Author Archives: Ian Logue

Ian Logue

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.

Five Thoughts Following the Patriots Loss to the Texans

Ian Logue
December 2, 2019 at 12:28 pm ET

After a week of misery where the Patriots saw their locker room get swept up with a team-wide illness, Sunday night’s performance in Houston certainly didn’t leave anyone feeling any better.

Bill Belichick took his healthy players on one plane and his sick players on another, clearly hoping to keep the illness from spreading. Instead, their 28-22 showing against the Texans likely ended up being nauseating for everyone and the team now finds itself with a remaining schedule full of must-win games if they hope to earn a top seed and possibly even win the AFC East.

With this one behind us, here are some thoughts coming off of the loss.

1) The discussion this week will likely center around the lack of offensive weapons at Tom Brady’s disposal but it’s hard not to look back at what happened in this game and not feel like the problem extends beyond their lack of experienced talent at the receiver position.

Obviously the miscue by rookie wideout N’Keal Harry that led to an interception was bad, especially since Houston took advantage and scored their first touchdown. But the fact he was essentially completely removed from the offense is pretty disappointing.

Harry wasn’t targeted again following the interception and was on the field for just 22 of the 87 offensive snaps Sunday night, clearly being penalized for the miscue. It was definitely a bad play, which saw him not fight through the defender for the football and led to the interception. But following that turnover, Harry appeared to see little of the field and it was surprising to see them completely give up on him.

For a team that used a 1st round pick on him, it’s surprising that he would be taken out and alienated considering they need every receiver they have to be involved right now. Some may say Harry’s disappearance might be on Brady, but the lack of playing time was clearly a coaching decision and that’s obviously not great news.

If that’s the case, it’s telling for the future of Harry this season, who a few weeks ago seemed like he might have been one of the answers this team has been in need of. Instead, he’s now become a question mark and it’s concerning not just for the remainder of this season, but potentially moving forward if they hope to avoid failing with developing yet another young receiver.

2) This group right now really is a mess, with the veterans accounting for the majority of Brady’s attention as he selectively tries to work the younger guys into the mix. One thing is obvious, as much as it’s going to irritate him, Brady is going to have to force himself to get other players involved in the offense, no matter how uncomfortable it makes him.

There weren’t many occasions where guys came open but there were a few where players like Matt LaCosse and Jakobi Meyers managed a little separation, but Brady instead opted to target his more trusted receivers in both Julian Edelman and James White, who each combined for 214 of the 326 passing yards Brady finished the evening with.

But for the most part, his usual guys were covered and some of his targets were forced, with Phillip Dorsett and Edelman both seeing several passes thrown their way that should never have happened, including two plays where the ball was heaved downfield both to Dorsett and to Edelman (who was double-covered) and nearly picked off, with Brady clearly hoping for either a miracle or a pass interference penalty. Neither happened.

Mohamed Sanu was a guy many hoped would be a difference-maker, but he’s been banged up and played just 19 offensive snaps Sunday night as he continues fighting through an ankle injury. Brady went to him early in the third quarter, which included a 3rd-and-4 where Sanu couldn’t quite reach the marker. The Patriots went for it on 4th-and-1 and Sanu, who was also interfered with on the play, was targeted again couldn’t quite come up with the football. That was a critical sequence because the Texans turned around and took the football the other way on the ensuing possession, with Watson hitting Kenny Stills for a 35-yard touchdown.

Brady clearly has his expectations of how he expects the offense to be run and he was spotted Sunday night imploring his receivers to be “faster”, “quicker” and “more explosive”. He’s got guys who are both quick and fast, but the mental complexity that goes with this offense is clearly creating a learning curve that the younger players have yet to master. You saw it on the play where Meyers didn’t turn upfield when the play broke down and you saw it again where the depth of his route didn’t change and he collided with Edelman, who was penalized for a pick play after Meyers crossed in front of him. Those are mental mistakes, but not reason enough to yet give up on guys who will potentially be valuable down the stretch.

Those are the plays which account for Brady’s frustration and is just going to require patience, because there isn’t another player walking through that door to help them out.

Brady may not realize it, but he’s getting what he wants. He might prefer older, more experienced players, but they need to get younger, faster and quicker and have two very good receivers that fit that description. Despite the growing pains, Brady is just going to have to accept the fact things aren’t going to be perfect and rather than ignoring them after a bad play, he’s going to have to stick with them if he hopes to see them become valuable assets in this offense. It needs to happen, because the offense can’t be stuck in neutral if they expect to beat another tough opponents in the Chiefs team this weekend.

Michel had a productive night against the Texans.

3) Speaking of the offense, it was surprising to see them completely give up on running the football, especially considering the success Sony Michel had early in this contest.

Part of the reason why is somewhat obvious. The fact Michel isn’t a dual threat is likely the reason he came out of the game in favor of James White, with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels probably hoping to make things a little more unpredictable for the Texans’ defense.

The bad news is, it made the Patriots less effective and they struggled to sustain drives and give New England’s defense much of a break through much of the first half.

That remains a curious situation given that Michel has shown some good moments catching the football and working in the open field. The problem is, when he’s dropped a pass or not made a play, they completely get away from targeting him. That’s quietly been the story with several offensive players this season and it’s bizarre that they haven’t yet realized giving up on guys and not going back to them has become a pattern that has really hurt them and kept them from potentially getting to where they need to be. Michel has shown he can fill that role when he needs to and it’s strange that they didn’t use him more after he had been productive prior to them going away from him. Whether or not that changes remains to be seen, but that’s been how things have gone so far with the second-year running back who had 621-receiving yards and 6 touchdown receptions during his collegiate career at Georgia.

4) The loss of Stephen Gostkowski continues to loom large, especially after losing Nick Folk to an appendectomy coming into this game.

Newcomer Kai Forbath hit a 23-yard field goal to cap the team’s first drive of the game, but missed an extra point and he looked pretty shaky as the team struggled all game long to sustain drives.

Say what you want about Gostkowski, but he missed just one field goal in his eight attempts this season before getting injured, although he was 11/15 on his extra point kicks. But if the team was in field goal range, there wasn’t much doubt that Gostkowski had a good shot at hitting it. Instead, not having a reliable field goal kicker is something that has definitely hurt them this season and you saw again on Sunday night how it affected some of their decision making.

This will likely remain a problem and when you take into account their offensive struggles, it’s even more concerning as these games continue to become tighter and more meaningful heading into the end of the season.

Despite giving up a few big plays, the defense played about as well as could have been expected Sunday night.

5) Meanwhile, despite how much they struggled, the defense actually had a better game than people think, especially after Belichick pulled them aside late in the first half and started making adjustments.

They did a reasonably good job keeping Deshaun Watson in check, with the Texans really only putting together and scoring one good touchdown drive in the first half, which came on a 13 play, 88-yard possession where Houston held the ball for nearly 7-minutes and wore down the Patriots’ defense. The other touchdown came on the Brady/Harry interception, which gave Houston the football at the New England 21-yard line, setting the Texans up for an easy scoring play to Duke Johnson just 3-plays later.

They actually held Watson to just 3-of-7 in the Third quarter, but the problem was, each of those completions went for 15, 20 and a 35-yard touchdown pass, respectively. For a group that’s normally good about not allowing big plays, that was their Achilles heel as the Texans pulled away.

However, the fact the Patriots managed just 3 points really made things tough and it seemed like it was just a matter of time before the wheels eventually came off. That’s unfortunately, exactly what happened after Houston marched their way down to the Patriots 35-yard line early in the third quarter, with Watson tossing a 35-yard pass to Will Fuller, who appeared to haul in the football for the score. However, replay showed that Jonathan Jones got his hand in and kept Fuller from controlling the football and the call was reversed and called incomplete.

But the Texans wasted no time going right back at Jones, with Watson this time throwing a perfect 35-yard pass to Kenny Stills on the next play for a touchdown, which suddenly put the pressure on New England at 21-3. That play was a tough one, especially after the close call Jones had just one play earlier. It was also the second longest scoring pass play allowed all season, with the previous one coming all the way back in Week 6 against the Giants thanks to Golden Tate’s 64yd touchdown.

The Patriots answered with a scoring drive of their own on the next possession, but the failed extra point seemingly took the wind out of their sails and they trailed 21-9 at the end of the third quarter. Houston then put together a drive to begin the fourth quarter that ended with a toss to Deandre Hopkins, who then threw a touchdown to Watson on a play that looked like a pitch but was ruled a forward pass, with Watson diving into the pylon for the touchdown.

Either way, the real story of this game was the fact on a night where they were facing a good team who came in with a good game plan, the lack of complimentary football by the offense was really their bigger issue. Three first half points obviously wasn’t enough and unfortunately, it put them in a hole just deep enough where despite their last-second scoring run, they just couldn’t recover.

As good as this defense has been, expecting them to hold opposing teams scoreless if they can’t put up points is asking a little much and all things considered, especially considering the state they were in health-wise, they played about as well as could have been expected.

With the Chiefs up next it’s another big challenge and expecting this group to shut down Pat Mahomes and the rest of the Kansas City offense is going to be a tall order if they can’t put up any points. If that ends up being a problem again this weekend, they’re going to be in for another long afternoon.

Hopefully, they’ll figure it out. They’ll spend the rest of this week trying to put this one behind them and do just that before they kickoff against the Chiefs on Sunday at 4:25pm.

Five Thoughts on the Patriots Win Over the Cowboys

Ian Logue
November 25, 2019 at 8:33 am ET

The weather at Gillette Stadium may have been miserable, but at least the fans on hand who braved the elements on Sunday got to see the Patriots take care of business against the Cowboys as they improved to 10-1 on the season.

Points were at a premium and it was New England who came away on top, beating Dallas 13-9 on a rain-soaked field in front of the home crowd. Here are some thoughts on the win.

1) Wide receiver N’Keal Harry had a fairly solid outing on Sunday, with his athleticism on display in what ended up being the key play of the game as he scored the lone touchdown of the afternoon.

On the play, Harry broke out toward the corner and twisted himself around, snatching the ball out of the air on a terrific throw from Tom Brady, while managing to keep both feet in bounds for the 10-yard touchdown.

It was a huge play for the rookie, coming two plays after Matthew Slater blocked a Dallas punt deep in their own territory and it ended up being the knockout blow as the Cowboys never reached the end zone for the entire game.

Harry was targeted 4 times with his lone TD reception but did have a couple of drops in this one, which were largely due to the elements as the ball slipped through his fingers on a couple of leaping grabs that may have otherwise been receptions in dryer weather. But Sunday was a nice glimpse of why the Patriots selected him and hopefully, it’s a sign of things to come.

2) Sunday was also a big day for fellow rookie receiver Jakobi Meyers, who stepped up big in Sunday’s win.

Meyers was targeted 9 times and finished with 4 receptions for 74-yards, all of which were first downs. He also caught 2-of-3 targets on third down, both of which moved the chains.

The rookie averaged a team-high 18.5 yards per reception and made a critical 9-yard catch during a fourth-quarter drive that led to a 42-yard field by kicker Nick Folk, which put the Patriots up 13-6 and kept the pressure on Dallas.

Overall, like Harry, it was a solid showing for Meyers and it came when they needed it most. Without receivers Mohamed Sanu and Phillip Dorsett, who were both sidelined with injuries, the two each got in some much-needed work and it was great to see both players take advantage of their opportunities.

3) Much of the talk all week centered around the return of left tackle Isaiah Wynn and he didn’t disappoint on Sunday.

Brady had significantly more time to throw and even more importantly, the ground game was pretty effective all afternoon. Running back Sony Michel finished Sunday’s game carrying 20 times for 85-yards, 14 of which went to the left side.

Dallas’ pass rush was also kept at bay and Wynn played a big factor in that and he looked fairly comfortable out there. Not bad for a player who has been a spectator all season as he spent time getting healthy. The team seemingly took their time and didn’t rush him back, hopefully making sure that this time, they’ll have Wynn back for the long haul.

If Sunday’s game is any indication, Wynn appears to be the difference-maker they needed up front and the result certainly speaks for itself.

4) One of the things that also stood out was the fact that Stephon Gilmore was absolutely outstanding on Sunday, completely shutting down Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper.

Cooper was held without a reception for the first time since he joined the Cowboys, with Gilmore blanketing him all game long and making sure Cooper was never a factor out there.

Gilmore also finished the game with a diving interception, which came early in the second quarter as Dak Prescott was targeting Cooper and the Patriots ended up with Folk hitting a 44-yard field goal, which at the time put New England up 10-0.

By the fourth quarter it was obvious Cooper was frustrated and the game ended in fitting fashion, with the Dallas receiver failing to haul in a fourth down reception as Cooper dove for a pass from Prescott to try and extend the game. It was initially ruled a 20-yard reception but was overturned after replay showed that Cooper couldn’t quite secure it before he hit the ground.

But credit Gilmore for his performance. In a tight game like this one where there was little margin for error, the veteran defensive back made sure there were certainly no mistakes on his side of the field.

5) Sunday’s game was a solid outing for Brady, who finally had some room to work back in the pocket.

With Wynn stabilizing his side of the offensive line, Brady did a solid job even despite the rain throwing the football. Granted, there were a couple of throws that were off-target, but that was to be expected given the elements. But the biggest thing that was noticeable was the fact he was much more poised than he had been in recent weeks and that was largely because he was under significantly less duress.

Brady finished the afternoon 17-of-37 for 190 yards and a touchdown, with his best quarter coming in the final 15 minutes of Sunday’s game as he completed 7-of-13 for 55-yards, which included a terrific 23-yard pass to Julian Edelman that put New England in Dallas territory. While the drive stalled, that pass was big because it put them into position to allow Jake Bailey to pin the Cowboys in at their own 8-yard line and forced Prescott and the offense to have to drive the length of the field if they hoped to win the game.

However, he did make a dangerous play in this one on another throw to Edelman as he was sandwiched between defenders and twisted awkwardly as he went down. Fortunately, Brady escaped injury but watching it on replay was certainly scary. For a player who normally does a pretty good job with self-preservation, that was a moment that could have turned out badly and he’s fortunate to have come away unscathed.

But overall, it was probably the most comfortable we’ve seen Brady in a long time and with a climate-controlled game up next in the dome in Houston, it should be interesting to see if this is the week both he and the offense finally breaks out.

If ever there was a week to make a statement, this is certainly it. Hopefully, that’s exactly what we’ll see next Sunday night when New England faces the Texans as they look to improve to 11-1 on the season.

5 Thoughts Following the Patriots Win Over the Eagles

Ian Logue
November 18, 2019 at 8:34 am ET

After two weeks away from the football field, the Patriots were back in action on Sunday looking for a big win out in Philadelphia as they began their second-half push toward another postseason run.

Much like their game against the Ravens, Sunday’s contest against the Eagles was a difficult battle, but this time New England managed to come away with a 17-10 win to improve to 9-1 on the season.

Here are some thoughts on the win:

1) Many will talk about the defense’s difficulties on Sunday as the Eagles had success early in the first half moving the football, but it’s hard not to appreciate what they managed to do down the stretch. With Tom Brady and the offense struggling, it left them responsible for closing out the game and they stepped up and did just that.

Their second-half performance was outstanding, with this group coming through in big moments against Carson Wentz and his receivers. After allowing Wentz to complete 11-of-16 for 87-yards and a touchdown in the first half as Philadelphia built a 10-9 lead, they were absolutely relentless and made him miserable over the final two quarters.

Belichick was spotted late in the first half holding court with the entire defense on the sideline, clearly settling them down after the Eagles scored their lone touchdown of the afternoon after a 16-play, 95-yard march down the field against them, the longest drive allowed by a Patriots team in the regular season in the last eight years.

Whatever he said obviously worked, as things changed from there and even more so when they came out of the locker room after halftime.

How good were they? They held Wentz to just 9-of-24 (38%) for 127-yards in the second half, including zero points.

That was key because New England’s offense came out in the second half and marched right down the field on their opening drive, with Brady going no-huddle and taking them 84-yards on 10 plays, which saw a trick play where Brady threw out to the right to Julian Edelman, who then fired a 15-yard strike to Phillip Dorsett in the end zone for the touchdown. James White would take it in for the 2-point conversion, giving New England a 17-10 to begin the second half.

Dorsett would be knocked out of the game on that play, leaving the Patriots short-handed against an Eagles team that was pretty tough all afternoon. As it would turn out, this would be a game where the defense would be the group responsible for carrying them to a victory.

It didn’t start off perfectly, as Jason McCourty was called for a 49-yard pass interference penalty on the first play of the game, leading to a 42-yard field goal as the Eagles took an early lead. Two possessions later, they allowed the aforementioned 95-yard drive that resulted in their first and only touchdown of the afternoon, giving them a 10-0 advantage.

But that would be it as New England held them scoreless the rest of the way, with the team getting back in the win column as they maintained their edge over the Ravens in the AFC for the top seed.

While it wasn’t pretty, it was enough and Belichick’s group now heads back to New England with their ninth victory of the season.


Brady was under pressure all afternoon down in Philadelphia.

2) Prepare for the pundits to be all over Brady this week, with the veteran finally showing cracks in his Hall-of-Fame armor for the first time on Sunday.

Brady is no stranger to making the occasional mistake, but he made several uncharacteristic decisions on Sunday, including a few questionable throws that he was very lucky didn’t lead to turnovers in key moments.

The Eagles brought pressure all game long, giving him little time to find anyone and he had to work for every single throw. But the biggest thing that stood out was that for the first time in recent memory, instead of showing frustration, he actually looked panicked on several occasions. That’s unusual for a player who is normally so poised, but he had moments where he didn’t look like himself at all on Sunday, which saw him get sacked once and hit 6 times.

Philadelphia did a good job making him uncomfortable, not allowing him to get set and throwing off the timing on quite a few plays and New England’s offensive line certainly didn’t do him any favors.

But Brady’s demeanor will likely be the story this week as he finished with a career-high 14 incompletions in the first-half, a stat that will probably be repeated by the talking heads and critics who will start pointing to the beginning of the end for the quarterback. Now, it was obvious that there are problems personnel-wise which are clearly contributing to these issues, but it’s unusual to not see Brady overcome them and falter in the uncharacteristic panicked moments he had on Sunday. He also nearly threw another red zone interception after almost getting picked off on a bad throw to Mohamed Sanu during their second scoring drive.

Following the game, it was clear there was a lot of frustration as Brady looked very sullen during his post-game press conference. He offered little in terms of any encouragement and looked like a player without any answers as to why they haven’t quite been able to get things going through 11 games.

Unfortunately, despite the fact there were moments where receivers weren’t in the right spot (one route by Jakobi Meyers where he broke off his route obviously come to mind), Brady wasn’t exactly his normally sharp self. There were a few plays that will likely be the topic of discussion all week, a couple of which could have resulted in turnovers. Brady was lucky he escaped unscathed after getting away with a few that could have been disastrous.

The good news is, history has shown that this should hopefully be an anomaly for the 6-time Super Bowl Champion. However, seeing him even have these moments was certainly unsettling for a player who is normally much more poised than he was on Sunday.

3) Jake Bailey walks away as the player of the game in this one, spending much of the afternoon flipping field position and forcing the Eagles to have to work with a long field all game long.

He was unbelievable, finishing with 8 punts, including six where he pinned the Eagles inside their 20-yard line. In fact, 3 of those drives started inside their own 10-yard line, with two more starting from their own 12.

That was huge because not only did it force the Eagles to start with bad field position, it gave the offense some terrific field position after Philadelphia was forced to punt quite a bit inside their own territory.

The bad news is, the Patriots obviously struggled to get anything going offensively and they weren’t really able to take advantage of it.

The other thing that stood out was the fact that Bailey’s high, booming kicks were a reminder that the swirling winds teams will be dealing with over these final months will likely cause some problems, with the Eagles punt returners looking a little shaky on a couple of his kicks. After seeing Cyrus Jones muff one two weeks ago in Baltimore, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Bailey get someone else to misjudge one at some point. The only thing that would have made his afternoon complete would have been if Bailey would have been able to recover a fumble on a kickoff in the second quarter after their field goal. On the play, Boston Scott was returning Bailey’s kickoff but Brandon Bolden came in behind Scott and punched out the ball, leaving Bailey as the player who was in position to recover it. Bailey dove and appeared to nearly have it, but couldn’t quite hang on to it and it went out of bounds.

Other than that, he was terrific and ended up being a big factor in the victory. He’s been outstanding all season but Sunday was definitely one of his best performances yet.

4) It was good to finally see N’Keal Harry in the line-up, with the rookie entering the game on just the second play. He spent most of the game blocking the running game, but did haul in three passes for 18-yards.

His first came on a 2nd-and-10 from their own 36-yard line, with Harry making a nice grab for an 11-yard pick up early in the second quarter on their first scoring drive. That helped keep things moving as the offense marched 59-yards on 13 plays, with Nick Folk hitting a 35-yard field goal to get them on the board after they trailed 10-0.

Harry’s addition seemingly comes at a good time as the Patriots lost Dorsett on his touchdown reception after he took a hard shot to the head on the play but somehow managed to hold on after the throw from Edelman. Dorsett left the field and appeared to be O.K., but was later looked at on the sideline and he didn’t return.

While it was a relatively quiet game, it was a good start for the rookie first round pick. With a home game up next, it should be interesting to see if his role expands this weekend.


New England’s defense was terrific Sunday.

5) It was also good to see Ben Watson get more involved again for the second straight week, with the veteran making several key receptions on Sunday.

Watson finished the afternoon with 3 receptions for 52-yards, including a 22-yard grab on a 3rd-and-10 from their own 47-yard line on the same drive Harry had his catch, with the team finishing it off with their first field goal of the game.

The veteran tight end also hauled in a 19-yard pass on the ensuing drive, which helped set up their second set of points after that one ended with a 22-yard field goal by Folk.

That’s a positive sign as Watson appears to be getting more comfortable in the offense and it’s certainly coming at the right time. With Dallas up next, followed by key AFC battles against Houston and Kansas City, the road doesn’t get any easier. Hopefully his contributions are a sign of things to come, which will if all goes well will also see Brady settle back in heading into their final six games.

The Patriots will face Dallas at Gillette Stadium next Sunday at 4:25pm.

5 Thoughts Following the Patriots Win Over the Browns

Ian Logue
October 28, 2019 at 11:07 am ET

The Patriots improved to 8-0 on Sunday with their win over the Browns and here are some thoughts on the victory:

1) It can’t be said enough how much Bill Belichick has meant to this franichise and it was only fitting that his 300th career win came in front of the home crowd at Gillette Stadium who, despite the rain, gave their coach quite the ovation at the end of the game.

The fact it also happened as head coach of the team he earned his first victory against (he got his first win after beating the Patriots as head coach of the Browns back on 9/8/91), along with beating the Browns, his previous head coaching job prior to his arrival in New England, was a nice bit of poetic justice. For anyone who followed Belichick during those days in Cleveland, it’s still a little tough to understand why people felt he did so poorly during his first coaching stint.

During his first three seasons from 1991-1993, he finished 6-10, 7-9 and 7-9 as he revamped the roster and then came out in 1994 and led them to an 11-5 record, which even included a playoff win over the Patriots.

But the following season when it was announced that the Browns were suddenly being relocated to Baltimore was when the wheels came off, which had nothing to do with Belichick. During a documentary, Belichick brought to light what a tumultuous period that was for both he and the players and it played a key role in the fact that decision, not Belichick, was the reason things fell apart.

It’s good news for the Patriots, who ultimately ended up being the place he got his second opportunity. Fortunately, we know how things have turned out and seeing him set himself among greats such as George Halas and Don Shula is only fitting. What’s even more incredible is the fact he’s done it during the salary cap era, finishing with a winning season every year he’s been here, while also winning 10 or more games every season going back to 2003. He even did it in 2008 without Tom Brady, after Brady was lost mere minutes into that season.

He’s the best ever and each week is another little notch as he continues etching himself into the record books. But Sunday was a historic milestone that while the weather was far from perfect, the result certainly was as the Patriots remained perfect and won their eight game of the season.


Nice start for Sanu in his debut.

2) The weather likely spoiled a potentially more productive day for newcomer Mohamed Sanu, but what we saw from him Sunday was hopefully a sign of things to come.

Sanu finished the game with two receptions on the afternoon, with his first coming on a 4th-and-4 late in the first half. It was a big play and extended the drive, getting the Patriots down in scoring territory. Unfortunately, the drive eventually stalled and Mike Nugent’s field goal was blocked, but it doesn’t change the fact that he appears like he’ll be a good fit in this offense.

The big thing that stood out was the energy and intensity he played with, which was a stark contrast from Josh Gordon, who looked pretty tired and worn down during his final outings. Sanu took some big shots on Sunday but popped right back up and got back in the huddle and was also spotted doing a good job blocking on run plays and overall played pretty well.

He was targeted 5 times and while he only had two receptions, the rain played a part in a couple of those missed connections. But if initial impressions are any indication, it should be fun to see his contributions in the coming weeks now that he’s part of this offense.


The defense was big again on Sunday.

3) Sunday was another unbelievable day for the defense, which set the tone early.

The Patriots got their first touchdown of the day off of a fumble by running back Nick Chubb, with Dont’a Hightower scooping it up in stride and taking off 26-yards into the end zone to give New England a 10-0 advantage, but the most impressive play came on Cleveland’s next snap from scrimmage.

After Chubb broke off a 44-yard run down to the Patriots 16, Jonathan Jones, who initially fell down, got back up and sprinted the length of the field and came in and punched the football out, with Devin McCourty falling on the football at the New England 4-yard line. That was big, because had the Browns gotten into the end zone they would have been back in the game and it could have changed the momentum.

Instead, Jones’ effort fired up his group, who came after Baker Mayfield on the Browns’ first play of their ensuing drive and Lawrence Guy stepped in front of a short pass from Mayfield to Jarvis Landry, intercepting the pass and giving the Patriots the football at the Browns’ 11-yard line. Two plays later, Brady hit Edelman for an 8-yard touchdown and the Patriots were in command at 17-0.

It wasn’t perfect, as the Browns did have a fairly decent day running the football, with Chubb finishing with 131-yards on the day. However, considering the Browns were probably the most talented offense they’ve faced, New England held them to 3-of-12 (25%) on third down and just 13 points, making key plays when they needed to.

They still lead the league in points-per-game allowed (7.6) and Guy’s interception gave them 19 picks for the season, an NFL best. They also lead the league with 31-sacks after taking Mayfield down 5 times on Sunday.

Overall, it was a solid day’s work against a pretty good offense. The big test now is up next as the Patriots start getting ready for the Ravens, who are second in the NFL in yards-per-game and second in the league in points-per-game behind New England. They also lead the NFL in average time of possession.

4) Sunday’s game highlighted a solid afternoon for running back Sony Michel, who had a pretty good performance against the Browns’ defense.

He finished Sunday’s contest carrying 21 times for 74-yards, averaging 3.5 yards per game. But the thing that stood out was the fact Michel did a better job accelerating
and darting through openings against Cleveland’s defense, which gave us glimpses of the player we saw quite a bit last season.

And it’s not like the Browns defense wasn’t tough. They stopped Michel and Burkhead for either a loss or no gain seven times on Sunday, as well as another for a loss by Edelman. But the fact Michel was able to do what he did in those conditions was big as it kept Cleveland off balance just enough for Brady to throw for over 250-yards in driving rain.

A lot of the credit obviously goes to the guys up front, as they appear to be making progress. But this is the time of year where you need to see that improvement and hopefully Sunday is a sign of things to come.


Despite tough conditions, Brady played well Sunday.

5) Speaking of Brady, give him credit for the way he orchestrated the offense on Sunday, with the veteran making a couple of key plays in big moments.

One of the first was a perfectly thrown 33-yard pass to Phillip Dorsett on their second drive of the game, putting New England in business in Browns territory. It eventually led to a 20-yard field goal by Mike Nugent to give them an early 3-0 lead.

His next big play came on 2nd-and-7 from the Browns’ 8-yard line following Guy’s interception. Facing pressure, Brady rolled right and threw a perfect strike to Edelman, who caught the ball in stride and slashed into the end zone. That touchdown was Brady’s 12th of the season and also put him in the record books as the most touchdown passes in a season by a 42 year-old quarterback, breaking the previous mark of 11 by Warren Moon in 1998.

His throw to Sanu on the 4th-and-4 play was also terrific, firing a strike between the numbers as Sanu caught it with defenders bearing down on him and he turned just quickly enough to reach the first down marker.

Given the conditions, it was a terrific showing against a pretty good football team and Brady did a good job against a Browns defense that got fairly good pressure on him.

With a trip to Baltimore up next Sunday night, this will potentially be their biggest test of the season thus far.

Expect this one to be tough, as the Ravens are also coming off a bye and have had extra time to start preparing for this one. To add a little extra to this rivalry, Baltimore wasted no time making things interesting, having added recently released safety Jordan Richards and signing another defensive player in Ufomba Kamalu off New England’s practice squad.

That’s just Ravns head coach John Harbaugh being Harbaugh, likely looking for whatever edge he can find against a team that has always made things tough against him. Whether or not any of it really makes a difference this Sunday remains to be seen.

Four Saturday Patriots Thoughts 10/26

Ian Logue
October 26, 2019 at 12:53 pm ET

With just one day until game day, here are some thoughts as we finish out this week before Sunday’s showdown against the Cleveland Browns.

1) The suggestion by Adam Schefter this week regarding the future of Tom Brady reignited the speculation of the status of the quarterback beyond this season, which has dominated the airwaves for most of the past few days.

If you haven’t followed this story, Schefter believes that 2019 could be Brady’s final year in a Patriots uniform and he believes that even if Brady doesn’t opt to retire after this year, his era as the signal-caller in New England may be over and he won’t be back in a Patriots uniform next season.

That’s obviously difficult to even fathom given that the vast majority of the younger fan base doesn’t know this Patriots team any other way.  Brady changed the arc of this franchise since he took over as the starter in 2001 and he’s spent every season ever since rewriting both the history and record books for both the team and the NFL with every performance.

But for anyone who has followed Brady throughout his career, it’s obvious that the past few seasons have been more taxing than most.  The ESPN report from two seasons ago regarding a rift internally between Brady and Bill Belichick seemed far-fetched initially but there ended up being a little more truth to it than many ultimately thought.  One part of the report suggested Brady didn’t feel appreciated, which the quarterback later said, “I plead the fifth” when asked during an interview with Jim Gray when asked if he truly felt that way.

Winning a Super Bowl the following year seemed to cure that problem and it all appeared to die down.  However, a lot of that same discussion started again when we found out that the extension he reportedly agreed to this past offseason suddenly left the door open for him to not be here past the end of this year, along with the fact his house was – and still is – up for sale.

It’s easy to dismiss it, but when you fast-forward back to where we are now, it’s hard not to wonder why Schefter felt the need to both bring it up again and continue to push this narrative.  He’s a smart guy and one of the most reputable in the business, so it feels like there’s more to this than what he’s letting on.

Let’s be a little honest, it’s clear that things are still far from perfect with Brady.  Watching him this season, it feels like it’s been more of a grind for him than in past years.  He’s had to work for every pass and every play, with very little coming easy.  That’s largely due to the injury situation on offense, along with the fact that the Antonio Brown acquisition imploded and ruined an unbelievable opportunity for the two to tear up the opposition in a season where their defense has been playing at a historic level.

Since that all went south, he’s made no secret that he’s been a little frustrated with their personnel situation on offense.  If you’ve watched him closely over the past few games, he’s had to hold the ball until the last second and he’s taken a few tough hits where he’s gotten up a bit gingerly on multiple occasions.

It’s entirely possible that the fact they’re as thin as they’ve been personnel-wise offensively has been wearing on him.  Right now, it seems like it’s just not fun.  They’re winning, but it’s clearly been a grind.  They’ve had trouble running the football and it’s made things more difficult on the passing game, which probably would have been far less productive with anyone other than Brady under center.  Yet Brady, as usual, has done a terrific job making the most of what he’s had to work with.  Honestly, the odds of anyone else being able to lead this club to 7-0 with this group is probably pretty unlikely.

Maybe the addition of Mohamed Sanu will solve some of it and things will finally kick into gear.  Sanu isn’t anywhere near as dynamic or explosive as Brown, but he’s an impact player who has been reliable and should become someone teams will need to account for.  That should open things up for guys like Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett and Jakobi Meyers to hopefully be even a little more effective.  N’Keal Harry showed plenty of explosiveness during training camp and his addition in a couple of weeks coming back from IR may also be another boost to an offense that needs all the help they can get right now.

Things tend to change from October to December and maybe by then, Brady will start enjoying this run a little more than he seems to right now.  Who knows, it’s entirely possible that winning his seventh title could be enough to make him call it a career.  After all, winning seven championships would further cement him as the best ever and it could make him decide he’s done putting his body at risk with nothing left to prove.  But the thought of him playing elsewhere seems too hard to imagine.  With a lot of football still ahead, fans should realize that the end of an era could be coming, so it’s important to at least try and enjoy every moment before it’s over.


White remains the X-Factor in the Patriots offense.

2) Given all the discussion that has centered around the offense, it was interesting comparing Brady’s numbers through seven games last year against where he’s at so far this season.

Considering a lot of the talk about their seemingly poor lack of production in the passing game, Brady’s actually thrown for more yards at this point this season (1992-yards) than he had in 2018 (1876-yards) and has fewer interceptions.  He had 7 at this point last year, compared to the 4 he has currently.

But one of the things that stands out right now is the discrepancy when it comes to his number of touchdown passes, which totaled 16 at this point last year compared to his current total of 11.  The most staggering difference is in the red zone, which has Brady currently with 4 touchdowns compared to the 12 he had at this point last season.

Many will likely attribute this to the absence of Rob Gronkowski, but if you remember, Gronk wasn’t a scoring machine early last season.  In fact, Gronk had just one touchdown through 7 games last season, and just one target (an incompletion) down in the red zone.

At this point last year it was actually James White who led the team in both targets (61) and receptions (45) along with a team-high 6 touchdowns.  So far in 2019, he has 38 receptions and one touchdown but he’s been the most targeted receiver inside scoring territory, with Brady connecting on 10-of-11 throws.

While the tight end position has been a problem, it will be interesting to see down the stretch how they may start to do some things to open things up and create some spacing to put up more points.  But despite some of the takes we’ve heard on this topic, it’s interesting looking at the totals and seeing how big of an x-factor White continues to be.  White’s contributions this season have been quietly consistent, which is probably the best way to describe him. 

We know that if history is any indication, the offense will be quite different two months from now. We’ll see how White factors into the changes we’ll likely see over that span and it should make this team fun to watch during the final months of the season.


The news on Gordon was surprising, but not shocking

3) The news of Josh Gordon heading to injured reserve was sort of a surprise but the designation that he would be free to seek employment elsewhere certainly caught many people off guard, especially given everything the Patriots invested into him.   However, looking back at how things have been the last few weeks, it may ultimately end up being the right move.

Gordon started off fairly strong to begin the season but as the weeks have progressed, there were signs that not all was well with the veteran receiver.  If you watch quite a few of Gordon’s receptions, each time he was brought down hard, he seemed slow to get up and looked like a player who was grinding out each play and really didn’t even want to be out there.

That was a stark contrast from a year ago when he first got here and even going back to Week 1, so it was obvious that something wasn’t right.  Not to mention that the two weren’t connecting consistently this season, with Brady hitting Gordon on just 20-of-36 attempts (56%), one of the lowest completion rates with Brady this season among his receivers.

It’s possible that Gordon was dealing with an injury prior to the one he suffered in his final game, which looked both scary and painful. But whatever the reason, he was trending in the wrong direction.  That was bad news for a team that’s been in desperate need of turning things around offensively and they made the tough call to turn the page with 9 games left to play.

It’s disappointing but given the physical similarities with Sanu and his style of play, hopefully, the Patriots can make up Gordon’s production.  Many people here were rooting for Gordon’s success and you definitely can say the Patriots gave him every opportunity to be successful.  Unfortunately, sometimes no matter how hard you’d like them to, things just don’t work out and that appears to be what happened Gordon’s case.


Garopplo and the 49ers are unbeaten so far.

4) What’s happening in San Francisco is hard to ignore and as crazy as it sounds, it’s potentially setting Brady up with a collision course for a Super Bowl showdown against Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers in Miami.  Many seem to feel like this would be a terrific match-up, but thinking about it further, it’s not as ideal as people may think.

Most likely remember the debate that raged on when Belichick sent Garoppolo to the west coast and continued on with Brady.  Quite a few people were surprisingly split on the move, with a fair amount of them disappointed that the Patriots didn’t figure out a way to either keep Garoppolo around a little longer, or potentially trade Brady.

Well, imagine a situation where Brady faces Garoppolo in the Super Bowl and, heaven forbid, loses to him.

If the Patriots were to be undefeated and it went down that way, that scenario becomes an even bigger nightmare.

It would likely reignite that debate and, if Brady were to walk away, would obviously be one of the most disappointing ways for his career as a Patriot to potentially end.

It’s funny, looking at this situation a few years ago when Brady’s future was being discussed while Garoppolo was still here, Brady to San Francisco was one scenario that made some sense.  Given that the possibility of Brady possibly not finishing his career in New England had come up previously, if Brady had left, the logical move would have been for him to go to the 49ers, who he grew up rooting for in his hometown of San Mateo, California.  Back then, San Francisco was in dire need of a quarterback and didn’t seem close to solving that situation. The team certainly had enough talent to be much better than they were, but they lacked a viable quarterback.

As frustrating as that would have been here, it would have at least allowed Brady to finish his career in his hometown and it seemed like the perfect fit.  Instead, when Belichick sent Garoppolo there, it essentially blew up that scenario.   It eliminated that possibility for Brady and got the back-up quarterback out of the conference.  It worked out since the Patriots have added two championships and appear poised for a third, but if Brady is thinking about a campaign elsewhere, looking around the league, there’s not really a place that would make sense for him to attempt to end his career the way Peyton Manning did.

With the way things currently stand, both Los Angeles teams have quarterbacks and the lesser of the two, the Chargers, even with Brady, definitely aren’t good enough collectively to win a title.  Tennessee might make sense due to his relationship with head coach and former teammate Mike Vrabel, but it’s a risky move because they haven’t even really been consistent on defense. 

Chicago or Tampa Bay could use a quarterback change, or possibly even Detroit if Matt Patricia decides to move Matt Stafford for a draft pick and roll the dice for a season or two with Brady.  But each of the destinations mentioned are anything less than ideal for Brady to put himself through that to possibly tarnish his legacy elsewhere.

Whether or not any of this is/was ever even a possibility is tough to say, but it’s hard not to wonder if Brady’s NFL future would be further in doubt heading into the end of this season if that opportunity was still available.  Instead, Garoppolo being shipped there eliminated that potential vacancy and the further idea that he could be the one to rob Brady of his seventh ring is scary to think about. 

Needless to say, it’s O.K. to root for Garoppolo to lead his team to the postseason and win a game.  However, rooting for him to make it to Miami might be a different story. Hopefully, it will be a seventh ring that allows Brady to go out on his own terms and if an undefeated season is also part of that story, even better.

But losing to Garopplo and spoiling both? Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

6 Thoughts Following the Patriots Win Over the Jets

Ian Logue
October 22, 2019 at 10:58 am ET

The Patriots improved to 7-0 after embarrassing the Jets in front of their own crowd and the world Monday night, demoralizing a New York team that had been riding fairly high coming into the game after beating the Cowboys the week before.

With Jets quarterback Sam Darnold back under center, New York seemed to be poised to turn things around and potentially give New England their first loss of the season.  Unfortunately for Darnold, the result was quite the opposite and here are some thoughts on the Patriots’ seventh win of the season.

1) It’s hard not to wonder how we’ll someday look back on this defense given the performance they’ve put forth so far through the first seven weeks of the season.  As Patriots fans, most people look back on the days of Ty Law, Willie McGinest and Tedy Bruschi as the glory days of this group, but the 2019 version has been far more dominant than anyone could have ever expected.

Monday night was certainly a terrific example of how good they could be after they forced six Jets turnovers, including 4 interceptions by Darnold.  It started right away after Devin McCourty nabbed the first, picking the Jets signal-caller off on just his second snap of the contest and setting the tone for the rest of the night.  The turnover gives McCourty an NFL best 5 on the season and it was a good job by the safety who made a nice play on the football.

They kept Darnold off balance all night and came at him from all angles, putting him under constant duress and forcing quite a few errant throws.  Darnold, who was mic’d up for the game, was spotted on the sideline saying, “I’m seeing ghosts” and that quote would come back to haunt him for the rest of the evening as New England refused to take the foot off the gas the entire night.

The Patriots made Darnold miserable Monday night.

It didn’t get any better and he finished having completed just 11-of-32 (34%) for 86-yards for the game.  New England’s defense held New York to just 2-of-11 on third down, with Darnold completing a paltry 3-of-10 (30%) for 27 yards and three interceptions.

The interception total is just ridiculous.  Last night’s game gives New England 18 on the year, nearly double that of the next closest team, which is Pittsburgh with 8. They’ve also defended 50 passes, well ahead of the next closest team, which is the Buffalo Bills with 36.

As Mike Reiss pointed out last night, according to ESPN Stats and Info, it’s the second-highest interception total through the first seven games in the last 30 seasons.  The only team with more is the Packers, who had 20 during their Super Bowl season in 1996 (unfortunately, most of us remember who they beat to win it).

The critics will point to the competition this group has faced so far, but good teams are supposed to beat up on inferior clubs and the Patriots did more than beat up the Jets, they absolutely annihilated them.  This is a group who collectively right now is playing so well as a unit and they didn’t back down all night.  In fact, despite the lopsided score, this game even had a strange feel as if it was still much tighter than the scoreboard showed given the fact they never let up and were playing just as hard in the fourth quarter as they were when the game started.

Needless to say, while it’s hard to believe, we’re witnessing history each week.  With 9 games stil left to go, this unit definitely appears poised to potentially write themselves further into the NFL record books and at the rate they’re going, it should be fun to see how it plays out.

2) With the Patriots without Josh Gordon Monday night, it was Jakobi Meyers who stepped up and had another solid outing.  Brady was 5-of-5 targeting him, with their chemistry starting on the first drive of the night after the Patriots faced a 3rd-and-7 at midfield.  Meyers hauled in a 9-yard pass to extend the drive, but then made a further impact on the ensuing 3rd-and-10 play where he made a key block to allow Julian Edelman to pick up 14-yards.

Both of those moments were big as it helped extend the drive and set up the eventual 3-yard touchdown run by Sony Michel.

It was good to see and Brady clearly appears to be finally getting some confidence throwing to him.  He also went to him on early downs, connecting on 3-of-3 targets for 34-yards on second down, including a 23-yard reception early in the second quarter that helped put them near the goal line to take advantage of a Darnold strip-sack.  That play eventually led to another Michel touchdown.

Overall, games like these could pay dividends down the road and with the addition of receiver Mohamed Sanu, who the Patriots acquired from Atlanta on Tuesday, this is a group that could suddenly become even more dangerous if Meyers can continue to grow into the speedy threat he already appears he can be.


Michel rushed for 3 touchdowns on Monday night.

3) It was another tough night for Sony Michel, who despite his 3 touchdowns had to, once again, battle for nearly every yard.

It’s no secret that the Patriots are still trying to work things out up front on the offensive line and as a result, things aren’t coming easy for the second-year running back.  He carried 19 times for 42-yards Monday night, averaging a mere 2.2 yards per carry.  The frustrating part of last night is the fact that he failed to gain a yard 9 times, including 3 for a loss and 6 for no gain.

It’s been a difficult year for Michel, who coming into the game had 100 carries on the season, which isn’t far off from the 91 he had heading into week 7 in 2018.  But he certainly had better luck breaking through the line last season.  He had 15 carries last year through six games where he didn’t pick up a yard after he was dropped for a loss 7 times and ran for no gain on 8 others.

This season, that total was at 24 heading into last night, with 10 negative carries and 14 where he was stopped for no gain.

It’s not that hard to figure out knowing how injuries have caused shifts in the line-up compared to last season and it’s a further reminder of just how good David Andrews was in providing that middle push to open things up, as well as the effect the absence of James Develin is having.

It was interesting to see the Patriots experiment with several players last night to try and address the issue, with Elandon Roberts and James Ferentz as two players who saw action at fullback against the Jets and both did a decent job with their first opportunities.

Give Michel credit, as he’s remained pretty even-keeled so far this season and is still managing to have a productive year.  But we’ll have to see how things play out in the coming weeks as unfortunately, this quietly still remains an area to keep an eye on.

It wasn’t Brady’s best game, but he was certainly the better QB Monday night.

4) Tom Brady may have not had his best game last night but he was on point in the first quarter after completing 13-of-17 (76%) for 118-yards and a touchdown as New England pulled ahead of the Jets while building an early 17-0 lead.

Two of his best throws of the night came on their third possession where he threw a perfect back-shoulder strike to Brandon Bolden for 26-yards, which helped set up another flawless 26-yard scoring strike to Phillip Dorsett, which Brady dropped in perfectly in the back of the end zone where only Dorsett could come down with it.

The early down success was key as Brady was 11-of-15 (73%) for 57 yards on first down, along with 15-of-20 (75%) on second down.  That kept them out of long-yardage situations as they only faced 3rd-and-9 or longer on just 6 of their 16 third-down attempts.  That allowed them to continue moving the football and sustain drives, holding the football for over 38-minutes and giving their defense plenty of time to recharge and make Darnold’s life miserable.

But after the game Brady was happy but still appeared frustrated as he likely knows the offense remains a work in progress.  Hopefully, Tuesday’s addition of Sanu will start making things a little easier.

5) One player who managed to stay off of everyone’s radar Monday night was Mike Nugent, who quietly had a good game.

Nugent was a perfect 4-for-4 on extra points Monday night, as well as hitting a 34-yard field goal.  Each kick was straight and never in doubt, which is a stark contrast to his first outing where he was erratic and didn’t look anywhere near close to comfortable out there.

It’s a good sign as with the colder months coming, the kicking game tends to be a key part of the offense given how scoring tends to drop as the elements become more difficult for offenses to operate in.  Seeing Nugent settle in was a pleasant surprise and the fact he was able to go out there and get it done should have most fans feeling a little better since the Patriots will still need to soldier on without Stephen Gostkowski, who is lost for the rest of the season.

6) We’ll end on this note, which saw one of the most hilarious sequences in Bill Belichick’s tenure happen last night and it was pretty funny to watch how it all unfolded.

With just over 10-minutes to go in the game and leading 33-0, the Patriots saw their offense stall at the Jets’ 33yd line.  With the punt team on the field and facing 4th-and-2, the Patriots took a delay of game penalty, likely looking to give punter Jake Bailey a little more room to work with to pin the Jets in deep yet again.

Adam Gase declined the penalty, which seemed to amuse Belichick.  It then appeared Belichick ordered Brandon Bolden to commit a false start penalty, hoping to again move them back.  But Gase, again, declined the penalty.

From there, cameras caught Belichick smile, knowing he was still out-thinking Gase even at this point in the football game.  It was an absolutely terrific sequence and certainly will likely go down as a moment that will be mentioned years from now once he walks away.  Fortunately, all of us got to watch it happen in real-time.

https://twitter.com/espn/status/1186477725328072704

It was all-in-all a great night and the Patriots will now return home to get to work as they’ll next face the Cleveland Browns at Gillette Stadium this weekend.

5 Thoughts Following the Patriots Win Over Washington

Ian Logue
October 7, 2019 at 11:39 am ET

With New England improving to 5-0 on the season, here are some thoughts coming off their win over Washington:

1) Sunday’s game in Washington saw another solid performance for New England’s defense, although they’ll leave this one with a reminder that not everything was perfect.

They made one key miscue on Washington’s second possession of the game after Redskins receiver Steven Sims ran around the right end and slipped into a group of defenders and got away from the normally sure-handed Devin McCourty. McCourty wasn’t able to wrap him up and Sims pulled away, accelerating up the sideline and away from the Patriots’ defense for a 65-yard touchdown.

That play was the longest play allowed by New England’s defense so far this season, eclipsing Pittsburgh wide receiver James Washington’s 45-yard reception back in Week 1 and Buffalo running back Frank Gore’s 41-yard run last week.

But after that, they settled down and played well, shutting Washington down the rest of the way. Overall, they made quarterback Colt McCoy completely miserable, sacking him 6 times. He was also picked off by veteran Jason McCourty.

The turnover gives them an NFL-best 11 interceptions on the season, well ahead of the next closest team, the Packers, who have 7. The sack total puts them at 24 on the year, still tops in the league ahead of the Panthers, who have 20.

They’re also the only NFL team to average single digits for points allowed, averaging 6.8 through five games. That’s nearly half the amount allowed by the next closest teams in that category, with the Bears (13.8), Bills (14.0) and Vikings (14.6) as the next three among the league-leaders.

But the stat that stands out the most is the fact that through five games, quarterbacks have 0 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. They’ve also held teams to an astonishing 8/63 (12%.7) on third down.

It remains one of the most impressive starts we’ve ever seen but one that continues to be downplayed among most experts who argue the level of competition has yet to prove they’re as good as they appear. That’s probably fine with this group, who remain under the radar as they’ve been a key part of helping the Patriots remain as the lone undefeated team in the AFC.


Nugent was shaky in his Patriots’ debut.

2) With Stephen Gostkowski out for the remainder of the season, Sunday’s game was a reminder that things will likely be interesting at the kicker position for the remainder of the season.

Newcomer Mike Nugent missed his first attempt with the team, hooking an extra point attempt wide right following Julian Edelman’s touchdown on New England’s second offensive possession. That clearly didn’t instill much confidence with Bill Belichick, who opted to leave the offense on the field facing 4th-and-1 from Washington’s 22-yard line early in the second quarter. Instead of a field goal attempt, the offense went with an interesting play as Brady moved over and leaned out left, pointing to his helmet as if he was calling out an audible and they made a direct snap to James White, who was dropped for a 2-yard loss.

Nugent would later hit his first field goal attempt after their next drive stalled at the Redskins’ 19-yard line, connecting on a 37-yard kick that fluttered through the uprights and put New England ahead at 9-7 early in the second quarter. He added another from 23-yards out after the Patriots marched down to Washington’s 5-yard line at the end of the first half.

But his final kick of the day was a little shaky, as Nugent doinked the extra point off the upright after Brady connected with Ryan Izzo from 10-yards out for a touchdown.

Overall, it wasn’t terrible for a player who likely had some butterflies heading into his Patriots debut. His biggest drawback is the fact that he’s not a guy who can be counted on to hit a 50+ field goal with the game on the line and according to reports, he was a little erratic from beyond 45-yards in pregame Sunday. However, one of Belichick’s areas of expertise is in special teams, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he’ll be someone who will get the most out of Nugent.

For now, hopefully Nugent can settle in because it won’t be long before these games start getting a little tougher and each kick will matter a little more. But so far, it appears like it might be an interesting ride.


Edelman gutted out a strong performance.

3) Despite the 33-points they put up on Sunday, New England’s offense struggled in the passing game as Phillip Dorsett went down with an injury early in the contest, while Edelman gutted out Sunday in pain. Josh Gordon was hit hard every time nearly every time he touched the football, making for a long afternoon for a group that had to fight for every last yard.

Even with their personnel issues, New England found a way, scoring 33 unanswered points after Washington had taken the early 7-0 lead on Sims’ touchdown. They leaned on their ground game, with Sony Michel having his best rushing performance of the season, rushing for 91-yards on 16 carries (5.7 avg), including a touchdown. He also had a carry for 25-yards, the first 20+ yard run for the offense this season and the longest run so far for the Patriots in 2019. The previous high was 15-yards, which was also by Michel last week in Buffalo.

Edelman led all receivers with 8 receptions for 110-yards, including a 31-yard reception in the third quarter that helped set up the knockout blow for the Patriots after Michel took it in from 14-yards out on the next play.

Another pleasant surprise on Sunday was the performance of Ryan Izzo, who played a part in the Patriots getting a little bit of production out of the tight end position as Brady hit him twice for 39-yards, including a 29-yard touchdown. He and Brady appeared to have good chemistry and Izzo showed some pretty good athleticism, sneaking behind the Redskins defense and ending up all alone as Brady fired him the football for the touchdown.

On the injury front, Dorsett, who left the game early with a hamstring injury, will likely remain a player to keep an eye on as the Patriots don’t currently have much margin for error. But even at 5-0, Brady and company remain a work in progress but took a few small steps forward during Sunday’s win.


Michel was a dual threat in the passing game Sunday.

4) It was good to see Michel involved in the passing game and he looked pretty fluid when Brady targeted him on Sunday.

The quarterback targeted Michel three times Sunday, connecting on each pass for a total of 32-yards. That was key because it was obvious Washington was keying on the run with Michel on the field and it caught them off guard.

Michel ran well after getting off to a slow start. He carried just 4 times in the first half for 10-yards (2.5 avg). However, he exploded in the second half, carrying 12 times for 81-yards as the Patriots hammered Washington and ultimately put the game away.

But his success in the passing game was big and if he continues getting back to where he was running the football, that could come into play down the road for this team. If Sunday is a sign of things to come, it should be a fun dynamic to keep an eye on moving forward.


Brady was stellar in the second half Sunday.

5) Sunday’s performance by Tom Brady was a little rough but given everything he was dealing with, he fought through it and finished with a pretty good afternoon.

After starting out 12-of-16 (75%) for 154-yards and a touchdown in the first quarter, the Redskins made his life tough in the second quarter and held him to just 7-of-15 (47%) throwing the football, including his second red zone interception in as many weeks. That play stung because it came after they were in terrific field position, thanks to a forced fumble by Jonathan Jones that Jamie Collins recovered and took down to the Washington 16-yard line.

With the Patriots leading 9-7, that was a key missed opportunity that fortunately didn’t come back to haunt them. The good news is, Brady went out and had a flawless second half, completing 9-of-11 (82%) for 142-yards and two touchdowns.

Overall, he finished 28-of-42 (67%) for 348-yards along with three touchdowns and his interception before giving way to Jarett Stidham late in the contest.

When you take into account that they accomplished everything they did on Sunday with a depleted receiver group, it’s impressive to say the least. Anytime a team struggles yet still puts up 33 points, it’s a reminder that they’ll become even more dangerous down the road.

At the end of the day, the critics can say what they want but the best teams always find a way to win. For now, that’s the difference in the conference after after the Chiefs couldn’t find a way to do the same against Indianapolis Sunday night.

New England will now come home and prepare for a quick turnaround when they face the Giants Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.

Patriots Put Kicker Gostkowski On IR

Ian Logue
October 2, 2019 at 2:45 pm ET

It’s been a tough start to the season for Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who started out last Sunday’s game with another extra point miss during the team’s win over the Bills.

However, it appears they’ll be without him following news by the Boston Globe’s Jim McBride on Wednesday that the veteran will be placed on injured reserve heading into Sunday’s game against Washington.

Gostkowski had made just 11-of-15 extra point attempts so far this season, which had been a frustrating topic of discussion during New England’s first four games. The one miss in Buffalo loomed large, as it was the first time this season where one point could have been the difference against a Bills team that made New England earn every one they put on the scoreboard.

However, oddly enough, Gostkowski had hit 7 of his 8 field goal attempts this season, hitting a perfect 6/6 from 20-39yds, with his one miss coming on a 48-yard attempt in Miami in Week 2.

His loss is certainly a little tougher than many may think as it now leaves the Patriots looking for a replacement. According to reports, they worked out a couple of players, but it now remains quite a big question mark heading into this weekend.

Patriots Dominance Against Opposing QBs Is Staggering So Far

Ian Logue
at 9:56 am ET

How good have the Patriots been against opposing quarterbacks this season compared to 2018?

The results are pretty staggering so far.

Through four games this season there has been a significant difference between the success of opposing quarterbacks this year compared to this year.

Looking back at the first four games of 2018, opposing quarterbacks had completed 88-of-140 (62.9%) for 949-yards along with 8 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. This season? 79-of-152 (52%) for 840-yards, 0 touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

2018 Thru 4 Games

2019 Thru 4 Games

Down in the red zone, the numbers are just as ridiculous. In 2018 over the same span, opposing quarterbacks had completed 10/21 (47.6%) with 5 touchdowns and zero interceptions. This season when teams have managed to get into scoring territory, quarterbacks are just 2-of-6 for 9-yards with zero touchdowns and one interception.

The other number that stands out is the fact at this time last season, the defense had managed 6 sacks through four games. However, this season, they’ve already put up 18 sacks, including 5 last Sunday against the Buffalo Bills. That puts them on pace for 72, which is unlikely but the fact they’re off to this start in itself is pretty impressive.

Needless to say, they’ve certainly exceeded expectations so far. Considering that Bill Belichick’s defenses tend to improve as the season progresses, it should be interesting to see if they’re able to somehow be even more dominant by the end of the year.

5 Thoughts on the Patriots Win Over the Bills

Ian Logue
September 30, 2019 at 10:52 am ET

Sunday’s game against the Bills went down as one of the toughest ones for the Patriots so far this season, with New England hanging on for a 16-10 road win to improve to 4-0 on the season.

Here are some thoughts coming off the vicotry:

1 ) With Stephen Gostkowski continuing to struggle, Sunday was really the first time his difficulties were magnified as the Patriots found themselves in a tight game that could have turned out badly had their defense not held on.

After missing the extra point on New England’s first-quarter touchdown, the Patriots found themselves in a dogfight late in this one as points suddenly were at a premium and the one point New England was lacking left the Bills with an opportunity to take the lead late.  Buffalo started their final drive of the game from their own 14-yard line, driving down to the Patriots 39-yard line before Kyle Van Noy put a hit on Bills quarterback Matt Barkley, which led to an errant throw and the game-clinching interception by Jamie Collins.

Fortunately, their defense carried the day and both New England’s offense and Gostkowski were let off the hook.  Had the Bills managed to go down and score and hit the extra point at the end of regulation, it would have potentially been a tough division loss that would have put the Patriots at 3-1 heading into next week’s game down in Washington.

Make no mistake, Gostkowski has gotten the benefit of the doubt from Bill Belichick, who is clearly willing to allow him to weather whatever it is causing his current erratic performance.  But as we now start heading into Week 5 and into the second quarter of the season, this is the time Gostkowski needs to start settling in as we start moving into October.  Hopefully, Sunday marks the end of his struggles.


Sunday’s game was tough for Brady and the offense.

2) Sunday was one of the more frustrating performances we’ve seen from Tom Brady and the offense in recent memory, with the veteran struggling to get anything going against a Bills defense that was nothing short of relentless.

Brady finished Sunday’s game 18-of-39 for 150-yards along with a gut-wrenching red-zone interception, which completely turned the momentum of this game as the Patriots had an opportunity to completely change the tone of this one.

The play in question came late in the second quarter after New England managed to string together the longest drive of the day by either team, marching 76-yards on 16 plays while holding the ball for more than 8-minutes.

After battling their way down to the Bills’ 2-yard line, Brady was flushed out of the pocket and forced to roll out to his right, firing a pass to Julian Edelman who was coming across toward the corner of the end zone.  The problem was, he didn’t see safety Micah Hyde, who had dropped off his man and broke on the football and snatched it out of the air for the interception.

That was a critical mistake by Brady, as it negated an opportunity to put them up 20-0 and instead allowed the Bills to take advantage of the turnover and take the football the other way for a field goal.  Suddenly, New England’s lead was just 13-3 and given how much they had struggled prior to that point, this one certainly felt like a game that wouldn’t be easy.

The Bills made Brady’s life difficult, breaking through the offensive line all afternoon and never allowed him to get into much of a rhythm.  In the fourth quarter when it mattered most, the Bills held Brady to just 3-of-8 (38%) for 13-yards throwing the football and it was really New England’s defense who, once again, carried the day.  The Patriots converted just 5-of-18 on third down Sunday, with Brady completing a mere 8-of-16 throwing the football including his interception.

Fortunately, the outcome turned out in their favor and New England survived a rare off day by New England’s signal-caller.  But give the Bills credit.  This group is tough defensively and they’ll likely be another tough out when they meet again on December 22nd.  With Buffalo still at 3-1, depending on how their journey goes from here, the rematch at Gillette Stadium may have a little more meaning next time compared to recent seasons.


New England’s defense was terrific on Sunday.

3) New England’s defense managed another impressive outing on Sunday, pressuring Bills QB Josh Allen all afternoon while holding Buffalo to just 2-of-13 (15%) on third down.  But the biggest story of the day was all the plays they made in key moments, with this group coming up with four big interceptions along with five sacks.

The turnovers started on the Bills’ first possession, with Devin McCourty coming up with his fourth interception in as many games.  That play was probably the most impressive one yet for McCourty, who leaped into the air in front of John Brown and took the ball away before returning it 19-yards to midfield.

New England’s offense took full advantage, scoring a touchdown off the turnover, which ended up being their only offensive touchdown of the day.

J.C. Jackson also got into the action, picking off two passes of his own, the second of which led to a field goal by Stephen Gostkowski, which put the Patriots up 16-10 with just under a minute left in the third quarter.

The final turnover of the day came courtesy of Jamie Collins, who took advantage of an errant throw by Matt Barkley, who was in the game after Allen was knocked out earlier in the contest. On the play, Barkley was hit as he released the football by Kyle Van Noy and his pass landed in the hands of Collins for the interception. That play was the knockout blow, as the Patriots offense ran out the clock and New England walked away with the victory.


Michel had to fight for every yard on Sunday.

4) Sunday saw a slight improvement in the ground game, although it was still a tough outing.  Sony Michel got the lion’s share of the carries, carrying 17 times for 63-yards while averaging 3.7 yards per carry.  That was a big improvement over last week after he finished with 9 carries for just 11-yards against the Jets.

But one thing that stood out is the fact that the offensive line’s struggles remain an issue, with Michel being dropped for a loss or no gain on 4 of his 17 carries.  Coming into Sunday’s game he had been dropped for no gain or a loss on 9 carries through the first three weeks.

To compound the issue, they tried to keep Buffalo off balance but Brady connected on just 6-of-15 (40%) for 34-yards throwing the football on second down, setting the Bills up to come after Brady on third down as the Patriots found themselves in 3rd-or-8 or longer on 11 of their 18 third down attempts.  That made for a tough afternoon as the offense had to fight for every last yard and they were fortunate that the defense came up with a stellar effort.

With all the injuries they’ve been dealing with up front, Sunday’s contest was one of the more frustrating reminders that they still have their work cut out for them.


Slater scored his first career special teams TD Sunday.

5) Special teams were a crucial part of Sunday’s win and veteran Matthew Slater certainly came up big in this one.

Following New England’s touchdown, the Bills had a punt blocked by Jackson, who dove in cleanly and got his hand on the football as it left Corey Bojorquez’ foot.  Slater swooped in and scooped up the football, returning it 11-yards into the end zone for the touchdown.

It was a huge play, with Slater celebrating his first career special teams touchdown in style, falling to his knees and raising his fists in the air as his teammates rushed over to celebrate with him.

His touchdown ended up being the game-winning play, which was massive given that they wouldn’t reach the end zone for the rest of the afternoon.

Another player who was big in this game was punter Jake Bailey, who played a critical role in helping the Patriots win the battle of field position as New England consistently found itself deep in its own territory.  But Bailey flipped things around repeatedly. He punted the football 9 times on Sunday, averaging 48.1 yards per punt.  That was big because for the most part, save for the turnovers, Buffalo didn’t really have good field position for most of this game and Bailey was a huge reason why that was the case.

Fortunately, the Patriots played the more complete game in this one and Bill Belichick was clearly pleased after the game with their special teams effort. However, the Bills were the first big test of the year and it’s obvious they still have some work ahead of them to get to where they need to be offensively.

For now, the Patriots will get back to work as they prepare to take on Washington on the road next Sunday at 1pm.