Patriots News 7/1: Daily Team Notebook
Some Patriots news and notes on this Friday:
– One player who is likely going to be a key name in 2022 is Christian Barmore, who is coming off an incredible rookie season. Barmore immediately worked his way into the line-up and became a big part of New England’s defense, establishing himself as a key building block moving forward. The rookie dominated quite a few opposing veterans last year, with ProFootballFocus.com pointing out that Barmore had 48 quarterback pressures as a rookie, which was 10 better than any other rookie defensive linemen over the last five seasons. He’s also among pretty solid company when you go back to a stat posted in February that went back to 2006. which includes the likes of Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh and J.J. Watt. The Patriots don’t exactly have a ton of depth up front and it’s probably safe to say that if there’s any player who quietly has a lot of pressure on him given the guys around him, Barmore is definitely it. The former Alabama standout finished his rookie season with 46 tackles including 1.5 sacks, 3 tackles for a loss, 9 QB hits and 2 passes defended.
– Speaking of another player who has a bit of pressure on him heading into this season and that’s Rhamondre Stevenson. Stevenson is coming off of an impressive rookie campaign where he provided a terrific addition to what was probably the best 1-2 punch in football for running backs. The two combined for over 1500-yards rushing last season, with Damien Harris finishing with 929-yards on 202 carries (4.6 avg) and 15 TDs, while Stevenson finished with 606 yards on 133 carries (4.6 avg) and 5 TDs. Harris is heading into a contract year and Stevenson’s performance this season could potentially decide where he’ll stand in 2023. Should Harris go out and have another big year, it’s possible he’ll get a big-time offer elsewhere next offseason and that would open the door for someone else to step into that role next year. However, if Stevenson falters or takes a step back, that could see newcomers Pierre Strong Jr. or Kevin Harris possibly also seize the lead role. As a result, this will quietly be something to watch this year Stevenson definitely needs to build off of what was a solid first season.
– Looking back at posts from last year, it was tough seeing this bit on the late Demarius Thomas, who at about this time last year announced his retirement from football. The irony is the former Patriots receiver said at the time that he felt fortunate to be moving on while still being healthy, which is what makes the story so tragic. “It was a tough decision, a real tough decision,” Thomas said. “… Always as a kid or always when I did something, it was always [giving] my best to go and go and go. And football was my go. Every year I tried to get better and better, and I knew I was aging, of course. It was something tough, but I’m grateful I did 10, 11 years. I’m so grateful for that and now I can move on. I’m happy, I’m healthy. And now I can try to find my next itch.” Thomas played 8 1/2 seasons in Denver before being traded to Houston and he joined New England in 2019. The Patriots would trade him to the Jets just after the start of the season with the intention of adding Antonio Brown, which obviously turned into a disaster. The trade ended up being somewhat of a contentious situation, and the Patriots ultimately wound up short-handed at that position all season. Thomas passed away last December after reports believe he suffered a seizure in the shower, which was where he was found. Thomas finished his NFL career with 724 receptions for 9,763 yards and 63 TDs.
– With Mac Jones continuing to work hard behind the scenes preparing for the season, it’s sort of funny that he doesn’t seem to be garnering a lot of attention nationally. That’s likely because they’re not sure which player they’ll see this season. Jones didn’t have what most of the experts believe to be many “wow” moments last year, despite making so many pinpoint throws in key moments. That’s sort of what’s interesting about Jones. He doesn’t have the biggest arm or massive frame, but what he does have is an incredible football acumen and terrific vision. He knows when to pick his shots and when to be smart, and he’s incredibly patient. More importantly, he doesn’t make stupid decisions in key times of the game, which already gives him an edge over a high-percentage of QBs in the NFL currently.
– Former Patriots QB Tom Brady fell into that category during his first couple of seasons and the Patriots ended up winning a couple of championships before Brady started to become a dominant passer. Jones, dare we say, is even more accurate with a lot of similarities. Brady played smart but without fear, and also made plays in the biggest moments. Jones has shown that same lack of fear but wasn’t given a whole lot of leeway at certain points last season. That’s an area where it’s going to be fun to see if he can grow as Bill Belichick has already said of Jones, “He’s our quarterback,” and the overall confidence seems to be there in their second-year QB.
– Jones has a slightly deeper group of receivers coming off of a 2021 season where he threw for nearly 4,000-yards along with 22 touchdowns. After finishing 13th in the NFL last year, with numbers similar to Kyler Murray (3787yds, 24TDs), Jimmy Garoppolo (3810yds, 20TDs), Matt Ryan (3968yds, 20TDs) and Aaron Rodgers (4115yds, 37TDs), he’s potentially got a group that could allow him to take a big step forward. After an impressive showing during OTAs, it’s safe to say most Patriots fans should be excited about what we’ll see from him in a few weeks when the team returns to Gillette Stadium and starts getting ready for the upcoming season.
– Out in Chicago, Bears GM Ryan Poles made a bold statement this offseason when he said, “We’re going to take the North and never give it back,” which sets up a daunting task for a team that has lost 11-of-12 to Green Bay. It’s safe to say most remember the ridiculous antics of Rodgers last year and his “I still own you” comments he made in Chicago towards Bears fans, which likely had them seething. However, the big question there is going to be the growth of second-year QB Justin Fields, who former Bears QB Jay Cutler believes is a good player but he’s worried about constant turnover that’s been happening there. “I like him,” said Cutler. “He’s got all the tools, but it’s the same problem the Bears have had for a long time. They’re turning over coaches and turning over [offensive coordinators]. It’s hard for a quarterback. You look across the league and the guys that are really good at quarterback have the same coaches and same systems each year. This is like learning a different language. It’s like if I told you: ‘Hey, you’ve got to learn Spanish this year and next year learn Italian and the next year learn Chinese.’ It’s not gonna be easy.” Fields started 10 games last season and finished 159-of-270 for 1870-yards with 7 passing touchdowns, 2 rushing touchdowns and 10 interceptions. He also had 12 fumbles, losing 5 of them while being sacked 36 times.
– Rich Eisen had a debate on the “Rich Eisen Show” about whether or not the Cincinnati Bengals will get back to the Super Bowl after coming up short in February against the Rams. Eisen believes Joe Burrow will get them back there “multiple times” and he believes Burrow is now among the league’s elite. “Joe Burrow is going back to the Super Bowl – how about this? – multiple times,” Eisen said. “He’ll be back in the Super Bowl. He is so special. He is so very special. I am clearly all the way in on this guy. I don’t know if this is the year he goes back. Back-to-back is a tough row to hoe. Multiple times he gets back.”
– Eisen pointed out that even though there have been past quarterbacks who got there once and never made it back, he believes Burrow won’t fall into that category. “And part of the reason why you’re saying what you’re saying – history’s on your side,” said Eisen. “But admit this … part of the reason why you’re saying what you’re saying is not just history’s on your side. There have been Hall of Fame quarterbacks who make it once and never get back. You’ve named me Marino and you’re assuming Rodgers won’t get back in his remaining window. Just to name two. Part of the reason you’re saying this is because you think the Bengals are the Bengals. That’s it: You don’t believe the Bengals can do it. You don’t think the Bengals can do it because the Bengals are the Bengals. They play in a stadium that doesn’t have a naming right. The owner is such a dinosaur. And the Bengals will always Bengal. They’ll always screw it up. Something will always happen to screw it up where they’ll get in their own way. And the Bengals are the Bengals. And I’m here to tell you Burrow is change – it’s over. That time is over for a long-ass time. Ja’Marr Chase. It’s not just Burrow either. OK, I’ve made my point. You’ve made yours. Clearly there’s a lot of runway for us to be proven correct or incorrect.”
– The optimism down in New York with the Jets is oozing confidence and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich believes his group will be stronger this season. After a transition year with a new defense and a lot of inexperienced players, Ulbrich has been pleased with what he’s seen this offseason after the team added several veterans and landed defensive back Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner along with Jermaine Johnson and Michael Clemons in the draft, Ulbrich is feeling pretty confident. “So, will some things look the same?” Ulbrich said when talking about the Jets’ first season. “Yeah, because we’re not a high-volume defense as it is. We pride ourselves on playing fast, great technique, great effort and violence. But at the same time, I think now we will have the ability to grow a little bit schematically, provide some more answers, provide some more problems for offenses. I’m super-excited about the future of this group and the guys that are here and the guys that we’ll add to it.”
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Aaron Donald Aaron Rodgers Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner Antonio Brown Bill Belichick Chicago Bears Christian Barmore Cincinnati Bengals Damien Harris Demarius Thomas J.J. Watt Ja'Marr Chase Jay Cutler Jeff Ulbrich Jermaine Johnson Jimmy Garoppolo Joe Burrow Justin Fields Kevin Harris Kyler Murray Mac Jones Matt Ryan Michael Clemons Ndamukong Suh New York Jets Pierre Strong Jr. Rhamondre Stevenson Ryan Poles Tom Brady