Patriots agree to deal with former Jets DE Ellis


Patriots agree to deal with former Jets DE Ellis

By Tom E. Curran Patriots Insider Follow @tomecurran
After a week of tire-kicking on assorted defensive linemen, a source confirms the Patriots are closing in on a one-year deal with former Jets defensive end Shaun Ellis, pending a physical. The news was initially reported by ESPN. Ellis is a 6-foot-5, 290-pound veteran about to enter his 12th year in the league. The 34-year-old has spent his entire career with the Patriots' AFC East rivals since being drafted in the first round out of Tennessee in 2000. Albert Haynesworth, his soon-to-be teammate in New England, came out of Tennessee in 2002. An up-front massing of Ellis, Vince Wilfork, Haynesworth, Mike Wright and a fleet of younger players could be amazing if health and spry legs are with them all.

In 15 games last season, Ellis recorded 4.5 sacks and one forced fumble. He was a major irritation for the Patriots in last January's playoff loss to the Jets with two sacks and constant presence in the backfield. He talked about that game here. Ellis also authored one of my favorite postgame field departure moments back in 2008. Witness here.

If Ellis' physical checks out, the two-time Pro Bowler (2003, 2009) would be another experienced and versatile addition to the Patriots defensive line. The Pats made a big splash trading for Albert Haynesworth soon after the lockout ended, and they have also picked up defensive end Mark Anderson, who has been playing behind Eric Moore and Jermaine Cunningham in camp.Previous to signing Anderson, the Patriots also worked out Matt Roth, Raheem Brock and Tommie Harris. The Jets drafted Ellis in 2000 with the 12th overall pick. They used the pick they received as compensation for Bill Belichick fleeing to New England to swing a deal with San Francisco to get up to 12. With the ever-changing nature of the Patriots' defensive schemes, it's hard to fully forecast how Ellis will be used. He's been a 3-4 defensive end. He moves to defensive tackle in the 4-3. He can also play end in the 4-3. He can be a three-down player and is terrifically durable. In a 4-3 set, the Patriots now have Ellis, Wilfork, Haynesworth, Wright, Myron Pryor, Ron Brace, Brandon Deaderick, Darryl Richard, Kade Westonand Kyle Love to roll through at the tackle spots. Wright and Ellis can go to the 4-3 end spots where Jermaine Cunningham, Eric Wright, Marques Murrell and Rob Ninkovich have been mixing in. The Jets were interested in keeping Ellis around but reportedly offered him only the veteran minimum. On Sunday, Jets coach Rex Ryan said of Ellis' decision, "The fact that he chose them.. there's no way I'm going to wish him well. There's no chance of that."Tom E. Curran can be reached at Follow Tom on Twitter at http:twitter.comtomecurran

Geno Smith has torn ACL; Ryan Fitzpatrick to start for Jets


Geno Smith has torn ACL; Ryan Fitzpatrick to start for Jets

The Jets’ quarterback situation took a comically typical turn Monday, as Ryan Fitzpatrick will be under center after an MRI revealed that Geno Smith has a torn ACL. 

After starting New York’s first six games of the season, Fitzpatrick was demoted to backup for Sunday’s game against the Ravens. Smith was injured on a sack by Baltimore’s Matt Judon, forcing Fitzpatrick back into action. 

After leading the Jets to a 24-16 win, Fitzpatrick made his dissatisfaction with being benched known. 

“The biggest thing in this game in order to last, is to have belief in yourself,” Fitzpatrick said in his postgame press conference. “Because when the owner stops believing in you and the GM stops believing in you and the coaches stop believing in you, sometimes all you have is yourself. That’s something that I’ve had to deal with before. That’s something I’m dealing with now.”

On the season, Fitzpatrick has completed 136 of 237 passes for 1,561 yards with six touchdowns and a league-leading 11 interceptions. 

Belichick: Kickers are like golfers; have to hit driver, sand wedge, 5-iron


Belichick: Kickers are like golfers; have to hit driver, sand wedge, 5-iron

In searching for answers on what might be going on with Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski, coach Bill Belichick was asked on Monday if there was any chance that Gostkowski's mechanics on kickoffs may be affecting his field goals. With the new touchback rule encouraging the Patriots to use more "pop-up" kicks to the goal line this season, might Gostkowski's swing have been altered?

Belichick said that the two plays are separate and that the Patriots expect Gostkowski to be able to execute a whole series of different types of kicks as part of his job.

"Well, I think they’re definitely different," Belichick said on a conference call. "I don’t think there’s any question about that. I mean, it would be like a golfer. You’ve got to be able to hit a sand wedge. You’ve got to be able to hit a five-iron. You’ve got to be able to drive. You’ve got to be able to putt.

"That’s what kickers and punters do. There’s plus-50 punts, there’s field goals, there’s kickoffs, there’s backed-up punts, there’s punts against a heavy rush, there’s punts against a six-man box where the gunners both are getting double-teamed. And just like golf, there’s wind conditions and not wind conditions and so forth. So it’s not like like you’re standing out there in a driving range and just banging the ball away every time. Especially on place kicks, you’re dealing with a center and a holder and timing on the play. It’s not like you’re just placing the ball down there on a tee and kicking it like you are a golf ball or a kickoff.

"Yeah, they’re definitely different, and whether it’s a punter or a kicker you’re talking about, they have to master different skills, different kicks, different types of kicks, different things that are specific to their position, just like every other player and every other athlete, for the most part, has to do. If you’re a basketball player, you just can’t shoot free throws. You’ve got to be able to make some other shots, too. That’s part of the position, being able to do the things that are required of that position, and they’re not all the same. I don’t think they’re all the same for anybody."

Belichick was also asked about how Gostkowski is coached. There are position-specific coaches with every NFL franchise, but when it comes to special teams, there is typically a special-teams coordinator and little else. There is no kicking coach, generally, nor a position coach dedicated to punting or snapping. 

Belichick said that he feels the team has enough support in place, starting with special teams coach Joe Judge, in order to help Gostkowski through his difficult stretch.

"I think Joe’s very knowledgable about the techniques of kicking," Belichick said. "I know when I became a special teams coach and coached special teams for many years as an assistant coach, and I continue to be involved with it as a head coach, that’s one of the things I had to learn. I had to learn how to coach those individual specialists, the snappers, the kickers, the punters, the returners. I don’t think it’s any different than coaching any other position. Things you don’t know, you need to learn. The things you do know, you need to be able to teach to the players, however you acquire that information.

"Some of that certainly comes from the players, especially when you coach good players at the position that you’re coaching, you can learn a lot from them, just like I learned a lot from many of the players that I coached. Going back to people like Dave Jennings as a punts or Carl Banks or Lawrence Taylor or Pepper [Johnson], guys like that, as linebackers with the Giants. However you acquire that information, you acquire it and you have to be able to convey it and teach it to the players and recognize technique or judgment.

"There’s a whole host of things that go into performance, but all the things that are related to those; be able to figure out which ones are the most important and which ones need to be corrected and so forth. I think Joe’s very knowledgeable on that, as was Scott O’Brien. I have a lot of experience with that myself. That’s what coaching is. You don’t know, then you’ve got to find out. Nobody knows everything. No coach knows everything about every position. Maybe a guy’s played it for a decade, he might be well-versed in that position. But I’d say for the most of the rest of us that haven’t done that, things you don’t know, you’ve got to learn, you’ve got to find out, you’ve got to figure them out."