Category Archives: Uncategorized

Gronkowski Feels Like Allen is “Going to Turn The Corner Soon”

Ian Logue
October 18, 2017 at 8:30 pm ET

It’s been a rough start for newcomer Dwayne Allen, with the tight end having seemingly struggling through a difficult time getting acclimated to the offense here in New England.

Through six games he’s been targeted six times, with the veteran so far having failed to connect with Tom Brady after not yet making his first reception with his new football team.

He saw his offensive snap count dip to just nine plays against the Panthers three weeks ago and then saw it spike to fifty during their Thursday night game against the Buccaneers with teammate Rob Gronkowski sidelined due to an injury.

With Gronkowski back in action Sunday against the Jets, Allen was in on just six plays in another limited outing, leaving some to wonder what the future might hold for a player who has yet to establish a role for himself in this offense.

However, while his critics only see what he does on game days, his teammates see him on a daily basis in the locker room and get a first-hand look of the work he continues to put in.  Gronkowski told reporters on Wednesday that Allen’s work ethic hasn’t wavered, and he believes that it might not be long before we see big things from his fellow tight end.

“Dwayne’s been a great teammate,” said Gronkowski. “He’s a great guy and he comes out and works every single day, works his tail off, works his butt off, and I feel like he’s going to turn the corner soon. He’s right around the corner.”

It’s an interesting statement given that his progress to this point has certainly been a little slower than some had expected.  But clearly he’s still here and both Bill Belichick and his teammates know him better than anyone, which hopefully means that he hasn’t had his breakthrough moment just yet.

For now, Gronk believes in Allen, and enjoys having him around.

“He’s been working hard,” said Gronkowski. “He’s been grinding and he’s a great guy. I love having him out there with me.”

Brady All Alone With the NFL Regular Season Win Record

Ian Logue
October 15, 2017 at 8:09 pm ET

People have questioned Tom Brady’s place among the greats in NFL history, but on Sunday he did something to ensure there shouldn’t be any further argument about who the best of all time is.

Quarterbacks are judged on wins and losses and against the Jets, Brady won his 187th career regular season game, moving ahead of Peyton Manning and Brett Favre to become the all-time leader in that category.

While the win didn’t happen quite the way he hoped, Brady said after the game that he’s proud of how his team fought back along with how they also were able to close out the game.

“I wish we would have done better, but we won, so (there is) probably a lot to learn from it,” said Brady.  “I wish we could have played a little bit better offensively. We got down early and fought back. We had a good series before the half and hung in there at the end.”

Brady finished the afternoon 20-of-38 for 257 yards along with two touchdowns, but also had a first half interception.  He seemingly struggled as the Jets mixed things up in coverage and seemed to have difficulty deciphering coverages.

It took a while for them to get going, but Brady and the offense managed to put up 14 second quarter points to allow them to knot the score at 14-14 at the half.  However, in the second half, Brady missed just five passes, opening the second half with a 6-of-8 performance for 103 yards and a touchdown in the third quarter and never looked back, with the Patriots adding a field goal by Stephen Gostkowski early in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach, allowing New England to complete a 24-3 run after the Jets took a 14-0 first half lead.

Bill Belichick told reporters after the game that while he was happy for his quarterback, the goal every week is to win football games.

“Great, that’s what we’re all here for is to win games. We’ve been very fortunate to have had Tom at the helm for a lot of those wins. That’s what we’re all in it for is to win.”

Now his team is 4-2 on the season, with a Sunday night battle against the Falcons up next weekend at Gillette Stadium.

Despite Being Banged Up, Brady Says “I’m Good”

Ian Logue
October 12, 2017 at 9:21 am ET

When you’re the best quarterback who ever played the game, it’s not unusual for fans to get a little nervous when you’re not out at practice.

After missing time earlier this week due to a reported AC joint sprain to his non-throwing shoulder, which he suffered against Carolina and then re-aggravated four days later against the Buccaneers, Tom Brady was back at practice Wednesday and assured fans he’s just fine.

“I’m good,” Brady said, sporting a red TB12 baseball cap and hooded sweatshirt as he stood at the podium.  “I’m not worried about it.”

It’s been a rough start for Brady, who has already been sacked 16 times this season, eclipsing the 15 he endured during 12 regular season games in 2016.  The last two games have been particularly brutal, with Brady having absorbed 6 of those sacks over that span, as well as 13 quarterback hits that the NFL managed to officially log in the stat sheets.  That total is likely higher, as not every trip to the turf receives recognition in those totals and don’t exactly tell the whole story.

The game against the Buccaneers was probably the most striking, with Brady very slow to get up after several plays, which goes against his mantra of trying not to let the other team know they hurt him.  But coming off a short week that was already physical to begin with, Thursday night’s punishment seemingly pushed him to the limit.

Fortunately, as bad as it’s been, he’s still standing and still smiling.  With Sunday’s match-up against the Jets now looming, Brady finds himself with one final road game before his club gets to spend the next two weeks at home against Atlanta and Los Angeles before their bye week.

The timing of their bye will likely be a welcomed sight, since from there the club begins a tough stretch that includes a trip to Denver, followed by a game against the Raiders in Mexico City.

The biggest question now will be whether or not they can finally start to give Brady a little better protection, since asking him to survive another 16 sacks on top of another barrage of hits over another five-game span is a little much.

For now, Brady said that there are plenty of guys who are dealing with injuries,  he’s no different than anyone else when it comes to trying to play through pain.

“You know, it’s a physical sport, so I think everyone is dealing with something,” said Brady. “It’s just part of the sport. Everyone’s running around and they’re big and they’re fast and they hit hard. You have bumps and bruises, but you just deal with them the best you can and try to get ready for the next week.”

Cooks and Brady Finally Get on The Same Page In Win

Ian Logue
September 24, 2017 at 7:56 pm ET

It’s been a long-time coming for Brandin Cooks, and Sunday’s performance will hopefully the first of many big moments after he finished with 5 receptions for 131 yards and two touchdowns, his best outing so far as a Patriot.

Cooks was on the end of Brady’s game-winning touchdown in the closing seconds of the game that helped the Patriots shock the Texans, giving New England a 36-33 victory as they improved to 2-1 in front of the home crowd at Gillette Stadium on Sunday.

It was only fitting that Cooks would come up big in this game, especially given some of the adversity he and Brady had faced through the first two games of the season.  The two had gotten off to a bit of a rocky start, seemingly having difficulty getting on the same page coming into Sunday’s contest.

The two connected on just five passes for 125 yards through the first two games, with Brady having targeted him 11 times (45% completion rate), including three times on third down, all of them being incompletions.  However, on Sunday, that streak came to an end after Brady connected with him early in the game on the opening drive on the third play from scrimmage.  After two carries for a loss by both Mike Gillislee and James White, Brady fired down field for a 44-yard connection on third down to Cooks, putting the Patriots in business right away at the Texans’ 10-yard line.

That led to the team’s first score of the game after Brady connected to Rob Gronkowski from 5-yards out for the touchdown to take an early 7-0 lead.

But the second half was really where Cooks shined.  Brady hit him twice to start the third quarter, the last of which went for 42-yards and a touchdown as the Patriots went up by eight points at 28-20.

Yet after a 36-yard field goal with 2:28 to go in the game gave the Texans a 33-28 lead, this was the time Brady needed to dig deep and pull of another Brady-like comeback.  For Cooks, it was finally an opportunity to step up and make a huge statement, and he didn’t shy away from the moment.


Cooks’ TD came when the Patriots needed it the most. (USA TODAY Images)

Following a huge 3rd-down field conversion by Danny Amendola where the veteran picked up 27-yards, the stage was set for Cooks and he delivered.  On the snap, Cooks broke up the left side of the field and Brady dropped in a perfectly thrown ball right over Cooks’ shoulder and into his hands as he crossed the goal line, with Cooks adeptly dragging his feet following the reception as he went out of bounds.

Replays revealed Cooks’ game-winning score would stand and just like that, Gillette Stadium erupted as the newcomer put the dagger in a Texans team that appeared poised for an upset. Brady then helped keep the pressure on the Texans by connecting with Cooks again on the two point conversion, ensuring that Houston, at best, would be able to tie the score on a field goal instead of having an opportunity at a game-winning kick.

Fortunately, it never came to that and hopefully this will be the start of bigger and better things after a solid performance by the two players.

Brady said after the game, it came down to something they saw in coverage and fortunately, Cooks made the play.

“We were running low on time, I hit Danny on that pass, looked up at the clock, and there was like, whatever, 30 seconds left,” explained Brady.  “I thought we had a little more time than that and then on the next play, Josh [McDaniels], we kind of had a two-on-1 there on the safety, and Cookie [Brandin Cooks] got behind [Chiefs CB] Kareem [Jackson] and I tried to put it out there.  It’s a game of inches, it was a great play.”

It certainly was, and it gave Brady his fifth touchdown pass of the day, the sixth time in his career he threw 5+ touchdown passes, tying him with Dan Marino for 3rd most all time.

But the most important thing is it got them above .500 and pushed them to the limit, which Brady said they talked about two weeks ago when they fell to the Chiefs at home. Now it will hopefully be something to build on over the course of the rest of the season.

“We just kept fighting, that was the most important thing,” said Brady. “We were in this stadium a couple weeks ago. We talked a lot about that – playing four quarters – playing all the way down to the last minute, we needed it today.”

Patriot Celebration Ended With Pregame In Loss to Chiefs

Bob George
September 8, 2017 at 8:32 am ET

FOXBOROUGH – Time once again to ask the coach if the quarterback position will be evaluated this week.

Purely to keep the previous trend going, of course.

As most fans likely recall, the last time the Patriots suffered a huge loss to the Kansas City Chiefs actually turned out to be a good thing. Beginning with the press conference question from Hades, the “We’re on to Cincinnati!” presser extravaganza was the linchpin to an eventual win in Super Bowl XLIX. Now, three years later, the Patriots got spanked once again by the Chiefs, Tom Brady looked less than immortal in the loss, and one now has to wonder where the Patriots go from here.

Things may be different this time. In 2014, that Patriot team was a talented bunch which merely ran into a hot Chief team in their home stadium which normally is a tough place for the visiting team to win. This year, you have a Patriot team which seemed more into celebrating their championship, but also looking like a team decimated with injuries, perhaps too many to overcome.

Kansas City unveiled a new running back named Kareem Hunt, who bludgeoned the Patriots on both the ground and in the air. Tyreek Hill showed that he is much more than just about kickoff returns. Alex Smith had a near-perfect game passing, and the Chiefs ruined the banner celebration with a 42-27 win over the Patriots on Thursday night at Gillette Stadium.

All night long, except for perhaps the opening possession, the Patriots seemed both over-matched and disinterested in the game. The Patriots were for the most part out of sync, Brady seemed lost without Julian Edelman out there, the Patriot defense gave up several long plays, two of them for long touchdowns, and now seem in trouble with Dont’a Hightower and Danny Amendola being knocked out of the game with injuries. Those who were healthy to play seemed to have no answer for Smith, Hunt, Justin Houston, and Eric Berry.

On several occasions, the Chiefs actually tried to give the Patriots the game and the Patriots wouldn’t take it. The Chiefs were penalized 15 times for 139 yards, many of them undisciplined plays. Twice the Patriots had fourth down and short, twice they went with Mike Gillislee, and twice they were stopped. Instead of the usually reliable Brady sneaks, the offensive line could not open up holes for Gillislee on either play. Hunt fumbled away his first carry of the game, but the Patriots did not capitalize on it with the first of the fourth down stuffs, and Hunt went off the rest of the evening.

Offensively, it seemed that Brady never established a rhythm, and it seemed painfully obvious that he missed Edelman. Brandin Cooks did have one catch for 54 yards, but other than that he had no other catches of consequence. Rob Gronkowski was blanketed all night long by Berry, who played well all game long until leaving the game late with an Achilles injury. Amendola was the leading receiver for the Patriots, with 6 catches for 100 yards before he left the game in the second half on concussion protocol.

Gillislee, despite not being able to convert on two fourth down and short carries, scored all three touchdowns, all of them 2 yards or less. He finished with 45 yards on 15 carries and had some nice runs, and two of his touchdowns were done by running through Ramik Wilson and Derrick Johnson respectively. But his failure on the two fourth down carries proved decisive.

On defense, the Patriots miss the retired Rob Ninkovich, and literally capsized when Hightower was lost for the game with a knee injury in the third quarter. Hill caught a 75-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter when he blew by Stephon Gilmore, and Devin McCourty could not get over in time to help. Hightower’s injury forced more playing time from Cassius Marsh, but Hunt took a flat pass in the fourth quarter with Marsh in futile pursuit for a 78-yard touchdown to give the Chiefs the lead for good.

But the Patriots had absolutely no answer for Hunt all game long. The rookie from Toledo, making his NFL debut, had the best first NFL game by a running back since Billy Sims for Detroit in 1980. Hunt blew past tacklers all game long, and obviously caught the Patriots by surprise. Bill Belichick and Matt Patricia were most likely bent on stopping Hill and Travis Kelce, daring the Chiefs to beat them running the ball. If this is the real Kareem Hunt, defensive film watchers across the league have some watching to do.

Smith had an atypical game, throwing for over 300 yards for only the sixth time in his career. He finished 28 of 35 passing for four touchdowns and a 148.6 rating. Hill had seven catches for 133 yards, Hunt had five catches for 98 yards. Hunt finished with 148 yards on 17 carries.

Brady was only 16 of 36 passing for 267 yards, no touchdowns, and a rating of 70.0.

The 42 points given up by the Patriots equals the most in the Belichick era. The Chiefs gained 537 total team yards, the most ever given up by a Patriot defense in the Belichick era. It was only the third time in Gillette Stadium history that the Patriots lost a game despite leading in the fourth quarter, the last previous time coming last year against Seattle.

It was as un-Patriotic a game as it gets. The joyous pregame show, featuring the unveiling of the fifth championship banner, rang completely hollow by night’s end. In his postgame press conference, Brady talked about a change in attitude, which supports why the team seemed more into the celebration and not the game. Belichick agreed, saying, “Whatever he said, go with it.”

This game never came down to late game clock mismanagement by Andy Reid. His Chief team was the more motivated team, and deserved the win. The Patriots will head back to the classroom, watch the tapes of the game, and get on to the next game.

To those of you who expected a 19-0 breeze of a season, get over it quickly, like your favorite team will also have to do.

Five Takeaways From “Do Your Job 2”

Ian Logue
September 4, 2017 at 11:53 am ET

For fans in New England, Sunday night was a rare treat as NFL Films allowed an incredible opportunity to get a look behind the curtain at the greatest comeback in Super Bowl History.

The hour-long special, “Do Your Job 2”, which aired nationally on NBC, was even better than expected.  It provided plenty of insight into how the team overcame that seemingly-impossible 25-point deficit against Atlanta, showing just how much planning and preparation had gone into the game.  When you look at all the situations, all the film breakdown, there were a variety of factors that were all accounted for and many of those ultimately played a critical role in their historic comeback.

What was even more fitting was the fact the entire country was subjected to it.  Instead of running on NFL Network, it ran on every local NBC affiliate, hopefully providing some insight to opposing fans of exactly why this team has managed the incredible run they’ve been on.

Considering the season started with Tom Brady sidelined thanks to DeflateGate, how it ended was definitely poetic.  And for fans who followed last year’s entire run, it was a terrific look into why they continue to be the bar opposing teams are still trying to reach, and yet another reminder of just how lucky we are to be a part of what will someday likely go down as the greatest era in franchise history.

That being said, here are a few thoughts on the special (spoiler alert – don’t proceed if you haven’t seen it yet).

1) Ernie Adams Remains a Secret Weapon – Sunday night featured a couple of spotlights on Ernie Adams, who remains one of the most important components of Belichick’s coaching staff.  The thing that was interesting about Adams is just how involved he is in the game planning and in-game adjustments, as well as his pregame evaluations.  One of the moments that stood out included Adams spending some time down at field level watching Atlanta go through warm ups, with Adams noticing some tendencies that the club used during the game.  Another included the fact that Adams seems to always be thinking ahead, with most suggestions from Adams up in the booth being accepted without question by Belichick.  It’s a big reminder of how important he is and how much trust their are between them, even though you almost never hear his name.

2) Nick Caserio May Be the Most Versatile GM In Football – It’s not very often you see an NFL general manager in the coaching box during a game or taking snaps in practice, but Caserio’s involvement all the way around is certainly a little larger than expected.  Belichick talked about how unique Caserio’s role is and the fact he’s such a big part of practice as well as up in the booth on game day is clearly a big reason why he has such an amazing understanding of how the team operates.  When you’re that immersed, it certainly makes it easier to understand the personnel needs and that obviously explains why he’s seemed so dialed in given some of the /moves he’s made in recent years.

3) The Foresight of Belichick is Incredible – Everyone obviously knows what a terrific coach Belichick is, but hearing about the foresight he had when it came to preparing additional two-point plays is pretty remarkable.  Clearly losing previous postseason games hasn’t sat well with Belichick, with one of the things pointed out in the special being how the veteran coach went into the match-up expecting it to be a high-scoring affair between the two clubs.  That being said, another thing he reflected on was how the team had lost the year before on a 2-point play in Denver that cost them the game.  As a result, the team had actually prepared two additional two-point plays, which played a key part as the Patriots ended up using three of them, with two of them being used to tie the game, and the final being used on James White’s game-winning touchdown.

4) Hard Work and Conditioning Was the Difference – Most professional athletes aren’t fans of working too hard, which is one of the things that tends to separate out the players who thrive here in New England compared to those who tend to find themselves being released.  Seeing the players running hills in December was yet another reminder of the work that goes into each week of practice, with conditioning in the second half being something Belichick talked about when it came to overcoming their deficit to Atlanta in that final quarter.  The coaching staff spotted the fact the Falcons were gassed, with the pass rushers wearing down as the Patriots eventually wore them down during their comeback.  Some players might feel that it’s an overrated requirement and it might seem cliche, but for the players who have gone through it, it was obviously a key part of New England ultimately completing the comeback.

5) The Amount of Scouting that Goes into a game is Remarkable – Preparation is a word that is preached throughout the year and the coaching staff definitely sets the bar about as high as you can get.  Listening to Josh McDaniels discuss all of the things they look at when breaking down film and the tendencies they target was certainly one of the more interesting parts of the special.  When you look at the meeting room, one thing that stood out was the fact that NFL Films blurred out all of the writing that covered the walls, which obviously included all of the plays and scouting reports that went into the game plan.  When you have coaches who are that thorough, it obviously gives the players plenty of confidence that they’ll be put in the right situations.  It also explains why many players who leave don’t go on to the same success because not every NFL staff works this way.  What happens in New England is definitely unique, and Sunday night gave some terrific insight into all the hard work that goes into it.

When you mix in hard work and preparation, it’s certainly a solid formula for success.  Other fans might believe there’s another reason why this team hasn’t finished with a losing season in nearly 17 years, but Sunday night hopefully helped them understand why this club remains a perennial contender.

And for fans in New England, it was an opportunity to enjoy 60 minutes to relive one of the most remarkable games in the Belichick/Tom Brady era.  His assistants joked about the two continuing to dominate for another 20-years.  For now, fans can just hope they’ve simply got a few more left in them.

If you did miss it, “Do Your Job Part 2: Bill Belichick and the 2016 Patriots” will be re-airing on NFL Network Wednesday, September 6th at 8pm est.

Belichick: For Young Players, Making The Team is Like “A Castle in the Sand”

Ian Logue
September 3, 2017 at 3:13 pm ET

Players who have been through the Patriots’ program and have moved on to other teams have repeatedly talked about how difficult it is to play for this program and the high expectations that come with it.  That’s part of what comes with playing for a winning program, and it’s obviously not an easy place to play given the amount of work they’re required to put in.

Those who make it through an entire training camp likely sit with incredible anticipation wondering if opportunity will knock and they’ll get a chance to continue, or if they’ll instead end up trying to catch on somewhere else.

For those who receive the incredible news that they’re on the team, it’s the culmination of a lot of hard work and effort that they’ve put in to give them the opportunity to play for Bill Belichick’s football team.

The only problem is, they’re just getting started.

As Belichick said during his press conference on Sunday, as nice as it is for the players who have carved out a spot on the roster, that journey will only continue as long as they continue to grow and improve.  If they don’t, they’ll find out that the joy and elation they felt when they made the team will disappear just as quickly.

“Well, the reality of it is this is the National Football League and there are plenty of guys that are going to be on rosters today, tomorrow and Week 1 that won’t be on them in Week 3 or Week 4,” explained Belichick.  “That’s the National Football League. You keep your job by earning your job on a day-to-day basis.”

“I think that’s one of the things sometimes that players, younger players especially who don’t have a lot of experience in the league, can make a poor judgment on. They work hard in training camp. They make the roster, make the practice squad, or earn playing time or whatever it is, and then feel like they don’t have to do as much or that they’ve kind of arrived at a certain point, and a few weeks later other players pass them by and their situation changes. That’s not uncommon at all.”

One of the things Belichick pointed out is that the NFL season is a long road and it’s generally when you really find out who is able to sustain a consistent work ethic, and who eventually falls off.


Belichick’s high expectations are the reason why they’re a perennial winner.

“I think that’s hard to sustain a high level of performance in this league, so you start at the end of July and sustain it all the way through preseason games and training camp practices and all of that, but the season hasn’t started yet,” said Belichick. “Mental toughness, consistency, resiliency, dependability, being able to do it day after day after day at high level – the competition level is moving up now, not down. The players that aren’t NFL players are off rosters and the guys who are on them are theoretically better than the ones who are off them. The competitive level is higher weekly in practice. It’s higher in games. Some players will rise with that, that competiveness. Competition will push them up. Some of them, it doesn’t work that way. If that’s the case, then they’re going to be replaced.  If they don’t know that and they make that mistake, they’re going to find out the hard way.”

Belichick also went on to say that one of the things he reminds his players is that as nice as it is that they’ve made the roster, it could all change very quickly if they let up.

“Yeah, as much as you want to say “Nice job. You made the team,” they’re not a permanent fixture on the team,” said Belichick. “They’re here until as long as they’re doing their job and they’re dependable, and reliable, and consistent and improving. Once that curve starts to head the other way, I would say it probably isn’t going to last too long. If they can’t figure that out then they’re probably going to suffer the consequences.”

“Look, that’s the NFL. That’s the way it is here and really that’s the way it is on every team I’ve been on. I imagine it that way on every team in the league. I know what you’re saying – it’s a good moment, but it’s a castle in the sand. It could be gone very, very quickly.”

“I hope none of our players, young players, guys who this is the first time they’ve been on this team, take that attitude. I think that would be a big mistake on their part. Hopefully, they won’t do that.”

Their season begins on Thursday, and we’ll find out in the coming months who of the names who are currently on the roster are still there once the dust settles.

Belichick Sends Well Wishes to Victims Of Hurricane in Houston

Ian Logue
September 1, 2017 at 9:12 am ET

In true Bill Belichick fashion, he surprised everyone Thursday night when he arrived at the podium wearing a University of Houston hat in honor of a city that suffered serious devastation thanks to hurricane Harvey.

Belichick appeared in front of the media following Thursday night’s 40-38 loss to the Giants and immediately took a moment to send his thoughts out to the city where the team won their fifth championship back in February.

“I want to give a little shout out to Houston,” said Belichick as he opened his press conference. “We had a great experience down there in February, a lot of great relationships with the Texans and the University [of Houston] down there. We’ve got some players with some family down there, so we just want to let them know we’re thinking about them.”

Patriots at Texans: For Better or Worse, Players Who Stood Out

Ian Logue
August 20, 2017 at 1:11 pm ET

The Patriots dropped their second preseason game of 2017, putting them at 0-2 for the first time in the exhibition season since the 2008 and 2007 preseasons, the only times during Bill Belichick’s entire tenure they’ve started out winless over the first two weeks.

Given that this is only preseason, the final outcomes obviously don’t matter since it’s more about evaluating individual players and trying to build a roster.  Saturday night saw some starters back in the line-up, with Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Brandin Cooks, Julian Edelman among players who saw action.  They held the edge against the Texans’ first team defense and played well, and then things began to drop off a bit from there and it became a back-and-forth effort that Houston eventually won as the Texans came away with the 27-23 victory.

Here’s a quick rundown of some players who made some noise Saturday night.

THE GOOD:

Tom Brady – Brady looked relatively sharp, finishing 6-of-9 for 67 yards along with a touchdown, which came on their second offensive series.  He spread the ball around, finding four different receivers on his six completions, hitting newcomer Brandin Cooks (7 yards), James White (4 yards), Danny Amendola (6 yards) and Rex Burkhead (catches of 16, 12 and 22 yards [TD]) during the two offensive series he was in for, which saw him engineer a touchdown drive on his final one.

It wasn’t all perfect, as Brady attempted a deep sideline throw to Chris Hogan on the first play of his final series, with Andre Hal leaping up and making a great play on an interception as the ball was slightly out of bounds.  Fortunately for Brady, Hal didn’t have full control of it heading out of bounds and the play was overturned.  Brady capitalized, marching the team 75-yards on 10 plays, which ended with a 22-yard touchdown to Burkhead.

Rex Burkhead – He had a strong showing in his first outing, picking up 20 yards on 7 carries while catching 3 passes for 50 yards including his 22-yard touchdown.  What stood out about Burkhead is his quickness and the power he hit the hole with, with him powering through several tight creases when it looked like he might not pick up much.  He was also terrific in the open field, showing great acceleration and shiftiness with the ball in his hands. If this is any indication of what he’s capable of, Patriots fans should be looking forward to seeing more from him.

Lawrence Guy – Guy played well, making some noise early on after he registered a sack on Texans quarterback Tom Savage on the opening drive to put the Texans in long yardage on that series of downs. It was a key play because it came right after Houston made a big play following Savage’s completion to receiver Bruce Ellington for a 37-yard gain, which got them down to the Patriots 12-yard line.  He also killed the drive when Houston went for it on 4th-and-6 from the Patriots 8-yard line, stopping Lamar Miller for a 2-yard gain and turning the ball over on downs.

Patrick Chung –  Chung had a decent night and made a little noise after he registered a bone-crushing hit on Texans running back RaShaun Allen, forcing an apparent fumble.  Unfortunately, while the play was overturned to an incompletion, it was still a nice moment for Chung, who fired up the defense after the third down play and it will likely be one that stands out in the film room for the veteran safety.


Jones finally had a strong performance in the return game. (USA TODAY Images)

Cyrus Jones – For the first time in his entire tenure with the team, Jones finally showed some confidence in the return game and really had a solid night returning kicks.  He finished the night with one kickoff for 17-yards but had 4 punt returns for 58-yards, including a 32-yard return that played a big part in putting the team in Houston territory and lead to a 38-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski and put the Patriots up 10-7 at the time.

Defensively, it wasn’t perfect, but it was better than last week.   Jones wasn’t beat deep but he had an ugly moment after Houston running back D’Onta Foreman caught a pass over the middle and then broke away from the first set of defenders, and  Jones made a half-hearted effort to wrap him up as Foreman powered away from him and went on to gain 63-yards.  The play lead to a 2-yard touchdown by quarterback Deshaun Watson, putting Houston back up 17-16 after the Patriots had built a 16-10 edge.

Kenny Moore –  Moore made a play to get noticed after he made a key stop on third down, coming up with a terrific 3rd down tackle in the fourth quarter where he read the play perfectly and brought Houston receiver Riley McCarron down for a 2-yard loss on a 3rd-and-14.  He also made a key fumble recovery on a punt return after Justin Coleman never saw where the ball was and it bounced off of him, making it a live ball.  Fortunately, Moore bailed him out.

D.J. Foster – Foster built off his performance from last week and this time played mistake-free after turning the football over last week against the Jaguars.  Foster, once again, showed great hands and explosiveness out of the backfield, rushing for 34-yards on 7 carries (4.9 avg) and catching 4 passes for 52 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown.  His touchdown was impressive, with Foster showing great burst as he busted into the endzone on his 25-yard touchdown catch and run that, at the time, put the Patriots back up 23-20 just minutes into the fourth quarter.

James O’Shaughnessy – O’Shaughnessy played well, catching 5 passes for 41-yards and looking pretty comfortable in the offense.  He’ll probably be a little sore today after taking a big hit in the fourth quarter following a reception, which saw him fumble the ball and fortunately it went out of bounds.  But overall, it was a relatively good night for him.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD:

Elandon Roberts –  Roberts had a rough night.  He had a bad missed tackle on the opening drive,  and then later suffered an injury late in the 3rd quarter and was seen holding his right side as he was carted off the field.  Early reports seem to indicate Roberts suffered a rib injury that reportedly isn’t serious, which is good news for a player who overall is still growing in this defense.


Butler had a rough night on Saturday in Houston.

Malcolm Butler – It’s not often you see Butler in this category but he’s likely feeling pretty frustrated after a rough night.  It started early in the game after he and Nate Ebner both lost Ellington after he broke away for a 12-yard pickup, and then he got beat on a deep pass to Ellington again after the receiver went up over Butler and high-pointed the ball and kept his feet in bounds.  One of the tougher plays against him came later on when he got beat on the next drive after Jaelen strong broke free from him for the Texan’s first touchdown.

Nate Ebner – He struggled on both defense after the aforementioned play above, and even on special teams where he was spotted with his feet planted on Houston’s kick return following New England’s first drive.  It’s odd to see from the normally reliable special-teamer, although like Butler, it’s better to have an off night now instead of when it really matters.

Justin Coleman –  Coleman had a special teams mistake after he wasn’t paying attention during a 3rd-quarter punt return where Lechler kicked a short punt and the ball came down and hit his right hand, making it a live ball that the Texans nearly recovered.  Fortunately, Moore was able to get it back for the Patriots and it was a big break for the team, and one Coleman needs to be mindful of moving forward.

Jimmy Garoppolo – It was an unusual night for Garoppolo, who wasn’t as sharp as he normally is. He finished 15-of-23 for 145 yards and a touchdown, but he made a significant mental error in the fourth quarter that essentially won the game for the Texans.  On the first play from scrimmage at their own 38, Garoppolo was under pressure and made a half-hearted sideline attempt to Jacob Hollister as he was falling back and it was picked off by Houston defender Denzel Rice.  Rice then took off 39-yards the other way before center James Ferentz finally ran him down at the 4-yard line.  Houston went on to score a touchdown to take 27-23 edge, which ended up being the final score.  

That would be Garoppolo’s final pass of the evening before he was replaced by Jacoby Brissett on the ensuing drive.  Again, if there’s ever a time to make an error like that, preseason is the best time to do it, and it will likely be one that will motivate him when he gets back to work this week.

OTHER QUICK NOTES: 

Kony Ealy – Had a Neutral Zone infraction on first down on the Texans’ opening drive.

Kyle Van Noy – Made a great play to get to Savage on a 2nd-and-3 to force an incompletion, but then he undid that positive play by keeping Savage wrapped up and driving him to the ground and drawing a roughing the passer penalty.

Harvey Langi – Played relatively well, finishing tied for the second-most tackles with four on defense.  However, he had one untimely error after he was called for illegal use of hands on a 2nd-and-7, which gave Houston a first down and two plays later, they scored on Strong’s touchdown.

Vincent Valentine – Valentine limped off the field late in the second quarter after getting shaken up.  Fortunately he came back and finished the game and would have even had a sack on Watson had offsetting penalties not wiped it off the stat sheet.

Jamil Douglas – He was shaken up in the third quarter for New England, but left the field under his own power.

The Patriots will now get back to work this week as they prepare to take on the Lions in their third preseason game in Detroit Friday night at 7:00pm ET.

Reports Concerning For Rookie Derek Rivers’ Status for 2017

Ian Logue
August 18, 2017 at 11:49 am ET

With the retirement of Rob Ninkovich, the Patriots were in need of another player to step into the former defensive end’s role heading into the future.

For 2017, it sounds like rookie Derek Rivers might not be part of an immediate solution.

According to ESPN’s Field Yates and Mike Reiss, the Patriots sent Rivers back to New England for a MRI following an apparent knee injury suffered by the rookie on Wednesday and the outlook appears to be grim.

The two report that the team fears that Rivers’ status for this season appears to be in jeopardy, which could end the former standout from Youngstown State’s season before it even got started.

Rivers reportedly suffered the injury on special teams during a kickoff drill where he went to change direction and his knee buckled.

If he’s lost for the year, the team is already thin at the position, with Trey Flowers as the sole player who has played well enough to be at the top of the depth chart.  From there the team has just Kony Ealy, Geneo Grissom, Deatrich Wise Jr. (who suffered a concussion last week vs Jacksonville) as possible candidates, as well as long-shots Caleb Kidder and Keionta Davis.

It’s a tough early blow to a team that for the most part had avoided any serious injuries thus far during camp.  Now they’ll have to switch gears and it should make the next couple of weeks interesting to watch as they begin figuring out how to move on should Rivers’ season come to an end.