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patfanken

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This has been a real strange preseason for the NFL. VERY strange. No preseason games to gauge your team's strengths and weaknesses. Very little hitting during practices. No idea how the draftee's and other new players are going to fit in. Hard to judge the talent and depth levels in a LOT of areas like the DL, LB's TE's and the WR's. By now in any other season, we'd be talking specifics in so many areas. Things that we'd have seen with our own eyeballs or analyse by professionals that we trust.

We are "SUPPOSED" to be strong in the secondary, OL, RB, and coaching and weak at DL, LB, TE and WR, not to mention a HUGE question mark at QB. But all that is just massive supposition. So what do we ACTUALLY know going into Sunday's game? Unfortunately the answer is NOTHING.....and I find this situation that we are in kind of FUN. Think about it. The NFL is experiencing what EVERY HS, and college program deals with EVERY season. When I was a HS, we usually had just 3 weeks before our first game. In my program that started with a week at a camp in NH which ended in a scrimmage with another team. A week of practice followed by another scrimmage, and then a week of game preparation. Again. not a lot of time. Many new faces every year. Kids who played freshman football and had some idea of the system and semantics, and just as many new kids who had to learn everything from scratch. All this with a staff or 4 or 5 coaches including myself. Colleges get a perhaps a week or 2 more in their preparation and usually have more facilities and coaches, but essentially they are in the same boat in their preparation compared to the nearly year round work that is done in the NFL.

This is the week that every NFL team's DC has to face an offense and have very little idea about what the F#ck they are going to see from their opponent! I find that terribly exciting. Sure the Dolphins can go back through 20 years of tape to guess at what the Pats will run, but that doesn't mean that's what they will get on Sunday. Unfortunately the same can be said for us. Does anyone have any idea what they are going to throw at us????????? I don't have a clue.

Well there ARE a few truisms in the game of football Things that every team runs. Off tackle power plays, isolation inside runs. Traps and draw are going to be seen in every teams's offense. I guarantee you will see these running plays on Sunday from both teams. The question is, from what formations, motions, and alignments. No one knows, and is a real sense this will make Sunday's game even more exciting and interesting. Teams won't know much about the other team's personnel. Which guy to attack on a blitz, Which LB give you can attack as the most favorable match up, etc Same can be said in the passing game. There are routes that are basic to every team. Go's with a pattern breaking underneath. TE's up the seam. Crosses, picks, screens and wheel routes will all be seen at some point in the game, but again from what formations, motions and alignments???? No one knows, and I think that's very cool. ;).

Some more Idle thoughts

1. With all the moaning and weeping about our lack of WR's, I mentioned how low the correlation was between great WR's and superbowl winning teams. While googling stuff on this I came upon this factiod. In 52 superbowl games there have ONLY been 15 first team all pro WR's that have been that have been on the winning team. And NONE since 2006 (Marvin Harrision). In fact Harrison has been the ONLY one in this CENTURY That's the most astonishing aspect of this stat. Since Harrison played in the Colt's superbowl win the passing game has exploded in importance. In the past a 4000 yd season for a QB was a sign of greatness. Now its become the "mendoza line" for NFL mediocrity. It took the NFL until 2008 (Drew Brees) to have its FIRST 5000yd season and in just a decade later, every top 10 QB reaches or gets very close to that number. So with all these ELITE WR's racking up big stats, and passing being the key to EVERY offense how come so few are ever on a superbowl winning team?

Bottom line - the importance of WR's is OVERRATED. Why? The pool of NFL caliber WR's is the LARGEST position pool in football. Pass crazy colleges are producing athletic, fast, with good hands WR's of ALL sizes and shapes at a enormous rate. So even a "WR poor" team like the Pats will be able to run out great athletes who can run fast and catch the ball. Will they be the fastest, or quickest or biggest? Probably not. But CAN they be adequate, like 17 of the last 20 teams have been (including ALL the superbowl winning teams). I think there is a chance they can be. Or maybe not, but that doesn't make it fair to dismiss them before one meaningful snap has been made.

2. One thing for CERTAIN before we get to Sunday is we can't make ANY judgments about this team either positive or negative, especially in this first game for all the reasons given above. At best we can get inklings of what this version of the NE Patriots can be. Of course a win will give us more hope that this team can still win the division, but a loss should not send us into cataclysmic despair. My guess there will be a lot of strange outcomes this first week. I should not need to mention how many great Patriot teams have started the first 4 games very slowly. For the most part the one constant we've seen over the last 20 years is that Patriot teams are better at the end of the season then they were at the start (hopefully last year's results will be the exception that proves the rule. ;)

3. Players on defense that really need to "rise to the occasion" this season

a. Bryan Cowart - Lawrence Guy is as steady as a rock, and perhaps one of the most underrated players in the league. Adam Butler is what he is. An undersized DT who can occasionally make a play on a pass, but to this point in his career, a liability against the run. The same can be said to a lesser degree about Detrick Wise, but reports are he improved his strength and weight so we Might see jump in his play.

But the Pats have ONE guy who does have size, strength AND explosiveness on the DL and that is Bryan Cowart. I can only go by my seeing him in training camp for the past 2 years. He came in very raw, but he has a lot of physical skill and a great first step. Now that he is entering his 3rd year in the system, I am REALLY hoping that the Pats will be rewarded for their patience this season.

b. Derrick Rivers - Now THERE's a blast from the past. ;) Injuries have crippled his previous 3 seasons making him a complete non-entity and ultimate after thought going into this current season. I really hadn't given him a second thought until last week I heard a report that he was having a great camp and really flashing (it might have been Chatham) So I'm adding him to this list. He had great measurables coming out of college, so the potential IS there.

c. Jawhaun Bentely - Here is a kid who showed great promise his rookie year, got hurt his 2nd, and was pretty mediocre to my eyes last season. With the loss of Hightower for the season, I don't think anyone on the defense will be needed to make the jump more than Bentley. We've got some OLB talent, but inside we lost Van Noy and Roberts as well as Hightower. So we are thin as well as having unproven talent in that area.

Fortunately I think we are going to be predominately in a 4-3 alignment a majority of the time with only 2 LB's on the field most of the time with our plethora of S's (Dugger and Phillips playing a lot of "LB" snaps since I expect us to be in a nickel D a lot of the time.

d. And while I'm excited about Kyle Dugger, I never expect rookies to make a big impact on this team. It could happen, and it HAS happened on occasion. But better never to expect it. On the other hand, I do hope (and we need it to happen) that Adrian Phillips makes an impact on this team. He is the reason I was not a bit concerned when Chung opted out. And while Patrick has been a great player for the Pats, however he has really gotten the crap beat out of him the last few years. The guy sells out on EVERY play and plays much bigger than his actual size. I think the wear and tear was starting to show. It had to. In the end I think he did the smart thing to opt out. If he'd come back he would have led my list of surprise cuts given who they drafted and signed this off season.. So it is up to Adrian Phillips to make a prophet out of me and I think he can do it.

Players on offense who need to show up this season.

a. Cam Newton - but that topic has been discussed ad nausium, and his inclusion in this list only shows I have a keen sense of the obvious.

b. Cajuste - I know he's on the 3 game IR, but if we are truly going to have one of the better OL's in the league, we need him to be the guy who showed had first round potential before he got injured at the end of his senior year. BTW- for these first 3 games we better hope Eleumanor is a better RT than he was a RG, though he was another guy who I heard had some nice things said about him in camp.

c. NKeal Harry - another example of the "keen sense of the obvious". Harry doesn't have to be an all pro, or be among the leaders in receptions or yards. But what he DOES have to be this season is a RELIABLE receiving option for Cam Newton. He has to show he has learned to use his size to make up for any lack of quickness. So he doesn't have to be Michael Thomas or AJ Green. He needs to be Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, or Deon Branch. Guys who will be where they are supposed be and catch the ball.....most of the time.

d, Devin Asiasi- TE's have had a key role in every SB team except the first one (though Wiggy came up big in the playoffs) - If we do have a rookie that is good enough to have a real impact on this team, it needs to be Asiasi - In HIS rookie year, Gronk only had 545 receiving yds, but he had 10 TD's If Asiasi had similar receiving yds and even just half Gronk's rookie TD production I'd call it a win. We shall see.


Finally to have any real success. Or at least the kind of success we've come to expect. We need to be relatively healthy. If there is one Achilles Heal of this team is the usual experienced, quality depth. Unfortunately looking over at the depth of this team, too much of our depth is made up of rookies or relatively inexperienced players, so good health will be key to this team.

BTW- another one of those great unknowns of this team has got to be special teams. Anyone know who the kicker is going to be? My God, when have we had to ask THAT question so close to the season. Think about it. For 20 years we've had 2 guys who were among the best kickers in the league. Now its a mystery. Likely to be Folk, I guess, but who knows. Of course having an 80% field goal kicker is what we've been used to the last 2 decades, but I'd settle for 75% this season. As to the rest of the ST's, I worry less about it as the NFL is their "wisdom" has pretty much devalued the overall kicking game by legislating away in the guise of "safety" making it almost impossible to block a FG, or run back KO's or punts. Bill is still as ST's coach at heart, so I have confidence he'll make our ST's among the league's best (at least the coverage and punt teams. ;) )

So those are MY idle thoughts as we go into the start of the 2020 season. I'm really looking forward to seeing how well or poorly the quality of execution is. I didn't catch any of the KC - Houston game, though it sounds like KC dominated the last 3 quarters. AAAAAAND we're off. :D
 

borg

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Unlike just about every early regular season during the Belichick era, the 2019 Pats defense and in particular its LB Corp actually attacked QBs relentlessly thanks in large part to their quality and experience and the coaching staff’s new blitz happy scheming.

Unfortunately all that LB quality and experience exited Foxboro for greener pastures and covid concerns.

Seems reasonable to assume Bill will not place as much attacking responsibility on his new LB Corp consisting of a 2019 depth piece, a passing down specialist who fizzled later in the season, and 2 rookies, one of which had little college experience.

My point: I don’t expect this NE team to be a defense dominant team that can win games on its own like last season. I don’t expect to see this LB Corp in attack mode much at all and in fact, this group will be a more typical BB read and react as they get their footing vs offenses that you have to believe will target and test this neophyte LB corp.

Cam & Co. better be able to move the chains and score consistently this season while these newbie defenders get acclimated.

I have to admit I’m very excited to see our 2 rookie LBs in action as well as the TE pairing and the Dugger
Let’s hope Nike hit on all 5 picks. His kicker pick was a real dog
 

Tony2046

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I'm excited for the new season. How will BB do without TB? How will TB do in a new system? How will the Pats do with Cam Newton? New faces? After all of the Covid and the election stuff I am sooo ready for the season. Personally I'm already in 1990's mode. Just looking for great games or great plays. Go Pats.

Thanks Ken. Good stuff.
 

DarrylS

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Good stuff as expected, I also am not sure what this team will look at.. it seems that the D is morphing to deal with today's group of young mobile QB's...

Thought for a while that BB wanted to be known more as a balanced O, with more emphasis on the run, to have taken the pressure off of #12.. injuries seemed to have played a role in that plan. Cam Newton?? See what Josh and he have come up with.. probably much different than we have known for the past 20 years.

Hear what a terrible receiving group we have, but that is an unknown as well.. can the new TE's play in the NFL?? Then there is James White..

Our O line looks strong, our D line less so.. LB's are young and not all that experienced.

The D backfield is our strength.. with Gilmore, Jackson, McCourty, Jones and WIliams at DB's & McCourty, Brooks, Bethel, Phillips and Duggar safeties.. it seems as though BB has loaded up with quality here to help neutralize mobile QB's...

But we know nothing, as there were no preseason games to see how all of this works.. stay tuned should be an interesting ride.. despite all the skepticism BB is not going to "tank for Lawrence" with a load of cap room next year he can fill some of what looks like obvious holes today. But we really do not know..
 

sturmrider

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Great stuff Ken. I feel like the first Boston Patriots game had no idea what was going to happen, but in the end it was fun. Hope we can say the same at the end of the season.
 

betterthanthealternative

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Steve Buckley has a more pessimistic view of this in an article he just posted on The Athletic, based largely on conversations with Ted Johnson about the challenge the team will face without Brady and with a lot of relative newcomers.
 

farn

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Great job Ken. I think this is Cowart's 2nd year. Let's hope Wise, Rivers and Cowart all shine so our DL is solid.
I mean, if even two of those three players had a good season, it’d be a massive win. The fact that Rivers made the squad - to me - is one of the most unexpected events. After years of hoping « this is the season », I’d given up on him. And unless he goes out and proves his worth, I remain skeptical.
 

luuked

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I mean, if even two of those three players had a good season, it’d be a massive win. The fact that Rivers made the squad - to me - is one of the most unexpected events. After years of hoping « this is the season », I’d given up on him. And unless he goes out and proves his worth, I remain skeptical.

It seemed like what has been standing in his way has always been health. So making the roster doesn't mean much unless he can actually string together a full season. He has the potential to be at least a solid contributor if not more. But you can't talk about potential about a player going into his fourth year.
 

sb1

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Coaching matters in a season like this. All the unpredictability about the roster and reasons other than football. For that reason I refuse to believe that they'll be picking in the top 5 of the draft as guys like Cowherd and Schein seem to believe.

There's no question if this was still Brady's offense we'd easily be one of the worst scoring teams in the league (relax Bradyites it's because of other reasons besides your hero). I expect a brand new offense designed around Cam and the running game - whether it will catch the league by surprise like the Ravens last year or fall on its face remains to be seen.

Looking forward to it.
 

Boomer B

In the Starting Line-Up
It’s definitely a different feeling as a fan going into this season. There was a feeling the last 17 years or so that as long as we had Brady and Belichick we would be a playoff team at minimum. For the first time since about ‘03 I have no clue what we’ll be. I figure anywhere between 7-10 wins.

I wasn’t on board the Cam wagon when we got him but I’m hoping he has a good season and proves me wrong. I think a major issue could be his accuracy. We have issues with receivers getting separation so accuracy will be critical. I think the most important thing for this O will be to establish the run which will take some pressure off Cam and open up play action.

With Hightower and Van Noy gone I don’t see the D being as good as last year but should still keep us in some games. Last year the first half of the year we had a cupcake schedule against a lot of bad QBs. Things looked different the 2nd half. This year looks harder and I think we’re gonna have to win some ugly 17-14 type games. Kicking will be interesting because with tighter games we’ll need a reliable kicker.
 

tasmlab

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It's Friday, two days before the game. Are they going to sign a kicker?

Bailey did some kick offs last year, right?
 

jah

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You seem to be under the impression that Cajuste is a better player than Eluemunor, but all the reports from camp this year I've read indicate that Eluemunor took command of the starting RT position pretty quickly and decisively while Cajuste looked shaky. Personally, I think Eluemunor is going to be our next Cannon (a guy who sucked but suddenly became solid) and Cajuste is Antonio Garcia 2.0.
 

patfanken

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Unlike just about every early regular season during the Belichick era, the 2019 Pats defense and in particular its LB Corp actually attacked QBs relentlessly thanks in large part to their quality and experience and the coaching staff’s new blitz happy scheming.

Unfortunately all that LB quality and experience exited Foxboro for greener pastures and covid concerns.

Seems reasonable to assume Bill will not place as much attacking responsibility on his new LB Corp consisting of a 2019 depth piece, a passing down specialist who fizzled later in the season, and 2 rookies, one of which had little college experience.

My point: I don’t expect this NE team to be a defense dominant team that can win games on its own like last season. I don’t expect to see this LB Corp in attack mode much at all and in fact, this group will be a more typical BB read and react as they get their footing vs offenses that you have to believe will target and test this neophyte LB corp.

Cam & Co. better be able to move the chains and score consistently this season while these newbie defenders get acclimated.

I have to admit I’m very excited to see our 2 rookie LBs in action as well as the TE pairing and the Dugger
Let’s hope Nike hit on all 5 picks. His kicker pick was a real dog
While I acknowledge that to think the defense will be as good as last year's group is far fetched, I happen to disagree with your comment about the fact BB will have to dial back his "attacking LB" mode. I think the opposite could be true. The toughest thing to ask your front seven to do is to play consistent read and react defense. You need a defense with LOTS of experience. Given the lack of experience from the LB corps, both IL and OLB, I would tend more to allow them to attack and blitz. It is far easier to to that as a LB then read and react from a static position.
 

captain stone

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It's Friday, two days before the game. Are they going to sign a kicker?

Bailey did some kick offs last year, right?
Bailey did a Lot of KOs last season: 65 of them in the regular season plus 4 in the PO loss:


My guess is that Bill signs Folk to the active roster in place of Cachoo...
 

Bill Lee

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I'm excited for the new season. How will BB do without TB? How will TB do in a new system? How will the Pats do with Cam Newton? New faces? After all of the Covid and the election stuff I am sooo ready for the season. Personally I'm already in 1990's mode. Just looking for great games or great plays. Go Pats.

Thanks Ken. Good stuff.
I'm also excited for the new season, but last night's start was poor. Kind of like being starved for months, but then your first actual meal is milk crackers. I guess I let myself get too excited for what the desert people were already saying was going to not be a close game. I'm hoping for some meat and potatoes on Sunday! Let's hope MIA's kryptonite stays in its lead box and we kick some Fin tush!
 

BaconGrundleCandy

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I was going to put this in my thread the other night but I'll leave it here.

  • You mentioned going even and I've seen that thrown out there a bunch this summer. It makes sense I guess but that's a little scary if Allen doesn't show up. Recently I've seen Bill shade our guys and use 2i/3t in a 43 to eat up the G's and leaving A LOT of responsibility for HT taking on the C head on, crossing face w/e it may be. A lot of physicality, a lot of quick decision making. Lots of pounding, good footwork ... I'm assuming were using Butler/Guy there so that's comforting I guess but after that, without Allen I'm not sure we have the personnel to sustain with Cowart/Wise.I actually am impressed with Bentley up until now. Im sure we'll adjust where we need to but having HT back there was something different at 6'5/265.

My eyes will be all over him to see if he brings it like a monster in trenches like a Spikes, HT. Heavy active hands, ability to go head on and slip when needed. Really like the player but he's taking on a huge role.


  • Alluded to this in my thread but a lot has been made of the recent drafts. I get the restlessness but you really can't judge them (2017-present) until this year between health & depth at other spots guys haven't been on the field. It changes this year although I'm not arguing 2017 It's not great but we had 4 picks from the 3rd round and on. It's almost like Bill knew what he was doing this with the HT/Chung/Harmon/KVN departures/opt outs. Obvious role for each (KVN/UCHE, HT/AJ, versatile S w Dugger) Whether I or you like them Bill had an obvious plan. Whether it works out or not? This year guys will be on film barring injuries.
  • Mentioned it in another but in terms of Cam & how he'll be running the ball - Zone-Read/QB Power-Draw, Counter, Bootleg. You'll be hearing those for the most part imo. I'll try post some in a few.
 

long distance

Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
Thanks pfk.

Tried to watch the game last night with some interest but it felt like they are playing in another world.
Hope that changes on Sunday :)

In fact one couldn't be more excited or at least curious, interested..
First time wo Brady, big changes all over roster & staff, prospect of significantly different offence that we were watching for 20 yrs..
Plus no preseason to sneak a peek almost makes it like the old time wedding nights :)

Recognizing once in a lifetime greatness of Brady - i got my wish this year - watching BB Patriots wo TB.
Might be a bumpier ride but also more interesting. New NE offense will be / is the talk of the league.

After frustrating offensive year it feels some sort of unwinding is coming.
Cam is a winner as well. Might be the only QB that is 2-0 against BB.

Many things will remain business as usual and new players will step up.
Coach's job is not losing the game so that players can go and win it.
Nobody was ever better at this than BB and this will not change.

Not having Gunner for first game is a bummer . hope Jules 2.0 bounces back quickly and lights it up.
 
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