Category Archives: Patriots Milestones

Rodney Harrison Is the People’s Choice for the Patriots Hall of Fame

Steve Balestrieri
May 7, 2019 at 6:30 am ET

The voters have spoken for the Patriots team Hall of Fame and Rodney Harrison has garnered the most votes, having bested both Richard Seymour and Mike Vrabel. He’ll be getting his red jacket at a ceremony later this summer.

Harrison, on a teleconference call with the media, said he was surprised by the vote. “I was kind of like frozen because I’m telling you, I had it in my mind that I wasn’t going to be the guy,” Harrison said. “You just kind of get used to that, whether it’s Pro Bowls or things like that. Once they told me, I just thanked God and gave Him all this praise. And I just started receiving all these text messages from (Patriots LB Tedy) Bruschi and a whole bunch of people, so it was just a really, really proud moment for me and my family.”

Rodney Harrison finished Super Bowl XXXVIII with a broken arm but refused to leave the field

Harrison was often overlooked at how good he was because of his reputation as a dirty player. He only garnered two Pro Bowl nods but between 2003 and 2008, he was one of the most valuable players on the Patriots defense. Bill Belichick has said that Harrison was the best practice player he ever coached.

“That’s why it meant so much to me, so much more to me because it’s not going by reputation. You don’t have to have a certain reputation — good, bad or indifferent. The fans knew that I loved football. I gave everything for the organization, for my teammates, and for the fans and my family.”

Harrison had seven interceptions in nine playoff games for the Patriots, including two in Super Bowl XXXIX against Philadelphia. He also came to the Patriots with a reputation for tough, physical play and in his first two seasons (both Super Bowl wins) he led the Patriots in tackles with 140 (a career high) and 138.

Harrison is the only defensive back in NFL history with 30 sacks (30.5) and 30 interceptions. He was a team captain for all six of his Patriots seasons. He will be inducted with Leon Gray at a ceremony to be determined later this summer.

All three nominees are very deserving but Harrison has been the most visible with his hosting of Sunday Night Football telecasts with Tony Dungy. That certainly didn’t hurt his candidacy. Both Harrison and Seymour belong in Canton.

Of those Patriots’ teams that won three Super Bowls in four years, Harrison becomes the seventh player to be inducted into the team’s HOF. He’ll join Troy Brown (2012), Tedy Bruschi (2013), Ty Law (2014), Willie McGinest (2015), Kevin Faulk (2016) and Matt Light (2018).

ICYMI PHOTOS: Ty Law Poses For Pro Football Hall Of Fame Bust

Robert Alvarez
May 2, 2019 at 11:25 pm ET

Former New England Patriots cornerback Ty Law will be formally inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 3rd, 2019.

Law selection marks the fifth Patriot to be permanently enshrined at the Hall of Fame.

On his Instagram account this week, Law shared photos from his session with the artist creating his bronze bust sculpture

Check out a behind the scenes look at the process to create the statues for football’s greatest players below.

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bw4x0A7ANdu/

New England Patriots News, 2-3, “The Patriot Way” or Belichick’s?

Steve Balestrieri
February 3, 2019 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, it is Super Bowl Sunday once again here in New England and here is your Sunday Patriots news 02-03.

Some Quick Hitters this morning: *No AFC East notes this week* They’ll be back next week after the Super Bowl when we begin looking at the NFL Combine and Draft. But first some kudos this week.

Congratulations to Ty Law for being enshrined in the Hall of Fame, very deserved to be sure. He was an integral part of those first Patriots championships, especially his pick-six in Super Bowl XXXVI. Hopefully, the voters will get it right with Richard Seymour next season.

Kudos to Patriots fans: Sunday, over 35,000 fans showed up for the Patriots send-off rally at Gillette Stadium. It was the biggest one yet of any of the Super Bowl teams with Brady and Belichick. This flies in the face of the hit piece in the Boston Globe that tried to claim that Patriots fans are growing bored with the team’s success.

The turnout on Sunday, television ratings all season long and merchandise sales all point in the absolute other direction. However, it should be noted that the flimsy “evidence” by the writer is coming from the same guy who said that Brady having a MAGA hat in his locker was hurting the team’s standing with the fan base two years ago.

Way to go Pats fans, that was an incredible send off rally. For the first time, could the Patriots fans outnumber the haters at a Super Bowl? …What a concept.

Kudos to WEEI: On Friday after with the buildup to the big game in full swing, ‘EEI swung … low and missed. How? By putting that noted hot-take artist Rob Parker on the air on Radio Row. Actually, calling Parker that is an insult to hot take artists, he hasn’t had an actual new thing or a hot take to say in years. WEEI decided to go for the lowest common denominator in their coverage. Don’t we have enough of that already on the air?  What’s next? Is Baghdad Bob going to be guesting on the air, to talk about the political climate of the Super Bowl?

Did you Know? With a win today, the Patriots will tie the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most Super Bowl wins (6) in league history. They are currently tied with San Francisco and Dallas with 5 wins.

Did you Know Pt. 2: With a win today, the Patriots will move past the Steelers in all-time playoff victories with 37, the two teams are currently tied with 36. The Patriots already own the best postseason winning percentage with teams with a minimum of 15 playoff appearances.  
Team              Wins Losses Win Pct.
New England  36 20    .643
Baltimore        15 9 .625
Green Bay       34 22  .607
San Francisco 30     20 .600
Pittsburgh       36 25 .590

Did you Know Pt. 3: The Running game is a big part of the matchups this week. Since Bill Belichick took over the team in 2000, the Patriots are 51-1 when a running back cracks 100 yards rushing in a game. In 2018, Sony Michel had four 100-yard games and the Patriots were 4-0 in those contests.

“The Patriot Way” Is All About the Team and Belichick:

With the kickoff this evening, the Patriots will appear in their 11th Super Bowl and the ninth in the Belichick-Brady era and this dynasty is truly something to behold. The Patriots under Belichick have remained steadfast in his philosophy about building a team, which has been dubbed “the Patriot Way” and even today, two decades later, there are still misconceptions about that.

In the Patriot way, which should really be called, “the Belichick Way”, there is a right way and a wrong way about building a football team that is constructed for the long run. And since 2001, the Patriots have far and away blown away the rest of the league in terms of staying competitive for a Super Bowl. A down year for the Patriots has been 10 wins or in the case of 2018, 11 wins. And yes, this was written up all fall as a down year, despite the fact that they’re one win away from their 6th Super Bowl title in 18 years.

In watching some of the endless programs leading up to the big game, I’ve seen the same thing, much like we’ve seen every Sunday for the past 18 years. The analysts will point to the rosters and say “Team A has better personnel up and down the roster” and at that point, you just have to shrug and turn the channel. They don’t get it, have never gotten it and most unfortunately never will get it.

To quote Belichick, “It’s not about collecting talent, it’s about building a football team.”

And this one from Belichick is perhaps the most frequently overlooked but arguably most important.  “On a team, it’s not the strength of the individual players, but it is the strength of the unit and how they all function together.”

Many teams, including this season’s Rams team, were the latest of the “dream teams” where they made a concerted effort to push all of their chips into the middle of the table and go all in for a title. They collected talent at every turn and didn’t see a free agent or trade scenario that they didn’t like. The fact that this team is unsustainable as it is currently constructed once they have to pay their QB who is still on a rookie deal is overlooked right now, but that day is coming.

Belichick has always kept an eye on the long-term goal of not just building a winner but maintaining it for the long haul. Which is why they A. never overpay for veteran players who are looking for the huge payday and B. done their shopping with many players who aren’t considered top players but will fit a role in the Patriots (read Belichick) system.

Look at this year’s Patriots defense, Kyle Van Noy and undrafted rookie free agent J.C. Jackson have become two of the most valuable players and some of their biggest performers down the stretch. Van Noy was considered a bust and the team got him for a song (6th round pick). Jackson went undrafted and has now worked himself into the starting rotation at cornerback.

On the subject of Van Noy, Belichick, rather than focusing on what he can’t do or trying to force him to do what the team wants, he’s learned what he does do well and puts him in a position to succeed. And he’s had a career resurgence with the Patriots. Belichick once spoke about the mistakes some coaches do with trying to squeeze a player into a system where the fit may not be the exact right fit.

“You definitely go through a stage, most coaches do, where you see a good player and you get enamored, you really like what the player does, but then when you put him into your system, it’s not quite the same player that he was in another system. He has some strengths, but you cant utilize all those strengths. If you try to utilize all his strengths, you end up weakening a lot of other players who are already in your system.”

That’s why the subject of “dream teams” is always interesting. Collecting all the talent doesn’t necessarily mean that those pieces will gel together. The Eagles a few years ago tried to buy a Super Bowl and then fell flat in the regular season. Not only do they have to fit what you’re doing but they also have to fit within the confines of the locker room.

Back to the Rams, watching television this week, I saw more than one analyst say, as we mentioned above, that the Rams defense is “more talented” at nearly every position than the Patriots. Is it true? Maybe so. But as a unit? Hmm, the numbers don’t attest to that. Looking at yardage, which everyone always has a fit over here in New England, the Rams allowed a half-yard less (yes 0.5 yards) per game than the Patriots. In points allowed (which Belichick preaches) the Rams were 19th, the Patriots 7th.  Hmm.

“A sense of humor is a huge thing with us. You’ve got to be able to laugh. You’ve got to be able to take a dig, give a dig — that sort of thing. And [you have to] feel comfortable in your own skin that you don’t have all the answers.”

Part of this philosophy is by design, Belichick knows how to build a football team and knows what will or won’t work. And part of it is by necessity. Because of their success, the Patriots are always picking in the #30-32 range in the NFL draft. You’re not going to find too many Khalil Macks or the next Randy Moss in that range very often, if at all. And the draft, as Belichick knows, beyond the first half of the first round is often times a crap shoot. Some players take longer to develop at the pro level and some peak in college and never work out. Which is why the Patriots would rather package picks and move down further to amass more selections which gives them a better chance at hitting on one of their prospects.

Belichick has a penchant for finding veteran players that fill a complementary role rather than being superstars and fit the team-first mentality. Which is why players like Van Noy and others that they’ve added in the years before have nearly always filled valuable roles for the team in their continued success.

One of the more prevalent myths that surround Belichick, and one we hear often is “GM Bill is hurting Coach Bill,” as if this is a no-brainer. And it is as wrong as rain on a wedding day. It isn’t “luck” as some talking heads would have you believe that the Patriots have been in 50 percent of the Super Bowls since 2001.

No doubt it has been fantastic coaching but it has also been having an outstanding eye for talent. Talent to fit your team, your system and your locker room. Have they hit on everyone? Of course, not. They’ve had plenty of swings and misses. However, Belichick and Nick Caserio have done a fantastic job of assembling a scouting staff that has been able to identify talent that is out there that nobody else has seen and identifying the players that want to win championships. And that is the final piece of the puzzle.   

“For a team to accomplish their goal, everybody’s got to give up a little bit of their individuality.”

Lots of teams make the noise and spout the old clichés about “team-first” mentality and such but much of what you hear is just that …noise. Belichick has said this also in the past during the draft process.

“We’re looking for people … [who] have gotten over themselves, and you can tell that pretty quickly,” Belichick said.

“You can talk to somebody for four or five minutes, and you can tell if it’s about them, or if they understand that they’re just a piece of the puzzle. So we look for that.

Not many players are willing to give up their individuality, their stats, and their quest to get paid the most at their positions to win a championship. That’s another reason the Patriots success has lasted so long. They are like a chameleon, they can change their identity from week-to-week and adjust accordingly to create mismatches against their opponent.

A receiver could have 15 targets one week and be the team’s go-to guy and the next to be relegated to a mere decoy if the coaching staff feels, that they need to go run heavy and throw the ball elsewhere. If a player can’t handle that, he’ll either not sign here or soon find himself being released to take their talents elsewhere.

Brady is the final piece of Belichick’s “Patriot Way”. Having a QB who is the best to ever play his position and do it for so long has made Belichick’s job of sustaining excellence for so long much easier.

Brady was the outlier in the draft process. The guy no one including Belichick had the slightest idea would have ever thought would become the player he has. 198 players were selected before Brady in the 2000 draft, and the Patriots passed on him thru six rounds.

Brady outworked everyone and continues to inside the Patriots clubhouse. He’s totally bought into what Belichick preaches. And when the greatest QB to ever play the game buys in, if you’re a veteran and a role player, you think you’re going to buck the system?

And Brady has become the perfect foil for Belichick. We’ve all heard about the Monday film sessions where Belichick, as Tedy Bruschi as said, would “MF everyone”, even in big victories, pointing out mistakes in the endless quest for perfection. He frequently picks on plays made by Brady. The point being, if Brady’s going to get roasted, then you had better “Do Your Job” better than anyone else.

Brady has also totally bought into the team-first mentality by frequently taking team-friendly deals where he’s taking far below market value to allow the team to spend more on supporting cast members of the team. He’s not even in the Top 15 list of highest paid QBs in the league in 2018.  

How will all of this play out later this evening? Nobody knows, it is after all one game where anything can and will happen. But I wouldn’t bet against the Patriots, who are battle tested and playing their best football at exactly the right time. That just isn’t the Patriot Way, that’s the Belichick Way.

Defending the Rams Receivers All About the Matchups:

The Rams have a pair of dangerous 1000-yard receivers in Robert Woods and Brandin Cooks. How the Patriots choose to match up with the Rams tonight will be fascinating to watch.

Stephon Gilmore practiced against Brandin Cooks all of last season, so he knows him well. But I believe (we wrote about this earlier last week) that Gilmore will cover Woods, who isn’t quite as fast as Cooks but is bigger. I think Jonathan Jones will cover Cooks with safety help over the top. Jones is speedier but… the Rams often put Woods in the slot, so that may fall to J.C. Jackson. So who will draw Josh Reynolds? Reynolds at 6’3 is too big and would present a mismatch against Jones. It is a interesting scenario.

Our feeling here is Gilmore – Woods, Jones – Cooks, and Jackson – Reynolds. But anything can happen and the defense may end up switching things up. Jason McCourty is also in the mix and he could replace Jones in the matchups.  

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.

New England Patriots News 10-28, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
October 28, 2018 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, Here is your Sunday Patriots news 10-28, & AFC East Notes.

Some Quick Hitters this morning… just a quick reminder that you can check out our key matchups to the game here

Did you Know? Bill Belichick has coached the Patriots since 2000 and we’ve all seen some of the crazy stats that the team has amassed since then. One statistic that stood out and one that we haven’t seen before was even more startling. Although the Patriots lost the turnover battle last week in Chicago they ultimately won the game 38-31. But since 2000 when losing the turnover battle the Patriots are 38-37, or slightly over .500. But the rest of the NFL when losing the T.O. battle is just  713-2765-8. The next closest team in Indy who is winning at a .340 percentage.

Kyle Van Noy feels blessed to be part of the Patriots and on the anniversary of his trade to bring him to New England, he posted his feelings on his Twitter account. “Happy anniversary to me and my trade day! What a day that turned out to be!” #blessing #thanksbilltrill #thanksbob #champ

His worth is felt by Bill Belichick, “Kyle has a lot of versatility for us,” Belichick said. “Play the run, rush the passer and play in coverage. He does a good job at all of them and his versatility has been valuable for us.”

Patrick Peterson to the Patriots was never a rumor that we put much stock in here, it was totally debunked when Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston, said his sources told him that the Patriots never reached out at all. However, (comma), the trade deadline is just a few days away, what positions could the Pats be targeting? Hmm, an interior pass rusher, a running back or my choice, a sub-package linebacker who’ll have the speed to cover. Arizona has a pair of former first-round draft picks who are on the trading block because they don’t the new system. Deone Bucannon and Haasan Reddick are the two names that come to mind.

Nate Solder has told the media, that he does not regret leaving the Patriots for the New York Giants even though he’s lost more games (six) in the first seven weeks than he did in any Patriots season, even the past two years combined. “I was certainly not expecting [the trades], but I am so thankful to be here under the leadership of [general manager Dave] Gettleman, coach [Pat] Shurmur,” he said.

“I just think that they’re building this thing the right way. I believe in those guys tremendously. All of the decisions they made I fully support, and whatever that means, we play it out however it needs to be played out.” Of course, signing a four-year, $62 million dollar deal helps ease the sting of those losses a bit.

Melinfonwu is an Intriguing Player That the Pats Brought In:

The Patriots brought in three free agent players this week for workouts. As usual, they’re updating their emergency lists or just to get a feel for some players and see what makes them tick, just in case they meet them down the road. The team brought in TE Ben Koyack and DB Dexter McCoil but the real intriguing name was Obi Melifonwu.

Melifonwu is from Grafton, Mass and attended UConn after high school. At the NFL Combine last year, the uber-athletic safety put on a show. His sheer athleticism and elite size, (6’4, 225), put him on the Raiders radar and they snagged him with the 56th pick

His rookie season was marred with two stints on IR, the second was a hip injury that required surgery. He was just getting back on the field this summer when he injured his knee and the Raiders, under a new regime cut their ties to him.

We spoke to him very early in the spring and his rehab for his hip surgery was still a slow process, which is normal for those type of injuries. But apparently, Gruden, who didn’t draft him wanted to go in a different direction.                                                                                                                                                           

But the Raiders never really had a plan on how to use him, something that New England and Bill Belichick wouldn’t have any issue in doing. He was a bit frustrated with Oakland. A source close to Melifonwu told us that last year he had just started practicing before the Patriots game as he came off IR.  He said that on Thursday, he’d practiced at safety but then on Friday during the walkthrough, he was told, he’d be playing corner, something he’d hadn’t practiced.

That didn’t end well for the rookie but if the Patriots were to sign him, he’d most definitely be used as a safety as his skill set is tailor-made for it. Our feeling here is …if he’s healthy would be a really nice addition to the backend of the defense.

Patriots Find Themselves in a Familiar Place:

The season started slowly at 1-2 for New England and of course, all of the talk was centered around “if this is the year” that the Patriots lose the stranglehold in the division. And that talk, as well as the demise of the team, seems to be once again premature.  

With a win on Monday Night in Buffalo, the Patriots will enter the midway point of the season at 6-2 with at least a two-game lead over the Dolphins (with a tiebreaker) and the Jets. And the best part of it is that the team hasn’t even played their best football yet.

Miami got off to a hot 3-0 start, but since then it has been strictly downhill for the Fins going 1-4 and with questions about Ryan Tannehill’s future, the Dolphins are in for a lot of questions this offseason. Meanwhile, despite suffering a large number of injuries, the Patriots are in good shape to challenge for one of the top spots in the AFC.  

Who You Have This Week? NFL Week 8 Predictions:

Last week: 9-5 Season 67-38-2 Bye Week: Falcons, Cowboys, Chargers, Titans

Thursday night’s pick  Houston over Miami 1-0

Philadelphia vs Jacksonville in London: Eagles
Denver at Kansas City: Chiefs
Cleveland at Pittsburgh: Steelers
Washington at NY Giants: Redskins
Seattle at Detroit: Lions
Tampa Bay at Cincinnati: Bengals
NY Jets at Chicago: Bears
Baltimore at Carolina: Panthers
Indianapolis at Oakland: Colts
San Francisco at Arizona: 49ers
Green Bay at LA Rams: Rams
New Orleans at Minnesota: Vikings
MNF- New England at Buffalo: Patriots

Early Thursday Night Pick: Raiders over 49ers

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Hoping Anderson Turns it Around This Week:

The Buffalo Bills face the daunting task of taking on their nemesis, the New England Patriots and Tom Brady this week. Their record against Brady is 3-28 and the Bills enter this week 2-5, while the Patriots, winners of four in a row are 5-2. But if they’re going to have any chance of upsetting New England, they’ll have to be a much better effort than last week from QB Derek Anderson.

Anderson, taking over for the injured Josh Allen last week, had a rough game, turning the ball over four times, three interceptions and a fumble. Having been only in the Bills’ system for three weeks, there are still plenty of things to learn for Anderson, in terms of the playbook.

He will, however, have a few things going for him. This will be the Bills first Monday Night home game in about a decade and it guaranteed to be rocking.

Anderson has already shown some decent chemistry with Kelvin Benjamin but he really needs to get on the same page and quickly with Charles Clay. The big tight end should be a big part of the game plan this week as New England has had issues covering tight ends.

Dolphins Defense Enters Midway Point of 2018 Struggling:

The Miami Dolphins as we mentioned above started the season strong, especially on defense where they thought they’d made several improvements. But since the Patriots throttled them a month ago, they’ve really struggled and Thursday Night’s showing against the Texans was particularly poor.

The Texans big four playmakers had tremendous games against the Dolphins, QB Deshaun Watson completed 80 percent of his passes and had a QB rating of 156. The big duo of DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller combined for 206 yards and three TDs. And Lamar Miller ran for 133 yards. After allowing the Lions to rush for 248 yards, Houston ran for 188 more and averaged 5.4 yards per carry.

And with a pass rush having the likes of Robert Quinn and Cameron Wake facing a Texans offensive line that has surrendered the most QB hits and sacks in the league, the Dolphins logged just one QB hit and zero sacks.

The Dolphins and coach Adam Gase are at a critical point of the season. They’ll have to turn things around and quickly, especially on defense this season if they are to make any noise this season. Otherwise, Gase’s seat could go from warm to hot this winter.

Jets Aware of Trubiski’s Ability to Scramble:

The New York Jets head out on the road to face the Chicago Bears this week and after watching the tape of last week, know that they must do a good job of limiting the scrambling ability of QB Mitch Trubiski who ran for 81 yards a week ago against New England.

The Bears offense, currently #6 in the NFL averaging 28.3 points per game is definitely being helped by the running of Trubiski who has rushed 31 times for 245 yards and a pair of touchdowns this season.

“He does surprise me, actually,” DE Leonard Williams said. “You see some running quarterbacks that are able to run, but he actually looks like a runner when he’s running. He doesn’t just look like a fast quarterback. I think that’s definitely a challenge.”

Coach Todd Bowles is preaching a total defensive effort this week but the Jets have fared fairly well thus far against mobile QBs in 2018. Against the Browns Baker Mayfield and Tyrod Taylor, Gang Green allowed just six rushes for 20 yards. Blake Bortles scrambled for 28 yards on three carries and Ryan Tannehill had 44 yards on eight scrambles.

For the Jets to pull off the upset, they’ll need to limit their turnovers and contain Trubiski in the pocket. Something the Patriots couldn’t do.

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.

Despite Slow Start, Gronkowski Still On Pace Through Five Games

Ian Logue
October 12, 2018 at 11:06 am ET

It’s been a while since fans have seen Rob Gronkowski spike a football, but through five games Gronkowski is still on pace for another Gronk-like year.

The veteran tight end last spiked the football back in week one when he scored on a 21-yard acrobatic play in the first quarter against the Texans, which saw Brady make a back-shoulder throw in double coverage where Gronkowski spun and managed to cross the pylon for New England’s first touchdown of 2018.

It was a great play, but that’s been the last time we’ve seen him score.  From there, two straight losses saw Chris Hogan (2) and James White (1) as the only two receivers to catch a touchdown pass from Brady while no running backs also crossed the goal line.  In their last two wins, Brady’s thrown three touchdown passes, with White, Josh Gordon and Corradelle Patterson each on the receiving end of scoring throws from the quarterback, while Sony Michel and Brady each crossed the goal line on the ground.

But no Gronk spikes.  Is Gronk worried?

“No, we’re winning,” said Gronkowski, who was asked about his touchdown drought on Wednesday.  “We’ve won the last two. I’ve got to pick it up. I’ve got to start scoring.”

His current drought hasn’t hurt him in terms of his touchdown totals from last season.  Through five games, he had just two receiving touchdowns this time last year compared to the one he has this season, and he’s actually three receptions ahead of what he had hauled in at this point in 2017 (he has 23 so far, compared to 20 last year).

Speaking of which, it’s interesting to look at the red zone totals, which are interesting.  Gronkowski is surprisingly without a reception in scoring territory so far this season, but that drought is eerily similar to what he endured last season after having been targeted six times with just one reception, which was a touchdown.  Like last year, the team was still adjusting to losing Julian Edelman during the preseason, while this year they were obviously without him during his four-game suspension.

As for receiving yards, Gronkowski is just 10-yards behind where he was last year at this time, having compiled 308-yards compared to the 318-yards he had last season.

Gronkowski doesn’t appear to really know that despite his slow start, he’s right on par with where he was through five games last season.

When asked about his incentives in his contract, Gronk downplayed it and said he’s just trying to make sure he remains focused on what he’s supposed to be doing out there and he’s not worried at all.

“No, I’ve got to keep doing what I’ve been doing,” said Gronkowski.  “Just get back to the basics, just get back out and keep playing football. That’s the last thing I’m worried about. The first thing I’m worried about is just doing my job and doing the best I can do to help out the team.”

Patriots  Week 5 Report Card, New England Downs Colts Again 38-24

Steve Balestrieri
October 5, 2018 at 11:29 am ET

The Patriots were facing a short week and a familiar nemesis or perhaps that is a harsh term, foe may be a better description. Other than the ones who began the entire Deflategate fiasco with the league, the Patriots have owned the Colts for the previous seven games winning by an average of about 20 points.

Thursday night began much the same way, the Pats were up by 21 at the half and it looked like they may hang a 50 burger on a very shorthanded Colts team. And by all accounts, they should have.  But sloppy ball control in the second half cost them and due to the outstanding effort of Andrew Luck, the Colts narrowed the score to 24-17 and it was a game.

The Patriots quickly responded and put two more scores up to put it back up by 21 before Luck led a late drive to make it seem respectable at 38-24. This was Thursday Night Football in a microcosm. Dropped passes on both sides, five turnovers, players getting hurt. Not to mention those god-awful all blue monstrosities that pass for uniforms. Hell Indianapolis couldn’t even field an entire 46-man team last night. But hey Commish, tell us again how the players’ safety is #1 in your book.

So, check out our grades and see how the team fared in this week’s blowout win.

Quarterback: A

Tom Brady was totally in control last night and was meticulously picking the Colts zone defense apart from start to finish. He started the first drive of the game by going 9-9 and throwing a touchdown pass to Cordarrelle Patterson. Of his first 13 passes, the only incompletion was a drop by Julian Edelman.

He did miss a few throws to Josh Gordon, but we chalk those up to be still working on their chemistry and timing together. But last night one got the feeling that the Colts defense wasn’t going to stop them, and it was correct. He threw for 341 yards and three TDs while completing 34-44,  and it could have been even more.

His two picks were not only preventable but right in the hands of his receivers, one of which looked more fumble than interception…but whatever. Brady passed two big milestones becoming the 3rd member of the 500 TD club and the only one to do it with one team.  He also set a new record by passing a TD to 71 different receivers, more than anyone else.

Running Backs: A-

The Patriots running backs had another very productive night. Sony Michel just missed a second 100-yard outing getting 98 yards on 18 carries. His 34-yard touchdown run was stuff we saw from him in college. In the past five days, Michel has gained 223 yards on the ground.  And he’s getting better every day.

James White was a guy we highlighted to have a big game and we were spot on there. White caught 10 passes for 77 yards and a touchdown and is so valuable in the Patriots passing game.

Michel needs to get better, and will, in the short-yardage running game, but that isn’t really his strength. James Develin continues to amaze as a blocker in the running game.

Wide Receivers: B

The wide receivers are now finally all in place, and you know what, you can stop lining up at the Tobin because “Bill doesn’t give Tawmmy enuff weaponz”. This group looked very dangerous and they’re just scratching the surface of their potential.

Julian Edelman is back and answered the questions as to whether he’d still have the quickness that we’re accustomed to seeing. He made his mark on the game right off the bat, catching three passes on the opening drive.

Gordon is still learning the offense and was only targeted a few times but had two big catches including the highlight reel 34-yard touchdown pass from Brady. Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, and Patterson are now the complementary guys and as such their production was just fine, 8 catches, 70 yards, and a touchdown. Hogan had the one brutal drop for a pick.

Tight Ends: B

Rob Gronkowski was obviously hobbled and in pain last night, one could see him limping several times after the play. But Brady and offense didn’t go thru Gronk and his numbers were OK, 6 catches for 75 yards. On the dropped/interception/ fumble, which we thought was a fumble, had it stood up he would have ended with 7-90, and yes we would gladly take that on a bad ankle.

Offensive Line: A

The offensive line was once again outstanding last night. The Colts entered the game with 17 sacks in the first four games and Brady’s pass protection was, for the vast majority of the game terrific. They had just 4 QB hits and 0 sacks.

Michel had room to run again and the boys up front did a fantastic job. Rewatch Brady’s 500th TD to Gordon, and he had an unreal amount of time to throw the football.

Defensive Line: B-

The defensive line did an okay job of stuffing the sputtering running game against the Colts. They had a big run at the end of the first half and some yards late in the game, but overall, it was good enough to force Luck to have to pass 60 times.  

The team only had one sack, a nice play by Trey Flowers in the first quarter. Adam Butler made a nice play of recognizing a screen pass and stuffing it for a loss. Adrian Clayborn had his best game of the season and was getting a lot of pressure on Luck. His pressure caused the Chung interception.

Linebackers: B

This wasn’t the fantastic day they had on Sunday but it was good enough. The linebackers were tasked with covering the running backs and they did a decent job of it. Nyheim Hines led the Colts with 22 receptions and he made 7 last night but for just 45 yards, which while solid enough numbers, wasn’t what the Colts needed with an injury-depleted roster.  

Hightower got beat by Eric Ebron on their final touchdown with a minute and a half to go when he bit hard on a run fake.

Secondary: B

The secondary wasn’t quite as bad as some were pointing out last night. Luck put on a nice show and threw for 365 yards and was dropping some really nice throws that was belying the hot take that his arm strength was suspect.

He also threw 60 passes so he was averaging less than six yards per pass. His passer rating was around 84 so that wasn’t great either. Jason McCourty had another strong game and is quickly becoming a very solid as the second corner. Stephon Gilmore was solid all game long, he was burned on one deep route but the receiver dropped the ball.

Jonathan Jones had a rough night and Luck was picking on him. Luck’s best target was TE Eric Ebron who gave Devin McCourty fits. Pat Chung also shared coverage responsibilities with Ebron. The two safeties got low marks for that, however, Chung was making plays all over the field and had 11 tackles, an interception, and a QB hit. McCourty forced a turnover too, so again, it wasn’t as bad as Twitter would have you believe.

Special Teams: B

Stephen Gostkowski was 5-5 on extra points and nailed his only field goal attempt. Ryan Allen averaged 48.3 yards per punt but did outkick his coverage on one and it allowed the Colts to return it 32 yards. Julian Edelman was returning punts and looked very good. The Colts weren’t allowing Patterson to return any kickoffs and boomed them away.

Coaches: A-

Faced with a short week, was there any doubt which team was the most prepared to go on Thursday Night Football? Bill Belichick had the team ready to go and they had a good gameplan and the offense looked like a house on fire racing out to a 24-3 halftime lead.

After Luck and the Colts narrowed it down the one score early in the 4th quarter, the Patriots put them away with two big scoring drives.

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

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

Julian Edelman Inducted Into College of San Mateo Athletics Hall Of Fame

Robert Alvarez
February 15, 2018 at 4:00 pm ET

The 2017 season will likely go down as a forgettable one for New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman, who missed the season recovering from ACL surgery while watching his team march to another Super Bowl appearance from the sidelines.

A week into the off season, there was some positive news for Edelman moving forward into 2018 when he was chosen for induction into the College of San Mateo Athletics Hall of Fame.

Edelman, who played his first year of college football at the school before transferring to Kent State University, credited the College as the place that “helped mold me into what I am today.”

In his one season as a freshman starting quarterback, Edelman passed for 1,312 yards and 14 touchdowns, while also rushing for a school-record 1,253 yards and 17 touchdowns.

Raymond Clayborn to be honored today at Gillette Stadium

John Morgan
September 24, 2017 at 11:30 am ET

The Patriots will honor the newest member of the franchise’s Hall of Fame today. During a half time ceremony at Gillette Stadium the Pats will hold a ceremony for Raymond Clayborn. The legendary number 26 is coincidentally the 26th person to join the Patriots Hall of Fame.

While I most certainly hoped Clayborn would get the nod this year, I wasn’t expecting it to turn out this way. I was very pleasantly surprised that the voting by Patriot Nation looked beyond recent star players. Thank you to all Patriot fans who did a bit of research that resulted in Clayborn’s induction. Fans could have easily gone along with the more recent memories. Richard Seymour, a future Pro Football Hall of Famer in my opinion, was a finalist. So was Mike Vrabel, a key defender for three championship teams, and one of the most versatile players in NFL history.

Clayborn set the franchise record with 36 career interceptions (since tied by Ty Law). He returned three kickoffs for touchdown his rookie year, averaging 31 yards per return that season. Clayborn became a starter his second season and along with Mike Haynes combined for one of the best cornerback tandems in NFL history.

Don’t take my word on it; consider what the Pro Football Hall of Fame CB had to say on the subject.

“(NFL.com) did a poll of the top cornerback tandems, and they had myself and Lester Hayes at No. 1,” recalled Haynes. “You know what? Myself and Raymond might have been just as good. Really. Raymond Clayborn was a star.”

Clayborn was a three-time First Team All Pro but stats alone do not adequately state his impact. He was part of a core group of players that turned the franchise around from the worst team in the league to one of the NFL’s best. Perhaps if he had a Super Bowl ring – which was earned but stolen away in the Ben Dreith travesty – he and some other players from the late seventies would have been held in higher regard. Clayborn played in a team record 161 consecutive games and was named to the Patriots All-Decade Team for both the 1970s and 1980s.

Congratulations to Raymond Clayborn on this well deserved honor.

New England Patriots History: Happy Birthday Ernie Adams

John Morgan
March 31, 2017 at 7:00 am ET

Today in the history of the New England Patriots we celebrate the birthday of the man, the myth, the legend: Ernie Adams. Ernie Adams turns turns 64 on March 31. The Pats’ Football Research Director is Bill Belichick’s trusted right hand man. Though he avoids publicity more than Greta Garbo, Adams is arguably one of the three most important people to the team’s success this millennium. March 31 is also the birth date of former Patriots Jim Colclough and Bam Childress.

 

Ernie Adams – Patriot Football Research Director

As a youth Ernie Adams’ primary interests were military history and football strategy. ‘Interest’ is actually putting it extremely mildly. As a teen Adams owned a copy of Football Scouting Methods, an obscure book read almost exclusively by a select group professional football scouts. That book was written by one Steve Belichick – Bill Belichick’s father. As fate would have it the two would meet when the younger Belichick enrolled at Phillips Academy. The perfect alliance was born.

Adams enrolled at Northwestern University where he sought a job as a student assistant on the football coaching staff, and his coaching career took off. After graduation he bugged Chuck Fairbanks for a job as an unpaid assistant, and New England’s coach finally relented. He immediately impressed far beyond expectations. After Fairbanks departed for greener pastures, Adams caught on with the New York Giants. Once there he told head coach Ray Perkins there was somebody he needed to hire: Bill Belichick. Adams moved up the ranks and was Bill Parcells’ director of pro personnel from 1982-85. After becoming frustrated with the Giants he left football to become a bonds trader on Wall Street.

Belichick and Adams reunited when BB became Cleveland’s head coach in 1991. Art Modell – who should go down in infamy for firing the two greatest coaches in pro football history – dumped Belichick on his way out of town for Baltimore. Adams was apparently not eager to again work for Bill Parcells, and started his own investment business.

Ernie Adams joins the New England Patriots

Adams joined the Patriots’ staff when Belichick became New England’s head coach in 2000. Adams is known for thinking outside of the box, beyond the scope of traditional football thought. A Rutgers statistics professor once published a study on when teams should go for a two-point conversion. Adams was the only NFL person to contact the professor to follow up on his work. From his viewpoint up above in the coaches box, Adams is one of the few with direct communications to Belichick.

Tom Brady said Adams “knows more about professional football than anyone I ever met.” Brady added “You have to make (the defense) defend the width of the field and the length of the field. Ernie told me, he once told me, ‘Make them defend every blade of grass.’ I think that’s a great thing to do. They’ve got to be able to – that’s how you stress the defense. You can force the ball to all different parts of the field, and they never really know who’s going to get it.”

I highly recommend that everyone read (or re-read) David Halberstam’s Education of a Coach for more insight on Ernie Adams. If you don’t have a copy already you can get one on Amazon for a couple bucks. In the interim, check out these articles; they are well worth the time to read them (despite in some cases the source).

Ernie Adams

Mystery Man – If you’re a true Patriot, then you need to know Ernie Adams, Coach Bill Belichick’s voice-in-his ear, football-genius right-hand man | Northwestern University Magazine

Who Is This Guy? You don’t know his face, but he’s the biggest secret behind the Patriot’s success | ESPN

The Patriots’ man behind the curtain – Is little-known Bill Belichick confidant Ernie Adams the secret to the Patriots’ success? | Boston Globe

Tom Brady shares words of wisdom from New England Patriots research director Ernie Adams | MassLive.com

Adams’s role? It’s top secret | boston.com

Why Ernie Adams is so interesting | WEEI

 

Jim Colclough, Patriot WR 1960-68

Jim Colclough (3/31/1936-5/16/2004)
Uniform #81

The Quincy native and Boston College grad was an original Patriot and star of the American Football League. He was a late draft pick of Washington in 1959. Colclough did not make the Redskin roster and then played in Canada for one year. Colclough is a member of the Pats’ All-Decade Team of the 1960’s. He caught 283 passes for 5001 yards, averaging 17.7 yards per reception while scoring 39 touchdowns.

From the Patriots’ 1968 media guide:

An all-time Patriot … has provided Pats fans through the years with some of their greatest thrills … ranks behind only (Lance) Allworth and Dubenion in best all-time AFL average gain with passes caught (17.6) … ranks ninth in top ten of all-time AFL pass receivers.

More from the Patriots’ archives:

Jim Colclough was one of the original Patriots, having played with Boston from 1960 through 1968. He was also one of the most productive wide receivers in franchise history, a fact not widely know among some of the later-generation Patriots fans since his playing days came in the early days when pro football was just getting its foothold in New England.

But make no mistake, Jim had some of the best hands in the game.

Jim spent a season in 1965 with the New York Jets where he developed a close friendship with superstar Joe Namath. Later, along with the Bruins Derek Sanderson, they opened a sports bar in Boston’s Park Square called The Bachelors 3.

After football, Jim got a Masters in Education. He was the head coach at Boston State (Div. III) and won the league championship in 1978-79. He also worked in the financial services field and authored a Lotus program eventually bought by New England Life.

From his 2004 obituary:

Colclough launched his professional career as a defensive back for a season in the Canadian Football League, but returned to his native New England in 1960 when he signed as a receiver with the Boston Patriots of the American Football League. That year, he led the team with 49 receptions for 666 yards and nine touchdowns. For the next nine seasons, he was one of the most productive players in the AFL, compiling 283 career receptions for 5,001 yards and 39 touchdowns. His 17.7-yard average per reception remains third in franchise history and his 39 touchdown receptions currently ranks fourth.

He held the Patriots career record with 5,001 yards receiving until Stanley Morgan eclipsed it in 1983 and he remains one of only five Patriots players to reach the 5,000-yard receiving plateau. His 283 career receptions still ranks seventh in franchise history.

Jim Colclough

On a side not, for more on Bachelor’s 3 check out the following:

The End of Daisy Buchanan’s: Sports Stars Flocked to Storied Boston Bar | Boston Globe

Bruins Legend Derek Sanderson Recalls His Venture Into The Bar Business With Joe Namath | The Post Game

The Bachelor’s III Ordeal | Tales from the AFL

 

Bam Childress, Patriot WR 2005-06

Brandon ‘Bam’ Childress, 35 (3/31/1982)
Uniform #13

As a basketball player in high school Childress averaged 18 points per game and his team won the state championship. His football team made it to the state semifinals. Childress set school career records for scoring (202 points), touchdowns (33), receiving yards (2,258), touchdown receptions (21), punt returns for a touchdown (seven) and all-purpose yardage (7,103). Childress was named the state of Ohio’s ‘Mr. Football’ in 1999. He began his college football career at Ohio State as a cornerback, then reverted to his role at wide receiver.

The Patriots signed the 5-foot-10-inch, 185-pound Childress as an undrafted rookie in July of 2005. The Pats worked Childress out at both corner and receiver and he spent nearly the full season on the practice squad. Childress was activated for the final 2005 regular season game. In the game most well known for Doug Flutie’s drop kick, Childress saw his first NFL action. He caught three out of four passes thrown his way for 32 yards, with a long of 21. Childress also had five tackles (two solo).

Childress was part of final training camp cuts in 2006. He spent most of the season on the practice squad, activated for the season opener and a week 15 game. He spent all of 2007 on New England’s practice squad and then signed with Philadelphia. The Eagles cut Childress just prior to the start of the 2008 season. He signed on with the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders but was once again a final training camp cut. Childress is now back in Ohio, employed as a State Farm insurance agent.

Bam Childress

 

Other notable NFL players born today include:
Jimmy Johnson (79), 3/31/1938 – Not as well known as either the coach-turned-broadcaster or race car driver, this Jimmy Johnson was a five-time Pro Bowl, Hall of Fame corner for San Francisco.
John Taylor (55), 3/31/1962 – caught Joe Montana’s 10-yard touchdown pass with 34 seconds to play to cap a 20-16 Superbowl comeback victory over Cincinnati.
James Jones (33), 3/31/1984 – Packer wide receiver had 14 touchdown receptions in 2012, and had five 50+ reception seasons.
Mark Tuinei (3/31/1960-5/6/1999) – Left Tackle won three Superbowls with Dallas.
Ed Marinaro, 67 (3/31/1950) – Heisman Trophy runner-up from Cornell is more well known as Officer Joe Coffey on the 80’s television series Hill Street Blues.

 

New England Patriots History: Happy Birthday Charlie Weis

John Morgan
March 30, 2017 at 7:00 am ET

Today in New England Patriots history we say happy birthday to Charlie Weis. He was part of the Pats coaching staff for eight seasons. Weis earned three Super Bowl rings as the Patriots’ offensive coordinator for Super Bowls 36, 38 and 39. He won another ring as part of Bill Parcells’ staff when the Giants beat the Bills 20-19 in Super Bowl 25.

 

Charlie Weis, Patriot coach 1993-96 and 2000-04

Charlie Weis, 61 (3/30/1956)

Weis was a Patriot position coach for four years and offensive coordinator for five seasons. He owns four Superbowl rings and has 36 years of football coaching experience.

After 11 years of high school and college coaching, he joined Bill Parcells’ New York Giant coaching staff in 1990. After three years with the Giants he rejoined Parcells in 1993 in New England. In 1994 as TE coach Ben Coates was an All Pro with career highs of 96 receptions and 1174 yards receiving. The next season as RB coach rookie Curtis Martin rushed for 1487 yards and 14 touchdowns. In 1996 as WR coach rookie Terry Glenn had a career-high 90 receptions, and 1132 yards receiving.

Weis followed Parcells out of town the next year to work for the Jets. Bill Belichick added him to his newly formed staff in New England in 2000 as offensive coordinator. As the OC Weis had a critical role in Tom Brady’s first NFL season as starting quarterback. That 2001 season of course culminated in the first of five (and counting) Patriot Superbowl victories. His neophyte quarterback went on to become the best there ever was.

Charlie Weis

Not a flash in the pan, Weis earned two more rings in Super Bowls 38 and 39. He left New England to become head coach of Notre Dame in 2005. Later he was the OC for the Kansas City Chiefs in 2010, OC for the Florida Gators in 2011, and head coach at Kansas from 2012-14. Though he may be bored now that he is no longer working, his family should be set for generations thanks to buyouts.

 

Dave Chapple – Punter, 1974

Dave Chapple, 70 (3/30/1947)
Uniform #10

Chapple was a productive punter and kicker at the University of California at Santa Barbara. In 1966 he kicked ten field goals, which would have been an NCAA record – but Jan Stenerud kicked 13 the same year. Chapple was an All-American and selected by the San Francisco 49ers in the 1969 draft. A slipped disc delayed his football career and he eventually signed with the Bills in 1971.

The following year Chapple joined the Rams and was named to the Pro Bowl, averaging 44.2 yards per punt. Perhaps even more impressive is that his net average was almost the same, 42.1 yards per punt. In one game at Soldier Field he averaged over 50 yards on his five punts.

Chapple’s punts started losing distance though, perhaps due to the bad back. He went from LA to New England in 1974. With the Patriots he averaged 35.4 yards on 26 punts, and did not play in the league again. In 40 NFL games he averaged 40.2 yards on his 162 punts.

Going back to his youth Chapple was very interested in painting. Over the last 40-plus years he has been an accomplished artist, particularly in oil paintings and sculptures.

Dave Chapple art

The Painting Punter

Dave Chapple – Island International Artists

 

Chris Canty – CB, 1997-98

Chris Canty, 41 (3/30/1976)
Uniform #26

In the first year of the Pete Carroll era the Patriots selected Canty with the 29th pick of the 1997 draft. That choice by Bobby Grier, with Bill Parcells no longer over his shoulder, would go down in infamy as one of the worst draft picks in the history of the franchise. Canty seemed to put more effort into his excessive celebrations over insignificant plays than in becoming a productive player. The Pats jettisoned Canty after just two seasons and he was out of the NFL two years later. He later spent four years playing Arena football.

Chris Canty

 

Notable NFL players born today include:
Lomas Brown (54), 7-time Detroit Lion Pro Bowl LT
Richard Sherman (29), Seahawks CB
Billy Cundiff (37), most well known for this kick: