Author Archives: Ian Logue

Ian Logue

About Ian Logue

Ian Logue is a Seacoast native and owner and senior writer for, an independent media site covering the New England Patriots and has been running this site in one form or another since 1997.

Four Monday Patriots Thoughts: Esiason Handled Brady Situation Poorly

Ian Logue
June 10, 2019 at 7:35 am ET

With the Patriots coming off of a productive week of practice and just a couple of sessions left before the countdown to training camp begins, here are some thoughts as we kick off this week.

1) One of the more frustrating topics of discussions last week was former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason opting to publicly go after Tom Brady for Brady’s reported decision to pursue the trademark for “Tom Terrific”, which drew the ire of the retired quarterback.

Esiason, for the most part, has always had nothing but positive comments for Brady both on television and in his weekly interviews on WEEI. But Esiason went off the rails last week, attacking Brady after his strong feelings against the idea of trademarking that term apparently stemmed from the fact he credited his childhood hero, Mets pitcher Tom Seaver, as being the player who, in his mind, is the one worthy of that moniker since that’s how Mets fans referred to Seaver during his career.

Needless to say, the idea of Brady trademarking the nickname got Esiason all fired up, with the generally level-headed former player making some ridiculous comments to WFAN last week.

“When you’ve got so much goddamned money, you can do whatever you want, and this is now what Tom Brady wants to take — “Tom Terrific” as his nickname,” said Esiason via WFAN. “Maybe in New England they call him that, I guess. But you know what? We’ve been calling Tom Seaver “Tom Terrific” forever, for as long as I can remember, for 50 years. That’s who Tom Terrific has always been.”

Esiason wasn’t done there, chastising Brady further.

“I am disgusted,” continued Esiason. “And I’m really surprised, and I’m really — I don’t know, it just feels sleazy to me, you know?”

While Esiason’s home market is now New York, it’s surprising that if he truly felt that way, it seems like it would have made more sense for him to at least do the right thing and reach out privately to Brady for more context, which would have been the smarter move. Instead, Esiason made assumptions and disparaged Brady publicly, which simply wasn’t the right move and was certainly disappointing.

Brady was asked about the situation this week, but explained that the decision was really over the fact he didn’t like the nickname, which he’s heard used when some have referred to him. Unfortunately, it got blown way out of proportion and he was disappointed with what it turned into.

“It’s unfortunate,” said Brady, referring to the overall backlash over the situation. “I was actually trying to do something because I didn’t like the nickname and I wanted to make sure no one used it because some people wanted to use it.”

“I was trying to keep people from using it and then it got spun around to something different than what it was. Good lesson learned and try to do things a little different in the future.”

Seems simple enough. Unfortunately, Esiason’s comments may have potentially damaged any relationship the two may have had for stupid reasons. Brady said it’s a lesson learned. Hopefully, Esiason learned one as well.

Hightower has been a clutch performer in the postseason.

2) One of the things that stood out from Thursday night’s presentation of the Super Bowl rings to the players were Bill Belichick’s comments about Dont’a Hightower, where Mike Reiss said that Belichick referred to the veteran as “Mr. February”, stemming from the big performances the linebacker always seems to come up with during each of the team’s Super Bowl victories.

So far this offseason, things seem to be going well for Hightower, who has dealt with his fair share of injuries during his career. However, it appears the work he’s doing is paying off as he’s been focused on getting his body healthy, having lost weight along with spending time working on his flexibility. According to Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald, that time has also been spent with offensive lineman Shaq Mason, with the two training in Tennessee as Hightower continues working toward trying to make sure he’s able to stay on the field in 2019.

“Things haven’t changed. I’m just trying to stay lean. That’s what I focused on last year, trying to stay healthy a majority of the year,” said Hightower. “I just want to stay on top of that, and keep going that route. I don’t want to change anything, because I want to stay on the field.”

One of Hightower’s strengths has been his ability to get after the quarterback, most notably, in the playoffs. He came up big against the Rams, finishing with two sacks and three total quarterback hits against Jared Goff during their most recent championship run. Whether or not he’ll see more of that type of role now that Trey Flowers is gone remains to be seen but Hightower said he’s ready to do whatever Belichick needs him to this season and he’s hopeful all this work will pay dividends.

“Whatever Bill wants me to do, wherever he wants me to play, that’s where I’ll be,” said Hightower, “but again, my body feels a lot better. My knees are a lot better. The yoga helps with my core, strengthens my quads, all my limbs have more flexibility. If all that ties together (with getting to the quarterback), I’m down for it. But I feel good. I just want to stay on top of it.”

Edelman has come a long way as a player since being drafted in 2009. (USA TODAY Images)

3) The initial reports coming out of minicamp seem to point to good things for rookie receiver N’Keal Harry, which is certainly a positive. But one of the even more interesting aspects of this story is the involvement of Julian Edelman, who reportedly spent some time working with the rookie on the finer points of playing in New England’s offense.

According to Reiss, Edelman spent some time during the recent sessions talking to the rookie following a route he ran, which the next time around saw Harry do it a little differently and more precise, leading to praise from quarterback Tom Brady.

It’s amazing when you think back to where Edelman started to where he is now, having evolved into one of the best players at his position in a league where he’s generally not even mentioned among the top receivers in the NFL. The latter fact is the one that likely continues to motivate him and here he is, helping another up-and-coming player who will hopefully help him get another opportunity at a championship next February.

Reiss noted in his Sunday column that one of Edelman’s own mentors was former Patriot Fred Taylor, who spent a lot of time with him in his early years. The two would spend car rides together talking and developed a good relationship.

“I saw a lot of myself in him. Julian was so hard on himself, and when the coaches were hard on him, he would get down. Way down,” Taylor told Reiss. “Going to New England can be tough for rookies, with [Bill Belichick’s] coaching style, but I would say, ‘You don’t know how good you got it. You all have to appreciate this.’ Julian thought Coach was being a hardass, and tough on him. But that’s because he saw something in Julian. Some people don’t recognize that until it’s too late, but fortunately for Julian, he figured it out.”

Taylor’s comments sparked a reminder of Edelman’s attitude when it came to that sort of tough treatment, which stems from a mention in the book “Relentless”, authored by Edelman and NBC Sports Boston’s Tom Curran, which gave a really great glimpse into the receiver’s life. But one area that stood out was Edelman talking about the fact he preferred people being straight with him, especially if he wasn’t doing things correctly.

“You need to be called out and told the hard truths. You need to be shown the consequences of what will happen if you screw up,” explained Edleman. “You need people who won’t say, “Everything’s OK…” when it really isn’t. My father pointed out the bad more than the good. And Coach Belichick spends a lot more time telling us what we need to further improve on instead of patting us on the ass for something we’re supposed to be doing anyway. You have to have thick skin in this world.”

It’s a good mentality to have and it’s great to seeing him having a positive influence on someone like Harry, who they likely have high expectations for. It’s a little early to read too much into it, but let’s just hope Harry is filing away this information and will build on it by the time training camp begins.

Brady once promised he’d take advantage of any opportunity prior to becoming a starter.

4) I stumbled upon an interesting article by Jaclyn Galvin and Sam Gordon over at, with the two having caught up with former Patriots quarterback Michael Bishop.

For anyone who doesn’t recognize that name, Bishop was a former New England quarterback and a 7th round draft pick selected by then Patriots head coach Pete Carroll, who took the Kansas State standout with the 227th overall pick in 1999.

Belichick inherited Bishop when he took over in 2000 following Carroll’s firing after an 8-8 finish in 1999. Brady was selected in the 6th round that year during Belichick’s first NFL Draft as Patriots head coach, joining Bishop behind then-starter Drew Bledsoe.

The two apparently developed a good relationship, with Bishop saying that they each talked about how they expected the other to make the most of an opportunity if it ever came.

“We made a promise to each other, he said to me ‘If you get an opportunity, don’t give it back,'” Bishop said. “I said the same thing if he gets an opportunity to play don’t give it back and his opportunity came up.”

Off the field, the two apparently spent a lot of time together, talking about their goals and what they hoped to accomplish.

“From the time I was [in New England], me and Brady used to hangout. We used go to this place called ‘The Rack,’ and I got some stories I can’t tell you,” Bishop said. “But from actually being around Brady, at the time [Drew] Bledsoe was the starter and I finally got moved up to backup, me and Brady spent a lot time before practice and after practice, we shared a lot of stories and goals we both had.”

Bishop didn’t get to see Brady’s ascension first-hand. He was cut in training camp the following season in 2001, with Brady moving ahead of him on the depth chart behind Bledsoe, while free agent quarterback Damon Huard held the other spot.

Obviously the rest is history, but it’s interesting to learn that Bishop and Brady were as friendly as they were. Kudos to Galvin and Gordon for providing a nice walk down memory lane and the rest of the piece is definitely worth checking out, as it has some other terrific bits of information as well.

Final Draft Thoughts After Patriots Add 10 Players

Ian Logue
April 29, 2019 at 10:27 am ET

This weekend’s draft was certainly one of the more interesting ones in recent memory, with the team making 10 selections, many of which seemed to address quite a few key needs heading into the 2019 season.

Here’s a quick rundown of what we came away with after everything that went down this weekend:

1 ) The addition of receiver N’Keal Harry was a selection that essentially let everyone know that Bill Belichick is aware of the fact that there was plenty of uncertainty surrounding the wide receiver position this year, leaving the club obviously prioritizing the position in round one. What’s interesting is the fact that Harry was clearly on their radar and when he ended up being available with the 32nd overall selection, with the Patriots obviously feeling he was too good of a value to pass up.

If the Patriots have the same success they had when they took a skill position player in the first-round last year, they’ll likely be pretty happy. Last year’s selection of Sony Michel in round one ended up being one of the more talked about moves once the draft was over but the results from last season are indisputable. While some in the media still beat the drum that any running back could have accomplished what Michel did last season, that seems a little off base after the former Georgia standout exceeded expectations and more than lived up to his first-round billing. If Harry can become the same type of gem that Michel did, fans should end up being pretty thrilled with this pick.

1a) Looking back at film of Harry, along with listening to his comments after being drafted, he seems to perfectly fit the mold of what this team usually covets when it comes to the players they like to bring in. He’s hard-working, loves to fight for the football and just loves the game, all great attributes for someone like him at his position. More importantly, he told the media that he met with the team prior to the draft and handled what they threw at him well, which speaks volumes given how difficult other previous players have struggled coming in. At 6’2″ 228-pounds, he’s a big athletic target who could be poised to make an immediate impact and at 21-years old gives them some much needed youth for the foreseeable future alongside veteran Julian Edelman.

Williams’ size should make him a solid asset in the Patriots’ secondary.

2 ) The selection of Vanderbilt defensive back Joejuan Williams was another move that was interesting as he was a player who many touted as a first-round talent, yet New England was able to get him with their second round selection.

What’s surprising about Williams is he’s a big player, standing at 6’3″ and gives the Patriots someone in their secondary who should be able to handle covering some of the bigger receivers around the league, which is something Belichick talked about during his pre-draft press conference.

Williams said during his conference call that he met with the team prior to the draft and it went well. While he doesn’t know what his role will be just yet, he’s ready to do whatever he’s asked as he gets to work with his new team.

“He said he saw me as a corner,” Williams said of his conversation with Belichick before the draft. “But at the end of the day, I’ll play wherever he sees me to fit and I trust in the system. I trust in him and I trust in the system and I just want to contribute to the team.”

While some may not realize it, New England’s secondary was already pretty deep going into the draft, but his addition adds size and athleticism to a group that is now pretty stacked heading into training camp. The scouting reports on Williams are positive, with the defensive back not afraid to compete for the football and he plays physical, while many believe he’s got what it takes to be an NFL starter.

Granted, it’s hard to make a real evaluation until we see him in action but if he ends up being as he appears to be advertised, it appears the Patriots could have snagged themselves a pretty good player for the foreseeable future in their secondary.

Chase Winovich is one of those hard-working players you can’t help but root for. (USA TODAY Images)

3 ) There’s no better type of player than a gritty hard-working guy who loves to work hard and the Patriots seemingly got just that when they selected defensive end Chase Winovich with their first selection of Round 3.

A lot of people are comparing Winovich to former Patriots linebacker Rob Ninkovich as there definitely appears to be some similar attributes when looking at the film. But at the same time, he’s got a Rob Gronkowski-like personality when it comes to how he handles himself off the field. He’s a fun-loving guy who likes to have a good time and spends a lot of time with charities away from the game. So like Gronk, definitely an out of the box type of guy (he said during his press conference after being drafted that he once ate a live fish for $20 when he was in 5th or 6th grade). He’s similar in that off the field he enjoys having a little fun while focusing on helping people, but on the field he’s simply doing everything he can to help his team win football games.

He was a big contributor to Michigan’s defense and finished his final season with 69 tackles, including 17 for a loss along with 5 sacks. He finished with 79 tackles the previous year, including 18.5 for a loss and 8 sacks. He’s got an opportunity to potentially compete for playing time right away with Deatrich Wise, John Simon and Derek Rivers each as players who have yet to establish themselves as full-time contributors.

What’s also interesting about Winovich is that he’s not afraid to do the little things. He spent some time back in 2017 learning ballet to work on his agility and while looking for ways to always keep improving himself. One of the things he said after he was drafted was that he’s not afraid to do whatever it takes and his goal is “to outwork everybody” as he looks to be establish himself in the NFL.

“That’s kind of always been my mantra – just to outwork everybody,” said Winovich. “That’s always been my goal, and obviously at the next level with someone like the New England Patriots, hard work is a fundamental key component and they’ve done a great job I think of making that a cultural thing.”

“I’m just lucky to be a part of it. I take that as a big compliment. Not everybody can do that and go as hard as I can on every play. That’s definitely a bonus for me.”

Harris is a tough RB who should be a good compliment to Sony Michel.

4 ) For anyone who follows college football, third-round pick Damien Harris was one of the key contributors during Alabama’s success last season. Over 15 games he rushed for 876-yards on 150 carries along with 9 touchdowns, while averaging 5.84 yards per carry.

His addition is interesting because he adds youth and talent alongside last year’s standout in Michel, who was absolutely terrific all season. Given the injury history with Rex Burkhead, Harris provides some additional depth to take some of the load off of Michel as he heads into his sophomore season.

What stood out about Harris in watching him play is that he’s a strong back who doesn’t go down on first contact and does a great job of accelerating as he gets up field, while making it even tougher on defenders when they do finally try and bring him down.

Some were surprised with the selection because many expected the Patriots to address the tight end position, which never occurred. The problem was, four tight ends were selected in that round, three of which came off the board before the Patriots had a chance to pick. As a result, the Patriots jumped at the chance to add another big talented player to their backfield.

The expectations will be high for Harris, who played in a tough SEC conference yet still averaged 1,000-yards each season despite facing some of the toughest competition in the country. He’s now coming to a team who, like Alabama, is battling every season for a championship and he’ll need to bring the same type of effort with his new team.

“I think I’m just a dependable player, somebody that whenever you ask me to do something, I’ll do it,” said Harris after he was selected. “I think I just show a lot of great attributes on the field, things that help me be a great running back and they can help the team be successful.”

“There’s a lot of things that I can do well, there’s a lot of things I can still improve on, so I’m just ready to come in and be my best me and get to work Day 1. “

If Harris can be as productive at the NFL level, it will definitely be a nice 1-2 punch for this offense.

5) The Patriots certainly have a need at tackle after seeing Trent Brown depart during free agency and the selection of Yodny Cajuste out of West Virginia in round 3 appears like it could be a quality one for the Patriots.

He’ll join last year’s first round draft pick Isaiah Wynn, who is coming off of an Achilles injury as he tries to establish a role for himself. Wynn’s season came to an end before it ever got started last season after the rookie suffered the injury during training camp and ended up on injured reserve. He was playing right tackle with the first offense and battling against, ironically enough, then Eagles defensive tackle and new Patriot Michael Bennett when he suffered the injury on a seemingly innocuous play. He walked off the field but was carted back to the locker room from the sidelines shortly after.

Wynn was thought to compete for playing time at left tackle last season, but offseason addition Trent Brown ended up handling the role well early in preseason and grabbed a foothold on the job. He ended up as pleasant surprise and a was definitely a key addition during the team’s championship run. His performance ultimately resulted in a big payday, with Brown departing via free agency after signing a massive $66-million deal with the Raiders.

Cajuste is a raw talent who the Patriots will look to develop. (USA TODAY Images)

With the job back up for grabs, it will be interesting to see where Wynn’s at this season and Cajuste’s addition should also be fun to watch. The former West Virginia standout is huge, coming in at 6’5″ 312 pounds. He redshirted his first year but played left tackle during most of his career with the Mountaineers, although two seasons (2015 and 2016) were both marred by knee injuries. But he was healthy the following year in 2017 and started 13 games. He finished with a solid final season in 2018 while sharing the Big 12 Offensive Lineman of the Year award with two other draft prospects.

It’s hard not to like this selection given his size and the fact that most scouting reports say that he has the talent to be a starting tackle as well as the ability to be successful inside. Given the success we’ve seen offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia have with players, it should be fun to see what he can do with Cajuste. Where he’ll ultimately end up playing will be interesting and the rookie said during his conference call he’s excited to learn as much as he can.

“I know he’s one of the greatest football coaches in the NFL right now,” said Cajuste of Scarnecchia. “I’m just ready to learn as much as I can from him, soak up as much as I can from him.”

Froholdt has some versatility, which may help him earn a roster spot.

6 ) One of the things that has made the Patriots so successful has been their ability to adjust on the fly when it comes to injuries, especially along the offensive line. They love guys who can do multiple things and that’s essentially the role fourth-round selection Hjalte Froholdt will likely take on.

Froholdt is about as versatile as it gets, having started his career on the defensive side of the football as a defensive lineman where he managed to find himself ranked among the top 20 defensive linemen in the country. He instead moved to the other side of the football and became a solid contributor at both center and right and left guard.

While many won’t view this as much of a pick, he appears to be a smart player and watching some film of him reveals that he’s strong and athletic and should be a nice addition to a group that can never have too many good offensive lineman. We’ll have to wait and see where he ends up after he starts working with Scarnecchia, which like his new teammates, he’s also looking forward to seeing where he fits in.

“You know, my first two years I started at left guard all of the games, and I played at some center and some right guard last year, said Froholdt. “But I feel pretty comfortable with all of them. It doesn’t really matter – I I’ll play wherever Coach Scar [Dante Scarnecchia] will put me and I’m excited to get to work with him and see where this goes.”

Like any QB drafted while Brady is here, all eyes will be on Stidham. (USA TODAY Images)

7 ) One of the most interesting picks of day 3, of course, will likely center around Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham, who the Patriots selected in the fourth round.

Given Tom Brady’s age and the team’s obvious need at the position should Brady decide to hang it up at any point in the foreseeable future, any quarterback who is brought in will immediately be placed in the crosshairs by those wondering if he’s potentially the guy who can step into Brady’s irreplaceable role with the team.

Last year’s selection of Danny Etling was relatively uneventful after he did little last preseason to open anyone’s eyes. After a full season with the team, it will be interesting to see if he’s able to take a step forward from where he was when we last saw him in preseason.

With fans already having forgotten about Etling, that puts Stidham in the spotlight to find out if he’s potentially got what it takes to someday take over the starting role. The Patriots are no stranger to doing their due diligence and they clearly felt confident enough to take him at that spot.

Stidham had an up and down collegiate career, starting out at Baylor before a sexual assualt scandal there that led to the firing of then coach Art Briles caused Stidham to decide to transfer. After sitting out 2016 while taking classes at a community college, he ended up at Auburn. In his first year, he completed 66.5 percent of his throws along with 18 touchdowns and six interceptions. He took a step backward as a junior, completing just 60.7 percent of his passes while again throwing 18 touchdowns and five interceptions as his team finished 8-5.

That’s what caused him to drop as far as he did. Scouting reports seem to question his intangibles, believing that a better performance may have seen him go earlier in the draft. That being said, it now sets the Patriots up for potentially finding good value with where they took him. Josh McDaniels has had success when it comes to developing quarterbacks in recent years, which could see them iron out whatever kinks they may find he has.

Stidham said during his conference call that he met with the Patriots during his top-30 visit and actually spent some time chatting with Etling, also a fellow former SEC quarterback, who talked about some of the expectations and gave him a little insight into things. He knows he’s got his work cut out for him, and also acknowledged some of the problems he had last season during his press conference and admitted that he’s spent quite a bit of time leading up to the draft trying to correct them.

“I told Coach McDaniels and Coach Belichick, there were definitely times last year where for whatever reason, I just decided to get out of the pocket when I shouldn’t have or just didn’t trust my eyes at a certain point or my feet,” explained Stidham. “That’s something I’ve obviously been working on this spring up to the draft and it’s something I’m going to have to continue to work at in order to get better at the quarterback position.”

“I’m really looking forward to doing that, and there’s no one better to learn from than Coach McDaniels and Coach Belichick and those guys in the quarterback room.”

Cowart will be interesting to watch this training camp. (USA TODAY Images)

8) Coming out of this weekend, fifth-round pick, Byron Cowart, is somewhat of a wild card when it comes to where he’ll fit in.

According to scouting reports, the defensive tackle out of Maryland is a strong, tough player who at 6’3″, 298 pounds possesses a lot of size and has the physical attributes to be an NFL defender. One of his strengths has been his ability to set the edge, which he told reporters was something that Belichick spoke to him about after selecting him.

“They’ve just told me I have the ability to play to set the edge or go inside,” said Cowart. “So, they’re going to throw it at me, I believe, and give me the opportunity to show them where do I need to be within the defense.”

Once one of the top recruits in the country, he took a step back after first attending Auburn where he struggled and was faced with somewhat of a reality check. Three games into his junior season he transferred to a community college before eventually landing at Maryland where he started 12 games and totaled 38 tackles including 5 for a loss, 3 sacks, 2 interceptions. He also forced a fumble.

Needless to say, it’s been a long road for Cowart and after turning things around, he comes into the NFL with plenty of potential. Whether or not he can become the diamond in the rough the Patriots might feel he can be remains to be seen, but he’s certainly going to be an intriguing player to watch in camp.

Bailey’s addition sets up another punting battle in camp.

9 ) With Ryan Allen back on just a one-year deal, the Patriots made a move during the draft to select Jake Bailey out of Stanford.

They actually traded up in the fifth round to get him, which was a bit of an eye-opener considering how key Allen was during the Super Bowl and for most of last season. During the historic defensive battle against the Rams where the Patriots held Los Angeles to 3 points, Allen played a massive part in that as he consistently flipped the field position each time New England’s offense faltered. It kept the Rams with a long field, forcing them to consistently have to put long drives together against a Patriots defense who played one of their best games of the year when it mattered most.

While Allen would seemingly be the clear-cut starter, the Patriots look as though they’re making sure they at least have some sort of a back-up plan and will push him again for the second straight year in training camp after Bailey’s addition.

Bailey’s not a left-footed punter, which is a little unusal given Belichick’s affinity for non-right-footed punters. But he’s a talented player with a strong leg who, like Allen, also has experience holding on extra points.

Watching how the Super Bowl unfolded where the two clubs combined for 14 punts, it was something that Bailey got a kick out of it and it got him excited for what could someday be his future in the NFL.

“Oh, it got me fired up,” said Bailey. “I remember watching the game and all of my friends were kind of like, ‘What the heck is going on,’ and I was glued to the TV. It was one of my favorite football games of all time to watch.”

Replacing Allen is a tall order, but that’s what Bailey is now faced with as we get ready for yet another preseason battle at that position. Get your stopwatches ready.

Webster likely faces an uphill battle to make the roster.

10) Seventh-round pick Ken Webster is another player who had a rough go of things early on but came on strong during his final season at Ole Miss, with the defensive back finishing with 29 tackles, including 1.5 for a loss along with two pass break-ups.

Players taken in that round tend to be longshots, but there have been plenty of times where guys have surprised us and turned into solid contributors. Webster seems to be one of those players where it’s hard to really gauge what to expect given how his college career played out.

He missed the 2016 season due to a torn ligament in his knee, but recovered enough to return the next season and play in 10 games with five starts in 2017, along with nine games in 2018.

He’s played cornerback and safety and turned into one of the better cover corners in the SEC. As we know, Belichick favors players who can do multiple things and if he’s able to carry that over with his new team, the opportunity is certainly there. The downside for him is the fact New England’s secondary is pretty deep at this point so he faces an uphill battle to establish himself.

Overall, this was definitely one of the most interesting drafts we’ve seen in years and it sets up a training camp filled with storylines and things to keep an eye on. As a result, with minicamps and OTAs now looming, it’s hard not to be a little bit excited to see how things begin to come together as the 2019 season inches closer.

Patriots Add RB with Alabama’s Harris in Round 3

Ian Logue
April 26, 2019 at 11:40 pm ET

After going defense on two straight picks, Bill Belichick elected to grab a running back after taking Alabama’s Damien Harris in Round 3 Friday night.

Harris was taken 87th overall and gives the Patriots some additional youth behind Sony Michel, who had a terrific first season for New England. Michel was crucial to the Patriots’ championship run, finishing the year, including the playoffs, with 1267 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns.

Harris had a solid career, finishing 8th in school history with 3070 career rushing yards. The former Alabama standout finished his senior season with 876-yards along with nine touchdowns. He averaged 6.45 yards per carry for his career, ranking him third in SEC history behind Bo Jackson and Derrius Guice.

He also performed well at the combine, recording a 4.57 40-yard dash as well as putting up a vertical jump of 37 inches, putting him in the top 5 (4th) of this year’s class of running backs.

One of the things that also stands out about Harris is the fact he has excellent vision and hits the holes hard, having done a great job picking up tough yards in Nick Saban’s offense. New England relied heavily on Michel down the stretch and Harris should hopefully help take some of the weight of that workload.

His addition also sets up an interesting situation heading into training camp as the Patriots now have Harris, Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead and Brandon Bolden in what is suddenly a fairly crowded backfield.

Belichick Goes Defense Again with Pick of Winovich in Round 3

Ian Logue
at 10:56 pm ET

After trading down previously, the Patriots finally made their second selection of night two and once again, Bill Belichick made a pick on the defensive side of the football.

The Patriots selected Michican standout Chase Winovich with the 77th overall selection, adding the Wolverine defensive end to their defense.

Winovich is an interesting player. He’s got decent size at 6’3″, 256-pounds and also has good speed to go along with it. He ran a 4.59 40-yard dash along with a 4.11 shuttle time, with the latter stat generally being one that Belichick tends to appreciate and Winovich was certainly one of the more explosive players at his position. He finished his final season with 59 tackles and 5 sacks, despite spending part of the year battling injuries.

The rookie is also a former tight end, having switched positions during his time in Michigan before coming into his own at his new position. Off the field, he was active in the community, including helping raise over $200k for the ChadTough Foundation, including a viral social media campaign where he was among teammates who died their hair orange.

According to their website, the ChadTough Foundation raises money for DIPG research and for outreach to families of children who have been diagnosed with DIPG.

He’s a tough player, battling through what at the time was an undisclosed injury he suffered during the season, but he participated in the Peach Bowl, the Senior Bowl, along with his showing in the NFL Draft Combine.

He reportedly got hurt during the Wolverine’s battle against Ohio State and the pain never went away. He learned after the fact that it required surgery.

“I came back after that week,” Winovich told the Detroit Free Press, “and got it checked out and got an MRI and they were like, ‘Yeah, you need surgery. What do you want to do? You can either wait and suffer through it or get it now.'” later revealed he needed thumb surgery, which will hopefully see him ready to participate in OTAs.

After losing Trey Flowers during the offseason, the fact the Patriots made a move to potentially give them a player who can help replace some of Flowers’ production is good news, especially given the fact Winovich is also considered to be solid against the run. Clearly he’s a player who checks the right boxes and the fact that he’s got experience at tight end might be fun to watch, especially knowing that Belichick is no stranger to doing the unexpected, much like he did with former linebacker Mike Vrabel.

As a result, he appears to be another great addition as the Patriots continue adding some talent and youth to their defense.

Patriots Add CB Williams In Round Two

Ian Logue
at 9:39 pm ET

As night two of the 2019 NFL Draft continued Friday night, Bill Belichick and the Patriots turned to the defensive side of the football with their first pick of the evening, which included a trade to go up and get him.

New England made a trade with the Rams to move up from the 56th overall slot to 45th overall in order to take Vanderbilt cornerback Joejuan Williams. They reportedly gave up their 56th pick and a 3rd round selection (101st overall) in the transaction.

It was a good move for the Patriots, who add another big defensive back to their secondary alongside standout Stephon Gilmore. Williams is 6’3″, 210-pounds and is a guy who was projected as an early round pick but slid after a not so impressive NFL Combine performance where he ran twice in the 4.6 range. But he’s a player who scouts say has a good ball skills and that type of height allows the Patriots to have a player who can deal with opposing team’s taller offensive skill players.

Williams finished last season with 14 pass breakups, which was an SEC-high. His addition is a nice infusion of youth into a secondary that now has a player who can develop into a role alongside Gilmore, Jason McCourty and Jonathan Jones, along with up and coming players like J.C. Jackson and potentially Duke Dawson.

But his length is something that’s rare, with Bill Belichick actually recently discussing the importance of having a player to deal with the bigger receivers in the league, which he pointed out are becoming more common these days.

“Usually you sit there at the end of the year and say, well, we had a lot of trouble blocking this player or defending this type of player or whatever it is, and then that kind of becomes a need for you,” said Belichick earlier this month. “Either we have to change our scheme to do this, which probably isn’t that easy or you would have already done it, or we have to have another certain type of player on our roster that we don’t currently have that has a certain type of skillset. So, this is another year where there’s a lot of big receivers – 6-4, 225, 230, whatever they are – I mean, somebody’s going to have to cover those guys one of these days. I don’t know if it’s all going to be this year or not, and there’s plenty of them in the league right now that fall into that category.”

After the pick of Williams, he hopefully now has that player.

Meanwhile, the Patriots traded down their next pick in round two, sending away pick 64 to Seattle for the Seahawks 77th overall pick and the 118th selection.  Their next pick, barring another trade, will come at #73 overall in the third round.  The Patriots have three selections in round 3, picking at 73rd, 77th and 97th overall.

Patriots Select WR N’Keal Harry in Round One

Ian Logue
at 12:27 am ET

It was nearly midnight by the time the Patriots made their selection during round one of the 2019 NFL Draft and Bill Belichick, as usual, made it interesting.

With the 32nd overall pick, the Patriots selected a wide receiver, taking Arizona State standout N’Keal Harry to close out the first round Thursday night. Harry is a big target. He’s 6’2″, 228 pounds, which would give Tom Brady a big young target who with his size is a great addition. He’s an inch taller than Malcolm Mitchell, who was the last early round selection they grabbed back in round four back in 2016. Mitchell was 6’1″, 200-pounds and had a solid rookie season before injuries ultimately spoiled his seemingly promising career.

The fact Belichick made the move is telling, with the team clearly trying to inject some youth and talent into the offense after losing Rob Gronkowski to retirement this offseason. Harry’s addition now gives the Patriots some speed, with the rookie having run a 4.53 40-yard dash during the NFL combine.

But one of the things that has stood out in his scouting reports is the fact he’s a strong kid, coming away on the right side of quite a few contested passes during his collegiate career, as well as the ability to break tackles and be elusive once he has the ball in his hands. He’s also got terrific quickness, which as we know from players like Julian Edelman, is certainly an an attribute that is key in this offense.

It was the first time the Patriots had taken a receiver in the first round since 1996 when the team selected Terry Glenn back during then Patriots head coach, Bill Parcells, tenure. Parcells was reportedly against the selection after then general manager Bobby Grier and owner Robert Kraft overruled Parcells on the pick for Glenn and it sparked the end of Parcells’ tenure.

The move worked out well for the Patriots, who went on to finish 11-5 that season and earn their first Super Bowl appearance since 1986 that season, which ultimately ended with a loss to the Green Bay Packers. Parcells then departed to the New York Jets that offseason.

Needless to say, it’s an interesting pick and one that fans can hope will make an early impact this season. The last time a young player made a difference in the offense, the season ended with a Super Bowl championship. While it’s a little early to think that far ahead, it doesn’t change the fact that Harry’s selection will likely add a little more optimism looking at New England’s offense heading into the 2019 season.

Gronkowski Was Definitely a Once in a Lifetime Player

Ian Logue
March 24, 2019 at 10:48 pm ET

It’s funny, moments like these are ones that you’re never really ready for.

With news floating out there that Gronkowski might have been returning in 2019, the idea that the Patriots would be without him this season seemed hard to fathom.

After all, his final reception of the year ended up being one of the most crucial of the game during the Patriots Super Bowl win over the Rams. With the score knotted at 3-3 in the fourth qaurter and New England driving, Gronkowski caught a 29-yard pass on a 2nd-and-3 from the Rams’ 31-yard line, hauling in a diving reception at the Los Angeles’ 2, just short of the goal line. One play later, rookie running back Sony Michel took the ball in for the touchdown. Putting the Patriots up 10-3 in a lead they wouldn’t relinquish as they won their sixth Super Bowl Championship.

Following the win, Gronkowski was all smiles and it seemed like the euphoria around this victory might have been enough to bring him back for one more run.

On Sunday night, he put the chances of that to rest after announcing his retirement on Instagram.

For any fan who has watched Gronkowski over the course of his career, you couldn’t have asked for a better player. He made an immediate impact from the time he was drafted in 2010 and his larger-than-life persona was apparent both off the field and on it, with the happy-go-lucky tight end always smiling in front of the camera while quietly working hard behind the scenes.

Both Bill Belichick and his teammates have always talked about his incredible football I.Q., along with the effort he put in day in and day out on the practice field. But what really made Gronkowski unique was how much of a complete player he was. Not only was he a dangerous threat in the passing game, he was a dominant force as a blocker and he seemingly took just as much enjoyment making a key block as he did in spiking the football after scoring touchdowns.

That’s rare in this day and age. Most players tend to focus more on their numbers and less on doing the little things, but Gronkowski was a complete player and took pride in doing all of it.

One of the biggest questions now will be where he’ll end up in his place in NFL history, with many wondering if he’ll someday end up in Canton. He leaves the game with the NFL record in receptions (81), receiving yards (1,163) and receiving touchdowns (12) by a tight end in playoff history. He’s also scored more touchdowns (79) than any other player since 2010, which given that he had several injury-shortened season over that span, is astounding.

The injuries are likely what played a role in the veteran announcing his retirement. He’s had knee injuries, several back surgeries, ankle injuries, his forearm injury, to name a few. Each time he went down, fans penciled him in for the following season likely not realizing the tremendous amount of rehabilitation and pain that went along with making it back to the football field.

The most memorable example of that was when he took a significant hit against the Broncos in Denver in 2015, with the tight end screaming and writhing around on the ground after he went down. What was tough about that moment is the reaction likely stemmed from the knowledge of having been through it in the past, with the obvious fear of his season ending and another offseason of rehab clearly on his mind during the time from when he hit the turf, to when the cart finally took him off the field.

Gronk’s injury scare in 2015 was a reminder of how tough it was on him.

Fortunately, it was just a scare and he avoided disaster. But it was a reminder that he’s only human and the frustration fans voiced at times about his injury history was nothing compared to what he endured personally each time he dealt with one.

Seeing him struggle this past season was a shocking reminder that all of those big hits he sustained over the years had seemingly finally taken their toll. He caught just 47 passes for 682-yards during the regular season, while still averaging 14.5 yards per reception. Of those 47 passes, 34 went for first downs and moved the chains.

In the playoffs, he was big. He was third on the team in receptions with 13 catches for 191-yards, including 4 receptions for – how fitting – 69-yards. The best players step up in key moments and even as hampered as he was, the fact he was able to come through when it mattered most is really a testament of just how good he really was.

Gronkowski’s final reception was a memorable one.

However, he wasn’t just a terrific player, he’s also a terrific person. Behind the scenes, he was known to spend a lot of time at children’s hospitals and other charities, giving up a lot of time to help put smiles on the faces of each person he spent time with. He’s taken his fair share of criticism over the years when it came to his fun-loving ways (his party bus was a target of that), but he was never involved in any off-the-field incidents and never garnered any negative attention.

He’s been pretty care free, with fans even seeing him pounding beers during championship parades. Some took it too far, even believing it was O.K. to treat him like an animal while firing cans at him during the most recent championship parade, causing him to suffer a pretty good cut on his eye. As usual, he took it in stride, despite the fact there were some of his teammates who seemingly took it harder than he did.

For Gronkowski, he goes out the way a player can only hope. He leaves the game with his final moments seeing him raise the Lombardi Trophy, knowing that he made the key play that helped his team get there. He leaves with the love and adoration of every player in the locker room and countless others who played with him and even the respect and appreciation from many more around the league. Opposing players might dislike the Patriots, but very few seemed to have anything negative to say about the veteran tight end.

But the biggest takeaway from this news is the fact it closes the door on an era of a player we’ll likely never see again, which will probably take a little while to sink in. Players like Gronkowski are rare and it’s even more surprising for a player of his caliber to have made it through his entire career with one football team. Fortunately, Patriots fans were able to see end enjoy every moment of his incredible career and as hard as it will be not to see #87 out there next season, every one of them should be thankful for the impact he had during this run.

While everything eventually comes to an end, it’s safe to say there won’t ever be another Rob Gronkowski. Whatever he decides to do next should be fun to watch, whether it be acting, professional wrestling, or whatever lies ahead as he walks away from the game.

But whatever he does next, it won’t be anywhere near as much fun as it was seeing him on the field. One thing you can likely bet is he’ll hit it just as hard as he has everything else, so here’s hoping he has a blast in retirement. He’s definitely earned it.

Six For Saturday: Some Patriots Thoughts Heading Into this Offseason

Ian Logue
March 9, 2019 at 1:07 pm ET

Some thoughts now that the page is about to officially turn heading into an offseason that will shape the 2019 version of this football team.

1) Patriots defacto defensive coordinator Brian Flores really did have a terrific season, showing another side of what this group was able to do defensively after a 2017 season where they weren’t anywhere close to as disruptive as they were in 2018. It was great to see and was a big reason behind their dominating performance against the Rams in their Super Bowl victory.

One thing that was obvious this season was that the players really seemed to respond to Flores’ intensity and personality, which may end up being a void that the Patriots will have a tough time filling next season. With Greg Schiano coming on board to replace him, it’s going to be interesting to see if Schiano will garner the same type of respect that Flores had with a group that really played well for him.

When Flores met with the Miami media following the Super Bowl, he sounded confident and said he has a plan that will involve some “bumps in the road” as he begins trying to turn the franchise around. The now-former Patriots coach made it clear that he didn’t accept the job on a whim, saying that he told the Dolphins that if the team didn’t share his beliefs, he wasn’t interested in the job.

“Our vision, and our core philosophy of how to build a team, they were aligned. That was one of the things [that sold] me,” Flores said via the Sun Sentinal. “I told every team this, ‘if our beliefs aren’t aligned then don’t hire me’ because if they aren’t aligned it’s not going to work.”

They have a long-term vision and he made it clear to the fans to expect some pain initially as he brings in guys who are “selfless” and put the team first.  Past coaches really haven’t had much of an opportunity to build a good group of players there due to inept coaches who didn’t have the support of the front office.  Dolphins GM Chris Grier knows Flores well during his time in New England and it’s obvious that he believes that he’ll be able to create a Patriot-like culture with Miami.

After seeing what Flores accomplished in just one season, one thing is probably certain, for the first time in a while the Dolphins may finally, once again, become a thorn in the side for New England moving forward. 

Edelman was terrific in the Super Bowl against the Rams. (USA TODAY Images)

2) It’s not a surprise that most of the nation was displeased with the idea that the Patriots are again World Champions and Julian Edelman appeared to be the focus of their ire.

Edelman, who was obviously named Super Bowl MVP following his performance, ended up in the crosshairs of opposing fans who believed that he should never have even been on the field against Los Angeles to begin with thanks to his early season suspension for PEDs.

Baseball writers point to the fact that a player who was suspended for using PEDs isn’t permitted to play in the MLB postseason, which was the argument that made its way around the internet on Monday following New England’s victory.

The veteran receiver was big, catching 10 passes on 12 targets for 141 yards, with 8 of his receptions moving the chains.  He also caught 3 of Brady’s 6 third-down completions, all of which were for first downs.

It’s clearly a case of sour grapes among those who were unhappy to see Tom Brady and Bill Belichick raise another Lombardi trophy.  However, it will be interesting to see if the anti-Patriot sentiment doesn’t potentially spark a discussion for a change this offseason. 

It wouldn’t be a surprise for the NFL to consider some sort of further penalty since this issue seems to come up among players throughout the league each year.  As we know, given the history of situations involving the Patriots, the league loves to make a rule change to try and save face to figure out a way to stop a team that just continues to dominate year in, and year out.

Roger Goodell loves this stuff.  The prospect of being ineligible for postseason play would obviously make players think twice before taking that type of risk, especially since missing the first four games of the year isn’t close to the damage that would be inflicted if a team’s key offensive (or defensive) weapon was sidelined during a playoff run.  

Needless to say, don’t be surprised if we hear about this again during the offseason.  But for now, it’s just noise and the fans made plenty of it in Boston when they celebrated during last month’s parade after an unbelievable year as New England won their sixth Lombardi trophy.

Andy Reid was out-coached again this postseason by Belichick. (USA TODAY Images)

3) While we’re on this topic, this nonsense with the Kansas City Chiefs complaining about the overtime rules is getting old, with the subject coming up again this week after the Chiefs submitted a proposal to end the scenario where a first-possession touchdown in overtime no longer ends the game in the postseason.

This is ridiculous. If anyone inside the NFL office is even leaning that way, they should take a good look in the mirror before they even consider making this change.  The Patriots have been a part of two incredible wins in overtime during the postseason in recent years, with both coming on opening drive touchdowns to earn the walk off victory.  To change it now would indicate the NFL wasn’t happy about the outcome and would be trying to prevent those situations going forward.

Let’s be serious.  The league already once changed this rule as it pertained to field goals, which you could sort of make the argument because offenses really only needed a couple of big plays on their first possession in overtime to kick a long field goal and win it.  Although given what we’ve seen from kickers in recent years, the difficulty surrounding that sequence doesn’t seem to garner the significance of pulling that off that people seem to think it does.  But “it is what it is” at this point and the rule has already been modified.

However, the idea now that an offense digging deep and driving the length of the field and scoring isn’t worthy enough of winning the game is ludicrous.  The worst part about this situation is the league already has a key example in the New Orleans Saints, who after coming up on the wrong end of a bad call in regulation, were unable to score on their opening drive in overtime, which opened the door to the Rams winning the football game and moving on to the Super Bowl.  That game more or less proved that scoring a touchdown isn’t a given, and the fact the Patriots wore down a terrible Chiefs defense and then executed at the critical point in the contest to win the game is a reminder this rule shouldn’t even be on the table for discussion.

We’ve seen enough from the NFL over the years to realize that New England’s dominance is a key frustration behind the scenes.  But if this rule goes through, it should set off a serious red flag that the league is just reaching at this point and reacting negatively to yet another incredible postseason run by this football team.

Brady extension is good news for the Patriots. (USA TODAY Images)

4) With our own Steve Balestrieri learning this week that a contract extension may be coming for Tom Brady, it’s good news for a team that will have essentially erased the narratives and speculation that would have surrounded his uncertainty heading into what would have been the final year of his deal.

While Brady isn’t necessarily coming off of his best season, it’s obvious that even with the injuries he battled through last season and his ability to eventually overcome Wade Phillips tough game plan in the Super Bowl, he’s still playing well enough to potentially do it a few more times before he finally walks away.  That’s a positive sign for the Patriots, who are still in need of grooming a successor and don’t have that person in the locker room at this time.

Last year’s late draft pick, Danny Etling, showed some promise in the preseason, but he’s no where near the level of where Jimmy Garoppolo was and while seeing a late-round pick become a starter isn’t necessarily out of the realm of possibility (ie: Brady), we haven’t seen that from him just yet.

This year’s draft will be interesting to watch from the standpoint of whether or not they view one of the guys coming out high enough to pass on another player in favor of taking a quarterback.  That doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll target someone in the first round, since as we know, Garoppolo was a second round selection.  But given the timing of where Brady is, this would be the right time to find a player they believe in who could spend 3-4 years learning in this system and eventually emerge as a starting-caliber player.

That’s tougher than it sounds, especially knowing how hard it is to find an NFL-ready quarterback.  One other X-factor in all this is Josh McDaniels, who has done a pretty good job of developing quarterbacks during his tenure here in New England.  But if ever there was a time to hope that process was starting over again, this offseason would seem to be it.

The Patriots seemed to try and prepare for Flowers’ departure on Friday. (USA TODAY Images)

5) The addition of Michael Bennett reminds me of a couple of offseason scenarios over the years, which doesn’t make me feel overly confident in the future of defensive end Trey Flowers.

Bennett’s arrival mimics one of the more surprising moves, highlighted by the signing of Danny Amendola when Wes Welker was headed to the free agent market in 2013. At the time, it was obvious that the Patriots signing of Amendola looked like they felt like Welker wouldn’t be back. So Bill Belichick appeared to take the step to protect his team from losing an impact player, essentially moving on after feeling that Welker sign elsewhere.

Flowers seems poised to end up with a big payday, with the initial reports seeming to indicate that the veteran will hit the market and test the waters, which will likely spell trouble for the Patriots in terms of trying to keep him in the fold.

While it’s not impossible, it seems unlikely and it wouldn’t be a surprise if someone like Flores brings Flowers in to help start building Miami’s defense.  While Flowers’ numbers (7.5 sacks last season) aren’t among the NFL’s best, what’s scary to consider is the fact that those totals probably could have even been higher.  While New England’s defense was more aggressive last season than it’s been in a while, he still wasn’t used in that role as much as he could have been. 

But that’s not how this scheme works. The Patriots’ defense is much more disciplined and it prevented him from ending up on the highlight reel since most of his best work really came from the plays he made that flew under the radar.  For teams who take the time to look at that body of work, they may realize that Flowers is a complete player who has only scratched the surface of what he’s capable of.  The bad news for New England is, it likely means a payday much larger than what the Patriots can offer may be coming for him.

 This year’s defense did a terrific job. (USA TODAY Images)

6) Watching this year’s defense over the final three postseason games was interesting from the standpoint of trying to ponder where they’ll someday sit in history when we reflect back on each of those players.

Think about it for a second.  At the time, none of us looked at players like Ty Law, Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest, etc. in the way we look at them now.  After all, during that era, none of them were ever considered among the NFL’s elite because the Patriots weren’t really viewed that way back then.  Fans knew they were good players, but it wasn’t until Bill Belichick arrived and took Pete Carroll’s roster and turned them into champions that they really became who they were.

When you look at what New England did defensively this postseason, this isn’t exactly a group full of superstars.  You can put Dont’a Hightower, Devin McCourty, Trey Flowers and Stephon Gilmore in the group of potentially elite players, but the remainder of this group is simply filled with just really, solid football players.   The secondary was rounded out with guys like Jonathan Jones, J.C. Jackson, Keion Crossen, and Jason McCourty, along with safeties Duron Harmon and Patrick Chung.  None of them get anywhere near the amount of respect outside of New England as they do by fans who see them each week.

Up front, they had players like Adrian Clayborn, Deatrich Wise, Malcolm Brown and Lawrence Guy, none of which would ever be on the radar of fans outside of this region.  The same can be said for linebackers like Elandon Roberts, John Simon, and Kyle Van Noy.  Honestly, even most casual Patriots fans don’t even know who these guys are.

Yet these are players who just put together one of the best defensive stretches in Patriots postseason history to capture the club’s sixth championship.

One of the things that made guys Law, McGinest and Bruschi so great was the fact they did it over a sustained period of time, which obviously sets them apart but again, people didn’t really appreciate how good they were until this team went through a rough stretch without them.  It’s like they say, you don’t appreciate guys like that until they’re not around anymore.

That’s why it’s going to be hard not to wonder how fans may someday view players like McCourty, Chung, Hightower, and Gilmore, with players like Van Noy even hopefully earning a little more appreciation after putting together a terrific showing to cap off a pretty terrific year. 

Either way, it’s an interesting notion.   What makes it even more curious is the fact that while many fans discussed how great they played defensively, the names didn’t seem to be joining the discussion of what they did on the field as they held one of the league’s highest-scoring offenses to 3 points. 

Oddly enough, even after a Super Bowl win, people still don’t seem to know who they are.  The key to changing that will be seeing if they can build on this performance heading into 2019.

If they can, maybe people will start paying attention.

One More Thought:

Is this the end for Gostkowski? (USA TODAY Images)

7) With the news that the Patriots weren’t using the franchise tag, the first player that came to mind was kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who appears to be headed to free agency.

When you take into consideration how many kickers struggled last year, Gostkowski looks like he’s in for a potential payday and it could mean that the Patriots might have to spend this offseason looking for a replacement.

For Gostkowski, there’s not much really left for him to prove. He’s already put together a Hall of Fame worthy career here in New England and there’s really nothing more positive that can come for him staying in Foxboro.

Gostkowski missed just one extra point during the regular season and five field goals total, missing two from 40-49yds and 3 from 50+. He was perfect from 20-39yds. In the postseason, he missed just one field goal and was perfect on all his extra points.

Yet, that didn’t stop the criticism and whispers that happened over the course of this season, as well as the year before when he hit a couple of bumps during an almost-championship season.

As a result, if I’m Gostkowski, I would follow Adam Vinatieri’s lead and target a dome team with a lot of money in need of a reliable kicker, which would likely extend his career. He still has a strong leg and doesn’t seem to have lost any of his power, which is a positive sign for a player who has been among the best in the league for a while now.

Gostkowski’s loss would be tough as he would mark the end of another solid career for another terrific kicker in Foxboro and leave the Patriots with some uncertainty at a position that he’s quietly been an afterthought since he’s been here. There have been people hoping for his departure not realizing how good he’s really been, which is unfortunate.

For now, this may be something to watch over the course of the offseason and if Gostkowski does move on, fans need to recognize just how special his run has been and how replacing him might be harder than some might think.

Eight Things We Learned From The Patriots Win Over the Rams

Ian Logue
February 4, 2019 at 9:48 am ET

It wasn’t pretty, but the Patriots defense put together a stellar effort after shutting down the Rams and carrying New England to their sixth Super Bowl Championship on Sunday night.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady didn’t have his best game, but he came up big when it mattered most as the Patriots took care of Los Angeles in a 13-3 win, capping off what will likely go down as one of the more memorable seasons given how tough it was to get this one.

Here are some thoughts on this one.

1) It wasn’t Brady’s best, but he was clutch when he needed to be – Expect the offseason to be dominated by the talking heads who will likely dissect Tom Brady’s Super Bowl performance, likely trying to pour water on the quarterback’s championship outing.

Give the Rams credit. They were disruptive and made things tough, including on the Patriots first drive of the game after they had driven down to the Rams 34-yard line. Brady was picked off on his first pass attempt of the night after he tried to throw outside to Chris Hogan without seeing a defender step into his lane. Hogan tried to bat the football down, but it ended up in the hands of Nickell Robey-Coleman, who had talked trash all week about Brady leading up to this game.

Overall, Brady finished the game 21-of-35 (60%) for 262-yards and the interception, including just 1-of-4 on third down in the second half.

However, he was big in the fourth quarter, hitting 4 of his five 5 passes (80%), including a perfect 4-of-4 for 67-yards during their lone scoring drive of the night.

Say what you want, but this game resembled his original Championship run against the St Louis Rams where he did just enough to win the game in what was also a solid defensive performance by New England. The Rams have a terrific defense, but save for Brady’s one miscue, the Patriots were clearly the more poised offense in this one and it ended up ultimately being the reason why they walked away with their sixth Lombardi Trophy.

As a result, Brady became the only quarterback in NFL history to win his sixth career championship. It may not have been easy, but the win obviously counts regardless of the score, with the Patriots being the ones who found a way to win.

Fortunately, for the sixth time, Brady was also one of the reasons they managed to do just that.

Flowers and Hightower introduce themselves to Goff. (USA TODAY Images)

2) What an effort by New England’s defense – For a group that took a lot of heat for much of the season, the Patriots defense had played arguably their best game of the year two weeks ago out in Kansas City.

On Sunday night, they proved they were far from finished. They took things even further against the Rams in what was the most dominant performances we’ve seen in recent memory, pitching a near shutout in a game that could have easily been a blowout had the offense performed better.

They completely dominated the Rams in the first half, holding them to just 2 first downs as Los Angeles went 0-for-6 on third down and were shut out through the first two quarters.

During that time they made quarterback Jared Goff completely miserable, forcing him out of the pocket and sacking him twice, while also knocking him around. Goff finished the first half just 5-of-12 for 52-yards, with the Patriots holding the football for nearly 20-minutes.

Those problems continued in the third quarter where Goff completed just 4-of-9 for 43-yards and it wasn’t until the final two drives where Goff was trying to answer the 10 points the Patriots had added that he had any real success.  However, after his second to last drive ended with an interception to Stephon Gilmore, it was simply too late.

One of the stats mentioned following this game was the fact the Rams failed to pick up a yard or lost yardage on 27 of their 60 offensive plays.  Here’s how that breaks down:

1) Jared Goff – 19 Incompletions

2) Jared Goff – Sacked 4 Times

3) Todd Gurley – Was stopped for no gain on a carry in the 3rd quarter.

4) Todd Gurley – Had a reception for a 1-yard loss early in the 4th quarter.

5) C.J. Anderson was brought down for a 3-yard loss on a carry in the second quarter.

Overall, the Patriots also held the Rams to 3-of-13 on third down, with Goff completing just 3-of-10 over that span. For a group that had one of the highest-scoring offenses in the league, the Patriots made them look mediocre in front of a crowd that largely favored New England. Speaking of which…

3) The fans who were on hand were terrific – Considering all the problems this team has had away from Gillette Stadium at times this season, Sunday night allowed them to settle in as the crowd was clearly dominated by Patriots fans who were there to support the soon-to-be World Champions.

They were loud all night, with the crowd noise clearly audible in the broadcast. They seemingly helped force some pre-snap penalties and were deafening on multiple occasions on third down, including when the Rams were backed up in their own territory.

You couldn’t have asked for a better crowd. They were a big factor in key moments and the players commented after the game about how big of a difference they made.

Most reports said that Patriots fans vastly outnumbered Rams fans 4-1, which considering how many of these this football team has been to, it’s truly impressive. As Brady said, it certainly sounded like they were at Gillette Stadium, so kudos to those who were there who helped make them feel right at home.

4) Another gem for Michel – Patriots running back Sony Michel put together another solid outing on Sunday night, albeit the Rams defense certainly made him work for it.

The rookie carried 17 times for 92 yards including the game’s only touchdown, but played a key role in the final quarter as he rushed for 41 of those yards, including a 26-yard gain with under 3-minutes left to play that helped set up Stephen Gostkowski’s game-clinching 41-yard field goal with 1:16 left to go in the contest.

While he may not have necessarily been the player people wanted when the Patriots took him in the first round before the season, there’s no denying that the rookie played a clear role in the team’s championship run. He’s been a difference-maker all season and he did a great job once again in a game where they certainly needed it most.

Michel finishes the postseason with 71 carries for 336-yards and a team-leading 6 touchdowns.

Losing Chung was tough Sunday night.

5) Big Loss in This one After Chung Went Down – Patriots Safety Patrick Chung ended up a casualty of this game after the safety suffered an apparent broken arm in this game.

Chung went down on just the third play of the third quarter after coming up to make a tackle on Rams running back Todd Gurley. He went down immediately after the play, screaming in pain and clearly frustrated with the realization his night was over.

Trainers came onto the field and put the veteran’s arm in an air cast and also brought the cart out to take him off the field. However, Chung refused to get on it, opting instead to walk off the field under his own power. He later returned to the sideline with his arm in a sling.

That left his duties in the hand of Duron Harmon, who stepped up and played well in his absence.

Best wishes to Chung, who has been terrific all season and is a big part of this defense. Fortunately, thanks to his team closing this one out, he was spotted after the game looking like he’ll be just fine.

6) Terrific night by McCourty – It’s hard to believe in preseason there were so many people wondering whether or not Jason McCourty would even make the team, let alone be a potential difference-maker in one of the most important games of the season.

McCourty came up huge late in the third quarter, coming in at the last minute in what appeared to be a blown coverage to knock the football away from a wide-open Brandon Cooks in the end zone.

It was a brilliant play and at the time it forced the Rams to have to eventually settle for a 53-yard field goal, which tied the game at 3-3 with 2:11 left to go in the quarter. Had Cooks caught the touchdown, the Rams would have had the lead and potentially the momentum, which obviously could have seen this game turn out differently.

It was great to see as McCourty has been a quiet contributor all season and Devin has mentioned repeatedly what an incredible experience it’s been for him to finally have the opportunity to play on an NFL team with his brother.

Given how the game ended and how that play turned out, Patriots fans are certainly glad Jason was a part of this as well.

7) Ryan an unsung hero – Thanks to what turned into a defensive battle, the punters each ended up with an expanded role Sunday night and it was clear that Allen proved to be an incredibly important asset in this football game.

Allen really had a great night. He helped the Patriots win the field position battle and forced the Rams into multiple occasions where they were forced to start the game inside their own 10-yard line.

Ryan and fellow special-teamer Matthew Slater pinned the Rams inside their own 10 three times on the night, forcing the Rams to have to try and drive the length of the field each time after New England’s secondary did a good job of preventing the big play. That played right into their hands as Goff simply couldn’t do it, leaving them to exchange punts with the Patriots until Brady and the offense finally wore down their defense and scored their 10 points in the final quarter.

One small note on Ryan, he had his Super Bowl record 64-yard punt taken away after Rams punter Johnny Hekker hit a 65-yard punt of his own Sunday night, snatching the accolade away from Ryan. Ryan will likely take it, since he now has yet another Super Bowl ring to help him get over it.

8) There was context behind Gostkowski’s miss – Finally, our thoughts go out to Stephen Gostkowski, with Mike Reiss reporting that the kicker lost his grandfather on Saturday night.

That potentially adds context to the earlier first quarter miss by Gostkowski, who was clearly playing this one with a heavy heart and ended up pushing his first 46-yard field goal attempt of the night wide-left.

Fortunately, Gostkowski did manage to hit the most important kick of the game, after nailing the game-clinching field goal down the stretch, which made it a two-score game and put it out of reach and ruined any shot at a Rams comeback.

It was a huge kick, and it’s one of the big reasons why the Patriots will be bringing their sixth Lombardi Trophy back to New England this week.

Brady said after the game that he’s looking forward to going after another one in 2019.  Expect the Patriots to make some additional personnel moves this offseason to hopefully make them even more dangerous as they begin building the group that will hopefully help him get there next season.

Edelman Proves His Importance After Super Bowl MVP-Worthy Outing

Ian Logue
at 2:09 am ET

Whether or not Rob Gronkowski returns next season will likely be a problem the Patriots might eventually need to deal with, but Sunday night reminded us that having Julian Edelman around at least makes any issues they may have a little easier to deal with.

Edelman came up big on Sunday night, putting together one of his best performances when they needed it most, with the veteran receiver catching 10 passes on 12 targets for 141-yards, seven of which came in the first half.

He was a big key in this one, with Edelman coming up with several big plays, finishing with three catches of 25-yards or more. He was also big for Brady on third down, with the veteran targeting him 5 times with three receptions and three first downs.

It was another big night for Edelman, who was also an important part in each of their previous two recent Super Bowl victories, one of which came without Rob Gronkowski during the 2016/17 postseason. Edelman wasn’t part of last February’s loss to Philadelphia after missing it with a knee injury, with the Patriots now 3-0 in the last three Super Bowls where he’s been healthy.

The veteran also earned his first Super Bowl MVP thanks to his performance, but he credited the defense for the win after the incredible night they put together.

Nevertheless, it’s an honor that he can now add to his resume. With the parade now scheduled for Tuesday in Boston, Edelman is asking for “record numbers” now that “we just got six [championships]”.