BOSTON Teams

Mike Reiss ESPN Staff Writer 

Patriots will once again practice on their game field today. It is their seventh straight practice on the synthetic surface, instead of the natural grass practice field. That is tied, in part, to some of the extreme cold/snow from late December.

David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports
14hJackie MacMullan and Chris Forsberg

Celtics won't share Pierce tribute with Thomas

Paul Pierce will be the lone former Celtic honored when his jersey is retired on Feb. 11, and he says the only reason Isaiah Thomas nearly got a tribute of his own on that night is due to the franchise's guilt over trading Thomas to Cleveland.

Matt Bowen ESPN Staff Writer 

One more Patriots route to look at vs. the Jags Cover 3 defense (see example below). Here, New England can run the post-wheel concept to clear some space for the underneath out route. With Chris Hogan (Z) running the post (pushing the CB down the field) and Brandin Cooks (W) releasing on the wheel (removing the curl defender), Danny Amendola (X) now has room to break on the out route. Work to the vacated zone on a high-percentage throw for QB Tom Brady. Good call on third down to move the sticks.

Matt Bowen ESPN Staff Writer 

The Patriots can also use the play-action seam (see example below) in the AFC Championship vs. the Jags. By reducing the split of the Z receiver (run-alert for the defense), and pulling the guard on play-action, the Patriots can force the linebackers to attack downhill. And that creates an open window for QB Tom Brady to hit Rob Gronkowski (U) on the quick seam route.

Matt Bowen ESPN Staff Writer 

Would expect the Patriots to run a bunch of Cover 3 beaters (three-deep, four-under zone) versus the Jags in the AFC Championship. This example (see below) allows QB Tom Brady to work the inside seams (Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan) with the shallow cross underneath (Brandin Cooks). The outside receivers? Basically decoys to hold the CBs (open up the windows to target the seam routes).