Category Archives: 2020 Patriots Offseason

Julian Edelman Shares COVID-19 PSA Reminding Boston It’s A City “Built On Comebacks”

Robert Alvarez
April 8, 2020 at 3:50 pm ET

On Wednesday, Julian Edelman became the latest member of the New England Patriots to share a public service announcement regarding the importance of social distancing and staying home during the coronavirus pandemic.

Fake Boston accent and all, Edelman recited the following message to New Englanders;

“Boston. I know this is a crazy surreal time, something we have never really experienced in our lifetime. With spring coming up we’re so used to having Patriots Day, Marathon Monday, Opening Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Easter, Passover — all these crazy awesome events that we have to adjust to and we have to do differently because of the circumstances we are under,” he began. “But as Mayor Marty, my guy, Marty Walsh always says, Boston is a city built on comebacks.”

Take a listen to his full plea in the tweet below.

Edelman also highlighted the importance of these measures while thanking all those working on the frontlines during the pandemic.

“It’s a necessary thing,” Edelman said. “I honestly want to say thank you to the people who are putting their neck on the line out there. Medical pros, police departments, our fire departments, people that are delivering food, it’s crazy to see how we all are coming together to work together because of these circumstances, and we have to continue to do that.”

The PSA wrapped up with Edelman wearing a pair of gloves different from the ones he usually wears accompanied by a mask.

“Like they say…Stay healthy, stay safe, stay inside”, Edelman concluded.

The appreciation messages didn’t stop there, on Tuesday Edelman thanked more medical professionals with a special “World Health Day” video.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-sn9TlAOCx/

Well done all around Jules, well done.

More Potential Patriots Defense Draft Prospects  – S Xavier McKinney 

Steve Balestrieri
at 9:38 am ET

As the 2020 NFL Draft draws closer we’ll profile some of the players that may be on the Patriots radar or that we feel would be a great fit.

On Monday we wrote about Alabama’s Terrell Lewis, who we feel is a great fit for the Patriots in what they do and how they normally target potential linebackers in the draft process. On Tuesday, it was another linebacker Malik Harrison. Today we’re going to look at a position that needs an influx of youth, safety

Presently, the Patriots return both starters Devin McCourty and Pat Chung and they are both excellent safeties, McCourty at free safety and Chung in the box. But both are on the wrong side of 30 and despite McCourty having the best year of his career in 2019, the team needs to get younger.

The backups on the roster, Adrian Phillips (just signed, Terrence Brooks, Obi Melifonwu, and Malik Gant are all more in the box safeties than a centerfielder. The team lost Duron Harmon (“The Closer”) to the Lions and need a safety that can defend the deep part of the field in sub packages and eventually replace McCourty. 

So, let’s take a look at another one of the prospects that we feel would be a good fit for the Patriots and vice versa.

Xavier McKinney from Alabama is another great prospect from Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide program. McKinney, like McCourty, has the versatility that Bill Belichick loves in his players. With the Tide, he played equally at slot, free safety and in the box and produced at each one. 

He’s tough, physical and will make plays all over the field, like his predecessor Minkah Fitzpatrick. In the last two seasons, he’s had five interceptions and 20 passes broken up, forced five fumbles and had a fumble recovery. 

Of the safeties entering the draft this spring, McKinney is arguably the best man-to-man coverage safety available. As a senior, he notched 95 tackles, 5.5 for a loss, 3 sacks, 3 interceptions, 8 passes broken up, and 4 forced fumbles. 

Pros:

– Excellent football I.Q. 

– Outstanding in man coverage, can cover a lot of ground

– Very good change of direction, and burst to make up ground

– Superb versatility

Cons

– Can allow passes underneath when spying on QB

– Struggled a bit on big targets

– Inconsistent tackler at times

What his Role Will Be:

McKinney will take over the role from Duron Harmon as the subpackage deep safety.

Will his Role Change from Year 1-2?

Yes, in Year 2 he should be pushing McCourty for the starting deep safety role

How Many Downs Can He Play?

Four

What Current Player on the Roster Will He Replace?

McKinney will replace Harmon who was moved to the Lions. Eventually, he’ll replace McCourty as the team’s starting free safety

What is his ST Value?

Outstanding. He began his career in Alabama by working his way on the field in the kicking game.  

Conclusion:
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein, their resident draft expert wrote about McKinney, “His coverage instincts, athleticism and quick-twitch burst are more cornerback than safety, which is why he’s likely to be a coveted toy for teams looking to upgrade and diversify their sub-packages. He can sit in center field all day if needed, and he’s an adequate open-field tackler but has room for improvement in that area. McKinney represents the new breed of versatile, matchup safety with high upside as an early starter.”

McKinney checked in at six-foot, 201 pounds at the NFL Combine. He turned in a 4.63-second 40-yard dash, 19 reps on the bench press, a 36-inch vertical and a 122-inch broad jump. 

Some of his best attributes are his instincts and ability to read a QB’s eyes while in coverage. McKinney is outstanding in man coverage and has tremendous hip fluidity which allows him to change direction easily and while at top speed. Nick Saban often tasked him to cover tight ends and slot receivers and he showed he’s more than up to the challenge.

McKinney is going to go early in the draft, possibly even before the Patriots are selecting at #23. While they may decide to go in another direction with their first pick, if they’re looking for a playmaker who’ll step in on Day 1 and provide quality reps and who’ll eventually replace Devin McCourty, then he would be an outstanding pickup. Many people are split on who is the best safety in the 2020 draft class, McKinney or Grant Delpit from LSU. The feeling here is you can’t go wrong with either. 

McKinney’s highlight reel tape from JustBombs can be seen here: 

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

 

Nine Current and Former New England Patriots Named To NFL’s All Decade Team

Robert Alvarez
April 7, 2020 at 5:01 pm ET

On Monday, The Pro Football Hall of Fame’s selection committee announced the members of the 2010s All-Decade Team.

With playoff appearances in every season of the decade, five trips to the Super Bowl, and three championships, it’s no surprise eight players with New England Patriots ties and head coach Bill Belichick earned spots on the team.

Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady earned All-Decade honors for the second consecutive decade as Brady was one of the eight unanimous selections to the 2010’s team.

The Belichick/Brady duo continued their mastery of the NFL during the decade.

In 2010, Belichick was named the AP Coach of the Year and led the Patriots to a league-best 141-42 record over the decade, an AFC East division title each season, five conference titles and three championships.

Belichick’s Patriots made the AFC Championship game eight consecutive seasons from 2011-2018 for an NFL record and won 11 or more games each year, also a league record.

As for Brady, more eye popping statistics and accolades continued into decade number two of his career. Two regular season MVP awards in 2010 and 2017 along with two additional Super Bowl MVP awards in 2014 and 2016 were added to Brady’s trophy case.

Other longtime Patriots named to the team included tight end Rob Gronkowski (2010-2018), kicker Stephen Gostkowski (2006-2019), and guard Logan Mankins (2005-2013).

In nine professional seasons, Gronkowski was selected to five Pro-Bowls and four All-Pro’s, setting a league record for tight end touchdowns in a season with 17 in 2011. Gronkowski finished his career with 79 regular season touchdowns and three Super Bowl rings.

Kicker Stephen Gostkowski took over for Super Bowl hero Adam Vinatieri in 2006 and continued a tradition of consistency at the position into the 2010’s for the Patriots.

Gostkowski earned three Pro Bowl selections (2012-2015), a first-team All-Pro in 2015 and second-team All-Pro in 2014 during the decade.

In the 2010’s Gostkowski set the Patriots franchise record for scoring and NFL record for consecutive extra points made at 479.

https://twitter.com/MemphisFB/status/1247591389262643202?s=20

Lastly, guard Logan Mankins was one of the NFL’s premiere offensive linemen during the 2010’s.

Mankins earned five Pro Bowl selections during the decade was a first-team All Pro in 2010, and made the second team from 2011-2013.

Super Bowl XLIX champions Chandler Jones (2012-2015) and Darrelle Revis (2014) along with Super Bowl LIII champion Cordarrelle Patterson (2018) and Antonio Brown (one week 2019), round out the list of additional players with Patriots ties making the All-Decade Team.  

PHOTOS: Julian Edelman Builds A Snowman With His Daughter

Robert Alvarez
April 6, 2020 at 8:15 pm ET

Despite springtime in the air across the United States, it appears New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman found a way to have some leftover fun in the snow with his young daughter.

On his Instagram account Monday, Edelman shared some cute photographs of himself building a snowman with daughter Lily Rose in the San Gabriel Mountains of California.

During a time where quarantine has become a necessity, Edelman is making the most of the offseason with loved ones closest to him.

We’re onto the carrot nose.

View this post on Instagram

Do you wanna build a snow mannnnn? ☃️

A post shared by Julian Edelman (@edelman11) on

 

Looking for Linebacking Help, Terrell Lewis Checks All the Boxes

Steve Balestrieri
at 7:30 am ET

As the 2020 NFL Draft draws closer we’ll profile some of the players that may be on the Patriots radar or that we feel would be a great fit.

In my Sunday post, I touched upon the need at the linebacker position. The team lost an awful lot of talent of depth with Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, Elandon Roberts all gone this spring. Not only were those players talented but they were versatile too. Van Noy and Collins, in particular, were like movable chess pieces who Bill Belichick could move around and create mismatches. That’s why the sack numbers were so high, especially early in the season when Collins was en fuego. 

At the linebacker position, the team currently has Dont’a Hightower, Ja’Whaun Bentley and Terez Hall. The team also has hybrid edge rushers who can also play some linebacker with Chase Winovich, John Simon, Brandon Copeland, Derek Rivers, and Shilique Calhoun.

As I wrote for the Sunday column, a lot of people are enamored (and rightfully so) with players Patrick Queen, Zack Baun and a few others who are tremendously talented but are not the size the Patriots usually covet. The average size of a linebacker that the Patriots draft is over 6’2 and 245 lbs. So, while I’m not going to sit here and tell you that it isn’t going to happen for either of those guys but I’m not holding my breath. 

We’ll take a look at a few of the prospects that we feel would be a good fit for the Patriots and vice versa.

Terrell Lewis from Alabama is an intriguing prospect that played in the SEC for Belichick’s good friend Nick Saban in Tuscaloosa. When talking about Lewis, however, his injury history is bound to be a concern. He missed significant time as a sophomore with an arm injury and then all of his junior season with a knee injury. But healthy in 2019, he showed the potential that he possesses. He led Alabama with 16 QB pressures while notching six sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss. 

He is built like a prototypical linebacker, with a long frame, very well built and excellent footwork. He runs well for a big man at 6’5, 262. He has the versatility to either rush the QB off the edge or drop into coverage. 

Pros:

– Excellent Height and Length

– Outstanding explosion off the snap

– Rare combination of speed and power

– Potential is far ahead of him

Cons

– Injury history in his middle two seasons

– Needs to get a little stronger in setting the edge

– Could use better use of his hands

What his Role Will Be:

Lewis will start out as a depth player, perhaps as a sub-package rusher, but by the end of his rookie season, he should be getting more and more reps

Will his Role Change from Year 1-2?

Yes, in Year 2 he should not only be earning starting reps, but could see his role blossom into one of the leaders of the defense. 

How Many Downs Can He Play?

Three

What Current Player on the Roster Will He Replace?

Lewis is won’t be replacing anyone currently on the roster but could see his role evolve into a similar way the Patriots used Jamie Collins. .

What is his ST Value?

Limited, but the team will probably use him on some of the coverage units taking advantage of his speed and athleticism

Conclusion:
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein in his draft profile wrote that Lewis, played in just 26 games, so he’s less technically sound than most Alabama defenders at this stage, but he was still productive and showed growth as a player in-season. With more coaching and development as a rusher, he should be able to pair traits with the skill to become a future NFL starter

Lewis’s future is tied up in potential. He is not yet the sum of his parts after playing in just 26 games in college. That combination of speed, power, and instinctive play should be an enticing look for the Patriots to take a flyer on. He is probably (if he can stay healthy) going to be a much better pro than he was as college player.

With the Patriots possibly trading down into the second round, Lewis should be around for them in the late 30s or early 40s.  The Patriots like their outside linebackers big, physical, and with the ability to either set the edge or drop their hand in the dirt and rush the passer. Lewis checks all of those blocks.

Lewis’ highlight reel tape from JustBombs can be seen here: 

 

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on Spreaker as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

 

New England Patriots News 4-05, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
April 5, 2020 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 04-05 and AFC East notes this week. 

From all of us here, we hope everyone is healthy and happy. Stay safe folks, we will all get through this.  

 Quick Hitters For the Pats, and the NFL:

Robert & Jonathan Kraft: We were pleased to see but hardly surprised that the Kraft family stepped up big time for the hospital workers and first responders in the state. Kraft stripped down the Patriots plane and had it flown to China to pick up the sorely needed masks for medical workers in Massachusetts and New York. 

The plane was only given a three-hour window to load the masks. Although they purchased 1,700,000, they were only able to load 1,200,000 masks before having to take off. The Krafts who are trustees of Mass General Hospital (MGH), showed the kind of empathy that we expect from leaders, be those in industry or government. Well done.

Even the NY Post, a never-ending source of needling toward everything New England, to say the least, had this to say… “THANK YOU Pats!”

Of course, there are always some who can’t take a gesture for what it is and have to try to quantify the gesture with divisive B.S.and try to make themselves relevant once again. Ignore the noise and consider the source, if you’re making this into a political statement, you need to look in the mirror…hard. 

Tom Brady’s Home “Breaking News”: I had to read with some amusement all of these people fighting over the news that the Brady Bunch was moving into Derek Jeter’s mansion on Davis Island outside of Tampa Bay. We knew about that about two and a half weeks ago and wrote about it here on March 22 

But whatever, I guess when you’re the ‘worldwide leader” you can take victory laps over anything you want. Stay close to home Pats Fans…

Bill Belichick: The coach’s philosophy was put on display by NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah who posted a copy of Belichick’s 1991 notes on the draft that Jeremiah received when he was in “scout school” with the Ravens.

Great stuff, his comments about QB play seem like a perfect description of Tom Brady, a full 10 years before he was drafted. “#1 is to make good decisions — then arm, size, physically tough, leadership, guys look up to and have confidence in, a real competitor,” Belichick wrote. “Accurate, rather than a guy with a cannon. Emphasis on our game will be on decision, timing, accuracy — guy needs to be confident, intelligence is important but not as much so as field awareness & judgment. Can’t be sloppy fundamentally unsound guy with ball handling, [techniques] etc.

James White: The Patriots running back who had such a fantastic game in Super Bowl LI admitted this week that he had never watched it…until the quarantine. 

In the game, White had 14 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown, adding six rushes for 29 yards and two more touchdowns. He also successfully converted a two-point conversion. White accounted for 20 of the Patriots’ 34 points. That was a Super Bowl record for any one player, and White’s 14 receptions also made for a Super Bowl record. But he never watched any of his own highlights until the coronavirus quarantine. 

“It was actually my first time actually watching the full game a couple of days ago when it was on,” White said in a video conference call. “It was pretty cool to see.”. 

4th & 2 Podcast – If you’ve haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, check it out. This week Russ, Derek, and I discussed Jarrett Stidham and how we felt things may progress with him…or another young QB. And we uploaded a video in the best Patriots team of the Brady/Belichick Era

How Will the Patriots Value the LBs in the Draft:

With the losses of Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, and Elandon Roberts this spring, the linebacker depth has become an area where the team will have to make some moves to shore that up. 

That does not appear to be the case for a free agent signing with the state of the team’s salary cap space right now. And barring a surprise trade…where are they at right now. While they did make a move to bring in Brandon Copeland, they still need help, especially on the edge. John Simon returns, he should have an even bigger role moving forward. Ditto for Chase Winovich, who played well for the team as a rookie. 

Looking ahead, many fans, as we mentioned a week ago, really like both LSU LB Patrick Queen or perhaps Wisconsin LB Zack Baun with the 23rd pick. I wrote before that while Queen is very athletic, and a three-down linebacker who can roam sideline to sideline but his lack of size, the same with Baun, makes me feel that the Patriots won’t target either. 

The Patriots like their linebackers, especially outside on the edge to be big guys. Queen is just a tad over 6 feet and 229 pounds. Baun is 6’2, 238. The Patriots (read Bill Belichick) have traditionally gone after bigger guys on the edge. He shares the same philosophy with his close friend, Nick Saban from Alabama. Saban has two linebackers in the draft that could be of interest to the Patriots. 

Terrell Lewis is an outside linebacker that is cut from the mold that Belichick likes his edge backers to be. He’s 6’5, 262, and has that rare combination of power and explosion off the snap that makes his ceiling very, very high. But he’s had injury issues with the Tide and that could entail the Patriots passing on him.

A couple of other OLBs that the team could target later in the draft are Lewis’ teammate in ‘Bama, Anfernee Jennings who is 6’3, 252 or Casey Toohill from Stanford who stands in at 6’4, 250.

Jennings is the kind of versatile guy that Belichick likes and can switch between defensive end and outside linebacker. He’s frequently compared to John Simon. So coming from a respected program coached by a FOB (Friend of Bill), and frequently compared to a valuable Patriots’ role player could tip the scales for the team on Day 3.

Toohill seems like a guy who is just scratching the surface of his potential. He has the frame to fill out some more and get a bit stronger. While he struggles to defend the run, he has a very high potential as a pass rusher. He’s smart too, and was a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, which is awarded to a scholar-athlete for “combined academic success, football performance, and exemplary leadership.”

The team also needs some depth behind Dont’a Hightower (and Ju’Whaun Bentley), inside. And if the Patriots decide to stick with a 3-4, one player that may fit is Evan Weaver from Cal who is 6’2, 240. Weaver may not look the part, but he was the Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Year. He’s not fast but is able to diagnose quickly and plays faster than his timed speed. He’s a hard-hitting thumper who has been remarkably durable. He hasn’t missed a game all the way back to high school.

But the guy they may covet is Ohio State LB Malik Harrison. Harrison is 6’3, 247 and is another versatile guy, who has played all of the different LB positions. While Weaver may not look the part, Harrison has the chiseled, v-shaped frame. He has freakish athleticism and is another guy that is just scratching the surface of his potential. The knock-on him was he was slow to diagnose but improved as a senior.

Kessler Release Means Another QB Taken in the 2020 NFL Draft:

The Patriots, in the end, did Cody Kessler a solid…releasing him before the draft and giving him the opportunity to find a new home. They were probably waiting to see if Tom Brady was going to return for one more season to decide what their plan of action was going to be. 

By letting go of Kessler now, makes a couple of things clear at least from our point of view. I keep hearing that the team is still looking at Cam Newton/Andy Dalton/Blake Bortles even though Jeff Howe from the Athletic, who is as connected as anyone, says his sources say they have no interest. And now I’m convinced more than ever that this is absolutely the right move when I see Nick Wrong saying BB is making a mistake by signing Newton.

The Patriots have virtually no cap space to even sign their own draft picks. Clearing a bunch of space to sign a retread QB and then finding yourself back in the same position, doesn’t make a ton of sense. Is it out of the realm of possibility? No, but the chances of that happening are slim. 

Nope, the feeling here is that the team is planning on drafting a QB in the draft and not a high one. They’ll address the QB position in Round 3 or later. One kid who checks all the blocks Belichick likes in a QB is Jake Fromm. Although one guy I really like is Jalen Hurts. But we’ll see. 

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Brandon Beane Says Don’t Write Off New England:

The Buffalo Bills GM Brandon Beane has seen the news and he’s read the early predictions stating that this is the year that the Buffalo Bills dethrone the Patriots as the AFC East Champions, something the Patriots have virtually owned for two decades. And he’s telling everyone to just pump the brakes a little bit.

“Playing against (Tom Brady), I go back and forth,” Beane said. “You know you always want to take down the best… So I think it’s funny and comical that people are writing them off and labeling, whether it’s us or another team as the team to beat in the East.

The team to beat in the East is the Patriots, and until somebody beats them, they are the team to beat. And as long as Bill Belichick’s there, you’re talking about probably the greatest head coach of all time that was paired with the greatest quarterback of all time.

So until we beat them, we’ve done nothing, and we’ve got our work cut out for us.”

So, while Beane is confident that his team is moving in the right direction and continuing to improve, he’s made the conservative (and correct) call. They haven’t won anything yet. The Bills will have to go out and earn it in 2020. And while fans around the NFL are rejoicing at the fall of the hated Patriots, Beane is approaching the season as if nothing has changed. But regardless, the Bills persona is changing now. In the division, they’ll be the hunted in 2020 and not the hunter. And it is a much different look from there.

Dolphins Flores Building a Program That FAs Believe In:

The Miami Dolphins hired Brian Flores last year and promptly gave him a team that was considered the worst in pro football at the outset of 2019. Many pundits thought that the team was tanking on purpose.

But that attitude didn’t cut it with Flores and his team believed in what they were trying to build and played hard. While they finished at 5-11, that was after an 0-7 start. They won their last two games in the season, including a last-minute 27-24 stunner over the Patriots in Foxboro, knocking the Pats out of a bye. 

Despite all of the losses as well as the lack of a franchise QB, the attitude in Miami is one of confidence, that they’ve found the right guy to lead the team and turn things around. And that is reflected in the free agents that have signed with Miami. They’ve signed on as much in their belief in Flores as any other factor. 

“My number one reason is Coach Flores. He just made me feel so comfortable with coming down,” linebacker Elandon Roberts said. Roberts spent three of the past four seasons with Flores as his position coach. “Just knowing how good of a leader he is on and off the field, how much he cares about you as a player. … I’m 100% bought in. I can’t wait to get down there, and I love that I’m a Miami Dolphin.”

“He takes something that’s so small and is able to put it into football and relate it, and he’s really good with his players,” Kyle Van Noy, also a former Patriot under Flores said. “He’s ready to go all the time, and he brings that same energy each and every day. That’s what you want as a coach; and as a player, that’s who I want to play for.”

“Flores is a young coach and I love that. He’s got young energy. I hear he’s intense and he likes to create competitive scenarios, competitive situations,” said CB Byron Jones who came over from the Cowboys. “That’s just something that I like and I wanted to be a part of. … That’s exciting for me, just to be on a team that he’s leading.”

Foot in Mouth? Former Jets Coach Ryan Calls Amari Cooper a ‘Turd’:

The New York Jets former coach Rex Ryan had to walk back one of his comments when he said the Dallas Cowboys made a huge mistake in paying WR Amari Cooper and not QB Dak Prescott.

Cooper who has gained 1000 yards or more in every season except for one in his NFL career, signed a five-year, $100 million-dollar contract with the Cowboys. 

“[Amari Cooper] is the biggest disappearing act in the National Football League. … I wouldn’t have paid this turd,” Ryan said on the Get Up football telecast. 

Ryan was brought back later in the day on ESPN, Ryan apologized for his choice of descriptive words, by calling Cooper a turd and said that he hoped Cooper would accept his apology. 

_______________

““Thank you to our heroic medical professionals; doctors, nurses, medical workers, and others, who are selflessly and courageously doing their job to take care of others in need,” Belichick said in a video posted on the team’s Twitter page. “We have heard your stories, and have seen some of your great work. You are truly champions and warriors…”we are facing a difficult opponent” and “it will take teamwork, discipline and commitment to do the right things all of the time… I encourage everyone to shelter in place for as long as necessary as we fight this virus together. “There are plenty of things we cannot do right now, but let’s focus on what we can do. We can adapt, we can adjust, and we can make better decisions right now for the betterment of the future. As I tell our team, let’s keep stringing good days together, and we will get through this.” Bill Belichick in a PSA to all of the people out there trying to get through the Coronavirus pandemic.  

_______________

“So, how was your week?”

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

 

VIDEO: Bill Belichick Shares COVID-19 Public Service Announcement

Robert Alvarez
April 1, 2020 at 5:26 pm ET

Head coach Bill Belichick became the latest member of the New England Patriots to do a special coronavirus public service announcement this week.

“We are all in this together, thank you to our heroic medical professionals, doctors, nurses, medical workers, and others who are selflessly and courageously doing their job to take care of others in need”, Belichick said.

Take a listen to Belichick’s full message courtesy of the Patriots Twitter page below.

The Patriots have been active in their support of first responders and frontline workers for the past few weeks, pushing a #TogetherWhileApart social media campaign.

Check out a few additional thank you’s and words of encouragement from other members of the organization.

 

VIDEO: Julian Edelman Shares A Highlight Play From His College Days

Robert Alvarez
March 31, 2020 at 4:26 pm ET

As the sports world continues its hiatus, New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman decided to share an old college football highlight over his Instagram Tuesday.

Set to Drake’s “Nonstop”, Edelman showed off a nasty touchdown run from his senior season at Kent State University in a game against the University of Louisiana-Lafayette in 2008.

“#TBT on a Tuesday because no one actually knows what day of the week it is anymore”, Edelman jokingly wrote in an accompanying caption.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B-Z_gMAA71m/

Edelman was a three-year starter at quarterback for Kent State from 2006-2008.

During his senior season, Edelman was the Golden Flashes’ leading passer, completing 56% of his passes (153 of 275 passes for 1,820 yards), he threw 13 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. He was also their leading rusher, gaining 1,370 yards on 215 attempts (an average of 6.4 yards per carry) and scoring 13 touchdowns.

Edelman’s total offense in 2008 set a school single-season record previously held by former NFL’er Josh Cribbs.

In May 2019, Edelman completed his degree from Kent State and graduated as a senior integrated studies major. He was previously inducted into Kent State’s Varsity “K” Hall of Fame in 2015.

PHOTO: N’Keal Harry Ready To Silence The Critics In 2020

Robert Alvarez
March 30, 2020 at 4:17 pm ET

New England Patriots wide receiver N’Keal Harry has heard enough from the critics and doubters.

Although the 2019 first round pick had a challenging rookie season that saw him miss the first ten games with an injury and haul in just 12 receptions for 105 yards and two touchdowns, he’s not lacking the confidence and ready to breakout in 2020.

On his social media accounts Saturday, Harry shared a photo accompanied by a message to those doubters that read “quick to talk but let’s see how quick they’ll be to bite that tounge #LFG”

https://twitter.com/NkealHarry15/status/1244042952445325312?s=20

 

On Sunday, ESPN shared a graphic over social media asking “Which Will Be The Next Sophomore Superstar?”.  Harry was curiously left off the list.

 

Along with a new quarterback tossing him the ball, the Patriots as a team will also be viewed as an underdog by many heading into 2020, but it appears Harry is using all of it as motivational fuel for himself too.

New England Patriots News 3-29, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
March 29, 2020 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 03-29 and AFC East notes this week. 

The news has been filled with nothing but the latest of the coronavirus, but with that being said, we hope that all of you and your families are being safe. While we’re not supposed to visit and congregate in larger groups (those Sunday Italian family dinners are missed), we can still check up on one another. Give a call to a family member, especially an older one, they’ll appreciate it. 

 Quick Hitters For the Pats, and the NFL:

Devin McCourty: We were very pleased that the team locked up McCourty, the QB of the defense for the next couple of seasons with a two-year, $23 million dollar deal. ESPN’s excellent NFL Insider Field Yates feels the same and gave NE high marks.

“I’m always a fan of investing in your own players, particularly one who is as indispensable as any other on the defensive side of the ball,” Yates wrote. “McCourty is one of the best players in football and an indispensable cog for the Patriots’ defense.”

Tom Brady Bucs Presser: It was no doubt painful for many fans seeing the virtual press conference with Tom Brady being introduced as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. But the thing that kept coming to mind was the Seinfeld “Pirate” episode.

Bill Belichick: The coach was nominated for a Sports Emmy for his appearance on NFL Network’s “NFL 100 All-Time Team” panel. He is one of six nominated in the “Outstanding Sports Personality – Studio Analyst” category. We believe that he should be nominated every year for his press conferences …but that is just our opinion.

Shalique Calhoun/Brandon Copeland: With Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, and Elandon Roberts heading off in free agency, the Patriots linebacking corps took a big hit. It is going to look very different (and we’ll add more below) but two players who have been brought back/in could see a significant amount of snaps this year are Calhoun and Copeland. 

Joe Montana: Tom Brady’s childhood idol is a bit baffled by the Patriots allowing Brady to leave for Tampa (Us too). However, Montana had this to say, “I think when you look at the whole situation, you try to figure out how you want to get away from things that are there,” Montana said. “I had a different story, where they had made a decision. I still don’t understand how New England let him get away. I don’t understand that.”

Salary Cap: The Patriots cap space is currently under $1 million dollars…yikes. The official amount according to Miguel aka @patscap is $803,834. So changes are coming and either some players are getting their deals reworked or cut outright. 

Among those who are available for reworking contracts are Dont’a Hightower and Stephon Gilmore. Those who could get a deal reworked or risk being cut would include Marcus Cannon, Rex Burkhead (with redshirt RB Damien Harris waiting in the wings). Burkhead is versatile but has had durability issues and his release would save nearly $4 million in cap savings. But again, if you’re not getting your cap information from Miguel, you’re not getting the right stuff. 

Phillip Dorsett: Is now a former Patriots WR, signing a one-year deal with Seattle. The former 1st round pick of the Colts has never lived up to his potential. His three years with the Patriots consisted of small hot streaks surrounded by long stretches where he was invisible/or forgotten. Maybe his third team is a charm. 

4th & 2 Podcast – If you’ve haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, check it out. This week Derek and I went over the various comings and mostly goings of free agency. 

How Will the Patriots Attack the 1st Round of the Draft? Defense:

By now, most of you have seen on television or read many of the draft pundits predictions on how the team will go using the 23rd pick in the upcoming NFL Draft. Many, including ESPN’s Mel Kiper, have the Patriots using their pick on a QB. Kiper thinks they take Utah State’s Jordan Love. 

While that is entirely plausible, considering who they lost in FA, I’m not so sure they pick Love, who should develop into a solid starter but doesn’t strike me as having a very high ceiling. But we’ll see. Do I believe that they’ll draft a QB in 2020? Absolutely, but I feel that will be done in the middle rounds. I definitely don’t see them double-dipping with the 1st pick at WR for the 2nd year in a row. There will be some intriguing wide receiver talent available in the middle rounds as well too. 

They need an eventual replacement and backup for Devin McCourty at free safety. Both McCourty and Pat Chung return but both are getting long in the tooth. The Patriots have plenty of depth behind Chung, including the recently added Adrian Phillips. But with Duron Harmon gone, traded to the Lions during the early free agency frenzy, they lack that backup and eventual replacement to McCourty. 

If they were going to draft a safety in the first round, the guy I’d really like to see is Alabama free safety Xavier McKinney. Alabama turns out great defensive players every year and McKinney is outstanding. 

In my opinion, he’s the best safety in the draft and especially in man coverage. The Patriots demand that their single-high free safeties have the range to cover the deep part of the field, and McKinney is outstanding there. He can also (like McCourty) drop down and cover receivers out of the slot. McKinney, if drafted would provide an even better option than Harmon gave them in their subpackages…and that is saying something. 

I wrote here a few weeks ago that I thought they’d go defense either a lineman or linebacker in the first round. They replaced the loss of Danny Shelton with the signing of former Bucs DT Beau Allen and the big man should be a force against the run. We’ve heard rumors of the Patriots signing former Broncos DL Derek Wolfe, but there are at least as many rumors of him going to Kansas City or Baltimore, so we’ll have to watch how this situation plays out. 

Matt Miller, one of my favorite draft writers from Bleacher Report has the Patriots going after LSU LB Patrick Queen with the 23rd pick. I love Queen’s game, he’s very athletic, a three-down linebacker who can roam sideline to sideline. His biggest strength is in the run game, but he has a definite lack of size that the Patriots generally like with their linebackers at just 6’0, 229. However, Elandon Roberts was about the same size at 6’0, 238 so there is precedence there. Queen is at his best when the defensive line stacks things at the point of attack and it allows him to attack downhill. 

The guy I like and have been beating the table for is Iowa edge player A.J. Epenesa. He’s got the size that the Patriots like in their 3-4 DE/Edge rusher at 6’5, 280. He was very productive for the Hawkeyes in 2019 with 11.5 sacks, 49 tackles, and 14 tackles for a loss. And he didn’t test exceptionally well at the NFL Combine in Indy which may push his draft stock down enough for the Patriots to find him available with the 23rd pick. 

He’d be a great fit with the Patriots defensive philosophy that puts a premium on setting the edge against the run first, which is a strength of his. He shows excellent power, balance and the ability to be stout and string the play out. And for a big man, Epenesa has the speed to chase down ball carriers. And he can still bring the heat on the opposing QB too, as evidenced by his 11.5 sacks.

If the Patriots were to select McKinney, Queen, or Epenesa, it would, in my opinion, be a great start to the draft.  

Patriots Offensive Line Strength or Weakness in 2020:

The Patriots have a lot of holes to fill this offseason, but the offensive line is at least on paper, looking pretty strong heading into the 2020 offseason workouts…if there are any.

With LT Isaiah Wynn, LG Joe Thuney, C David Andrews, RG Shaq Mason, and RT Marcus Cannon seemingly in place, this starting unit with a new QB under center should be a position of strength. And the team still has last season’s redshirt draft picks T Yodny Cajuste and G Hjalte Froholdt as depth. However, there still exist several unknowns this spring.

Andrews is expected to be ready for training camp after missing all of last season with blood clots in his lungs. And with Ted Karras gone in FA to Miami, it opens up big question marks if Andrews is not ready. Joe Thuney had the franchise tag placed on him, which he signed but it is still a possibility that the Patriots trade him rather than try to work out a long-term deal. 

We had heard right after the playoff loss to the Titans that Cannon wasn’t returning and had moved his family back to Texas. Whether that was the Patriots choice or his wasn’t known. But perhaps he changed his mind. With a salary of $9.5 million (a prime player to rework his deal), it was a good reason to return for one more season in New England.

There were reports that the Patriots face-timed with Boise State T Ezra Cleveland. His draft projections are all over the place from 1st Rd to 3rd-4th with many draft pundits believing he projects to be a guard at the next level. Do the Patriots see him as a guard or tackle? And are they serious about bringing him in? If so, at which position? That’s what makes the offseason/draft season so intriguing.    

Plus we have the 2nd year guys with Cajuste and Froholdt. How will they fare in Year 2? And with Dante Scarnecchia retiring for a second time, how will his replacement fare in trying to replace one of the very best positional coaches in the league and a legend in Gillette? 

No AFC East Notes This Week – 

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“I have had the privilege of coaching some of the best specialists in the NFL and Stephen Gostkowski is one of them. Stephen had many highlights over his 14 years as a Patriot and one of the most impressive was the way it began when he succeeded the most accomplished kicker in NFL history. For some, this may have been too difficult a challenge. But from his rookie year, Stephen exuded a maturity and confidence that demonstrated he was up to the task. He made several crucial kicks his rookie year and established a top level of performance and consistency for years and years to come. Stephen is a great teammate who made outstanding contributions over a decade of championship football.” Bill Belichick on kicker Stephen Gostkowski after the team announced he would not be returning to New England. 

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“So, how was your week?”

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.