Patriots concerned about Tannehill's mobility


Patriots concerned about Tannehill's mobility

FOXBORO -- When the Patriots play the Dolphins and their quarterback Ryan Tannehill on Sunday, it will mark the third time this season that they face a rookie signal-caller.

The results for New England's defense so far have been split: The Patriots dominated Andrew Luck and the Colts in Week 10, but fell to Seattle's Russell Wilson in Week 6.

Tannehill doesn't have the numbers to match up with either one of his 2012 draft classmates. He's in the top 10 in terms of interceptions thrown and has completed 59 percent of his passes for 2,373 yards.

But much like Luck and Wilson, Tannehill can make plays with his legs. A receiver at Texas A&M for two full seasons and part of a third, he has the athleticism to get outside of the pocket and extend plays.

Tannehill's mobility is something the Patriots have been aware of as they've watched him on tape this week.

"All these guys, Wilson, Luck, and now this guy, they all have one thing in common -- they can beat you on the ground running," Vince Wilfork said. "Up front we just have to do a good job of making sure that we keep him under control. Keep him in the pocket, make him throw from the pocket because we know if you get outside of the pocket, it'll be a nightmare for our defense."

At 6-foot-4 and 222 pounds, Tannehill has the look of a prototypical quarterback. And even if his numbers suggest otherwise, the Patriots believe he has the ability to match.

"This quarterback is making some big plays for this team," Wilfork said. "Of course he makes some bonehead plays. But guess what? We all make bonehead plays. It's all in the process of learning. I think that guy has came in there and given them guys the best shot to win and he's playing very, very well as a rookie so they believe in him. Looking at him on film he's very good, he's got a lot of talent, I'll tell you that."

Against the Seeahawks last week, Tannehill led the Dolphins to two late scoring drives. His 29-yard touchdown pass to Charles Clay with 5:13 left tied the game at 21. The Dolphins then were able to set up kicker Dan Carpenter for the game-winning 43-yard field goal.

He's improving, and the Patriots know it.

"Obviously he's a good athlete," Jerod Mayo said. "Right now -- what is it Week 12? -- I don't think there are any rookies left in the NFL."

They just hope to make him look like one on Sunday.

ESPN’s Mortensen: Deflategate coverage led to death threats


ESPN’s Mortensen: Deflategate coverage led to death threats

In an expansive profile on The, ESPN’s Chris Mortensen says he and his wife were subjected to death threats because of Mortensen’s Deflategate coverage.

After the Patriots’ AFC Championship Game victory in January 2015, Mortensen tweeted information he said he received from a source that has long since been proven incorrect. The info - that 11 of 12 Patriots footballs in the game were underinflated by 2 pounds - remained uncorrected on Twitter and in an story for more than six months.  

The controversy over Mortensen’s reporting drew the ire of Patriots fans, many of whom blamed the tweet and his story for fanning the flames of what eventually led to a four-game suspension for Tom Brady and a $1 million fine and loss of draft picks for the Patriots. 

Mortensen, who has subsequently undergone treatment for cancer, told The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis that the threats led him to tell his wife Micki that he didn’t want her traveling with him from their home in Arkansas to Bristol, Connecticut when he did studio work for ESPN. 

“What bothered me is we’re in an era where if your wife goes onto social media, she basically reads that they want you to die,” Mortensen said. “Even after I got cancer, I got some death wishes.”

More from the Ringer story:

“My job is to protect her,” he said. When Mort himself came to Bristol, he behaved like someone who was living under a public threat. He went straight from the ESPN studio to his home, avoiding restaurants and rarely appearing in public.

Mortensen said after his initial tweet, a second source, with whom he had a better relationship, told him to used a broader description of the footballs, i.e. call them “significantly underinflated.”  Mortensen now acknowledges that information should have given him pause.

“That should have raised the journalist in me to a higher level,” he told the Ringer. “I’ve got to ask some more questions here. What are we talking about, 2 pounds under? But, no, I got to get on TV.”

Pregame Number: Perimeter pain for the Bulls


Pregame Number: Perimeter pain for the Bulls

Tonight’s pregame number is 133. That’s the total number of made 3-point field goals made last season by the players starting for the Bulls tonight. Whatever the Bulls reasons for signing Rajon Rondo and Dwyane Wade were this offseason, floor spacing was not one of them.

Wade’s career mark of 28.4 percent from distance is the third-worst percentage among active players with 600+ career attempts, while Rondo’s 28.9 career 3-pt FG% is seventh worst. And, for what it’s worth, the new-look Bulls shot 31.8 percent from beyond the arc (21st in the NBA) this preseason, while hitting 7.7 3-pointers per game. 

Despite allowing 15 3’s last night vs the Nets, perimeter defense should once again be a strength for the Celtics. Last season, the Celtics were fourth in the NBA with an opponent 3-pt FG% of 33.6. They were 38-15 when holding opponents to eight or fewer 3’s. 

With the NBA continuing to trend towards more 3-point shooting, it will be interesting to see how Fred Hoiberg’s offense looks this season, and especially tonight vs the Celtics.