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Wednesday Patriots Notebook 11/29: News and Notes

Ian Logue
Ian Logue on Twitter
November 29, 2023 at 12:23 pm ET

Wednesday Patriots Notebook 11/29: News and Notes(PHOTO: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports)
Posted: Nov 29, 2023 12:23
🕑 Read Time: 4 minutes

Some news and notes for this morning:

Interesting Defensive Totals

Looking at the defensive totals to this point in 2023, there are a couple of things that certainly stand out when it comes to looking at this Patriots team compared to where they were at this time last season.

Through 12 games in 2022, New England had 12 interceptions, having picked off Kirk Cousins(1), Zach Wilson(3), Jacoby Brissett(2), Aaron Rodgers(1), Mitchell Trubisky(1), Jared Goff(1), Lamar Jackson(1), Sam Ehlinger(1), and Justin Fields(1).

So far, in 2023, they haven’t been able to create as many turnovers despite seeing 16 more pass attempts than in 2022.  At this point in the season, they have just six interceptions, having picked off Tua Tagovailoa(2), Sam Howell(1), Josh Allen(1), Gardner Minshew(1), and Jimmy Garoppolo(1).

They’ve also allowed more rushing touchdowns (9) compared to last season (4), although they’ve allowed fewer passing touchdowns (13) compared to this point in 2022 (15).

One area that has been better is in the red area.  To this point last season, opposing quarterbacks had completed 19-of-36 (52.8%) for 144-yards with 12 TDs and 1 INT.  In 2023, they’ve completed 25-of-46 (54.3%) for 146-yards with just 8 TDs, and 2 INTs.

What’s obviously frustrating this season is the fact that despite losing both Christian Gonzalez and Matthew Judon, arguably New England’s two best players on defense, they’ve been competitive most of the season.  Looking at what’s certainly been a tough 2023 Patriots schedule, save for the two blowout disasters against Dallas and New Orleans, six of New England’s nine losses have been by seven points or less.

Clearly, their issues on offense continue to plague them, especially having lost two-straight where their defense gave up just 10 points in losses to the Colts (10-6) and Sunday’s disappointing finish against the Giants (10-7).

Bill Belichick said earlier this week that they’re going to continue trying to turn things around and hopefully improve over these final six weeks.

“Well, we’re just going to keep working as hard as we can to fix it,” said Belichick.  “We’ve lost a lot of close games. We’ve just got to play better in situational and executional football at critical situations in the game. It’s what we’re working on. We’ll keep working on it.”

Grier Returns

According to multiple reports, the Patriots brought quarterback Will Grier back to the practice squad, just days after waiving him ahead of Sunday’s game against the Giants.

Grier was waived off the active roster on Saturday to make room for offensive tackle Conor McDermott, who was active on Sunday against the Giants.

The veteran QB’s future should be interesting given the club’s current state at quarterback.  Like last week, Belichick was non-committal when it came to discussing whether or not it would be Mac Jones starting under center this week, and Jones didn’t sound as confident during his Monday interview on WEEI that he would be out there.  That may mean the door may be open for Bailey Zappe to make his first start since last season.

However, should Zappe falter, Grier has received a fair amount of praise from the coaching staff in recent weeks, and it’s certainly possible his opportunity could be coming should Zappe also struggle.

Zappe started out hot on Sunday, completing 7-of-8 (87.5%) for 45 yards in the third quarter, which included 6-of-6 on the team’s opening drive that led to their only touchdown of the game.

From there, he cooled off, completing just 2-of-6 for 9 yards in the fourth quarter, along with an interception.  They were also 0-for-3 on third down over the final 15 minutes and just 1-of-6 in the second half.

That will likely need to improve, otherwise, Grier may eventually get his shot.  With six games to go, it should definitely be interesting to see how things play out.

Tough Season For Brown

Trent Brown has dealt with various injuries all year, most recently ankle and knee injuries, and the team seemingly tried to help him manage that this past weekend.

Brown was in on 52 of Sunday’s 68 snaps (76%) at MetLife Stadium and played well despite the loss, while McDermott stepped in and played the first two series, tallying 16 snaps in Brown’s place on Sunday.

The veteran tackle praised the team for managing his health, which he talked about after the game.

“Health reasons. We talked about all week – my ankle, knee – still trying to get back and I think they did the best interest for me, I think so,” Brown said via MassLive’s Mark Daniels when asked why he didn’t start. “I think they’ve done a good job of allowing me to feel my best. I think that showed today as well with the rotation. Got out there, I was feeling ok. Ended up playing a little bit more.”

Brown sat out both Week 9 and Week 10, with Sunday’s game being his first time back on the field since Week 8 against Miami.

It’s been a tough year for Brown, who has certainly been banged up.  He’s been on the various Patriots injury reports every week this season with the exception of Week 4, and he’s missed a total of three games after sitting out Week 2’s match-up against the Dolphins with a concussion.

Odds and Ends

According to The Boston Herald’s Doug Kyed, the club worked out free agent receiver Kalil Pimpleton on Tuesday.  The former undrafted player out of Central Michigan was waived by the Giants back in August after spending last season on their practice squad …  As expected, Belichick wouldn’t announce who will be under center on Sunday against the Chargers.  “”We’ll see how it goes,” he told reporters. “I’m not prepared to make any announcement, so I’m not going to do that.” … When asked about how he felt Mac Jones has been performing, Belichick simply replied, “Well, we haven’t won enough games. So, I don’t think anybody has performed well enough. We all need to do a better job.” … As for whether or not Will Grier might get an opportunity, Belichick reiterated that everyone should be ready should their chance to play eventually come.  “If they’re on the practice squad they’re eligible and are preparing,” said Belichick. “They should be ready to play and potentially are ready to play. That includes everybody.”

READ NEXT:
Thursday Patriots Notebook 11/30: News and Notes

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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