Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Cover32: Stevan Ridley could derail the Patriots superbowl hopes

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The New England Patriots have positioned themselves to gain momentum in the final quarter of the season with nine wins and only three losses in the first twelve games of the season. In light of all the distractions (Wes Welker, Aaron Hernandez, and Tim Tebow) and injuries (Rob Gronkowski, Shane VereenDanny AmendolaVince WilforkTommy Kelly, Jerod Mayo, Sebastian Vollmer, and Steve Gregory) earlier in the season, this is a great accomplishment by the team.
As the offense slowly returned injured receivers and integrated the young receivers on the roster, the offense improved week-by-week as quarterback Tom Brady gained trust and rapport with his teammates. With the offensive line continuing to improve in pass blocking after some early hiccups, the team is looking ready to grab one of the top two spots in the AFC, earn a bye week, and have a home game in the divisional round.
However, there is a major concern on offense that will derail them again in the post-season if it is not corrected in the next four weeks: running back Stevan Ridley and his fumbling issues.
With running back Shane Vereen healthy again, the Patriots offense has the third down/passing back the team has lacked. Unlike in 2012, the offense does not have the ball-carrier answering the bell and gashing defenses. Stevan Ridley has been limited in his snaps since week one due to his fumbling issues and the offense has suffered.
Ridley fumbled in the first game of the season against the Buffalo Bills and earned a seat on the bench. With only nine rushing attempts, it was a sign of what was to come this season for the third-year running back. The next three games saw Ridley with a reduced role and rushing the ball only 38 times over three games.
With strong games against New Orleans, Miami, and Pittsburgh, Ridley appeared to be back on track as the lead back in the offense. However, key fumbles in back-to-back games against Carolina and the following week against Denver led to Ridley being removed entirely from the offense. In fact, on Sunday against the Texans, thePatriots did not even dress Ridley and relied instead on Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden, LeGarrette Blount, and James Devlin...Click here for more: http://cover32.com/patriots/2013/12/03/steven-ridley-could-derail-the-patriots-superbowl-hopes/

H4TV: New England Patriots Defense Needs to Improve in a Hurry

by Hal Bent | Posted on Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013


The New England Patriots faced-off on the road against the Houston Texans on Sunday afternoon and were fortunate to escape with a 34-31 victory. With New England three games ahead of the Miami Dolphins in the AFC East standings and a game in hand over the Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts for the first round bye, defensive coordinator Matt Patricia and head coach Bill Belichick made some puzzling decisions regarding the team’s game plan.

Suffice to say, if Houston’s Anthony Smith was accusing the team of cheating, he certainly was not referring to the Patriots defense.  After a strong start to the season, the Patriots defense has fallen off due to young defensive players having to step in and play key roles in the regular defense. With injuries and no solid depth behind their starting defensive linemen, the Patriots were left leaning on rookies and unwanted players in the middle of their defensive line. Add in injuries to most of their secondary the past few weeks, and the Patriots defense has been weakened.

This past weekend, the point was driven home when the Patriots travelled to Houston to face a Texans team which lost to Jacksonville last week 13-6 and was unable to even get in the end zone in the battle for last place in the AFC South.  After that performance, it was shocking to see the Texans light up the Patriots defense for 31 points matching the points put up by the record-setting offense of the Denver Broncos the week before against New England.

The New England defense allowing 27 points to New Orleans, 24 points to Carolina, and 31 points to Denver is not anything to be ashamed about.  The problem is giving up 30 points to the New York Jets, 31 points to Pittsburgh, and 31 to the Texans.  Despite these points allowed in the last few weeks, the Patriots defense is still tenth in the NFL in points allowed.

Obviously, it is easy to point to the injuries on defense first as to the breakdown on defense. Starting defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Tommy Kelly (who was clearly their best front seven defensive player in the first month of the season) and linebacker Jerod Mayo were lost for the season to injury. Obviously, losing two team captains and a ten year veteran is not a recipe for success...CLICK HERE FOR MUCH MORE: http://www.h4-entertainment.com/2013/12/new-england-patriots-defense-needs-to-improve-in-a-hurry/

FullPressCoverage.com: New England Patriots’ Top 2019 NFL Draft Picks Show Evolution on Both Sides of the Ball

The New England Patriots may have tipped their hand with their first two 2019 NFL Draft picks. Choosing a bigger, more aggressive outside-...