Thursday, December 30, 2010

Chad Henne Talks About The Season Finale And Beyond

To say Miami Dolphins QB has had a tough season would be an understatement. Henne started the season as the starter, before losing his starting job in November. He was inactive versus the Chicago Bears, before returning to the lineup the following week. Henne's thrown for 3230 yards, with 15 TD's and 18 interceptions. This week he plays out the string as the Dolphins head north to Foxboro to take on the 13-2 New England Patriots. Henne talked about his struggles this season, the Patriots, and what he expects 2011 will bring.
MIAMI - DECEMBER 26: Quarterback Chad Henne  of the Miami Dolphins is preasured by Lawrence Jackson  of the Detroit Lions at Sun Life Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)The Miami QB talked about how he's handled the ups and downs of the difficult season. "It’s been tough but you just get back and grind in the film room, understand your mistakes and try to fix it that week and really just stay positive about it and just go out there and play your game and being confident in you go about your things." Henne continued about some of the things he's learned about himself this season. "...mental toughness is a big thing about how I was brought up and how I played the game. So I think my mental toughness has stayed strong and just believed in myself and this team and tried to help out as much as I can."

Henne talked about locker room morale, and how that effects the team's performance on the final week of the season. "It’s definitely been tough for us and obviously a lot of disappointments but I think our guys are into this game more than anything. We want to go on with an 8-win season and try to get out of the losing record column and improve from last year…and we’re going to play our hearts out for this game."

Henne also got in to a bit of x's and o's, discussing the Patriots defense. He gave some breakdown of the Pats secondary. "Well I think most of all they’re playing a little bit more man coverage out there. They’re playing a little bit more post safety and getting guys in the box to stop the run and letting those corners out in the island and…so that shows a little bit more confidence and I think they’re coming up more in press coverage and challenging receivers at the line of scrimmage rather than getting the access as they did before."

The Dolphins QB also talked about the Patriots front seven and how they are key to the Patriots ability to get turnovers. "Yeah, definitely I think there’s some pressures out there that you got to be aware of as a quarterback and they’re generating a lot of turnovers and that’s because of that front seven getting a lot of pressure on the quarterback. So, it’s a good thing for them and for a quarterback you just have to be aware of where they’re coming from and get the ball out quickly."

On the future, Henne was a little more tight lipped. He was asked if he felt he was the QB of the future for the Dolphins. "Right now I don’t know where that is but I just got to worry about this game and how I play in this game."

NASCAR Nationwide Series: Doug Randolph Named Steve Wallace's Crew Chief

KANSAS CITY, KS - OCTOBER 02: Steve Wallace, driver of the  5-hour Energy Toyota stands during prerace for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Kansas Lottery 300 on October 2, 2010 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)Rusty Wallace Racing announced that NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series veteran Doug Randolph has been named crew chief for driver Steve Wallace and RWR's No. 66 5-Hour Energy Toyota of the Nationwide Series.

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - JULY 01: Steve Wallace, driver of the  5-Hour Energy Toyota, drives during practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Subway Jalapeno 250 at Daytona International Speedway on July 1, 2010 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)Randolph's resume includes stints at RCR, Petty Enterprises, and Earnhardt Ganassi. "I'm really looking forward to working with Steve Wallace and the 5-Hour Energy team." Randolph stated recently. "Steve's definitely been one of the most improved drivers over the last couple of years and has really developed into one of the best Nationwide Series guys out there. This team has a lot of potential too; I'm looking forward to continuing to build this program and hopefully being one of the contenders for the Nationwide Series championship in 2011."

Steve Wallace finished tenth in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2010. Wallace had 13 top 10's and one top five in 35 starts. In 157 Nationwide starts, Wallace has four top fives and 29 top tens.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Tucker Carlson Is Clueless

No doubt you've heard the sound bite from Tucker Carlson, where he states that Michael Vick should have been executed for his crimes. Carlson's statements were obviously inflammatory and designed to gather headlines. I am tempted to ignore his outrageous statements, preventing him from remaining in the spotlight further. However, I cannot sit here and have a sports blog without putting my two cents in on this knucklehead.

Michael Vick's crimes were heinous. His thoughtlessness and lack of compassion for animals was intolerable. The fact that he had a job a professional athlete was irrelevant. His crimes were no more or less horrifying because of his vocation. What he did was wrong, and it would have been wrong if he was a janitor, truck driver, or a salesperson. The fact that he was a high profile athlete with a ton to lose just made him that much more stupid. He was convicted of his crimes and served his sentence. The fact that he plays football for a living is once again irrelevant.

Michael Vick deserves the opportunity to earn his living. The fact that he has the talent to play in the NFL makes him very lucky and blessed, but it is again irrelevant. If he drove a truck, should he not be allowed to return to that occupation? He is an athlete, and he should be given an opportunity to return to the job he left, assuming an employer would want him. Whether or not the NFL should let those convicted of crimes play in  the league is a debate for another time.

Getting back to Carlson. I understand this guy is a dog lover. So what. We don't execute people in this country for abusing animals. If Mr. Carlson would like to, he should get himself elected and pass a law making dog fighting a capital crime. Good luck with that. Carlson was clearly looking to be inflammatory and his statement was both outrageous and irresponsible. As a member of the televised media, he has a responsibility to maintain a sense decorum. He need not be hysterical in his overreaction to the crimes of Vick. Carlson states he is a christian and believes in second chances. Except in this case, correct Mr. Carlson? Carlson should be reprimanded for his irresponsible actions and statements. Of course, his employers won't do that. They'll simply sweep it under the rug and hope that America forgets as we get distracted by the next "big thing" to come along.

The best solution: turn the channel. Lack of ratings will cause sponsors to run away from Mr. Carlson like rats on a sinking ship. That gives us, the viewers, the ultimate say.

Full NFL Statement Regarding Favre/Sterger Investigation

The following is the full NFL statement regarding the NFL investigation into the Brett Favre / Jenn Sterger incident.

The NFL office conducted an investigation to determine whether Brett Favre’s interaction with New York Jets game-day employee Jenn Sterger in 2008 violated the NFL Personal Conduct Policy.

In reviewing the matter, the sole focus was on whether there was a violation of league policies regarding conduct in the workplace. NFL policies do not extend to private conduct or make judgments about the appropriateness of personal relationships, except where that conduct or those relationships raise issues under the law or league policies.

The investigation included an analysis of publicly available reports; a series of interviews with knowledgeable individuals, including Sterger and Favre; a review of communications between the two furnished to our office; and independent forensic analysis of electronically stored material. The investigation was limited in several respects because the conduct occurred in 2008 but was not brought to our attention until this fall. As a result, certain records and individuals were unavailable to the NFL.

The investigation also reviewed a second media report about allegations involving other women who worked at the Jets’ facility in 2008. Misconduct by Favre regarding that claim was unable to be substantiated because individuals with potentially relevant information declined to be interviewed or otherwise cooperate with the investigation. In addition, our investigation took longer than might ordinarily have been the case due to difficulties in arranging to speak with certain key individuals, the time required to retrieve and review stored electronic records, and Commissioner Roger Goodell’s decision to meet personally with both Favre and Sterger before making a decision.

On the basis of the evidence currently available to him, Commissioner Goodell could not conclude that Favre violated league policies relating to workplace conduct. The forensic analysis could not establish that Favre sent the objectionable photographs to Sterger. The review found no evidence to contradict the statements of both Favre and Sterger that they never met in person, nor was there anything to suggest that Sterger engaged in any inappropriate conduct.

However, Commissioner Goodell also determined that Favre was not candid in several respects during the investigation, resulting in a longer review and additional negative public attention for Favre, Sterger, and the NFL. The commissioner notified Favre that he has been fined $50,000 for his failure to cooperate with the investigation in a forthcoming manner. Commissioner Goodell stated to Favre that if he had found a violation of the league’s workplace conduct policies, he would have imposed a substantially higher level of discipline.

In a memo to clubs today, Commissioner Goodell reminded them of the serious nature of this matter and stated that NFL policies make no excuses for improper or potentially unlawful conduct in the workplace. “Every member of every club’s staff should be able to work in an environment free of harassment or hostility, and one in which every employee is valued, respected, and given a full opportunity to contribute to the goals of the club and the NFL,” Commissioner Goodell said. “Our new training program on workplace conduct will help all of us to promote the right kind of environment for all employees and I intend to dedicate the fine I have imposed on Favre to help fund that training program.”

FVP will have more on this later tonight.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Big Things On The Horizon For The Eric Grant Band

This is a bit of a departure, sports fans. This is an interview Eric Grant of Eric Grant Band did with Jake Allen of

Eric Grant Band is eight longtime professional musicians with a new country sound that has fans and critics taking notice. The band consists of Eric, sister Sherry Grant on vocals, Paul DiBiaso on keys, John Littlefield on drums, Dan Haney on bass, Carlos Flores on lead guitar, Tim Kierstead on slide guitar, and Bill Hayes on banjo, fiddle, and mandolin.

The group has headlined stages of all sizes throughout New England and has served as opening act support to national acts such as Jason Aldean, Tim McGraw, Blake Shelton, Phil Vassar, Joey and Rory, Keith Anderson, Lonestar, Sugarland, and the Zac Brown Band.

EGB is currently in the studio, hard at work on their first release. As the calender turns to 2011, expect to be hearing more from EGB. At the end of the interview, Eric talks about a special night at the Meadowbrook US Cellular Pavilion in Gilford NH. FVP has a write up on that night here.

What's Left To Accomplish For New England This Week Against Miami

With the AFC East and the number one seed sown up, there's still some business at hand this week as the New England Patriots take on the Miami Dolphins Sunday in Foxboro. This is an odd week in Foxboro, as the focus turns not only to winning the game and attaining a 14-2 record, but trying to help some players achieve some individual milestones.
  • FOXBORO, MA - NOVERMBER 21: BenJarvus Green-Ellis  of the New England Patriots gains yards against the Indianapolis Colts in the second half at Gillette Stadium on November 21, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)Ben Jarvus Green-Ellis has 928 yards rushing. Look for the game plan to revolve around getting Law Firm to 1000 yards. This is quite an accomplishment for not only BJGE but the offensive line as well. Benny was asked how important getting to 1000 yards is to him personally. In typical Patriot fashion, he rolled out the company line. "Right now we're just focusing on whatever it takes to get games won and to get that W in the column. Whatever it takes, we're going to try to go out there and do our best." Benny clearly has his script memorized. Patriots OL Logan Mankins addressed this subject as well. "For me, it makes me happy for Benny. He deserves it, he's worked hard since he's been here and he ran hard. He's one of those guys that you truly appreciate, and you like to block for, so that would be great for him to get that."
  • Rob Gronkowski's two touchdowns in Buffalo moved him into a tie with Randy Vataha and Jim Colclough for the most TD's for a Patriot rookie. Gronk will definitely be a target in the red zone, and this would not be an unusual part of the game plan. His 10th TD will put him second all time for rookie tight end's behind Mike Ditka's 12. If he can bump into a pair of TD's, then they'll try to force the third one to him and tie Ditka. This will also be viewed as a great accomplishment by the group of tight ends, not just Gronk. Tom Brady spoke about the play of Gronkowski and the rest of the tight ends on Sunday. "(Gronkowski) had a great day today. He's had great days all season and he's been a great player for us. I just think when I was a rookie of how hard it was for me. And then to see Rob (Gronkowski) and what he's accomplished and to see what Aaron (Hernandez) has accomplished it's so impressive because it's so hard. It's so hard to understand what it takes to be successful at this level. They're doing it. They've got to keep doing it and they have a great role model in Alge (Crumpler) at their position. He is someone who they can always look to who made some huge plays today. That's a hell of a group for us."
  • Tom Brady has had a great season, arguably better than 2007. He has thrown a TD pass in every game. If (ok, not really an if) he throws one this week, he will join Dan Marino, Daunte Culpepper, Brett Favre, Kurt Warner, and Dave Krieg as the only players to have thrown a TD in all 16 games. Marino is the only player to have done it twice. Brady also has 3701 yards passing this year. 4000 would be a nice number to attain, but don't look for that to be part of the game plan. Getting Green-Ellis to 1000 is more important to this team than 4000 yards passing.
  • 14-2 would match the '03 and '04 teams regular season marks. Both those squads went on to win the Super Bowl.

Monday, December 27, 2010

FVP Monday Night All Star: Crystal Harris

Tonight's FVP All-Star is the soon to be Mrs. Hugh Hefner, Crystal Harris. Seems the octogenarian popped the question over the Christmas holiday to Harris, who is all of 24. File this under "you gotta be kidding".

48537, LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - Monday December 14, 2010. Crystal Harris, Hugh Hefner's girlfriend, seen attending the H.Wood.Beauty launch party at the Tea Room in Hollywood. Photograph:  Josephine Santos,

HOLLYWOOD - APRIL 22: Playboy Magazine owner Hugh Hefner and Crystal Harris arrives at the TCM Classic Film Festival's gala opening night world premiere of the newly restored film 'A Star Is Born' at Grauman's Chinese Theatre on April 22, 2010 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images)

Crystal Harris - Join her Official Site

What's hot at FVP this week:

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Opportunistic Patriots Force 7 Turnovers In Buffalo Blowout

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 26:  Wes Welker  and Rob Gronkowski  of the New England Patriots celebrate Gronkowski's touchdown in the first half against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 26, 2010 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Welker and Gronkowski celebrate
The New England Patriots capitalized on seven Buffalo Bills turnovers en route to a 34-3 blowout on the road against the Buffalo Bills. The win secured the AFC East division title for the Patriots, as well as the number one seed overall in the AFC. As the one seed, the Pats will get a bye in the wild card round of the playoffs, before hosting the lowest remaining seed in the divisional round.

The Patriots lone blemish on defense came in the Buffalo Bills first drive of the day. Buffalo was able to rush for 64 yards in 7 plays on the first drive of the game. They drive stalled at the 8 yard line with two incomplete passes by Buffalo QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, as Buffalo settled for a field goal. It would turn out to be the only points of the day for the Bills.

The Patriots and Bills exchanged punts, before Danny Woodhead scored his fifth TD of the season on a 29 yard run to put the Patriots ahead 7-3. On the next Buffalo drive, Gary Guyton forced a Ryan Fitzpatrick fumble as Fitzpatrick scrambled to avoid Guyton's pressure. They play was critical, as Buffalo had entered the Patriots red zone. Instead of putting up points, the Bills came away with nothing. New England promptly marched 80 yards to score their second TD of the game.

The Patriots ended up scoring 21 points off the Buffalo seven turnovers on Sunday. The Patriots +7 on takeaways today made them a +27 for the season, best in the NFL. The Patriots recovered four fumbles in the win against Buffalo to tie a team record. The last time the Pats recovered four fumbles was on Sept. 14, 2003 against Philadelphia. The Patriots also recovered four fumbles on Oct. 20, 1996 against Indianapolis.

Patriots rookie tight end Rob Gronkowski caught two Brady touchdown passes. This feat tied him with WR Jim Colclough and WR Randy Vataha for the Patriots rookie receiving touchdown record.

Other Notes
  • The Patriots finished with 217 yards rushing.
  • RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis registered his third career 100-yard game and the second of the 2010 season with 104 yards rushing. Law Firm needs 72 yards to become the 11th New England player to record a 1,000-yard rushing season. He'll be the first Patriot 1000 yard rusher since Corey Dillion in '04.
  • Tom Brady extended the streak to 319 consecutive pass attempts without an interception, setting an NFL record for the most consecutive pass attempts without a pick. He moved past Bernie Kosar to set the record.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Historical Notes On The Patriots vs. Buffalo

Here's some interesting facts about the New England Patriots / Buffalo Bills series history.
  • The Patriots currently have won 14 in a row versus Buffalo, third longest in the history of the NFL.
  • ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 20:  Wes Welker #83 of the New England Patriots turns away from Corey McIntyre #38  of the Buffalo Bills defends  at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 20, 2009 in Orchard Park, New York. The Patriots won 17-10.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
    Wes Welker looks to make it 15 in a row vs. Buffalo
  • The longest streaks: Miami owned Buffalo in the 1970's, winning an astonishing 20 in a row from 1970-79. San Fransisco beat the Rams for a streak of 17, from 1990-98.
  • The streak dates back the to the "Lawyer Milloy Game" Sept. 7, 2003. In that game, Tom Brady was 14-28 with 123 yards and four picks. Since then, he's only thrown six interceptions with 30 TD's . He has four interceptions this season.
  • During the streak, the Patriots set the mark for the largest margin of victory against Buffalo, beating them by 46 in Buffalo in 2007.
  • This will be the 102nd meeting between the two division rivals, with the Pats holding a 60-40-1 advantage.  
  • Bill Belichick is 9-1 as head coach of the Pats vs. Buffalo.
  • Tom Brady is 16-1 all-time versus the Bills. He has 36 TD's, most against any one opponent.
  • Pats are a perfect 9-0 versus Buffalo at Gillette, 21-15 at The Ralph.
  • In the division since 2001, Buffalo has a 20-40 record, New England 46-14.

Other Notes
  • The Bills are 5-0 all time when playing on Dec. 26.
  •  QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has thrown a touchdown pass in 15 consecutive games. It’s the longest streak by a Bills QB since Jim Kelly’s 18-game stretch in 1986-87, ranking as the second-longest streak in team history.
  • Ryan Fitpatrick needs 147 passing yards to reach 7,000 in his career,  251 passing yards to reach 3,000 in 2010.
  • WR Steve Johnson needs 57 receiving yards from his first 1,000-yard season of his career.
  • Patriots LB Jerod Mayo has 181 tackles. He is on pace for 207, which would be the most by a Patriot since Steve Nelson in 1984.
  • Bill Belichick moved into 10th place all time with 175 career wins as a coach. Next up: Bill Parcells with 183.
  • Rob Gronkowski has 7 TD's, most ever for a Patriots rookie tight end. He needs 2 to tie the Patriot rookie record for receptions, 5 to tie the great Mike Ditka as the most by a rookie TE.  
  • Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis Needs 88 yards to reach 1,000 yards rushing.

Rex Ryan Presser: It's a Personal Matter.

Here's Ryan's presser in response to the Fetishgate video. Can't you just see him have a Tony Stark moment and say "The truth is, I am Iron Man that's us in the video. I love my wife and think she's sexy as hell. I love her feet, her legs, her eyes, everything."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Legend of Sexy Rexy

Everyone else has it, so we've got it too. Betchya you can't get through it without cracking up. In case you are living under a rock, and many of us are this time of year, this is supposedly Sexy Rexy and his beautiful wife. No disrespect intended, she is beautiful. If this is indeed true, this is absolutely the funniest thing to come out of the Jet camp ever. Ryan won't kiss Belichick's rings, but he can kiss his wife's feet. Good for the both of 'em. Rock on with ya bad selves.

Can Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Buffalo Bills Overcome The New England Patriots?

MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 19: Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick  of the Buffalo Bills throws against the Miami Dolphins at Sun Life Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Miami, Florida.The Bills defeated the Dolphins 17-14. (Photo by Marc Serota/Getty Images)Sixth year QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has quietly put together a decent statistical season for the 2010 Buffalo Bills. Fitzpatrick has 23 TD's, while throwing 12 interceptions. He has amassed 2,749 yards in 12 starts this season. Running back Fred Jackson has rushed for 811 yards, averaging 4.1 YPC. Wideout Steve Johnson has 73 receptions, 93 yards and 10 TD's. Can Fitzpatrick and the rest of the Bills dial up enough offense to overcome the sometimes suspect New England Patriots defense?

Fitzpatrick made is first start of the year week three versus the Pats. He went 20-28, with 247 yards and two TD's. New England head coach Bill Belichick was asked this week how Fitzpatrick looks compared to what the Pats saw in week three. "Well, I thought he looked pretty good in that game, but certainly with the extra playing time that he’s had throughout the season, he looks pretty solid back there – very comfortable changing plays at the line of scrimmage and moving guys around when he needs to. [He] doesn’t take very many sacks, gets rid of the ball quickly, makes good decisions [and] uses all of his skill players. I think he’s been very efficient back there. Some of the games, like the Cleveland game as an example – even the Miami game this weekend – they get ahead, and he does a good job of managing the game and doing what he needs to do in the fourth quarter, not trying to score 60 points, [but] just trying to win the game. [He does a good job of] controlling the ball and picking up first downs, chewing up the clock, things like that. They do a good job of that and I think there are some good examples of his excellent decision making over the last few weeks."

The Hoodie also addressed the emergence of Johnson as a weapon in the the Bills offense. "He’s good with the ball in his hands. He can run after the catch [and] take a short gain and turn it into a long one. He’s quick, fast, aggressive, goes up for the ball. I think he’s definitely a go-to guy for them. He’s produced a lot of big plays and it looks like they have a lot of confidence in him. They try to get him the ball on tear screens, catch-and-run plays, underneath routes, things like that, as well as throwing it down field. He’s definitely emerged as a big weapon in their offense."

CINCINNATI - NOVEMBER 21: Fred Jackson  of the Buffalo Bills runs with the ball while defended by Johnathan Joseph  of the Cincinnati Bengals during the NFL game at Paul Brown Stadium on November 21, 2010 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bills won 49-21. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)As Fred Jackson closes in on a consecutive 1000 yard season, it's clear he is one of the premier backs in the NFL. "[He’s] one of the best backs in the league. I’d say he’s outstanding." Belichick noted of Jackson. "[He’s] good at everything: good on blitz pickup, a good outside runner [and a] good inside runner. They use him in the passing game as a receiver, split-out and empty and those kinds of things. He’s a very good screen back. The play he made against Pittsburgh really highlighted his skills: great balance, run-after-catch and then he outran everybody. He’s got big-time speed as well as power, but he’s very tough in the tackle-to-tackle area. It seems like he can always find some space and get a few yards and squeeze through there or power through there. I think the Cleveland game is a good example. I think they ran about the last six or seven minutes off the clock and he did an excellent job of just really running out the clock. They just gave him the ball and he gained three, four, five yards a clip and ate it up. So, he’s outstanding. I have as much respect for him as really anybody we’ve played. He’s a complete guy. [He] does it all and shows really good toughness and can get the tough yards."

New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez (85) celebrates in the endzone after scoring on a 10-yard touchdown reception in the fourth quarter against the Green Bay Packers at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts on December 19, 2010. The Patriots defeated the Packers 31-27.  UPI/Matthew Healey Photo via NewscomSo, what's the key for New England? The Bills defensively are not among the NFL elite. They rank last in rushing. This means a big day for Ben Jarvis Green-Ellis and Danny Woodhead. This is also a key to keeping the clock moving and helping keep Fitzy and the Bills offense on the bench. In the red zone, the Bills have only stopped opponents from scoring four times in 44 trips. That is not going to get better this weekend with Tom Brady and his new red zone attack coming to The Ralph. Expect Brady to hit Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez inside the 20 often. Even if Fitzpatrick matches his output against the Ravens (29-43, 382 yards and 4 TD's), the Bills defense won't have enough to stop the Patriot offense. Look for the Pats to control the clock and bring home new hats and t-shirts for all those folks with Patriots Pro Shop gift cards under the tree. 27-17 New England.

RCR Releases #29 Paint Scheme: Back in Black

RCR Racing posted this picture of Kevin Harvick's #29 Budweiser Chevy on facebook today. RCR tells FVP that this is the official paint scheme for the 2011 NASCAR season. Nice to see RCR return this car to a black paint scheme.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Patriots Third Down Efficiency Still A Problem

The New England Patriots have been plagued by one consistent problem this season. Defensively, they have not been able to get off the field on third down. After two excellent games defensively against the Jets and Bears, fans were optimistic that he problem had been rectified. After the Green Bay Packers game, it's very clear the issue is still there.

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 12: Earl Bennett  of the Chicago Bears is gang-tackled by Gary Guyton , Jerod Mayo , Patrick Chung  and Jarred Page  of the New England Patriots at Soldier Field on December 12, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Patriots defeated the Bears 36-7. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Patriot defenders must get off the field on third down
The Pats are a league worst 92-187 on third down. Opponents are converting on the New England defenders 49.2 % of the time. A nearly 50% conversion rate may very well be a fatal flaw in the defense of the 12-2 Patriots. New England head coach Bill Belichick addressed the teams third down struggles against the Packers on Monday. "Well, I’d say it was a combination of things. At times we didn’t tackle well, didn’t cover well, didn’t have enough rush or the combination of those things all going together. We just need to do a better job all the way around: coaching, playing, and overall execution. We just have to be more consistent. At times it was fine, but at other times we didn’t do well and we gave them opportunities that, really, I think we should have been able to convert on but we didn’t, so they did it better than we did. We’ve just got to work harder and do a better job on it."

Jerod Mayo also talked about the third down problems the Patriots have faced. "Coach kept coming over telling us we needed to pick it up on third down. It’s just frustrating the penalties on third down, those drive extenders. Letting a check down go for long yardage. At the same time guys really stepped up in the fourth quarter and made plays."

Against Green Bay, the Patriots defense was 11-19 on third down. Part of the problem is no doubt the injuries that have beset the Pats D-line. Listed as inactive Sunday night were D-linemen Myron Pryor, Mike Wright, and Ron Brace. The Packers employed a 5/14 mix of run/pass on third down. The loss of Mike Wright and his ability to pass rush certainly contributes to the shortcomings on third down.Wright has been the most consistent pass rusher on the defensive line.

This problem must be rectified by The Hoodie and his coaching staff if the Pats are going to make it to Dallas. The good news in this? Looking at the numbers, the Patriots have done slightly better against the likely playoff opponents. The Pats have gone a combined 9-25 on third down versus the Jets, 5-16 versus Baltimore, 5-12 against Pittsburgh. The one glaring problem: 11-14 versus Indianapolis.

The return of the injured linemen, as well as Brandon Spikes, will no doubt help the coaching staff as they come up with game plans to slow down the quality opponents the team will be facing in the playoffs.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tony Kanaan Joins De Ferran Dragon Racing

HOMESTEAD, FL - OCTOBER 01: Tony Kanaan of Brazil, driver of the  Andretti Autosport Team 7-Eleven Dallara Honda on pit lane during qualifying for the IZOD IndyCar Series Cafes Do Brasil Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on October 1, 2010 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)de Ferran Dragon Racing president Gil de Ferran announced Dec. 20 that the team has signed 2004 IZOD IndyCar Series champion Tony Kanaan to compete in the 2011 season - its third in the series. Kanaan will drive the No. 2 car with the sponsorship package to be announced in the new year.
Kanaan brings 12 IndyCar wins and eight series poles to DFD. The popular driver also finished second in points in 2005, third in 2007. He joins teammates Raphael Matos and Davey Hamilton at  de Ferran.

"This is a great signing and a major coup for de Ferran Dragon Racing," said de Ferran, the 2003 Indianapolis 500 and two-time CART champion. "He is a proven champion and brings with him a great record of success on the track. Tony has consistently placed at the sharp end of the field for more than a decade and shows no signs of letting up. I am sure his contribution to the team, both in terms of speed and experience, will be invaluable to our development and future success. Tony's presence is also a significant vote of confidence for our young and developing team. This news certainly clarifies that we are serious in our intention to become a major force in the series."

"I am really excited to be working with de Ferran Dragon Racing," said TK. "I have a great deal of respect for Steve Luczo, Jay Penske and, of course, Gil, who I have known for many years both as a driver and now as a team owner. I know that the owners have a passion for the sport and a dream of being among the best in the series and will assemble all the right skills to turn this team into something really special. There is no doubt we have a lot work in front of us, but the energy I've felt from this team for becoming a top player and winning convinced me that this is a team where I can truly contribute and make a difference through my years of experience. One thing is for sure, 2011 is going to be a great journey for us all."

FVP's Monday Night All Star: Greicy

Multiple FVP fans asked if we'd bring back the Girls of Brazil. Ask and ye shall receive. Tonight's All Star is the very lovely Greicy. Our friend Jeremiah Thompson has more lovely ladies on his 2011 Calender, but Griecy might be our favorite. She is definitely a beautiful woman. See more of her here on The Girls of Brazil facebook page.  

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Final Minute The Difference as Patriots Get By Green Bay

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 19: Quarterback Matt Flynn  of the Green Bay Packers looks to pass against the New England Patriots during the first quarter of the game at Gillette Stadium on December 19, 2010 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)Green Bay QB Matt Flynn nearly out dueled Tom Brady, going 24-37 with three TD's and one pick, but it wasn't enough as New England held off the desperate Green Bay Packers by a score of 27-31. Flynn's inexperience was the difference as time wound down, giving the AFC's number one seed the win.

The final 1:14 was the difference in this game, as the young Packer QB's inexperience finally surfaced against a New England defense that still is struggling to get off the field on third down. At the 1:14 mark, Donald Drive caught a pass at the Patriot 24 yard line. Packer head coach Mike McCarthy elected to call time out at 1:05, robbing Flynn of as much as nine seconds.

At 1:05 in the fourth quarter, Flynn, out of the shotgun, was sacked by the unblocked Dane Fletcher, forcing Green Bay to use their final time out at :53 seconds. On second and eighteen for the New England 32, Flynn went back inside to James Jones at the New England 28. Jones was too far inside to get out of bounds, and an agonizing 17 seconds came off the clock. This has been New England's M.O. on defense all year: exchange yards for clock.

Flynn took the snap out of the shotgun on third and eleven at :28 seconds left, where he hit Driver a yard short of the first down at the Patriot 16 yard line. On the play, Patriot's safety Patrick Chung made a nice open field tackle which may have saved the win for New England. Driver was down at the :24 second mark, but Flynn struggled to get the call from the Green Bay sidelines on fourth down. Aaron Rodgers certainly would have known the play to call. Instead, Flynn finally snapped the ball at the :04 second mark, where he was sacked by Tully Banta-Cain to end the game. It was a small bit of redemption for TBC, who earlier had a illegal hands to the face call nullify a Brandon Meriweather interception which would have ended the game.

Until that point, Flynn had ice water in his veins He out performed Brady on the road in his first start of his career. He had three TD's in the game, to Jones, John Kuhn, and Greg Jennings. He did throw a pick-6 to Patriots CB Kyle Arrington.

Perhaps the highlight of the game, and maybe the year, was a kickoff return by Patriots offensive lineman Dan Connolly. Connolly took a squib kick from the Packers all the way down to the Packer four yard line. The play was marked by poor tackling by the Packers special teams, notably Charlie Peprah, who looked like a kicker bringing down a ball carrier. Connolly made the most of it, rumbling 71 yards. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the longest kickoff by an offensive lineman in the history of the NFL.

Other Notes
  • Devin McCourty had 10 tackles, including a sack.
  • Jerod Mayo led the team with 16 tackles. Sixteen!
  • Tom Brady was 15-24 for 163 yards and a pair of TD's to Aaron Hernandez.
  • Kyle Arrington's pick-6 was his first career interception. 
  • Patriots will clinch the #1 seed throughout the playoffs with one more win. 

Thursday, December 16, 2010

IndyCar: Ganassi expands with addition of Rahal and Kimball.

Chip Ganassi Racing announced the addition of Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing with Graham Rahal in the No. 38 car and Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing with Charlie Kimball in the No. 83 entry at a news conference Dec. 16 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Rahal, Ganassi, and Kimball
Rahal is the son of former driver and 1986 Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal. Graham Rahal, the youngest race winner in major North American open-wheel racing history, competed in 12 races during the 2010 with four different teams. Rahal has made 60 IZOD IndyCar Series starts, with one win, 12 top-five and 32 top-10 finishes.

Rahal definitely is excited about the 2011 season, and beyond. "Well, I think first of all it shows a great commitment on the sponsors that I have to put themselves and myself in a position with a team like Chip Ganassi Racing to succeed. It shows they're here to win and succeed."

Rahal continued "I feel like especially coming off the year that I've just been through, it's a huge relief to find a home with a team of this quality. Certainly time and time again has been the best in this series. And as Chip mentioned, to have guys like Dario and Dixon to learn from, I don't think there is a better combination. You have five championships and countless race wins between them.It's a huge relief, and it's a great step forward in my career. Certainly now that the work really starts as far as making sure that we can not only fill the shoes that have been left before us here. I know it's an expansion team, but certainly the success that this team has had speaks for itself, and will certainly make our sponsors proud. I feel like these next few months are going to take forever until we get on the racetrack once again, but I really cannot wait."

Camarillo, California native Charlie Kimball comes from a little different pedigree. The 25 year old Kimball finished fourth in the Firestone Indy Light standings in 2010 in a very consistent season. It was his second season in Firestone Indy Lights. Kimball has moved up through the ranks in a variety of American and European series. In Europe, he raced in such prestigious series as A1GP, Formula 3 Euro Series, and World Series by Renault, and Formula Ford.

"Today's a dream come true for me personally." Kimball said. "Moving up through the pinnacle of motorsports in North America, here at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the crown jewel of auto racing, really, with the Indy 500. It's a dream come true to step up to that series. And to do it with a team like Chip Ganassi Racing, legends in their own right with the opportunity for me to learn from the champions they've had on their roster the last few years with Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, and also to take advantage of Graham Rahal's experience, it's a great opportunity for me to learn and try to help me up the steep learning curve in INDYCAR."

Team owner Chip Ganassi talked about the expansion of his teams, and how he'll manage the two separate units. "I would characterize it much like Hendrick racing where they have the 28 and the 48. The 24 and the 48, and the 5 and the 88. They sort of have two, two‑car teams is how they manage it. So I think that was probably the template, if you will for the four cars."

Ganassi added "I certainly don't want to take anything away from Scott Dixon or Dario Franchitti. But at the same time, we have to develop and keep a keen eye on the next generation of guys coming along and what better way to do it than to have our finger on a few of them."

More exciting news for this series. The return of Chevy, Lotus, and the additions of new sponsors, not to mention the expansion of one of the top teams could be viewed a very good off season for the IZOD Series. One thing to remember: it's only December.

Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney for IndyCar

NASCAR Testing Concludes at Daytona

A group of NASCAR veterans concluded the second of a two day tire test at newly repaved Daytona International Speedway today. The repaving project, only the second in track history and first since 1978, began immediately after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event on July 3 and ended last week. With this week’s test open to all series teams, a number took advantage of the opportunity to get some track time for the 2011 season opener.

Jeff Burton (No. 31), Bobby Labonte (No. 47) and Brad Keselowski (No. 2)
Defending champion Jamie McMurray was very optimistic about the quality of racing fans will see on the new surface at Daytona. "The track is really good. It's going to be a different race than what we've had in the past in Daytona. The cars are going to stay bunched up a lot more. In the past as the tires would wear out, the pack would spread apart a little bit until you cycled through the pit stops, then gather back up. Typically by the end of the race, if the sun went down, you would run in a pack. With the amount of grip that the track has, the way the tires are not falling off at all, it will be two- or three-wide, really hard on the drivers and spotters for 500 miles."

Other drivers echoed McMurray's sentiment. Former Champion Bobby Labonte said "Just to add to what Jamie said. A lot of the things he said I agree with because he's right on. The spotter is going to be real important. Out there in the practice we were going with either 12 or 17 or 18 cars yesterday, today to yesterday, there's still a difference between that and what we're going to do when we come back in February, when you put 25 cars out there for practice, then 43 cars for the race."

Labonte continued "So passing is going to be more difficult in a lot of ways because you have to figure out the line. The spotter is probably going to be more important than ever judging for you, helping, because you can't see through the car. I was behind Jamie a while ago. He's on the guy in front of him, but I couldn't see that. I knew it, but I laid there on his bumper. That's going to lend for different racing, like Jamie said."

Burton and Busch meet the media
Jeff Burton, driver of the #31 RCR Chevy, threw his two cents in as well. "I think it's going to be a helluva race. We've had some great Daytona 500 finishes the last several years." Burton continued "The end of the race has been great. We've seen separation of cars because of the handling issues during the race. You're not going to see that this time. There's going to be a constant pack. I don't know how you could get separated. Bad pit stop, something like that, a guy get out of gas, the field leaves you. Short of those things, you're not going to lose the draft."

Penske Racing driver Kurt Busch, now driving the Double Deuce, talked about the inevitable "big one" and if the chances are greater now with more tight packs of cars. "It definitely is increased." Busch detailed his thoughts. "Mentally you're going to have to be that much sharper, that much more precise. If you think you have a hole, you definitely need to be in it. Somebody is going to take it that much quicker. Reaction time is going to be that much quicker. There's going to be bigger consequences when things are chosen in the wrong fashion."

One of the improvements at DIS was the widening of pit road that was done as part of this project. The drivers spoke about this change as well. "Pit road is awesome." Labonte said. "I always said this is one of the hardest pit roads we would come through at any race because it was too narrow, never any grip with the concrete pad. And then asphalt widening, that's definitely a plus."

McMurray agreed with Labonte's thoughts "It's really nice to get that little bit of extra room on pit road. Pit road speeds are really fast when you come to plate tracks. Typically we have the smallest brakes on the car that we run all year long, so pit road is also trouble. So the fact they widened that 10 or 12 feet is really nice."

Kurt Busch and Jeff Burton also felt the changes to pit road would be a positive one. "This pit road was the most treacherous of all the pit roads we race on." Busch said. "The old surface, the oil from all the sports cars, the pit boxes for a superspeedway car didn't seem to be the right size. It looks like Green Acres out there. It's really a safer place on pit road. The environment for the crew guys will be much better. You won't have to necessarily worry as much about getting the fender dings, wrecks on pit road with the amount of area that's out there paved. So I'm excited about it."

Burton added "It's a big change. I don't know if it's the widest pit road on our circuit or not, but it has to be in the top 10. It's exceptionally wide. That's a great thing for safety. The fans and the media and us included, we kind of take for granted those guys jumping over the wall, you go jump in front of a 3500-pound vehicle, it's pretty hairy. This will make it better for them and safer for them. That's always a good thing."

The next on-track activity for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be January’s three-day test at Daytona. The session, known as NASCAR Preseason Thunder, is scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 20 through Saturday, Jan. 22. Sunday, Jan. 23 is the rain date.

Photo Credit :Motorsports Images & Archives

FVP Joins

FVP has joined another network, Sports Blog Net is currently built on the principal of making all blogs in their network as successful as possible. They would like to increase the traffic and revenue of all bloggers who contribute to our unique site. They want sports fans to: discover, create, read, write, and build.

The goal at SBN is to bridge the small sports blogs with the masses and give new and novice bloggers the ability to find the exposure they are looking for. They want sports fans and bloggers to have a destination that they want to visit everyday, and we wish to create a community second to none for sports bloggers.

FVP looks forward to the continued growth of our site, through partners like SBN, and Yardbarker, to help bring the fan's point of view to a whole new group of FVP readers. Be sure to check out all our partners!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

McCarthy Updates Aaron Rodgers Situation

Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy updated the media regarding the injury status of QB Aaron Rodgers today. Rodgers suffered his second concussion of the season last Sunday in the loss to Detroit.

Rodgers has not practiced since his injury on Sunday. "He’s going through the normal protocol that you go through with the concussions, procedures." McCarthy stated. "I don’t anticipate him practicing tomorrow. I think it’d be a slim chance for him to practice on Friday. We’ll probably make a decision Saturday if he is cleared by the medical staff."

DETROIT - DECEMBER 12: Aaron Rogers  of the Green Bay Packers walks off the field after the end of the second quarter during the game against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field on December 12, 2010 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
Aaron Rogers walks off the field Sunday
McCarthy addressed  Rodgers schedule for the  remainder of the week. "There are a series of tests that every player goes through. As he clears each hurdle and then he’s able to practice and that’s really the final stage, [once it’s deemed] he can practice and everything is clear. We’re obviously not close to that step yet. I probably don’t see him practicing tomorrow for sure and there is a very slim chance he’ll practice on Friday."

Rodgers has not been allowed to attend any meeting or watch any film while he recuperates. This is under medial advise, according to McCarthy. "Doctor John Gray really controls the process of when they’re able to participate in meetings and then obviously the next step from that is the physical conditioning and then after that is the participation with the on the field activity. He was held out of meetings today." the Green Bay coach said.

When asked about any concerns regarding Rodgers' ability to be prepared, should he be cleared, McCarthy communicated "That’s a better question for me to probably answer at the end of the week because really the first thing I’m looking at is No. 1 is he healthy enough to go through the mental preparation. Once we get to that point, we’ll probably have a better feel where he stands. The conversations that you have normally with your quarterback throughout the week, he’s played a lot of football for us. I know it’s only his third season as a starter. He played against Atlanta in his first year without practicing all week, so we do have some history there."

NASCAR Drivers Test @ Daytona

A group of NASCAR Sprint Cup teams tested the new pavement at Daytona International Speedway today for the first time, in preparation for the 2011 Daytona 500. NASCAR Vice President of Competition Robin Pemberton said today "It was a very good day. The teams came well-prepared. Goodyear came well-prepared. The racetrack has a lot of grip. The surface is very smooth. It appears in drafting practice that they immediately went three-wide."  FVP will have quotes from the drivers late Thursday evening.

Kurt Busch
Jeff Gordon
Jamie McMurray
View from the grandstand
Photo Credit: Motorsports Images and Archives

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

IZOD IndyCar Series: Hildebrand signs with Panther

From the IndyCar Press Release
SONOMA, CA - AUGUST 22: J.R. Hildebrand, driver of the  Trans Systems/DRR Dallara Honda during practice for the IZOD IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Sonoma at Infineon Raceway on August 22, 2010 in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)Two-time IZOD IndyCar Series champion Panther Racing announced it has signed California native JR Hildebrand to a multi-year contract. He'll drive the No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing entry for the 2011 IndyCar Series season.

Hildebrand, 22, of Sausalito, Calif., won the Firestone Indy Lights championship in 2009 (four victories, six poles, 11 top-five and 12 top-10 finishes). This past season, Hildebrand made his IZOD IndyCar Series debut with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and also started at Infineon Raceway, where he ran as high as fourth position and posted the fastest lap of the race.

"I couldn't be more excited to be at Panther Racing and a part of the National Guard," Hildebrand said. "This is my first full-time IndyCar ride and the Panther No. 4 car is one of the best seats in the IZOD IndyCar Series, so to be able to start my career with a team with this kind of pedigree is just huge. I already feel with the small amount of experiences I've had here, and just being around the shop that it's going to be a great fit for all of us. I'm more than honored to be in a position to represent the National Guard, and I've already got a small taste of all the programs I'll be a part of through this sponsorship. I just couldn't be more excited to get more involved in everything that goes along with this partnership. I'm certainly excited about this opportunity and I'm definitely looking forward to every piece of this program moving forward."

Panther Racing CEO and Managing Partner John Barnes had Hildebrand on his short list of candidates throughout the off-season, but after a two-day test last week at Phoenix International Raceway there was no doubt he had found his driver. Hildebrand becomes the sixth driver in the No. 4 entry, joining Scott Goodyear (1998-2000), Sam Hornish Jr. (2001-2003), Tomas Scheckter (2004-2005), Vitor Meira (2006-2008) and Dan Wheldon (2009-2010).

"JR is an extremely impressive young man, and he's going to be a great fit for the National Guard and Panther Racing," Barnes said. "We took a very calculated and methodical approach to making this decision because anybody who represents the 350,000 soldiers in the National Guard has a tremendous responsibility both inside and outside the racecar. We feel like JR is going to be a tremendous asset to the IZOD IndyCar Series, and what really set him apart is his ambition and his intelligence - this is a kid who was a National Merit Scholar, and accepted to M.I.T. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). We tested him at Phoenix last week and brought along my friend Al Unser Jr. to help us with the evaluation, and all of us knew by lunchtime of the first day that we'd found the next driver of the No. 4 car. We know we all have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but our expectations are very high for the 2011 season."

Unser, the two-time Indianapolis 500 champion, was immediately impressed with Hildebrand during the two-day test.

"He's extremely talented," Unser said. "He's got a great team at Panther Racing, and he's going to come across a lot of different challenges, and he's very calm, very collected and mature. What I like about him is that he's come out of Firestone Indy Lights, and he's shown that series has been very good for him and all of that is very positive as he moves into the next phase of his career."

This season will mark the fourth year the National Guard has been primary sponsor of the No. 4 car.

"The National Guard is very pleased to welcome JR Hildebrand to our team," said Lt. Col. Bill Dones, Chief of the National Guard Advertising Branch. "For such a young guy, he's had many impressive achievements during his career. That said, we think his best races are ahead of him. JR's youth, along with his accomplishments, make him a driver whom the men and women of the National Guard will be proud to have representing them in the National Guard No. 4 car. We look forward to our partnership and to joining him on Victory Lane in the 2011 season."

Wheldon, the 2005 IZOD IndyCar Series and Indianapolis 500 champion, finished ninth in the championship standings this year with a high finish of second in the Indianapolis 500 and at Chicagoland Speedway.

Young Players for Patriots Making the Difference

The fact that the New England Patriots are 11-2 this season could be considered a surprise by many. Many folks around these parts considered anything above 9-7 record to be a bonus. Now the Pats sit in the driver's seat, with the division lead and the number one seed in their pocket with three games to play. The play of the young players on this team has been exemplary, and one of the factors in the teams run to the playoffs.

FOXBORO, MA - DECEMBER 21: Coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots watches the finals moments of a win against the Arizona Cardinals at Gillette Stadium on December 21, 2008 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots won 47-7. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)This fact has not been lost on the head coach. Bill Belichick addressed the play of the young players yesterday as he met the media in his usual Monday presser. "Well I think that that group has learned a lot about the whole process and with each game further that you go into the season, you have another game to look at of your opponents. I think that they’ve learned a lot about film study and [from] watching our veteran players. Just going through it with the team, they’ve learned a lot more about how to study film than they knew when they started – at least the way we do it. So, I think they’ve all improved on that. I think they still have a long way to go, as a group, but I do think that they’re heading in the right direction and making progress. There are times when you can really see the preparation show up on the field and there are other times [when] you see situations that they should be more prepared for, based on their film study but they kind of get caught by surprise and aren’t sure what to do when, really, those shouldn’t have been hard situations. So, I think it’s a little bit of that, too. There’s definitely some learning in the whole process."

The play of the rookie tight ends has been key in the revamping of the offense since the Randy Moss trade. No longer do we see Tom Brady looking to force the ball to Moss deep. Instead, we see Brady going through his reads, looking for the open receiver. Wes Welker has emerged as a favorite, as expected, with 80 receptions. Brady has moved the ball around to players like Danny Woodhead, Aaron Hernandez, and Rob Gronkowski, all of whom have contributed at key times throughout the year. Gronkowski in particular has been a great asset in the red zone, with 7 TD's.

The trade of Moss and the acquisition of Branch no doubt has effected the young players. Players like Alge Crumpler are important to the development of the young guys. Belichick talked about teaching the young guys Monday as well. "Well, I think every year, you certainly go through your integration of new players into your team. That process starts in the spring after you draft them. [You] bring them in for rookie mini-camp and then the spring OTAs, training camp and all that." The Hoodie added "So, you’re working with young players there and teaching fundamentals and teaching them the basics of your system, trying to get them to understand their individual techniques, but also the bigger picture of how they have to execute certain plays in their system, but also how, eventually, they can find a role to fit into your football team. So, that process continues throughout the course of the year with deviations along the way depending on what the circumstances are. So, it’s pretty much like that every year. Some years you might have a few less rookies or a few more rookies, but you still have to take that group of players and bring them up to a certain level. But, at the same time, you have new players coming in from other organizations, free agents, what have you, trades - however you acquire players – along with players that were here previously, so you have to have some way to transition everybody into the same funnel, into the same direction. Even though it’s a wide net there that it starts with, it all has to come together as a football team. That’s really no different than it is any year. Again, sometimes it’s more or less at the exterior parts of that net, but, eventually, it all has to come together as a team. So, I don’t really see this year as any more significant in terms of what we do or how we do it. There may be a few more younger players than we’ve had in other years, but you still have to go through the same process. So, whether you’re teaching it to five guys or ten guys, you’re still doing it."
FOXBORO, MA - SEPTEMBER 12: Rob Gronkowski  of the New England Patriots celebrates his touchdown wit teammates Alge Crumpler  and Aaron Hernandez  in the fourth quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals during the NFL season opener on September 12, 2010 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts. The Patriots defeated the Bengals 38-24. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
The mantra in New England is the same: we haven't accomplished anything. This statement rings true with any team in this position. The fact that Belichick and Brady read the same script pages could be considered more opportunity for teaching as well. Is it a message delivered not only to the fans, but the young players of the locker room as well? Brady said after Sunday's game "“Well, there’s a long way to go. I don’t think anything has been accomplished yet. We’re working hard to make improvements. I don’t think we have every problem solved. There are plenty of defenses that have kicked us around a little bit. We don’t sit here and think we have it all figured out. We’re still trying to make improvements.”

Belichick added his two cents as well, talking about how much work there is to do. "Every week is a big preparation week for us. Every team we play has good players, good coaches. They have good schemes. They do things that give us problems and their opponents problems. And we have to be able to figure out how to handle those and execute the things that we want to do at a high level. If we don’t, then it won’t be a good result. I don’t care who the opponent is."

Doesn't sound like a team that is resting on it's laurels as they prepare for Green Bay Sunday night.

Monday, December 13, 2010

FVP's Monday Night All Star: Women's Beach Volleyball

All this talk of snow, blizzards, collapsing stadiums and whiteout conditions got you down? How 'bout a little pick-me-up. Tonight's All-Star, or the plural in this case, comes from a the Asian Games Women's Beach Volleyball tourney. The Asian Games are being held in Muscat, Oman. Good luck finding coverage on the local sports network. Looks warm and summer-y, eh?

MUSCAT, OMAN - DECEMBER 09: Riris Irawaiti of Indonesia competes Women's PreliminaryGroup B Match 12 in the Beach Volleyball against Vietnam at Al-Musannah Sports City during day two of the 2nd Asian Beach Games Muscat 2010 on December 9, 2010 in Muscat, Oman. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

MUSCAT, OMAN - DECEMBER 10: Instructions are given during the match between Xue Chen and Xue Chen of China against Siam Ayu and Capasiang Yokbeth of Indonesia in the Beach Volleyballl event at Al-Musannah Sports City during day three of the 2nd Asian Beach Games Muscat 2010 on December 10, 2010 in Muscat, Oman. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)
MUSCAT, OMAN - DECEMBER 10: Instructions are given during the match between Xue Chen and Xue Chen of China against Siam Ayu and Capasiang Yokbeth of Indonesia in the Beach Volleyballl event at Al-Musannah Sports City during day three of the 2nd Asian Beach Games Muscat 2010 on December 10, 2010 in Muscat, Oman. (Photo by Jamie McDonald/Getty Images)

MUSCAT, OMAN - DECEMBER 11: Yupa Phokongpoly of Thailand competes in the Women's Preliminary Beach Volleyball against Tajikistan at Al-Musannah Sports City during day four of the 2nd Asian Beach Games Muscat 2010 on December 11, 2010 in Muscat, Oman. (Photo by Robert Prezioso/Getty Images)
MUSCAT, OMAN - DECEMBER 11: Xi Zhang of China competes in the Women's Preliminary Beach Volleyball against Maldives at Al-Musannah Sports City during day four of the 2nd Asian Beach Games Muscat 2010 on December 11, 2010 in Muscat, Oman. (Photo by Robert Prezioso/Getty Images)

MUSCAT, OMAN - DECEMBER 09: Dancing girls look at a mobile phone during the Beach Volleyball at Al-Musannah Sports City during day two of the 2nd Asian Beach Games Muscat 2010 on December 9, 2010 in Muscat, Oman. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)

GUANGZHOU, CHINA - NOVEMBER 22: A cheerleader performs at Beach Volleyball Venue on November 22, 2010 in Guangzhou, China. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)GUANGZHOU, CHINA - NOVEMBER 20: Dancers perform at Beach Volleyball Venue during day eight of the 16th Asian Games Guangzhou 2010 on November 20, 2010 in Guangzhou, China. (Photo by Feng Li/Getty Images)

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