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Tuesday’s Patriots News & Notes 7/1


Bill Belichick is in the middle of a historic stretch. (USA TODAY Images)

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has certainly put together an incredible run during his tenure in New England, and he’s on the verge of doing something special this season.

Should New England finish over .500 for the fourteenth consecutive season, it would move him into second place in that category all-time with some pretty prestigious company.

Belichick’s already tied with Chuck Noll and Don Shula as coaches who have had 13-years of non-losing seasons, but Belichick and Shula are the only two coaches out of that trio to finish above .500 over that span. Knoll finished the 1981 season 8-8.

One interesting stat is the fact that Belichick is the only coach out of that bunch to finish with double digit wins in 12 of those seasons, which is an active streak he’ll carry into 2014. Shula won 10 or more games 10 times over that span, with his longest consecutive streak of six running from 1970-1975. Knoll had double digit wins eight times, but was only able to do it for five consecutive seasons.

Should the Patriots finish above .500 this season, it would tie Curley Lambeau’s mark of 14. Lambeau’s streak ran from 1934-1947 as head coach of the Green Bay Packers. The former Packer’s coach passed away in 1965 at the age of 67, but his name lives on as the team named their stadium after him following his passing that same year.

The all-time record of consecutive-winning seasons is 20 and is held by Tom Landry, who dominated the NFL from 1966 through 1985 with the Dallas Cowboys. Landry’s streak of non-losing seasons is actually 21, with his Cowboys team having finished 7-7 in 1965.

Keep in mind those previous records were set during the non-salary cap era in the NFL. So the fact the Patriots have been able to put together such an incredible run over the last decade given all the turnover they’ve experienced personnel-wise is definitely impressive, with only Brady remaining from the original team that kicked it off in 2001.

Like anything else, nothing lasts forever. So it’s just another reason to appreciate the fact that every Sunday is just adding to an historic stretch that likely will be remembered as one of the best ever, and one Patriots fans may not see again once it comes to an end.

H/T College2Pro.com

KING: BELICHICK WOULD LOVE THIS CFL RULE:

From Peter King’s MMQB from yesterday in his “10 Things I Think I Think”:

I think Bill Belichick would love the rule the CFL Competition Committee adopted this year: instant replay on pass-interference calls and non-calls. Coaches have two replay challenges per game, as in the NFL, but they can use it if they think a receiver’s gotten mugged. It turned into a key play in the first game of the season Thursday night in Winnipeg. Winnipeg coach Mike O’Shea challenged an uncalled but clear pass-interference infraction, and it allowed the Blue Bombers to get the ball at the opposing 1-yard line and score an easy touchdown.

Belichick had previously requested that the league allow coaches to challenge penalties, but that’s a rule that has yet to come into play at this point.

BRANCH RETURNS HOME FOR NINTH ANNUAL CAMP:

Former Patriots receiver Deion Branch might not be employed by an NFL team at this point, but that hasn’t stopped him from staying involved with the game he loves.

Branch recently took part in his native town of Albany’s ninth annual Skills and Drills camp, which took place last Satruday morning at Albany State University. He worked with kids ranging from 5-years old to high school who attended his camp, and he enjoys the opportunity to help teach them.

“If I could go back to being 8, 9 years old, when it all started, trust me I’d do it,” he told the Albany Herald. “For me personally, I wish there would have been somebody who could have (gone to the NFL) and came back and did something like this that my coaches and I are doing. It never happened. I don’t fault anybody. Luckily, I had enough parental guidance around me to help straighten me and push me the right way alongside a lot of my friends.”

Even if Branch doesn’t play another down, it looks like he’s paying it forward to kids who might one day become a household name thanks to his help.

MATTHEW SLATER STILL FEELS LIKE HE HAS TO EARN IT:

Matthew Slater continues to be one of the big keys to New England’s success on special teams, but despite his success it hasn’t affected his approach.

“Still just trying to make the team this year. Still see myself as a guy that does a lot of grunt work. Nothing’s owed to me,” Slater told the Boston Globe during the sixth annual Joe Andruzzi & Friends golf tournament, which raises money for cancer patients and their families. “I still feel like I have to earn it. I enjoy kind of being that grunt guy who goes in and earns everything that he can. [The] mentality’s the same seven years later.”

Slater says he’s still enjoying himself as he enters his 7th pro season.

“I still feel like the kid who’s out there at recess,” Slater told the newspaper. “Playing football and having a blast.”

SOME ADDITIONAL FINAL LINKS:

Our friend James Christensen looks at potential practice squad players for the Patriots this season – READ MORE

A look at the fact that the Broncos’ ticket prices are approaching the Patriots’ from this article from Forbes.com – READ MORE

Sam Spiegelman from XN Sports looks at some questions in the AFC East, and wonders if this is the Patriots division to lose in 2014 – READ MORE

Here’s an interesting article from the Washington Post on the fact that the league wants to put a ban on players using too many bars on their facemasks, which also applied to former Patriots linebacker Brandon Spikes – READ MORE

Monday’s Patriots News and Notes – 6/30


Tom Brady has just the 8th highest salary on the team heading into 2014. (USA TODAY Images)

A quiet morning on this Monday, but here is a quick rundown with some news and notes:

INTERESTING FACT ON BRADY:

Ben Volin of the Boston Globe pointed out an interesting fact in his Sunday notes column, noting that seven players are poised to make more money in base salary than quarterback Tom Brady this season.  Those players are Logan Mankins, Devin McCourty, Rob Gronkowski, Jerod Mayo, Dan Connolly, Danny Amendola, and Stephen Gostkowski.

Brady is set to make $2 million in base salary this year, tied for eighth on the team with Sebastian Vollmer and Kyle Arrington.

For those wondering why Darrelle Revis isn’t on the list, Volin points out that Revis’ salary is $1.5 million this season, with $10.5 million more tied to bonus money.

PATRIOTS THOMAS BEING HONORED TODAY:

According to WALB out of Georgia, Patriots sixth round pick, defensive back Jamea Thomas, will be honored tonight at Jaycee stadium at 7pm in Fitzgerald.

The town is excited about Thomas achieving his dream of making it to the NFL and they’re excited to pay tribute to him tonight.

“It happens so seldom, and it’s in a community that just flat out loves high school football,” says Fitzgerald football booster and play-by-play commentator Tim Raynor. “When one of your former student-athletes attains the dream of being drafted in the pros, you need to recognize them, love on them, and pay tribute to them.”

Thomas was a four year starter with the Purple Hurricane. He was named the AJC Class AA Defensive Player of the Year in 2008.

With Thomas now ready to play for the Patriots, Raynor told the station it’s fair to say there will be quite a few New England fans in Fitzgerald this fall.

“The Patriots are one of those teams that have had so much success, they’re sort of like the Braves were a few years ago,” he laughs. “When they win so much, you always cheer for whoever they’re playing against. But now we’re all New Englanders around here.”

EVENT COMING UP TODAY FOR JOE ANDRUZZI:

Former Patriots offensive lineman Joe Andruzzi is set to hold his sixth annual golf tournament today at Pinehills Golf Club in Plymouth, with Rob Ninkovich and Matthew Slater among players who are expected to attend.   Last year’s event raised $278,000 for Andruzzi’s foundation, which provides monetary support for families of cancer patients.

DALLAS POLICE DEPARTMENT MAKES A BIG MISTAKE:

The Dallas police department made an egregious error on Sunday after making a false report regarding former Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib, leading to reports online that were untrue.

The error came on behalf of Major Max Geron, who according to his Twitter account is in charge of the media relations unit for the department.  He incorrectly Tweeted that Talib had been arrested in Dallas overnight for public intoxication, only to later Tweet that it was Yaqub Talib (Aqib’s brother) and apologized for the error.

#BREAKING CORRECTION – Yaqub Talib 31yrs old was arrested. My apologies to Aqib Talib. Original information reported was incorrect.

— Maj. Max Geron (@MaxDPD) June 29, 2014

Both Tweets have since been deleted.

Some wonder if Talib has any legal recourse for a possible defamation suit, but according to one legal expert, a Supreme Court decision found public officials have to prove actual malice in any case of defamation.

“The easy defense is ‘I’m not malicious, I’m just stupid,’” attorney David Lane told 9 News. “Which is what Dallas Police defense is going to be.”

CHAD JOHNSON MAKES TWO RECEPTIONS IN CFL DEBUT:

Former Patriots receiver Chad Johnson made his regular season debut for the CFL and caught two passes for 20 yards in a 29-8 loss for his new team, the Montreal Alouettes.

Those two receptions were his first in any football game since December 2011 when he caught a pass as a member of the Patriots, which was a 15-yard reception against the Dolphins back on Christmas Eve of that season.

Overall that year he finished with 15 catches for 276 yards along with one touchdown.

Most fans remember that as being a rough year for Johnson, who struggled to get the playbook down and couldn’t quite get on the same page with quarterback Tom Brady.  Overall he was targeted 32 times with just 15 catches (47%), with one of the more notable numbers from that season being the fact he caught only 4-of-14 passes from Brady on first down (29%).

ESPN’S JOHN CLAYTON FEELS PATRIOTS HAVE A SOLID SECONDARY:

ESPN’S John Clayton has an article with some thoughts around the NFL, and believes the offseason moves the Patriots have made have turned things round in their secondary.

From Clayton:

Since 2008, the Patriots have drafted six cornerbacks in the top three rounds, and that includes 2010 first-rounder Devin McCourty, who now plays safety. After losing Talib in free agency, Bill Belichick signed Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner. Browner is perhaps the most physical press-coverage corner in the league. Revis is one of the best man-to-man defenders. Now, the Patriots have perhaps the NFL’s deepest group of corners.

He also answers a question regarding the Jets and Patriots and believes the Jets won’t win the Division because, “the gap between Tom Brady and even an improved Geno Smith is too vast.”

ASA WATSON TALKS ABOUT HIS BROTHER’S FOOTBALL CAMP:

Former Patriots tight end Ben Watson held his eighth annual Ben Watson Football Clinic at District Three Stadium in Rock Hill South Carolina. About 160 campers attended, with two clinics for second-fifth graders where the children learned fundamentals, along with one for middle schoolers that was more advanced.

It’s a city that has developed quite the reputation considering the amount of talent they’ve sent to the college ranks and NFL, giving it the title of “Football City USA”.  Asa Watson, the brother of Ben Watson who is an undrafted free agent with the Patriots and trying to make the team, was there helping out and talked about how important it is to give back to the community.

“I think it’s important to give back,” Asa Watson said. “It’s really cool to see … kids (who) could probably be the next great Clowney, Gilmore, or Ben Watson. But it’s more than football. We’re telling them about life skills, perseverance, and things that will impact the rest of their lives. But the main focus is to tell them about Jesus. Christ is more important than football or sports. So that’s why you do camps like this. Even if they don’t make a decision today, it’s about planting that seed and helping them develop as young men.”

OTHER LINKS:

James Christensen of Bleacher Report looks at who he feels are the most under and overrated offseason additions for the Patriots – READ MORE

Mike Reiss had some good odds and ends in his Sunday notes column from yesterday, including the fact that Rob Gronkowski is far ahead of where he was last year injury-wise after not suffering any setbacks - READ MORE

Chris Price of WEEI also has some good stuff in his piece from yesterday, which touches on the fact the Patriots are heading into 2014 with one of their best secondaries in recent memory – READ MORE

Patriots Morning Huddle 6/27 – Friday Morning News, Notes and Links


Tom Brady wants to play into his 40′s and former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana beleives he should. (USA TODAY Images)

A little lighter edition on this Friday as we close out the week, and here’s a quick rundown of some news and notes for this morning:

MONTANA’S ADVICE TO TOM BRADY, “PLAY AS LONG AS YOU CAN”:

Tom Brady talks all the time about the fact he wants to play into his 40′s, and one of his idols believes Brady should do his best to make sure he can prolong his career.

Former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana made an appearance on NFL Network’s Total Access Wednesday and talked about Brady and Manning’s desire to play into their 40′s.

“I say play as long as you can, because the minute you get out, no matter how ready you think you are, you say it’s time and [then] when I was leaving Kansas City, as soon as that season started the next year I was going, ‘why did I do that?’ ” Montana said via Zuri Berry of Boston.com. “I should have continued to play.

“Your body tells you something and your mind tells you something, but in reality, physically as long as you can play, I would play because it’s quitting cold turkey,” Montana continued. “You can’t go out with that kind of excitement in anything else that you’re gonna do. I always say, I wish everyone could play on a Sunday afternoon, just one game. Just so they would understand what if feels like, win or lose. [To see] what’s it like on a field on Sunday. Then you would never say, ‘why is that guy still trying to play at his age.’ [Then] you’ll understand the excitement of the game and there’s nothing like it.”

WELKER TALKS BELICHICK, OTHER TOPICS:

Former Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker was in studio Friday morning to join 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Fred Toucher and Rich Shertenlieb and talked about a variety of topics, including his relationship with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

As most fans likely remember, the play where Welker came over the middle and hit then Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib caused an injury that took him out of the game.

Bill Belichick said after the game, “It was a key play in the game. Obviously, he’s a key player for us.”

The next day he was more vocal, saying, “It was a deliberate play by the receiver to take out Aqib.  No attempt to get open. I’ll let the league handle the discipline on that, it’s not for me to decide.

“It was one of the worst plays I’ve seen. And that’s all I’m going to say about that.”

No discipline ever came, and the irony is that the two players are now teammates.

Welker was asked if he and Belichick’s relationship is contentious.

“I don’t think so.  Not on my part,” said Welker.  “I’m fine. I’ve got all the respect in the world for Bill and what he’s done as a coach. I’ve really learned a lot from him in my time in New England. I don’t see it that way.”

Another interesting part of the interview was the fact Welker addressed all of the pre-snap calls by quarterback Peyton Manning, and was asked how much of it was real, which Welker replied that not all of it serves a purpose.

“You pay attention to it all just in case,” said Welker.  “A lot of times we’re going so fast it’s kind of nice to get a breather, so keep on doing that crap up there to get us a little more time. A lot of it serves a purpose, but not fully.”

OVERRATED AND UNDERRATED “NFL HEARTBREAK”

Yahoo! Sports’ Shutdown Corner has an entry looking at tough losses that they believe are both overrated and underrated, and there were a couple of Patriots-related ones that stood out.

One was the Super Bowl loss that cost New England the chance to be 19-0, which in the piece points out wasn’t a surprise because “you could see the cracks in the armor” and that “the Patriots were playing tight. They knew it.”  It also called the playoff victories over the Jaguars and Chargers “ugly gut-check games”.

From the article:

So losing in the Super Bowl wasn’t stunning. Yes, on paper, the Patriots were the far superior team and should have won. They played well enough to do so, with fluky plays such as Asante Samuel dropping the biggest gift of an interception with 1:20 left followed by David Tyree’s miracle catch.

On the flip side the “Tuck Rule” game against Oakland was also discussed, although the notion that it cost the Raiders is downplayed significantly:

We won’t even get into the fact that the Raiders had plenty of chances to win the game. They had the ball with less than three minutes left and couldn’t pick up a first down, for instance. There were opportunities.

Tough loss for the Raiders? No doubt. Bad call? Nope. Conspiracy? Haha, please. Cost the Raiders a Super Bowl? Very doubtful. Just a tough loss. Those happen all the time. Get over it.

So there you have it.

DURON HARMON FOCUSED ON BIG OPPORTUNITY:

With the team releasing Steve Gregory this offseason, the opportunity is there now for safety Duron Harmon to potentially earn himself a role as the starter in New England’s defense.

Harmon, who saw his playing time gradually increase as the season went on last year, has himself poised for an opportunity to step into Gregory’s shoes, but he’s not taking it lightly.

“There are no starters right now,” Harmon said via Andy Hart of Patriots.com. “My mentality is just trying to get better each and every day and just try to put myself in position to make plays when I’m out there on the field.”

For now Harmon’s goal is just to play better in his second season, which he called his most “important year” as he tries to take the next step.

“Your second year is your most important year,” Harmon said. “You want to make that jump.  Because you have all that learning experience and now you want to put those learning experiences into you knowing football and knowing different situations that make you a better football player.”

PATRIOTS TICKETS GO ON SALE JULY 15TH:

The team announced Thursay that tickets for the New England Patriots’ 2014 home games will go on sale and become available to the public on July 15 at 10 a.m.

Fans wishing to purchase tickets should go online to ticketmaster.com or by calling 800-745-3000. Tickets can’t be purchased in person at Gillette Stadium, and Visa is the only acceptable method of payment.

ADDITIONAL LINKS:

Mike Reiss has his final chat before he leaves for vacation – VIEW

 Amid Franchise Uncertainty, Bills Tickets Least Expensive In NFL – VIEW

Mike Tanier from Sports On Earth has a good read on the Patriots Offseason – VIEW

Doug Kyed of NESN has comments from Darrelle Revis, who only misses the ‘Weather’, Teammates In Tampa Bay – VIEW


Tom Brady struggled throwing the football in 2013 down near the goal line. (USA TODAY Images)

One area that will likely see a lot of work heading into this season is the Patriots putting a major focus on their passing game down in the red area, especially as they get closer to the goal line.

That was an area of weakness last season, largely in part thanks to the fact that there was a lack of cohesion among new pieces of the Patriots passing game, as well as with the absence of Rob Gronkowski, which was discussed in yesterday’s edition.

Overall down in the red zone during the regular season in 2013 Brady finished 42-of-83 (51%) with 20 touchdowns and 3 interceptions.  In the postseason in their two games he was just 4-of-9 (44%) with only one touchdown.

Taking a closer look, when it came to throwing the football, as the team begins creeping closer to the goal line the percentages dropped quite a bit.

Here’s a breakdown:

Inside the 20yd line down to the 16:
14-of-22 (64%) 5 TDs, 1 INT

From the 15yd line down to the 11:
10-of-21 (48%) 3 TDs, 1 INT

From the 10yd line down to the 6:
9-of-18 (50%) 5 TD, 1 INT

From the 5yd line down to the 2:
6-of-15 (40%) 5 TD

At the 1yd line:
3-of-7 (43%) 2 TD

Obviously the  biggest number that stands out is how bad they were from the 5-yard line down to the 2, where Brady was just 6-of-15.  That’s certainly a glaring stat, and while trying to create some context around that, we come back to trying to figure out where Gronkowski fit into that equation.

Looking at the games that Gronkowski didn’t participate in, Brady was 4-of-12 (33%) with three touchdowns from that distance.  In the seven games Gronk was in the line-up, Brady was 2-of-3 (67%) with two touchdowns.

Oddly enough, Gronkowski didn’t catch either of them.  It was Julian Edelman who caught them both, and it shows you how the tight end’s presence likely made things easier on Edelman in those situations.

With Gronk out of the line-up Edelman wasn’t even targeted at that distance, which tells you that he was the one drawing the attention, with Thompkins (1 TD) and Vereen (2 TD’s) as the two players who Brady was able to find instead.

Moving down to the goal line, Brady overall was 3-of-7 with two touchdowns.  Without Gronkowski, he was 2-of-5 (40%) with one TD.  With Gronkowski on the field he was 1-of-2, misfiring on one pass to the tight end, while connecting for a touchdown to Danny Amendola on his other attempt.

Fortunately down that close the Patriots did have a fair amount of success running the ball.  From the 5-yard line down to the 2, the running backs combined for 8 carries and 5 touchdowns, three of which were by Stevan Ridley, while LeGarrette Blount and Brandon Bolden each chipped in with one each.

From the goal line, they carried 15 times with 7 touchdowns, with Ridley (3 TD’s), Bolden (2 TD’s), James Develin (1 TD), and LeGarrette Blount (1 TD) each punching it in.  Oddly enough the odd man out was Shane Vereen, who carried twice for 0-yards, while Brady had one attempt in the season opener and fumbled the football away on a 4th down play.

We’ll see if having a full year in the system helps some of the newer guys fix this problem.  But it shows you that they’ve got some work to do, and hopefully 2014 will see some improvement in that area.

UNDERRATED SUPER BOWL PLAY: J.R.REDMOND MAKES THE LIST:

Frank Schwab of Yahoo! Sports Shutdown corner published a list of “Overrated and Underrated Super Bowl plays, and one name that made the cut was  former Patriots running back J.R. Redmond, who helped Tom Brad quite a bit on the fateful drive that set-up the winning field goal in Super Bowl XXXVI.

Writes Schwab:

Brady hit Redmond, a little-used running back, for five yards on first down, narrowly escaping a sack to do so, and then went back to Redmond for eight more yards on second for a first down. Brady then clocked the ball with 41 seconds left. Bill Belichick had used the Patriots’ final timeout two possessions earlier when it was clear his defense was absolutely gassed.

The Patriots faced a 2nd and 10 from their own 30. They still had 35-40 yards to go to get into field goal range. Their offense had been pretty stale, gaining 27 yards on the previous three possessions.

Brady dropped back to pass and looked in the middle of the field. He wanted either Troy Brown or Jermaine Wiggins, it appeared. But Brady instead swung a pass to Redmond in the flat, and he made a very gutsy move, going inside of Rams corner Dre Bly, who was protecting against Redmond going out of bounds. Instead, Redmond had enough juice to break Bly’s tackle to the inside, drag Tommy Polley four yards, beat Kim Herring to the sticks and get out of bounds to stop the clock.

Schwab points out that it wasn’t a bad game for a player that had one touch in the game prior to that drive and didn’t surpass 1,200 yards from scrimmage in what he felt was a “nondescript career”.

LIGHT FOUNDATION WINS $100,000 PRIZE:

Matt Light’s foundation received some nice recognition recently, winning the 2014 Humanitarian Award and its $100,000 prize from All Sports United.  It’s a  prize given annually to a professional athlete for excellence in philanthropy.

According to the Daily Advocate, The Light Foundation was selected from a group of 40 nominations for the award. Light was one of 12 finalists along with Marshawn Lynch (Seattle Seahawks), Bill Belichick, Allison Baver (Olympic speed skater), Isiah Thomas (National Basketball Association) and others.

“We’re very proud of all of our finalists, “All Sports United Co-Founder Alan Pavlovsky said, according to the organization. “They’ve all presented themselves extremely well and have put in hard work. Matt Light couldn’t make us more proud as our winner. He’s very humble, shies away from self-promotion and works very hard to help people. It’s his calling and our calling to recognize him.”

UMASS AND UCONN WILL BATTLE AT GILLETTE STADIUM IN 2016

For those fans out there who love college football, there will be a pretty good game coming up at Gillette Stadium between a pair of local college teams in a couple of seasons.

According to the Daily Hampshire Gazette UCONN and UMASS will face off at Gillette Stadium in 2016 on September 10th.

A UMass source told the newspaper that the UConn game is part of a larger series that includes at least one game at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. 

The Huskies and Minuteman used to regularly face each other when both teams were in the Yankee Conference. UMass leads the all-time series 36-24-2 but UConn won the last meeting, 37-0, back in 2012, the Minutemen’s first game in the FBS.

RIDLEY WORKS WITH LOCAL ATHLETES:

According to the Natchez Democrat, Patriots running back Stevan Ridley spent Wednesday working with local kids as part of a local football camp at Adams County Christian School in Louisiana.

After working out at Louisiana State University, Ridley reportedly arrived at ACCS, preached grades first, shared secrets of his success and stressed good attitudes before fielding questions from the participants.

“You’re the only person that can stop you,” Ridley said to nearly 35 participants. “You have to marry your sport or whatever you do. You have to have focus and the right mindset.”

Ridley once took part in this camp, and told the newspaper that it was great to have a chance to see these kids and be a part of it.

It wasn’t too long ago that I was here running track meets at AC,” Ridley said. “Now, I’m talking to kids who I’m a decade older than. It’s always great to see these young kids from my hometown.”

PatsFans.com Daily Patriots News Links 6/25


Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal talks to Armond Armstead’s former coach in today’s links. (USA TODAY Images)

PATSFANS.COM:

Patriots Morning Huddle 6/24 – Wednesday News & Notes, Looking at the Gronkowski Effect Last Season - Ian Logue: In this morning’s notes column there’s a closer look at how much of an impact Gronkowski had during his time on the field last season, along with some other notes.

A historical look at the uniform numbers for the new Patriots: #31, Shamiel Gary – John Morgan: Morgan has an interesting look back at who previously wore #31, continuing what has been an interesting series.

BOSTON GLOBE:

Nantucket Dreamland Foundation honors Sharon Stone and Bill Belichick – In this entry Belichick is named with Stone as people to be honored by the Nantucket Dreamland Foundation at its second annual gala July 11.

ESPN BOSTON:

Leftover pieces of Patriots mail – Mike Reiss: Reiss has additional bits from his mailbag, and has some thoughts on wide receiver Aaron Dobson and who he feels he compares to.

Andruzzi pays it forward with Pats & more – Mike Reiss: Reiss has a note on Joe Andruzzi, who has been around helping out during the team’s strength and conditioning.

Closer look at Dominique Easley’s deal – Field Yates: Yates takes a closer look at Easley’s deal, which includes $5,887,611 in guarateed money.

Weekly Patriots mail is delivered - Mike Reiss: Reiss has his mailbag for this week, which has some good odds and endsin this week’s edition.

TMZ:

Rob Gronkowski Goes Full Gronk at JLO Concert - Gronkowski was apparently at a recent concert for Jennifer Lopez, with TMZ posting video of him in this entry.

BLEACHER REPORT:

Fact or Fiction for the Patriots’ Biggest Offseason Question Marks – James Christensen: Christensen has five questions Belichick has to chew on this offseason and a discussion about whether their bark is worse than their bite.

NEPATRIOTSDRAFT.COM:

2014 Patriots 53-Man Roster Projection: Calm Before the Storm – Oliver Thomas: Thomas has his early roster projection heading into training camp, with some interesting points throughout the piece.

ATTLEBORO SUN CHRONICLE:

FARINELLA: Patriots won’t always be in plain sight – Mark Farinella: Farinella has his “Ponderous Thoughts” for this morning, and feels for those  who want to see the practice sessions next month they’ll want to take advantage as he writes there may only be a few available open to the public.

PROVIDENCE JOURNAL:

Former coach still a strong supporter of Armond Armstead – Mark Daniels: Daniels follows up on a previous article on Armstead, with his former coach throwing some positive comments his way.

MAIL ONLINE:

Sexy Gisele Bundchen covers up in new tomboy chic campaign for French label Isabel Marant - Bundchen fronts the brand’s fall 2014 advertisements – taking over the helm from previous campaign girl Daria Werbowy.


Gronkowski changed the offense quite a bit during his brief time last season. (USA TODAY Images)

The news of Rob Gronkowski’s potential availability for week one was a positive sign on Monday, and his brief availability last season, while being short-lived, was still a reminder of what a difference maker he really is in this offense.

Looking back at how things went during the first six weeks of the season, between Danny Amendola missing games 2-4 along with Gronkowski’s absence, it’s amazing that New England was able to lose just one game over that span considering who Tom Brady had to work with.

Through the first six games Brady completed 136 passes on 239 attempts (57% completion rate) for 1480 yards along with 8 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.  He was also sacked 13 times.

Julian Edelman carried much of the weight of the offense, catching 41 passes for 411 yards and two touchdowns.  Brady also leaned on him quite a bit on third down, with the receiver catching 12 of 16 targets, including 3 of 4 in the red zone along with his two scoring receptions.

When Gronkowski returned to the line-up in Week 7 against the Jets, things changed, although it didn’t start out for the better.  Brady targeted the veteran tight end 17 times with just eight completions, including connecting just once on five tries on third down.  His interception in the third quarter on a pass to Gronkowski ended up being one of the key plays of the game, after Antonio Allen picked the ball off at the Patriots own 23 yard line and took it in for a touchdown.  That got the Jets back in the game and played a big part in New York’s win.

But from there, things certainly came together.  Over the next six games Brady completed 160 of 238 attempts (67% completion rate) for 1977 yards along with 13 touchdowns.  However, one of the biggest changes was down in the red zone where he had previous struggled.   Through the first six games Brady completed just 16 passes on 33 attempts (48%) with seven touchdowns and one interception.

With Gronkowski back in the line-up, Brady’s success down in the red zone improved.  Over the next six contests he completed 20-of-32 attempts (63%) with 10 touchdowns, three of which were caught by Gronkowski.  Overall he completed over 60% of his passes during that stretch, connecting on 182-of-284 for 2205 yards along with 13 touchdowns.

After seeing Gronkowski carted off the field against the Browns following his torn ACL, Brady downplayed the loss of the tight end leading up to the Miami game, and said that having already been without him for much of the season they’d just have to adjust.

“It’s disappointing to lose anybody,” said Brady that Wednesday. “But we’ve faced that before this year and at different times, so I’d say at least we’re adjusted to it a little bit. We still have confidence that we can go out and win games. ”

They ended up losing that game in Miami, which cost them a shot at the number one seed in the playoffs and saw Brady so frustrated after it was over that it ended in him dropping an expletive during his press conference before he walked away from the podium after just two questions.  

Looking back at the numbers over the final three games after Gronkowski was lost for the season, they really struggled.  Brady was just 6-of-18 down in scoring territory (33% completion rate) with just three touchdowns and an interception, and dropped back below 60% overall throwing the football while completing 62 passes on 105 attempts (59%) over that span along with four touchdowns and two picks.

Needless to say the news of a potential return to start the season is certainly good news.  Brady can downplay Gronkowski’s importance but it’s obvious that he’s such a big difference maker when he’s on the field.  It’s been a couple of years since he last played a full season, and hopefully 2014 will be the start of a better stretch for him moving forward.

DOUG FLUTIE FEELS THE NFL IS BECOMING LIKE THE CFL:

Former Patriots quarterback Doug Flutie wrote a column in Tuesday’s MMQB’s “Canada Week” about his time in the CFL, and after seeing the changes in the NFL in recent years believes the style of play is becoming very similar.

“The game in Canada was more exciting, more explosive, more wide open,” Flutie wrote. “It was what the NFL is now becoming. We were going no huddle, over the ball, from the time I got up there. No-back sets, six wide receivers, throwing the ball all over the field. There is a 20-second clock between plays rather than 40. It just creates a pace that the NFL is now realizing to be more exciting-and actually more effective. The NFL is turning into a no-huddle, up-tempo, fast-paced, throw-the-football type of game now. The CFL has been that for the past 30 years.”

Flutie remains bitter over the lack of opportunity he received early in his career, and believes that had the NFL adjusted to this style of offense when he first arrived that his career may have turned out differently.

“I’m pretty sure the trajectory of my career would have been different today,” he wrote. “I would have been in a position to be more successful in the NFL running some of these current styles of offenses, and I think an NFL team would have been more open to turning me into a franchise guy if things went well.”

TROY BROWN AMONG FACES IN A NEW SECURITY SYSTEM:

There was an interesting article in yesterday’s New York Magazine that took a look at the potential future of passwords, which could see a move toward using faces as an alternative to conventional passwords.

According the article, the study, which was conducted by researchers at the Universities of York and Glasgow, tested the feasibility of a “facelock” that blocks access to a given program or device until the user can recognize several familiar faces in a sea of unfamiliar ones. Users selected faces familiar to them, and then both they and hypothetical “attackers” were asked to try to get into their accounts by successfully selecting the right face out of a grid of nine four times in a row.

One of the big keys to the system was the fact that users were asked to select photos of people they could easily recognize, and one of the players who surprisingly made the list was Troy Brown, who is apparently a favorite of author Jesse Singal, as well as a Patriots fan.  Singal linked to the blocked field goal in the AFC Championship game by Brown as a favorite memory.

The study overall was interesting as the usability saw 97.5 percent of users being able to have success recognizing the faces they picked a week later, and one year later it only dropped to 86 percent.  Also pointed out was the fact that neither strangers (0.9 percent) nor close friends and family members of the person who chose the photos (6.6 percent) had much luck cracking facelocks, and those numbers dropped even further when it came to succeeding on the first attempt.

We’ll see if it ends up coming to fruition in the years to come.

ANDRUZZI CONTRIBUTING IN A LIMTED ROLE:

Accoding to Mike Reiss of ESPN Boston, former offensive lineman and fan favorite Joe Andruzzi was spotted at the recent offseason practices while working as an assistant coach with the team’s strength and conditioning staff.

While Andruzzi doesn’t officially have a title, being around the players and trying to provide some guidance is something he says he enjoys doing and it’s an opportunity for him to “pay it forward”.

“I had good numbers coming out of a small school, which I think helped get me in the league, and then I think it helped me stay in the league,” Andruzzi told Reiss.  “I enjoy it, I love being a part of it, and this is a way for me to pay it forward.”

His Charitable foundation is hosting its annual golf tournament on Monday at Pinehills Golf Course in Plymouth, Mass. Current Patriots Rob Ninkovich and Matthew Slater are reportedly expected to be co-hosts of the tournament.

QUESTIONS CONTINUE ABOUT ARMOND ARMSTEAD:

There have been plenty of questions surrounding Patriots defensive lineman Armond Armstead, and for fans hoping to see him contribute, it appears those hopes may be fading.

Mike Reiss held his weekly mailbag this week and one of the questions touched on whether or not Armstead would ever suit up for the team after missing the recent mini camp practices.  According to Reiss, it’s beginning to sound like the health issues he’s been dealing with may ultimately prevent him from contributing at this point, which is bad news for someone who many thought could potentially make an impact.

Reiss also points out a recent article by the Providence Journal’s Mark Daniels, who noticed a Tweet from Armstead’s father during the week Armstead wasn’t seen at OTAs.  According to Daniels his father Tweeted that Armstead was in Boston, and then three days later, on July 9, wrote the following:

“Rough week for our family, God spoke to me and said continue to live out your faith. So as for me and the Armstead house we will [praise the Lord].”

It’s hard to know exactly what that all may mean, but the overall picture doesn’t appear to be promising.

Belichick talked about Armstead prior to the team’s first minicamp practice and had positive things to say about him, but the question will remain whether or not he’ll be able to contribute moving forward.

“Armond’s really worked hard. He’s had a lot of adversity personally that he’s had to deal with. Unusual compared to most other players,” Belichick said. “He’s had a great attitude, worked hard. He’s really done everything we’ve asked him to do.”

PatsFans.com Daily Patriots News Links 6/24


The Patriots hope Rob Gronkowski will be ready by week one this season. (USA TODAY Images)

PATSFANS.COM:

Patriots Morning Huddle 6/24 – Tuesday News & Notes – Ian Logue: Today’s entry leads off on how effective Edelman was on third down and in the fourth quarter last season, as well as some additional topics.

BOSTON GLOBE:

Patriots and Rob Gronkowski targeting Week 1 – Shalise Manza Young: Manza Young files her notebook this morning, which leads off with the fact that the Patriots are hopeful Gronkowski will be ready for week one.

Patriots finalize deal with 1st-round pick Dominique Easley – Shalise Manza Young: Manza Young has notes on Easley and his contract after he finally reached a deal with the team yesterday.

Julian Edelman Affirms Respect for Darrelle Revis - Zuri Berry – Berry has comments from Edelman’s appearance on NFL Total Access recently, where the receiver talked about a variety of topics.

ESPN BOSTON:

Easley signs contract; OT Martin in the fold – Mike Reiss: Reiss has his report on the signing of first round pick Dominique Easley and Chris Martin on Monday.

Patriots finalize practices with Eagles – Mike Reiss: Reiss has notes on the fact the team formally announced their joint practice sessions with the Eagles in August.

First Pats camp practice set for July 24 – Mike Reiss: Reiss has an entry on the fact the team will hold their first training camp practice on July 24th.

Highlighting Patriots & local ties in CFL – Mike Reiss: Reiss looks at CFL players and their connection to the Patriots.

PROVIDENCE JOURNAL:

Ex-Brown star Develin may have new role with Patriots – Mark Daniels: Daniels has a good article on James Develin, who spent some time working with the tight ends during mini camp.

PATRIOTS.COM:

Gillette Stadium & SWAT Officers Association team up to host fitness challenge: In this article Metropolitan SWAT Officers Association (MSOA) are teaming up again to host an overnight fitness and endurance challenge with a focus on raising funds for local nonprofits in and around Gillette Stadium beginning at 10 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 27, and ending at 10 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 28.

10 mild takes from Patriots spring practice – Andy Hart: Hart recaps what he saw during OTAs, with some good notes on several players.

Being humble is part of New England’s recipe for success – John Rooke: Rooke writes that so far, the team’s off-season acquisitions have shown they’re winning to check their personal agendas at the door and buy into the “Patriot Way.”

CSNNE:

Law induction into Patriots Hall of Fame is Aug. 1 – Phil Perry: Perry has a note on the fact that former Patriots CB Ty Law’s induction into the team’s Hall of Fame will take place on August 1st.

NFL’s Rookie Symposium takes place this week – Phil Perry: Perry has an article on the fact the NFL’s rookies will take part in an annual introduction to learn how to be professionals both on and off the field.

Patriots sign Central Florida OT Martin – Phil Perry: Perry has an entry on the addition of offensive tackle Chris Martin, who was signed by the team on Monday.

Revis: ‘Whatever Bill says goes’ – Phil Perry: Perry has an article with Darrelle Revis adjusting to life in New England under the Belichick regime.

NESN:

Patriots Offseason Superlatives: Jamie Collins Earns ‘Workout Warrior’ Honor – Doug Kyed: Kyed hands out some awards, including a new one in honor of Zach Sudfeld, who Kyed writes “shined last summer before bombing in the regular season.”

Patriots Morning Huddle 6/24 – Tuesday News & Notes


Julian Edelman was extremely effective as his first season as the team’s go-to receiver. (USA TODAY Images)

Taking a quick snapshot of what Julian Edelman accomplished last season, it’s interesting to take a look at his numbers over the course of his 105 catches in 2013.

We saw big things from Edelman in his first season in an expanded role, with the receiver finishing not only as the team’s overall leading receiver with 1056 yards and a team best 6 touchdowns, but he was also their leading third down receiver with 30 receptions for 247 yards including 18 first downs and 3 touchdowns.  

Overall last season he was also effective in helping move the chains, accumulating a team-best 54 first downs in 2013.

Here’s a breakdown of his reception totals from last season by distance:

0 or less yards: 3 receptions
1-5 yards: 29 receptions
6-10 yards: 37 receptions
Over 10-yards up to 20-yards: 27 receptions
Over 20-yards and up to 30-yards: 5 receptions
Over 30-yards and up to 40-yards: 2 receptions
Over 40-yards and up to 50-yards: 2 receptions
Over 50 yards: 0 receptions

Edelman lead the team in receptions of over 20-yards among wide receivers in 2013 after finishing with 9, with tight end Rob Gronkowski as the only player who had more (he had 10).

One of the biggest surprises was the difference in yardage over every other receiver in the fourth quarter last season.  Edelman finished 2013 with 410 yards receiving during the fourth quarter, significantly more than the next closest receiver, which was Aaron Dobson with 249 yards.  Edelman also had three fourth quarter touchdowns, the most of any other receiver.

Edelman’s biggest performance of the season came in Week 15 down in Miami where he finished with 8 receptions on 12 targets in a tough loss against Miami that cost them the top seed in the playoffs.

It was an impressive performance in his first year taking on a bigger role in this offense.  Now the bigger question will be how he’ll follow that up in 2014, which will obviously be something to watch for during the upcoming season.

TRAINING CAMP DATES, JOINT PRACTICES ANNOUNCED:

The team announced the dates for the first practices of next month’s training camp, with the Patriots set to begin practice on Thursday July 24th, one day after veterans are required to report.  From there they’ll hold practices on Friday July 25th, Saturday July 26th, and Sunday July 27th.

They’ll also hold joint practices with both the Redskins and Eagles in advance of their exhibition match-ups.  The Redskins announced the sessions will be held on August 4th-6th in Richmond, Virginia, while the sessions against the Eagles will take place from August 12-13 at Gillette Stadium.

This is the second straight year the team will hold sessions with the Eagles, which were held last year in Philadelphia.  They also practiced against the Buccaneers last year at Gillette Stadium prior to their preseason game.

Redskins coach Jay Gruden told reporters recently that he felt the sessions give them a chance to work against some better competition.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to see how our players both offensive line, how we pick up different stunts and different fronts and defensive line, different blocking schemes, obviously route combinations against different coverages and different type meets in the secondary,” said Gruden. “And how people adjust and how our quarterback adjusts and how they see things, so it’s good for everybody.”

ALEX MARVEZ TALKS ABOUT MINICAMP REACTIONS:

Marvez gave a quick rundown on all 32 teams in a piece released on Monday, with a quick synopsis on each one.  When it came to the Patriots, Marvez talked about the status of Ryan Mallett and the speculation surrounding his future, while he believes that potential free agent Michael Bush could be a possibility to join the running back group by the time training camp arrives.

Writes Marvez:

“Will the Patriots seek to sign a big-bodied running back before the regular season to fill the opening created by the free agent departure of LeGarrette Blount to Pittsburgh?  One option could be 245-pound veteran Michael Bush, who took a free-agent visit early this offseason.  Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley and Brandon Bolden – smaller backs all in the final year of their contracts – are the current leaders to head a committee approach for New England in 2014.”

Marvez also points out the fact that what’s complicated the situation with Mallett is the fact the Houston Texans went with the University of Pittsburgh’s Tom Savage in Round 4 as their hopeful quarterback of the future.

Former Patriot and Jets RB Curtis Martin Says Patriots Having Playbook a Big Advantage

Since Greg Bedard wrote his MMQB article on Browns head coach Mike Pettine where the coach had an anecdote with a comment from Brady suggesting the Patriots had a copy of the Jets’ playbook, it’s been downplayed by most people who believe it wouldn’t be a big advantage.

However, former Jets RB Curtis Martin disagrees, and feels it would be a tremendous advantage.

“Oh, tremendously, to be honest with you,” Martin told ESPN.com at the Big Daddy Celebrity Golf Classic at Oheka Castle in Huntington, New York. “What most people don’t understand is that football is a science. There are little signals and little movements from one person that can give an indication on where the entire play is going. I think it can have a tremendous effect on a game. If we’re playing chess and I understand all of your moves before you make them, my probability of winning is pretty high.”

Martin historically has remained loyal to all things related to the Jets, and it appears his opinions remain protective of the uniform despite efforts by current coach Rex Ryan, who has since defended Bill Belichick.

JAMES DEVELIN GETS SOME WORK AT TE DURING MINI CAMPS:

An interesting note from Mark Daniels of the Providence Journal, who pointed out that fullback James Develin recently spent some time during mini camp getting work in at the tight end position.

How much work did he see?  According to Daniels, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady threw to him more times than he did Michael Hoomanwanui.  Brady also had praise for Develin, who he said also brings a great attitude into the locker room.

“James is great. I love being out here with him. He’s been such a great player, performer for our team,” Brady said. “Whatever role we’ve asked of him, he’s done it to the best he possibly can do. He brings a great attitude, emotion. He’s a positive guy. He’s a great teammate in the locker room. I can’t say enough great things about him. He’s been such a great person and player for this team. Every time you put him out there, good things happen, so it’s fun to be a part of that.”

Most people remember Develin’s best moment, and this TD run which was certainly one of the more memorable plays for the Patriots:

DOLPHINS MAY BE WITHOUT POUNCEY VS PATRIOTS:

With the Patriots set to battle the Dolphins in week one, it sounds like Miami might be a little weaker on their offensive line thanks to an injury to one of their key players.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, center Mike Pouncey is anticipated to miss “at least three months” after undergoing hip surgery on Monday. He reportedly has a three-month recovery timetable, which likely may mean he won’t be available when the Patriots open the season down in Miami on Sunday, September 7th.

That’s a good sign for a Patriots team who got after Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill quite a bit last season, sacking him 10 times in 2013, the most of any quarterback within their Division.

NOTABLE QUOTES:

“Yeah, I’ve always had okay hands. Decent. I’m always working on them and trying to go out there and catch every ball that comes my way.  That goes along with every part of my game. I’ve got to be the best in every aspect and try to do what I need to do to help the team win.” - James Develin via Mark Daniels, Providence Journal

“He’s definitely out there with something to prove because of all the guys getting the big contracts, and he was down in Tampa Bay as a forgotten guy. He’s still thinking, ‘Wait a minute, I’m still top dog.’ And he wants to win, that’s the most important thing.” – Ty Law via the Boston Globe on cornerback Darrelle Revis

Patriots Announce 2014 Training Camp Dates


Fans will finally be able to get a closer look at this year’s Patriots team next month at Gillette Stadium. (USA TODAY Images)

Some exciting news on this Monday as the team announced the first four dates of the team’s training camp workouts next month at Gillette Stadium.

Workouts will reportedly begin on Thursday July 24th, and then run Friday July 25th, Saturday July 26th, and Sunday July 27th.

No times have been announced at this point, but it’s a terrific opportunity for fans to visit the stadium and be able to get a good look at the players.  There’s also no charge for admission or parking.

We’ll post the times for each session as soon as the team makes them available.

PATSFANS.COM:

MORNING HUDDLE 6/23:  Morning Huddle 6/23: Patriots’ 2003 Defense the Best Ever?, RB White One to Watch, More Football Notes – Ian Logue: In this entry there are some numbers about the 2003 Patriots defense that you may find interesting, along with some additional notes and quotes in today’s edition.

Patriots 53 Man Roster Projection 2.0, Post Mini-Camp Edition – Steve Balestrieri: Balestrieri also gives his early roster projection following the close of mini-camp, breaking it down by category.

BOSTON GLOBE:

QB coach: Tom Brady’s throwing mechanics can get too ‘long’ – Ben Volin: Volin has an article with comments from Brady’s throwing coach Tom House, who talked about some of the things he’s worked on this offseason.

Where are the Patriots Strongest? – Erik Frenz: Frenz has this week’s mailbag and discusses a variety of topics, including what he believes are the strengths of this current roster.

ESPN BOSTON:

What Tom Brady works on with Tom House – Mike Reiss: Reiss also has an entry on House’s interview, while also highlighting additional comments from a recent article in the Providence Journal.

NESN:

Darrelle Revis: I Have ‘Nothing’ To Prove In First Year With Patriots - Nick Solari: Solari has an article on Revis, who believes the only people he has anything to prove to is his teammates.

CSNNE:

Breer: Wilfork pivotal to Patriots – Albert Breer of the NFL Network was on Sports Tonight and talked about the difference that the return of Vince Wilfork will make for New England’s run defense.

NEPATRIOTSDRAFT.COM:

A Different Mold: Examining Patriots Linebacker James Anderson – Oliver Thomas: Thomas has a good read on newly acquired James Anderson, with a good look at what he may able to do in New England’s defense.

PAGE SIX:

Gisele bails on Cannes to be home with hubby Brady - Here’s a quick article on the fact Brady’s wife bailed on an event to spend time with both he and their sons.