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Wednesday Notebook 8/16: Patriots News and Notes

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
4 months ago at 11:44 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

Wednesday Notebook 8/16: Patriots News and NotesMARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL

Some news and notes for this morning:

Jack Jones’ Court Date Pushed Back

It looks like the New England Patriots may have second-year defensive back Jack Jones for at least the early part of the season.

NBC Sports Boston’s Phil Perry reported on Tuesday that the embattled cornerback’s next appearance at the East Boston Municipal Court has been continued from August 18th to September 15th.

As a result, Jones is in Green Bay for the club’s joint practices for this week, and it should also likely mean it will be business as usual until things continue playing out.

Legal expert Michael McCann followed up on Perry’s report by saying this news could mean there may potentially be a plea deal in place, which would allow Jones to miraculously avoid jail time.

“Could be a sign a plea deal is in the works for Jack Jones (a plea deal is the most likely outcome in how his case ends, with his main goals being to avoid jail time and to give the Patriots reason to not cut him),” McCann Tweeted.

Considering there are minimum sentences in place due to the fact one of the items he was carrying was a large-capacity feeding device which under Massachusetts state law usually comes with jail time, it would be incredibly surprising for Jones not to potentially end up doing some amount of time.

The only question may be if he can get it reduced or if it can potentially fall during the offseason, similar to how it did for former Patriots defensive back, Alfonzo Dennard.

Dennard was arrested back on April 21, 2012, just days ahead of when he was selected by the Patriots in the seventh round of the 2012 NFL Draft. He was charged with assaulting a police officer after allegedly punching the officer, which was a a Class 3-A felony in Nebraska, along with misdemeanor resisting arrest, and misdemeanor assault.

His situation took quite a while to play out, and he was ultimately sentenced to a 30-days in jail.  He served that time in March of 2014, and it included 100 hours of community service.

However, the former Patriot’s situation was different from Jones’. Dennard had nothing more than a speeding ticket on his record, and his crime didn’t hold a minimum penalty or punishment.

That’s not the case for Jones, who, just days after being dismissed from USC, was previously arrested in Santa Paula, California back in 2018 on suspicion of commercial burglary under $950 not during business hours and conspiracy to commit a crime, both of which were felony charges.  So having that on his record likely won’t help him in this case.

One other legal person on Twitter pointed out that due to the fact his next date was a pretrial hearing, the date change could have been something as simple as someone not being available this week.  Given that this is the final stretch for vacation time for many people ahead of the start of the school year in Massachusetts, it’s entirely possible that may be the reason.

For now, it’s difficult to say whether or not this is a positive development for the former fourth-round pick or just a formality delaying the inevitable.  In the meantime, it appears he’ll at least potentially be available for the start of the season against Philadelphia.

But from there, his new date falls on the Friday ahead of their week two match-up against Miami.

Belichick Reflects on Preseason Changes

With the club set for joint practices with Green Bay today, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reflected earlier this week on how much things have changed since he came into the league.

Belichick told reporters that back then there were six preseason games and that a lot of the offseason activities that exist now weren’t around back then.

“Yeah, there was no offseason,” said Belichick.  “There were no OTAs. Season started when training camp started. It’s just different. It is what it is.”

When he first came to New England, the exhibition schedule was still fairly long.  The 2000 Patriots preseason schedule included five games, with the first three that year beginning on the road as early as July 31st (at San Francisco), followed by a trip to Detroit (August 4th), and a trip to Washington (August 11th).

They then  played at Foxboro Stadium for the final two against Tampa Bay (August 20th), and Carolina (August 24th), finishing 3-2 that preseason.

It changed to four games in 2001, and it had remained that way up until the most recent change when it was reduced down to just three preseason contests, which happened when the league changed to the new 17-game regular season format.

With the condensed time, Belichick said that not much has changed in terms of their overall approach.  He claims they’ve handled things the way they mostly have in the preseason, which now has them using the practice time for the starters and the exhibition games more or less as an opportunity to evaluate younger players in game situations.

“The guys that practice the most play the least and the guys that don’t practice the most get to play,” said Belichick. “That’s how we evaluate them. We try to give everyone a fair look. It’s the same thing we’ve always done, nothing has changed.”

Malik Cunningham
Cunningham presents an interesting dilemma for Belichick. (PHOTO: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports)

The Michael Bishop vs Malik Cunningham Parallel

Anyone who followed the team going back to the 1999 season may recall the Patriots drafting Kansas State quarterback Michael Bishop in the 7th round, which ended up making the next couple of seasons fairly interesting.

Bishop lit things up in each of his preseason appearances, providing a fair amount of excitement to fans who stuck things out in the fourth quarter as the young QB made some plays and got people talking.

Like Malik Cunningham, Bishop was an athletic quarterback with a pretty good arm and was exciting to watch, especially against opponents’ third-string players.  One of the players Bishop targeted and made some plays with was former Brown University receiver Sean Morey (whose family had hoped he’d land in New England), who was another late-round player who was a favorite target of Bishop, and he was a feisty young player out of Brown University.

Bishop ended up landing third on the depth chart behind Bledsoe and veteran John Friesz, while Morey fought for a roster spot and did play special teams for a spell before eventually being released ahead of the 2001 season.

Bishop didn’t see much playing time here in New England behind then starter, Drew Bledsoe.  After Belichick was hired, the first-year Patriots coach talked about what Bishop brought to the table and insinuated at the time that they may try and use him as a change of pace type of player.

“I think it’s better for the football team to know who the quarterback is, commit to him, and for the quarterback to commit to the team and to move forward,” said Belichick. “Having said that though, I do respect that every situation is a little bit different and you’ve got to do what’s best for the football team. What’s best for the football team is to throw a curveball instead of a fastball every time or to have a change of pace, and there are a lot of teams and situations where players can effectively compliment each other. Sometimes it’s a solution and sometimes it’s a problem. I think each one’s different.”

The “curveball” Belichick ended up referring to included the club bringing Bishop in for an option play in the red zone on a couple of occasions, along with a 44-yard Hail Mary attempt Bishop connected on at the end of the club’s meeting against Indianapolis during Belichick’s first season.

That experiment was ultimately shelved, and the club didn’t take Bledsoe off the field after things had already gone relatively poorly to begin the year after the Patriots went 2-8 to open that season.

The likelihood of Belichick trying anything like that again with Cunningham would be tough to imagine.  The more likely scenario could be a trick play where Cunningham was brought in at receiver, with the club potentially running a double-pass, which we’ve seen on occasion.

But for now, Cunningham’s job is likely making a strong case for himself against Trace McSorely, which could see the former Louisville standout on the roster by the time the preseason is over.

He’s exciting to watch with a lot of potential.  The only question will be, like Bishop, whether or not there’s much of a role for him beyond what he does in August.

Bishop Never Quite Made it Here

One interesting note as people continue clamoring for Cunningham is how similar it was with Bishop during that 2000 preseason, and eventually during the regular season.

Like former head coach Pete Carroll, Belichick was complimentary of Bishop, but at the same time, it ultimately came down to what he saw in practice that made the decision.

Unfortunately, over the course of that 2000 season, whatever Bishop did in practice wasn’t quite enough.  After Bledsoe suffered a thumb injury midseason, there was talk about whether or not if he was unable to start, whether or not it would have been Friesz or Bishop who might have gotten the nod against Cleveland that week.

As it was, the Patriots had already lost three straight to that point and were 2-7 ahead of that match-up.  Friesz had come into the game Bledsoe got hurt in against Buffalo, completing 11-of-21 for 61-yards along with an interception.  He was also sacked three times.

That had people questioning everything, with Belichick trying to stay the course in terms of staying with who he felt gave them the best chance to win.

“I don’t expect everybody to agree with every single thing that I do,” said Belichick at the time. “I’m not trying to sit up here and say everything I’m doing is right because obviously I’ve made some mistakes….I’m sure I’m gonna make some more. But on the other hand, I’m going to take resources that I have and try to do the best I can with them and that includes everybody from the defensive end, to the quarterback, to the punt returner, to whatever it is. That’s what we’ll try to do.”

“Does it surprise me that there are other opinions out there? No, not at all. And I respect those opinions.”

Bledsoe, who seemingly didn’t enjoy people calling for Bishop to play, echoed those sentiments and even went so far as to name Friesz as the better option.

“The bottom line is, as I said before that the coaching staff is factoring in only one thing, and that’s who gives us the best chance to win,” said Bledsoe at the time. “I foresee that on being John Friesz at this point.”

Bledsoe ended up playing that week, but the quarterback room seemed to shuffle a bit after that.  Then rookie fourth-string QB Tom Brady seemingly ascended up the depth chart and he came in the game in relief of Bledsoe ahead of Friesz during their blowout loss to the Lions on Thanksgiving.

Bishop did have one more Hail Mary attempt that season, which was the final pass following a 35-minute delay at the end of the Miami game, which was a 27-24 loss to close out that 5-11 season.

That situation ended up being somewhat of a mess, which considering Cunningham has Bailey Zappe and Mac Jones ahead of McSorely – should he ultimately unseat him – certainly makes this situation interesting.

Whether or not he evolves into a role is now the big question, be it as a receiver or any time under center.  But Belichick’s been down this road before and his goal will likely be making sure history doesn’t repeat itself, especially with so much at stake heading into this season.

Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: 2000 Patriots Season Bill Belichick Drew Bledsoe Jack Jones John Friesz Malik Cunningham Michael Bishop Tom Brady

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