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New England Patriots News 5-17, 3rd QB Battle Will Be Fun

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
May 17, 2020 at 5:00 am ET

New England Patriots News 5-17, 3rd QB Battle Will Be Fun(PHOTO: Steve Balestrieri -
Posted: May 17, 2020 05:00
🕑 Read Time: 6 minutes

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 05-17 and AFC East notes this week. 

Is tomorrow the day we start seeing stuff re-open? I would hope so, but we’ll all have to be patient and do the right thing.

 Quick Hitters For the Pats, and the NFL:

Baker and Dunbar: The Giants Deandre Baker and the Seahawks Quinton Dunbar could be in a heap of trouble…and not just from the league after the pair allegedly committed multiple counts of armed robbery in Miramar, Florida with a firearm—a charge that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. The pair also face charges for aggravated assault with a firearm, a conviction for which carries a possible five-year prison term on top of any other charge. Tough start for Joe Judge in NY.  

James Harrison: Another Bounty-Gate? Don’t hold your breath. Harrison admitted on  a podcast last week that after his big hit on Cleveland’s Mohamed Massaquoi that resulted in a $75,000 fine by the league, he was handed an envelope by Steelers’ Head Coach Mike Tomlin. 

Harrison’s quote, “And I ain’t gonna lie to you, when that happened, right? the G-est thing Mike Tomlin ever did, he handed me an envelope after that. I ain’t gonna say what, but he handed me an envelope after that.” That was an attention-getter, however, the Steelers denied it ever happened and the league… refused to comment. Don’t be surprised. 

Sean McDermott: The Bills head coach, isn’t having any of the talk proclaiming the Bills as the favorites in the AFC East this year. With his team just learning how to win and still coming together, McDermott wisely took some of the heat off of his players by saying that the Patriots are still the favorites to win the division…smart move by a very smart coach. However, my money this fall is still on Buffalo with that defense. 

Brady/McDaniels Rift: First we had the Brady-Belichick rift, and now we have the Brady -McDaniels rift? Is anyone buying this? Brady came out very strongly in public (which is unlike him) and denied it. But at this point, does anyone really care? It is past the time to move on. 

4th & 2 Podcast – If you’ve haven’t checked out our podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, please check it out. Last week we recorded a regularly scheduled podcast with our original co-host Damian Jarrett. The band is truly back together. 

Patriots Hall of Fame Needs a Revamp… And Russ Francis:

After the announcement that Richard Seymour was elected (and quite deserving) to the team’s Hall of Fame, many media types quickly beat the drum and chastised fans (more to this below) for not electing former coach Bill Parcells into the team’s Hall. 

And one quick note on this, the narrative that the franchise was a perpetual loser before Parcells arrival is simply not true. They had plenty of losing teams to be sure, but in the 33 years before the Tuna, 15 of those, less than half were sub.500 teams. 

Now, one suggestion that Robert Kraft needs to have either a Veterans Committee or just make a command decision to enshrine some older players or coaches who won’t be able to compete with the players of this generation. Many of those voters have never seen many of those older players on the field. 

Parcells and Chuck Fairbanks are the two coaches that immediately come to mind that deserves mention. And one player who ISN’T in there bogs the mind every year when I see the names come up: Russ Francis. 

Francis was one of the most dominant tight ends of his era. He and Dave Casper of the Raiders changed the way the position was targeted, as they frequently became deep threats at the position which was never done before. The Ben Coates and Rob Gronkowski of the future owe a great deal of debt to Russ Francis as he was a dominant blocker and pass receiver in the Patriots ‘ground and pound’ years. The fact that Francis isn’t in the Hall is a head-scratcher. 

Biting the Hand That Feeds You? Patriots Fans Get Short Shrift:

Our venerable colleague Russ Goldman, recently posted a video on the way some media members have been attacking Patriots fans’ loyalty and intelligence. And while I have (on plenty of occasions) told my friend offline to take a page from Bill Belichick and “ignore the noise”, in this case I have to agree with him. 

Far too many of the media types have been lambasting fans, especially for their refusal to induct Bill Parcells into the Hall, but in general ways too. Saying that fans are going to disappear en masse because the team is “about to take a step back” is more than a shot across the bow, it is downright insulting. And for the same piece, where two writers lament the end of the losing years, “it’s never going to be the same” is forgetting a couple of important facts. 

One, the Patriots haven’t even had a practice in 2020 yet, but they’re already predicting (and no doubt hoping) their demise. And if they do have a losing season, why would the fan base ditch them? Remind me when the Cowboys last Super Bowl was. Has the Cowboys draw diminished significantly? The Steelers have had plenty of down seasons, but Patriots fans will bolt…insulting. Some forget exactly who pays their salary. 

Several media types, including a certain show, have never hid their disdain for Patriots fans, but, in trying (and failing) to be more Howard Stern-like that they forgot one important fact. Stern loves his audience. 

Patriots Preseason Schedule Set: 

The NFL and the Patriots have released the team’s 2020 preseason schedule on Friday. As usual,  it will include some familiar preseason matchups, with the annual preseason finale with the Giants back in New Jersey again in September.


Date/Time                                 Opponent:

Thursday, August 13, 7:30 pm vs. Detroit Lions

Thursday, August 20, 7:30 pm vs. Carolina Panthers

Thursday, August 27, 7:30 pm at Philadelphia Eagles

Thursday, September 3, 7:00 pm at New York Giants

With the Lions coming to Foxboro to begin the preseason schedule, all eyes will be waiting to hear that the two teams will conduct joint practices again this season. Hopefully, this will happen as the coronavirus pandemic could still impact the training camp schedule. 

This preseason will be one of the most intriguing in the Bill Belichick era. With so many changes on the roster, the Patriots will be watched closely, not just locally but nationally as a lot of people will want to see if the team is taking a step back. 

Smith and Lewerke Are Intriguing as the 3rd QBs:

Many people assumed that the Patriots were going to draft a QB and early in the process of the recent NFL Draft. We expect that Jarrett Stidham will be the Patriots starter once the season starts and that Brian Hoyer will be his backup, providing that veteran presence and mentorship. 

But the 3rd QB spot is wide open for competition. The team signed two UDFA QBs after the draft, Louisiana Tech’s J’Mar Smith and Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke, while each could conceivably find himself cut this summer, the opportunity is there for both to carve out a roster spot. 

Both have intriguing qualities. Smith was a 3-year starter and was the Conference USA Offensive Player of the Year as a senior. He did this despite being suspended two games for an “athletic department policy violation,” which he has said he’s learned from. 

He’s athletic but not a running QB, he uses his athleticism to make plays from the pocket. He has elite arm strength and was drafted by the San Diego Padres as a catcher. But he’s considered a very smart QB and as a senior, Smith passed for 2977 yards completing 64.3 percent of his passes with 18 touchdowns and just five interceptions. 

Lewerke was also a 3-year starter, but his numbers and the quality of his supporting cast went down as he neared the end of his college career. His best season was as a sophomore. Lewerke ran for 559 yards and five TDs, passed for 2793 yards with 20 touchdowns. 

His receivers dropped a lot of passes last year and his completion percentage suffered. And so did his draft stock, but Lewerke played in a pro-style offense and among his biggest assets is his head. He’s considered a very smart QB. He worked on his mechanics and his accuracy prior to the draft.

Perhaps neither will make the roster, but the competition to make it as the third QB or get picked up for the practice squad. But those two’s positional battle will be a storyline to watch this summer.



“Richard was a rare physical and athletic talent who possesses excellent intelligence. He was more than most any offensive player could handle and this enabled us to benefit as a defense in many ways. Richard came into the league as a mature, humble, high character person and quickly became one of the cornerstone players in the early stages of this program. We would not have won three championships in four years without him. I am thrilled he has been recognized as one of the franchise’s all-time greats.” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the announcement that Richard Seymour was elected to the Patriots team Hall of Fame.


“So, how was your week?”

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

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

Patriots training camp practice photo: SBalestrieri


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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)

Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: Bill Belichick Brian Lewerke Buffalo Bills J'Mar Smith Jarrett Stidham Miami Dolphins New England Patriots New York Jets NFL Patriots Tom Brady

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    3 years ago

    Parcells was an important part of the resurgence of the Patriots franchise. Parcells also deserted the franchise at a very critical point in their history. Considering those factors together I think that fans are not necessarily against Parcells being inducted. When given the choice between him and a player like Richard Seymour or a Rodney Harrison (the list goes on), how can the fans be faulted for the choices that they have made? The media likes to paint a picture of the fan base having hatred towards Parcells and that is unfair. For the media to intimate that they know… Read more »

    Reply to  David
    3 years ago

    Nice try Tuna but I am against Bill getting inducted in Pats HOF. He accomplished nothing in his time here.

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