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New England Patriots News 11-20, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
5 years ago at 5:00 am ET
Posted Under: NFL Commentary

Good morning, here are Sunday’s Patriots news 11-20, and AFC East Notes for this week.

Congratulations to Ty Law for being a semi-finalist for the 2017 Class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Law may not make the cut this year but he certainly belongs. His numbers speak for themselves. His 53 career interceptions are tied with Deion Sanders. Durable, tough and a key cog on three Super Bowl winning teams. He was a big reason that Bill Polian lobbied the rules committee [of which he was a member] to have the PI rules changed after Law, beat up on the Colts WRs and picked off Peyton Manning three times in the playoffs.

Classy move by Tony Romo this week. How tough was that to admit, that you don’t deserve to be the starting QB for the Cowboys down the stretch. He’ll probably wear orange next season….just a guess but we’ve seen that before.

Bennett Trade Proves Smart with Gronkowski Injury:
The news that TE Rob Gronkowski wasn’t going to travel this week and therefore not play in today’s game against the 49ers wasn’t a shock. Gronk took a thunderous, but legal hit from safety Earl Thomas in last week’s loss to the Seahawks and had a chest injury, some called a perforated lung. Whatever it was/is, he didn’t practice this week.

But the trade that brought Martellus Bennett to the Pats is proving to be a valuable one. Bennett filled in nicely during the first four games of the season when Gronk missed the first two and was slow to work his way back in the next pair.

Now he’ll be asked to be the primary tight end in the passing game and with Chris Hogan also out this week [back], his importance in the game plan will become even more pronounced.

Belichick Isn’t a fan of Advanced Metrics:
In one of the more colorful press conferences this fall, Bill Belichick made his feelings known about advanced metrics. Asked on Friday if a quarterback’s quick release had always been a focal point of his offense, or whether it became more important after the rise of advanced metrics websites, Belichick unloaded.

“What the hell is that?” Belichick said. “You can take those advanced websites and metric them wherever you want. I don’t know. I have no idea. I’ve never looked at one. I wouldn’t even care to look at one. I don’t even care what they say.”

But he wasn’t done there, he broke it down into the simplest terms and preached a team concept on an effective quarterback and offensive play. Remember this is the coach who loudly preached in 2009 that, “Stats are for losers.”

“It’s timing, decision making, execution by the entire offensive team, that’s what the passing game is,” Belichick said. “Receiver’s got to get open and catch the ball. The quarterback has to read the coverage, make the right decision, make an accurate throw.

“All the metric pages and all that, I have no idea. You’d have to ask that to a smarter coach than me. I’m sorry.” While typically Belichick-ian in his response, essentially Bill said the same thing while kinda thumbing his nose at the guys from PFF.

More Intrigue with the Defense, Did Sheard Stay in NE?
While the Patriots were over the skies en route to San Francisco, Jabaal Sheard [or someone using his account], sent an Instagram post from the Celtics game on Friday night. Sheard wasn’t listed on the injury report this week. So, if he indeed stayed home then one would have to assume that he’s going to be a healthy scratch for Sunday’s game.

Such a move would show a definitive dissatisfaction with the big man’s play. Big things were expected this season from Sheard, who moved into the starting lineup with the trade of Chandler Jones. But his play this season hasn’t matched up to that from last year where he had 8.5 sacks as a sub-package plugin. He played a season-low 16 snaps against Seattle last week, giving way to Trey Flowers on the depth chart.

As we write this [Friday evening], we’ll watch for updates and confirmation from SF to find out if he indeed stayed home this weekend.  If so, then that won’t bode well for the 27-year old who is in a contract year.

***UPDATE*** Sheard was indeed left in New England and won’t play for performance reasons this week. If that is the case, the chances of them bringing him back next season are about nil now. The team will definitely be in the market for an edge rusher.

Patriots May Ease Dion Lewis Back into the Mix Today:
In a bit of good news this week, Patriots running back Dion Lewis made the team’s flight out to San Francisco and could make his season debut against the Niners today. Lewis was dynamic a year ago out of the backfield for the Patriots before tearing his ACL on a non-contact play against the Redskins.

Lewis activated from the PUP to the active roster last week but was inactive against the Seahawks. Could he see his first action this week? It would appear so. The Patriots have wisely taken a cautious approach with Lewis, allowing him to work his way back from the serious leg injury.

And with good reason, James White has had a very good 2016 season thus far and has become a valued, trusted member of the offense. Both are equally good at catching the ball out of the backfield. Lewis had the innate ability to make people miss and is the most elusive of the two. How will they ease him into the mix and how will he be used more down the stretch?

Look for Brady to put him in motion and flex him outside creating mismatches on linebackers. It was an area where they created quite a bit of production last season and something they haven’t done much with White this year.

Good Acting? Or Was Brady Sending a Message?
The recently released and quickly gone viral video for Footlocker that Tom Brady did this week was a hilarious view on Deflategate by the Patriots QB.

The never-mentioned but thinly veiled shot at Roger Goodell and the NFL over Brady’s suspension over ignoring of the Ideal Gas Law quickly struck a chord with Patriots fans. But now it begs the question…. Was it good acting or was Brady venting his true feelings after nearly two years? Watch it one more time and you be the judge.

Who Do You Like This Week:
Last week’s picks were 7-7 putting me at 81-63-2 on the year. So, who do you like today?

I am going with for the games on tap today Carolina from TNF (picked last Sunday) Pittsburgh, Dallas, Detroit, Tennessee, Cincinnati, KC, NYG, Minnesota, Miami, NE, Seattle, Washington, Oakland

Early pick for Thanksgiving Day/Night Football, (Detroit, Pittsburgh, Dallas).

Eastbound and Down, AFC East Notes:

Bills Secondary Looking for Better Results vs Cincinnati:
The Buffalo Bills are coming off their bye week and although the lead the league with 30 sacks in 2016, they’ve given up an alarming amount of big plays and this area is one where both the coaches and players are looking to correct.

Buffalo has allowed a league-high seven plays of 50+ yards in the passing game this season and coach Rex Ryan isn’t pleased. Ryan said this week that Bills opponents don’t fear to attack Buffalo’s secondary vertically and that is a prime reason for the Bills 4-5 record at the break.

CB Stephon Gillmore fired back stating that a team that plays as much man coverage as the Bills will have the occasional big play allowed.

“We probably play the most man in the league,” he said. “You can’t name a team that plays more man than we play, so you’ve got to stop everything. You can’t just play the vertical passing game. You’ve got to stop every route.”

Ryan made some moves this week, releasing safety Duke Williams and replacing him with veteran James Ighedibo and stating that he may go with corners Corey White and rookie Kevon Seymour and sit Ronald Darby and Nickell Robey-Coleman.

These moves, if they are indeed done, will bear watching against the struggling Bengals.

Dolphins Want Parker Involved More in the Offense:
The Miami Dolphins won their fourth game in a row with a four interception fourth quarter against the San Diego Chargers last week. A win this week against the Rams starting a rookie QB, Jared Goff, would put Miami at 6-4 and open the talk for a possible playoff scenario.

But Miami wants to get WR DeVante Parker more involved in the offense. They believe that for them to make the jump, that they’ll need for the talented but inconsistent wide receiver to take it to the next level.

“We think he can be one of the top guys in the league,” offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said to the media this week. “We see it every day, a big catch here and a big catch there. A big thing is his health, and keeping him healthy… We need a consistent DeVante Parker, where it’s week-in, and week-out where people fear him. He took over the game in his way last week and gave us a huge lift.

“I think he is really key to us going from solid to good on offense. I think he’s the guy, his big plays. Those are the plays that take you to whatever that next level is, one notch better. And minus those big plays makes it harder.

Parker had five catches for 103 yards last week but has only 403 yards and one touchdown on the season. Those are numbers far below what Miami believes him capable of producing.

Jets Bye Week, Fitz or Petty against the Patriots?
With the Jets surprisingly at 3-7 during their bye week, not many people expected them to be in this position after 10 games. With a shot at the playoffs becoming a distant memory now they must balance the present with the future.

GM Mike Maccagnan has stated that head coach Todd Bowles has the final say in who will be the quarterback when the Jets host the Patriots next week in the Meadowlands. Bryce Petty played last week in the Jets 9-6 loss to the Rams but did lead the team on a 99-yard drive that resulted in their only points of the day. Ryan Fitzpatrick was benched to let them see what they have in Petty, the second-year QB from Baylor

Bowles has stated that he’ll go with the best choice that will give their team a chance to win. That would be Fitzpatrick. But Bowles has also stated that he’s worried that his players will check out if Petty is named the starter. Fitzy isn’t in the future plans for the Jets. Will Petty be? One game won’t be enough to judge him on.

It is going to be a complicated decision but I’d bet Fitzpatrick is under center next week when the Patriots come to town.

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts 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.


Posted Under: NFL Commentary
Tags: 2016 NFL Season 2016 Patriots season Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Chris Hogan Danny Amendola DeflateGate Dion Lewis Dont'a Hightower Jabaal Sheard Jamie Collins Julian Edelman LaGarrette Blount Malcolm Butler Miami Dolphins New England Patriots New York Jets NFL Patriots Patriots edge rushers predictions Rex Ryan Rob Ninkovich Tom Brady Trey Flowers


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