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Patriots News September 5, David Patten’s Passing, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
2 weeks ago at 5:00 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary

Patriots News September 5, David Patten’s Passing, AFC East Notes

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 9-5, and AFC East Notes.

With the storm that ravaged Louisiana and parts of the Northeast, we hope that everyone is safe this weekend, and our thoughts go out to those impacted by the storm.

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. 

David Patten’s Passing, A Sad Day For the Patriots:

First of all, our thoughts go out to the family of David Patten, who died far too young at 47 in a motorcycle accident in South Carolina. He was very popular with his teammates on the Patriots and was widely considered an excellent football and an even better man by those who knew him best. 

Patten was a great example of how the NFL Draft isn’t an exact science, it can measure a player’s height, weight and how fast he can run certain drills or how high he can jump, but in Patten’s case, much like his QB with the Patriots, it doesn’t measure the size of a player’s heart, determination, and a heavy dose of optimism that can fuel his fire. 

In 1996 after he had graduated from Western Carolina, Patten went undrafted by the NFL and had taken a temp job unloading 75lb sacks of coffee beans. But undaunted by his circumstances, he kept telling his co-workers that he was going to play in the NFL. And while they didn’t say anything openly, they probably thought to themselves…”Yeah, right kid, keep moving.” 

But five years later, Patten, that unheralded and unwanted free agent, had five years of NFL experience and was with the Patriots, joining them for that magical 2001 season. 

It was in late October of that year that an inkling of what to was unfold first began to appear. The Patriots began the season 1-3, Drew Bledsoe was seriously injured in a vicious, but clean hit by Mo Lewis and the 4th string QB from the year before was just finding his footing in the NFL. 

The Patriots traveled to Indianapolis to take on Peyton Manning and the Colts. And Patten had a day for the record books, doing something that hadn’t been done since 1979 by Walter Payton. He ran for a touchdown, caught a touchdown pass (actually two), and passed for a touchdown. 

The Colts took the opening drive and drove to the Patriots 28-yard line, a blocked field goal was returned 35 yards to the Colts 29. On the Patriots’ first play from scrimmage, Patten carried the ball 29 yards for a touchdown. 

In the second quarter, the Patriots would once again have a one-play scoring drive. Taking over at their 9-yard line, Tom Brady hit Patten who went 91 yards for another touchdown. But Patten wasn’t done with the single-play drive heroics on that day. After the Colts went three and out on the ensuing drive, they punted and the Patriots took over at their own 40-yard line with 7:21 left in the half. On the first play from scrimmage, Patten hit Troy Brown with a 60-yard touchdown pass blowing the game open at 21-3. 

Three touches, 180 yards, and three touchdowns. How is that for a first-half? Early in the 4th quarter, Patten added a second touchdown receiving, a six-yarder from Brady putting the finishing touches on a 38-17 win. 

Patten finished that 2001 season with 51 catches for 749 yards and four touchdowns but he indelibly left his mark during the Patriots’ three-game playoff run to the Super Bowl. In the driving snow against the Raiders Patten caught 8 passes for 107 yards including a key fourth-down conversion in overtime where Patten slipped on the snow, but caught a six-yard pass at the Raiders 22, converting a 4th and 4, helping to set up Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning FG. 

The next week in Pittsburgh, Brady had gone down with an ankle injury late in the first half with the Patriots driving and having the ball on the Pittsburgh 40-yard line. Bledsoe came in and Patten accounted for 36 of the 40 yards catching passes of 15, 10, and then 11 yards for a touchdown giving the Patriots a 14-3 lead at the half. 

David Patten makes a leaping catch in the end zone during Super Bowl XXXVI against the Rams. Twitter

Then in the Super Bowl Patten caught a leaping 8-yard touchdown pass from Brady against the Rams, once again giving the Patriots a 14-3 lead at the half.  Patten was a part of all three of the Patriots’ early Super Bowl victories. In 2004, Patten caught 44 passes for 800 yards and seven touchdowns averaging 18.2 yards per reception. 

He retired in 2010 and went back to Western Carolina to finish his degree in social work and began his own ministry. And he was coaching the Catamounts for the past nine years. 

“You reflect now and say, ‘Hey, your career wasn’t that bad for a kid, undersized out of Columbia, South Carolina, and a small I-AA school,” Patten said at the time of his retirement. “Undrafted. Working in a coffee bean factory. Electrician work. Landscaper.’ Who would have thought 12 years in the National Football League? Three championships. So many memories. Now I can sit back and reflect on it and pass this on to my kids.”

Heartfelt condolences flowed from former teammates as well as from the Giants, where Patten started his NFL career as well as the Patriots. 

Patriots Owner Robert Kraft –
“I am heartbroken by the news of David’s passing. He was a devout Christian who followed his passion following his football career and founded his own ministry. David transitioned from an undersized and understated wide receiver to a powerful and passionate preacher. In New England, he will always be remembered as a three-time Super Bowl Champion. His touchdown reception in the AFC Championship game at Pittsburgh propelled the Patriots to Super Bowl XXXVI and I’ll never forget his remarkable catch in the back of the end zone in that game. It was our only offensive touchdown in the Super Bowl and secured our first championship in franchise history. Our sincerest sympathies are with his wife, Galiena, his family and all who are mourning David’s tragic and untimely death.”

Head Coach Bill Belichick –
“It breaks my heart to hear of David’s tragic passing at such a young age. I am grateful to have coached David.  He is an essential person and player in Patriots history, without whom we would not have been Super Bowl champions.  I especially appreciate David for his professional journey.  As much as anyone, David epitomized the unheralded, self-made player who defied enormous odds to not only earn a job in the NFL but to become a key player on multiple championship teams. I can speak for anyone who had the pleasure to be around David that his work ethic, positive energy and character were elite. My deepest condolences are with his family and loved ones.”

His 12-year NFL career was not bad for a young man who was unloading coffee beans while waiting for a chance to show he could play in the league.  

Quick Hitters For the Pats, and the NFL: 

Tom Brady: The Bucs QB was filmed this week stating the the protections for offensive players that the league has put in place, are bad for the game and caused by mistakes from offensive players. 

“A quarterback should only throw the ball to certain places, because your receiver is in danger of getting hit,” Brady said. “For example, when I used to play against Ray Lewis, I wouldn’t throw the ball to the middle of the field because he would . . . hit them and knock them out of the game. And now, every hard hit is a penalty on the defense. So I feel like they penalize defensive players for offensive mistakes.”

“The quarterback messes up, doesn’t see the blitzer, or the line screws up,” Brady said. “I don’t know what happened, the quarterback or the lineman on offense. The defensive player comes in and hits him hard and they throw a flag on the defense.”

“It shouldn’t be the responsibility of your opponent to protect you,” Brady said.

“It creates really bad habits for platers, because you feel like I can basically do anything,” Brady said. “I can run and not slide. I can throw my receiver into any coverage and not have any repercussion for it. The only thing they’re gonna do, they’re actually gonna blame the defensive player for making a good, solid hit.”

Brady called it a “disservice to the sport,” which could and should raise some eyebrows around the league. “It actually deteriorates because you’re not teaching the players the reasons and the fundamentals of what the sport should be,” Brady said.

The reaction from certain fans in Western PA and Western NY should be interesting. 

Ben Mason: The Patriots were rumored to be in on drafting the FB/TE from Michigan during this year’s NFL Draft. The Ravens took the Connecticut native in the 5th round but released him during roster cutdowns. Despite limited touches in college, he scored 10 touchdowns. 

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport (Rap Sheet) wrote the following: “The #Patriots are signing fullback Ben Mason, a source said, as the former #Ravens fifth-rounder lands on the NE practice squad with a quick elevation likely.”(emphasis mine)

Could this mean as the fourth tight end or is this an ominous sign for FB Jakob Johnson? We shall see how it all plays out. 

Jahlani Tavai: The Patriots signed the linebacker to their practice squad after he was cut loose by the Lions. He too was the subject of draft rumors to New England in 2019. 

Matt Patricia and the Detroit Lions perhaps reached a bit for Tavai at #43 overall but he struggled badly in 2020. The 6’2, 250-pound off-the-ball linebacker will have a chance to start with a clean slate here in New England…and reunite with Patricia. 

Malcolm Perry: The Patriots claimed the former Navy QB after he was released by Miami adding him to the roster. Miami had hoped he could become a receiver/running back for them but it didn’t work out. It will be interesting to see if the Patriots try to turn him into “a slash” type of player.  If he was only from Army…

I tweeted this to Bob Socci, who sent me this hilarious reply. 

4th & 2 Podcast: If you haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, please check it out. Derek, Russ and Brady Goldman (filling in for me) gave their thoughts on the final preseason game. 

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.

How Will the Mac Jones Offense Look in 2021:

The question on many people’s minds is, now that the team has cut Cam Newton and settled on Mac Jones as their new starting QB is, “How will the Patriots offense look with Jones this year?”

The short answer is… very much like it looked for 20 years until last season. Now is the time we can pump the brakes…right? No one is comparing Mac Jones to Tom Brady, not only is it unfair to Jones, but it is pretty silly since Jones has never taken a snap in a regular NFL game and one can’t equate that kind of longevity to a young player (those hysterical Mahomes honks raving about his incompletions take note). 

Mac Jones is now the face of the Patriots franchise. Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

However, the Patriots offense was a timing based one where the QB had to make quick reads of the defense (pre and post snap), get rid of the ball quickly, and deliver it accurately. Again, we’re not comparing Jones to Brady and the truth is, there isn’t any. Brady is the best there ever has been at those qualities, and while that is the strength of Jones’ game, he’s not close to Brady’s level…yet. 

The team changed the offense to fit Newton’s skill set, and it wasn’t fair to saddle him with the worst skill position group in the league a year ago. The Patriots were the one of worst chunk yardage teams in the league. And not all of that was on the QB…but we digress. 

Jones will certainly improve as he gets more experience and his poise and pocket presence, along with his command of the offense is far and away as a rookie much better than any quarterback …in the past 20 years, (sorry, couldn’t resist). 

Rookie QBs tend to get abused by defensive coordinators, however, Jones has a system that is built to help in that regard. New England has an outstanding offensive line, one of the best in the league. And while they don’t a Top 10 running back, they have five very good ones who all play a role. 

With most teams playing subpackage lighter defenses set up to stop the pass, the running game should provide Jones with plenty of favorable situations. And if teams begin to stack the box to stop the run?

That will set up play-action passing, especially to the tight ends in mismatches against the linebackers. But the Patriots also added a speedy wide receiver, Nelson Agholor this spring who should threaten the deep part of the field. Now we’re not comparing the Patriots to the track team of the Chiefs but after a group of receivers who were devoid of speed a year ago, it is a step in the right direction. 

Many NFL analysts believe that Jones is a great place to succeed right away. NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger has done videos of Jones on Twitter and his accuracy. Rodney Harrison, who knows something about success in Foxboro, called Jones “the perfect quarterback for this system.”

While Jones will undoubtably struggle at times this year, it will be exciting to watch Jones in 2020. He’s the future…and the future is now. 

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Say No New Lease Without a New Stadium:

On Thursday, Ron Raccuia, an executive from Pegula Sports and Entertainment confirmed during a radio interview that the Bills won’t sign a new lease at their current stadium in Buffalo without an agreement in place to build a new stadium there.

“No, we absolutely will not,” Ron Raccuia said to WBEN radio.

The Bills currently have two years remaining on their current lease, which isn’t very long at all with no current discussions on building a new stadium. Which led the media to ask Raccuia about the dreaded “R” word…relocation. 

“We’re not even focused on that, yet,” he said.

With a rabid fan base that has stayed loyal for decades waiting for a winner, the team is becoming one of the top teams in the AFC, they need to jumpstart negotiations right away. And they need to do it before another city starts schmoozing the Pegulas about moving the team out of New York. 

Miami Adds Former Patriot Jabaal Sheard to the Practice Squad: 

The Miami Dolphins have named 16 players to the practice squad; they were: Jordan Scarlett, running back, Kirk Merritt, wide receiver, Brandon Powell, wide receiver, Durval Queiroz Neto, guard, Adam Pankey, tackle, Kion Smith, offensive line, Cameron Tom, center, Jason Strowbridge, defensive end, Shaquem Griffin, linebacker, Calvin Munson, linebacker, Javaris Davis, cornerback, Tino Ellis, cornerback, and Jabaal Sheard, defensive end.

Patriots fans will recall Sheard who spent two years with New England. In 2015, Sheard had 2 passes defensed, 4 forced fumbles, 8.0 sacks, and 12 QB hits.

That familiarity that Head Coach Brian Flores had with Sheard in New England obviously may have played a factor in him finding a spot with the Dolphins. 

Jets’ Jamison Crowder Tests Positive for COVID-19:

The New York Jets’ slot receiver Jamison Crowder has tested positive for COVID-19 and depending upon his circumstances, his availability for Week 1 may be in doubt. 

Crowder was considered on the bubble earlier this summer, but he agreed to a pay cut and now he’s expected to be the team’s slot wide receiver. But what is not yet known is Crowder’s coronavirus vaccination status. If he opted to forego the vaccine, he’ll have to quarantine for 10 days, thereby missing the team’s opener. However, if Crowder has been fully vaccinated, he can return after two negative tests 24 hours apart.

Crowder had a quiet preseason, catching just one pass for 4 yards while playing in just 16 snaps. 

_______________

“No. You guys keep talking about that, and I would just point out that I don’t know what the number is. I mean, you guys can look it up. You have the access to a lot of information, but the number of players and coaches and staff members that have been infected by COVID in this training camp [around the NFL] who have been vaccinated is a pretty high number, so I wouldn’t lose sight of that.

“No. We have other players on the team who aren’t vaccinated, as I would say, probably does every other team in the league. We’ve had minimal throughout the league. There’ve been a number of, quite a high number I would say, of players who have had the virus who have been vaccinated, so your implication that vaccination solves every problem, I would say that has not been substantiated based on what’s happened in training camp [throughout the NFL] this year. That’s all.”

Bill Belichick’s comments when asked about if the Patriots decision to cut Cam Newton had anything to do with his vaccination status and was asked a follow-up question on other players’ statuses in regards to COVID-19 vaccinations.

_______________

“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 and Streamyard as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens, and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

 


Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 53 Man Roster Projection Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Cam Newton Mac Jones Miami Dolphins New England Patriots New York Jets NFL Patriots Patriots QBs


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