Good morning, and Happy Gameday. Here are our Sunday 10-15 Patriots news and notes.
This week, the Patriots are at 1-4, and unless they right the ship very quickly, the 2023 season will unravel very quickly. The offensive output has gone down every week to zero last week against New Orleans.
Bill Belichick said last week that the team would start over. But what is that plan? We’ll have to see what that entails later today.
Quick Hitters For the Patriots and NFL News:
Jalen Reagor: The Patriot WR could be in line for some work at WR this week after JuJu Smith-Schuster and Demario Douglas were ruled out of today’s game due to concussions they suffered a week ago.
Reagor is a former 1st-round pick (21st overall) of the Eagles in the 2020 NFL Draft. He played two years with the Eagles before being traded to the Vikings in 2022. He has career numbers of 72 catches for 799 yards and four TDs.
He has good speed and lined up primarily as an outside receiver.
Tyquan Thornton: The Patriots 2nd year WR has yet to be activated (as of Friday night) off of IR after suffering a shoulder injury against the Packers during joint practices on Aug 17. But he returned to practice this week, although he was still listed as questionable, with limited participation at practice.
The Patriots could certainly use his speed on the outside if he is activated this week. If he is unable to go, then Kayshon Boutte could be a call-up from the practice squad to help at the banged-up WR position.
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 bottom falling out against the Saints, as well as doing a quick look at ‘da Rayduhs.’
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 Raiders —
The Patriots and Raiders meet this afternoon in Las Vegas. The team has ruled out seven players already and has ten more that are questionable. For a team teetering on the precipice at 1-4, it is a circle the wagons one more time type of game today.
Las Vegas was where the Patriots lost in one of the most bizarre ways last year, as Chandler Jones scored on a lateral gone wrong for the Patriots. Now they come limping into Vegas with a banged-up and mentally shaken team that has lost its last two games by a combined score of 72-3.
But as we all know, the NFL is a week-to-week league, so anything can happen.
So here are our players from a Patriots perspective to watch today.
Mac Jones: Jones had his worst days as a pro in the past two games while completing just 24 passes with six turnovers. The team’s offensive output was 3 points in Dallas and zero against New Orleans.
While the offensive woes are not all on him, as the QB, he has to be the leader, and they’ll look to him to turn things around. And he has to this week. He’s been replaced two weeks in a row. If he gets pulled this week, it may possibly be Will Grier instead of Bailey Zappe, who was ineffective.
If there is the slightest sliver of optimism, it is the Raiders’ defense is by far the weakest one that the Patriots have faced this year. They are 20th in points allowed, but right now, the offense is a mess.
Offensive Line: This has to be a collective here because they’ve been really bad thus far in 2023. A really large part of the offense’s crash and burn this season can be directly tied to the poor play up front. They haven’t been able to run the ball because of poor run blocking, which is supposed to be their strength. The pass protection is equally bad, if not worse.
Now, to add injury to insult, the Patriots will be without Cole Strange, Reilly Reiff, and Tyrone Wheatley Jr. All of them are ruled out. Trent Brown and Micheal Owenu are questionable.
And there is the Maxx Crosby issue. Crosby is a tremendous disruptor, and going against Vederian Lowe at RT is a huge mismatch. Lowe has allowed 27 pressures, which is far too high a number. Will they replace him this week? If so, with whom? Or will they opt for an extra tight end (Pharoh Brown) to stay in to block? These matchups will bear watching.
Myles Bryant: The talk all week has been on stopping the Raiders’ big three. Running back Josh Jacobs and wide receivers Devante Adams and Jakobi Meyers. And with good cause, they are Las Vegas’ three best playmakers so far.
However, last year, the Patriots did a good job of stopping Adams, holding him to under 30 yards receiving. They’ll probably use J.C. Jackson to match up with Adams, while Jonathan Jones will probably line up opposite Meyers. Speaking of Meyers, I’d expect Josh McDaniels to take a shot down the field with Meyers throwing the ball.
Which leads us to Bryant. I expect he’ll be matched up with Hunter Renfrow, who has been the odd man out and is rumored to be on the trading block. But another aspect of last year’s game was that when the Patriots took away Adams, they went elsewhere with the ball. This week, I expect Renfrow to play a big part in the game plan, and Bryant will likely play a big part in the defense.
Josh Uche: The Patriots desperately need pressure from the defense this week, and with Matthew Judon out indefinitely, Uche will be the guy the team looks to to provide much of that pressure. Uche and the rest of the defense didn’t get nearly enough pressure on Derek Carr a week ago despite blitzing much more than they’ve had previously.
Jimmy Garoppolo’s struggles while being blitzed are well-documented, but the pass rush has to get home, get some sacks, and force some turnovers this week. And the onus of that will have to come from Uche, who must prove that he can still generate pressure without having Judon on the opposite side.
Special Teams: The Patriots’ STs units have to be just that: special this week. Uncharacteristic bad snaps by Joe Cardona have hurt the kicking game. The return game is non-existent, and sloppy play has abounded. Penalties continue to hamper the group.
As I wrote in the key matchups piece on Friday, the team could really use a splash play/TD to energize the entire team. Could that come from a punt/FG block by Brendan Schooler? Or a return from another returner (Reagor) if he is activated.
Week 6 Predictions —
Thursday Night Football:
Kansas City over Denver 1-0
Sunday Day Games:
Baltimore over Tennessee
Atlanta over Washington
Minnesota over Chicago
Cincinnati over Seattle
San Francisco over Cleveland
Miami over Carolina
Jacksonville over Indianapolis
Houston over New Orleans
Las Vegas over New England
LA Rams over Arizona
Philadelphia over NY Jets
Detroit over Tampa Bay
(Green Bay, Pittsburgh – bye week)
Sunday Night Football:
Buffalo over NY Giants
Monday Night Football:
Dallas over LA Chargers
Last Week 6—8
2023 Season 45—33
2022 Season: 178—92—2
2021 Season: 183—88—1
2020 Season: 169—86—1
2019 Season: 162—93—1
“Yeah, he’s a first-round pick. He’s a talented guy. You know. It’s a different system than he has been in. He’s been in two other systems, Nick [Sirianni]’s system, the Philly system, which is kind of a West Coast system, and then Kevin [O’Connell]’s system, which is more of a [Sean] McVay, [Kyle] Shanahan version.
“We’re a little bit different than that, so some of the terminology and things like that. But he’s been out there every day, works hard, and done a good job on the scout team, so he’s definitely coming along.
“I would say all those guys we picked up early in the season – Will [Grier], [T.J.] Luther, Reagor, and then the defensive lineman, you know, Manny [Jones] and Trysten [Hill]. Those guys have all, with consecutive weeks here, started to look better more familiar, put them in there on some of the things we’re doing, not just the cards. They can start to do some of those things, and then they have those periods where they’re kind of the lead participants.
“So, those guys are all making progress.”
Bill Belichick speaking about practice squad WR/PR/KR Jalen Reagor, who could be activated from the practice squad this week, given the injuries at WR.
“Talent sets the floor; Character sets the ceiling.” Bill Belichick
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Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: Bill Belichick Devante Adams Hunter Renfrow Jakobi Meyers Jalen Reagor Jimmy Garoppolo Josh Jacobs Josh McDaniels Josh Uche Kendrick Bourne Las Vegas Raiders Mac Jones Matthew Judon New England Patriots Patriots edge rushers Tyquan Thornton