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New England Patriots News 10-1, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
October 1, 2017 at 5:00 am ET

New England Patriots News 10-1, AFC East Notes(PHOTO: Steve Balestrieri -
Posted: Oct 01, 2017 05:00
🕑 Read Time: 7 minutes

Good morning, here are your Sunday’s Patriots news 10-1, & AFC East Notes.

After mid-summer like conditions for last Sunday’s game against Houston and the beginning of the week, the fall weather has officially begun and it has been a big difference in the temps outside. Now it feels like football weather.

It Isn’t the RBs, OL Isn’t Opening Holes:
A familiar topic on social media this week is “what is wrong with the Patriots running backs?” Which part of the issue is the problem of getting those 3rd and short or 4th and short (one or two yards). As to the running backs, nothing is amiss there. The offensive line isn’t getting any kind of push on those when the opponents know the Patriots are going to run. Dante Scarnecchia will work with the guys, and I’m sure that things will improve but that is where the majority of the problem lies.

While some are pointing to Mike Gillislee as being the problem here, he’s getting hit way too often in the backfield a yard or two behind the line of scrimmage. RBs have to be able to hit the line with a full head of speed and they just aren’t getting that opportunity yet. No one is saying that the backs can’t play better, but the issue (at least from here) is that it is an offensive line issue. And moving forward, the Patriots are going to need more from the running game. They can’t rely on Tom Brady throwing for 370 to 450 yards per game. That just isn’t sustainable.

Super Bowl Shoo-ins to Long Shots?
Ah, the hot take crowd is at it again. Despite the NFL “not being involved in gambling” they continue to make teams post injury reports right next to the Vegas betting lines for the week’s games…but I digress. The best one is the Odds on winning the Super Bowl.

The Patriots were the odds-on all favorite since the spring….now? They’re a long shot. With the defense struggling, now the talking heads “can’t see them winning with this defense.” Raise your hand if you’ve seen this one before.

If the season ended today, I’d be inclined to agree. But it doesn’t and the “hot take” crowd either seems to forget it or conveniently ignore it. Remember 2014? At the quarter pole of the season, the Patriots “weren’t good anymore”, Brady was done and the outlook was grim. Talk to me in December and then we’ll see where the chips lie.

Speaking of hot takes…

Belichick is the Problem With the Patriots Defense?
I loved the title of this one, which wasn’t nearly as blasphemous as it sounds but used a little bit of creativity with the lede to draw the readers in. I clicked on just because of it, thinking the writer was one of those “I’m smarter than Bill” hot takes but really wasn’t. He did make a few valid points which are the Patriots are generally too passive in their defensive approach, (something we frequently write here).

But hopefully, they will start getting a little more aggressive once they begin to iron out their issues …as it always happens. The defense always gets a little bit added as they go on during the season. No one foresaw them struggling to this degree but it is what it is.

Patriots Work Out Wakefield’s Fabiano, Others:
The Patriots, as they frequently do, worked out a few players last week, keeping an emergency contact sheet of players who may fit their system and needs if the call arises. This week they worked out former Wakefield, Mass and Harvard center Anthony Fabiano. The former Mass. HS star played tight end and defensive end before moving on to Harvard. He spent time on the Ravens practice squad before moving to the Browns, where he spent time on both the practice squad and the active roster.

In addition to Fabiano, the Patriots had linebacker Austin Calitro (Villanova), linebacker Cam Johnson (Virginia), and offensive tackles Jake Rodgers (Eastern Washington) and Victor Salako (Oklahoma State) in for workouts as well.

Patriots Fans, Upset with Protests, Burn Their Gear:
This actually isn’t happening only in New England but across the league as well. Many fans are upset with the manner in which the players expressed their protest are making their feelings known. And some Patriots fans are claiming that they are done with the NFL and burned their gear in a public display.

And while actually very little gear was burned, (they boxed it up and sent it off to charity), their point was made. But the interesting thing was reading the comments of the article which was posted on The people who were upset at the players didn’t want to hear the reasons why they were protesting, making it about Colin Kaepernick last week, while it wasn’t. And the people upset with the counter-protesters were lumping them into a Pro-President corner and basically saying, they don’t have the right to be mad. Which goes exactly against what they were claiming in the first place. The First Amendment only works when it is convenient for me?

This is what the problem is in this country. No one listens anymore and as soon as someone else espouses an idea or thought that is different than your own, they’re ridiculed, shouted down and discounted. There is a distinct lack of listening and understanding in this country.

Many of my military brothers were upset, as was I at HOW the players showed their displeasure but not the fact that they did protest, of which they have that absolute right. But too many people didn’t take the time, nor care to listen and understand their point of view. I also write for a large military site that caters to Special Operations news and analysis. I tried to get the point across, that the biggest problem we face is listening to one another which I tried to point out here: But like all things political these days, it largely fell on deaf ears.  

Who Do You Like This Week NFL Week 4:
Ugh, a very ugly week going 8-8 in not picking the games well

Season Total: 31-16.

This week’s Thursday Night Football Game was a no-brainer with Green Bay over Chicago. Now for the rest of the slate:
Saints at Dolphins – Miami

Titans at Texans – Houston

Jaguars at Jets – Jacksonville

Panthers at Patriots – New England

Lions at Vikings – Detroit

Bills at Falcons – Atlanta

Steelers at Ravens – Pittsburgh

Bengals at Browns – Cincinnati

Rams at Cowboys – Dallas

Eagles at Chargers – Philadelphia

Giants at Buccaneers – Tampa Bay

49ers at Cardinals – Arizona

Raiders at Broncos – Oakland

Colts at Seahawks – Seattle

Redskins at Chiefs – Kansas City

Next Thursday Night (Write up early next week)

East Bound and Down…AFC East Notes:

Bills Defense Gets Real Test in Atlanta:
The Buffalo Bills defense has been getting a lot of very favorable press and for good reason. They’ve played very well in the first three weeks of the season. They shut down the Jets and Panthers offenses before forcing the Denver Broncos into many mistakes in their 10-point win last week.

But neither the Jets nor the Panthers were thought to be anything resembling an offensive juggernaut this season. Denver’s offense was thought to be close to those two but did play very well in the first two weeks.

Atlanta’s offense is no joke. They possess extraordinary team speed and they can pressure the defense all over the field. Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, and Mohamed Sanu are a tremendous collection of skill players and with Matt Ryan throwing them the ball, there are no weaknesses here. Plus, this game is on the road in the Falcons new home where they play even faster. I keep seeing, “the Falcons could be 1-2” but they’re not. And they’re not for a reason. This is a very, very good football team. The Bills will get a much better feel for their defense after they take on the Falcons. If they play like they have for the past three weeks, then perhaps it is time to reconsider the poor marking that the Bills team got in the preseason.

Dolphins Looking to Rebound in London after Poor Showing:
The Miami Dolphins were supposed to make short work of the Jets last week, but this is the NFL and anything can happen from week to week Especially early in the season. Now at 1-1, they’re looking to rebound because they don’t want to fall to 1-2 by losing two in a row to teams that they should beat.

The Dolphins offense should rebound nicely against the Saints defense which has been poor this season against both the pass and the run. Miami should feed Jay Ajayi the ball in this one early and often. That should open up play action nicely against a Saints secondary that was picked on by Tom Brady two weeks ago.

The Saints offense with Drew Brees should present some challenges for Miami’s defense. But the biggest question here is, how do the players really feel about Lawrence Timmons? He abandoned them before Week 1 and then flew back to Pittsburgh and said that he wished he hadn’t left and wanted back in. He was suspended indefinitely and now is back after just a one-week hiatus. This will bear watching down the road.

Jets Must Stop the Run Against the Jaguars:
This one is usually the focus of most teams, but it will be especially true today for the Jets when they face off against the Jags. They have to stop the run and force the ball into Blake Bortles’ hands.  The Jaguars have the running game with Leonard Fournette and if he starts getting chunk yardage, then it will make Bortles’ job much easier. But he’s been prone to making mistakes and if they can stop the run, they can then pressure Bortles and perhaps generate a turnover or two.

On the flip side, the Jets can’t afford any turnovers of their own. Josh McCown is facing two very talented cornerbacks in Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye. Those two will be looking to get a pick and a turnover, giving their team a short field.

Both teams played very well last defeating teams that were well favored. The Jets beat Miami and the Jaguars thumped the Ravens in a shocker. Both want to continue their winning ways and build on last week’s momentum. This one should be an interesting game to keep an eye on. Many people are taking the Jets in this one. I think I’m going with Jacksonville. (See above)

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 discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

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Patriots Betrayed By Substandard Defense

About Steve Balestrieri

A former US Army Special Forces NCO and Officer, Steve has been following the Patriots since their days at Fenway Park. Steve has worked in the film industry and wrote as an Military Editor at, as a reporter for the Millbury Daily Voice, Millbury-Sutton Chronicle, and the Grafton News. He's also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2017 Patriots Season Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Chris Hogan Danny Amendola Denver Broncos Dion Lewis Dont'a Hightower James White Malcolm Butler Miami Dolphins New England Patriots New York Jets NFL Patriots Patriots edge rushers Rob Gronkowski Tom Brady Trey Flowers

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