Patriots Offseason Update

talibCiting Multiple Sources, the Boston Globe reports that the Patriots would like to get the Aqib Talib deal done soon. It remains their top priority on defense.

Globe writer Greg Bedard also mentions that if the Patriots sign Talib he expects them to be on such players such as Keenan Lewis (Steelers), Nnamdi Asomugha (Eagles), Derek Cox (Jaquars), Quinton Jammer and Antoine Cason (Chargers, Chris Houston (Lions), and Cary Williams (Ravens) to fill the other cornerback position.

http://www.boston.com/sports/football/patriots/extra_points/2013/03/thoughts_on_har.html

In other news CBS sports reported from several sources that the Patriots had considered making a run at restricted free agent Victor Cruz before Cruz switched agents to Tom Condon Monday

Since the Giants placed a 1st round tender on Cruz, the Patriots would have to had to give the Giants a 1st round pick and a long term contract.

Due to the tender and Condon as the agent, the Patriots will now not likely make a run at Cruz

http://www.cbssports.com/nfl/blog/jason-la-canfora/21854299/on-heels-of-boldin-harvin-deals-more-wrs—-including-giants-cruz—-could-be-dealt-

Jason La Canfora reported that Ed Reed has hired an agent. La Canfora reported that there is a “good chance he moves on.” The two top teams are likely New England and Indianapolis.

http://www.rotoworld.com/player/nfl/2222/ed-reed

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Red Sox Legend DUI

By now, most of you have already heard that Red Sox great, Hall of Fame catcher Carlton Fisk was arrested on charges of driving under the influence. He was found asleep behind the wheel in the middle of a cornfield. There was an open bottle of Vodka on the floor of his vehicle. Fisk was brought to the hospital and released from custody the next morning after posting bail.

During his 24 year playing career, Carlton Fisk is most remembered for running down the line, waving his home run fair during the 1975 World Series.

Farrell Introduced

John Farrell was officially introduced as the 46th manager of the Boston Red Sox today at noon. Everyone down the line from Owners, Chairmen, General Manager, and even former and current players were on board to congratulate Farrell. Most of them even stood up to say a few words about him and everyone spoke so highly of him. With much praise about his leadership skills and intelligence all around the game of baseball, it is no wonder why the Sox made this choice so quickly, as soon as they were given permission to speak to him from the Toronto Blue Jays.

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Patriots vs. Giants: Running Backs

Up second today is the running back position for both teams. Usually I include stats in my comparison articles but when it comes to how both these teams use their running backs, and the depth they both have I just don’t think stats are a key factor in determining their talent.

The Giants have a great combination of size and speed in the backfield. Bradshaw is a hard runner with solid speed. A couple of years back he was second in line to Brandon Jacobs but that certainly is not the case anymore. Last season Bradshaw became more of the feature back with Jacobs coming in during goal line and short yardage situations. Brandon Jacobs possesses size that is a rarity at the running back position. Jacobs being stuffed behind the line of scrimmage for a loss is something that is difficult to achieve. He is bigger than your average linebacker and even if you are lucky enough to bring him down, he’s going to pick up the extra two yards almost every time. Although the Giants don’t rely on their running game too much, they certainly have the talent back there if they had to.

Overall Grade: B

20120203-131125.jpgThe Patriots running game this year is very similar to every other year. They use a combination of guys that each have certain strengths and use them to their abilities. BenJarvus Green-Ellis has good size and never fumbles the football, and when I say never I mean he has literally never fumbled the football during his pro career. Belichick trusts Green-Ellis in the red-zone because he knows the ball is safe in his hands. Rookie Stevan Ridley has shown flashes of greatness at times this year. He’s not huge, and doesn’t have Chris Johnson like speed but he is very elusive and not easy to bring down. Now on to Danny Woodhead…Minus the fumble on the kickoff last week this guy has been a great option for the Pats. He comes in primarily on passing downs, and that helps his yard per carry ratio out a lot because when he does run the ball the defense normally isn’t expecting it. Woodhead has been a solid replacement for the aging Kevin Faulk. Overall the Patriots have a solid backfield, but just like their opponents, they don’t use it to often. My prediction is that will change this week. I expect the Patriots to come out pounding the ball to keep those Giants pass-rushers on their toes.

Overall Grade: B-

Edge: Giants

Patriots vs. Giants: Wide Receivers

Only four more days… damn the anticipation is killing me. Today we will take a lot at the Wide Receivers for both the Giants and the Patriots.

The Giants wide receivers have come alive this year in a way not to many expected. Victor Cruz, a Umass Amherst Alumni was one of the top receivers in the league this year and his stats certainly illustrate that. Having him next to Hakeem Nicks, and Mario Manningham is quite the trio. Some receivers in the NFL only produce when paired up with a top-tier quarterback. This isn’t the case with these Giants receivers. These guys possess pure talent. Cruz is a deep touchdown waiting to happen and Hakeem Nicks is a matchup nightmare with his size and speed combination. Eli is a great quarterback, but it doesn’t hurt when you have the options he has. It is going to be quite the assignment for the Patriots secondary to even slow down this receiver core.

Overall Grade: A20120202-111508.jpg

The Patriots receivers are certainly above average, but I feel as though they fall into the category noted above: Top tier quarterbacks can craft an average receiver to fall into the elite category. Wes Welker is obviously a stud in this offense, but is he as valuable talent wise in another offense? We all saw what Deion Branch did without Brady. As far as Ochocinco goes… well I have nothing to say about that. Yes the Patriots have an elite passing attack and that is undeniable, but a lot of their offense goes through their dominant tight ends and not as much through the receivers like most teams. The Patriots receivers get the job done, but talent wise they do not match up with the Giants.

Overall Grade: B

Edge: Giants

 

“Fan First” Environment

Indy is all about the “Fan First” mentality this year while they are hosting the Super Bowl.  Last year, when Dallas hosted, there were over 1200 seats that were said to be “unsafe” causing many Steelers and Packers fans to stand to watch the game.  Obviously, many fans wanted reimbursement from both the Cowboys and the NFL in general. This year, they are trying to avoid that. Indianapolis is primarily a pretty friendly place, as I am told.

Not to mention it snowed, and since they weren’t ready for it, it made it very difficult to travel to and from events around the Texas area. At least in Indy, if it does snow most bars, hotels, and events are within walking distance.  So far, Indy is doing everything the right way.  They even brought in people that work for Disney cruise lines and events to show the workers at Lucas Oil Stadium how to maximize the visitors’ experience. So, assuming that the Pats can hold on and crush the Giants, it should be a pretty great weekend for all of those who attend.

Patriots vs. Giants: Offensive Line

It’s getting closer and closer, five days til’ the big day. Today we will take a look at what will likely win or lose the game for either team: Offensive Line

The Giants offensive line is very solid. They don’t possess too much of a running game and I’m sure that’s not the main focus of the Patriots defense. The Giants only allowed 28 sacks against this season. If the Giants O-Line can give Eli enough time to find his open receivers against the Patriots shaky secondary then they should be able to put some points on the board. Eli has great pocket presence and does well escaping the would-be tacklers in the backfield. (Note 2007 Tyree Catch). God I hate talking about that but when you think Eli escaping a tackle it instantly comes to mind. The Giants are solid in the middle with David Diehl and Chris Snee at the guard positions. If the tackles for the Giants O-Line can keep Anderson and Ninovich out of the backfield Eli should be all right.

Overall Grade: B

20120131-103502.jpgThe Patriots have one of the most talented offensive lines in all of football. Although Brady was sacked 4 more times than Eli I still have the utmost confidence in this O-Line. Obviously this is a brutal matchup for them but if they can play up to task I don’t see the Giants pulling this one out. Both Guards made the Pro-Bowl; Matt Light isn’t to bad either. If Sebastian Vollmer is healthy enough to play I expect him to get more time out their than Rookie Nate Solder. Similar to the Giants, the Patriots run-game isn’t exactly something to be to scared about, but I think it is key that the Patriots use the run game to keep the QB hungry Giants D-Line on their toes. Like I’ve said before; this game will be won or lost in the trenches. I’m not saying the Patriots will be able to protect Brady as much as the Giants can protect Eli but that’s because of the immense talent on the Giants D-Line. Strictly talent wise; the Pat’s have the edge.

Overall Grade: B+

Edge: Patriots

 

Patriots vs. Giants: Kickers

Today we will focus on which team has the edge in the kicking game. One of the things that gave me the idea to do a daily article evaluating each team in the super bowl was NFL.com, last week they came out with an evaluation article of each teams main positions. They gave Cundiff the edge over Gostkowski. They were definitely spot on with that one huh?

Lawrence Tynes is an average kicker at best. His field goal percentage isn’t all that bad at slightly over 79%, but if you look at the stats you notice he isn’t trusted to much to kick the ball over 40 yards, and it looks likes its all in good reason. Tynes only attempted eight kicks over 40 this season, and only converted four of them. 50% isn’t what you are looking for in a Super Bowl game. What are the Giants going to do on 4th and 3 from the 28-yard line in a tie game with a couple minutes left? My bet is they’re going for it.

Overall Grade: C

Stephen Gostkowski may be one of the most underrated kickers in the league today. His average is just under 85% and he makes clutch kicks when called upon. The difference here is when asked to kick a field goal over forty; Gostkowski frequently comes through. He is 76% from over 40; converting on ten of thirteen field goals. The Patriots have trust in their kicker and that’s huge in a game like this when its expected to come down to as little as a field goal. Could this be an Adam Vinatieri like finish? I’d take it.

Overall Grade: B+

Edge: Patriots

Patriots vs. Giants: Defensive Line

Today we will take a look at the defensive lines of the Giants and the Patriots, I know this might be the best part of the Patriots defense (not saying much), but I think you all know where this one is going.

20120126-115805.jpgThe Giants have arguably the best pass rush in the whole NFL. There isn’t a team that can pressure the quarterback without blitzing the way the Giants can. I hate bringing it up as much as the next guy; but when the Patriots matched up against the Giants last time in the Super Bowl their offensive line got exposed by the rush of the Giants. On many passing downs the Giants will switch off D-Tackle Linval Joseph and they will go with a four man front of Umenyiora, Tuck, Pierre-Paul, and Kiwanuka. The fact that the Giants pass defense is as bad as it is when they often times have no need to blitz and can keep many players back in coverage really shows how inept their secondary is. A combination like that possesses more speed up front than any D-Line in the NFL. The bright spot of their defensive line has to be Jason Pierre-Paul. He leads the team with 16.5 sacks so far this season. Osi Umenyiora isn’t to bad himself; he’s only played in nine games this year and has still recorded 9 sacks. Expect Brady to make many changes at the line of scrimmage based on the personnel the Giants send out there. This game is going to come down to the success both sides have in the trenches.

Overall Grade: A

The Patriots defensive line is very solid. They have a big presence in the middle with Big Vince clogging up all the running holes, and he even showed last week he could get after the quarterback as well. The loss of Andre Carter certainly didn’t help the pass rush, but veteran Mark Anderson has stepped right in and recorded 10 sacks this season. Like many positions on this team, the Patriots have a constant rotation on the D-Line. Kyle Love, Brandon Deadrick, Shaun Ellis and Gerard Warren always move in and out of the game. You have to be confident the Patriots run defense shouldn’t be the main issue against a team that often times forgets they have a running back. Overall the Patriots defensive line looks solid and should be able to get some pressure on Eli.

Overall Grade: B+

Edge: Giants

Patriots vs. Giants: Linebackers

Today we will take a look at the linebacker comparison between the Giants and the Patriots.

The Giants linebacker presence often times goes unnoticed. This isn’t because they aren’t good, or they don’t get their job done. It’s because of their QB hungry defensive line. Giants linebackers aren’t on the field to be pass rushers like many other teams use their linebackers. The linebacking crew consists of Michael Boley, Mathias Kiwanuka, Jacquian Williams, Greg Jones, and Chase Blackburn. Boley and Kiwanuka are both above average linebackers, with great speed. The others are mere average defenders.  Often times you will see Kiwanuka line up at the end position when they are in passing downs. Overall the linebacking group is average at best, and Perry Fewell does a great job making sure they don’t get exposed.

Overall Grade: C

Like the Giants, the Patriots have a seamlessly never ending linebacker rotation. Brandon Spikes coming back from injury was huge for their run defense, and it showed last week when the Pats basically shut down the most explosive part of the Ravens offense. Jerod Mayo is a top tier middle linebacker, and Rob Ninkovich has been improving all year and is showing he can be solid NFL talent and consistently put pressure on the opponent’s quarterback. Overall the Patriots linebacking crew is very solid when healthy, and that’s how it is right now.

Overall Grade: B

Edge: Patriots