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New England Patriots News 9-09, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
September 9, 2018 at 5:00 am ET

New England Patriots News 9-09, AFC East Notes(PHOTO: Steve Balestrieri -

🕑 Read Time: 8 minutes

Good morning, Here is your Sunday Patriots news 9-09, & AFC East Notes.

The 2018 NFL regular season is back and although the Eagles and Falcons kicked things off on Thursday night, the season begins in earnest today. We look forward to seeing a bunch of good interesting match ups.

The opener on Thursday night is about what we expected when the starters for each team barely see the field during preseason. While there was some great exciting play, there was also some sloppiness, (26 penalties).

Kudos to Tom Brady, he saw NBA star LeBron James dunking a basketball and tried to recruit him to come to New England and team up with Rob Gronkowski as a tight end.

“Damn bro come play tight end you and gonk would be unstoppable!!!!” Brady said. Always looking out for the team first…

Duke Dawson was placed on IR for his hamstring injury which he will be eligible to return from this season and in his place the Patriots activated WR Riley McCarron. He should see some action returning punts this week.

Some good news on the injury front was RB Rex Burkhead was removed from the injury report this week and should be good to go for today’s game.

Brady Makes Things Clear…For Some:

Tom Brady has accomplished a ton in his NFL career, in fact, he’s at the pinnacle for success in the league but despite that, he’s mad as hell and isn’t going to take it anymore…good.

Despite making it crystal clear many times that he wasn’t going to entertain the questions that center around his friend and business partner Alex Guerrero, many in the media insist on pushing this silly agenda. So, Brady felt he had to set the record straight and filmed an epilogue of his “Tom vs Time” video series.

In it, Brady explained that he stayed away from voluntary workouts to spend time with his family and had some choice words to say about every move of his being questioned, scrutinized and his body language dissected using CIA-trained profilers.

“The last couple years, a lot of parts about football weren’t enjoyable when they should have been,” Brady said.

“I think people are just looking for something to write, talk about,” Brady added. “They want to talk about a lot of drama. I’m sure a lot of teams have things like that, but ours is just to the 10th (sic) degree. You learn to deal with it better. I just don’t give a f*** about that much anymore, about anything.” “Like nothing’s that big of a deal to me anymore,” Brady said… To worry about a lot of bulls*** that people may say or think or feel, I really don’t care at all.”

But on Friday, with the opener against Houston just two days away, someone had to ask about Guerrero.

“I don’t want to bring on any drama this year,” Brady said politely. “I’m just focused on what I want to do, and be a great football player for this team and be a good example in the locker room, provide great leadership. That’s where my focus is. I know you want to talk about a lot of other things, but I just really want to stick on football and focus on being the best I can be for this team.”

Nike, Kaepernick Ads Accomplished Exactly What They Aimed For:

The recent Nike ads featuring the former backup QB of the San Francisco 49ers was brilliant in its design and flawless in its execution. Regardless whether you believe in it or support it, the campaign did exactly what it set out to do and that is getting everyone talking about it.

Unfortunately, like anything else in this country, it is nearly impossible to have a measured discussion on anything anymore. There is for and against a topic and if you disagree with me, just scream louder and resort to insults and yes, of course, I’ll do the same. Need a for instance. Just look at the shameful excuse at the Senate hearings this week for the Supreme Court. Yes, shameful. Political grandstanding, people appearing in costumes, protesters interrupting nearly every minute. It is a sorry excuse for representing us a country. And both sides are guilty of it. But back to Kaepernick and the protests.

The ad has spurred countless counter-protests with people, as always plugging their own pictures in the ad which are everywhere. Just as a footnote, if you truly are against this ad campaign, you’re actually helping it when you post these one-up ads of your own. And burning your gear that you already paid for hurts Nike…how? But I guess it doesn’t matter in the world of social media.

I really wish people would stop using the military as the justification for their protests. Especially fallen members like former Cardinal Pat Tillman. I don’t like when people, even fellow military veterans try to equate our service with having a larger stake in our national identity. The flag, the anthem and whatever else belongs to us all equally. This isn’t “Starship Troopers” where the phrase, “Service means Citizenship”. We’re all equally members of this imperfect but beautifully constructed Republic.

The military community, like the country on most matters, is split on this. Many support the players’ right to protest, what they feel is a social injustice issue, while many others do not, mainly because of the vehicle (the national anthem) that they use for the protest.

As I’ve written in a military publication before, if the players feel that way, I’ve haven’t walked in their shoes and far be it from me to tell them how they should feel. And while I don’t care for the WAY they protested, I can’t pick and choose which parts of the Constitution I choose to defend. That isn’t the way it works. Fellow Special Forces veteran and former Seahawk Nate Boyer spoke with Kaepernick and believes that the kneeling protest is right. I’ve spoken with Boyer on Facebook at length about this issue as well.

There is a long way to go in this country when it comes to racial injustice. And Kaepernick didn’t help his own cause by showing up wearing a Fidel Castro t-shirt to a press conference. Castro is hardly a beacon of racial justice to people of color. If you doubt that, ask yourself why thousands of men, women, and children braved the ocean in flimsy rafts to get away from him and his worker’s paradise.

Like any other issue with people split on one side or the other, the only way it gets resolved is for people to come together and listen to one another. Will it happen? Let’s just say, I’m not holding my breath with optimism.

Like many others, I supported the idea of the protest but hated the vehicle chosen. And it was ill-conceived and impotent anyway. Why is it impotent? Most networks don’t air the anthem during the regular season anyway. So the message gets lost. And the people who dislike the way the protest is held will automatically tune you out. A better way is to wait until kickoff, at 1:05 p.m. The national cameras are rolling then. Then have the players walk out to midfield, take a knee, hold hands, say a prayer anything. That will get everyone’s attention. Hell, I’ll get kicked out of the stadium and go down and join you on the field. Now, can we get back to football, please?

Pat Chung Goes Full Circle, Is a Captain for 2018:

The Patriots turned a few heads when they brought Pat Chung back to the team after a year in Philly a few years back. His first stint didn’t end so well, but now that move is thought of as a no-brainer. Chung has been outstanding as the strong safety, playing down, close to the box since his return and he’s earned the trust of his teammates and coaches alike. Now, Chung is a captain.

Bill Belichick spoke very highly about Chung on Friday stating, “He’s tough. He’s a tough football player. He has a great football-playing mentality, very competitive, plays well, has played against a lot of good players, plays against good players every week and competes hard every week.”

Chung has only missed one game since returning to the Patriots in 2014.

“He’s out there on everything,” Belichick added. “He’s out there on defense, special teams. He runs a lot of scout-team plays for us on offense, kind of like Rodney (Harrison) used to do. He just loves to get out there and play and compete. He’s in great condition. He can go all day. He can go hard all day.”

Yes, you can go home again.

Who Do You Like This Week, Predictions on the NFL Schedule:

Thursday night, to no one’s surprise, we had the SB Champion Eagles over Atlanta to begin the season 1-0, here is the rest of the slate:

Bills at Ravens – Baltimore
Jaguars at Giants – Jacksonville
Bucs at Saints – New Orleans
Texans at Patriots – New England
49ers at Vikings – Minnesota
Titans at Dolphins – Tennessee
Bengals at Colts – Indianapolis
Steelers at Browns – Pittsburgh
Chiefs at Chargers – Los Angeles (still tempted to say SD)
Seahawks at Broncos – Seattle
Cowboys at Panthers – Carolina
Redskins at Cardinals – Arizona
Bears at Packers – Green Bay
Jets at Lions – Detroit
Rams at Raiders – Los Angeles

Plenty of good games to watch this week, and several new QBs on the slate. The first week of the season is always one of the hardest to predict with the new faces all over the league going into action for the first time.

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Daboll Will Get the Bills Offense Moving in the Right Direction:

The Buffalo Bills are not being looked upon favorably by the pundits who do all the predicting when it comes to the NFL. And most of their bile concerning Buffalo has to do with their offense. And I won’t lie, I’m not convinced that this unit offensively will be great this year either. But they have the right guy in charge of it, and once they get their players sorted out, they may surprise some people. Who’s the right guy? Brian Daboll.

Daboll has worked with Bill Belichick and Nick Saban two of the best coaches in both the professional and college ranks and his offense shows a blend of both of those coaching trees.

The Bills offense has seemed predictable and stale for several years. Halftime adjustments were for the other guys. But that will all change with Daboll. Look for the Bills offense to make some headway this year. Instead of trying to get players to adapt to the system, Daboll will use the BB method of finding a players’ strengths and using him in the position where he has a greater chance of success.

It may take a while, but the Bills offense, will turn the corner. They have the right guy on the job already. Maybe not at QB, but at offensive coordinator.

Dolphins Linebackers Still A Question Mark Before Tennessee:

The Miami Dolphins have done a complete makeover for their roster in 2018. They’ve jettisoned, bloating contracts that had little in the way of production and have brought in solid, veteran leadership types. But while the defense on paper looks to be markedly improved, their linebacking core is still a potential weak spot this season.

Today the Titans come into town and have a mobile QB in Marcus Mariota, a two-pronged rushing attack with power runner Derrick Henry and the elusive Dion Lewis and a veteran, productive tight end in Delanie Walker…all things that gave them fits in 2017.

This year, the Fins get back Raekwon McMillan who will be the Mike linebacker after his rookie season was lost totally to a torn ACL. McMillan was very impressive last season before getting injured and he’s looked forward to picking up where he left off last summer. But even if he is, on either side of him are questions.

Kiko Alonso and Jerome Baker each come with their own set of questions. And while the Dolphins secondary should be better and their pass rush infinitely better with Robert Quinn joining Cameron Wake, if the Dolphins defense struggles, look no farther than their linebackers. Today is just the first test.

Darnold Gets the Nod for the Jets Against the Lions:

The New York Jets drafted QB Sam Darnold with the #3 pick in the NFL Draft this spring. And the 21-year old is getting the start against the Detroit Lions today. While many, including us here, thought the Jets should be cautious with their rookie’s confidence level until he’s ready….the Jets have gone all in.

“I’m starting him — my confidence level has got to be pretty high,” coach Todd Bowles said. “He’s [been] playing football his whole life. We don’t go by age.”

Bowles and Offensive Coordinator Jeremy Bates are both confident that the rookie will play and play well in this first NFL action. It will be interesting to see what new Lions coach Matt Patricia dials up against him. When he was the defensive coordinator in New England, the Patriots defenses were on the conservative side.

If Darnold struggles in the first few weeks of the season, Bowles and Bates, both will hear from the same fanbase and media that are cheering his decision to start the rookie right off the bat. Chalk this one up to must-watch television

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.

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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)

Tags: 2018 Patriots Schedule 2018 Patriots season Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Chris Hogan Dion Lewis Dont'a Hightower James White Julian Edelman Miami Dolphins New England Patriots New York Jets NFL Patriots Patriots edge rushers Rob Gronkowski Tom Brady

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