Tag Archives: Joe Thuney

PHOTO: Tom Brady “We Are The Storm”

Robert Alvarez
September 8, 2018 at 8:00 pm ET

On the eve of the home opener against the Houston Texans, quarterback Tom Brady is back sharing inspirational messages over social media.

Over his Instagram account Saturday night, Brady shared an image of himself doing his trademark “lets go!” along with teammates Joe Thuney, Rob Gronkowski, and Stephon Gillmore making appearances.

Their photographs were accompanied by a graphic that reads “We Are The Storm.”

“Fate whispers to the warrior, you cannot withstand the storm… the warrior whispers back…,”  the photograph caption states.

Entering his 19th professional season , Brady and his “storm” continues to show no sign of letting up.

Let 2018 begin.

The 2018 New England Patriots On Social Media

Robert Alvarez
August 2, 2018 at 6:03 pm ET

The following list is a reference point for the 2018 New England Patriots social media accounts on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and YouTube.

(NOTE: Most Snapchat account links only available within app and are not listed publicly)

Ryan Allen 

David Andrews

Ja’Whaun Bentley

Braxton Berrios

Brandon Bolden

Tom Brady

Kenny Britt

Rex Burkhead

Marcus Cannon

Patrick Chung

Adrian Clayborn

Duke Dawson

Phillip Dorsett

Eric Decker

Nate Ebner

Julian Edelman

Danny Etling

Trey Flowers

Marquis Flowers

Mike Gillislee

Stephon Gilmore

Rob Gronkowski –

Lawrence Guy

Duron Harmon

Dont’a Hightower

Jeremy Hill

Chris Hogan

Jacob Hollister

Brian Hoyer

Cyrus Jones

Jonathan Jones

Ted Karras

Harvey Langi

Brandon King

Devin Lucien

Shaq Mason

Jason and Devin McCourty

Sony Michel

Malcolm Mitchell

Cordarrelle Patterson

Derek Rivers

Elandon Roberts

Eric Rowe

Christian Sam

Danny Shelton

Joe Thuney

Vincent Valentine

Kyle Van Noy

LaAdrian Waddle

James White

Deatrich Wise

Isaiah Wynn

New England Patriots Training Camp Primer – Offensive Line

Steve Balestrieri
July 3, 2018 at 8:21 am ET

Health is the Biggest Question Mark

The Patriots head into training camp in just about three weeks now and as we’ve been saying, the competition this year at a number of positions will tell the tale on who goes and who remains. This has been a tumultuous offseason in many different ways. The Patriots lost a lot of key veteran players and all of the off-field hoopla surrounding Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski have been non-stop.

Soon that will all be behind us as the players get back on the field and we start talking about football again. In the next segment of our 2018 Patriots Training Camp primers is the Patriots Offensive Line.

The team lost left tackle Nate Solder this spring as he signed a big money contract with the Giants. He’s protected Tom Brady’s blind side for several years and done it well. Replacing a trusted veteran like Solder who was as good off the field for the team as well as on it.

So, with that in mind who are locked in and who’s on the bubble?

Roster Locks: Trent Brown, Isaiah Wynn, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Marcus Cannon

The Patriots traded for Brown with the 49ers this spring, giving up a 3rd round draft pick in return. Although he’s played mostly right tackle in the NFL, he says he can play anywhere and the team may move him to left tackle.

Brown is a mammoth-sized human being. Listed at 6’8, 359 pounds, he’s every bit of that and possibly even bigger. But for a very large man, he has surprisingly good footwork. And he’s just 25 years old. Brown got some great kudos from Denver’s Von Miller who said this about the new Patriot:

“He’s the best right tackle in the National Football League,” Miller said of Brown. “And he may even be a top-five tackle, period, in the National Football League. There’s not another tackle who’s that tall, that big and can move the way he moves.”

The team used a 1st round draft pick (#23 overall) on Wynn and although he played left tackle for the Bulldogs, he projects to be a left guard in the NFL. Wynn is short for a tackle, 6’2, 302 but both he and Brown were competing for the left tackle spot but during the spring, they lined up next to one another with Wynn at left guard.

Andrews, Mason, and Cannon have been starters and remain solid pieces who have performed very well. The only questions with the locks revolve around health. Brown and Wynn are coming off of shoulder surgery, while Cannon was placed on IR late last season.

If this unit is the starting five on Week 1 and we believe that they will be, the team should be in a very good position for the offensive line play to start the season. Cannon’s availability physically is the only question. Will he be ready to go? Or will he begin camp on the PUP?

Near Roster Locks: Joe Thuney, LaAdrian Waddle

Thuney missed the spring minicamp with an injury and his spot was taken by Wynn. It will be interesting to note if Thuney is healthy for training camp, he may a fight on his hands to get back his starting left guard spot from the talented rookie from Georgia.

There is a possibility that Thuney will start training camp on the PUP if he’s still not ready to go. Health is the only possibility we’d see with him not making the 53-man roster.

Waddle is a valuable swing tackle who they brought back during free agency despite his getting feelers from other teams. He can play either side and has performed well when called upon. And with the long season that the team faces, he’ll be called on again this year.

On the Bubble: Cole Croston, Jason King, James Ferentz, Andrew Jelks, Ted Karras, Matt Tobin, Luke Bowanko, Ulrick John

The Patriots have several players vying for one or possibly two spots along the OL. Our feeling here is that Croston nails down one of those slots. We penciled him in for first 53-man roster projection. He’s versatile and can fill in at guard or tackle if needed.

But his spot will have to be earned so, the competition factor again will come into play. The team brought back King this spring, so that speaks highly for him. Karras has made the team as a backup and can play guard or center.

What may open the door for one or two more of these players is if Thuney or Cannon or maybe both are placed on PUP to start training camp. But with the demanding and outstanding OL coach Dante Scarnecchia back in the fold for another year, one thing is for certain. He’ll get the very best out of this group.

While as a whole, they have to improve but in pass blocking and in the running game, Coach Scar made it clear back in the spring, “I really like the guys we have here right now,” he said during the OTAs.

So physical questions aside, the Patriots offensive line may be very different, at least on the left side this year but they also have the potential to be very good and better than the 2017 unit as well.

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.

Best Of Social Media: Patriots Honor Memorial Day

Robert Alvarez
May 29, 2018 at 7:13 am ET

On social media Monday, multiple members of the New England Patriots took time out of their Memorial Day holiday to pay their respects to the true Patriots that paid the ultimate price serving in the United States Armed Services.

https://twitter.com/tedybruschiespn/status/1001245745607884800?s=21

https://twitter.com/NVBentley33/status/1001184732015718401

https://twitter.com/Edelman11/status/1001170146440962048

https://www.instagram.com/p/BjVMq8fFGG2/?hl=en&taken-by=money_mitch26

https://twitter.com/hnynut_berrios/status/1001111223671447552?s=21

https://www.instagram.com/p/BjUnVz7loiI/?hl=en&taken-by=nink50

Best Of Social Media: The Patriots Send Off Rally and Opening Night

Robert Alvarez
January 31, 2018 at 1:26 pm ET

On Monday. the New England Patriots held a send off rally at Gillette Stadium before the team departed for TF Green Airport in Warwick Rhode Island and a flight to Minneapolis for the Super Bowl Opening Night media session later that evening,

Below is a compilation of the best sights and sounds from the first day of Super Bowl week across New England Patriots social media.

https://twitter.com/SullyBunz/status/958002000641380355

https://twitter.com/SullyBunz/status/958070611758190594

https://twitter.com/NFL/status/958151762090762240

https://twitter.com/NFL/status/958165289069305856?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.boston.com%2Fsports%2Fnew-england-patriots%2F2018%2F01%2F29%2Flive-updates-super-bowl-lii-week-2018

https://twitter.com/NFL/status/958163999966679040

https://www.instagram.com/p/BelUiI5g_D2/?taken-by=thearcher14

Came a long way #SBLII

A post shared by Duron Harmon (@dharm30) on

https://www.instagram.com/p/BelUkD0hiMx/?taken-by=sweetfeet

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bej8t7tAk2F/

https://www.instagram.com/p/BelStEEg2fb/?hl=en&taken-by=jhharrison92

What a time to be alive!!!#sb52

A post shared by Mike Gillislee (@nothingwasgiven35) on

 

New England Patriots Training Camp Primer Offensive Line

Steve Balestrieri
July 16, 2017 at 12:00 pm ET

Continuity and Preparing for 2018 are Keys

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

Bill Belichick likes to say that the spring’s OTAs and Minicamp is a learning exercise and that the real competition begins in training camp. With a roster of 90 players and no cuts needed before the final 53-man roster cut down, there will be plenty of time for evaluation.

So we’re going to take a look at the Patriots Offensive Line. One of the keys to the 2016 success and part of the struggle down the stretch in 2015 had to do with continuity. The Patriots five starters played together nearly wire-to-wire last year and their performance showed. In 2015 injuries decimated the unit and the team couldn’t get any kind of cohesiveness going.

The good news is that five starters return as well as some of their top backups. But the team didn’t neglect their offensive line this offseason. With an eye to the future, they drafted two tackles in the 2017 NFL Draft, Tony Garcia, and Connor McDermott. Garcia in particular looks to have been drafted with 2018 and beyond in mind.

Although the team lost RT Sebastian Vollmer to retirement this spring, he missed the entire 2016 season with an injury and with the ascendance of Marcus Cannon, the team looks to be in good shape there.
So, with that in mind who is locked in and who’s on the bubble?

Roster Locks: Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon, Joe Thuney, David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Tony Garcia
The starting five returns, seem to be healthy and are locked on the roster this summer. Solder returned from IR in 2015 to play very solidly last year. He’s in the last year of his contract and with that in mind, the team has drafted two possible replacements.

Moving up and using multiple picks to draft Garcia, he’s obviously someone who Dante Scarnecchia feels can be a left tackle of the future. With Solder in place for at least 2017, there is no pressure on Garcia to produce early. This will be a red-shirt type of year for him to learn the system and develop under the tutelage of Coach Scar.

Cannon came out of the doghouse to play very well in 2016. Guards Mason and Thuney are young and physical and should only improve. Andrews is an undersized but smart center and he’s not going anywhere.

Unless there is an injury somewhere, I see no changes happening along the starting lineup for the Patriots offensive line in 2017.

Near Roster Locks: Cameron Fleming, Ted Karras
Last season both Fleming and Karras were the top backups for the tackles and the interior line last year. They both have the inside track for the top backup positions again as well. Karras has the versatility to play either guard or back-up the center David Andrews. He’s not the most athletic guy but he’s physical and tough.

Fleming was the swing tackle last year and will be trying to hold off the rookies Garcia and McDermott from taking that job away from him. He’s versatile and can fill in at either left or right tackle, something that is easier said than done.

On the Bubble: LaAdrian Waddle, Conor McDermott, Cole Croston, Andrew Jelks, Max Rich, Jamil Douglas, Chase Farris, Jason King, James Ferentz
The Patriots have plenty of depth at the backup positions and these players are likely to be fighting for reps in training camp and a most likely only one or two slots.

Waddle has been a backup tackle and a blocking tight end but with the depth, at that position, he’ll be pushed hard for a roster spot. McDermott is another intriguing prospect. He’s a guy that the Patriots used a pair of picks to get, albeit in the sixth round of the draft. Would he pass thru waivers if the team tries to stash him on the practice squad? That would seem to be his best bet to make the roster, at least this summer, unless the inevitable injuries occur.

With a lot of bodies in camp, this will be an intriguing group to watch. They’ll have the entire preseason to make a case for sticking, so staying healthy and on the field, will be of primary importance.

Our next primer will have the Patriots defensive line… stay tuned.

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 Players Ready For the 2nd Year Jump in Performance

Steve Balestrieri
May 22, 2017 at 8:00 am ET

The Patriots begin the next phase of their 2017 offseason OTAs today at Gillette Stadium and they’ll be on the field for the first time doing football drills. And while many will be focusing on the new players such as Stephon Gilmore, Brandin Cooks, and Kony Ealy, the second-year players should be of equal importance. Bill Belichick always talks of the big jump that players experience between their rookie and sophomore seasons.

There are several players that will bear watching under that scenario but we’re going to focus on just three that could play very large roles in 2017.  Guard Joe Thuney, WR Malcolm Mitchell and CB/KR Cyrus Jones.

Thuney was a Day 1 starter at left guard and had the not-so-unexpected growing pains, Mitchell got hurt in training camp but came on in the second half of the season and was a key contributor in the Super Bowl win over the Falcons. Jones was the team’s top draft choice a year ago, a talented corner and kick returner who struggled mightily and was barely a blip on the radar in 2016.

Thuney was drafted by the Patriots in the 3rd round (78th overall) in the 2016 NFL Draft out of NC State. The 6’4, 305-pound tackle turned guard was a steady, dependable interior offensive lineman last year. He fought his way thru the competition at training camp to become the Day 1 starter at left guard. He showed good communication with LT Nate Solder and C David Andrews and they did a good job of keeping the Patriots QBs upright.


Joe Thuney wants to know “What are Pink Stripes?” (SBalestrieri photo)

He certainly got a good rookie report card from Bill Belichick. “Joe is smart. Joe works hard. He’s here every day. I don’t think he’s missed a day all spring, summer,” Belichick said. “He shows up every day [and] goes to work. A lunch-pail guy. He just grinds it out. And he’s smart. Takes coaching well. He understands what we’re doing.”

He needed to get stronger this offseason and that will bear some watching. But after spending a year with his demanding OL Coach Dante Scarnecchia, he should be ready for the Year 2 jump. His technique, communication, and strength should all be better. There will be no backsliding on Coach Scar’s crew.

The Patriots drafted Mitchell in the 4th round, (112th overall) in last season’s draft. His story was well known when he wasn’t a good reader and joined a ladies’ book club in Georgia. Now he’s an author of a children’s book and a Super Bowl champion.


Malcolm Mitchell puts a move on Darrell Roberts in 2016 TC. (SBalestrieri photo)

Mitchell suffered an injury in the team’s first preseason game and that definitely slowed his progress. He barely registered on the stat sheet thru the first half of the season. But after Tom Brady’s return from suspension, Mitchell gradually worked his way onto the field and earned his way into Brady’s circle of trust. He finished the season with a modest 32 catches for 401 yards and four touchdowns in 2016. But his Super Bowl was a game that showed that his future is bright with New England, catching six passes for 70 yards and again, Brady trusted him to come thru at crunch time late in the game.

The Patriots are stacked at wide receiver this season. With Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, newcomer Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola, Mitchell and newcomers Austin Carr, Cody Hollister and Devin Lucien. But while Mitchell’s numbers may not increase dramatically in 2017, he should be an integral part of the offensive plan this season.

No one could have predicted the struggles that Cyrus Jones suffered in 2016. Coming from the storied football of program of Nick Saban at Alabama, Jones was a talented corner who was thought to be in line for reps at least in the slot for 2016. He was also a dangerous, valuable kick returner, returning four for touchdowns in his final college season. None of it materialized. Right off the bat in Minicamp, he began to struggle with holding onto kicks and that carried over to the season. He never made an impression defensively and his season was about missed opportunity.


Cyrus Jones had ball security issues in 2016. (SBalestrieri photo)

Jones has a lot of work to do in 2017, the Patriots used a 2nd round draft pick (60th overall) last season on him and ball security should be at the top of his list. His judgment wasn’t great either, and that was the cause of his being inactive for five of the team’s final six games.

Bill Belichick needs to work with Jones early this year….OTAs is a prime spot and build up Jones’ confidence. That’s mainly what his problem was in 2016, a confidence issue and not an ability one. He knows how to play football and has been successful at the pinnacle of the college football world. Once his return issues are resolved, his play on defense should be markedly improved as well. He’s the guy we’re picking here as our selection as the most improved player in 2017.

Other second-year players include Elandon Roberts, Vincent Valentine, Woodrow Hamilton and Jacoby Brissett. In Brissett’s case, we may not see a big jump in play in Year 2 strictly because of logistics. With Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo under center at QB this season, there are only so many snaps to go around. And Brissett may not get a ton of work.

The Patriots will have plenty of new faces to integrate into the system, beginning this week for the OTAs but we’ll be keeping focused on seeing how the 2nd year players perform this spring/summer. Getting off to a quick start is always a good sign for having a good regular season. For Thuney, Mitchell, and Jones that all begins 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 the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

10 Things We Learned From Patriots vs Dolphins

Ian Logue
September 19, 2016 at 5:00 am ET

Sunday’s 31-24 win over the Dolphins was obviously spoiled by the loss of Jimmy Garoppolo, but there were certainly a variety of things we came away with after the game. Here are some thoughts as we turn the page toward the Texans, who will visit Gillette Stadium on Thursday night.

1) Injured or not, Garoppolo comes away a winner – Jimmy Garoppolo already put together a pretty good showing for himself after his performance in Arizona, but on Sunday he proved week one wasn’t a fluke after coming out on fire against Miami.  The third-year quarterback was 12-of-15 in the first quarter along 177 yards and two touchdowns and added another to begin the second quarter as he lit up the Dolphins’ defense and helped New England build a 21-0 lead.  He left the game with 234-yards passing and seemed like he would have put up even more, had his day not ended early after being driven into the ground by Miami linebacker Kiko Alonso.

Even if Garoppolo isn’t able to come back before Tom Brady returns, he’s put enough down on film where he’s proven that he’s got what it takes to be a starter in this league. As a result, he’ll earn a big pay-day from someone and the only question for the Patriots will be whether or not another club will come up with enough to make Bill Belichick and the team want to part with him, which is obviously a good problem to have. However, even more importantly, Belichick can at least feel good about the fact that should the Patriots see Brady get hurt when he comes back, Garoppolo has proven he’s capable enough to step back in and help keep them going.

2) Blount is at the top of his game right now – This has been a frequent mention in recent weeks, but LeGarrette Blount looks about as good as he ever has and it’s obvious that with the weight he’s lost, he looks like a completely different player.  On Sunday he showed the best of both worlds, showing some decent power runs inside as well as some burst around the outside that included him hurdling a defender on a 26-yard run, his longest of the afternoon as he went over 100-yards rushing for the 11th time in his career.

He came up big in the fourth quarter, carrying 11 times for 69 yards and helping the Patriots control the clock and close out the game.  Make no mistake, his performances have been key in Garoppolo’s success, giving their offense enough of a running threat for both quarterbacks to execute play-action, which has opened things up in the passing game.

Overall, he’s been much more effective than he was by the end of last season, and he’s done more than could have been expected.  The big question now will be whether or not he can maintain it over the course of the next 14 games, which will help in making sure they stay away from becoming one-dimensional.

3) Bennett Had a Great Game – Martellus Bennett had a solid afternoon, catching 5 passes on 6 targets, totaling 114 yards along with a touchdown.  All five of those receptions went for over 10 yards, with four of them resulting in a first down (one was a touchdown – the league credits a player with a first down on a scoring play).  It was Bennett’s 3rd career 100+ yard career game.

Bennett admitted after the game that he’s really enjoying his time in New England.

“I’m just having a lot of fun right now with these guys,” said Bennett via NESN.  “I love my teammates. I love the coaches. I love this environment and the fans, and for me, that’s all it’s really about: Just going out there and doing the things I love to do, and having fun doing it.”

“I haven’t had this much fun in a long time in the NFL, and I think it’s making a difference for me. Because when it’s fun, it’s much easier to go out there and play.”

4) New England’s Defense Still a Work in Progress – Sunday’s performance against Miami was a little concerning, primarily as it pertains to the Patriots inability to adjust in the second half on the defensive side of the football.  After shutting down the Dolphins and keeping them to just one first down in the first quarter, Miami started figuring it out in the second as Ryan Tannehill went 10-of-16 (63%) for 116 yards, which included a 7-of-10 performance on their scoring drive at the end of the first half when they got on the board with a field goal.

But in the 3rd quarter, while they cut down one Dolphins’ drive after they forced a turnover thanks to a fumble by Jay Ajayi to open the second half,  Tannehill caught fire and they started really struggling.  The Miami quarterback went 13-of-14 (93%) for 176 yards and a touchdown, and it carried over into the fourth quarter as he kept firing away as he put together a stretch where he hit 20-of-21 while adding another touchdown.  Over that span, the Dolphins converted 4-of-5 third downs, which was a stark change compared to the first half where Miami went 1-of-5.

Fortunately, they created a turnover at the end to seal the victory thanks to Duron Harmon’s game-clinching interception, which is what good teams do to win games.  Hopefully this is the last time we’ll see an opposing quarterback have that much second-half success because this game was just a play or two away from turning out differently.

5) Another Great Outing By Amendola – This is a potent group of receivers right now and Danny Amendola came out and played well again this weekend, catching all four passes thrown his way for 50 yards and two touchdowns.  Amendola finds himself in the middle of an offense that for the first time in recent memory has very little in terms of weaknesses, with Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Malcolm Mitchell each rounding out an incredibly talented group.  Bring back Rob Gronkowski into the mix to join Bennett, and they’ll become pretty lethal.

But Amendola is a talented player who should thrive with the number of one-on-one opportunities he’ll get this season, which could see him go out and have a great year.


Brissett now finds himself front-and-center after Garoppolo’s injury. (USA TODAY Images)

6) Edelman and Brissett Not Yet on the Same Page – With Garoppolo, Julian Edelman caught 13-of-15 for 135 yards, with the two failing to connect on just two attempts.  On Sunday, Brissett connected on just 1-of-3 attempts to the veteran receiver, as the two don’t seem to yet be on the same page.

There weren’t many attempts by Brissett as the quarterback only threw the football 9 times on the afternoon with six completions, but he was perfect targeting Bennett (3-of-3 for 68 yards) and James White (1-of-1 for 5 yards), and he was 1-of-2 targeting Hogan for 12 yards.

It looks like for the foreseeable future they’ve got a little bit of work ahead of them as even Garoppolo and Edelman were a little shaky back in the preseason before they settled in together.  Hopefully the same will happen for Brissett.

7) First Turnovers of 2016 for Patriots Defense – After forcing no turnovers last week out in Arizona, the Patriots defense took the ball away from Miami four times on Sunday, picking off Tannehill twice along with forcing two fumbles.

Both Logan Ryan and Jonathan Freeny each forced a fumble, while Chris Long and Trey Flowers each recovered them.  The interception by Jamie Collins was big because it took the ball away from Miami at midfield late in the first half and prevented a potential scoring opportunity for the Dolphins, and the one by Duron Harmon was obviously massive because it sealed the win.  Anytime you can force four turnovers, it’s definitely a good thing and hopefully this is the beginning of a trend for this unit heading into the rest of the season.

8) Patriots Losing the Penalty Battle thus far – So far through two games, the Patriots have been the more penalized team in both contests.  They committed 8 last week compared to 6 for the Cardinals, with two of the more significant ones coming in the fourth quarter and came on back-to-back plays.  Marcus Cannon had an offensive holding penalty that negated a pass interference penalty that would have given the Patriots a first down, followed by an offensive holding penalty on Bennett that negated a 10-yard catch by Edelman on a 3rd-and-4 that would have given them a first down to the Cardinals 15.

On Sunday they committed seven penalties compared to Miami’s 5, and again made a few that cost them.  Joe Thuney had an untimely offensive holding penalty on a 2nd-and-9 at the Miami 30-yard line that negated a first down after a 14-yard pickup by James White, although fortunately, the Patriots went on to score a touchdown on that drive.

Logan Ryan also had a pass-interference penalty that gave the Dolphins the ball at the 12-yard line, which Miami ended up converting for a touchdown.

But Thuney again had an offensive holding penalty in the fourth quarter on a 2nd-and-5 that negated a 7-yard gain by Brissett which would have put the Patriots at the Dolphins’ 28.  Instead, it backed them up into 2nd-and-15 and the Dolphins got a sack, which helped also push the Patriots out of field goal range and spoiled another potential scoring opportunity and kept the game within reach for Miami, who scored on their ensuing drive.

Those are things that likely drive Belichick crazy, and it’s certainly been an issue so far through two games.

9) Surprising Clutch Miss For Gostkowski – After a perfect start in week one where he hit all three of his field goals out in Arizona, Gostkowski missed an uncharacteristic field goal at a critical time on Sunday against the Dolphins when he pushed a 39-yard field goal wide right that would have sealed the win for the Patriots.

The thing that’s a little surprising is the fact Gostkowski also missed two field goals during the preseason, missing one kick from less than 39 yards and another from over 50.  We get a little spoiled here in New England given how consistent he’s been, and it’s rare for him to miss kicks like this so early in the season, especially at home.  The normally clutch veteran isn’t one to miss a kick like that in critical moments, and considering he’s had a little trouble this early in the year, hopefully it’s not something we see as the year progresses and the weather begins to turn.

10) Big Plays Given Up By the Defense is Concerning – One thing to keep an eye on in the coming weeks is going to be the number of big plays given up by the defense, which saw a spike on Sunday against the Dolphins.

Last week in Arizona, the Patriots allowed four plays of 20 or more yards, while on Sunday they allowed seven.  That’s obviously unacceptable and something that will likely be a point of emphasis going into their match-up Thursday night with the Texans since, regardless of who the Patriots line up under center, it’s something they’re going to need to get better at moving forward.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Three Up and Three Down in the Patriots Win Over Chicago

Steve Balestrieri
August 19, 2016 at 9:00 am ET

During the Patriots win over the Bears tonight, here are some of the other players who stood out. Despite another slow start, the Patriots overall played well, Bill Belichick will have plenty of good and not-so-good film to show the players as they prepare to head to Carolina.

The team won’t play again in Foxboro until Week 2 of the regular season. After they visit the Panthers next Friday night, they’ll visit the Giants in what has become an annual finish to the preseason.

The team has ended the public version of training camp. Now they’ll move to a more regular season schedule during the final two weeks as they gear up to prepare for the season opener in Arizona.

Three Up:

In our recap of the game here, we already posted about the solid work done by Jimmy Garoppolo, LeGarrette Blount, and Anthony Johnson. Those were arguably the top three performers on the night for New England.  So who else stood out?

A.J. Derby: Derby, in competition with Clay Harbor for the third TE spot on the roster, looked really impressive on Thursday night. Showing good athleticism and speed, he was finding windows to get open and caught six passes for 71 yards and a touchdown. His 16-yard scoring play and a 26-yard sideline grab from Jacoby Brissett were highlight worthy. With Harbor struggling to stay healthy and on the field, Derby has made the most of his chances.

AJ-Derby

Darryl Roberts: The 2nd year corner has been quiet this summer and for the most part outplayed by rookies Cre’Von LeBlanc and Jonathan Jones. But he put together his best work this summer, providing tight, blanket coverage in the second half. He made a nice pass breakup on a similar comeback route that Jones picked off, reaching in and knocking the ball away. He got flagged on a ticky-tack penalty late in the game but showed that he’s still very much in the mix for that final cornerback spot.

Chris Hogan: The WR has ditched the red non-contact jersey and showed some nice route running and speed at wide receiver. Hogan is the guy who is in the mix to take over Brandon LaFell’s job as the outside or “X”- wide receiver. He caught four passes for 53 yards including a two-point conversion.

Honorable Mention: James Develin, Cyrus Jones, Geneo Grissom, Joe Thuney

Three Down:

Brandon Bolden: The 5th year veteran should know better than to leave the ball exposed like that, allowing Tracy Porter to strip it away. That killed a very impressive drive that looked like was going to put the Patriots right back in the game.

Justin Coleman: The second-year corner has been impressive this summer, outplaying rookie Cyrus Jones overall and was arguably the Patriots best player on the field for the first joint practice with the Bears. But on Tuesday and again tonight, the Bears picked on him early. Subbing for Logan Ryan (still not cleared for contact) The Bears’ Jay Cutler went after him with back-to-back 29 yard and 12-yard pass plays. That set them up in great scoring position.

On the next series, he committed a costly penalty on third down where the Patriots had stopped the Bears which ultimately led to a Chicago touchdown. Coleman may be feeling the heat a little bit of rookie CB Cyrus Jones who is pushing him for the third cornerback slot.

Martin burns Coleman deep

Martin burns Coleman deep

Aaron Dobson: Much was made of the Patriots needing to get off to a faster start on Thursday night. It was imperative to get the offense in gear earlier than the slow start a week ago. Indeed, we said the same thing about Dobson. After being arguably the best WR in camp during the first week to 10 days, he’s fallen off and was barely targeted during the joint Bears – Patriots practices.

We thought he needed to step up and the time was right with Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Keshawn Martin and Malcolm Mitchell out against the Bears. But on the Patriots first possession facing a very makeable third and two, Dobson dropped a Jimmy Garoppolo pass to force a three and out.

To be fair, the pass was far from perfect. It was behind him and wasn’t in stride where it should have been. But it was a very makeable catch and one that the 4th year WR has to make. With Dobson running out of time and chances to make the team, that wasn’t the start that he or the team was looking for.

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