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Content Post Idle thoughts - the "my 2 cents" preseason edition

2021 Patriots Season:
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Sun
Oct 24th

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This has an opening post with good commentary and information, which we definitely recommend reading.

patfanken

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I was dead wrong thinking that Siriani would use that preseason game as a real game practice. Instead he benched most of his best defensive and offensive linemen and pretty much passed on the game and settled for the so-called practice victory. That and the fact that because the Pats will be suiting up in just 2 weeks from today, who knows what we'll see next Thursday in the last preseason game. So I figured I'd do this now rather than later and let the chip fall where they may. So lets get started.

1. A comment by either Sosci or Zo that this preseason game was the Pats 15th practice made me think about how back in the day, training camps were so different. Back then TC's were 6-7 weeks long and usually had at least 2 weeks of 2 a days. That would be 24 practices BEFORE you ever saw a preseason game. THEN there would be another 26 or so MORE practices before the season started. That's 50 odd practices to select and build your team. And 35-40 of those practices would be full pads. Of course back in the day most players didn't train year round so camp was a time to get in shape as well as coach and develop, but clearly the number of practices and more importantly the INTENSITY of those practices are much different that today's TC.

I think about that when I wonder how Bill or any other NFL head coach can manage to put together a roster and get a team ready to play the complex defenses and offense that we see in today's game. Back in the day the game wasn't exactly simple, but relative to how they play now it was. But then we drilled constantly in the fundamentals of blocking and tackling. Of keeping your shoulders square and making solid contact with your forehead. But I digress. The fact is that the Pats will likely have an additional 13-14 practices of which 5 will be full pads and that will be it. So the result is that they now practice about 33% less and hit about half those practices than they did "back in the day" And it all seems to involve MORE injuries and more serious injuries than it seemed when we were hitting almost ever day with daily full team scrimmages.

Now the reason I mention this is that we spend a lot of time discussing how well and how horrible this player looks when it is so hard given on how little information we are getting from these practices. I have to laugh when you read about how offensive linemen are being charted on their success AND judged on 4 or 5 reps when you used to get twice that on individual drills. Now later I will do exactly this and mention players I think have looked good and bad, but I needed to point out how every judgement we make is questionable given how little information we are getting to make those decisions. INCLUDING mine

2. One thing that needs to pointed out before the season start is just how STRONG the AFC is this year. In the AFC EAST the Pats, Bills, and Dolphins all have legitimate expectations to make the playoffs. In the AFC Central the Steelers, Ravens, and Browns do the same. In the AFC South the Titans and Colts share playoff dreams and the AFC West you have the Colts and Chargers. That makes 10 teams and a few more that don't exactly suck as well. It isn't going to be easy to make the playoffs. I think 10 win teams will be lucky to make the playoffs and there will BE some very good teams that won't make it. Injuries and depth will likely make a huge impact on the success of good teams.

3 One thing that is hurt by the short camps is individual players developing the CONSISTENCY in their play. That is one of the reasons we get the "good play/bad play too often,. There is little tolerance for player to "try things" in their techniques because someone is always keeping score. But that being said, let me give my opinion who who I think have looked particularly good

a. The OL - The OL of Wynn, Onwenu, Andrews, Mason, and Brown looks to be as good as advertised, especially in the run game. A good OL can hide a lot of ills of an offensive team's skill players. But here's the kicker, in a 17 game season, DEPTH will go a long way in determining who goes to the playoffs and who doesn't. And to that end I'm thinking the Pats have been doing a good job in developing that OL depth.

Karras is a guy who is good enough to be a starter on a 10 win team and will be invaluable as a consistent guy to come in at C and RG. Finding ANOTHER interior OLman depth piece will be important. At OT, IMHO, it looks even deeper. I think Cajuste has a long way to go to knock off the rust of 2 years of not playing football, but he seems to be improving on a weekly basis and we are seeing the size and athleticism that made him a "steal" in the 3rd round . He might very well be well worth the wait. Herron seems to have gotten good reviews after a promising rookie season, and Korey Cunningham hasn't been bad either. If everyone remains healthy there will be some hard cuts here next week. I think they need 9 guys from the OL roster

b. Speaking of hard cuts to be made, the RB will see a deserving player or 2 leaving. Harris seems to trending to be the lead RB, but Michel is having his best camp to date, and Stephenson has been the talk of the town. I've heard about calls to trade Sony, but that's just dumb. That Pats are going to strongly rely on their run game and you need 3 guys to make sure that there are at least 2 healthy RB's every week to carry the ball, especially given their health history. If you are going to play physical football you can't be in a situation where an injury or two keeps you from being what you want your team to be. The difficulty comes when you get to the so called 3rd down backs. Harris, Michel AND Stephenson all CAN catch the ball too. Taylor is a mini Dion and an intriguing threat who can also double on ST's. Then you have James White who has been among the best 3rd down backs in the league but is an average runner from scrimmage and has no role on ST's. I think it will be Taylor who gets the cut. Hard to see them cutting White after they resigned him

Bottom line the Pats have a room full of good RB's to go along with that good and deep OL. That will likely mean that the Pats will been in every game till the end. A lot of close exciting games.

c. WR's - Its likely we aren't gong to see much of Agular this preseason. It seems likely that he is going to be a feast or famine kind of WR. He is going to make his share of exciting and game changing plays, BUT occasionally he is going to break our hearts with a drop. But I think he IS going to provide the kind of deep threat that will open up the field for others consistently. So hopefully there are more good plays than drops and his value WILL be worth value.

I like what I've see from Bourne and Meyers has been as good as we've hoped. Yet another in a long line of UDFA's that have ended up being big contributors on this team. Think about how this team would look WITHOUT JCJackson, JJones, DAndrews, and the aforementioned Meyers. 3 solid WR's Nothing spectacular in the way of a top 5 guy but I'm not unhappy with this group.

Now to NKHarry - Easy to beat up on the kid, but I saw THIS in the Philly game. He was getting SEPARATION. the biggest complaint about Harry has been that he can't create separation on his routes. AND yes he should have run through the ball rather than leave his feet, but that happens. He has shown all camp that he DOES have good hands and every receiver drops the ball EVERY ONE. All through that game, Harry was getting open. Getting that separation everyone was asking for. I say he makes this team and has a role in this offense. And I'd take the over plus or minus 500 yds.

One other thing about Harry. I say he has a role on this team because he has a skill set that no other WR has. When he came out of college NO one was claiming he created great separation, but that he excelled at 50-50 balls a la Anquan Boldin. That's who he COULD be if the QB's on this team will throw him the 50-50 ball on occasion. Right now that is NOT how this offense is designed to run, but offenses are designed to play to the strengths of their players. We shall see, but I don't see him cut or traded.

d. TE- Looks great on paper, but who can tell. Neither guy has been on the field long enough for us to get to see their impact. Just brief flashes. My biggest disappointment from this game was Devon Assiasi. With all the TE's injured and cut, Assiasi had the field to himself to make an impact.....and he didn't. Hopefully he blocked well, I don't know, but he certainly didn't show up much in the passing game. So here's the problem with this group. The issue here isn't the talent. We literally have TWO #1 TE's (that's the good news), but neither can stay on the field, which goes to that depth thing. How many TE's do we need to keep if we want to make sure we have at least 2 healthy and productive TE's on the field every game. Will three do it or do we need to have 4?

e. Now to the elephant in the room. But first an observation and then a conclusion.

I really get pissed when Mac Jones gets lumped into the group of so called "unathletic QB's". He looks more than just quick in this pocket and on the run. He's not exactly what you'd call "elusive", but he's not SLOW as in Tom Brady slow. He had a 4.79 40 time (4,67 at his pro day) and to put that into perspective Rodney Harrison ran a 4.85 (I ran a 4,8 something because back in the day no one told you anything more than the first tenth. ;) ) But he had an even more impressive 3 cone time of 7.04 There have been DB's and WR's with the same or higher times. So Mac Jones is NOT by ANY means an unathletic QB.

I LOVE what I've seen from Jones this preseason just like every fan base has LOVED what they've seen from THEIR first round QB pick. But while some have already called this the best QB class since 1983, the reality is that history tells us that at LEAST 2 and likely 3 of these five guys will either flat out fail or be ordinary. We just got to hope that it is OUR guy that beats those odds So far so good.

But last week I heard the best argument for delaying starting Jones, beyond the obvious one. And it was born out by 2 other of Jones' combine scores. His broad jump and vertical were both fairly ordinary. These are indicators of leg strength and explosion. And that's what the argument was. Does Jones have the lower body strength to last a full season as an NFL rookie. Brady clearly didn't either and Jones isn't nearly a big as Tom was at less than 217lbs. You couldn't help but notice that just sliding down after an escape from the pocket, he came up limping.

Now on the other hand this bodes well that over time as he gets stronger in his lower body we will see an increase in velocity, much like we saw in Brady as he grew stronger and improved his mechanics.

So here's Bill's dilemma. He's got this young rookie who has been doing great and showing well and clearly fits the offense you want to run, And then you have the vet, a former MVP on the back half of his career and coming off a very bad year. BUT by any measure he's greatly improved his mastery of the offense WITHOUT having 2 of his best receiving options AND his entire RPO offensive package. Thus far in 2 games Cam has done nothing to "lose" the job and by any category has improved week by week in practice and in games his accuracy and mastery of the offense. Certainly not perfect yet, but we have 20 more weeks to get better.

I know Mac is the shiny new toy that everyone wants to open immediately and play with. I know I wouldn't be angry if he started right away. But Jones is going to be our QB for many many years (we hope), AND while I'm sure Mac WANTS to start, as any competitor would, would Bill be doing him a disservice by not allowing him time to get his body NFL ready before he submits him to the grind of a now 17 game season?

Bottom line- Before the season started we had a BIG hole in our offense with a huge question mark - our QB position. Now with 2 weeks to go before the season starts THAT hole is starting to fill up. Both the QB's have moved the offense on a consistent basis BOTH seem like that can be the "game manager" that this offense is looking from its QB. This is going to be a physical offense that is going to grind defenses down with a dominant OL, waves of fresh RB's and lots of play action passes (PAP). They want to own the 4th quarter and dominate the time of possession. Both QB's look like they can do that job, though in different ways. At this point I think Cam's flexibility to be PART of what we hope will be a devastating run game gives him the edge of what Bill wants this offense to be THIS year.

OK I've been at this long enough. I guess I'll do the defense tomorrow. Enjoy and feel free to discuss.





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DropKickFlutie

Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal
Agree. Excited for Mac but makes sense for multiple reasons if Bill rides with Cam Newton this season.

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SacPete1

On the Game Day Roster
Thank you Ken. I always enjoy your well thought out posts.

Something this preseason that I find interesting is they will have 2 weeks from their last game against the Giants until the first game of the regular season. Some years, they have 1week and they are forced to scramble with final cuts and their first gameplan installation. I'm hoping we still see a good amount of regulars for the Giants game (at least a series or two) and given the quality of this coaching staff, this extra than normal time should allow for a well prepared gameplan for the Dolphins and likely formations and plays we haven't seen.
 

betterthanthealternative

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Is anybody else surprised that Jones would come out of the Alabama program with (what appears to be) so little muscular development? Isn't the whole team on a very specific and rigorous program that would, at the very least, leave him with solid core and leg strength?
I'm genuinly curious.
 

PatsWickedPissah

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I find it disconcerting that a 22 yr old can't Pump Himself Up in several months with NFL training supervision. Jones has had months of time since drafted to get special attention to lose the Dad bod, develop lower body strength, etc.

Meanwhile, Ken is in mid season form!
 

Sicilian

Pro Bowl Player
Looking forward to your weekly write-ups Ken!

I think the OL depth might not be the slam dunk you're making it out to be. I like what I saw from Cajuste against Philly, but their starting DL didn't play at all that game, and by the time Cajuste came in who knows where they were on their depth chart. Still, he can only do what's in front of him, and he showed well. I think we're fine, as in there aren't many teams that can lose 2 OL and still field starter level talent (us included), but given what we need the OL to be for this offense, there's enough of a question mark behind the top 6 guys to give me pause.
 

Ring 6

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I think we are overreacting quote a bit to a QB having average jumping scores.
 

PScottman

In the Starting Line-Up
Is anybody else surprised that Jones would come out of the Alabama program with (what appears to be) so little muscular development?
Nope. There are just many different body types.

For example, Wilfork carried a lot of "empty" pounds his entire career...didn't impact his athletic ability. We're just conditioned ourselves (mentally in our case that is) that these uber athletes must be ripped/shredded in musculature or else they wouldn't be in pro sports. He passed the conditioning test (we assume first time given no indicators to the contrary).

We have one picture to go off (the shirtless cigar shot) of and now make guesses that is the current reality and will be moving forward because we don't have any other data. There isn't any additional data to make assumptions as to his workout regimen, results, etc.
 

zydecochris

Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job
Nope. There are just many different body types.

For example, Wilfork carried a lot of "empty" pounds his entire career...didn't impact his athletic ability. We're just conditioned ourselves (mentally in our case that is) that these uber athletes must be ripped/shredded in musculature or else they wouldn't be in pro sports. He passed the conditioning test (we assume first time given no indicators to the contrary).

We have one picture to go off (the shirtless cigar shot) of and now make guesses that is the current reality and will be moving forward because we don't have any other data. There isn't any additional data to make assumptions as to his workout regimen, results, etc.

As reported by this Fall 2020 article: MacJonesFreshmanSize , one of Mac's main problems coming to Alabama is that he was absolutely rail thin. “When he came as a freshman, he was probably 180-185 pounds, was not very strong,” Nick Saban said this week, “He needed to mature physically.” Then the article says: "When he decommitted from Kentucky, Jones was listed at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds. By Year 1 at Alabama, he checked in at 6-2, 190 pounds. He added another 15 pounds by 2018 and is up to 214 on the current official roster (in 2020)."

Something I read somewhere (but can't find the reference now) is that being so painfully thin when he came to Alabama, he was told to simply put on weight at all costs. I think the "Dad bod" picture is overblown (it shows a guy in the middle of a celebration who is comfortable in his own skin), but it must be hard for a naturally skinny guy (at least he was coming to Alabama) to go from 180 to 217 in a few years and have it all be "good" weight. Recent pictures of him I've seen make him look reasonably athletic, just not someone like Jalen Hurts (a high school weight lifting champ) or Justin Fields. As hard of a worker as Mac is I'm sure he will be in fine shape in a year or two with a NFL training program, and as Ken correctly pointed out when his lower body is strengthened that will help his stamina and ball velocity.
 
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zydecochris

Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job
Is anybody else surprised that Jones would come out of the Alabama program with (what appears to be) so little muscular development? Isn't the whole team on a very specific and rigorous program that would, at the very least, leave him with solid core and leg strength?
I'm genuinly curious.
I don't have the answer, but as I pointed out when responding to a similar post he was painfully thin (about 180 lbs) coming to Alabama. My guess is that it might be hard for such a naturally skinny guy to put on that much weight that quickly and have it all go to exactly the right type of "stretchy" (in the Tom Brady sense) muscle. He is a hard worker, so I'm sure he will be fine after a year or two with the Pats.
 

RelocatedPatFan

Experienced Starter w/First Big Contract
As reported by this Fall 2020 article: MacJonesFreshmanSize , one of Mac's main problems coming to Alabama is that he was absolutely rail thin. “When he came as a freshman, he was probably 180-185 pounds, was not very strong,” Nick Saban said this week, “He needed to mature physically.” Then the article says: "When he decommitted from Kentucky, Jones was listed at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds. By Year 1 at Alabama, he checked in at 6-2, 190 pounds. He added another 15 pounds by 2018 and is up to 214 on the current official roster (in 2020)."

Something I read somewhere (but can't find the reference now) is that being so painfully thin when he came to Alabama, he was told to simply put on weight at all costs. I think the "Dad bod" picture is overblown (it shows a guy in the middle of a celebration who is comfortable in his own skin), but it must be hard for a naturally skinny guy (at least he was coming to Alabama) to go from 180 to 217 in a few years and have it all be "good" weight. Recent pictures of him I've seen make him look reasonably athletic, just not someone like Jalen Hurts (a high school weight lifting champ) or Justin Fields. As hard of a worker as Mac is I'm sure he will be in fine shape in a year or two with a NFL training program, and as Ken correctly pointed out when his lower body is strengthened that will help his stamina and ball velocity.
To have such problems, right?

I have a son who can't seem to gain weight either. For 4 weeks, he increased his daily caloric intake by 1000-1500 calories per day and ended up losing 4 pounds - what the heck. He still tries to gain weight but it's not having any success.
 

PScottman

In the Starting Line-Up
I interpret the current discussion on Jones' workout regimen and "Dad bod" related to the meme that he "has a weak arm" to try and further justify that falsehood (currently being pushed by some to justify their infatuation with other rookie QBs in this class).

Actual on the field results thus far totally debunk such claims.
 

zydecochris

Rotational Player and Threatening Starter's Job
To have such problems, right?

I have a son who can't seem to gain weight either. For 4 weeks, he increased his daily caloric intake by 1000-1500 calories per day and ended up losing 4 pounds - what the heck. He still tries to gain weight but it's not having any success.
Nice post, and nice autosignature also. Just make sure you don't visit any COVID related threads ;)
 

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