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New England Patriots News 6-4, AFC East Notes

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

New England Patriots News 6-4, AFC East NotesSteve Balestrieri - PatsFans.com

Good morning, here are your Sunday’s Patriots news 6-4, & AFC East Notes.

Congratulations to all the recent high school and college graduates out there. It is the first of hopefully many successes in your lives and we all wish you the best.

Brady Strikes Back…In the Only Way, He Can:
Yes, there are (sometimes but not often enough) consequences for your actions. A photographer for the Boston Globe was escorted to his vehicle and shown the gate at Tom Brady’s Best Buddies Charity Football Game at Harvard Stadium on Friday night.

Tom Brady and his charities have been unfairly criticized lately. (SBalestrieri photo)

To be clear, the photographer was the innocent recipient of collateral damage from the shit storm that the Globe and others have been raising about Brady’s charity and the attacks …once again on his character.

While the members of the collective media, wring their hands about what a “Bad Look” it is for Brady and Best Buddies, you reap what you sow. Brady’s name has been dragged thru the mud one time too often and he, and the organization won’t have to take it lying down.

You want to put it out there that he and his organization are doing something shady? Then stop just short of calling it illegal? Then don’t expect to be welcomed in the next charity event they put on with open arms.

We live in a world today where the journalism field is dominated by click bait. Accuracy has taken a back seat to being the first out there and both of those have been pushed to irrelevance by sensationalism. The more outrageous the better and the public eats it up.

So, yes, the Globe can slam Brady and the charity by writing some inflammatory BS and then hiding behind the First Amendment. But they (Brady and Best Buddies) also have the right to stop you from turning around and making a buck off of their charity by taking a bunch of photos at their charity football game and posting on your site.

No one wants to see that, but for a guy who’s handled everything in his career in a classy way and has always represented his team and city in an exemplary fashion, enough was enough.

Now a certain radio station that he’s done a weekly Monday call-in segment during the season should be worried. They printed an even worse hack job on his character and Brady may just decide that he doesn’t need to wake up early on Mondays any longer. Or will that be another “bad look” for the future HOF QB?

***Update***[I was contacted just after 9 am by someone who was involved with the Best Buddies Charity game and who’s bona fides are without question. This person assured me that in no way was either Tom Brady nor the “upper management” of the charity involved in any way or approved the exclusion of the Globe’s photographer. I appreciate the reaching out and place this out there for the readers. SB] ****

Steelers Changing Defense Because of Brady:
This one comes as kind of a no-brainer. The Pittsburgh Steelers, retooling in 2017 after a 36-17 thrashing by Brady and the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game are switching up to more of a man coverage scheme. And not a moment too soon.

Pittsburgh has been playing the same basic defensive scheme since Brady’s earliest days with New England. The 3-4 system plays a mostly zone coverage scheme that Brady has routinely eviscerated. In the AFCCG he completed 32-42 for 384 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions with a QB rating of 127.5.

Pittsburgh knows if they are to take the next step they’ll have to beat New England and Brady. To do that, they’ll need much better coverage and have the ability to mix things up more.

“Every team that’s won Super Bowls the last couple of years has been able to play man,” CB Artie Burns said this week. “We want to be a team to play man, get the pressure on the quarterback and attack coverage downfield.”

Minicamp Sessions a First Glimpse:
While the players still won’t be in pads until training camp begins in July, I am looking forward to seeing the new faces on the field at this week’s upcoming minicamp. For myself, it will be the first glimpse of the new players and watch how they’re adapting to the Patriots.

Chris Hogan snatches a pass in traffic during minicamp. (SBalestrieri photo)

While it is more of a passing camp since the linemen can’t really be judged in the trenches without pads on, it gives an early glimpse of how the coaches want to utilize some of their weapons offensively.

Conversely, if the defensive backs can cover well without pads and the ability to jam at the line of scrimmage, it bodes well for them once training camp does begin late next month. It will be an intriguing if albeit early look at the 2017 Patriots roster.

Josh McDaniels Has a Lot of Options to Tinker With, in 2017:
The Patriots of 2017, at least on paper, have a better core group than the the one that just won the Super Bowl back in February. The already potent offensive group gets back TE Rob Gronkowski, who missed most of last season, replaced TE Martellus Bennett and RB LeGarrette Blount with Dwayne Allen and Mike Gillislee. They also added RB Rex Burkhead and the talented WR Brandin Cooks in a trade with New Orleans.

Cooks brings the element of speed to the Patriots WR corps that was missing and he’s a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball. A key factor is that Cooks, Julian Edelman, and Chris Hogan, thought to be the three starters, are all very versatile. Each can line up outside or in the slot. What does this mean for McDaniels?

He has the ability to move players around and create matchup nightmares for the opposing defenses. McDaniels can dictate to the defenses how the Patriots will play due to their versatility. And he still has Malcolm Mitchell, Danny Amendola, Austin Carr and Jacob Hollister at the position as well as James White, Dion Lewis, Burkhead and 2nd-year player D. J. Foster who can be targeted out of the backfield.

There are a plethora of riches for the Patriots on offense this season, and how McDaniels tinkers with them will be a major storyline this fall.

Lawrence Guy Adds to the Versatility on the Defense:
Much has been written this week about the Patriots signing of DL Lawrence and how fits the versatility and adaptability for the Patriots defense. He gives them a big, athletic body that can play inside or outside and gives them the flexibility to switch fronts from a 3-4 to a 4-3. I would expect to see some of the 3-3-5 look the Patriots utilize as well.

But we had already touched on that subject two months ago when we wrote about Guy and the fit he has within Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia’s system. But whatever alignment they use, they expect their players to adapt and play well. Belichick never likes to talk about the alignment much.

Guy should immediately become part of the four-man rotation on the interior of the Patriots defense as well as special teams and was a very good under-the-radar signing by the team this spring.

East Bound and Down…AFC East Notes:

Maclin to the Bills Makes Perfect Sense:
The Buffalo Bills could make a run at free agent WR Jeremy Maclin and he’d be a nice fit in upstate New York after the Chiefs released the 28-year old veteran on Friday.

Maclin was a guy who was being pushed down the options list for Andy Reid behind TE Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. Given that he was due $12 million against the salary cap, Maclin became a cap casualty.

Maclin has always been known as a field stretcher, something that didn’t play well with QB Alex Smith’s game with the Chiefs. But with Buffalo, they’ve utilized a pretty effective deep passing game with Tyrod Taylor with teams keying on LeSean McCoy and the running game.

McCoy and Maclin are also very close friends so don’t be shocked if Shady is burning up his cell phone minutes trying to convince his former teammate as well as his coaches to make the move.

Miami, Gase Keeping Pouncey on the Shelf for Now:
The Miami Dolphins head coach Adam Gase vowed to keep center Mike Pouncey in bubble wrap this season. The All-Pro offensive lineman went on the shelf with a recurring hip issue last season that caused him to have surgery to get it repaired. He hasn’t played since October.

While he’s been rehabbing, Gase isn’t pushing him to return anytime soon and Pouncey has been wisely kept on the sidelines thus far during the spring OTAs. The hope is that Pouncey will be ready to go by the beginning of training camp next month.

But the Miami Herald’s Adam Beasley is reporting that Pouncey may not even be allowed to practice then and be placed on the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list and spending the first few weeks of camp there to ensure that he’s ready for the opener.

“I know he’s feeling great and he wants to get out there,” said backup center Kraig Urbik. “I think it’s just one of those things where you just have to take your time. Again, I’m not a doctor or anything like that, but I know Mike’s eager to get out there and practice. He wants to be out there with the guys. I think he’s eager and he’ll be ready for sure.”

Jets Trade Safety Calvin Pryor to Cleveland for Demario Davis:
The New York Jets have traded former 2014 first-round draft pick safety Calvin Pryor to the Cleveland Browns for LB Demario Davis. Pryor’s tenure was deemed expendable in New York when the Jets drafted safeties in both the first and second rounds of the 2017 NFL Draft.

In a slightly bizarre twist, the Jets re-acquire Davis, whom the Browns signed as a free agent last spring away from Gang Green. Davis was a three-year starter in New York before inking a two-year $8 million-dollar deal with the Browns who he started 15 games for in 2016 and made 59 tackles and two sacks for. He’ll compete for starting reps.

Pryor gets a fresh start with the Browns and with rookie draft pick Jabrill Peppers and other young secondary players should immediately pay dividends.

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 myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.


Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2017 Patriots Season 53 Man Roster Projection Bill Belichick Chris Hogan Danny Amendola Dion Lewis James White Julian Edelman LaGarrette Blount Martellus Bennett Miami Dolphins New England Patriots New York Jets NFL Pittsburgh Steelers Rob Gronkowski Tom Brady


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