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New England Patriots News 9-29, AFC East Notes

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

New England Patriots News 9-29, AFC East NotesGreg M. Cooper - USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 09-29 and AFC East notes this week. 

Game Day,.and the Patriots face off with the Buffalo Bills with both teams entering the week at 3-0. With a win today the Patriots would not only go 4-0 but would have already beaten every other team in the division.   

 Quick Hitters For the Pats and the NFL:

Bill Belichick – was asked about how much he uses analytics when facing situations down in the red zone near the goal line. His answer was classic Belichick. “Less than zero…and I’m a guy who loves math.”

Marshall Newhouse – missed some practice time this week with an illness. With the offensive line already depleted, we’ll be watching him to see if he has any lasting effects of that while taking on Jerry Hughes. 

Jakob Johnson – made his debut last week for just a cameo but we expect that we’ll see more of the German-born fullback this week. Taking over for James Develin is not an easy task, but after watching him progress this summer, it will be interesting to see what he can do.

Twilight Zone – [Rod Serling voice], “Imagine if you will, a world with Bill Belichick holding a press conference where he denies the media the use of video.” The outrage would be thru the roof. What John Henry and the Red Sox did was the ultimate head scratcher and so, so ridiculous. Waiting for the Globe’s skewering of Henry for not allowing the press to “do their job”? Don’t hold your breath.

The Patriots Defense, Still Worries About Coaching Turnover? Nope:

After Brian Flores left and took with him a good chunk of the coaching staff this spring and DL coach Brendan Daly left for the Chiefs for family reasons, it left the Patriots with only Steve Belichick as the only remaining holdover from the 2018 Super Bowl-winning staff on the defensive side. And there was a concern that it could hurt the team moving forward in 2019. No longer. 

That all seems like a very far distant memory now, so much now that it seems the Millennium Falcon “would make the Kessel Run in twelve parsecs” kind of distance. Of course, as expected, Bill Belichick has played an active role in everything on the defensive side. How much he actually is doing is something the Patriots are playing close to their vest and rather than trying to breach the security at Langley, it is not something that will come out anytime soon. 

But the new staff has done a remarkable job. We remarked on this after minicamp and early in the days of training camp. I was sitting next to Bob Socci, the voice of the Patriots at practice and we both remarked how well oiled the machine continues to hum along. It seemed that this group had been working together for years. Belichick may disagree but at least from our perspective, it was impressive. 

And the proof is in the pudding. Say what you will about the first three opponents but this defense has done a masterful job of taking away everything that their opponents are trying to do. 

Jerod Mayo is calling the signals into the players on the field and coaching the inside linebackers. Brett Bielema, a college head coach and defensive coordinator has taken over the reins at the defensive line. DeMarcus Covington is coaching the outside linebackers, while Mike Pelligrino coaches the corners. Steve Belichick remains with the safeties and helps with the communications. Joe Kim is the dedicated martial arts expert who works with the pass rushers with their hand technique and is officially listed as the Director of Skill Development. While Brian Belichick and Bob Fraser are coaching assistants.

We’re used to seeing slow September starts by the defense and seeing them add layers and more packages as the season progresses. If this is the “slow start” for the Patriots defense this year? We’re in for a special year. Is anybody still worried about the coaching turnover? “But Mike, Belichick is just practicing nepotism, these guys can’t coach!”  

Cody Kessler Signing Much Ado About Little:

The Patriots signed veteran QB Cody Kessler and social media exploded in a classic case of overreaction. And it wasn’t just the fans, it was the mainstream national media as well. “Belichick rethinking Stidham as Backup QB”, “It was too early for Stidham”, “Belichick Bringing in New Patriots Backup for Brady”. Like everything else with the Patriots, take it all with a grain of salt and a healthy dose of skepticism. 

The answer is probably much more benign but hey, never let it get in the way of hot takes when it comes to BB and the Pats. Was Belichick happy about Stidham overthrowing a pass that resulted in an easy pick-six? No, but he isn’t going to skewer a rookie QB after three passes in his NFL career. 

With Tom Brady’s age comes certain factors, the team will give him some recovery time in-between starts on occasion, as rest becomes important. Jarrett Stidham can’t continue to learn the offense, run the scout team and then fill in for Brady on his rest day all at the same time. 

So the team brings in a veteran, Kessler who will give the team a good look as the scout team QB, something Brian Hoyer was very good at, to prepare the defense for what they’ll face that upcoming week. Not much of a story, no hot take…sorry, sometimes the truth can be boring…It is what it is.

Matthew Slater Show Why Gunners Deserve a Spot in the HOF:

The Patriots game against the Jets pretty much was a done deal by the second quarter, but for those who watched the game all the way through, they were treated to another classic Matthew Slater gem of a play. It showed as a gunner why Slater is one of the best to ever play that position.  

The Patriots punted from the Jets 40-yard line. Jake Bailey skied the ball high down the right side. Slater had beaten his man and was bearing down on Braxton Berrios who was looking like he was attempting to catch it. Slater had to play it safe as if he played the bounce, Berrios could catch the punt and have a good amount of real estate to return. Berrios opted to let it bounce at the five-yard line, hoping for a touchback. 

Slater then sped down to the one, and snagged the ball, spinning around and dumping it back on the 1-2 yard line, knowing his momentum would carry him into the end zone. The ball was downed at the one by Jonathan Jones and the Jets had to move the length of the field. It was another signature play by Slater. It went down as just a 39-yard punt by Bailey, but it was the best STs play of the day. 

Of course, none of this is a surprise as he’s been doing this his entire career. He had a couple of those in the Super Bowl in January and we’ve grown accustomed to seeing them week after week. If the NFL ever decides to allow gunners into Canton, there will be a lot of push to see #18 wearing a gold jacket someday.

NFL Schedule Week 4, Who Are Your Winners:

How are you feeling about the games this week? We have a post on our PatsFans Forum where our readers can predict the slate of games for that week. I did it on our weekly Sunday column here and will post it up below. Here is the link if you’d care to pick your own:

Last Week: 10-6
Season: 31-16-1

TNF Eagles over Green Bay 1-0 

NY Giants over Washington
Chiefs over Detroit
Atlanta over Tennessee
Ravens over Cleveland
New England over Buffalo
Colts over Oakland
Houston over Carolina
LA Chargers over Miami
LA Rams over Tampa Bay
Seattle over Arizona
Chicago over Minnesota
Denver over Jacksonville
SNF Dallas over New Orleans
MNF Pittsburgh over Cincinnati

Jets and 49ers are on a bye week

Early Thursday Night Football pick Seattle over LA Rams

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Beasley Not Part of Bills Frustration, Only Looking Forward:

The Buffalo Bills are 3-0 and the city is very excited for the prospect of the Bills beating the Patriots, taking an early lead in the division at the quarter-point of the season and finally having a team that can challenge Bill Belichick and New England.

However, the Bills know the prospect of facing a Patriots team with Tom Brady at QB is not an easy task and their frustration in doing so has been torturous for Bills diehard fans. Brady has an incredible 30-3 mark against the Bills and 15-2 in games at Buffalo.

One player who is new to Buffalo and the rivalry is WR Cole Beasley. He’s only played New England once in his career, a 2015 game in Dallas, so he isn’t worrying about history, he’s focused on the future, notably today. 

“I wasn’t here. I don’t care,” Beasley said to “I played for a different team and didn’t play the Pats last year. I don’t know anything about what they were. All I can do is watch them this week. You know about their success. They’ve had a lot of success over the past couple of years. They’re a good football team so we’ve got to be on our A-game just like we have to be any other week.”

“They have a really good defense and they’ve been really disciplined up until this point,” Beasley said. “They’ve done a good job of taking the ball away. We just have to approach it the same way we do every week and focus in on what we can do. We can’t give them extra opportunities on offense because they have a good offense as well. We’ve got to take care of the rock and execute the way we know we can.”

Dolphins Are Facing A Beatup Chargers Team Today:

The Miami Dolphins are in the midst of a total rebuild and they’ve been on the losing end of some big scores in the first three weeks. And at first glance with the Chargers coming to South Florida, it appears to be more of the same. 

But Brian Flores and his players may catch a bit of a break today because the Chargers are limping into South Beach missing a slew of players for the game. The Bolts will be minus both starting safeties, right tackle Russell Okung, TE Hunter Henry, TE Virgil Green, K Mike Badgley, and WR Mike Williams. In addition, WR Travis Benjamin is doubtful while CB Casey Hayward and LB Drue Tranquill are questionable. If there is a time to upset the Bolts, today could be it. 

But the bad news for Miami is that Melvin Gordon is back in camp, having ended his holdout and is expected to play. He and Austin Ekeler provide the Chargers a dynamic 1-2 punch in the running game. Button those chin straps up Fins…

Jets Media Quickly Turning on Gase After an 0-3 Start:

The New York Jets are reeling after an 0-3 start and as always, the fickle NY press is quickly turning on Adam Gase the head coach of the Jets. Truthfully, with three starting QBs in three games due to injury/illness would be tough for anyone to overcome, especially so early in a new regime. Not that Gase is without fault mind you, but the thinking was that Gase could work wonders with 2nd year QB Sam Darnold. 

And on cue, the NY Daily News’ Manish Mehta has flip-flopped on this hiring, changing his tune more on Gase than Sybil had personalities. Early in the week before the Patriots game, he predicted a Patriots romp, then late in the week, he posts a column on how the Jets can win. But now, instead of being the innovator, the QB guru, Mehta is openly questioning if the Jets made a mistake after three games.

Yes, the Jets rank dead last in many offensive categories, scoring, yardage, yards per play, passing yards and first downs per game. Going to your scout team QB in the first half of your second game will do that. Darnold should return from mono soon. When he does, and the Jets get a couple in the win column, this will no doubt have Mehta talking postseason hopes again soon

And on a totally unrelated note, Joe Klecko belongs in Canton. Silly me, I thought the Jets great was already there. I saw some news this week that he isn’t. Forget what the Jets records were in many of those years, Klecko was a tremendous football player who was an All-Pro at three different positions, defensive end, defensive tackle and nose tackle. 

Of course stats hounds will point to Klecko having only 24 career sacks according to the official NFL record books. That was partly because sacks weren’t an official stat until 1982 otherwise he’d add about 51 more. He led the NFL with 20.5 in 1981. Give the man his gold jacket…it is about time. 


“Less than zero. Well, I’m not saying it’s a gut thing. It’s an individual analysis based on the things that are pertinent to that game and that situation. I don’t really care what happened in 1973 and what those teams did or didn’t do, I don’t really think that matters in this game – or ’83 or ’90, you know, pick out whatever year you want. It’s not really my thing. And I like math, too, by the way. I really do. I like math.” – Bill Belichick after being asked what role, if any, does analytics have in deciding when to go for it on fourth down or a two-point conversion for you?


“So, how was your week?”

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

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




Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: Adam Gase Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Miami Dolphins New England Patriots New York Jets Sam Darnold Tom Brady

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