Good morning from Dallas, here is your Sunday morning Pats news:
Texas is Abuzz this weekend: The Dallas – Ft. Worth metroplex is a busy happening place this weekend. After watching some outstanding high school football on Friday night, the Texas State Fair is in full swing this weekend and Saturday morning had the Annual Red River Rivalry between Texas and Oklahoma which drew a huge crowd and saw the home team Longhorns upset then #10 Oklahoma.
The Texas Rangers play Game #3 of the ALDS on Sunday against the Toronto Blue Jays and lead the series 2-0. The Rangers can wrap up a series victory with a win. And the Super Bowl Champion Patriots face off against the Dallas Cowboys on national television today at 4:25 p.m. ET.
There was considerable more excitement for this game prior to the Cowboys being decimated by injuries especially on offense with Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and Lance Dunbar all out for this contest. The famous Texas hospitality is in full-swing this weekend as a huge number of Patriots fans made the trip and have been seen everywhere around town and having been taking in the tours at AT&T Stadium, which is massive, breathtaking and a sight to see.
So while the Pats and Cowboys are the big story this afternoon, there is plenty of excitement going around.
Pats Cut Fletcher, Add King to Roster: The Patriots yesterday cut veteran CB Bradley Fletcher and signed S Brandon King to the active roster from the practice squad.
Fletcher was signed as a free agent this spring after a disastrous 2014 with the Eagles. He had a very up-and-down training camp and was noticeably picked on during the Patriots first two games before being a healthy scratch for the Jacksonville game. He had fallen far down the depth chart and with the emergence of Justin Coleman behind starters Malcolm Butler, Tarell Brown and Logan Ryan, Fletcher became expendable.
King was signed by the Patriots as a UDFA from Auburn this spring. Built like a small linebacker at 6’2, 215, we wrote about King during camp as he was frequently singled out by STs coach Joe Judge for one-on-one instruction. Most notably in the punt protection and punt blocking schemes.
Belichick Praises Versatility of Sheard: In a press conference earlier this week, Bill Belichick was particularly impressed with DE Jabaal Sheard who signed a free agent contract with the Patriots this spring and has been impressive during the Pats 3-0 start.
“Jabaal has done a really good job for us,” Belichick said. “He plays on all three downs, can play the run well, he’s strong, uses his hands well, has good length and can rush.”
Sheard didn’t visit with any other teams and felt comfortable with not only the fit here in New England but with his role, which has seen him play many roles for the Patriots. Look for Sheard to have a bigger role today as the Cowboys look to run the ball effectively to open up the pass and Sheard is outstanding in run support and setting the edge.
Lewis Locked Up With 2-Year Extension: The Patriots made a smart move this week by locking up RB Dion Lewis to a 2-year contract extension that runs through the 2017 season and gives the surprise of the 2015 early season the opportunity to make $4.8 million in base pay and incentives. The new deal included a $600,000 signing bonus and according to ESPN’s Field Yates also has the back making a base salary of $840,000 in 2016 and $1.2 million in 2017.
By signing Lewis now rather than waiting until the off-season, the move can potentially save the Patriots some serious money as he’s off to a tremendous start. The 5’8, 195 pound Lewis leads the Pats RBs in carries with 30 and has added 15 receptions out of the backfield. He clearly out-distanced back-up James White and Travaris Cadet for the 3rd down back role which ultimately led Cadet to be released.
Biggest Match-up Today, Dallas OL – NE DL: With today’s game between Dallas and New England, there are always a lot of key matchups that can decide the game; but today’s biggest is the Dallas offensive line and the Patriots front seven. It may ultimately decide the outcome of the game.
With a slew of injuries on the Dallas offense, they will need their OL, one of the best, if not the best in the NFL to open up holes in the running game, control the clock, open up play-action passing for QB Brandon Weeden and keep Tom Brady and the Patriots offense off the field.
Running backs Joseph Randle, Darren McFadden and Christine Michael will have to have big games for the Cowboys on Sunday. On the opposite side of the ball the big men in the Patriots front seven, Sealver Siliga, Alan Branch, Akiem Hicks, Malcom Brown inside and allow linebackers Jamie Collins and Dont’a Hightower to fly up and make plays which will force the ball in Weeden’s hands and make him win the game with some depleted weapons in the passing game.
Eastbound and Down….AFC EAST Notes:
Bills Hughes Hit Hard with $30K in Fines: With all of the Bills’ collective meltdown against the Giants, to add insult to injury, DE Jerry Hughes was hit…twice in his pocketbook for two separate incidents against the Giants.
Hughes was fined the weird amount of $23,152 for abuse of an official; he also was fined $8681 for head-butting Giants rookie tackle Erick Flowers in the Bills 24-10 loss to the Giants. Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. was also fined $8681 for throwing punches in the game.
The Bills fourth quarter meltdown ended up with Buffalo being penalized 17 times for 135 yards. They’ve been flagged 47 times this season.
Dolphins Continue Shake-up, Fire DC Coyle: The changes continue in Miami; after firing head coach Joe Philibin on Monday, the new head coach Dan Campbell fired defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle and replaced him with secondary coach Lou Anarumo on Thursday.
Under Coyle, the Fins allowed 160.5 yards a game rushing and have only one sack, both rank last in the league. Miami’s defense was supposed to be one of the top units in the league and with the addition of Ndamukong Suh, who signed a $114 million dollar free agent contract this spring, they were supposed to dominate.
Anarumo’s first order of business is to get more from an under-achieving front four that includes Suh, tackle Earl Mitchell and ends Cameron Wake and Olivier Vernon.
Jets Hot start could lead to dealing Coples: The Jets 3-1 under new coach Todd Bowles are off to their best start in a decade and in good position entering their bye week. With QB Geno Smith returning,, their depth at QB is increasing and if anything were to happen to starter Ryan Fitzpatrick, Smith will offer better options than rookie Bryce Petty.
But on the other side of the ball, outside linebacker Quentin Coples is seeing his role diminished and could be trade bait or see himself jettisoned after the 2015 season.
According to ESPN’s Rich Cimini Coples playing time is down significantly this season. His snap totals are down to 53 percent of the Jets defense this season, which is a big drop-off from his 68 percent in 2014.
Under Bowles system, the sub-packages are using slot corner Buster Skrine much more this year and have cut into Coples snaps and production. The veteran linebacker is still looking for his first sack of 2015.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2015 NFL Season Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Chandler Jones Dan Campbell Danny Amendola Gillette Stadium Jabaal Sheard Jerry Hughes Julian Edelman LaGarrette Blount Malcolm Butler Miami Dolphins Ndamukong Suh New York Jets Patriots Quentin Coples Rex Ryan Rob Gronkowski Rob Ninkovich Roger Goodell Social Media Tom Brady