Good morning, I’m stepping in to give Steve a break this week but here are your weekly Patriots News 3/6 and AFC East Notes:
Quick Hitters For the Pats, and the NFL:
McDaniels Praises Jones: Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels talked about working with his now-former NFL QB Mac Jones this week at the NFL Combine and had glowing words for New England’s signal-caller.
“I’m not sure I’ve been around a more mature young football player in terms of understanding the game and being able to process at such a speed and such a level that Mac was,” McDaniels told Boston.com. “I don’t have any doubt that he’s going to meet the challenge head-on. I wish him nothing but the best and I’ll be pulling for him except for when he plays Vegas this year.”
McDaniels went on to say that his decision to move on was difficult, but he was thankful for everything Bill Belichick and the Patriots did for him during his tenure in New England.
“This was just an opportunity I felt I couldn’t pass up. I’ve waited a long time to try to have an opportunity to do this,” he said.
“What they’ve done for me, the opportunities they’ve given me, what they’ve rewarded me with personally and professionally, there was no need to do anything like that. This was really a decision about what was best for me at this time and the challenge I could take on in Vegas.”
McPherson’s Halftime a “Sore Subject”: Most fans recall seeing Bengals kicker Evan McPherson sitting in the center of the team’s bench as he took in the Super Bowl halftime show, with McPherson smiling and waving at the cameras as they caught him enjoying the performance.
People laughed but in Cincinnati, it apparently didn’t sit well, with Bengals special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons telling TheAthletic, “That’s a sore subject. That’s a real sore subject.”
Veteran long-snapper Clark Harris reportedly also stayed out on the field to watch the performance, but he wisely ducked the cameras while McPherson watched it from what was arguably the best view in the house.
Obviously, losing made that worse but had the Bengals won, would they still be bothered by it? Probably not.
Oldest Patriots Fan Always Talked Football: Nice piece on Patriots.com on Myrtle Milledge, who having been born in 1915 was the club’s oldest living fan until she passed away last month.
In an interview, her grandaughter, Lynn LeClair, said Milledge spent a lot of time talking about the team even during her final years in the nursing home. She kept up with the latest happenings with the club while always tyring to share that news with her fellow residents.
“Everybody in town knew her, they called her the ray of sunshine or an angel,” said LeClair. “She was always bringing flowers up to the nursing home, visiting with the elderly, but she incorporated this sports thing with the men up there and would go and cheer on the Patriots with them. Some of them had Alzheimer’s and didn’t know what the heck was going on. But she did.”
Milledge was 106 when she passed away, but it’s clear that her passion for the team remained quite strong all the way to the end.
McCourty Preparing for 2022: Patriots safety Devin McCourty appeared uncertain about his future at the end of the 2021 season, but it sounds like he’s not ready to hang his cleats up just yet.
According to NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran, McCourty reportedly has been training with the intention of playing next season.
The veteran is among New England’s excessive list of free agents this offseason, but one would have to believe that barring an offer that’s too good to refuse that he’ll be brought back for another season. McCourty’s experience makes him a valuable member of the club’s secondary and his overall play last season was still fairly solid.
For a secondary that’s somewhat in transition, having some continuity would definitely help a group that struggled at times last season. With J.C. Jackson’s future in doubt, bringing McCourty back for one more season seems like the smart choice provided someone else doesn’t prevent that from happening.
Patriots coaches spotted at Boston College: New England’s coaching staff spent some time taking in a practice at Boston College early this week, with the group watching some drills as the Patriots continue doing some due diligence this offseason.
According to NEFootballJournal.com, Jerod Mayo, Steve Belichick, Brian Belichick and Demarcus Covington were all on hand for the session. B.C. head coach Jeff Hafley mentioned afterward that having the Patriots coaches on hand to talk a little football was great, with Hafley also saying it was nice catching up with Belichick, who was with him during their time at Rutgers.
“Steven and I had a relationship the one year I spent at Rutgers, Steven was a player and he was in my office all the time talking football,” Hafley said after a practice earlier this week. “Steven and I kept in touch throughout my time in the NFL. Whether it was questions about what we were doing on defense, teams that we played, teams he played…we spoke.
“Then, they wanted to come by and bring some of the defensive guys and talk some defensive football, sit in on some meetings, watch some tape with us and I mean, shoot, that’s a blessing for us, right?”
With the pandemic restrictions beginning to ease up, Hafley also said he’s hoping the two coaching staffs can continue working together as both clubs look to build on their respective performances from last season.
Patriots Reportedly Considering a Trade of Agholor This Offseason?
Coming off of a disappointing first season with the Patriots, most fans seem to believe that having a full offseason and potentially an additional target to open things up might see Nelson Agholor take the next step with the club in 2022.
Not so fast.
According to Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard, league sources have told him that the Patriots may look to bolster their receiving corps via a trade and it could come at the expense of Agholor.
Bedard writes that the Patriots have shown an interest in potentially trading for Carolina receiver Robby Anderson, which he believes may “put the future of Agholor in doubt”.
Anderson finished the 2021 season appearing in all 17 games catching 53 passes for 519 yards and 5 touchdowns one season removed from catching nearly 100 passes in 2020 over 16 games. Given the fact that the Panthers had both Sam Darnold and Cam Newton under center, his totals are likely skewed given his production the previous season with Teddy Bridgewater throwing passes.
Bridgewater finished 2020 with 3733-yards passing along with 15 touchdowns and 11 INTs. Both Darnold and Newton combined were only able to muster 3,211-yards.
His size makes him an intriguing target, with Anderson coming in at 6’3″, giving Mac Jones a potentially tall and speedy receiver to compliment Kendric Bourne and Jakobi Meyers.
The Panthers wideout was recently given a contract extension through 2023, which would make his acquisition an interesting one if New England does indeed decide to explore that option. However, his current contract could see the Patriots restructure him if such a deal did come to fruition.
As for Agholor, Bedard suggests a trade that could see a return to Las Vegas happen that would reunite him with McDaniels, which he feels might make sense.
Granted, this would still see N’Keal Harry again lining up potentially in 2022, which remains yet another obstacle facing an offense that will be trying to take a bigger step forward next season.
Jackson’s Future in Question
All signs seem to be pointing toward J.C. Jackson heading to free agency, with multiple reports indicating that the Patriots will not franchise him and will instead let their star cornerback test free agency.
New England gambled last offseason when they placed a second-round tender on Jackson as a restricted free agent instead of a first-rounder, seemingly daring another club to make an offer. While one never came to pass, Jackson played out the 2021 season by finishing 2nd in the NFL with 8 interceptions and now seems intent on cashing in this offseason.
NFL Media’s Mike Giardi reports that Jackson is seeking a deal similar to the one the Rams’ Jalen Ramsey signed which, if it’s not a deal of that magnitude, Jackson apparently isn’t interested in talking.
As a result, the team appears like they’ll let the defensive back head into free agency with the hope that Jackson might come back to them to give them a chance to match whatever deal he’s able to get himself. Jackson reportedly likes the Patriots, but money will obviously be the deciding factor.
One interesting turn of events this offseason was the fact Miami parted ways with Brian Flores, which would have opened up an opportunity for Flores to potentially make a move that might have allowed Jackson to return to South Florida. Jackson attended high school in Immokalee just a couple of hours away from Miami and has helped organize charity events in that area.
Jackson said back in December of 2020 how much he still loves his hometown and being involved with the community. He provided toys to children in his town over the holidays that year and expressed how much being there meant to him.
“I love my town,” Jackson said. “I know the kids out there, they don’t have a lot. I want to keep giving back and doing things like this for the community.”
However, another report suggests a different former Patriots coach could potentially make a run at Jackson. Las Vegas is expected to have a fair amount of cap room this offseason and given that McDaniels already knows what Jackson brings, that might make him a coveted asset this offseason.
Whether or not Jackson gets the money he’s looking for remains to be seen, but knowing the type of cost that position generally garners, the odds of him returning to New England don’t seem promising.
NFL Exec: ‘Just a Matter of Time’ Before Mayo Gets Head Coaching Shot
Patriots defensive coach Jerod Mayo spent some time this offseason interviewing for a potential head coaching opportunity and while he didn’t get one, it sounds like it won’t be long before his time comes.
The Boston Herald recently spoke to Denver GM George Paton, who was impressed with Mayo and believes his time is coming.
“One hundred percent. He’ll be a head coach,” said Paton. “He has a dynamic personality, really bright, really smart, knows what he wants. I think he’s only coached three years, but he really had an interesting, unique perspective about how he’d do things. I really enjoyed the visit.”
Mayo reportedly met with Broncos brass in January during their interview process, which eventually saw them hire Packers offensive coordinator, Nathaniel Hackett.
Paton went on to say that his meeting with Mayo was a memorable one, telling the newspaper the former Patriots linebacker “lights up a room” and he’s confident that Mayo will get his chance to be an NFL head coach.
Mayo also interviewed with the Eagles, saying that it was a great experience and that talking football and developing players is one of the things he enjoys about the process.
Others locally have made similar comments about Mayo, with Curran recently writing that he’s everything an NFL team would look for in a head coach.
Now the only question will be when his opportunity might come. But it appears that he could be among names that, if he continues on his current trajectory, the Patriots may be in a position where they could see another coach need to be replaced after this season.
Patriots Meet With Notre Dame RB
The Patriots are heading into this offseason with questions at running back and it appears they’ve already started exploring some options leading up to the draft.
According to Boston.com, the team recently met with Notre Dame RB Kyren Williams at the combine, with Williams saying he had a “great conversation” with the Patriots.
The Fighting Irish running back finished last season rushing for over 1,000 yards, including 13 rushing touchdowns.
The addition of Williams is intriguing as he’s a player who not only runs the ball hard but also catches the football well out of the backfield. He’s also a tough player, with Williams having been a former linebacker and he claims he enjoys hitting people. He also said he takes pride in his pass protecting abilities, which was an issue at times for New England after James White went down to a season-ending injury and the club tried to find a suitable replacement.
With White’s future in question and Damien Harris set to be a free agent after next season, it appears that New England remains focused on making sure their backfield remains stacked.
Williams reportedly recorded a low 40-time this week at the NFL Combine, coming in at 4.65 which already has critics talking. So far, some mock drafts have him down as a potential a Day 3 selection and we’ll have to wait and see if the conversation the two sides had results in a potential working relationship.
Misery Remains In Buffalo
The Buffalo Bills are still lamenting their playoff exit and it sounds like there is potentially some misery internally as players and coaches apparently weren’t happy with how the final sequence of things played out, with Sean McDermott finding himself in a real tough spot.
There seems to be quite a bit of debate about what happened in those final moments, and Tyler Dunne of Go Long recently published a piece about the situation that Buffalo Rumblings recently broke down.
Here’s the bullet points Matt Warren provided from the report:
- Heath Farwell told his special teams coverage unit to squib kick, running time off the clock
- Sean McDermott said to kick it deep, allowing a touchback and no time off the clock
- Instead of talking to Tyler Bass, Farwell went to talk to McDermott, then back to the kick team, and Bass was never told to squib
- Levi Wallace lined up outside leverage on both KC offensive snaps while Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer were 26 and 31 yards off the ball
- The Bills rushed four, only dropping seven in coverage, and no one jammed any of the receivers at the line of scrimmage
- The Bills were trying to stop a last-second touchdown, not a field goal
- Stefon Diggs and a defensive player were in an argument leaving the field that was quelled by Jerry Hughes
- After the game when McDermott only said “execution” publicly, it rubbed players the wrong way
- Players and people inside the building are questioning Sean McDermott’s management at the end of the game
- Because it was the end of the season, the team hasn’t gathered to discuss the end of regulation or watch film, leaving to a massive void in accountability inside the roster and many players have no idea what happened in the last 13 seconds of regulation
McDermott has reportedly downplayed that final sequence but internally, players aren’t happy with whatever explanation they were given and a team source told GoLong that everything ended “abruptly”.
“You preach accountability,” one player told the site. “But you don’t practice it.”
Overall, all the blame appears to be landing firmly on McDermott, which might set up an interesting offseason in Buffalo. For a team that was thought to be among the teams to beat again next season, if ever there was a team that might “hate their coach”, Patriots fans can smile and enjoy the fact that, for now, the Bills appear to fit that description.
Posted Under: 2022 Patriots Offseason