Good morning, here are Sunday’s New England Patriots news 3-20 notes and what’s happening around the division.
Tray Walker Case Highlights Dangers of Social Media: Earlier this week, Baltimore Ravens cornerback was involved in a serious motorcycle accident that ultimately cost him his life. Reports then came out that a Patriots player was a witness to the accident and that the Miami police were “actively seeking this player who is nowhere to be found.”
That ignited a storm over social media and instead of focusing on the young player who was fighting for his life, it became another “Patriots scandal” that quickly took on a life of its own.
It wasn’t just fans but local and national media members called out the Patriots player to come forward and many openly speculated “who” the player was. Aaron Dobson had to come out and post a video on his Instagram account stating that he never met Walker and wasn’t with him the night of the accident.
This is a prime example of sometimes it’s better to let the facts play out before making wild statements that were harmful to a certain player that he was on the run from the police. Being right always should take precedence over being “first”.
Patriots Free Agency Takes Off Quickly: After a quiet start Bill Belichick, Nick Caserio and the Patriots made some noise with some solid signings building depth and a couple of blockbusters in trades.
The team signed Chris Hogan filling a sorely needed hole at WR. But after that, the big move was to trade DE Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals for G Jonathan Cooper and a 2nd round draft pick. While Jones had a career year in 2015, the Patriots had little chance of resigning him after his rookie contract was up after the upcoming 2016 season.
This trade freed up cap space, gave the team some valuable currency in the upcoming draft and added another interior offensive lineman. Cooper was a 1st round pick in 2013 but struggled mightily with ‘Zona. The Pats are hoping that getting some tutelage from Dante Scarnecchia as well as a fresh start will jump start his career.
The money saved from Jones’ contract allowed the Patriots to sign DE Chris Long. Long was cut loose from the Rams in a salary dump move and signed for a year with a small $2 million-dollar deal. Long joins Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard, Geneo Grissom, Trey Flowers and Rufus Johnson at the edge in what is now a deep group.
Belichick then got TE Marcellus Bennett and a 6th round pick from the Bears for a 4th round pick. Bennett is a dynamic tight end who should pair well with Rob Gronkowski and give Tom Brady big targets in the red zone as well as excellent blockers in the running game. Bennett caught 90 passes two years ago but was injured in 2015.
But the team wasn’t done and signed RB Donald Brown and LB Shea McClellin to deals this week as well. While the jury is out on whether these two players will contribute much, both fill needs and McClellin especially seems tailor made for New England.
Steve Belichick Gets a Promotion to Safeties Coach: Belichick’s son Steve will become the third generation Belichick coach as he moves up from coaching assistant to the Pats safeties coach. Safeties coach Brian Flores will move over to Linebackers coach and seems to be getting groomed for more and deeper responsibilities.
Steve inherits a deep and talented group, arguably the Patriots deepest position. With smart veterans Devin McCourty and Pat Chung anchoring the position, the younger Belichick will have a great pair of players to help him at every turn. Having been on the staff for a few years already, it should be a seamless transition.
Deflategate Takes Another Bizarre Turn: When Troy Vincent spoke earlier this week about the new protocols that the league instituted in 2015 in response to the Deflategate flap, he raised eyebrows and contradicted the league’s statements about the new protocols from just a few months ago.
Vincent claimed “We focus on procedure, balls being brought to the stadium,” Vincent said. “There was no violation of game balls being checked in at the appropriate time. … It’s the procedure of the balls themselves.”
That’s NOT what they said back during the summer. The league said at the beginning of the year that “the League’s Security Representative will escort the KBC with the footballs to the Officials’ Locker room. During halftime, each game ball for both teams will be inspected in the locker room by designated members of the officiating and security crews, and the PSI results will be measured and recorded. Once measured, those game balls will then be secured and removed from play.”
Furthermore, the results were to be tabulated and recorded by the league, presumably to prove that the Patriots claims about the Ideal Gas Law were false.
“All game ball information will be recorded on the Referee’s Report, which must be submitted to the League office by noon on the day following the game.”
Now Vincent is trying to say the protocols were never about air pressure but the “spot checks” that Roger Goodell mentioned were merely about the procedures and not the air pressure, which is the opposite of what Goodell said in February.
With each passing month the NFL’s story on this saga changes to whatever happens to suit them at the present time. Shame on the 31 other owners for letting this charade continue. Because this is hurting the “integrity of the game” that Goodell always champions and makes the league less transparent.
East Bound and Down…AFC East Notes:
Dolphins Lose Out on Anderson, Thin at RB: Miami had already lost Lamar Miller to the Texans during free agency and were hoping to nab one of the top free agents on the market.
They bid on the Broncos’ C.J. Anderson hoping to snag the talented winner off of the Super Bowl champs roster. But Denver took its time before matching Miami’s offer. That put the Fins in a bind. By then Miller was already a Texan, and the other top free agents had already signed.
They reached out to second tier guys James Starks and Chris Johnson but both ended up resigning with their own teams. That leaves Miami thin with Jay Ajayi who’s had injury issues. Now without a Door #2 to go to, they’ll probably be forced to use their top pick #13 in the draft to address this issue.
Jets Revis Has Wrist Surgery: The Jets top cornerback Darrelle Revis had surgery on his right wrist to repair torn ligaments that may have happened as far back as Week 3. Revis continued to play with the injury believing it to be a sprain. Curious that it never showed up on an injury report. He should be sidelined for 2-3 months but is expected back for the start of training camp. Revis is scheduled to make $17 million dollars this season as part of his five-year, $70 million-dollar contract he signed a year ago.
In other news, the Jets are still far apart and “searching for middle ground” with QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and signed DT Steve McLendon a free agent formerly with the Pittsburgh Steelers. McLendon signed a three-year contract worth $12 million dollars this week.
Bills Petition League for Rule Change: The Buffalo Bills were one of six teams that attempted to change the rules this season.; and for once, Rex Ryan and Bill Belichick see eye-to-eye.
Buffalo submitted a Playing Rule Proposal that involves replay review. They proposed to change Rule 15, Section 2, Articles 1, 4 and 5 (Instant Replay) to permit a coach to challenge any official’s decision except scoring plays and turnovers. It was the rule that Belichick attempted to change last year and was shot down.
Ryan was successful on six of his 10 coach’s challenges in 2016. Only Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis (63.64%) and Miami interim head coach Dan Campbell (80%) had a higher success rate than Ryan’s 60 percent (courtesy of Bills.com)