Brandon LaFell

Brandon LaFell

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 11 regular-season games this year

WR Julian Edelman: 70 catches on 102 targets
TE Rob Gronkowski: 58 catches on 90 targets
WR Brandon LaFell: 48 catches on 79 targets
RB Shane Vereen: 43 catches on 62 targets
TE Tim Wright: 23 catches on 26 targets
WR Danny Amendola: 11 catches on 19 targets
WR Kenbrell Thompkins: 6 catches on 11 targets
FB James Develin: 6 catches on 7 targets
RB Stevan Ridley: 4 catches on 5 targets
RB James White: 3 catches on 3 targets
WR Aaron Dobson: 3 catches on 4 targets
RB Brandon Bolden: 2 catches on 4 targets
TE Michael Hoomananwanui: 2 catches on 3 targets
WR Brian Tyms: 1 catch on 4 targets
RB Jonas Gray: 0 catches on 1 target

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price
Tom Brady and Randy Moss were reunited for a FOX pregame interview Sunday. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

Tom Brady and Randy Moss were reunited for a FOX pregame interview Sunday. (Bob Levey/Getty Images)

What a difference two months makes.

Following the Patriots’ Week 4 blowout loss in Kansas City on Monday Night Football, there was plenty of criticism of the Tom Brady in the media, as he wasn’t off to the best of starts to the year.

Obviously a lot has changed since that Sept. 29 game, led by Brady’s play, as the Patriots have rallied with for straight wins to now have the best record in the AFC at 9-2.

In an interview with old friend Randy Moss on the FOX pregame show prior to last Sunday’s game, Brady spoke of the criticism — acknowledging it may have been the first time he was criticized during his 15-year pro career.

“Really for my career I’ve never had a lot of criticism,” Brady told Moss. “We won the first year that I played and then we won two more shortly after that. This was really the first time people came down on me. I took it in stride and I thought it was really a great opportunity for me to dig deep. I think I’ve always had that chip on my shoulder and there probably always will be because I was a sixth-round draft pick — that never goes away. I was the one no one really wanted in college. They really didn’t want me in the pros. Now I am always like, ‘Why do they want me to go away so quick?, Why do they want me to go away so quick?’ I just have fun playing.”

Brady is now 37 years old and in his 15th season in the league. Moss, who is now retired, asked Brady how much longer he has left playing and why he has a desire to play for as long as he can.

“I think there is nothing I’d rather do,” said Brady.” I don’t have a lot of hobbies. There’s something in my DNA that loves this game because I feel like I am 27. I just want to keep doing it. I’m having a lot of fun. We get to play football for a living and what would be any better than that?”

The interview started off light when Moss asked Brady about calling Rob Gronkowski‘s one-handed catch against the Broncosone of the best catches he’s ever seen.” Moss brought up his one-handed touchdown catch against Darrelle Revis and the Jets.

“That Revis catch was pretty sweet,” Brady said. “I saw it last night — you know what, I was watching the top 10 Randy Moss highlights last night and that was number one. That was a ridiculous catch. You made a lot of ridiculous catches, you kidding me?”

The Patriots quarterback also joked he misses Moss both on the field and in the locker room.

“Of course I do,” he said. “Believe me there is only one of you and I was lucky to play with you for those three years. I miss you. We had such a great day, we were locker mates and I learned a lot from you.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Aaron Rodgers has thrown for 2,957 yards, completed 67 percent of his passes, and has 30 touchdown passes and just three picks this season. (Casey Hayward/Getty Images)

Aaron Rodgers has thrown for 2,957 yards, completed 67 percent of his passes, and has 30 touchdown passes and just three picks this season. (Casey Hayward/Getty Images)

Five things you have to know about the Packers (8-3), who will host the Patriots (9-2) Sunday at Lambeau Field in Green Bay:

Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson have a whole Brady/ Welker, circa 2007-2012, thing going on.

While Tom Brady was specifically talking about their execution of the back-shoulder fade, it’s pretty much true across the board. Rodgers and Nelson have developed the same sort of relationship now that Brady and Wes Welker enjoyed when Welker was with the Patriots: Nelson is eighth in the league in catches (68), fifth in targets (106) and receiving yards (1,066) and fourth in touchdown catches (nine). He’s only one of five receivers with at least 100 targets and 1,000 receiving yards, and has 18 catches for 329 yards and three touchdowns in his last three games. The 6-foot-3, 217-pounder out of Kansas State is Rodgers’ go-to guy, and will be the No. 1 priority for the Patriots Sunday when it comes to slowing Green Bay. Rodgers also gets plenty out of the rest of his targets in the passing game, including wide receiver Randall Cobb (58 catches on 79 targets for 837 yards and a team-high 10 touchdowns), running back Eddie Lacy (29 catches on 36 targets for 335 yards and three touchdowns) and wide receiver Davante Adams (28 catches on 43 targets for 296 yards and three touchdowns)

They run the ball just enough to keep opposing defenses honest.

There’s nothing overly flashy about the way the Packers operate when it comes to their ground game — simply steady and consistent, just enough to augment Rodgers and the Green Bay passing game. As a team, they’re 18th in the NFL, averaging 107 rushing yards per game. Eddie Lacy is the lead back, having carried the ball 154 times for 672 rushing yards and six touchdowns on the year, all of which are best on the roster. (He’s coming off an impressive outing against the Vikings where he finished with 125 rushing yards.) The Packers really don’t have a traditional third-down type out of the backfield, but James Starks (nine catches on 17 targets for 48 yards) occasionally works in that role, in addition to serving as a backup to Lacy.

They occasionally struggle to stop the run.

There are plenty of teams who have done well running the ball against Green Bay. The Packers have held opponents to less than 100 yards rushing only twice in the last 18 games, dating back to last year. (In all, three teams ran for at least 150 yards against Green Bay this season, including the Saints, who had 193 rushing yards in an Oct. 26 win over the Packers in New Orleans.) Some of that is due to situational football, as the Packers have managed to make a lot of teams one-dimensional because they’ve been terrific at burying teams early — Green Bay has outscored teams 222-105 in the first half, and the big deficits have caused teams to try and throw the ball to try and get back into it.

They are really good at home.

The Packers have put together a Patriots-like stretch of dominance at Lambeau this year. They’re 5-0 at home, have averaged 44 points per game and have won their games at home by an average of 27 points per game — that includes two games where they’ve put up more than 50 points. (By way of comparison, the Patriots have averaged 36 points per game in their six games at Gillette this season.) Rodgers has been really good the entire season, but he’s been excellent at home — in his five games at Lambeau this year, Rodgers is completing 67 percent of his passes, is averaging 284.8 passing yards per game and has 18 touchdowns and no picks, to go along with a passer rating of 138.1.

They’re really good at protecting the football.

The Packers have the fewest number of giveaways in the NFL this year (eight), with just four fumbles and four picks through the first 11 games of the season. Rodgers is the only quarterback in the league with at least 300 pass attempts and three or fewer interceptions, and he comes into Sunday’s game against the Patriots not having thrown a pick in the last three games. They also do a really good job when it comes to taking the ball away with 23 takeaways (15 picks and eight fumble recoveries), second only to the 24 posted by the Texans. The Packers have at least one takeaway in every game this year, including eight in the last three games. Defensive back Casey Hayward leads Green Bay with three interceptions, and three other defensive backs — Micah Hyde, Tramon Williams and Sam Shields — have two each. It all adds up to them being plus-15 in takeaway ratio this year, best in the league and just barely ahead of second-best New England (plus-11).

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

Jonas Gray didn't play a snap on Sunday after missing Friday's practice because he was late to the facility.</p>
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The head coach of your New England Patriots Bill Belichick sits down with Dale, Holley and Steve DeOssie after the Patriots win over the Lions on Sunday.
Former Patriot Tedy Bruschi, now an analyst for ESPN joined Dale and Holley for a breakdown of the Patriots win over the Lions, and a look-ahead to next Sunday night's showdown in Green Bay.
We check in with big Vince Wilfork for a look back at the signing of LeGarrette Blount, the win over Detroit, the cheap-shot at the end of the game, the cold in New England and more.

FOXBORO — Zach Moore wasn’t about to add any fuel to the fire on Monday.

Asked about Detroit offensive lineman Dominic Raiola diving at his knees and taking a swing at him at the end of the game on Sunday, the rookie defensive lineman shrugged.

Zach Moore

Zach Moore

FOXBORO — Zach Moore wasn’t about to add any fuel to the fire on Monday.

Asked about Detroit offensive lineman Dominic Raiola diving at his knees and taking a swing at him at the end of the game on Sunday, the rookie defensive lineman shrugged.

“I think coach already addressed that,” said Moore. “I’m thankful that no one got hurt in that situation. I’ve got my health. Now, I’m just ready to prepare for Green Bay.

“[It’s just about] being professional and keeping my composure — something I’ve had my entire football career. Just don’t play into the craziness,” he added. “Just keep playing football and praying for good health all the way through the game.”

Raiola said he did what he did because the Patriots went for a late touchdown.

“I cut him. We took a knee, so I cut the nose [tackle],” Raiola told reporters following the game. “They went for a touchdown at two minutes; they could have taken three knees and the game could have been over.

“I mean, it’s football. You want us to keep playing football? Let’s play football. No big deal — it’s football.”

Moore did not retaliate following the incident, but after the game — a 34-9 win for the Patriots over Detroit —  it was clear that several New England players had an issue with what happened. Veteran defensive lineman Vince Wilfork called Raiola’s play “stupid,” while Bill Belichick shot back at Raiola in a conference call with the media.

“I’m sure there was a lot of frustration there for [Dominic] Raiola,” Belichick said on Monday’s conference call. “That’s obvious. He’s never beaten us. Tough day in there dealing with Wilfork, [Dont’a] Hightower and those guys, so it was probably frustration. We saw a lot of that at the end of the game.”

“I think I handled myself pretty well. It is what it is with that,” Moore said. “You look at the score, I’d probably be mad too.

“it’s a tough game. It’s a physical game. You just have to roll with the punches,” Moore added. “Literally.”

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, Raiola will not be fined for the incident.

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

Blog Author: 
Christopher Price

According to NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, Lions center Dominic Raiola will not be fined for his actions in Sunday’s game against the Patriots.