Monday Patriots Notebook 4/2: Mitchell Already Back at Work, Butler Confident He Could Have Made “A Couple of Plays”
Another weekend in the rear-view and hope everyone had a good Easter. Time to get back to it, so here’s a look at this morning’s top stories.
Gronk Not Ready to Hang it Up – We’ve heard conflicting reports about Rob Gronkowski’s future but it appears like the chances of him playing football in 2018 seem to be improving.
ESPN’s Jeff Darlington reported over the weekend that Gronkowski is “pretty certain” he’ll come back this season, as long as Tom Brady remains with the team.
According to Darlington there are “lingering frustrations” reportedly remaining between Gronk and Bill Belichick, with Gronkowski dealing with mental fatigue from the “high-strung culture” within the organization.
We’re all aware of the history, and there has been some speculation of a rift between the tight end and the coach and organization long before now. Most fans have seen the reports in past seasons when Gronkowski has suffered injuries, which became a little contentious. Some of the recent ones have included joint statements about his status, which as everyone knows, is far different than how things are normally handled in Foxboro and makes you believe it was done in an effort to clarify his real sitatuation for anyone who might have been doubting the severity of his injuries.
Darlington claims that sources close to Belichick say his some of his discontent with Gronkowski also comes from the tight end’s Instagram post to Danny Amendola after he signed with Miami where he wrote, “Be FREE, Be HAPPY”, which was followed with a reply from Tom Brady, who said “Well said Gronk!!!” along with some hand-clapping emojis.
Gronk wishes Amendola fairwell…with an emphasis on FREE and HAPPY pic.twitter.com/zGSkkAeOr1
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) March 14, 2018
He also reportedly is questioning if the tight end remains “all-in”, which has recently sparked all the speculation about whether or not they may trade him.
The part about Brady needing to be there is interesting, which makes you believe Gronk’s timetable may hinge on how much longer the quarterback is planning on continuing to play. Either way, it sounds like 2018 will at least feature #87 on the field for one more year and fans should most certainly be relieved if that ends up being the case.
Mitchell has already been spotted at Gillette Stadium. (USA TODAY Images)
Good News on Malcolm Mitchell – Mike Reiss of ESPN had an interesting tidbit in his weekly Sunday column, talking about Patriots receiver Malcolm Mitchell, who continues working his way back after missing last season while recovering from a knee injury.
According to Reiss, Mitchell has been seen working out at Gillette Stadium, with the receiver planning on being there from now through the remainder of the coming months, with the offseason program beginning on April 16th.
Mitchell had a memorable first season, finishing with 32 regular season receptions in 2016, but it was the six receptions he made in the Super Bowl, five of which came in the fourth quarter, that made the difference as the Patriots mounted their historic comeback.
Butler Believes There Were “a couple plays” He Could Have Made – Malcolm Butler recently sat down with SI TV to talk about the situation at the Super Bowl and while he sheds a little bit of insight on what happened, it still doesn’t shed any light as to the reasons behind his benching.
Butler claims that the illness he was dealing leading up to the Super Bowl may have been part of the problem.
“The week before the Super Bowl, you know I just, I wasn’t too feeling too well. Like I had a full nose running. Nose stopped up. You know, I took a trip to the hospital. And, I didn’t travel with the team the day they traveled down there,” said Butler via SI.com.
“I never missed a game. Never like, missed practice or anything like that.”
NBC Sports Boston’s Mike Giardi reached out to a couple of players about Butler’s comments and it appears that the situation was somewhat self-inflicted, with one saying there was some merit behind the benching.
Texted a couple current Patriots about the Malcolm Butler media tour and his comments to SI. One said "we all wished it would have worked out better" but he "should have focused on what mattered those 2 weeks." Other said "we didn't like the decision but it wasn't without merit."
— Michael Giardi (@MikeGiardi) March 30, 2018
After watching his team struggle, looking back, Butler believes that had he played, there were “a couple of plays” he feels he could have made.
“Would we have won if I played? Probably. Maybe. I’m not sure,” said Butler. “But I would say we were short about one or two plays, and I seen a couple plays out there I could have made.”
"This how we gonna end this?"
Malcolm Butler reveals what went through his mind on the sideline of Super Bowl LII on SI TV: https://t.co/lhSgbhaFGf pic.twitter.com/HbgTctAJsK
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) March 30, 2018
With the game now firmly in the rear-view, Butler has resolved himself to just move forward and accept it, even though it’s not the way he wanted to go out.
“It was just a coaching decision,” said Butler. “This one ain’t work out good for me, him or the New England Patriots organization.”
As for what the Eagles thought about the fact Butler thought the Patriots “Probably” would have won if he had played, Alshon Jeffries and Torrey Smith each disagreed.
They still would have lost!!! #FlyEaglesFly
— Alshon Jeffery (@TheWorldof_AJ) March 31, 2018
Unfortunately, we’ll never know.
Interesting Stats on Brady – We had a pretty low-key day here in the Logue household on Sunday, which allowed me to spend some time to catch up on some things I had meant to get to after the season ended.
One thing was to go over the postseason stats again, which like everyone else, I hadn’t felt like doing after the team’s disappointing loss. But on Sunday, I finally spent some time updating them and it now gives us complete numbers for the 2017 season and postseason.
One of the things I had spent some time during the season was on trying to improve our stats tool, which prior to now only allowed for sorting by down, quarter, etc. which was great, but it was limited when it came to breaking it down by a range of games. No other site out there had that feature available or the ability to break the range down by any other parameters, so I took some time to finally add it here.
It’s finally working well and it’s ready for everyone to start using it, so you can find it here via this link. I also optimized it for mobile, so it should work on your phone as well.
But one of the things I stumbled across after finishing it was the fact that while Brady’s performance overall in the postseason was solid, his numbers down in the red zone were pretty impressive. Overall during all three playoff games, he missed just four passes inside the opponent’s 20yd line, completing an astonishing 18-of-22 (82%) for 102yds and 7 touchdowns, including 8-of-9 in the 4th quarter with 4 TDs. The only disappointing thing to mention with those stats is the fact that both Danny Amendola (4-of-4 30yds 2TDs) and Dion Lewis (2-of-2 8yds, 2Tds) accounted for six of those eight receptions, with each having departed to new teams this offseason.
Try it out and see what you think. But I’ve verified the totals against the league’s splits in each category and it all checks out, so be sure to drop a comment or tell a friend if you find it useful.
Our Podcast is Now On YouTube – We’ve expanded our podcast over to YouTube, which will feature each new episode included on there each week moving forward.
Here’s a look at our most recent episode where the guys talk about some of the team’s draft needs, along with whether or not trading for Odell Beckham Jr. would make any sense.
We may do some other cool things with it as well moving forward, but check it out and drop a comment and let us know what you think.
In the meantime, hope everyone has a good rest of the day and we’ll see you again tomorrow morning.
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Posted Under: Daily Patriots Notebook