Pats Vs. Titans

Four New Guys.

Lost In The Flood.


Greetings Pats Fans,

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The Pats offense has been flooded by injuries the second half of the season. They recently picked up four fingers to stick in the dyke to stop them from drowning. Whether the flood is subsiding we will soon see. The two who are clearly the most interesting are Hankerson and Ball. Both bring some talents the Pats are desperately lacking because of injuries.

Hankerson is a big fast WR with great hands. "He's been a good player and he was available," BB said. "It's not that frequent that you see players like that available at this time of year, so we claimed him." This is his forth season in the NFL, and his rookie contract runs out after this year.

He played mainly outside at Washington. But mainly in the slot for Atlanta, where he garnered 327 yards and 3 TDs on 26 catches. However he only played in seven games (ironically, he missed the Titans game in week 7). The question is can they get that kind of production out of him in the last six games of the season to help stop Edelman from coming back too early.

He was clearly on an upswing this season playing with the best QB of his career. He averaged over his first three seasons approximately: 27 catches, 367 yards, and 2 TDs per season. He almost match those number, and had one more TD in only half a season. He was on pace to double his numbers this season before he got injured. Plus, if BB picked him up you know he got the nod from Pioli and Dimitroff.

Hankerson is a guy I loved in the Draft (His BIO). They will try to fit him into the Dopson role. You have to remember that Dopson was the big deep threat that seemed to click with Brady better than any other WR, really since Moss. All the other WRs (which does not include Gronk), Brady just sucked throwing the ball too deep. But then Dopson started running shorter patterns and caught every short and intermediate ball thrown to him this season. Hankerson is a guy who could find some chemistry with Brady, like Dopson did on deep balls. He has great hands, and at worst he can be the decoy that spreads out the defense a little. Plus if it doesn't work outside, he has been having his best season in Atlanta playing a lot in the slot. So he is used to moving inside and outside and all around to help out his QB.

He practiced with the team yesterday, and could see a few snaps as a deep decoy in this game. If they activate him he should be ready to run a couple of patterns. He is a four-year veteran who has seen most things the Pats do. He is likely to line up outside to help open things up inside for Gronk, Amendola, and Martin. And hopefully Edelman when he returns for the Playoffs.


They are in a little trouble with only two RBs on the active roster. They have turned into more of a passing team since Dion went down, and now will move even more dangerous to a one dimensional offense with Blount knocked out. Plus, they will naturally shift into more of a pure passing team once Edelman comes back. With Gronk, Edelman, LaFell, and Amendola on the field they are the top passing offense in the NFL. So they have to be vigilant, and not abandon the run game completely.

They have to get Montee up to speed to help them stay with the run even when Edelman comes back. Both Hankerson and Montee are not going to be stars on this roster, but will have roles that could have huge implications for the Playoffs. Hankerson has to help keep the train rolling to help stop Edelman form rushing back too soon. Montee has to get in and carry the ball, and make enough dynamic plays to help keep White and Bolden primed for the Playoffs. He was sign to the Practice Squad.

Both Hankerson and Montee are probably not going to be ready for more than a situation or two. "I think it depends on what you ask the player to do," BB said. "If you hand him the ball, [it's] probably not too difficult. Once you get into the passing game: pass protection, pass routes, adjustments in the passing game; You're talking about a much, much, much, much more complex and a lot more variations. In terms of running the ball you just: get the footwork, get the ball handling, and give the player an understanding of the blocking scheme. Which he's probably, I'd say in most cases, seen before: zone schemes, or some kind of gap schemes. There are basic fundamentals in the running game. You either basically zone block them or you gap block them. Everything pretty much fits into one of those two categories. I would say most backs have probably somewhere along the line run those. But when you start getting into the pass protections, and base defenses, and sub defenses, and routes versus man, routes versus zone, situational plays, and all that. It's a whole different ball game." So they both have a lot more learning to do than is practical, but this is called the Not For Long League if you are looking for pity.

So of the four players they signed, the one who is currently furthest from the field, is also the most likely to play a key role in the Playoffs. "I think we've done it a couple times," BB said about having only two RBs. "It's certainly not ideal. But could we do it? Given our offense, we have versatility. We have other ways of dealing with things. But we played the majority of the game last week with two. Again, it's not ideal, but you've still got to do what you feel like gives your team the best chance to win. Again I would say if you lose two of any player at any position, pick any position you want, there are probably going to be some issues. I mean you might be able to lose two receivers and still [be okay], but you're not going to be able to run your sub packages with multiple [wide receiver sets]. You're going to lose something on that. There is just no way to go into a game and have three of everything. It's impossible." Both Hankerson and Montee could be big time help in the Playoffs if they can handle the mental stuff.

But Ball has a big leg up on learning the system, because he has an inside guy. Montee and James White were not just teammates at Wisconsin, but also roommates at Wisconsin. "We go way back," Montee said. "He knows everything about me. I know everything about him, so it’s a lot more comforting knowing he’s right over there. He’s been everything I’ve needed throughout this transition." With Blount done for the season, he could be on the roster sooner than later.

He produced when he was put on the field in Denver. "It was shocking when the Broncos let me go, but I believe everything happens for a reason," Ball said. "Given the opportunities I was given there in Denver, I can only look back on them and get better from them and move on. I think it's time to move on, and being a Patriot, you cannot complain at all." Now it is the time to learn the Patriots way.

Boo-hoo he lost his job in Denver. "It looked promising for me leading through the beginning of camp," Ball said. "But it's something they felt like they needed to move on, trusting their other players. It's part of the game. You can't play the 'woe is me' card." Sounds like he is getting it already.

He came out of Wisconsin and garnered 559 yards and 4 TDs as a rookie. "Wherever they want me," Ball said like a veteran of the BB school of player speak. "Wherever they need me. I'm not in a position anymore to where I can say: where I want to do, or what I want to do, or where I want to be. It's wherever they want to put me. Whenever my number is called, I'm going to do what I can." He also helped out in the passing game. Where he is a good blocker (not as good as White), and he garnered 145-yards on 20 catches.

One problem is that he has put on a lot of weight since the Broncos let him go. One team that gave him a shot said he was up near 240-pounds. "Fresh legs right now," Montee said. "Especially coming in this late in the season. Belichick, he knows what he's doing. He knows what I'm capable of doing. So I'm going to show them what I can do." I liked him a lot more at Wisconsin than White. But it sounds like White has a better attitude than Montee recently. Here is my review of Ball from the Draft only a couple of years ago:

Montee Ball-

RB Wisconsin

6-1/2", 214, 15 Reps,

(U 4.49 Proday),

32" Vert, 9'10" Broad,

4.31 SS, 6.88 3-C,

Ball was one of the most productive RBs in college history. For some reason he does not seem that highly regarded, but I like the way he runs. He has some Terrell Davis in him. “I’ve watched Terrell Davis," Ball said a little giddily. "All of his interviews; all of his highlights; everything,” Ball said. “I grew up watching him a little bit. It’s really crazy right now. I’m so excited. I’m very, very excited.” When you are coming close to an impossible Barry Sanders record, you have to something. I really love how he weaves his way through traffic. He runs behind a great O-Line and does such a nice job dancing and cutting behind his blockers. I don’t know how fast he’ll run at the Combine, but he doesn’t get caught from behind on the field. He really has some nifty feet. He also has a little Roger Craig high-steps in him, when he is bursting through traffic. He has a terrific hop-cut to the right and then burst up field. That move will get him a lot of yards in the NFL. He also punches out a little underrated straight arm. I seem to think of him as not a fast guy because he seems so low rated, but he is fast in the open field, and he really knocks how to use his blockers. Nice hands. Excellent receiver coming out of the backfield. He has terrific eyes. He loves to cut back against the grain and get defenders changing direction. "Montee is a productive player with excellent feet and vision," Fox said. "We view him as a three-down back that will be a great fit for our team." He is also not a bad thrower. They ran RB throws more than once. He doesn’t need a lot of room to hop through in the hole. Plus, what really separates him is his hunger for the Endzone when they are in the Redzone. When he sees the Endzone he just powers, dances, and sprints his way in. He was amazing in the inside the ten. This cat is just a rocket blasting through the hole for Wisconsin. Plus, he is a lot stronger than he looks. He knows how to run behind his pads and keep his legs churning.

Well, Everybody and their brother new Denver wanted an RB. ?The area on offense where we need to improve the most is the run game," the HC of the DB Fox said. "We thought that Montee would add a lot to our football team." I didn't think Ball would go in the 2nd. He has a lot of trend torn off those tires. "He's a big back with a ton of production in college, who has great quickness and a great slashing-type style and is always heading north and south" Elway said, "So, we liked him a lot. We thought he could be a three-down guy for us, so we were thrilled he was available for us at the bottom of the 2nd." He was such a great Back as a Junior. He should have come out. Got injured early, and came back to have a great second half of the season, with a much depleted line. This will give Manning some relief in the run game. "We're thrilled you made it to us," Elway said to Ball. "We were worried about it. We were biting our fingernails for about three hours. Didn't think you would get down to us. So we're thrilled that you made it to us. You're walking into a great situation here." He is a quick power back they really needed. Maybe this pick will get Payton out of the Shotgun for more than a few plays a game. 


I don't know a lot about the O-Tackle they picked up, Waddle. But he does have some interesting experience playing both right and left tackle in Detroit. "Waddle is again another young player, third year, started at tackle for the Lions, came off an injury this year," BB said. "We feel like he's a very talented guy and a solid guy. We'll see how it goes. Again it's hard to find guys like that any time of the year. It's especially hard to find them now. You know who at times we've played with at tackle. We ended up with Bryan Stork playing tackle. So this is an experienced tackle who is still young and I think has a lot of good football in front of him, but we'll see how he fits into our system." He hopefully allows Stork to never start at ORT again.

Okay, they also picked up a D-tackle to take the roster spot of Easley. His name is Ishmaa'ily Kitchen (which is just plain mean to a dyslexic like me). "He's a young player but still a pretty experienced player," BB said. "Kind of a little bit light at defensive tackle depth-wise and again he has some experience, which I think at this time of year it's hard to find players that fit into that category, which Hankerson does, which Waddle does. We're kind of fortunate there. [He's] a strong run player: big stout guy, moves fairly well, not a lot of length." So they probably are looking for him to clog up the middle a little.

They made four interesting moves this week to help prepare for the Playoffs. These four guys, as strange as they are to us now, are going to be playing on this team in the Playoffs. They will have bit parts and be bit players. But as we know, strange things happen in the Playoffs. When rosters are set and you can't pick four players off the wavier wire if you get some bad luck. So one or two of these guys is going to have to step up and make a crucial play or two in the Playoffs. Whether they do or not could be the difference between a victory and a flood.

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