Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 10-10, and AFC East Notes.
Gameday, as the Patriots head back to Houston for the third year in a row…(the Patriots lost the last two visits. This is a big one for both 1-3 teams starting rookie QBs, although, in the Patriots’ case, they may be starting four backup offensive linemen out of five.
Not an ideal situation for a team that has already struggled to run the ball and protect its QB. It should prove to be an interesting afternoon.
Have you checked out our PatsFans.com sortable stats for the Patriots? It is a great resource for all of the players on the roster.
Quick Hitters For the Pats, and the NFL:
Jamie Collins: The third time is a charm? Initially, a 2013 second-round draft pick for the Patriots, Collins is beginning his third tour of duty with the team after he was released by the Detroit Lions.
Collins is happy to be back in New England, where he’s had most of his success in the NFL. “Glad to be back, it’s an honor,” said Collins on Friday, his first time speaking with the media. “I’m always blessed and grateful for opportunities like this because this place, they took a chance on me coming out. This is where I started, this place gave me a chance to live out a dream and be something that I’ve always wanted to be. I’m always super grateful.”
Offensive Line Super Shuffle: The offensive line will be without Trent Brown and Shaq Mason who have already been ruled out this week with injuries. And with Isaiah Wynn and Michael Onwenu on the reserve COVID-19 list, it becomes a “Who’s on first” type of situation.
But while this situation of possibly having 4 of 5 starting OL on the shelf this week, their level of play has been a huge letdown this season thus far. The running game is suffering, with no holes for the backs to exploit, and the pass protection for Mac Jones has been terrible, as the rookie has been sacked 10 times and hit 34.
The Return of Rhamondre? Patriots’ rookie RB Rhamondre Stevenson has been inactive the past few games after a rough first game against the Dolphins where he fumbled the ball and whiffed in pass protection.
Facing a Texans team that has struggled to stop the run, this could be a good week for the rookie to get back on the field and help the running back corps to get back on track. The big back from Oklahoma could help bludgeon a few holes himself.
Tom Brady/Bill Belichick: After a painful two weeks of inane storylines, many were chomping at the bit after the longtime duo shared an all-too-brief hug at midfield after the game. “See I toldja dey hated each other!” But away from the prying eyes of the media (and out of the rain), Belichick went into the Bucs locker room and spent 20 minutes speaking with Brady one on one.
Brady was asked about the conversation but declined to answer in a manner that is befitting his classy way of doing things. “Yeah, I mean, all those discussions are personal,” Brady said. “We’ve got a personal relationship, you know, for 20-plus years. He drafted me here. We’ve had a lot of personal conversations that should remain that way and are very private.”
Belichick will likely never tell anyone how he felt on Sunday night, but somewhere, someday, he’ll be able to relate just about every down, distance, and situation, because as someone who is a master at the history of the game, this was one of those moments.
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 Miguel (@patscap) spoke about the Bucs game and other breaking news.
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.
Tailgate Food: What’s everyone eating for their pre or post-game tailgate/home feast today? Tailgate lasagna is on the menu for today with meatballs and sausage (sweet and hot). Some garlic bread and a tossed garden salad should keep the family satisfied.
Observations on the Stephon Gilmore Trade Situation:
Stephon Gilmore was traded to the Carolina Panthers earlier this week for a 6th round draft pick. And the anti-Belichick GMs on social media had a collective apoplexy. But in reality, the situation was much more complicated than just getting back what Twitter believes the Patriots received.
Although Gilmore was the DPOY in 2019, his play in 2020 slipped, not badly, he was still very good, but it was an obvious step backward for him, and then he tore his quad in Week 15, where he was lost for the rest of the season and required surgery.
The fact that he had one season remaining on his contract, had a down year… for him, and suffered the injury put a triple whammy on contract negotiations. Gilmore signed a front-loaded $64 million deal in 2017 and then advanced him $5 million last year on his 2021 deal that left him with a salary of just $7 million.
Gilmore wanted to be paid what he felt he was worth, and the $7 million is below market value for a player of his pedigree. Gilmore wanted a new deal and the Patriots reportedly were only interested in sweetening the current deal. The Patriots wanted to see Gilmore on the field before they were going to pony up any cash. Gilmore wanted the cash upfront.
While many were saying that he was healthy and the Patriots were just keeping him on PUP through training camp, one thing to keep in mind is that Gilmore was an early report at camp, and the trainers and coaches saw him every day. And the fact that the Patriots kept him on PUP and he was never activated to the 53-man roster, Gilmore’s salary was not fully guaranteed.
Thus, when he was either released or traded, it saved the Patriots about $5.8 million against the salary cap. That is significant right now because earlier this week the team had just $54,000 in cap space.
The team didn’t have the cash to bring back Jamie Collins, who they now have and the Gilmore deal obviously made that possible. And while many fans and media were expecting the DPOY after his surgery, that wasn’t who was on the field last year before the quad injury. And that is what kept the trade market for him so low.
NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said he was surprised more teams didn’t approach the Patriots about a trade for Gilmore. “I talked to some of the teams who were evaluating (Wednesday) and they did not love the tape last year,” Rapoport said.
And couple that with the injury he suffered, teams were worried that he may have lost a step more, because he seemed to have lost a half-step last season. The depth of the secondary has taken a hit, and the team is less than they would have been if and when he returned to the field, but they haven’t had him on the field since last year, and we don’t really know how good he’s going to be at this juncture of his career, especially considering his quad.
But in a situation like this, go with the coaches and trainers that see him every day. Both sides hugely benefitted from Gilmore’s contract and the situation just played out this year that the two sides couldn’t come to an agreement.
This leaves the Patriots with J.C. Jackson, who is also a free agent next season, Jalen Mills, Jonathan Jones as their top three corners with Joejuan Williams, and rookie Shaun Wade who has yet to be active this season. Myles Bryant who plays both safety and corner could see some play as well.
The Patriots weren’t going to keep Gilmore, so they created some cap space, and were able to sign Jamie Collins who is coming back to the Patriots for his third stint with the team. He’ll fill a valuable role inside and provide depth there.
So, before the mob runs out to “grab your torch and pitchforks”, it would probably be smart and see what Gilmore looks like on the field.
Patriots Players to Watch Today:
Every week we look at the game within a game. Here are our players to watch from a Patriots perspective today.
The Offensive Line — For the second week in a row, we look at the unit as a whole…as in who plays this week? The team could be (as of this writing on Friday night at 11:30 p.m.) without 4 out of 5 starters. For a unit struggling to protect its QB and to open holes for the running backs, this is a big contest.
Damien Harris — After two disappointing weeks in a row, due to poor blocking, Harris will be looking to get back on track and giving the Patriots some balance on offense against a defense that is allowing 137 yards per game.
Mac Jones — The Patriots’ rookie QB looked like an established veteran on Sunday comporting himself very well and put his team in a position to win with a minute to go. Houston plays a two-deep safety defense but they are a tougher group than they appear on paper. This should be a great game to watch how he plays after the emotional letdown of the late loss last week.
Matthew Judon — Judon leads the Patriots in sacks with 4.5 and QB hits with 8. He’s been the Patriots’ most impactful player on defense…by far. And this week, his job will be to make rookie QB Davis Mills commit some mistakes and hopefully turn the ball over.
Jakobi Meyers — The Patriots’ most dependable wide receiver continues to do the dirty work, moving the chains as well as completing two passes last week, including a beauty down the right sideline. Amazingly enough, Meyers still hasn’t caught a touchdown pass in his career yet…today would be a good time to get that taken care of.
Week 5 Predictions:
The slate of games for Week 5 and my predictions for this week.
Thursday Night Football —
LA Rams over Seattle 1-0
Atlanta over the NYJets (London 9:30 start)
Green Bay over Cincinnati
Minnesota over Detroit
Pittsburgh over Denver
Tampa Bay over Miami
New Orleans over Washington
New England over Houston
Carolina over Philadelphia
Tennessee over Jacksonville
Las Vegas over Chicago
LA Chargers over Cleveland
Dallas over NY Giants
Sunday Night Football
Kansas City over Buffalo
Monday Night Football
Baltimore over Indianapolis
Last Week: 10-6
Last Season: 169-86-1
2019 Season: 162-93-1
Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:
Bills Defense Gets Big Test vs KC/Mahomes:
The Buffalo Bills have the #1 defense in the NFL and allowing an average of just a paltry 216.8 yards per game, and just 11 points while leading the league with 11 turnovers. However, as good as that defense is, naysayers will point to the fact that in the past three games, they’ve faced backup QBs. But in the loss to the Steelers Week 1, the Steelers only scored one offensive TD, the other coming on a blocked punt.
The Bills defense shut out Miami and Houston but the Kansas City offense is a different animal entirely and in two previous meetings, including last year’s AFC Championship Game, Patrick Mahomes had his way with the Bills defense. Buffalo has added some much-needed depth and size to their defense, using their first two draft picks on edge rushers, Greg Rousseau and Boogie Basham. Plus with the return of Star Lotulelei (COVID opt-out last year), the defense has gotten a big boost.
But their defense may be missing LB Matt Milano, Edge rusher A.J. Espenesa, and CB Tre’Davious White with injuries this week. This should be a great game for later tonight.
Lombardi Roasts Miami GM Grier:
The Miami Dolphins are in the midst of a 1-3 start and are a forced fumble away from being 0-4 and things aren’t looking good with the Tampa Bay Bucs on the schedule this week in Tampa. And when teams struggle, and it seems like the Dolphins are constantly in the rebuild mode, that’s when coaches and GMs begin to lose their job.
Former Cleveland GM and Patriots front office executive Mike Lombardi wasn’t mincing words on Miami’s GM Chris Grier. In an interview with WQAM’s Joe Rose this week, Lombardi marveled at how Grier still has a job.
“I don’t know how he does it,” Lombardi said. “Chris is a really good guy. He has had a lot of picks and hasn’t repaired the offensive line. I don’t know how you survive that. Unless someone else is making the picks unless Stephen Ross really fell in love in Tua.”
Lombardi then went on a rant about the Dolphins selection of Tua Tagovailoa and said Miami was mesmerized by the Leigh Steinberg PR machine (Tua’s agent), when they should have draft Justin Herbert.
“Leigh Steinberg is the greatest marketer of all time. He can spin a story and people buy it. You have people still buying it at the worldwide leader [ESPN]. I was reading something the other day that Tua is still going to be great. It’s unbelievable. You took a player who has been injury-prone his whole career.
“Tua can throw crossers, flats, and curls. But if he has to do anything more than that, he can’t. Is Tua going to be a top 15 quarterback in the league? If the answer is no, you need a quarterback. Herbert is in the top five.”
Jets Looking For Some English Execution:
The Jets are heading to London (“You hear that Doug, I’m coming to London” from the film “Snatch”), and most of their players don’t have a lot of experience in the travel and cultural differences in traveling to the U.K.
It isn’t an easy trip for the players and coaches. Some handle it better than others, LB C.J. Moseley recalled his 2017 trip to London as “a blur”, but others have differing experiences.
While the games were held at Wembley Stadium in the past, the NFL signed an agreement with Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, a recently built state-of-the-art stadium that is considered one of the finest in the world.
Of course, the Jets may be like Avi from the film listed above…when arriving in Customs in NYC, and asked if they have anything to declare…”Yeah, don’t go to England.”
“Well, there’s always a big benefit to experience in general, but more importantly, experience in a system and experience working with those players that you mentioned. Whether it’s the receivers and tight ends, or whether it’s the quarterback and the timing of routes and so forth, but there’s different distributions and meshes and releases, things like that, that the receivers themselves are involved in, and there’s the timing of the quarterbacks, and then there’s the overall offensive system. I think that’s continued to get better every week. We had a couple of weeks in the preseason where we didn’t have everybody available, and we were working Cam [Newton] and Mac [Jones] both at quarterback, but as things have stabilized here in the last few weeks, I think that’s definitely trending in the right direction, and the production has generally followed that, and we still have a long way to go, but I think that’s moving in the right direction, but again, offensively, it takes all 11 guys. It’s not just about a quarterback and a receiver, so just overall, offensively, our production and execution can move to a higher level as well, so that includes everybody.”
Bill Belichick’s comments when asked about how the new players were acclimating to the Patriots system.
“So, how was your week?”
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Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Devin McCourty Jamie Collins Mac Jones Matthew Judon Miami Dolphins New England Patriots New York Jets NFL Patriots Patriots edge rushers Stephon Gilmore