think they’€™re going to be rocking coming off a good win this week. We’€™re going to their house Monday night. I’€™m pretty sure we’€™re going to get their best. We have to be able to match it and start with a good week of practice.”

Blog Author: 
Andrew Battifarano
We check in with Big Vince Wilfork on a Patriots Monday and get his take on the defense's progression, his interception, his teammate Darrelle Revis and playing Monday Night Football in KC.
We check in with the head coach for his reaction to the Patriots win against Oakland, the offense's struggles, Julien Edelman, and playing in KC on Monday Night.
We check in with Tedy Bruschi on a Patriots Monday for his reaction to the Patriots struggles, Julien Edelman and his strong comments about his desire to see Roger Goodell lose his job.

Making his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley Show, ESPN analyst, and former Patriots linebacker, Tedy Bruschi reiterated his stance that Roger Goodell should be replaced as commissioner of the National Football League.

Tedy Bruschi (Getty Images)

Tedy Bruschi (Getty Images)

Making his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley Show, ESPN analyst, and former Patriots linebacker, Tedy Bruschi reiterated his stance that Roger Goodell should be replaced as commissioner of the National Football League.

“It was just all about me saying what I believed in, what I felt,” said Bruschi regarding his statement on ESPN shortly after Goodell’s Friday press conference, suggesting it was time for a change in the NFL’s commissioner’s office. “Just that I’m proud of the time I spent in the National Football League. I tried to conduct myself during my 13-year career to do the right thing. I still feel part of it, a part of the integrity of the game to how I still conduct myself. My commissioner I want to be that man you can look to and he represents the integrity of our game. He’s got to be the figurehead. He’s got to lead in his image. He’s everything. He represents the players. He represents the owners. And, yes, I do feel he represents the players because he is the face with the shield. Roger Goodell’s integrity has been compromised. Now, has that been proven? There are still investigations. There’s an internal investigation with the NFL All I’m saying, moving forward I just feel, personally, we need a new face.

“We need a new leader to implement new policies and to have a new image. Because going forward when you look to the NFL and you see the head of the NFL, and it is Roger Goodell, no matter what happens with the investigation, you remember and you wonder. You wonder what he’s saying. Is he telling the truth? Is everyone behind him? And right now there isn’t. Everyone is not behind him and I would like new leadership to lead the league forward.”

Bruschi also touched on his concerns in regards to his former team.

He noted that perhaps the biggest issue facing the Patriots is their play at the center and guards positions on the offensive line. If improvement is made on the line’s interior, Bruschi said, there could be a concern in regards to quarterack Tom Brady‘s ability to stay healthy for an entire season.

“There’s been only limited improvement over the first few weeks, so that’s somewhat discouraging,” he said. “Is there still plenty of time? Yes. But I really worry. I really worry about the health of Tom Brady and the interior offensive line and what they’re doing there. To me, inside-out, it starts at the center position, which is a very valuable position now in the National Football League. It’s getting to be just as valuable as the left tackle, how you have to solidify the center of that pocket and the running game because that’s where all the pressure is going to come from. Especially when you have a pocket passer, which is what Tom is. It’s the quickest track to get to him and it disrupts the running game the most, if you get to get disruption over the center and the left guard and the right guard. Right now, they’re having problems in there.

Bruschi added, “You can have the best coach there is, Dante Scarnecchia can still be there, and you still may have a center and a right guard that struggles because the players on the other side of the ball are just better. I think offensively what they’ll try to do is mask their deficincies there. How do you have it more that the interior offensive line to have the advantage in terms of protecting your quarterback? You run the ball more. You try and be more physical. You use misdirection. You do play-action pass. Those type of things you have to win on first and second down and keep it manageable on third down because if it ends up second and long or third and long, I as a defensive pass rusher or linebacker we can attack those A gaps, that’s where it’s going to come. If you have the problems there, coupled with your tackles getting beat like a drum, like they were at times on Sunday, you have some major problems going forward.”

To listen to the entire interview, go to Audio on Demand at the Dale & Holley page by click here.

Blog Author: 
WEEI