New England Patriots: Brandon Mcgowan

Special teams tackle leaders

November, 26, 2009
A look at the Patriots' leaders in special teams tackles (based on coaches' film review), which can highlight the value of some lesser publicized players:

LB Pierre Woods -- 12
LB Eric Alexander -- 9
S Brandon McGowan -- 9
S Pat Chung -- 8
WR Sam Aiken -- 7
CB Kyle Arrington -- 5
S Bret Lockett -- 5
S Brandon Meriweather -- 5
WR Matthew Slater -- 5
LB Rob Ninkovich -- 4
K Stephen Gostkowski -- 4

Patriots defensive snap count

November, 23, 2009
A look at snaps played by Patriots defenders in the team’s 31-14 win over the Jets (as charted in the press box, small margin for error):

ILB Gary Guyton – 51 of 51 snaps
ILB Jerod Mayo – 51 of 51
S Brandon Meriweather – 51 of 51
CB Jonathan Wilhite – 51 of 51
CB Leigh Bodden – 50 of 51
S Brandon McGowan – 50 of 51
OLB/DE Adalius Thomas – 40 of 51
NT Vince Wilfork – 39 of 51
DE Mike Wright – 37 of 51
DE Ty Warren -- 34 of 52
OLB Tully Banta-Cain – 26 of 51
OLB Pierre Woods – 19 of 51
DE Derrick Burgess – 17 of 51
DT Myron Pryor – 17 of 51
CB Darius Butler – 12 of 51
S James Sanders – 9 of 51
S Pat Chung – 5 of 51
DT Ron Brace – 1 of 51
S Randy Moss – 1 of 51

(Two false start penalties included in snaps)

ANALYSIS: The base alignment was a 3-4, with the Patriots using a 3-2-6 dime (6 defensive backs) in most passing situations and occasionally a 4-2-5 nickel (5 defensive backs). … Butler and Chung were the fifth and sixth defensive backs in the sub package. … When Chung left the game with a head injury, he was replaced by Sanders. … Mayo and Guyton played every snap at inside linebacker, keeping Junior Seau on the sidelines for the third game in a row. … Including penalties, the 51 snaps were the third fewest the defense has played in a game this season (46, vs. Falcons, 49 vs. Titans). … Banta-Cain made the most of his playing time, finishing with five tackles and two sacks in just 26 snaps. … After seeing action solely on early downs, Thomas is playing again in sub packages as he’s had more of a chance to rush the passer in recent weeks. … Woods played on defense for the first time since Oct. 18 against Tennessee, starting at outside linebacker and working in a rotation. … This was the second time this season that Moss has been called upon as a safety in a Hail Mary situation.

Another tight spot for McGowan

November, 9, 2009

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- When the Patriots have made negating opposing tight ends a top priority in their game plan, they've turned primarily to safety Brandon McGowan.

In Week 3 against the Falcons, McGowan played an instrumental role in holding future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez to one reception for 16 yards.

In Week 7 against the Buccaneers, McGowan was at it again, limiting Kellen Winslow to just two catches for 9 yards.

Next up: Dallas Clark.

As the Patriots turn the page from their 27-17 win over the Dolphins and start thinking about their next game -- a Sunday night tilt at Indianapolis -- the presence of Clark looms large. The versatile Clark is second in the NFL with 60 receptions.

"He's a good tight end, you can see Peyton [Manning] likes him, and he likes the other receivers," McGowan said Monday. "The defensive backs are going to have our hands full this week."

At 5-foot-11, 210 pounds, McGowan takes pride in his work against tight ends. He has filled a slot similar to Rodney Harrison's this season and has been one of the surprise performers on defense. He's proved to be fast enough to play competitively in the deep third of the field but physical and tough enough to move toward the line of scrimmage in more of a linebacker-type role.

Football journey: Brandon McGowan

September, 25, 2009
On Saturdays throughout the season, the plan will be to highlight one Patriots player's football journey. This week, it is safety Brandon McGowan.

The 25-year-old McGowan is in his first season with the Patriots. He started in last Sunday's 16-9 loss to the Jets, while continuing his role as a core special teams player.

Where it all started. "I was around 5 or 6 years old, just playing with my friends in the schoolyard, or in the streets. By around 7 or 8, I think it was my mother who signed me up for the PAL League. Ever since then, I've been playing, at all different positions -- running back, receiver, corner, safety, linebacker. I went on to play high school ball in Jersey City at Lincoln High School. After that, I went to college up at Maine with Coach Jack Gosgrove."

Maine memories. "I had a great experience, met a lot of friends who I still talk to. At first, it was a little shaky for me because it was a different environment. Those things, you just have to adapt to and get used to. I pulled it through."

Players and teams he followed growing up. "I was a Buffalo Bills fan. I used to like Thurman Thomas. I always picked the Bills because a lot of my family is Cowboys fans, so I always used to go against them. I always liked the Bills, too, so I just stuck with them."

His NFL progression. "I knew I wasn't going to be drafted, so my goal was to find a good agent, someone who could get me a tryout so I could show teams what I could do. Stephen Cooper was my teammate up in Maine and he talked to me about agents. I went and met his agent, and decided to go with him, Buddy Baker. I had a tryout with Chicago, showed them what I could do, made it, and was there for the last four years. Now I'm here, with a good team with good coaching."

On achieving his NFL dream. "At Maine, I thought about it. I had a coach there, Torrian Gray, who told me my freshman year that if I keep doing what I am doing, and working hard, he said I could play at the next level. I figured he knew, because he played in the NFL. Plus, when I went to Chicago, he was the assistant defensive backs coach."

Last week's journey: Rob Ninkovich