New England Patriots News 11-26, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
November 26, 2017 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here are your Sunday’s Patriots news 11-26, & AFC East Notes.

We hope that all of our readers had a happy and safe Thanksgiving with their families this week. And from all of us here, we’re thankful for all of you, our readers make it all possible here.

Gone too soon: Condolences go out to the family of former Patriots WR Terry Glenn who died tragically in a car accident this week. Glenn was a very talented, speedy wide receiver who the Patriots selected in the first round (7th overall) of the 1996 NFL Draft.

Robert Kraft spoke about Glenn on the Patriots website:

“We were shocked and deeply saddened by today’s news that Terry Glenn died in an auto accident,” Kraft said. “Terry was one of the most gifted receivers we have ever had.”
“One of my favorite memories came when we hosted the Pittsburgh Steelers in the divisional playoff game. It was my first home playoff game as an owner and just the second home playoff game in our history. It will always be remembered for the fog that filled Foxboro Stadium that day. Yet, on the first play from scrimmage, Drew Bledsoe threw a deep pass that disappeared in the fog and reappeared 53 yards downfield in Terry Glenn’s hands. We scored on the next play and ended up winning 28-3. Our thoughts and prayers are with Terry’s family, his former teammates, and friends who mourn his loss.”


Patriots Face the Dolphins Twice in 3 Weeks: The Patriots game today against the Dolphins will be the first of two meetings between the two teams in just three weeks. Due to a scheduling quirk, the two teams will meet again in Miami on Monday Night Football, December 11th.

That situation, playing an opponent twice so close together has only happened once before since Bill Belichick became the head coach. And it was against the Colts in his first season in 2000.

Marsh Release, Prompts the Inevitable Questions About Belichick the GM:
Raise your hand if you’ve heard this one before. This spring everyone was raving about the terrific offseason the Patriots were having. And after the release of Kony Ealy and Cassius Marsh, now the same people that were openly predicting the Patriots were going 19-0 are now doing the backstroke and saying, “hold the fort here, maybe Belichick had a terrible spring after all.”

Well, to that, I say horse hockey… actually, I’d use a more fitting description but this being a family site, you get the idea. The second biggest myth surrounding the Patriots besides that “Brady is a system quarterback”, is the old—- “Belichick the GM is hurting Belichick the coach.”

Let’s take a look at the signings and trades that the team has done since the offseason began back in March to include signing some of their own free agents.

Trades: Dwayne Allen (Indy), Brandin Cooks (NO), Kony Ealy (Carolina), Marquis Flowers (Cincy), Cassius Marsh (Seattle), Johnson Bademosi (Detroit), Phillip Dorsett (Indy)
Free agents: Stephon Gilmore, Lawrence Guy, Rex Burkhead, Mike Gillislee, restricted FAs Brandon Bolden, Duron Harmon, Dont’a Hightower, Alan Branch, Cameron Fleming, Brandon King, Malcolm Butler, David Harris, Ricky Jean-Francois, Martellus Bennett, Brian Hoyer, Eric Lee

Draft: Derek Rivers, Deatrich Wise, Tony Garcia, Connor McDermott

UDFA: Adam Butler, Cole Croston, Jacob Hollister, Cody Hollister, Andrew Jelks, David Jones, Harvey Langi, Keionta Davis

The trade for Allen seemed like a total bust, he was invisible in the passing game and wasn’t doing his normal solid blocking job either. Then the team the brought back Bennett and either the light finally came on or it lit a fire under him. File under: Still could go either way. Ealy and Marsh were both clearly misses. But the Patriots gave up very little for Ealy, sliding back eight slots in the draft so it was worth the risk.

Cooks has been everything advertised since Day 1 of Minicamp. Anyone telling you different might be watching the games but not seeing them. Bademosi and Dorsett were both hits. Each came in and have done exactly what’s been asked of them. In Bademosi’s case even more so. He was deemed a Special Teams guy only and has stepped in and played some good, productive snaps at corner.

In the case of the free agents, Gilmore, Guy, and Burkhead have all played integral parts of the team all season. Gilmore and Burkhead were banged up and missed time but there is no doubt about their worth. Gilmore had his struggles in the first month of the season but no more. Burkhead is valuable as a runner, pass receiver and on STs.

Bringing back their own free agents was a no-brainer especially looking at Hightower, Harmon and Branch and Butler. David Harris has been getting more and more work now that Hightower is on IR. Bennett immediately paid dividends as he’s familiar with this offense. Lee may see some action this today so we’ll see how it plays out. He starts with a clean slate.

In regards to the draft, the Patriots drafted Rivers and Wise to replace the departed Chris Long and Jabaal Sheard. The thought was for Wise to be on the edge and Rivers to be a hybrid, edge rusher, and OLB at times with one more season of having Rob Ninkovich. If Belichick is to blame for not seeing Ninkovich retire in camp and Rivers getting hurt …so be it. Ditto for Tony Garcia who it was thought would challenge Fleming and/or Waddle for the top backup tackle position. Croston was brought in for future potential, same as Jelks and Davis who was an impressive edge rusher in college.

The UDFAs made the team out of training camp which always seems to happen each summer. Langi’s season was cut short as a result of an auto accident.

So taking a look at the overall picture, they had a couple of misses (Ealy and Marsh) and two others that could go that way (Allen, Gillislee) but for the rest, Belichick, like always assembles a team, not a fantasy football squad. The Patriots beginning to hit their stride now in late-November tied for the best record in the AFC is proof once again that he’s doing the right things. And yet every year we hear the same criticisms. After 17 years of solid decision making, and unparalleled success, one would think that he’d be given the benefit of the doubt.  

Touchdown Celebrations? They’re Getting Lamer By the Week:
The Patriots have yet to (thankfully) done one of those lame, ridiculous touchdown celebrations that are becoming the rage of the NFL. With each game, teams are trying to outdo each other with the over-the-top celebrations that are quickly resembling the reason that the league banned them in the first place.

It is only a matter of time before a player on the opposition is going to take offense at one of these canned celebrations and chaos will ensue.

Mark us down for good spontaneous celebrations, a Gronk spike or the like. But these take all of the spontaneity out of the celebration. As for the Patriots, again, thankfully we haven’t seen any of that stuff, as they’re taking the old adage of “act like you’ve been there” to heart. Of course, it may have something to do with Bill Belichick. Asked earlier this week about the celebrations across the league, he gave a typical Bill response.

Yeah, we’re really focused more on trying to keep the other team out of the end zone and trying to get into the end zone,” Belichick said. “We haven’t really spent a lot of time on the halftime show.”

Jerry Jones Finds, Like Kraft, the Other Owners Aren’t Biting:
Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones now knows what it felt like to be Robert Kraft. During the Deflategate saga, Kraft tried to get the other owners on-board in bucking the system, and Commissioner Roger Goodell’s authority to punish Tom Brady when there was no credible evidence to suggest he or the Patriots did anything wrong.

During that time, Jones, jealous of the success of New England, practically rubbed his hands with glee and gushed over what a great job of Goodell was doing. Now with the shoe on the other foot and Cowboys’ running back Ezekiel Elliott in much the same predicament and getting a six-game suspension from the Commish, Jones is crying foul worse than a seventh-grade girl stood up at the Junior High Prom.

Jones wanted someone other than Goodell in the chair and wanted to abolish the compensation committee and have all 32 owners input on the compensation for Goodell. But Jones learned a cruel truth that Kraft found out two years ago. The other owners aren’t interested in rocking the boat while they are all raking in the dough with a very successful NFL product.

Jones made some comments about Kraft that were uncalled for, calling the Patriots owner “a pussy” because he backed down from his threat of a lawsuit while threatening to go to the mattresses against Goodell. I’m sure Jones doesn’t want to be reminded of that just now.

Who Do You Like This Week NFL Week 12:
Last week 8-6 mark. Season Total: 102-58.

This week’s Thursday games I went with Detroit, Dallas, and Washington (1-2). Now for the rest of the slate:
Bills at Chiefs – Kansas City
Jaguars at Browns – Jacksonville
Titans at Colts – Tennessee
Browns at Bengals – Cincinnati
Buccaneers at Falcons – Atlanta
Dolphins at Patriots – New England
Bears at Eagles – Philadelphia
Panthers at Jets – Carolina
Seahawks  at 49ers- Seattle
Saints at Rams – New Orleans
Jaguars at Cardinals – Jacksonville
Broncos at Raiders-  Oakland
SNF Packers  at Steelers – Pittsburgh
MNF Texans at Ravens – Baltimore

Next Thursday Washington over the Cowboys

Eastbound and Down…AFC East Notes:

Both Bills and Chiefs Struggling, the Time is Now For One to Step Up:

The Buffalo Bills are reeling. Losers of three straight blow-out games, they now have to travel to one of the tougher venues in the NFL in Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Kansas City Chiefs.

But the Chiefs are struggling as well and after a torrid start to the season, they’ve dropped four of their last five games. The Chiefs’ offense has cooled down quite a bit and their run defense is struggling, something the Bills have the power to take advantage of.

Both teams are still in the thick of the hunt in terms of playoff seeding, the Chiefs still own the lead in the AFC West and the Bills are in the wild-card hunt but a loss this week for either team could be disastrous, especially for the Bills. They have two games upcoming against the Patriots in four weeks and they have fared poorly against Tom Brady since 2001.

The key for Buffalo is to get the running game untracked with LeSean McCoy which would open up play-action passing by Tyrod Taylor who returns to the starting quarterback role after the debacle last week of Nathan Peterman.

Landry Keeps the Mindset that the Dolphins Will Sweep New England:

Jarvis Landry made the bold prediction this spring that the Miami Dolphins would sweep the Patriots in 2017. The Dolphins, fresh off of a playoff appearance were confident about taking the next step. Landry wasn’t trying to be cocky or arrogant, just alluding to the confidence that one needs to be a success in the NFL. And despite things having gone south for Miami this season, Landry feels that this may be the week they turn things around and save their season.

“Honestly, it’s a pride thing and also, it’s something for us, a mindset,” Landry said. “I spoke about it. They’re a team that I have great respect for always. I know guys over there, Tom. It’s nothing against them. It’s just something that, as a competitor, you want to win. Just like every game, I approach it the same, and that’s the mindset.”

The Miami Herald asked Landry if he was he surprised that those his remarks were being rebroadcast this week?

“Of course,” Landry said. “Of course. I knew you guys wouldn’t let that die. … I’m just excited about the opportunity, excited about the challenge with these guys. We have the opportunity to go up there and compete, just like every week.”

It is going to be tough sledding for the Dolphins. They haven’t won in New England since 2008 in the Wildcat game, but that was against Matt Cassel. The last time they beat New England in Foxboro with Brady at the helm was back in 2005 on the last day of the season. Brady started by sat after throwing just eight passes. Matt Cassel again was the QB who played the majority of that game. Doug Flutie kicked a drop kick an extra point in that one.

Asked if the Jets Must Win Out for Playoffs, Bowles Answers with a Gem:

The New York Jets have over-achieved in 2017 and entering Week 11 are still in the playoff hunt. Yes, the Jets are still very much alive for a playoff berth, which is surprising considering that many people picked them to finish winless.

So when the Jets media asked coach Todd Bowles, if the 4-6 Jets have to win-out to realistically have a shot at the postseason, Bowles gave an obvious if hilarious response that no one was expecting.

“Excuse the language, but that’s probably a no-s–t statement,” Bowles said as he shrugged as he takes it to be a no-brainer. “We’re trying to win every game.”

Veteran Morris Claiborne liked what he heard from the coach. “I agree totally,” Claiborne said. “We need to take advantage of all these games that are coming up.”

“As a team, we’re still together. We know what’s going on right now. We know that we’re still in this thing,” Claiborne said. “We just got to take care of our business on Sunday and the weeks after that.”

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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