Tag Archives: Corey Dillon

Patriots 2012 Regular Season By The Numbers

On the surface, it is easy for any fan to see just how good or bad of a season their team has had. Whether it be wins and losses or total points put up, some stats tell the story, god or bad, of the year of their favorite team.

What most fans fail to sometimes realize, however, is all the stats that go into making an NFL team successful. Here are a bunch you would never even think to remotely consider about the 2012 season of the New England Patriots.

You name it. If it can be statistically tracked in the NFL, it’s probably in this post.

0 – The number of wins the team had when their leading rusher was under 40 yards for the game (0-2).

0 – The Patriots had no two-point conversions on the year. Just kind of odd.

0.5 – Brandon Bolden averaged half a yard more per carry than Stevan Ridley did.

1 – The number of franchises to score 500 points four different times. New England accomplished that this year after 500-point seasons in 2007, 2010 and 2011 as well.

1 – The New England offense ranked first in the NFL in total yards, yards per game, points and points per game in 2012.

1 – Of the four members of the team who finished the year as the starting secondary, only one (Devin McCourty) was on the team last year. Alfonzo Dennard, Aqib Talib, Steve Gregory were the other three.

1 – Vince Wilfork‘s four forced fumbles were tied for first in the NFL.

1 – The number of full games that tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski were both on the field for the whole contest – the season finale against the Dolphins.

1 – The number of NFL quarterbacks to throw at least one touchdown pass in all 16 regular season games for three straight seasons – Tom Brady in 2010-12.

2 – The number of teams to ever win 10-plus games in 10 consecutive seasons – the Patriots became the second to accomplish that this year.

2 – Their two-game losing streak in Weeks 2 and 3 was tied for their longest losing streak since they lost four straight in the 2002 season.

2 – This season was the second time they have gone undefeated against the AFC East, joining the 2007 team.

2 – The number of teams to ever record 400 first downs in a season – the 2012 Pats and the 2011 Saints.

2 – The number of points that Stephen Gostkowski needed to tie the all-time single-season Patriots scoring record set by Gino Cappelletti in 1964.

3 – Pass plays in the NFL this season longer than Shane Vereen‘s 83-yard reception in Week 12.

3 – It had been three years since the Patriots lost four or more games in a season (10-6 in 2009).

3 – The Pats have scored 500-plus points in three consecutive seasons.

The Patriots' offense has been unstoppable in the three years since drafting this duo.

The Patriots’ offense has been nearly unstoppable in the three years since drafting this duo.

4 – New England had four different players lead the team in receiving in their 16 games – Brandon Lloyd (3), Wes Welker (9), Gronkowski (3) and Vereen (1).

4 – It was Brady’s fourth career season of throwing 30 or more touchdown passes, good for a tie for the fourth-most all-time.

4 – Welker finished four receptions behind league-leader Calvin Johnson, who had 122 on the year.

4 – The Patriots have made the playoffs in each of the last four seasons.

4 – The team had four different players lead them in rushing in their 16 games – Ridley (13), Bolden (1), Julian Edelman (1) and Danny Woodhead (1).

5 – There have only been five Patriots running backs to rush for 1,200 yards in the team’s history. Ridley became the fifth this year.

5 – Wilfork was elected to the fifth Pro Bowl of his career and will start on the defensive line for the AFC.

5 – The team has held its opponents to 20 points or less in five of six games since Nov. 18 (5-1).

6 – In 16 games, the Patriots only lost six fumbles.

6 – The Pats finished six spots higher in total defense this year compared to last season when they finished 31st in the league.

6 – New England has been a top-10 offense in the NFL for six straight seasons.

7 – The amount of consecutive games that Brady needs to throw a touchdown pass in to break the all-time record of 54.

7 – New England’s longest winning streak of the year from Week 7 through Week 14.

7 – The number of points that Brady’s total QBR trailed Peyton Manning‘s for tops in the league.

7 – McCourty was one of seven NFL players to return a kickoff more than 100 yards on the year.

7 – The team sent seven members to the Pro Bowl in 2012.

New England's seven Pro Bowlers in 2012 are the third-most in the league.

New England’s seven Pro Bowlers in 2012 are the third-most in the league.

7 – Last year’s NFL leader in interceptions, Kyle Arrington, had seven fewer interceptions in 2012 than a year ago. He had seven in 2011.

8 – The number of years it had been since the team had a 1,200-yard rusher before this year. Corey Dillon rushed for 1,635 yards in 2004.

8 – Rob Ninkovich led the team with eight sacks on the year.

8 – The Pats had eight return TD’s on the season.

9 – The number of games in which the starting offensive line of Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Ryan Wendell, Dan Connolly and Logan Mankins were all on the field together.

9 – Brady now ranks ninth on the NFL’s all-time passing list with 44,806 yards. He needs 1,427 yards to pass Vinny Testaverde.

9 – Ridley finished the season as one of just nine non-kickers in the top-40 in the league in scoring.

9 – The team has a nine-game division win streak heading into next season.

10 – The number of consecutive 10-win seasons for the Patriots – the second longest such streak ever (16).

10 – The team scored 30-plus points 10 times in their 16 games in 2012 (8-2).

10 – The number of players who had a rushing attempt for the Pats in 2012 led by Ridley’s 290 carries.

10 – New England had 10 more sacks than it allowed in 2012.

11 – They also had 11 more interceptions than their opponents did.

11 – The combined number of points New England fell by in its four losses against the Cardinals (2), Ravens (1), Seahawks (1) and 49ers (7).

11 – The number of current and former Pro Bowl running backs that Ridley out-rushed in 2012.

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Patriots 2012 Leaders & Preseason Prediction Results

Back in late July, I sat down, like a lot of sports writers do, and determined who I believed would lead the Patriots in some of the main statistical categories on offense, defense and special teams in 2012. I don’t know if it was not being that familiar with some of the new pieces of the team or the hot summer heat that got to me, but looking back now, some of my picks were quite wrong.

But, hey, I’m not Tom Brady. I’m human.

So, here are the leaders from the 2012 Patriots accompanied by my apparently ill-advised preseason picks.

Devin McCourty led the Patriots in several statistical categories in 2012, including kick returns.

Devin McCourty led the Patriots in several statistical categories in 2012, including kick returns.

Kick return attempts: As this stat declines around the league on what seems like a year-to-year basis, there are still enough return attempts made to have it be a kind of legitimate statistic. Six players attempted at least one kick return for New England in 2012, but, as it was apparent to fans, one player ran away with the job. Devin McCourty finished the season with 27 kick returns, 24 ahead of the next-highest total. My preseason prediction: Danny Woodhead (2).

Kick return yards: Obviously with the amount of returns he had and with the other five players combining for just 11 on the season, McCourty claimed this title too. He finished the year with 654 kick return yards while averaging 24.2 yards per return and returning one kick 104 yards for a touchdown. His 654 return yards were good for 14th in the league in 2012. My preseason prediction: Danny Woodhead (43).

Punt Return Attempts: Before Julian Edelman went down with a broken foot following Week 13, he was poised to run away with this crown. Then came the injury, however, and Wes Welker made it close. The winner for the 2012 Patriot with the most punt return attempts (drum roll, please): Wes Welker, who edged out Edelman, 25-17. Most years, however, the punt returner doesn’t get hurt and then lose the team lead in returns. My preseason prediction: Julian Edelman (17).

Punt return yards: With an 0-3 start to my psychic career, I could really use a win in this next category. As expected when Edelman went down, Welker made this stat end up really close too, but even with more returns than Edelman, Welker had less yards. Edelman led the team with 263 punt return yards to Welker’s 243 (15.5 average). The pair finished the year 21st and 22nd in the league in punt return yardage and I finally picked one right. My preseason prediction: Julian Edelman.

Special teams touchdowns: As I said, McCourty returned a kick for a touchdown, but Edelman also returned one punt for a score. They were the only two to do it for the team on the year and each finished with just the one. McCourty’s was for 104 yards and Edelman’s was for 68 yards. No one in the league had more than two punt return or kick return touchdowns on the year. If I had gotten it right, it would have been complete luck. My preseason prediction: Danny Woodhead and Julian Edelman (1 each). So, I guess I got it half right. Partial credit counts in this class.

Sacks: This was a tough one for me as last year’s leader Andre Carter decided to retire or something (I don’t really know), so I had to spend some time trying to think who might take over the distinction. After some head scratching, I still didn’t know, so I took a guess. The team’s leader ended up being Rob Ninkovich. Let’s just say he wasn’t even on my radar. Ninko finished the year with eight sacks as he had quite a season for someone hardly anyone outside of New England has ever heard of. He finished the year 29th in the league in sacks, but was tied with Detroit’s Ndamukong Suh in that spot. My preseason prediction: Chandler Jones (6).

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Have the Patriots Finally Found a Top Running Back?

After fumbling a ball at the end of the 2011 regular season, it was no surprise to anybody that Bill Belichick benched Stevan Ridley. In fact most people thought that would be the last the Patriots would ever see of Ridley. They were wrong, and for the first time since Curtis Martin came into the league in 1995, the Patriots have a young, flashy running back.

It’s been obvious throughout Belichick’s tenure with the Patriots that the running game has always been a struggle. The Patriots have had just enough to help them get through seasons, and just enough to win three Super Bowls. There was nothing too flashy about Antowain Smith when he helped the Patriots win Super Bowls 36 and 38.

After the 2003 season, the Patriots traded for Bengals star running back, Corey Dillon. The Patriots knew what they were getting with Dillon, and he helped power the Patriots to a third Super Bowl win in four years. Dillon did help the Patriots win a Super Bowl, and he did have a career high in yards in 2004, but most everyone knew what he was. He was a player who would come to New England at the tail end of his career to win a title. He was reliable, but it wasn’t surprising.

Stevan Ridley’s rise to the top of the Patriots depth chart has been surprising and refreshing. BenJarvus Green-Ellis was a solid running back, but he didn’t show anything out of the ordinary. He never fumbled which was great, and a main reason Belichick liked him. Green-Ellis only ever had one season with over a thousand yards which was in 2010.

So far in 2012, Ridley has rushed for over 100 yards in 3 of games. He has 490 yards total, 50 yards more than all of last season, and has rushed for 4 touchdowns. Ridley is showing a spark in the Patriot offense that hasn’t been seen since Dillon left the team after the 2006 season. Maybe Ridley won’t be the next Curtis Martin, but he’s already turned out better than Laurence Maroney did, who the Patriots used a first round draft pick on.

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Uncertainty Surrounds The New England Patriots Ground Game

Second year Running Backs Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen are expected to lead the rushing attack for the New England Patriots in 2012

In the current landscape of the National Football League, the concept of having a featured running back who is counted on for 25 to 30 carries a game has become a reality of the past.  Given the implementation of unique offensive formations and the fragile state of an average player in today’s NFL, many teams across the league are installing a two running back system.  For the Patriots, the running back by committee tactic has been in place since the glory days of Corey Dillon and Antowain Smith.

As we are half way through the 2012 Preseason, the Patriots are holding true to this league-wide trend.  Head Coach Bill Belichick made it clear that the team would take the running back by committee approach in 2012 when they opted not to re-sign the rock solid BenJarvus Green-Ellis.  With the departure of Green-Ellis to the Cincinnati Bengals, the fate of the Patriots ground game now lies in the hands of two second year running backs, Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen.  While Ridley and Vereen are expected to handle most of the early down work, fan favorite Danny Woodhead is the third head of the team’s unproven rushing attack.  Despite having the most experience of the trio, Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels, will utilize Woodhead mainly on third down due to his pass catching ability and lack of power as a straight ahead rusher.

Despite the lack of experience amongst the Patriots running backs, there is undoubtably some untapped potential in both Ridley and Vereen.  Ridley, who was a starter at college football powerhouse LSU, saw action in 14 games last season, more so towards the end of the regular season.  In weeks 15 through 17, Ridley rushed for a combined 210 yards, averaging more than 5 yards per carry.  Despite the small sample size, Ridley showed some promise during his limited reps at running back.  At 5 yards a carry, Ridley would find playing time in any NFL backfield.  This level of production towards the end of the 2011 season provided Belichick with enough ammo to part ways with Green-Ellis come the offseason.

With Ridley shaping up to be option A for Bill Belichick’s rushing attack, option B (Shane Vereen), is not far behind in the race for carries.  As a second year player out of Cal, Vereen saw limited action during his rookie campaign as he was restricted for a majority of the season by a sore hamstring.  While only appearing in 5 games last season, it’s his colleagiate production that has Patriots coaches salivating.  During his 3 years at Cal, Vereen posted outstanding numbers rushing for 29 touchdowns and almost 3,000 yards.  With Ridley tied to the sidelines due to a banged up knee, Vereen was given the opportunity to receive a majority of the carries this past Monday night against the Eagles.  While rushing for only 20 yards on 10 carries, Vereen flaunted his ability to make plays out of the backfield as he recorded 4 catches on the night.

Expectations going into the regular season are that Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen will take on a large chunk of the ground work.  While Ridley and Vereen will battle for carries on first and second down, it is anticipated that Belichick will involve the more proven Danny Woodhead on passing downs and in special offensive packages, similarly to how he has been used the previous two seasons.  After Ridley, Vereen, and Woodhead, the remainder of the Patriots backfield will likely remain irrelevant barring any injuries.  Undrafted rookie, Brandon Bolden, is still fighting for a roster spot and only hurt his chances against the Eagles by muffing a punt in the 2nd quarter.  On a side note, the Patriots also recently signed Olympic silver medalist and former University of Florida star, Jeff Demps.  Despite putting up good rushing numbers at Florida, Demps will primarly be used as a return man on special teams, especially given his time away from football to particpate in the Olympics as a sprinter.

For now, Patriots fans should expect the rotation of Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, and Danny Woodhead in the backfield.  While the team will start the season with a running back by committee approach, Patriots coaches and fans alike will be closely monitoring the situation, looking for any signs of a breakout from most specifically Ridley or Vereen.  With Ridley, Vereen, and Woodhead all serving as viable options for the Patriots ground game, the team will still be seen and defended as a pass first offense under the leadership of Tom Brady.  With the bar set low for these young running backs, the opportunity is available for one these guys to surprise the rest of the league and put forth a productive season.

New England Patriots 2012 Preseason Observations With WEEI’s Chris Price

WEEI’S Chris Price

Chris Price from WEEI, was nice enough to answer some of our Patriots off season questions.  We touch on the rookies, position battles, predictions, and even some Tom Brady.

Be sure to check out Chris’ blog, It Is What It Is on WEEI.com and follow him on Twitter!
 

BST&N: Who will emerge from the stable of running backs to be the “starter” for the Patriots?

 
Chris Price: I don’t think we’re going to see a traditional No. 1 back like in past years with Antowain Smith, Corey Dillon or BenJarvus Green-Ellis. Instead, it’s going to be a collective, with certain runners breaking out by game depending on their strengths. I think Stevan Ridley will end the season with the most carries, but I think that throughout the season, you’re going to have other backs pop up and play well. Two things: One, I believe that the only real constant will be Danny Woodhead, who will get between 10-15 touches a game in both the passing game and running game, and if he stays healthy, should be a very important part of the offense as the season continues. Two, I have talked with several people around the league, and they rave about the addition of Joseph Addai. If he can stay healthy, he’ll be a big pickup, both on and off the field.
 

BST&N: Who are your “diamonds in the rough” on both sides of the ball?

 
CP: Defensively, I love the Trevor Scott and Jonathan Fanene pickups, and I believe at least one will have a big impact this season. I think Fanene can give them something they’ve lacked since Mike Wright went down–an interior pass rushing presence. In terms of vets, I believe that after last season, Rob Ninkovich is one of the most important defenders on this team–his versatility, coachability and approach to the game have made him so important to the New England defense. Only two guys had at least six sacks and two interceptions last season … Ninkovich and Terrell Suggs. Offensively, that’s a tough question–not a lot of under-the-radar guys on that side of the ball. Maybe Woodhead, who, when healthy, gives them an added dimension in the passing game and running game. I’ll also say Addai … but again, if he stays healthy.

BST&N: How much of an impact will Chandler Jones & Dont’a Hightower make on the defense?

 
CP: Short-term, Hightower. I think he’ll make the most impact in his first year in the league. His incredibly high football IQ, his knowledge of the Belichick-style system from his time running with Nick Saban and his versatility all have him poised for a great season (I will be excited to see the positional battle between Spikes and Hightower–two guys who do a lot of the same things). I think that long-term, Jones has a chance to be more of an impact player. At that elephant position–where he has to set the edge, rush the passer and drop into coverage–they are putting a lot on his plate as a rookie. You need to give him some time to grow into that position. Not saying he won’t eventually be a quality starter in the league–it just might take him more time than some other guys.

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In Bill We Trust

Patriots fans have grown accustomed to winning under Belichick, who has brought a winning attitude to the franchise.

Okay, so you’re a Patriots fan and over the past few seasons you’ve enjoyed performances from All-Pro Randy Moss.   Remember the uncertain angst you found yourself in when New England acquired him?  Almost all of us are guilty of claiming Moss was either washed up in Oakland, or that he had a bad attitude and wouldn’t bust his tail to acclimate to the ‘Patriot Way.’ Some of us were so certain of this that we thought he wouldn’t enjoy playing in the New England system, even after coming from the Raiders. Myself included, I suppose we should all laugh now, especially after Randy’s 50 receiving touchdowns with the Pats in 52 games, including a miraculous 2007 season when he broke Jerry Rice’s record for most touchdown receptions, with 23.  If you’re one of those people that complained, moaned, and whined about the headaches Randy would bring before the 2007 season, you’re not alone.  Grabbing players that have had a troubled past have become customary in New England over the past few seasons.  But where these players have exhibited poor behavior on and off the field in other places, this is far from the truth in Foxboro.  What is it that made Randy, and others, so successful with the Patriots? What really makes them tick? Well that answer is simple: Coach Bill Belichick.

Since Belichick came over from the New York Jets in 2000, he has done nothing but win coach of the year in 2003, 2007, and 2010 with 3 Super Bowl victories in the past decade.   These championships even have the likes of “trash-talking” Rex Ryan claiming that he’s jealous of Belichick.  Belichick hasn’t only proven to us that he is able to guide his teams to great success, winning the AFC East Title 8 years since he was enshrined as the greatest coach the franchise has ever had; but, he is also capable of taking players who were shunned by their former teams, or who been claimed to have been washed up, and molding them into a great talent.  If Randy Moss isn’t enough for Patriot fans, all they have to do is think back to Corey Dillon who won a Super Bowl with the team.  Over his 3 seasons with the Patriots, Dillon had 37 rushing touchdowns (he had only 9 combined with the Bengals the previous two years).  It was almost as if these players had been released from their “hostage” situations, in which their former teams were acting as the security guards with the key, and given a fresh start in New England.  Since it had worked in the past, Belichick decided to give it another go this year with Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocinco.

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