Patriots

Too many men: Patriots very good at making other teams look bad

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Too many men: Patriots very good at making other teams look bad

The Patriots are the best team in the league this season when it comes to making opposing defenses look silly.

Blown coverages happen. Sure. And players find themselves on the wrong end of physical mismatches all the time. But, against the Patriots, teams are more likely to break one of the simplest rules in the game than they are against anyone else.

Bill Belichick's club leads the NFL with six 12-men-on-the-field penalties drawn this season. Second in that category? The Vikings and Packers, tied with two.

The Patriots picked up a too-many-men call against the Broncos on Sunday night in the fourth quarter when they were set to punt -- a first for them this season. Defensive lineman Shelby Harris couldn't get off the field in time on a fourth-and-five, and the penalty gave the Patriots a first down that sucked the thin air out of Mile High.

After being gifted an extended drive, Tom Brady found James White for a touchdown to make the score 41-16.

It looked like the Patriots could have picked up another too-many-men penalty late in the second quarter when Brady rushed to the line as two Broncos scampered off. They either got off just in time -- it's hard to tell on the NBC television replay -- or the officials missed it.

In their first three games of the season, and now in their last three games of the season, the Patriots have caught their opponents either loafing or just plain unaware. But it's not always Brady who has the knack for catching other teams meandering as they try to substitute.

Sometimes it's offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels telling Brady through his helmet that they have a chance to pick up five free yards.

Sometimes it's someone in the Patriots booth above the field -- perhaps director of player personnel Nick Caserio, who is in regular contact with McDaniels -- who sees an opening.

McDaniels explained the mechanics of what he called a "unique opportunity" during a conference call on Tuesday.

"It doesn't always present itself in each game," he said. "Where we're not trying to substitute and the other defense might be. But, you know, it could be something you see on the field as a player. Tom's certainly done a good job of that in his career. Or it could be something that somebody sees from the booth or the sideline. But, again, it's not something that we've done extensively.

"It just so happens it might've happened a couple of times in the last couple of weeks. But there's a lot of circumstances that go into that. If we're substituting, obviously, we really can't do that. If they're not substituting [then we can't]. There's a lot of different factors that go into it. The down and distance and what you're trying to get done, etc.

"If all the things line up, you end up with multiple groupings trying to sub in and out on the other side, eventually you may end up getting a situation like we've had in the last couple of weeks where the defense has a different personnel grouping on the field than they want to have."

The Patriots may be better built than most to draw those kinds of penalties since they can attack defenses with what looks like base personnel on one snap, not substitute, and then go five-wide on the next. Having versatile backs and tight ends as the Patriots do can cause a defensive coordinator's head to spin.

Though McDaniels noted the uniqueness of the situation, New England's personnel is its personnel. And it's happened often enough this season that you'd be brave to bet against it happening again.

Report: Patriots to sign Kenny Britt

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Report: Patriots to sign Kenny Britt

According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Patriots will sign veteran receiver Kenny Britt. 

Britt, who was released by the Browns last week, has seen injuries and off-field issues interfere with a promising career since being chosen 30th overall by the Titans in 2009. He was suspended for four games in 2012, his final season with the Titans, before playing the next season with the Rams. This was his first season with the Browns, but he was released after making 18 catches over nine games. 

Why did Malcolm Butler retweet this graphic about Jay Cutler carving up the Patriots?

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Why did Malcolm Butler retweet this graphic about Jay Cutler carving up the Patriots?

This makes me feel like Felger, so apologies.

Malcolm Butler might not love Bill Belichick the GM, and there’s a chance he’s made some light commentary on Belichick the coach. 

After Monday night’s Patriots loss to the Dolphins, a Pro Football Focus graphic was posted detailing how well Jay Cutler did when the Patriots blitzed him. It was retweeted from Butler’s account. 

Though Butler un-retweeted it by Tuesday morning, the retweet was an interesting act. Twenty blitzes (by how PFF measures blitzes) is a high number. Was Butler just pointing out that Cutler had a good game or suggesting that maybe the Pats shouldn’t have kept blitzing when Cutler was responding to them so well. Might be a shot at Belichick or Matt Patricia. Might be something else. Might have misread "Cutler" for "Butler" and thought he was retweeting a compliment. Reading into social media is a gas.