FOXBORO - We all know NFL statisics are malleable. We can shape them to say whatever we want and often they only tell half the story. Check this out: The Patriots are dead last in the NFL in total defense in terms of yards per game. They allow 416.3 total yards and 314.0 through the air. Second worst team in yards allowed? Well, no surprise. It's the Colts. They're 0-9 and allowing 406.1 yards per games, 260.0 through the air. And which team is 30th? That would be the Packers. They are 8-0. They're allowing 399.6 per game and, get this, 299.6 through the air. You can ascribe reasons that help explain all these teams. The Packers are so explosive, they get up on teams and a lot of the yardage totals are compiled in garbage time. The Colts? Well, they suck. The Patriots? A little of both. They've been ahead and teams have been forced to up-tempo it and take shots to try to keep pace. They've also been thrown all over in close games as well. Whatever the reason for the Patriots being 32nd in the most frequently cited measure of defense (by the way, Bill Belichick said this week that "points, turnovers and red zone" are the most important team stats in his mind), safety James Ihedigbo insists their time at the bottom is ending. "You never want to be last at anything in life," said Ihedigbo. "The fact that we're ranked 32nd in the league puts a nasty taste in our mouths and it's something - we're at the midpoint of the season - it's not something that has to change, it will change."This week, the Patriots play Ihedigbo'sold team, the Jets. He spent three seasons there, primarily as a special teams guy. With the Patriots, his role's been bigger. Starting in Week 5, the Patriots' win over the Jets, Ihedigbo's seen significant time. The time will grow more significant now as fellow safetyJosh Barrett has been put on injured reserve. "I definitely feel for him," said Ihedigbo. "It's something that's tough. You battle back from injury (Barrett had a broken thumb) and then have a tough calf injury like that at the end of the game. Tough for that to happen."Safety's been a big concern all season. The Patriots let steady James Sanders and inconsistent Brandon Meriweather go before the season. Now New England has a hobbled Patrick Chung back there as well."We'll definitely embrace the challenge (of playing the Jets)," said Ihedigbo. "It's a great opportunity this week coming up. Big game. Spotlight's definitely on us and people want to see what are the Patriots gonna do, are they gonna fold or are they gonna bounce back? It's definitely a statement game for us back in the secondary and I'll go out and say that it's a big game for us on our part."And the stat that tells no tales - wins and losses - will be the most important one after this one.
After being traded to the Washington Redskins this week, former Patriots center Bryan Stork broke his 35-day Twitter silence to say farewell to New England.
For those who are wondering, the acronym "HTTR" stands for "Hail to the Redskins," the team's fight song. #HTTR is used by the team and fans on social media.
Stork was reportedly mulling retirement after being dealt, but has decided to report.
The Patriots informed Stork of his release early Wednesday, but the Patriots and Redskins were able to work out a deal for a conditional 2017 seventh-round pick before the move was processed.
Ray Ratto joins Chevrolet SportsNet Central to discuss Colin Kaepernick's decision to not stand during the national anthem before the San Francisco 49ers preseason game.
Bill Belichick was expansive Saturday when asked on a conference call how he'll split the quarterback reps for the Patriots final preseason game Thursday in New York.
"I think that’s a good question, it’s a fair question, it’s one that we really have to give some good consideration to," Belichick began. "As I said before, I think whatever we do will benefit whoever does it. We want to get Jimmy [Garoppolo] ready for the Arizona game. Tom [Brady] isn’t going to be playing for a while, so it’s kind of his last chance to play until he comes back after a few weeks. Jacoby [Brissett] certainly could use all the playing time that he can get. I think that whichever players we play will benefit from it and it will be valuable to them. We could play all three quarterbacks a lot next week and they’d all benefit from that and it would all be good, but we can’t."
Since they can't, Belichick said there will be situational work done with whoever isn't going to get the game reps.
"We only have one game and so many snaps, so we’ll have to, between practice and the game, put them in some situations that are somewhat controllable like a two-minute situation or things like that that you know are going to kind of come up one way or another," said Belichick. "You can sort of control those in how you want those broken down, what’s best, what does each guy need and how can we get the best we need for each guy. I need to let them get the reps that they need, but it’s how do we get the team ready for what they need to be ready for. They all need to get ready for different things.
What Jimmy’s role is in a couple weeks is going to be a lot different than what Tom’s is, and it’s going to be a lot different than what Jacoby’s is. At some point later on, those roles are going to change again. So again, there’s no perfect solution to it. We’ll just do the best we can to try to have our individual players and our team as well prepared as possible at whatever point that is that we have to deal with, and whenever those situations come up."
As I wrote earlier today, this is the sticky and uncomfortable situation arising from Deflategate. It's not a Tom Brady penalty. It's a team penalty when one considers the ripple effects. And there's no handbook to consult.