Tim Wright

Tim Wright

FOXBORO — Tim Wright has three touchdowns this season — two of them coming on play-action plays from the 1-yard line, but they don’€™t come as easy as one might think.

“The margin of error is critical,”€ Wright said. “Like I said, if it’€™s one second off, the whole play can shift just like that. You see guys fighting for one yard, you know — one yard you think at the 50-yard line is pretty simple, but down in that red zone and goal line area it gets critical.”

Wright had a 1-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter of Sunday’€™s win over the Bears and also had one against Buffalo earlier in the season — also on play-action.

He says sometimes he can tell just lining up looking at the defense it is going to be a successful play.

“When you see a look lining up, you can lick your chops a little bit — maybe the percentage will go up if everybody executes their job,”€ Wright said. “But then sometimes [the defense does] a good job as well and they give you a look that you may haven’€™t seen and they defend you well so that’€™s what comes along with it.”

For the season the Patriots are 17th in the NFL in red zone touchdown efficiency, scoring touchdowns 54.8 percent of the time. Denver, the Patriots’€™ next opponent is the best in the league, scoring a touchdown on 82.6 percent of its red zone trips.

The Patriots tight end notes things get more difficult in the red zone with tighter windows to throw, but helps having a quarterback like Tom Brady throwing the ball.

“Things happen fast in the red zone,”€ said Wright. “I think the coaches have called great plays and you know, on a particular play there are particular details you have to do because it’€™s the red zone, especially inside the five because everyone is crossing. Tom [Brady] does a great job of delivering the ball when it needs to be there and we just capitalized on it.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

The NFL is a dangerous game, apparently even when celebrating.

Late in Sunday’€™s game against the Patriots, Bears defensive end Lamarr Houston was proud of his sack of backup quarterback Jimmy Garappolo. Despite his team being down by 20-plus points, Houston jumped in the air after he brought the quarterback to the ground.

ESPN NFL analyst and former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, in his weekly interview with WEEI’s Dale & Holley show, offered his view on New England’s blowout victory over the Bears, the challenge that lies ahead in game-planning for Peyton Manning and the

Jonas Gray

Jonas Gray

FOXBORO — Jonas Gray has been watching the Tom Brady-Peyton Manning rivalry for a long time, but this coming Sunday the Patriots running back will be apart of it, and admits it’€™s pretty exciting.

“€œIt’€™s pretty cool,”€ he said. “I was watching some of it on the NFL Network, I know they are hyping it up. It’€™s a cool thing. Brady, he does a good job of not downplaying it either, he knows how big of a rivalry it is between them two. I’€™m just happy to be apart of it.”

The Patriots are fresh off a 51-23 blowout win over the Bears Sunday — their fourth straight win and now right in the thick of the AFC playoff picture.

Aside from Brady’€™s five-touchdown, 354-yard performance, Gray was effective on the ground, rushing for 86 yards on 17 carries — getting the bulk of the carries with No. 1 back Stevan Ridley out for the season and Shane Vereen catching passes out of the backfield on most of his plays.

“It was huge. The guys did a good job of blocking up front and like I said yesterday, those holes were big enough so anyone could run through them,” said Gray. “I used my vision, used my legs and went down hill.”

Gray and the rest of the team have already moved past Sunday’€™s win and are completely focused on the Broncos.

“€œYou have to keep going back everyday, going to work, not thinking about last game — taking it week-by-week, day-by-day, focusing on the next opponent and doing everything you can with your preparation,”€ said Gray.

With the Patriots having their bye week after Sunday’€™s game, they can let it everything out on Sunday knowing they will have the next week off to refresh their bodies for the second half of the season. This will only benefit them as the Broncos come in 6-1 and outscoring their opponents 149-75 the last four games, winning all four.

“Ultimate focus this week is on the task at hand, which is beating Denver,” said Gray. “Getting our preparation, understanding our opponent as best we can and coming out prepared and at our best.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

ESPN NFL analyst and former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, in his weekly interview with WEEI’s Dale & Holley show, offered his view on New England’s blowout victory over the Bears, the challenge that lies ahead in game-planning for Peyton Manning and the Broncos and the embarrassing season-ending injury for Bears linebacker Lamarr Houston, among other topics.

Bruschi noted that the Patriots offense appears to be in a tremendous rhythm, with the performance of the offensive line in combination with the return to full Gronkitude by Rob Gronkowski combining with the emergence of wide receiver Brandon LaFell to give Tom Brady a tremendous number of weapons. That being the case, Bruschi suggested that pursuing Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson in a trade would be an ill-advised course.

“I think you look down the road and consider if it would help. I think you consider it for a moment because that’s what a good general manager would do. But in terms of this situation right here with the New England Patriots, I don’t think it’s the right move at all, especially with the development of Brandon LaFell,” said Bruschi. “You see the development. You see the progression. Ever since that first drive of the Cincinnati Bengals game is when I think this offense truly woke up and said, OK, let’s go. From that point, they started rolling and rolling.

“I just don’t think you want to put in another element into it that you may have to spoon-feed things to. You can’t give him the entire plate right now because he couldn’t handle it right now. He probably couldn’t digest the entire plan right now. So you spoon-feed him a little. But when you do that to one player, it has a trickle-down effect to others along the line,” added Bruschi. “Jobs are going to be different for other people down the road. Say Vincent Jackson comes in and you say you can only play this position. It messes up this offense. You’ve got to know how to play every single receiver’s spot along the front so they can have that flexibility that they want. You wouldn’t have that off the bat with him. Would you have some growing pains along the line to develop that? I think you would. I think you roll with what you’ve got right now.”

To listen to the complete interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page. Here are other highlights of Bruschi’s interview:

On whether Sunday against the Bears was as well as Bruschi had seen Brady play: “No, I don’t think that’s the best I’ve seen him play just because of the quality of competition he was going up against yesterday. There were some young defensive linemen who really didn’t know what they were doing for the Bears. The linebackers, oh my gosh, they looked lost at times. I’m still waiting for them to read play-action. They still can’t find it.

“It’s a team that, even watching Miami the week before, they had a lot of difficulty with misdirection. ‘€¦ How they’d bite and just commit to the first look was really something you knew you could hit somehow if you could designate a plan. ‘€¦ These linebackers, I counted them this morning, there were times when they were taking six false steps. Usually you hop, you take one step, you read, you get back to your zone coverage. ‘€¦ They went all the way with that run. They took it hook line and sinker, and it made for an easy day. So I’m not going to say that’s the best I’ve seen Tom play. I’ve seen him play much better against a lot better competition.”

On the Broncos: “I think the biggest improvement, looking over to the Broncos side of the ball, is their defense, how much better they are than last year. … Brandon Marshall, not the receiver, the linebacker has been playing good football for them. But Chris Harris Jr., the cornerback, he’s one of those players that a lot of people don’t know about. He’s a great player. Of course Talib is over there. TJ Ward is a good safety. The defensive backfield is playing really well. It’s easy to point out the health and production of Marcus Ware and Von Miller but that defense is going to be the reason why if Peyton has some success this year.”

On game-planning for Peyton Manning: “You’re concerned every time he throws the ball, especially now as you’re looking at this offense. The weapons that they have where you can throw it behind the line of scrimmage to whomever you want and they can still take it the distance, of course I’m talking about Demerius Thomas. I would think, with the addition of Julius Thomas, I would have this mindset: Every time Peyton Manning handed the ball off was a good thing because that’s one less time he would throw the ball.I would dare him to run it. I’d put four or five goes in the box, double up, man-up outside, have guys deep in the middle of the field and say every handoff to Ronnie Hillman and whatever running back you’ve got back there, it’s better than every time Peyton Manning throws the ball. Let’s scheme it that way. Let’s throw the three-man rush at them, four-man fronts. If they want to throw the ball, which they did last time — Moreno I think had a huge career day against the Patriots — but still, you’re taking it out of the hands of one of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL at quarterback in Peyton Manning and forcing him to run the ball. … He does have an equation in his mind coming up to the line of scrimmage. He says to himself, ‘What do I have here? What’s best for offensive success on this single down?’ If he reads it and he says, ‘I’ve got to run this ball because they’re daring me to,’ I think that’s actually the plan to start. … If you dared him to [run] every single down, I don’t think he’d do it every single down. Eventually he’s going to throw it. You have the numbers, and maybe you get the advantage that way.”

On the success of the offensive line and importance of establishing the run: “[The running backs] weren’t actually getting touched until they got through the line of scrimmage, which is getting yards before contact, which is always great for setting up play-action. They were using the play-action on first down to LaFell, a lot of load-X slant, where you load one side of the formation, get the linebackers to go to that side, the back-side of the X you hit on the slant. There was a lot of that going on and LaFell is a big-bodied receive to get that done. … If they can win inside, a lot of good things can happen from it.”

On how a linebacker might try to cover Rob Gronkowski: “I think if I were a linebacker that had to cover Rob Gronkowski in coverage, I’m using my defensive end.  … That’s my hope. Once he displaced, then I’d be happy because it wouldn’t be my problem. Hopefully he’d turn over to a safety or cornerback. But that’s a tough assignment for any linebacker in the league right now. As Rob starts to get his feet under him, he’s looking good, he’s shedding tacklers, breaking away in the open field, it’s such a great thing with that to combine with, you get four or five yards a carry, you’re able to get Gronkowski, you’re able to get play action, you’re able to split him out on a simple five-yard in against a smaller cornerback. … That’s something no linebacker wants to see. I’d probably pass it off to [Roman] Phifer, actually.”

On Rob Ninkovich‘s impact: “Even from mistakes, he learns from them. He gets beaten to the flat earlier in the year by Lamar Miller with the Dolphins, you don’t see him make that mistake again. That’s the sign of a great football player. You make one mistake, you learn from it you don’t make it again. … You expect him to do the fundamentally right things every single down but then all of a sudden he’s making plays that change games. He’s done this for the last two years or so. Very underrated linebacker. It’s going to be hard for him to make a Pro Bowl or something like that, but I think he deserves it because of the consistency he’s shown throughout the last two years, always making plays. Ninkovich makes it easy for Matt Patricia and Bill Belichick to make a game plan. They know he’s a guy, if there’s someone we know we need to put more of a burden on, who has the mental capacity to handle more on his plate, I think Ninkovich is the guy they look to.”

On the injury incurred by Bears defensive end Lamar Houston, who blew out his ACL celebrating a garbage-time sack while his team was being blown out: “I felt sorry for that guy. I felt bad for him. ‘€¦ A guy got hurt. He made a mistake … not understanding the situation, man. You’re losing by a lot. You sack the backup quarterback. The dance comes out. You guys have said it already, but that’s not what you’re looking for.

“He acted like he hadn’t been there in a while. ‘€¦ His production hasn’t been what he wanted to be, and, ‘Oh, man, I got it, I don’t care who it is, and I’m supposed to do something, right?’ Like I said, guys, just not what you’re looking for.”

Blog Author: 

Patriots tight end Tim Wright checked in with Middays with MFB on Monday, after catching seven passes for 61 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s 51-23 victory over the Bears. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Tim Wright had a career day yesterday as the Pats trounced the Bears in Foxboro. Wright talked about the Rutgers connection with Coach Belichick, and compares the rumors of playing in New England with the facts.

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Tim Wright

Tim Wright

Patriots tight end Tim Wright checked in with Middays with MFB on Monday, after catching seven passes for 61 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s 51-23 victory over the Bears. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Patriots acquired Wright from the Buccaneers right before the start of the season. Now there is speculation that New England might inquire about another Bucs player: wide receiver Vincent Jackson.

“He’s a great player, I learned a lot while I was under him,” Wright said, adding: “Just details and route-running, things that the defensive backs look for. Different body controls — him being a bigger wideout, it was easy for me to see what he was talking about, and easy for me to go out there and try to implement those things that he was teaching me. … He’s a great person, great player, and I looked up to him while I was there.”

The Patriots were able to spread the ball around and have a lot of success against Chicago. Fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski also had a big day, with nine catches for 149 yards and three touchdowns.

“Our [position] coach Brian Daboll, he does a great job of instilling the mentality in the tight end room to go out there and just be the spark of the offense. Regardless of how things are going, when our number is called we’ve got to answer the bell. We just went in there, we really didn’t know we’re going to get this many catches [for] this guy, this many catches [for] that guy. But our offensive coordinator [Josh McDaniels], he definitely explained throughout the week and he displayed it to us that it’s going to be spacing and it’s going to be winning your man-to-man battle that’s going to definitely contribute to the win and contribute to our success on Sunday, and that’s what we did.”

Asked about the toughest part of adjusting to the Patriots offense, Wright said, “I would say just playing at a fast tempo mentally, going through the checks and all the nuances that Tom Brady goes through at the line, the checks and stuff like that. You’ve got to be on top of the game, you’ve got to be alert, just be locked in, just be focused.”

For more Patriots news, visit the team page at weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Jerry Spar

The NFL trade deadline is set for Tuesday at 4 p.m., and there’s already been some speculation about the Patriots pulling off at least one move beforehand. New England has never been shy about making trade deadline moves, including a last-minute pickup of cornerback Aqib Talib in 2012.

But according to Bill Belichick, when it comes to making deals, there’s usually a greater chance of something happening over the summer than right at the deadline.

“I think this is a lot different than at the end of preseason when you’€™re coming into the 53-man cut time,” Belichick said on a conference call with the media Monday morning. “You’€™re focused on your opening game, but you’€™re also focused on your roster, and [so] is every other team. There’€™s a lot of player movement at that time, as there is, I’€™d say through the first few weeks of the season on every team.

“If something comes along and it’€™s something that we think would be worth considering, then we’€™d talk about it,” he added. “But I wouldn’€™t say that there’€™s real heavy back and forth communication throughout the league on big trades. I’€™d be surprised if that took place on any team. It’€™s just not that common this time of year. Could it happen? Yeah, there could be a couple trades. But it’€™s a lot different than what it is at the end of training camp.”

For more Patriots news, check out weei.com/patriots.

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price