Category Archives: Uncategorized

First Quarter Woes Have Plagued Brady So Far This Season

Ian Logue
October 1, 2018 at 5:00 am ET

For some strange reason, the first quarter has been a big problem for Tom Brady this season.

Brady came into Sunday’s game against Miami having completed 12-of-23 (52%) for 113-yards along with a touchdown and an interception in the opening quarter, with the first quarter having been the only quarter where he had a completion percentage under 60%.

Brady’s Stats By Quarter Prior to Sunday:

1ST QTR: 12/23 (52%) 113yds 1TD 1INT
2ND QTR: 23/32 (71.9%) 203yds 2TDs
3RD QTR: 15/23 (65%) 180yds 2TDs
4TH QTR: 14/22 (63.6%) 148yds 1TD 1INT

On Sunday Brady was just 3-of-7 (43%) for 30yds along with an interception in the first quarter, which saw the offense manage just 3 points.  From there, he turned things around and completed 20-of-28 (71%) for 244yds with 3 touchdowns and 1 interception, including a 10-of-13 (77%) for 120yds with 1 TD and 1 INT showing in the second half.

It’s surprising given that last season, Brady’s best quarter was the first quarter after the veteran completed 106-of-149 (71.1%) for 1143 yards during the regular season, including 7 touchdowns and 2 interceptions.  It was the only quarter where be completed 70% or better throwing the football, which certainly makes what we’ve seen so far a little unusual.

Brady has always emphasized the importance of a fast start and thankfully the offense pulled away in the second quarter after putting up 21 points, which allowed the Patriots to play the game on their terms.

Despite their slow start, Brady credited the play of New England’s defense for allowing them to work through it and he said it ended up being a big key in the win.

“Yeah, they did a great job and I think they didn’t give up many third downs – maybe one or two today,” said Brady.  “I mean, any time you play like that – I mean, we’ve been on the other end of that the last couple weeks where we didn’t do well on third down and we’re not out there and the other defense is out there, and I mean, that’s tough to play that way. But, they made some great plays when we needed it, too, and it was great to see them play that way.”

Hopefully, their first quarter woes will improve this week with Julian Edelman set to return and Brady told reporters he’s looking forward to having him out there.

“You know, it will be great to have him,” said Brady. “I mean, we haven’t seen him in four weeks, but I know he’ll be ready. And it’s a short week, so I’m sure he’ll be in here ready to go. Everyone loves Jules and loves having him back.”

5 Things We Learned From the Patriots Win Over the Dolphins

Ian Logue
September 30, 2018 at 9:44 pm ET

After two straight losses, the Patriots sent a clear message on Sunday against Miami that they’re still a force to be reckoned with during their 38-7 blowout victory over the Dolphins.  Here are a few things we came away with following the win.

1) Defense came up big on Sunday – The return of Trey Flowers and Patrick Chung saw a much-inspired performance by New England’s defense on Sunday, putting up one of the most impressive showings we’ve seen so far this season.  The Patriots pitched a shutout throughout much of the contest, until Miami managed to score a touchdown with just under 3-minutes left in the game to spoil that effort.

But the first-half totals were impressive as the Patriots took control of this one early.  Despite allowing a 22-yard reception to Kenny Stills at the start of the game, the Patriots imposed their will after allowing just four plays of over five yards throughout the entire first half, and had Miami in 3rd-and-8 or longer in all but one 3rd down in the first two quarters.  The Dolphins were 1-of-6 over that span, with their one conversion coming as time expired before the half while the Patriots were in a prevent defense.

Overall, the Patriots made them miserable, with Miami finishing the afternoon 3-of-11 on third down while Dolphins starter Ryan Tannehill closed out the day with just 100-yards passing before Miami pulled him late in the day in favor of back-up quarterback, Brock Osweiler.  They also controlled the Dolphins’ ground game, holding Miami to just 7 first-half yards rushing and just 56 total rushing yards overall.

Bill Belichick said after the game he was pleased with the team’s energy and effort against a Dolphins team that had been playing well prior to this game.

“Yeah, there were a lot of good things,” said Belichick.  “We played the running game fairly well, created some long-yardage situations, played third down fairly well, played third down offensively well, ran the ball offensively. All of those things played into positive situations that we were able to take advantage of.”

2) Nice First Showing For Gordon – For anyone wondering what type of impact Josh Gordon would make during Sunday’s game, his mere presence made a difference as the Patriots passing game was much more effective.

Gordon played in just 18 snaps Sunday but showed some terrific quickness and he forced defensive players to be mindful of where he was on the field.  Interestingly enough, the newcomer finished with 2 catches for 32-yards, both of which came on third down and contributed to two scoring drives for the team.

His success seemingly drew the attention of the defense and it felt like there was better spacing out there for New England’s receivers compared to the previous two weeks.  It’s only one game, but he seems like he’s settling in well and after Sunday it looks like he might have a good future ahead of him.

“He’s put in a lot of work, a lot of time trying to understand where to line up and what to do, and he came up with some big plays today,” said Brady.  “He kind of got us going in certain areas. Everyone played pretty good who was out there today, so it was great to have him out there.”

Michel had a nice afternoon against the Dolphins Sunday.

3) Great performance by Michel – Following a week of unwarranted criticism, rookie running back Sony Michel responded in a big way after going out and putting together another solid performance against the Dolphins.

Michel, who finished with 112 yards on 25 carries (4.5 avg) along with a touchdown), ran the ball well, finishing with three rushes of over 10 yards including 1 of over 20.  He also scored the Patriots final points of the game thanks to his 10-yard touchdown run, the first of his NFL career, at the beginning of the fourth quarter.

It was a great showing for a player who after his first career 100+ yard outing is slowly emerging as a weapon in New England’s running game, becoming a threat that opposing defenses are going to have to pay attention to this season.

“I mean, really hard and broke some runs out there. I mean, that’s a stout defense, and we needed the run game to break some of those,” said Brady. “So, I thought the line did a great job up front making some holes and it was a great day.”

4) Quiet day for Amendola – Former Patriots receiver Danny Amendola likely hoped to have a big day on Sunday in his return to Gillette Stadium, but New England’s defense did a good job of keeping him out of the mix.

Tannehill targeted Amendola early, with the receiver’s number being called on the second play of the game where he picked up three yards during Miami’s first drive of the afternoon.  Unfortunately for the Dolphins, an offensive holding play on the next snap killed their drive and they would later be forced to punt.

Amendola’s best play of the day came just after the Patriots went up 31-0, with Tannehill hitting the veteran receiver for an 18-yard gain to get them out near midfield at the Dolphins’ 42-yard line.  But three plays later, Tannehill threw an interception to J.C. Jackson, which ended the threat before it ever really got started.

Amendola came into the game with 11 receptions for 100-yards but was held to just two catches for 21-yards during Miami’s first loss of the season.

After the game was over, Amendola met up with Brady at midfield but was clearly disappointed in the outcome when he spoke to the media following the loss.

“We didn’t get it done today,” Amendola told reporters after the game. “We got to look at film, see what we can learn. It’s a great learning experience for us. We’re 3-1 and we’ve got to get better. So back to work this week and get ready for our next game.”

White More Involved This Week – One big topic of discussion this week had to do with getting James White more involved in the offense and on Sunday, that seemed to be the plan.

The running back carried the football 8 times for 44 yards (5.5 avg) including a touchdown and he also led all Patriots receivers with 8 receptions for 68-yards along with a receiving touchdown.  He also finished with a team-leading 3 third-down receptions all of which moved the chains, including his touchdown.

White’s touchdown reception ended up being one of Brady’s favorite plays of the day, with the quarterback managing to stand in under pressure and put up a perfect high-arcing throw that White was able to come down with.

Brady told reporters he didn’t get to see the play as he was blasted down after he released it but said he felt good about White’s chances to come down with it after he let it go.

“I knew where he was running and I knew I didn’t have much time to wait for him to get there, so I just tried to flip it up there to the back corner,” said Brady.  “Right when I let it go, I thought, ‘We’ve got a shot.’ And I kind of looked under some legs and saw him put his arms up and make a great catch. So, it was pretty sweet. Those are fun ones.”

With Michel’s emergence in the ground game and White continuing to be a dangerous playmaker for the offense out of the backfield, along with Gordon’s performance in his first game, the Patriots seemingly find themselves in better shape offensively with Julian Edelman set to return this week.  That may be important as tight end Rob Gronkowski left the contest with an ankle injury, which could challenge his availability for the team’s match-up against the Colts Thursday night.

Patriots Wilt In Jacksonville Heat in Frustrating Loss

Bob George
September 16, 2018 at 10:52 pm ET

JACKSONVILLE – The good news is that the Patriots don’t have to play Miami in Florida until December, when it’s cool and comfy.

The bad news is that the Patriots still had to play a September game in Florida anyway, as the NFL has three cities in Florida and not just Miami.

On a wretched 97-degree day in north Florida, with humidity pushing the heat index to 107 degrees at kickoff, the Jacksonville Jaguars, exacting revenge on the team that beat them in January for the AFC Championship, outlasted the Patriots 31-20 at TIAA Bank Stadium on Sunday. The Patriots were gassed from the start, wilting in the Florida heat like they have done so many times in Miami in September over the years.

For the Jaguars, the win marked the first time the franchise had ever beaten the Patriots in a regular season game.  The only time Jacksonville ever beat the Patriots was a 1999 AFC Divisional Playoff game at this stadium (named Alltel Stadium back then), a 25-10 win where the Patriots had Pete Carroll as head coach, and were forced to start Scott Zolak at quarterback in place of an injured Drew Bledsoe.

Suffice it to say that if this game was played in a cooler weather month, the Patriots probably either win this game or lose a close one. Despite their world class defense, quarterback Blake Bortles played just well enough to win, and was able to get into a rhythm mostly because the tired Patriots allowed him to. There was no pass rush to speak of, receivers were getting open when normally they wouldn’t be, and despite the Patriots being the benefactor of two gift turnovers in the second half, the Patriots coughed up the ball on a strip sack to basically seal the deal.

The Patriots didn’t look bad, just tired. Jacksonville outplayed the Patriots only because they had more energy and more zeal in winning the game with memories of January fresh on their minds. All the trash talk Jalen Ramsey brought on during the week was really a non-factor, as he was involved in very few key plays and Rob Gronkowski was held down by other players.

At times, the Patriots did themselves in with carelessness. Lined up for a punt midway through the fourth quarter, on fourth and one at their own 18, Telvin Smith jumped offside, but the left end failed to touch him while offside and thus denying the Patriots a gift first down down 24-13 and rallying. Tom Brady suffered a strip sack on the previous possession, which literally negated two takeaways by the Patriots to climb back into the game. The previous drive ended when Cordarelle Patterson fell down on a bubble screen left which would have gotten them a first down instead of a Stephen Gostkowski field goal.

On the play preceding the failed offside play, the Patriots were stopped one yard short of the first down at their 18. A replay challenge negated a first down, and Bill Belichick elected to punt. Perhaps the Patriots should have gone for it, despite nearly causing an offside. On the ensuing play, Dede Westbrook took a pass on a crossing route from right to left, turned upfield towards the left sideline, blew by Ja’Whaun Bentley and got a great block by Cole, and took off on a 61-yard touchdown pass to cement the win. Going for it on fourth and one down 24-13 might have been the better option, especially given the fact that Jacksonville scored anyway.

Give the Jaguars credit for playing well, as they also had to deal with the oppressive heat. In the first quarter, facing first and 15 at their own 24, Bortles lobbed a left sideline pass to Keelan Cole. Cole made a one-handed grab which looked like Odell Beckham Jr., despite great defense by Eric Rowe. Three more plays for double-digit yards gave Jacksonville a 14-0 lead, with Cole hauling in a left sideline pass from 24 yards out for the score.

The Patriots can certainly use this game to assess the team, correct mistakes, and move on. This sort of early season loss has happened in recent years, and often times helps the Patriots a great deal. The demoralizing loss to Kansas City in 2015 turned into the linchpin for the eventual Super Bowl championship, for instance. Belichick will no doubt mumble “We’re on to Detroit” all week long, but the Lions, who have begun the year 0-2 under former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, will have their hands full with a Patriot team bent on redemption and who will know better than the Jets last week what the Lions will do on defense.

An indication that it really wasn’t a terrible day overall for the Patriots is that Brady finished with a 106.1 passer rating, completing 24 of 35 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns. Bortles had only a slightly better rating at 111.1, on 29 of 45 passing for 377 yards and four touchdowns, with one interception on a tipped ball in the fourth quarter. Cole had 116 yards receiving to go along with the sick one-handed catch he made. James White was the leading receiver for the Patriots with seven catches for 73 yards.

The Patriots got a glimpse of the future with the NFL debut of rookie running back Sony Michel. The former Georgia Bulldog had 34 yards rushing on ten carries. Nobody on the Patriots averaged more than four yards rushing; T.J. Yeldon, filling in for the injured Leonard Fournette, had 58 yards on ten carries. The Patriots figured to tee off on Bortles without having to deal with Fournette, but they weren’t really able to do too much given the oppressive weather.

Plain and simple, Jacksonville caught the Patriots at the right time. Playing in weather the Patriots usually see in Miami yielded the predictable result. If the Patriots can finish ahead of Jacksonville at year’s end and get a rematch with the Jaguars in Foxborough, the Patriots most likely win again with a decided upper hand. Even if the game is played down here, the Patriots can win in Florida in December and January and should give the Jags a better game.

The Patriots still miss Julian Edelman, and still have some things to figure out. Against one of the best defenses in the league, this game will give Belichick and the assistant coaches plenty to pore over in the film room. Jacksonville was clearly the better team on Sunday, but the Patriots are experts at learning from losses like this and adjusting and improving on the fly.

Next week the Patriots will take on Detroit, and old friend Patricia. The Lions are having problems getting used to his coaching style and have dropped their first two games, including a 48-24 home loss to the Jets in the season opener. The Patriots will be well set up to right their ship and move forward, and should look better against a Lion squad that has no idea who and what they are.

So, here’s to no more heat and humidity for the rest of the year. The Patriots return to south Florida in December. See you then, and hopefully the Patriots need to take less Gatorade with them.

Wednesday Patriots Notebook 8/29: Belichick Offers Some Insight on Cuts; Cardona Earns Prestigious Honor

Ian Logue
August 29, 2018 at 9:51 am ET

We’re on the eve of the final preseason game of 2018 and here’s a look at this morning’s top stories.

With Final Cuts Looming, Belichick Offers Some Insight – Tomorrow night’s game could potentially be the last opportunity for players with uncertain futures to give themselves an opportunity to either earn a roster spot here in New England, or put enough on tape to give themselves a chance to latch on elsewhere.

It’s a difficult time of year, not only for the players but also for the coaches.  Making the wrong decision when it comes to letting an up-and-coming player go in favor of an incumbent who may be starting to drop off can be costly.  These are the types of things that keep coaches up at night, because while coaching is obviously important, it’s the players who, as long as the execution is there, are the ones who make the difference on game day.

Belichick talked about that process on Tuesday, explaining how difficult it is to mold a roster.  It’s a tough process, with the more difficult part of it coming down to making a decision between incumbent players and younger players who show potential.  But the biggest point of emphasis was on the word “improvement”, which Belichick said applies to both sides of this argument.  If an older player has plateaued and the younger player has shown he can reach or exceed that level, it’s situations like that which can spark an opportunity for them.

“Yeah, well, the most important thing in evaluating players is their improvement,” explained Belichick.  “So, if a player’s improving, then you’re most likely to take the high water mark as opposed to where he was three weeks ago when you feel like he’s passed that and he’s shown that that wasn’t the player that he was. He’s taken the experience, the coaching, the reps that he’s had, and he’s become more efficient at those things, whatever the position is and so forth. So, when you see that improvement, then you start to weigh what happened most recently over mistakes that were made a month ago if you feel like those have been corrected and that we’ve moved past those. So, that’s the most important word for any player, young or old.”

The biggest thing Belichick said they look for is an upward trend based on what they’ve seen recently.  The faster they seem to be trending, the better their chances of making the team.

“But, especially players with less experience, if they’re improving, then you’re most likely to look at what they’ve done most recently,” explained Belichick. “If they’re not improving, then you’re most likely to look at what they’ve done most recently, which is less than what it was before, and that’s usually not a good thing. It could be alright if it’s high enough. I mean, if the guy’s a really good player and he’s just not as good as he used to be but still better than everybody else, then that’s good. But, when a player starts at a lower level and is moving up, then if he’s moving up and he’s moving up at a good rate and you think that rate is going to continue, then that carries a lot of weight. Even though he’s not there yet, if you think he’s going to get there, a lot of times you bank on that.”

With one game to go, the goal now is for those players who are battling for a spot to try and make enough of an impression to sway things in their favor.  But if they can show improvement just one more time, their chances might increase significantly and that’s exactly what Belichick said they’ll be looking for.

“We evaluate everything, but if there’s a rising trend, that carries a lot of weight,” said Belichick. “So, this is the last opportunity. If guys that have been improving the last couple weeks can add onto that, it will absolutely help them. It could help them a lot.”

Vollmer was one of the Patriots’ most consistent players during his career.

Vollmer Earns Praise – One player whose name came up during this discussion on Tuesday is former right tackle Sebastian Vollmer, who Belichick said really impressed them during the early part of his career.

The former standout from the University of Houston was selected in the second-round of 2009 by the Patriots (58th overall) and started out as a tight end in college before moving to left tackle.  But when he came to New England, one of the things that impressed Belichick was how well Vollmer handled himself on both sides of the line, including going toe-to-toe against Dwight Freeney in camp and holding his own.

“Yeah, well, I mean, I think [Sebastian] Vollmer did a good job of that, especially early in his career when he played I think it was left tackle at Houston, then right tackle in the East-West game,” said Belichick.  “Then we worked him at right tackle in training camp, then he played left tackle against [Dwight] Freeney. So, for a player that didn’t have a lot of experience as a football player and didn’t have a lot of experience in the NFL when that happened to him his rookie year, he ended up playing both sides. Yeah, that was pretty good.”

The match-up against Freeney stood out to Belichick, but the other thing that also surprised him was the level of improvement Vollmer made over such a short period of time, which Belichick admitted happened much faster than they expected.

“He sure did, yeah,” said Belichick when asked about Vollmer holding his own against Freeney. “Sebastian is a player that improved tremendously in a very short period of time. He had trouble at Houston. He had trouble in the East-West game, in the All-Star games. When we drafted him, we thought this was going to be a multi-year project. [We] loved everything about him – his intelligence, his length, his athleticism, his toughness, his work ethic – we just thought it would take a while. So yeah, he had a long way to go and he closed the gap very, very quickly, I think quicker than any of us could have realistically expected.”

“But, I’d say by the time we got to this point in training camp, he’d made some pretty big strides. So, I’d say it was more surprising early and then less surprising as we got into the season because he jumped over a lot of landmarks or measuring sticks early in his career in the first training camp.”

And that’s what the other players will continue keep trying to do tomorrow night.

Cardona earned a prestigious award Tuesday night.

Cardona Wins Ron Burton Award – The Patriots announced the 2018 Ron Burton Award winner on Tuesday night and long-snapper Joe Cardona was the player who this year came away with the honor.

The award honors players who go above and beyond for their contributions in the community, with the team noting in their release that Cardona is also the first to earn the honor while also serving as a lieutenant junior grade in the United States Navy.

“Joe is a Patriot in the highest sense of the word, on and off the field,” said Kraft via the team’s release.  “Service to others is of principal importance to him, first to our country, as well as to our team and to our community.  This past offseason, Joe went on a two-week training session to South Korea with the United States Navy Reserves.  He serves his country and his team honorably and still manages to contribute by volunteering to serve and support many of our team’s community initiatives.”

The former fifth-round draft pick out of Navy in 2015 has been a key part of New England’s special teams unit, solidifying the long-snapper position as he’s quietly been a key component of the success of punter Ryan Allen and kicker Stephen Gostkowski.  Things like that tend to fly under the radar and it’s a position that Bill Belichick has emphasized over the years as being an important one.  Cardona has clearly earned the respect and admiration of his coach and the team, and also earned a 4-year extension this offseason.

Belichick praised him just last week when talking about him.

“Joe’s a very impressive person on a lot of levels,” said Belichick just last week.  “He’s just an outstanding example for all of us. His contributions and service to our country, his commitment to our football team and just his overall personal character and how good of a friend and teammate he is to everybody on the team. He’s a tremendous individual and I’m glad we have him, glad we were able to work out an agreement with him to extend it.”

Odds and Ends:

– Belichick was asked about the challenges of making decisions on the fly as a head coach and said that while preparation is important, what they do on game day is obviously even more important.  “Yeah, well, preparation is a lot of that, but then once the game starts, then that trumps the preparation,” said Belichick.  “So, that’s what [President Dwight D.] Eisenhower said, right? Before the battle, everything is about preparation. Once the battle starts, preparation doesn’t mean anything. You’ve got to adjust to what the battle is. So, I think there’s a lot of truth to that.”

– Rob Gronkowski said on Tuesday he’s feeling better at this time of year than he did last year, which has him looking forward to this season.  “I just love playing the game. I feel good right now,” said Gronkowski.  “I definitely feel like 100 times better than I did last year during training camp. When you’re feeling good, you love playing the game. I feel good enough to where I thought I could come back, go throughout the whole season, go throughout camp and just keep playing the game and be enjoying it. That’s how it’s been and when you’re enjoying the game, when you’re feeling good, you just love playing the game. It’s just something when you’re out on the field, like your mind is just in another place because you’re just focusing on what you got to do.”

– Gronk also had some advice for those players who are trying to stick around.  “Just go hard, play hard,” said Gronkowski.  “Give it all you got this game. I mean, you’re not just showcasing for the Patriots but you could possibly be showcasing for around the league. So just play hard, do the best you can and finish plays.”  He also had some praise for fellow offensive player Shaq Mason, who just signed a long-term extension with the team.  “Oh yeah, I mean he’s a great player,” said Gronkowski. “His speed is unreal, the way he can close the gap on a small defender and just block him is unbelievable. He’s a great player and it’s always great to see guys like him get a deal like that.”

– Rookie running back Sony Michel and offensive tackle Marcus Cannon were both on the field on Tuesday for their second practice as they each continue coming back from injuries, which is a positive sign as the regular season looms closer.  Their statuses for tomorrow night aren’t certain, but one would have to believe that the team will continue taking their time and focus instead on making sure they’re both healthy enough to contribute this season.

– Several players who most likely will see time are newcomers receiver K.J. Maye and running backs Kenneth Farrow and Khalfani Muhammad, who were each spotted on the practice field Tuesday.  It’s hard to imagine any of them sticking around, but with each player trying to earn an opportunity in the league, every snap could be a difference-maker as each one looks to put something on film to bolster their case, even if it’s just on someone’s practice squad.  But for one night, they’ll get to showcase their skills at Gillette Stadium.

– One harsh reality that fans are having to deal with is the future of Julian Edelman, who will be sidelined to begin the regular season as he serves his four-game suspension.  But as disappointed as fans will be to not see #11 each Sunday, Edelman is coming to the realization that he’s about to begin his exile away from the team, which he admitted is going to be tough to deal with.  “Real football starts soon, so it’s definitely been a reality check,” Edelman said via Mike Reiss of ESPN. “I’m not going to sit here and worry about things I can’t control. Ultimately, I put myself in this situation, so it’s more of ‘let’s go and get myself ready for when I can play.'”  His return will likely be well-hyped given that he’ll be returning on a national stage, returning just in time for the team’s Thursday night match-up at home against the Indianapolis at Gillette Stadium on October 4th.

Patriots Fourth And Two Podcast: Eagles vs. Patriots Pre-Season Game Review

Russ Goldman
August 17, 2018 at 2:26 pm ET

In this episode. we analyzed the second pre-season game, as the Patriots faced the Eagles at Gillette Stadium. We also shared our thoughts on the first pre-season game.

11 Things We Learned from the Patriots Win Over The Eagles

Ian Logue
at 12:03 pm ET

For a game that held a lot of hype by the media because of the match-up, the Patriots were the ones who made this one memorable after making plenty of plays while winning their second preseason game of the year with a 37-20 victory over Philadelphia.

Here’s a quick rundown of somethings we took away from last night’s game.

1) Solid Outing For Brady – Tom Brady saw his first preseason action of 2018 and played well after spending the entire first half on the field.

He opened the game a perfect 5-for-5, leading the team to a touchdown on just seven plays after driving the offense from their own 38-yard line and firing a 4-yard strike to Chris Hogan in the back of the end zone.

Overall, he finished the night 19-of-26 for 172 yards with two touchdowns and had good command of the offense, with the team moving up and down the field fairly consistently as they put up 20 offensive points, which included two field goals by Stephen Gostkowski.

He played 39 snaps (51%) and after the game admitted that while they did some good things, there’s still some work to be done.

“You know, it was good – [we were] challenged by a good team, a good defense, good front,” said Brady. “You know, we did some good things, but I’m sure there’s things, a lot of things, we didn’t do very well. So, I mean, I think this is all just part of the building process. It feels good to win, but you know, there’s certainly a lot of things we’ve got to do better.”

But for anyone concerned after watching Brian Hoyer for most of last week, seeing Brady back out there should hopefully put their minds at ease.

2) Flores a Perfect Fit – One thing that was noticeable about new defensive coordinator Brian Flores is the fact he has a calm yet intense presence on the sideline, which is different from what we saw in previous years from Matt Patricia and that energy seems to be carrying over to the field.

The Patriots’ defense did a good job all night of getting pressure on Philadelphia in key situations and you can see just by watching the meetings with his players on the sideline that he clearly already has the respect of this group.

It’s been great to see and hopefully that same intensity and success carries over into the regular season.

3) New Leading With the Head Penalty Is Confusing – For the first time this preseason we saw the new penalty called frequently Thursday night, with the penalty being called on both teams. New England was called for it once, while the Eagles were flagged for it three times.  There were some confusing moments, one of which saw Patriots defensive back Jordan Richards lead more with his shoulder than his head with contact occurring more in the middle of the player’s body.

There were other plays that seemed to be good calls, including one where Julian Edelman and Cordarelle Patterson each took a couple of head shots, while another occurred when there was seemingly incidental contact after a defender collided heads with a running back who lowered his head in anticipation of the hit.

Either way, this game left us with more questions than answers and it’s scary to think about the implications this may have during the regular season in key moments if they don’t come up with a more consistent way to call it.

Bentley had another strong outing.

4) Another Great Game For Bentley – JA’Whaun Bentley had another big night, flying around on defense while making a huge play where he scooped up a fumble and returned it 54-yards for a touchdown.

Bentley’s athleticism has been something that has really stood out and he was terrific again Thursday night.  He finished tied with Patrick Chung for third with five tackles, but he also had a pass defended in addition to his fumble recovery.

For a team that’s needed to get a little faster at the linebacker position, Bentley appears to be a player who can give them that and what he’s done thus far has been impressive.  With two games to go, if Bentley can keep it going, he may be poised to earn a starting role given what we’ve seen.

5) An Up-and-Down Performance For Crossen – Keion Crossen may not have had his best night, but he showed enough where he’s still a player who could develop a role for himself.

Crossen was flagged for three penalties on the night, including two defensive pass interference calls on one drive that lead to Philadelphia’s first touchdown of the game in the second quarter.

But what’s the most impressive about Crossen is the fact that he appears to have a short memory and doesn’t let a mistake slow him down.  He doesn’t hang his head, he doesn’t point fingers or flail his arms, etc.  He just gets back out there like it didn’t happen and gets back to work.  In fact, with just under a minute left, Crossen was flagged for a defensive holding call on a 2nd-and-8 that put the Eagles at the 4, but then came up with a nice play on 4th down where he nearly picked off a desperation shovel-pass by Nate Sudfeld.

To be able to not get down and keep battling is a trait that not a lot of young guys have and it’s pretty obvious that the coaches like what they see.  In fact, Flores was spotted on the sideline working with Crossen, showing him photos on the tablet, with Crossen looking very engaged in what seemed to be a pretty productive conversation.

Crossen, who was taken in the 7th round out of Western Carolina in this year’s draft, finished the night as the team leader in tackles with 8, including one pass defended.

This is the time to make the mistakes rather than during the regular season and we’ll have to see over the final two games how this plays out.

Patterson looked great Thursday night.

6) Patterson is going to be fun to watch – Cordarrelle Patterson has already been one of the more exciting players we’ve seen in camp and he went out and had a pretty good game Thursday night.

He finished the contest with 4 receptions for 51-yards and a touchdown, with the latter play being one for the highlight reel.  He made a nifty move against Eagles cornerback Sidney Jones, who after a quick pass to Patterson dove and came up empty, with Patterson cutting and leaving him on the ground as he scooted by him and then beat three other defenders on his way to the end zone for the 11yd touchdown.  It was a great play and it put the Patriots up 34-7 with 10:27 left to play in the 3rd quarter.

Brady, who targeted Patterson once while he was out there (an incompletion), said after the game he thought the receiver had a good night.

“I thought he did a great job tonight,” said Brady. “He’s so dangerous when he gets the ball in his hands, and obviously over the course of his entire career, that’s the way it’s been. You know, he had a good touchdown there. He almost had the one at the sideline that I threw it to him, but he’s done a great job.”

7) Solid Night for Clayborn – Adrian Clayborn had his first big game as a Patriot, finishing with a forced fumble that Bentley recovered for his touchdown and was extremely disruptive.

The veteran defensive end, who also finished with a sack, didn’t register much on the stat sheet but he got into the backfield on several occasions and helped create opportunities for other players.  Adam Butler was the beneficiary of another one of those moments after he picked up a drive-stopping sack early in the game.  Clayborn drove up the right side and pushed his guy back, collapsing the pocket while allowing Butler to make the sack.

It was great to see and he seems like he’s gained quite a bit of confidence compared to where he was prior to this game.  This is a group that really seems poised to do some big things this year and the former Falcon showed some reasons Thursday night why he’ll likely be a part of that.

8) Bad break for Wynn – Rookie Tackle Isaiah Wynn finally got some playing time Thursday night but it didn’t end well after suffering what reports initially seemed to believe was an ankle injury early in the game.

It was a strange play, with Wynn being driven back while pass blocking before his leg collided with Brady’s and he immediately went down.  He appeared to be in a lot of pain and they immediately erected the blue medical tent for him, where he was evaluated by trainers.  But the more concerning part was the fact he was later carted off the field, which was a bad sign.

Unfortunately, the news got worse on Monday after reports say he suffered a torn Achilles, which will end his season before it ever got started.

It’s a bad break for an offensive line that is already thin at tackle with Marcus Cannon still dealing with an injury and will be something to keep an eye on heading into the season.

Despite taking a shot, Gostkowski was perfect Thursday night. (USA TODAY Images)

9) Great Night For Gostkowski, but he took a shot – One of the last things you want is for your kicker to be involved in a tackle and that’s exactly what happened to Stephen Gostkowski Thursday night.  Following Hogan’s touchdown, the Eagles answered with a 46-yard return after AJ Moore missed containment on the outside and allowed Shelton Gibson to break outside and get upfield.

From there, Gostkowski ended up being the one to track him down and as he dove at Gibson, he got kicked in the head and seemed a little woozy after the play.

Fortunately, he ended up being O.K. and had a solid night, hitting all three of his field goals including one from 49-yards.  He also hit all four of his extra point attempts.

One of the more entertaining moments of the night came late in the game when Gostowski made a terrific catch on an out of bounds pass by Sudfeld that he leaped up and snagged and then got fired up after the play.  Gostkowski showed some great hands and let his teammates know it, which had several players laughing afterwards.

10) Another Good Night For Rivers – Derek Rivers quietly had another great game as he continues having a solid preseason.

Rivers played 29 snaps Thursday night and had some great moments including where he showed great quickness on back-to-back plays just before the 2-minute warning as he dropped Sudfield for the sack on a 2nd-and-8, and then helped flush him out where Kyle Van Noy swooped in and dropped him for a 13-yard loss.

This group seems to have some guys who look like they’re going to be able to get consistent pressure on the quarterback.  It’s obviously a little too early to get too excited, but there appears to at least plenty of reasons to feel optimistic like they’ll improve in that area this season.

McCourty was beat badly for a TD Thursday night. (USA TODAY Images)

11) Not a Great Night for Jason McCourty – This was the first work we saw McCourty get and it didn’t exactly go as well as he probably hoped.

McCourty, who finished the night having played 31 snaps, looked slow and confused, with one play that will likely haunt him after this game.

He got beat badly on a touchdown pass to Gibson, where Gibson broke in and then back out and McCourty wasn’t even close on the play.  But it was more or less his entire body of work that was the more concerning part and the next question is whether or not its a physical limitation or the fact he’s thinking too much and not playing as fast as he’s capable of.

Unfortunately, with only two games left he’s got a limited opportunity to pull things together because as it stands right now, his chances of making this team could be in jeopardy if this continues.

The Patriots will now turn the page as they start preparing for their next preseason game, which takes place on the road next Friday night down in Carolina at 7:30pm ET.

Thursday Patriots Notebook 8/9: Quiet Practice Weds, Bengals Fans Bitter at Pats RB

Ian Logue
August 9, 2018 at 9:28 am ET

A short edition this morning with tonight’s game against Washington now finally upon us.

Quiet Practice to Close Things Out Before Tonight – Wednesday’s practice was closed to the public and according to reports, it sounds like the team spent most of their time putting the finishing touches on their plans for tonight’s game against the Redskins.

They held some 11-of-11s and by all accounts it looked like players were essentially going through the personnel groupings that will come into play when the team takes the field before a downpour eventually ended the session about 30 minutes early.  With a roster of 90 players, that’s always been one of the more interesting parts of the game in terms of guys being on the field when they’re supposed to.

The other obvious thing is the fact that having the opportunity to see players perform in competitive situations is the only real way to get a sense of what they can do.  Granted, it always depends on the level of competition they’re facing but on the other hand, all they can do is try and excel when the opportunity arises with whoever they’re lining up against.

Bill Belichick said on Tuesday that the valuable part of these preseason games is the fact it’s a chance to really evaluate these players in competitive situations.

“I’m sure it will be valuable,” said Belichick.  “Yeah. We’ve talked about those things, but actually doing them in game, in competitive situations, it’s a little bit different. We saw the Hall of Fame game. A couple situations came up in that game that are good learning experiences for our team, and we’ll use those as teaching tools, and then we’ll experience it Thursday night and I’m sure we’ll learn something there and in succeeding games.”

With the spotlight on so many young players, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and overthink things and that’s something that Devin McCourty told reporters Wednesday that the younger guys need to forget about Thursday night, instead focusing on just playing football.

“I always try to tell guys don’t get caught up in so much coaching and everything that you kind of leave the game and feel like, ‘Man, I didn’t even like play like I’m used to playing.’ And I think that’s very important,” said McCourty.  “You know, if you’re here, you’re usually here for a reason because you’ve played good football before. Once you get out in these games, you want to showcase your talent – showcase, obviously, the coaching that you’ve been getting, but showcase the work you’ve put in all through your life to get to this point.”

As always, it should be interesting to see how it pans out and it’s safe to say it will be good to see football finally back in Foxboro again tonight.

Bengals Fans Remain Bitter With Hill – In a region where they tolerate enabling and mediocrity, it appears fans in Cincinnati are still a little bitter with Patriots running back Jeremy Hill.

Hill, who fumbled during the 2015 match-up between Cincinnati and Pittsburgh with just over a minute to go following a turnover by the Steelers, remains in their cross-hairs.  A writer for USA Today’s Bengal Wire spotted Kevin Duffy’s Tweet about the running back’ fumble on Wednesday that saw Hill run a lap with his new team and clearly it remains a sore spot for Bengals fans who watched their team squander the chance to win a playoff game.

Oddly enough, they don’t seem to recall that despite the turnover, the Bengals still could have won the game.  They clearly forgot about the fact that Vontaze Burfict’s stupid Unnecessary Roughness penalty, coupled with Adam Jones’ Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty, took the Steelers from the Bengals’ 47-yard line with 22-seconds to go in that game and put them at the Bengals’ 17, setting up Pittsburgh’s 35-yard field goal that ended their season and extended their playoff losing streak to 0-7.

At the time, head coach Marvin Lewis, who supports this nonsense, inexplicably defended Burfict’s actions.

“He’s trying to go over and defend the play,” Lewis told reporters. “There’s a lot of balls out there, plays today, calls went different ways. … [The officials] deemed that to be a hit to the head, and others not today.”

Burfict is still with the team and his attitude hasn’t changed, so as they say, “you reap what you sow”.  Funny how the focus always seems to be on the wrong thing out there but when you even have the head coach feeding into the insanity, it’s not a surprise.  The team should have gotten Burfict under control years ago but Lewis’ inability to lead remains their downfall.

Needless to say, Hill’s fumble was the least of their problems and unfortunately, the fact he’s in New England certainly won’t change that.

Odds and Ends – Some numbers, facts and useless stats for tonight’s game:

  • Tonight’s game marks the 22nd time during the preseason these two teams have met, with New England holding a 13-8 record.  Those 13 wins are the most over any preseason opponent for the Patriots.
  • The last time they met was in 2014, which saw the Patriots fall 23-6 at FedEx Field.  In that game, Jimmy Garoppolo went out and played well, finishing 9-of-13 for 157-yards and a touchdown.  He was in a battle for the back-up position that year and got off to a good start, while Ryan Mallett went 5-of-12 for 55 yards.  We all know how things turned out for Mallett, who still hasn’t done much since his departure from the team.
  • The leading receiver in that game for the Patriots was former wide receiver Brian Tyms, who finished with 5 receptions on 6 targets, including one for 53-yards from Garoppolo.  However, that scoring opportunity was squandered after running back Stephen Houston fumbled the football on the ensuing play.
  • Prior to that game, the Patriots had won their previous five meetings in the preseason against Washington, with their last meeting ending with a 27-24 win at FedEx field back on August 28, 2009.
  • Last year’s preseason opener came against the Jacksonville Jaguars, which saw Garoppolo go out and complete 22-of-28 for 235-yards and two touchdowns (QB Rating 125.4).  Jacoby Brissett completed 8-of-13 for 88-yards.  It’s still a little surreal that neither are with the team, which shows you how much things really can change in just one year.

Tuesday Patriots Notebook 8/7: Huard Recalls Brady’s First Camp; Van Noy Confident

Ian Logue
August 7, 2018 at 9:11 am ET

Here’s a look at this morning’s top stories.

Mitchell Gone – What seemed to be looming for a while came to fruition on Monday when the Patriots opted to part ways with wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell, ending what seemed like a promising future in New England.

The former fourth-round pick out of Georgia in 2016 had a terrific year after finishing with 32 receptions for 401 yards and four touchdowns during the regular season, but his clutch performance down the stretch in the Super Bowl was instrumental during the team’s historic comeback against the Falcons.

Mitchell also finished that season fourth on the team in second-half receptions with 16 receptions and two touchdowns, even finishing ahead of both Chris Hogan (14 receptions, 1TD) and Danny Amendola (12 receptions, 1 TD).

But a knee injury suffered during last year’s preseason kept him out of action last year and he seemingly aggravated it again during the offseason, with the receiver reportedly still having continued to experience pain during camp.

As a result, the team opted to part ways and move on, which is disappointing.  He joins former Patriot Aaron Dobson as another young receiver who saw his tenure cut short due to injury, although Mitchell’s is even more disappointing given how well he performed, especially in crunch time, in his first season.

The only constant here in New England is change and the Patriots are already moving on, with Eric Decker having joined the team last week.  With Julian Edelman sidelined to begin the year, receiver remains one of the most interesting positions to watch and we’ll have to see who stands out when the team plays their first preseason game Thursday night against Washington.

Hogan Under Pressure – Speaking of the Redskins, one player who seems to be under the microscope there is third-string quarterback Kevin Hogan, who is a player that fans in Washington are hoping can prove himself by putting together some solid preseason performances.

One of the more interesting parts of these preseason games for the die-hard fans is seeing how some of the lower guys on the depth chart perform with their NFL lives on the line.  We’ve certainly seen some interesting ones here in New England, going all the way back to the days of  former quarterback Michael Bishop and scrappy receiver Sean Morey.  Bishop didn’t pan out as a quarterback, but Morey eventually became a solid special teams performer in the league and it’s moments like those that cause teams to take notice.

For Hogan, he’s behind starter Alex Smith and back-up Colt McCoy and one area he’s spent quite a bit of time has been helping the younger receivers get comfortable in the offense.  He knows that while he won’t necessarily become a starter, that shouldn’t stop any of those guys from getting that opportunity.

“We spend a lot of time together and I think that it goes to show the character of the guys in the QB room and the receivers room,” Hogan said via “Those guys are always asking us questions, what they can do better and we’re giving them feedback. Everyone’s willing to learn and listen and I think that goes very well because we’re able to communicate, take coaching and apply it.”

Hogan joined Washington after being traded from Cleveland and is battling with McCoy for the backup position.  He’ll get his first opportunity to show what he can do when his team visits Foxboro Thursday night.

Former Patriots QB Huard Speaks Fondly of Brady – Former Patriots QB Damon Huard has an honor that most fans may not be aware of, and that’s the fact that he was the first back up Brady ever had.

Huard, who joined Michael Bishop and Brady behind then quarterback Drew Bledsoe to begin the 2001 preseason, spoke to’s Hayden Bird, who put together a terrific interview with the former quarterback.

Brady, who ultimately surpassed Huard into the back-up role ahead of both he and Bishop that preseason, left Huard with quite an impression.  Huard said that Brady’s competitive nature was something that definitely stood out and he just loved his approach and enthusiasm.

“I just remember him being super, super competitive,” Huard said in the interview. “He loved to practice, loved to compete, and was a great dude. He had no ego, was a great listener, just a good friend. We just connected right away, made it real easy. But he was really competitive. He would get excited over completing a first down pass in 7-on-7. He just had that same enthusiasm you see from him today. He brought that in practice every day way back when. Really sharp guy.”

Huard recalled the meeting he had with Belichick where he learned that he would be the third-string guy that season, and he acknowledged that it certainly ended up being the right move as Brady surprised everyone as he went on to win five Super Bowls and is now a future Hall of Fame quarterback.

“I remember Bill bringing me in at the end of the preseason telling, ‘You had a good camp, but we’re going to make you the No. 3,” said Huard. “We just feel like Brady has a better feel for the offense right now.’ And he was right. Tom had been in it for a year, and he was really sharp.”

“I just look back on the moment and think if Bill hadn’t gotten it right and made him the No. 2, just think where he might be today?”

Odds and Ends: The news about Jerod Mayo’s dog is heart-breaking, with reports since coming out about his trainer being the one responsible for the dog’s death and then hiding the body of the animal inside his home.  Mayo wrote on his Instagram account that the trainer hid the dog in a trash bag and lead his family “on a wild goose hunt and our kids on an emotional roller coaster.”  Anyone who has owned a dog can only imagine how hard this must have been and our thoughts go out to Mayo and his family … rookie Braxton Berrios told Mark Farinella of the Sun Chronicle that he feels he’s improved so far, having not made the same mistake twice as he continues trying to improve and earn a roster spot.  “Yeah, I think each day I’ve made corrections,” he said last week at training camp. “I looked at the film, saw my mistakes and made those corrections. I don’t think I’ve made the same mistake twice in back-to-back days at least. And, again, that’s the process of it. Just day to day, get one inch, one foot, one percent better.” … A fun quote from Kyle Van Noy revealed what the Patriots defense has planned for this season, with the linebacker telling Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald “We’re going to be sneaky quiet,” Van Noy said. “We’re going to be smooth violent.”  Van Noy and the defense know they have a lot to prove after finishing 20th against the run and 30th against the pass last season … Duron Harmon echoed Van Noy’s sentiments and is confident they’ll be better this season.  “We’re excited . . . we’re in a great place. We have a lot to play for. We’ve been coming out each day, bringing good energy, bringing confidence,” said Harmon. “I’ll tell you what, we have a good group of guys who are working their tails off right now. We want to be a good defense. We plan to be a good defense.”  Let’s hope he’s right.

Monday Patriots Notebook 8/6: Kraft and Belichick Crash Moss’ Ceremony; Another Rule Change Sparked by Patriots

Ian Logue
August 6, 2018 at 9:05 am ET

We’re off to another week and here’s a look at this morning’s top stories.

Decker Impresses Early – Wearing #81, newcomer Eric Decker impressed in his first practice session over the weekend as he looks to try and fill a void given the Patriots injuries at the wide receiver position.

He showed some good hands and quickness during his time on the field, which is a good sign for a team that will be in need of an additional playmaker heading into the first four games of the regular season with Julian Edelman suspended.

Bill Belichick is notorious for favoring players who has given his team fits, which Decker did back during New England’s 35-14 postseason win over Tennessee in the Divisional Round back in January.  In that game Decker led all Titans receivers with 6 receptions on 7 targets for 85-yards.

Now he’ll hopefully have him in the mix to give the team some help in an area that they lack with Edelman out of the picture to begin the season – beating man coverage.  With Edelman suspended and Danny Amendola playing for a Division Rival in Miami, the pressure will likely be on players like Rob Gronkowski, Chris Hogan and potentially Philip Dorsett or Coradelle Patterson to pick up the slack.  The problem is, they’ll be facing some pretty good defenses over that span in Houston, Jacksonville, Detroit and Miami.  Two of those games are on the road, with their match-up against the Jaguars and Lions set for weeks two and three respectively.

Decker had a productive year in 2017, catching 54 passes for 563 yards and a touchdown in Tennessee last season.  It’s worth noting that two of Decker’s most productive seasons as a pro came during his time playing with Peyton Manning in 2012 and 2013 where he finished with a career-best 1064 yards and 1288 yards respectively.  One would have to believe his numbers would spike again here in New England if he and Tom Brady can get on the same page.

So far it appears he’s off to a good start, so we’ll see how it all unfolds as he begins getting immersed further in their offense.

Kraft and Belichick Present at Moss’ Induction – One of the more interesting stories was the presence of Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick each being on hand for Randy Moss’ Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction over the weekend.

Moss put together some terrific seasons in New England, having been a big part of a record-setting season in 2007 where the team finished with a perfect regular season before losing a heart-breaker against a tough New York Giants team in the Super Bowl that managed to do just enough to spoil what would have been a perfect season.

During his speech, Moss said that Belichick challenged him to be great and apologized for the loss, saying, “I’m sorry we did not bring it home.”

He and Kraft were also close, with Moss also mentioning Kraft’s late wife Myra and being appreciative of their kindness for giving him an opportunity to be a part of their franchise.

From a personal standpoint, Moss made a big gesture following Myra’s passing after flying back to New England to pay his respects.  According to Peter King, prior to that trip, Moss was nervous about making the trip but Kraft was touched about Moss remembering the fact Kraft told him when he first signed that by being a member of the team, that meant that Moss was part of the family.

“Randy is a good friend of mine,” said Wilfork. “He called me and said, ‘Vince, I’m nervous about coming up. But I want to come. I shared a bond with her. I really want to be there.’ Guys who don’t know Randy, they’ll say he’s arrogant. But if he could have retired here, he would have. He came here for one reason and one reason only: He wanted to support the Kraft family.”

When Moss signed with the Patriots, Kraft brought him into his office and told him if he played for the Patriots, he’d always be in the Patriot family. So when he opened Moss’ sympathy card, he knew Moss remembered the family speech. Moss signed his sympathy card: “Randy Moss Kraft.”

Moss’ eventual departure from New England didn’t go well, with Moss voicing frustration early in the 2010 season that ultimately led to him being traded to Minnesota.  He would face his team just weeks later and following a 28-18 loss to his former club, Moss did one of the craziest things fans may have ever seen as he spoke more like a member of the Patriots instead of as a Viking.

The veteran rambled during his press conference about how he “missed the hell” out of his old teammates and even questioned the Vikings’ game plan.

“Like I said, it’s been an emotional roller coaster all week,” said Moss at the time.  “[I] tried to prepare, tried to talk to the players and coaches about how this game was going to be played, couple tendencies here and a couple tendencies here. The bad part about it, is you have six days to prepare for a team, and on the seventh day, that Sunday, meaning today, I guess they come over and say, ‘Dag Moss, I guess you was right about a couple plays and a couple schemes they were going to run.’ And it hurts as a player, that you put a lot of hard work in during the week, and at the end of the week, Sunday, when you get on the field, that’s when they acknowledge about the hard work that you put in throughout the week. That’s actually a disappointment.”

Then head coach Brad Childress let Moss stay in the Boston area following that speech and then immediately cut ties with him.

But the beauty of time is that it smooths things over and it doesn’t change the fact that the love and mutual respect that Moss holds with Belichick and Kraft is still strong.  Best wishes to Moss on his induction and it’s good to see him earn a well-deserved honor following an unbelievable career.

Patriots Spark Another Rule Change – An interesting note in Ben Volin’s Sunday Notes column where a game involving the Patriots last season may have quietly sparked another rule change this offseason.

As Volin points out, one change involves rule 3.2.5 which has now been modified to say, “It is not a fumble if the player immediately regains control of the ball.”

That change stems from the team’s first match-up against the Jets in 2017, which resulted from the non-touchdown call in the fourth quarter on Austin Seferian-Jenkins after he lost control of the ball with both hands for a moment as he crossed the goal line, before regaining control and landing out of bounds.  Instead, the play was ruled a fumble out of the end zone and a touch back for the Patriots.

That was a huge momentum killer for the Jets, who were trailing 24-14 at the time and would have pulled them to within 3 had that play stood.  Instead, the Patriots held on and won the game 24-17.

Now, a play like that going forward will instead be ruled a touchdown.  It’s funny how these things tend to happen and it appears the NFL tried yet again to slow down a team that continues to dominate their league.

Just business as usual here in New England.

2018 Patriots Training Camp: Five Things We’ve Learned So Far

Ian Logue
August 2, 2018 at 9:18 am ET

It’s been an interesting start to this year’s Patriots training camp and here are some things we’ve learned so far after one week.

1) Trent Brown emerging as the starting left tackle – Through one full week, the Patriots competition at the left tackle position seems to be coming into view, with Trent Brown emerging as the player who appears to have the edge at this point in camp.

He’s surprised quite a few people.  Despite his massive size at 6’8″, 359-pounds, he possesses a surprising amount of quickness and speed for a player that big.  He’s shown good balance on the edge and also gets upfield in blocking drills.

When asked if he’s ever coached a player as big as Brown, Belichick replied “No” and even praised him last week for how athletic he is.

“Yeah, I’ll say.” said Belichick last week when asked if he felt his athleticism was unique for his size.  “Yeah, he’s very athletic. He can run, he can bend, he can change directions, he’s long, and he’s strong and he plays with good knee bend. As big as he is, he doesn’t play necessarily high. He can bend and get leverage on guys that aren’t as long as he is.”

Not a bad start for a player who will hopefully give the Patriots a viable option to protect Tom Brady’s blind side this season.

2) McCourty off to a slow start – Last season cornerback Stephon Gilmore got off to a slow start and it took him a while to get comfortable in New England’s secondary.  So far, Jason McCourty has had a tough time through the early part of camp, struggling in coverage and seemingly looking uncomfortable as he tries to get settled into the Patriots’ defense.

The veteran defensive back was expected to anchor the defense opposite Gilmore this season but so far hasn’t been able to distinguish himself as a starter with his new football team.  Meanwhile, players like Duke Dawson and Ryan Lewis seem to be coming on, with Lewis having been a surprise player so far in camp.

It’s been interesting to see it unfold and the next couple of weeks will start to tell the tale when it comes to players proving on a day-to-day basis that they belong with this football team.  Gilmore overcame one of the most difficult beginnings we’ve ever seen last season before settling into this defense and one can only hope McCourty is able to do the same thing.

3) Deatrich Wise Having a good camp – With the Patriots hoping for a more explosive pass rush this season, Wise appears a player who may be able to do that for them.

He’s had a strong camp so far, pushing Adrian Clayborn and seemingly putting himself in position to be at the top of the rotation at defensive end.  Both he and Derek Rivers have impressed so far, with Belichick offering praise for both players during his press conference Wednesday.

“Yeah, nobody works harder than those two guys,” said Belichick. “Nobody. So, it’s hard to find a time that they’re not in this building. They work extremely hard on the field, off the field, their training, preparation, conditioning – you name it.”

“Yeah, they’ve kept that pace since they got here and they’ve certainly sustained it in this year. They’ve made a lot of improvement and they both have upside ahead of them. So, yeah, they work very hard.”

And so far, that work appears to be paying off.

4) Hollister Continues To Stand Out – We all know how valuable Rob Gronkowski is and so far it appears that fellow tight end Jacob Hollister looks to be ready to take the next step in his sophomore season.

Hollister has consistently had bright moments during training camp, making some big plays as he continues to stand out.  One area that is worth noting was how valuable having a viable second option behind Gronkowski has been and Hollister appears as though he may be able to provide that this season.  Belichick said on Monday that he was pleased with how Hollister has performed thus far.

“Jacob improved a lot last year and he’s gotten off to a good start this year from the offseason program to our spring workouts to the start of training camp,” said Belichick.  “He’s still got a long way to go. He has a lot of football in front of him. He didn’t have a lot of experience – had some – but has gained a lot and will gain a lot more. I think he’s got a great future.”

“He works hard, he’s a tough kid, he plays hard, practices hard and has become much better at his fundamentals and techniques at his position.”

That’s good news for a team that could use another weapon to compliment Gronkowski on offense.

5) Dorsett Looks Much Improved – Wide receiver Phillip Dorsett was a little erratic last season, never managing to put consistent plays together in an offense that spent last season without Julian Edelman.  Dorsett had his moments, catching 12 passes for 194 yards while averaging 16.2-yards-per-reception, right behind Cooks’ average of 16.6.

So far, he looks much more comfortable and has made some big plays, which is encouraging for a group that is again without Edelman for the first four weeks of the season.

On Wednesday they reportedly cut Jordan Matthews and worked out Eric Decker, with a hamstring injury to Matthews being significant enough that the team opted to move on.  That leaves them with just Chris Hogan and Dorsett as incumbents to begin the season while Edelman is out, with the team now in need of another player to emerge heading into 2018.

Kenny Britt is expected to return, while Malcolm Mitchell’s future appears to be in question as he continues to struggle coming back from a knee injury that kept him out last season. Cordarrelle Patterson is also expected to be a factor in the return game and has had some nice moments.

One wild card could be Devin Lucien, who had some solid plays during last year’s preseason but never had a shot due to how deep the team was at the position.  But for now, this is a group with a lot of questions and it will definitely be interesting to see how things shake out in the coming weeks.