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New England Patriots News 12-05, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
3 years ago at 5:00 am ET
Posted Under: 2020 Patriots Season

New England Patriots News 12-05, AFC East NotesTroy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 12-05 and AFC East notes this week. 

Game Day! The Patriots have another chance to get back to .500 today with a win over the 3-8 Chargers, but it isn’t going to be an easy one today. The Chargers are a better team than their record would indicate. 

However, we hope that everyone made it through the first big snowstorm of the season unscathed, it is a good day to relax at home, read about, and then watch football. Thanks for sharing part of your weekend with us. 

Have you checked out our team news feature for all 32 teams yet? It is a great resource to keep up with what is going on all across the NFL. 

 Quick Hitters For the Pats, and the NFL: 

Cam Newton: The Patriots QB quoted some “Game of Thrones” this week when asked about his consistency (or lack of) this year. Obviously, Newton is a big fan of the series, and his response was excellent. 

“Have I done it consistently? Not to my liking, but I am getting there,” Newton said “It’s just a learning curve. It’s just learning each and every day in the famous words of a quote from Game of Thrones, ‘You know nothing, Jon Snow.’ That’s been my mentality each and every day.”

About his working with Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels, Newton again said all the right things.

“I just try and stay open-minded and learn as much as I possibly can because it may be some things and I understand how Josh works and it is so unbelievable to work with him because he makes so many in-game adjustments that you have to always to stay on your Ps and Qs because you will always say, ‘We went over that one time this week, coach. You can’t call that.’ That’s not how Josh works,” Newton added.

Jarrett Stidham: The Patriots’ backup QB was the subject of much debate this week after the stinker that Cam Newton put up, albeit in a Patriots win last week. Fans want to see what they have in Stidham, who, admittedly still hasn’t been given a start yet in his career. Many point out that the team still doesn’t know what they have in the 2nd year QB from Auburn. 

But the flip side is that Stidham had the opportunity to wrestle the starting job away from Newton this summer when Newton had about zero time in the offense. And didn’t stand out nor could stay healthy. The coaches see him in practice every day, and have a much better feel about where he is than the rest of us. Does that close the door on his future? Certainly not, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see him on the field if the Patriots get mathematically eliminated from the playoffs this year either. 

Did You Know?… On this day in 1998, the Patriots beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 23-9 at Three Rivers Stadium, holding Pittsburgh out of the end zone while picking off Kordell Stewart twice and sacking him three times. Drew Bledsoe was picked off three times but completed 21-37 for 327 yards with a TD. Terry Glenn roasted the Steelers with 9 catches for 193 yards including an 86-yard touchdown from Bledsoe. 

4th & 2 Podcast – If you haven’t checked out our podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, please check it out. Russ, Derek, and I recorded a podcast on Thursday talking about the loss to the Texans and were joined by our friend and “U.K. correspondent” Clare Cooper. 

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.

Kyle Pitts On the Horizon For 2021? Mock Draft Makes For Intriguing Option: 

The Patriots have a lot of questions to answer where their priorities lie at the end of the season and of course #1 is at QB. Will they resign Newton to an extension? If they decide to move on will they try to find another bridge QB to ease the integration for another young QB, or will they go with Jarrett Stidham, who got a short audition in training camp? Matthew Stafford seems to be a popular name around New England right now but why Detroit would part with him would be a better question. 

So, in the draft, even if the Patriots lost their last five games, they’d be a long shot to garner any of the top QBs listed in the draft unless they were to move up. What will they do? That’s what we debate every spring. 

Several draft pundits believe that four or five of the top QBs would be gone before the Patriots pick (currently 15th) and the consensus is, they will dip back into the tight end pool and take Florida’s Kyle Pitts with their first-round pick. 

Pitts is more Travis Kelce than Rob Gronkowski, he’s more of a receiver than a traditional in-line tight end. But his production is impressive. In just six games in the SEC, he has 11 touchdowns and is averaging 17.7 yards per reception. And TE is a glaring need for this offense. Rookies Devin Asiasi, and Dalton Keene have one catch between them but should be (need to be) targeted more down the stretch. 

Others have Alabama wide receivers Jaylen Waddle or DeVonta Smith heading to the Patriots at #15… Which would be huge for this offense. And possibly Alabama QB Mac Jones in Round 2? Hmm. but we digress, there is still plenty of football left here before we get into the draft. But that’s what we read this week and it does make one think. 

Kenny Stills Still Available? 2021 Beckons:

When the Texans cut WR Kenny Stills last week, it was expected that one of the contenders making a Super Bowl run would add him to their 53-man squad and load up for a deep postseason run. But so far, there have been no takers which is a tad surprising, considering Stills is still young (28), and has been a productive receiver.

Why not New England? The Patriots aren’t one of the premier stops right now at 5-6 but it shouldn’t be as long a shot as one would think at first glance. Stills isn’t a #1 wide receiver but could be a very good #2-3 depending on who he is surrounded with. And since he has cleared waivers, he is an unrestricted free agent and could come on board for a few games and build up familiarity in the offense heading into 2021.  

As we mentioned above, he’s been productive in the NFL and has 310 catches for 4843 yards (15.6-yard average per reception) with 37 touchdowns in his career. He’d become the obvious favored target with the Patriots given their current roster and the fact that Julian Edelman may not return this season, if at all. 

With the team having a lot of cap space for 2021, adding some veteran pieces will happen and this one seems like a good fit. The chances of this happening are relatively slim at this point, but it is worth kicking the tires on and seeing what the two sides could possibly hammer out.

NFL Schedule Week 13, 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:     10-6

Season Total: 116-60-1

Last Season:  162-93-1


Tennesse over Cleveland
Las Vegas over NY Jets
Miami over Cincinnati
Minnesota over Jacksonville
Indianapolis over Houston
Detroit over Chicago
New Orleans over Atlanta
Seattle over NY Giants
LA Rams over Arizona
New England over LA Chargers
Green Bay over Philadelphia
Sunday Night Football:

Kansas City over Denver

Monday Night Football:

Pittsburgh over Washington
San Francisco over Buffalo
Tuesday Night Football:
Baltimore over Dallas

***Bye Week Tampa Bay, Carolina***

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Face Outside Zone Run Scheme Again :

The Buffalo Bills defense is facing a tough matchup with the SF 49ers outside-zone running scheme this week. Earlier this year, the Rams were successful at running the same scheme for 167 yards in a Week 3 matchup. 

The misdirection aspect of the Niners running game is something that Patriots fans remember well as they were gashed badly a few weeks back in a blowout loss. But while Raheem Mostert is returning, George Kittle, a huge part of this offense is out. 

The Bills have a few primetime matchups down the stretch with San Francisco on Monday night, Pittsburgh on Sunday Night Football, the Denver Broncos on a Saturday matinee, and the Patriots in another Monday Night Football matchup.

With the Niners decimated by injuries this year, one matchup to watch is in the slot, with both slot corners banged up, Cole Beasley should be in line for a big game.  

Tua’s Thumb Injury Lingering for the Dolphins:

Miami Dolphins Dolphins head coach Brian Flores said Friday that his quarterback situation would be the same as last week where the coaching staff would review the practice film to determine if QB Tua Tagovailoa is healthy enough to play and give them the best chance to win. The Dolphins are comfortable going with Ryan Fitzpatrick, and he makes the decision easier if they decide that keeping Tua on the shelf for another week is more beneficial to the team.

“Any time you’re dealing with something that is bothering you, there is some impact on accuracy, velocity. Any time there’s an issue on the hand, there’s an impact. Obviously, that’s part of the evaluation,” Flores said. “Both quarterbacks have practiced, so we’ll have to make a decision and we will make a decision pretty soon.”

Sunday’s game against the Joe Burrow-less Bengals has all the makings of a trap game, but Flores will be working hard to keep the Dolphins’ heads on straight. 

Jets HC Gase Throws Maccagnan Under the Bus:

The New York Jets head coach Adam Gase should hardly be in the position to throw stones at even a former general manager considering his track record on the field, but he did exactly that, taking a not-so-subtle shot across the bow at former GM Dave Maccagnan.

When Gase was asked this week about Jordan Jenkins being the longest-tenured player on the team, he pulled no punches. Jenkins, a third-round pick out of the University of Georgia, is the only remaining member of New York’s 2016 draft class, which was selected by Maccagnan.

“Jenkin’s draft class should be the heart of the roster,” Gase said, per ESPN. “He’s the only one remaining.” Ouch.

While Gase isn’t incorrect at Maccagnan’s woes, he shipped off LB Darron Lee soon after Maccagnan’s ouster, and several of the GM’s whiffs in the first two rounds have put the Jets in a bad spot. However, when you’re 0-11, throwing stones at others isn’t a good look. The Jets continue to be a dysfunctional lot. 


“Yeah, very good, he does a good job on the progressions. Looks like he’s going to the right place where they want it to go most if not all the time. A lot of the patterns are designed with five receivers out, so it’s a full field read. It looks like he’s going to the right side based on the coverage. If it’s a man pattern on one side and a zone pattern on the other side, that kind of thing, making the right decision on where to go with the ball. His accuracy is good. And then there are a number of plays on a line of scrimmage where you can see him changing the play, or sometimes that will include a formation adjustment, but sometimes he’ll walk under center or be under center and walk back, move the back, change the protection, go through the process and all that. They don’t have a lot of penalties – false starts, delay of game and stuff like that. It’s a pretty smooth operation, at least on film, and he executes it well. He does a good job protecting the ball, does a good job executing a variety of plays. I wouldn’t say they have just a simple offense. They do quite a bit, and doesn’t look like they’re restricted at all. So, I think mentally, he’s good. Even though he doesn’t have a lot of experience, he seems to be quite comfortable in what they asked him to do and they seem quite comfortable in giving him quite a bit of responsibility. I mean, that’s the way I read it, I don’t know.”

Bill Belichick after being asked about rookie QB Justin Herbert on how he’s gotten off to a fast start in his NFL career.


“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.


Posted Under: 2020 Patriots Season
Tags: Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Cam Newton Kenny Stills Kyle Pitts Miami Dolphins New England Patriots New York Jets NFL

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