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Patriots News 01-02, Patriots Look to Get Back on Track, AFC East Notes

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

Patriots News 01-02, Patriots Look to Get Back on Track, AFC East NotesDavid Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning and Happy New Year, here are your Sunday Patriots news 01-02 and AFC East notes.

Sad news this week with the passing of John Madden and former coach Dan Reeves. Madden was an icon in the league who was beloved by those who knew him and even those who hadn’t ever met him. He had the type of personality when on television to make the viewer feel like they were old friends. More about him is below. 

Reeves, 77, was a tough running back for the Cowboys for eight seasons who went on to be the head coach of the Broncos, Giants, and Falcons. He was involved in nine Super Bowls as a player and coach. 

With COVID-19 decimating the Jaguars roster, they may be missing many of their players. There was talk of possibly moving the game, which would have shortened the Patriots’ week before their season-ending trip to Miami which will probably have large playoff implications. But the league has decided to play on. 

This is a huge game for the Patriots, regardless of the Jaguars 2-13 record. With a win against Jacksonville and a loss by the Dolphins against Tennessee or by the Raiders against the Colts will secure the Patriots a playoff berth and give them their 10th victory of the year, which will tie them with Dallas for the most all-time with 27. 

It is also important to get back on track especially on defense after two poor showings in a row. Regardless of the opponent, the team has to start quickly and get back to playing solid, complementary football for 60 minutes.  

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: 

Bill Belichick: It was intriguing to hear Belichick who always mispronounces all of the social media platforms (accidentally on purpose) admit that he played (and lost) Madden with his kids. “Yeah, I haven’t played in quite a while,” he said. “I know when my kids were growing up, they would play it and I’d watch them and they’d beat me.”

Also interesting, at least to me, is that because Belichick isn’t a member of the Coaches Association, he’s the only coach who isn’t shown in the game…

Nelson Agholor: The Patriots’ wide receiver was ruled out of the game today as he is still on the concussion protocol. He was injured during the Colts game and missed the Buffalo game and now will miss this week as well. 

Brandon Bolden: The Patriots running back who plays a key special teams role as well as the 3rd down back in the offense has revealed that he was treated for cancer during the offseason of 2018. He underwent surgery and for a time lost partial use of the right side of his face. But he made a complete recovery and thankfully hasn’t seen a recurrence of it. 

Bolden has a career-high 540 yards from scrimmage this year (36 carries for 176 yards, 4.9-yard avg, 37 receptions for 364 yards, with 1 TD), as he’s been tasked with replacing James White who was placed on IR earlier this year.

Richard Seymour: The Patriots team Hall of Fame defensive lineman has been named as a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame for the fourth straight season. Drafted by the Patriots in the 1st round (#6 overall) in the 2001 NFL Draft, Seymour played a huge role in the Patriots winning three Super Bowls early in his career. 

Seymour was named to five straight Pro Bowls (8 overall) and three straight NFL 1st Team All-Pro teams. Seymour was also a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team for the 2000s. 

“Richard was a tremendous player. He had a tremendous skill set. He had great length. Explosive. Very quick for his size. He could do everything,” Bill Belichick said of Seymour on his enshrinement to the Patriots team HOF.

“It was a tough matchup for the interior linemen. He could win with speed, and against some of the quicker guys, he could win with power. Smart player. Richard was very smart and had good awareness. He was a good situational player and certainly helped our linebackers a lot because he was either able to get penetration or able to draw blockers and tie up blockers that couldn’t get to the second level on some of our off-the-ball players. He was a very disruptive force.”

Maybe the 4th time is a charm …we’ll see.

Trent Brown: The big offensive lineman was asked about the penalty flag thrown against him during the Buffalo game. On the play, Bills LB/DE Jerry Hughes chased Mac Jones to the sideline, hit him well out of bounds, and then pulled him down in a horse-collar tackle.  The officials threw a penalty flag on Hughes for unnecessary roughness but then decided to pick it up. 

Brown complained a bit too loudly for the officials who then flagged him for a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty. The 30-yard swing took the Patriots out of scoring range at the end of the half. Brown didn’t mince any words about the call.

“That was bulls**t to pick up the flag. He was clearly in the white,” Brown said. We agree with that assessment. 

Patriots 4th & 2 Podcast: If you haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, please check it out. Derek Havens and I met to discuss the passing of John Madden, the loss to the Bills, and to preview the Jaguars 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.

John Madden Was the Voice of the NFL, But He Was Also One of Us: 

With the news of the passing of John Madden, it was a sad day for the NFL. As has been frequently mentioned, Madden had three, arguably four careers, all of them noteworthy. 

He was first and foremost a Hall of Fame coach with the Raiders, averaging 10 wins a year during the 14-game season era. After his coaching career was over, he became a broadcaster working some of the memorable games in the league seemingly forever. He called the first Super Bowls for both Joe Montana and Tom Brady. He became the frontman for the EA Sports Madden football game and was a pitchman for many big US companies such as Ace Hardware, Tinactin, Outback Steakhouse, but his best commercials were the Miller Lite ads. 

But the coach in Madden is what transformed him into arguably the NFL’s greatest teacher. When he took on the color analyst duties on television, Madden had an innate ability to talk not just to the hard-core Xs-Os football geeks but to the average fan who may not have the football knowledge as deep as others. And the way he explained the game, in those short 20-30 second blurbs between plays, brought a legion of new fans to the NFL.

Viewers instantly bonded with Madden as they felt he was talking straight to them. It wasn’t an act. As he made his way across the U.S.A. on the famous “Madden mobile”, at every stop he would talk to the average Joe and Joanne and ask them about their lives, and just to talk football. 

CBS teamed him with Pat Summerall and it was the perfect marriage as the two were the voice of the NFL’s biggest games for 22 years. Madden had an affinity for the big offensive and defensive linemen of the NFL and he brought many of them to the forefront of broadcasts, sometimes hilariously so. Nate Newton of the Cowboys was a favorite of his, and Newton’s steaming head after removing his helmet during a cold game in the winter was a memorable moment. “This is football”.

Madden even taught a football course at the University of California, Berkeley, called “Man to Man Football.” He’d stand in front of a dry erase board and draw Xs and Os and arrows on the board teaching the game to those who wished for a greater understanding. He would do the same thing on television every week. 

He did it, however, by not talking down to his audience but with them. Always accentuated with the “BOOM!” He never acted like he was smarter than the audience and as such his popularity soared. He was the big, bear of the man sitting beside you in a sports bar. 

“I’m the luckiest guy in the world. I never really had a job. I was a football player, then a football coach, then a football broadcaster. It’s been my life. Pro football has been my life since 1967. I’ve enjoyed every part of it. Never once did it ever feel like work.”

Just three days before he died, he got to watch the documentary that aired on Fox about his life, surrounded by family and friends. It was a tremendous, entertaining, funny, and poignant look at his life. Just like the man himself. Afterward, he asked each person what they thought about it. Everyone shared that they loved it.

“I loved it, too,” Madden said. “And we got to share it, together.”

During the 4th & 2 podcast, I told Derek the story of my older brother and his friends meeting Madden at a game in Foxboro while tailgating. It was part of his character and personality that endeared him so much to fans. 

He had one of the most iconic lines in Patriots’ history during Super Bowl XXXVI when he said, “What Tom Brady just did there, gives me goosebumps.” 

Week 17 Predictions:

The slate of games for Week 17 and my predictions are straight up for this week.

Sunday
Buffalo over Atlanta
Chicago over NY Giants
Kansas City over Cincinnati
Tennessee over Miami
Indianapolis over Las Vegas
New England over Jacksonville
Tampa Bay over NY Jets
Philadelphia over Washington
LA Rams over Baltimore
LA Chargers over Denver
San Francisco over Houston
Dallas over Arizona
New Orleans over Carolina
Seattle over Detroit

Sunday Night Football
Green Bay over Minnesota
Monday Night Football
Cleveland over Pittsburgh

Last Week:         12-4
Season:            161-78-1

Last Season:    169-86-1

2019 Season:   162-93-1

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Allen’s Jersey, Cleats Sent to the HOF After the Bills Win Over NE:

The Buffalo Bills beat the Patriots 33-21 on Sunday to wrest 1st place back in the AFC East and Josh Allen had a fantastic game throwing for 314 yards and 3 TDs while rushing for more than 60 yards in the win. 

And Canton came calling after the game, putting his cleats and jersey on display in the Pro Football Hall of Fame after Allen became the first player in NFL history with at least 100 touchdown passes and 20 rushing touchdowns in his first four seasons in the league.

Allen is just one TD pass away from joining Drew Brees, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, and Aaron Rodgers as the only quarterbacks with consecutive seasons with 4000+ passing yards and 35+ passing touchdowns. Which is some pretty heady company. He should join them sometime today. 

Dolphins Control Their Own Playoff Destiny:

The Dolphins are the surprise team right now in the AFC, arguably the NFL. They were losers of seven in a row and were a Damien Harris fumble in Week 1 from starting the season 0-8. After seven losses in a row, people were already writing the end of Brian Flores’ coaching stint in Miami. No one is saying that any longer. Miami has now WON seven in a row. 

And if they beat Tennessee on the road and New England at home they are in the postseason and need no help. Even without Derek Henry the Titans with former Miami QB Ryan Tannehill won’t be a slouch, and neither will the Patriots, but no one saw this coming two months ago. 

The naysayers (we know all about that in Boston) will point to Miami’s schedule and who they’ve beaten on their winning streak but you play the games on your slate and winning is the answer to the naysayers.

Jets Have Tough Sledding Against the Bucs: 

The New York Jets have another season of futility almost in the rearview mirror. There will be plenty of changes for Robert Saleh’s group in the offseason, but for now, they have to play out the string. And this week they’re facing the Bucs and old nemesis Tom Brady. 

Tampa is a beat-up team right now, having lost WR Chris Godwin for the season and having Leonard Fournette, Mike Evans, Lavonte David, and Shaq Barrett to other injuries.  

Two former Jets will bear watching this week, RB La’Veon Bell signed with Tampa last week and former Jets head coach Todd Bowles who is the defensive coordinator. Tampa has already wrapped up their division and a playoff spot but still has a shot at the #2 seed in the NFC, so they and Brady who loves to play the Jets will be plenty motivated this afternoon. 

_______________

“He was great to work with and just loved football,” Belichick said.

“He loved every aspect of it — coaching it, announcing it, improving it, making it a better game, making it more exciting, making it better for the fans, making it safer, making it more entertaining. … Just a wonderful man with a great perspective.”

“We all probably set out to try to have a good professional career, and John had about five of them.”

Bill Belichick when asked about the passing of NFL legend John Madden

_______________

“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: Brandon Bolden Buffalo Bills James White Mac Jones Miami Dolphins New York Jets Patriots Tom Brady


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