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New England Patriots News 10-07, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
3 years ago at 5:00 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary

New England Patriots News 10-07, AFC East NotesWinslow Townson - USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, Here is your Sunday Patriots news 10-07, & AFC East Notes.

With the Patriots playing on Thursday night, today we get to relax and watch a nice slate of games on tap for the remainder of Week 5.  

Robert Kraft and the coaches were sporting the new Nike Air Force 1 Ultra Fly Knit Low RKK on Thursday night. The new shoe design commemorates Kraft’s 25th anniversary of owning the team. And proceeds from the sales will benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Boston. And for $160 bucks, you too can sport these.

“This shoe will get us over $2 million to the Boys & Girls Club of Boston,” Kraft said. “So whenever you can do something you love, you wear it, and you can do good in the community, it’s a win all around.”

Josh Gordon had an interesting comment after the game on Thursday night, as he spoke with Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston. According to NBCSB Curran asked Gordon how it felt to NOT be the focal point of the offense. And Gordon replied it was a relief. Curran, as relayed from Phil Perry said that Gordon said he liked watching the other players do their thing and he’s happy just to contribute right now.

Jason McCourty is enjoying a fantastic start of the season. It wasn’t that long ago, we were talking about him being on the roster bubble in training camp after a lackluster showing was moved to safety.

So now at the Week 5 mark, where is McCourty now? He’s the fourth-rated CB in all of the NFL according to Pro Football Focus (PFF). McCourty has allowed only 13 catches on 26 attempts for 116 yards with three passes defensed. On Thursday night, McCourty allowed just 4-10 passes for 44 yards with two passes defensed, one of which should have been an interception.

J-Mac has gone from the bubble to one of the team’s best defenders in just a few short weeks. And after going thru the travails of a 0-16 season in 2017, McCourty is loving his time in New England.

Belichick Sings Praises of Brady:

Tom Brady was given extremely high praise by Bill Belichick this week after achieving two milestones, throwing his 500th TD pass and setting the record for having the most receivers catching a TD from him (71), both on the same play to Josh Gordon.

“It’s tremendous,” Belichick said of Brady hitting 71 different receivers, via quotes distributed by the team. “That’s a lot of touchdown passes to a lot of different guys, too,” Belichick added, never one to downplay the historic aspect of NFL history.

“There’s no quarterback I’d rather have than Tom Brady,” Belichick said. “He does a great job week in and week out, year in and year out, all of the situations. He does a great job.”

Belichick even commented on the big play itself, giving both Brady and Gordon kudos for improvising.

“It wasn’t really the way we drew it up, but it ended up being an extended play with two great players making a great play,” Belichick said. “Josh has worked hard. Tom has spent extra time working with him and really all of the receivers, backs and tight ends, as well. It’s good to see that hard work pay off.”

When asked about Brady’s place in Patriots lore, Belichick gave the media another tidbit.  “There’s a lot of people who have meant a lot to this organization, but certainly nobody more than Tom Brady,” Belichick said.  

Gordon and Edelman Helped Passing Game Get Back in Sync:

It was tough to tell that Julian Edelman hadn’t played a meaningful game since the Atlanta Super Bowl on Thursday night. After missing all of 2017 with a torn ACL, the Patriots WR, fresh of a four-game suspension to boot, appeared to be his normal self, quick, making fast, decisive cuts and finding the open spots of the Colts zone defense.

Edelman brings that energy and “in-your-face” attitude that the team has lacked. The energy he brings to the table is infectious. The offense took the opening kickoff and marched right down the field, where Brady was 9-9 for 78 yards and the Patriots offense had the sparkplug in the slot that they’ve lacked.

With Gordon, he is still learning the playbook so he’s just beginning to scratch the surface on what his potential can be in this offense. So far, he’s doing and saying all of the right things. He brings the element of size, freakish athleticism and speed that opposing defenses must honor and the fearlessness to go over the middle and do the dirty work.

With Edelman just back, Gordon still in the early stages of learning the playbook and Sony Michel just finding his feet in the offense after missing all of the preseason, there is a reason for optimism for this offense, that just two weeks ago appeared bare of weapons for Brady.  

Patriots Offense Will Have to Add Another RB Soon:

The Patriots pair of running backs with Sony Michel and James White is looking to be a dynamic 1-2 punch for the offense. But sometime soon they’ll have to add another back to the mix.

White is an established, battle-proven member of the offense who has continued the team’s legacy of excellent 3rd down backs who are versatile and tough. His value in the passing game is ridiculously high every year despite the number of WRs who constantly get the focus as well as Rob Gronkowski at tight end.

Michel was a first-round draft pick (31st) overall in this year’s NFL Draft. While many people normally (including the Patriots) eschew taking a running back that high in the draft, they made an exception for Michel. So naturally, (hey this is Boston after all), everyone jumped all over Michel and despite him missing all of the preseason games, he was hearing the “bust” label after just two games.

He’s just starting to scratch the surface on the potential that the Patriots saw in him. In the past week (Sunday/Thursday games), Michel has 223 yards rushing, including a highlight reel 34-yard TD run with a major league stiff arm. He’ll eventually get more involved in the passing offense, the Patriots are taking their time with him and not wanting to put too much on his plate too soon.

But if anything were to happen to either White or Michel, the team would really be in a bind. Does 2015 ring a bell? The team was banged up and brought in Stephen Jackson who was ready to retire. And it hurt them, especially in the playoffs. Look for them to add someone soon. Kenjon Barner’s number still on speed dial?

Fast Starts Are Nothing New for the Chiefs:

One game this week, that we’ll be watching closely is the Chiefs-Jaguars matchup. Kansas City is New England’s next opponent on next Sunday night. The KC offense under Pat Mahomes has been off the charts thru the first month of the regular season.

But much like the slow starts that the Patriots have regularly suffered and have had no adverse consequences, the opposite is true for Kansas City who are known for getting off to fast starts. The following is just for an example of some hot starts by the Chiefs.

1996: 3-0
2003: 9-0
2010: 3-0
2013: 9-0
2017: 5-0

What is remarkable about every one of those seasons? Not one of those resulted in a playoff win. This year’s Chiefs’ team is 4-0 and maybe the outlier of that stat. Mahomes is off to a historic start to his career. Which is why today’s game vs the Jaguars will be a must watch game before the Chiefs come to Foxboro next week in primetime.

And we all remember how their last visit to Foxboro went in the 2017 season opener.

Who You Have This Week, NFL Week 2 Predictions:

Last week: 12-3 Season 38-23-2 Bye Week: Bears, Bucs

Thursday night’s pick Pats over Indy 1-0


TITANS AT BILLS – Tennessee
FALCONS AT STEELERS – Pittsburgh
BRONCOS AT JETS – Denver
JAGUARS AT CHIEFS – Kansas City
PACKERS AT LIONS – Green Bay
RAVENS AT BROWNS – Baltimore
GIANTS AT PANTHERS – Carolina
DOLPHINS AT BENGALS – Cincinnati
RAIDERS AT CHARGERS – LA
CARDINALS AT 49ERS – Arizona
VIKINGS AT EAGLES – Philadelphia
RAMS AT SEAHAWKS – LA
COWBOYS AT TEXANS – Houston
Monday Night Football
REDSKINS at SAINTS – New Orleans

Early Thursday Night Prediction: Denver over Arizona

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Need a Big Offensive Effort to Get Things Turned Around:

The Buffalo Bills offense was particularly awful last week in a 22-0 loss to the Green Bay Packers and if they’re going to challenge the Titans today that must change. It should begin with getting LeSean McCoy and the running game going. McCoy had four…not a typo, four attempts against the Packers last week. That is not the way to protect a rookie quarterback.

Speaking of rookie QBs, Josh Allen really looked like one last week. With no running game and a leaky offensive line, he’s feeling the heat. And he’s falling into bad habits that come with the territory. He bailed too early in the pocket, took far longer to get the ball out of his hands and had a truly awful game.

In a good bit from the Buffalo News, Zay Jones, the Bills WR who leads the team with 10 catches for 144 yards. Of those 10 catches, nine of them for 127 yards have come with the Bills trailing by 17 points or more. Some production while the game is in doubt would be appreciated.

Dolphins Banged Up Before Big Game Against the Bengals:

The Miami Dolphins have about a dozen players banged up before their game against the Cincinnati Bengals today. Key among them is DE Cameron Wake who didn’t practice this week. With Andre Branch out as well, the Dolphins will roll with Robert Quinn and Charles Harris.

Back up QB Luke Falk (wrist) was placed on IR, CB Bobby McCain was injured against the Patriots and is out. DeVante Parker is also expected to miss today’s game. TE A.J. Derby is out today and the team will go with rookie Mike Gesicki, Durham Smythe, and the recently activated Nick O’Leary.

But the good news is that safety Reshad Jones is looking like he’ll return this week after missing the last few games, which is good news for a defense that is a banged-up unit.

Darnold’s Confidence Still High Before the Jets Take on Denver:

The New York Jets rookie quarterback Sam Darnold is looking to turn the corner this week against Denver. Darnold shined in the opening game against the Detroit Lions but has struggled for three games in a row. But that doesn’t have him down, in fact, quite the opposite is true.

Darnold is confident that the offense is getting ready to break out, and not the Taylor Price variety. “As a team, I feel like we are really close,” Darnold said. “And for me personally I feel like I’m just on the edge. I’ve just got to continue to find completions, hit my guys deep when they are there. It will come, it’s just a timing thing. It’s going to click one of these games, I know it is. It’s just kind of waiting on that opportunity.”

Darnold, according to his coaches, is seeing the field better and recognizing what opposing defenses are trying to do against the Jets offense. That means an increase in the way follows his progressions and ultimately getting the ball out faster and more accurately. One good sign was the Jets were allowing him to use the entire field and throw the ball down the field for the first time and with that trust, he’ll have to start delivering. The coaches believe too that he’s on the verge of breaking out as well. Today at MetLife Stadium may be a great place to start.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news.


Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2018 NFL Season 2018 Patriots season Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Chris Hogan Dont'a Hightower James White Jason McCourty josh gordon Julian Edelman Miami Dolphins New England Patriots New York Jets NFL Patriots Patriots edge rushers Rob Gronkowski Sony Michel Stephon Gilmore Tom Brady Trey Flowers


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