Sunday, December 20, 2015

New England Patriots: Running Game No Longer Running to Stand Still?

The NFL season is heading down the home stretch as evidenced by the return of NFL football on Saturday night. The New England Patriots in one week went from looking like they would be playing in the Wild Card round to the top seed again in the AFC. However, as quickly as it swung to the favor to the Patriots, it can swing back.

Last night, the Dallas Cowboys almost did a favor for a number of AFC squads by almost hanging a loss on the Wild Card New York Jets deep in the heart of Texas. The Jets needed to late drives to overcome a poor kicking game (missed field goal, extra point, bad punts) and hang on for a desperately needed win 19-16.

Staying in the AFC East, the New England Patriots are running out of running backs and have signed free agent Montee Ball (a second round draft pick in Denver) and had veteran Steven Jackson in for a visit this week. In a typical Patriots maneuver, it was an unknown running back added to the roster as former U of Hawaii player and practice squad fullback/running back Joey Iosefa.

Iosefa has been on the practice squad since October and at six-foot and 245 pounds fits the bill as a power back in the New England two-tight end set. Mike Reiss at ESPN.com brought up the comparison between Iosefa and free agent fullback/running back Heath Evans and the 2005 Patriots team. Since he did not dig deeper, I decided to take a peek:

Evans was released by the Dolphins and had just one carry in 2005. The Patriots were sitting and 4-4 and had just been blown out in Gillette Stadium by Peyton Manning and the Colts 40-21 and it was not even that close. Early in the third quarter it was 28-7 Colts and while it had been close earlier, it was a Corey Dillon fumble which opened the floodgates.

Dillon had just 40 yards on 12 carries and averaged just 3.5 yards per carry for the 2005 season. He was injured and missed the next three games: Enter Heath Evans. Evans rumbled for 21 yards on his first carry in New England against Miami the next week and finished with 17 rushes for 84 yards. In addition, he added 16 rushes for 74 yards in a win the next week.

Evans was a role player from then on out as Dillon returned shortly but Evans established himself as a player who head coach Bill Belichick and Tom Brady could trust on offense. Evans stayed a few years and now has a good gig as an analyst on the NFL Network...something not likely to happen without his high-profile role in New England.

No one is expecting Iosefa to come in and roll for 80 yards on the ground this week against Tennessee, but an opportunity to make an impact is upon him. Jonas Gray took advantage of his opportunity for one week last year (before he somehow got himself deep into Belichick's dog house), and Iosefa could be the next.

Look for number 47 in the backfield against the Titans and remember this could be a big game for a player expected to be a minor contributor in New England.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

MusketFire: W2W4: New England Patriots vs Houston Texans

The New England Patriots are facing off against the Houston Texans on Sunday Night Football. While the Texans are currently on the outside looking in at the playoff race, they are a unique opponent as defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel and head coach Bill O'Brien are both long-time New England assistants under head coach Bill Belichick.

Can the Texans' strong pass defense slow the Patriots passing attack? Can New England take advantage of Houston's weak run defense? Who covers DeAndre Hopkins? Is the success of Houston's running back by committee a trend or a mirage? Get ready for Sunday Night Football with What to Watch For (W2W4) when the New England Patriots travel to Texas to take on the Houston Texans.

W2W4: New England Patriots vs Houston Texans

Sunday, December 06, 2015

MusketFire: W2W4: New England Patriots vs Philadelphia Eagles

The New England Patriots return home to Gillette Stadium to face off against the Philadelphia Eagles following their first loss of the 2015 NFL season. The Patriots fell to 10-1 and welcome Chip Kelly and his 4-7 Eagles to Foxborough, MA. The Patriots will be trying to prevent consecutive losses since September 2012 when the Patriots lost to Arizona and Baltimore in back-to-back weeks. Do the Eagles have what it takes to pull an upset on the road against the defending Super Bowl champions or do the Patriots get back to their winning ways? Find out what will happen and who has the advantage when the Eagles try to run and pass and when the Patriots run and pass the ball.



Read much more here:

W2W4: New England Patriots vs Philadelphia Eagles

Cover32 Grade Day: The Patriots offense against Denver's defense | Cover32

How did the Patriots offense fare against the Broncos top ranked defense?



Read all about it here: Grade Day: The Patriots offense against Denver's defense | Cover32

Cover32 Grade Day: Patriots defense against Denver offense | Cover32

How did the Patriots defense do against the Broncos?



Read about it here:Grade Day: Patriots defense against Denver offense | Cover32

Scout.com: New England Patriots have Four Roster Issues which could Derail their Super Bowl Hopes in 2017

The New England Patriots have four roster issues which could derail their Super Bowl hopes in 2017. Can they survive an injury at quarterbac...