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A New England Patriots Community Blog



Updated: 2017-01-19T17:13:39-05:00

 



Patriots sign TE Rob Housler to future’s contract

2017-01-19T17:13:39-05:00

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The former Cardinals TE has signed a deal with the Patriots



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Steelers had major red zone struggles over second half of the season

2017-01-19T14:00:01-05:00

The Patriots will try to keep the Steelers out of the end zone. Something happened to the Pittsburgh Steelers red zone offense around their 10th game of the NFL season. Over their first nine games of the season, the Steelers scored touchdowns on a league-best 78.3% of red zone drives; since that turning point, they’ve ranked an average 16th with touchdowns on just 58.3% of drives. Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger opened up the year completing 65.6% of his passes over the first nine weeks with an 11:0 touchdown-to-interception ratio. His red zone passer rating of 112.1 ranked 6th of all quarterbacks with 10+ red zone attempts as he spread the ball to WR Antonio Brown (6 receptions, 3 touchdowns) and TE Jesse James (5 receptions, 3 touchdowns). Since Pittsburgh’s 10th game, Roethlisberger has completed just 34.4% of his red zone passes, with a 2:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio. His passer rating of 25.0 is the worst of any quarterback in the entire league, and this includes a pair of games against the Cleveland Browns. Roethlisberger has become so unreliable that the Steelers don’t even want their quarterback handling the football by the end zone, instead favoring hand offs to RB Le’Veon Bell (understandably). The Steelers quarterback suffered a knee injury in week 6 against the Miami Dolphins (which is why the Patriots faced back-up QB Landry Jones in week 7), but he was no longer on the injury report by week 10. He has been staring down receivers since he returned to the field and throwing into tight coverage. Roethlisberger suffered another ankle injury on the second-to-last play against the Dolphins during Wild Card Weekend, but was not on the injury report for the Divisional Round. But these injuries don’t seem to tell the full story with regards to Roethlisberger’s struggles. Perhaps the gradual loss of supporting skill players- WR Martavis Bryant suspended for the season; WR Markus Wheaton on injured reserve; TE Ladarius Green battling migraines and concussions all season; WR Darrius Heyward-Bey and WR Eli Rogers missing a few weeks with more minor problems- caught up to the Steelers offense, while Roethlisberger’s injuries just exacerbated the problems. To counter the Steelers, the Patriots will put forth one of the best red zone defenses in the NFL. Since that 10th game, the Patriots have allowed just 43.8% of red zone drives to end in touchdowns, the 3rd best rate in the league. While the Patriots clearly benefit from an easy slate of opposing quarterbacks, Roethlisberger has struggled on the road in recent years and could struggle again. Follow @PP_Rich_Hill Follow @PatsPulpit src="https://www.facebook.com/plugins/like.php?href=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.facebook.com%2Fpatspulpit%2F&width=450&layout=standard&action=like&show_faces=true&share=false&height=80&appId" width="450" height="80" style="border:none;overflow:hidden" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true"> [...]



Patriots injury update: WR Chris Hogan is “good to go for this weekend” vs Steelers

2017-01-19T13:00:02-05:00

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NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport with the breaking news.

New England Patriots WR Chris Hogan left last week’s game against the Houston Texans with a thigh injury that was not considered serious. Hogan was spotted after the game without a limp and actually told the media present that he was feeling fine.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport has the latest report on Hogan, saying that the Patriots deep threat receiver will be ready to play on Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

“He had a thigh injury last week, something that knocked him out towards the end of the game,” Rapoport said about Hogan on the NFL Network. “From my understanding, I believe what he’s also said publicly, this is something that probably he could have come back from. They wanted to be cautious just given the score, so ended up sitting out and is good to go for this weekend.”

The Patriots will need Hogan to produce in their biggest game of the season if New England will reach another Super Bowl this year.



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How dependent is the Pittsburgh Steelers offense on RB Le’Veon Bell and WR Antonio Brown?

2017-01-19T12:00:02-05:00

The Steelers offense starts with those two. Statistically, both Brown and Bell account for about half of the Steeler plays and yardage outputs. The Steelers have the undisputed top RB and WR in the AFC in Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Each player presents a big match-up problem for many teams, including the Patriots. The Steelers are also very reliant on those two, which means that could present an opportunity for Bill Belichick, Matt Patricia, and the rest of the Patriots defensive coaching staff to find a way to cripple the Steelers offense. The Steelers’ #3, #4, and #5 threats on the field are Eli Rogers, Jesse James, and either Cobi Hamilton or Sammie Coates. Rogers is the only player of that group that could have a big game against the Patriots barring coverage breakdowns although Hamilton and Coates have flashed potential in certain games. Le’Veon Bell missed the first three games of the season after testing positive for marijuana. In the 12 regular season games he played (sat out Week 17), Bell has averaged 157 yards from scrimmage. Bell isn’t just a bellcow RB running the ball, he is also a legitimate receiving threat out of the backfield. Bell runs routes and catches the ball like a WR plus is difficult to tackle. With the Steelers traveling to Foxboro on Sunday, the Steelers will be very reliant on his skills to move the chains as both a runner and a receiver. In the games he’s been active, Bell has played no fewer than 87% of the snaps on offense. That means he’s on the field every down. Bell is either running the ball, lined up as a WR and running routes, or staying in to block. Despite playing in only 12 games, Bell has 261 of the Steelers 409 rushing attempts. In the games he was not active, the Steelers ran the ball or kneeled down 30, 36, 10, and 28 times. Take those games out of the equation, Bell has accumulated 85.6% of his team’s carries when on the field. As a receiver Bell has been targeted 94 times, which is 2nd on the team behind Antonio Brown. Bell is often used as a checkdown or short yardage, but that doesn’t mean the Steelers won’t use him on wheel routes similar to how the Patriots utilize James White out of the backfield. Bell’s 355 combined carries and targets take up the Steelers 1026 plays, or 34.6% of their plays from scrimmage. Over 12 games, that’s been an average of 30 touches a game. The Patriots should definitely be expecting that, especially with Bell having the most success of his career to date with 170 YFS per game in his two postseason games. The Patriots cannot stack the box with 8 defenders because it leaves them vulnerable to single coverage against Antonio Brown, which is never a good game plan. The Steelers top overall receiving threat, Antonio Brown has 154 targets and 3 carries, totaling 157 touches. Brown is 2nd in the team in scrimmage yards with 1,293, or 86.2 per game. Brown is the #1 target in the Steelers offense and Ben Roethlisberger’s go-to-guy in single coverage. The Steelers, and Roethlisberger in particular, love to take shots to Brown in single coverage, which is why stopping the run with just the Front 7 is paramount for the Patriots defense. Brown has 1,284 receiving yards on 106 catches, so whatever teams have tried has not worked consistently. Brown had 112 receiving yards in the first quarter against the Dolphins in the Wild Card round, but the Chiefs were able to bottle him up in the 2nd half before making the game-clinching grab on the Steelers’ final meaningful play from scrimmage. Totaling up the number of times the Steelers attempted to get the ball to both Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown, the Steelers targeted or handed them the ball 512 times. The Steelers ran 1026 plays on the season, which means the Steelers attempted to get Bell and Brown on about half of their offensive plays. In the Patriots case, you do as much as you can to limit those two, as the Patriots 3rd, 4th, and 5th defenders can handle the Steelers 3rd, 4th,[...]



Mic’d Up: Texans coach complains to official about Julian Edelman, Edelman explains rule book

2017-01-19T11:00:04-05:00

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The Patriots wide receiver knows the rulebook inside and out.

New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman was mic’d up for the Divisional Round game against the Houston Texans and he chose one heckuva day to put post his most productive playoff game. Edelman collected 149 yards from scrimmage, the second-best day of his career overall- one game after picking up a career-best 157 yards from scrimmage against the Dolphins in the season finale.

Edelman’s success naturally drew the ire from the Texans bench, with Houston head coach Bill O’Brien complaining to the officials that Edelman “pushes off on every play!”

“Hey, you know, you got Edelman pushing off a lot,” O’Brien said to the line judge. “Edelman, pushing off a lot at the top of routes.”

“I’ll talk to the guys about that,” the official responded.

This interaction happened after Edelman totally pushed off on a big throw down the field, but Edelman wanted to defend his play to the officials.

“What I do?,” Edelman asked after an official pulled him aside.

“Earlier, on a play that went that way,” the official explained, “when you went that way, you shoved off a little too much. Okay?”

“But he engaged on me!,” Edelman said, voice raising. “If he engages on me, it says in the rule book that I can hit his arm off.”

“That’s right,” the official conceded.

“That’s what I did, I was like that,” Edelman said while moving his arm with a chopping motion.

“I didn’t throw a flag,” the official replied. “I’m just telling you you’re real close.”

“I get so defensive, I’m sorry,” Edelman apologized. “My therapist yells at me for that.”

Edelman went on to pick up chunk plays after chunk plays against the Texans, and there was nothing Houston could do in the second half. Even Bill O’Brien had to give up as he threw up his hands and cried, “That’s Edelman again!!”



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New England Patriots links 1/19/17 - Patriots 'looks good on paper' defense can earn its rank Sunday

2017-01-19T09:59:36-05:00

Daily news and links for 1/19/17 TEAM TALK Patriots - Steelers Wednesday Injury Report. Postseason: Inside the Numbers. Broadcast Information: Patriots vs. Steelers. Patriots - Steelers Connections. Erik Scalavino gives us the news, notes and locker-room buzz from Wednesday at Gillette: Patriots stay focused on Steelers. Patriots Press Pass: Blount, Long, Lewis, Ninkovich and more address the media in the locker room on Wednesday. (2.29 min. video) Angelique Fiske posts the video of Tom Brady visiting the "Seabass School of Football".  /Worth a watch. (2.41 min. video) How They Got Here: New England Patriots. (2.05 min. video) Sights and Sounds: Week 19 vs. Houston. (5.05 min. video), LOCAL LINKS Mike Petraglia believes the 'Gold Standard' Patriots have it all over Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers. Jeff Howe looks at the Brady-Roethlisberger matchup, and why we haven't seen more of it in the playoffs. Ryan Hannable says the 'looks good on paper' Patriots defense will get to prove itself on Sunday. Mike Giardi highlights the unique talents of LeVeon Bell, who presents the biggest challenge to the Pats defense. Nora Princiotti finds that Rob Ninkovich has two things on his mind: Roethlisberger and Bell. Rich Thompson notes Dont'a Hightower and the Pats defense have set their sights on stopping Le'Veon Bell. Matt Dolloff relates Bill Belichick’s famous Super Bowl gameplan to Le’Veon Bell. Doug Kyed explains why Malcolm Butler has a lot riding on his playoff matchup with Antonio Brown. Jeff Howe takes a look at key head-to-head matchups leading up to Sunday: Malcolm Butler vs. Antonio Brown. Chris Mason notes Malcolm Butler and Antonio Brown have been battling during TV commercials breaks for months, and Sunday they get to do it again for real on the field. Jen McCaffrey delves into the Malcolm Butler vs. Antonio Brown matchup to see who has the edge. Danny Picard doesn't think there is a defense left in the playoffs that can stop Tom Brady. Mark Daniels talks about how Nate Solder finds solace on the field, as his 27-month old son Hudson fights cancer. Kevin Duffy traces the roots of legendary OL coach Dante Scarnecchia to see what has made him so great. Ben Volin finds the Steelers has forged a stiffer defense since their first meeting vs. the Pats. Phil Perry notes Michael Floyd has been in New England for about a month, but he admits he still has a lot to learn. "Brady likes things a certain way." Alex Speier wonders if there is any truth behind the idea that the Patriots improve after ugly wins. Ron Borges writes"If [the Steelers] can’t stay focused for 17 minutes to listen to their coach, can they stay focused for three hours and listen to him under the kind of extreme pressure that comes from being one win from the Super Bowl?" Kevin Duffy mentions Bill Belichick downplays how much home field advantage matters: "Ask Kansas City and Dallas." Doug Kyed reports Steve Belichick's first season as a Patriots position coach has been a success. Mike Reiss notes Tom Brady was stoic and serious during his Wednesday news conference. Karen Guregian looks at the styles of Bill Belichick and Mike Tomlin and says both lead to success. Christopher Price notes Tom Brady doesn't know why some people don't like the Patriots. Mike Reiss reveals Tom Brady's jersey is hanging in Ben Roethlisberger's office, but notes Ben expressed his dismay that his conversation with Brady had to be made public. Christopher Price notes Dion Lewis says he's not the only reason the Patriots are 15-0 since the start of last season with him in the lineup. Ricky Doyle finds Michael Floyd keeping his head in the Patriots' playbook, still trying to catch up to speed. Christopher Price hears from Phil Simms, who really likes the Patriots secondary: "The most underrated group in the league." Joy Manning (BostonSportsChick) A look at each of the Patri[...]



NFLPA: Patriots elect to carry over $5.29 million in unused cap money into 2017

2017-01-19T08:00:01-05:00

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New England is projected to be among the teams with the most salary cap space in 2017 – and will add $5 million to it.

The New England Patriots have some key members of their team entering unrestricted free agency during the 2017 offseason. Linebacker Dont’a Hightower, running back LeGarrette Blount and tight end Martellus Bennett are just three of 13 players who the team has to re-sign in order to keep them in Foxboro next year and possibly beyond.

Luckily for the Patriots, they are projected to be among the teams with the most available salary cap space once the new league year begins in March. According to patscap.com, the team will have around $61.5 million available. This number includes the carryover from this season, which the NFLPA officially announced yesterday:

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(c) NFLPA

As the NFLPA’s graphic shows, the Patriots will carry over $5,292,335 in unused 2016 cap space into 2017. This basically means that New England will be able to spend a little over $5 million more than what the actually salary cap number will be. Given that the team has some important players – both starters and key depth options – entering free agency, every available dollar counts.

To put it into perspective, the Patriots’ carryover is the 17th largest in the NFL and the ninth largest in the AFC.



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