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Five Patriots/NFL Things to Know For 4/18: News and Notes

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
1 month ago at 10:23 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

Five Patriots/NFL Things to Know For 4/18: News and NotesGeorge Walker IV / Tennessean.com via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Some news and notes on this Monday:

1) New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick may have turned 70 on Saturday, but he certainly looks like someone who doesn’t appear to be close to being done with the game anytime soon.

One of the biggest topics of discussions the last two seasons have centered around his future after the team opted not to extend Tom Brady and instead let him move on.  Following a 7-9 season in 2020, it’s also since cast some doubt on whether or not he’ll be able to put together another championship-caliber team before he eventually calls it quits.

If he does, he’ll take back a record that Brady helped set in 2020 when Bruce Arians became the oldest NFL coach to win a Super Bowl at age 70.  For Belichick to pull that off in and of itself would be impressive, especially if it ends up coming thanks to the development of Mac Jones.

The rookie played well in his first season, with the accuracy he showed at Alabama carrying over as he outshined his peers and led the team to a 10-7 record.  Jones fits exactly what Belichick looks for, with Jones having finished the season being smart with the football and avoiding turnovers.

One stat that stood out is the fact that Jones was among some of the top names in the league last season when you look at quarterbacks who had at least 500 passing attempts.  Sixteen quarterbacks fell into that category, with Jones actually finishing in the middle of the pack for fewest interceptions thrown along with one of the higher completion percentages.

QBs with at least 500 attempts 2021
Quarterbacks with 500 or more attempts in 2021.

As we know, those two traits are a massive point of emphasis, and the first-year player did about as much as could have been asked out of a rookie.

Jones has already been busy this offseason working hard as he prepares for his sophomore season.  But his arrival has certainly seemed to rejuvenate Belichick, who smiled and said during the owner’s meeting last month that, “it beats working”.

“I’m just looking forward to this year. Got a lot to do and not really looking past it or behind it. Just focus on the present, there’s a lot to do,” said Belichick. “I enjoy it. I enjoy doing it. All parts of it. Comprehensive job. It’s a lot but it’s fine. It beats working.”

With the draft coming up the team still has some holes to fill, with some major questions still looming on defense and some depth also needed offensively.  There are also questions about the coaching staff, which also has some major shuffling to do thanks to the offseason departure of Josh McDaniels, who took some important people with him.

For now, Belichick doesn’t seem to be concerned and he’s just looking forward to building his team and getting ready for the season.  While he talked years ago about not wanting to coach into his 70s, he looks more like a coach who is enjoying the process far too much to hang it up anytime soon.

2) Anyone who has come to like Patriots receiver Kendrick Bourne will probably smile about this one, as the veteran receiver did something really cool for his parents recently.

The veteran wideout posted a video on his YouTube channel of him surprising his parents with the purchase of a new home for them in his hometown of Portland, Oregon.

Bourne, who wore a “Bourne Blessed” chain around his neck as he stood outside and started recording the video, said it was just something “I’ve been dreaming of doing and I’m really happy I was able to do it.”

“I know they’ll like it,” laughed Bourne.  “They don’t have a choice, ain’t no going back.  This is it.”

The house is massive and features a variety of amenities including a basketball court, where his brother’s little kids played a little bit of basketball with the hoops lowered way down for them, a gym, as well as a steam room, which Bourne laughed and said he needs to get for himself.

After touring the house, Bourne handed his mom a carpet that said, “Home Sweet Home”, where she smiled and gave him a big hug and said, “why’d you trick me like that?”

He went on to say that the work will continue, and he’s hoping to also take care of his brothers at some point.

“My parents deserved it,” said Bourne.  “And next I’m going to get my brothers a house too.”

3) Patriots linebacker Josh Uche did an interview this past Friday with the folks over at FinishLine, talking about a variety of topics for the weekly series.

Uche brought up the topic of mental health, which he said is very important to it having gone through some difficult times in college.  He suffered a meniscus injury in his freshman season, followed by stress fracture in his foot in 2017, which he said really put him in a bad place.  He credits his dad for reminding him that the meaning behind his name was something he needed to remember when times got tough.

“I’d say it all started pretty much when I was younger,” said Uche.  “My dad would always emphasize what my last name meant, which is Nigerian.  My parents are immigrants from Nigeria.  The name “Uche” actually translates to the word “Mind” in English over from Igbo, my native language.  So he always told us that growing up.”

“Then, I got to college in 2017, I had an injury that kept me out the whole camp.  You know, I was depressed.  It was a very hard time in my life.  Those close to me know how difficult it was for me.  Within that time, I started kind of reflecting and thinking like, man, athletes shouldn’t be going through this type of stress, or depression if you will.”

“So from there, I kind of just started building and thinking of different ways to support athletes or different ways I could hopefully give back once I made it to the league.  Because I feel like it’s a conversation that’s not talked about enough, especially within the profession and also within minorities.  Just growing up as a Black man, your feelings aren’t something you really talk about.  You’re kind of told to be a man and toughen up.  So I just started getting the ball rolling on that.”

Injuries have been tough on Uche, who appeared in 12 games last season.  He spent time on injured reserve in late November before being activated prior to New England’s Week 16 win out in Buffalo.

However, the Patriots did their best to not rush him back.  In that game, Uche played just seven defensive snaps but his play didn’t register a tackle.  His time increased the next week against Jacksonville as he saw 19 snaps on defense (40%), but he still was limited and didn’t register a tackle or a sack.

However, his role was decreased again the following week when he played just five snaps against the Dolphins but did register two tackles, followed by just six against the Bills in their Wild Card playoff loss.

The former standout from Michigan has had quite a few bright spots throughout his career and it feels like changes may be coming on the defensive side of the football that could see him excel heading into year three.

In the meantime, Uche quietly continues making a difference off the gridiron, and he offered up some good advice at the end of the interview that is likely one of the things helping him get through the hills and valleys that come along with playing in the NFL.

“I just want to say, anything you put your mind to, you can do it,” said Uche.  “We work out, we tend to lift, like, every part of our body but we kind of neglect the most important one, which is the brain.  So anything you put your mind to, you can achieve it.  That’s all I got.”

Well said.

For anyone who didn’t get to see it, the full transcript of the interview is currently pending but it’s available for anyone who would like to read it.  Otherwise, it will also be posted later this morning.

4) While we know the Patriots have had their share of issues drafting a wide receiver, the New York Jets have apparently also not had much luck.

According to ESPN’s Rich Cimini, the Jets have drafted 25 receivers going back to 1996, with the last receiver to make the Pro Bowl for the Gang Green being Keyshawn Johnson, who was the Jets’ No. 1 overall pick back in 1996.  He made the Pro Bowl in both 1998 and 1999 with the club.

They also haven’t had a receiver record a 1,000 season in quite a while, with 2004 pick Jerricho Cotchery doing it in 2007 when he had a career season after finishing with 82 receptions for 1130 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Cimini also notes that of the 24 receivers drafted since Johnson, only four have recorded multiple 100-yard games with the team.  Cotchery (8), Santana Moss (7), Laveranues Coles (13), and Dedric Ward (4).

They did have some luck last offseason, with last year’s second-round pick, Elijah Moore, emerging as a player who many believe could come up with a big second season, which appears to be the hope given their current roster.  Otherwise, they appear to have significant question marks at the position heading into 2022, having re-signed Braxton Berrios but they lost Jamison Crowder to free agency.

From there, they have just Corey Davis behind Moore and Berrios as a potential roster lock.  After those two, it appears that Denzel Mims is a guy who they hope can have a strong camp.  Mims has reportedly cut his body fat to 8% and the reports seem to be positive.

Unfortunately for Jets fans, that’s a lot of “ifs”.  As it currently stands, last year’s first-round pick, quarterback Zach Wilson, doesn’t exactly have the strongest group around him and it definitely seems like he’ll likely have to work hard for everything yet again in 2022.

5) We’ll stay on the Jets for one more as the club’s 2020 first-round selection Mekhi Becton is another big question mark heading into 2022, with the big tackle out of Louisville coming off of tough season in 2021.

Becton only played in one game last season after suffering a dislocated kneecap in his right knee in the season opener.  That saw him sidelined for the remainder of the year, with the big tackle never being able to return from the injury.

At the time, the club reportedly gave a timetable of 6-8 weeks, but Becton ultimately never recovered well enough to get himself back into the line-up.  That led to some criticism by the media, which saw his personal trainer, Duke Manyweather, go off on a tirade after someone on Twitter questioned the toughness of his client.

Manyweather reportedly unloaded on Twitter, saying the injury “was never f—ing 4 weeks, 8 weeks or a 12-week return! His s— was serious.”’

Cimini went on to say that Becton has made some big changes this offseason.  One of the biggest has seen him start really focusing with his nutritionist to try and get some control over his weight.

While he was hurt, that was apparently a big issue for him.  He reportedly ballooned to over 400 pounds while he was out, with this offseason seeing him really become disciplined with what he’s been eating with the hopes of putting some of these issues behind him. There’s no report of where he is currently weight-wise, other than the fact he’s “below” that 400 pound threshold.

Wilson will definitely need all the help they can get this season and it sounds like head coach Robert Saleh is applying some pressure, making it clear Becton is going to have to win his job back from George Fant, who played fairly well in his absence.

As for Becton, he’s heard the whispers from the critics and he’s gone so far as to let that fuel him.  The player whose moniker is “Big Ticket” reportedly designed a hoodie that says “Big Bust”.  He also changed his Twitter handle to “Big Bust 77”.

Needless to say, while some have complained about the Patriots, it’s pretty obvious that after seeing what’s going on down there, things could most definitely be worse.


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Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Bill Belichick Bruce Arians Josh Uche Kendrick Bourne Mac Jones Mekhi Becton New England Patriots New York Jets Robert Saleh Tom Brady


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