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Patriots News 10-1: Players To Watch Against Dallas

Steve Balestrieri
Steve Balestrieri on Twitter
October 1, 2023 at 5:00 am ET

Patriots News 10-1: Players To Watch Against Dallas(PHOTO: Danielle Parhizkaran/ / USA TODAY NETWORK)
Posted: Oct 01, 2023 05:00
🕑 Read Time: 10 minutes

Good morning, and Happy Gameday. Here are our Sunday 10-1 Patriots news and notes. Watching the sad events unfold in Las Vegas this week, it is hard not to feel for Chandler Jones. He broke down during a video he posted on his social media account. He was then arrested by Las Vegas police for violating a restraining order.  He obviously needs help, and here’s to hoping he gets it soon. 

The Patriots are on the road for the second week in a row and travel to Dallas to take on the Cowboys.

The Patriots are coming off a low-scoring, hard-fought victory over the Jets, which was a typical game against Gang Green. Dallas laid an egg against Arizona last week and, surprisingly, has had trouble scoring in the red zone. 

The OL is banged up with three starters injured (sound familiar?), which could be part of the issue with their red zone woes. The Cowboys’ defense lost their star CB Trevon Diggs for the season to a torn ACL. But the pass rush featuring Micah Parsons and DeMarcus Lawrence is a formidable obstacle facing any team. And with the Patriots having issues getting chunk plays, it makes it that much tougher to slowly work their way down the field, 5-6 yards at a time. 

One area that will bear watching is the Patriots running game, especially between the tackles. Dallas was gashed last week on the ground with the Cardinals rushing for 222 yards. 

The Patriots released their final injury report on Friday and listed five players as questionable for Sunday’s game. 

DL Christian Barmore – Knee
DL Davon Godchaux – Ankle
CB Jonathan Jones – Ankle
G Cole Strange – Knee
CB Shaun Wade – Shoulder 

Wade was a new addition to the report. On the good news front, OL Sidy Sow was removed from the injury report. The Cowboys announced that tackle Tyron Smith has been ruled out. Three other players, C Tyler Biadasz, TE Peyton Hendershot, and G Zack Martin, were listed as questionable. Hendershot was a new addition on Friday.

Quick Hitters For the Patriots and NFL News: 

Tom Brady: The Patriots great is getting a limited series made of his pro football career. Tentatively titled “The Patriot Way,” the project is currently in development by the Gotham Group.  

The series will follow Brady and his rise from a sixth-round NFL draft pick to the G.O.A.T., who led the Patriots to nine Super Bowls, winning six. Supposedly, the series will also delve into some of the Patriots’ controversies, including the Aaron Hernandez murder trial, “Spygate” and “Deflategate” (don’t get me started on that BS), as well as Brady’s supposed butting heads with head coach Bill Belichick. 

The series will be based on the book, “12: The Inside Story of Tom Brady’s Fight for Redemption.” The producers hired writers Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson, who were writers for “The Fighter” and “Patriots Day” starring Mark Wahlberg, and “The Outpost,” a book written by Jake Tapper about the war in Afghanistan.

“The New England Patriots dominated the professional sports landscape for 20 years,” Tamasy and Johnson told Deadline in a released statement. 

“Our series will bring the audience inside Gillette Stadium, better known as Fortress Foxboro, to shed new light on the thrilling, historic come-from-behind victories; the dark side of success; and building a culture of winning at all costs.”

Christian Gonzalez: The Patriots rookie cornerback has been playing outstanding in his first few games, covering the likes of A.J. Brown, Devonta Smith, Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle, and Garrett Wilson. And his stellar play has been recognized by the league, being named Defensive Rookie of the Month. 

It is a rarity for Tyreek Hill to say anything positive about New England, but he gave Gonzalez nice praise after the Week 2 matchup. 

“He’s real good, a very lengthy corner,” Hill said. “He had some real good speed and technique about him. They have some real good pieces in over there in New England.”

But Bill Belichick threw a wet blanket over the entire award announcement. In typical Belichick fashion, he deadpanned, “It’s great for him,” Belichick said. 

“It’s not really what we’re in it for, though. So, just trying to win games and get better. Of course, getting recognition like that is probably a good sign that things are going fairly well, but there’s still a lot to work on. Every week’s a new challenge.

“Congratulations, but really, our goals are different and bigger than that.” Don’t be fooled by that. The Patriots have to be thrilled with his game thus far. 

Joe Judge: The Patriots’ senior STs coach left a hoodie in every player’s locker this week with the old Pat the Patriot logo, and on the back, it reads: “No One is Coming; It’s Up to Us,” a statement that seems to suggest the team is using it as internal motivation. 

Patriots fans went crazy on social media, taking the meaning that the team wouldn’t make any moves or spend cash to improve the team. 

Jordan Poyer: With a lot of eyes watching the score today in Buffalo with Miami coming to upstate New York, the Bills will be without one of their two outstanding safeties. Poyer injured his knee last week against Washington and is out for today’s game. 

That is not good news facing a Miami team that smoked the Broncos for 70 points last week, but Buffalo is confident that Taylor Rapp will be up to the task. Damar Hamlin is also expected to be active for the first time in 2023. 

The Bus Blows a Tire: The Steelers won’t quit whining about the 2004 AFC Championship Game, and on a recent podcast, Jerome Bettis and Ben Roethlisberger repeated their claim that the Patriots cheated by stealing the Steelers’ hand signals. And rather than do a journalist’s job by rewatching the tape, which blows all of Bettis’ claims right out of the water, clickbait won out again, and countless sites and blogs ran with it because “If Ben and da Bus say it, it must be true.”

To debunk the BS he spewed, the Patriots did not call a timeout. The officials did call a TO to do a measurement at the request of Bill Cowher. Facing a 4th and 1 at the Patriots’ 40-yard line, did anyone in the world think Pittsburgh WASN’T going to run Bettis up the middle? But regardless, Cowher called in the play via the headset, not via hand signals.

Bettis’ comments are here: “It was fourth-and-1. They called a timeout,” Bettis said. “Coach (made a hand signal), this meant counter. They saw this (hand signal), they called timeout. Who normally goes to the sideline on a timeout? The defensive tackles, right? They told the nose guard, (Ted) Washington, they pulled him to the sideline. Big 400-pound guy; he doesn’t wanna go the sideline and come all the way back. What does he want to go to the sideline for? They’re yelling, making him go to the sideline and come back.

“Then, we run the play, he loops into the hole, Washington does, they stop us on fourth down. That’s a critical play in the game. They had our signs, and they called a timeout to get them ready for that play because they knew it was coming. No question in my mind. I remember vividly because I thought, ‘Why is this big dude going to the sideline?'”

Bill Belichick didn’t call over NT Ted Washington (he was no longer a Patriot), but he didn’t call over Keith Traylor either. He called over ILB Ted Johnson, who called the defensive signals. Belichick appears to say “Goalline” on the tape. 

Bettis also failed to mention that he fumbled on the play anyway, with the Patriots recovering. On the very next play, Brady threw a strike to Deion Branch for a 60-yard TD, and it opened the floodgates. Roethlisberger also fails to mention that he telegraphed a pass in the 2nd quarter that Rodney Harrison easily picked off and returned 87 yards for a TD. Instead, he blamed it on “the Patriots cheating.”

The Patriots blew them out 41-27, with Pittsburgh scoring a garbage time TD with 52 seconds left. Pittsburgh turned the ball over four times, on the Bettis fumble and three Roethlisberger interceptions, not two, as they state in the podcast. 

The curious thing is that the two guys responsible for turning the ball over four times are using the tired excuse that the Patriots cheated. The culture that permeates Pittsburgh is that the Steelers couldn’t lose in a championship game at home; there had to be something nefarious going on because they blew out a beat-up New England team in October. 

In January, they were dominated. Plain and simple. And if bozo journalists had done their homework and watched the replay of the play, they would have blown that whiny sour grapes crap out of the water. Instead, they played to the lowest common denominator.

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 moments of the Jets game as well as doing a quick look at the Cowboys’ 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 Cowboys —

The Patriots and Cowboys haven’t played each other a ton, like AFC East divisional foes, but there have been some really good games between the two teams. The last time they met was the O.T. thriller in Gillette in 2021. 

But if the Patriots are going to win this time around, they’ll need some big games from their players. Below are listed five of the key players to watch today.

Running Backs: The Patriots have to be able to run the football and control the tempo of the game. somewhat facing a fast, athletic Dallas defense. Rhamondre Stevenson and Ezekiel Elliott had been bottled up for the first two games before having a solid game against the Jets, running for 157 yards.

This week, the team will need the duo to give them a downhill, physical game, running between the tackles, taking advantage of what is perhaps Dallas’ Achilles heel: their defensive tackles. 

 Elliott’s emotions will be running high today, returning to Dallas, where he enjoyed so many productive seasons. There are rumors that the Cowboys will air a video montage to thank Elliott for his years in a Cowboys uniform. I expect he’ll be wanting to make a statement today. 

Ja’Whaun Bentley: The Patriots have some injuries along on the defensive line, and the Cowboys, like New England, want to run the football with Tony Pollard. Since Mike McCarthy took over offensive play-calling, the Dallas offense has been much more run-oriented. This is where Bentley comes in.

Bentley was all over the field in run support last week in the Meadowlands. The team will need another big effort from him this week to bottle up Pollard and keep him from using his speed to create big chunk plays on the ground.

Dallas has injuries along its offensive line. Tyron Smith is out, and Tyler Biadasz, along with Zack Martin, are injured and are questionable to play this week. If they can’t go, it will be an area that the Patriots will want to test.

Kendrick Bourne:  The last time the two teams met, Bourne scored on a 75-yard touchdown pass from Mac Jones with two minutes to play to give the Patriots the lead that they couldn’t hold, losing in overtime. 

With Trevon Diggs lost for the season, Dallas had some communication issues in the secondary that resulted in some busted coverages. Arizona was able to scheme up good pass plays with deep crossing routes, something Mac Jones relied on earlier in his career but hasn’t used much thus far in 2023. 

Bourne could be the guy who could target the Dallas defense again, operating out of bunch formations. The Patriots desperately need some chunk plays in the passing game, and Bourne could be the guy that Jones looks to. 

Mac Jones: The Patriots QB has thrown the most downfield passes this season in the league. However, the Patriots have had little success in downfield throws. And while the argument will continue over the team having more talented weapons, the plays have been there, but the small details have not. 

It seems that the deep plays that they have attempted just have the lack of chemistry, subtle issues that could be on Jones or his WRs. Regardless, they need to be fixed. It isn’t going to be fixed overnight, but it has to be fixed soon if the offense wants to reach its full potential. 

Jones has played well thus far this season, but he now needs (along with the skill position players) to kick up a notch.

Christian Gonzalez: The Patriots’ top cornerback has been outstanding thus far this season, winning the Rookie Defensive Player of the Month for September. But it doesn’t get any easier… out of the frying pan and into the fire, as he faces Cee Dee Lamb this afternoon.

Lamb is another excellent WR who has exceptional YAC ability, so this is an area that will have been stressed all week during practice. He has been Dak Prescott’s favorite go-to receiver and with good reason. 

Week 4 Predictions

Thursday Night Football: 

Detroit over Green Bay 1-0

Sunday Day Games:

Miami over Buffalo
Jacksonville over Atlanta
Denver over Chicago
Baltimore over Cleveland
Cincinnati over Tennessee
Indianapolis over LA Rams
New Orleans over Tampa Bay
Philadelphia over Washington
Minnesota over Carolina
Pittsburgh over Houston
LA Chargers over Las Vegas
New England over Dallas
San Francisco over Arizona

Sunday Night Football:

Kansas City over NY Jets

Monday Night Football: 

Seattle over NY Giants

Last Week           11—5

2023 Season      28—20

2022 Season:   178—92—2

2021 Season:   183—88—1

2020 Season:   169—86—1 

2019 Season:   162—93—1


“Yeah, Gil had a big impact on both the college and the pro game. With [Clint] Murchison [Jr.], [Tex] Schramm, Brandt, and [Tom] Landry, it was a pretty formidable operation they had down there, 20 straight winning seasons, or whatever it was. It was a lot. 

“Gil was a college scout, so he spent a lot of time with the draft and college players, all the way – I mean, when I talked to him a few weeks ago, he was asking about our draft choices. So, and then, of course, it goes back to my dad. He was a college coach, and they had a relationship from Gil scouting and my dad being a scout and being at a lot of games that Gil would be at, looking at different things. 

“So, I knew him through my dad, and of course [Roger] Staubach down there, all that. Then, when I got to Cleveland, Mike Lombardi and I spent a lot of time with Gil just trying to get some insight from him on team building and so forth, things related to not the coaching side of it, but the scouting side, the administrative side of it. When Gil stepped away from the Cowboys, then I obviously spent a lot of time with him at that point, really going back over scouting systems, grades, various other tips, and so forth that he had. 

“So, he was a great friend, great person, glad to obviously see him get inducted into the Hall of Fame a couple of years ago. What a great legacy he left; did a lot for the game, did a lot for scouting. Guys like him and Bucko [Kilroy] really are the pillars of pro scouting and college scouting. 

“Gil was one of those guys who, because he saw so many college games and so many college teams, had a lot of influence with college presidents on who to hire and so forth because he had seen all the college coaches – the coordinators at other schools where they weren’t going to get the head coach, but who are the up and coming coordinators, coaches and so forth. 

I know he had a lot of influence with college presidents and college ADs who were looking to hire, and outside of their circle, who do they really know? Maybe the guys in their conference and all of that, but Gil really was a national resource. I’d say there was a period of time there when – I don’t want to say controlled, but had a lot of influence in the college hiring process and probably did all the way up until the end because he was still very well-connected within those circles. Not just the coaches, but ADs, college presidents, a very respected guy in all circles.

Bill Belichick speaking about Gil Brandt, who passed away recently. Brandt was considered the man who revolutionized scouting. Brandt was the first to use computers and came up with a system of draft grades that was an entirely new program. 


“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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About Steve Balestrieri

A former US Army Special Forces NCO and Officer, Steve has been following the Patriots since their days at Fenway Park. Steve has worked in the film industry and wrote as an Military Editor at, as a reporter for the Millbury Daily Voice, Millbury-Sutton Chronicle, and the Grafton News. He's also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)

Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: Bill Belichick Buffalo Bills Cee Dee Lamb Christian Gonzalez Dak Prescott Dallas Cowboys Ezekiel Elliott Ja'Whaun Bentley Kendrick Bourne Mac Jones Matthew Judon Miami Dolphins Micah Parsons Patriots edge rushers Rhamondre Stevenson Stephon Gilmore Tony Pollard Trevon Diggs

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