Afternoon Links

Pats make backend roster moves

The Patriots signed TE Kyle Auffray and waived WR Derrick Johnson to  make room for him.

The 6’6″ 255 Lbs Auffray has all the measurables 4.57 reported 40 second time along with a 6.72 3 cone time. On hte negative side, he is 27.

This article on football by Josh Elkin describes his struggles and jis journey so far.

Auffray is a 6’6’’ 255lbs monster on the gridiron. The product from New Hampshire runs a mid to upper 4.6 forty-yard dash and can holhis own in the trenches. He also has the unique skill set that allows him to run routes and catch passes (very well I should add). At the NFL’s Super Regional Combine Kyle stole the show (in back to back years). Auffray bench pressed 225lbs 30 times – which was more than most lineman posted! He can bench 315lbs 16 times, showing his elite strength and that his 225lb numbers were not inflated. He outlasted 2,600 other hopefuls and reached the last event of the combine.

Kyle: “After everything I’ve been through the past few years – one thing really keeps me going. I had a private workout with the Patriots. Following the workout I shook Bill Belichick’s hand and thanked him for having me workout in his presence.  What he said to me was: “I was very impressed about your workout. Good job.” 

This article on by Lou Musto provides more reading material for those intrigued by this prospect. To those who might get carried away with his chances we offer a word or image of caution


Art of Cornerback tracking

ProfootballFocus’s  Sam “Brady is not Elite” Monson discusses the challenges for cornerbacks and whether being on an island on one side of the field is better or should they follow the opponents number 1 WR.

Darrelle Revis made tracking receivers fashionable, both schematically in NFL circles and among the fans that took his performance doing it as the benchmark for ‘shutdown corner’ play. Several of the game’s top corners are now asked to perform a similar shadowing task to follow an offense’s best receiver, but Sherman is not among them. The Seahawks don’t need or ask Sherman to track an opponent’s top receiver, but it isn’t because they don’t believe he can do it – it’s because they believe philosophically their defense is in better shape if he doesn’t.

Moving your best cover guy around to try and neutralize the most dangerous threat makes sense on the face of it, but it puts a lot of stress on the rest of the defense and in order to best exploit it you need to be prepared to get very creative elsewhere.

The question defensive coaches are now asking themselves is whether it is easier to take away a team’s best receiver by matching him up with your best corner – wherever he lines up – or by leaving your best guy where he is and bracketing the No. 1 guy, taking advantage of the confidence you have in your best cover man to hold up on an island and dedicate coverage elsewhere in the scheme.

When I asked Bleacher Report’s Matt Bowen – a former NFL safety and one of the smartest football minds out there – what he would do faced with that choice, he said he would actually put his best cover man on the No. 2 receiver. “The reason for that is it would allow me to take away the No.2 while rolling, cutting, bracketing, etc. to the No.1 WR with the second CB and FS over the top. You could play more Cover 6 (quarter-quarter-half) and roll the “cloud” technique (Cover 2) to the No.1 WR to get a jam with safety in the deep half while your “shutdown” guy plays quarters technique on the side of the field in a press look.”

“But going against one dude and preparing for just one receiver is easier to me than having to cover multiple receivers a game.” Though the guy you’re being tasked with tracking is likely the best your opposition has to offer, you do at least get the benefit of learning his nuances and moves in far greater depth than you do if you’re facing three or four receivers in a game.


Will Smith and Buchanan in a battle for the sub rusher spot.

Doug Kyed of NESN goes back to film to review the battle for the sub rusher spot.

Buchanan held the third-down role for the Patriots through Week 7 in 2013. Unfortunately, Buchanan, at 6-foot-5, 255 pounds and in better shape than 99 percent of the rest of the world’s human beings, didn’t appear to be strong enough to get past opposing offensive tackles on a regular basis, despite having the agility to run around them. When the Patriots signed Andre Carter in late October, Buchanan was resigned to the bench for most of the rest of the season. He totaled two sacks, three quarterback hits and 11 hurries for 16 total pressures over 10 games.

Buchanan’s biggest problem last season was that he found himself too far behind the quarterback far too often.

That method worked (at times) early in the season, when Buchanan would get so far behind the QB that the left tackle would think his job was done, and if the quarterback held onto the ball for too long, Buchanan could wind back around and get the sack.

Smith approaches the position much differently than Buchanan, engaging his offensive lineman on almost every play, and relying on his strength first. If a bull rush won’t get the job done, he’ll use a swim or a spin to try to get through.

Smith hammered Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassell in Week 3 of the 2012 season after swimming past left tackle Branden Albert.

Unfortunately, there also are times when Smith simply engages his offensive lineman and gets nowhere but sent backwards. Smith relies on strength and technique, but it’s obvious that he’s not quite as quick as he once was. His mobility might take another hit, coming off of a torn ACL.

Buchanan — if he can add some strength — might be the better option on third down as a pure pass rusher. Smith already is stronger, and if Jones or Ninkovich got injured, Smith would be the better backup option on first and second down, since he proved to be a solid run defender two seasons ago. Smith also could mix in as a rotational option while Buchanan plays in nickel packages if the Patriots choose to keep both players and activate them on Sundays.


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