Daily Patriots News 5/27: Five Things to Know
Some news and notes on this Friday:
1) Obviously, training camp is less than two months away and that likely will still include a long stretch of hot-takes, which continued this week.
ESPN’s Marcus Spears recently appeared on FirstTake and he believes that the Patriots are on the verge of being at the bottom of the AFC East, largely, he claims, due to a lack of talent.
“Yes, they are,” said Spears earlier this week. “They’re in danger because of one, the other three teams are becoming more talented. That’s number one and it starts there. Because people forget, that Bill Belichick, taking nothing away from him, great coach, great guy, put guys in position to have success. Bill Belichick had a bunch of Hall of Famers throughout his tenure with the New England Patriots, saw a bunch of elite All Pro, Pro Bowl level players. We get caught up in Tom Brady, but we forget the dominant defenses that he had, personnel-wise. I’m talking about that.”
“I’m not here to say that Bill Belichick is not the greatest coach in the NFL history…very well may be. Some people dispute that, I don’t. I think the championships and what he was able to do by putting those pieces in order to have success makes him the greatest coach in the NFL. But when you start … see, we’ve got to stop thinking like history gotta stop reverberating. This is not the same New England Patriots team. This is not the same team.”
“They have a second-year quarterback. They’re trying to figure out outside who their weapons would be so they can be an explosive offense and more importantly, they don’t know who the hell their offensive coordinator is going to be.”
“Now I get it, we can throw and dump on the Jets. The Jets had done phenomenal things from a personnel standpoint. Do they have to put it together? Absolutely. Miami, talent, more talented. They have a more talented roster than the New England Patriots right now. And we don’t even need to talk about the Buffalo Bills. So, are they in danger of being the last place team? Yes, because of talent on these rosters.”
“But, I have pause like everyone else because Bill Belichick is the head coach. But coaches can’t overcome if you don’t have the talent to execute the plan that you put in place and that is my concern with the New England Patriots going into this particular season. That doesn’t mean it will be that way going forward, but if I told Stephen A. Joe Judge and Matt Patricia may be your playcallers, you would tell me that don’t set up well for your team to play good football.”
Smith immediately stopped him.
“Something is wrong with you, bro,” replied Smith.
Smith believes that the Jets won’t be an issue, primarily due to a lot of the issues that happened under first-year coach Robert Saleh.
Saleh, who was a defensive guru in San Francisco, saw his club finish among the worst in the NFL defensively in 2021 in various categories. They were 32nd in the NFL in average yards per game allowed with 397.6. They were 30th in the NFL in average passing yards allowed with 259.4.
The Jets were also 29th in the NFL in rushing yards allowed with 138.3. They were also last in the league in points per game given up with 29.6.
That’s not a recipe for success, and Smith doubts they’ll overcome all of those issues to finish ahead of New England in 2022.
“He got the job with New York Jets,” said Smith. “They ranked dead last in points allowed. Dead last in yards allowed. Bottom three against the pass, and the damn rush. And defense is your signature?”
“I know it was his rookie year, but dammit, I mean, come on now.”
2) The offensive coordinator situation was also the topic on this morning’s edition of “Good Morning Football” on NFL Network.
Analyst DeAngelo Hall questioned whether or not their current approach is going to be successful, especially if Joe Judge is ultimately given the role.
“Yeah, it concerns me a little bit,” said Hall. “I’m always the guy who defers to coach Belichick, ‘He knows what he’s doing, rah, rah, rah’. Well, I’ll tell you what, I’ve always been taught that my OC and my quarterback, they’ve got to start having the same vision. They have to start seeing things the same way. Communicating together. Working together.”
“And so when I think about who’s going to call those plays up there in New England, I get a little bit nervous because if it’s Matt Patricia, he’s never called plays on the offensive side before. If Joe Judge is so great offensively, why didn’t he help Daniel Jones instead of sitting there telling Jake Fromm to take a knee? So I’m definitely scratching my head in New England. I trust Bill Belichick but man oh man, it’s going to be interesting to see what comes out of New England offensively.”
The rest of the discussion centered around the fact that with Jones, the Patriots still have a solid group. The belief is simply that Belichick should stick to the basics and not get “too cute” with their approach.
That seems to be the overall consensus among most people watching this all unfold. But the key thing here is the fact that regardless of how people feel, this will ultimately play itself out either way. The fact that it’s not happening as quickly as they’d like seems to be the bigger issue.
Then again, it’s May and it’s probably safe to say we’re getting way ahead of things. After all, we know very little about the team itself given that there has only been one public practice session since last month’s draft. So it’s far too early to be making any real judgments just yet.
Raj Mehta – USA TODAY Sports
3) One discussion on Belichick’s handling of the situation essentially mirrors what many have said over the years. During any coaching transition, Belichick often shoulders that responsibility by not providing a title for the sake of removing a target of blame.
We’ve seen it numerous times, especially following some of the coaching departures in recent years. Mike Florio echoed that feeling during a recent episode of PFT Live, also believing that Belichick approaches things this way to keep his guys insulated.
“I still, at some level, believe that Bill Belichick is trying to centralize responsibility,” Florio told co-host Chris Simms via NBC Sports Boston. “He’s trying to reduce the pressure and the scrutiny of the individual assistant coaches because I think he knows — if he didn’t know before they got the crap kicked out of them by the Bills in primetime to end their 2021 season … and his son Steve supposedly is the de-facto defensive coordinator — that’s the type of performance that defensive coordinators get fired for.”
“Look at what happened to the special teams coordinator of the Packers (Maurice Drayton) after that debacle in the Divisional Round against the 49ers. What happened? He’s gone. Well, Bill isn’t going to fire one of his kids. And if you ain’t gonna fire one of your kids, it makes it harder to hold other people on the staff accountable as well.”
Belichick has often said it takes time for a coach to get established, regardless of their role. He’s said in the past that coaches often get the rug pulled out from beneath them far too quickly, which he’s made it clear he disagrees with.
As a result, that’s likely why he does his best to keep his own guys out of harm’s way, which makes sense given how he’s handled things. But the reasoning certainly makes sense. Not to mention, having been in their shoes in the past, it’s clear Belichick is trying to set his guys up as best he can to succeed.
4) Out in Denver, there’s a belief that the Broncos could quietly be the most-complete team in the league.
That belief comes from Greg Rosenthal, who recently went through each roster in the AFC West and assessed each club’s starters and he feels that the Broncos are stacked well enough to surprise people.
“Russell Wilson has never been surrounded by this much skill-position talent,” writes Rosenthal. “Few quarterbacks have! Some teams have four No. 3 receivers. The Broncos, in a perfect world, could have two No. 1s (Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton), a No. 2 (Tim Patrick) and a sneaky explosive No. 3 (KJ Hamler).”
Rosenthal is also high on Denver’s defense.
“It’s a team built to rush the passer,” writes Rosenthal. “Dre’Mont Jones and free-agent pickup D.J. Jones are both versatile and can push the pocket. Malik Reed is a fantastic third edge rusher and second-round pick Nik Bonitto was one of the most productive pass rushers in college football last year.”
“… The secondary looks awesome again, especially if free-agent pickup K’Waun Williams can stay healthy. He’s one of the league’s best slot cornerbacks when he’s right. The defensive personnel is outstanding. Also, it should fit new defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero’s scheme, as he comes from the Vic Fangio coaching tree. Then again, Justin Simmons and Ronald Darby can be rather streaky, and Williams is an injury risk. There is a boom-or-bust element here.”
Overall, he believes that it’s a roster that is better than people might think, and that they’ve got enough to potentially be one of the last teams standing.
“This does not look like the roster of a first-year head coach. It looks like a roster ready to compete for a title,” writes Rosenthal. “There is so much new here that the Broncos could disappoint, but the pieces are in place.”
5) Meanwhile, back in Seattle, one of the concerns they have is moving on from Russell Wilson’s focus on big plays, which they believe hurt them on third down last season.
Wilson dropped from a 3rd down percentage of 60.7% in 2020 to 51.5% in 2021, which FieldGulls.com notes was below both Drew Lock and Zack Wilson, and only barely better than rookie Trevor Lawrence and Justin Fields.
They also point out the following:
“22 quarterbacks converted on more third downs than Wilson did last year,” they write. “On third down, even though he missed significant time over the middle of the season, Wilson was sacked 16 times – seventh in the NFL.”
Another stat they highlighted was the fact Seattle was the only team in the NFL to go three-and-out five straight times, and they did it twice.
It basically comes back to the fact that Wilson’s approach appeared to be all or nothing. He would either go for it all and hit a big play, or throw an incompletion or take an untimely sack. The key question is who made the call, whether it was Wilson or if it was the coaching staff, which seems to be an area of uncertainty.
As a result, while there might be optimism in Denver, that’s an area that should be a focus to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself.
For a player who seemed to point the finger at the coaching staff for his issues during his final seasons with the Seahawks, it looks like there are still some things he’ll need to do better if he plans on achieving the success he obviously believes he’s capable of.
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Bill Belichick Denver Broncos Joe Judge Matt Patricia New England Patriots NY Jets Russell Wilson Seattle Seahawks