Tag Archives: Jamie Collins

The Silver Linings Playbook:  Patriots Edition

quarterback-tom-brady-of-the-new-england-patriots-reacts-to-a-play-picture-id499221526

With a score of 24-30, the 2015 New England Patriots’ chance at a perfect season came to a screeching halt in Denver. There were many reasons for this crushing and untimely loss.

The officiating was absolutely dreadful on both sides of the ball but seemed to really needle the Patriots with a bunch of phantom calls during crucial moments in the 4th quarter. Most notably, Rob Gronkowski was called for an outrageous offensive pass interference penalty, costing the Patriots a first down and a chance to keep an important drive alive. The play clock fiasco during the Bronco’s injury timeout during the final drive was as confusing as it was accurate. Communication between the officials to the coaches and the players was downright pitiful.

The defending Super Bowl Champions entered the game with several notable star players missing, specifically offensive weapons Julian Edelman, Dion Lewis and Danny Amendola. Whereas both teams lost crucial players during the game, the losses of Dont’a Hightower and Rob Gronkowski seemed to derail the Patriots considerably. Losing Hightower opened up the run game for Denver, which on a night of snowy conditions was a godsend for their young Quarterback Brock Osweiler.  Gronkowski going out with a scary knee injury not only sucked the wind out of the Patriot’s collective sails but removed the final clutch superstar Tom Brady had left to throw to.

Finally and most importantly, Brock Osweiler played well in the 4th quarter, as did the entire Denver Broncos team. Although it is unpopular to say, the truth is given the cast and the set of circumstances The Denver Broncos made the most of their favorable circumstances. The tide turned drastically when Patriots’ rookie wide receiver Chris Harper fumbled the punt return and placed Denver in a scoring position. Did the Broncos take advantage of some slanted penalties and questionable play calls by the Patriots? Absolutely, and had the shoe been on the other foot Tom Brady and company would have done the same.

This game was a gut punch to Patriot Nation, leaving many fans irate that a winnable game and a perfect season had slipped away. Where it is true, the perfect season is no longer on the docket for the Patriots, this game is far more than just a sickening loss. In fact, this game told us more about the 2015 Patriots squad than the entire set of undefeated games played prior to it. With Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner gone in free agency, NOBODY gave this Patriots defense, more importantly the secondary, much of a shot at even being average. Malcolm Butler, Devin McCourty and especially Logan Ryan did a great job for the most part buttoning up Denver’s receivers Sunday night. Sure, Butler missed a few costly plays against Sanders but Logan Ryan all but eliminated Demaryius Thomas. Knowing that Logan Ryan is someone that can be counted on to remove a superstar receiver like Thomas from a game cannot be understated. This defense is formidable and an incredible asset, warts and all.

The Patriots offense has seen better days this year with the losses of Edelman, Amendola and Dion leaving unproven talents such as Chris Harper, Keshawn Martin and complimentary pieces like Scott Chandler and Brandon Lafell as primary targets. Still, even with this rag tag grouping (with the help of star Tight End Rob Gronkowski), the Patriots still scored 24 points over the best defense in the league. In fact, until Harper’s untimely fumble, the Patriots held on to a two score lead for considerable length of time. Rob Gronkowski’s role on Sunday can’t be understated, yet he still only one man and this offense stepped up when most teams would have crumbled to pieces.  The Offensive line, far from perfect was better than the Buffalo game and for the most part fairly sturdy as well. In the end, it took overtime to stop Sunday night’s bruised and beaten New England Patriots and that was impressive.

new-england-patriots-patriots-tight-end-rob-gronkowski-pumps-his-fist-picture-id499274152

Ultimately, Julian Edelman should be back for the playoffs, both Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower and Danny Amendola will be back sooner than later, Rob Gronkowski’s injury was not nearly as bad as it looked, and the Patriots (in their current incarnation) are a tough as nails team which should survive their schedule and persevere until most of the pieces are back in the puzzle box. The Denver loss on Sunday night will not define this Patriots’ season anymore than an undefeated streak was necessary for a Super Bowl Championship.

Patriots vs Bills Preview

THE 9-0 NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS WILL BE HOSTING THE 5-4 BUFFALO BILLS MONDAY NIGHT AT GILLETTE STADIUM FOR THE SECOND MATCHUP OF THE YEAR BETWEEN THE TWO TEAMS.

IN WEEK 2 THE PATRIOTS DEFEATED THE BILLS 40-32 IN A GAME THAT DIDN’T SEEM AS CLOSE AS IT LOOKED ON THE SCOREBOARD. THE PATRIOTS LED AND CONTROLLED THE TEMPO FOR PRETTY MUCH THE ENTIRE GAME. TOM BRADY DID TOM BRADY THINGS THROWING FOR 466 YARDS AND 3 TOUCHDOWNS AGAINST A GOOD REX RYAN COACHED DEFENSE THAT CAME OFF A BIG WIN AGAINST INDIANAPOLIS THE WEEK BEFORE. TIGHT END ROB GRONKOWSKI ALSO HAD A BIG GAME IN HIS HOME COMING GAME AGAINST THE BUFFALO BILLS HAULING IN 7 RECEPTIONS FOR 113 YARDS AND A TOUCHDOWN. FOR THE BILLS THEIR QUARTERBACK TYROD TAYLOR, WHO WAS ONLY MAKING HIS SECOND CAREER START, PLAYED VERY WELL BOTH PASSING AND RUNNING THE BALL AGAINST THE NEW ENGLAND DEFENSE WHICH HELPED BRING HIS TEAM BACK LATE IN THE FOURTH.

NOW IN WEEK 11 SOME THINGS HAVE CHANGED SINCE WEEK 2, NO DION LEWIS OR JULIAN EDELMAN FOR THE PATRIOTS AMONGST MANY OTHER INJURIES FOR THE TEAM INCLUDING LINEBACKER JAMIE COLLINS WHO LOOKS LIKE HE IS GOING TO MISS HIS THIRD STRAIGHT GAME WITH AN ILLNESS. FOR THE BILLS, THERE NOT GETTING THE SAME CONSISTENT PLAY OUT OF THEIR QUARTERBACK TYROD TAYLOR AS THEY ONCE DID, HAVE HAD DEFENSIVE STRUGGLES AT POINTS THROUGHOUT THE YEAR, AND HAVE ALSO DEALT WITH INJURIES TO PLAYERS INCLUDING PERCY HARVIN AND LESEAN MCCOY WHO HAS MISSED TIME THIS YEAR.

A KEY FOR NEW ENGLAND THIS GAME WILL BE TO GET SOME GUYS BACK FROM INJURY, ESPECIALLY ON THE OFFENSIVE LINE. THE OFFENSIVE LINE HAS PLAYED PRETTY WELL SO FAR EVEN WITH ALL THE INJURIES BUT AFTER LOSING ANOTHER KEY PIECE TO THE OFFENSE IN JULIAN EDELMAN, HAVING A HEALTHY OFFENSIVE LINE AND GIVING TOM BRADY MORE TIME TO HOLD ONTO THE BALL AND MAKE A DECISION WILL BE CRUCIAL.  ANOTHER KEY TO THE GAME THIS WEEK FOR THE PATRIOTS WILL BE TO COVER BILLS TIGHT END CHARLES CLAY. THE PATS HAVE BEEN HORRIBLE THIS YEAR IN COVERING OPPOSING TIGHT ENDS, MOST RECENTLY AGAINST THE GIANTS WILL TYE, WHO I NEVER EVEN HEARD OF BEFORE LAST WEEKS’ GAME. CLAY HAS GOOD SIZE AND GOOD SPEED AND GOOD SIZE AND CAN MAKE DEFENSES PAY IF YOU LEAVE HIM OPEN IN THE FIELD. ANOTHER KEY TO THE PATRIOTS DEFENSE WILL BE TO NOT ALLOW TYROD TAYLOR TO ESCAPE THE POCKET, TAYLOR IS MORE DANGEROUS RUNNING THE BALL THAN HE IS THROWING THE BALL AND IS DANGEROUS WHEN THROWING ON THE RUN, BUT DOESN’T HAVE GREAT POCKET PRESENCE. IF YOU CAN KEEP HIM IN THE POCKET AND CAN GET THE LEAGUES LEADER IN SACKS IN CHANDLER JONES GET AFTER HIM IT WILL CERTAINLY RATTLE TAYLOR AND FORCE HIM TO MAKE MISTAKES.

FOR BUFFALO IT WILL BE TO GET TAYLOR OPEN ROOM TO MOVE, WHETHER IT BE IN FRONT OF OR BEHIND THE LINE OF SCRIMMAGE, HE CAN BE SCARY WHEN HE WAS ROOM TO MOVE WITH HIS ARM STRENGTH AND SPEED. ANOTHER WILL BE FOR THE BILLS DEFENSE TO STOP THE PATRIOTS MACHINE OF AN OFFENSE. EVEN WITH ALL THE INJURIES IT WILL BE A LOT HARDER SAID THEN DONE, AFTER EDELMAN LEFT LAST WEEK’S GAME DANNY AMENDOLA STEPPED UP IN HIS ROLE AND CAUGHT 10 BALLS FOR 79 YARDS. THEN OF COURSE THERE IS THE BEST TIGHT END IN THE LEAGUE ROB GRONKOWSKI, BILLS CORNER STEPHON GILMORE CAME OUT THIS WEEK AND SAID THE TEAM HAD A GAME-PLAN TO TAKE GRONK OUT OF THE GAME. THEY SAID THE SAME THING LAST TIME, THE BILLS HAVE TWO YOUNG VERY GOOD CORNERS IN STEPHON GILMORE AND ROOKIE RONALD DARBY BUT LET’S FACE IT, YOU CAN NOT STOP ROB GRONKOWSKI HE IS TOO GOOD OF A PLAYER TO BE STOPPED. AND THEN OF COURSE THERE’S TOM BRADY WHO’S JUST PLAYING OUT OF HIS MIND AND PLAYING THE BEST FOOTBALL OF HIS LIFE AT 38 YEARS OLD.

THE BILLS COULD MAKE THIS A GAME, BUT JUST LIKE LAST TIME THE SCOREBOARD WONT TELL THE WHOLE TRUTH. THE PATRIOTS WILL WIN THIS GAME IN GILLETTE WITH EASE FOR THE MOST PART OF THE GAME AND MOVE ON TO 10-0.

 

New England Patriots: Halloween Arrives Early In Indy!

Let’s be honest, the Sunday night match-up between the New England Patriots and the Indianapolis Colts didn’t go as planned.

  • No, not because the Patriots only won by 7 points, 34-27 (should have been 34-21, but Colts scored a garbage time TD).
  • It wasn’t because LeGarrette Blount “only” ran for 93 yards.
  • It wasn’t even because Julian Edeleman actually dropped three passes, one leading to a pick six by the Colts.

It was because…are you ready?…the Colts thought it was already Halloween and decided it was going to be “trick” not “treat” night at Lucas Oil Stadium.

There were ghosts, goblins, witches and lots of tricks

The ghosts of years past were in the air and on the field as the Colts received the opening kick-off and marched 90 yards with

Julian Edelman scores as he's hit by Colts strong safety Mike Adams (29) and inside linebacker D'Qwell Jackson (52) . (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Julian Edelman scores as he’s hit by Colts strong safety Mike Adams (29) and inside linebacker D’Qwell Jackson (52) . (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

relative ease to take a quick 7-0 lead.

New England returned the favor with an 80 yard drive of their own, culminating withJulian Edelman scoring his fourth receiving TD of the season, knotting the game at 7-7

Things settled down for a while before the witches stepped in and put a hex on Edelman, causing him to injure his finger and start dropping passes. The most damaging drop occurring in the 2nd quarter, when a Tom Brady pass bounced off #11’s hands into the waiting arms of Mike Adams, who scampered 14 yards down the sidelines to give the Colts a 14-10 lead.

The pass was Brady’s 1st interception of the year, but the blame fell squarely on those damned witches as they made the perfect pass bounce off the usually sure hands of the hexed Edelman.

At this point the Goblins entered the head of Indy Head Chuck Pagano. As visions of sugar plums danced in his head, oh wait a minute…back-up, that’s Christmas. Thinking this was time to spring surprise #1 of the game, the infamous on-side kick, Pagano and his special teams coach went for it.

It was just the 2nd quarter, but surely this would surprise New England Head Coach Bill Belichick. As the ball squirted from hand to hand before falling under the prone body of Patriot Josh Kline it looked like the greased pig contest we’ve all seen at the State Fair. As bodies un-piled the officials took the still inflated ball and loudly proclaimed “New England’s Ball.”

…But wait, there’s more

Pagano was in shock. My God, how could that be, he thought, as his head spun (kinda like in the movie The Exorcist). Knowing exactly what to do, he grabbed the red flag from his sock and hurled it on the field to challenge the play.  “Upon further review their was no clear view of the fumble recovery, therefore the initial call stands” blared through the PA system.

Six plays later Blount rumbled 38 yards “giving” the Patriots back the lead, 17-14.

LeGarrette Blount runs for a 38-yard touchdown after the Colts botch an on-side kick (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
LeGarrette Blount runs for a 38-yard touchdown after the Colts botch an on-side kick (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

The Colts scored another TD and the Patriots a last second field goal as the hectic half ended 21-20 and everyone took a deep breath…and believe me, they would need it.

The Play Of The Game

The Colts kicked off to start the second half and Rob Gronkowski scored his first TD in the last 3 games to put New England up 27-21. With the same score and 1:14 left in the 3rd quarter the Colts went to a play that makes the Seahawks Super Bowl loss pass look a great call. And here it is in all it’s glory:
Possibly The Worst Play In NFL History?

You have to give Pagano credit, per Ian O’Connor, ESPN Senior Writer, after the game he said “I take full responsibility for that,” as if he had any other choice.

As far as the Patriots being unprepared for either that play, or the earlier onside kick, here is Coach Belichick’s post-game response “We expected this to be a gadget game in the kicking game,” The man has his team prepared for almost everything, yet other coaches continue to try to trick plays that look foolish.

Talk About Athleticism – Meet Jamie Collins

After the Colts scored their final TD with 1:26 left in the game the Halloween Theme continued when Patriots LB Jamie Collins had the most athletic play of the game…with a little help from the ghosts of games past. Check it out. If you look real closely, you’ll see them pushing him up and over on this extra point attempt http://www.nfl.com/videos/nfl-cant-miss-plays/0ap3000000560794/Can-t-Miss-Play-Collins-hurdles-line-and-blocks-PAT

Right about now Colts fans are spouting the line “it was a moral victory”…or “we gave them the game”. No matter what, one thing is obvious…the Baltimore, oops, Indianapolis Colts were running scared even though they held the lead at halftime 21-20. Play calling was in respect for what the Patriots could do and in fear of what the night would bring.

Follow me on Twitter @SnowdonBob

New England vs. Dallas: Patriots Defensive Line against Dallas Offensive Line

A big focus on this week’s game between the New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys will be the Patriots defensive line vs. the Cowboys offensive line. Both are amongst the best in the league for their position groups and a key to victory for New England will be to beat the Cowboys offensive line consistently.

The Patriots defense currently ranks 5th in team sacks, behind the Broncos, Packers, Rams and Steelers who have all played one more game than New England. The Patriots are led by defensive ends Chandler Jones and Jabaal Sheard and linebacker Jamie Collins who make up 8.5 of the teams 13 sacks on the year. Though getting after Brandon Weeden wont be as crucial to the game as it would if Tony Romo was healthy and playing, you don’t want to give any quarterback time in the pocket to make plays and to allow his receivers to get open. The Cowboys had the leagues best offensive line last year headlined by left tackle Tyron Smith and rookie guard Zach Martin and still are the leagues most talented offensive line in the views of most people, despite being amongst one of the leagues most penalized offensive lines early in the season. With that being said, it is a good reason why the Patriots should bring the blitz at Weeden, get after him, and sack him, or be held and move them back and try making Weeden beat you, which lets face it he can’t do.

via cowboysblog.dallasnews.com
via cowboysblog.dallasnews.com

A key will be stopping the Cowboys running game. The Patriots have struggled this year defending the run, they improved vs. Jacksonville but that was in a blowout game where the Jaguars had to throw the ball because they were down by so many points. The Cowboys o-line and running backs are also a lot better than the Jaguars, though Joseph Randle has had fumbling problems as of late and Darren McFadden has looked like he has his whole NFL career, a bust. Travis Frederick and Zach Martin are strong interior blockers and could provide room for whoever is in Dallas’ backfield.

via twitter.com
via twitter.com

In a game that should be an easy win for the Patriots, especially coming off a bye, watching how the defensive line plays will be something of interest to see. The Cowboys offensive line is one of, if not the best in the league and seeing how the Patriots perform against them will be a good test to see if they are as good as they’ve looked so far, and a good test for the defense.

New England Patriots: You can’t build your future on luck, but it sure doesn’t hurt

After watching teams other than the New England Patriots play football for the past two weeks one thing jumps out. You can’t build a solid team in the NFL by relying strictly on luck (even if his name is Andrew). Yes, every team in the league has some luck…both good and bad, but the really good ones have the skill players necessary for week-to-week consistency. The surprise was how little some coaches know about the rules, clock management and “common sense” when the game is on the line. That’s not luck, that’s preparation!

LuckQuote

Some Good Luck Along The Way:

The Patriots have had more than their share of good luck leading to 16 years of consistency.

  1. Talk about luck, how about Robert Kraft buying a franchise that was about to move to St. Louis

A season ticket holder since 1971, Mr. Kraft stepped up and refused to let Billy Sullivan and Victor Kiam (former owners) out of their lease, forcing them to play in run down Sullivan Stadium, which he had purchased out of bankruptcy. At that time the two were trying to move the Patriots to Jacksonville. When Kiam had a series of bad investments he had to sell the Patriots and up stepped James (Budweiser) Orthwein, who was intent on moving the franchise to St. Louis.

In 1994, Orthwein offered Kraft $75 million to buy out the team’s lease at what was then Foxboro Stadium. Kraft refused and ended up buying the Pats for $172 million, the most ever paid for an NFL franchise at the time. According to Forbes magazine the average team is now worth $1.97 billion

2.  The decision to hire Bill Belichick

Luck was headed to New England when the NY Jets underestimated how much Bill Belichick wanted to have complete control over a team with an owner who kept his hands out of the mix.  After just one day as the J-E-T-S Head Coach he opted out, no matter what it cost him.  Despite Belichick’s issues as Head Coach in Cleveland, Robert Kraft was willing to spin-the-wheel of fortune on his possible impact on a team that had floundered under Pete Carroll (yes, the same Pete Carroll).  After an 8-8 season in 1999 Kraft made the move and hired Belichick, giving up a 1st round draft pick in return.

It’s hard to believe now, but fans were not happy with the move. No one thought he would become the best Head Coach in the NFL

3.  Drafting Tom Brady in the 6th round of the 2000 NFL draft

No one can deny drafting of Brady was the luckiest (and best) thing to ever happen to this franchise. No discussion needed

It would be easy to name a dozen other examples of luck that helped the Patriots become the most dominant team in the NFL – the Tuck Rule – Adam Vinatieri Super Bowl kicks – Rob Gronkowski dropping to the 2nd round – and on and on and on, but it still wouldn’t tell the whole story.

All The Luck In The World Isn’t Enough

Despite all this luck, the Patriots wouldn’t be where they are without:

  • A paranoid Head Coach who leaves nothing to chance and knows the rule book better than anyone else in the NFL. Sure, he’s a ornery cuss and likes to push the envelope, angering other teams and causing distrust of the franchise by the rest of the NFL…but there is not a team that wouldn’t hire him immediately if he became available (No matter what they say)
  • AFC Offensive Player of the Month Tom Brady, who is still taking revenge against all the teams who let him fall to the 6th round of the draft. Add his rejuvenation and focus from unsubstantiated allegations this off-season along with his willingness to be the hardest working player on the roster and you have, arguably, the greatest QB in NFL history.
Do you still miss Adam Veneteri?
Do you still miss Adam Vinatieri? (Photo: Boston Globe)
  • One of, if not the, best FG kickers in the NFL, AFC Special Teams Player of the Month for September Stephen Gostkowski…who hasn’t missed a kick this season. Check out all the games impacted by kickers (both FG & Extra Points) in the last two weeks and you’ll see why the Patriots decided to make him the highest paid kicker in the league.Gronk one handed catch (Photo: courtesy printinterest.com)
  • The best Tight End in all of football who is willing to do much more than just catch the ball. Rob Gronkowski is like a big man-child who enjoys his off time…but when healthy is the most feared player in the league.

I could add to the list of skilled players (Julian Edelman, Chandler Jones, Devin McCourty, Jamie Collins, etc, etc…) but you get the point. It takes skilled, dedicated players as well as some luck and the New England Patriots have an abundance of both.

Going to Dallas this Sunday, without many of many of the Cowboys key players in action, could be considered luck…but it is more than that. Tom Brady is on his 2015 Revenge Tour and the teams they play are very unlucky that’s the case.

Follow me on Twitter @SnowdonBob

Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, Chandler Jones: Who’s Got To Go?

Image: bleacherreport.net
Image: bleacherreport.net

In the 2012 NFL Draft, Bill Belichick drafted two players in the first round in Chandler Jones out of Syracuse, (21st overall) and Dont’a Hightower out of Alabama, (25th overall). One year later Belichick drafted Jamie Collins out of Southern Mississippi in the second round, (52nd overall). Those three players have now become the heart and soul of the Patriots front seven, and really the defense as a whole.

Image: nepatriotsdraft.com
Image: nepatriotsdraft.com

You can easily go back and fourth as to who is the most important, or who is the best out of the three. Collins brings ridiculous athleticism and solid coverage skills for an outside linebacker. Hightower is a physical presence and is the true, “thumper” on the Patriots defense, he can come off the edge and plug up the middle in the run game. Chandler Jones has been the Patriots best edge rusher since he was drafted by the team in 2012.

The three have been a very valuable trio the past two seasons, but of course all good things must come to an end at some point. After this season Dont’a Hightower and Chandler Jones have options both around 7.8 million dollars for the 2016 season. The team exercised the their fifth year options at the end of April, which now gives them the option as to whether or not they want them to become free agents in 2016. Jamie Collins’s contract is up after 2016.

It is very obvious that the team will not be able to hold onto all three players. That begs the question, which ones are going to go? You can make the case for any of the three, but the obvious choice is Chandler Jones. It is not entirely because he is the least effective of the three, but because he cannot bring to the table what Hightower and Collins can.

It is largely due in part to Chandler Jones not being able to adjust to Bill Belichick’s ever changing defensive scheme. When used in a 4-3 defense, Jones has been effective at getting to the quarterback off the edge. However, he has struggled to stay healthy at that spot in the past. When asked to play with his hand in the turf in a 3-4 scheme, Jones has been pushed around because of his lack of size. This season he has gotten significantly bigger in his upper body and has been able to hold his ground. Nevertheless, we will see how long that holds up.

Image: bleacherreport
Image: bleacherreport

Furthermore, pass rushing defensive ends are a rarer commodity in the National Football League in today’s game, and when there is a decent one available, desperate teams will throw all sorts of money at them. The Patriots are not one of those desperate teams. Bill Belichick has proven that he can get by without that elite pass rusher that Patriots fans have been craving for.

An elite linebacker, which Dont’a Hightower is, and what Jamie Collins could be, are a slightly cheaper commodity than pass rushers. Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia have built Collins and Hightower into the centerpieces of the Patriots defense, because they compliment each other so perfectly. They can’t risk losing either of them, but they can survive without the couple of sacks and missed games that Chandler Jones has each year.

New England Patriots player spotlight: Taking a look at Jamie Collins

Image: Boston Herald
Image: Boston Herald

Bill Belichick has worked with some pretty dynamic defensive players: Lawrence Taylor, Harry Carson, and Willie McGinnest to name a few. But none might be as dynamic as Jamie Collins. Collins is the ultimate chess piece; the player that can literally play every defensive position and play it well. In 2014, his first as a starter, he recorded 116 tackles, 4 sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 2 interceptions. Already this year, he has 22 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 2 forced fumbles…IN THREE GAMES. Barring injury, Collins is ready to not only cement his position as the best LB on the Patriots, but the best LB in the league.

At Southern Mississippi, the school that famously gave the world Brett Favre, Collins played defensive back (both corner and safety), linebacker and defensive end. The fact that he excelled at defensive back, standing at 6’3, 250 pounds is a test to show how freakish of an athlete Collins truly is. Also a standout track & field athlete, Collins was a state track qualifier. At the 2009 3A South State Meet, he earned first-place finishes in the shot put (51-6) and discus throw (156-0 or 47.80m), while also placing second in both the high jump (6-4 or 1.93m) and triple jump (43-10.5) events.* While at the 2013 Combine, he ran a 4.59 40 and had a broad jump of 11 feet, 7 inches, which was a combine record; Not just for linebackers or defensive players, but for EVERY player that has ever participated in the NFL Scouting Combine (this was recently beat this year by CB Byron Jones, but Collins’ record still stands for linebacker).

Image: NE Patriots draft
Image: NE Patriots draft

The interesting thing about Collins is where he lines up along the Patriots front. Teaming with fellow stud LB’s Donta’ Hightower and Jerod Mayo, the Patriots can make an argument for the best LB corps in the league. But again, he has lined up at defensive end, defensive tackle and some deep safety this year already. He joined in the effort against Buffalo with 8 sacks of Bills QB Tyrod Taylor. As the season goes on, expect Collins to start taking more of a dominant role and other teams will have to know where #91 is.

Belichick has tried before to add a player similar to Collins’ skill set (Adalius Thomas anyone?) but he struck gold here. Seeing Collins all over the field shows the amount of respect Belichick and Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia have for his ability and they will work to put him in the best position. His ability to cover TE’s (having to guard the best TE in the league in practice doesn’t hurt things) has made him indispensable and now is increasing his pass rush. His ability softens the blow of the loss of CB Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Creating an intense pass rush helps average CB’s look like Pro-Bowlers. After all, the Giants won two Super Bowls with this philosophy.

Collins, with all his ability and skill, has to prove going forward that he can sustain the level of success he needs to become an All-Pro. With good coaching and strong leadership around him, Collins has the ability to step up and be the best at his position. By giving arguably the best defensive mind in the last 20 years an invaluable addition shows how far ahead the Patriots are of other teams and how they are still the team to beat in the NFL in 2015.

Patriots Defensive Recap vs Buffalo: A Long Day For Tyrod Taylor

One of the biggest keys entering Sunday’s game against the Buffalo Bills was for the Patriots to contain and limit Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor. The Patriots ended up doing this and one of the biggest reasons for this was Chandler Jones, who had a great game recording three sacks on the day.

via www.musketfire.com
via http://www.musketfire.com

Entering the game I said Tyrod Taylor would give the Patriots defense problems due to his mobility, he did do this at times but New England’s defense was able to transition throughout the game and limit Taylor’s effectiveness. On the day Taylor was 23 of 30 passing the ball for 242 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. He also added 43 rushing yards on five carries with a touchdown. Taylor had a decent game and the numbers make it look better than he performed, besides the three interceptions and a strong comeback performance towards the end of the game when the Patriots began to struggle. The first drive of the game for Buffalo was a strong one, driving down the field and scoring a touchdown. New England defense then stepped up for majority of the game shutting down Buffalo’s offense.

Two key players were defensive end Chandler Jones, and linebacker Jamie Collins. Both recorded multiple sacks on Taylor (Jones 3, Collins 2.5), and also set the outside edge, which stopped Taylor from being able to scramble to the outside and break off large gains. Another player who played well defensively for New England was cornerback Malcolm Butler. This is nothing new to hear for Patriots fans, Butler has been making headlines with his play over the past few months and is looking like he can be a number one corner in the NFL. Butler made a great play off a tipped pass to make his first career regular season interception.

via www.cbssports.com
via http://www.cbssports.com

With the good of the Patriots defense against the Bills there was also some bad. The team gave up 160 yards on the ground. Stopping the run has been a problem for the Patriots over the past few seasons and has been so far this year against both the Bills and the Steelers. Another problem was the team allowed Tyrod Taylor to complete 76.7 percent of his passes. Elite quarterbacks will take more advantage of that than Taylor did, though he performed well besides the three interceptions. Part of the defensive struggles are due to the offense, who struggled in the second half including two failed fourth down conversions, which gave Buffalo good field position on both occasions.

Overall it wasn’t a great defensive performance from the Patriots but it definitely was not terrible. There are things they did really well and some things they need to improve on over the next few weeks. What I can say though is at this point in the season the Patriots look like the best team in the NFL, and it isn’t that close.

New England Patriots: Don’t Piss Off Tom Brady

Can Rex Ryan Back-Up His Bluster

That question was answered with a resounding NO Sunday afternoon as Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and a host of others destroyed the Buffalo Bills “vaunted” defense, 40-32.  Don’t be deceived by the final score, this wasn’t that close. The Bills scored 19 points in the 4th quarter, long after the winner had already been determined.

Rex-Ryan - Who me? What bluster! (Photo meetthematts.com)
Who me? What bluster! (Photo meetthematts.com)

The Bills scored on their first possession and the Buffalo fans were in heaven. Unfortunately, it didn’t last long and many had left the stadium before they got a chance to get loud again. They may have pulled the comeback off if they were playing the NY Giants (sorry Giants fans. I hate to kick you when you’re down…) but nope, they were up against an angry (although they’ll never admit it) Tom Brady & Bill Belichick. Only one team in NFL history has come back from a 24 point fourth quarter deficit.

New England: What Went Right

I’m not sure where to start, but how about this…

  • Tom Brady was so good even ESPN had to admit it. No snide remarks about deflated footballs by anyone after this one was over.

If that wasn’t enough, how about this from Sports Center

Nuff said! Lesson learned? Don’t piss-off Tom Brady! He’s playing like he has something to prove after all the off-season slander he put up with. Bet it will be a little tense if Commissioner Roger Goodell is forced to actually attend a Patriot game this year…or, better yet, give Brady another MVP Trophy.

  • Rob Gronkowski was, once again, unstoppable. It’s hard to believe, but so far he’s been better than ever. Check this out from old friend Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal

  • The question of who will replace Shane Vereen (who?) has been answered with an unknown running back who no one wanted…and he isn’t named Gray. I know it’s only two games, and he has fumbled twice (lost one), but Dion Lewis (remember that name Rex Ryan) has been outstanding. Belichick had enough confidence in him that he put him right back in the offense after his fumble. That doesn’t happen very often, just ask former Patriot Stevan Ridley.
New England Patriots' Dion Lewis, right, celebrates with Rob Gronkowski (87) after rushing for a touchdown during the first half against the Bills, (AP Photo/Bill Wippert)
New England Patriots’ Dion Lewis, right, celebrates with Rob Gronkowski (87) after rushing for a touchdown during the first half against the Bills  (AP Photo/Bill Wippert)

Lewis (that’s L-E-W-I-S Mr. Ryan) had 40 yards rushing and a TD on just 7 carries. You’re right, that’s OK, but nothing to rave about. How about this then, 6 receptions for 98 yards. Combine the two and you get 13 touches for 138 total yards. If you aren’t good at math Rex, that’s 10.6 yards per touch. Anyone think Ryan will remember his name when the two teams meet again in November at Gillette Stadium on Thursday Night Football (ESPN)?

I could go on and on about the offense, including the emergence of Aaron Dobson (7 receptions for 87 yards, one drop), THE catch of the day by Danny Amendola to seal the victory and the continued success of Julian Edelman (11 reception, 97 yards, 2 TDs), but the biggest surprise of the game was (drum roll please):

  • The Offensive Line. People needlessly worried about Tom Brady’s life/health coming into this game against Buffalo’s feared pass rush. Brady’s quick release certainly helped, but the youngsters held up just fine, allowing only two sacks…and that was without Bryan Stork and Ryan Wendell.  Can we all please stop holding our breath every time TB drops back to pass?

Yes, the defense gave up 32 points, but it actually was very good. Remember, 19 of those points were in garbage time, just as the 7 they gave up to Pittsburgh in the final seconds of game one.  As is usually the case, when you give up that many points, people will point out your deficiencies. Well, how about these positives:

  • 8 sacks against a very mobile Tyrod Taylor, who, fortunately, escaped without injury

    Taylor sacked again by Chandler Jones (photo: Keith Nordstrom NewEnglandPatriots.com)
    Taylor sacked again by Chandler Jones (photo: Keith Nordstrom NewEnglandPatriots.com)
  • 3 Interceptions (Malcolm Butler, Logan Ryan and Duron Harmon)
  • Held Buffalo to 3 for 13 (30%) on 3rd down
  • 3 sacks from an unstoppable Chandler Jones & 2.5 for Jamie Collins
  • Kept Sammy Watkins to 6 receptions for 60 yards and 1 TD

New England: What Went Wrong

  • Patriots’ had 4th and 1 from the Buffalo 41 yard line in the 4th quarter and went for it. Going for it actually wasn’t a bad decision, but getting greedy and throwing an incomplete long pass to a covered Dion Lewis was not among the smartest things to do.
  • Brady was strip-sacked and the Bills scored in 15 seconds to make it 37-32 late in the game
  • The run defense continues to be soft. Despite trailing, Buffalo ran the ball 27 times for 160 net yards (almost 6 yards per carry).
  • Yes, they sacked and pressured Taylor the whole game, but he completed 23 of 30 passes and 3 TDs. Big lead or not, garbage time or not…that’s not very good. They did contain his scrambles (5 for 43 yds, 1 TD) fairly well, but still need the secondary to step up. Three int’s was nice, completion percentage was not.

Moving On

It’s still a long season and, with 14 regular season games to go, anything can happen. The AFC East came back to earth with Buffalo’s loss and Miami falling to Jacksonville (you know that hurt). The Jets (2-0) kept pace with New England by beating the highly overrated Colts (0-2) Monday night.

The Patriots return to Gillette Stadium against the surprising (1-1) Jaguars Sunday. Bill Belichick doesn’t allow his players to enjoy wins for very long, but it will be hard for his team to “get-up” for Jacksonville after their dominance in Buffalo.  It’s still the NFL and On Any Sunday…..”

Follow me on Twitter @SnowdonBob

New England vs Buffalo: Tyrod Taylor could be a headache in the making

The Patriots will be facing off against the Buffalo Bills this week after both teams won in their week one matchups. A key factor in the Bills win against the Colts was due to the strong play of quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

profootballtalk.nbcsports.com
profootballtalk.nbcsports.com

In the past the Patriots have tended to struggle defensively against mobile, speedy quarterbacks and Taylor is just that. Against the Colts Taylor was 14 of 19 passing with 195 yards and a touchdown, adding 41 yards on the ground. Taylor’s mobility helped him move around the pocket and extend plays. His speed and mobility also opened things up for the offense because of his ability to run the option and draw defenders off his offensive weapons.

New Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan knows from his tenure with the Jets that the Patriots have struggled against mobile quarterbacks and has had some success because of it. In the Patriots-Jets first meeting last season, Jets quarterback Geno Smith ran for 37 yards on seven carries and Smiths running ability almost lead to a New York Jets come from behind victory, before Chris Jones blocked a field goal to end the game. In 2013 against the Patriots Smith ran for a combined 50 yards on nine carries, and added a touchdown on the ground. The team also struggled in the Super Bowl with Russell Wilson rushing for 39 yards on three attempts. Rex Ryan has had some success against the Patriots’ defense in the past and knows the team’s weakness and where to attack, especially with the speed and skill set that Tyrod Taylor possesses.

bostonglobe.com
bostonglobe.com

Another reason why Taylor could give New England problems on Sunday is because of his lack of experience. Yes I know this sounds odd but with Taylor’s only career start coming last week against Indianapolis and with limited playing time during the Bills quarterback battle this preseason, there is not much film on Taylor which can make it hard to game plan against. With no film it can be hard to pinpoint weaknesses in Taylor’s game, especially coming off a strong performance last week. I expect the Patriots defense to be better prepared for Taylor than Indianapolis was and for Taylor to not have as good a performance this week that he did last. With that being said, Taylor’s skill set is something Patriots fans should still be worried about with all the different ways that he could beat a team.

I would expect the team to use a quarterback spy on Taylor such as Jamie Collins or Rob Ninkovich. Collins or Ninkovich do not possess the pure speed and quickness that Taylor does but they are both extremely smart, athletic players who could follow Taylor around the field and stop him from breaking off long runs. This would also allow defenders to stay on their man to eliminate potential targets. Ninkovich played a spy role in the Super Bowl against Russell Wilson at times and proved to stop him from scrambling as much and made one of the biggest plays in the game when he sacked Wilson late in the fourth quarter when spying Wilson.

via gazettenet.com
via gazettenet.com

This weekends game between the Patriots and the Bills could shape up to be one of the best games of the regular season. A huge key to victory for the Patriots is slowing down this Tyrod Taylor led Bills offense.