Tag Archives: Danny Amendola

Patriots Not Unexpectedly Bid Adieu to Flowers, Brown

Steve Balestrieri
March 12, 2019 at 7:55 am ET

The Patriot Way Giveth and Taketh Away

While not shocking at all, it was nevertheless a blow to the Patriots as they waved goodbye and good luck to starting left tackle Trent Brown, who after one year is moving back to the Bay Area after agreeing to a big money deal with the Oakland Raiders.

It was more difficult, however, to part with Trey Flowers, the Patriots best defensive player on their front seven for the past several years and a consummate pro who spoke softly but led by his example on the field.

There is no way that the Patriots were going to match either offer. Call Brown and Flowers victims of the “Patriot Way”, where the team will not become enamored with any particular player. They’ll place a value on each player and will rarely if ever go over that amount when it comes to compensation.

It is why year after year, we watch players who came to Foxboro leave for big money contracts, much more than they would have received here. And it is also why, most of the big name, high-dollar free agents don’t sign here. So, every spring Patriots fans gnash their teeth in frustration over “the big fish that got away.”

It is also why, because the team won’t overspend for free agents that Patriots fans are glued to their television sets in late January and February every season. Because of their fiscal responsibility, they’ve been able to compete every year. The Patriots have been in the AFC Championship Game nine years in a row and have been in four of the past five Super Bowls. That isn’t a fluke. The Patriots build a complete team of 53 players every year. Because they won’t overspend and get into a bidding war over individual players, they’re able to sustain their success over the long haul.

It is why March is usually not fun to be a Patriots fan but February can be glorious. Which would you rather have?

Brown came to the Patriots with plenty of questions a year ago. Nobody…but the coaches were sure that he could play left tackle. But he hooked up OL coach Dante Scarnecchia and he parlayed that into a terrific 2018 season. Now he’s rewarded with a four-year deal worth $66 million dollars with $36.75 million guaranteed. He’s now the highest paid offensive lineman in the NFL. Take a bow Dante…you’ve done it again.

Flowers came to the Patriots in the 2015 NFL Draft in the 4th round with the 101st pick that year. But he impressed right from the start and even when the Patriots had him tucked away in the far left corner of the locker room when they expand for training camp, one could sense that he wasn’t going to be tucked away for long.  

Flowers cashed in and has agreed to a four-year deal that is reportedly paying him between $16-17 million per year with the Detroit Lions and will join former NE defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, who also signed former Pats WR Danny Amendola as well.

The Tennessee Titans supposedly outbid the Patriots for the services of free agent wide receiver Adam Humphries to the tune of a four-year deal worth $36 million. Humphries is a guy we said on these pages would have been a great fit in the Patriots offense. But he opted for the bigger payday with the Titans. It is the nature of the beast.

With the contracts of NFL players largely not guaranteed with their career spans in many cases woefully short, one should never fault the players for taking care of their future. In Brown and Flowers’ cases, the money they got was far beyond what the Patriots were going to offer. Nobody is going to argue that. How many of us would turn down millions of dollars? Not many I’d bet.

So what’s next for the Pats? Free agency in reality hasn’t even begun yet, because the league with their ridiculous “legal tampering period” has deemed that none of the deals are binding until 4:00 p.m. on Wednesday when the league year officially begins.

So, with free agency beginning and the draft around the corner, the team will try to address these as well as other holes to fill. In Brown’s case, his replacement is already here. Isaiah Wynn was the Patriots top draft choice a year ago and he’ll team up with Scarnecchia and get to work on becoming the new left tackle. He tore an Achilles tendon in preseason last year, but is expected to be ready to go once training camp begins this summer.

Brown’s departure will also impact on how the Patriots may value swing tackle LaAdrian Waddle, who is also a free agent. A valuable, versatile, tough player, Waddle was re-signed a year ago but played little due to the offensive line remaining healthy in 2018. But now bringing him back makes a lot more sense. He can play on either side, is an established, solid veteran and now will be one of the team’s priorities.

Replacing Flowers is more problematic. His greatest gift was his versatility. He was very good at rushing from and setting the edge. But he really made hay by rushing from the interior when they’d slide him inside on passing downs. He was tailor-made for the Patriots defense and their style of playing.

The blow was lessened a bit by the trade for Michael Bennett who came over from the Philadelphia Eagles with a 7th round pick in 2020 for the Patriots fifth rounder next year. Bennett is more productive from a pure pass rusher perspective but will he be able to do all of the things Flowers was tasked? We’ll see. But at 33, while still very productive, his shelf life will probably be a year or two at the most here.

At least for now, Deatrich Wise will be looked at to provide more in terms of every down production. He played just under 60 percent of the snaps last year. The team also has Adrian Clayborn, Keionta Davis, Ufomba Kamalu, Trent Harris, and 2017 top draft choice Derek Rivers. Rivers tore his ACL in his rookie training camp and missed all of that year. Last year he came back but flashed very little. The 2019 season will be a very big year for him moving forward.

There are still some intriguing names in free agency in terms of pass rushing edge players including Justin Houston, Cameron Wake and Ezekiel Ansah. Although the prices for each of them may preclude any from coming to New England. The Patriots will no doubt be looking at the draft to find the next Flowers.

It is a fact of life, that when the team has success in February, others will try to poach your best players and coaches from your roster. It is the way of the league in March. And it is just beginning.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

New England Patriots News 3-10, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
March 10, 2019 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 03-10 and AFC East Notes.

Quick Hitters:

Van Noy Defense – As if Van Noy needed anything else to endear himself to the fan base. After Colts TE Eric Ebron took a veiled shot at the Patriots when he tweeted  “nobody wanna do that Patriot way bull- #COLTure.” But Van Noy quickly answered that by tweeting a picture of two rings with a winking emoticon.

Gronk Selling Condo: On a day with some exciting trade news, one item that could have people thinking worst case scenarios was the news that Rob Gronkowski is selling his Boston seaport condo. Gronk’s luxury condo located at 21 Wormwood St. located on the waterfront can be yours for a cool $2,375,000. Does this mean the big guy is retiring? Not so fast. While it could be just that, it should be noted that he bought the place just a few years ago for $1.8 million. Just another sound financial investment.

Jamie Collins redux? With the news that the Cleveland Browns were parting ways with linebacker Jamie Collins, many fans and media members were wondering about a reunion for the two. As we see it here, that ship has sailed and he won’t be returning to New England. We don’t see it as a need as the LBer position isn’t in bad shape.

Et Tu Amendola: Danny Amendola was released by the Dolphins on Friday. The cost-cutting move is expected to clear a salary-cap space that Miami may use to entice Trey Flowers to South Florida. Now many are hoping for a reunion with Amendola and the Patriots.

Well, no one has been a bigger Amendola supporter than we’ve been on these pages. While we’d love to see him back in Foxboro this spring, the situation may preclude that from happening. The team needs to get younger at the position and with the cupboard bare, they may play a waiting game to see how the rest of FA/Draft plays out before making a decision. By then, I’d expect Amendola to be signed elsewhere.

Brown Has His Cake, But Won’t Share it With Buffalo: Pittsburgh WR Antonio Brown may have effectively forced his way out of Pittsburgh by demanding a trade, and now is stipulating where he won’t go. The Steelers and Bills had a deal supposedly agreed to in principle but Brown put the kibosh on it, stating he won’t go to Buffalo.  

After a few tweets and videos that may have effectively ruined whatever compensation, the Steelers could have gotten for him, Brown now halted a trade. One has to wonder if he may paint himself into a corner where the Steelers (and rightfully so), give him the option to return to the team or sit out the season.

Bennett Trade, One The Team Couldn’t Bypass:

The Philadelphia Eagles are trading DL Michael Bennett and their 7th Round draft pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to the Patriots for New England’s 5th round pick in 2020. In terms of compensation, the deal is a steal. Bennett is still a very productive player and even at 33 logged more sacks (9) and QB hits (30) than anyone on New England and fourth most (QB hits) in the league.  

Bennett’s contract isn’t going to break the bank either. He’s due $7.2 million in salary and game day bonuses and $8 million in 2020. The Patriots tried to swing a deal with the Seahawks to get Bennett last spring, but the Eagles had pounced first and he was dealt to Philadephia.

Does this mean that the team is washing their hands of Trey Flowers in free agency? Not necessarily. We’ve been of the mind here that Flowers’ chances of resigning here have been slim. Especially now with so many of the edge rushers being tagged by their respective teams. But that doesn’t mean the team won’t try to retain Flowers. Bennett’s trade was something that just popped up on the radar that was too good to pass up for a player that they tried to bring in last spring.

He wasn’t brought in as a replacement for Flowers, although it could seem like that if indeed he does walk in free agency. But the thought of watching the two on the field together in the Pats defense is an exciting one. Will it happen? Stay tuned.

Brady Extension Coming?

We heard thru someone we know (and someone who would know) that a contract extension for Tom Brady was going to be done soon and the team would lock him up for another three years, that would take him to the age 45 limit that he said he envisioned.  

The guys on “Patriots Unfiltered”, what used to be known as PFW in Progress on the Patriots team website invited me on the show on Thursday and we spoke about it for a few minutes. It can be heard here:

Free Agency “Legal Tampering” Season Is Here:

Now is when things get interesting. The Patriots still have a slew of free agents to either resign or let walk including both kickers and still look for ways to improve the team.  So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at certain positions and see who the team has out there and who they could bring in.

Interior Defensive Line:  With both Malcom Brown and Danny Shelton unrestricted free agents, there is certainly a case to be made that neither returns. However, if I had to pick one… I’d go with Brown as being the one player closer to return, but not by much. Like a 52-48 ratio.  

There are some intriguing free agents out there, Sheldon Richardson (Vikings), Brandon Mebane (Chargers), Johnathan Hankins (Raiders), but I don’t see the Patriots laying out the money that those guys would draw in free agency. On our 4th and 2 podcast, I mentioned Jets FA Mike Pennel as a guy the Patriots may target. A huge, 6’4, 330, two-gapping space eater, the Patriots are one of the few teams that still covet those type of players. Not a sexy signing, but one that will pay dividends in the season.

Tight End: Will he or won’t he? If Rob Gronkowski retires, it will free up $11.6 million in cap space, and the position becomes of critical need. if he doesn’t, it is still a position in dire need of young(er) blood. They currently have Gronkowski, Jacob Hollister, Ryan Izzo, and the sleeper Stephen Anderson under contract. Hollister has looked good but can’t stay on the field. Izzo was an intriguing kid and Anderson has unlocked potential.

With the release of Dwayne Allen, the team needs an injection of talent and youth. One guy who’ll be the perfect #2 TE with the team, (especially in the two-TE sets) is Pittsburgh’s, Jesse James. He’s been a favorite here to pick up all winter. He’s big  (6’7, 260), is a very good blocker and productive as a receiver. He’s only 25 and has 112 catches in three seasons being the #4 or lower target.

Wide Receiver: With a slew of free agents (Chris Hogan, Phillip Dorsett, and Cordarrelle Patterson), and only Julian Edelman and untested Braxton Berrios coming back, adding youth at WR is also critical. Will they bring back any of those three? I could see Patterson and maybe one or the other to return but they need some talent to help Edelman and Brady in 2019.

Free agents rumored to be linked to the Patriots include Golden Tate, Adam Humphries, Cole Beasley, Randall Cobb, Jamison Crowder, Eli Rogers,  and Danny Amendola. As much as we’d love to see Tate in this offense as well as Humphries, the money those two would be looking at may be prohibitive.

Look for the Patriots to make a move on Jamison Crowder. That still would be a difficult proposition, however, because even though he’s coming off an ankle injury that forced him to miss seven games, he’s still expected to fetch in the neighborhood of $8-10 million dollars in free agency. The draft, which the Patriots have struggled to find suitable wide receivers, may end up being the answer here.

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Beane Says Brown Trade to Bills “Didn’t Make Sense”:

The Buffalo Bills inquired about and were close to making a trade for disgruntled Pittsburgh wide receiver Antonio Brown earlier this week. Then Brown put any hopes of that deal materializing by stating that he wouldn’t commit to showing up if the trade went thru. In the end, Bills GM Brandon Beane took the high road and in a statement. “We had positive discussions, but ultimately it didn’t make sense for either side. As great a player as Antonio Brown is, we have moved on and our focus is on free agency.”

The trade for Brown would have made total sense, from a football perspective for the Bills. They invested heavily into a young QB last year in Josh Allen. But he had a dearth of viable weapons to throw to plus an aging RB in LeSean McCoy. It would have made less sense, as it will for any other team since no one knows if Brown will tow the line in his next assignment.

As we mentioned above, Brown is painting himself into a corner, trying to force a trade to where he wants to go. For the Bills, they’ll approach free agency with about $80 million and the opportunity to sign lesser talented players but who will be more about the team than themselves.

Dolphins Clearing Cap Space, Release Three Veterans:

The Miami Dolphins have done a house cleaning in South Florida. By bringing in Brian Flores as the new head coach, he’s starting from scratch. Miami is expected to move on from QB Ryan Tannehill and that will be the first order of business for the new regime. But the team released three veteran players which will aid their salary cap situation.

Miami released wide receiver Danny Amendola, 33, in the move toward youth as well as DE Andre Branch and G Ted Larsen. The release of Amendola frees up $6 million and coupled with the other two vets gives Miami $22 million in cap space. Miami is also expected to decline the 5th-year option for WR Devante Parker making him a free agent this week. That will add another $9.4 million in cap space.

Amendola led Miami with 59 catches and 575 receiving yards in 2018. Now, Miami drafting in the first round with the 13th pick will have to decide whether to move up in the draft to get a QB they like, hope one falls to them in their spot, or wait until next year when the QB class is expected to be better. Free agency has the most intriguing name in Nick Foles, but the Jacksonville Jaguars released a slew of players adding $30 million to their salary cap and are expected to make a big push for the 30-year old QB.

Jets Have Money to Spend in Free Agency:

The New York Jets have nearly $100 million in salary cap space in 2019 and are in a position to make some big splashes in free agency. With that amount of money, they can front load some of those contracts to make the Jets the favorites to any team that they may be bidding against. However, they also have several (as many as 10) starting positions that need to be addressed.

New York is rumored to be in on the LeVeon Bell sweepstakes and signing the very talented running back would ease the growing pains on young QB Sam Darnold. On the flip side of the ball, the Jets are also expected to make a run at the very versatile and talented LB Anthony Barr who has spent the first five years of his career with the Vikings. He’d fill a great need for the Jets.

Barr is a sideline-to-sideline linebacker who has been a Pro Bowler for the past four years with the Vikings. He’s adept at stopping the run, dropping into coverage and rushing off the edge. The team needs help at wide receiver as well as at edge rusher besides Barr. The Jets can be big players this spring with a ton of cap space. Look for them to make a splash or three.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

Malcolm Mitchell Reflects Back On Time With Patriots

Robert Alvarez
February 21, 2019 at 8:50 pm ET

Malcolm Mitchell continues to show love and appreciation for the New England Patriots.

On Twitter this week, Mitchell sent out tweets reflecting back on his short, but memorable time in Foxborough, calling the Patriots one of his “guardian angels”.

The tweets come on the heels of an injury grievance he filed against the Patriots back in September.

Mitchell was cut in August 2018 without an injury designation, so he didn’t receive any of his $630,000 season salary and is seeking full recoupment.

His NFL career started strong, finishing with 401 yards receiving on 32 receptions and four touchdowns in 14 games played in 2016.

Mitchell also had a key role in Super Bowl LI, hauling in six of his seven targets for 70 yards during the historic comeback. Five of those receptions came in the fourth quarter.

His biggest play of the game came on a 12-yard catch that resulted in a first down on third-and-11.

The reception helped set up a touchdown and two-point conversion that trimmed the Patriot deficit to 28-20.

Since his promising rookie season Mitchell has battled knee injuries, including one that sidelined him the entire 2017 season.

His injury history dates back even further to his time at the University of Georgia.

Mitchell tore his ACL in 2013 and suffered another knee injury in 2014.

The Patriots elected to cut ties with Mitchell when it became apparent his knee issues were going to linger into 2018.

“He did everything he could. It’s unfortunate it didn’t work out…I don’t know how he could have put in any more than he did,” head coach Bill Belichick said last August.

ESPN Boston’s Mike Reiss caught up with Mitchell in his native Valdosta, GA before Super Bowl LIII.

“I’m still motivated, I’m still encouraged, I’m recovering — the last surgery totaled out to be No. 10, and it takes a little while to come back from it,” Mitchell told ESPN.com. “But I am working my way back. And I’ll be back.”

Despite the legal matters and recovery process, Mitchell still keeps in touch with old teammates and holds no ill feelings towards the franchise that drafted him.

“I still have New England in my heart. I think I always will, Jonathan Jones and I were great friends even before we ended up on the same team. On New Year’s, I texted everyone, from Devin McCourty, to Matthew Slater, to Tom, to Julian [Edelman]. I know Danny [Amendola] isn’t on the team any more, but we still talk. It’s fun. Duron Harmon has been a huge encouragement. So I try to keep those relationships. There’s no reason they shouldn’t be there.”

During his time away from the football field, Mitchell remains active in the community as an advocate for the importance of reading, including an author of multiple children’s books.

With four wide receivers hitting free agency this off season, perhaps the Patriots haven’t seen the last of Malcolm Mitchell.

Patriots-Dolphins Week 14, Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
December 7, 2018 at 7:00 am ET

The New England Patriots head out for the first of their final two road games of the 2018 regular season. They play in Miami this week and Pittsburgh next week in games that will go a long way in determining where they stand in terms of AFC Playoff seeding.

The Patriots can clinch their 10th straight AFC East title with a win or a tie and would set a record for making the playoffs in10 straight years. They are currently tied with the Dallas Cowboys (1975-83) and the Indianapolis Colts (2002- 10) as the only teams to play in the postseason for nine straight seasons.

This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Ian Eagle will handle play-by-play duties with Dan Fouts as the color analyst. Evan Washburn 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 (9-3) beat the Minnesota Vikings 24-10 in Foxboro as the defense was outstanding limiting the Vikings offense to just 278 yards while rolling up 471 of their own.

The Dolphins (6-6) beat the Buffalo Bills 21-17 as Ryan Tannehill threw for three touchdowns in the fourth quarter come-from-behind win.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2018 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game.

Series History:

The Patriots and the Dolphins are meeting for the 107th time in their history. Miami holds the overall edge 54-52 with each team holding big advantages at home. Against the Dolphins in Miami, the Patriots are 4-15 in the month of December.

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 Dolphins Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots running game is nearly back to full strength with Sony Michel, James White, and Rex Burkhead as the three main backs in the backfield. But Julian Edelman and Cordarrelle Patterson both will see some carries on Jet Sweeps. James Develin, their big blocking fullback is now a short-yardage option. He scored a pair of touchdowns last week against Minnesota.

The Dolphins run defense was first gashed by the Patriots to the tune of 175 yards this season after Miami began 3-0. Since then they allowed 164 to the Bears, 248 vs the Lions, 188 to Houston, 195 to Green Bay, and 198 to the Bills. Miami is allowing an average of 144.7 yards per game and 5.0 yards per rush, which is 30th in the league.

Look for the Patriots to try to pound the rock all day between the tackles. Miami’s defensive tackles Davon Godchaux and Akeem Spence have not played well against the run and neither have linebackers, Raekwon McMillan and Kiko Alonso. If DC Matt Burke tries to bring the safeties up into the box in run support or blitz the linebackers, it will open up play-action passing.

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

The Patriots passing game has been playing their cards close to their vest lately as their being fairly conservative in the passing game. But in Josh Gordon, Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan at wide receiver, Rob Gronkowski at tight end and James White, Rex Burkhead and Sony Michel out of the backfield, Tom Brady has a plethora of weapons. Add it Patterson and Phillip Dorsett and the depth is there for them to mix it up.

Miami may be without their best defensive player in Xavien Howard who has a knee injury. He’s an All-Pro talent who leads the team with seven interceptions this year. With him injured they’ve been forced to play Minkah Fitzpatrick at the other corner with Bobby McCain in the slot. If Howard can’t go, 2nd-year corner Torry McTyer will get the start. Miami has two very talented edge rushers in Robert Quinn and Cameron Wake but they’ll need to get pressure up the middle if they want to be successful there.

Look for Brady to utilize the “Pony” backfield with White and Burkhead on third down a lot in this one, they’ll try to isolate the linebackers in coverage and keep the sticks moving. If Howard is indeed out, look for Brady and Gordon to test McTyer. Chris Hogan could be an “X-Factor” this week.  

Next up the Miami offense:

Miami RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Dolphins running game is averaging 102.7 yards per game (24th) this season with a 4.3 average yards per carry. They have two very good backs in the ageless Frank Gore who leads the team with 616 yards and the dangerous Kenyan Drake. Their problem has been the offensive line hasn’t been on the field enough because of injuries.

The Patriots rush defense is currently 13th allowing 106.7 yards per game. They’ve been trending up in that regard and this week, they’ll have their hands full as the Dolphins will try to mix things up by using both Gore and Drake. They’ll have to get a big game out of their linebackers, especially Kyle Van Noy who Adam Gase was talking about this week.

Look for the Patriots to go to a bigger front this week with Gore in the lineup and try to get Miami into the 3rd and long passing situations. They’ll have to set the edge this week as the Dolphins should be much more patient with their running game than the Vikings were.

Dolphins WRs vs NE Secondary- Razor’s Edge New England

The Miami passing game is 28th in the league averaging just 199.4 yards per game. But getting Ryan Tannehill back from injury has helped and in the last two games, he’s had a passer rating of over 100 against the Colts and Bills defenses. He has DeVante Parker, Kenny Stills, and Danny Amendola as wide receivers with Nick O’Leary and Mike Gesicki at tight end with Drake out of the backfield. The team was much more explosive before Jakim Grant and Albert Wilson went on IR.

The Patriots defense had their best game of the year last week against the Vikings. The secondary stuck like glue to the receivers and they had constant pressure on QB Kirk Cousins. Can they do that again in South Florida?

I would expect they will try to match Stephon Gilmore on Stills which should be a great matchup to watch. And I’d expect either Jason McCourty or J.C. Jackson on Parker with either McCourty or Jonathan Jones on Amendola in the slot. The key is getting pressure on Tannehill and look for the Patriots to attack the middle/right side where the Dolphins OL is banged up and RG Jesse Davis has not played well.

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge Miami

Both teams have gotten solid play in the kicking game from punter Matt Haack and kicker Jason Sanders for Miami and Ryan Allen and Stephen Gostkowski for New England. But Sanders gives the Dolphins the edge in the kicking game, especially at home. While Patterson in the return game is always a threat to return a big one. But although Miami misses Grant in the return game, the Pats coverage units have been uncharacteristically very inconsistent.

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

This one is a playoff game for both teams. Unlike 2013 and 2015 when the Patriots came limping into Miami beat up, this year it is the Dolphins who are all banged up with injuries while the Patriots are as healthy as one can expect at this time of year.

Last year the Pats got caught looking ahead to Pittsburgh and got their butts handed to them. But last year they afford that loss and keep the #1 seed as long as they beat Pittsburgh the next week. This year they don’t have that luxury and they know Miami still has a shot for a playoff berth.

Three keys from a Pats perspective:

Run the Ball Between the Tackles:
Miami isn’t good against the run and they’re ranked 30th for a reason. Spread the wealth between the three RBs and keep their defense on their heels. Plus it will open up play action and slow down their edge rushers.

Win the Turnover Battle:
Miami isn’t an offense that scores a lot of points, they can’t afford to get into a shootout situation. Their 29th in offense and 29th in defense. They are still in the hunt because they force a lot of turnovers. Make them go the length of the field with no easy scoring drives is a win-win situation.

Get After Tannehill:
Dolphins QBs have been sacked 31 times this year, the offensive line is suspect. Especially in the center and on the right. The Patriots don’t have a lot of sacks this year but they are among the top teams at creating pressure. They need to do that and force Tannehill into making mistakes. When they’ve lost to Miami down there, he was standing flat-footed in the pocket for much of those games.

Look for the Pats to play much better this time around. Belichick will harp on the way they looked past them last December and they should be ready to play. Look for Michel, Burkhead, and White to all have big games for the Patriots as the defense clamps down this time in South Beach. The East goes thru New England again.   Patriots 27-13

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.

PHOTO: Julian Edelman Wishes Danny Amendola Happy Birthday

Robert Alvarez
November 3, 2018 at 9:26 pm ET

Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola may play for rival teams these days, but that hasn’t affected their friendship one bit.

On Instagram Friday, Edelman shared a “Happy Birthday” photograph of the two of them embracing on top of a duck boat during one of their two Super Bowl parades.

“we just become best friends? Yup! #HappyBirthdayDola” the caption read.

New England Patriots News 10-14, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
October 14, 2018 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, Here is your Sunday Patriots news 10-14, & AFC East Notes.

Some Quick Hitters this morning… just a quick reminder that you can check out our key matchups to the game here and our players to watch for tonight’s game can also be found here:  

Josh Gordon said this week, that the transition to the Patriots offense hasn’t been that hard, because of all the support that he’s receiving from the other players, including Tom Brady. Gordon said the two talk football all day long and with his family here now, the transition to New England has been much smoother.

“Most of the day, we end up talking football, whether it be in the locker room here briefly or in most of the meeting rooms or the time after practice. We carve out time, and we make it happen,” Gordon said.

“I just ask and he’s open about it. It makes it easy for me to communicate with him and makes it a real natural type of relationship,” Gordon added.

Chris Hogan will have a lot of eyes on him this week and moving forward. Hogan was outstanding as a complementary WR in 2016 and then was on his way to another very solid 2017 when he went down with a shoulder injury. He struggled the rest of the season however, he had a very big game in the Super Bowl so the hope was that he was back.

However, thus far in 2018 Hogan has struggled to get any separation in man coverage and his numbers are way down. With Josh Gordon in the fold and Julian Edelman back from his torn ACL and four-game suspension, if Hogan is going to make a splash this season, the time is now.

QB Connor Cook, WR Devin Ross, TE Shane Wimann as well as edge players Will Clarke and Kasim Edebali were given workouts by the Patriots on Friday at Gillette Stadium. Wimann spent time with the Patriots during training camp before suffering an injury. Edebali went to Boston College and bounced around to several teams.

Tom Brady passing the torch as the premier QB in the AFC to Patrick Mahomes?  SMH. Noted bobo and hot-take artist Nick Wright said that should KC win tonight, the mantle may be passed from Brady to Mahomes. Pump the brakes a bit. Mahomes is off to a tremendous start, but we’ve seen this before, let Mahomes develop and actually win something before you anoint him as the next GOAT. Let’s see one has five SB wins and one has five wins…period. That’s a stretch even for Wright.

Rob Ninkovich has taken the side of Rob Gronkowski (not surprisingly), in the debate over who is the better tight end, Gronk or Travis Kelce. While both are talented pass catchers, Kelce treats blocking inside like kryptonite, something Ninko pointed out. However, having a former teammate jump to your defense isn’t exactly scientific.

Blueprint term overused much? One of the terms in the NFL that is used far too often is the word “blueprint”. Team A has a blueprint on how to defeat Team B, as if the different players had nothing to do with it and it is all scheme driven.

Case in point, this week I saw close to a half-dozen mentions of the Jacksonville “blueprint” on how to stop the Kansas City offense. While certain principles may apply on how to approach certain downs and situations, the differences in personnel for every team make that blueprint seem more guideline-ish. But maybe we’re just reading too much into it.  BTW, didn’t Jacksonville lose 30-14?

Jalen Ramsey who made such noise about Tyreek Hill being a “return specialist” was sure showing some respect last week. With the Chiefs facing a 3rd and 10 in the second half, Ramsey was giving Hill an 11 yards cushion. Not bad…for a return specialist. Hill had four catches for 61 yards and two runs for 26 more.

London Jaguars? PFT Fell For Another Banana in the Tailpipe:
Not Patriots related but some NFL “news” is that Pro Football Talk’s Michael David Smith saw the item in the British tabloids that not only is Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan is buying Wembley Stadium and….(gasp!) is planning to move the Jaguars there in 2022. Khan also owns the Fulham Football Club of the English Premier League. Smith, as well as the British tabloids, had as their “source”, a former Fulham employee, Craig Kline who says that Khan “told this to him and to keep quiet” before he was fired from Fulham over a year ago.   

Kline, has been described (and aptly) by people that knew him in Fulham as a total flake. Since being canned, he’s accused the Khans of just about everything including racism. This latest take is just another “look at me” moment.

The Khans saw what the Patriots did in Foxboro with One Patriots Place and are trying to build the same type of facility and are actively pumping millions of dollars into the surrounding area of their stadium to make it a showplace and moneymaker. Hardly the move a smart billionaire would do if he’s planning on pulling out in a few years.

The NFL is committed to London by playing games there (at Wembley) every year. But moving a franchise there? That is still far in the distance and wouldn’t receive the necessary support from the other owners to make it happen.

White’s Versatility Has Him On Pace For Big Season:

Although this isn’t anything new, the Patriots have been relying on James White’s versatility heavily this season. And his numbers right now have him on pace for a record-breaking year.

White’s 32 catches and 270 yards currently have him slotted for a 103 catch, 864 yards receiving season which would be the most ever for a running back in NFL history (Matt Forte had 102) and the most yards receiving in a single season for a Patriots running back. Tony Collins holds the Pats record for a RB receiving with 684 yards. White also is on pace for 13 receiving touchdowns.

While part of his numbers has been the case of necessity early in the year, White has always been versatile and dependable. Besides never fumbling, he’s always productive in a multitude of ways.

White probably won’t be able to keep those numbers going. Now that Julian Edelman is back and with Josh Gordon in the fold, Tom Brady will be spreading the wealth around a lot more in the upcoming weeks. But it should do little to diminish his value to the team as a very dependable, versatile cog in the offense. We look to him tonight to be a big part of the game plan.  

McCourty: Pats Have to Find a Way to Negate Chiefs’ Speed:

In the leadup for tonight’s game, Devin McCourty was asked this week about the unenviable task of trying to slow down the high flying Chiefs offense. He told the Herald’s Kevin Duffy that Kansas City reminds him of the Steelers team of just a few years ago.

“It’s a little bit like I remember playing against Pittsburgh when it was Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders,” McCourty said. “Like that was just speed everywhere with a quarterback that can launch the ball and get it to them, and it’s the same thing. You have a receiving corps where I think 4.39 (40-yard dash time) is like the slowest speed out there.”

The Patriots will have their hands full tonight, trying to equate with the Chiefs speed outside where they don’t just air it out, but use Tyreek Hill’s speed in the running game as well. How well or poorly they handle that speed will go a long way in determining how tonight’s game goes.

Who You Have This Week, NFL Week 6 Predictions:

Last week: 11-4 Season 49-27-2 Bye Week: Lions, Saints

Thursday night’s pick Eagles over the Giants 1-0

Tampa Bay at Atlanta: Falcons
Carolina at Washington: Panthers
Seattle at Oakland: Seahawks
Indy at NY Jets: Colts
Arizona at Minnesota: Vikings
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati: Steelers
LA Chargers at Cleveland: Browns
Buffalo at Houston: Texans
Chicago at Miami: Bears
LA Rams at Denver: Rams
Baltimore at Tennessee: Ravens
Jacksonville at Dallas: Jaguars
Kansas City at New England: Patriots
San Francisco at Green Bay: Packers

Early Thursday Night Prediction: Denver over Arizona

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Fan Takes Shot at the Franchise Even in Death:

The Buffalo Bills have some of the most passionate football fans in the league. However, they can push the envelope as much, if not more than anywhere else. They’ve taken table crashing to an art form. And now one of their long-suffering fans has with a dying wish slammed his team one last time.

Lee Merkel, 83 passed away last week, without ever seeing his beloved Bills win a Super Bowl, although he watched them go four straight years to attempt to win the big one but ultimately fail. And one of his wishes was that six current Bills players act as pallbearers at his funeral. Why? So the Bills “can let him down one last time.”

Merkel, a long-time season ticket holder,  is to be buried in a Bills t-shirt that says “once before I die” was an Army veteran, a father, grandfather and ironically enough a member of the Utica Optimists Club.

Dolphins Face Pivotal Mid-Season Game At Home Against Chicago:

The Miami Dolphins are no strangers to questions being asked of them around this time of year. And the biggest question always is, “Who are the Dolphins going to be this year?” The last two years are prime examples.

Under Adam Gase, the team limped out to an atrocious 1-4 start in 2016, with the only win against Cleveland. But then they blew out Pittsburgh and finished strong, going 10-6 and making the playoffs before Ryan Tannehill was hurt and they were ousted in the Wild Card Round.

A year ago, they were thought to have turned the corner and started a very respectable 4-2 and the hope was that, despite losing Tannehill for the year in preseason, they’d be able to build on their success from 2016. Then came the debacle, a 40-0 whitewashing by the Ravens on national television and they would drop six in a row and finish out of the playoffs with a 6-10 record.

Wholesale changes were made. Locker room cancers were cut out and they brought in strong veteran leaders like Danny Amendola, Albert Wilson, and Robert Quinn. The Dolphins raced out to 3-0 start and things were looking up. But then two blowout losses, one to New England by 31 and the other to the Bengals after Miami led by 17 has the Fins in a very familiar position in mid-October. After today’s game against the Bears, we should know more about this team, depending on how they play.

Crowell A Game-Time Decision for the Jets:

The New York Jets Isaiah Crowell had a franchise record 219 yards rushing last week against the Denver Broncos on just 15 carries for a ridiculous 14.6-yard average. Crowell’s yard average, which is outstanding as a pass receiver was the highest by any player in league history with 15 carries.

He was outstanding and a big part of the reason that the Jets rolled easily at home over the Broncos last week. But he tweaked an ankle last week and after not practicing Wednesday and Thursday, he returned, albeit in a limited fashion on Friday’s walk-through, so coach Todd Bowles has stated that they’ll see where he’s at on Sunday morning.

“We’ll work him out Sunday and see where he’s at,” Bowles said.

Crowell had runs of 77 yards for a TD, 54 yards in the third quarter, and a 36-yarder in the fourth quarter en route to his big, big day. In the first five games of the season, Crowell has had five runs of 50 yards or more in the first five games of the season.

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news.

 

Good News, Bad News: Patriots Offensive Totals Through 5 Games

Ian Logue
October 12, 2018 at 1:00 pm ET

Some interesting numbers after five weeks for the Patriots offense, with a different take on some stats after comparing some totals at this point last season.

Here’s a little good news, bad news after looking things over:

Bad News: Rob Gronkowski doesn’t have a red zone reception so far through five games on just one target.
Good News: Gronkowski had just one red zone reception (a touchdown) in 2017 on six targets at this point, so he’s not far off from where he was last season in that regard.

Bad News: The Patriots have 443 fewer total receiving yards so far than they had at this time last year.
Good News: They have more red zone receiving yards (114yds) than they had at this point last season (107yds).

Bad News: The Patriots have fewer receiving first downs (63) than they had at this point last season (79).
Good News: They actually have one more receiving touchdown (12) than they had at this point last season (11).


Gronk currently leads the Patriots in receiving yards. (USA TODAY Images)

Bad News: The Patriots have just two receivers with 200+ yards receiving, with only Gronkowski eclipsing the 300+ plateau.  Last season at this point, the Patriots had five receivers with 200+ yards, including two who were over 300.  Gronkowski (318yds) and former Patriots wideout Brandin Cooks (379) were the two with those totals.
Good News: This season the Patriots have 11 receivers with double-digit yardage totals compared to 10 last season. Not exactly a huge positive, but a positive nonetheless.

Bad News: The Patriots have just two receiving plays of 30+ yards so far this season compared to eight at this point last season.
Good News: None…that isn’t good.  However, both of those plays occurred in each of the last two games (Patterson’s 55-yd TD against the Dolphins, and Josh Gordon’s terrific 34-yd touchdown Thursday night against Indy) so hopefully, it’s a sign of things to come.

Good News: Tom Brady has thrown for more second-half touchdowns (5) than he had at this point last season (3).
Bad News: Four of his six interceptions so far this season have all come in the second half.  He hadn’t thrown any in the second half at this point in 2017.

Good News: For the most part, the Patriots offense has done a good job of staying out of long-yardage situations on offense, especially on 3rd down.   At this point last season they had already faced 3rd-and-10 seven times compared to just four this season, along with having been up against 3rd-and-over-10 yards twelve times compared to just eight this season.
Bad News: They’re 0-for-4 converting on those 3rd-and-10 attempts while converting just 2-of-8 on 3rd-and-over-10.  Again, obviously, not great news but that should also hopefully improve moving forward.

Bad News: Through four games, Tom Brady was just 15-of-30 (50%) for 143-yards with 1 TD and 2 INTs in the first quarter, compared to 33-of-49 (67%) for 433-yards and 4 TDs last season.
Good News: After the Colts game, where he was 12-of-13 for 105-yards and 1 TD, Brady’s first quarter completion percentage jumped to 63% with his totals now sitting at 27-of-43 for 248yds, 2TDs, 2INTs.  Players who helped raise that stat last Thursday night include James White (4/4 38yds), Julian Edelman (3/4 28yds), Corradelle Patterson (2/2 11yds, 1TD) and Rob Gronkowski (1/1 19yds). This improvement has been key as the Patriots have scored 10 of their current season total of 19 first-quarter points over the last two games.

Good News: Dwayne Allen actually has a reception through five games, which is certainly better than the 0-for-6 total he carried through the same number of games last season.
Bad News: That one catch went for a 4-yard loss.

LEFTOVERS:

– Sony Michel is ahead of last year’s leader at this point, Mike Gillislee, with Michel carrying the football 67 times for 294-yards along with 2 touchdowns while averaging 4.4 yards-per-carry.  That’s better than Gillislee’s 69 rushes for 246 yards, which was an average of 3.6 yards. However, Gillislee also led all rushers at the time with four touchdowns.

– At this point last season, Chris Hogan had 23 receptions for 288 yards and a team-leading 5 touchdowns.  So far this year Hogan has just 11 receptions for 143-yards and 2 touchdowns, just one reception ahead of newcomer Corradelle Patterson (10 catches, 10yds, and 2TDs).  With Gordon and Edelman potentially taking the focus off of him, Hogan’s production should hopefully improve.

– One final related stat for Hogan, he had five red zone receptions at this point last season, with four touchdowns after being targeted nine times.  He’s been targeted just once thus far in 2018, which was a 7-yard touchdown.

– It’s hard to believe that James White didn’t have a touchdown reception at this point last season, but so far in 2018 he already has a team-best 4 touchdowns.  He also leads the team in receptions so far with 32 receptions for 270-yards.  He also led the team at this point last year with 29-catches for 230 yards, ahead of Hogan (23) and Amendola (23), followed by Gronkowski (20) and Cooks (18), who rounded out the top 5 in that category.

– Tom Brady has 8 red zone touchdowns so far, which is actually one better than the 7 he had at this point last season.  White (4), Phillip Dorsett (2), Hogan (1) and Patterson (1) are the ones who get the credit for that total.  Last season it was Hogan (4), Danny Amendola (1), Rex Burkhead (1) and Rob Gronkowski (1) who each accounted for that total.

For a more detailed look at much more sortable stats, view our Stats Page: 

Best Of Social Media: Week 4 Dolphins vs Patriots

Robert Alvarez
October 2, 2018 at 7:30 pm ET

The New England Patriots entered their week four match up with the division rival Miami Dolphins seeking to rebound from two-straight losses and avoid their first 1-3 start since 2001.

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It is not the highs that define us… #GameDay

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Game day #LETSGOOO

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Fired up.

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Pregame moves.

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Early on in the first quarter, newly signed wide receiver Josh Gordon tallied his first reception as a Patriot which helped setup the first points of the game.

A Stephen Gostkowski 20-yard field goal put the home team ahead 3-0.

In the second quarter, with the score still low, Cordarrelle Patterson found a hole in the Dolphins secondary for his first touchdown reception as a Patriot. 10-0 New England.

In what became a recurring theme throughout the game, the Patriots defense turned in its best showing of 2018. Shutting down the Dolphins offense, especially on third down.

Despite the great start, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick wasn’t going to be pleased with his offense committing three penalties on play.

Still leading 10-0 with seven minutes to go in the half, linebacker Kyle Van Noy forced a fumble that setup a James White 22 yard touchdown run on the very next play. 17-0 in favor of the Patriots.

As the defense continued to do its job keeping the Dolphins offense off the field, the Patriots offense was clicking as Phillip Dorsett hauled in this acrobatic catch just before halftime.

24-0 Patriots at the Half.

During the halftime break, the New England Patriots honored newly enshrined team Hall of Famer Matt Light, who provided a very “colorful” speech to the fans.

In the third quarter, the Brady/White combination struck again with another touchdown, and all but putting the game away.  31-0 Patriots.

With the Patriots up 31-0 and the defense continuing to shut out the Dolphins, rookie Sony Michel capped off his career day with his first career touchdown run.

Michel ran for 112 yards on 25 carries with the touchdown, his first career 100 yard rushing game. 38-0 Patriots.

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With a 38-0 lead, the Dolphins managed a garbage time touchdown with 2:42 remaining in the game when Frank Gore caught a six-yard pass from backup quarterback Brock Osweiler.

The Patriots would go on to win by a final score of 38-7.

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Unbreakable bonds.

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W

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Patriots  Week 4 Report Card, New England Routs Miami 38-7

Steve Balestrieri
at 7:00 am ET

The Patriots looked much more like the team that we are accustomed to seeing on Sunday afternoon in Foxboro. They played their best complete game in quite some time with a dominant, offensive and defensive effort. While it is only one game and they have to start stringing some games like this together, this was exactly what the doctor ordered.

Miami entered this week 3-0 and with a two-game lead in the division and with a chance to go up by three with a tie-breaker. They had been playing well and the Patriots had looked terrible for two weeks in a row.

But the coaches put together an outstanding game plan and the players executed it in fantastic fashion. The team came out immediately, energized, with a tough physical presence and a sense of urgency that has been sorely lacking in a while.

This one was over by halftime with the Pats up 24-0 and then they just put it on cruise control the rest of the way. It was a great game offensively for Sony Michel and James White, with Josh Gordon having an impact immediately. Defensively, Lawrence Guy and Kyle Van Noy were outstanding as the defense pitched a shutout for 57 minutes.

So, check out our grades and see how the team fared in this week’s blowout win.

Quarterback: B

Tom Brady got off to a bit of a slow start but got the passing game going and he ended up with 274 yards and three touchdowns. This was on a day where the running game was gashing the Dolphins defense. But his two picks hurt his overall grade, where each was preventable because of uncharacteristic mistakes.

But he did get the wide receivers going, hitting a 55-yard touchdown pass to Cordarrelle Patterson for his first Patriots touchdown. A nice 9-yard dart to Phillip Dorsett for another score. And he lasered a third-down pass to newcomer Josh Gordon on a slant for a 13-yard gain to get him his first reception on the team. And his best pass of the day was a gorgeous rainbow pass to James White in the corner of the end zone where he was getting drilled as he released it. Just like they draw it up in the bucket drill during camp.

But his two picks were preventable. On the first, he got fooled when Bobby McCain was running with Chris Hogan. Dorsett was to cut under the Hogan route, where it was supposed to generate some open space. But McCain passed off Hogan to a deep safety and sat down right on the spot that Dorsett was crossing. He made a very good head’s up play. On Brady’s second INT, he was just trying the force the ball into a very tight, well-covered window. Miami had two defenders located right there while under a heavy rush. He also threw a high pass on the goal line to Patterson which was knocked away and nearly picked. Normally,  Brady delivers that ball low where it can’t be deflected and only catchable by his man.

Running Backs: A

The Patriots running backs had a fantastic productive day.  Sony Michel, who last week had to hear in some circles that he’s already a bust, had he first 100-yard day and NFL touchdown. He rushed 25 times for 112 yards and is beginning to show the trademark burst that he was known for in college.

A cool stat courtesy of Tedy Bruschi, 65 yards of Michel’s 112 came after contact. He’s also seeing the field much better as he becomes more comfortable in the offense.

James White had 112 total yards of offense, with 44 yards rushing including a nice 22-yard touchdown run and 68 yards receiving including the beautiful aforementioned rainbow from Brady for a score. He also ran a perfect rub route on Patterson’s 55-yard TD catch which freed up the receiver for an easy pitch and catch.

James Develin was his usual solid self in the running game, delivering big blocks to get the backs to the second level. Kenjon Barner got some work in at garbage time and got some snaps in which may set the table for more work down the road.

Wide Receivers: B

The wide receivers had a much more productive day. The arrival of Josh Gordon and his small sample size (18 plays), belied his influence on the field. While he had just two catches for 32 yards, both were on third down and Brady made it clear he was not just a decoy. He also drew a penalty that resulted in another first down and made a nice block downfield on White’s TD run. His arrival opened up some space for the other receivers. It was a good start.

Phillip Dorsett and Chris Hogan are complimentary type receivers and not the #1 types that they been forced to assume early this season. Dorsett had four catches for 55 yards including the somersaulting TD grab. Hogan had one catch for 25 yards, and Patterson had the 55-yard touchdown catch as well as an 11-yard carry.

The overall group will get even better with the arrival of Julian Edelman who was back in the facility on Monday but is not yet part of the 53-man roster as the team will have to make a corresponding roster move.

Tight Ends: B

Rob Gronkowski has been bothered by an ankle injury which has limited him in practice the past 10 days. He aggravated the injury late in the game and with the blowout score was taken out. He’s considered day-to-day but with the short week, it would seem that he is doubtful to play this week.

Gronk had a couple of good catches in traffic and ended up with 4 catches for 44 yards on the day. Dwayne Allen had a very good day in the run blocking department as he was clearing house for the backs. He was targeted on a deep route that was knocked away and caught a pass behind the line, that perhaps Brady should have thrown away where the Dolphins were all over him for a loss.

Offensive Line: B+

The offensive line had a tremendous bounce-back day. After being manhandled for two straight weeks, a little home cooking was just what the doctor ordered. Dante Scarnecchia’s crew took it to the Dolphins front seven and the Patriots running game carved them up for 175 yards on the ground.

Unlike the past few games where they couldn’t open up holes, they were getting a good push and did a very good job of protecting Tom Brady. Miami has a pair of outstanding edge rushers in Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn and both had quiet days which is a big win for New England.

Defensive Line: A-

The defensive line simplified things a bit and rather than being reactive and pushed around, they were setting the tone of things and dominated up front.  After getting gashed two weeks in a row, the run defense allowed the Dolphins only 56 yards rushing, most of which long after the outcome was settled. Miami averaged 3.1 yards per rush.

Lawrence Guy had an outstanding game inside, Malcom Brown was much improved and the line was bolstered by the return of Trey Flowers who is always very solid. The Patriots did a great job of pushing the pocket and collapsing it around Ryan Tannehill. He frequently couldn’t step into his throws, which is why so many sailed high for him.

The unit only had two sacks, one by Adam Butler and one by newcomer John Simon but they had good pressure all game long around the QB’s feet.

Linebackers: A-

This was a fantastic day for the Patriots linebackers despite them barely registering on the stat sheet. The linebackers were active, chipping the Dolphins receivers, tight ends, and backs and looked quite the antithesis to the slow, plodding group that we saw for two weeks.

Kyle Van Noy was outstanding all game long mixing in run and pass coverage.  He recovered a fumble when the Dolphins backup center snapped the ball over Tannehill’s head before he was ready. Elandon Roberts was playing his downhill, thumping game and was a thorn in the backfield before he was injured late in the game. Dont’a Hightower had a very active, physical game.

One way to combat their lack of speed is to chip the backs and receivers off the line. On Sunday that was the game plan and they worked it to perfection. The Dolphins speed was negated and their backs and tight ends were not a factor. Dolphins running backs had just three catches for 29 yards, and two of those came in garbage time.

Secondary: A-

The secondary played their best game of the season and arguably their best in quite some time. The game plan was to get physical with the Dolphins receivers at the line of scrimmage. This was conducted to throw off their timing as well as negating their team speed.

The game plan worked to perfection as the Dolphins wide receivers were blanketed by the Patriots secondary all game long. Tannehill had nowhere to throw the ball. He entered the game completing 72 percent of his throws with a passer rating of 121.8 on the season. He finished just 11 of 20 for 100 yards with no touchdowns and an interception. The Dolphins wide receivers had 11 receptions for just 97 yards. Rookie J.C. Jackson had his first career interception.

Pat Chung was back and in this Patriots defense, he is outstanding. He is extremely versatile and can play as an in-the-box safety, cover tight ends or even play in the slot. He’s an excellent tackler and a smart savvy player. Mike Gesicki the talented rookie tight end had just one catch for 9 yards.

Special Teams: B

Cordarrelle Patterson didn’t get many opportunities to strut his stuff as the Dolphins only kicked off twice. But Cyrus Jones had a very nice 24-yard punt return at the beginning of the second quarter. The Dolphins return game didn’t do much despite having the dangerous Jakeem Grant and the always elusive Danny Amendola. Was that Danny Amendola starting to run to the Patriots sidelines after returning a punt in the first half? Ryan Allen only had to punt twice and Stephen Gostkowski had a chip shot (20-yard) FG and extra points to make.

Coaches: A

What a difference a week makes. The Patriots had a great game plan to combat the Dolphins speed and worked it perfectly. It was a tad reminiscent of those old Patriots-Colts games of the early 2000s in the old stadium. They were physical with the Miami receivers and wouldn’t allow them any separation.

Bill Belichick had the team ready to go on Sunday.  They played with the urgency and energy that we’ve come to expect of Patriots teams. Josh McDaniels called a superb game, mixing in the run and pass perfectly.  He was calling the right plays to get everyone involved. The offense for the first time this season looked like the offense that we expected to see.

This overall was a very solid team win. Now they have to start stringing a few together. They have a short week with Indy coming into Foxboro on Thursday night.  Then they will have 10 days to come up with a game plan to slow down the Chiefs offense.

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 Smash Dolphins 38-7 In Dominant Fashion, Three Up, Three Down

Steve Balestrieri
October 1, 2018 at 7:30 am ET

For one week at least, the Patriots have calmed the fears of fans of New England as they broke a two-game losing skid in dominant fashion, demolishing the not-ready-for-primetime Miami Dolphins 38-7.

On Sunday afternoon, Miami came in riding high at 3-0 while the Pats limped in at 1-2 and much was made of whether the Patriots defense, which seemed slow and unathletic would be able to keep up with the team speed of Miami. The defense answered the bell today and Miami never seriously threatened to score until a garbage time drive by their backup quarterback as New England dominated in all three phases of the game.

The Patriots won the physical game up front, both the offensive and defensive lines clearly won the 1-on-1 matchups as the Pats rolled for 175 yards on the ground, springing Sony Michel and James White for big chunks of yardage all game long, something that had been sorely missing for the past two weeks.

Michel who was foolishly labeled a draft bust by the hot takes crowd after just two weeks and after having missed all of the preseason rushed for 112 yards on 25 carries with a touchdown. White had 112 yards from scrimmage with 44 yards rushing, 68 yards receiving and had a touchdown rushing and receiving.

Defensively, the Patriots front seven stuffed the Dolphins on early downs, putting QB Ryan Tannehill in third and long situations all game long. Of course, getting two of their best defenders in Trey Flowers and Pat Chung back helped. We wrote in our pregame matchups that the defense had to get out of early holes that made third-down conversions easy. Tannehill faced third downs needing 12, 10, 10 (converted via penalty), 13, 8 and 24 yards in the pivotal first half. That is much, much better.

Miami was only 1-6 on third down in the first half, and that came as the half was winding down and the defense was giving them the underneath stuff.  By the time the first 30 minutes were over, the game was over with the Patriots going into intermission with a 24-0 lead.

Even more encouraging, the passing game got going against a very good Dolphins secondary. Tom Brady threw for 274 yards and three touchdowns but they got the big chunk plays that they’ve been missing. Brady hit Cordarrelle Patterson for a 55-yard touchdown, James White and Phillip Dorsett who caught a somersaulting 9-yard touchdown pass from Brady rounded out the scoring.

After having no success throwing to his wide receivers thru the first three weeks, they contributed 10 receptions for 166 yards. Hardly earthshattering numbers, but much better. And with the news that Julian Edelman returns on Monday, this should have an immediate impact on the passing game.

Newcomer Josh Gordon played only 18 snaps but did have an immediate impact. He caught two passes for 32 yards, both third-down conversions, and drew a penalty giving the offense another first down. But perhaps the best indicator from him was the nice block he made downfield on White’s 22-yard touchdown run. That is something the Patriots pride themselves on with the WRs and it is an early sign that Gordon is buying in.

The Patriots offensive line looked much, much better in springing the backs this week, and giving them the needed space to make the tough yards inside where they like to run and after the criticism, they’ve had to endure the past few weeks, this was a big, bounce-back game. Defensively, the line was penetrating, Miami had nowhere to run, with most of their 56 yards rushing coming long after this one was settled. Again in the pivotal first half, Miami rushed six times for seven yards.

The Dolphins had just 172 yards of offense, 75 of which came on the final garbage time drive led by backup QB Brock Osweiler where they scored with under three minutes to go. Tannehill, who entered the game completing 72 percent of his throws and with a passer rating of 121.8, completed just 11-20 for 100 yards with no touchdowns and an Interception.

Although he was sacked just twice, the Patriots had good pressure around the pocket all day where he wasn’t able to step into his throws all day. That’s why it seemed many of his passes sailed on him. His best throw was on the first snap of the game, where he drilled a 22-yard pass to Kenny Stills right between two defenders. That would be the Dolphins longest play of the day.

The Patriots defense allowed just 3.1 yards per rush and 4.3 yards per pass. Malcom Brown had a big bounce-back game as well as Dont’a Hightower. Lawrence Guy and Kyle Van Noy were particularly very good for the defense, who got solid contributions from everyone in the secondary, including rookie J.C. Jackson who got his first NFL interception on a pass that Tannehill underthrew a bit on a deep fly.

UP AND DOWN –

UP: Unlike a week ago, we could easily name several players here, and will add on to our three up just a tad this week.

Sony Michel: Imagine a rookie 1st round running back being labeled a bust after just two games when that back missed all of the preseason. Welcome to the world of New England overreaction sports radio. Michel looked much more comfortable in the Patriots offense this week and was showing more and more flashes of why the team thought so highly of him with a very solid performance.

Michel had 112 yards on 25 carries with a TD in the best game of his young career and quieted the critics for a week at least. As he gets more comfortable out there, his vision will continue to improve and we’re starting to see that burst he was so known for at Georgia.

James White: Last week, Tom Brady lamented that the coaches needed to get White more involved in the offense as he’s always a big playmaker. Mission accomplished. White had a typically big-play day with a 22-yard touchdown run and a 14-yard touchdown reception where Brady dropped a dime in the corner of the end zone as he was getting drilled.

Lawrence Guy: The big man inside is always one of the more underrated members of the Patriots defense and on Sunday afternoon he contributed big time to the overall defensive effort. The Patriots mixed up their fronts and at times, Guy shifted over to a DE spot and was outstanding, as the front seven was overall against the run.

Josh Gordon: His Patriots debut in front of a loud and raucous home crowd was just a small sample size (18 plays), but a successful one. His two catches were both on third down which signals that Brady wasn’t afraid to go to him right off the bat.

Both of his catches and a drawn penalty helped keep drives alive. He made a nice downfield block on White’s touchdown run and said all the right things after the game. So far, so good

Down:

Injuries: On a short week, with a game on Thursday night against the Colts, there are three injuries that need to be monitored. Rob Gronkowski, who was nursing an ankle injury before the game, left in the third quarter when he re-aggravated it.

Elandon Roberts who played a very solid, active game at middle linebacker left with looked like a fairly serious ankle or foot injury. Adam Butler was also injured in the second half and was on the ground in obvious pain.

Brady Decision Making: On what was otherwise a very good game by Tom Brady, he was victimized by the ball-hawking Dolphins secondary twice in the game, and both could be characterized by poor decision-making.

His first pick was actually a play where Brady was fooled by the Miami coverage. Bobby McCain was running with Chris Hogan on a deep post. Phillip Dorsett was supposed to cut inside Hogan for a deep cross. But McCain passed off Hogan to the safety and sat right in the throwing lane. He made a smart heads-up play for the pick.

On the second interception, Brady just got too greedy up 38-0 and tried to force the ball into tight coverage when he should have just thrown the ball away. It may be just a tad nitpicky here, but these are the kinds of mistake we generally don’t see from #12.

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