Sign the Petition: Fire Roger Goodell now!

“The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it is the same problem you had last year.” -John Dulles

Going easy on domestic abusers is bad enough; going easy on them after promising to “get tough” is downright inexcusable.

Shortly after being named Commissioner in 2006, Roger Goodell assured NFL fans that “We hold ourselves to higher standards of responsible conduct because of what it means to be part of the National Football League,” and backed up his words with a number of long-term suspensions for players who violated the rules for off-field conduct.

Sadly, however, Mr. Goodell’s disciplinarian ways don’t seem to extend to players who abuse their wives or girlfriends.

THE RAY RICE CASE
February, 2014 – Baltimore running back Ray Rice is caught on video dragging his fiancee’s unconscious body from an elevator, and Goodell issues him a two-game suspension. Several months later, TMZ releases a video of Rice punching his finacee inside the elevator. Goodell claims never to have seen the video before, and based on this “new evidence”, he suspends Rice indefinitely, claiming that Rice presented a “starkly different series of events” than what appeared on the video when he met with Goodell. But there’s a serious problem.

Atlantic City Police Officers stated in Rice’s complaint-summons that Rice attempted “to cause bodily injury to J. Palmer, specifically by striking her with his hand, rendering her unconscious.” Former FBI director Robert Mueller, hired to investigate the league’s handling of the matter, stated in his report that “The League obtained Rice’s complaint-summons from the Ravens… prior to the league’s disciplining of Rice in July 2014.” In other words, it is irrelevant whether or not Goodell saw the TMZ video. The police report stated exactly what happened in the elevator, and Roger Goodell had that report BEFORE he issued the two-game suspension.

Commissioner Goodell’s dramatic reaction to the video was a farce, a theatrical production designed to convince the public that he never would have gone so easy on Rice had he known all the facts. But Judge Barbara Jones, who arbitrated the case, ruled that Rice was 100% honest with Goodell, that Rice did NOT present a “starkly different series of events” as Goodell alleged, and that Goodell in fact abused his discretion in assessing the indefinite suspension.

The public was rightly outraged at Goodell’s missteps. The Commissioner offered no persuasive rebuttals to Judge Jones’ findings, and his competence was widely questioned, even as he acknowledged that he “didn’t get it right” and that “we have to do better. And we will.” The furor gradually subsided, but the league certainly could not afford a repeat performance.

Sadly, that’s just what the league got.

THE JOSH BROWN CASE
May, 2015 – New York Giants kicker Josh Brown is arrested after a domestic violence incident involving his then-wife, Molly. After a 10-month investigation, the NFL suspends him for one game. The league acknowledges that Molly accused him of prior abuse, but states that “despite multiple attempts to speak with her about this incident and her previous statements, she declined to speak with us,” and that the associated law enforcement agencies also “declined [the NFL’s] requests for information.”

Two months after the suspension was handed down, the King County Sheriff’s office releases police reports and other documents, showing a disturbing pattern of domestic violence by Brown, as well as unequivocal admissions by Brown himself that he was guilty of repeated abuse. Goodell claims that he wasn’t aware of the extent of the abuse, and immediately re-opens his inquiry. Josh Brown is later placed on the Commissioner’s Exempt List, meaning he is suspended indefinitely.

Sound familiar?

Once again, Goodell had access to the arresting officers’ report, which in this case states that, “Given Molly’s complaints of pain, the marks and bruising on her wrist and the statements of both parties I believe that Joshua assaulted Molly.” This alone should have warranted the standard six-game suspension, but there is much more:

1. Josh and Molly’s divorce records, which are publicly available and can be obtained by anyone, contain admissions by Josh himself that he repeatedly abused Molly. The NFL has neither confirmed nor denied seeing the divorce file, but this is at best a gross investigative failure (if the NFL did not obtain the file), and at worst a willful supression of evidence (if the NFL saw the file and ignored its contents). (http://deadspin.com/the-nfl-always-had-access-to-the-josh-brown-documents-1788037941)
2. On October 20, 2016, Giants owner John Mara told WFAN’s Mike Francesa that Brown “admitted to us he’s abused his wife in the past.” The NFL had only to reach out and ask the Giants what they knew, but again, the league either did not do so or discounted the information once they did.
3. In January of 2016, Molly took her children to Hawaii to watch Josh in the Pro Bowl. Josh showed up at Molly’s hotel room drunk and pounded on the door, demanding to be let in. Molly contacted the league, and NFL Security moved her to another room where Josh would not know where she was (https://www.sny.tv/giants/news/report-nfl-helped-browns-wife-during-pro-bowl-weekend-incident/206723750). As Commissioner of the league, there can be no doubt that Roger Goodell is fully aware of this incident.

Taken together, the evidence in the league’s possession clearly establishes a pattern of abuse that warrants the firm discipline that Goodell claims to believe in. And yet, inexplicably, Brown’s initial punishment was more lenient than Rice’s.
The record is clear. The evidence is beyond dispute. The NFL has not made the “great strides” that Commissioner Goodell claims; in fact, things have gotten worse. We as NFL fans count on the Commissioner to deal harshly with domestic abusers, but we have instead seen a disturbing pattern in which evidence is ignored or downplayed, and players are let off the hook with lenient punishments which are only increased if there is a public outcry. The appearance, true or not, is that Roger Goodell cares more about the image of the NFL than he does about victims of domestic violence.

We need a leader who punishes abusers properly the first time, with or without public fanfare or media attention. Roger Goodell has failed, spectacularly and repeatedly, to do so, and has left no doubt about his own unfitness for the job. We can do so much better.

Please do your part and help remove Roger Goodell as commissioner by signing our petition:

rice-final4https://www.change.org/p/nfl-owners-remove-roger-goodell-as-nfl-commissioner?recruiter=76020946&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_for_starters_page&utm_term=des-lg-no_src-no_msg

Week 7 @Patriots Pre-Cap– Pats v Steelers by @ThomasFaiella

Week 7 @Patriots Pre-Cap– Pats v Steelers by @ThomasFaiella

If you’re like me, you had this game circled on your calendar since the schedule got released. With a lack of “elite” quarterback matchups so far this year, it would have been great to get to see Big Ben and Brady in a shoot-out. However, yet again, Rothlesberger is out with yet another leg injury. So it turns out that we are stuck with watching Landry Jones, who has fewer passing yards in his career than Brady’s had in the last 2 games.

To be fair, the Steelers still have more high-powered skill position players than almost anyone else in the NFL. And when you’re talking the Steelers, you have to start by talking about Bell. Despite what feels like a slow start, he’s had more than 100 all-purpose yards in every start so far this season. Belichick thinks he’s one of the best players in the NFL, and for good reason. He’s regularly considered to be in the top 5 weapons in the league, and in his only game against the Patriots, he put up 140 all-purpose yards on only 20 touches — he’s really really good.

I think he broke more tackles than there are Browns on that play.

Obviously, Bell’s not the only weapon on the Steelers. Even without their Randy-Moss-clone Martavis Bryant (who’s suspended for the year), they still have a fearsome wide receiver corp, headed by Antonio Brown and his dance moves.

Life imitating art.

The Steelers have put up the most receiving TD’s in the league so far this year, and the Patriots have only shown a middle-of-the-road pass defense so far. Butler, Chung, and the rest of the secondary will have to be on their A-game to stop the Steelers from getting open down-field.

A big advantage the Patriots should have this week is…

Pass Rush

According to the most recent news, the Patriots pass-rushers should all be healthy this week (Jamie Collins is active), and with Belichick knowing that he was scheming against an inexperienced QB, should give New England a chance to disrupt the Steelers at the point of attack. If they can get off to an early start, and force Landry to throw, they can pin their ears back and try to get significant pressure on him.

And I think they’ll have a great chance to get off to a quick lead because of one often underrated factor:

Mr. White

James White’s been looking increasingly potent in the offense with Brady back — he’s been more than just a safety valve, but a valid offense threat, especially when working in tandem with Gronk to create mismatches with linebackers.

The Steelers are a great matchup for him — they’re one of the worst teams in the NFL against pass-catching RBs, to the tune of 65 receiving yards/game.   Look for the Pats to go to him early and often this week.

But he’ll have some help from…

He’s the (Edel)man

Look for Edelman to have a break out day. The Steelers have allowed the 9th-most receiving yards to wide-receivers this year, and the 2nd-most receptions so far this year (just behind the dead-last-in-most-pass-defense-categories LA Rams). Edelman’s had a couple of drops that have hurt him so far this year, and he’s been off to an overall slow start. But I think he’ll get back on track against the Steelers defense, which he roasted for over 100 all-purpose yards last year.

Summary

If the Patriots can get up early, they will make Landry Jones’ life miserable and could cause the Steelers’ offense to fizzle. They’ll need good performances from their LB’s to slow down Bell, and their secondary to stop Brown from getting free deep. But at the end of the day, I think the lack of Big Ben will slow them down, and the Brady revenge tour will continue.

Prediction:

Patriots 31

Steelers 23

 

Enjoy the game!

The 1996 New England Patriots Week 5 #theweekthatwas by @profwyatttaylor

 

1996-pats-bledsoe
Image courtesy of Bleacher Report

When Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Tom Coughlin addressed the media following his team’s 28-25 loss to the New England Patriots, there was no talk of a Massachusetts homecoming or his days as the head football coach at Boston College.[1]  Coughlin was still searching for answers.

 

1996-pats-parcells-coughlin
Image courtesy of Yahoo Sports

 

“Unbelievable,” Coughlin said.  “I don’t know how to explain it.”[2]

His team had started slowly, trailing the Patriots 22-0 with seconds remaining in the first half.  A successful Hail Mary then ignited the Jaguars, who rallied in the second half to tie New England at 25.  With seconds remaining in the game, Jacksonville miraculously completed a second Hail Mary, though wide receiver Willie Jackson fell short of the endzone.  A foot short, to be exact.

“I do know one thing,” Coughlin said of his team’s effort. “We fought and battled and made so many different things happen. There is no question about the fight in these players.”[3]

Regardless of Coughlin’s pride in his team’s effort, their season was threatening to slip away.  So the Jaguars headed south to try and salvage it.  The Patriots had clawed their way back to .500, and now had a bye week to prepare for the Baltimore Ravens.  A week off for New England seemed a fitting follow-up for a game full of so many ups and downs.

The Patriots dominated the Jaguars early, then barely hung on late.  The New England defense, especially Willie McGinest, hounded Mark Brunell as it held the Jacksonville offense in check for nearly two quarters.  The Jaguars’ massive offensive line then began to assert itself in the second half.  Once he had time to throw, the left-handed Brunell began lighting up the Patriots.  After completing the 51-yard Hail Mary to Jimmy Smith, Brunell was 15 of 23 for 315 yards.  Jacksonville outgained New England 442-353 in total yards while running only 52 plays to the Patriots’ 79.[4]  As hot as Brunell was, the Jaguars managed only 29 yards rushing on 11 carries.

Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri experienced his own share of highs and lows against Jacksonville, much as he had the entire season.  While he made five field goals, including the game winner, he also missed a 44-yarder and had an extra point blocked.  It marked the second game in a row in which the Patriots’ kicker missed a PAT.  He also missed four consecutive field goal attempts over a two-game stretch against Buffalo and Arizona.[5]

Vinatieri was booed after missing the 44-yard field goal attempt, which came at a point when Jacksonville had momentum and was clawing their way back into the football game.  Vinatieri was asked after the game if he had heard the boos.  “To be honest, I don’t really hear what people are saying or pay too much attention to what they are yelling,” he said. “I thought maybe they were saying, ‘Drew’.”[6]

When Vinatieri trotted out in overtime to try and win the game for the Patriots, confidence in the young kicker wasn’t nearly as high as it would be later in his career.  There were some who wondered if Vinatieri was perhaps kicking for his professional life.[7]  “You’re always kicking for your job,” he acknowledged later. “The day you stop kicking well, they look for someone else who can do your job.”[8]

 

1996-pats-vinatieri-parcells
Image courtesy of Pro Football Talk

According to New York sports radio fixture Mike Francessa, a long-time friend of Bill Parcells, the Patriots head coach nearly cut Vinatieri after the win over Arizona.  After Vinatieri missed his first field goal attempt and an extra point attempt against the Cardinals, Parcells allegedly approached the rookie in the fourth quarter with the Patriots leading 28-0.   Parcells told Vinatieri that he was going to go into the game to attempt a 31-yard field goal and if he missed, he was getting cut. Fortunately for Vinatieri, and the Patriots, he made the kick.[9]

New England won the overtime coin toss and drove 49 yards to the Jaguars 21-yard line.  The majority of that yardage came on one play, a 32-yard pass from Drew Bledsoe to Terry Glenn.  After Bledsoe was sacked on third and 10, Vinatieri was sent out to try and win it.

“I knew it was going to come down to one of the kickers,” Vinatieri said after the game. “You just have to go out and block everything out. They tried to ice me by calling timeout. I needed to thank them after the game, I got to patch up the field a little bit and have a better kicking surface.”[10]

After the timeout, Vinatieri kicked it right down the middle to give New England the win.

1996-pats-vinatieri
Image courtesy of the Boston Globe

“It felt good when I kicked it,” the rookie said. “But I had to look up and make sure it was going before I breathed a sigh of relief.”[11]

Somewhere along his odyssey toward the NFL and the New England Patriots, which began in South Dakota and included stops at South Dakota State and Amsterdam (the Amsterdam Admirals of the World League), Vinatieri developed an ability to handle high-pressure situations.  New England legend Gino Cappelletti, who knows a thing or two about kicking, as he holds the Patriots record with six field goals in a game, said, “This kid seems to have the right temperament for it. He looks like he doesn’t get too high or too low. That’s the way to be. You never want them to know how you’re feeling.”[12]

Vinatieri’s comments after the game underscored Cappelletti’s assessment of the rookie kicker.  “You’re going to have days when you can’t miss a field goal and you’re going to have days when you can’t make a field goal,” he said.  “But if you think negatively, it can carry over to the next week. Today I missed one. I was less than perfect. I would like to have had another one.”  Vinatieri went on to say that “as a kicker, you live for chances like this. As this game went on, I knew it was going to come down to a field goal. The extra point I missed came back to haunt us, but I got a chance to redeem myself.”[13]

The Patriots as a team had also redeemed themselves by crawling out of the 0-2 hole they had dug to start the season.  The dominant win over Arizona had sent hopes soaring, while the second half collapse against Jacksonville had left many scratching their heads.  Like it or not, New England would have to wait a week to find out if they could generate any momentum from the win over the Jaguars.

Their head coach, an admitted opponent of the NFL’s bye week policy, would have preferred to play on September 29.  “You win a couple in a row, you would like to keep going,” Parcells said. “I would really like to keep going. But you know, this is the way it is. What am I gonna do about it?”[14]

The Patriots didn’t have any major injuries with which a bye week might have helped.  However, Parcells seemed to indicate the time off might do his team some good.  “If you look at this,” he said, “this is almost halfway through the actual football-playing season. It’s not through the chronological league season. From the time you start {mid-July} and the number of practices, you’re pretty much halfway. So this is a time to back off some things.”[15]

 

1996-pats-parcells-press-conference
Image courtesy of New York Daily News

 

It didn’t mean Parcells wasn’t going to make his players work.  “We’re going to do a lot more running this week,” he said, “but we’re not going to beat them up too much. We’re in fairly good health now. You’re torn between trying to keep your timing and staying sharp with what you’re doing well with breaking the routine a little bit.”[16]

Parcells did maintain a normal work week for his team, with practices on the Wednesday, Thursday and Friday following the win over the Jaguars.  The coach hoped to use the extra time afforded by the bye to fine tune certain areas.  “I have specific things I want to do. We’re going to take a look at some of the problems we’re having. We’re going to put them on training reels. We’re going to try to get the point across.”[17]

The fact that the Patriots were coming off a win would make things a bit easier.  “I think you can call attention to these things and be more specific when you win than when you lose,” Parcells said. “When you lose and do it, they say, ‘Oh, he’s picking on me and this and that.’  You got a better chance to unload on them and let them know exactly what you think when you win.[18]

That’s it for this week in 1996.  Next time we’ll follow the Patriots out of the bye week as they head south to take on the Ravens in Baltimore on October 6.

 

1996-pats-ravens
Image courtesy of the Baltimore Sun

[1] Allen Lessels, “Close call for Coughlin,” The Boston Globe, September 23, 1996, accessed October 15, 2016.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Nick Cafarado, “KICK SAVE Vinatieri rescues Patriots in overtime,” The Boston Globe, September 23, 1996, accessed October 17, 2016.

[5] Dan Shaughnessy, “Rookis is riding high – for now,” The Boston Globe, September 23, 1996, accessed October 18, 2016.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Michael David Smith, “Adam Vinatieri was on kick away from getting cut in 1996,” Pro Football Talk, May 17, 2016, accessed October 18, 2016.

[10] Cafarado, “KICK SAVE,” The Boston Globe.

[11] Shaughnessy, “Rookis is riding high – for now,” The Boston Globe.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Nick Cafarado, “Parcells hopes it will be a good bye,” The Boston Globe, September 25, 1996, accessed October 19, 2016.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid.

The 1996 New England Patriots Week 4 #theweekthatwas by @profwyatttaylor

 

az_ty_law_1996
Image courtesy of sportslogos.net

 

The New England Patriots began their work week on September 16, 1996 with a record of 1-2.  However, the mood around the team was far more positive than that record might suggest.  A dominating 31-0 win the day before will do that for you.  There was praise for offensive coordinator Ray Perkins’ play-calling, something that had been nowhere to be found prior to the Arizona Cardinals’ arrival in New England.  The praise was well-deserved.  The Patriots had pulled out all the stops against the Cardinals, employing flea-flickers, halfback option passes, and double reverses.

The Patriots’ playmakers came up big against the Cardinals as well.  Drew Bledsoe completed 21 of 35 passes for 221 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions.  Curtis Martin rushed for 92 yards and a touchdown, while also catching five balls for 33 yards and two more touchdowns.  Ben Coates was in on the act as well, catching six balls on ten targets for 61 yards and a touchdown.[1]

Afterwards, even Bill Parcells, notoriously stingy in regards to praise for his players, seemed impressed with his team’s effort.  “We were pretty good in every phase of the game,” he said. “If we play like this, we can be competitive with anybody. If we play the way we did the first week, we won’t be competitive with anybody.”[2]

Owner Bob Kraft was equally pleased.  “Our fans deserve this,” said Kraft. “I think our season began today, and this is when you should start judging our team.”[3]

The Jacksonville Jaguars, New England’s opponent in week 4, had a 1-2 record as well, but had arrived there in quite a different manner.  After a 24-9 upset win over the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season opener, the Jaguars fell to the Houston Oilers in a 34-27 shootout.  They then suffered a much more painful defeat at the hands of the Oakland Raiders.

The Raiders, who had lost eight straight contests dating back to the 1995 season, defeated the Jaguars 17-3 in a game that featured one of the most ignominious plays of the 1996 season.  With his team trailing 10-3 late in the fourth quarter, Jaguars quarterback Mark Brunell drove his team deep into Raider territory before losing the football.  Raiders’ 320-pound defensive tackle Jerry Ball caught the loose ball and rumbled 66 yards for a game-sealing touchdown.[4]

To make matters worse, the Jaguars couldn’t even take a proper shower after the game before flying back across the country to Jacksonville.  The game was the Raiders’ regular-season debut in the newly renovated Oakland Coliseum, and there were multiple issues within the stadium.  Game clocks and scoreboards didn’t function, and water issues plagued the public restrooms and locker-room showers.[5]

“Ten minutes before the game, we were told there were no game clocks operating,” said Jaguars head coach Tom Coughlin. “On the scoreboard.  On the field.  Nowhere.  Then, after the game, we got to the locker room and there’s no water.  All of us have to take a sponge bath in a washroom sink, and then get on the plane and fly all the way home.”[6]

Despite the nightmare his team experienced in Oakland, Coughlin was quick to point out that his team had a chance to win both of their recent losses.  “We were coming down the field near the end of the game against Houston with a chance to win, and we threw an interception,” he said.  “We were coming down the field at the end of the game in Oakland Sunday. We’ve got first down on their 29 looking to go into the end zone, and we throw another interception.”[7]

So, as the clock struck one o’clock at Foxboro Stadium on Sunday, September 22, 1996, the Jacksonville Jaguars hoped to find a way to win a football game.  The New England Patriots, on the other hand, hoped to maintain the momentum they had established in their rout of the Arizona Cardinals.  The Patriots did just that with a hot start against the Jags, scoring on their first two drives en route to a 9-0 first quarter lead.

Despite Curtis Martin having a tough time finding running room, Drew Bledsoe managed to lead the Patriots down to the Jacksonville 5-yard line.  He then threw a touchdown pass to tight end Ben Coates.  Adam Vinatieri missed the extra point, but came back to kick a 23-yard field goal on New England’s next possession.  After Jimmy Hitchcock intercepted a Mark Brunell pass, Bledsoe connected with Curtis Martin for 11 yards and Terry Glenn for 15 yards, which took the Pats back down to the Jaguars’ 5-yard line.  The drive stalled, but Vinatieri’s field goal made it 9-0.

The second quarter was more of the same, as two Vinatieri field goals sandwiched around a 4-yard touchdown run by Martin made it 22-0 New England.  At that point the Patriots had outscored the Cardinals and Jaguars 53-0 over nearly six quarters of football.  The key word here, however, is nearly.

With five seconds left in the first half, the Jaguars faced a fourth and 13 near midfield.  Jacksonville was ready to punt, but a New England timeout gave them time to reconsider.  The Jaguars’ offense lobbied Coughlin for the opportunity to attempt a Hail Mary.  “No question they wanted to go for it,” Coughlin said. “I just didn’t want there to be any time left.”[8]

The Jaguars’ offense came out of the timeout and lined up to take one last shot at the end zone.  Brunell rolled right and heaved a pass toward the end zone.  A mass of players went up after the ball, which fell toward the ground before bouncing off the feet of Patriot safety Willie Clay.[9]  Jaguars receiver Jimmy Smith was in the right place at the right time, snagging the ball for a 51-yard touchdown that seemed to erase any and all momentum New England had established over the majority of the half.

In a second half dominated by the Jaguars, Mark Brunell completed 15 out of 23 pass attempts for a whopping 315 yards.  The Jaguars quarterback ended up with 432 yards passing for the day, nearly doubling Drew Bledsoe’s 255 yards.  Brunell also had three touchdown passes that covered 51, 41, and 61 yards.  And he nearly saved his best for last.

The Jaguars outscored the Patriots 18-3 in the second half, but as the game drew to a close the teams were tied at 25.  Jaguars’ wide receiver Willie Jackson had a premonition, one he shared with teammate Jimmy Smith. “I told him we were going to get another Hail Mary, and I was going to catch this one,” Jackson said.[10]

With three seconds left to play, Jacksonville was indeed in position to attempt another Hail Mary.  Brunell rolled out, just as he had at the end of the first half, and threw the ball nearly 60 yards toward the end zone.  Jackson, just as he had prophesized, came down with the ball.  However, Jackson fell just short of the goal line and the teams ended up tied at the end of regulation[11].

Jacksonville would not touch the ball again.  The Patriots took the overtime kickoff and drove the ball deep inside Jaguars territory.  Adam Vinatieri kicked a 40-yard, game-winning field goal, and the Patriots escaped with a 28-25 win.  New England would spend the next few days wondering how they let Jacksonville back in a game they had started out dominating.  The Jaguars, on the other hand, headed home to try and figure out how to turn their season around.  It was not the last time the teams would face each other in the 1996 season.

Jaguars V Patriots
12 Jan 1997: Defensive back Willie McGinest of the New England Patriots finds himself between two Jacksonville Jaguars, quarterback Mark Brunell #8 and defensive lineman Tony Boselli # 71 during the AFC Championship game played at the Foxboro Stadium in

That’s it for this week.  Next week, the 2-2 Patriots head to Baltimore to take on the Ravens.  See you then . . .

[1] “Arizona Cardinals at New England Patriots,” Pro Football Reference, http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/199609150nwe.htm, accessed October 10, 2016.

[2] Bob Ryan, “Play calling made this win fun for all,” The Boston Globe, September 16, 1996, accessed October 11, 2016.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Tribune News Service, “Raiders 17, Jaguars 3,” September 16, 1996, accessed October 11, 2016.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Will McDonough, “Coughlin trying for a balancing act with Jaguars,” The Boston Globe, September 18, 1996, accessed October 12, 2016.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Allen Lessels, “Without question, Jaguars made it a big day for big plays,” The Boston Globe, September 23, 1996, accessed October 13, 2016.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

New England Patriots: Minor Improvements For the Bengals Game

New England Patriots: Minor Improvements For the Bengals Game

Would you ever criticize a Victoria’s Secret model’s looks? Tell Paul McCartney how to make a song? Give Floyd Mayweather training advice? I’m going to go with no for all three of those questions. After their 33-13 victory over the Cleveland Browns, trying to think of improvements for the New England Patriots feels the same way.

Every Patriots’ fan had this game circled on their calendar since the moment it was announced that Tom Brady was going to be suspended for the first four games. Brady came back like everyone thought he would: prepared, focused, and didn’t miss a beat. Brady torched the Browns, hitting on 28 of his 40 pass attempts for 406 yards, three touchdowns, zero interceptions, and a QB rating of 96.3, as the Patriots moved to 4-1 on the season.

Brady will now receive his homecoming as the Pats head back to Gillette Stadium to take on the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals are going through a typical mundane Bengals-like season. They are 2-3 with their only wins against the Jets and Dolphins, with losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers, Denver Broncos, and Dallas Cowboys. The Bengals are coming off a loss to the rookie-led Cowboys with Ezekiel Elliott running for 134 yards and two scores and Dak Prescott continuing the start of his career without throwing an interception.

Criticizing the Patriots after this game is like pulling hair off a fly, but there are a few things they must improve slightly on to ensure a win against the Bengals. Three of their five top tacklers were defensive backs/special teamers: Patrick Chung (seven tackles), Devin McCourty (five), and Nate Ebner (three). The Patriots’ defensive scheme was more concerned with stopping the Browns’ run game, so the secondary prioritized stopping Isaiah Crowell and the rushing attack over sitting back and waiting for the pass. The Patriots were successful, as Crowell came into the game with a 6.4 average per rush and 98.5 rushing yards per game, but finished with just 22 yards on 13 attempts.

The Patriots’ linebackers and defensive lineman have to be able to control the game and have the secondary prioritize defending A.J. Green and the rest of the Bengals’ receiving corps. The Bengals’ love featuring the “thunder and lightning” running back duo of Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard to open up the passing game for Andy Dalton. The defensive core of Dont’a Hightower, Jamie Collins, Malcolm Brown, Chris Long, and Rob Ninkovich must shut down the run and short yardage pass plays so the secondary of Malcolm Butler, Patrick Chung, Devin and McCourty can focus on A.J. Green and the aerial attack of the Bengals’ offense.

The Patriots must also tighten up how they defend tight ends. In five games, the Patriots have given up 28 receptions to tight end for a total of 264 yards and one touchdown. Every tight end has gained over 40 yards, with the Browns’ Gary Barnidge having the most success last game with five receptions for 76 yards. The Bengals are hoping their Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert returns so it gives Andy Dalton another legitimate weapon outside of A.J. Green.

Patriots’ fans fled to Cleveland and made their presence known to support Brady in his return. With the Tom Brady “Revenge Tour” opening its first act at home, be prepared for a hectic atmosphere in Foxborough. With some minor adjustments and improvements on the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots should be able to easily handle the Bengals at home.

 

12 + 88 = 18

12 + 88 = 18

By: Mark Saber Jr.

FOXBOROUGH- Martellus Bennett has a career day against the Browns in Brady’s return. It is quite fitting for me because I just bragged how Gronk and Marty are in line to create one hell-of-a duo. I have been raving about Marty since his arrival to the team but this game was a captivating performance. So the main question now is, when will Bennett receive his extension from the Patriots?

Martellus had an overall solid performance against Cleveland, he got 6 receptions, 67 yards, and 3 Touch Downs. At this pace he is inline to have season totals of 67 catches, 1,005 yards, and 13 Touch Downs which are close to my personal prediction for him I wrote in my last article. But with those stats he is on pace for a career year. But with this type of a year the question is does Marty get re-signed at season end?
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I say YES! I think Bennett should be compensated for his performance I know Gronk and the Pats have been in contract talks the whole off season. Also note that there are plenty of players due for extension that are vital to the team at seasons end. But I personally think the Patriots will re-sign, for this one reason alone, the Patriots lack an explosive big body weapon outside of Rob Gronkowski. Bennett has bought in heavily to the “Patriot Way”. Which consists of  don’t run your mouth to the media, play hard nose football, and let the performance do the smack talk.

People need to realize Bennett is no spring chicken who is in his early 20’s and has a decade left of elite football in him. Bennett has been in the league since 2008, and has essentially played for not so talented teams.

 

Bennett is a big body target, for an aging arm like Brady he provides an easy target at 6 feet 6 inches, 275 pounds, and 4.68 40 yard dash time. Which is eye popping for a player of his stature, Bennett can outrun defenders, run OVER defenders, and finally help block on the O-line. He is not just a pass catching receiver, and he can man handle opposing defenders on the line.

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My next point is, since he has played for not so good teams I think he inks a Patriot friendly deal at, 3 years, $10 Million, and it be a heavy incentive type of deal. At this point of Bennett’s career, you would assume that he is playing for Super Bowls, and thinking how many rings can I size before I retire. His big brother Michael already has 1 ring, so why not keep it in the family and go for one yourself?  Brady to Bennett seams as smooth as a hot knife through butter. So smooth as some easy addition #12 + #88 = 18 points scored. Bennett deserves a pay if he keeps up the performances he has been having.

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Rob Ninkovich, extra exuberant at suspension end via @TXPatSteveR

Rob Ninkovich, extra exuberant at suspension end via @TXPatSteveR

There was of course much more focus and pomp on the return of Tom Brady to the starting roster following the four-week suspension which both had to serve.

However, in Ninkovich’s case the end of Do Your Job applied to his domestic life as he returned to his duties at defensive end and a core of the Patriots leadership has allowed him to work on disposing of offensive players instead of adding to his stats of disposing of approximately 240-300 diapers during the four-week he was out.

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While he only recorded a single tackle against the Browns in the Patriots dominate win, his impact in applying pressure and sealing the edge certainly attributed to the win.  We can also be assured that while Ninkovich’s statistics for tackles will not approach his diapers disposed of numbers there will be many more to come before the end of the season.