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Observations from the Last Two Patriots Practices and Morse’s Morsels

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
August 4, 2022 at 11:00 am ET

Observations from the Last Two Patriots Practices and Morse’s Morsels(PHOTO: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports)

🕑 Read Time: 8 minutes

Here are some of the observations from the last two practices.

8/2 Practice

  • Christian Barmore has been unblockable in camp so far. Evan Lazar reported that Barmore ruined a backup o-lineman in 1-on-1s.  He went on to call him the most positive thing in camp so far.  Another report had him beating a double team block to force Zappe to scramble.  Then on the next play, he blows up a run play and stops Ty Montgomery for no gain.  Barmore even dusted Michael Owenu.
  • Ty Montgomery is making a push for a roster spot. Running with the second team, he had a couple of plus-runs from RB and also played slot receiver, and Kick Returner.  Belichick loves that kind of flexibility.
  • Nelson Agholor made a  one-handed circus catch on Joejuan Williams. Williams pinned Agholor’s left hand (PI), and Agholor made the catch, pushed Williams down, and skipped into the endzone.
  • Thornton beat Mills on a deep sideline throw where Thornton used his body to shield Mills and make the catch. Mills could be seen applauding after Thornton made the play.  Thornton is showing nice improvement.  This was the only play Mills gave up all practice.
  • The offense is in shambles according to Patriots.com Evan Lazar. There were too many unblocked rushers and run plays stuffed before they could get going.  The first 10 plays scripted were all hosed up.
  • Greg Bedard had an interesting observation. Of the 25 1-on-1s, the Offense won 11-7-7.  Guard Arlington Hambright was the top lineman 4-0.  Mack Wilson played edge in these drills.
  • Bedard in his review of practice today in Boston Sports Journal went on to say the offense improved slightly. The offense ran 26 plays of which 8 were successful.  That’s only 30.7%.  This included a Red Zone TD in the flat from Mac Jones to Tre Nixon.   Here is what happened on the other 70% where the Defense blew things up. Stuffed runs 8, Sacks/pressure 6, Incomplete passes 1, Batted passes at line 1, Drop 1, Checkdown 1.
  • Yodny Cajuste and Justin Herron had some good reps in 1-on1s.
  • Brown stonewalled both Josh Uche and Matt Judon.
  • No Hoyer again today. Mac Jones appeared to have his reps reduced giving Bailey Zappe more opportunities.  Belichick wouldn’t elaborate why Hoyer was out but said he should be back soon.  Mac Jones wore a sleeve on his right arm today.  I think they need to bring in another QB just to reduce the throws the QBs have to make.  Otherwise, they will have dead arms halfway through camp.
  • Add TE Dalton Keene to the list of players missing. Deatrich Wise is back on a limited basis.
  • Linebackers were very active today as McMillan, Bentley, Wilson, and Langi were noticed.
  • Ronnie Perkins had a big day with a sack and 2 run stuffs.
  • Uche was the only defender to beat Brown. Uche, Judon, and Anderson were stuffed by Brown
  • Anderson is bouncing back after his injury last year and has looked good so far in camp according to Steifel
  • The crowd was only half full today and was not very excited
  • Strange was better today against Lawrence Guy and Dan Ekuale.

8/3 Practice

  • Mike Dussault of Patriots.com has an interesting article on the following 5 players who have surprised in camp so far:  https://www.patriots.com/news/5-under-the-radar-patriots-making-an-early-roster-push-x4122
    • Arlington Hambright G Colorado – He has played in Michael Owenu’s place with the 1st team and has looked good.
    • LaBryan Ray DT Alabama will be vying for a spot on the team with his play. In his 4 years at Alabama, he couldn’t stay healthy.  He just might be this year’s UDFA to make the team.
    • Ty Montgomery WR/RB/KR is a Swiss army knife – An eight-year veteran isn’t a surprise. What does surprise me is there is no drop-off in performance.   You know how Belichick likes his versatile players.
    • Brenden Schooler S/ST – Schooler has been part of all 4 Special Team units and played some Safety as well. He has been seen working with Cody Davis and Mathew Slater on the nuances of playing Special Teams.
    • Anfernee Jennings LB Alabama – has been invisible for the last two years on the team. Not so in this camp.  The 6’3” 259 lb edge player has been a force in camp.

Look for more on each player in Dussault’s article.

  • Butler and Peppers were out, Hoyer dressed but worked on the other field. Pierre Strong joined the team with no limitations.  Keene remains out.
  • Jeff Howe reported that James White may not be ready for the start of the season. No surprise there.
  • The team practiced in shells not pads and was run at ¾ speed. Evan Lazar called it a correction day.
  • The Patriots are introducing a completely new offensive system, in part because neither of their Offensive coaches (Judge and Patricia) has experience in coaching the Ron Erhardt system the Patriots have employed for over 20 years. They are moving to a modified Mike Shanahan system with a zone-blocking scheme.  This practice was a walk-through of the plays that didn’t work yesterday and the day before.  This theory was put forth by Paul Parillo of Patriots.com on the Zolak and Bertrand show today.  If this is any indication of what’s ahead, the Patriots’ offense is in deep trouble.  It may take them a quarter to a half of the season to get into any type of rhythm.  The season could be over by that time.  We should have seen this coming when the Patriots moved away from a Fullback dominated running attack.  They told Jakob Johnson that his services wouldn’t be needed in the off-season.  They were going in a different direction.
  • Mac Jones signaled to Davante Parker with a hand gesture and lofted a deep pass in his direction. Parker cut his route short and the ball sailed into the arms of Terrance Mitchell, according to Mike Reiss.   They are not on the same page.

Morse’s Morsels

DeShaun Watson gets 6 Game Suspension

That punishment by arbitrator Judge Sue L. Robinson is inadequate at best.  The point that the Grand Jury in Houston would not indict him was a huge factor.  The irony here is that Tom Brady gets 4 games for nothing because Goodell is the judge, jury, and executioner.  Stephen Ross gets more for tampering and Baltimore running back Ray Rice gets two games for striking his girlfriend in an elevator on camera.  The NFL has to appeal this decision if only to save some face.

Describing the New Look Patriots Offense

This from Andrew Callahan, “Through almost 7 practices, the new #Patriots offense seems to borrow more specifically from Sean McVay than general Shanahan principles.

– Heavy outside zone

– Play-action boot passes off the outside zone

– Tight wide receiver splits

– Increasing amounts of jet motion

Greg Bedard stated the blocking is the issue.  “They are having a very hard time getting on the same page, and they are allowing a ton of penetration. At one point, Ja’Whaun Bentley came in unblocked as Cole Strange allowed him to run through, which got the rookie a lot of coaching from Bill Belichick and assistant line coach Billy Yates. Some of it I think is personnel, the zone scheme calls for lighter more agile players (like Strange) so it’s a challenge for bigger guys like Trent Brown and Mike Onwenu, and David Andrews when he’s out there (he was very limited today). A lot of it has to do with a lack of attention to detail, which is paramount in this timing/rhythm-based blocking scheme. Not sure how much sense it makes having a line coach in Matt Patricia only paying attention to the line half time the time.”

In my opinion, a player like Michael Owenu may not be suited to playing this type of zone blocking scheme.  It’s early and I hope that we see quick improvement being made on this.

 

LB Jahlani Tavai is Praised by Belichick

This tidbit from former local sportscaster Mike Giaradi “It is pretty clear that Bill Belichick looked at how his defense finished last year and decided that the biggest issue was at the LB level (Van Noy released/Hightower unsigned). Remains to be seen if they’ve found answers but this is a bold proclamation by the boss”.

Mike Reiss  posted this tweet quoting Bill Belichick, on @SiriusXMNFL with @PatKirwan_NFL and @JimMiller_NFL, said of LB Jahlani Tavai: “I think he’ll be a big factor for us this year, on all four downs; not just defensively but also in the kicking game.”  Of LB corps, he says: “I think we have good depth there.

 

Dolphins Forfeit Two High Draft Picks

The Dolphins and owner Stephen Ross were hit hard by the NFL for Tampering with Tom Brady while he was under contract to the Patriots.  The Phins will lose their 2023 1st round selection as well as their 2024 3rd round pick.  The team will be fined $1.5M and owner Stephen Ross will be suspended for 6 months and stripped from participating in any of the owners’ committees.  The league determined that the Phins had tampered with Brady while he was playing for the Patriots in 2019.  My question is where is the compensation to the Patriots?

A side note to this is that the league did not find any evidence of the Dolphins tanking or deliberately losing games.  Part of Brian Flores lawsuit is that the owner asked him to lose games to better position the team in the draft.  Flores wouldn’t do it (as the league has confirmed) but the Dolphins fired him anyway.

Why aren’t the Patriots entitled to compensation due to the damage that the tampering had done?  I think the Patriots should get that 1st round pick Miami is forfeiting.

 

Patriots Third Highest Valued NFL Franchise

The Cowboys remain number one with a value of $7.64B and the LA Rams are a distant 2nd at $5.91M.  The Patriots are third at $5.88M.  Far cry from the days of the Billy Sullivan Patriots.

 

Patriots Announce three more additions to the camp roster

Jalen Elliott S Notre Dame – 6’1” slow (4.8 40) but quick (6.87 3 cone drill).  Patriots Country by FanNation said this about Elliott on March 8, 2020 https://www.si.com/nfl/patriots/gm-report/scouting-profile-jalen-elliott “Jalen Elliott is a guy who has been widely ignored by the media through this draft process. Yet, Jim Nagy of the Senior Bowl (in which Elliott starred in), hinted that team scouts are giving him some attention leading into the draft.”  Many didn’t think Elliott deserved the nod for a Senior Bowl

Brad Hawkins S Michigan – 6’1” 207 4.57 40, 7.10 3-cone drill are decent for a Strong Safety.  Hawkins player 5 seasons at Ann Arbor with 178 tackles, 8 pass deflections two forced fumbles, and one recovery.  He was voted third team All-Big Ten in 2021 and was a team captain.  Atlanta signed him as a Priority Free Agent after the draft but cut him to add Eddie Goldman to the roster in July.

Nate Wieland LB Iowa/Grand View (NIAI) (reported by multiple sources) – Somewhere between 6’1” and 6’ 4” according to conflicting reports.  From a report on the 2022 National Scouting Combine, “Weiland dominated at the linebacker position, as he had the highest combine numbers at each of the six combine drills. For someone who almost weighs 240 pounds and stands at just over 6’1”, his speed was extremely evident, as he would’ve not only weighed-in as the 5th heaviest linebacker, but he also would’ve run the fastest 40-yard dash (Note: Nick Bolton ran a 4.6 at the NFL Combine) and had the 7th highest vertical jump for inside linebackers at the 2021 NFL Combine. Even with the limited highlight film, our scouting staff was extremely impressed with Weiland’s suddenness, pursuit ability, and versatility seen through being able to play as an edge defender. During the position drills today, we’re looking forward to watching how Weiland performs with the linebacker drills and scouts are going to want to see if he can play with body control in space because he caught their attention yesterday”.   This is not the 1st look the Patriots have had with Wieland, he was a rookie camp invitee but not offered a contract at that time.  Grand View played for the NAIA National Championship last season and lost in the championship game.

 

The NFL is appealing the DeShaun Watson Ruling

No surprise here.  They have until Thursday to appeal.  This is a PR nightmare for the league as the pushback from the general public, men and women have been tremendous.  According to Adam Schefter, the league is asking for an Indefinite Suspension and at least a year’s suspension.   That is the same position they had going in.  I believe this time they are asking for an extreme sentence, hoping to find somewhere in the middle so they can save face.  Roger Goodell gets to determine who hears the appeal.  What a joke!

READ NEXT:
Patriots News 8/4: Daily Team Notebook

About Mark Morse

Merrimack Valley native and lifelong fan of the New England Patriots. My earliest memories of the Patriots were attending as a child with my dad, the off-season practice at Phillips Academy. I was at the Patriots game at Harvard Stadium in 1970 where Bob “Harpo” Gladieux was called out of the stands by the stadium announcer over the PA to play in the game. Analyzing the draft since ESPN first started to televise it in 1980 and former writer for the Lowell Sun Newspaper.


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