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New England Patriots News 9-13 and AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
September 13, 2015 at 5:00 am ET

New England Patriots News 9-13 and AFC East Notes(PHOTO: Stew Milne - USA TODAY Sports)

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“I just think overall, it’s kind of sad really, to see some stories obviously have an agenda to them with misinformation and anonymous-type comments… it’s a sad commentary and it’s gone to a pretty low level. It’s sunk pretty deep.”  Bill Belichick

Good morning, here are Sunday’s Patriots news notes and what’s happening around the division:

Belichick Has Enough…Finally And Blasts Critics: Bill Belichick has stayed mum through a lot in his tenure as head coach of the Patriots. But the accusations by Steelers coach Mike Tomlin and the Steelers web site that the Patriots were nefariously to blame for their headset problems during Thursday’s game were too much.

Belichick didn’t mince words and he blasted his critics and anyone else who has accused the Patriots of cheating during the Super Bowl years.  After the NFL, SI and ESPN were made to look bad for their incessant Deflategate negative spin on New England, including publishing misleading and outright fabrications in the name of evidence, they dredged up eight year old Spygate nonsense under the guise of “new evidence” to get the negative spin off of themselves and put it back on the Patriots.

And once the Steelers non-story hit the web, Belichick had enough. It wasn’t only the Steelers whose headsets weren’t functioning properly during the game. Fortunately for Pittsburgh their problems were ironed out by the end of the first half. The Patriots headsets issues lasted into the fourth quarter, the team was ready to change helmets for Brady as his communication equipment was completely non-functioning.

“I just think overall, it’s kind of sad really, to see some stories obviously have an agenda to them with misinformation and anonymous-type comments,” Belichick said on Friday. “Complaining about warm drinks and trash cans and stuff like that, I think it’s a sad commentary and it’s gone to a pretty low level. It’s sunk pretty deep.”

Belichick then rattled off more than 20 names of players who played on those Super Bowl teams and said those teams’ accomplishments stood on their own.  

“To take away from what those guys accomplished, what those teams accomplished, how good they were, how many great players we had, how well they played in big games, how they consistently showed up and made big plays and game-winning plays. It’s not right.”

Belichick spoke about the Patriots own headset problems and rather than whine about them, he said the team dealt with them and offered some of the sternest statements yet about his critics.

“It’s not an uncommon problem,” Belichick said. “We had to signal some of our plays offensively because we couldn’t get them in. We look at it as something you have to be ready for every week, and we practice it.”

“Let’s say that I think that our program here is built on competition and trying to improve every day and trying to work hard,” he said.It’s not built on excuses.”

Blount Cleared For Return: Running back LaGarrette Blount has been cleared to return to the Patriots facility and is eligible to return to practice immediately. Blount was suspended for the first game of the season for actions last year when he was a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers while in the company of Le’Veon Bell. Bell was suspended for three games for DUI arrest and marijuana possession charges.

In lieu of Blount last week, the Patriots used Dion Lewis as the lead running back as well as in the third down role. Blount should see plenty of action against the Buffalo Bills in Orchard Park next week. In a corresponding roster move the team released DE Eric Martin this afternoon.

Easley Dodges Bullet, Injury reportedly not serious: Patriots 2nd year defensive tackle Dominique Easley who has a history of knee injuries went down early in the Pittsburgh game and didn’t return. It was initially thought that his knee buckled under him but now his injury is being reported as a hip pointer and that he should only miss a week or two.

Not fully recovered in his rookie season, he was shut down late last season. This summer he was regaining his trademark burst off the line and was primed for a bigger role in 2015. If he can stay healthy, Easley and 1st round draft pick Malcolm Brown should be an exciting, productive tandem for years to come.

Brady Shines in Opener, No Distractions: One question frequently asked during the preseason was, if all the nonsense during the Deflategate suspension, appeal and court case was affecting Tom Brady’s on-field performance. His numbers over the preseason weren’t even close to what we’ve come to expect from #12.

But it appears that missing half of his starting cast this summer was more of the cause than off-field distractions. On Thursday night, and getting his two favorite targets back in Julian Edelman and Rob Gronkowski, he did what he’s done so many times in the past; he dissected the Steelers defense.

Brady completed 25 of 32 passes including 19 in a row, a new franchise record, for 288 yards and four touchdowns. Brady was calm, cool and collected in the pocket. He was in complete control of the offense and himself throughout and his performance was vintage Brady.

He also set an NFL record with his 161st victory, the most ever by an NFL quarterback with a single franchise, breaking Brett Favre’s record of 160 with the Packers. He improved to 8-2 against Pittsburgh throwing 24 touchdowns against just three interceptions.  Headsets? No….In their heads? Absolutely.

Patriots Honor Boston PD and Former Army Ranger: One of the forgotten sideplots of the festivities on Thursday night was the Patriots honoring Officer John Moynihan of the Boston PD’s Gang Task Force Unit to serve as the team’s honorary Captain for the coin toss.

Moynihan a former Army Ranger who served in combat in Iraq between 2005 and 2008, was shot in the face during a traffic stop back in March. He required multiple surgeries and was visited in the hospital by owner Robert Kraft.

Kraft in his visit not only invited Moynihan to the opener but asked him to be an honorary captain. Nice classy move by Kraft and the team that was a bit overshadowed by the Super Bowl banner drop and the Brady news this week.

East Bound and Down…Notes Around the AFC East:

Jets Open With Browns With Plenty of Questions: The Jets just cleared some salary cap room for kicker Nick Folk but they are a team  with a new coach, a different quarterback but a terrific defense and they’re facing a Clevelan Browns team that is a bit of a mess right.

Look for the Jets to win rather easily in a low-scoring affair.  The Browns allowed over 140 yards a game last year and Chris Ivory should have a big game. After this week? There will be plenty of questions to be answered. How will Brandon Marshall get along with QBs Geno Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick,  Todd Bowles was a fantastic defensive coordinator like his predecessor Rex Ryan, but will he be a good head coach? That’s the biggest question facing Gang Green heading into 2015.

Bills Taylor Will Have Pressure of Starting Vs Luck: New Bills QB Tyrod Taylor won the starting job this summer and will be at home in front of a rabid fan base that is itching for success. Taylor was electric at times during the preseason, but will be facing AFC Finalists in the Colts and QB Andrew Luck in his first start.

The Bills are another team with an excellent defense that will have to hold the fort and hope their QB can play well enough to lead them to a playoff berth.

Dolphins Add Gray to Active Roster: Former Patriots running back Jonas Gray was signed to the Dolphins practice squad this week after his release by New England. Now the big back has been added to the Miami active 53 man roster prior to their game against the Redskins on Sunday. That certainly will add an additional flavor to the games between the two teams this season and puts a little more incentive in those divisional games.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

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About Steve Balestrieri

A former US Army Special Forces NCO and Officer, Steve has been following the Patriots since their days at Fenway Park. Steve has worked in the film industry and wrote as an Military Editor at SpecialOperations.com, 1945.com as a reporter for the Millbury Daily Voice, Millbury-Sutton Chronicle, and the Grafton News. He's also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)


Tags: 2015 NFL Preseason 2015 NFL Season 53 Man Roster Projection Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills DeflateGate Headsets Julian Edelman Miami Dolphins Mike Tomlin New England Patriots New York Jets NFL Patriots Pittsburgh Steelers Rex Ryan Rob Gronkowski Roger Goodell Sideline communications Todd Bowles Tom Brady

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