The Boston Globe's Mike Reiss discusses the Patriots hurry-up offense, particularly in combination with the screen pass. The hurry-up often begs blitzing and stunting from defenses, but the screen pass uses that penetration against a defense. the Patriots went to the hurry-up set four times in their 28-21 victory over the Lions, and the result -- with three crucial screen passes part of the mix -- was two touchdowns, one field goal and one lost fumble. "It's been tough all year," Belichick said of the hurry-up. "It's good to see it come alive here a few times recently. It was a huge factor in the game."
The Boston Globe's Patriots Notebook explains that the Patriots entered the year with seven captains, but tight end Daniel Graham was added to the group late last week. "It's one of those things I felt was the right thing to do for our team," said Belichick. "I think he's a tough guy who is very well-respected on the team." Graham joins quarterback Tom Brady, receiver Troy Brown, linebacker Tedy Bruschi, safety Rodney Harrison, linebacker/special teamer Larry Izzo, defensive lineman Richard Seymour, and linebacker Mike Vrabel as captains.
The Patriot Ledger's Patriots Notebook reports on Tom Brady's excellent play from the pocket this season. According to season stats compiled by The Patriot Ledger, Brady has posted significantly higher numbers in passer rating (91.6-81.0) and completion percentage (65.3-56.5) when he's in the gun compared to under center. He also has more touchdown passes (11-9) and yards (1,564-1,304) while throwing the same number of INTs (6).
Michael Felger of the Boston Herald speaks with (injured) safety Rodney Harrison about his potential return from a broken scapula. "I'm planning on coming back strong and being a big contributor," said Harrison at a charity event over the weekend. "I'll put it like this. The next time I play, I don't plan on it being next year. I'm looking forward to this year and I'm working my butt off. I'm not setting any timetables. Just day-by-day."
Three-quarters of the way through the NFL season, things are playing out almost exactly as the league powers would like. There is no dominant team, reports Shalise Manza Young of The Providence Journal. With four games left in the regular season, division leaders Indianapolis and San Diego (both with 10-2 records) and Baltimore and New England (both 9-3) all are in good position to win their respective divisions. Manza Young breaks down each of these teams, discussing strengths and weaknesses.
Glen Farley of The Enterprise takes a look at the way things are shaping up for the last quarter of the regular season. "We're just jockeying for position," said Seymour. "Nothing is etched in stone. Nobody's given out any trophies or (clinched) where (they're) going to be in the playoffs. We're just trying to get better as a football team at this point. We still have some work to do. That's just the bottom line."
Eric McHugh of The Patriot Ledger reports on a tackle by Ty Warren in the Lions backfield last Sunday. Warren celebrated on the FieldTurf at Gillette Stadium by crawling on all fours like some big dog. "I couldn't get up," the New England Patriots defensive end said with a laugh about his impromptu display. "The dude (Lions right tackle Barry Stokes) was all on my back. It just kind of (morphed) into something. I was just having fun, man. That's it." Warren's been having a lot of fun this season, having a career year, and tallying 5.5 sacks.
Glen Farley of The Enterprise explains why he thinks former Pats quarterback Steve Grogan's number should be retired. Grogan quarterbacked the team for 16 years. "You want a guy who heroically led by example? That was the essence of Steve Grogan," writes Farley. "Here was a guy who repeatedly put the good of his team ahead of his own health. He was the toughest player to ever pull on the Patriots colors."
The Sun Chronicle's Mark Farinella stages a mock conversation with The Voice of Doom, who reportedly arrived in his 1962 Corvair to discuss the Patriots recent roller-coaster ride through their schedule. The Voice of Doom has been busy with politics this Fall, but the Patriots recently caught his eye. Talk about a knee-jerk prognosticator, The Voice of Doom really "likes to overstate." You'll have to read this one to believe it.
Michael Parente of the Woonsocket Call reports on the Dolphins, who are on the rebound after getting out to a 1-6 start in the first seven weeks of the season. Parente explains that this is an important game for the Phins, who are on the verge of being mathematically eliminated. Parente also previews the upcoming game at Miami, discussing issues facing the Patriots.
Check out USA Today's Inside Slant, updated today.