Tag Archives: wes welker

Patriots Pulse: Can Danny Amendola Stay Healthy This Season?

The obvious answer is probably not, look at his injury history. Amendola has only played in all 16 games once in his career, 2010 with the Rams. While with the Rams he played in 14, 16, 1, and 11 games respectively. Last year with the Patriots he played in 12 games, he didn’t miss any of the same games Rob Gronkowski missed down the stretch, but Tom Brady did not look his way too often.

Danny Amendola hauled in 10 passes in last year's opener than was ineffective for much of the year.

Danny Amendola hauled in 10 passes in last year’s opener than was ineffective for much of the year.

Brady did not look his way at all in the AFC Championship Game against the Broncos where Amendola had no receptions as well as no targets. Amendola was brought in to replace the production vacated by Wes Welker but he did far less than expected. Julian Edelman who has had his fair share of injury history as well, stepped into the Welker role hauling in 10 passes in the AFC Championship. Edelman became Tom Brady’s favorite target and was fourth in the league in receptions with 105. Amendola only had 54.

Amendola has grown tired of hearing, as well as talking about his injury history. This offseason during a phone interview with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Adam Jones, Jones asked Amendola a few questions relating to his injury history, Amendola was not too pleased and hung up on the phone interview. St. Louis is much different than New England. The comparisons to Welker are really unfair but now in his second year with the Patriots he should be expected to step up.

Amendola had a great showing in last season’s opener against Buffalo bringing in 10 passes for 104 yards, a game he was also injured in. After that he missed the next three games, and was not looked for often in the following games by Brady who was throwing passes to the likes of Edelman, Aaron Dobson, Kenbrell Thompkins and Austin Collie. Amendola did not bring in double digit grabs again until Week 15 against the Dolphins. He is surely capable of being a good receiver, he just needs to looks and to be healthy.

Courtesy of Dirty Water Tees, Amendola was hardly the savior the Patriots offense was looking for.

Courtesy of Dirty Water Tees, Amendola was hardly the savior the Patriots offense was looking for.

Danny Amendola’s injury history is well documented, but is it really his fault? Some might say it is bad luck. With new rules in place for defensive holding penalties, Amendola might be able to break out this season, splitting time in the slot with Julian Edelman while giving newly acquired receiver Brandon LaFell chances to get open. The real key to the Patriots offense has always been Tom Brady needs multiple weapons to throw to because once they double his favorite receiver where will he look? The AFC Championship Game last year was a prime example. Amendola will have to step up this season to silence his critics, myself included.

Patriots Pulse: Aqib Talib Signs With The Broncos

Just like last year, the Patriots top free agent signed with the teams’ now biggest rival, the Denver Broncos. Late Tuesday night it was reported that star Cornerback Aqib Talib was signing a 6 year deal with Denver worth $57 Million.

Talib

Talib is just the latest player the Patriots have let walk and go to a rival. Of course last year the big story was Wes Welker signing with the Broncos after the Patriots wouldn’t pay him nearly what he wanted.

Talib played a huge role for the Patriots in the 2013 season especially with the injuries they faced all year on defense. If it wasn’t for Talib, the Patriots may not have won as many games as they did last year. In the 13 games he played in for the Patriots, Talib had 4 interceptions, and made quarterbacks think twice before targeting a receiver that Talib was covering.

If the season were to start today, the Patriots top Corner would be Logan Ryan, and despite a decent season from him this year it hard to tell what he’ll do in his second year in the league. Ryan also had it easier because Talib did such a good job on his coverage’s, Quarterbacks were able to target receivers covered by Logan Ryan more because he was the easier target to try and beat.

There’s still plenty of time for the Patriots to pick up a decent Cornerback before the season starts, but nothing they have done in years past would indicate that they are willing to spend money on a good free agent. The best Corner out there is Darrelle Revis, but he still belongs to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the price to trade for him would be pretty high.

One concern the Patriots may have had about Talib was his ability to stay healthy. He missed three games this season, and left the AFC Championship game early for the second year in a row after getting injured. Although Talib may not have been the difference maker against the Broncos, he could have at least kept the conference championship game closer than what it was.

Talib was acquired from Tampa Bay during the 2012 season and immediately became a force on the Patriots defense. He accepted a one year deal from the club after the 2012 season, and that turned out to be a good move for him, because he wouldn’t have gotten a deal anywhere near as good as he got from the Broncos.

As the Bronco’s continue to improve on both defense and offense, the Patriots will need to make some good, smart moves to stay in the race in the AFC.

Tom Brady Still Better Than Peyton Manning When The Game Matters Most

The dust has settled on another football season, and like most years, it ended for Peyton Manning in the same manner. Despite being the best offensive player during the regular season, Manning let up in the most crucial game where it meant the most. Before the Super Bowl sports pundits discussed for two weeks how this game would be a legacy game for Manning, and Peyton did make a statement about his legacy. That legacy being that he is not a good playoff quarterback.

peyton_AP omeara

The Super Bowl loss made his playoff record sub .500 again, like it had been until he defeated the Patriots in the AFC Championship this year to reach .500 at 11-11. Now standing at 11-12 lifetime in the postseason with just one Super Bowl title, the discussion of Peyton being the greatest quarterback of all time can now be stopped. In three Super Bowls he’s now 1-2, and his first Super Bowl appearance didn’t come until his 8th season in the league.

Tom Brady, despite recent struggles, has the most playoff victories of all time with 18, and has just 8 losses. He hasn’t won a title in 9 seasons now, but he’s led the Patriots to 2 Super Bowls in that span, and only got knocked out of the first round of the playoffs twice. Even if Brady never wins another title, he’ll be remembered as one of the best playoff quarterbacks of all time, which is the opposite of Peyton. The only other quarterback to start 5 Super Bowls was Joe Montana for the 49ers.

If you compare Peyton and Brady, it’s important to also realize who each quarterback had as offensive weapons. With the Colts, Manning always had Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, and Dallas Clark, all of whom were elite receivers for Manning to throw to. When Brady won his three championships, he had relative unknowns he was passing to. Some of the biggest names Brady had was Troy Brown and Deion Branch. Had Brady had the core that Peyton did during his Colts days, he may have an extra championship or two. Read more

Patriots Off-Season Match-Up Mania: Coach BB vs. GM BB

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I have no idea where Bill Belichick is going to be during the Super Bowl on Sunday. He may or may not watch the game, but I bet he’s already focused on the 2014 New England Patriots.

Lots of time has been spent since the AFC Championship Game congratulating BB for his coaching performance with his 13-5 club. I’m not terribly focused on where to rank this season in terms of his coaching resume except to say if it was a great coaching job then it means he created a flawed team as a GM that he had to coach up.

BB has a busy winter and spring ahead of him. Some ideas:

Changes are already under way within Bill’s coaching staff. Dante Scarnecchia and Pepper Johnson, two positional staffers who toiled under Belichick seemingly forever, or, since he became the coach of the NEP, are gone. Were they problems with the team? That answer could depend on how their replacements do in 2014.

Bill might need to coach up the coaches who stayed, honestly. I’m not the only person who was puzzled by some coaching decisions during the season. The Patriots didn’t react too well to the loss of Aqib Talib in Denver two weeks ago in the 26-16 conference title game loss and in-game adjustments have always been part of the Belichick aura.

Coaches, of course, need players to coach. This team faced a consistent challenge of keeping players on the field because of injury after injury. Yes, they reached the AFC Championship game despite injuries, but would a healthier team be in New York now prepping for the Super Bowl in place of Denver. Talib is just one of several names like Vince Wilfork, Rob Gronkowski or Danny Amendola that failed to reach the end of the season intact. Long term, do the Pats need to be wary of players who can’t stay on the field? For example, does Talib deserve a big payday if he can’t finish the AFC title game every year?

Aside from injuries, the biggest issue all season was who could Brady throw to. Not signing Wes Welker and signing Amendola instead was not a success. Julian Edelman proved himself and is now on the open market. Rookies like Aaron Dobson were either unavailable or dropping passes for most of the year. Could BB be forced to choose between Edelman and Amendola?

This rumor/gossip about Larry Fitzgerald coming here seems unlikely to happen. Will the draft bring more young receivers for Tom Brady? Again, unlikely. But, draft experts expect the same. With a very young club, I’m expecting more veteran value roster moves we’ve come to expect from the Pats.

 

Running Game Has Patriots More Fit For AFC Championship Than Last Year

Okay Patriots fans this is their third straight appearance in the AFC Championship Game, but this time it is on the road. The Patriots have not won a road playoff game in what feels like forever, really 2006 in San Diego but I digress. I feel like the talk of Brady vs. Manning has been dialed down this week as there was so much time spent on it during the regular season. Peyton now has all the stats, as he took Brady’s single season touchdown record this season, as well as Drew Brees’ yards record. While Brady still has more rings.

LaGarrette Blount was a force last weekend against the Colts.

LaGarrette Blount was a force last weekend against the Colts.

Brady did not need to have to have a lights out game last weekend against the Colts as he mainly handed off the ball and kept the Colts offense off the field and when they were on the field the defense stepped up. Josh McDaniels always has something up his sleeve that really makes me scratch my head, so I hope they stick to the run this week in Mile High and continue to keep the opposing teams offense off the field.

After all the Broncos offense is a well oiled machine with Manning having Welker, Decker, and the Thomas’ to throw to. All four had double digit touchdowns this season. We remember Peyton had plenty of weapons in Indianapolis and only won one Super Bowl so here is hoping he will not come up in the big game again. His arm strength has declined but now he has Welker in the slot and Thomas on those screen passes.



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The Chargers played the Broncos three times this season including last weekend’s Divisional matchup. Each time the Chargers defense held the Broncos under 30 points but unfortunately only won one of those games. The Broncos can win the shootout type games going up and down the field without question but when it comes down to it I don’t think they can win another time controlled game where the opposing team tries to eat the clock leaving the Broncos offense impatient. Also Tom Brady has had great success against Jack Del Rio defenses, the Broncos defensive coordinator and this year was no different as he lead the Patriots back in the second half of that great Sunday night thriller.

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Patriots Stun Broncos With Biggest Comeback In Team History

Julian Edelman leaps into the end zone to give the Patriots the lead in the fourth quarter.

It was fitting that the coldest regular-season game played in Foxboro in the last 20 years (22 degrees) was also (one of) the best regular-season games played in Foxboro in the last 20 years. For the 10th time in 14 career meetings with Peyton Manning, Tom Brady got the best of the other best quarterback of our era after Denver dominated the home team in the first half, but just the first half, scoring the first 24 points of the game and forcing three turnovers.

It was the final turnover, however, that was the biggest one. Denver special teams player, Tony Carter, allowed the ball to hit him after Wes Welker, back to return the kick with three minutes remaining in overtime, may have made the “get away” call just a little too late. New England recovered and three plays later, Stephen Gostkowski capped the biggest comeback in Patriots’ history with a 31-yard field goal to beat the Denver Broncos, 34-31.

If you’re going to turn the ball over three times in a game, you might as well get them all out of your system in the first half.

“The weather conditions get a little tough [and] things can turn quickly,” said  Brady, who finished 34-of-50 for 344 yards and three touchdowns, of the second-half turnaround.

Despite only one touchdown pass from Manning in the first half, Denver jumped out to a quick 14-0 lead thanks to Patriots’ fumbles on each of their first three possessions. Von Miller returned the first 60 yards for a touchdown 4:53 into the game and Kowshon Moreno plowed in from two yards out just over a minute later following a Brady fumble that was returned to the New England 10. They were two of his 224 rushing yards on the night, easily a career-high.

Then, LeGarrette Blount put the ball on the ground, leading to a field goal and quick 17-0 lead before Manning threw his first touchdown pass to in the second quarter to make it 24-0 all before the break.

It seemed like it would be a laugher after the first 30 minutes, but Brady drove the Pats down the field after receiving the second-half kickoff and after just eight plays, hit Julian Edelman from five yards out to make it 24-7. Then, after five straight draw plays to begin their first drive of the half, Moreno put the ball on the ground as Dane Fletcher jarred it out and Brandon Spikes got the recovery. Six plays after that, Brandon Bolden ran it in from a yard out and just like that it was 24-14. By the end of the third, it was 24-21 as Brady hit Rob Gronkowski on 3rd-and-6 to bring the Pats within three.

It kept going after that. Manning threw just his sixth interception of the year into the arms of Logan Ryan and three plays later, Brady hit Edelman for their second scoring connection of the night to cap the 30-yard, 78-second drive and somehow give the Patriots the 28-24 lead.

After Wesley Woodyard dropped a tipped interception that he had both his hands on and a would-be 2nd-and-20 was negated by an illegal hands to the face penalty, Gostkowski hit his 20th consecutive kick to give the Pats the seven-point lead with just over seven and a half remaining.

When it looked like it could be over on the next Denver drive, Aqib Talib, who had completely shut down Demaryius Thomas all night, was called for holding and negated his own interception, giving the Broncos some hope. Then Manning started converting third downs and Thomas started catching passes. And the Patriots started committing penalties. With 3:06 left, Manning hit Thomas from 11 yards out to tie the score at 31 after Denver picked up two first downs from penalties on the drive, including a pass interference call on Rob Ninkovich on 3rd-and-7 in the red zone. Brady would then go three and out and Ryan Allen was called to punt the ball to Welker with 1:45 remaining.

Denver took over at the 33-yard line, going into the wind. Then, Manning went three and out with a near sack from Andre Carter, a pass break-up from Kyle Arrington and an incomplete floater to give Brady one more chance from his own 11-yard line with 28 seconds left and two timeouts. Just a screen and a draw would take Brady and Manning to overtime, though.

After winning the coin toss, the Pats elected to forego possession and select the side of the field with the wind at their back, giving Manning and the Broncos the ball first. Both teams would trade possessions with New England’s ending on a long incomplete sideline pass on 3rd-and-4 after everyone thought Kenbrell Thompkins was interfered with on the previous throw, forcing the Pats to burn their first timeout to cool off.

When it seemed the Pats would be playing for a tie at best, the only thing that hadn’t happened in the game happened. Nate Ebner recovered the loose ball at the 18 and with 6’8’’ backup quarterback Brock Osweiler in the game to try to get the block, Gostkowski sent those who stuck it out home happy with a little bit of history to take with them.

Special teams players pile on Nate Ebner after he recovered the botched punt to set up the winning field goal.

Special teams players pile on Nate Ebner after he recovered the botched punt to set up the winning field goal.

“We just calmed down and each played one play at a time,” said Edelman, who finished with nine catches for 110 yards and the two huge touchdowns. “We didn’t turn the ball over in the second half.”

For Brady, it was his 33rd game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime and this was certainly one of the bigger ones as New England now controls its own destiny in its hunt for a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Denver turned the ball over four times in the second half while the Patriots played mistake-free and scored on all five of their possessions, including 21 points in the third quarter, 10 in the fourth and, of course, the three in overtime. Manning finished with just 150 passing yards while Brady put up 344. It was the Pats’ ability to score touchdowns and not having to settle for field goals that gave them a chance to get back in the game.

While they did fumble the ball six times, they only losy three. Welker finished his return to Foxboro with just four catches for 41 yards and, of course, it wouldn’t be a Welker outing at Gillette without a big drop.

“We had a lot of guys step up here,” said Bill Belichick after the game. “You could rattle off 35-40 guys.”

After the improbable victory, New England will move on to the disappointing Texans (2-9) while the Broncos will take on the Chiefs for the second time in three weeks.

Follow me on Twitter @RealAndyLarmand.

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