Sports Centralby Cian Fahey
- We've moved to The Sports Central
- Avery Bradley's stuttering start to Boston Celtics career is no more
- New England Patriots - a case for keeping Brandon Lloyd
- Tom Brady's contract extension puts pressure on New England Patriots to perform in short-term
- Jeff Green's approach epitomizes Boston Celtics Post-Rajon Rondo
Ellis should be a great addition to the Patriots' roster. His addition hurts their divisional rival New York Jets as much as it helps the Patriots. Ellis will bring a lot of versatility to the defensive line because he has the ability to be disruptive in the passing game as well as shutting down the running game from various positions. Ellis can play both 3-4 defensive end and 4-3 defensive end which is vital to the team's new defensive identity.
He may not have featured in the preseason yet but I doubt the Patriots are going to let Haynesworth go without seeing him on the field. Haynesworth, if motivated, will provide the perfect complement to Vince Wilfork with his penetration into the opposition backfield while Wilfork works to suck in blockers and shut down the running game.
Wilfork is the one certainty with the Patriots' defense as he will be the cornerstone of the 3-4 and a vital cog in the 4-3 defense. There is little that needs to be said about the big man except that he is big! Wilfork will command double teams and even treble teams at times as he remains in the center this year after spending some time on the edge last year.
Anderson had a great rookie season but is yet to replicate that performance in his career. He had 12 sacks as a rookie with the Bears and last season had 4 sacks with the Houston Texans. The Patriots will be hoping the inside presence of Haynesworth and Wilfork will allow Anderson to take advantage of the double teams falling to the inside.
Carter is in a similar situation to Mark Anderson in that he needs to get into the opposition's backfield to have any value to the team. Carter has excelled in the past as a 4-3 defensive end but struggled recently when the Redskins moved to a 3-4 scheme. At 32 years of age he is a proven veteran and the Patriots will know what they get from him when he steps on the field.
Wright has been an impressive 3-4 end in the past two seasons racking up an impressive 10.5 sacks. He will be a situational player this year in all likelihood getting on the field in passing situations.
Deaderick is a youngster who played more than the Patriots would have liked last season but should benefit from that this season. He will likely see less time in the rotation in this new amoeba defense but will be a valuable backup nonetheless.
- Geordan Murphy was outstanding. Murphy was the one Irish player that made no mistakes throughout and was always assured in defense while providing good running off the ball in attack.
- Ireland's scrum has improved with Mike Ross, Cian Healy and Jerry Flannery in the front row. The lineout is still effective but was difficult to analyze after the loss of David Wallace and Jamie Heaslip.
- Stephen Ferris and Jerry Flannery appear to be fully fit. Flannery played just over an hour while Ferris lasted the full game.
- Ireland were dominated at the breakdown. The backline rarely got quick ball as England continually blew the Irish forwards off the ball while the Irish players appeared reluctant to attack the ball.
- The whole team lacked the physicality, intensity and aggression to play successful rugby at the international level. With the ball players were hesitant and moving sideways while their counterparts on the opposite side hit the line hard and ran more dynamic lines. The lack of physicality up front and creativity behind has been a constant throughout.
- Connor Murray became the team's starting scrum half without even being on the field. Murray came on late in the game and didn't do much to catch the eye but the erratic display of Eoin Reddan before him will surely see the Munster man take over the starting role.
- While Paul O'Connell was praised for his display in the lineout and the open field, the Irish pack as a whole needed someone to inspire them to be more physical and take command of what was a less talented group of forwards.
- The injury to David Wallace looks like a world cup ending one while Jamie Heaslip will definitely need to be at full strength after picking up a knock.
- Ireland's best center partnership right now is Fergus McFadden and Brian O'Driscoll. Keith Earls proved that while he has a lot of speed and elusiveness, he is not smart enough with the ball or strong enough to play center. Earls was totally dominated by both English centers in defense while never making much of an impression through the middle of the field.
- Where was Tommy Bowe? Tommy Bowe looked slow on the wing. He didn't get any real service but watching him, it looks like he is not 100% fit.
- Ireland once again didn't score a try. Ireland's best chances came from English mistakes but while that is fine in Rugby if you are forcing those mistakes, England were committing unforced errors.
- Even with an extra man advantage Ireland suffered a 10 point swing when Ronan O'Gara missed a penalty and Dylan Armitage managed to score a try after sustained possession deep in Irish territory.
Green Ellis was retained for this season after being a restricted free agent in the off-season. This was despite the team drafting two running backs in June and re-signing Kevin Faulk also. The Patriots have a logjam at running back but Green-Ellis specialty in the short yardage game and the fact that he has proven the most of any back (outside of Kevin Faulk who likely won't be on the roster) will assure him his place on the roster and assure him of substantial touches throughout the year.
The Hard Knocks' star and former New York Jet will be looking to repeat his performances of last season. While Green-Ellis is the bruiser, Woodhead is everything but. Woodhead fits perfectly into the Patriots system and gives the team another receiver coming out of the backfield. He is incredibly shifty and elusive with reliable hands. That being said he still averaged 5.6 yards per carry last season also. Woodhead can run the ball and while he is not as physically punishing as Green-Ellis he is able to make his presence felt.
Two experienced members—and former starters on a grand slam team—were left out of the traveling party.
Tomas O'Leary and Luke Fitzgerald seemingly played themselves out of contention over the past few months with both club and country. O'Leary's exclusion wasn't as big a shock considering he had missed most of the season with an injury but Fitzgerald's was despite his poor form.
The Irish rugby squad is all set to be announced tomorrow and there are sure to be some surprises in Declan Kidney's selection for his final 30 man squad.
While I'm not going to try to predict what Kidney will do, I will pick a squad based on my own observations and evaluations.
The talk that Ochocinco would be cut before the preseason to send a message to the locker room was and is crazy. Firstly Bill Belichick values his draft picks too much to do that and secondly Ochocinco is too good to be cut before the season has even started. Ochocinco is not an elite receiver any more but he is a very good player still. He does not pose a consistent deep threat but he runs expert routes and has great upper body strength with reliable hands. He will be a perfect fit in the Patriots' offense.
Welker had a poor season by his standards last year. However he had a good season considering he was coming off of an ACL tear at the end of the previous year. Welker should outperform his statistics from last season and once again be a threat to defenders rather than just a possession receiver.
Deion Branch and Chad Ochocinco will be tough for secondaries to match up to while still manning Wes Welker. Branch will likely be the man left in single coverage and should take advantage of the opportunities that come his way because of that. Branch would be a more than capable third choice receiver on any team in the league. He may be a veteran but his age won't hinder his performances on the field.
Matt Light was re-signed in the off-season to hold down the left tackle position until Nate Solder is ready to be a starter. Light is a brilliant tackle on his day but struggled at times last season which could be a reflection of his age. Light could lose his position as early as this season but the Patriots will have no problem with trusting him to protect Tom Brady's blindside.
Mankins was finally re-signed to the big deal that he craved. Mankins is an outstanding football player and one of the best guards in football. His competitiveness should not waver now that he has been rewarded adequately.
The Patriots have a veteran offensive line and Dan Koppen is a big part of that. Koppen's continuity with Tom Brady is invaluable to the team.