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Patriots News 9-17, Players To Watch Against Miami

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
2 months ago at 5:00 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary

Patriots News 9-17, Players To Watch Against MiamiEric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Good morning, and Happy Gameday. Here are our Sunday Patriots news 9-10 and notes. The Patriots take on the Miami Dolphins on Sunday Night Football later on tonight, and it is a big divisional game for both teams. Divisional games are so important in the final seeding of teams come playoff time, and the AFC East this year is going to be really tough. 

Health is a very big question for the Patriots on both offense and defense, and will bear considerable watching by 6:30 p.m. to see who is able to play when the teams release their active rosters 90 minutes before the kickoff.

Who’s Available?

The Patriots have six players questionable for tonight’s game. As of Saturday morning (when this was added), they’re leaving a light in the window with hopes that some of them may play. 

OT Trent Brown
OL Sidy Sow
CB Jonathan Jones
G Cole Strange
OL Mike Onwenu
WR DeVante Parker

With four offensive linemen on the list, two (Brown/Sow) are in concussion protocol, and it would be a surprise to see them active since they didn’t practice all week. But if Strange and Onwenu are able to go, then four-fifths of the starting OL would be available. 

Then, the decision will be whether to move Calvin Anderson to left tackle from the right side or use one of the tackles they traded for on the right side, possibly Vedarian Lowe. However, asking Lowe to start at LT in his first action as a Patriot remains a possibility as well.  

Defensively, Jon Jones’s injury, which he apparently suffered at practice on Thursday, also has big implications for the game. It is Jones, who the Patriots have matched up with Tyreek Hill in the past several meetings. 

Jones didn’t practice on Friday, and if he’s not able to go, that job would probably fall to Marcus Jones in an attempt to match Hill’s speed. That will be a tall task for the second-year corner. 

Getting DeVante Parker back this week would be a big boost to the offense. Kayshon Boutte filled in but had a couple of plays where he couldn’t keep his second foot down in bounds. Boutte wasn’t an “X” WR in college, so this is a new experience for him. Parker is that “contested ball” type of WR, and he’ll be needed this week. 

Quick Hitters For the Patriots and NFL News: 

Robert Kraft: The team owner was on-hand outside the Patriots’ Pro Shop on Friday for the release of Nike’s newest RKK Air Force 1 athletic shoes. Kraft met and chatted with Patriots fans, many of whom had been camped out since about 3 a.m. waiting for the shop to open. 

A couple of die-hard fans traveled all the way from Denmark for the occasion. Kenneth Jorgenson, who has been interacting with fans all week on social media, has every edition of the RKK AF-1s. He’s been a fan of the Patriots since watching his first game on television back in 1998. 

Jorgenson introduced a friend, Maja Steffensen, to the Patriots in Denmark; her husband and children are now fans. She was making her first trek to Foxboro, while Jorgenson has been to Gillette about 20 times.  

The new color scheme consists of Royal Blue with a black tongue with red stitching. The soles of black and white contrast nicely with the blue and have a black Nike whoosh logo on the outside. At the top of the tongue are the RKK initials with a Super Bowl trophy, while the back of each shoe has a Patriot logo. 

La’el Collins: The offensive tackle was released off of IR with an injury settlement by the Bengals, meaning that he can sign on with any team, provided that he passes a physical. 

The tackle was shown interest by the Patriots in the past, but one member of the team is encouraging the Patriots to sign him. Ezekiel Elliott and Collins were teammates on the Cowboys for six years and are close friends.

While perhaps not the player he was a few years ago, especially after tearing an ACL a year ago, he’s still effective and has started 86-89 games he’s appeared in. 

“LC, he’s a load,” Elliott said. “He loves to get his hands on people. He’s going to punch. He’s going to strike the heck out of you. He’s a vet.”

Tyreek Hill: The Dolphins WR provided the Patriots some bulletin board material with some of his comments earlier this week. Hill declared that even if New England, doubles, or even triple teams him, he is going to have a big game. 

“I’m still going to dominate that no matter what,” Hill said. “I still got a job to do, and that’s to run my routes. You put two guys on me, one guy on me, or three guys on me. I’m still going to run my route to get open.”

Patriots 4th & 2 Podcast: If you haven’t listened to our podcast, Patriots 4th & 2”, in a bit, please check it out. Patriots 4th & 2 has expanded. 

Derek Havens and I spoke about the key matchups against the Dolphins as well as putting a wrap on the Eagles game. And Russ Goldman, in a separate podcast, gave his 5 Keys to Victory.  

Russ Francis/Chuck Fairbanks: The former Patriot tight end and head coach both should be in the Patriots team Hall of Fame, and the fact that Francis isn’t in is an absolute travesty. Francis and the Raiders’ Dave Casper changed the game with how teams used the tight end position…this will be on our Sunday posts until it happens. 

Patriot Players to Watch —

The Patriots renew unpleasantries with the Dolphins this week and look to break the 0-4 streak against Tua Tagovailoa. In those four games against the Patriots’ defense, he has completed 74 of 108 passes (68.5 percent) for 726 yards, with three TDs and two INTs for a passer rating of 88.7.  

If the Patriots are to pull an upset this week, they’ll need a full team effort, but here are some players that we’ll be watching particularly closely. 

Mac Jones: The Patriots QB had a good statistical game against the Eagles, throwing for 316 yards, three TDs, and 1 INT. But he and the offense got off to a terrible start in the first quarter and turned the ball over twice, leading to a 16-0 deficit. 

He’ll obviously want to avoid the start and will attempt to replicate the rest of the game, especially the second quarter. We already mentioned the issues with the OL and injuries where four-fifths of the starters are injured.

Regardless of who’s available or not (including Parker), Mac will be judged on his performance with who he DOES have on the field, and he and Bill O’Brien will have to scheme up a way to move the ball and finish drives this week.  And having an effective running game is a big part of that. 

Demario Douglas: The rookie wide receiver had a nice debut, catching four passes on seven targets for 40 yards, including a nice 23-yarder where he broke free from coverage and was wide open crossing the middle of the field. 

With his speed and ability to get open quickly, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the offense utilize him more this week out of the slot, trying to generate some speed of their own against the Miami defense. Look for him to get some early looks from Mac Jones and figure a bit more than a week ago. 

Perhaps he’ll get a coming-out party in front of a national television audience this week. His potential is sky-high. 

Keion White/Marte Mapu: The two rookies were on our list last week and will be more needed than last week. Facing a Miami team with a plethora of speed on offense, having more speed and athleticism on the field for the Patriots defense is paramount, especially if Jon Jones is unable to play. 

White was very effective in getting after Jalen Hurts last week, generating four pressures in just 14 snaps. He played on both sides of the line and was equally effective, even beating Lane Johnson on the left side. The defense needs to get after Tua and disrupt his timing. 

Mapu has excellent speed of his own, either at linebacker or safety. Matthew Judon called Mapu’s introduction to the NFL “unbelievable” since the coaches put so much on his plate right out of the gate. It will be intriguing to see how he’s used this week. 

Matthew Judon: The Patriots star edge rusher garnered his first sack of the season last week against the Eagles. But this week, he will be called on for an even bigger effort. After Miami rolled up over 500 yards of offense, including 466 yards passing, the Patriot defense has to find a way to slow them down. 

And one way is to set the edge in the running game and bring pressure on Tua. I mentioned White above, but you could pretty much pencil in Judon here every week. Taking away Tua’s time to throw and cutting off lanes for him to scramble is a big key, and Judon is arguably the Patriots’ best defender.  

He’ll need a big game tonight. 

Hunter Henry/Mike Gesicki: The Patriots’ duo at tight end just kind of scratched the surface of their potential last week. They were very efficient when targeted. Jones targeted Henry six times, and he caught five passes for 56 yards and a nice TD grab. Henry high-pointed the ball in the end zone and was able to use his body to shield off Reed Blankenship for the touchdown. It was also a nice throw from Jones.

Gesicki was only targeted three times but caught all three for 36 yards. Combined, the pair caught 8-9 passes for 92 yards and a TD. They may see an uptick in targets this week, as well as Douglas. Jones did a good job of spreading the ball around. I’m curious as to how the Patriots use Gesicki against his old team. 

Week 2 Predictions

Thursday Night Football: 

Philadelphia Over Minnesota, 1-0

Sunday Day Games:

Green Bay over Atlanta
Buffalo over Las Vegas
Cincinnati over Baltimore
Detroit over Seattle
LA Chargers over Tennessee
Tampa Bay over Chicago
Jacksonville over Kansas City
Indianapolis over Houston
San Francisco over LA Rams
NY Giants over Arizona
Dallas over NY Jets
Denver over Washington

Sunday Night Football:

New England over Miami

Monday Night Football: 

New Orleans over Carolina
Pittsburgh over Cleveland

Last Week  8—8

2023 Season        8—8

2022 Season:   178—92—2

2021 Season:   183—88—1

2020 Season:   169—86—1 

2019 Season:   162—93—1


“the Dolphins, as we know, are a really good football team. They’re a pretty well-balanced team; it’s been interesting the way they’ve kind of put the team together here over the last couple of years. 

“Offensively, obviously a very, very explosive group – [Jaylen] Waddle, and then Tyreek [Hill], and a couple of offensive linemen last year – Connor [Williams], [Terron] Armstead – [Raheem] Mostert, and [Braxton] Berrios this year, as their third receiver. They’ve got a well-balanced team. The quarterback’s played very well, and he’s had tremendous production over the last couple of years, leading the league in a lot of different categories passing the ball. 

“So, they’ve got a really efficient guy running the offense, solid offensive line, a couple of very explosive skill players – the running back and the receivers. Defensively, obviously, it’s been a big overhaul for them, with Vic [Fangio] coming in. I have a ton of respect for Vic as a coach and what he’s done in the multiple times we’ve faced him and just watching his teams over the years. He has a very disciplined, sound, and extremely well-coached, well-prepared defense. 

“They’ve obviously added a lot of depth at the corner position, starting with [Jalen] Ramsey, then Cam [Smith] and trading for [Kelvin] Joseph to go with [Kader] Kohou and [Xavien] Howard and Eli [Apple]. So, a lot of depth there at corner, and [DeShon] Elliott in the secondary, so a lot of new faces back there. You know, [David] Long [Jr.] was a big acquisition for them at linebacker, a much different type of player than Elandon [Roberts] was, which I think is indicative of the kind of the change in philosophy and shift in the way that they’re playing defense. 

“Of course, they have a good front there with [Christian] Wilkins, [Zach] Sieler] and Raekwon [Davis]. They’re pretty solid up front. A couple of key additions in the kicking game, with the punter and the returner. They’re both guys that have been here, so we have a background with them—added a couple of special teams players, most notably [Kelvin] Joseph in the core. Cam Smith plays a little bit in there, too, [Chris] Brooks and their core guys from last year – [Andrew] Van Ginkel and, obviously, Justin [Bethel]. You know, good players there, and they’ve added a couple of guys to go with that group. 

“Really, the specialists are, I’d say, the big changes there with [Jake] Bailey and [Braxton] Berrios. So, it’s a team that’s got a lot of experience. Again, most of the players they’ve added are veteran, experienced players. They’ve had a couple of undrafted guys come through for them, [Kader] Kohou last season and [Brandon] Pili this year, who plays a little bit in the defensive line rotation. But added a lot of veteran experience roster players. Really explosive game against the Chargers last week, scoring with a penalty with nine seconds to go in the half. It ends up being a two-point game, and then they made the stop with, really, three out of four sacks in the last four plays of the game, so it was a pretty impressive ending defensively with their pass rush and defensive play-making and stopping ability. 

“So, interesting to see this team, the way they’ve come together and the way they’ve dealt with the past couple of years. Looking forward to getting ready – we played them at the end of the year last year, so we’ve really seen all of their games, from the start of the year last year to the end of the year last year to what they’ve done this year, so it’s been really a pretty full, good look at the progression of this team since last September.

Bill Belichick, speaking about the Miami Dolphins earlier this week, was highlighting how Miami has built its team.


“Talent sets the floor; Character sets the ceiling.” Bill Belichick

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on Stitcher and Streamyard as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens, and myself from discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis


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Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: Bill Belichick Christian Gonzalez Demario Douglas Hunter Henry Jaylen Waddle Keion White Kendrick Bourne Mac Jones Marte Mapu Matthew Judon Miami Dolphins Mike Gesicki New England Patriots Patriots edge rushers Tua Tagovailoa Tyreek Hill

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