Tag Archives: Ryan Allen

New England Patriots: 2016 – A Season Of Surprises

If nothing else, 2016 has been a season with many surprises for the New England Patriots. Some have been pleasant…and some haven’t turned out too well. Despite all the changes, this year’s team is once again a legitimate Super Bowl contender and are, at 10-2, right where most expected them to be. Here are my 5 biggest surprises as the season progressed.

#1 BRADY ACCEPTS 4 GAME SUSPENSION

tom-brady-accepts-suspensionHe gave it a gallant fight, but TB finally got tired of deflategate and moved on. Many were disappointed, but it was time to play football. He never acknowledged any guilt despite the Brady detractors using his acceptance of the 4 games to claim it a “win” for the NFL. Nothing about deflategate was a win for anyone…the NFL, Brady, the Patriots or fans anywhere.

#2 – DEFENSE

As the season started fans and prognosticators (my $50 word for the day) were saying the 2016 defense would be top 5 caliber. In one way people were right. As of now they are tied with their next opponent (Baltimore) for 2nd in the NFL for least points allowed (17.2 PPG), trailing only the Seahawks.

Well, we now look at the defense and wonder if it is capable of making the big stop once the playoffs come around. Bill Bodell  wrote  back in August ” The Patriots have at least five guys on this defense who could potentially make the Pro Bowl in Malcolm Butler, Jabaal Sheard, Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, and Devin McCourty.” 

The big surprise from that group has been the departure of Collins, benching of Sheard and under performance by all but Butler. Overall the defense has not been as bad as it seems to the naked eye, but it certainly still hasn’t proven itself to be an elite unit.

The team is currently ranked in the top 10 in 4 key categories, but considering the weak offenses they have faced, questions still abound :

  • #2 points allowed (207)
  • #9 total defense
  • #12 passing defense
  • #10 rushing defense
  • #9 yards allowed
  • #14 sacks

It is a must for this unit to improve if the Patriots are to go far in the playoffs, let alone win the Super Bowl. Monday Night vs Baltimore will be a true test

#3 OFFENSIVE LINE

Shock would be the word I use to describe how well the OL has performed. Dante Scarnecchia’s goal coming into the season was to solidify a unified unit of 5 to play most snaps…and he has been highly successful with (LT) Nate Solder, (LG) rookie Joe Thuney, (C) UFA David Andrews, (RG) Shaq Mason, (RT) Marcus Cannon. Just how good has this group been?

  1. Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett have been sacked just 26 times while throwing 417 passes
  2. LeGarrette Blount has rushed for 957 yards and 13 TDs

dante-scarnecchiaAdd in that Marcus Cannon, who I have been known to chastise in the past, just had his contract renewed and is having his best season ever in his 6th year as a Patriot = you have realize just how much of a surprise this unit has been. Thank you “Scar.”

#4 – ROOKIE WR MALCOLM MITCHELL

The Patriots drafting of wide receivers has been beyond bad, but this year they hit a home-run (sorry for the baseball analogy) with 4th round pick (112th overall) Malcolm Mitchell. He has quickly gained Brady’s trust and has grown game-by-game while exhibiting his toughness, route running, speed and sure hands. Just look at what he has done over the past 3 games:

  • 8 receptions/82 yards vs Rams
  • 4 receptions/98 yards/1 TD vs 49ers
  • 5 receptions/42 yards/2 TDs vs J-E-T-S

Malcolm Mitchell.jpgThis young man will only get better. He needs to continue to improve with the loss of Danny Amendola & Rob Gronkowski for the offense to control the game. Mitchell is this year’s Dion Lewis. 

#5 – KICKING GAME

The inconsistency of the kicking game has truly been a surprise. This was consider an area of strength when the season began, but has been erratic throughout the first 12 games.

  • Stephen Gostkowski has been AFC special team player of the week twice, including last week against the Rams, but has missed 4 makeable field goals and 3 extra points…not good enough for the highest paid kicker in the NFL.
  • Ryan Allen (no, not Logan Ryan as identified during the Fox telecast Sunday) has given the Patriots great field position throughout his 4 year career in the NFL. This year he hasn’t been consistent, shanking some and leaving opponents in good shape. His net average is fractionally his highest ever (40.8 vs 40.4 for his career), but of his 52 punts only 17 have been inside the 20 yard line.

Playoff game are usually won and lost by field position (I have no data to prove this, but let’s net let facts get in the way of the story), so both Gostkowski & Allen need to be on-their-game as that part of the season rolls around.

Honorable Mention: LeGarrette Blount – read My Apologies to LeGarrette Blount

Follow me on Twitter @SnowdonBob

 

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New England Patriots: Assessing The Extension Of Ryan Allen And The Addition Of Tarell Brown

With less than a week away before the start of training camp, the New England Patriots are finishing up their final offseason transactions. This past week, the Patriots added veteran cornerback Tarell Brown and locked up punter Ryan Allen with a three-year contract extension, that has the option to renegotiate after two seasons.

Tarell Brown is an eight-year NFL veteran, spending his first seven years with San Francisco only to cross the bay to Oakland in year eight. He was a starter on three very successful San Francisco defenses in the years 2011-2013. He was a key contributor to their NFC Championship squad in 2012, when they fell short against the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII.

Brown will immediately compete for a starting role on the Patriots defense, given the lack of experience on the depth chart. At 5-11, 190 pounds Brown is smaller, but his savvy will certainly be beneficial for the Patriots. Their is a multitude of young cornerbacks on the Patriots roster that look to have ability, but experience is what is cause for concern right now.

Heading into his ninth season, experience certainly won’t be an issue for Tarell Brown. In his time he has intercepted eleven passes, with fifty-nine passes defended. Last season Brown played in fourteen games with the Raiders, while giving up 42 receptions on 67 targets for 571 yards and one touchdown, according to Pro Football Focus.

brown sf

His season was cut short due to a foot injury that landed him on injured reserve. The only question now is whether or not that injury will slow down his start to the 2015 season.

The contract extension for punter Ryan Allen came as a real surprise because it is so out of the ordinary for Bill Belichick to extend his punter long-term.

There have been two constants for Bill Belichick’s punters over the past fifteen years; They are left-footed and they are only wanted for three seasons. Ken Walter, Josh Miller, Chris Hanson, and Zoltan Mesko all produced fairly well for the Patriots, but none were worthy of contract extensions.

Even though he has only been in the league for two seasons, Ryan Allen is already starting to show more ability than any of the previous punters in the Belichick era. Since coming to the Patriots as a free agent out of Louisiana Tech in 2013, the two-time Ray Guy Award winner has averaged 46.1 yards per punt with a net average of 40.2.

In 2014 he landed 25 of his 66 punts inside the 20-yard line. In addition, Allen launched the longest punt in Super Bowl history against the Seahawks with his 64-yard boot. Furthermore, Allen has been a very good holder for kicker Stephen Gostkowski.

allen sb49

To conclude, the New England Patriots have continued to add to their roster heading right into training camp this Thursday. With the addition of Tarell Brown, the Patriots will have a veteran cornerback in a meeting room that will be full of young and inexperienced players. His veteran intellect may be a key part in helping young players such as Darryl Roberts, Jimmy Jean, and Malcolm Butler grow.

With the extension of Ryan Allen, Bill Belichick now has his three key pieces of the special teams unit locked up for the next four years with Allen, Stephen Gostkowski, (who just received a four-year extension) and long snapper Joe Cardona signed through 2018.