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Friday Patriots Notebook 9/29: News and Notes

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
September 29, 2023 at 12:47 pm ET

Friday Patriots Notebook 9/29: News and Notes(PHOTO: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports)
Posted: Sep 29, 2023 12:47
🕑 Read Time: 4 minutes

Some news and notes on this Friday:

Unrest Building in Dallas

While last weekend saw the New England Patriots potentially teetering had they dropped to 0-3, it sounds like the Cowboys may be in for a similar result if New England pulls off a win there this weekend.

The loss to the Cardinals left many people in Dallas apparently frustrated, with quarterback Dak Prescott seemingly drawing a lot of that ire.  Prescott is off to a solid start statistically but the mood out there is similar to here.  The Cowboys were once among the NFL’s elite, with the expectations being to add another Lombardi trophy.

Instead, their drought continues, and Prescott is now in the crosshairs for it.  To the point where some believe it’s time to move on from him.

Vinnie Vinzetta of CBS KENS5 in Dallas has seen a lot of the discussion on social media from fans who believe it may be time for the Cowboys to move from its current signal-caller, and he doesn’t understand it

“But moving on from Prescott? Really? I’ve seen the sentiment time and again on every social media site,” writes Vinzetta. “I’ve heard it in conversation after conversation. Most NFL signal-callers are regular-season-good, and that’s about it if you really think about it. Only those select few reach rarified air.”

“I’m not unconvinced that Prescott won’t eventually reach those heights. He is under the most intense of microscopic scrutiny wearing the helmet for America’s Team. We know that, and more importantly, he knows that.”

It’s interesting to see that sentiment playing out there.  Obviously, following the retirement of Tom Brady, the expectations are high here in New England, and unlike in Dallas, those championship moments are still fresh in everyone’s mind.

After all, it’s only been five years since the last time the club raised a Lombardi trophy, with the six banners hanging at the end of Gillette Stadium sitting as a reminder of what used to be.

It’s been over 20-years since Cowboys fans have experienced that.  Many of them now believe Prescott won’t be the guy to take them there, and this season will likely further that sentiment if he fails to at least lead them to another deep playoff run.

It’s probably safe to say if Mac Jones conjures up a big win Sunday and gets New England back to .500, along with delivering the Cowboys’ first back-to-back loss of 2023, there may be a corner turned by both players.  The bad news is, it may be Prescott likely being the one who will suffer the most, since most Dallas fans believe they should win this game.

To make matters worse, their next game is a trip to San Francisco on Sunday night football.  A loss this weekend and another one next Sunday night, and they could be staring at 3-straight losses.

That will only further infuriate Cowboys fans, especially those who are already frustrated with him.

Although, as Vinzetta writes, anyone who believes Dallas is better off without him has to think that all the way through given how tough it is to find a viable NFL quarterback.  As he points out, the elite ones are rare, and even good ones are hard to find.

For now, Jones can at least quiet his critics for at least this week with a win.  As for Prescott, it sounds like his will only get a little louder if that happens.

Cowboys Looking For Red Zone Improvement

One interesting note heading into this game is the fact that the Cowboys are among the leaders when it comes to putting together long drives, which is something head coach Mike McCarthy noted this week.

Part of that has also stemmed from the fact the Cowboys are currently second in the NFL in third down efficiency, converting 51.1% of their third downs so far this season.

McCarthy noted that Dallas is among the leaders in 10 play drives and they’re currently tied with San Francisco for 4th in the NFL in overall time of possession, averaging 34:27.  The Patriots are ranked 14th, averaging 30:15.

But Dallas was 1-of-5 in the red zone last week, 2-of-6 in Week 2, which is a steep drop off from when they converted 3-of-4 in Week 1.

That trend is what’s been concerning as it’s seen Dallas go 3-of-11 in the red area the last two weeks.  It’s also an area McCarthy said needs to be better.

“The most important thing is that we’re getting down there more than anybody,” said McCarthy. “We lead the league in 10-plus drives, so we’re moving the ball. That’s the hard part. We have some strong feelings that we’re not going to talk about in here (publicly) on things we can improve on.”

That will be something to watch as the Patriots’ defense will be looking to continue those woes for the Cowboys again on Sunday.

Gonzalez Named Defensive Rookie of the Month

Rookie defensive back Christian Gonzalez got a little recognition this week.  The New England Patriots rookie cornerback was named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Month for September, with Gonzalez’ quietly shutting down some of the top receivers in the league as he begins his NFL career.

Gonzalez was certainly thrown into the fire during his first month in the NFL.  The former standout from Oregon matched up against players like A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith in the opener against the Eagles, followed by Tyreek Hill, and Jaylen Waddle in Week 2 against Miami, and last week saw a pretty good battle against Garrett Wilson last week against the Jets.

The results saw limited damage as New England’s defense kicked off the first three outings with a fairly stout showing in each despite the club’s 1-2 start.  But so far, Gonzalez has anchored the left side of the secondary and appears potentially headed for a solid rookie season.

Head coach Bill Belichick talked about Gonzalez Friday morning and while he’s glad to see the defensive back get regonized, he knows there’s still a long season ahead.

“It’s great for him.  It’s not really what we’re in it for, though,” said Belichick.  “We’re just trying to win games, get better.  Of course, getting the recognition like that is probably … it’s a good sign, things are going fairly well.  But there’s still a lot to work on.  Every week’s a new challenge.”

“So, congratulations, but really our goals are different and bigger than that.”

READ NEXT:
Pressure Will Build For Prescott if Cowboys Fall to Patriots Sunday

About Ian Logue

Ian Logue is a Seacoast native and owner and senior writer for PatsFans.com, an independent media site covering the New England Patriots and has been running this site in one form or another since 1997.


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