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New England Patriots News 12-13, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
8 months ago at 5:00 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

New England Patriots News 12-13, AFC East NotesKirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 12-13 and AFC East notes this week. 

Due to the Thursday Night Football appearance by the Patriots, there is no game on Sunday, and it is disappointing with no Patriots’ game-day anticipation. However, they do have 10 days to prepare for Miami.  

Love the annual Army-Navy game, and for the first time since 1943, the Army was the home team. And got to sing second shutting out Navy 15-0.

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: 

Patriots, Pt 1: The Patriots’ incredible streak of 17 straight seasons of having 10 wins or more is now HIS-TOR- REE after their ugly loss to the Rams. The last time the team won fewer games was the 2002 season, when Bill Belichick cleaned house on the last of the players he didn’t want from the previous regimes was sent packing. Five Super Bowls followed. 

While we’re not going to categorically state that this is a record that will never be equaled, it isn’t one that will fall easily. They are in a pretty limited stratosphere with that kind of winning. They broke the 49ers record of 16 straight seasons a year ago, but other than those teams, no other team has even 10. 

Patriots Pt 2: The Patriots’ other streak, which will likely end soon (possibly today), will be that of winning their division for 11 straight years. This tidbit of news has been known for a while that it was going to fall but it is what it is.

Looking For a Great Christmas Gift for a Patriots Fan? One of the great guys on Twitter and perhaps the best Patriots historian out there is Bob Hyldburg aka @BobtheStatMan Bob has been a friend of ours for about as long as I’ve been around PatsFans, nearly a decade now. Bob just wrote another book and it is one that is a perfect coffee table book that will be guaranteed to be opened every week during games, and that is “Relive Patriots History”. 

Did You Know?… On this day in 1998, the 8-5 Patriots lost to the 3-10 St. Louis Rams 32-18. In a familiar-sounding result, the Rams sacked Patriots QBs five times (Drew Bledsoe 4x and Scott Zolak once) while holding Bledsoe to 11-35 passing for only 176 yards with a TD and an INT. Zo was 0-2 and took a 27-yard sack. However, rookie RB Robert Edwards ran for 196 yards on 24 carries.

Did You Know Pt. 2: It was 38 years ago yesterday that Mark Henderson, an ex-con on work release plowed the field in Foxboro before John Smith knocked a 33-yard field goal through the uprights giving the Patriots a 3-0 over the Miami Dolphins and an enraged Don Shula in 1982. Known as the “Snow Plow Game”, the John Deere tractor now hangs from the ceiling of the “Hall at Patriots Place”

 

Time to Bury “The Path” Talk: And good riddance, it was strictly a media invention to keep the interest going in the team, which is fine but as far out as they were taking it was an exercise in futility. Now, we won’t have to worry about that. 

4th & 2 Podcast – If you haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, please check it out. Russ, Derek, and I recorded a podcast with Evan Lazar on Wednesday to talk about the upcoming game with the Rams.  

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.

Red Zone Woes Continue to Haunt Patriots Offense: 

Without taking anything away from the Rams’ rookie running back Cam Akers, who had an outstanding game on Thursday night rushing for 171 yards, including 35 on the 2nd play from scrimmage, the biggest reason for the loss on Thursday night and many of the losses this season is the failure to score in the red zone. 

And while Cam Newton is certainly part of the issue in 2020, the Patriots’ offense last year with Tom Brady also struggled in the red zone. After the brutal pick-six by Newton, the Patriots ran the ball 11 of 12 plays on their ensuing drive, eventually getting a first and goal from the six-yard line. Four straight runs doomed them to failure. Four trips to the red zone netted them three points. Give the Rams defense, which is very good credit, but this has been a recurring problem. 

So far in 2020, with three games left to go, the Patriots offense is a woeful 27th in the red zone scoring a touchdown just 52 percent of the time. But a look at last year had the Patriots 26th but with an even worse scoring percentage at 49.21 percent. In 2018, the Patriots scored TDs at a 62.86 clip, which was 12th in the league. 

In the red zone, the deficiencies of the passing game (and Newton) are made up for (for the most part) with his running ability. While he has thrown 4 TDs against 1 interception this year, he has rushed for 11 touchdowns. Last year, Brady threw for 13 TDs against 2 INTs and rushed for 3 more. 

So as bad as the Patriots were (and are) in the red zone on Thursday night, they are actually scoring at a higher percentage than with Brady at the helm last year. So, what is the issue? There are two that glaringly stand out from each season. 

The first is the utter lack of targeting/production of the tight ends in the red zone. In 2020, the Patriots have attempted two (2) passes to the tight end in the red zone, one to Ryan Izzo, and one to Devin Asiasi (Thursday) and neither one was completed. That is zero (0) catches, zero TDs from the tight end position. In 2019, the Patriots attempted only 7 passes to TEs in the red zone, three each to Benjamin Watson and Matt LaCosse, with one to Izzo. Contrast that to having a healthy Rob Gronkowski in 2017 who had 22. 

Newton always relied on the tight end position when he was with Carolina, while Brady heavily relied on Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett the year Gronkowski was hurt. Not having a viable tight end in the red zone makes the defense’s job much easier and the proof is in the pudding. 

The other issue is not having/using a big-bodied wide receiver to high point the ball in the end zone. N’Keal Harry was drafted to be that player but a slew of injuries last year along with not earning the trust factor with Tom Brady skewered any chance of that happening. He has struggled and has been used poorly in 2020. The coaches rarely use him playing at his strength which is high-pointing the ball and boxing out defenders with his large frame.

Just as an FYI, Brady with three good TEs and the big Mike Evans has thrown 23 RZ TDs and 0 INTs in 2020 with four games to go.

Patriots Double Down on Cam Newton in the QB Talk:

When the Patriots were shellacked against the Rams on Thursday night, Bill Belichick was quickly asked if the team was going to replace Cam Newton who had an awful game with Jarrett Stidham who came in on mop-up duty. 

“Yeah, great question, really glad you asked that. Cam (Newton)’s our quarterback.”

Belichick was asked again on Friday and he reiterated the same answer, which isn’t surprising, considering that it was less than 24 hours later. However, Josh McDaniels also chimed in basically stating the same thing, and placing the onus on himself.

About Newton, McDaniels pretty much repeated what Belichick had to say. 

“Cam’s certainly been the best option for us all year long since he earned the opportunity in training camp,” he said. “Look, whenever the offense struggles, I know the attention is always going to get turned to that position. Me, personally, it’s my responsibility to put us in a position to be more productive than we were last night. Every time we struggle offensively and don’t score enough points to win the game, I know I need to do a better job.”

“Quarterback play is dependent on a lot of things to be done right and to be executed properly,” he said. “The quarterback has to do his job, but there are a lot of other people that go into doing that same thing, and being a productive offensive unit. Cam works hard. Cam knows what we want to try to do to win.

“Right now, there’s a lot of things we all can do better. So, we have to work hard and try to come back and have a good week of preparation and practice, and see if we can play better as a unit down in Miami and get this thing back on track.”

NFL Schedule Week 14, 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:     11-4

Season Total: 127-64-1

Last Season:  162-93-1

Thursday Night Football
LA Rams over New England 1-0

Sunday: 

Tennessee over Jacksonville
Kansas City over Miami
Tampa Bay over Minnesota
Houston over Chicago
Carolina over Denver
NY Giants over Arizona
Dallas over Cincinnati
Indianapolis over Las Vegas
Seattle over NY Jets
Green Bay over Detroit
LA Chargers over Atlanta
San Francisco over Washington
New Orleans over Philadelphia
Sunday Night Football:

Buffalo over Pittsburgh

Monday Night Football:

Cleveland over Baltimore

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills’ Beasley Having a Career Year, Surprised? You Shouldn’t Be :

Just a reminder of what we wrote here last week, Cole Beasley should be in line for a big game. Yes it is a shameless bit of self-promotion but Beasley had a huge game against the Niners catching nine passes for 130 yards and a TD. 

Last year, after the Cowboys foolishly allowed him to walk, we stumped for the Patriots to sign Beasley for a couple of reasons. One was that we knew that he’d have been a great fit with the offense and Tom Brady. And the other was that Julian Edelman has been taking a beating throughout his career and was nearing the end. Beasley could have stepped into a Danny Amendola-esque role last year and become the slot guy the Patriots miss with Edelman not having been himself since Week 2. 

Beasley has fit in tremendously with Buffalo’s offense and becoming a favorite receiver of QB Josh Allen. Why? Because it seems like he’s always open. Like Edelman and to a lesser extent, Wes Welker before him, Beasley is quicker than fast, and although he’s only 5’8, he’s not afraid of going across the middle and doing the dirty work. But he has the versatility to line up in the slot or outside. 

In his first season with Buffalo last year, Beasley caught 67 passes for 778 yards and six touchdowns. With four games remaining in 2020, he has 66 catches for 797 yards and four touchdowns. He is a cinch to best his career-high of 75 catches for 833 yards and five touchdowns he had for the Cowboys in 2016. 

That quickness has translated into red-zone production with Buffalo. He’s been targeted 14 times and has caught 10 passes with five touchdowns in 2020

Bills safety Jordan Poyer was asked to describe Beasley earlier this year, “unguardable” was his answer. “His quickness and his being able to get in and out of breaks, and a lot of people don’t know how smart he is on the football field.

“His ability to read leverages, to read coverages, his ability to find the soft spot in zones, the ability to catch the ball and not take explosive hits. I just say I’m happy as hell he’s on our team.”

Bizarre Case of Jets Beat Writer Manish Mehta:

The New York Jets had revoked the credentials of beat reporter Manish Mehta which led many to believe that the abrasive, tabloid-style of his reporting was because the Jets bristled at his negative takes. But the story just kept getting weirder and weirder. 

Mehta was later fired by the New York Daily News after a series of incidents came to light, several of which had been reported earlier but once they were all put together, left the Jets and the Daily News no choice. 

“Manish Mehta is no longer with the New York Daily News. Coverage of the Jets will continue uninterrupted,” said a spokesperson for the Daily News. Mehta’s Twitter account was then reported by the social media giant as no longer existent. 

Last month, Craig Carton of WFAN said on his show that Mehta was banished for stalking Jets general manager’s Joe Douglas’ son. Also, former OL Matt Slauson said that Mehta twisted statements from Jets players about Tim Tebow, forcing Slauson to stand in front of the team and explain himself. 

“It was sloppy reporting and I had to pay for it and get up in front of the team to explain it,” Slauson told Ben Strauss of the Washington Post.

Strauss highlighted that, in 2011, Jenny Vrentas of SI.com, then of the Newark Star-Ledger “asked Mehta not to encroach” as she conducted a one-on-one interview with a player in the Jets locker room. Covering the Jets in a very crowded media market is difficult and one-on-one interviews are prized. It often happens with the Patriots as well in Gillette. But if a beat reporter has a one-on-one on the field after practice, then other reporters just stand by and don’t attempt to take over, but in this case, Mehta was reportedly incensed. Later that day, Mehta reportedly yelled “F–k you!” multiple times at Vrentas in front of several other media members..

“While this incident happened nearly 10 years ago, it’s still a clear, and unpleasant, memory,” Vrentas told Strauss via email. Mehta has denied ever cursing at Vrentas.

But the kicker for the Jets was when Mehta allegedly “approached the 11-year-old son of Jets General Manager Joe Douglas at a baseball game and, later, threatened Douglas with bad coverage if he didn’t grant an interview.”

Mehta allegedly defended himself in a statement to the Post, insisting that he has “behaved professionally and ethically throughout my career.” 

“I’ve respected my peers and colleagues, though I’ve had disagreements with some of them in the past, as is common in a competitive environment,” Mehta told the Post. “I’m looking forward to the opportunities ahead.”

Like everything else with the Jets, this story just kept getting more bizarre. And now he’s gone. The Jets certainly won’t miss him but this saga went way beyond negative reporting. 

_______________

“”Ray gave me an opportunity in 1979 to go with the Giants and that was a life-changing moment for me. I’ve always been deeply appreciative of that opportunity and have a ton of respect for Ray. We developed a very close relationship and I appreciate all that he did for the Giants program, which was terrible when he took over in ’79, to make it a highly competitive team in ’81 and ’82 was a strike year. As a former player and coach, Ray had a good perspective on the game. He played for two of the greatest coaches of all time in Bear Bryant and Don Shula. His level of competitiveness and toughness was about as good as anybody I’ve ever been around. With the Patriots, the terminology that Ray and Ron Erhardt used under Coach [Chuck] Fairbanks here in the late 70s, early 80s that then came to New England with Ray and with Bill Parcells after the ’80 season. Certainly the terminology and a lot of the fundamentals and foundation of our offensive system are still in that offense from Ray and Ron back in the late 70s under Coach Fairbanks. So, he had a big impact on my life and my career and I have a ton of respect for Ray and his family. My personal sympathies go out to them as part of the Patriots family.””

Bill Belichick after the passing of former player and coach Ray Perkins.

_______________

“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 PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

 


Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Cam Newton Miami Dolphins New England Patriots New York Jets NFL Patriots Tom Brady


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