Here’s today’s edition:
1) So far, it sounds like Cam Newton is off to a good start compared to where he obviously was at this time last year.
Josh McDaniels spoke to the media this week and he praised Newton for his offseason work and said the veteran QB is now focusing on “refining and precision” when it comes to the details, with Newton building on what he’s already learned about the offense.
It’s already been a busy offseason personnel-wise. The Patriots bolstered their offense in free agency, signing targets like Nelson Agholor, Kendrick Bourne, Jonnu Smith, and Hunter Henry. As a result, Newton heads into this season with a deeper group of players to throw to and that should help see him improve on last year’s numbers.
Newton quietly spent this offseason working on his mechanics, which Josh McDaniels said is part of what quarterbacks need to do to stay at the top of their game.
“Every quarterback has to continue to work on those things,” said McDaniels via MassLive. “Some may have more refined fundamentals in one area or another. Whether that’s throwing mechanics, footwork, shoulders, stride, follow-through, movement in the pocket.
“It’s like a golfer’s swing, you know what I mean? If there’s one thing off with the swing, you could shoot a high number. In terms of refining and working at quarterback fundamentals, it’s the non-stop, never-ending process and he’s worked really hard at it. We’re going to continue to work really hard at it with the days we have left in the spring to refine his, and everybody else’s at that position as well, because like I said, I don’t think it’s ever a finished product.”
Early reports have been mixed on Newton, with some reporters pointing out that while some areas appear improved, there were still signs of what we saw last year so the big question will be if he’ll be able to be consistent.
Either way, it should be interesting to watch when camp begins. There appears to be some competition this time around as so far, the reports appear positive enough on Mac Jones where the rookie is progressing fast enough where Newton might find himself pushed a little more than he was last year, which definitely isn’t a bad thing.
2) Meanwhile, McDaniels pointed out that the fact Jones played in a big-time program and was able to be so effective against tough competition is something that impressed him. More importantly, the rookie’s ability to be as productive as he was while being smart with the football and not turning it over (he threw 41 touchdowns and just 4 interceptions last season) is what also stood out.
“To play the position of quarterback there’s not just one thing you need to do well,” said McDaniels. “He certainly stood out in certain obvious ways relative to throwing the football and command and protecting the ball and not hurting his football team. A lot to look at and digest when you studied him.”
Seeing him up close, McDaniels has been pleased with what he’s seen so far in terms of his accuracy and his mechanics. Obviously, it’s early but Jones appears to be headed in the right direction and some of the things we’ve heard about him doing would lead you to believe that it may not take him a full season to be ready enough to take over under center.
It took the Patriots 20-years, but it appears they’ve really got something in the former Alabama standout. New England is fortunate to have had someone like Tom Brady for as long as it did and while most teams tend to spiral after losing a high-caliber QB like Brady, it looks like the Patriots may have a player who might be able to get them back on track sooner than expected.
3) It hasn’t taken long at all for Bourne to become active in the community, and he’s already doing some things to try and make a difference.
According to the Boston Globe, the newly-signed receiver recently took part in the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Massachusetts’ 46th annual Golf Classic.
Bourne was joined by his older brother, Andrew, and the cause means a lot to the former 49ers receiver because he’s been in tough situations when he was younger and he’s trying to help keep some of the kids from being in the same position.
“I just feel like I connect well with kids because of the situations I’ve been through in my youth,” said Bourne. “I want people to know that I want to give back.”
So far, Bourne has looked terrific on the field and it appears he’s just as good of a player off of it, making him a nice addition to a team that should be better in 2021 thanks to his addition.
4) I came across an interesting article on the Athletic by Mike Sando, which highlighted the difference having fans in the stadiums this year should make for road teams compared to last year.
Sando took a look to see how teams fared on the road last year in third-down situations, which obviously happened in empty stadiums without any hindrance to their communication.
The difference was noticeable. Sando singled out plays on the road where teams were facing 3rd and 7-10 yards needed for a first down and road teams definitely benefitted.
The 2020 regular season ranks first over the past decade in expected points added (EPA) per play, yards per pass attempt and passer rating on these third-down plays with 7-10 yards to go on the road, according to TruMedia. Last season also ranks first in these categories since at least 2000, the earliest season for which data is available. Situations when teams needed more than 10 yards were excluded partly because those situations became much less frequent. Relaxed enforcement of offensive holding contributed to teams needing more than 10 yards for a first down 731 fewer times in 2020, including 237 fewer times on third down.
The corresponding numbers for home teams were not as strong across the board last season compared to earlier seasons, which could support the idea that quiet stadiums benefited road teams disproportionately. While the 2020 home figure for EPA per play in these situations ranked first over the past decade by a narrow margin, the figures for yards per attempt and passer rating each ranked ninth out of the past 10 seasons. Teams converted first downs in those situations 33.9 percent of the time on the road last season, which ranked second over the past decade among road percentages. That compared to 32.6 percent at home, which ranked eighth among the past 10 home percentages.
It’s interesting as you would have expected some improvement since road teams definitely faced less pressure with no one in the seats. However, it’s also hard not to wonder if the reverse might have happened here in New England, potentially making Newton to have fared worse at home during those moments where he struggled. It’s doubtful fans at Gillette Stadium would have gone easy on him and it’s going to be interesting to see how he handles it if adversity strikes again in 2021.
5) ProFootballTalk.com is reporting that the NFL apparently sent a memo out to players urging them to refrain from using Toradol unless it’s medically necessary.
The league cites the risk of the drug “causing major bleeding” and they’re recommending players limit the use.
This has been a topic of conversation quite a bit in recent years as the medication obviously can take a toll on organs such as the kidneys, especially with prolonged use.
The medication is an anti-inflammatory drug similar to asprin, ibuprofen, and naproxen but it’s much more powerful and requires a prescription. However, overuse is known to lead to issues and former NFL player Albert Haynesworth is the most recent case after he was forced to undergo a kidney transplant and he blames that medication as the root of the problem.
“A lot of it, honestly, is from the crap we used to take,” Haynesworth said at the time. “At 33, two years out of the league, my kidney function was below 50 percent. So it has to be the junk that we were taking, like Toradol. Everybody used to line up to get their Toradol shots and take the pills afterward and all of that s—. I guarantee that had a lot to do with it because that really kills the kidneys.”
This isn’t the first time an NFL player has needed a kidney transplant as a result of the medication, with an article from 2016 pointing out a situation in 2012 where former Steelers offensive guard Chris Kemoeatu needed an immediate transplant and got one from his brother, Ma’ake. The surgery ended both of their careers after that procedure, but it saved Chris’ life. Chris has since sued the team as a result.
The article cites quite a few other instances as well, making you wonder why it took the league nine years since then to finally start seriously addressing it. Hopefully, now that they have, it will at least save the lives of players moving forward.
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Albert Haynesworth Cam Newton Chris Kemoeatu Gillette Stadium Hunter Henry Jonnu Smith Josh McDaniels Kendrick Bourne Ma'ake Kemoeatu Mac Jones Nelson Agholor New England Patriots San Francisco 49ers Tom Brady