Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ben Watson: Don't Get Cut

Training camp starts next week and I'm very excited. Not only do you get the chance to see the team practice, but you also have the opportunity to try to get some autographs! There are definitely going to be some position battles present and there is one in particular that I am worried about; tight end. I say this because I am worried this could be Ben Watson's last year as a Patriot if he doesn't step up once and for all.

Ben Watson is one of my favorite players and I like him so much for a number of reasons. For starters, he has amazing football ability. Erik Scalavino of Patriots Football Weekly even said Watson possesses " the freakish athletic ability to be an Antonio Gates- or Tony Gonzalez-type tight end". This talent has been visible many times, but not enough, and not lately. Ben has made quite a few key plays in the past and has been pretty productive as far as yardage and touchdowns. His great hands and athleticism allow him to make great catches, and his 6'3" 255lb build allows him to plow over people. However, he has also fallen victim of the dropsies, a lot.

Let's go to another high note before I go down again: Besides Ben's talent, he never gives up. This is pretty much the largest part of why I am a huge fan of his. Remember the 2005 AFC Divisional Playoff game vs. the Denver Broncos? The Patriots went 10-6 after their second Super Bowl win in a row and were looking great; but they beat themselves and lost 27-13 to the Broncos. Most memorable part of the game? Champ Bailey's 100 yard interception return that did not result in a touchdown. If you do not remember this, or have not seen it, I urge you to watch it now. I don't need to further explain the video, but that was just pure effort, pure heart. I loved this play so much that my friend actually recreated it for me.

Now just to give you some size perception, this piece is about 9 inches long x 7 inches wide x 7 inches tall. My friend uses NFL action figures, I believe they are manufactured by McFarlane. I know the upper body of Champ Bailey is the real one, but he used legs from a different player and just painted them. As for Ben Watson, I believe part of him is the Cedric Benson figure, but I honestly forget, I will have to ask my friend. Pretty damn cool though huh? The grass isn't just painted either, it's grass that you get for model train tracks or something.For the record, I accidentally moved Bailey over too much during this photo shoot. He's usually in bound more, making the scene more dramatic!

So here's Watson's problem: It's the last year of his rookie contract so it's do or die in camp. This is also looking to be the biggest competition we've seen at tight end in a long time in Foxboro, if not ever. What other TE's are going to be at camp this week?

  • Tyson DeVree - 2nd year - Has shown good catch ability, but very unproven compared to rest of competition.
  • David Thomas - 4th year - Only 1 career touchdown, but considered a better blocker than Watson. Maybe he just needs more opportunity?
  • Chris Baker - 8th year - The Patriots signed a respectable tight end here who previously played for the rival New York Jets. Baker has great experience but had a very non-impressive year in 2008.
  • Alex Smith - 5th year - The Patriots traded to acquire Smith from the Buccaneers, so they obviously like him. Smith has been steadily consistent in his four years in Tampa Bay which really hasn't shined on the offensive side of the ball lately.
All 5 ends are between 6'3"-6'6" and 245-258lbs so there won't be any size competition. With this year's offense looking to be very powerful, with lots of options, there may not be one clear cut go-to tight end. I can see two being used equally as much depending on the offensive package.

Fundamentally, the more versatile end will have the #1 spot. Which one of these 5 men can dominate in protecting Brady from the pass rush, but also break free from scrimmage, grab a Brady bullet, then gain decent YAC.

Obviously I want Ben to win the job. He's a great player, has immense potential, and he's a very giving person off the field as well. He went on a USO tour a couple years ago, and he also started a charity with his wife; One More - helps to "promote education and providing enrichment opportunities through initiatives and partnerships."(Michael Brindley) Latest fundraiser
This isn't to say the others competing aren't giving people, I'm just trying to promote Benny a little more. :)

My prediction:
DeVree gets sent to practice squad. Watson wins the #1 spot because of his familiarity in the system on top of being more consistent. Alex Smith takes second spot, but they share about equal playing time throughout the season. Baker and Thomas battle it out for the third spot, whoever gets 4th gets cut. OR! The Patriots make a tight end-full back hybrid and keep all four. I really think Watson will play an important role in the'09 offense.

Ben Watson's Bio Page

Let's go Pats !!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Pats Chowder

My first fellow Patriots blogger was added to the blog roll a little while ago and I thought he deserved an introduction of some sorts! I highly encourage everyone to check out Eric's blog Pats Chowder, he does a fantastic job of pulling together Patriots happenings from around the web while providing his own insights. You can also find him on Twitter! @PatsChowder

Monday, June 29, 2009

The 4-Headed Monster

Yes, Tom Brady set the single season touchdown pass record with 50 in 2007.
Yes, Randy Moss set the single season touchdown reception record with 23 the same year.
Yes, Wes Welker is the slot machine with 223 total receptions in his two years with the Patriots.
Yes, Brady is AMAZING, the Pats passing attack is going to be a greater air show than the Blue Angels and their death-defying air acrobatics.

But...they're going to dominate you on the ground too, just because they can.

The Patriots drafted a high-potential running back with their first round pick in the 2006 NFL Draft; Laurence Maroney. This Minnesota product was part of a great running duo with the help of Marion Barber III, now with the Dallas Cowboys. Unfortunately, Barber has had a better NFL career thus far; but both average the same yards per carry average of 4.3. Here's a video of the Minnesota Duo. Maroney has been a disappointment so far, only because his potential seemed so high. Plagued by injuries, only played 3 games last season, and seems to have a huge problem hitting the holes. We know it's not the line because even BenJarvus Green-Ellis blasts through them. Is Maroney trying too hard? We know he's got it in him, we've seen plenty of great runs out of him. This year he needs to be more consistent, not afraid to hit those holes at full speed, and people will stop hating on him. This will be his fourth year in the system, and it's a primetime for him to once and for all be his best every single down, or his future may lie elsewhere.

Then we have old faithful, Kevin Faulk. This will be his 11th NFL season, all with the Patriots, and he has been nothing but reliable. Whether the Pats are at home or away, behind or ahead, rushing or receiving, Faulk will get it done. No, he's not super flashy and finesse, or a bulldozer, but he will make the tricky catches in clutch situations, and he will fight his heart out for that inch he needs for a first down. Plain and simple, Faulk gets it done and is also an excellent blocker who can pick up the fiercest linebackers in the NFL so they don't touch Brady.

Sammy Morris has spent his entire NFL career in the AFC East; 4 seasons with the Bills, 3 with Miami, and this will be his 3rd in Foxboro. It was a very big deal when he came to New England in 2007 because that's when the Patriots ground attack looked amazing. Morris is a beefy back at 6 feet 220 pounds. He has quick speed and the brute power needed to knock you off your feet. So you can imagine how having a beast, a finesse, and a clutch were going to make for a great tandem in 2007. Unfortunately, Morris only played 6 games in the Patriots record breaking 16-0 season. And then of course last year Brady went down so we have yet to see this 3 running back tandem go a full season with Brady and company. Another key reason that Morris is a great asset to the team: in 2008 he had 56 rush attempts in 1st quarters (more than any other quarters) for 275 total yards - he also gained 450 of his total season yardage when the Patriots were in the lead. So clearly, this power running back is used to tire the defense quick and early. A big reason why the Patriots tend to take a lead early and never give it up.

Sammy Morris BullDozer
Sammy Morris Speed

If that wasn't enough to get you a little excited, here's some more for you to chew on. The Patriots also acquire Fred Taylor. Taylor, 9th overall pick in the 1998 draft spent his first 11 seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars and ran for over 11,000 yards in that time. He has the build of Sammy Morris, and has 7 1,000 yard seasons. For the past three seasons he has averaged more yards per carry when his team is behind. The Patriots have brought in a 230 pound beast that can beat you with footwork or strength. He has the impressive ability to change direction, bounce off defenders, and find separation very quickly. Taylor also brings 11 years of experience and leadership qualities that can only help the locker room.

Fred Taylor Highlights A must see.

I mean...seriously? Is this even legal? Not only do we get to see Brady back with more talent and experience at the receiver position than in 2007, but we also get this 4 headed monster to run the ball down the field? This isn't just about having depth at running back. While it is monumental to have 4 backs to share the load and give eachother rest, they all bring something different to the table. This gives unlimited options for the Patriots in how they run their offense every single down. They will have an answer for anything the defense throws at them. They will be giving the defenses an answer even when there isn't a question. So what, your team figured out how to cover Moss, Welker, and Galloway with minimal efficiency? Guarantee you can't do that while stopping the run. So what's it going to be NFL defenses - Let the Patriots run the ball down your throat, eat up the clock, and let your offense have the ball for 20 minutes? Or crowd the line, attempt to stuff the running attack and let Brady air out 5 touchdowns on you?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I shot Jerod Mayo

Multiple times actually. It's okay though, he shot me back. On the Friday of April 10th I was excited to see an ad on GameStop's window announcing that the Defensive Rookie of the Year Jerod Mayo would be making an appearance at GameStop's Tournament Store in Patriot Place to play games with fans. Excitement ensued.

I called the store that night to ask how it was all going to work and he said Mayo would be playing Midnight Club 3 and he couldn't guarantee that Mayo would sign anything. Well my brother had just given me an authentic Jerod Mayo jersey for Christmas so I had to go try and get it signed, for free!

A typical New England day, it downpoured and then snowed in the beginning of April. I got there early and there were only a few people there. I was about 45 minutes early anyways. After throwing my jersey on I decided to play some Guitar Hero: Metallica and show off my skills to the 10 year olds. Of course with my string of luck, a line had formed while I was jamming like a pro.

As it worked out, Jerod Mayo showed up with his buddy Gary Guyton, another Patriots linebacker. They were set up on the same TV and began to play Call of Duty 4. Eight people got to play for 10 minutes and most of them ended up running away from Jerod and Gary. When it was my group's turn to play I quickly picked my weapon of choice and ran out in search of Jerod while GameStop staff instructed older men how to play. It was far from my best performance, but I ended 2-2 against Mayo. The experience was made a lot better with the fact that I came up to him from behind and knocked him out with my pistol. Hah! I do wish however that someone else had gone with me because then I would have been comfortable talking trash, as Mayo was doing non-stop. Credit to the both of them, they played great. Mayo pistol-whipped a couple people, killed about 15 people in a row with a machine gun mounted to a jeep, but was later sniped in the head by his teammate Gary.

The best part was that after playing, we were allowed to ask them to sign, and I got my jersey signed! Gary did appear to feel somewhat left out as not everyone had something for him to sign, but hey, he didn't even know he was coming. I thought it was great that the both of them came out to play for a couple hours. It gives the fans a stronger connection to the players they watch every week during the season. I hope that sometime in the future a couple other players decide to do the same.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Number of the Beast

76. This number will be donned this year by the beast who also goes by the name of Sebastian Vollmer. This man of men stands 6'8" and weighs a solid 315 pounds. The Patriots selected him 58th overall in the 2nd round of the 2009 NFL draft, the Pats 4th pick. Vollmer didn't start the game of football until he was 14 and moved to the U.S. in 2004 from his homeland of Kaarst, Germany.

While he may not have as much experience as a majority of the offensive linemen coming out of the draft, he did start the last 25 games for the Houston Cougars. More importantly he was part of a prolific (No.1 nationally ranked) offense that averaged 5.2 yards per carry, 575.1 yards per game, 414.1 yards by air, and an honorable 41.2 points per game ( Meanwhile he was selected All-Conference USA football first team as a senior.

So why is he so special? He's all upside. This kid is continuously improving at an impressive rate.

"I think he's certainly a developing player...he has a lot of good tools to work with. He's a tough kid, very smart, well-conditioned athlete. He's a big man" said Head coach Bill Belichick.

"I think he's a kid who has a lot of upside. I couldn't say enough about him. He's a quality kid. He'll work his ass off for the Patriots" said Houston Cougar's offensive line coach Joe Gilbert.

While he is a tackle, he did start his career at tight end and as a blocking back. What he will be fighting for is a position at right tackle. The Patriots offensive line has been tops in the NFL, especially during their epic 2007 season. Due to his lack of experience I very much doubt he'll be replacing Matt Light on the left side, so Nick Kaczur will most likely be defending his right side position during camp. While Kaczur has been great since 2005, I do believe that Vollmer has far greater potential. Regardless of who starts, the depth of the Patriots offensive line is far better now.

For an offensive linemen he is very athletic. He runs the 40 in 5.13 seconds, 32 reps benching 225 lbs, and led the country in offensive linemen with a 37.5" vertical jump. You have to see this guy in action to really get excited about him. This mammoth of a man is incredibly nimble with his feet and a long arm reach. If he continues to work hard Vollmer is going to be a monster on the line. He can help give Brady that luxurious 5-9 second pocket time to let the receivers break free. He can help Maroney get back on track this year and open up a nice gaping hole for him to blow through. He can; he will.

Video Profile by

NFL Pro Timing Day OL Drills (Watch his feet!)

NFL Pro Timing Day 2 (Can you say BEAST?)

I didn't think my first official post on here would be about a rookie offensive linemen, but I'm just so damn excited for this guy. I cannot wait to see him next month at Training Camp!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Let It Begin

This will be the greatest sh*t you've ever read.