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Wednesday Patriots Notebook 10/25: News and Notes

Ian Logue
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1 month ago at 11:01 am ET
Posted Under: Patriots News

Wednesday Patriots Notebook 10/25: News and NotesDavid Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Some news and notes for this morning:

Mayo Speaks on Tackling Issues

If there was anything that stood out on Sunday, it would be the missed tackles the New England Patriots had against the Bills.  That was something that was definitely surprising to see, and it will be something they’ll also hopefully improve on this weekend against the Dolphins.

Probably the most notable play in that area came late in the fourth quarter.  With 5:40 left in the game, Bills quarterback Josh Allen hit Stefon Diggs on a strike that he caught at the six yard line, where he was immediately greeted by J.C. Jackson and Myles Bryant.

Jackson initially wrapped him up, with Bryant closing in right behind him.  However, Diggs managed to slip out of Jackson’s grasp as the Patriots defensive back tried to sling him down, and Bryant saw Diggs slap away his hands as he came in to help.

The result was Diggs breaking away from both players, finishing things up in the end zone for a 25-yard touchdown play that saw the Patriots 22-10 lead cut to five points after the play was over.

That was one of several frustrating moments that happened Sunday, and Patriots defensive coach Jerod Mayo wasn’t pleased about it. Mayo talked about their tackling issues when he spoke to the media on Tuesday, which was something he said was definitely disappointing to see.

“Honestly, overall, I would say the defense played well schematically in knowing what to do, but at the end of the day, it always comes back to fundamentals,” said Mayo.  “And once again, we’re always working on tackling each and every day so it was kind of disappointing to see how many missed tackles we had.  We gave away a lot of yards due to missed tackles.”

Mayo went on to say that he believes Sunday’s game was an “outlier” and not the norm, which will certainly need to be the case down in Miami.

Playing on Their Turf

One thing that was interesting was some insight from Dolphins reporter Omar Kelly, who was a guest with NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran’s Patriots Talk Podcast this week while discussing Sunday’s match-up.

The Dolphins have won their previous two home games, having lost two games on the road in recent weeks after falling to Buffalo in a blowout loss back on October 1st, along with taking a pretty good 31-17 beating against the Eagles on Sunday night in Philadelphia.

Kelly explained that playing at home has been an edge that has helped the Dolphins largely due to their ability to communicate better, which had been something that has given them trouble on the road.

“I think they can’t beat the elite teams on the road, and I think that this offense doesn’t travel well,” explained Kelly.  “They do a lot of motions.  A lot of shifting.  A lot of timing stuff with the jet sweeps and stuff like that, and when you have to go to a silent count, the rhythm of it can be kind of off.  And I’m seeing, yeah, it’s a hostile environment, there’s crowd noise, you’ve got to go to a silent count, but Tua can’t be out there communicating with his guys the way that he usually does at home.”

“That’s why you’ve seen them blow teams out at home, other than the heat and humidity in South Florida.”

With the Dolphins playing this one on their turf, that’s going to be something the Patriots will need to be mindful of this weekend. New England did a good job anticipating a lot of what Miami did back in Week two after taking the Dolphins down to the wire before eventually falling 24-17.

Aside from an ill-advised turnover, Mac Jones played relatively well in that game.  He completed 14-of-18 (77.8%) for 95 yards in the first half and finished the day 31-of-42 (73.8%) for 231 yards, along with one touchdown and an interception.  That turnover came after he tried to go deep to DeVante Parker but Xavien Howard came up with the football after boxing out Parker on the play.

If Jones can put together another similar effort and avoid any turnovers the way they did Sunday, and the defense can keep it close, it’s possible we could see New England potentially make it two in a row.

It should be fun to watch, and the Patriots are certainly due for a win down there.  They’ve lost their previous three meetings down in Miami, including last year’s 20-7 defeat in the season opener.  Their last win came back in 2019, when Tom Brady and the offense blew them out 43-0.

The club will hold its first practice ahead of that game later today.

Patriots Release Cunningham

After recently receiving a three-year extension and having been talked up by the coaching staff, the team made a relatively surprising move after releasing quarterback Malik Cunningham on Tuesday.

The rookie had garnered a lot of praise two weeks ago leading up to the Raiders game, even moving ahead of Bailey Zappe after starting the contest as the backup quarterback, with Zappe listed as the emergency QB.  The rookie was in on six snaps against Las Vegas, but whatever plan they had didn’t work out too well that afternoon.

The Patriots had some severe offensive line problems against the Raiders, which saw Cunningham not have much success on the handful of plays they brought him in for, which mostly saw him hand off the football or split out on one play that ended up being a direct snap to Ezekiel Elliott, which ended up being a touchdown.

On the one play where it looked like Cunningham might have thought about throwing the ball, he was immediately swallowed up and dropped for a sack.

As a result, the coaching staff switched gears Sunday against Buffalo.  Cunningham was inactive on Sunday, with the Patriots returning to their rotation of Zappe back behind Mac Jones as the back-up, while Will Grier was again the emergency quarterback.

Still, it was a surprise to see him let go not long after getting a 3-year extension and being promoted to the active roster.  The expectation appears to be that he’ll be brought back to the practice squad, but it definitely remains a strange season for the former Louisville standout.

Flowers Also Out

After bringing back Trey Flowers, it looks like the Patriots are ready to move on after he was also released on Tuesday.

Flowers has been dealing with a foot injury, which has prevented him from seeing any playing time to this point.  The veteran started off the season on PUP, but he’s been on the injury report ever since and it appears that his health remains an issue.

Having him on the depth chart would have been helpful, but his release sort of signals that they’re happy with their current personnel.  Flowers was known for his pass-rushing ability during his time in New England, but the team has certainly had some success there so far this season.

That’s been a strength to this point, and Sunday saw the club do a terrific job of getting after Buffalo’s Josh Allen.  They were able to get the Bills quarterback off his spot multiple times during their victory, forcing him out of the pocket and hitting him six times, including a sack.

With Keion White potentially set to return, the Patriots seem to be in relatively good shape in terms of weathering the loss of Matthew Judon, who was previously lost to injury with a torn biceps.

Judon was on the sideline cheering on the club this past weekend, although it remains to be seen if he’ll be able to get healthy enough to return in 2023.

Posted Under: Patriots News

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