FOXBORO - Todd Bowles is 1-0 as an NFL head coach. The Miami Dolphins' interim guy took over last week for the expelled Tony Sparano and guided his temporary team to a 30-23 win over Buffalo. An eight-year NFL veteran who played safety for the Redskins and 49ers, Bowles was asked why Miami was able to retain its pride during an 0-7 start and actually go 5-2 since November 6. "On our team, the guys are tough and they have a lot of pride and they're not gonna throw in the towel," said Bowles. "We have some good captains. They've been able to keep everyone together and I think that's helped out."It was mentioned to Bowles that, on the final Sunday of 2010, the same Dolphinsteam on which Bowles was a defensive assistant gave little effort in a 38-7 loss to the Patriots. "We played a heckuva football team and we ran into a buzzsaw and they beat us up pretty good," said Bowles, perhaps forgetting Tom Brady played for about 33 minutes and Deion Branch and Wes Welker didn't play at all. "It wasn't about anybody quitting or anything. They played a heckuva ballgame."Perhaps. But if the Dolphins are expecting Bowles to light their fire with an impassioned speech before Sunday's game at Gillette, they best not hold their breath. Asked if he was hoping his 5-9 team could play the role of spoiler for the Patriots, Bowles answered, "We're not trying to spoil anything we're just trying to get better as a team and try to close out the season on a winning note so we're gonna worry about ourselves right now."Almost every question offered during a fairly brief conference call with local media Tuesday afternoon Bowles met witha contrary response and disinterest. Asked if he thought New England might play themdifferently from the first meeting earlier this season, Bowles answered, "I'm not expecting them to approach us any differently. They had a helluva game the first game. They kinda treat everybody the same. They're a well-oiled machine. They're a good football team."Good game to use as a measuring stick for where your team is, Coach Bowles?"No. Everyone you play in the NFL every week is a measuring stick so this week it just happens to be the Patriots doesn't matter who we're playing this week, we'll just try to play our best."Hoping to be considered for the permanent headjob after the season? "I don't have any expectations really. I'm just trying to get the guys to play hard, play fast and try to come out with wins."Not at all?"I can coach football," he said."There's a lot of good assistants in the league, if the opportunity comes up it's just about getting the team ready to play."Easy there, Rockne.
Wide receiver Danny Amendola was officially listed as out on the injury report for the Patriots' Monday night home game against the Baltimore Ravens.
Amendola injured his ankle on a punt return against the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday. It will be the first game he's missed this season. The Patriots signed veteran wide receiver and kick returner Griff Whalen during the week.
Tight end Martellus Bennett (ankle, shoulder) is among the Pats listed as questionable, along with special teams ace Matt Slater (foot), who missed the Rams game, safety Jordan Richards (knee), linebacker Elandon Roberts (hamstring) and cornerback Eric Rowe (hamstring).
FOXBORO – Griff Whalen was at the epicenter of one of the stupidest, funniest, most “did that just happen?!” plays in NFL history.
So indescribable it never even really earned a name, it was the fourth-down gadget play the Colts tried to run against the Patriots on Sunday Night Football in the first meeting between the teams after Indy ran to the principal’s office to start Deflategate.
Whalen was the center on that play (I tried to call it “Fourth-and-Wrong” but it didn’t take) and the millisecond between him snapping the ball and the three players processing that the ball had indeed been snapped is perhaps my favorite moment of the past several seasons.
Whalen is a Patriot now, brought in this week in the wake of Danny Amendola’s knee injury presumably to fill Amendola’s role as a punt returner and wideout. The Colts released him last January, the Dolphins picked him up and cut him at the end of training camp and the Chargers had him on their roster from mid-September until releasing him last month after eight games, two catches and 22 yards. He returned kickoffs for San Diego but no punts since 2015.
The primary area of need for the Patriots is on punt returns. Rookie Cyrus Jones’ transition to appearing comfortable remains glacially slow. It was Jones’ muff last week that brought on Amendola in relief. When Amendola hurt his ankle on a late-game return, the Patriots were forced to decide between Jones, wideout Julian Edelman (who doesn’t need extra work) and making a move.
Whalen is a move they made.
The slight and baby-faced Whalen indicated he had fielded some punts in practice, saying it went, “Fine.” Punt returns are something he’s done “since I was a kid.”
His first impression of the team was, "A lot of what I expected to see. A lot of detail. A lot of effort in practice. Good coaching all-around. I am excited to be here. I was excited to come into a good team that I’d gone against a few times. Hopefully come in and help out the team with whatever I can.”
I asked Whalen if he saw much of the commentary or creativity last year’s failed play spawned.
“I wasn’t paying too much attention,” he said. “When it’s during the season guys are pretty locked in on what they’re doing inside the building. But I heard more about it later on afterwards.”
Asked if he’d heard anything about the play since being here, Whalen replied, “I haven’t. Kinda was [expecting it].”
The Patriots will be hoping Whalen remains as productive for them on fourth down this year as he was in 2015.