Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to talk about Deflategate and how it will affect the Patriots this Sunday. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Mike Florio

Mike Florio

Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk.com joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to talk about Deflategate and how it will affect the Patriots this Sunday. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Though Bill Belichick closed the door on the topic after his press conference Saturday afternoon, Deflategate is something that has, for better or worse, captivated a nation. Initially the NFL announced that the investigation would take a few days, but recently the timetable was extended to the coming weeks. According to Florio, this could be because if the league needed to punish someone it doesn’t want to issue any suspensions for the Super Bowl.

“I think they didn’t want to get themselves into a position where they reached conclusions and then have to do something before the Super Bowl,” he said. “If you play this out to its logical conclusion and decide there was deflation, and we’re going to assume that somebody knew about this, then the NFL may have been in a position where they have to suspend Bill Belichick, suspend Tom Brady for the Super Bowl, and I don’t think they wanted to do that. So I guess what I’m saying is suspensions would be on the table depending on what they ultimately find.”

The league has been quiet, Florio said, because “everyone’s goal, from the perspective of 345 Park Avenue, is get through the Super Bowl, get past this and then we’ll worry about it later.”

The most recent development in the scandal is video of a locker room attendant disappearing into the bathroom for 90 seconds with 12 balls belonging to the Colts and 12 belonging to the Patriots. Florio said that despite news of the video only reaching the public this week, it was something the Pats had given over early on.

To some, the 90 seconds might not seem like enough time to deflate 11 footballs, but Florio said a head coach from a different NFL team tested it and said that he was able to deflate 12 balls and still have time to go to the bathroom in that time. Florio himself even did a bit of a test on his radio show last week.

“I had a football, had a needle, got it up to the microphone yesterday, and I didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said. “It was 13.5, and I popped that thing in for two seconds, and it’s a violent release of air, especially if it’s inflated to 13.5, it does not take long. And if you, you know the ball bag, it’s the bag that you lay on the ground and you zip it and they’re all right there so it’s just needle in, needle in, needle in, needle in, it doesn’t take a lot of time to do. As they call it, take the top off the ball, that’s all it is taking the top off the ball.”

Whether or not the attendant deflated the balls in the bathroom with or without the knowledge of anyone higher up, though it may be true, might not be of concern to the league. Florio noted that Spygate caused Roger Goodell to tell the owners that they “need to reduce the standard of proof in these types of cases,” that they “don’t need to have a smoking gun.” He also added that even if the attendant says he was just relieving himself, the NFL doesn’t have to accept his explanation.

“In the NFL’s perspective, the balls were underinflated,” he said. “The Colts’ weren’t, and we have this gap, this window in the chain of custody where the balls are taken behind closed doors for 90 seconds and the end result is the balls are underinflated, and we don’t care if you deny it. We’re willing to find under the low standard more likely than not, given the outcome, and I know from people I’ve spoken to in the league office, they believe the balls were underinflated and that’s all that matters, and that’s going to be a tough one to overcome regardless of whether or not anyone confesses to putting a needle in the balls and letting air out.”

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

On whether this creates an ‘us against the world’ mentality for Patriots: “Absolutely, because all week long you say to the players, ‘No one thinks we can win without cheating, no one thinks we deserve to be here, everybody thinks that everything we’ve accomplished is tainted,’ and if you truly can get the players to forget about this and to remove any doubt from their own minds, and I think you can, between what Mr. Kraft said, between what coach Belichick said, I think you can, then it does create a huge advantage. Remember that, was it San Diego Week 2 of 2007, a Sunday night game after Spygate, and they just came out and obliterated the Chargers? I think there’s a chance it happens, now, there’s a big difference between the Chargers in a regular-season game and the Seattle Seahawks in the Super Bowl, this is a good team to come out and try to blow the doors off, but I think we’re going to see a level of aggression in play calling, in the way the players conduct themselves. I think the Patriots are going to try to bring the storm early. Something occurred to me yesterday. The Russell Wilson magical comeback late in the Green Bay game, that’s a Tim Tebow outcome, and the way Belichick deals with Tim Tebow, you get up by 30 points by halftime so he doesn’t have a chance to pull the rabbit out of his hat in the fourth quarter.”

On the Packers providing the Patriots with a blueprint for Sunday: “Look at what the Packers were able to do to them. We always talk about the blueprint, where’s the blueprint? Well the Packers have given the Patriots a blueprint, and I’d say the Patriots are at least as good as the Packers at pretty much every position so you take what the Packers did,and you finish the job. You get fourth-and-goal on the 1, you don’t kick a field goal, you score the touchdown, you go for the jugular, that was what kept the Packers from winning, they were trying not to lose.”

Blog Author: 
Judy Cohen

PHOENIX — Now that media day has come and gone, the attention for Super Bowl XLIX has begun to at least start to turn to the actual game on Sunday. The teams will practice for the first time in Arizona on Wednesday following their respective media availabilities in the morning.

After the report emerged that a locker room attendant took the Patriots’ offensive footballs into the bathroom for 90 seconds on his way to the field before Sunday’s AFC championship game, some Pats backers suggested that 1 1/2 minutes was not enough time to deflate a dozen footballs.

NY Daily News 1-28-15After the report emerged that a locker room attendant took the Patriots’ offensive footballs into the bathroom for 90 seconds on his way to the field before Sunday’s AFC championship game, some Pats backers suggested that 1 1/2 minutes was not enough time to deflate a dozen footballs. The New York Daily News says otherwise.

Daily News reporter Gersh Kuntzman decided to run a test to see if he could deflate 12 balls by two PSI within that time frame. According to Kuntzman, it actually took only 40 seconds to remove the air. Adding in time to enter and exit the bathroom and fumble around with the footballs, he still finished in well under 90 seconds.

Kuntzman purchased 12 top-of-the-line balls and inflated them to 13 PSI, meeting the NFL’s requirements. After running a test on one of the balls — sticking in a pin for 2.2 seconds to get it to 11 PSI — he loaded the balls in a bag and stepped into a bathroom. He emerged from the room 77 seconds later with 12 deflated balls — leaving 13 seconds to spare.

Wrote Kuntzman: Bottom line? Clearly, a Patriot assistant who is quite accustomed to handling Tom Brady‘s precious balls could easily have turned the Jan. 18 conference championship game into a joke.

All he needed was 40 seconds, a men’s room stall and deflated ethics.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

Vince Wilfork speaks Tuesday in Phoenix on Super Bowl media day. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)PHOENIX -- Vince Wilfork can still remember the day he broke down and cried like a baby.



MIKE PETRAGLIA

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PHOENIX — Now that media day has come and gone, the attention for Super Bowl XLIX has begun to at least start to turn to the actual game on Sunday. The teams will practice for the first time in Arizona on Wednesday following their respective media availabilities in the morning.

Here is the media schedule for Wednesday:

8:00 MT Bill Belichick press conference
8:15 MT Vince Wilfork press conference
8:30 MT Patriots player availability (Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Darrelle Revis, Chandler Jones, Julian Edelman, Matthew Slater with podiums)
10:15 MT Pete Carroll press conference
10:30 MT Russell Wilson press conference
10:45 MT Seahawks player availability (Doug Baldwin, Kam Chancellor, Jermaine Kearse, Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Max Unger with podiums)

Here are a few of the top stories and audio segments from Tuesday:

Quiet Star: After a season of silence, Patriots LB Jamie Collins talks about his breakout year. By Chris Price
Extra-special: Patriots special teams has excelled under coach Scott O’€™Brien. By Ryan Hannable
The Triumph of Brandon Browner. By Chris Price
Jerod Mayo grills Bill Belichick, steals show at Patriots media day. By Mike Petraglia
Chris Mortensen on MFB saying he has doubts about the Patriots’ stance with Deflategate.
Former Jets coach Mike Westoff joined Dale & Holley to talk about Deflategate.
Mike Florio and Peter King joined Dale & Holley to discuss if the Patriots did anything wrong with Deflategate.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

PHOENIX -- There's nothing better than an athlete who talks it and walks it.



Brandon Browner has sparked the Patriots secondary this season. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)PHOENIX — Brandon Browner is a lot of things: Outspoken. Intense. Tough.



Scott O'Brien has been the Patriots' special teams coach for six years. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

Scott O’Brien has been the Patriots’ special teams coach for six years. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

PHOENIX — Often times on some NFL teams, the special teams unit gets over looked. Not so much with the New England Patriots.

Led by special teams coach Scott O’Brien — in his sixth year as New England, but serving as a special teams coach in the NFL since 1991 — the Patriots have emerged as one of the better special teams units in the league, making game-changing plays on numerous occasions.

The Patriots’ special teams group finished first in Rick Gosselin’s famous NFL special teams rankings this year and finished seventh in Football Outsiders’ DVOA ranking, a major credit to the work O’Brien has done with his players.

“I’€™m not sure,” O’Brien said when asked why he’s coached special teams exclusively for 23 seasons. “I’€™m sure I was influenced by a lot of people I came up with through my career. I’€™ve always enjoyed it as a player. I can’€™t put my finger on it, but it’€™s always been something I’€™ve enjoyed doing. I love the schemes, the creation of it. I don’€™t know. I don’€™t think it’€™s just one thing. I’€™ve had a lot of influences on me.”

New England has blocked five kicks this season — four field goals and one punt. The unit has seen three players get named AFC Special Teams Player of the Week in Chris Jones for his field goal block in the closing seconds against the Jets in Week 7, Julian Edelman for his punt return for a touchdown against the Broncos in Week 9 and Ryan Allen for his field position changing punts in Week 14 against the Chargers.

The four blocked field goals on the year was a franchise record.

“I think a lot of it has been, like I said, timing,” O’Brien said. “It’€™s a group effort no matter who blocks it. To block kicks in this league is hard to do. It usually takes more than one thing to happen to have that success, but I think these guys have always worked hard at it. You just get the right combination of the right players in the right spot. You give them a chance to have success, and they have it. It’€™s obviously had a big impact during the games.”

This isn’t even mentioning the job Allen, kicker Stephen Gostkowski and long-snapper Danny Aiken have done. Allen averaged 46.4 yards per punt, which was good for 10th in the NFL, while Gostkowski connected on 94.6 percent of his field goals — the second-best mark in the league.

The Patriots go above and beyond when it comes to valuing special teams, as they often keep multiple players on the 53-man roster just because of their ability to stand out on special teams — Matthew Slater being the prime example.

Slater, a seven-year veteran, played just 16 total offensive snaps this season according to Pro Football Focus, but was also named to the Pro Bowl for the fourth straight season as a special teamer. Knowing how much value the Patriots organization has in special teams, Slater knows how fortunate he was to be selected by them in the fourth round in the 2008 draft.

“For me personally it’s awesome,” said Slater. “I really think me being here is a Godsend because there are not many teams that approach the special teams phase like we do and put as much time into it as we do. We have a great group of guys that take a lot of pride is playing at a high level so it’s been great being apart of this.”

“Obviously, a lot of teams don’t do that,” Slater said of having roster spots reserved for core special teams guys. “I think maybe we are considered a little different in that way and it is a formula that works for us, and it is a formula that has allowed this team to have a lot of success over the years.”

Slater isn’t the only player, who plays virtually exclusively special teams. Brandon Bolden, Nate Ebner, Tavon Wilson and Jonathan Casillas also fall into that category — players who might be cut if they were on another team that didn’t have as much belief in special teams than the Patriots do.

“I can’t speak for any other team since I’ve never been on another team in the league. I can’t speak of how they hold their levels of importance, but I think the way — we hold every play to its highest importance,” Ebner said. “We put as much detail into the field goal as we do our red area with no time left on the clock in the fourth quarter. We put detail in everything we do from special teams to defense to offense. It’s an important phase of the game and we take it very seriously.”

O’Brien is self-admittedly hard on his players, but he has their respect and gets the most out of them. The players credit a lot of their success because of him coaching them so hard. In his 23 seasons in the league he’s coached special teams for the Browns, Ravens, Panthers, Dolphins and Broncos.

“Scott is a smart, smart coach,” Bolden said. “He has a different game plan and different schemes for every team we play. He does a good job of making sure everyone knows what they are doing.”

“He’s very hard on us,” Slater added. “He doesn’t want us to settle. He always thinks he can do better and make one more play — do something a little bit different. I think that is why we have been able to have the success that we have had because he’s constantly challenging us.”

There is a sense of confidence among the special teamer’s that they can make a big play on every given week, whether it’s a blocked punt, blocked field goal, or even a big tackle to change field position.

“I think that is testament to the work the guys and the focus and effort we put in on a daily basis,” Ebner said. “I think it is great to see.”

“It just goes to will, determination and preparation,” Bolden added. “We go through every week thinking we might get a chance to block a kick. We’ve been sticking to it, doing what we do and getting a few blocks this year.”

O’Brien takes a lot of pride in seeing his players getting the results of their hard work on the field by making big plays, such as Jones’ blocked field goal, Bolden’s punt block against San Diego, and even Vince Wilfork‘s blocked field goal in Week 16 against the Jets.

“I’€™m happy for those guys,” said O’Brien. “They work extremely hard. For any coach, your success comes from the players’€™ success. That’€™s the only thing you really do it for. That’€™s what drives me, and when you can give a plan to those guys and they can go out there and execute it and have success doing it, that’€™s what it’€™s all about. The bottom line is they’€™re helping you win on fourth downs or to get the game started at the half. It’€™s just part of the success that they’€™ve worked hard to get.”

With Super Bowl XLIX shaping up to be a back-and-forth, close game coming down to the wire, it’s entirely possible that one of the Patriots special teams could play a major role in deciding the outcome of the game.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable