Patriots name eight to practice squad

504353.jpg

Patriots name eight to practice squad

From Patriots press release:

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. The New England Patriots announced today the signing of eight players to the practice squad. Signed today were: LB Markell Carter, RB Eric Kettani, OL Matt Kopa, DE Aaron Lavarias, OL Nick McDonald, WR Kerry Taylor, S Ross Ventrone and OL Thomas Welch.

2011 PRACTICE SQUAD PLAYERS

Carter, a linebacker from Central Arkansas, was selected by the Patriots in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft with the 194th selection overall. Carter, 6-4, 248 pounds, accumulated 143 total tackles and 16.5 sacks as a defensive end during his college career at Central Arkansas He started all 12 games as a junior and senior. Carter earned All-Southland Conference following his senior season in 2010.

Kettani, 5-11, 235 pounds, was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent on May 4, 2009, out of Navy and was placed on the reserve military list on July 23, 2009. He was activated from the reserve military list on July 28, 2011.

Kopa, 6-6, 303 pounds, was originally signed by the San Francisco 49ers as a rookie free agent out of Stanford on June 8, 2010. He was released by the 49ers on Sept. 3, 2010 and signed to the practice squad on Sept. 5, 2010. Kopa was signed to the Miami Dolphins 53-man roster from the 49ers practice squad on Nov. 9, 2011 but was inactive for the final eight games of the season. He was released by Miami on Sept. 3, 2011.

Lavarias, 6-2, 255 pounds, was signed by the Patriots on July 27, 2011 as a rookie free agent out of Idaho. He was named second team All-WAC as a senior in 2010 after finishing with 52 total tackles and 10.0 sacks.

McDonald, 6-4, 316 pounds, was originally signed by the Green Bay Packers as a rookie free agent out of Grand Valley State on April 30, 2010. He was inactive for all 16 regular-season games and four postseason games with the Packers last season. McDonald was released by the Packers on Sept. 3, 2011.

Ventrone, 5-8, 190 pounds, was originally signed by the Patriots as a rookie free agent out of Villanova on April 29, 2010. He was waived by the Patriots on Sept. 4, 2010 and then signed to the practice squad on Oct. 19, 2010 where he finished the season. Ventrone went to camp with the Patriots in 2011 before being released on August 10 and then re-signed on August 29.

Taylor, 6-0, 196 pounds, was originally signed by Green Bay as a rookie free agent on July 28, 2011 out of Arizona State. He was released by Green Bay on Sept. 3, 2011. He appeared in 46 games with 20 starts at Arizona State and finished his career with 112 receptions for 1,433 yards and seven touchdowns.

Welch, 6-7, 310 pounds, was originally selected by the Patriots in the seventh round (208th overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft out of Vanderbilt. After being released by the Patriots on Sept. 4, 2010 be was signed to the Minnesota practice squad on Sept. 6, 2010. He was signed to the Minnesota 53-man roster on Dec. 14 but was inactive for the final three games of the season. Welch was released by Minnesota on Sept. 3, 2011.

Brady-Ryan marks rare case of NFL's top two quarterbacks meeting in Super Bowl

Brady-Ryan marks rare case of NFL's top two quarterbacks meeting in Super Bowl

For all the flack that Matt Ryan got heading into this season, he’s been a damn good quarterback. Is his career on the same level as Tom Brady’s? Of course not, but this regular season saw him stand as Brady’s peer, making him an MVP favorite.

One of Ryan’s biggest challengers for that hardware is the same man who stands in the way of him winning his first Super Bowl. Though he missed the first four games of the season due to suspension, Brady finished second in the league in passing yards per game and threw just two picks in 12 games while tossing 28 touchdowns.  

So Super Bowl LI will pin the quarterback with the best numbers overall (Ryan finished two touchdowns behind Aaron Rodgers for the league lead but threw for 516 more yards and had a higher completion percentage) against the quarterback with the best touchdown/interception ratio ever for a single season. 

In other words, this is a Super Bowl that puts what one could argue are the season’s two best quarterbacks each other. That’s pretty rare. 

Going back the last 25 years, there are four candidates for such meetings: Manning vs. Brees in Super Bowl XLIV, Favre and Elway in Super Bowl XXXII (this one is a stretch), Favre and Bledsoe in Super Bowl XXXI and Kelly and Rypien in Super Bowl XXVI.. 

Why haven’t the two best quarterbacks squared off in the Super Bowl more often? Because Brady and Peyton Manning played their entire careers in the same conference, silly. It’s taken other players entering their echelon to even set up such a scenario, and that’s why Brees’ Saints beating Manning’s Colts serves as the only example during Manning or Brady’s career. 

The strong performances of those who dominated the regular season have often carried over into their Super Bowl meetings, but not always. Drew Bledsoe and Jim Kelly (both throwing two touchdowns and four picks in Super Bowl losses) are examples of the wheels falling off in the final game. 

Here’s a breakdown of past occurrences. Note that all four of them saw the winning team score at least 30 points, something the Pats have done just once in Brady's four Super Bowl wins: 

Super Bowl XLIV: Brees vs. Manning

Brees led NFL with 34 touchdowns in regular season; Manning finished tied for second with 33

Final score: Saints 31, Colts 17

Brees: 32/39, 288 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Manning: 31/45, 333 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Brees completed a postseason in which he had no turnovers and did so in a nearly exactly average game for him that season, as e averaged 292.5 yards, 2.26 touchdowns and less than one interception per game in the regular season. The two quarterbacks also combined for just one sack. 
 
Super Bowl XXXII: Favre vs. Elway

Favre led NFL with 35 TDs in regular season, Elway finished second in TD/interception ratio

Final score: Broncos 31, Packers 24

Favre: 25/42, 256 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, fumble lost 
Elway: 12/22, 123 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT

Again, this is the forced one because Jeff George (3,917 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, nine interceptions) had the better regular season than Elway (3,635 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, 11 picks). Elway may have been the winning quarterback, but he didn’t have anything to do with the win. Terrell Davis carried the Broncos, playing through a migraine and rushing for 157 yards with three touchdowns en route to Super Bowl MVP honors. 

Super Bowl XXXI: Favre vs. Bledsoe

Favre led NFL with 39 TDs, Bledsoe third with 27

Final Score: Packers 35, Patriots 21

Favre: 14/27, 246 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Bledsoe: 25/48, 253 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT

Both quarterbacks took five sacks in this game. For Bledsoe, it was the most he took all season. The game was the third four-pick performance of his NFL career. 

Super Bowl XXVI: Kelly vs. Rypien

Kelly led NFL with 33 TDs, Rypien second with 28

Final score: Redskins 37, Bills 24

Rypien: 18/33, 292 yards, 2 TD, INT
Kelly: 28/58, 275 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT, fumble lost

Turns out five turnovers (and being sacked four times) is not a recipe for winning the Super Bowl. Kelly’s 58 passes thrown set a Super Bowl record.
 

Dimitroff, Pioli the first Belichick defectors to lead new team to Super Bowl

Dimitroff, Pioli the first Belichick defectors to lead new team to Super Bowl

Working for the Patriots makes you attractive to other teams. Many have left, but Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli are finally showing that major success can be attained in the process. 

Dimitroff and Pioli have built a team in Atlanta that will play for the franchise’s first Super Bowl title on Feb. 5. While many have been hired away from Bill Belichick's Patriots to lead other organizations, Dimitroff is the first of the defectors to get to the Super Bowl on his own. Adding an old friend in Pioli has played a part in that. 

Dimitroff served as New England’s director of college scouting from 2003 through 2007 before becoming Atlanta’s general manager in 2008. He hired Pioli in 2014 as an assistant GM after the longtime Patriots director and vice president of player personnel had a messy stint as the Chiefs’ GM. 

Executives and coaches (even Field Yates; yes, the fair-haired boy from the television) leaving the Patriots for better positions with other organizations has been common, but with the new positions have often come diminished success compared to New England. 

Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Bill O’Brien, Charlie Weis (in his brief return to the NFL in 2010) and Josh McDaniels make up the list of coordinators who have left winning with the Patriots to experience a dropoff without Brady and Belichick. John Robinson (Titans), Jason Licht (Buccaneers) and Bob Quinn (Lions) currently serve as GMs elsewhere, while former Pats secondary coach Joe Collier works with Dimitroff and Pioli as the Falcons’ director of pro personnel. 

It’s only fitting that Dimitroff and Pioli will have to go through Belichick in order to secure a title on their own. Winning without Belichick has proven hard enough for his former colleagues; winning against him will be even harder.