Good morning, here are Sunday’s Patriots news 10-16, and AFC East Notes for this week.
Belichick Promotes Team Building, NFL History:
One of the more intriguing but understated moves by Bill Belichick a week ago was after the win over the Browns. Belichick decided to stop the team buses on the way to the airport at the statue of Jim Brown to honor the former Browns great.
Belichick developed a close relationship with the Browns great when he coached there back in the 1990s. During a conference call with the media, he went into detail how close.
“I think, honestly, any person – football player or otherwise – can learn a lot from Jim Brown and what he represents and what he stands for. But particularly, as it relates to our football team, Jim Brown, in my opinion, is the greatest player that ever played.”
“I’m not sure how many of our players really understand or appreciate what he meant to the game, through his continued involvement – not only with football but with young football players,” Belichick said.
“So that’s why we did it. Hopefully, that’s something, as part of their football career, that will be one small memory. It’s just a recognition of a great player and a great person, and somebody who has really made the game better for all of us.”
“Honestly, I wish Paul Brown’s statue would have been right there with it because we could have knocked out two birds with one stone,” Belichick said. “It hits a little special chord for me when you think of Paul Brown when you think of Jim Brown and the Cleveland Browns – who are named for Paul Brown – and being in that stadium. Not because I was the coach there, but because of what Paul Brown and Jim Brown did for professional football in that city. It has a special place in my heart.”
These are the little things that players will take with them after their playing days are over and will remember fondly. It also builds up more respect and dare I say it…integrity of the game with the players to recognize and pay respects to one of the greats.
Bennett Got to Know His Teammates in Training Camp by Hitching a Ride:
In a fantastic piece by the ProJo’s Mark Daniels, he wrote about the colorful new tight end for the Patriots Martellus Bennett. With training camp kicking off, Bennett wanted to get to know each of his new teammates.
So he hitched a ride with a different player to and from the workouts every day. The charismatic Bennett has numerous interests outside of football and he spoke with his teammates about a variety of different subjects other than football on their 15 minutes of alone time with the “Unicorn”.
This is a guy who gets it. He’s not interested in being a diva, but building relationships and friendships beyond the game which ultimately makes the team stronger. You can read the entire piece here: It is worth it.
Brady Has Every Right to Stay Quiet on Politics:
In what has to be one of the ridiculous non-stories of the week, Tom Brady has been taken to task by those who are beating the political drum this week for not denouncing Donald Trump.
When the 11-year old video of Trump’s “locker room” talk surfaced last week, it was just a matter of time before someone asked Brady about it. Sure enough on Wednesday, a reporter did just that at the QB’s regularly scheduled presser. Brady declined to answer and guess what? He’s entirely within his rights to do so.
Yes, he’s a public figure and the QB of the Patriots but he’s not a political figure and has no responsibility or duty to air his political leanings. He’s also within his rights to do so if he felt so inclined. Having a Trump hat in his locker this summer is far different than stumping for him politically. The two have maintained a professional friendship for years.
Everyone has jumped on the bandwagon for Colin Kaepernick. Regardless of how they feel about his stance, he has every right to voice his feelings on what he sees as social injustice. News flash friends, Brady has the same right to stay silent.
Some of the more strident voices calling out Brady for his silence need to take a step back and stop the judging…lest they are judged.
Gronk Back to Being Gronk:
When not discussing books with Martellus Bennett, Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has been looking a lot like himself lately and it couldn’t come at a better time. Hampered by a bad hamstring issue that occurred during the joint practices with the Bears two months ago, Gronk was sidelined for the first two games of the season. He then was very limited for the next two. But no more.
On the field in Cleveland a week ago, Gronkowski looked like the big man who’s run roughshod over opposing defenses since 2010. He was an active target in the passing game and instead of just being a blocker on the field. And his five catches for 109 yards were a welcome site for Patriots fans as well as the coaches.
“Felt like myself last week, just getting into the groove now, week-in, week-out now,” Gronkowski said to the media on Thursday. “Just have to stay in a groove.”
So was his resurgence a case of him getting healthy or was it having Tom Brady back?
“I would say it’s a little of both,” Gronkowski said. “First myself, always have to get healthy. When I am healthy I can go out there and do what I have to do — blocking, running wise, catching wise, running full speed at all times, going full speed every single time I am out there.”
“It was great to get Tom back, but I feel like just my game I feel like I can go out there and do what I have to do. What I try and do no matter who the quarterback is, I’m just trying to do whatever is best for the team and do my job to my best of my ability to help out the team.”
That’s good great news for the Patriots, bad news for the rest of the league.
Who Do You Like This Week:
Was 7-6 picking last week’s slate which brings me to 41-35 on the year. So, who do you like today?
I am going with for the games on tap today Denver from TNF (ugh picked last Sunday), NE, Buffalo, Philadelphia, Tenn, NYG, NO, Jax, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Oakland, Seattle, GB, Indy, Arizona on Monday Night Football
Early pick for Thursday Night Football, (GB over Chi).
Eastbound and Down, AFC East Notes:
Bills May Be Without Dareus Again This Week:
The Buffalo Bills were hoping to get DL Marcell Dareus back on the field last week after he fulfilled his league-mandated 4-game suspension. But after suffering a hamstring injury during practice a week ago, that reunion had to be shelved.
Things aren’t looking much better this week, the big DL still hasn’t practiced and has been forced to just ride a stationary bike during the Bills practices. Although doubtful to play today, head coach Rex Ryan hasn’t ruled him out yet.
Speaking to the media on Friday, Ryan stated, “We’ll see what happens,” said Ryan. “Never say never. If he’s feeling great, I’m not one of these coaches where you have practice. If you’re a great player, then I’ll throw you in there.”
The Bills face the 49ers at home this week and will be trying to shut down the running game of San Francisco. Especially that of Kaepernick.
Dolphins May Be In-line for another Roster Overhaul:
There was much optimism resonating from the Miami Dolphins camp this spring and summer. They hired the right coach in Adam Gase and brought in the players that they hoped would be ready for the franchise to turn the corner. That hasn’t worked out and now they’re facing another rebuild.
The Dolphins are 1-4 and seem no closer to a contender than they were a decade ago. And the big names that they brought on this season? It has been ugly. Mario Williams came from the Bills with supposedly a new attitude and inspiration to resurrect his career. Thru five games, he has five tackles, one sack, and his defensive coordinator, Vance Joseph says he must play harder.
Byron Maxwell came in a trade with the Eagles and he’s been…to put it clearly a disaster. He was picked on for four games and benched for a fifth and this week, the Miami secondary is facing arguably the best passing game in the league.
Arian Foster has missed three games and is a near lock to be let walk next spring. TE Jordan Cameron has been nearly invisible and then suffered his fourth concussion. And QB Ryan Tannehill? Aside from one-half against New England, he’s been awful and has been hearing it from the Miami fans. That must make Miko Grimes happy.
What’s Wrong with the Jets Defense?
The New York Jets have been saddled with a very tough early season schedule, that isn’t even a question. But few people thought that the Jets would be 1-4 and facing a near must-win game in Arizona if they want to have a legitimate shot at the playoffs.
While most have focused, and rightfully so on the struggles of QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Jets defense, which was a source of strength in 2015 has been struggling.
Last season, they had the third most takeaways, with 30. This year they have the league’s second-fewest (four).
Last season, they were third in 3rd down defense and 1st in the red zone. This season, they are 13th and 15th.
And last season, they had the league’s sixth-best quarterback rating allowed. This season, they have surrendered the highest quarterback rating so far. Darrelle Revis’ struggles have been well documented but the problem goes deeper than that. The pass rush has been inconsistent. After sacking Andy Dalton seven times in the opener, they’ve generated just five since.
This sets up a very interesting chess match when they lock horns with the disappointing Cardinals (2-3) on Monday night.