New England Patriots News 11-5, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
November 5, 2017 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here are your Sunday’s Patriots news 11-5, & AFC East Notes.

The Patriots are on the bye this week, and it couldn’t come at a better time. The team is beat-up with a slew of injuries and the extra time will hopefully give their hurt players a chance to heal up and get back on the field.  

Check back with us this week as we’ll give our Mid-Season Report Card by position and see where the team is in terms of getting to where they want to be.

Patriots Trade Garoppolo, Add Hoyer During the Bye:
The Pats made a very big surprise move at the trade deadline, moving Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers for a second-round draft pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Many felt (including us here), that after not trading him this spring that the team would make a move to keep him around Brady’s backup. Bill Belichick said in his comments after the trade that they wanted to keep Garoppolo but it wasn’t sustainable. The draft pick for Garoppolo is expected to be either the 33rd or 34th in the 2018 NFL Draft which is essentially a late first rounder.  

The team made another move the next day bringing back former Brady backup QB Brian Hoyer as the new backup quarterback, giving Hoyer a three-year deal. That could be a significant development as it could signify the team hopes to have Brady’s replacement in place by then, or it could mean nothing. According to ESPN’s Field Yates “the deal is worth a total of $4.41 million, with Hoyer set to earn $476,000 in 2017, $915,000 in 2018 and a base salary of $2.85 million ($1.5 million guaranteed with a $200,000 roster bonus) in 2019.”

Hoyer was a UDFA in 2009 from Michigan State and was here from 2009-11.He has since had stints with the Pittsburgh Steelers (2012), Arizona Cardinals (2012), Cleveland Browns (2013-14), Houston Texans (2015), Chicago Bears (2016) and 49ers (2017). He should quickly re-learn the Patriots offense as while some things have changed, the terminology remains the same. So, without further ado…

No Guarantee the 2018 Draft Will Hold Brady’s Successor:
With two early picks in the NFL Draft in the first 33-34 selection range, the Patriots will be expected to take another quarterback. That player will immediately be judged as Tom Brady’s successor. Right or wrong, good or bad, that player will be under the microscope from the first minicamp practice.

But as the Patriots well know, this is a calculated gamble. This wasn’t the arrogance that they can easily find another franchise QB. They know there is zero assurance that anyone they draft, early or late, can ever become “that guy” despite being outstanding at recognizing and building a talent-laden team, year in, year out. Look around the league at the players that have been drafted to replace legends. They’ve drafted a slew of QBs during the Belichick era and other than Brady and Garoppolo, most of them, including Hoyer, are eminently forgettable.

While there are some intriguing names out there this upcoming draft, it will be interesting to see who the team likes in the draft process, as this young player will be immediately tied to the Patriots which may drive up that player’s draft stock. The vultures are already circling around Patriots Place waiting for Belichick and Nick Caserio to make a big mistake and then scream, “gotcha!” Two factors will bear watching to ultimately tell if the trade was a good or a bad one. The first is how well Garoppolo plays as the #1 QB. Is he a true franchise signal-caller? And the second is how well the Patriots draft the “next” Patriots QB. That may take some time to find out. Because the drafting of Garoppolo lifted Brady’s play and at an age where he should have begun a steady decline, he elevated the level of his game to even higher heights.

Kraft, Jones Deposed in Kaepernick’s Lawsuit Against the NFL:
Well, this is going to get ugly quickly…. Robert Kraft and Jerry Jones are among the owners who have been deposed to testify at the Colin Kaepernick collusion case against the NFL.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter first reported on Friday that Kraft will be deposed for the case and that he, Jones and others will be asked to turn over all cell phone records and emails in relation to the case. Kaepernick’s lawyers filed suit against the league on October 15, charging that the team’s owners colluded against him being offered another job as a quarterback in the NFL.

One owner being deposed is Texans’ owner Bob McNair. His team had Kaepernick in for a workout this week after DeShaun Watson blew out his ACL in practice this week. Despite the many people carrying a torch for Kaepernick on social media because of his social stances, the fact of the matter is, he’s no better than on par with most of the QBs already on rosters in the league. In five seasons he averaged less than 180 yards passing per game. Those are hardly the numbers of a “must sign” quarterback.

And there remains the question of a fit for his strengths. The Texans, Cowboys, Panthers and a few others that use a mobile quarterback where they have a run-pass option. Teams like New England? Zero fit. But that won’t stop the silly cacophony of every team “must sign CK.”

Thuney Fined Same Amount as Alonso, Suh? Nada:
Who would have “thunk” it? The NFL’s track record for being consistent in doling out player discipline has always been suspect at best so the news this week is hardly shocking, but it never fails to amaze, especially when the league is constantly touting “player safety” as one of its primary concerns.

During the Patriots-Chargers game, New England guard Joe Thuney was flagged for clipping and the Bolts’ Hayes Pullard got flagged for a facemask. Each of them was fined $9115 for their infractions. So what’s the beef?

The NFL flagged Dolphins LB Kiko Alonso the same amount for knocking Joe Flacco out of the game with a deliberate hit to his head. Flacco was going into a slide when Alonso who neither pulled up or tried to deflect away from Flacco’s head. Instead, he targeted him and delivered a crushing blow that caused a concussion.  Ndamukong Suh wasn’t fined at all after he grabbed QB Ryan Mallett around the throat because, in his words, he was afraid that Mallett was going to attack him. That defense is ludicrous concerning Suh’s track record and while not a slam on Mallett, but he isn’t exactly known for terrorizing those poor defenseless defensive linemen after the whistle. Once again, the league makes a joke over their lack of consistency concerning player discipline.

Who Do You Like This Week NFL Week 8:
Last week was a good one with some of the easier picks of the season and I finished with an 11-2 mark. Season Total: 78-41.

This week’s Thursday Night Football Game I went with the Buffalo over the Jets (0-1). Now for the rest of the slate:
Falcons at Panthers – Carolina

Bengals at Jaguars- Jacksonville

Rams at Giants – New York

Bucs at Saints – New Orleans

Ravens at Titans – Baltimore

Redskins at Seahawks – Seattle

Colts  at Texans – Indianapolis

Cardinals at 49ers – San Francisco

Chiefs at Cowboys – Dallas

SNF Raiders at Dolphins –  Oakland
MNF Lions at Packers – Green Bay

Bye week: Bears, Browns, Chargers, Vikings, Patriots, Steelers

Next Thursday Night Seattle over Arizona.

Eastbound and Down…AFC East Notes:

Bills Incognito Critical of Thursday Night Football:

The Buffalo Bills Richie Incognito wasted few words in slamming the league for the Thursday Night Football schedule. In a scathing review, Incognito blasted the NFL, ESPN’s Mike Rodak reported on Friday.

“They suck,” Incognito said. “They throw a wrench in our schedule. It’s absolutely ridiculous that we have to do this. As physical as this game is, as much work and preparation that goes into this, to force us to play games on four-day weeks, it’s completely unfair and bulls—. The league makes money off it, and that’s all they care about anyway.”

We are in total agreement with Incognito on this issue as well. Especially when a team has a physical contest on a Sunday and then has to travel? What you commonly witness is what we saw on Thursday night. The Bills were sloppy, missing tackles, and taking stupid penalties. However, Bills’ Coach Sean McDermott wasn’t buying that as an excuse.”[The Jets] were challenged with the same short week as us and had the same amount of time to prepare, so give them credit.”

It isn’t an excuse, but the fact remains most Thursday Night Football games are a far cry from the Sunday versions of the same games. And once again the issue of “player safety” rears its head as well.  

Gase Shakes Up Dolphins, Offense with Trade of Ajayi:

The Miami Dolphins are 4-3 but their offense which was supposed to be a juggernaut …or close to it this season has been awful. Adam Gase ripped his team and RB Jay Ajayi last week and just sent a big message to his team. He made a huge trade, shipping Ajayi to the Philadelphia Eagles for a 4th round draft choice.

“I’m just trying to find ways to make sure that we can move in the direction that we need to move into, not just this year, but into the future,” Gase said. “We kind of need to figure out what we want to do [offensively] moving forward, see who we have and give guys opportunities. Really, at the end of the day, we need the offense to play a greater role in these games. Right now we’ve been holding this team back.”

The Dolphins currently rank last in the league in both total offense (252.4 yards per game) and points per game (13.1). Besides Ajayi, there were rumors that the team was trying to deal leading WR Jarvis Landry. Landry leads the team with 50 catches for 398 yards and three touchdowns but is a pending free agent. Rumors have it that he will be a difficult free agent to keep this offseason, but the team stood pat with him. Miami hosts the Oakland Raiders today, another team that has underachieved this year.

Jets Tanking for #1 Pick? No One Told Bowles, Players:

The New York Jets were supposed to be 0-16 in 2017, at best 2-14 and in firm control of the #1 pick in the 2018 NFL Draft so that they can draft the franchise quarterback that has eluded them for decades now.

The Jets were supposed to be bad, even historically bad. But no one told coach Todd Bowles and his Jets players. One can imagine him giving a speech like Lou Brown in Major League before the first game of the season.

Unlike the lovable inept Indians in that film, the Jets aren’t making the playoffs although, at 4-5, they are still alive. After a couple of close losses, the Jets could have been even more alive in the playoff hunt. Of course, this will no doubt hurt their draft position this next spring.

And while we’ll never be confused with Jets fans around here, I’ve always been a fan of their hiring of Bowles, who I think is a fine coach, there is something to be said for a coach getting his players to buy in. And the Jets players have bought into Bowles and his system this year. Josh McCown is having a career year at quarterback and some of their rookies and castoffs are playing very well. Tanking? Don’t tell that to the Bills who were looking to “make a statement” that they’ve arrived this season. They got run off the field in the Meadowlands to their hated division rival. It was just supposed to be the other way around.

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.



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