Here’s a quick rundown of this morning’s top stories:
BROWN, GRONKOWSKI SET TO FACE OFF:
Most fans likely remember watching Rob Gronkowski throw Colts safety Sergio Brown “out of the club” last season after Brown had apparently been talking trash to the tight end during the game and the veteran finally had enough.
Following a touchdown by Jonas Gray, Gronkowski was locked up with Brown and blocking him out of the play. However, Gronkowski didn’t let up and blocked him through the whistle, pushing Brown completely off the field before tossing him aside. The play lead to a penalty and later Gronkowski was hit with a fine of $8,268.
“Emotions were flying high that day, and that’s all put behind us.”” Gronkowski told reporters about their match-up last year. “I’ve got nothing but respect for Sergio. He’s a great player. We’ve just got to go out there and worry about the Jaguars as a whole.”
Brown was also the player who was in to rush against Gronkowski during a point after attempt back on November 18, 2012 in the closing minutes while the Patriots had a 35-point lead. That play saw Gronkowski break his forearm and lead to a run of bad luck for the tight end that included seeing him re-break it in the playoffs against Houston as well as some additional complications.
Brown is now with the Jaguars and has carved out quite a role for himself, with the team and has been one of their most reliable players, finishing as the only starter to play start to finish against the Dolphins last week.
The two will potentially battle again this weekend as Brown and his fellow safeties are the ones who will likely draw the assignment of trying to take Gronkowski out of the game so it should be a fun match-up to keep an eye on.
EARLY PATRIOTS RED ZONE SUCCESS:
So far during the early part of the season the Patriots are having plenty of success when they get down in scoring territory and Tom Brady has been razor sharp, completing 11-of-15 (73%) along with six touchdowns. The Patriots were 4-of-4 in week one against the Steelers in the red zone and 3-of-3 in Goal-to-Go Efficiency, and 3-of-5 last week in Buffalo in the Red Zone as well as 2-of-3 in Goal-to-Go Efficiency.
Taking it a step further, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald also points out that through two weeks, the Patriots are the only team in the NFL tied for the league lead in red zone points (55), touchdowns (seven) and scores (nine).
Of the 11 completions Brady has down in the Red Zone, Gronkowski has four of them. All touchdowns.
We’ll see if that success continues this weekend. The Jaguars held Carolina to 1-of-3 in the red zone in week one, but allowed Miami to score in both of their trips last Sunday.
JONES LOOKING FORWARD TO CHALLENGE:
Chandler Jones had a terrific performance last week against Buffalo, finishing with his first career three-sack performance after the Patriots racked up a total of eight on the afternoon against the Bills’ Tyrod Taylor.
This week they have the challenge of facing another mobile quarterback in Blake Bortles, who Jones said Thursday will be another difficult player to deal with.
“Blake Bortles is fast,” Jones said via the Boston Herald. “I wouldn’t say he’s as fast as Tyrod, but you have to watch out for a guy like him. He can hurt you with his legs, and he has a very strong arm.
“It’s such a challenge. Once you have the challenge of getting by the guard or tackle, you have another challenge of taking down a mobile quarterback. It’ll be a challenge for us, and hopefully we can contain him.”
Last week was the best Jones has looked so far and he seems like he’s starting to settle in, which is good news for a defense that needs guys to get after the quarterback while their revamped secondary continues to develop. The Patriots lead the NFL in sacks after two weeks with 11, and hopefully that success continues when Jacksonville visits on Sunday.
For now Jones told the newspaper that he’s just focused on trying to improve and building on what he’s accomplished so far.
“I’m just trying to get better,” he said. “If it’s rushing the passer or stopping the run, just being better the next week. If that involves being better in the pass game, for sure. It’s tough to follow that up, but playing in this league, you have to be ready. Hopefully, I can do better.”
FREENY SURPRISED, GRATEFUL FOR EXTENSION:
Patriots linebacker Jonathan Freeny has apparently impressed his team during his brief tenure here because New England decided to make sure he sticks around a little longer.
According to ESPN, the Patriots gave the veteran a one year extension, which will now keep him in New England through the 2016 season.
Freeny admitted in the locker room yesterday that he was surprised but he’s happy for the opportunity and he’s glad he’ll get to stick around.
“It was a pleasant surprise, though,” Freeny said via Patriots.com. “Just truly blessed to have an opportunity to stay here another year. I’m happy about it. The team and I came to a mutual understanding and they wanted me here and I wanted to be here. So, it’s great.”
PATRIOTS SMARTER THAN REST OF NFL:
Tom Krasovic of the San Diego Tribune had an interesting column on the Patriots on Thursday looking at New England and one conclusion he’s come to after looking at different aspects of this team is pretty simple.
He believes they’re the best at what they do. From teaching, to scouting, to game planning. They’re hands down better than the other 31 teams.
Part of these conclusions were reached from Krasovic watching the “Do Your Job” documentary that showed the behind the scenes look at what the club goes through, with the play in practice that mirrored Malcolm Butler’s interception being a reminder of why Bill Belichick is so good at having his team ready for anything. He basically said the show “feels like an infomercial”.
He also marveled at Belichick’s decision to hold off on calling a timeout after noticing the confusion on Seattle’s sideline in the Super Bowl, saying the coach, “performed with poise”.
Krasovic also points to all the late round guys and unknowns who have become key components in New England’s offense, from Julian Edelman to this year’s early surprise, Dion Lewis.
Those are among many reasons why he believes the Patriots will be AFC East Champs by the end of the season and while the cheating accusations may continue, maybe that’s what teams need for a better explanation of a team he feels really is smarter than the rest of the league.
PATRIOTS FAN SLASHES COLTS REPORTER’S TIRE?
Indianapolis Colts reporters aren’t much of a fan these days when it comes to the Patriots, but one in particular might actually be less of one if what he recently said holds any credence.
Per Larry Brown Sports, during an appearance recently on The Big Lead’s weekly football podcast, Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star reporter was asked about the reports of media receiving death threats from Patriots fans over their Deflategate coverage. While Doyel explained he hadn’t experienced any such threats, he revealed he hasn’t gone completely unscathed.
“The morning after one of my harshest stories several months ago, someone went into my driveway and stuck a knife in my tire, slashed my tire,” Doyel explained via the website. “Did they leave a card to say, ‘This was done by a Patriots fan?’ No, but my tire was deflated within eight hours of me writing the story that got the most attention.”
That’s disturbing to say the least. While the coverage has been irritating, that certainly doesn’t condone slashing someone’s tire. For now, however, hopefully, barring another turn of events by the NFL, this subject is finally over with.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary