“The case could easily be made that the eight-year kicker out of Memphis is not only having the best season of his career but he’s having the best season of any kicker in the league. He has made 30-of-32 field goal attempts this season, missing only from 43 yards wide left against the Jets in Week 2 and from 55 yards against Houston in Week 13. Gostkowski followed up that 55-yard miss in Houston by hitting a pair from 53 yards on the suspect grass turf of Reliant Stadium in the fourth quarter, one to tie the game and one to win it. His 93.8 conversion rate on field goals would be a career best, passing his 90 percent mark (36-of-40) in 2008.”—It Is What It Is » Bill Belichick: Stephen Gostkowski is like Tom Brady ‘gets a little better each year’
Q: It seems like they use a lot of double ‘A’ gap coverage. How does that put pressure on your offensive line?
BB: Well, that’s what they do. [Kevin] Coyle came from kind of the Cincinnati program, which is what they do. That’s definitely a big part of their defense, particularly in third down or two-minute passing situations. It puts six guys really on five. Your tackles, guards, and center and are against their four defensive linemen and two guys in the ‘A’ gap. You have to determine how you’re going to handle those six players. Sometimes they come, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes they line up in there and bring people off the edge, so there’s actually a seventh guy that’s not part of that six. But again, when you line up there it, I don’t want to say it limits, but it makes it harder to get to other spaces on the field than if you weren’t lined up on the line of scrimmage. It puts pressure on one thing, but it also takes them away from something else. It’s like anything else, there’s a give-and-take with it. You definitely have to have a plan to decide how you’re going to treat it and what you’re going to do with it, because they do it quite a bit of it.
How are you feeling about the Ravens game? Wondering if the "Miracle Man" (my moniker for Flacco) is going to pull out some miracle passes and give us a considerable threat on offense, or go back to choking it big time. Right now this is the game I'm most nervous about.
Hard to look past the Dolphins right now, but the potential ramifications going into the Baltimore game are certainly intriguing. To have a chance to put a serious dent in their playoff hopes in their building after the two losses last year? That would certainly feel good.
I think without Reed and Ray Lewis, their defense will be find defending Brady a little tougher. They might’ve lost a step last year, but their savvy and fearlessness were huge factors in playing the New England offense.
It will be a huge game, but let’s get through this week’s huge game first.
Is it just me or should we fear Cinci and Kansas City more than Denver? I fear their defense and running game more than going into a rematch with Denver. Also this morning i remembered all the analysts saying this may be the year the pats take a step back....HA!
You know, I really don’t think it matters who they play or where. It just comes down to the Pats playing 60 minutes of their best football. If they do that, they should beat anybody in the NFL.
They don’t get blown out, so you know the games will be close, it’s just a question of whether or not they can put together six awesome games now.
It’s kind of the great unknown. On one hand, you could see a scenario where without Gronk their offense regresses and if their defense doesn’t get better on third downs, they just wouldn’t be able to score enough to keep up.
But this team always seems to rally at this time of year, regardless of injuries. Same thing happened after they lost arguably their defensive MVP in Andre Carter late in 2011.
We’ll see how it plays out, but I think all the potential AFC matchups have their advantages and disadvantages. But if the Pats show up for the whole game, they will make some noise.
I've noticed recently Brady has been focusing in on getting the ball to Edelman a lot more than Amendola, even when Amendola is open. For example, the TD to Edelman at the end of the Browns game... Amendola was wide open, yet Brady chose the much more difficult throw to Edelman. Why does he not seem to be throwing as much to Amendola recently when it seems they have a lot of chemistry built up?
Yeah, I noticed that as well and Nick Underhill pointed it out in his Tuesday film analysis. I don’t think it’s a total loss for Amendola yet, he obviously caught the game-winning touchdown against the Browns, but I do think Brady still is more comfortable with Edelman, and really, how could he not be?
Amendola will never be 100 percent this year with his groin injury and I think to some extent he’s missing some of his explosiveness. I think he’ll take some good strides forward next season. But with Edelman a free agent, it will be interesting to see how they handle him with Amendola already due to make a sizable chunk of change.
Given Amendola’s contract they’d take a $6.8 million cap hit next season if they were to cut him, so they’re probably not going to cut him.
But no question, Amendola will have to step up and make some big plays if the Pats are going to make run.
With the Broncos losing yesterday we have a great chance t securing home field throughout if we sweep the next 3 games. How possible do you think that is realistically speaking? Even more how likely do you think it is we win this week against the dolphins?
As for the Dolphins this weekend, I can’t remember being this excited for a game at the end of the season in a long time. It’s there for the taking, which is really unbelievable considering everything this team has been through.
I re-watched the first Dolphins game last night and I think the Phins know what kind of opportunity this is for them and really, their playoff lives are on the line. We’ll get their best. And if you only watched the first half of the first game, it was Miami that was dominating.
Their run game is clicking and I expect we’ll see a heavy dose of that. Hopefully Siliga can play up to the potential we saw last week. Pats will also have Talib this time around, they didn’t have him in the first one, so I expect he’ll draw Mike Wallace on plenty of snaps.
The biggest problem might be Clay, can Jamie Collins matchup with him now? How about Dane Fletcher?
In all, this game has the chance to be one of the crowning wins of the 2013 season. But even a victory over the Dolphins won’t help them next week against the Ravens, we can talk about that next week.
As always, expect this one to go down to the wire. I think we’ll either see one of two storylines: the Pats finally gel on the road and put together their best game of the season, or the injuries finally catch up with them and they fall short.
Either way, this is a defining game of the season, if not THE defining game.
Pats’ pass rush numbers remain sub-par, they’ve been in the early-20’s as far as these rankings go for some time now. Ninkovich did sneak on to the top edge rushers for last week, but otherwise, no Pats.
“If the New England Patriots can’t find a way to get off the field on third down, it will end their season. For this offense to score points they will need as many possessions as possible. If teams continue to convert on third down, it will keep Tom Brady and the offense off the field. Especially if the defense continues to fall in their turnover rankings.”—
Really think the defense will look a lot better once Dennard is back in there full time. He’s really been underrated the last two seasons, and not far behind Talib. They also need better pass rush from their sub-packages. I love Andre Carter, but wouldn’t mind seeing Michael Buchanan get back in there with another shot. Pats need to do something different on third downs this week.
“Before this game, Sealver Siliga’s career was a total of 20 snaps old – four with the Broncos last year and 16 last week against Houston. The Patriots must have liked what they saw in limited action (he graded 1.2 at PFF) because he saw 53 snaps in this game, more than double his career total. He responded with some impressive play against the run, and looked like there was more to come. On a couple of occasions he had the beating of his man, tossing the blocker aside just a fraction too late to make a play on the running back coming past. This is the best I have seen any Patriots D-lineman play the run since the loss of Wilfork, and if the Patriots can start to lean on Siliga going forward then they may be able to start to readjust the rest of the defensive front to get more pass rush.”—ReFo: Browns @ Patriots, Week 14 | ProFootballFocus.com
One of my favorite parts of this whole Pats blogging thing is connecting with Patriots fans from around the world. Thanks to Sidney Torres for translating it and posting it to the Patriots Brasil page. So cool!
Outside of the US and Canada, our top five foreign readership traffic:
Check out the full Patriots Brasil website here. And here is the Hungarian Pats fans site.
Q: Aqib Talib seems like the kind of guy that really thrives on competition and frequently draws the top wideout. Are there things that you see that we don’t that would reinforce that?
BB: I think you hit it on the head. He’s very competitive. Even from preseason practices, whether it was jumping in line to cover DeSean Jackson or Vincent Jackson or whoever it is, he always wants to compete against the best and feels like it brings out the best in him. He’s a great competitor, he’s a good teammate, he works hard. I think he’s ready to meet any challenge that we’ve given him, whether it be in the kicking game, defensively, run responsibilities, coverage responsibilities, whatever it happens to be. If it’s something that will help the team, he wants to do it.
Q: Does he bring a unique energy or personality? It seems like he’s always ‘on’.
BB: He has a very good energy and he’s a good teammate. I think he’s very respected in the locker room but liked in the locker room, which is not always the case. But I think he has a good rapport with everybody: the offensive players, the defensive players, the DBs and the skills players but also the other guys, the linemen. He just has a good way about him. He’s not the class clown, but at the same time, he has a good personality and he’s serious and he’s competitive. He’s got a nice mixture of all those things. I don’t even know what I’m saying, but it kind of goes well in a lot of different settings.
Add it all up — backups subbing for Pro Bowlers, defensive backs struggling through injuries and having too many communication errors, and the front four not getting to the passer — and you have a defense that has allowed 414 yards and 28.6 points over their last five games.
I think it was last season but Brady wore a revolution speed helmet for a few games, why did he switch and then switch back to his regular one?
Yeah he definitely wore it against Seattle, and another game or two. He also tried a different helmet a couple times in 2011, the opener vs. Miami being one. I’d guess he was trying to find a safer option that the old Riddell, but I guess at the end of the day he just likes the look/feel of the old one better. I definitely prefer the look of the old one as well.
How do you honestly see this season shaping up? Even though the pats have stolen some great games this year, it seems like the same story as in other years. They have "mental toughness" in the regular season, but in the post-season at the most crucial times, this mental toughness disappears. Case in point the Super bowl 2 years ago, and the afc championship where the VETERAN players were down and out. I LOVE this team. But with the loss of Gronk and the D being inept,it's going to take a miracle
I think that we need to look at the next two games as the climax of this season. If they can win the division in Miami, then beat the Ravens in Baltimore, this is a successful season as I see it.
You’re probably right, it might take a miracle for them to win the Super Bowl, but if we had known the injuries that were coming, we probably would’ve said it would take a miracle to win 10+ games this season as well.
There will be plenty of time to wonder what the Pats will do differently this offseason and the players they’ll lose and add, but 2013 is undeniable proof that they have the right kind of players at their core.
The excitement and anticipation for 2014, with a healthy squad, will be through the roof. For now, let’s just enjoy what we’ve seen out of this team and how impressive a season it has been.
We’ll have to judge this team’s mental toughness in the playoffs by how they perform, but if it’s anything like they’ve done in the regular season, I expect the Pats to go down swinging if/when they do.
These next two games are huge and really, defining for the 2013 Pats.
First, comes a chance to clinch the division in Miami, a team that went on and offseason spending spree hoping to take the Pats down. If the Pats can end their season in person while sealing up another division crown it would be sweet.
Then comes the Ravens, who got the Pats twice last year, including a thorough second-half domination in the AFC Championship. There isn’t another team out there that the Pats owe a loss to than the Ravens.
If the Pats can win these two games on the road, given everything they’ve gone through this season, I’ll consider 2013 a success no matter what happens in the playoffs.
And yet another reason why the Super Bowl game itself is just the worst. The real games are the conference championships. They feature real fans and a real football atmosphere and most of the time the time feature good rivalries.
Super Bowls are exhibition games where everything is too long and overhyped. There’s really no way to fix it, it’s the biggest game on the planet and they’ll continue to make it a production not made for the teams playing and their specific fans, but as one big sterile corporate advertisement for the NFL.
Like most, I’m hoping for a heavy conditions game that really affects things. I know the Pats could muster a win there in February, but a lot of NFL teams would really be taken off their game by any weather issues.
Well, if there was one small silver lining defensively, it was Siliga yesterday. Granted the Browns rushing offense isn’t exactly a fearsome one, but any port in a storm, you know?
Otherwise, I think it’s official that the Pats are just an average defense now. Talib seems up and down is kind of his thing and it seems like he saves his good games for the good opponents. He’ll need to be lights-out in the playoffs.
The pass rush is just too inconsistent. I like Ninkovich and Chandler as the three-down defensive ends, but they’ll need to address their sub-packages this offseason. I’d even like to see Michael Buchanan get another shot. Andre Carter doesn’t have much left in the tank.