Patriots-Bengals Ticket Giveaway!!
Here are my three favorite captions to the above photo. Vote for your favorite below. Winner gets two tickets to this Sunday’s Patriots-Bengals game and thanks to nrgenergy for sponsoring the giveaway!
Another ticket giveaway coming tomorrow! Thanks to everyone who had a funny caption, wish I could pick more!

@PatsPropaganda “I wish I could grow a beard like Logan… I really miss Logan…”
— Jon Bruce (@thejonbruce)
September 30, 2014


@PatsPropaganda #PatriotsNRG pic.twitter.com/GrCPVpl6R7 ” - This sucks…Jules won’t even avoid my high fives anymore.
— Michael MacKinnon (@mikeisthebest)
September 30, 2014


@PatsPropaganda we’ll see how much they’re laughing when I win the Super Bowl this year..
— Louuuuuuuuuuuuu (@louman1784)
September 30, 2014

Patriots-Bengals Ticket Giveaway!!

Here are my three favorite captions to the above photo. Vote for your favorite below. Winner gets two tickets to this Sunday’s Patriots-Bengals game and thanks to nrgenergy for sponsoring the giveaway!

Another ticket giveaway coming tomorrow! Thanks to everyone who had a funny caption, wish I could pick more!

Good read from Mike Reiss on the coaching and gameplanning. The season hangs on finding an identity now. They’re no longer the same offense that can do anything pretty well. They just need to find one thing.

Three GIFs That Defined Patriots win over Raiders

It was (looking like) the best of times and the worst of times after the Patriots squeaker win over the Raiders last Sunday.

On defense there were quite a few different options of plays that defined the game, though one choice was infinitely obvious. Defensively I continue to think things are really coming together and again, defense wins championships. If nothing else I’m ready for a Patriots team that is better on the defensive side of the ball. I mean it’s been a decade since the last time that was true.

Offensively, the Pats can’t get much going and look like the same unit that lacked the necessary dynamics to truly take them to the next level. Things still look just a step off up and down the offense, but given the level of compete on this team, I expect we’ll see them take positive strides forward this coming week.

Here are the three plays that defined the game:

 photo gronktd_zps256aba7a.gif

A Gronk TD. Why not? It was just about the only really positive play we saw from the offense, not to mention it saw Gronk beat a double team. That’s a positive sign and as Gronk slowly eases into more and more snaps he should become even more of a factor. Three healthy games down, 16 to go!

 photo radiersstop_zps35bbcb56.gif

Possibly my favorite play of the game comes on this 3rd-and-1 in the fourth quarter with the Pats clinging to a four-point lead. I love the number o f hard hits that keep the Raiders from picking up the first down. That kind of swarming defense is just what we need.

 photo wilforkint_zps9043f8b9.gif

Finally, and most obviously, comes Vince Wilfork’s interception. I can’t say it enough — it’s just unreal how Wilfork has come off such a major injury and looks just as good as he was before it. If anything it appears the year off did the rest of Wilfork’s body some good. Let’s just hope they can keep him this way for the rest of the season.

Personnel

Offense

3 WR/1 TE/1 RB — 32 of 73 
2 WR/2 TE/1 RB — 30 of 73 
2 WR/1 TE/1 FB/1 RB — 6 of 73 
2 WR/1 TE/2 RB — 2 of 73 
3 WR/1 FB/1 RB — 1 of 73 
3 WR/2 RB — 1 of 73 
3 TE/1 FB/1 RB — 1 of 73 

Defense

Base: 30 of 60 

Sub: 30 of 60 (20 in nickel/10 in dime) 

2 WR/1 TE/1 FB/ 1 RB — base 4-3 
2 WR/2 TE/1 RB — base 4-3 
3 WR/1 TE/1 RB — nickel — Arrington (short yardage); dime (longer yardage) 
1 WR/2 TE/1 FB/1 RB — base 5-2 
3 WR/1 FB/1 RB — base 4-3 and big nickel

Previous Three GIFs:

@ Minnesota Vikings

@ Miami Dolphins

Patriots Week 3 Kickoff: Oakland Raiders

Last meeting: In 2011, the Patriots gave up 504 yards of offense yet still won 31-19. Wes Welker had 9 catches for 158 yards as the Pats moved to 3-1, en route to a season that would see them lose to the Giants in the Super Bowl. This was prime territory for a pass defense that couldn’t stop a nose bleed. Put it this way — Sergio Brown was the 5th leading tackler on the day.

Early Outlook: The Raiders are 0-2 after losses to the Jets and Texans. It’s the Patriots home opener, and with the Pats offense on the verge of breaking out, the Raiders should have their hands full. It will be hard to not to be overconfident heading into this one.

Notes: Old friend Justin Tuck is back, not that he’s the same player he once was, but it will be interesting seeing how he does against our new-look interior OL.

LB Miles Burris is the lowest ranked defender on the Raiders by PFF, and Andy Benoit of MMQB called him a “liability”. Expect the Pats to attack the weak link.

On paper the Raiders have some big names like Tuck, Carlos Rogers, Antonio Smith and Lamarr Woodley but all are in the red for PFF’s ratings.

PFF has Derek Carr under pressure 33 of 78 dropbacks.

I’d bet BB will be content to rush four. Between Ninkovich, Hightower and Chandler, they should generate pressure. And seven in coverage will likely force Carr into a couple interceptions.

The whole Tony Sparano of it all is slightly concerning because you know, he dropped that whole Wildcat bomb on us in 2008, but really the defense is fine to handle that gimmick now.

Happy it’s the home opener because I think that will help the Pats not look past the Raiders. Every NFL team is dangerous if you don’t take them seriously. Remember losing to the Cardinals in 2012?

Pats are on national TV back-to-back after this one against two pretty good teams. They really need to get the penalties fixed and the offense on track in this one. 

If the Pats take more penalties than the Raiders in this one I will be concerned.

Patriots vs. Vikings All 22 Thoughts: Offense Edition

Not much doing on the first possession — a three and out. The commitment to establish the run is clear, but they didn’t have much success off the left side of the line on the first two runs.

As mentioned by Greg Bedard last night, on the first pass attempt of the second possession there was just Dobson running a route. Everyone else was blocking. Yes, they’re trying to establish some confidence but yikes.

Cleaner blocking in the run game on the second possession, with nice lead/edge blocks from Hooman and Develin on Ridley’s five yard run.

Edelman fly sweep! Teams are going to figure out how to defend this play pretty quick as almost every NFL team is running them this year it seems.

The WR slip screens haven’t been working well this year so far, and I’d include the RB screens as well. With the heavier and less experienced line this probably shouldn’t be a surprise. But they just can’t seem to get that one block that springs them for a big gain.

Still scratching my head how we’re in the second quarter and we’ve seen about as much Hooman and Develin as Dobson/Amendola/LaFell. For a team that lacked playmakers last year they’re still seemingly avoiding their playmakers.

Still, what a rocket on third-and-15 to Edelman to pick up a much-needed first down. This was one of my Three GIFs plays.

Brady stood in there tough and took the hit to deliver a perfect touchdown lob to Edelman. Great play that he clearly audibled into.

The Pats were stopped short on 3rd-and-1 in the second quarter. The hole was there for a second, but Connolly couldn’t quite make his reach block and that was enough to delay Ridley from squirting through. Harrison Smith also filled and tackled like a force of nature. He’s a good player.

And now it’s the Brady and Edelman show. I expected to see a little more balance this year on offense, that’s for sure. Most puzzling though is how little Vereen was involved in the game plan. He needs to get the ball in space more often.

Really solid run blocking on the last play of the third quarter where Vereen picked up 12 yards. Sustained blocks, good movement and vision from Vereen. More of that please.

Cannon got stunned by the initial punch by the DT and that’s how Brady was sacked in the fourth quarter. It did seem like there was time for him to unload it, but it appeared he was staring down Edelman who was bracketed. See below:

Lastly, All-22 is a much better way to get a good look at the offensive line and I really liked what I saw from Bryan Stork upon further review. Sustains his blocks, shows good strength. Would not be surprised if he starts to see more time. 

Patriots Offensive Line Height/Weight Comparison: 2012/13 vs. 2014
Say what we will about the new-look offensive line, but when laid out like this it’s clear how much bigger the Pats interior is now. We’re talking a combined five inches and 44 pounds more than the starting OL and swing tackle backup of the last two seasons.
I wonder if this relates back to the struggles we’ve seen in recent playoff losses where the interior OL struggles with guys like Justin Tuck and Terrence Knighton. Will this increase in size make a difference? 
Two games into the season and it would seem like they are committed to trying to make it work.

Patriots Offensive Line Height/Weight Comparison: 2012/13 vs. 2014

Say what we will about the new-look offensive line, but when laid out like this it’s clear how much bigger the Pats interior is now. We’re talking a combined five inches and 44 pounds more than the starting OL and swing tackle backup of the last two seasons.

I wonder if this relates back to the struggles we’ve seen in recent playoff losses where the interior OL struggles with guys like Justin Tuck and Terrence Knighton. Will this increase in size make a difference? 

Two games into the season and it would seem like they are committed to trying to make it work.

Three GIFs that defined Patriots win over Vikings

Sticking with the positive this week with three plays that really stood out to me as game-defining. Could’ve put any number of the penalties in GIF form but that would feel like a waste, even though those really defined the game.

You’ll also notice I didn’t use the Chandler Jones field goal block because that one has already been GIFfed and everyone is well aware of what a huge play that was.

First, we start with Devin McCourty’s interception, a play that might been the unofficial start of the Patriots actually playing football this season. Things didn’t look good on the first drive for either side of the ball. Then, after a nice punt from Ryan Allen, McCourty makes this great play on the ball.

photo mcourtypick_zps3dcddc47.gif

There were a few throws of Brady’s that stood out (and weren’t nullified by penalties), but this one was just a much-needed strike. With the Vikes poised to get good field position of a punt, Brady threaded the needle on third-and-14 to pick up the first down en route to taking a 10 point lead. 

photo bradythird_zps8ab92403.gif

No defender has been more impressive for the Pats this season than Dont’a Hightower. Hightower has been used more in a pass rushing role at times and he’s delivered with good pressure. He’s just so strong he can over power running backs trying to block him, but also get underneath a tackle like he does here. This sack effectively sealed any chance of a comeback from happening.

photo HighSack_zpsc58028ee.gif

Personnel

Sub: 45 of 68 (32 nickel, 13 dime) 
Base: 22 of 68 
Heavy/short-yardage: 1 of 68 

2 WR/2 TE/1 RB – 26 of 67 
3 WR/1 TE/1 RB – 21 of 67 
1 WR/2 TE/1 FB/1 RB – 12 of 67 
2 WR/1 TE/1 FB/1 RB – 5 of 67 
3 TE/1 FB/1 RB – 2 of 67 
3 WR/1 FB/1 RB – 1 of 67 

Previous Three GIFs:

@ Miami Dolphins

Snap Judgement: Patriots show life in gifted Vikings victory

The 2014 Patriots have one in the win column and now seem on track to get their season going. Getting Oakland for their home opener is almost as big a gift as the win over the Vikings was.

Don’t get me wrong, defensively the Patriots had as solid a game as we’ve seen around here in a while. Still, it was a formula that the Pats have won a lot of games with — takeaways. 

Four interceptions, five punts and one blocked field goal should have this defense feeling good. But how much is a by-product of no Adrian Peterson and Matt Cassel at quarterback?

Read More

Best of ‘13 Patriots Highlights