Good morning, I’ll be filling in today for Steve with today’s Sunday Patriots News for 10/24, along with some notes around the AFC East.
As the Patriots head into this match-up against the New York Jets, it’s clearly one of the most critical games of the year for a New England team who is currently sitting at 2-4 heading into this afternoon. Falling to 2-5 on the season with 10 games left to play – and losing a division game – would certainly create a hole that would be tough to dig out of. It would also drop them to 0-5 at Gillette Stadium this season, which is just unheard of for a team who coming into this season hadn’t lost all four games at home since Drew Bledsoe’s rookie year back in 1993.
Needless to say, if ever there was a “get right” game, this needs to be it.
The Patriots nearly pulled off the upset last week against the Cowboys and should be ready to take that out against a Jets team that has had two weeks to get ready for them. However, they’re going to be down one of their key players in the secondary in Jonathan Jones, who was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. He was injured during last week’s loss to Dallas, with Justin Bethel stepping in for him in his absence. Shaun Wade (Concusssion) was also listed as “Out” for this weekend.
Other notable names who are banged up on defense and listed as “Questionable” heading into Sunday include Dont’a Hightower (Elbow/Ankle), Christian Barmore (Shoulder), Kyle Dugger (Knee), Deatrich Wise Jr (Knee), Kyle Van Noy (Groin), Adrian Phillips (Back) and Jalen Mills (Hamstring).
As a result, this would certainly be a good time for the offense to come up with a big performance to carry the defense. After putting up 29-points last weekend, their highest point total of the season, one can only hope that Mac Jones and the offense pick today to break that 30-point plateau.
We’ll see if they’re up for the challenge when the two teams kick off at Gillette Stadium at 1:00 pm ET.
Quick Hitters For the Pats, and the NFL:
Who’s the better rookie QB?: Former St. Louis Rams and Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner spoke to NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry this week and gave his thoughts on both Jets quarterback Zach Wilson, as well as Patriots QB Mac Jones.
Warner pointed out some contrasts between the two players, noting that while Wilson tends to have his “Wow” moments, Jones appears to be the guy who simply knows how to win.
“When you ask that question it’s hard because I haven’t seen Zach make enough of the right decisions to know,” said Warner. “If you can’t make the right decisions, you’ll never win in this league. That’s first and foremost. If you’re not that guy, and you’re just trying to live on making a special play, you’ll never be successful in this league. I don’t want that guy.
“But we’ve seen Zach make the ‘Wow!’ plays. We’ve seen him make the special big-time throws to say, ‘OK. I know he’s got that piece.’ But I don’t know if he’s got the other one.
“Mac is exactly the opposite. Mac has the make-the-right-play piece that I know will give me a chance to win a lot of games for a long time. But I don’t know if he’s got the other piece. So if you ask me who I would take, if I’m just going off of that, I’m taking Mac.
“I know if I have Mac, even if he can’t carry me to a championship, if I can put a good team around him, we can win a championship with that kind of guy. I’ll go with Mac, even though I think he’s gotta have that other piece if he’s going to become a great quarterback in this league.”
Watson Rumored to be Headed to Miami: It appears the AFC East could be on the verge of getting a little more challenging, at least if the Deshaun Watson rumors, which could see him end up in Miami, have any truth behind them.
The Houston Chronicle reported on Wednesday that a trade between the Dolphins and the Texans for the embattled signal-caller could be finalized soon. Terms of any potential deal haven’t been released, but all indications seem to point to a high price tag for Nick Caserio to hand over one of his most prized assets.
Meanwhile, head coach Brian Flores gave a vote of confidence to his quarterback, Tua Tagovailoa, on Friday. Flores told reporters, “Tua is our quarterback” when asked about Watson, and wouldn’t elaborate any further.
However, he did go on to praise Tua, noting that he has plenty of confidence in him and that he’s already made strides this season.
“His preparation, the way he practices and the way he performs has been good. I thought he played very well last week,” Flores said. “I think his psyche is in a good place. He’s a confident kid, he’s a tough kid and really, he’s played in two games this year, so he should have a lot of confidence in the way he’s played. We have a lot of confidence in him because of the way he’s played.
“He’s developing. I think this kid is smart, I think he’s, I think he’s talented. I think he’s accurate, I think he definitely has the opportunity to be a very good NFL player. … There’s always bumps in the road for anyone in any career, any profession. You have to work through those and you become better for it.”
Whether or not that’s just lip service or that talks have broken down, only Flores knows for sure. But either way, every day Watson remains out of the division should make most Patriots fans happy.
Garoppolo went down with an injury in just his second start with the Patriots.
Martellus Bennett calls out Jimmy Garoppolo: Most fans remember when Jimmy Garoppolo went down in what appeared to be a potentially big day for him against the Dolphins back in 2016, which opened the door for third-string quarterback Jacoby Brissett to get playing time in his absence.
Garoppolo won his first start against the Cardinals but suffered a shoulder injury the next week with just over four minutes left to play in the first half against Miami. The play came as Garoppolo took a shot by Dolphins linebacker Kiko Alonso and landed hard on his throwing shoulder following a 15-yard completion to Malcolm Mitchell.
The third-year quarterback got up favoring his arm and ended up leaving the game and gave way to Brissett, who finished the contest.
Garoppolo missed the next week against Houston, which saw Brissett lead the club to a 27-0 win thanks largely to a rushing attack that put up 185-yards. Brissett completed 11-of-19 for 103-yards but LeGarrette Blount rushed for 105-yards on Houston’s defense as well as two touchdowns, while Brissett rushed for 48 of his own and also scored.
However, Brissett also suffered a thumb injury in that game, with reports indicating the injury was a torn ligament in his throwing hand that was severe enough to potentially require surgery.
With Brissett ailing, rumors swirled that Garoppolo was asked to step back into the line-up despite reportedly dealing with a sprained AC Joint that was also thought to include a torn ligament, and ultimately failed to do so, which reports said angered some people internally.
Well, it appears we know of at least one player who wasn’t happy about it.
Former Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett shed some light on that situation this week. Bennett, who appeared on the “Double Coverage” podcast with brothers Jason and Devin McCourty, had some choice words on Garoppolo, who apparently not only wouldn’t tough it out, but he seemingly also waited until game day to decide to sit out.
“Bro, we lost two games [without Brady], one of them was because Jimmy Garoppolo was being a bitch,” Bennett said. (It was just one – their 16-0 loss to the Bills in the game Bennett is referring to). “He decided not to play right before the game. Jacoby [Brissett] came out and played with a f–ked up thumb and played his heart out, but Jimmy was just being a bitch about it all.
“That’s why he . . . you can’t win with a bitch for a quarterback, first of all. That was the whole thing with him. He didn’t want to come out and do anything because his agent was trying to protect his body or some shit like that. Which, I can’t fault him for that. But like, you should have made that decision on Thursday. Now it’s Sunday.
“So anyways, he’s not going out there, so now Jacoby straps up and we lost to the Buffalo Bills. We shouldn’t have lost. It was just last-minute, trying to make adjustments for what Jacoby could do.”
Bennett has always been outspoken but it was a little surprising to hear him be so candid about Garoppolo. However, injury issues have continued to plague Garoppolo since he was shipped out of New England and he’s currently in a critical season with what could be his final one with the 49ers. Unfortunately, he’s already missed three weeks this season due to a calf injury, and will be returning for the first time in nearly a month Sunday night against the Indianapolis Colts.
Hogan Retires: After former Patriots receiver Chris Hogan opted for a return to the NFL this offseason, it sounds like he’s ready to call it a career.
Following a brief hiatus with the Premier Lacross League, Hogan returned to the NFL this offseason and joined the Saints, catching four passes for 41-yards including a touchdown with New Orleans in 2021.
However, he was placed on the reserve/retired list on Saturday, which means that he’s seemingly decided – likely for good – to hang up his cleats.
The Saints are currently 3-2 and it’s unclear whether there was anything going on behind the scenes that could have led to the decision. Hogan’s been quiet on the social media front, with no mention of the move just yet.
Hogan is obviously best known here in New England for being a part of two Super Bowl Championships in 2016 and 2018 after the Patriots stole him away from Buffalo by signing the then-restricted free agent to an offer sheet in 2016 that was a three-year, $12 contract. It worked out well as Hogan fit right in and was productive during his time in New England. He would later leave after the 2018 season.
Hogan was part of this year’s meeting against New Orleans during the Patriots loss to the Saints back in Week 3, with the receiver playing sixteen snaps – although he was targeted just once.
Seymour was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame on Saturday.
Seymour Finally Honored:
Richard Seymour was one of Bill Belichick’s biggest selections in 2001 after the Patriots 5-11 first season under Belichick netted the club the former Georgia standout with the 6th overall selection.
Seymour was part of New England’s first three championships and had a terrific career, with the defensive lineman playing an intricate role in New England’s defense as he was moved around quite a bit and never backed down from a challenge, becoming one of their most versatile assets.
The veteran felt the love from fans who were on hand to see him get inducted to the Patriots Hall of Fame, and Seymour had just one question for everyone as he spoke to the fans.
“New England, I only have one question. What took so damn long?” asked Seymour, who was all smiles as he looked out into a packed group of fans who were there to in the moment. “To be here is a great honor. My years as a Patriot were some of the most rewarding of my life.”
During his speech, Seymour offered some words of wisdom for younger players, hoping that they try and take the lessons he learned to heart.
“I don’t know if being the Patriots Hall Of Fame brings with it the expectation that I have wisdom for those coming behind me,” said Seymour. “But just in case it does, I want to leave you with this. Take care of the details. Put people first. Be willing to learn, and be more willing to share. Because we are all always better and stronger together. Most of all, trust that the path that opens up are the ones that have most to learn, the most to give, and also the biggest difference to make.”
The veteran was with the club up until the 2009 season, which saw the Patriots make a surprise deal to send him to Oakland via a trade, which at the time ended his tenure with the team.
For anyone who remembers when that happened, it was fairly contentious, as there were questions about whether or not he would reject the trade and that Oakland sent him a 5-day letter to try and force him to show up. Part of that was because Seymour had been silent following the news, but he eventually dispelled all of those rumors after he spoke out and simply admitted he was shocked by what had transpired and that it left him reeling to try and get things in order with his family after their life had suddenly been uprooted.
Seymour had four children when he was traded and was also the guardian of a 15-year-old cousin, who had recently joined him in the Boston area. With the rug having been pulled out from underneath him, he talked about how it was a tough time for him and that it created a lot of personal challenges he had to deal with.
“I had a lot to think about with my wife, my family, my friends that are close to me, just a lot to think about as far as how do we make this work,” Seymour said at the time. “How do we make it happen? I talked with coach [Tom] Cable, and I talked with Mr. Davis as soon as this happened, and I assured them I wanted to be an Oakland Raider. They saw something special inside of me, and I just hope that I can bring what they saw. And that’s my job to go out and do that, and I know that I will.”
Given how all of that went down, seeing him come full circle and be honored for the incredible player he was absolutely wonderful to see. Belichick said that it was an “honor” to coach him and that he was lucky to have him as a player.
“What an honor it was to coach him,” said Belichick. “I just can’t really put into words what it’s like to have a player or person like Richard Seymour on your team. We were just so fortunate to be able to have Richard and have Richard play the way that Richard played. All the things he brought to the team, not just his playing ability, things like preparation.. his values, his honesty, his trust, his unselfishness.”
“My days as a Patriot were some of the most rewarding of my life."
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) October 23, 2021
Sormanti Also Honored:
We’d be remiss if we didn’t also recognize long-time Cheerleading Director, Tracy Sormanti, who passed away last year following a 3-year battle with multiple myeloma.
Sormanti was the cheerleading director for 27 years, and was just 58-years old when she passed away.
She was inducted posthumously into the Patriots Hall of Fame along with Seymour on Saturday, becoming the first woman to earn the honor. She was also just the third inductee to be selected by the Kraft family, joining former broadcaster Gil Santos and team founder Billy Sullivan.
“Tracy certainly added a lot to this organization and to the spirit of the organization and we’re deeply appreciative of that,” said Bill Belichick during the ceremony.
The Providence Journal had a great piece on her a couple of days ago, with Sormanti’s brother, Timothy Madden, revealing just how diligent she was about making sure that even though she was battling an illness, it didn’t stop her from doing what she loved.
“She literally worked to the very, very end, to the point where she just physically couldn’t get into work,” said Madden. “I’ll tell you, she worked even at times when she would have to pull over and sleep on the side of the road because she was so sick … but she just loved that job so much.”
Current cheerleading manager Jenn Sullivan told the newspaper that watching how Sormanti handled herself was inspiring.
“It was incredible to watch,” said Patriots cheerleading manager Jenn Sullivan. “She would have treatments all day long and then she would go to practice all night. You honestly would have never even known that she was sick, because she just was so positive.”
Odds and Ends:
We’ll close this out with some quick facts for anyone who might not have seen them:
1) Mac Jones came into last Sunday’s game against Dallas having completed just 4-of-14 on passes of attempts of 15-yards or more when throwing to his left. He was 2-for-2 last weekend, both of which were touchdowns (Hunter Henry’s 20yd TD and Kendrick Bourne’s 75yd reception).
2) He was actually 4-of-4 on all of his “deep” pass attempts of 15+ yards last Sunday, hitting two more to his right to both Nelson Agholor (27) and Rhamandre Stevenson (23).
3) Jones is a combined 6-of-6 in the first quarter for 91-yards and a touchdown over the past two games. We saw them put up 14-points against Dallas as well as get down to the 7 following a long opening drive by Houston, before scoring a TD two plays into the second quarter.
Starting fast at home against the Jets would be nice to see and for those who like streaks, this one he has going on during the last two games should be a fun one to keep an eye on. For anyone wondering, that streak doesn’t extend back to the Buccaneers game. Jones final first-quarter pass in that contest against Tampa Bay was an interception he threw while targeting Agholor with 3:46 left to play in the opening quarter.
4) I mentioned this on our message board this week but I still can’t believe Jakobi Meyers’ touchdown reception was called back last Sunday. The play was a terrific route, terrific throw, and just terrific execution. It’s just a reminder how one miscue can lead to another, as after that holding penalty by James Ferentz, Jones was hit hard after a player came free from his blindside and fumbled and, obviously, we know what happened from there. Let’s hope the offensive line plays a little better this week.
5) On that note, Ferentz has been elevated again and is expected to see time Sunday.
6) Zach Wilson believes that execution remains the problem he needs to focus on against New England on Sunday. “I don’t think we have to do anything different, we have to get in a rhythm,” Wilson said. “One thing is we just haven’t had many plays and that’s kind of been daunting on us a little bit. We just have to keep focusing on execution just like we do the whole game. I don’t think the focus of the very first drive needs to be different than the rest of the game.”
7) Julian Edelman’s #11 was re-issued this week to kicker Riley Patterson, which left the former receiver without words.
How does Edelman feel about it? We’ll leave you with this:
— Julian Edelman (@Edelman11) October 20, 2021
Posted Under: Patriots News