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MORSE: Replacing Belichick and Patriots vs Buffalo Bills Preview

Mark Morse
Mark Morse on Twitter
1 month ago at 11:00 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary

MORSE: Replacing Belichick and Patriots vs Buffalo Bills PreviewBrian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

It’s time for Robert Kraft to make a change with the Patriots organization.  The Patriots 1-5 start is unacceptable, and changes need to be made and that means at the top.  Bill Belichick is the problem.  He has lost this team, and they are no longer listening to him.   This season is lost with the probability that the Patriots will lose their next two games versus superior division opponents Buffalo and Miami.  The Patriots are looking at a top 5 draft pick.

Replacing Bill Belichick

Bob Kraft does not want to fire the legendary Bill Belichick.  He doesn’t want the publicity nightmare of being the guy that fired the Hall of Fame legend.  What Kraft could do is take the General Manager duties away from Bill Belichick.  His performance as a GM has been abysmal.  The roster construction the last five years is the main reason why the Patriots are in the position they are in.  Would having his GM duties taken away be acceptable to Bill Belichick?  Probably not.

At this point Belichick would approach Kraft about leaving if he can’t “buy the groceries” like Bill Parcell’s said.  They would come to a mutual agreement that Bill would step down immediately and he would be allowed to coach for another team if he so desired.  Belichick could get that record for the most wins in a career with a team that doesn’t have to go through the rebuilding process the Patriots do.

This will accelerate the succession plan to replace Belichick.  Jerod Mayo will take over and use the remainder of the season to develop talent and determine which players really want to be here.  If it were me, several veterans would be immediately jettisoned as an example to the team that the new coach means business.  I would not trade any of my draft picks for talent that will just put a band-aid on this season.  Instead, I would entertain offers on older Patriots vets that might help other teams and gather more draft picks.

Mac Jones will be evaluated on whether or not he can be an NFL starter and take this team to the playoffs.  To this point it is difficult to analyze what he has done because the offensive line is so bad.  Tom Brady would have a hard time leading this team to victory.  The new GM along with Mayo would determine in what direction the team will be heading as they prepare for the draft.

Who will replace Bill Belichick the GM?  My choice is ESPN Draft Analyst Louis Riddick.  The former player (7 years) was a Pro Scout (5 years), Assistant Pro-Personnel Director (1 year), and Pro Personnel Director (7 years).  He is currently an analyst for ESPN and has done extensive work on the drafts the last few years.  He is from outside the organization and will bring a fresh perspective.  The current system of evaluating talent has become stale.

Additionally, there are so many former members of the Patriots Scouting department in positions of authority for other teams in the league now.  They are using the same evaluation methods the Patriots have used for years.  This creates competition for the same players in the draft.  Perhaps that is a reason why the Patriots chose Cole Strange earlier than he was projected because other teams using the same methods would have him high on their list too!

This was from an ESPN article Riddick penned on this past draft.  “This year, five potential first-rounders and five sleepers who will likely get picked on Day 2 stood out for me. These are guys I’d be targeting if I were running an NFL team and players I think have a really good chance to be stars in the pros.”

His five 1st round picks were:

QB CJ Stroud

RB Jahmyr Gibbs

OT Darnell Wright

CB Christian Gonzalez

CB Deonte Banks

This is what he said about Christian Gonzalez: “Big corners who have movement skills like Gonzalez don’t come along often. At 6-foot-1 and 197 pounds, he has the fast feet and hands to be a very efficient press corner in the NFL. I love his pattern recognition, fluid hips and closing quickness. And Gonzalez has the ball skills to finish, breaking up seven passes and intercepting four last season. The icing on the cake?  Gonzalez is also fearless as a tackler. Simply put, he is the total package and has a high ceiling as a pro.”

The five Day 2 picks were:

ILB DeMarvion Overshown

DT Jaquelin Roy

WR Jayden Reed

RB Tyjae Spears

CB Riley Moss

Preview of the Buffalo Bills

This week’s opponent is a familiar one in the Buffalo Bills.  In recent years the Bills have dominated the Patriots with the exception of a windblown game up in Buffalo.  The Patriots have had a difficult time containing the combination of Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs.    The Bills come in 4-2, 1-1 in the division, but they should have lost the game last week to the NY Giants, escaping with a 14-9 victory.

Offense 3WR 1TE
QB Josh Allen Kyle Allen
RB James Cook Latavius Murray Damien Harris Q Nyheim Hines O
WR Stefon Diggs Deonte Harty
WR Gabe Davis Trent Sherfield
WR Khalil Shakir Justin Shorter IR
TE Dawson Knox Dalton Kincaid Quintin Morris Q Zach Davidson IR
FB Reggie Gilliam
LT Dion Dawkins Ryan Van Demark Tommy Doyle IR
LG David Edwards Connor McGovern
C Mitch Morse Ryan Bates
RG O’Cyrus Torrence Germain Ifedi
RT Spencer Brown Alec Anderson


Josh Allen is an outstanding quarterback.  His mobility and ability to avoid the rush and extend plays is a big factor.   Allen also possesses a very strong arm to make all the throws especially to the sidelines.  He has completed 147 of 205 passes for an outstanding 71.7% completion percentage.  This has resulted in 13 TDs to 6 Interceptions and a 102.8 QB rating.  He has been suffering from an injured throwing shoulder but did resume throwing in practice on Thursday.  Last season Josh Allen and the Bills under new Offensive Coordinator ran less.  This season Allen has rushed just 22 times for 131 yards (6,0) yards and 3 TDs.   He has only been sacked 9 times but has fumbled twice.

James Cook has been the workhorse running the ball and with Damien Harris being carted off the field last week, Cook will be called upon to shoulder more of the load.   This season Cook has rushed 75 times for 363 yards, a 4.8 average and 1 TD.  Cook has not fumbled so far.  Latavious Murray is having a good year and will see increased touched now that Harris is injured.  Murray has rushed 31 times for 128 yards. A 4.1 average and 2 TDs.    Nyheim Hines is a good receiving back as is Cook, but Hines is listed as Out for the game.

Diggs is a perennial Pro Bowl (3x), 1st Team (1), and 2nd team All-Pro (1) player.  His stats so far are 49 catches on 66 targets. 626 yards, 12.7 YPC, 5 TDs and 1 Fumble.   The Patriots have done a good job holding down #1 receivers so far this season.  Gabe Davis, the number 2 receiver has killed the Patriots in the past, especially when matched up against Myles Bryant.  It appears that Jack Jones will be back for this game, especially since the team waived Ameer Speed today.  Davis has 21 catches on 30 targets with 341 yards, a 16.2 average, 4 TDs and a Fumble.

The Bills made a sneaky good Free Agent signing of Deonte Harty (Harris) from Assumption University.  The diminutive 5’ 6”, 170 lb speedster was an All-Pro Punt returner in his rookie year in 2019.   The former Hound has 12 catches on 15 targets for 103 yards and a TD.  How can the Patriots lose out on a player like Harty who played all 4 years in their backyard in Worcester?   Khalil Shakir is the #3 receiver and the shifty wideout only has 4 catches.

Dalton Kincaid was the Bills 1st round pick (#25) in this year’s draft.  His stats so far are 17 receptions on 19 targets.  Dawson Knox has spent the last 4 seasons with the Bills. He was a 2019 3rd round selection (#96).  His stat line is 14 catches on 25 targets for 92 yards and 1 TD.  That is a pretty good 1-2 punch at TE.

Defense Base 4-3 D
LDE Greg Rousseau AJ Epenesa Kingsley Jonathan
LDT Ed Oliver Q Jordan Phillips Poona Ford
RDT Tim Settle DaQuan Jones IR
RDE Von Miller Leonard Floyd Shaq Lawson
WLB Tyrel Dodson Tyler  Matakevich
MLB Terrel Bernard Baylon Spector
SLB Dorian Williams A.J. Klein Matt Milano IR
LCB Taron Johnson Dane Jackson Cam Lewis Q Tre’Davious White IR
SS Jordan Poyer Taylor Rapp
FS Micah Hyde Damar Hamlin
RCB Christian Benford Kaiir Elam Q Siran Neal


The Bills defense has been hit hard with injuries this year losing Von Miller for a stretch, Tre’Davious White and Matt Milano to IR.  The Bills defense is ranked #12 by Fox Sports, two down from the Patriots at #10.

Defensive Ends Greg Rousseau, Leonard Floyd, Von Miller, Shaq Lawson and AJ Epenesa can really put pressure on the QB.  That’s not what the Patriots O-line needs to face.  Miller has returned from injury and is slowly rounding back into form.  Floyd has 6.5 sacks, Epenesa 4 sacks, and Rousseau 2 sacks.  The DT’s Ed Oliver (4 sacks and 24 tackles) and Da’Quan Jones (2.5 sacks) can also apply pressure.  Oliver is listed as Questionable and didn’t practice Wednesday or Thursday.  Jones is on IR so it looks like veteran Tim Settle will start.  Settle was drafted in 2018 in the 5th round (# 163) by the Washington Commanders.  Jordan Phillips is no slouch either.  The 2015 2nd round selection (# 52) was taken by the Miami Dolphins.  Combine the two losses at DT along with the loss of Milano, leaves Buffalo vulnerable up the middle.

Terrel Bernard leads the Bills in tackles with 57.  The 2022 3rd round pick (#96) is out of Baylor.   Bernard is on the smaller side at 6’1”. 224 Lbs.   Dorian Williams has 19 tackles and is 8th on the team.    AJ Klein is a serviceable linebacker.

Losing White is a blow but the secondary is still solid with Safeties Micah Hyde (28 tackles) and Jordan Poyer (24 tackles) leading the way.   Damar Hamlin has recovered from his heart stopping injury last season.  Hyde is also a ballhawk with 2 INT this season.   Taron Johnson is at the left cornerback and is the second highest tackler with 31.  Christian Beneford was a 2022 6th round pick (#185) out of Villinova.  He led the NCAA FCS Division with 18 Pass Breakups and 7 Interceptions in 2022.  He won the starting job this year.  He has chipped in with 20 tackles, and 3 pass deflections.


Special Teams
PK Tyler Bass
P Sam Martin
H Sam Martin
PR Deonte Harty Khalil Shakir Nyheim Hines O
KR Deonte Harty Khalil Shakir Nyheim Hines O
LS Reid Ferguson


Deonte Harty may rank 29th in the league this year on Punt Returns but believe me he is a threat to take it to the house every time he touches the ball.  I witnessed that firsthand when he played for Assumption.  He holds the NCAA (All-Divisions) with 14 returns for a TDs (Punt and Kickoff) for a career.  His 8 TDs combined in a single season is a D II record.  Tyler Bass ranks 6th amongst kickers with 27 of 31 Field Goals and 48 of 50 Extra Points.  Sam Martin is in the lower half of the Punters in the league at 29th.   Damien Harris was taking the kickoffs but that will go to Harty now that he is injured.

Comings and Goings

You are going to need a program to tell the names and numbers of the players.  With 20 injuries to deal with, don’t be surprised to see some more movement before the game Sunday.  The Patriots Transaction page has been filled up this week.

OL Connor McDermott was resigned to the Practice Squad

RB Patrick Taylor was signed to the Practice Squad

CB William Bradley-King was signed to the Practice Squad

CB Ameer Speed was waived opening a spot for Jack Jones to be activated off IR

DT Manny Jones was waived off Practice Squad

WR TJ Luther was waived off Practice Squad

Look for two more elevations from the Practice Squad on Saturday

Posted Under: Patriots Commentary

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