Tag Archives: Bryan Stork

Former Patriots Center Bryan Stork Officially Announces Retirement

Ian Logue
March 22, 2017 at 10:48 am ET

Former Patriots center Bryan Stork sat out the 2016 season after his time in New England ended, and it sounds like his days in the NFL might be over.

The 26-year old officially announced his retirement, quoting Kenny Rogers in a statement he posted to Twitter, where he let everyone know of his intentions to hang up his cleats:

The likely reason behind his decision may stem from the fact Stork suffered four documented concussions over his career, and if that’s true, credit the former fourth-round pick in 2014 with putting himself first and making the wise decision to walk away.

While he may have only played two seasons in the league, Stork can walk away having enjoyed being at the pinnacle of the NFL, having won a championship during his rookie season.  Best wishes to him as he begins his retirement.

Tuesday Daily Rundown 8/30: New England Patriots News and Notes

Ian Logue
August 30, 2016 at 7:31 am ET

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

Knighton Out – The writing appeared to be on the wall for defensive lineman Terrance Knighton after a preseason that saw him not get any snaps last Friday night, and on Monday the Patriots parted ways with the veteran, ending his short tenure in New England.

The team released him Monday, which follows up on the concerns he had after the game where he seemed surprised about his lack of snaps against the Panthers.

“You’re always concerned when you’re not playing,” he said via ESPN. “I prepared myself to play, the coaches made the decisions on who they wanted to play, and I’m not going to ask any questions or make any excuses or look for any explanation. I’m just going to get dressed, get back on the plane and see what happens.”

Bill Belichick addressed the move on Monday, saying that it was just one of those things that happens during what’s been a competitive training camp.

“Just didn’t work out,” Belichick told the media. “He came in, worked hard, lost weight, got in good condition, tried to do the things we asked him to do. Just other people ahead of him.”

The early release of Knighton gives the former Washington standout an opportunity to start exploring opportunities elsewhere, which is something Belichick has historically done for veterans he respects.

Knighton tweeted a good bye after the news, “Well it’s been real New England.  The road continues.”

Stork Fails Physical, Nullifies Trade – After being acquired for a conditional draft pick by Washington last week, it looks like Bryan Stork won’t be landing with a new team after all.

According to published reports, Stork failed his physical for what would have been his new team, nullifying the trade that would have potentially yielded a conditional draft pick for the Patriots had Stork ended up in Washington.

The 25-year former Florida State lineman has had a rough run over his first two seasons in New England, suffering four reported concussions over that span after emerging as a starter up front on the offensive line.

He earned a lot of respect of the players around him, with a memorable article from January 2015 from Yahoo.com where he made Eric Edholm nervous after a seemingly harmless line of questioning was something Stork wasn’t interested in, setting up some uncomfortable moments.

But on the same day as that interview, Jimmy Garoppolo offered up some praise for Stork after he recalled meeting him in the Senior Bowl where they two played together.

“Well, we were in the Senior Bowl together,” Garoppolo said, “so I knew him before we were actually drafted here. But playing with him there, I realized … he’s a badass.”

“He’s a hard-nosed dude, and that’s what you want in your linemen,” said Garoppolo at the time about playing with him in New England.  “Just getting in there, doing his job. You can’t ask for a better lineman than that.”

As for what his future holds, Stork had been mulling retirement so it remains to be seen what direction his career may take.  He told the Tallahassee Democrat back in 2013 that when his playing days were over, he was hoping to buy a big piece of land out in the country somewhere, with a runway on it so he could fly planes and live in peace.

Thankfully after a relatively successful football career, hopefully he has the money to make that dream a reality should he decide his playing days are over.

Jackson is off to a rough start so far in 2016. (USA TODAY Images)

Jackson Heads to PUP – Guard Tre’ Jackson will start 2016 on the PUP list, which means he’ll miss at least the first six games of the regular season.

The second-year player out of Florida State started nine games while appearing in 13 during his rookie season and looked like he was poised to contend for a starting role in 2016.  But so far he hadn’t been a full participant in practice and had just been seen doing conditioning and getting in light workouts during training camp, which obviously means he’s not quite healthy enough to factor into the Patriots immediate plans.

Jackson, who has a history of knee problems, suffered a knee injury during the middle of the season against Miami and seemingly escaped serious injury after the Boston Herald reported that his MRI came back negative.  However after fighting through it, he ultimately missed both playoff games and underwent offseason knee surgery.

The move to PUP gives the Patriots an extra roster spot to start the year, as he won’t count against the official roster while he remains with that designation.

Cooper Returns – One quick bit of good news is that offensive guard Jonathan Cooper returned to practice on Monday for the first time since the beginning of camp.  Cooper has reportedly been dealing with a plantar fascia condition in his foot, which he aggravated early on after being carted off the field and it’s hampered him ever since.

He joined Shaq Mason on the practice field on Monday for the warm-up period before heading down to the lower field to do some conditioning.

Cooper was part of the compensation the Patriots received from the Arizona Cardinals, with the hope that having him coached up by Dante Scarnecchia might see him finally live up to his potential. The veteran offensive lineman is a former 1st round pick for the Arizona Cardinals (7th overall) in 2013.

Mingo Enjoying Transition in New England – After playing in a 3-4 defensive alignment in Cleveland, Barkevious Mingo is enjoying getting back to his roots now that he’s joined the Patriots.

After being acquired from the Browns last week for a fifth-round pick in 2017, Mingo has been hard at work getting immersed in the Patriots’ defense.  The Patriots play a 4-3 defense, which Mingo admitted is similar to the one he played at LSU.  But he’s also excited about the fact he’s reunited with former Browns teammate Jabaal Sheard, who he told Boston.com has helped make him comfortable since he’s been here.

“Jabaal was there my first year and he carried me along that long, long year,” Mingo said. “Being back with him is definitely a huge relief.”

It seems to have been a good experience so far, with Mingo admitting that he’s gotten plenty of help from everyone since he’s been here as he continues getting acclimated with his new teammates.

“It’s hard. These guys got couple of months on me,” Mingo said. “It’s a challenge but the guys here they’re really helping me come along, pointing me in the right direction and just getting me ready to play.”

Thursday Daily Rundown 8/25: New England Patriots News and Notes

Ian Logue
August 25, 2016 at 5:00 am ET

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

Interesting Day With End of Stork’s Tenure – It seems like when it comes to some players seeing the end of their tenure in New England, the Patriots often have a tendency for things to get interesting.

That was the case on Wednesday when the team parted ways with center Bryan Stork, and it lead to a chain of events that was the talk of much of the day after the way things played out.

According to the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe, the team informed the third-year center of his release Wednesday morning, and word apparently made it back to Redskins GM Scot McCloughan, who called Nick Caserio about a trade before Stork had a chance to hit the waiver wire.

As a result, the Redskins managed to acquire him for the cost of just a reported seventh round pick.  But one other little detail is the fact that Stork is reportedly mulling retirement, which would nullify the compensation the Patriots would potentially receive.  To them, it’s probably just a bonus given the fact they were willing to let him go to begin with.  The reason likely stemming from the concussion issues he’s had recently, which was a problem he had during his time at Florida State.

Stork already suffered one during this training camp, and it’s hard not to wonder if that played a part in their decision to move on from him.

The player who will certainly notice his absence is Jimmy Garoppolo, who will most likely be taking snaps from David Andrews this season now that Stork isn’t going to be here.  Garoppolo told reporters Wednesday that seeing him leave was difficult, but it’s part of the game.

“It’s tough,” said Garoppolo. “It’s that time of year. There’s a lot of movement between teams and players and everything, and it’s tough to see one of your guys go like that. But that’s the business, I guess.”

Gronkowski back at Practice, Calls Out Cowboys – It’s been more than a week since Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski has been on the practice field, but the veteran returned to the field on Wednesday, two days before the team’s third preseason match-up against the Panthers.

Gronkowski left the field last week following an injury he suffered during a 7-on-7 drill against the Bears.  The tight end pulled up short on a play and left the field with a trainer and didn’t see action against Chicago.

Given his history Gronkowski likely won’t see the field against the Panthers this week either, with the team in need of him being as healthy as possible with Jimmy Garoppolo set to be the quarterback over the first four games.

Gronkowski caught the attention of a few people on Wednesday when he posted a photo that was spotted in the Cowboys facility of Dallas’ new slogan…which he said “sounds familiar”

Nate Washington’s time in New England is over. (USA TODAY Images)

WR Washington Released – Despite their injuries, this is one of the most crowded wide receiver groups in recent memory but it looks like it got a little lighter after the team released one on Wednesday.

Bill Belichick has a history of giving veteran players the courtesy of letting them go with plenty of time to latch on elsewhere, and the Patriots did just that after releasing Nate Washington yesterday.

Washington hasn’t been able to standout during this preseason, but it’s not due to lack of opportunity. He played 15 snaps against the Saints in the first game, followed by 21 last week against Chicago and has just one reception for 8 yards on 1 target to show for it.

Needless to say, it looks like he wasn’t a great fit here and the Patriots opted to part ways and give him the chance to catch on elsewhere.  He won’t be the first to have this problem, and as a result of this transaction, the team has one fewer decision to make heading into the end of preseason.

Rivera “Loves” Belichick’s Take – Carolina head coach Ron Rivera heard Belichick’s comments earlier this week about how tough it is to call this week’s game a “dress rehearsal” given how different this game is compared to a meaningful regular season contest, where the game planning and preparation are so different.

Belichick said the two aren’t even “in the same universe” and it sounds like Rivera believes there’s definitely a difference.

“I love what coach Belichick said,” Rivera said via Black and Blue Review after Wednesday’s practice. “It’s a complete world apart. The one thing you can’t do is emulate the atmosphere, the intensity level, and quite honestly, even though you do game plan, you don’t game plan everything.”

Rivera also went on to say that whether or not Tom Brady sees action this week won’t matter, as they’ll need to go out and play well regardless of who is out there.

“Whether (Brady) plays or not I think is inconsequential in terms of this game,” said Rivera. “This is – to a degree – the dress rehearsal, but for the most part, we’re going to go out and do what we do. We’ve looked at what they’ve done in the preseason and that’s what we’re game planning against.”

Stork Trade Helping to Bring Clarity to Direction of Patriots’ OL

Lee Schechter
August 24, 2016 at 8:52 pm ET

Whether the false reports of the Patriots releasing center Bryan Stork or the actual news of his trade to the Washington Redskins shocked you or not, one thing became clear: David Andrews is going to be the starting center.

After an impressive rookie campaign in 2014, Stork was a key plug-in player who stuck in a revolving door of offensive linemen. Though, his health and temperament brought his days to an end in Foxborough. It’s easy to give credit to Stork for the offensive line’s success in 2014 after the slaughter at Arrowhead Stadium that September. But, it was really veteran Ryan Wendell who was the key cog who brought the OL together. This isn’t meant to discredit Stork, but it was the first sign that he may not last in New England.

Stork struggled with concussions and a nagging shoulder injury throughout his career. Then he let his anger overpower his talent. After a fight with the Chicago Bears during training camp and his history of throwing an occasional punch or extending a shove, the Patriots decided it wasn’t worth trying to harness Stork’s fire any longer. Stork punched his ticket out of town and handed the starting nod to David Andrews.

Stork is absolutely the more talented player between he and Andrews. But, Andrews offers the Patriots something that they have lacked with Stork—consistency.

Stork had moments of Pro Bowl-caliber play only to follow them up with a mistake. It’s part of life in the NFL as an offensive lineman, but enough was enough. Andrews has a likable approach to the game and has always been a leader from his days at Georgia. When Stork was injured, Andrews played with consistency. Andrews keeps improving as evident by his off-season team awards and the fact that he is healthy and doesn’t miss practice time.

The initial reaction to the Stork news is that no one is capable of backing up Andrews at center. But, that is not the case. The Patriots still have an abundance of interior linemen, which hasn’t been the case in previous seasons. Guards Josh Kline and Ted Karras can play center in a pinch or longer if necessary. While Joe Thuney is the left guard of the future, he is a Swiss Army knife on the OL. Thuney could slide in as a center, too.

So between Andrews, Kline, Thuney and Karras (if he makes the team), Stork was expendable and isn’t a big loss. In fact, cutting ties with Stork gives some more clarity to the rest of the OL.

Shaq Mason and Jonathan Cooper are more solidly in as guards. With Sebastian Vollmer reportedly heading to injured reserve, Marcus Cannon and LaAdrian Waddle remain the support at right tackle. There’s an extra spot open with Stork’s departure. Maybe Cameron Fleming or Karras slide onto the roster.

Ultimately, Stork’s departure shows the Patriots have direction and consistency in the middle of the OL with Andrews. But, they also have added flexibility with jack-of-all-trade linemen who can move around at either guard or tackle position on either side of the line.

Dante Scarnecchia still has a lot of work to do to pull together this OL into a cohesive unit. But, cutting ties with Stork and focusing on consistent and versatile is a start toward building an OL capable of working together to win a Super Bowl.

Patriots Releases of Stork, Washington Hardly Surprising

Steve Balestrieri
at 11:35 am ET

Talented, but concussion-prone Center was outplayed by Andrews

The Patriots released two more veteran players this morning, C Bryan Stork and WR Nate Washington, bringing the roster down to 81 players. Neither player being released is a surprise, unlike the social media firestorm brewing. The Patriots roster must be lowered to the league-mandated limit of 75 players by August 30.

Stork was drafted in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft and was a starter on the Super Bowl winning squad. He is a tough, physical player who immediately resonated with the fans for his Logan Mankins-style play. Nicknamed “the Stork”, he instantly became a cult favorite in New England.


But his physical style of play came with a price. He has suffered 4 concussions in the past four seasons and his durability has become a liability to the team. This summer, he was locked in a positional battle with David Andrews who outplayed him throughout training camp.

With Stork missing time, the Patriots gave both Josh Kline and Ted Karras snaps at center this summer. Their versatility gives them a leg up on Stork who also was tossed from two practices for fighting. Once for fighting his teammate, Woodrow Hamilton and another for fighting with the Bears John Timu during the joint practices.

Given the flux of the interior offensive line, the team is opting to keep players that they can plug into various positions and not locked into one. As we said, this isn’t a surprise from those who watched the summer unfold. On our latest 53-man roster projection from last week, Stork was nosed out and did not make the cut.

Ironically he could wind up with the Bears, the team he was fighting against just last week as they need help at the center position or possibly with Tampa Bay.

Washington, 32, the 12th year wide receiver who came over as a free agent from the Texans is hardly a surprise either. Washington caught 47 passes for 658 yards, for a 14.0-yard average with four touchdowns for Houston a year ago. He struggled in the spring to find a comfort level in the offense and with Tom Brady.

Washington missed some significant time this summer with an injury and was getting reps behind younger players DeAndre Carter, Chris Harper, and Aaron Dobson.  When healthy he still showed flashes that he could stretch the field but those moments were few and far between.

Washington’s release will allow the three younger players and Keshawn Martin who’s finally healthy to battle it for the final WR roster spots. The Patriots already have Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Chris Hogan, and Malcolm Mitchell who are locks on the roster.

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 Training Camp Primer – Offensive Line

Steve Balestrieri
July 18, 2016 at 6:00 am ET

Return of Scarnecchia and Health Two Biggest Issues

The Patriots head into training camp in just a few weeks and there should be no shortage of competition at a number of spots. As a lead-in to the beginning of camp, we’ll break down the positions and give our take on who is a lock, a near lock for the 53-man roster and who is on the bubble. Next up is the Offensive Line.

Bill Belichick likes to say that the spring’s OTAs and Minicamp is a learning exercise and that the real competition begins in training camp. While that is true to an extent, with 89 players on the current roster, a minimum of 36 of these will be cut. That doesn’t take into consideration the tweaking that goes on during the season after the initial 53-man roster is completed.

So next on deck are the big bodies on the Offensive Line. The team is banking heavily on the return of positional coach Dante Scarnecchia who was retired for two years. He’s a tough taskmaster who demands the most from his charges. The health of this group is a big question mark; injuries ravaged them and the protection of QB Tom Brady steadily got worse as the season progressed.

So who’s locked in and who’s on the bubble?

Dante Scarnecchia returns to be the Pats OL coach after he retired two years ago. (USA TODAY Images)

Roster Locks: Nate Solder, Sebastian Vollmer, Joe Thuney, Shaq Mason, David Andrews, Jonathan Cooper
Health is the key here, Solder was lost in Dallas Week 5 for the season with a torn bicep. Vollmer battled injuries throughout the campaign and has knee and back issues. But if both are healthy they’ll be your starting tackles. One would have thought that the tackle position would have been addressed in either free agency and the draft but it was not. We’ll see how that turns out later this year.

The Pats didn’t draft Thuney to sit on the pine, and with Mason, Jackson and Kline MIA this spring, he took the starting reps at left guard whenever Brady or Garoppolo was on the field. He even took a few at center. Mason finally appeared in the last spring workout and had 10 starts as a rookie. Coming from the running game of Georgia Tech, he’s an excellent drive blocker but as one would expect, had issues with his pass blocking.  Andrews, who started all the games early last season and played fairly well is undersized but tough. In a surprise move, he was getting the starting reps over Bryan Stork this spring…something to keep an eye on.

Cooper was a top draft pick for the Cardinals before injuries derailed his career there. With the aforementioned players out this spring, he got the starter’s reps at right guard. The Pats are hoping that Scarnecchia can rekindle his professional career.

Nate Solder returns after going on IR after Week 5 in 2015. (USA TODAY Images)

Near Roster Locks: Bryan Stork, Marcus Cannon, LaAdrian Waddle
Stork, who played so well as a rookie at center, missed the first six weeks of the season on IR-Designated to Return and struggled as he had health issues of his own last year. Stork even played at right tackle against the Giants as Cameron Fleming and Marcus Cannon struggled. It will be interesting to watch the competition between Stork and Andrews this summer. With Thuney providing added insurance, the pivot position should be in good shape.

Cannon, is the ultimate head scratcher for this team, but Bill Belichick and Scarnecchia love this kid.  He was ineffective last season when pressed into starting duty and was just abused in the AFC Championship Game in Denver. As the saying goes, we’ll see how it plays out on the field.

Waddle has the opportunity to seize the swing tackle position. He too was hurt against the Cowboys and his shoulder injury sidelined him. But the Patriots gave him a two-year contract this offseason and he also has the capability to be an extra blocking tight end in short yardage.

On the Bubble: Tre’ Jackson, Josh Kline, Cameron Fleming, Ted Karras
Jackson was a rookie draft pick (4th Rd, 111th overall), a year ago and had nine starts while appearing in 13 games. Prior to coming out in the 2015 NFL Draft, he had knee issues and he missed time with those during the season as well as missing both playoff games. If he’s healthy he’ll compete for the right guard spot, where he saw all of his action a year ago. But he missed all of the spring, so his status will bear watching once training camp begins.

Kline is a guy who the Patriots traditionally love, an undersized but tough player. He too missed all of the spring. With the additions of Thuney and Cooper along the interior of the line, he may find himself on the outside looking in.

Fleming flopped as a swing tackle a year ago, like Cannon was ineffective when pressed into service. But the last offseason, the Patriots fiddled with the idea of moving him to guard. He was training to do just that, cutting down on his weight a bit and improving his quickness. We saw the video of his workouts last spring and it seemed he was destined to move inside.

But the team drafted Mason and Jackson last spring and Fleming went back outside. The results were not good. Perhaps with a full offseason with Scarnecchia, Fleming can get his game back together. The swing tackle position will again go thru Cannon, Waddle and Fleming.

Karras is a tough kid that has a lot of upper body strength, completing 32 reps on the bench press at his Pro Day this spring. The 6th round draft pick has an NFL pedigree and is a good pass protector but isn’t very athletic and may find himself a practice squad candidate unless he can shine in limited opportunities.

Outside Looking in…. Longshots: Chris Barker, Keavon Milton
Both of these players have been let go in the past and face long odds of making the roster out of training camp.

Barker was originally claimed off of waivers from the Miami Dolphins in the 2013 season and appeared in four games. During the 2014 season, he split time between the practice squad and the active roster and appeared in two games. Last season he was signed to the active roster for the Week 10 game against the Giants before being released and signed back to the practice squad.

Milton was a UDFA in 2013 and was signed by the New Orleans Saints. He was among the final cuts of the Saints and was signed by the Browns and appeared in eight games with no starts that season. He then was released by the Browns at the end of training camp in 2014 and signed to Seattle’s practice squad. Released in September 2015 he was signed by the Patriots to their practice squad in November. The 6’4, 320-pound Milton was a blocking tight end at Louisiana-Monroe who made the transition to tackle

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast 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.

Best Patriots Social Media Posts From The July 4th Weekend

Robert Alvarez
July 6, 2016 at 10:22 am ET

Over the July 4th holiday weekend, many current and former New England Patriots shared their thoughts and celebrations with fans over their social media accounts.

A collection of some of the best can be seen below, beginning with quarterback Tom Brady embracing the “haters” by sharing a photoshopped (maybe not?) picture of himself with a bald eagle on either arm.

Haters gonna say it's photoshopped… Happy 4th of July everyone!

Posted by Tom Brady on Monday, July 4, 2016





Enjoying the day off with my girl at Point Loma #Happy4th

A post shared by Nate Ebner (@ebs43) on



Some Healy Rosé on the 4th!! #merica

A post shared by Drew Bledsoe (@drewbledsoe) on


@ashleyboccio and I Hoping everyone had a happy and safe 4th of July!

A post shared by Chris Hogan (@chrishogan_15) on

Patriots Bringing Scarnecchia Back, Great Short-term Move

Steve Balestrieri
February 8, 2016 at 1:20 pm ET

The Patriots have an opening on their coaching staff for an offensive line coach after coach Dave DeGuglielmo’s contract wasn’t renewed after the 2015 season.

DeGuglielmo replaced a legend in Dante Scarnecchia who retired after the 2013 season after a 32-year NFL career, 30 of which where he was a member of the New England Patriots. He spent his final 15 seasons as the Pats OL coach.

Now Mike Reiss from ESPN is reporting that the team is in contract talks with bringing the legend back into the fold at his old position. While fans are rejoicing at the news, perhaps it isn’t the best choice long-term for the team or Scarnecchia. But for the time being, this will work just fine thank you very much.

Granted, no one is a better OL coach for this team than Coach Scar, who filled his retirement time with helping the team scout future offensive linemen and was actively involved with the draft. He was the lead man on the Patriots drafting Bryan Stork and Tre’ Jackson from Florida State, Shaq Mason from Georgia Tech and David Andrews from Georgia.

He knows these players better than anyone, their strengths, weaknesses and how they can be best utilized. Plus, he’s always gotten the very best out of his linemen. One of the enduring images of Coach Scar is watching him run the wind sprints at the beginning of practice during training camp with his players. No one worked harder nor expected …and got more from his players.

So while the short term box is definitely checked, what does this mean long-term?

Scarnecchia who will turn 68 on Valentine’s Day, retired for a reason. He was obviously tired of the grind and at 66 two years ago, was ready to step back and enjoy his time with his family. He remained in contact with the team however and as we mentioned, did the scouting for the Patriots on several members of the current roster.

The only questions really would be, did the two years off recharge his batteries and his desire to return to coaching? Or is Scarnecchia just being a good soldier and is answering the call, running to the sound of the guns as an old war horse is apt to do.

The best case scenario would be to have Scarnecchia work with the team this season and then help them find a suitable long-term offensive line coach, someone familiar with their offense and the players to find what would work best for how they’re currently constructed.

Bill Belichick knows his value, at the time of his retirement, he said, “In an industry of constant change, Dante remained a fixture here for the simple reason that he helped every player reach his highest potential, regardless of who he was, how he was acquired, or how much raw talent he had. In whatever category a coach can be assessed … evaluator, teacher, motivator, problem-solver, disciplinarian, team player, winner … Dante is as good as it gets.”

So for 2016 at least if they can get a deal worked out, the Patriots will have one of the very best position coaches ever, back in the fold. And if they have issues this season on the offensive line, coaching won’t be the reason.

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast 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 Report Card at the Halfway Point of the Season

Steve Balestrieri
November 9, 2015 at 12:00 pm ET

The New England Patriots sitting at 8-0 and in great position as one of only two undefeated teams in the AFC and one of three in the league. So this is a good time to take stock of the performances so far in 2015 and give a grade and outlook moving forward by position.

Overall the Patriots and Bengals sit alone atop the AFC and if the season ended today would get a first round bye entering the playoffs. In the AFC East, much of the talk that the Patriots would be pushed hard for division by Miami, Buffalo and the Jets hasn’t materialized. The Patriots are a perfect 3-0 in the division having beaten every other team the first time thru the schedule

The Jets are 3+ games back at 5-3, Buffalo is 4-4 and Miami, which was thought to be a playoff contender sits in last place with a 3-5 record. Barring a disaster down the stretch, the Patriots are in great shape to repeat as division champions.

So here is the Report Card for the Patriots position by position starting with the Offense:

Monday Observations: Patriots Rout Redskins in Costly Victory

Steve Balestrieri
at 6:00 am ET

DeGuglielmo Gets Game Ball in 27-10 win

The Patriots routed the Redskins easily 27-10 in a workman-like approach on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium.

Tom Brady and LaGarrette Blount were the big stars of the offense as the Patriots rolled easily to their second 8-0 start in team history. Brady completed 26 of 39 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw an ill-advised interception in what was a sloppy but productive first quarter.

Blount rushed 29 times for 129 yards and a touchdown in what was his biggest workload of the season. The Patriots took the opening kickoff and marched down the field easily with Brady finishing off the drive with a touchdown pass to Edelman. Although they turned the ball over twice with a pick and an Edelman fumble, the offense set the tone early in this one and they cruised after that.

By the ten minute mark the Patriots had more touchdowns (2) than the Redskins had plays from scrimmage (1). Washington didn’t have the offensive weapons to challenge after that and this one was never in doubt.

But the victory was a costly one for New England. Dion Lewis went down with a knee injury in the second half and the prognosis isn’t good. Adam Schefter of ESPN reported that there was looseness in his knee which usually means an ACL type injury. Lewis is scheduled for an MRI on Monday morning. Brandon Bolden and Blount finished up in the backfield for the Patriots as James White was inactive.

Sebastian Vollmer left in the first half with what was described as a head injury which probably means a concussion. Entering the game with six healthy offensive linemen, Vollmer’s left them with five and TE Michael Williams played some right tackle as did C Bryan Stork who returned in his first action since training camp.

DeGuglielmo Deserves Big Kudos: With the absolute injury epidemic along the offensive line the Patriots had a left tackle (Cameron Fleming) who was on the practice squad a few weeks ago playing left tackle, a position he’s never played before even in high school. Stork was playing right tackle as was a tight end Williams and the Patriots offense still scored 27 points.

The fact that they still operated at a high level despite these injuries is a feather in the cap for the 2nd year Patriots offensive line coach. DeGuglielmo is doing a magnificent job with his charges and the offensive continues to hum along. He is preparing his players to move anywhere along the line and as scary as the situation is right now, he’s been outstanding at allaying any fears about the offensive line. We wrote about him in our last Sunday news and notes, remarking on the job he’s doing and it needs repeating again.

While the play-calling definitely got more conservative with the makeshift line in the second half, they were still able to move the ball and scored a 4th quarter, 18-yard touchdown on a nice pass from Brady to Brandon Bolden , his first ever touchdown reception. Rob Gronkowski wasn’t targeted as much on the day and had a four catch, 47 yard effort for the game.

Defense With a Solid Effort: Once again the Patriots defense put out another solid effort limiting the Redskins to just three points until a garbage time drive scored their only touchdown with just 20 seconds left in the game.

Redskins’ running backs averaged only 2.5 yards per carry with Matt Jones carrying 11 times for 27 yards and Alfred Morris carrying four times for 10 yards. Kirk Cousins completed 22 of 40 passes for 217 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

But he was victimized all day with terrible drops by his receiver core, seven in all. But when all was said and done, he had only 134 yards passing before that final garbage time drive of 83 yards, all in the air.

Malcolm Butler was matched up against DeSean Jackson for most of the day and held the explosive Washington receiver to just three catches for 15 yards. It was a testament to how well he played (with over the top help), that we didn’t hear his name called much. Logan Ryan put together another solid performance and came away with his team leading fourth interception.

While the Skins offense won’t be confused with some of the better ones in the NFL, it was still a solid effort by the Patriots giving up a total of 254 total yards on the day.

LaFell Rounding into Shape: Brandon LaFell had a nice game for the Patriots on Sunday catching five passes for 102 yards. After missing all of the spring and summer, his first action since the Super Bowl was the game a few weeks ago against the Jets.

Since that one where he dropped half a dozen passes, he’s been progressively getting better and more in sync with Brady. Sunday was his best effort yet and makes the offense that much more dangerous. He was wide open for a deep touchdown early in the game but Brady was under pressure and was hit as he let the ball go and LaFell had to wait for the ball to come down. It was still a 48-yard reception, the longest of the day.

The Patriots move on to take on the New York Giants next week in the Meadowlands. The Giants offense should present a big challenge for the Patriots defense as Eli Manning and the Giants passing game has plenty of weapons.

The Giants defense has been horrid but with the return of Jason Pierre-Paul, gives them a pass rusher that can wreak havoc in the backfield. Given the state of the Patriots offensive line, that can’t be overlooked. We’ll have more about that next week.

So only two teams remain undefeated in the AFC with the Denver loss…We’re on to the Giants.

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