In this email was this great portrait of Tom Brady. Click on it for the full-size image.
If you like it please let Jeffrey know on his Web site or in the comments to this post. On his site he features some great artwork he does of people. One of these days I need to send him a picture of my mug.
A highly anticipated matchup on Sundays schedule is when the San Francisco 49ers travel cross-country to take on the New England Patriots in a matchup of division leaders and possible Super Bowl contenders. You know that Jim Harbaugh is gunning to add Belichick to the notches on his belt the same way he did USC’s Pete Carroll when Harbaugh was head coach at Stanford. Weather this time of year in the Northeast is nothing short of cold. Any chance of rain has the possibility of quickly becoming snow, or worse, remaining sleet.
NFLWeather.com forecasts a strong chance of rain Sunday night, with cloudy skies and a low around 33 degrees. It’s going to be COLD! Judging by the forecast for this game, the Patriots should be aiming to keep the 49ers offense standing on the sidelines in the cold. The Patriots know that when San Francisco is at its best, they are controlling the clock and keeping their defense fresh and rested. The Patriots defensive game plan will be to disrupt Colin Kaepernick’s ability to work outside the pocket. He is at his best when he is on the run, which is a great asset in rainy weather. Expect the 49ers to play physical in the rain, it’s what they are good at and they have proven they can beat teams by pounding the ball inside. Had he not been suspended by the 49ers for “unsportsman-like tweeting,” this would have been a week to break out Brandon Jacobs. Regardless, no love lost in New England for the former New York Giant.
New England’s offense will undoubtedly score points on Sunday night. However, with the mixture of a great defense and rainy weather, there might be some limitations to their usual offensive game plan. Tom Brady is all about reading defenses and timing with his receivers. The 49ers do a good job of rushing the passer and covering well, which makes them extremely frustrating to opposing offenses. However the Patriots find a way to score and the best way to do that in this weather against this defense is to beat them with quick receivers. Expect Wes Welker to have a great day because of his ability to make quick and strong cuts. The Patriots backfield, led by Steven Ridley, should also see a bigger workload with a lot of short passes against the stalwart San Francisco run defense.
According to NFLWeather.com’s Historical Analytics, the 49ers are only batting 500 in the rain over the past three years, losing to the Texans in a light rain earlier this year. It will be interesting to see what side of the ball takes over this matchup. New England is 4-2 in the rain over the past three years and is 500 this season, having dropped one in Seattle. The Patriots definitely have the edge in an offensive shootout. However if weather forecasts are correct, the rain will be an asset in slowing down opposing offensive threats. Either way, this game should be an exciting one to watch.
Similar to the Pacific Northwest, the sun just doesn’t shine very much in England. Soccer matches are dreary and damp. When the New England Patriots and St. Louis Rams compete in the NFL’s sixth trip to London, NFLWeather.com forecasts a typically English day. In the English tradition, Sunday morning tea will be followed by a football match under the rain and grey skies over Wembley Stadium. Of course, when compared to the impact Hurricane Sandy will have on the rest of the NFL Games being played in the Eastern U.S., both teams may just appreciate that London fog and rain.
New England has made this trip before, having blown by the Tampa Bay Bucs, 35-7 at Wembley in cloudy conditions. Even though the score was one-sided, a weak Tampa team did force two picks out of Tom Brady. According to the NFLWeather.com’s historical analytics, the Pats 1-2 in their last three rain games with Brady tossing two picks a piece in each of those losses. But what won the slick week six battle for Seattle was rookie QB Russell Wilson avoiding mistakes. He fumbled once but didn’t throw any interceptions before leading a fourth quarter game winning drive. Keeping it close is all St. Louis (3-4) needs to do to hang with the Pats (4-3). Even though a 30% chance of rain should make the play a little sloppy at times, it’ll be the soccer pitch surface that slows players down the most.
An English footy pitch is much more delicate than an American football gridiron. Among them, Wembley Stadium has the most fragile of fields. Wembley is described as a spongy and slippery surface that tears up easily. And unlike the Brits, American Football Players don’t replace their divots. Soccer players complain about the Wembley pitch often and the NFL has yet to have players return with any rave reviews. Little will change for the sixth edition of American Football in London.
A slick field will have an immediate effect on any skill player when it comes to quick cuts. Those seven stud cleats will be swapped for the NFL max of 3/4 inch studs and if the rains get heavy, it might not matter how deep they are. The Rams made sure to begin the trek early on Monday and arrive with plenty of time to take advantage of Arsenal’s pristine facilities, an English club belonging to Rams owner Stan Kroenke, coincidently. In fact, Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium has the exact same grass Desso pitch as Wembley Stadium; advantage Rams.
Shifty, smaller running backs might have some trouble finding the right sized cleat at first, giving the advantage to the power backs like a healthy Steven Jackson. The last two times Jackson’s had 18 carries, the Rams are 2-0. But this week, he runs against a New England defense that only gives up an average of 86 yards on the ground per game. Forcing the ball to Jackson play after play just won’t cut it. Sam Bradford doesn’t have to carry the weight of the team; he just needs to mimic Russell Wilson’s performance by keeping his composure late in the game and avoiding costly interceptions.
For the Patriots, or the Rebels as they are called on the Isle, the more times Brady and company step onto the field, the tougher the job gets for a Rams defense that usually plays its home games on artificial turf under a dome. If Brady puts up the 26 for 42 and 259 yards for two touchdowns numbers as he did a week ago, the Rams just won’t be able to keep up. In rainy Seattle, even though the Pats left with a loss, Brady still completed 36 for 58 for 345 yards. Poor weather will not hinder the number of times he drops back but it surprisingly doesn’t take too much away from running back Stevan Ridley. Against the Seahawks, Ridley had 16 carries while 10 more carries went to other backs.
While Wembley Stadium is big, it might not be enough for Brady to really open up his top ranked offense on the thick, slow, damp pitch. The only position this venue really favors is that of the placekickers who already wear soccer cleats.
Editors note: This is a guest article written by Will Strome of NFLWeather.com.
Perhaps the New England Patriots did not set out to change the way teams played in the NFL, but either way it looks like they are on the verge of doing so. Thanks to the extensions now signed by Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, Tom Brady and the Patriots will have two outstanding receivers who play the tight end position for years to come.
It really was not too long ago that teams were hesitant to even throw passes to their top tight end. The game has evolved, and one only has to look at veterans Tony Gonzalez or Antonio Gates when they first came into the league. Neither of the Patriots were first round picks, but their performance on the field since arriving in the league has made coach Bill Belichick change up his team’s offense.
The Patriots have always been known for their innovations, and it looks as though they are more than sold on using both Gronkowski and Hernandez together. There were some questions last season about whether or not the New England area was big enough for both of them, but it seems as though with the recent contract extensions wide receiver Wes Welker is the odd man out right now.
With Brady making comments about not even thinking about retirement at this time, it makes sense for the Patriots to roll with two of the best tight ends in the game.
Although both are expected to play tight end for the Patriots, they don’t seem to be ruling out the chances of Hernandez also lining up as a wide receiver or even as a running back. The Patriots have been tinkering with different formations this preseason, but it remains to be seen exactly what they have up their sleeve.
One thing is for sure about the contract extension. The team is sold on both tight ends. After handing the 23-year old Gronkowski the richest deal for a tight end in league history, they turned around and dump $40 million on Hernandez. Expect the Patriots to use quite a bit of both tight ends and create mismatches across the field in 2012.
Editors note: This is a guest article written by the football staff at Fanduel.com. If you are looking to play cash fantasy football this season give them a try.
We heard from the folks at the Aruba Marriott about a contest they are holding to find the biggest Patriots fan.
All you need to do is submit a video through their Facebook page for a chance to win. Why a trip to Aruba? It just so happens the 2012 Patriots Cheerleader is being held at the same resort. The prize to be awarded is two round trip tickets to Aruba for a four-day, three-night stay at the Aruba Marriott.
Happy New Year! As the Pats prepare for the postseason and take a well-deserved bye week off, here’s a graphic by Jeffrey Carrier of Artistic Revelation. Jeff has contributed some of his great work to GoPats.com over the years and this one came in late last year, and after weeding through my email, I am just getting to it now. No time like the present, eh? Click on the image for a full-sized version. Go Pats!
We heard from Kevin Faulk’s people about his annual celebrity softball game, and want to pass along the details.
It will be held at Campanelli Stadium in Brockton, MA on May 15, 2010. The game will start at 7:05 PM. There are two types of tickets available for the game; V.I.P. and general admission. V.I.P. tickets will be $150 and general admission are $10. Tickets can be bought here.
The proceeds for this event will benefit the United Way, Kevin’s charity of choice. It is a great event and it is a good opportunity to see your favorite Patriots players play Softball.
When I recently visited my friends Tim and Mary, I saw Tim sporting a t-shirt reading, “Wicked big Celts fan.” Being from the Bay State myself and knowing Tim is from there too, I asked him where he got it. It turns out he knows who makes them. Being the consummate networker he is, Tim put me in touch with them.
Boston Accents has a number of t-shirts and caps that, as you can guess, have sayings with a Boston accent. They sent me some samples at no cost, including a cap reading, “wicked big Pats fan” and t-shirts reading the same as the cap and “Best quartahback evah™ - 12,” which is trademarked, who knew? All the t-shirts have a unique color dying that gives them an earthen look, and fit very well. They did not ask me to promote them here on Out In The Loop, but I offered as they are fellow entrepreneurs, not to mention Boston sports fans.
By wearing Boston Accents, you can not only show your colors, but say them with the proper accent, which is wicked pissa!
We just heard from the folks at Best Buy Fantasy about the site and weekly contests. It is a weekly fantasy football challenge where participants compete against celebrities to be entered into sweepstakes and win prizes. Every point by which the participant beats the celebrity grants them one entry into the weekly sweepstakes.
If you are looking for an elegant win, one with long arcing completions and stout defensive stands, then this game wasn’t for you. A win though is a win, last I checked, so let’s see how the 2-1 Patriots managed to defeat the sophomore Falcon quarterback Matt Ryan.
The game was characterized by lots of sustained drives, mostly running out of gas within the red zone (only 1 in 5 inside the 20 resulting in a TD), and chip shot field goals. While Steven Gostkowski was a busy guy on Sunday kicking 4 field goals, his sharpshooting capabilities were never tested as he never had to boot one from more than 33 yards.
Another hallmark of this game was the extremely poor play of the Pats special teams. Especially on kickoff returns, the Pats allowed 25, 33, 26, 34 and 23 yard returns throughout the game. These lapses resulted in decent to very good field position for the more than capable Matt Ryan. Ryan had a decent game connecting on 17 of 28 for 199 yards, though luckily enough also had his problems punching through to paydirt. Atlanta’s only score came with 8:48 remaining in the 2nd quarter with a 2 yard plunge by Running Back Michael Turner.
What we haven’t discussed so far was the play of Tom Brady. The reason why is that while he didn’t any big mistakes, he didn’t make many game breaking plays either. Brady went 25 for 42 and 277 yards and a touchdown. Several times during the game he went deep, though each time the team came up short. Balls just off fingertips or just off the mark seemed to be a play that repeated itself during the course of the game. Tom seemed pretty ticked off most of the game with the cameras focusing on him yelling at his teammates, with his jugular vein throbbing on national TV.
Tom certainly has his work cut out for him, not only is his defensive corps depleted, he is missing his main go to guy in Wes Welker, who was out again this week. Its tough to make up the 10+ catches and 100 yards of offense that Welker would typically pick up week after week.
This brings us to a couple of the bright spots of the game.
1) Randy Moss. #81 was thrown at 16 times, and caught 10 balls for 116 yards. While he didn’t connect for a touchdown he helped stretch the defense by going long on several occasions, and also connecting on a 21 yard strike. He also took his share of lumps by catching several short crossing routes that ended in completions, and also big hits at his expense.
2) Something we haven’t seen in some time, an actual running attack. All told the Patriots ran for 168 yards on 58 attempts and 1 rushing touchdown. Fred Taylor accounted for 105 of those yards (as well as the rushing TD). An effective running game helped keep the pressure off Brady and kept the chains moving, even when the rest of the offense was sputtering. This also helped support the incredible advantage that the Patriots held in time of possession, nearly 2:1 over the Falcons.
The Pats weren’t all that special today, but had enough to win.
Editor’s Note: Mike Scanlon returns to GoPats.com as a guest columnist. He first wrote for us a while back, and we hope there will be more to come! As always, feedback and comments are welcome!
A Tale of 2 Halves
Depending on which half of this week’s Patriots, Jets game you watched, you would have drawn vastly different conclusions. The end result though is that Tom Brady lost his first regular season game in nearly three years today, and almost as incredibly his first loss to the co-residents of Giants Stadium at their home EVER.
What went wrong?
Last week the Patriots first half looked pretty similar. Nearly 200 yards of offense this week, 230 last week. Lead by 4 points at the end of the first half last week, 6 points this week, Brady completed similar amounts of passes. What’s the difference?
These aren’t the hapless, shoot themselves in the foot, take the ball out of the endzone with nothing to gain Buffalo Bills. THAT’S THE DIFFERENCE. The Jets are a young, well coached, hungry team that stayed focused in the face of adversity. Something we’re not all that used to from our neighbors to the south.
But I digress, the tale of 2 halves was quite striking. During the first half the Patriots sustained drives of 43, 5,(-10),23,53 and 79 yards, scoring 3 times for a total of 9 points. Their starting field position was a respectable average of the 30 yard line. As good as the Patriots performance was during this first half, the Jets was, well, uninspiring to say the least. The Jets progressed the ball an eye popping -1 yard during the first quarter. -1 yards! I beat that amount and never left my couch (except to open some chips and open the door for the pizza guy). The Jets finished up the first half with a total of 48 yards of offense.
The second half looked like the first, except the Patriots looked and played like the first half Jets. The visitors could only sustain drives of 0, 18,17, 14 and 18 yards. They were unable to execute those crutial drives that we have come to expect from Brady and the Pats. With 1:48 on the clock, the ball on their own 10 yard line, Tom Brady took the field, needing a touchdown to win the game. 29 times in the past we were treated to similar game ending situations, 29 times Tom Terrific has marched his team down the field to plunge a dagger into the hearts of their opponents. Unlike all those times however, the Pats could only muster 5 plays and 18 yards before they ran out of downs and chances.
While its true that the Patriots should have made more of their three scoring drives during the first half. Combinations of Brady overthrowing receivers and good coverage by the Jets stopped the Pats short. It’s also true that the Patriots had no answer to Mark Sanchez and his two-headed rushing team of Leon Washington and Thomas Jones. The two combined for 28 carries and 112 yards of rushing.
Question: Is Tom still tentative after his year out from the game? Is the defense reeling from the retirements of Rodney Harrison, Teddy Bruschi and the departure of Richard Seymour? The answer is probably a little of each, with a dash of New York hospitality thrown in for good measure. The answer is that they’ll need to account for these changes if they are to have success this year. They can’t rely on opponents self destructing like the Bills did. Expect opponents to play more like the Jets… during the second half that is.
Tom Brady needs to take a ride on the Nutrisystem train with Dan Marino
So, I took last year off from writing “Staying Patriotic.” There was a lot going on and it was my busiest year ever. That being said, I missed writing it and would find myself taking notes during games for articles that were never written. To all the people that called and emailed asking for articles, I’d like to say “Thanks for your support, and I’m back for the season.” This year, football is even more woven into my life. I’m the head coach of my son’s team, The Iron Men, and that should introduce a new level sarcasm into my articles. This year, even my wife has a team in my fantasy league, and I don’t know, but that just seems to make her even “Hotter.”
So, with that, let’s get started.
Before I even get into the game, let’s just spend a little time talking about Tom Brady. I get it, right? The guy hasn’t played a regular season game in a year, and it just happens to be the same year that he marries a supermodel. He’s working his way back from knee surgery, which I know is tough having had it twice myself. But c’mon, eat a salad every once in a while, stop having Giselle always on top and try to remember what you looked like the last time you were in shape. Now, when I say “the last time you were in shape” I don’t mean the first game of last season. Who could possibly be in shape when you put in almost zero minutes during last year’s pre-season games?
For the first 55 minutes of Week 1, I watched a Tom Brady that just looked like his heart wasn’t in the game anymore. I was actually ready to stop watching in order to take care of a few things around the house and get ready for the Chargers-Raiders. Instead, I just spent a little time wondering how I could reclaim the just recently lost minutes of my life and thinking that we weren’t off to a great start at all. Damn, was it really going to start off like this?
Then I saw it. Tom gets a little pissed off on the sidelines. The looks of complacency turn to looks of determination. We’ve all seen that look before. That’s the looks that says, “Tom’s gonna try and win this one.” What followed was 5 minutes of “Patriots” football. Now, if you look up the definition for Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) on WebMD, you’ll see that one of the symptoms is listed as “Always leaving things to the last minute.” So, let’s pump up Tom with a little Adderall and let him go for it in Week 2.
That being said there was still a lot of things that looked good. Wes Welker continues to perform despite the knee injury, and Randy Moss was looking in top shape. Then there’s Ben Watson, who was not only sure handed against the Bills, but has a great history against the Jets.
So, on to the Jets. For those of you that don’t know, I live the next town over from Florham Park, NJ which is the home of the Jets Practice facility. I see enough Jets fans on a daily basis to drive a man crazy. Nothing would be better than another Patriots win over the Jets. Not only that, I’ve had it up to my ears with the whole Mark Sanchez is the second coming of Nameth nonsense that’s being broadcast all over the place down here.
It’s time for the defense to get down to business. With Mayo questionable and Bruschi, Vrabel, Seymour and Harrison all gone, can the Patriots Defense get the job done? Definitely. The Pats have enough size, skill and experience to do what the Texans couldn’t do last week: Shake up Sanchez, get him off his count and get him on the ground.
With Tom Brady hopefully having shaken the dust off, Welker and Moss looking good, Watson’s record against the Jets and the award winning “Running Back by Committee” that Belichick employs, I think we’ll pull it off.
As a final note, it was great to see Tedy Bruschi on the field and behind the ESPN desk. Tedy was a great player, a class act and a role model that I could count on when I bought my kids their first jerseys and inducted them into the Patriot Nation. I wish Tedy continued success with this new avenue of his career and look forward to his continued presence off the field.
The folks at the Celebrities for Charity Foundation contacted about a raffle they’re holding for 2 tickets to see the Patriots play the Bucs in London on October 25, including roundtrip airfare from Boston Logan to London as well as four nights stay at the 4-Star Hilton Kensington Hotel.
It always seems to be the last thing I do to prepare for an upcoming Patriots season - adding the game dates to my personal calendar. Every year when I do it, it is a manual task. As I was toggling between the GoPats.com Schedule page and Outlook, it came to me there is a better way to do this.
At the top of the schedule page is a “beta” announcement stating, ”Click on the date link to add the game to your calendar (e.g. Outlook)” and all schedule dates for this season (and previous seasons) have an active link on the dates. When you click it, a file in the iCal format is generated. Depending on how your browser is configured, it will ask you what you want to do with the file, or go ahead and try to process it. If the former, you can try to open it with your preferred calendar program and it will try to add it as a new event.
I put the “beta” tag on it as I am inviting people to try it out, and give us feedback if it works for you or not. I have tested it myself with Outlook 2003 and all worked well. The events list the opponent, whether it is a home or away game, the season and part of the season (preseason, regular season, playoffs). Any and all comments, errors - even compliments - are appreciated!