Tag Archives: Alshon Jeffery

Offense Anyone? Foles, Eagles Hold Off Brady, Patriots 41-33 in SB LII

Steve Balestrieri
February 4, 2018 at 11:42 pm ET

This one won’t go down as a defensive struggle as both teams combined for nearly 1200 yards of offense and 84 points, but it was the Philadelphia defense that made the one big stop when Brandon Graham stripped Tom Brady of the ball and it was the Eagles and Foles who played tremendous all game long walking over the Lombardi trophy and a huge win in Super Bowl LII.

Foles, who was the MVP completing 28-43 for 373 yards with two touchdowns and a pick. He connected with Zach Ertz for a touchdown with 2:21 left to give the Eagles a 38-33 lead but it certainly appeared that the call would be reversed.

But the call didn’t matter a bit. It would have just 35-32 before the Brady sack.  There were a couple of close calls in terms of what is or what isn’t a catch… but again, when the defense couldn’t stop Foles and the Eagles offense all game, that wasn’t the reason for the loss.

It was simply another tremendous Super Bowl, maybe not if you like a defensive struggle in terms of drama, it doesn’t get much better. Right down to the final pass into the end zone as time expired. The Eagles made just one or two more plays than the Patriots did and that’s why they are the new Super Bowl champions.

Other observations include:

Philly’s Coaching Staff Called a Great Game:
Doug Pederson said after the game that the Eagles wanted to stay aggressive with their play calling and they did and the Patriots were completely unable to stop them. Alshon Jeffrey was getting the better or Eric Rowe early in this game. Nelson Agholor was beating everyone the Patriots trotted out there against him. The Eagles identified mismatches they felt they could win and exploited them. Agholor had nine catches on 11 targets…he was uncoverable all game long.

Zach Ertz had a very strong game and Corey Clement torched the Patriots for 100 yards receiving, including a 55-yarder where Jordan Richards took just a brutal angle on the play. Pederson’s best call was on 4th and 1 near the end of the first half, they ran the option pass to Foles. With him in the shotgun, no one accounts for him and he trotted all alone for a huge touchdown to put the Eagles up 10 at the break.

Defense Was MIA:
The Patriots defense was dissected and shredded for over 500 yards of offense (374 passing, 164 rushing) by the Eagles who also gashed them for 41 points. The Patriots defense was manhandled up front by a very good Philadelphia offensive line that opened up big holes in the running game while giving Foles plenty of time to throw.

The pass rush was missing most of the game, Trey Flowers had a very, very quiet Super Bowl and was not a factor at all. With the exception of Gilmore and perhaps Pat Chung, and James Harrison, it was their worst performance since Week 1.

Matt Patricia and Bill Belichick didn’t have the answers this week. With the exception of moving Gilmore on Jeffrey, who was shut down, they didn’t make any adjustments that worked. They were out-coached in Minneapolis.  It doesn’t happen often but it did tonight.

Brady Was Fantastic Despite the Loss:
Immediately after the game, I was reading criticism of Tom Brady which is laughable. Brady was shredding the Eagles defense in the second half as bad as they were being shredded.

Brady threw for 505 yards and three touchdowns averaging 10.5 yards per attempt on the night. And the offense put up 33 points. I didn’t like the play call early in the game on 3rd and 2 with the end around to Brandin Cooks, where they were moving down the field, but that is the way the cookie crumbles, it could have been 40 with a better call.

Cooks left with a concussion on an awful collision with Malcolm Jenkins but Brady and the offense reacted well and spread the ball around. Danny Amendola was his clutch self, catching 8 passes for 152 yards, Gronkowski had nine catches for 116 yards with a pair of touchdowns, nearly all of it coming in the second half. Chris Hogan had six catches for 128 yards and a score. Overall the Patriots had three players with over 100 yards receiving.

The Butler “Didn’t Do It”, Benched for the Game:
With several players in the secondary struggling all game, it was more than curious that Malcolm Butler was benched for the entire game other than special teams. Bill Belichick said after the game that it wasn’t a disciplinary decision but a strict football one why he didn’t play.

Butler, who was very emotional during the National Anthem, may have realized that his last game in New England (and the chances of him returning now are practically nil) was coming to an end in the worst way possible, by riding the pine. What had to be particularly galling for Butler was that the secondary was being gashed.

With no one able to cover Agholor, in the biggest game of the year, was Butler the worst option between Rowe, Bademosi, Richards et al?

Changes are Coming:
Suffice to say, the team we see at the mini-camp in June will be quite different from the one that took the field tonight. Matt Patricia is gone. It was thought Josh McDaniels was gone too, but now, some in the media are saying to pump the brakes on that talk…at least for now. But the roster will see changes as the team will have several decisions to make in the coming days, which we’ll address later.

Sorry New England, no parade this year, we’re on to the NFL Combine.

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

New England Patriots – Philadelphia Eagles Super Bowl LII Key Matchups

Steve Balestrieri
February 2, 2018 at 8:30 am ET

And then there were two. The Patriots and the Eagles rightfully face off for the Super Bowl LII bragging rights for the final game of the 2017 NFL season. The teams are remarkably evenly matched. Each is the #1 seed in their respective conferences. Both were 13-3 in the regular season. Each had a close playoff game and a blowout.

The Eagles had a close win over Atlanta and blew out the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game. The Patriots blew out Tennessee and then had a close, come-from-behind win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

During the season the Patriots scored one point more than Philadelphia offensively, 458-457, while the Eagles defense bested New England by a single point defensively 295-296. Even? I don’t know how it gets any closer.

This year’s Super Bowl will be broadcast by NBC on Sunday, February 4, at 6:30 p.m. ET and can be seen on NBC Channel 10. Al Michaels will handle play-by-play duties with Cris Collinsworth as the color analyst. Michelle Tafoya will work from the sidelines... The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.

The Patriots (15-3) came back from a 10-point 4th quarter deficit with Tom Brady firing two touchdown passes to Danny Amendola to beat Jacksonville 24-20.

The Eagles (15-3) blew out the Minnesota Vikings 38-7, by scoring 38 unanswered points. Nick Foles threw three touchdowns and the Eagles punched their ticket easily.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2017 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:

The Patriots and Eagles are meeting for just the 14th time. Philadelphia leads the all-time series 7-6. The two teams met once in the Super Bowl already with New England beating Philadelphia 24-21 in SB XXXIX where Deion Branch took home MVP honors with 11 catches for 133 yards.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots RBs vs Eagles Front Seven – Razor’s Edge Philadelphia
The Patriots running game has been extremely effective with Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead as a dynamic 1-2 punch that is effective in the passing game as they are in the running game. Lewis will be the main guy in the running game and he’ll have a tall order this week.

Philadelphia had the #1 rush defense in the league in 2017 allowing only 79.2 yards per game. The big men in the middle, Fletcher Cox, and Timmy Jernigan make it very hard to run inside, especially where the Patriots like to run by stuffing up everything at the point of attack.

In order for the Patriots to be successful, they are going to have to remain balanced. So play-action passing is key here. Josh McDaniels will have to get a bit creative here, mixing in some draws and Jet Sweeps to take advantage of their aggressive pass rush, but this will be some tough sledding this week.

Patriots WRs vs Eagles Secondary – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots passing game will tremendously benefit by having Rob Gronkowski cleared for this game. Although he’s been practicing, as of right now (late Weds. night), he still hasn’t cleared concussion protocol.

Tom Brady can spread the ball around with Danny Amendola, Brandin Cooks, Chris Hogan and out of the backfield with James White, Lewis and Burkhead. But having Gronkowski out there and healthy makes it all go.

Philly’s pass defense is built around that terrific front four (read seven). They can freely mix things up and substitute. Their subpackage pass rush is especially effective where they move Brandon Graham inside next to Cox and have Vinny Curry, Chris Long and Derek Barnett as edge guys. Protection for Brady will be the key here as the Eagles don’t get tons of sacks but DO get tons of pressure.

One area to watch, Philly will probably play much more man coverage in this game. They played a lot of zone during the season and the Patriots, if Brady has time to throw will attack the linebackers with play action and Ronald Darby on the perimeter. Look for them to take some shots down the field early.

Next up the Philadelphia offense:

Eagles RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge Philadelphia

The Eagles have two very good and varied backs in LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi in the running game. Philly is using both in a committee approach and goes with the hot hand They are very effective at running the ball averaging 132.2 yards per game.

The Patriots run defense has been terrific down the stretch and into the playoffs. With Malcom Brown and Kyle Van Noy healthy again as well as the addition of James Harrison, they slowed the running games of both Tennessee and Jacksonville.

The Eagles will want to run to take the pressure off of Nick Foles and give him the option of play action as well. While the Eagles will get their yards on the ground, I look for them to slow down the running game and force Foles to beat them.

Eagles WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England
The Eagles passing game was a question mark after Carson Wentz went down with a torn ACL. But Foles has answered his critics with a pair of playoff wins, including a blowout conference championship win where he carved up the NFC’s best defense in Minnesota. The RPO (run-pass option) we’ve all heard about is their bread and butter and Foles has Zach Ertz as the team’s leading receiver at tight end and their go-to guy. But Alshon Jeffrey, Torrey Smith, and Nelson Agholor give them plenty of weapons to throw the ball to.

The Patriots defense has been very good down the stretch and the strength is the secondary with Stephon Gilmore, Malcolm Butler and Eric Rowe at corner. Jonathan Jones who recently went on IR may have been a better matchup with Agholor because of his speed but it will be interesting to see how they line up.

The key for New England is to keep generating pressure with their front four, where coincidentally the Patriots have had 11 sacks in their two playoff games, something no one is mentioning. And relying on their corners to remain in tight coverage. Containing the RPOs (something Jax ran) requires discipline and gap control. The chess match here should be a fascinating one. Watch for Trey Flowers here, he’s primed for a big game. 

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots’ Special Teams continue to be among the best in the NFL. Stephen Gostkowski had a very solid season and his pooch kickoffs consistently put opponents deep in their own end. Ryan Allen was the underrated difference in the conference championship game, pinning the Jags deep in their own end ….field position here will be key.  Pro-Bowl ST player Matthew Slater on the coverage units.

The Eagles are very solid on Special Teams with kicker Jake Elliott and punter Donnie Jones. The coverage units are very good as well but no one’s STs units have been better than New England’s down the stretch.

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

Well, here we go… .This one should be a Super Bowl worthy of its name. As we pointed to above, the teams are evenly matched and both, being the #1 seeds have earned the right to be here.

I look for a high scoring game, it may not begin that way, but like the 2003 game with Carolina and New England, I see things heating up. This one will be a back and forth affair. I see Agholor and Amendola having big games for each team. The key for each team will be field position and not be turning the ball over.

But in a close game like this, I don’t ever bet against Tom Brady and I think he gets it done once again with a late score to bring home Super Bowl victory number six. Cue up the Duck Boats Marty, there will be a parade next week. Patriots 31-28

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Super Bowl Sneak Peek, Eagles and Patriots Are Evenly Matched

Steve Balestrieri
January 30, 2018 at 2:10 pm ET

This is shaping up to be a Super Bowl worthy of its name as the New England Patriots and Philadelphia Eagles are preparing for this Sunday’s championship. And in the Super Bowl, you’ll hardly find two teams more evenly matched.

The Patriots scored one more point offensively than the Eagles 458-457, and the Eagles allowed one less point defensively than the Patriots 295-296. It doesn’t get much closer than that points wise. Both are 13-3 and both are the #1 seed in their respective conference. Both have had to overcome serious injuries to get here.

Philadelphia lost MVP candidate, QB Carson Wentz late in the season, offensive tackle Jason Peters and running back Darren Sproles. The Patriots lost Julian Edelman, linebacker Dont’a Hightower and tackle Marcus Cannon amongst others.

While the teams met in the 2015 season, both are very different from the ones who played in Gillette. We’ll do a detailed break down of the key matchups later this week  But here is our quick look at the Philadelphia Eagles and what we’ve seen in watching the film of some of their games this season.

Foles Shook Off Criticism to Play Very Well in the Playoffs:
Nick Foles is in his second stint with the Eagles and they are certainly glad he’s back. After Wentz went down with a torn ACL, Foles stepped in and after some initial struggles to find his comfort level in the offense, he’s been excellent in the postseason.

Foles has completed 77 percent of his throws in the playoffs with three touchdowns and more importantly zero interceptions. The important factor for Philly has been, they didn’t have to change the offense with Foles at the helm.

With his comfort level in the pocket, the Eagles are clicking offensively. It will be the Patriots’ defense to change that comfort level early in the game by disguising looks and pressures. Otherwise, it could be a long evening.

Run-Pass Option (you’ll hear about this all week), RPO is NOT a New Star Wars Character:
One area of the Eagles offense that will be discussed a lot this week is the RPO.  Foles and the Eagles carved up Minnesota’s defense with this badly in the NFC Championship game. They took advantage of the Vikings aggressive nature and shredded them with it. The keys were the quick slants off of them, much in the manner that Jacksonville ran.

The Patriots, however, aren’t an aggressive defense, but more of a read and react group. So the key from New England’s perspective is maintaining gap integrity and setting the edge. Foles isn’t as mobile as Wentz so he’s not the threat to run that the starter was.

Linebacker play will be key here. With two good and very different styles of backs in LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi, Foles will have the option of handing it off or faking it and passing the ball in the quick open field.

The Eagles Run Defense is Excellent:
Philadelphia’s run defense is #1 in the NFL allowing just 79.2 yards per game. It begins with the big men in the middle, Fletcher Cox, and Timmy Jernigan. They are the big, immovable objects in the center of the line.

They make things very tough to run in the middle of the field, exactly where the Patriots like to run. The stretch plays and the slow developing runs to the outside are very tough on this defense because of the way they flow to the ball.

The Jaguars defense made running the ball tough last week on the Patriots offense. The opportunities will be there but Josh McDaniels will have to be creative. Which segways into our next topic…

The Patriots Need to Find Success on Early Downs:
Philadelphia’s subpackage defense is really tough. They go to a NASCAR type package in their pass rushers with Cox and moving Brandon Graham inside, then they still have Vinny Curry, Chris Long and Derek Barnett as their edge rushers.

While the Eagles don’t blitz a ton but will send safeties or corners on third and long situations and don’t rack up huge sack numbers, they do rack up a ton of QB pressure. Consistent pressure is what drives the defense and they’re very good at it.

So from a Patriots perspective, they need to be successful on first and second down. Mix things up, use play-action passes which should be very effective against their linebackers and use the hurry up once they get a first down to keep the Eagles from substituting. Of course, they’ll need to produce as well. Otherwise, it is just getting the Philly offense back on the field that much quicker.

The Eagles front four is deep and talented, arguably the best in the NFL. Getting in obvious passing situations on third down is inviting trouble and they’ll respond by bringing the pressure. In their last four games, Philly’s defense hasn’t allowed more than 10 points.

The Tight Ends for Both Teams are the Focus:
While both offenses operate quite differently, the tight end in each is a big part of what makes them go. The Eagles boast three good tight ends with Zack Ertz, Brent Celek, and Trey Burton. Ertz was their leading receiver in 2017 and was Foles’ go-to guy against the Vikings, completing first down after first down. He’ll be matched up with Pat Chung and if New England is going to be successful, Ertz can’t be allowed to become that kind of target again.

For New England, Rob Gronkowski (if he’s healthy) is the gold-standard for TEs in the NFL. While Malcolm Jenkins will probably see him a lot in this matchup. The Eagles may try to pull a page out of Jacksonville’s book and double up Gronk with Jenkins and Corey Graham. If that is the case, then the WRs will have to win one-on-one matchups.

Philly played a lot of zone coverage this year, Brady will pick those apart. Look for them to match up in man coverage. Their corners are ok but not great, they look better because of the pass rush, much like the Pittsburgh corners used to be in years past.

It is just another interesting piece of the chess match. We’ll be back later this week with the full matchups and our prediction.

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Patriots Joint Practice Observations, 8-16, Edelman Puts on a Show

Steve Balestrieri
August 16, 2016 at 4:10 pm ET

Pats, Bears Conduct Competitive, Tough Practice

The Patriots conducted their 15th practice of training camp during the second of three joint practices with the Chicago Bears on Tuesday morning at the Gillette practice fields. It was a good competitive practice, with both teams having good and not-so-good moments. There was some more of the dustup nonsense that occurred yesterday and today Bryan Stork made the Walk o’ Shame back to the locker room after being ejected.

Did Not Participate: WR Malcolm Mitchell, RB D.J. Foster, RB Dion Lewis (PUP), RB Donald Brown, RB Brandon Bolden, S Nate Ebner (rugby exemption), TE Bryce Williams, DE Rob Ninkovich, G Tre’ Jackson (PUP), RG Jonathan Cooper, RT Sebastian Vollmer (PUP), WR Danny Amendola (PUP), WR Keshawn Martin, TE Rob Gronkowski, DE Jabaal Sheard

Nate Ebner returned to the Patriots and was in shorts and his jersey. After the warmup session, he joined Ninkovich, Amendola, Mitchell, Foster, Brown, Williams, Jackson and Martin on the lower practice fields with members of the training staff to work on their conditioning.

Here are our Practice Observations:

Edelman Returns to Team Drills and Dominates:
Julian Edelman worked on team drills for the first time since tweaking his foot on August 8 and was virtually impossible to stop. During the 1-on-1 drills, he was dominating against Tracy Porter and the second time, he juked the veteran corner so badly that Porter stopped running and threw up his hands in frustration before the ball was even thrown.

Edelman

During 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s, Edelman was thrown to nine times, five times from Brady, four from Garoppolo and the ball hit the ground once. And on that play, a corner route from Brady, he was open again but the pass was just a bit too long and it fell inches from his outstretched hands.

He also took a shot after beating Porter on a crossing route. As he was nearing the sidelines, Harold Jones-Quartey lowered his shoulder and popped #11 with a good shot that flattened him. Aaron Dobson took immediate exception to that and Martellus Bennett joined him. Calmer heads prevailed but not for long.

Bryan Stork was ejected for head-butting and then taking a wild swing at LB John Timu after a LeGarrette Blount run. Belichick wasted little time and that put a stop to the extra nonsense right there.

Alshon Jeffery Has an Impressive Day:
On the flip side, Jeffery had a very impressive morning. He and Malcolm Butler shook hands on the field before practice, thereby putting an end to that stuff. The Patriots decided to work Butler on the opposite side of the field today.

He gave Logan Ryan and Justin Coleman fits during the individual drills and then beat the veteran corner Ryan on a deep Jay Cutler pass down the sidelines. Kevin White had a good day going against Butler today.

The Bears were conducting a strange WR drill on the sidelines during STs work. One coach would toss a ball well to the right or left of a Bears WR, who had his back turned. When the ball was in the air, they’d have to turn and react, all the while a second coach was tugging on their jerseys. Strange but effective.

Brady has the hot hand:
QB Tom Brady had a good day and was mixing it up to who he was throwing to. In his first work during 7s, he hit James Develin in the flat and Nate Washington on a comeback route. He then targeted Martellus Bennett on a crossing route, Edelman on a shallow crossing route, with an obvious mismatch of having a linebacker, Timu in coverage. Brady recognized the mismatch with Timu again and completed an easy slant to Edelman.

Brady was 11-15 on the day and that is with his last three attempts going incomplete. The pass to Edelman that was just a hair too long in the end zone and had two passes defensed. One on a nice play by Kevin Peterson who deflected a pass away from Nate Washington. And the other a big hit by Sam Acho, where he clobbered Clay Harbor just as the ball arrived and it fell incomplete.

Jimmy Garoppolo worked against the Bears first team defense today and struggled, going only 4 of 9 during 7s and 9-16 overall. He seemed to have a tough time, finding the windows to complete his passes pretty narrow.

After a hot start to training camp, Aaron Dobson has cooled off. He was targeted only twice today. He caught an outlet pass from Brady for about a four-yard gain and was targeted once on a crossing route from Garoppolo that fell incomplete.

After being the best player on the field for the Patriots defense yesterday, Justin Coleman was picked on today by Cutler and Brian Hoyer in both individual and team drills. He was targeted on successive plays by Hoyer, once a deep comeback to Cameron Meredith and on the next play with a bomb down the sideline to Joshua Bellamy who beat him cleanly.

In the “opportunity” session with the third team offense, QB Jacoby Brissett had a very impressive outing. He went 8-9 and looked very sharp and decisive with the ball. The only incompletion was a nice defensive play by Timu who knocked the ball away from Tyler Gaffney.

Jamie Collins and Chris Long would have had sacks in a game situation as they were able to bust in on Cutler with nice rush moves.

Chris Harper and V’Angelo Bentley were taking punt return reps ahead of Cyrus Jones today. During one punt coverage drill, Matthew Slater beat the blockers down field, and although he tried to pull up at the end, buried WR Kieren Duncan with a big hit. But he got up and gave him a hug as an apology for not pulling up.

Cre’Von LeBlanc spoke after practice about the competitiveness in the locker room.

Tomorrow’s Patriots – Bears joint practice session is slated for 10:00 a.m. It is also the final public open practice of the season. After the preseason game on Thursday, when the Patriots return to practice it will be only a regular season type schedule. The media will only be allowed to observe the first 15 minutes or so and then the practice will be closed.

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Tuesday Daily Rundown 8/16: New England Patriots News and Notes

Ian Logue
at 5:00 am ET

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

Gronkowski leaves early on Monday due to injury – Training camp has had some scary moments thus far, and on Monday tight end Rob Gronkowski left fans gasping as he hobbled off the field after coming up lame during 7-on-7s.  The veteran left practice accompanied by a trainer after looking like he was in serious pain, although there doesn’t seem to be any real indication of what his injury was.

The good news is, the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that the injury was “minor”, with Rapoport Tweeting “No worries” about the veteran tight end.

After practice, Jimmy Garoppolo was asked about the injury but the quarterback told the media he was unaware the veteran had left practice.

“I didn’t even see him leave to be honest,” said Garoppolo. “Hopefully he’s alright, and we’ll see what it is.”

Fights break out at practice – One of the things Bill Belichick doesn’t tolerate are his players getting in physical altercations, and on Monday against the Bears he went so far as to eject one of his most important players.

Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery and Butler battled it out during practice, which started off with the veteran cornerback giving the receiver a hard jam with both hands to his chest as he seemingly tried to send a message.  That fired Jeffery up, and the battle was on as they went back and forth, although the Bears receiver was able to make plays against the veteran.

That seemingly led to frustration that ultimately ignited the altercation.  Butler and Jeffery were spotted grabbing each other’s facemasks on Monday, and after receiver Josh Bellamy went over and shoved Butler, it sparked a brawl that led to Butler getting the boot from practice, while Bears coach John Fox kept Jeffrey out of action.

#17 says, "MINE."

A post shared by Chicago Bears (@chicagobears) on

Butler’s ejection wasn’t a surprise given Belichick’s blanket policy when it comes to situations like these, but the cornerback ended up being the only player removed from play.  There ended up being a second skirmish involving former Bears tight end Martellus Bennett and Lamarr Houston, but that one didn’t escalate.

After practice, Duron Harmon told reporters that the policy Belichick has is the same for practice as it is in games, and Butler simply paid the price.

“Coach (Bill) Belichick has a no fighting rule, and when you do that, you’ve got to get kicked out, just like a game, and then go inside,” Patriots safety Duron Harmon said via NESN.com. “And that’s what happened (Monday). Malcolm Butler’s a talented player, and obviously we don’t want that to happen. We don’t want to lose him, because he’s a big part of what we do.”

Garoppolo Has Success vs Bears – Garoppolo had success against the Bears secondary, which included a terrific touchdown throw to Devin Lucien.  According to the Boston Herald, he finished 13-of-18 on the day including 9-of-12 in 11-on-11s, while completing passes to completed passes to Martellus Bennett (three), Carter (two), Dobson (one), Clay Harbor (one), Derby (one), Bolden (one), Chris Hogan (one), White (one), Washington (one) and Devin Lucien (one).

Garoppolo’s final pass of the day was a laser throw to Lucien for a touchdown on a post route, and he also threw another to Bennett earlier in the day.  He said after practice that he tries to keep a consistent approach as he continues trying to improve.

“Yeah, you know, being a quarterback you can’t be too high, can’t be too low,” said Garoppolo.  “You kind of just have to be even keeled throughout the whole thing, and I mean it’s football. Good things are going to happen, bad things are going to happen, you try and minimize the bad things, but when they do happen you have react well to them, you know your teammates are always watching you and you just want to react the right way.”

Patriots Raise The Bar For the Bears – Practicing against the Patriots was a good barometer for a Bears team that is coming off of a tough start after their loss last week, and getting to see how Belichick operates was likely a nice change of pace for the Bears.

Fox told the Chicago media that he let Belichick take the lead in terms of how they practiced on Monday, and they went ahead and adjusted.

“I think any time you come visit, the practice standpoint of the facility, you really tend to kind of go a little bit more with what they do,” Fox said via WGNRadio.com. “It’s kind of a good changeup. That’s how the Patriots have kind of done it and we’re working with their practice set up.”

They certainly need a little help.  Thursday night saw Cutler and the offense struggle, and it was pretty ugly.  Chicago’s first team offense didn’t fare too well in their disappointing 22-0 home loss, which included a less than inspiring performance.

The Bears first team offense managed just 13 yards, 12 of which came on their first play from scrimmage on a pass to Jeffery.  Cutler played in just the first three offensive series of the game as the Bears went 0-for-3 on third down, which included two third down sacks and an incompletion.

That’s not the recipe for success for a team that’s trying coming off of a disappointing season, and head coach John Fox knows it needs to be better.

“We’ve got a lot of room to improve,” Fox said. “As I mentioned before, our last outing over a season was 6-10. Last place. We need to improve.”

Brock Vereen Retires – The Patriots brought in former running back Shane Vereen’s brother, Brock, at safety over the offseason, but it doesn’t look like he’ll be on the roster for 2016.

According to the league’s transaction wire, Vereen has surprisingly opted for retirement at the age of just 23 years old.

The veteran had been having a pretty good camp with the Patriots, but for whatever reason has decided to walk away from the game.

Vereen leaves having played spent seasons in the league, having been drafted in the fourth-round by the Bears in 2014.

Could Garoppolo End Up in Chicago? – The Bears already have one former Patriot quarterback on their roster, but there’s already speculation in Chicago about whether or not another one might be in their future.

Former Patriot Brian Hoyer is currently a back-up behind Cutler right now, although he struggled in practice Monday, which included being picked off by Eastern Illinois rookie Kamu Grugier-Hill on the first snap of a two-minute drill.  The Chicago Tribune’s Brad Biggs wonders if given the problems the Bears continue to have whether or not they’d bring Garoppolo in to try and turn things around.

It’s an obvious landing spot if things don’t go well in Chicago this year, and dealing him out of the conference certainly makes sense.

First, he has to play well, and he’s just excited that his shot to prove himself is finally here.

“You know, it’s an opportunity and I’m excited about it,” said Garoppolo.  “It’s a privilege to be in the situation I’m in and you just got to go take advantage of it.”