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Wells Report Challenges Belichick’s Science Simulation

Written by: Ian Logue
Posted May 6, 2015 at 7:41 pm


Belichick likely isn’t happy after Wednesday’s release of the Wells report. (USA TODAY Images)

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick spent a Saturday explaining a little science after their AFC Championship victory, which came after he was faced with allegations about the team deflating footballs prior their game against the Colts.

At the time, the press conference was called because he felt the team “needed to say something”, and then proceeded to give an extensive scientific explanation of the apparent loss in pressure during the game after the team simulated their pregame preparation of the footballs to try and understand what might have happened. Belichick said the “vigorous” rubbing process to prepare the balls he said “raised the PSI level approximately one pound” and that once the officials put the air pressure at 12.5 psi, that “once the football reached its equilibrium state, it was probably closer to 11.5″

Exponent, the company hired in the report to test the theory, is contesting that assertion after doing their own testing.  They’re claiming that after 20 minutes of rubbing, the pressure “increased in a given ball by approximately 0.7 psi,” and claimed that the football returned to its starting pressure within “fifteen and thirty minutes after the cessation of the rubbing.”

They also claim that the delay in time between when they were done being prepared (approximately 2:30pm) to when the officials inspected them (approximately 3:45pm) would have reduced the pressure and the new measurements have shown the difference.  They found that none of the footballs delivered an artificially high or low reading and were still at 12.5 psi.

“Based on these experiments, Exponent concluded that the average pressures recorded for the Patriots game balls during halftime of the AFC Championship Game were lower than the lowest average pressures attained by the simulations,” the report read.  “In other words, when tests were run using the most likely game-day conditions and circumstances, the Patriots halftime measurements could not be replicated, and the pressures observed for the Patriots footballs by Exponent during its experiments were all higher.”

“This absence of a credible scientific explanation for the Patriots halftime measurements tends to support a finding that human intervention may account for the additional loss of pressure exhibited by the Patriots balls.”

As a result, they’re ruling out Belichick’s testing and explanation for what occurred.

Needless to say if you think he was upset before about the amount of time he wasted going through the motions for that data, he’s likely not going be very happy after today’s news.

Taking a Closer Look at the Wells Report, What it Says & The Fall Guys for the Patriots

Written by: Ian Logue
Posted at 7:26 pm

Brady appears to be at the center of the investigation now thanks to two team eployees who complained about him frequently via text. (USA TODAY Images)

The Wells Report was released on Wednesday and 243+ pages later, the determination appears to be that the Patriots did, in fact, knowingly release air from the footballs leading up to their showdown with the Indianapolis Colts prior to the AFC Championship game.

Or at least that’s what the report claims.  The report appears to go the complete opposite of most legal outlets in that it’s basing the ruling based on assumptions and innuendo instead of concrete evidence.  The bad news is this will likely now going to convict the Patriots more so in the court of public opinion, which is essentially much worse.  Owner Robert Kraft (who the report rules out as being involved in the alleged scandal) had previously challenged the NFL shield by demanding an apology if they were cleared of any wrongdoing.  Now that it’s over, while Wells hasn’t done that, the report has done a good job of trying to protect Kraft but has slammed the Patriots back down coming off of their first Super Bowl win in nearly a decade.

It’s a disappointing outcome and before we get into it further, for those of you who don’t feel like rifling through it all, here’s a full rundown of the major parts of the report:

WHAT THEY FOUND:

The term “more probable than not” will likely go down as the next term that will be echoed in the coming years thanks to this report.  Since the league doesn’t have definitive proof of what happened, the Wells’ report is basing their ruling on what they believe instead of what they can prove.

“For the reasons described in this Report, and after a comprehensive investigation, we have concluded that, in connection with the AFC Championship Game, it is more probable than not that New England Patriots personnel participated in violations of the Playing Rules and were involved in a deliberate effort to circumvent the rules,” the report read.  “In particular, we have concluded that it is more probable than not that Jim McNally (the Officials Locker Room attendant for the Patriots) and John Jastremski (an equipment assistant for the Patriots) participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were examined by the referee. Based on the evidence, it also is our view that it is more probable than not that Tom Brady (the quarterback for the Patriots) was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls.”

The report did go on to say that despite reports in regards to the team introducing a non-approved kicking ball into the game, the investigation cleared them of that in the part that read, “Based on the evidence, the investigation has further concluded that that there was no deliberate attempt by the Patriots to introduce to the playing field a non-approved kicking ball during the AFC Championship Game.”

In the coming days the guys who appear to be the ones who will take the most heat for this investigation are McNally and Jastremski, as well as Brady for their supposed roles in this debacle.  The rumors are already swirling regarding a suspension of Brady, with Vegas even going so far as to take the Patriots and Steelers game off the board as they wait to find out if the veteran signal caller will be on the field for week one of the regular season.

And what is the “damning” evidence against them?  A series of text messages summarized on page eighteen of the report that seem to suggest the biggest thing that’s leading up to the assumption that McNally and Jastremski knowingly broke the rules and seemingly did so under the direction of Brady.

According to the report, here is a summation of some of those conversations, with commentary in the report of the reasons why they feel these were key components in their investigation:

“- The inflation level of Patriots footballs and McNally‟s impact on the inflation level of the balls (“im going make that next ball a f****n balloon”; “Make sure you blow up the ball to look like a rugby ball so tom can get used to it before Sunday”; “16 is nothing…wait till next sunday”);”

“- Jastremski‟s plan to provide McNally with a “needle” for use by McNally (“Can‟t wait to give you your needle this week :)”; “F**k tom….make sure the pump is attached to the needle…..f***in watermelons coming”);”

“- McNally‟s request that the “needle” be surrounded by cash and new sneakers and other items of value to be received by McNally (“Better be surrounded by cash and newkicks….or its a rugby sunday”; “Maybe u will have some nice size 11s in ur locker”; “Remember to put a couple sweet pig skins ready for tom to sign”; “U got it kid…big autograph day for you”; “Nice throw some kicks in and make it real special”);”

“- McNally‟s references to Brady as the catalyst for Jastremski‟s offers of sneakers and clothing (“Tom must really be working your balls hard this week”; “Tom must really be on you”); and 15″

“- That game balls for a Sunday game would not be deflated because of anger at Brady (“The only thing deflating sun..is his passing rating”).”

“- Text messages most plausibly read as describing a conversation between Jastremski and Brady during which Brady mentioned McNally and said that McNally must have “a lot of stress” trying to get the footballs “done” (“Talked to him last night. He actually brought you up and said you must have a lot of stress trying to get them done…”).”

“- Text messages from McNally referring to himself as the “deflator” and suggesting that he might contact the media (“jimmy needs some kicks….lets make a deal…..come on help the deflator”;”

The team apparently had their own counsel involved during the investigation, and contended that the text messages between McNally and Jastremski referring to the inflation levels of the footballs and the rest of their conversations weren’t serious and shouldn’t have been seen as anything more than “attempts at humor and hyperbole.”  The report disagreed, saying, “We also find these claims not plausible” and appears to be focused on that evidence as being a big key in the investigation and subsequent findings.

Another fact in the investigation is McNally’s apparent recollection of his brief bathroom break on the way out the field that night, where he claims he dropped the ball bag to his left and “used the urinal to his right.”  The bathroom apparently doesn’t contain a urinal, which in the report seemingly has them questioning what happened in there during the one minute and forty-seconds that he was in there for.

To top it all off, they also claim that it was the first time they could recollect that the balls were taken out onto the field without permission, which left officials in a panic trying to figure out where the footballs were before eventually realizing McNally had already brought them out.

These facts are why they feel the Patriots are guilty of breaking the rules, with the text messages between the two employees being the most damning.

WHAT WAS BRADY’S ROLE?

The talk so far seems to be focused on Brady as the lone potential person outside of team employees who might be punished as a result of their findings, which, given the evidence they have, is hard to imagine a suspension being handed down.

Here’s what the report says about Brady’s role in it all:

“We nevertheless believe, based on the totality of the evidence, that it is more probable than not that Brady was at least generally aware of the inappropriate activities of McNally and Jastremski involving the release of air from Patriots game balls,” reads the report.  “Evidence of Brady‟s awareness appears in text communications between McNally and Jastremski.”

The report goes on to cite the veteran’s involvement in the 2006 rule change that allowed visiting teams to prepare game balls in accordance of the preferences of their quarterbacks, and then goes on to point out that during the interviews for the investigation Brady denied “having been aware of Rule 2 or the minimum inflation level until 2014,” and throwing in a snide “(despite approximately fourteen years as an NFL quarterback).”

They also appeared to be unhappy with the fact that Brady “declined to make available any documents or electronic information (including text messages and emails) that we requested, even though those requests were limited to the subject matter of our investigation (such as messages concerning the preparation of game balls, air pressure of balls, inflation of balls or deflation of balls) and we offered to allow Brady’s counsel to screen and control the production so that it would be limited strictly to responsive materials and would not involve our taking possession of Brady’s telephone or other electronic devices. Our inability to review contemporaneous communications and other documents in Brady’s possession and control related to the matters under review potentially limited the discovery of relevant evidence and was not helpful to the investigation.”

Needless to say Brady’s unwillingness to turn over his texts and emails didn’t sit well with the investigation, and now he’s in the spotlight.  They believe that while he may not have directly deflated the balls he was aware of what was going on, basing it purely on the moaning and groaning of a couple of team employees who were complaining about him via text.  Those quotes are mentioned repeatedly all throughout the report, which uses them over and over again as their reasoning behind their conclusions.

THE RESULT:

The report’s constant repeating about the text messages, which inferred Brady’s concern over the state of the footballs leading up to the football game and McNally and Jastremski’s frustrations over it, appears to be where the vast majority of the conclusion centers, especially given how many times they’re referenced.  That’s a pattern throughout the report and it’s amazing how many times in general things are repeated throughout it.  To make matters worse, the report gives more of an opinion and includes snide inferences of what they feel happened instead of an unbiased assertion of the facts and timeline of events to reach their conclusion.

As far as the punishment is concerned or the fallout, that remains to be seen.  Kraft seemed disappointed with the outcome but appears tired of arguing about the topic.  For now he seems resolved to whatever is coming next, by a league that appears to have gotten what it wanted.

“While I respect the independent process of the investigation, the time, effort and resources expended to reach this conclusion are incomprehensible to me,” Kraft said in his statement on Wednesday.  “Knowing that there is no real recourse available, fighting the league and extending this debate would prove to be futile. We understand and greatly respect the responsibility of being one of 32 in this league and, on that basis, we will accept the findings of the report and take the appropriate actions based on those findings as well as any discipline levied by the league.”

The good news is, it’s finally over.  The bad news is the worst might not yet be, and for now we’ll just have to sit back and wait to see what happens next.

2015 PATRIOTS DRAFT: Thoughts on All Eight Selections From Day Three

Written by: Ian Logue
Posted May 3, 2015 at 12:17 pm


Flowers is among some pretty talented players selected Saturday. (USA TODAY Images)

The Patriots wrapped up the NFL Draft on Saturday in very Bill Belichick-like fashion, adding plenty of defensive help as well as a long-snapper (we all know Belichick loves long-snappers and specialists) and a couple of offensive linemen, one of which includes a former teammate of current center Bryan Stork.

It was an interesting day to say the least, and here’s a quick rundown of all the players the Patriots will begin working with in the months ahead.

PICK 1) 4th Round (101st Overall): Trey Flowers (DE, Arkansas):
Every year there’s a player who makes some interesting comments and this year Flowers is the lucky guy who falls into that category.  Flowers is a big guy, listed at 6’4″, 269lbs and one of the things he’s good at is causing trouble in opposing backfields.  According to CFBStats.com, he finished with 15.5 tackles for a loss and 6 sacks last season, as well as 9 QB hurries and 6 passes broken up.  The inspiration for his play?  The movie “The Waterboy”.  “I actually grew up watching, fell in love with the game watching Waterboy so I guess I got that kind visualize-and-attack mentality,” said Wells during his interview with the media. “He just taught me to go crazy out there.  I just take myself to a place and attack as they say.”  Needless to say, keep an eye on him in training camp and if you do happen to talk to him – for those of you who have seen the movie – don’t say anything bad about his mother.

PICK 2) 4th Round (111st Overall): Tre’ Jackson (OL, Florida State):
The FSU pipeline was tapped again on Saturday after the Patriots selected Seminole lineman Tre’ Jackson, reuniting Stork with his former teammate.  Adding depth up front is always important and at 6’4″, 330 pounds, Jackson seems to give them a solid body for a line whose main responsibility is protecting one of the team’s most valuable assets in Tom Brady.  The biggest question seems to involve his health, with one report suggesting he failed multiple NFL team physicals due to his chronic knee problems.  It didn’t stop the Patriots from drafting him and Jackson says his knee is “great”.  For now, he’s glad to be here and for the opportunity to play alongside his former teammate.  “It’s a great feeling to be alongside with one of my old players, one of my old guys that I know so well,” said Jackson.  “We talked a little bit during the process, and he pretty much just tuned me in on everything that you had to do to get to where he was and things like that.”   Hopefully he works out as well as Stork did in his rookie season.

PICK 3: 4th Round (131st Overall): Shaq Mason (OL, Georgia Tech):
Mason may not be the biggest player the Patriots have drafted up front, but he’s a guy who most scouting reports claim utilizes what leverage he has and outworks a lot of the guys he battles against.  Mason is fierce and is known as an excellent downfield blocker. That type of attitude and competitiveness are things that Belichick loves, so he’s an interesting player in that regard and he possesses a lot of versatility, with the ability to also reportedly give them depth as a back-up center.  Mason says his “competitive edge” is what sets him apart.  “I always have a competitive edge,” said Mason.  “The salty and tough – that’s pretty accurate because I mean, going into every situation on the football field, somebody has to win and somebody has to lose. That’s my mindset each and every play, so I bring that to the table each and every play.”

PICK 4: 5th Round (166th Overall): Joe Cardona (LS, Navy):
The draft wouldn’t be complete without a crazy Belichick-esque pick and we got to see one Saturday when Belichick did what no other team had done in 20 years, and that was select a player out of Navy.  The fact that it was a long-snapper at this spot only makes it even more interesting, proving once again how much he clearly values special teams.   As we know, this is a coach who once had the long-snapper snap the ball up into the uprights late in a critical Monday night game out in Denver years ago, which requires a guy with the skills to do that and Cardona certainly fits the bill.   Cardona found his selection, “surreal”.  “I think just the nature of the position you don’t see many guys drafted,” said Cardona.  “I mean I heard rumors and my agent saying that I have a chance of getting drafted, and then when the call came in the fifth round it was just surreal. That’s the only way I can put it – it was surreal. Like I said, I’m just grateful for the opportunity.”  The only question now seems to be whether or not he’ll be able to play, as his military commitment seems to potentially be an issue.  Either way it made for an interesting afternoon.

PICK 5: 6th Round (177th Overall): Matthew Wells (LB, Miss State):
Speed and athleticism seems to be a focus at the linebacker position in recent years, with Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins as two good examples of what New England has been looking for with previous draft picks.  On Saturday their selection of Wells is another example, although Wells at this point looks to be more of a special teams standout and a role player given his size at 6’1″ 218lbs.  One area he excelled in college was his coverage skills on defense so it will be interesting to see how he’s utilized by New England, but it appears they grabbed a pretty good athlete on Saturday.  He told reporters on Saturday that he’s legally blind in his right eye, saying he can see but he can’t read out of it, although he claims it’s never impacted him on the field.  For now he’s excited to get out there, and ready for whatever role he’s given.  “It doesn’t matter,” said Wells.  “Whatever position they think I’m best at and want to try me at, that’s what I’m willing to play.”


Derby is a terrific athletic player and should be a good addition to the Patriots’ offense.
(USA TODAY Images)

PICK 6: 6th Round (202nd Overall): AJ Derby (TE, Arkansas):
The draft wouldn’t be complete without the addition of a tight end, and the Patriots drafted another to go along with Rob Gronkowski, Scott Chandler, Tim Wright and Michael Hoomanawanui.  The interesting thing about Derby is that he’s another player drafted that scored high in the 3-cone drill with a time of 6.99 seconds and a 4.51 short shuttle, so he’s got terrific quickness.  He’s similar to Julian Edelman in that he started out as a quarterback before making his transition to tight end, which didn’t happen until his senior season.  It’s been quite a journey for Derby, but he’s happy to land in New England. “Yeah, it’s kind of a long road,” said Derby.  “I was pretty stubborn about playing quarterback in my early time in college. That’s the reason I ended up leaving Iowa to go to juco [junior college], then to Arkansas, but I ended up meeting with [head] coach ‘B’ [Bret Bielema] and it worked out great to be a tight end. [I’m] just really looking forward to joining the Patriots organization and doing whatever I can to help the team win.”

PICK 7: 7th Round (247th Overall): Darryl Roberts (CB, Marshall):
It took until the 7th round for the Patriots to finally select a cornerback, but they ended up grabbing Roberts out of Marshall and the early reports seem to be pretty encouraging about his selection.  He’s another player that continues New England’s focus on terrific athletes, with Roberts having run a 4.38 second 40-yard dash at his pro day along with a 6.66-second 3-cone drill, and an insane 4.06 second short shuttle.  He finished his collegiate career with five interceptions and 35 passes defended, and he also played plenty of special teams in college.  He should definitely be a fun player to watch in camp, and he’s excited to be a Patriot.  “It’s just a true blessing,” said Roberts  “My whole family and my whole support staff, everybody is just happy for me and excited for me. It’s just an honor to have an opportunity to play for the Patriots.”

PICK 8: 7th Round (253rd Overall): Xzavier Dickson (DE/LB, Alabama):
New England grabbed a player out of Nick Saban’s school with their final selection, taking another defensive player when they grabbed Dickson.  Dickson’s selection came later than many thought it would and he’s a guy who had a decent amount of success in Alabama in getting after the quarterback and being disruptive in the backfield, having finished with 14 sacks along with 21 tackles for a loss.  As far as how he’ll be used, Dickson said the team told him he’ll be “a defensive end or an outside linebacker” and that “speed to power” is his best move.  When asked about all the defensive players New England took, the rookie said he’s ready to come in and compete.  “It’s just football,” said Dickson.  “It’s a competition every day. I’ve just got to go in and make the best out of my opportunity.”

Overall, on paper, it seems like a pretty good group of talent the Patriots gathered on Day 3.  We’ll see in the months ahead who emerges as potential contributors for the upcoming season, which should definitely make for a pretty interesting training camp.

Patriots Bolster their LB Group With Matthew Wells

Written by: Ian Logue
Posted May 2, 2015 at 8:00 pm


Wells adds speed and youth to the Patriots LB core. (USA TODAY Images)

One of the biggest trends we’ve seen from the Patriots in recent years is adding guys to their linebacker group that are fast and athletic.

On Saturday, they added another one, selecting Mississippi State’s Matthew Wells in the 6th round with the 178th overall pick.

Wells spent the last two years starting at outside linebacker for the Bulldogs, including 13 starts last season finishing with 45 tackles and four sacks in 2014.  At 6’1″, 218 he’s not exactly big enough to be considered an immediate difference-maker, but he’s the type of player who gives the Patriots depth behind their current starters and he could give them an additional player in coverage.  He’s got terrific speed, running a 4.45 40-yard dash during his pro day and also posted a 35-inch vertical and 9’10” broad jump.

During Mississippi State’s pro day back in March, Wells was considered one of the best performers of the day.

“He did great,” MSU defensive end Preston Smith told HailState.com of Wells back in March at the Mississippi State Pro Day. “We always knew he was fast, but we wanted everyone else to realize he was fast. That shoots him up the board.”

It might not been as high as he hoped, but it shot him up into the sixth round and on to New England’s roster.  As we’ve seen in recent seasons it never hurts to have too many athletic skilled players, and it looks like the Patriots may have added a good one in Wells Saturday. The added speed should be an asset on special teams, and here’s a look at some of the highlights from the newly added Bulldog:

Patriots Add Georgia Tech G Shaq Mason In Round Four

Written by: Ian Logue
Posted at 4:49 pm


Mason adds some depth to the Patriots’ offensive line. (USA TODAY Images)

The Patriots addressed their offensive line on Saturday, and in the fourth round added Georgia Tech guard Shaq Mason, their second guard of the round.

Mason adds depth to a group that now also includes Tre Jackson, who was picked earlier in the same round.   Both players will likely push incumbents Josh Kline and Jordan Devey, and with Dan Connolly still a free agent, Mason joins Johnson as two players who should set up an interesting position battle heading into training camp.  Marcus Cannon and Ryan Wendell would seem to be the likely two players to be your day one starters, but given the injuries this team has faced up front in recent years, it will be interesting to see if either rookie ends up in the line-up this season.

According to Mason, he and Jackson are friends, which should allow the two an immediate comfort level when they arrive and get to work at Gillette Stadium.

“As far as another offensive linemen coming in from the ACC, me and Tre’ [Jackson], we’re pretty cool,” said Mason.  “So that’s my guy.”

Mason’s 6-foot-1 and 300 pounds, not quite as big as Johnson, who is much bigger at 6’4″, 330lbs.  But he’s a tough player and according to several draft profiles, he’s a player who has good leverage, with his specialty considered to be in the ground game and just needs to work on his technique. He’s also a player who has some good versatility and could also be a potential back-up to center Bryan Stork.

It’s a nice pick up  and gives the Patriots some additional talent up front.  Not a bad addition for a 4th round pick and he’s excited to be a Patriot.

“Coming off of a Super Bowl, it’s a great organization,” said Mason.  “I couldn’t be in a better place.”

Patriots Draft SS Jordan Richards in Round Two

Written by: Ian Logue
Posted May 1, 2015 at 10:22 pm


The Patriots selected Jordan Richards Friday night in round two of the 2015 NFL Draft. (USA TODAY Images)

The Patriots made their second selection of the 2015 NFL Draft on Friday night, this time adding a player to their defensive backfield, although it wasn’t at cornerback.

New England picked Stanford’s Jordan Richards with the 64th overall selection, adding another player to a safety group that now includes Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon and Tavon Wilson, with the latter falling under the category of a player that many felt at the time the Patriots reached for and hasn’t lived up to the expectations.

That’s how many seem to feel about Richards, who didn’t come into this draft as a highly ranked player at his position.  NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein and Chad Reuter actually had him projected as a 7th round pick, going at 240th overall to the Detroit Lions.  However, as we know Bill Belichick likes team captains and smart players, which are both two traits the Stanford standout possesses.

Richards becomes just the second player ever selected out of Stanford during the Belichick era, with the last being Cameron Fleming, who was taken in the fourth round last year.

Looking at his numbers from the combine, one area he excelled was the 3 cone drill, finishing with a time of 6.74 seconds, the second highest among safeties this year behind Utah’s Eric Rowe (6.74), who was taken with the 47th overall pick by Philadelphia.   He also ran an 11.38 60yd shuttle, ranked 3rd in that category among safeties.

Quick feet and a smart player.  It’s an interesting selection, and hopefully he turns out to be the player Belichick seems to think he can be in New England’s defense.

PATRIOTS DRAFT: The List Of 2nd Round Picks During the Belichick Era

Written by: Ian Logue
Posted at 9:37 am


Jimmy Garoppolo was last year’s 2nd round pick for the Patriots. (USA TODAY Images)

As we get set for night two, here’s a quick list of Patriots picks from the second round since 2000:

2000 (46th) Adrian Klemm – T – Hawaii
2001 (48th) Matt Light – T – Purdue
2002 (65th) Deion Branch – WR – Louisville
2003 (36th) Eugene Wilson – FS – Illinois
2003 (45th) Bethel Johnson – WR – Texas A&M
2004 (63rd) Marquise Hill – DE – Louisiana State
2006 (36nd) Chad Jackson – WR –  Florida
2008 (62nd) Terrence Wheatley – CB –  Colorado
2009 (34th) Pat Chung – DB – Oregon
2009 (40th) Ron Brace – DT – Boston College
2009 (41st) Darius Butler – DB – Connecticut
2009 (58th) Sebastian Vollmer – T – Houston
2010 (42nd) Rob Gronkowski – TE – Arizona
2010 (53rd) Jermaine Cunningham – OLB – Florida
2010 (62nd) Brandon Spikes – ILB – Florida
2011 (33rd) Ras-I Dowling – DB – Virginia
2011 (56th) Shane Vereen – RB – California
2012 (48th) Tavon Wilson – FS – Illinois
2013 (52nd) Jamie Collins – OLB – Southern Mississippi
2013 (59th) Aaron Dobson – WR – Marshall
2014 (62nd) Jimmy Garoppolo – QB – Eastern Illinois

The Patriots have grabbed some good players over the years, although it’s been hit or miss for the most part. Some of the bigger highlights include Light (2001) and Branch (2002), as well as Gronkowski (2010), Vereen (2011), and Collins (2013). Last year saw them take Jimmy Garoppolo, who seems like he’s off to a good start behind Brady. Hopefully they grab some additional talent tonight when they make their pick with the 64th overall selection.

Friday Patriots Notebook 5/1: Patriots Come Full Circle With Brown Pick, Jones’ Option Picked Up, More Notes

Written by: Ian Logue
Posted at 9:27 am

Despite a report that the Patriots weren’t going to make a selection on Thursday night, the New England ended up coming away on night one addressing the defensive line after selecting Texas defensive tackle Malcom Brown with their 32nd overall pick.

Brown was a player the Patriots reportedly interviewed at the scouting combine, with the 6’2″, 319lb lineman giving them another big body inside to hopefully continue the process of rebuilding the defensive line following the loss of Vince Wilfork this past offseason.

He’s a player who has played a variety of positions up front during his time at Texas, and Bill Belichick praised Brown for his versatility during his post-draft press conference late Thursday night.

He’s a guy that’s played inside, on the nose, all the way outside to the five-technique, kind of everywhere in between,” Belichick told reporters after taking Brown.  “He’s been moved around a little bit: played a little more outside this year, a little in Coach [Charlie] Strong’s defense; a little more inside with the previous staff. He has plenty of snaps in a variety of spots. [I] look forward to working with him and [we’ll] see how it goes here tomorrow.”

The Texas standout should give them a massive presence inside and should give them another young, talented player to build around.  He seems mature for his age and , like Wilfork was when the Patriots selected him, Brown is married with a daughter and said last month that his goal was to make it to the NFL so he could support his family.

“It just gives me more motives,” Brown said via NESN.com. “I’m not just playing for myself anymore. I’m playing to support my family. I can’t just think about myself when I make decisions. I have to think about my daughters and my wife being supportive, so I have to give it my all.”

Now that he’s made it to the NFL, Brown said he and his wife are glad the process is over so they can start moving forward.

“Everybody is happy,” Brown told the media after being selected.  “We know where we were going to be at, so now we can start figuring out a plan to settle in.”

His words were very similar to Wilfork, who right after he was drafted told the media his focus was on buying his new wife, Bianca, a home.

“I already have a car,” said Wilfork at the time. “A house is my main concern right now. Getting familiar with the area and that is it.”

Brown finished 2014 with 15 tackles for losses along with 6 1/2 sacks, showing a lot of potential and he’s the type of player who looks like he could be poised to make contributions in the Patriots defense heading into 2015, which is certainly good news for a team that heads into a new era without a player who has been such a big part of their defense since Wilfork was drafted in 2004.

The parallels certainly are there when you look at Brown’s personal life and his size, and Wilfork obviously went on to have quite a career here in New England.  Now Brown has big shoes to fill, but he looks like a guy who could definitely do it.  He admitted it won’t be easy, but he’s ready to get to work.

“I know nothing comes easy,” said Brown.  “I know I’m going to have to work for everything I want, and I’m prepared to give it my all and work for that. I’m just ready to go to work. I don’t expect anything and I’m going to work for everything.”

Sounds like a Patriot already.

BELICHICK HITTING THE RESET BUTTON:

With round one out of the way Belichick and his staff will reset and get ready for the next wave tonight when the draft continues.  New England has one second round (64th overall) pick and two third round selections (96th and 97th overall) heading into Friday night, and Belichick admitted they’ll have some interesting decisions to make.

“I think we’ll have to kind of recalibrate tomorrow and reset our board as if it’s the start of the draft,” said Belichick.  “Thirty-two names have been eliminated, some needs have been filled with other teams that have selected and kind of go through the same process. We’re in a little bit of a unique situation. We have those three picks around 100, whatever it is, 96, 97 and 101, whatever it is. We have those three picks there together, whether we want to, what that will look like or maybe those picks are movable, maybe they’re not, I don’t know. It’s kind of unusual to have three picks like that clustered together. We’ll have to talk about that situation.”

“It’s still 60-some picks until we even get to that point, so there are a lot of ‘what ifs’ but we’ll just talk about that situation and look to where we’d be here in the second round here at 64. [It’s] kind of the same as tonight: a lot of teams are going to pick before we’re really even close to getting up to bat. We’ll do the best we can when we get our opportunity to go. But really treat it as three separate days; reset the board today and then reset the board for Saturday after we get through the second and third round.”

ADDTIONAL NOTES:

– The selection of Brown marks the second straight year the Patriots have drafted two defensive line players in the first round. The last time they did that during the Bill Belichick era was in 2003 and 2004 when they drafted defensive end Ty Warren (2003) and Wilfork (2004), both of which ended with Championships. So far after drafting Dominique Easley last year they’ve already won one title. Hopefully the addition of Brown keeps the trend going.

– File this under “Did you Know?” – Looking over the list of players taken since 2000, I wasn’t aware that Jarvis Green (4th round pick, 2002) was joined by a Louisiana State teammate when he was taken that year. New England surprised everyone with the selection of quarterback Rohan Davey, who was taken just months after Tom Brady had won the Patriots their first championship. Davey was drafted nine spots ahead of Green in the same round, although it was Green who went on to have the better career.

– The Patriots picked up defensive end Chandler Jones’ 5th year option on Thursday, with the former 2012 draft pick now in the fold through 2016. Teams had until Sunday to exercise those options, and New England made the decision to lock up both Dont’a Hightower and Jones, both of whom are important parts of Belichick’s defense.

– According to the Boston Herald, Running back Jonas Gray, defensive tackle Joe Vellano and punter Ryan Allen were on hand in Saugus last night at the Kowloon restaurant on Route 1 as celebrity guests for a draft party as the team made their first round pick. None of the three players were drafted themselves, and Jones talked about what it was like to go through the process. “In a lot of ways, I think that even if your name doesn’t get called, you still have an opportunity to intern in the NFL,” said Gray, who went undrafted out of Notre Dame. “And you’re like anybody else. It’s a clean slate. It’s about what you do when you get there. Sometimes the numbers don’t work in your favor. But I always told people that I had a vision, I had goals and I knew, and I was honest with myself about what it would take to get there. A lot of times I doubted myself, but I had a good support system, my Mom and my brother, and I just kept working. It worked out for me. These guys have a chance to enter the NFL in whatever capacity. But you have to make sure you continue to get your name called, even if it’s not called on draft day.”

– The Jets drafted former USC Defensive lineman Leonard Williams last night, and Williams talked about the fact he hopes that he can contribute to the rivalry between New York and New England. He also hopes his first sack comes against Tom Brady. “I know that’s a big rivalry … They have a lot of pictures up of Brady around the complex,” said Williams via NJ.com. “I’m looking forward to a great matchup against him. I hope that he is my first sack of my career. Against Tom Brady.” Since the two teams don’t meet until Week 7 – that would be a long time to go without recording a sack for the number 6th overall pick.

Wednesday Patriots Notebook 4/29: Amendola Feels at Home, Pats like USC WR, More Notes

Written by: Ian Logue
Posted April 29, 2015 at 7:30 am


Amendola recently said he feels at home here in New England.

Tuesday marked the end of the speculation surrounding the Jets and their impending tampering charges after the league apparently agreed with the Patriots and finally hit them with a penalty in regards to cornerback Darrelle Revis.

According to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, the Jets were nailed with a $100,000 fine as a result of the investigation, although they won’t lose any draft picks.  The penalty comes after owner Woody Johnson’s comments during a December 29th press conference where he said he’d “love to have Darrelle back.”  He obviously got his wish after giving Revis a 5-year, $70 million deal this offseason, swiping him away just one month removed in helping New England win their fourth championship.

Mehta, who has been full of snarky comments throughout the league manifested “deflate-gate” investigation that the Patriots continue to deal with, fired back in his report as he called New England “eternal rule abiders” and isn’t happy with the fact the league didn’t punish Robert Kraft for his own remark after losing Revis where he said “the fan in me wishes he was still with us.”  He continues to ridicule the Patriots for filing the charges against their divison rival, saying their “pettiness in the wake of Johnson’s harmless statement prompted a league review that included at least two visits from NFL investigators to the Jets’ facility this offseason, according to league sources.”

Unfortunately the league ruled otherwise and it ended up being New York, and not the Patriots, suffering a penalty.

Meanwhile the deflate-gate investigation is now in its 96th day, which as Mehta points out, is even longer than the Watergate investigation by the U.S. Senate that lead to the eventual resignation of then-president Richard Nixon, which lasted 42 days.  NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said during an interview with host Charlie Rose on CBS This Morning yesterday that he expects it to be over “soon”.

For now, whether Mehta likes it or not, the league felt strongly enough that Johnson’s comments crossed the line as it pertains to players under contract with another team and now the Jets’ are a little lighter in the wallet as a result.  The bigger question for those of us back here in New England is simply when the ridiculous investigation that actually has no merit will finally go away.  Goodell might have said it will be over “soon”, but “soon” certainly can’t come soon enough.

AMENDOLA: ‘THIS IS HOME TO ME':

It’s been quite a road for wide receiver Danny Amendola, who came to New England with high expectations and has ended up battling through his fair share of ups and downs since signing with the Patriots.

Expected to be the team’s top target after the loss of Wes Welker, Amendola instead slipped down the depth chart behind Julian Edelman, who has now emerged as the team’s best receiver.  Edelman’s emergence left Amendola trying to find a role for himself on the team as the two share similar skillsets in the passing game and it ultimately led to a reduction in snaps and was a big part of the reason Amendola took a pay cut this offseason.

The good news for the veteran is the fact that this past season was a positive one as he established himself as a solid returner in the kicking game for the Patriots, and he also had a terrific postseason that included a key touchdown in New England’s Super Bowl victory over the Seahawks.

Needless to say he’s certainly got something to build on heading into next season and he told reporters on Tuesday that he loves it here and that he hopes to stay as long as he can.

“I love playing for this team, for these coaches, for this organization,” Amendola said via ESPN Boston. “I have family out here. This is home to me. I love playing here. This is a great experience, and I’d like to prolong that for as long as I can. It’s been fun.”

Amendola admitted he still has plenty to prove, and he’s just focused on getting ready for next season.

“I’m focused on the future. I have a lot of football to play,” he said. “I have a chip on my shoulder still. I want to play good football for a long time.”

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

– Peter King of MMQB.com filed his mailbag for this week and had some thoughts on what the Patriots might do this week in the upcoming NFL Draft.  King writes on their 32nd overall pick, “I think the Patriots are in a great spot at 32. So many teams high in the second round want to move up, and the Patriots don’t have to take anyone here. If they could get the 2016 first-round pick of a current bad team, I’d do that deal in a second
”  However, King believes the team is high on USC wide receiver Nelson Agholor, and believes they might take him.  “New England likes USC wide receiver Nelson Agholor. If I were Bill Belichick, I wouldn’t be getting cute late in the first round, particularly with three picks between 96 and 101,” writes King.  “I’d take the guy I’d like. Even if I could get an attractive first-round picks next year for the 32nd pick, I’d still take a receiver Agholor now if I could. (But I do think he’ll be gone before 32.)

– A cute video is on Patriots.com featuring Jerod Mayo’s daughter as the veteran linebacker had a shadow in the weight room last week after bringing his daughter to Gillette Stadium for “take your kid to work” day.

– Unfortunate news for Chandler Jones’ brother, Jon Jones, who was recently arrested following a hit-and-run that police say left a pregnant woman with a broken arm.  Jones, who had been the UFC light heavyweight title holder, has since been stripped of his title  and made his first court appearance on Tuesday.  According to the Associated Press, following the accident officers found a pipe with marijuana in the SUV as well as MMA and rental car documents in Jones’ name, according to the police report.  Prior to the incident Jones had been the youngest champion in UFC history.

– Newly signed Scott Chandler talked to reporters on Tuesday and he talked about what it’s been like since changing teams from the Bills to the Patriots.  “It just gives you a little more familiarity with the AFC East,” said Chandler via the Sun Chronicle. “Other than that, it’s a new team, things are different and you try to be a part of that. You want to do everything you can to just ingratiate yourself to your teammates. You see how hard guys work and you want to work hard with them. That’s what it is to build a team.”  For now he’s just excited to get started, and talked about Brady’s work ethic as guys continue working to get ready for the upcoming season.  “It’s exciting to get to play with a guy that’s has some success in the past,” he said. “but past success does not determine future success. We’re all working hard right now, and Tom’s working harder than anybody.”

Monday Patriots Notebook 4/27: Interesting Week Ahead For Patriots, Scarnecchia Still in Solder’s Corner, More Notes

Written by: Ian Logue
Posted April 27, 2015 at 7:30 am


This week should be an interesting one when the Patriots make their draft picks.

The NFL Draft is now just days away, and coming off of a Super Bowl win the Patriots will look to improve a roster that returns the vast majority of talent on the offensive side of the football, while the defensive side still has some question marks after losing some key players this offseason.

The obvious losses are Darrelle Revis (Jets) and Brandon Browner (Saints), both of whom left via free agency and were key players on the defensive side of the football.  However, they also lost linebackers Akeem Ayers (Rams) and Jonathan Casillas (Giants), which while not as significant, the two were decent role players and will affect how the team continues to address some needs in the coming months.

This year the Patriots have nine picks, one more than the eight they had in 2014.  Last year’s draft saw them address the offensive side of the football, using six of those eight on offensive players, most notably coming away with center Bryan Stork, quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo and running back James white.  The year before in 2013 they went the other way, making seven total selections, five of which were spent on defensive guys that included Jamie Collins, Logan Ryan, Duron Harmon and Michael Buchanan.  The same held true in 2012 when they made seven picks, six of which were used on defensive players, including Chandler Jones (21st overall) and Dont’a Hightower (25th overall), as well as special teams standout Nate Ebner (197th) and defensive back Alfonzo Dennard (224th).

Given their needs on the defensive side of the ball, it will be hard not to see that as the priority this time around heading into this weekend.  However, there are quite a few analysts out there who, given this year’s deep class of receivers, see New England potentially making a move to grab one in the early rounds.  That would be interesting to say the least, and would likely tell you all you need to know about how they feel about former second-round pick Aaron Dobson, who despite an impressive career at Marshall hasn’t been able to carry that success into the NFL thus far after two seasons dealing with a foot injury.  There have also been other whispers about issues between he and offensive coach Josh McDaniels (which were later refuted by head coach Bill Belichick). Either way, Dobson will certainly be facing one of the most challenging training camps coming up of his young career.

The vast majority of mock drafts seem to favor offensive and defensive line as the more likely scenarios, while a few others favor cornerback or linebacker.  We’ll have a database coming this week that will allow you to sort through many of them, as well as get a look at who many believe other teams could be targeting.

At the end of the day the only people who have an inkling of what the Patriots plan will be sit within the confines of Gillette Stadium and as we know, they’re not planning on revealing anything.  Needless to say given Bill Belichick’s past history, it should be another interesting weekend.

SCARNECCHIA WAS IN SOLDER’S CORNER DURING CANCER PLIGHT:

Former Patriots offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia may have retired in 2013, but that didn’t stop him from being in Nate Solder’s corner last season as the offensive tackle faced his battle with testicular cancer.

According to the Boston Herald, Scarnecchia was among the few people who knew about Solder’s diagnosis, and the former coach wasn’t surprised about the fact Solder kept it to himself and fought through it.

“That’s him. That’s so much him. He doesn’t say a whole lot about things, things like that,” Scarnecchia told the Herald. “He tries to meet all issues head on. He doesn’t avoid them. That’s not him. That’s not the way he does things. He meets everything head on, and he met this one head on. To his credit, he did really well.”

Solder went through a stretch where there were critics locally on sports radio about his play, with none of them obviously aware of what the veteran was dealing with on a personal level.  He certainly could have said something, but instead he never made excuses and fought through it, finishing the back half of the season strong and was a key component in keeping Seattle’s defense at bay during their Super Bowl win.

That didn’t surprise Scarnecchia, who was impressed with how Solder handled himself.

“He’s a big boy. He understands all that stuff (from critics),” Scarnecchia said. “On the games he struggled, I thought he bounced back. Most importantly, the last half of the season, and in the playoffs in particular, he and Sebastian (Vollmer) really acquitted themselves really well. They really played very, very well. They played their best football when it counted the most. As a result, you keep Tom upright, and it worked out great.”

Solder is in the final year of his rookie contract, which will hopefully see him receive an extension in the coming months to keep him in the fold protecting Tom Brady’s blindside for the foreseeable future.

But overall, it’s definitely quite a story and hopefully those who criticized him now have a better appreciation for him after what he’s been through.

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

– C.J. Spiller may now be a member of the New Orleans Saints, but apparently he was very close to lining up behind Tom Brady this season before the deal was made.  According to Grantland’s Bill Simmons, the Patriots were pursuing Spiller and thought they had him, but the Saints swooped in and took him away.  “They thought that was going to be their guy, and then the Saints came marching in with some ridiculous offer, even though they have one of the worst cap situations in the league, ” said Simmons via TigerNet.com. “And the Patriots were flabbergasted.”

– Sad news this morning after reports came out pertaining to 6-year old Danny Nickerson, who was the boy suffering from an inoperable brain tumor who caught the attention of everyone in New England after he received more than 150,000 birthday cards, passed away on Friday.  It was quite a story, with his mom’s plea on Facebook letting everyone know about her son’s “love for receving mail” going viral and people responded in a big way and put a smile on the young boy’s face.  It’s definitely a case of a young life ending far too soon and our thoughts go out to Danny’s family.

– One note from ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss worth mentioning about the Patriots opening day opponents, the Pittsburgh Steelers, is the fact that the team’s history without running back Le’Veon Bell hasn’t worked out too well the last two seasons.  As Reiss points out Pittsburgh is 0-4 without him, and Bell is suspended this year for the season opener.

– Jason La Canfora of Fox Sports recently talked about what the Patriots might do this weekend in his “The 7 Coaches, GMs and Owners Who Will Swing NFL Draft”, which included a note on Belichick.   La Canfora believes the Patriots could potentially make a move up from their spot at 32 overall and believes receiver or running back might be a possibility.  “This cat [Belichick] has turned more than one draft on its ear and is even less concerned with what we think than is [Chip] Kelly,” La Canfora wrote. “Belichick has gone to great lengths to study receivers in this draft. But sitting at No. 32 might not where he wants to be to get one. Tom Brady isn’t getting any younger and the Pats could be in position to make a big move. Trading up for a pass catcher would make sense, taking a shot on a troubled kid like Dorial Green-Beckham at 32 could be equivalent to landing Randy Moss a half decade ago. I wouldn’t rule out taking a running back with the pick, either. But if there is an early run on receivers — and my hunch is three go in the top 10 — I can’t help but wonder if the Pats jump up. Regardless, Belichick is always among the truly intriguing figures on draft day.”

– Congratulations to Super Bowl hero Malcolm Butler, who has definitely had quite the offseason after making his historic interception back in February.  The defensive back apparently recently had a child a couple of weeks ago.  According to the news-record.com Malcolm Terel Butler Jr. was born on April 16th.  Pencil him into your draft notebooks and scouting reports in 20-ish years.

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