Tag Archives: Jamie Collins

PatsFans.com Patriots 53-man Roster Projection 1.0

Steve Balestrieri
June 11, 2019 at 6:00 am ET

With the Patriots mandatory mini-camp over, it is time to a very early look at a New England Patriots 53-man roster projection. We were fortunate enough to be there for the entire three days this season. While there was no contact and no pads, it gave a good if albeit premature look at how the 2019 roster could play out.

Later this summer, we’ll post primers for each position but here is our first crack at a  workable 53-man roster.

Offense –
Quarterbacks: (3)

Tom Brady, Brian Hoyer, Jarrett Stidham

The Patriots will once again go with three quarterbacks this summer. Hoyer is entrenched as the #2 for now and in minicamp the rookie Stidham was taking all of the #3 reps, at times on the final day, he even got #2 reps before Hoyer so the coaches could get a look at what he can do in the offense. He has a long way to go, but he’s clearly got the coaches intrigued with his down-the-road potential.

Bad news for Danny Etling who was working as the personal protector during minicamp. Oh and that Brady kid from Michigan? He’ll be okay and should stick….

Running backs: (6)

Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, James White, Damien Harris, Brandon Bolden, James Develin

Sony Michel missed all of mini-camp which raises the question if he’s hurt. With the drafting of the impressive rookie Harris, he and Burkhead can spell Michel if he’s out for a while. James White isn’t going anywhere and the team brought back Bolden for STs and to fill in if needed. Develin is invaluable as the fullback who can block and catch the odd pass here or there.

Tight ends: (3)
Matt Lacosse, Ryan Izzo, Stephen Anderson **Ben Watson Suspended**

The Patriots have Lacosse as the clear #1 heading into the season with Watson suspended for the first month of the season unless they make a trade. Izzo is the blocking (read Dwayne Allen) tight end who nudges out Andrew Beck while Anderson is the “move” tight end who may be on the block once Watson is eligible to return.

The position has been totally revamped since last season and it may take some time to gel once the regular season starts. Training camp will be invaluable for this group

Wide Receivers: (5)
Julian Edelman, N’Keal Harry, Phillip Dorsett, Maurice Harris, Jakobi Meyers
**Josh Gordon Suspended** ***Demaryius Thomas PUP***

Edelman, Harry, and Dorsett are roster locks…barring injury. Meyers with his size and hands makes it yet another year with a UDFA making the roster out of training camp.

Thomas and Gordon (if reinstated), give the team some intriguing options. Berrios had a good spring and looks the part in the slot, he and Meyers will battle it out for the spot. Dontrelle Inman has a lot of ground to make up. He didn’t catch a single pass in team drills during mini-camp. Ryan Davis and Gunner Olszewski are practice squad candidates.

Offensive line: (8)
Isaiah Wynn, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon, Joe Thuney, Yodny Cajuste, Ted Karras, Hjalte Froholdt

The state of the offensive line centers around health. Wynn missed all of last year with an Achilles injury. He was at mini-camp but was held out of team drills. Cajuste who they drafted this spring had off-season surgery and it is hoped he’ll be ready to go by September.

In the meantime, Joe Thuney played left tackle this spring. Expect him to get some work there this summer, even if Wynn is a full go for training camp. Left tackle and swing tackle are the two question marks. Cole Croston heads to the practice squad. After that, the offensive line is solid.

Defense –

Edge Players: (4)
Michael Bennett, Deatrich Wise, John Simon, Chase Winovich

After losing Trey Flowers, the Patriots brought in Bennett. Wise is a solid if unspectacular veteran now and Simon played very well for them last season. They’re hoping Winovich can step in and play as advertised. I like his motor and relentlessness. This could be the end of the line for Derek Rivers this summer. He is going to be given an opportunity to show what he can do. He got reps with the 1st personnel grouping last week. Keionta Davis and Trent Harris may still be able to step up in case of an injury.  

Interior Defensive Line: (4)

Lawrence Guy, Mike Pennel, Danny Shelton, Adam Butler

Guy and Pennel should be the Week 1 starting combination inside. Shelton returns, as the backup big man inside. Butler is the best pass rusher of the group. David Parry and Byron Cowart are on the outside but will have to turn some heads in August.

Linebacker: (6)

Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Elandon Roberts, Brandon King

Linebacker is a position of strength heading into training camp this summer. Hightower has slimmed down, gotten more pliable, and is moving well. Van Noy has been a jack of all trades, but the biggest surprise (pleasant) of the spring has been the play of Collins. He has been all over the field disrupting plays at the line and playing solid coverage

Roberts, coming off of a solid postseason and Bentley who shined early in 2018 before ending on IR, gives the group really good depth.

Cornerback: (6)
Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jason McCourty, Joejuan Williams, Jonathan Jones, Duke Dawson

Gilmore and Jackson are the starters for Week 1. But this group is really deep and very talented. Jones and Dawson (who beats out Crossen) can play in the slot and McCourty can play safety, outside or inside. Williams is a big corner (6’4) that allows him to play against the bigger WRs or even tight ends. The versatility of this group provides them with the matchups they can roll against nearly every opponent.

Safety: (4)
Devin McCourty, Pat Chung, Duron Harmon, Nate Ebner

Ebner beats out Terrence Brooks …on paper for now. Brooks has superior defensive skills but Ebner is a Belichick favorite on Special Teams. Obi Melifonwu played STs and has the size and athleticism but seems far back on the depth chart right now. He’ll need a big summer to push Ebner and Brooks off the roster. Malik Grant is a candidate for the practice squad.

Specialists: (4)
Kicker Stephen Gostkowski, punter Jake Bailey, long-snapper Joe Cardona, Gunner Matthew Slater

Gostkowski returns and has no camp competition. He and long snapper Joe Cardona are both locks for the 53-man roster. The big competition is at punter. The team brought back the steady Ryan Allen on a one-year deal but they moved up to draft Jake Bailey, the big-legged punter and kick off specialist from Stanford. By now you’ve no doubt heard about the charge he puts into the ball. If he gets his consistency down, he’ll make the roster.

Slater isn’t going anywhere. Watching him race up and down the field this spring, practicing his moves on his own shows the fire still burns very bright for him.

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 and game analysis.

New England Patriots News 6-09, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
June 9, 2019 at 5:00 am ET

Football is a great deal like life in that it teaches that work, sacrifice, perseverance, competitive drive, selflessness and respect for authority is the price that each and every one of us must pay to achieve any goal that is worthwhile.
Vince Lombardi

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 06-09 and AFC East notes this week.

The Patriots mandatory three-day minicamp is in the books and there was plenty of interesting things to see and take note of during the practices. Bill Belichick commented on how he believed that they accomplished a lot during the three days. With the teaching camp in the books, the evaluation will commence once training camp begins.

Quick Hitters:

The 2018 Patriots – got together for the final time at Robert Kraft’s house, and in a celebration with pomp and ceremony, the team received their Super Bowl rings. The sheer size of them now lends itself to question the term “ring” and despite the over-the-top gaudiness of them, there are 31 other teams that wished that was them on Thursday night. Very impressive pieces of jewelry.

The Patriots put up a big photo gallery of the night here:

Joe Cardona – the Patriots long-snapper was promoted inside Gillette Stadium on Thursday morning to Lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve prior to the minicamp practice. Tom Brady spoke about how Cardona epitomizes “commitment to our team and to our country” later in the day. And it happened on the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy. A very cool moment

Tom Brady – Looked in mid-season form for the three days of minicamp. His mechanics are always flawless. Every year I take pics of him throwing and compare them to the years before and you could lay them on top of one another and couldn’t tell the difference.

Brady “deuxième partie” – Brady and Josh McDaniels conducted a side session with rookies Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry on Thursday. They were trying to get their timing and chemistry down, in terms of how they want routes run, where the breaks should happen, the angle of the cuts and ball placement. Fascinating stuff to watch. The work they do in June and July pays dividends in January and February.

Ivan Fears – The Patriots running back coach is beginning his 21st consecutive year with the Patriots, he also had an earlier stint with the team. Fears is one of our favorite guys to watch and listen to during the practices. We got a chance to chat with him before practice briefly on Thursday. After mentioning that the running backs looked good so far but that we’re sure he’d find areas to critique them, Fears got a big grin and said, “Oh I’ll always find ways to critique them.” Asked about Brandon Bolden’s return, he said how Bolden brings energy to the field and his teammates every day.

Troy Brown/Deion Branch – Excellent seeing the two of them work so closely with Joe Judge the Patriots STs Coordinator/WRs Coach and the players this week. Both of them know what it takes to be successful in the Patriots passing game and the two former players lending themselves to teaching the young players was intriguing to watch.

Mini-camp Wrap, Final Thoughts:

In their quest for “Knockin on Seven’s Door” that begins in September, the Patriots started the process with OTAs and their mandatory minicamp. Watching it all for three days, albeit without pads or contact was interesting as the coaches try to mold the 2019 version of the team. Here are some of the things that were intriguing to watch and will bear further consideration moving forward.

Left Tackle Status – Without Isaiah Wynn and Yodny Cajuste taking part in team drills this week, the Patriots moved left guard Joe Thuney into the left tackle position. He was getting nearly all of the first personnel grouping’s reps. And he was practicing with the tackles as well.

The good news, however, is that Wynn was on the field and taking part in individual drills and exhibits no sign of being limited at all after his Achilles surgery. Which lends itself to believe that he should be ready to go by training camp.

Tight End Production – With the release of Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Ben Watson suspended for the first four games of the season, it puts the ball squarely in the corner of Matt Lacosse. Lacosse looked good in the workouts this week, moving well and displaying nice hands, catching everything thrown his way.

We were on hand when Lacosse spoke to the media after Wednesday’s practice session. Which can be seen here:

Ryan Izzo, Andrew Beck seem to be both competing for the blocking tight end role while Stephen Anderson is looking to carve out a role as the “move” tight end.

Brady nixed suggestions that the Patriots are going to diminish the tight end role in the offense. “That has to be a position of strength, even if it’s not one player but multiple players doing different roles,” Brady said. “There were times in my career before that where we’ve had similar approaches.” He finished his thoughts on an upbeat note.

“The tight end position is a big part of our offense and those guys are going to have to do a great job for us.”

Jamie Collins Return, Seems Like a Bigger Development…for Now – We were against the addition of Collins this spring on these pages, remembering the reasons why they jettisoned him in the first place. However, if minicamp is any indication, the Patriots coaches, especially LBs coach Jerod Mayo have bigger plans for Collins.

This week, at least Collins wearing #8, for now, was playing a big role for the defense in their alignments. And, again without pads on, he was asserting his will against the offense during team drills.

Even Mike Reiss was on-board with this train of thought calling Collins “active and looking like key cog” in the defense. Surprising. Another thing to watch for in training camp when that kicks off in about 5-6 weeks.

Maurice Harris Looking Good – Another mild surprise here. Harris was given little chance to make the roster when he was picked up this spring. Well…after the three-day mini-camp, Harris did nothing to hurt his chances of not only making the roster but carving out a role for himself.

We’ve gotten DMs, phone calls, and e-mails about Harris, “He’s a JAG!”, “He’s not going to make the rostah!” Well…you have to report on what you see. And for three days, Harris caught everything thrown his way. On the flip side, I didn’t see Dontrelle Inman catch a single pass in team drills…maybe I missed some or even one. But we’ve seen this film before. One is trending up, the other down.

Cornerbacks are Looking Deep and Talented – The Patriots have a plethora of corners on this team and every one of them can play. That isn’t hype or hyperbole but a fact. This is arguably the team’s biggest strength heading into training camp.

Stephon Gilmore blanketed everyone thrown at him all week. J.C. Jackson looked very solid for the first two days before missing Thursday’s practice session. Those two are the two starters, that we expect to see in Week 1. Some people feel Jackson may someday supplant Gilmore as the #1 corner on the team…

However,  behind them are several more talented players. Jonathan Jones has already been a starting slot corner. Jason McCourty has started both outside and in the slot. Rounding out this talented group is Duke Dawson, Joejuan Williams, Ken Webster, and D’Angelo Ross. The cornerback group can mix and match with just about everyone and it is going to be intriguing to see how the defense aligns this year depending on the opponent.

The Punting Competition Will Be a Key One to Watch – Once again this summer, Ryan Allen will be battling for his job. Last year, he bested Corey Bojorquez and then was arguably one of the players that could have won the MVP of the Super Bowl with the way he pinned the Rams deep all game long.

This year, Allen will take on rookie Jake Bailey from Stanford who possesses a massive leg. Bailey was putting the ball into the ozone all week, getting some tremendous height and hang time on his punts.

It will be a battle of consistency over strength. Allen was his usual consistent self all week, while Bailey, even when booming most of his punts all week, had a few that were off the mark. Stay tuned.

Edelman Turns In Solid Week Performance-wise and Mentoring:

The Patriots drafted N’Keal Harry with the #32 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft and he’s sure to feel the heat of fans and the media’s expectations this fall. The Patriots drafted Braxton Berrios in the 6th round in 2018. But he didn’t see the field in 2018. Two different players with different backgrounds. But they have a constant voice that is always there for them.

Julian Edelman was the Super Bowl MVP last year who came to the Patriots via Kent State and was a college QB who made the transition to NFL WR who, after Tom Brady is arguably the most valuable Patriot on the offense. In his 11th season, Edelman is not only Brady’s most trusted receiver, but he’s also now taking on the role as a mentor for these younger players on the roster. It is something he feels strongly about.  

Julian Edelman, wearing a Bruins jersey and Jamie Collins before practice on Weds

“I had teammates that help you, and then you had teammates that didn’t,” Edelman said after practice on Wednesday. “I like to be known as a guy that helped you. I like to give little pointers here and there, because the better we all are, the better the team is going to be. I like going out and trying to give information if they want information from me and go from there. It’s part of my job, I guess.”

Edelman recalled Fred Taylor in his rookie season as a veteran who helped him out immensely and he said that he would try to do the same with Harry. Berrios, also after practice on Tuesday, mentioned that Edelman has been a constant source of mentoring for him. He’s looked quick and skilled thus far in minicamp.

Edelman will be looked to for a lot of production this season in the Patriots offense. If the contributions of Harry and Berrios this season are any indication, then Edelman can chalk up mentoring among his accomplishments this year as well.

Gunner Olszewski Is a Player to Watch For This Summer:

The Patriots brought in the undrafted cornerback from tiny Division II Bemidji State and are trying to convert him to a wide receiver. That alone should put him in the long-shot category for making the roster. But not so fast…Julian Edelman, who knows a thing or two about converting to wide receiver at the pro level is high on the youngster.

“I love that guy,” Edelman said. “If he’s got a question, I’m here to help try to answer it to the best of my ability. I feel that’s part of my role on the team, being here so long. He’s working hard. He’s definitely a tough kid. I love the chip on his shoulder, and I like working with him, that’s for sure. He definitely works his tail off, and I like having him around.”

One of the things going for Olszewski, who is generously listed as 6’0, 170, is the fact that he can return kicks and punts. But make no mistake, he doesn’t appear lost out there or like a duck out of water. While the path won’t be an easy one, he can do it.

The Patriots always seem to have undrafted free agents make the roster. With a name like Gunner Olszewski, you can’t help but root for him.

No AFC East Notes This Week:

________________

With the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion this week, it is important that we remember the American, British, Canadian and Free French soldiers who stormed the beaches of Normandy not to conquer but to free the world of Nazism.

“At the core, the American citizen soldiers knew the difference between right and wrong, and they didn’t want to live in a world in which wrong prevailed. So they fought, and won, and we all of us, living and yet to be born, must be forever profoundly grateful.”

–Author Stephen Ambrose

Can’t end the piece without another look at the entire ring ceremony once more.

“So, how was your week?”

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.

Photos: Author

New England Patriots News 5-19, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
May 19, 2019 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 05-19 and AFC East notes this week.

Quick Hitters:

Patriots Plane Makeover – The Patriots team plane got a makeover recently and the results were pretty impressive. The tail now has six Lombardi trophies on it while the fuselage sports the “6X Champions” lettering.

Hardly subtle, but the fans of the team will love the new look for the “AirKraft 767”. At this rate, the painters for the Patriots plane and Bill Belichick’s boat are going to get put on a full-time basis. See the pics below, courtesy of the Patriots.

Brandon King was the recipient of a 2-year contract extension this week. Although he practices with the linebackers, King hasn’t played a snap of defense in his career. The Special Teams stalwart should be pretty much a lock for the roster now. King has had the most STs snaps beside Nate Ebner

Scott Pioli, the former Patriot front-office exec and the assistant GM in Atlanta, resigned his position “to pursue other opportunities”. One potential suitor could be the Jets now that their GM position is semi-open. Adam Gase was named the interim GM as well as holding down the head coach position….more below.

N’Keal Harry and Damien Harris, are representing the Patriots at the NFLPA Rookie Premiere this weekend. According to the NFLPA press release, the rookie premiere is the first major business and marketing event featuring NFL players since becoming professionals. The 40 rookies that are there can get a jump start on their endorsement careers by meeting and signing on with some big-name brands for marketing purposes.

Speaking of N’Keal Harry, he signed his first professional contract this week. Harry is been signed to a 4-year, $10,098,348 deal that includes a $5,364,252 signing bonus, per Adam Schefter

After the NBA Draft Lottery situation played out, many people are now clamoring for an NFL Draft Lottery. Count me totally out on that. Don’t need it, don’t want it. The NFL has already turned everything into an event. Now we’ll have non-stop coverage of the pre-Draft Lottery? No thanks, the current system works just fine.

Jamie Collins Contract Low-Risk Move By the Patriots:

The Patriots have brought linebacker, Jamie Collins, back in the fold, but they hardly threw down the gauntlet of a ton of money to bring the former 2nd round draft pick back. The actual guaranteed money amount is rather small. The team-friendly deal was reported by NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

The total amount of guaranteed money is just $250,000 and a base salary of only $1.05 million dollars. Collins has bonuses tied up with incentives and he’d receive $500,000 for making either the Pro Bowl or an All-Pro. He can also earn $100,000 in workout bonuses and $850,000 in roster bonuses.

Collins can make an additional $250,000 for playing 50 percent of the team’s defensive snaps, another $250,000 for playing 60 percent, another $250,000 for playing 70 percent, and another $250,000 for playing 80 percent of the team’s defensive snaps. He can make another $500,000 by playing 91 percent, and then another $500,000 by playing 95 percent of the Patriots defensive snaps.

Last season, as a member of the Cleveland Browns, Collins was on the field for nearly 91 percent of the Browns defensive snaps. He registered 104 total tackles, four sacks, seven quarterback hits, one interception, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery.

Collins cap number is $3,000,000 with a maximum possible cap number of $5 million. It is a low-risk, possibly high reward scenario by the Patriots who also have Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, and Ja’Whaun Bentley at linebacker from last year. Christian Sam was on IR, and they also have Terez Hall and Calvin Munson. John Simon and 3rd round draft pick Chase Winovich can play both DE or OLB. So the depth is very high at the position. Which makes competition at training camp something to watch.

Running Back Position is Strong and Will Play A Bigger Role:

In typical fashion, while we were all lamenting the lack of depth at wide receiver and tight end this spring, Bill Belichick went out and found another running back. The Patriots selected Alabama running back Damien Harris in the 3rd round. A classic case of zigging while the rest of us were zagging.

Now, the team did go out and draft WR N’Keal Harry in the first round and signed Demaryius Thomas, and Dominique Inman at wide receiver and Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Ben Watson at tight end but the selection of Harris was a very intriguing one.

Harris and second-year back Sony Michel are both very good at running the ball between the tackles. And the Patriots at the end of the 2018 season made a decision to put an emphasis on running the ball. In the Patriots’ three playoff games they rushed for 485 yards or an average of 161.6 yards per game against the Chargers, Chiefs, and Rams. It was after the Pittsburgh game that the team made their choice to lean more on the running game and if you add in those two games, in the team’s final five games of the season, they averaged 177.8 yards per game.

With Shaq Mason, David Andrews, and Joe Thuney inside, the Patriots running game has thrived. Add in the devastating blocking of fullback James Devlin and they are set up well for success again. They will miss the outstanding blocking of Rob Gronkowski who retired, however.

When Michel ran the ball between the tackles in 2018, he averaged more yards per carry than both Ezekial Elliot and Todd Gurley. Harris will certainly add to that. He and Michel can be a very effective 1-2 punch in the running game. Harris is also an underrated pass catcher with good hands and is a very good pass blocker.

But the backfield also has James White and Rex Burkhead who can run as well but are both very good out of the backfield in the passing game. With Gronkowski retired, look for the offense to place White and Burkhead out wide more often to put pressure on the linebackers with mismatches.

The NFL and the Patriots are still pass-first offensively. However, look for the team to be even more balanced between pass and run in 2019.

The Decision to Remain With the Patriots, A No-Brainer for Gostkowski:

For Stephen Gostkowski, the decision to remain with the Patriots in free agency wasn’t that hard.  The 13-year vet was brought in when Adam Vinatieri left in 2006 and has spent his entire career with the Patriots. He re-signed with New England this spring on a two-year deal worth a reported $8.5 million dollars, numbers he could have probably bettered by going elsewhere. But to hear the 35-year old tell it, he’s quite content here.

“To be able to have a chance to do it on one of the most high-pressure teams in the history of sports and have a chance to continue to do it — I think it would be tough to go somewhere else,” Gostkowski said. “The grass might seem greener on the other side, but it’s not always that way. I kind of like the challenge of being here, the bad weather, the pressure of the big games.”

Gostkowski has converted on better than 87 percent of his field goals in his career, third-best in NFL history. He’s also appeared in six Super Bowls, the most for any kicker in league history. After Justin Tucker, it is easy to make the argument that Gostkowski is the best kicker in the league. Last year he converted 49 of 50 extra point attempts and 27 of 32 field goal attempts.

He has been named to four Pro Bowls and twice been named All-Pro.

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Gaining Momentum With Pundits for a Playoff Berth:

The Buffalo Bills, as we wrote here earlier weren’t getting a lot of love from ESPN in their preseason rankings, putting the over/under for wins at 6.5, which is pretty low. However, the same piece put the Patriots win total over/under at 10.5 and some of the media are looking at them in a much more positive light.

Adam Schein said he’d take the over for the Bills at 8.5 if it were that high. NFL.com’s senior analyst and former scout and VP of player personnel Gil Brandt thinks that Buffalo had the 3rd best offseason in the league this spring. Brandt wrote:

All of Buffalo’s moves, combined with rebuilding projects going on with the Dolphins and Jets, mean anything less than a playoff appearance will count as a disappointment.

Also at NFL.com Michael Robinson puts the Bills at 11-5 and slotted as a Wildcard participant in the 2019 season. Pete Prisco from CBS said on the Pick Six podcast that the Bills will earn a Wildcard berth this year with better things happening in 2020.

“They’re not gonna win the division this year,” said Prisco. “They’re gonna push for a Wild Card spot (this season), but in 2020 the Buffalo Bills will finally take over and win that division. How about that?”

Prisco was then asked if he believed that Tom Brady would still be playing?

“Yeah, but the Bills are gonna take the division next year.”

Dolphins Have to go With Rosen This Year:

The Miami Dolphins made a huge splash by trading for QB Josh Rosen for a 2nd round draft pick (#62 overall) during this year’s NFL Draft. Rosen was selected with the #10 overall pick in the 2018 draft by the Cardinals.

It was a shrewd move by Miami where nearly all of Rosen’s guaranteed cash was already paid and they can see what they have in Rosen before deciding to move on or put their trust in him as their franchise QB. But he needs to be the man starting in Week 1. Miami signed journeyman QB Ryan Fitzpatrick as a stop-gap measure after trading Ryan Tannehill earlier this spring. Fitzpatrick is a known commodity, he’s fully capable of lighting it up for a number of games but then being dreadful right behind it. The time to evaluate Rosen should begin right away.

Head coach Brian Flores is saying all the right things, stating before the recent rookie minicamp that the QB position is an open competition, a may-the-best-man-win scenario. But that isn’t really what’s in the best interest for the team in the short or long term. They need to see if Rosen is going to be the man for Miami and if they decide that he is not, then they’ll have plenty of opportunities to move on from him next spring.

With Miami in a complete makeover with a new regime in Flores this year, handing the keys to Fitzpatrick doesn’t really make any sense. They have to know if Rosen can indeed be their franchise QB and the best way to see that is on the field.

The worst-case scenario for Miami is to sit Rosen while going with Fitzpatrick and then having Fitzy go on one of his hot streaks garnering enough wins to knock the Dolphins out of a prime drafting spot. Then they’ll still not know what they have.

Jets – What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been:

The New York Jets have had a coup in the palace and the new head coach Adam Gase has won. GM Mike Maccagnan is out. Just months after hiring the new head coach, the inner workings of the Jets showed that they are a disjointed, hot mess. Right from ownership on down, this is truly the gang green that can’t shoot straight.

After hiring Gase, Maccagnan didn’t want Gase’s input on players that the scouting department was looking at. According to reports from Jets media, Gase wanted (and rightfully so) to give his take on players that he feels will fit his philosophy for playing on the field.

Not having the scouts on the same page with the head coach is a ludicrous exercise in futility for the scouting department. That is the fault with the GM, but Chris Johnson, the head of football operations was ready to fire Maccagnan in January but didn’t feel he or his staff could handle finding a new coach and GM. Wow.

So, Gase distanced himself from the draft process by moving his chair from next to the owner in the draft room to the corner where he was out of camera sight. Gase was apparently PO’d that ownership overpaid for Le’Veon Bell, in essence bidding against themselves.

So after the draft, Gase put a word in the owners’ ear and Maccagnan is out. Gase and Johnson will work on bringing in a GM (Pioli?) who they’ll both agree is a better fit for Gase’s philosophies. After the upheaval at the palace, the pressure, already and always high in New York will be magnified x 10.

And later reports (made up?) began surfacing that the Jets are pursuing Peyton Manning for the vacant GM job. Of course, it may all be a bunch of hooey but nothing would ignite the Jets fan base and some of the more hysterical media members than throwing another Manning in NY.

“Sometimes the lights are shining on me….other times I can barely see.”

________________

The Patriots roster looks really loaded so training camp competition should be excellent this summer before the Patriots begin “Knockin’ on Seven’s Door”. Can’t wait.

“So, how was your week?”

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.

Dont’a Hightower Voices His Excitement For Return Of Jamie Collins

Robert Alvarez
May 18, 2019 at 2:35 pm ET

The New England Patriots brought back a familiar face this past week, signing linebacker Jamie Collins to a one-year contract.

A 2013 second-round draft pick of the Patriots, Collins was a key member of the Super Bowl XLIX championship before a trade to the Browns on Halloween in 2016.

Following news of the signing, Collins shared his excitement in an exchange with linebacker Dont’a Hightower over Twitter.

https://twitter.com/j_collins91/status/1129154082206306304?s=20

Patriots Are Bringing Back Jamie Collins… A Surprise Move

Steve Balestrieri
May 16, 2019 at 6:30 am ET

In a surprising move, the Patriots are bringing back another one of their former players. Linebacker Jamie Collins, a second-round draft pick in 2013 is reportedly signing with New England.

The news was first reported from the Boston Globe’s Jim McBride.

Collins was drafted as an uber-athletic linebacker who at times was dominant on the Patriots defense. The Patriots used him in a variety of ways in his first stint with the team. He and Dont’a Hightower provided a dangerous blitzing tandem up the A-gap, he could play the SAM or the WILL and would drop into coverage. Before being traded to the Browns, he played in 57 regular season and playoff games with the Patriots.

He got a Pro-Bowl berth and a Super Bowl as a member of the 2014 Patriots team that beat Seattle. After being traded Collins signed a 4-year, $50 million dollar extension with the Browns.

The surprising part is unlike Ben Watson who left as a free agent, Collins left under a cloud and was traded to Cleveland for a 3rd round compensatory pick, something the Patriots would have surely have gotten if he left as a free agent the next spring. On his way out of town, Collins was called a freelancer by former team exec Michael Lombardi. Lombardi also said that his work ethic was spotty and that the linebacker wouldn’t always put the effort in that the Patriots required.

In his last game as a Patriot, he barely saw the field against the Buffalo Bills, and on the first play in the game, did exactly the opposite of what was called and was burned for a 28-yard play. One can also recall the 2015 AFC Championship Game when a on-his-last-legs Owen Daniels, a tight end for the Broncos torched the Pats for a pair of touchdowns down the seam. So, while many are excited about his return, that should be tempered against the reasons why he was traded in the first place.

The Patriots will obviously have a plan to use the athletically talented Collins in this defense. And obviously, with Jerod Mayo now as the inside linebacker coach, Collins’ return is something the staff must feel strongly enough behind to make it happen.

In a perfect world, if he’s motivated and buying in then he could provide a versatile, athletic option to an already solid position. The Patriots still have Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, and Elandon Roberts as their top three options. Last year’s rookie Ja’Whaun Bentley was impressive before getting hurt in Detroit and landing on IR.

Bentley, in particular, is an intriguing case. He was impressive all summer long and in his first few games but definitely seems like he’d have a role in the defense. One would hate to see his development take a step back in Year 2.

Christian Sam is another athletic linebacker who was drafted last year but was hurt in training camp. The team also has the versatile John Simon and third-round pick Chase Winovich who can play DE or OLB.

So, Collins roster spot is hardly guaranteed, he’ll be expected to earn his way on the team this summer. With this deal, the devil is in the details. It will be interesting to see what the Patriots are paying Collins. Anything much more than the veteran minimum would be a surprise.

Collins’ time in Cleveland was marked by only so-so play and at times he looked like he suffered from indifferent play. At least one player will be happy to see him return. Hightower took to Twitter to post: ✔@zeus30hightower

He’s back……[email protected]_collins91 #SmashBros back!

The Patriots, already at the 90-man limit will be forced to make a corresponding roster move and release someone. Collins reportedly will be back in Foxboro for the team’s offseason program today.

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.

Patriots Face Tough Challenge Keeping Their Defense Together Heading into Free Agency

Ian Logue
February 13, 2017 at 7:48 am ET

When the trade of Chandler Jones went down last March, the move seemed to be the signal of New England’s decision to ensure they would be able to lock up Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins for the foreseeable future and maybe even extend Malcolm Butler and possibly a couple of other players.

Nearly a year later, none of that happened.

Hightower is coming off of a solid season, which included a key play in Super Bowl LI that allowed New England to get back in the game and ultimately pull off a historic comeback to win their fifth title.  As for Collins, he was shipped to Cleveland midseason, rumored to be because of problems stemming from not sticking to the team’s defensive scheme and potentially becoming an issue in the locker room.

Meanwhile, Butler had another great year and is closing in on being a restricted free agent, having played for right around $600k for 2016, far below his market value.  New England is in the driver’s seat with Butler, but the fact he hasn’t yet been locked up for the long-term is still an interesting situation. It’s possible the Patriots may have wanted to be sure his terrific showing in 2015 wasn’t an anomaly and if that’s the case, he’s cernatainly shown that he should be part of the team’s nucleus moving forward and is worthy of a pay increase.

But the fact that no extensions came about is interesting given the fact that things had seemed like they were shaping up to go that route.  The Patriots had made their moves, all that was seemingly left to do was to work out the numbers.

Yet nothing was ever worked out with any of those players, but it’s not like they didn’t try.  According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, before this season, the team offered Hightower a deal worth more than $10-million per season and he reportedly turned it down.  The team could use the franchise tag (worth around $14 million), which the team has done in the past with another key player on defense in Vince Wilfork (2010) before eventually reaching to an extension.

Whatever they come up with will have to be competitive as he seems focused on making sure he’s paid appropriately after making two game-saving plays (his stop against Marshawn Lynch two years ago set up Butler’s game-winning interception) in two Super Bowl victories.

“Absolutely. I’ve spent five years here. I’m eager to see how that’ll turn out,” Hightower told the Providence Journal of free agency. “I’m looking forward to it. … I love New England. I love the fans. They can keep their cold weather, but it’s been a great five years and I’ve loved every second of it.”

Behind Hightower is defensive back Logan Ryan and safety Duron Harmon, who have each been solid in their roles on the defense.  As a cornerback, Ryan will likely garner interest in the open market and may enter a price tag that could just become too high for the Patriots, especially given how much they’ll eventually need to pay Butler.  The same could be said for Harmon, who has played his way into earning a big raise and he’ll likely get it from a team looking for such a talented player to add to their secondary.


Branch joins Hightower among defensive free agents this offseason.

There’s also Alan Branch, who the Patriots caught a major break with after the veteran won his appeal to avoid a late season suspension that could have jeopardized their solid finish and cost them their top seed.  His value up front can’t be understated, and he’s proven he’s a key part of their defense.

Then there’s Jabaal Sheard, who had a rough year but came on strong down the stretch, and he’s another player who New England will likely try and keep.  The same goes for Chris Long, who took a while to really get comfortable in this defense but got stronger as the year went on and proved to be a smart pick-up before the season.

The fact there are so many players will be a challenge, and oddly enough, It seems like it’s the first time that whatever plan the front office seemingly had to be proactive didn’t seem to work out.  It’s almost to the point where it’s hard not to wonder if there’s a collective effort out in the world of player agents to finally try and stop this juggernaut from underpaying guys in what they feel is too low below market value.  Given similar situations in the past, the fact nothing got done between last March and September is a bit of a red flag, and a curious situation to say the least.

Either way, this team faces some difficult challenges on the defensive side of the football this offseason as they try and keep their nucleus intact.  Success tends to result in big paydays since other teams want a taste of what each of these players just accomplished, and it will likely make things interesting in the coming months.  But with a higher cap number and over $60-million in cap room, the Patriots certainly have the space to get it done.

Now it’s just a matter of making the numbers work.  Hopefully, unlike last year, they’ll have a little more success this time around.

Jamie Collins Posts Curious Message To Instagram About Being In Cleveland

Robert Alvarez
November 29, 2016 at 8:29 am ET

On his Instagram account Monday morning, Cleveland Browns linebacker Jamie Collins posted an interesting photo “meme” that contained the message “I may not be where I need to be, but thank God I’m not where I used to be.”

https://www.instagram.com/p/BNWyComBLbJ/

It is unknown what exactly Collins is referring to, it might not mean anything at all, but given his abrupt departure from the New England Patriots he could be implying how happy he is in Cleveland despite the teams 0-12 start.

Another puzzling aspect to the photograph, was Collins tagged teammate and former Patriot Anthony Johnson who also was just picked up by the Browns.

In four games with Cleveland, Collins has 19 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble but during Sunday’s loss to the New York Giants, Collins effort was questioned on multiple plays by observers.

New England Patriots News 11-20, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
November 20, 2016 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here are Sunday’s Patriots news 11-20, and AFC East Notes for this week.

Congratulations to Ty Law for being a semi-finalist for the 2017 Class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Law may not make the cut this year but he certainly belongs. His numbers speak for themselves. His 53 career interceptions are tied with Deion Sanders. Durable, tough and a key cog on three Super Bowl winning teams. He was a big reason that Bill Polian lobbied the rules committee [of which he was a member] to have the PI rules changed after Law, beat up on the Colts WRs and picked off Peyton Manning three times in the playoffs.

Classy move by Tony Romo this week. How tough was that to admit, that you don’t deserve to be the starting QB for the Cowboys down the stretch. He’ll probably wear orange next season….just a guess but we’ve seen that before.

Bennett Trade Proves Smart with Gronkowski Injury:
The news that TE Rob Gronkowski wasn’t going to travel this week and therefore not play in today’s game against the 49ers wasn’t a shock. Gronk took a thunderous, but legal hit from safety Earl Thomas in last week’s loss to the Seahawks and had a chest injury, some called a perforated lung. Whatever it was/is, he didn’t practice this week.

But the trade that brought Martellus Bennett to the Pats is proving to be a valuable one. Bennett filled in nicely during the first four games of the season when Gronk missed the first two and was slow to work his way back in the next pair.

Now he’ll be asked to be the primary tight end in the passing game and with Chris Hogan also out this week [back], his importance in the game plan will become even more pronounced.

Belichick Isn’t a fan of Advanced Metrics:
In one of the more colorful press conferences this fall, Bill Belichick made his feelings known about advanced metrics. Asked on Friday if a quarterback’s quick release had always been a focal point of his offense, or whether it became more important after the rise of advanced metrics websites, Belichick unloaded.

“What the hell is that?” Belichick said. “You can take those advanced websites and metric them wherever you want. I don’t know. I have no idea. I’ve never looked at one. I wouldn’t even care to look at one. I don’t even care what they say.”

But he wasn’t done there, he broke it down into the simplest terms and preached a team concept on an effective quarterback and offensive play. Remember this is the coach who loudly preached in 2009 that, “Stats are for losers.”

“It’s timing, decision making, execution by the entire offensive team, that’s what the passing game is,” Belichick said. “Receiver’s got to get open and catch the ball. The quarterback has to read the coverage, make the right decision, make an accurate throw.

“All the metric pages and all that, I have no idea. You’d have to ask that to a smarter coach than me. I’m sorry.” While typically Belichick-ian in his response, essentially Bill said the same thing while kinda thumbing his nose at the guys from PFF.

More Intrigue with the Defense, Did Sheard Stay in NE?
While the Patriots were over the skies en route to San Francisco, Jabaal Sheard [or someone using his account], sent an Instagram post from the Celtics game on Friday night. Sheard wasn’t listed on the injury report this week. So, if he indeed stayed home then one would have to assume that he’s going to be a healthy scratch for Sunday’s game.

Such a move would show a definitive dissatisfaction with the big man’s play. Big things were expected this season from Sheard, who moved into the starting lineup with the trade of Chandler Jones. But his play this season hasn’t matched up to that from last year where he had 8.5 sacks as a sub-package plugin. He played a season-low 16 snaps against Seattle last week, giving way to Trey Flowers on the depth chart.

As we write this [Friday evening], we’ll watch for updates and confirmation from SF to find out if he indeed stayed home this weekend.  If so, then that won’t bode well for the 27-year old who is in a contract year.

***UPDATE*** Sheard was indeed left in New England and won’t play for performance reasons this week. If that is the case, the chances of them bringing him back next season are about nil now. The team will definitely be in the market for an edge rusher.

Patriots May Ease Dion Lewis Back into the Mix Today:
In a bit of good news this week, Patriots running back Dion Lewis made the team’s flight out to San Francisco and could make his season debut against the Niners today. Lewis was dynamic a year ago out of the backfield for the Patriots before tearing his ACL on a non-contact play against the Redskins.

Lewis activated from the PUP to the active roster last week but was inactive against the Seahawks. Could he see his first action this week? It would appear so. The Patriots have wisely taken a cautious approach with Lewis, allowing him to work his way back from the serious leg injury.

And with good reason, James White has had a very good 2016 season thus far and has become a valued, trusted member of the offense. Both are equally good at catching the ball out of the backfield. Lewis had the innate ability to make people miss and is the most elusive of the two. How will they ease him into the mix and how will he be used more down the stretch?

Look for Brady to put him in motion and flex him outside creating mismatches on linebackers. It was an area where they created quite a bit of production last season and something they haven’t done much with White this year.

Good Acting? Or Was Brady Sending a Message?
The recently released and quickly gone viral video for Footlocker that Tom Brady did this week was a hilarious view on Deflategate by the Patriots QB.

The never-mentioned but thinly veiled shot at Roger Goodell and the NFL over Brady’s suspension over ignoring of the Ideal Gas Law quickly struck a chord with Patriots fans. But now it begs the question…. Was it good acting or was Brady venting his true feelings after nearly two years? Watch it one more time and you be the judge.

Who Do You Like This Week:
Last week’s picks were 7-7 putting me at 81-63-2 on the year. So, who do you like today?

I am going with for the games on tap today Carolina from TNF (picked last Sunday) Pittsburgh, Dallas, Detroit, Tennessee, Cincinnati, KC, NYG, Minnesota, Miami, NE, Seattle, Washington, Oakland

Early pick for Thanksgiving Day/Night Football, (Detroit, Pittsburgh, Dallas).

Eastbound and Down, AFC East Notes:

Bills Secondary Looking for Better Results vs Cincinnati:
The Buffalo Bills are coming off their bye week and although the lead the league with 30 sacks in 2016, they’ve given up an alarming amount of big plays and this area is one where both the coaches and players are looking to correct.

Buffalo has allowed a league-high seven plays of 50+ yards in the passing game this season and coach Rex Ryan isn’t pleased. Ryan said this week that Bills opponents don’t fear to attack Buffalo’s secondary vertically and that is a prime reason for the Bills 4-5 record at the break.

CB Stephon Gillmore fired back stating that a team that plays as much man coverage as the Bills will have the occasional big play allowed.

“We probably play the most man in the league,” he said. “You can’t name a team that plays more man than we play, so you’ve got to stop everything. You can’t just play the vertical passing game. You’ve got to stop every route.”

Ryan made some moves this week, releasing safety Duke Williams and replacing him with veteran James Ighedibo and stating that he may go with corners Corey White and rookie Kevon Seymour and sit Ronald Darby and Nickell Robey-Coleman.

These moves, if they are indeed done, will bear watching against the struggling Bengals.

Dolphins Want Parker Involved More in the Offense:
The Miami Dolphins won their fourth game in a row with a four interception fourth quarter against the San Diego Chargers last week. A win this week against the Rams starting a rookie QB, Jared Goff, would put Miami at 6-4 and open the talk for a possible playoff scenario.

But Miami wants to get WR DeVante Parker more involved in the offense. They believe that for them to make the jump, that they’ll need for the talented but inconsistent wide receiver to take it to the next level.

“We think he can be one of the top guys in the league,” offensive coordinator Clyde Christensen said to the media this week. “We see it every day, a big catch here and a big catch there. A big thing is his health, and keeping him healthy… We need a consistent DeVante Parker, where it’s week-in, and week-out where people fear him. He took over the game in his way last week and gave us a huge lift.

“I think he is really key to us going from solid to good on offense. I think he’s the guy, his big plays. Those are the plays that take you to whatever that next level is, one notch better. And minus those big plays makes it harder.

Parker had five catches for 103 yards last week but has only 403 yards and one touchdown on the season. Those are numbers far below what Miami believes him capable of producing.

Jets Bye Week, Fitz or Petty against the Patriots?
With the Jets surprisingly at 3-7 during their bye week, not many people expected them to be in this position after 10 games. With a shot at the playoffs becoming a distant memory now they must balance the present with the future.

GM Mike Maccagnan has stated that head coach Todd Bowles has the final say in who will be the quarterback when the Jets host the Patriots next week in the Meadowlands. Bryce Petty played last week in the Jets 9-6 loss to the Rams but did lead the team on a 99-yard drive that resulted in their only points of the day. Ryan Fitzpatrick was benched to let them see what they have in Petty, the second-year QB from Baylor

Bowles has stated that he’ll go with the best choice that will give their team a chance to win. That would be Fitzpatrick. But Bowles has also stated that he’s worried that his players will check out if Petty is named the starter. Fitzy isn’t in the future plans for the Jets. Will Petty be? One game won’t be enough to judge him on.

It is going to be a complicated decision but I’d bet Fitzpatrick is under center next week when the Patriots come to town.

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.

Podcast: Patriots Loss Against The Seahawks And Niners Preview

Russ Goldman
November 18, 2016 at 12:06 pm ET

In this episode, we looked back at the loss to the Seahawks for the Patriots, and later on previewed the upcoming game against the Niners.

Podcast: Do The Patriots Have A Scheme Problem And Not a Talent Issue on Defense?

Russ Goldman
November 17, 2016 at 7:35 am ET

In this episode we talked again to Lee Schecther who is a writer for PatsFans.com and Bleacher Report. Lee was on to discuss his very interesting article entitled “The Patriots Have a “Scheme” Problem, Not a Talent Issue on Defense.” Co-hosting this episode was Steve Balestrieri.

During this episode, Lee and Steve shared their views on what went wrong on Sunday for the Patriots defense, which included a discussion on the defensive breakdowns and blown coverages during this game. I invite you to listen to our view on what went wrong on Sunday defensively for the Pats.