Good morning, and Happy Gameday. Here are our Sunday Patriots news 9-24 and notes. The Patriots travel to the Meadowlands to take on the Jets, and it is another important divisional game for both teams.
Health is an issue with both teams heading into this afternoon. The Jets may be without LT Duane Brown, who didn’t practice at all this week. This could be a significant loss for an offensive line that has been struggling to protect Zach Wilson. DL John Franklin-Myers and K Greg Zuerlein are questionable, although both were full participants at Friday’s practice.
Two players were ruled out: S Tony Adams and backup OL Wes Schweitzer. The team contacted QB Chad Henne, who retired this year after winning a Super Bowl with the Chiefs. However, the 38-year-old said that he appreciated the offer but was remaining retired, saying his body made the decision for him this year after a 15-year career.
For the Patriots, cornerback Marcus Jones was placed on IR with a shoulder labrum issue. He’ll miss a minimum of four games before he’s eligible to come back. The Patriots have five players listed as questionable.
DT Christian Barmore
OL Sidy Sow
CB Jonathan Jones
G Cole Strange
OL Mike Onwenu
The good news is that WR DeVante Parker and LT Trent Brown have been removed from the injury report. This could mean that the projected five members of the OL could be on the field for the first time this season.
This should be a boost for the running game, which has been fairly non-existent thus far this season. Facing an excellent Jet defense this week will be another tough matchup, even with the unit intact.
Offensive Line Play Stats: While many fans and some media members still persist in pointing the finger at Mac Jones for the offense’s struggles, the numbers showing OL play point to a different conclusion.
The Patriots currently rank 27th in rushing average with just 3.0 yards per attempt. The pass-blocking grades from PFF rank the team at 25th. Worse yet is the run-blocking grades, which come in dead last in the NFL. The team needs to put Jones under center more and allow Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliot to run more downhill rather than in the shotgun. This will allow more possibilities for play-action passes. But all of it depends on a sizeable jump in play for the OL.
Quick Hitters For the Patriots and NFL News:
Will Grier: The Patriots signed Grier to the 53-man roster, giving the team three QBs, and it is a safe bet that Grier will be the 3rd (emergency) QB on the roster today when the team takes on the Jets.
The Patriots had some interest in Grier when he came out in the draft. But after a tough Senior Bowl week, they went with Damien Harris in Round 3 of the 2019 draft. Grier went a few picks later to Carolina. In Round 4, the team selected Jason Stidham.
Grier is a pocket passer (like Jones) who has a decent but not a cannon of an arm. He’s known for his football I.Q., making sound decisions in the pocket, and his accuracy. He was a good leader in the locker room with West Virginia. This summer with the Cowboys, he completed 76.2 percent of his throws for 640 yards, with 4 TDs and 2 INTs for a passer rating of 103.3.
Matthew Judon: The Patriots edge rusher is taking on more of a vocal leadership role this year after Devin McCourty retired. That’s why it was intriguing to see Judon make a statement prior to taking questions after the Miami game, where he said that despite starting 0-2, the Patriots are a good football team.
“I know we lost,” Judon said. “I know it looks bad when you start 0-2. But this is not a bad team, so don’t get to asking those kinds of questions. We’re going to speak matter of fact, but I don’t think we’re about to hang our head up here or in that locker room.”
“We’ve got to just play how we play in the second half from the first play,” Judon added. “We’ve got to get the crowd involved from the get-go. When we take the field, it’s got to have some type of energy. We’ve got to have some type of juice. We can’t wait until we’re down 17. We can’t wait until we’re down 13 to try to make a comeback.”
When teams begin winless after two games, players begin getting tight and may fall into the habit of trying to do too much. Judon was clearing the air, in essence stating that the team needs to trust the process and believe in themselves. That positivity is what you expect from veteran players.
Patriots 4th & 2 Podcast: If you haven’t listened to our PatsFans.com 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 Against the Jets —
The Patriots and Jets have been fierce rivals with the Jets since the earliest days of the AFL before the merger. But the rivalry, which has been decidedly one-sided since Bill Belichick took over the team, has gone from bad to worse for the Jets.
They have lost to the Patriots 14 times in a row, a factor that WR Garrett Wilson said “was unacceptable.” They invested a lot of draft picks and signed Aaron Rodgers this year, and everything was supposed to be much smoother in 2023.
Now, they have an arguable Super Bowl-ready roster except at QB. That was the factor that held them back a year ago against the Patriots… and a PR TD late in the game by Marcus Jones.
The Jet defense is outstanding and gave New England fits a year ago. But the Patriot defense was just as good and is even better than a year ago. It all comes down to execution, eliminating mistakes, and not turning the ball over. Starting faster is imperative this week. If they can eliminate those issues, then running the streak to 15 is attainable. Here is my list of players to watch this week.
Offensive Line: This unit has been underwhelming thus far through two games. And that has to change. The Jet front seven is outstanding and will be another tough matchup. But getting the starters together for the first time this season is reason for optimism.
Inside the OL, a couple of players will be under the microscope this week, and it begins with LG Cole Strange, who is questionable this week. Strange will be given the unenviable task of going against Quinnan Williams, who was huge (figuratively and literally) against the Patriots last season.
With Trent Brown expected back at LT, he should be ready to start stringing games together. Right tackle will be a key area to watch. Last week, Calvin Anderson had fits with Miami’s Andrew Van Ginkle. If he struggles again facing the Jets’ Bryce Huff, who, IMO is better than Van Ginkle, then would the coaches opt for Vederian Lowe, who played LT last week? Sidy Sow returned to practice this week but was wearing a red non-contact jersey.
The offense needs better pass protection and run blocking if they are going to be successful this week and beyond.
Henry/Gesicki: The Patriots have been primarily an “11-personnel” team through the first two games, with “12-personnel” being a distant second (nearly 48 percent to 36 percent, respectively). Part of the reason may be the holes they dug for themselves and from playing behind (16-0 and 17-3).
Bill O’Brien’s offense is predicated on getting the tight ends heavily involved. Last week, they started the game with three tight ends, getting Phahroh Brown in as a blocker.
Getting Hunter Henry and Mike Gesicki involved early and often in the passing offense would be a huge boost for the offense. Thus far, their production has been good but can be much more productive. Last year, using the TEs in the screen game close to the line of scrimmage, they were able to garner some much-needed yards after the catch (YAC).
The Jets obviously know this, too, so it comes down to execution.
Demario Douglas: His name was a big topic of conversation last week after he fumbled after a catch against the Dolphins. He didn’t play another offensive snap. He provides the Patriots with an explosive playmaker that is sorely lacking right now in the offense. Bill O’Brien said early during the week that he has trust in the rookie slot receiver. Now, it is time to put that faith to the test.
He will continue taking over the Marcus Jones role as the punt returner, but where he’s really needed is on offense. Douglas has the speed, quickness, and athleticism to get open at the line. Once he gets the ball in his hands, he can make people miss and garner YAC.
Against this Jet defense, those yards will be at a premium.
Mac Jones: The first two weeks had the Patriots in position to win or tie each game in the closing moments. They failed, and right or wrong, the eyes will turn to the QB for not converting those opportunities.
If the streak of close games continues with the Jets this week, Jones will again have the chance to pull out a game against a really tough defense. The team offense has to start to pull out these games.
As the QB, Jones will be looked at to orchestrate a key win at crunch time. Now is the time for Jones to silence his critics… at least for a week.
Matthew Judon: The Patriots’ top edge rusher and leader will be a key cog in stopping the Jets running game and then forcing the ball into Zach Wilson’s hands, an area where he’s struggled badly against New England.
Judon, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Jahlani Tavai, Deatrich Wise, et al. must stop the duo of Breece Hall and Dalvin Cook before they can get after Wilson. The interior front seven must clog the middle, and the edge players have to do a better job of setting the edge. This was an area that the Patriots were gashed last week.
Judon can be a game-wrecker in getting after Wilson, especially against an OL that has as many issues as New England’s. He, Wise, Josh Uche, and Keion White have the ability to turn this game as much as the Jets’ defense does.
Since the NFL is a copycat league, look for the Patriots to try their hand at what Dallas did by possibly moving Judon over the center and rushing up the middle. White could also be a candidate to do that as well, taking advantage of his speed-to-power ability.
Week 3 Predictions —
Thursday Night Football:
San Francisco over NY Giants, 1-0
Sunday Day Games:
Tennessee over Cleveland
Detroit over Atlanta
Green Bay over New Orleans
Miami over Denver
LA Chargers over Minnesota
New England over NY Jets
Buffalo over Washington
Jacksonville over Houston
Baltimore over Indianapolis
Seattle over Carolina
Dallas over Arizona
Kansas City over Chicago
Sunday Night Football:
Pittsburgh over Las Vegas
Monday Night Football:
Philadelphia over Tampa Bay
Cincinnati over LA Rams
Last Week 9—7
2023 Season 17—15
2022 Season: 178—92—2
2021 Season: 183—88—1
2020 Season: 169—86—1
2019 Season: 162—93—1
“It’s Jets week. A team that we’re pretty familiar with here but still has a few changes, new faces and all.
“Joe Douglas and Coach [Robert] Saleh have done a good job of building this team from where it was a couple of years ago when Robert got there. It’s an explosive team, obviously; they’ve got a very explosive returner, a good special teams unit. [Xavier] Gipson’s given us some explosive plays. [Thomas] Morstead is one of the best directional punters in the league. [Justin] Hardee’s a good player. They’ve got a good core group of players.
“Defensively, they’re aggressive. Certainly, [Sauce] Gardner has been a great addition for them last year. They have a really good front, a disruptive front. [Jermaine] Johnson’s playing well. They drafted [Will] McDonald [II], obviously [Quinnen] Williams, [John] Franklin-Myers, those guys are tough. They play about nine guys up there, and they all play, and they’re all disruptive. But, I think [C.J.] Mosley is really a key guy for them on the defense. He’s one of the best, most instinctive players in the league, always a problem, a really hard guy to fool or to get on anything. He makes tackles on the line of scrimmage, and he breaks up passes 15 and 20 yards downfield. So, really, really good player, again, one of the best we’ll see all year. One of the best in the league, for sure.
“Offensively, it’s a big offensive line, a lot of talented guys up there. Four first-round picks, they took [Joe] Tippmann this year. So, pretty talented group. Good running backs – obviously, we didn’t see [Breece] Hall last year, but he’s a really good player. [Zach] Wilson, [Allen] Lazard, obviously Wilson is a really athletic quarterback, we’ve seen him before. So, very talented group. Great win for them against Buffalo. Four turnovers, a punt return, big win, so looking forward to having a good week here; we’ll head down to New Jersey.
Bill Belichick speaking about the Jets this week.
“Talent sets the floor; Character sets the ceiling.” Bill Belichick
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Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: Bill Belichick Breece Hall Cole Strange Cook Dalvin Demario Demario Douglas Hunter Henry Kendrick Bourne Mac Jones Matthew Judon Mike Gesicki New England Patriots New York Jets Quinnan Williams Zach Wilson