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New England Patriots News 9-20, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
September 20, 2020 at 5:00 am ET

New England Patriots News 9-20, AFC East Notes(PHOTO: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)
Posted: Sep 20, 2020 05:00
🕑 Read Time: 11 minutes

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 09-20 and AFC East notes this week. 

It is good to have football back. It is the welcome escape from the pandemic and the endless inane political bickering that goes nowhere. One of the more surprising aspects of Week 1 was that the games weren’t as sloppy as we previously thought we see as no one had the benefit of a preseason. 

From the first TNF game in KC there was one fan who tested positive for COVID-19, it will bear watching if the trend goes up, will the NFL further limit fans attending?  The Chiefs did a very quick and thorough investigation and alerted people who came in contact with the one person, to quarantine themselves. But if that number is… say 10 or more, then things would get really dicey. 

However, even with just 6000 fans in attendance on Thursday in Cleveland, they still made some noise…real noise and it was a welcome change from the fake piped in stuff.

 Quick Hitters For the Pats, and the NFL:

Allen Robinson/OBJ Talk: Well at least it isn’t Larry Fitzgerald talk …again. It seems like every year, the talk of the NFL has the Patriots targeting a big-name WR in a trade scenario. For years it was Larry Fitzgerald despite that the Cardinals showed no desire to trade him. 

Now both Peter King and Mike Florio are jumping on the bandwagon for either Allen Robinson or Odell Beckham Jr. Our reaction? Yawn. Wake us when something actually happens. Would the Patriots invest that deeply in a WR who despite being productive and Cam Newton’s friend (OBJ) is on the hook for $14 million this year and about $45 million for the next three years? Watching Beckham on Thursday, if I was the Cleveland GM, I’d be in no hurry to trade him. 

Robinson is a big target who has been very productive for the Bears. He’s in the last year of his contract. The question(s) here is A. What would it take, and B. Would Robinson insist on a new deal as part of a trade? Belichick usually goes in a different direction than the national pundits, so, we’d take that talk as just that. 

Cam Newton: The Patriots’ QB has taken on the role of a mentor for 2nd-year WR N’Keal Harry and while the younger player really appreciates the attention from the MVP, it is a relationship that, if successful, will benefit both players. Newton said earlier this week, that he’s “always had a “N’Keal Harry in my life” meaning big, physical WRs when at Carolina. He’s leaned on them and they’ve been a big part of the offense. He needs Harry to be the same. Which is why he so strongly came to Harry’s defense after he fumbled last week. 

“I think that one play overshadowed the production that he did have. He bailed me out on a play, on a kinda inaccurate pass that he came down with and got a first down. He did pretty good in the run game. He had a couple contested catches. And all that was kinda for not because a lot of people just focused on the fumble.”

Did You Know?… On this day in 1964, the Boston Patriots defeated the San Diego Chargers 33-28 at Balboa Stadium in San Diego. Gino Cappelletti opened the scoring with a 17-yard  TD reception from Vito “Babe” Parelli, (gotta love having a QB named Vito). Cappelletti would then kick four (4) FGs in the game from 41, 32, 37, and 37 yards in the game. Defensively, Ron Hall would intercept Bolt’s QB John Hadl three times in the game.

4th & 2 Podcast – If you’ve haven’t checked out our podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, please check it out. We recorded a podcast on Thursday talking post-game Fins and the upcoming Seahawks game. 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.

Belichick’s Mom Passes Away at 98: 

There are times we sometimes forget that sports stars and coaches are human beings first and sports celebs second. This is why when the normally taciturn Bill Belichick spoke at length about the passing of his mom Jeannette, it was hardly the surprise that many made it out to be. 

He said growing up as an only child, and with his father Steve, a coach and scout at Navy gone so much, he and his mom were really close. He said their relationship remained really close for his entire life.

“First of all, I’d just like to thank everyone who’s reached out and expressed their sympathy and condolences for my mom. Especially, Pete [Carroll] had some really great words and John Harbaugh and many others that I know — friends, football people — and honestly, many people that I’ve never met or contacted before, so do really appreciate the support there.

“You know, as an only child — I mean, everybody’s close with their or has a certain relationship with their mom and dad — but as an only child, I was especially close to my parents. My mom and I spent a lot of time together and she was a great woman. I certainly learned pretty much everything from my parents. And then, you know, with the love that she gave to her grandkids, to Amanda, Steve, and Brian, was ultra-special to me as well.

“So, I appreciate everyone’s thoughts and condolences that have been expressed. She had almost 99 years, so a very long and happy life. So, she’ll be with my dad now.”

He was asked later about being raised in a football family and how he and his mom would sacrifice she would routinely make for her family.

“She was a very unselfish person who sacrificed a lot for her family, and so of course me personally, and I appreciate and love her for that and many other things. My dad was away a lot on scouting trips, and so I always kind of grew up with her on the weekends, on football weekends, at home. So we watched hundreds of games together, whether it was Navy games or listened to them on the radio or watched other games that were on TV and so forth when my dad was away on Friday night, Saturday, and sometimes Sunday morning, depending on how far he had to travel for the games that he was scouting … And we became very close and shared those experiences together.”

He spoke glowingly about Jeannette and how her language skills didn’t pass down to her son in typical Belichick deadpan. 

“My mom was really kind of an academic person. She was very good in college, and then after college she worked for the map service during World War II and translated European maps because she spoke seven languages. Well, six at that time, she didn’t know Croatian. So she was involved in the translation of maps during the war effort, and then came back and taught languages at Hiram after the war in 1945.

“Unfortunately, those language skills didn’t rub off on her son, and one language is really about all I have. But she encouraged me to do the things that I wanted to do. She was very supportive of those.”

Losing a parent, even one that lived to be nearly 100 years old is never an easy thing. Condolences to the Belichick family.

J.J. Taylor Opening Eyes Early:

Last week, UDFA rookie running back J.J. Taylor got on the field for just nine snaps. While that isn’t a huge amount in anyone’s book, it is noteworthy that it also is a bit of an anomaly for the Patriots. The team usually puts rookie running backs on ice for their first season in a type of red-shirt season. Sony Michel is kind of the difference here.

Back in 2011, Shane Vereen appeared in just five games and had just 15 touches all season. In 2014, James White appeared in just three games and had 14 touches. Last year, Damien Harris appeared in 2 games and rushed the ball only four times. Harris, as has been the norm, seemed poised for a much bigger role in the offense and had a strong summer before breaking his finger and ending up on IR. 

Taylor to see the field, albeit in a limited fashion in Week 1, shouldn’t be sloughed off. And the fact he had five touches (four carries and one reception) shows that the coaches believe in him. 

“He’s earned it,” Pats running back coach Ivan Fears said. Fears, like Belichick, is spare with his compliments but since training camp, he’s been singing the rookie’s praises. Earlier in training camp, he called Taylor “Little Dion” in reference to Dion Lewis, which was pretty heady praise. 

Last week, Fears likened Taylor’s game a bit like Darren Sproles. “The guy is a pretty good player, really a good runner. He’s sort of fits into that mold of small backs like (Darren) Sproles and those guys that have been successful.” 

“But it’s early. It really is early to tag any kind of title on him or anything like that. But I tell you what, we’re really happy to have him out there. The guy is busting his butt. I’m happy with that.”

Taylor, is only 5’6, 185 pounds but runs hard, doesn’t shy away from contact, picking up 15-yards after contact. His four rushes for 28 yards and one catch for four is just scratching the surface of what he’s capable of. He was very elusive in college, and if he can show that kind of skill in the NFL then the Lewis comparisons won’t be as eyebrowing raising as first suggestions would prove to be. While the snaps will be difficult to share evenly, especially when Harris returns, we’re excited to see what he can continue to bring to the field in 2020. 

Carroll Continues to Prove His Style Works Longterm:

Pete Carroll got kind of a raw deal when he was here in New England, it was a mistake that Robert Kraft vowed to never make again with Bill Belichick, and he didn’t. It turns out that the situation worked out for everyone involved. 

Trying to replace a legend like Bill Parcells was no easy task. Many of the players believed in Parcells and didn’t want him to leave. And some of that resentment carried over to the new coach. 

Like Parcells, Carroll wasn’t allowed to “buy the groceries” but the worst mistake was giving players a back door around the coach directly to VP of Player Personnel Bobby Grier.. It undermined him from the start and from Day 1, doomed him to fail. 

While Carroll and Belichick are polar opposites personality wise, pegging him as a “California Cool” laid back guy, defies the burning desire to win in him. The Boston press jumped right on board with that. In his first training camp, a newspaper ran a caricature of Parcells as General George S. Patton with his iconic ivory-handled revolvers and Carroll with a surfboard, sandals and a glass of wine. The media loved Parcells, and with Carroll? Not so much. 

He was upbeat and enthusiastic. Parcells ruled by intimidation, while Carroll did it by his boundless enthusiasm and energy. The press said that would never work long-term. He’s been proving that wrong for 20 years. 

But Carroll is at heart, a defensive coach…like BB. He believes in his system and it is predicated on speed, speed, and more speed. Like Parcells, and Belichick, Carroll is’t afraid of making a change or a big decision, if its in the best interest of the football team.

And unlike the public persona of the ‘cool laid back’ California guy beats the heart of a fierce competitor. Drew Bledsoe a few years ago said that Carroll was one of the most competitive people he ever met. 

One has to consider if Kraft and the Patriots had been able to keep Curtis Martin in New England, how different some coaches career paths may have turned out. Remember Robert Edwards the team’s 1st round draft pick in 1998, blew out his knee at the Pro Bowl.

He took the Seahawks to two Super Bowls and is one of only two coaches to win a Super Bowl and a national championship. And this year’s Seattle team may end up representing the NFC again..

Yep that rah-rah stuff won’t play out long-term.

NFL Schedule Week 2 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: 11-5

Last Season:162-93-1

Thursday Night Football – 

Cleveland over Cincinnati 1-0

Buffalo over Miami
Chicago over NY Giants
LA Rams over Philadelphia
Dallas over Atlanta
Tampa Bay over Carolina
SF 49ers over NY Jets
Pittsburgh over Denver
Tennessee over Jacksonville
Green Bay over Detroit
Minnesota over Indianapolis
Arizona over Washington
Baltimore over Houston
KC Chiefs over LA Chargers

Sunday Night Football:
Seattle over New England (key matchups link)

Monday Night Football:
New Orleans over Las Vegas Raiders

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Missing LBs Edmunds, Milano Today:

The Buffalo Bills defense will be missing two key starters in the team’s Week 2 matchup against the Dolphins in Miami today.

Starting linebackers Tremaine Edmunds (shoulder) and Matt Milano (hamstring) are both listed as out for the game, after suffering injuries in the season opener against the New York Jets.

In their stead, the Bills will turn to veteran A.J. Klein who was a key free-agent addition and now steps into a starting role. The Bills may also use Tyrel Dodson, who also was injured in the Jets’ game, but is expected to play. Another linebacker, Del’Shawn Phillips (quadriceps), was also hurt last week, which hurts their LB depth. Look for Tyler Matakevich, normally a special-teams stalwart to see some snaps on defense.. 

Dolphins Fans Already Chomping at the Bit for Tua:

The bad news for the Miami Dolphins coaches was that the play of Joe Burrow for the first two games has been outstanding. And now fans are clamoring to see rookie QB Tua Tagovailoa. Although Brian Flores and his coaching staff are in no rush to push Tua onto the field, another loss today, which is very possible to Buffalo will only accelerate the calls. 

While Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three picks in the opener last week in New England, it is very doubtful at this early juncture that Tua would have done any better against a terrific Patriots secondary. And there is his hip injury that probably isn’t 100 percent yet. But today’s game may have fans clamoring for the rookie. 

Jets Gase Getting Questioned:

The New York Jets seem well on their way to foundering again in the AFC East. While Greg WIlliams, the defensive coordinator believes that they’re close to dominating games, even after being gashed by the Bills and Josh Allen, it is the offense that is getting questioned. And that falls on head coach Adam Gase who was supposed to be the guru for the Jets offensive woes. 

And the questions are fair. QB Sam Darnold showed as much promise with former coach Todd Bowles as he has with Gase who was brought in to New York to be Darnold’s “QB Whisperer.”

In the past three years, the Jets have lost more games than anyone else. Gase has to turn things around and quickly…and right now it doesn’t appear to be happening. Welcome to the early hot seat.


“Well, yeah, everything. I mean, this guy’s a tremendous player. Honestly, I think he’s in a way maybe underrated by the media or the fans, I don’t know, but I mean I don’t really see anybody better than this player. He can do everything. He’s got obviously great leadership, playmaking skills. He plays very well in the most critical situations in the game – his decision-making, running, passing. His passing numbers are extraordinary. You could put him up against anybody since he’s been in the league, literally anybody, in any category, really. His winning percentage is impressive. He’s there for every game, never missed a game. He’s got a great, great ability to do the right thing at the right time. He has tremendous vision and sees the field extremely well. I don’t think there’s a better deep ball passer in the league in terms of decision making and accuracy. He attacks every – literally every inch of the field you have to defend with him – the deep balls, the sidelines, his scrambles, his ability to get the ball to his playmakers and in space, and then you have to try to tackle him, which that’s very difficult too. You know, [Tyler] Lockett has lead the league in all-purpose yards. Russell’s got 4,000 yards rushing, 30,000 yards passing. Lockett’s been a go-to guy for them in all phases of the game – return game and offensively. [D.K.] Metcalf, now they’ve got [Greg] Olson, [Chris] Carson probably runs as hard as anybody in the league, so there are a lot of weapons there. I could go on and on – offensive line, [Duane] Brown – I mean, they have a lot of good players that are hard to handle and you put them all together and it’s orchestrated by Wilson. They’re very, very hard to define”

Bill Belichick on being asked about Seahawks QB Russell Wilson


“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.


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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: 2020 Patriots Season
Tags: Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills James White JJ Taylor Julian Edelman Miami Dolphins N'Keal Harry New England Patriots New York Jets NFL Patriots Pete Carroll Russell Wilson Seattle Seahawks Sony Michel

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