Play Fantasy Use your Fantasy skills to win Cash Prizes. Join or start a league today. Play Now
 
Tag:Wes Welker
Posted on: August 2, 2011 8:11 pm
 

Rex Ryan challenges rest of league to beat Pats



Posted by Ryan Wilson

It's officially football season but it doesn't quite feel like it until Jets head coach Rex Ryan says something for the sole purpose of getting a rise out of people. (Also acceptable: proclaiming that it's snack time. Requisite naughty language alert on the video evidence.)

Well, now it feels like football season because -- you guessed it -- Ryan had some thoughts on AFC East rival New England. Relatively speaking, the comments were innocuous enough (not even Rodney Harrison would be able to twist Ryan's words into motivational fodder … we think), but media and fans have a knack for blowing things out of proportion. We suspect this will be no different.

When asked by reporters Monday if the Jets are the favorite to win the division, Ryan spoke frankly.

"In my mind. I don’t know about everybody else’s. The first year I got in we were supposed to win six games or five games or four games. I don’t know what the experts say, I just know what I believe in my heart and that’s that this is going to be our year. Again, I think we have to find somebody out there to beat New England besides us, and I think that would help. Anybody out there that wants to sign up for it? Are you good enough as a team to beat the New England Patriots. Forget about us, are you good enough to go out and beat the New England Patriots? I’m challenging the league."

Like we said, hardly inflammatory stuff. But Boston's WEEI labeled it an "ultimatum," and the Boston Herald called it a "new approach to tweaking the Patriots."

But fret not. Ryan did have some (sorta) laudatory words for new Pats' receiver Chad Ochocinco.

"I’ve always said this, when it was Chad Johnson, we could never stop him, but when it was Chad Ochocinco, I’ve been more successful. So I hope he doesn’t change his name back. I have a great deal of respect for him. He’s a tremendous player. I mean an absolute tremendous player, going along with [Tom] Brady and the guys, [Wes] Welker and all those guys. I’m glad we have the corners we have."

See? It could've been much worse, right?

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: July 5, 2011 9:44 am
Edited on: July 5, 2011 9:22 pm
 

Could Ochocinco end up with the Patriots?

Posted by Ryan Wilson

In recent years, Bill Belichick's approach to the NFL Draft seems to involve more trading than selecting -- either down or out of the current draft altogether -- but always with the goal of accumulating future considerations. It's not a particularly exciting personnel strategy, although it's difficult to argue with the results. The Patriots have won at least 10 games a year since 2003, three times going 14-2, including last season.

While New England may be relatively quiet on draft weekends, they're generally pretty active in free agency. That hasn't been the case this offseason because of the lockout, but that could change if the owners and players agree on a new collective bargaining agreement in the next 10 days or so.

In anticipation of that eventuality, the Boston Herald takes a look at the Patriots' needs and the soon-to-be free agents who could fill them. First up: wide receivers.

New England's current depth chart includes established veterans with injury histories (Deion Branch, Wes Welker) and unproven, high-upside young guys (Julian Edelman, Taylor Price, Matthew Slater, Brandon Tate). It's not quite the uninspiring group of wideouts that were on the team in 2006 (Reche Caldwell led the Patriots with 760 yards receiving that year), but it's not 2007, either (Tom Brady threw 50 touchdowns, 23 to Randy Moss).

Which is why the Herald lists Sidney Rice and Chad Ochocinco as possible free-agent targets. Rice, who had hip surgery last August, played in just six games with the Vikings in 2010. But in 2009, he was one of the league's most explosive players. He's also just 24.

Ochocinco's (mostly off-field) exploits are well documented. He's 33 and not technically a free agent. The Herald explains:
There’s still the popular debate on whether the Patriots need a speed receiver or not. That began when Randy Moss was traded last season and continued in the loss to the Jets. Well, this would certainly provide a solution. Rice has got the speed to stretch the field, and the skills to do a lot more. With the possible exception of Vincent Jackson, he’s the best guy out there. Brady isn’t getting any younger. Why not shoot for the moon? As for Ochocinco, he’s not actually a free agent. But if he’s treating himself like one, why shouldn’t we?
Conventional wisdom says that Ochocinco's best days are behind him, and a team in need of wideouts would be wise to look elsewhere. But this is New England, the place where over-the-hill malcontents go to revive their careers.

Take Corey Dillon and Randy Moss. Dillon rushed for 541 yards in 2003, his last season in Cincinnati. In 2004, he gained 1,635 yards for the Patriots, and he won a Super Bowl. In 2006, Moss had 42 receptions for 533 yards and three touchdowns with Oakland. The next season he caught 98 passes for 1,493 yards and 23 touchdowns in New England. It's not unreasonable to think that Belichick and Brady couldn't keep Ochocinco focused, something Marvin Lewis never managed to do in Cincy.

As for Moss, whose name occasionally comes up as a possible option for the Patriots, his time in New England appears to have passed.

"It’s really hard to imagine [Moss returning to Foxboro], the Herald explains. "It’s one of those 'been there, done that, no sense doing it again' kind of stories. That’s not to say the Pats won’t be looking for a speed guy or another veteran receiver. Rice would help, if they could afford him. Ochocinco has one more year on his contract, but he’s made no secret he wants out of Cincinnati. It appears the Bengals want a divorce, too. With Bill Belichick’s affection for him, Ochocinco may, in fact, find a way to end up in Foxboro. If he behaves and still has some left in the tank, he could be the answer."

Even if the Patriots don't pursue a wide receiver during free agency, the 2011 group of pass catchers will still be plenty dangerous. Not so much because of the wide receivers, but because of the tight ends. As rookies last season, Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski were third and fourth on the team in receptions (45 and 42), and they accounted for 33 percent of the team's passing yards. If nothing else, Belichick learned from the 2006 season; if you don't have wideouts, find some tight ends. Tom Brady doesn't much care who he's throwing the ball to just as long as they're open.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: June 2, 2011 8:27 am
Edited on: June 2, 2011 10:19 am
 

Pats may not think much of Brandon Tate yet

With R. Moss gone, look for B. Tate to get more attention from opponents (Getty).Posted by Ryan Wilson

It was a surprise when the Patriots took wide receiver Brandon Tate in the third round of the 2009 NFL Draft, but Bill Belichick is nothing if not unorthodox. Tate suffered a major knee injury during his senior season at North Carolina, and  reportedly tested positive for marijuana at the 2009 Combine. But he offered size, speed and was an explosive returner. The plan was for him to redshirt his rookie season and contribute in 2010.

Plus, Belichick had made a nice living ignoring conventional wisdom and drafting players he felt best fit New England's scheme. Offensive lineman Logan Mankins (first round, 2005) and Sebastian Vollmer (second round, 2009) are recent examples.

In 10 starts last season, Tate had 24 receptions for 432 yards, including three touchdowns. The totals aren't particularly impressive, but the 18-yards-per-catch average gets your attention. Still, for NFL Films' Greg Cosell, it was clear from watching game tape that the Patriots' staff has concerns about Tate as an NFL wideout.

"Very often, the way players are used tells you how a coaching staff feels about them," Cosell told CSN New England's Tom Curran. "The way the Patriots use Brandon Tate tells that they don't think much of him at this point. He runs about three routes and the only time the ball comes to him is when a play is specifically called for him."

Cosell acknowledges that Tate is "big, he runs well, he's got good lateral quickness," but also points out that, "…in taking the spot of Moss, he was stepping in for someone who was as good a vertical receiver as we've ever seen. Tate has vertical skills but not Randy Moss vertical skills and that's why coverage was different for Tate after Moss left."

This is about what you'd expect from a second-year player getting his first crack at substantial playing time. It's not unusual for coaches to manage their expectations in such circumstances, and Cosell notes that the work stoppage is really hurting Tate's development.

ESPNBoston.com's Mike Reiss adds that the coaching staff's lack of faith in Tate can be traced back to Tate's inconsistency last season. "One stat that stands out is that he was targeted 46 times and totaled 24 receptions for a 54.3 target percentage, one of the lowest among the team's pass-catchers."

But as always seems to happen, Tom Brady, superhero, will fix everything. Reiss reports that Brady is in New England to lead players-only workouts starting Wednesday. Reiss: "While the value of player-led workouts during the lockout is debatable, many believe chemistry between a quarterback and receiver can grow during the offseason. … Not surprisingly, teammates have responded, according to sources, breaking from their personal workout regimens to join Brady."

The Pats drafted two wide receivers in 2009 -- Tate and seventh-rounder Julian Edelman, a college quarterback from Kent State who moved to wide receiver in the pros and immediately drew comparisons to Wes Welker.

Ultimately, Cosell thinks Edelman has the skills to replace Welker, but warns that Welker is "a very specific kind of player" who "is a function of the entire offense and what's around him."

That was easy to forget when New England was regularly hanging 30-plus points on NFL defenses. Then again, any offense with Brady as its centerpiece is automatically high-powered. Moss was proof of that. He was invisible in Oakland before Brady helped revitalize his career, and his production fell off a cliff after the Pats shipped him to Minnesota last season.

While Tate will benefit from offseason workouts, even informal ones, Patriots will be in good shape at receiver when the labor dispute is settled. Deion Branch joins Welker as a savvy veteran who intimately understands the offense. And tight ends Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, rookies a year ago, accounted for 26 percent of all New England receptions in 2010. It's not like 2006, when Brady's top targets were Jabar Gaffney and Reche Caldwell. The Pats' offense is plenty potent, as evidenced by their 14-2 record in 2010.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: May 20, 2011 4:59 pm
 

Hot Routes 5.20.11: Welker disappointed in owners

Posted by Will Brinson



Got a link for the Hot Routes? Hit us up on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL).
  • Wes Welker said something recently about enjoying the lockout. He recently clarified it, stating that he was saying it as a joke. (If you've ever met or interviewed Welker, this makes much more sense than him saying it in a really serious fashion.) He seemed especially cheesed that the owners decided to use it against him in court. 
Posted on: April 4, 2011 1:31 pm
Edited on: April 5, 2011 7:25 am
 

Offseason Checkup: New England Patriots

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

 

Eye on Football's playing doctor for every NFL team with our Offseason Check-ups .



The Patriots were probably the best team in football last season, compiling a 14-2 record before surprisingly losing to the Jets in the second round of the playoffs. Let’s see what New England had: Outstanding QB, check. Pretty good running game, check. A good enough offensive line and wide receiving corps, yes. A rock-solid defense, um, no.

The team had its problems on defense – which is talented but oh so young – but the wizardry of Brady who knows coach Bill Belichick’s system so well overcame most of those defensive hiccups. The Patriots haven’t had a losing season this century, so whatever constructive criticism that follows in this piece doesn’t suggest that the Patriots suddenly will struggle to win games. With Belichick, that simply doesn’t happen very often (unless, ahem, he’s donning the headset in Cleveland).




Recent unsuccessful playoff runs

A ridiculous statistic for you: the Patriots haven’t won a playoff game since the 2007 AFC championship game. That’s right, since that undefeated New England squad lost the Super Bowl to the Giants, the Ravens in the 2009 playoffs and the Jets in 2010 – all three of those were considered upsets, as well.

Doesn’t matter that New England has an annual chokehold on the AFC East (though New York is beginning to threaten that dominance), the Patriots can’t get anywhere in the playoffs. They haven’t won a Super Bowl in six years. So, what’s the problem?




1. Wide Receiver
Getting rid of Randy Moss probably was the right call for New England, but when the Patriots sent him away, they also lost their downfield threat. You might argue that Moss’ skills are in decline – and the Titans would DEFINITELY say that – but he’s still quite a long-ball receiver. Wes Welker is one of the best slot receivers in the game, Deion Branch had a nice comeback year and New England’s young tight ends are really solid. But a Moss-like receiver would be welcome.

2. More DL depth
Mike Wright and Ron Brace missed a combined nine regular-season games last season before injuries forced them to the Injured Reserve lists while Ty Warren missed the entire year, and a trio of rookies (two of whom were undrafted) were forced to step in and replace them. What the Patriots need in this year’s draft is a pass rusher off the edge, and since they have a plethora of draft picks, they could certainly try to trade up and find one. Wright, with 5.5 sacks, was the team leader, and following behind him were LBs Tully Banta-Cain and Rob Ninkovich. They need some help on the DL, though newly-signed Marcus Stroud could certainly ease some of that burden.

3. Better secondary play
Devin McCourtey had a strong rookie season, leading the team with seven interceptions and Leigh Bodden – who missed all of last year – will be a definite upgrade over Kyle Arrington. Pat Chung is solid at the SS spot, but FS Brandon Meriweather wasn’t very good last season (how he made the Pro Bowl is baffling). It would not be a surprise if New England tries to replace him.




The Patriots obviously have some corrections that need to be made. But this franchise has been the best – and most feared – in the NFL since Belichick took over (though Rex Ryan absolutely will NOT kiss his rings), and he doesn’t hesitate to get rid of loyal Patriots who he feels can’t help them anymore (I’m looking at you Richard Seymour, Adam Vinatieri, et al). The Patriots will continue to battle with the Jets for AFC East dominance, but like usual, New England will be a preseason favorite to win the Super Bowl.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed

Posted on: February 11, 2011 12:49 pm
 

Hot Routes 2.11.11: Killing the Favre/DWTS rumors

Posted by Will Brinson



Got a link for the Hot Routes? Hit us up on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL).
Posted on: February 2, 2011 3:20 pm
 

Tom Brady wins Offensive Player of the Year award

Posted by Will Brinson

Tom Brady was named the AP Offensive Player of the Year on Wednesday, and the voting wasn't close enough to warrant a false-hope run on Twitter for any of the other candidates.

Brady picked up 21 votes, 10 more than runner-up Michael Vick. Of the remaining 18 votes, Arian Foster received seven, Philip Rivers received five, and Roddy White, Aaron Rodgers and DeSean Jackson all received two apiece.

That Brady won the award is hardly a surprise, and it won't likely be his only postseason hardware, either - the MVP award, to be announced Sunday of the Super Bowl, is probably his as well.

The argument against Brady is pretty nonexistent -- early in the season he failed to post eye-popping statistics, but as soon as people questioned whether or not the departure of Randy Moss was affecting him, the Pats quarterback started lighting defenses up.

And using his five-touchdown performance against the Steelers as a springboard, Brady finished with 36 touchdowns to only four interceptions, an absolutely ridiculous ratio by any standards.

It probably didn't hurt, either, that the Patriots cruised to the top seed in the AFC while Vick missed multiple games and Rivers struggled down the stretch.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed.
Posted on: January 25, 2011 8:42 am
 

Welker regrets feet-obsessed presser

W. Welker said he regret his press conference before the New York game (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Patriots WR Wes Welker isn’t usually a loquacious guy, at least on the record. He’s not going to say very many interesting things, because that’s how players generally act when they play for Bill Belichick.

So, when he participated in a news conference to preview New England’s playoff game vs. the Jets, it was almost shocking to hear Welker transform himself into Mr. Double Entendre. In his 10-minute presser, he referred to feet (in deference to Jets coach Rex Ryan) on 11 occasions.

Of course, it was hysterical – and completely unlike Welker – and Belichick showed his disapproval by not starting him on offense during New England’s playoff loss.

The Boston Herald’s Karen Guregian caught up with Welker at the San Francisco airport as both traveled to Hawaii for the Pro Bowl, and he told her that he regretted the press conference.

"I’m not going to get into any details about it, but I don’t think it’s worth putting coach (Belichick) in that situation," he said. "So in a sense, I do regret it. ... As much as you might want to get enticed into that stuff, at the end of the day, it’s just not worth it.”

Belichick was criticized for not starting Welker – though, that probably had very little to do with the Patriots ultimately losing to the Jets – and even Patriots NT Vince Wilfork said he wouldn’t have chosen to sit Welker. Though Welker didn’t talk about that aspect of his punishment, he did imply that, at times, it’s tough not to say anything while you’re opponent can get away with all the trash-talking he wants.

"You know what, I think the best way to stick up for your teammate is on the field," Welker said. "I like the fact we don’t get caught up in all that stuff. At the end of the day, it’s about football. That’s what it’s supposed to be about. That’s all that matters … And not getting caught up in all the media hype. It’s just not worth it.

"It’s not always easy to keep a lid on it. But at the same time, there’s a greater goal, and that’s winning the game and playing good football. That’s what matters. All that other stuff doesn’t matter at the end of the day.”

Of course, the worst part of this story is that Welker probably won’t make the decision ever to be that clever with the media again. Until he leaves the Patriots organization, anyway.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsnfl on Twitter and subscribe to our RSS Feed .
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com