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New England Patriots News 2-12, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
7 years ago at 5:00 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

New England Patriots News 2-12, AFC East NotesSteve Balestrieri -

Good morning, here are Sunday’s Patriots news 2-12, and AFC East Notes and what a week it was, for the 5th Super Bowl win was really a comeback for the ages. Tom Brady put on a show in the second half of the game and won his 4th Super Bowl MVP trophy, (more to that later). And yes, the Patriots WON the game. Many of the same people that forever try to minimize their victories have fallen all over themselves saying Atlanta lost, New England didn’t win…bull.

A lot of things had to go right for the Patriots to pull off a comeback from 25 points down to win the game. And they made the plays to generate the comeback. Look at the sack by Trey Flowers and the strip sack by Dont’a Hightower. The 4th and 3-yard pass from Brady to Amendola. The 3rd and 10 pass from the end zone under pressure to Chris Hogan from Brady was, his best throw of the game. The two-point conversions to James White and Danny Amendola.

And of course, the catch from Julian Edelman. More luck than anything there, but I don’t hear many Giants fans belittling the Velcro catch from David Tyree in Super Bowl XLII. They made the plays they needed to and held the high-scoring Atlanta offense to 21 points and only 7 in the second half.

Julio Jones had just one catch, that incredible sideline grab in the 4th quarter from the nine-minute mark of the second quarter. The Patriots defense stepped up and in a big, big way.  Did things bounce their way? Absolutely, but they made the plays they needed to and forced the issue. So ignore the noise and the revisionist history that the naysayers start with every New England Super Bowl victory and enjoy this one for a while.

Situational Football? Check: The Patriots made only 1 of 2 two-point conversions this season but nailed both in the Super Bowl. Think they were prepared for those? Yes, indeed. Former Patriots assistant to Bill Belichick, Mike Lombardi was on a podcast this week and said that they were prepared.

Lombardi was on The Ringer podcast this week and stated that Belichick put in a two-point conversion period into practices both Thursday and Friday leading up to the big game. He also expects that they’ll probably trade Jimmy Garoppolo and that Jimmy G will be a good starting NFL QB.

Must see video:
Patriots fans have been posting all kinds of Super Bowl highlight films all week. The pieces with the players wired have been gold. Perhaps the best is the one put out by NFL Films, called the Turning Point. They always do such a superior job of not only showing the key plays but giving you the up close and personal look that takes the viewer into the huddle or on the Patriots and Falcons sidelines.

Quote of the Week: after the Super Bowl, ESPN’s Mike Reiss did a video segment with many of the beat writers and television commentators talking about the player’s reactions to the Super Bowl win.

Reiss asked DE Chris Long his opinion on Tom Brady. Long’s response, “He’s the GOAT, he’s the King of the Petting Zoo.” Classic

Belichick the GM? He’s Done Just Fine Thank You:
Last week in this column we wrote that Bill Belichick had pushed all the right buttons during the season. After watching the Super Bowl, it is amazing how Belichick the GM has developed his players, especially the ones who played such a key role in the 5th Super Bowl win.

Logan Ryan was a 3rd round draft pick and came on to play some of his best football down the stretch and into the playoffs this season. He was frequently tasked with covering an opponent’s top WR with over the top safety help. He’s a free agent now and in line for a big payday.

James White who caught an NFL-record 14 passes in the SB, was a 4th round draft pick out of Wisconsin. Despite being thought of as a second fiddle to Dion Lewis in the passing game, we wrote back in midseason, that White’s talents weren’t going anywhere, that he’d remain an integral part of the offense.  White’s contributions in the big game surpassed Shane Vereen’s in SB XLIX. Vereen replaced Danny Woodhead in the passing game. And so it goes…

Trey Flowers was a 4th round draft pick last year who flashed in preseason but was limited to only a few snaps in his rookie campaign due to injuries. He caught on in the second half of the season and was the Patriots best defensive lineman down the stretch. He logged 9.5 sacks since the bye, including 2.5 in the Super Bowl.

Marcus Cannon was a steal (yes, we can now state that easily), in the 5th round of the draft due to his cancer diagnosis. In reality, he probably would’ve gone in the 2nd round but the Patriots always believed in him and he rewarded them with an outstanding season. Cannon faced the top two sack leaders in the NFL in Vic Beasley and Von Miller this year and gave up 0 sacks and 1 QB hit…combined.

Malcolm Butler was a UDFA out of West Alabama and has been making plays since his first training camp. While some were not buying into his playmaking ability, he parlayed the coaches trust into Super Bowl heroics and back-to-back outstanding seasons as the team’s top cornerback.

Belichick and the coaches showed tremendous patience and faith in these players and allowed them to work and develop themselves into important pieces of the puzzle. Perhaps we can now put to bed the adage that the GM Bill was hurting the Head Coach Bill. And BTW, that 6th round QB taken in 2000 isn’t doing too badly either.

Belichick and Brady’s Legacy, Alone at the Top:
Sunday’s dramatic win marked the 9th time that the Patriots have gone to the big game, most in the NFL. But for Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, it was their seventh time in 16 seasons to reach the Super Bowl. That in itself is a ridiculous stat that shows how dominant this team has been. Reaching the Super Bowl nearly every other year?

With the win, they now stand alone at the top with 5 Super Bowl wins together surpassing Chuck Noll and Terry Bradshaw and Bill Walsh and Joe Montana who have four wins each. At age 39, Brady shows no sign of slowing down and the Patriots should be competitive again next year to end up right back in the Super Bowl.

Could a contemporary QB break or tie Brady’s record of five Super Bowls? The two closest QB’s are Ben Roethlisberger and Eli Manning with two SB wins each. Roethlisberger will be 35 in March and would have to win three in the next four years to match Brady. But his physical style has taken its toll and he’s hinted that he may retire.

Manning is 36 and would have to win the next three Super Bowls to tie Brady at the age of 39. Aaron Rodgers is just 33 years old but has just one Super Bowl win. He’d need to win four of the next six to tie. It is doubtful that any of the QBs of this era match.

Deion Sanders Calls Out Dungy and the Colts:
One of the stranger episodes in the Super Bowl aftermath took place between Deion Sanders, LaDainian Tomlinson, and Tony Dungy. Tomlinson, still bitter over the 2006 playoff game suggested the Patriots will get an asterisk over their exploits. Sanders wasn’t having any of that and lashed back, targeting the Indianapolis Colts.

“Those same critics [who say the Patriots dynasty has an asterisk], did they say anything about the wins that the Indianapolis Colts had?” Sanders said. “You want to talk about that too? Because they were getting everybody’s signals. Come on, you don’t walk up to the line and look over here and the man on the sideline giving you the defense that they’ve stolen the plays of. We all knew. L.T. knew. Everybody in the NFL knew. We just didn’t let the fans know. That was real and that was happening in Indy.”

Tony Dungy answered the charge by stating that yes, Indy stole signals, but it was ok because “everyone else did it” and that it wasn’t illegal because they didn’t tape the signals.

I think we have to go back to what is cheating,” Dungy said. “People accusing us of cheating? I don’t think that’s the case. Stealing signals? You can go back to the 1800s in baseball, you can go anywhere there were signals done, and people were looking and watching and trying to get signals. Back in the early days of football the quarterbacks called the plays and the middle linebackers called the defenses and there was no signaling. When coaches decided they wanted to call plays you had to find ways to get the information in, and there were people watching. My coach, Chuck Noll, was a messenger guard for Paul Brown in the ’50s because Paul Brown didn’t want to have to signal because people are going to watch them. So, that’s what happens and it’s been done legally for years.”

Dungy added, “That’s all part of the game, but doing it legally and illegally, that’s the difference,” Dungy said. “I hope Deion is not saying we did something illegally. Of course, we got signals when we had an opportunity to do that, and so did Deion.”

Sounds like a lot of splitting hairs… so they’re clean because they wrote down the signals and the Patriots wore the black hats because they filmed them?

Goodell Peeved At New England? What Did He Expect?
Think Deflategate is over now? Not hardly. After Roger Goodell told Patriots fans last week to basically shut up and get over it, the celebration by the Patriots and comments from Robert Kraft have seemingly touched a nerve with the suits at Park Avenue and the 31 other owners who wanted New England punished two years ago …. For basically winning too much.

CBS Sports has published a story by Jason La Canfora that states that the brass at NFL HQs, Roger Goodell, and the other owners are steaming at the Patriots again. Goodell has misplaced his anger when he reportedly was mad because he was loudly booed when handing the Lombardi Trophy to Kraft by NFL fans.

Kraft then touched a nerve when he called the latest title “the sweetest” and mentioned what the team had been thru the past two years. NFL officials are hopping mad over Matt Patricia’s decision to fly home from Houston wearing a Goodell t-shirt that depicts him as a clown. And he can’t be happy with Brady’s new commercial where he pops the 5th ring out of his pocket to the tune of “Roger that.”

But seriously, what did Goodell expect? After he took victory laps around his manufactured evidence during Super Bowl week, did he expect Kraft and the Patriots to take the high road? Follow your own advice Roger…move on.

Brady, Goodell Share Awkward Moment:
Goodell stated a week ago prior to the Super Bowl that he’d be happy to hand the trophy over to Tom Brady in the event that the Patriots won the Super Bowl. Well as fate would play out, the Patriots did win and Brady won the Super Bowl MVP trophy.

Neither one looked comfortable and each had fake smiles plastered on their faces. Goodell muttered something under his breath to Brady and each smiled briefly and then he was gone, as he zipped off the stage. Brady smiled for the cameras legitimately and thanked the crowd in attendance.

But this isn’t over…not by a long shot.

East Bound and Down…AFC East Notes:

Bills in a Difficult Spot with Taylor and Limited Options:
The news out of Buffalo is that QB Tyrod Taylor won’t accept a restructured deal with the Bills…and why should he? If the Bills who owe him $30 million in guaranteed money if they pick up his option don’t like the deal signed just a year ago, that isn’t Taylor’s problem. Because if they decline it, Taylor will have plenty of options, the Bills won’t.

Many teams are looking for a quarterback and Taylor would quickly find a home, possibly in-state with their rivals the Jets. But there are many teams in the hunt for a QB, and the problem is, the draft isn’t stocked with NFL ready QBs.

Mitch Trubisky from UNC may be there but his throwing mechanics are suspect. They could opt for the costly decision to move up for Deshaun Watson but with many holes to fill, that may be too expensive. Notre Dame’s DeShone Kizer is thought to be a 2nd round possibility but he too has holes in his game and there’s no guarantee he’ll be there.

Cardale Jones? Last year’s 4th round draft pick is a question mark as he didn’t play in 2016. Forget Jimmy Garoppolo. There is no way Bill Belichick trades him to any team in the AFC East. After that, the options are dwindled down to Mike Glennon, Colin Kaepernick, Jay Cutler, Josh McCown, or Matt McGloin. Tony Romo will want to go somewhere where he can compete for a playoff game right away. There aren’t any easy answers for the Bills.

Miami’s Schedule Is a Tough One in 2017:
One thing about making the playoffs is that while it is nice, especially if a team hasn’t been there for a while, like the Dolphins, then the reality sets in. Miami’s schedule is on par with teams that made the playoffs in 2016 and it won’t be an easy one.

The Dolphins play this year’s Super Bowl teams three times with two tilts against New England in the division and a road tilt against Atlanta. Miami’s home schedule includes the Patriots, Oakland, Tampa Bay, Denver, and Tennessee, all of whom had winning records. Another “home” game is slated for London against the Saints.

Road games include New England, Atlanta, Kansas City, Baltimore, and Carolina. If the Dolphins make it back to the postseason in 2017, they will have earned it. That schedule is not a cream puff. There will be plenty of good games to watch this season.

Jets Back to Square One at QB:
With Ryan Fitzpatrick’s deal done in NY and Geno Smith a free agent, the Jets, like Buffalo has a big, big question heading into 2017. Who is going to be the QB for Gang Green this year?

Bryce Petty was a 4th round pick a few seasons ago, and showed flashes here and there before landing on IR but is hardly a lock for the job. Christian Hackenberg was a 2nd round pick in 2016 but never took the field and has never taken an NFL snap in the regular season. Many in the Jets organization believe he’ll never be an NFL QB.

So, what’s in store for the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets Jets, this season? Either dip into free agency or go back into the draft. Ditto the comment above about Jimmy G., the chances Belichick trades him to the Jets are less than zero. If Tyrod Taylor is cut loose by Buffalo he would be an intriguing choice. Stay tuned.

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 discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

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Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: 2016 NFL Season 2016 Patriots season 2017 Super Bowl Bill Belichick Chris Hogan Danny Amendola Dion Lewis Dont'a Hightower Jimmy Garoppolo Julian Edelman LaGarrette Blount Malcolm Butler Martellus Bennett New England Patriots NFL Patriots Rob Gronkowski Tom Brady Trey Flowers

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