Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 09-13 and AFC East notes this week.
Welcome back football. It was nice to watch the Chiefs-Texans game and feel a bit of normalcy return, even if very few fans were in attendance.
The Patriots and Dolphins each begin their 2020 NFL seasons with a game at an empty Gillette Stadium at 1:00 p.m. There were some questions whether we’d ever see this come to fruition this year with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
Enjoy it and let’s hope things get better from here.
Quick Hitters For the Pats, and the NFL:
Nick Folk Signed: Not so surprising news was that kicker Nick Folk along with DL Xavier Williams were signed to the active roster. OL Caleb Benenock was also signed to the practice squad. The not-so-good news was that the thin WR core got thinner when Gunner Olszewski was placed on injured reserve. He like Damien Williams had a terrific summer and got hurt late in the process and will spend at least three weeks on the shelf.
Stephon Gilmore: Congrats to the highest-paid member of the Patriots, as he got a raise to give his already high salary a nice bump in pay.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter was the first to report, the NFL’s reigning DPOY has received a significant pay raise for the 2020 season: The Patriots increased Gilmore’s salary from $10.5 million to $15.5 million. Gilmore will also get the chance to earn an additional $2 million through some new incentives. Well earned…
Cam Newton/Julian Edelman: The Patriots’ QB and WR have been developing quite the chemistry on and off the field. The two have been committed to each other as soon as Newton signed with the team, working out together, pumping each other up in the media, but as for Newton’s energy and his attempts to get the WR to lighten up a bit at practice, Edelman prefers to remain “happily miserable.”
Edelman explained that “It’s definitely fun having him. I appreciate what he does and how he practices and his approach to things. So, it’s definitely fun.”
But as for “lightening up”, the answer to that is no… “I’m a competitor. I’m semi-intense — I’m pretty intense, I guess,” he said. “I’m happily miserable.”
Did You Know?… With a win today, the Patriots will become the first of the original AFL teams to reach 550 wins including the playoffs. The Patriots currently sit at 512 regular-season wins and 37 playoff victories. The next closest franchise from the old AFL days is the Denver Broncos with 506. Not too bad for a Patriots team that didn’t have a home for the first decade of their existence. Miami, who the Pats play today, didn’t enter the AFL until 1966 and sit at 457. The Chiefs need four more wins and the Raiders two more to break the 500-win plateau.
Although most analysts have them ending their streak in 2020, the Patriots have won their division for 11 years in a row and are seeking a 12th. Dallas and Indy are tied for second with nine each.
Amazingly enough, the Patriots have won 10 or more games for 17 years in a row…do we see an 18th???
4th & 2 Podcast – If you’ve haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, please check it out. We recorded a podcast on Thursday with our guest @BrianCat from Miami and were talking about the Dolphins, as well as the game today. Check it out.
Russ Francis/ Chuck Fairbanks: The former Patriot tight end and head coach both should be in the Patriots team Hall of Fame…this will be on our Sunday posts until it happens.
James White/Julian Edelman Nearing Milestones:
A couple of Patriots players have some possible personal milestones that they could attain this afternoon. Thanks to the Patriots staff for sharing this:
White has caught 24 touchdown passes in 78 career regular-season games. Former Eagles great Brian Westbrook holds the current record for the fastest running back to reach the 25-TD reception mark, doing it in 87 regular-season games.
With a TD catch today, White would then own the record. Since he became a key part of the Patriots offense in 2015 after Shane Vereen left in free agency, White has more receptions (315), receiving yards (2,786), yards after catch (2,289), and receiving touchdowns (24) than any other running back in the NFL. He only needs two receiving touchdowns to tie Larry Garron for the most in franchise history for a running back.
We sometimes forget just how good White is, he doesn’t get a lot of press outside of New England but his value has never been higher.
Edelman needs just one catch today to record 600 receptions in a Patriots uniform, joining Wes Welker (672) as the only players with 600 catches as a member of the Patriots. He also needs just one TD catch to tie Welker with 37 TD catches as a Patriot. Former tight end Rob Gronkowski leads the way with 79.
No Overreaction Amid No Real Idea How the Teams Will Look:
Last week I was talking on the phone with someone and later had a conversation with NESN sports analyst and former Patriot Matt Chatham. We spoke about how …regardless of how this game turns out today, there will probably be a massive overreaction on Monday. If the Patriots look good, people will be anointing Cam Newton as the next savior and we’ll no doubt hear “the team is going 19-0”. And of course, if they lose? “Bill Can’t Win Without Brady” or some other lame hot take.
The simple fact of the matter is, none of us really know what the Patriots or the Dolphins are even going to look like today. With Newton at QB, rest assured the offense is going to look and run, quite differently than we’ve been used to for the past 20 years. Personnel groupings, packages, and play-calling are guaranteed to be different in some way. How will it all work out?
Without the benefit of a preseason, these players will be going through actual full-team live blocking and tackling for the first time this afternoon. For the defense with so many younger players in the front seven, it will be even more so. I really believe these young kids can play. However, expecting them to hit the ground running on Week 1 without any preseason games may be asking a bit much…we’ll see.
It is going to take a while for the team to find their rhythm and identity. The Patriots under Bill Belichick normally treat the first month of the season as extended preseason…this year, it may be looking even more like that for the first 3-4 games. For the Dolphins, the same applies. They spent a massive amount of money (approx. $200 million) in free agency and draft capital to rebuild their roster. They have a new offensive coordinator with Chan Gailey, an offensive line with four new starters, two new running backs, as well as a lot of changes on defense. They’re all playing on the field for the first time as well. Most expect them to be much better in 2020, including here. Will it be today? Again no one knows.
No rushes to judgment here, let’s not resort to the hyperbole that some radio and television people are bound to do, with the emphasis on clicks.
Opening Day Against the Dolphins…Flashback to 1970:
Today the Patriots and Dolphins square off for the ninth time in season openers. The results are dead even at 4-4 with each team 3-1 on their home turf. And we’ll take a look at one of those openers, the 1970 season’s first game in a bit.
Bill Belichick and the Patriots have enjoyed a ridiculous amount of success in the past 20 years. The team has a beautiful stadium that is light years better than their original stadium collectively known by the fan base as “the dump.” But for their first decade, the team didn’t even have a home. Those early Patriots years had a few good teams and some really, really bad ones.
The team played at Boston University, Fenway Park, Boston College, and Harvard Stadium in those wandering, nomad days. I still remember that the 1970 team as arguably the worst Patriots team to take the field. Yes, even worse than the 1-15 team. The fact that they won two games is still surprising to me…and yes I went there that year. Joe Kapp, fresh off of a Pro Bowl 1969 season that saw him take the Vikings to the Super Bowl, came to the Patriots after a contract dispute. He threw three (3) TDs and seventeen (17) interceptions for the then Boston Patriots.
How bad were the Patriots that year? Look no further than opening day against the Dolphins and the curious case of Bob Gladieux.
Gladieux was a running back for Notre Dame with a mop of blond curly locks that earned him the nickname “Harpo” from his teammates. He was cut just a few days before the opener but decided to stick around the area, and went to Harvard Stadium for the opener with a friend of his. And like everyone else, they ate hot dogs and had already downed a few beers before the national anthem.
While Gladieux’s bud went to buy the next round, he suddenly heard the public address announcer say, “ Would Bob Gladieux, please report to the Patriots’ dressing room.” The Patriots signed him on the spot and immediately put him in uniform.
And not only was he active…he made the tackle on the opening kickoff. As his friend returned to his seat, he was wondering what happened to his friend. Then he watched the Patriots #24 bring down the Dolphins kick returner. “Tackle by Bob Gladieux,” the public address announcer told the crowd, including his stunned friend. Amazingly enough, the Patriots actually won that game somehow.
As the old, early 1970’s commercial once said, and it is apt today…”You’ve come a long way, baby.” Indeed.
NFL Schedule Week 1 2020, 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.
Last Week: 0-0
Thursday Night Football –
KC over Houston 1-0
Buffalo over NY Jets
New Orleans over Tampa Bay
Minnesota over Green Bay
Philadelphia over Washington
Baltimore over Cleveland
Indy over Jacksonville
Las Vegas Raiders over Carolina
New England over Miami (link to game preview)
Detroit over Chicago
Seattle over Atlanta
LA Chargers over Cincinnati
San Francisco over Arizona
Sunday Night Football:
LA Rams over Dallas
Monday Night Football:
Pittsburgh over NY Giants
Tennessee over Denver
Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:
No More “Flutie Flakes”, Josh Allen Gets His Own Cereal:
The Buffalo Bills QB not only has to deal with very increased expectations in 2020, many NFL pundits have the Bills winning the AFC East in 2020, but now, for the first time since Doug Flutie, Allen will now have his own cereal. That will be sure to put a bulls-eye on his back whenever the team doesn’t play well.
Allen has teamed with the upscale supermarket Wegmans to produce “Josh’s Jaqs” a red and blue frosted rolls cereal that will go to support the Oishei Children’s Hospital @ochbuffalo. A worthy cause. Allen said on social media that it was a boyhood dream to have his own cereal…now he does.
The name could have been better however, it won’t be long before internet trolls change the “q” to a “g”…Speaking of trolls, the Bills Mafia is putting up a billboard in Foxboro that proudly proclaim themselves as “the best fans in the NFL” after winning a contest as such. One has to wonder if the Foxboro billboard will have any “toys” in it.
Dolphins Skewer NFL With “Empty Gestures” Say No to National Anthem:
The Miami Dolphins aren’t having any of the NFL’s Week 1 moves against racial injustice and police brutality against people of color. So, when the NFL plays both the national anthem and “Lift Ev’ry Voice And Sing ”, which has been termed “the Black national anthem”, the Dolphins have decided as a team to remain inside the locker room until the coin flip.
And in a released video statement the Dolphins players lambasted the NFL’s plan.
“This attempt to unify only creates more divide. So we’ll skip this song and dance, and as a team, we’ll stay inside,” Dolphins players said in the video.
“We need changed hearts, not just a response to pressure. Enough, no more fluff and empty gestures. We need owners with influence and pockets bigger than ours to call up officials and flex political power.”
“The message is to create unity, not divide,” head coach Brian Flores said. “That’s partly why they wanted to do it. Specific to our locker room, I think we’re all on the same page. I hope it’s that way.”
Jets Seemingly Never-ending Rebuild Continues:
The New York Jets are opening up with the Buffalo Bills, who many believe are the team to beat in the division. And they’re doing it without their two best defensive players. The team trade the uber-talented but unhappy Jamal Adams and their big-money free agent, LB C.J. Mosley, who missed a chunk of time last year with an injury, has opted out of the season due to the COVID-19 coronavirus. Not exactly the best way to start a season.
Head coach Adam Gates was billed as the “QB whisperer” and was expected to lead young QB Sam Darnold to great heights as the QB that the Jets have been searching for seemingly for decades. But last year, the Jets offense wasn’t exactly a juggernaut, finishing 31st or 32nd in scoring, total yards, rushing, first downs, third-down conversion, according to Football Outsiders’ rushing, passing and overall efficiency rates. Ouch.
To add injury to insult, rookie 2nd round draft pick Denzel Mims, who missed all of training camp with an injured hamstring, returned to practice on Weds. and injured the other one a day later, meaning he’ll miss the opener against Buffalo. The Jets four healthy WRs, Breshad Perriman, Chris Hogan, Jamison Crowder and Braxton Berrios could have really used the fast and promising 6’3 Mims against the Bills outstanding secondary. They signed Donte Moncrief but he’s on IR. Now the pressure will really be on Le’Veon Bell to produce
“First of all, I would say every situation is a little bit different, but also coaches – they specialize or focus on a certain position, their area of responsibility, but they’re also aware of other things, whether it’s on the other side of the ball at the complementary positions, like wide receivers and defensive backs type of thing, or whether it’s adjacent positions. So, that’s linebackers to D-line, that type of thing. I think the move isn’t maybe quite as monumental as what you think it is. It’s hard to coach one position without knowing what the guys beside you are doing, or if you’re a back, not knowing what the line is doing in front of you or not knowing what the guys across the ball are doing. So, I think there’s certainly a build-up of knowledge there, and in some cases, it brings a little bit of a different perspective than if you’ve just coached only that one spot. The opportunity to coach something else and see what’s going on around it or how those units work together or work against each other, depending on if it’s the opposite side of the ball, that can be valuable, too. So, ultimately, it’s the staff on either side of the ball or special teams meshing together and making sure the communication, the assignments, and all that are consistent so the players are getting the same thing and it all fits together. But specifically, each person is responsible for a certain area, but certainly, the more that they can know, understand and even be able to coach other positions is valuable, too. When we do group drills together – like putting the line and linebackers together, or the linebackers and defensive backs together, or the tight ends and tackles together, or the running backs and the line together – then the more that those coaches can know what’s going on with those adjacent or complementary positions, then the more effective they can coach and the better the drills and the information is to the players.”
Bill Belichick on being asked about shifting positional coaches around and having them learn new ones as part of their career progression.
“So, how was your week?”
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Posted Under: 2020 Patriots Season
Tags: 2020 Patriots Season Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Cam Newton Julian Edelman Miami Dolphins New England Patriots New York Jets NFL Patriots Stephon Gilmore