We’re off to another week and here’s a look at this morning’s top stories.
Decker Impresses Early – Wearing #81, newcomer Eric Decker impressed in his first practice session over the weekend as he looks to try and fill a void given the Patriots injuries at the wide receiver position.
He showed some good hands and quickness during his time on the field, which is a good sign for a team that will be in need of an additional playmaker heading into the first four games of the regular season with Julian Edelman suspended.
Bill Belichick is notorious for favoring players who has given his team fits, which Decker did back during New England’s 35-14 postseason win over Tennessee in the Divisional Round back in January. In that game Decker led all Titans receivers with 6 receptions on 7 targets for 85-yards.
Now he’ll hopefully have him in the mix to give the team some help in an area that they lack with Edelman out of the picture to begin the season – beating man coverage. With Edelman suspended and Danny Amendola playing for a Division Rival in Miami, the pressure will likely be on players like Rob Gronkowski, Chris Hogan and potentially Philip Dorsett or Coradelle Patterson to pick up the slack. The problem is, they’ll be facing some pretty good defenses over that span in Houston, Jacksonville, Detroit and Miami. Two of those games are on the road, with their match-up against the Jaguars and Lions set for weeks two and three respectively.
Decker had a productive year in 2017, catching 54 passes for 563 yards and a touchdown in Tennessee last season. It’s worth noting that two of Decker’s most productive seasons as a pro came during his time playing with Peyton Manning in 2012 and 2013 where he finished with a career-best 1064 yards and 1288 yards respectively. One would have to believe his numbers would spike again here in New England if he and Tom Brady can get on the same page.
So far it appears he’s off to a good start, so we’ll see how it all unfolds as he begins getting immersed further in their offense.
Kraft and Belichick Present at Moss’ Induction – One of the more interesting stories was the presence of Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick each being on hand for Randy Moss’ Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction over the weekend.
Moss put together some terrific seasons in New England, having been a big part of a record-setting season in 2007 where the team finished with a perfect regular season before losing a heart-breaker against a tough New York Giants team in the Super Bowl that managed to do just enough to spoil what would have been a perfect season.
During his speech, Moss said that Belichick challenged him to be great and apologized for the loss, saying, “I’m sorry we did not bring it home.”
He and Kraft were also close, with Moss also mentioning Kraft’s late wife Myra and being appreciative of their kindness for giving him an opportunity to be a part of their franchise.
— Cris Carter (@criscarter80) August 5, 2018
From a personal standpoint, Moss made a big gesture following Myra’s passing after flying back to New England to pay his respects. According to Peter King, prior to that trip, Moss was nervous about making the trip but Kraft was touched about Moss remembering the fact Kraft told him when he first signed that by being a member of the team, that meant that Moss was part of the family.
“Randy is a good friend of mine,” said Wilfork. “He called me and said, ‘Vince, I’m nervous about coming up. But I want to come. I shared a bond with her. I really want to be there.’ Guys who don’t know Randy, they’ll say he’s arrogant. But if he could have retired here, he would have. He came here for one reason and one reason only: He wanted to support the Kraft family.”
When Moss signed with the Patriots, Kraft brought him into his office and told him if he played for the Patriots, he’d always be in the Patriot family. So when he opened Moss’ sympathy card, he knew Moss remembered the family speech. Moss signed his sympathy card: “Randy Moss Kraft.”
Moss’ eventual departure from New England didn’t go well, with Moss voicing frustration early in the 2010 season that ultimately led to him being traded to Minnesota. He would face his team just weeks later and following a 28-18 loss to his former club, Moss did one of the craziest things fans may have ever seen as he spoke more like a member of the Patriots instead of as a Viking.
The veteran rambled during his press conference about how he “missed the hell” out of his old teammates and even questioned the Vikings’ game plan.
“Like I said, it’s been an emotional roller coaster all week,” said Moss at the time. “[I] tried to prepare, tried to talk to the players and coaches about how this game was going to be played, couple tendencies here and a couple tendencies here. The bad part about it, is you have six days to prepare for a team, and on the seventh day, that Sunday, meaning today, I guess they come over and say, ‘Dag Moss, I guess you was right about a couple plays and a couple schemes they were going to run.’ And it hurts as a player, that you put a lot of hard work in during the week, and at the end of the week, Sunday, when you get on the field, that’s when they acknowledge about the hard work that you put in throughout the week. That’s actually a disappointment.”
Then head coach Brad Childress let Moss stay in the Boston area following that speech and then immediately cut ties with him.
But the beauty of time is that it smooths things over and it doesn’t change the fact that the love and mutual respect that Moss holds with Belichick and Kraft is still strong. Best wishes to Moss on his induction and it’s good to see him earn a well-deserved honor following an unbelievable career.
Patriots Spark Another Rule Change – An interesting note in Ben Volin’s Sunday Notes column where a game involving the Patriots last season may have quietly sparked another rule change this offseason.
As Volin points out, one change involves rule 3.2.5 which has now been modified to say, “It is not a fumble if the player immediately regains control of the ball.”
That change stems from the team’s first match-up against the Jets in 2017, which resulted from the non-touchdown call in the fourth quarter on Austin Seferian-Jenkins after he lost control of the ball with both hands for a moment as he crossed the goal line, before regaining control and landing out of bounds. Instead, the play was ruled a fumble out of the end zone and a touch back for the Patriots.
That was a huge momentum killer for the Jets, who were trailing 24-14 at the time and would have pulled them to within 3 had that play stood. Instead, the Patriots held on and won the game 24-17.
Now, a play like that going forward will instead be ruled a touchdown. It’s funny how these things tend to happen and it appears the NFL tried yet again to slow down a team that continues to dominate their league.
Just business as usual here in New England.
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