Tag Archives: Joejuan Williams

Best Of Social Media: Week 12 Cowboys vs Patriots

Robert Alvarez
November 26, 2019 at 9:25 am ET

For the first time in almost a month, the New England Patriots returned home to play football against the Dallas Cowboys.

Check out all the best sights and sounds from social media before, during, and after the game.

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Allow me to reintroduce myself… #LFG

A post shared by Julian Edelman (@edelman11) on

https://www.instagram.com/p/B5QnSSPA3a_/

In the first quarter, the Patriots special teams unit continued their dominating season, exploiting the wet conditions of Foxboro.

The Patriots got on the board first when N’Keal Harry hauled in his first career NFL touchdown.

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You’re a wizard, Harry

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7-0 Patriots after one quarter of play.

In the second, the NFL’s best cornerback continued to dominate, hauling in his fourth interception of the season.

The turnover turned into a Nick Folk 44 yard field goal extending the lead to ten.

The Cowboys scored six unanswered just before the half courtesy of two Brett Maher field goals.

10-6 Patriots at the half.

The second half saw both teams struggle on offense, with neither finding the end zone.

Dallas tacked on two field goals but the Patriots would walk away with their tenth win of the season in a 13-9 victory.

FINAL – 13-9 NE

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W.

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Big Dubs‼️#LFG

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🗣”Find Gilmore and go somewhere else” 🔒

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🗣Chasin’

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Best Of Social Media: Week 5 Patriots vs Redskins

Robert Alvarez
October 9, 2019 at 11:34 pm ET

The New England Patriots traveled to the nation’s capital to take on the Washington Redskins on Sunday looking for their fifth 5-0 start in franchise history.

Check out all the best sights and sounds from social media as it happened below.

In the first quarter the Patriots offense struggled early, and the Redskins kept the game surprisingly close.

The Patriots defense however, continued its strong start to 2019, a theme that would continue throughout the afternoon.

A Steven Sims Jr. 65 yard run gave the Redskins a 7-0 lead.

Like they have all year so far, the Patriots responded when Julian Edelman hauled in a six pass from Tom Brady but a Mike Nugent PAT failed.

7-6 Redskins after one quarter of play.

A Mike Nugent 37 yard field goal gave the Patriots their first lead of the game at 9-7 to open the second.

Although the Patriots defense settled in after Simms big touchdown, the offense remained in a funk, and had to settle for another Mike Nugent field Goal to push the lead to 12-7 at the half.

In the third quarter, the Patriots halftime adjustments took over as Brandon Bolden nabbed a 29 yard pass from Tom Brady to extend the lead to 19-7.

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After failing to gain traction in the first half, the Patriots running game came alive in the third as Sony Michel capped off another scoring drive.

26-7 New England through three quarters.

In the fourth quarter, the Patriots defense continued to stifle the Redskins offense and Tom Brady iced the win with a wide open touchdown pass to rookie Ryan Izzo.

https://twitter.com/patspulpit/status/1180931451933659143?s=20

The Patriots would leave Washington with a convincing 33-7 victory to move to 5-0 on the season.

The 2019 Patriots joined the 1974, 2004, 2007, 2015, and 2019 with 5-0 records.

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W.

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Bolden, Meyers Among Today’s Inactives for the Patriots

Ian Logue
September 15, 2019 at 11:40 am ET

The Patriots just released their inactive list for today’s game against the Dolphins, which features a few notable names among those not playing this afternoon.

Here’s the full list:

CB Joejuan Williams
DL Deatrich Wise
RB Brandon Bolden
RB Damien Harris
WR Jakobi Meyers
OL Jermaine Eluemunor
OT Marcus Cannon

As for the Dolphins, their inactives are as follows:

WR Albert Wilson
S Reshad Jones
RB Myles Gaskin
OL Chris Reed
OT Isaiah Prince
OL Bryan Witzmann
LB Trent Harris

Meanwhile, wide receiver Antonio Brown is expected to make his debut this afternoon, with several reports indicating that he may see significant playing time.

As expected, it’s another hot one down in Miami, with the temperature already approaching 90-degrees with the normal Florida humidity, likely making the conditions for this one a little challenging. We’ll see how they handle it as New England looks to improve to 2-0 this afternoon.

Kickoff for this afternoon’s contest is at 1:00pm.

Best Of Social Media: Preseason Week 4 Giants vs Patriots

Robert Alvarez
August 30, 2019 at 8:47 pm ET

The Patriots wrapped up the 2019 preseason with the New York Giants on Thursday night.

Check out all the best social media postings and videos from the final tuneup before the regular season.

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In the first quarter Josh Gordon made his first appearance since being reinstated.

A Stephen Gostkowski 31 yard field goal gave the Patriots an early 3-0 lead.

The Giants would answer back with a 35 yard pass from Alex Tanney to Alonzo Russell.

7-3 New York Giants.

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A 32 yard field goal by Aldrick Rosas gave the Giants their first lead of the game after one quarter of play.

10-3 NYG.

The second quarter became the Demaryius Thomas Show.

Thomas, who missed the remainder of the 2018 season with an achilles injury, looked sharp.

Thomas hauled in a 35 yard highlight catch for a touchdown from Jarrett Stidham, the two point attempt failed.

10-9 ballgame early in the second quarter.

The Patriots retook the lead when Stidham again found Thomas for a score completing a perfect drive for the rookie quarterback.

16-10 Patriots at the eight minute mark of the second.

Stephen Gostkowski tacked on a 40 yard field goal to extend the Patriot lead to nine.

A Nick Brossette rushing score opened up a 26-10 Patriots lead.

https://twitter.com/NBrossette/status/1167408480564723712?s=20

Don’t tell Tom Brady and Julian Edelman that its week four of preseason.

A Stephen Gostkowski 51 yard field goal just before halftime pushed the Patriot lead to 29-10.

In the third quarter the Giants mounted a comeback following a field goal and Kyle Lauletta touchdown to Scott Simonson to cut the Patriots lead to ten at 29-19 after three.

Gunner Olszewski captured the attention of many in the second half for his versatility to play multiple positions, will it earn him a roster spot, we will see?

The Giants comeback continued into the fourth quarter as Wayne Gallman brought big blue within three at 29-25.

https://twitter.com/Giants/status/1167261768516694017?s=20

With the clock winding down on the game late fourth, Alonzo Russell hauled in a stunning buzzer beater, game winning touchdown from Kyle Lauletta.

The Giants once again foiled a Patriots perfect (pre) season attempt with a come from behind 31-29 victory.

The regular season at long last begins for real on September 8th at 8:25 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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31-29 FINAL NYG

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Patriots Close Out Preseason, Now It is Decision Time

Steve Balestrieri
at 7:00 am ET

For the fifteenth year in a row, the Patriots and Giants ended their preseason with a game against each other and the Giants, courtesy of a last-second Kyle Lauletta touchdown pass [albeit one where the play clock ran out well before the snap], beat the Patriots 31-29, scoring 21 unanswered points in the second half.

With the preseason over, now comes the cut-down from the 90 man roster limit to the active 53-man roster by Saturday at 4:00 p.m. On Sunday at 1:00 p.m. the teams can fill out their 10 man practice squad. The Patriots actually have a waiver for an 11th player, Jakob Johnson due to his being an NFL International Player if he doesn’t make the 53.

Here are our quick observations from tonight’s game:

Tough Ending for Olszewski:

Gunner Olszewski was beaten on the final play of the game in the end zone when Lauletta launched a 14-yard touchdown to Alonzo Russell with no time left on the clock. It was a disappointing ending of what was a good night and a truly outstanding summer for the UDFA rookie from Bemidji State.

Nobody gave the Division 2 cornerback that the Patriots turned into a wide receiver much of a shot to make the team. But he’s worked hard and has been able to contribute in the kick return game and a bit offensively. He may not make the 53-man roster but he put some distance between himself and Braxton Berrios who was thought to have the inside track on the position. 

On Thursday night, Olszewski returned three kicks for 77 yards, one punt for seven, and had two catches for 35 yards including a nice 29-yard reception. At the end of the game, he went back to playing defense on the Giants last possession and was at big size mismatch against Russell who beat him for the touchdown. 

Olszewski has been a really nice story this summer, and there is still a shot that he’ll make the team as a returner. 

Gordon, Thomas, and Edelman at WR, Who Would Have Predicted That?

Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas, and Julian Edelman all played in the first half, giving the Patriots a look offensively that one wouldn’t normally enjoy for the 4th preseason game. But none of them had played at all this preseason and the coaches obviously felt that they could use some live game action. 

Edelman had one catch for 20-yards but landed on his injured thumb and quickly left the game, having had it checked out by the medical staff on the sideline. That tweak sent Patriots fans on social media from unbridled optimism to near panic… “Why’s he out there in a meaningless 4th preseason game, Bill!” sigh.

Thomas looked like he was moving pretty well, with no discomfort and had seven catches for 87 yards with 2 touchdowns on eight targets. It had to be a promising start for a guy who had surgery for a torn Achilles about eight months ago. 

The offense and Gordon had trouble clicking as Stidham and he didn’t have their timing down. Which isn’t surprising since he was suspended since December and just began work with the team last Sunday. He was on NFI until this week. However, despite catching just two passes for 30 yards on six targets, Gordon’s night was particularly optimistic looking forward. He also drew a 35-yard pass interference penalty. Gordon showed he still has the explosiveness off the line and has the ability to stretch the field vertically which should lend itself well to the offense.

Stidham Plays the Entire Game:

This wasn’t a surprise, we felt that the Patriots would approach the game by giving the rookie QB all the work in this final tilt. Barring catastrophic injury, this should be the last meaningful game action until the 2020 preseason. 

Stidham completed 18-25 for 225 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. His pick resulted from a big hit he took as he was releasing the ball causing his pass to flutter straight up where safety Sean Chandler picked it off. 

But the only way for Stidham to improve is by getting game reps so that he can work on his decision making, his speed in processing plays and getting a better overall feel of the offense. He’s made very impressive strides since the first time we watched him back in minicamp. As we said in our podcast earlier this week, the Patriots should keep three QBs on the 53-man roster. 

Rookie Froholdt Injured, OL Depth Takes a Hit:

The team started Hjalte Froholdt at guard tonight, the rookie from Denmark is considered a project for the offensive line this year. He’s been battling a shoulder issue but then went down with an injury in the first half, holding his right arm. After going into the blue medical tent, he was taken to the locker room where he didn’t return. 

The team just made a couple of trades yesterday for tackle Korey Cunningham and guard Jermaine Eluemunor but Froholdt was still on our list for players making the 53-man roster. This injury may change that. If he’s hurt and going to be out for an extended period of time, the Patriots may opt to place him on IR, which may open the door for James Ferentz. 

Coaches Test Versatility With Olszewski, Williams, Johnson: 

We mentioned above that the coaching staff had Gunner Olszewski in all three phases of the game, offense, defense, and special teams. But he wasn’t alone. Jakob Johnson played fullback and in the second half was also logging snaps as an outside linebacker, and even generated some pressure on the QB. But the real story was the team moving rookie Joejuan Williams to safety. 

Williams is a corner but he has the size of a safety at 6’3, 212. He has the size and physicality that is slightly reminiscent of Brandon Browner. And while this may be nothing more than to see what the rookie can handle, We view Williams as a matchup piece where the coaching staff figures to use him against bigger wide receivers and/or tight ends. But with Belichick, it is always a case of “the more you can do…” 

Williams played next to Malik Gant who was injured and was carted off during the game. It was curious that Obi Melifonwu who was dressed didn’t play tonight. 

So, the coaches have to make their roster cuts, one player who was just signed on Sunday, LB Scooby Wright, acquitted himself quite well. He had four tackles, two sacks and two tackles for losses. Another linebacker, Calvin Munson is making a case for himself to make the roster 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 Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

What to Watch For, Patriots and Giants Preseason Finale

Steve Balestrieri
August 29, 2019 at 7:25 am ET

The Patriots wrap up their preseason slate later on tonight against a very familiar foe, the New York Giants. The two teams have faced each other 15 years in a row in the preseason finale, it is akin to the warning bell telling both teams that the preseason is over and the games count starting next week. 

However, despite the fact that the starters on either team will barely play if at all should not lead one to believe that this game is meaningless. A number of players from both teams are playing for their futures tonight and while most of the slots on each team are already decided a few may hinge on what happens tonight in Gillette. 

So, from a Patriots perspective, what are we looking for tonight and how will these scenarios shape the upcoming roster cuts?

Stidham Should Play the Entire Game at QB:

Tonight will be the Jarrett Stidham show from start to finish. Tom Brady will definitely not play and Brian Hoyer should only enter in case of an emergency, or injury to the rookie. If Hoyer were to play any snaps in a scenario other than what was mentioned, it definitely wouldn’t bode well for his chances of sticking. 

And…in a perfect world, these should be the last meaningful snaps we see Stidham take in live-action until next preseason.  He won’t have a full complement of backs and receivers but, the coaches will get to evaluate how he handles the huddle, situational football and how well he grasps the offense.

Nick Brosette and Brandon Bolden …C’mon Down:

Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, and Damien Harris should get the night off. So it will be up to Brosette and Bolden to handle the running back duties. It wouldn’t be crazy if the coaches decided to get Harris some more game action but the feeling here is that he’s shown them enough and he’s been slowed by a few injuries this preseason, that they don’t want to risk aggravating anything this close to the Steelers game. 

Brosette has played pretty well this summer, but he’s a victim of the numbers game as the team is really deep at running back. Bolden is a special teams ace but will spell Brosette here and there as well as catch the odd catch out of the backfield.

While Bolden is pretty much a lock for the roster with his STs experience, Brosette will either be auditioning for the Patriots practice squad or for another team. Jakob Johnson [NFL International Player] will be on the PS and he and Andrew Beck should see plenty of work at fullback.

No Edelman, Gordon, Thomas, Harry Tonight?

It would be very surprising to see Josh Gordon or Demaryius Thomas on the field tonight against the Giants. Neither played against the Panthers and it would appear that the coaches are satisfied that they’ll be ready to contribute vs the Steelers next week. Ditto for Phillip Dorsett, although they may opt for him to play a few series just to give Stidham some targets [ditto for Jakobi Meyers]. No way we’ll see Julian Edelman. 

So, Meyers, who has built quite a nice chemistry with Stidham should get the start and see plenty of work. This game will be very important to both Gunner Olszewski, and Braxton Berrios. Both showed good promise in the return game this summer. Berrios was beginning to catch on in the passing game before suffering an injury. Olszewski looked very good in the return game recently. 

But with the activation of Thomas from PUP and Gordon from suspension, the chances of either making the 53-man roster for their STs [read return] ability has really taken a hit. Either or both could be brought back to the practice squad. Of course, the question is, if they don’t make it, who are your kick returners? It would seem to fall to Dorsett and Bolden… stay tuned.

OL Shuffling, Newcomers to See Work?

The Patriots just traded a 6th round draft choice for swing tackle Korey Cunningham, he was a 7th round draft pick for the Cardinals last year who got six starts at left tackle. The 6’6”, 305-pound tackle should immediately vault over Dan Skipper and Cole Croston for a spot on the 53-man roster. 

With David Andrews sidelined for at least three months and possibly for the season, the Patriots brought in more depth in a trade with Baltimore for interior OL Jermaine Eluemunor. He was a 5th round draft pick of the Ravens in 2017 and has appeared in 17 games with three starts. He was named to the PFWA [Pro Football Writers of America] All-Rookie Team in 2017. 

Players like James Ferentz and Hjalte Froholdt will get plenty of playing time and it may come down to just one of those two making the roster,

Defense Is Set, Now Is the Time For Game Experience:

The Patriots defensive line looks pretty set right now so, with no Michael Bennett, Lawrence Guy, Danny Shelton, or Adam Butler expected to play tonight, the younger players should see plenty of action to get more game time snaps. That begins with impressive rookies Chase Winovich and Byron Cowart. 

Derek Rivers and Shalique Calhoun are still banged up so we’ll see a lot of Umfomba Kamalu, Nick Thurman and David Parry tonight. One big scenario to watch is for Deatrich Wise’s situation. Many have him on the bubble. If he sits it would seem his position is safe. If he plays, those rumors would appear to be true. 

The same holds true at linebacker where Elandon Roberts [trade bait?] and Calvin Munson appear to be fighting for one roster position. Munson has been impressive in the past few weeks. And with Brandon King on IR, Munson has taken many snaps on STs and it could swing in his favor. 

In the secondary, look for younger guys J.C. Jackson, Keion Crossen, and Joejuan Williams to get a lot of work at cornerback. Duke Dawson has played a lot of STs and he may play some safety too. The final safety spot comes down to Nate Ebner [strictly STs] or Obi Melifonwu who offers some ST’s acumen and a much higher upside defensively.

Check back with us after the game for our observations and notes. 

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

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

New England Patriots News 8-25, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
August 25, 2019 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 08-25 and AFC East notes this week. 

The Patriots have one more game left in the preseason this week against the Giants and then will have the tough task of cutting down the 90 man roster to just 53 and then filling out the remaining ten spots [11 with Jakob Johnson who is an NFL International player if he doesn’t make the 53].

While the starters won’t play much if at all on Thursday for either team, the game will still be compelling because of the roster spots that are still on the line. Several players will be playing for their jobs, some will succeed and carve out a roster spot, others will be unemployed and waiting for the phone to ring.

Check back with us frequently on PatsFans.com as we’ll continue to post daily updates on the latest news and how the roster initially shakes out. 

 Quick Hitters:

Andrew Luck – Announced his retirement yesterday. Luck has been hobbled by injuries for much of his career and it was cut short after just seven seasons. He was once thought to be the “next great one” but it never materialized for him. For a Colts team that had made major strides in building up a legit contender, this is a huge setback. Jacoby Brissette is the man for the time being again in Indy.

Tom Brady – on the learning process with Jakobi Meyers said, “I think for all of us, you play with guys that are maybe new to the offense and so forth. Sometimes they think they’re not part of the route, and then a team plays a certain coverage and they’re part of the route. Early in the season, that’s part of this time of year. We don’t have the full week to prepare. We’re kind of putting things together on the fly.”

And BTW Tom, ditch that hat…not a good look

Bill Belichick [on the play of the defense] –  You know, I thought we played competitively. We still have a lot of things to work on. There’s a lot of things we can improve on, so we’ll just go back to work this week and just keep grinding away. We’ve got a long way to go. We’re making progress.

Devin McCourty – was asked about the changes to the new pass interference rules and if the referees have done a good job of explaining it to the players. He is not a fan. “I’m never a fan of those meetings. I feel like they go however we ask the question, and then once we get in the season you might as well throw that whole meeting away. So Bill always says it the best; week-by-week. We have to go how the game is being called, and we have to adjust to it.”

Jakobi Meyers – wasn’t pleased with the way his early snaps with Brady went, but was happy to be able to persevere. He had this to say about sitting down with Brady. “Tom has played for a long time so when he wants to sit down and talk, you sit down and talk with an open ear. I am just trying to listen to everything he says, soak it up and get better.”

 Jarrett Stidham Is Ahead of His Projections And Learning His Craft:

The NFL Draft isn’t an exact science, we all know that. Some players have superstar potential and never make it. Others, aren’t very highly sought after but thru hard work, belief in themselves, and a burning desire to succeed will rise far above their projected ceiling when the draft rolls around. 

Take Tom Brady, drafted in the 6th round,199th overall in 2000. No one thought he’d amount to much. Now 20 years later, he stands alone at the absolute pinnacle of the sport. Which brings us to this year’s 4th round draft choice Jarrett Stidham, the rookie QB from Auburn. 

Stidham played in an offense at Auburn that really stunted his growth as an NFL QB. He too wasn’t highly thought of and his selection barely registered across NFL circles. He struggled in minicamp and even threw an interception in a walkthru. When training camp started, he frequently held the ball too long and struggled to make a decision. Although he throws a really nice ball, he was struggling with his reads, things that not uncommon with rookie QBs. 

But with each passing day, he was learning …and improving. He’s steadily got better and watching him on Thursday night against the Panthers it didn’t resemble anything close to the kid who struggled so badly on Day 1 of Training Camp. I reached out to Mark Schofield, who is an outstanding analyst, especially when it comes to QBs. He wrote a very nice piece on QB Development for Pro Football Weekly in the annual draft issue. He writes for Inside the Pylon and does a really good podcast on Pats Pulpit. I had spoken to Mark in the spring after the Patriots had drafted Stidham and wanted to get his take on how far he’s progressed. He had several interesting takes on the rookie.

“Progress is probably the best way to phrase this,” Schofield said. “The really interesting thing is the mental development, you saw it against the Lions… I love those ‘no-throw’ moments when the QB doesn’t throw a pass that was expected and then go back and to find out why.”

On this particular play, the Patriots were running a two-receiver set known as “Rope”, where the slot receiver runs a slant and then breaks to the outside. The outside receiver runs a route that is dependent on the coverage but is normally a go route. This play is designed to defeat a Cover 2 which is what the Lions defense was aligned in. “The QB wants to throw that route in the flat,” Schofield said. Stidham held the ball and scrambled for five yards…no big deal right? Wrong, says Schofield. 

“The Lions were running what they call a ‘Cover 5 Cougar’ which is Cover 2 man underneath trap coverage, which is specifically designed to stop this kind of play. The cornerback backpedals for just a moment with the outside vertical route, and if he sees the inside receiver run this route to the flat, he peels off the outside receiver and crashes—or “traps”—the out route. But the corner is still reading the slot receiver. even with his back to him. This tells the quarterback that the CB is bailing, but it is really just a wrinkle looking to bait the quarterback into throwing the flat route, and potentially an interception.”

“Stidham sees the coverage, drops back and begins to throw the ball but recognizes what the Lions are doing. He stops the throw and pulls down the ball and runs. It is a real heads up play for a rookie because it is a coverage that fools even veteran QBs. And when you’re seeing the progress there, going from tossing picks in a walk-thru to recognizing the coverage and reacting like this, it is huge progress.”

“I think he’s made a huge impression on this coaching staff and his progress has been excellent, I’ve been really impressed with him,” Schofield added.

The Auburn offense wasn’t a great fit for a QB with his talents and until he hit the Senior Bowl this spring, he wasn’t considered a coveted prospect. But playing in Kyle Shanahan’s offense in Mobile was an eye-opener. “There were times, that I thought he was the best QB down there…not Daniel Jones or anybody else,” Schofield said. 

Schofield added, “when I got a chance to talk to him, I asked him what his favorite offense was, in the ones he’d run, and he said, ‘Everything this week.’”

He was a really good fit in a pro-style offense, and Schofield said that you could see him moving defenders with his eyes, and going thru reads quickly. “So the fit with him coming to New England was pretty good.”

So, the question now is, do the Patriots believe that Stidham can handle the offense if anything were to happen to Brady and part ways with Hoyer, keeping only two quarterbacks. 

“It is a really tough question because they have so many tough decisions to make at other positions… when you look at some of the players that they have at, say…wide receiver or the defensive line, the coaches could say, we have to make a choice here. But ideally, they’d find a way to keep all three. But the fact that we’re having this conversation tells you how much he’s progressed.”

“This is another example of how the Patriots approach things,” Schofield said. “They don’t concern themselves with what he can’t do, they focus on the things that he does well. They saw the arm talent, his processing speed and they liked the potential in him and he’s in a good position to learn, not just from Tom Brady but from Josh McDaniels as well. It is a great environment to learn.”

While no one is anointing him for Canton just yet or that he’s the heir apparent to Tom Brady, it at least shows the coaching staff, that they may have something in him and he’s going to get more put on his plate as they attempt to further develop him.

We’ll have the entire interview with Mark Schofield available shortly on our YouTube channel.

Patriots Defense Ahead Of Schedule This Year:

The Patriots’ defense went through a ton of changes this spring. They lost the versatile and important Trey Flowers as well as former 1st round pick Malcom Brown in free agency. But the losses on the coaching staff left the team with literally the cupboard bare. De facto DC and LBs coach Brian Flores went to Miami along with cornerbacks coach Josh Boyer, while defensive line coach Brendan Daly bolted for Kansas City. 

Greg Schiano was hired as the new Defensive Coordinator but soon after stepped down. Jerod Mayo was hired the next day as the inside linebackers coach. Bret Bielema, who was already on the staff took over the d-line. DeMarcus Covington took over the outside linebackers coaching position, while Mike Pellegrino is now the cornerbacks’ coach. Steve Belichick remains the safeties coach.

On the field, it seems like this crew has been together for years. And Bill Belichick has assembled a really deep and talented crew from top to bottom with some very experienced players mixed in with 2nd-year players and rookies that are meshing together extremely well. 

The defense last year struggled especially against the run and getting after the QB early in the year. Their slow start wasn’t anything especially new, Belichick likes to add more and more as the season goes on and build on things. By the end of the season, they had things figured out and ended the regular season and went into the playoffs with a much more aggressive, attacking mindset. The results spoke for themselves, as they held the Rams to just three points in the Super Bowl. 

That slow build-up looks to have been accelerated this season. The 2019 Patriots have the potential to be a very special group, perhaps even rivaling the 2004 team. With depth at all three levels, this group is already a confident, versatile bunch and their play on the field bears that out.

While comparing them to the 2004 unit may be a stretch at this early juncture, look at the depth and versatility at the linebacker position. A year ago it was a position of concern, now, they may have to part with some players who could contribute, not just here but with other teams as well. The cornerback group is as deep as I’ve ever remembered and has the ability to mix and match with any opponent matchups.

Last year, the team couldn’t find any takers for joint practices and they entered the regular season not as prepared as the coaching staff would have liked, not surprisingly, the defense wasn’t good as the team limped out to a 1-2 start. 

The back-to-back joint practice sessions with the Lions and Titans have this team in a much better position. But the pieces were already in place this spring. There has been a collective confidence brewing since the first OTAs with the defensive group. Since training camp has started this unit has looked really strong. The Patriots offense really struggled in the first days of training camp which led to the question, “Is it the defense being really good, or just the offense being really bad?” 

The joint practices and the preseason game with the Lions reinforced that it was indeed the defense being “that good”. The Patriots offense looked very good in Detroit while the defense stifled the Lions. During the game, they wracked up nine sacks and held the Lions to just three points. 

At home against the Panthers, they held Carolina’s offense in the first half to just 29 yards, two first downs, and 0-5 on third down. The confidence that the unit is playing with is far ahead of where they normally are at this time of year. But what was more impressive is that they liberally rotated a lot of players with the top unit. Game planning for this unit? A total of 13 players have sacks thru three games.

They even dusted off the old Bears 46 Defense with two LBs on the line of scrimmage on the strong side which resulted in a sack. That will give the Steelers’ coaches something to think about in two weeks. That’s the first real test and a very big one as Pittsburgh’s offense looks stacked once again. 

Holding for Field Goals, Why Use Punters and Not WRs?

After the missed field goal connection between Jake Bailey and Stephen Gostkowski I got a good question on Twitter this Friday, a follower asked, “Why would the Patriots [and other teams] use a punter as a holder for extra points and field goals and not a wide receiver who is used to handling the ball?”

This is a very good question and I remember thinking the same thing several years ago. So, with that in mind, a few years ago Bill Belichick was asked about that. And he always has good reasons to play Special Teams. Here are a few good reasons why teams use a punter rather than a WR. 

Punters, kickers, and long-snappers can work all week on their delivery and timing of kicks. While the WRs will be working on another part of the game plan. That allows them to dedicate nearly all of their time to this when a WR may not have as much.

Punters have good hands and have to handle the ball quickly and seamlessly. Any bobble will result in a blocked punt. And punters are used to working under pressure. Imagine a slew of big defensive linemen rushing at you and everything depends on handling the ball quickly and letting a kick go. 

Plus, punters aren’t injured nearly as much as wide receivers are so the continuity factor is always there.

Replacing Chung Is No Easy Task in the Secondary:

Patriots safety Pat Chung is facing arraignment for possession of cocaine charges in New Hampshire this coming week. He may not actually see his court case heard until next year. So, any suspension from the NFL may not come until next year. But depending upon the circumstances of his case, the league could act sooner. 

Chung, however, may still not play in the season opener as he’s missed the entire preseason and has worn a red non-contact jersey all through training camp as he’s been recovering from a broken arm suffered in the Super Bowl as well as off-season shoulder surgery. So, who steps up and plays his role against the Steelers if he isn’t ready to go?

We may see a mixture of Duron Harmon and Terrence Brooks if he’s out. Brooks was mainly a special teams’ contributor with the Jets but this summer, he’s gotten a lot of reps with the top defensive unit. Harmon has been used more as another deep safety. Brooks accounted well for himself in joint practices and the preseason and could step into the role, but Chung does so much it is no easy task. 

Chung plays the in-the-box safety run support role, a linebacker in dime coverage, at times even playing in the slot as well as providing backup support as a third punt returner for special teams when needed. One other player to watch may be rookie corner Joejuan Williams who can be asked to cover the tight ends with his size. 

Hopefully, Chung will be ready to go against Pittsburgh and in uniform that night. But if he isn’t, it would be expected his place would be taken not by one player but multiple ones.

Due to the longer than normal [nearly 3000 words] Patriots notes this week, we are not running our AFC East Notes this Sunday, but they’ll be back next week for sure.

________________

“I think Jarrett’s pocket presence is good. I think there’s a lot of room for improvement. Certainly, when you’re comparing him to the other two quarterbacks on our roster, guys who have played a lot of football in this league, it’s quite a gap in experience. I’m sure those are things that Jarrett will get better at. [It is] probably about what you would think it would be given the difference in experience that you’re comparing him to – to players in our offense running the same plays that he does. So, it’s hard to compare one quarterback in one system to a quarterback in a completely different system, but in our case, we have three quarterbacks all in the same system. It’s an obvious comparison. He’s getting better. I think he does a good job, but there’s room for improvement, certainly.”
Bill Belichick on how Jarrett Stidham’s pocket presence has improved 8-23

________________

“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.

What to Watch For, Preseason Week 3 Patriots vs Panthers

Steve Balestrieri
August 22, 2019 at 7:30 am ET

The Patriots are taking on the Carolina Panthers tonight in Foxboro for the third preseason game for both teams. This is the week that the starters traditionally see a lot of game action. But I have always disliked the term “dress rehearsal”, so for the eighth year in a row here at PatsFans.com, I’ll use my favorite quote from Willie Nelson. My wife and I spent time back and onstage with Willie at one venue and partied on his bus with him at others. [Those are stories for a different time.] But Willie’s words ring true.

“There are no dress rehearsals, we are professionals and this IS the big time”

So, both teams’ starters should see about a half of work and maybe a series in the second half to get acclimated to the entire process. This will be Cam Newton’s first game action this year after off-season shoulder surgery. So, he may not be as apt as he’s shown in the past about tucking the ball away and running with it. This will also be Tom Brady’s first preseason action this summer.

So, what are we looking for from a Patriots perspective tonight? 

Can Brady and the New Faces Click on Offense?

Julian Edelman came off of NFI on Monday, Demaryius Thomas was removed from PUP on Tuesday. I don’t imagine either will play. Josh Gordon is still on NFI and has already been ruled out of tonight’s game. N’Keal Harry just returned to practice this week and may not play either. 

So, this will be a really big test for Jakobi Meyers, going against the top Carolina defense as Brady’s go-to receiver. Phillip Dorsett and Braxton Berrios should also get a lot of snaps with the first unit. 

This should be a good time to see how Sony Michel and Damien Harris are used out of the backfield in the passing game, something they’ve worked on this summer. We know James White’s value there, but the coaches made a concerted effort to by more unpredictable this summer. Michel and Harris should handle the bulk of the work in the running game. Isaiah Wynn’s workload should increase this week and we want to see how he handles this as well as how he holds up against a stout Panthers defense.

Matt LaCosse is back on the field after being injured in Detroit, and this is his opportunity to shine. No one has really stepped up at tight end this summer, so this a big chance to carve out a role with the team. 

How Well the Front Seven [Starters] can Create Pressure:

We’ve seen the top guys dominate in workouts and joint practices. The second and third-tier guys have looked really good in preseason games, but now the starters get to show their stuff. And they get a good test against a Panthers team that has given them problems in the past.

With players like Micheal Bennett, Dont’a Hightower, and Kyle Van Noy getting into their first game action of the year, mixing in Jamie Collins, Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, and John Simon, we’ll get a better idea on how they are planning on using these players. In particular, will the coaches continue to be aggressive and we’ll be wanting to see the personnel groupings that they will rollout.

This front seven looks deep and versatile, with guys like Chase Winovich, Shalique Calhoun, and Derek Rivers coming on later to spell the starters, the 2019 front seven is as deep a unit the Patriots have had since the 2003-2004 teams.

Watching the Starting Secondary Gel On the Field:

This secondary unit of the Patriots is one of the more stronger ones in the league and arguably the deepest secondary unit that Bill Belichick has coached since he took over the reins of the Patriots in 2000.

Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, and Jason McCourty give the team their top three boundary corners. Jonathan Jones has easily bested former 2nd round pick Duke Dawson for the top slot corner. Now watching the starters and their communication with Devin McCourty and Pat Chung at safety is a step. This unit hasn’t played together in a game since the Super Bowl. This is a big week of preparation for the season. Many of them probably won’t play next week. 

Dawson should see plenty of reps in the second half as he’s one of the guys who is fighting for a roster spot. Joejuan Williams, the rookie 2nd round CB, who has improved markedly since training camp began and Keion Crossen should also see a lot of work in the second half.

Special Teams Get Ready For Week 1:

With the release of Ryan Allen, Jake Bailey has won the starting punting position. But the pressure doesn’t let up now, it just gets even tougher. He’s replacing a very popular player with the fanbase and this will be his first game action in Foxboro. He’ll also be tasked with holding on field goal and extra-point attempts. It will be important for him to get off to a good, clean start.

Stephen Gostkowski has missed field goals in each of the first two games, whether that was all on him or something in the exchange between Joe Cardona and his new holder Bailey will bear watching. For all of the fans who would like to see the third most accurate kicker in NFL history replaced, who is out there and most importantly available? Other than the Ravens’ Justin Tucker, Gostkowski is right up there with the best kickers in the game. With a better career accuracy average than the guy he replaced 14 years ago.

The kick return game will bear particular watching tonight. Braxton Berrios or Gunner Olszewski’s roster spot may depend on how well they produce in the kick return game. 

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.

Best Of Social Media: Preseason Week 2 Patriots vs Titans

Robert Alvarez
August 20, 2019 at 8:44 am ET

After a week of joint-practices together, the New England Patriots squared off with the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night in Nashville.

Check out all of the best sights and sounds from Preseason Week 2.

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Prove yourself season. #GameDay

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My brothers!!!

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Thumbs up. Bow down.

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In the first quarter, onlookers got to watch more promising plays out of the Patriots pass rush and rookie Byron Coward out of Maryland.

The Titans struck first as tight end Delanie Walker hauled in an 11 yard pass from Marcus Mariota.

A successful two point attempt after gave the home team a 7-0 lead.

In the second, another Patriots rookie made it into the highlight reel, running back Damien Harris broke free for a 20 yard gain to setup the tying score.

Brandon Bolden finished the drive and the game was knotted up at 8 all following a successful two point attempt.

The Titans would close the half on a 9-0 run following a Jeremy McNichols 15 touchdown pass from Ryan Tannehill and a defensive safety.

17-8 Titans at Halftime.

In the second half rookie linebacker Chase Winovich continued to impress on defense.

With rookie Jarret Stidham now under center, the Patriots rallied back to cut their deficit to two.

Jakobi Meyers hot preseason continued.

A Nick Brossette one yard run finished the drive.

17-15 Titans after 3

The game remained deadlocked at 17-15 until under 5 minutes to play in the fourth.

Stidham found Damoun Patterson from 23 yards out to give the Patriots their first lead of the night.

The Patriots would go on to win 22-17 and move to 2-0 in the Preseason.

https://twitter.com/Patriots/status/1162920932421378053?s=20
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I always knew you would ride with me.. #Year1 #LFG

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Journey.

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What They’re Saying: “Momentum Continues To Build” For Patriots Joejuan Williams

Ian Logue
August 17, 2019 at 12:00 pm ET

It’s been a solid preseason for Patriots defensive back Joejuan Williams, who has been terrific so far and looks like a player ready to contribute in their secondary.

Here’s a quick rundown of everything that’s been written about him so far this preseason:

“Joejuan Williams closed quickly on a Hoyer completion to Maurice Harris to make a stop shy of the end zone.” – Jeff Howe, TheAthletic – 7/25/19

“In an 11-on-11, Hoyer found Phillip Dorsett for a 35-yard touchdown — rookie cornerback Joejuan Williams couldn’t keep up with Dorsett’s speed.” – Henry McKenna, USA TODAY – 7/26/19

“Brian Hoyer made a perfectly weighted toss to speedster Phillip Dorsett on a post route that went for a touchdown against rookie cornerback Joejuan Williams.” – Hayden Bird, Boston.com – 7/26/19

“Got roasted by Dorsett for a touchdown and on a few other passes. Needs to start picking it up.” – Greg Bedard, Boston Sports Journal – 7/26/19

“Joejuan Williams had his best day of camp and broke up another pass to Watson. He had a couple on nice breakups today. ” – Steve Balestrieri, PatsFans.com – 7/31/19

“Rookie cornerback Joejuan Williams made his best play of camp, breaking up a pass intended for Dorsett from quarterback Brian Hoyer in 11-on-11s.” – Doug Kyed, NESN – 7/31/19

“Jason McCourty, Duke Dawson, Terrence Brooks and Williams broke up passes in 11s.” – Doug Kyed, NESN – 7/31/19

“Rookie CB Joejuan Williams broke up a deep throw intended for Phillip Dorsett. He’s barely made contact with a receiver or the ball so far in camp, so that counts as a step in the right direction.” – Matt Dolloff, 98.5 The Sports Hub – 7/31/19

“Rookie CB Joejuan Williams broke up a deep throw intended for Phillip Dorsett. He’s barely made contact with a receiver or the ball so far in camp, so that counts as a step in the right direction.” – Matt Dolloff, 98.5 The Sports Hub – 7/31/19

“Rookie cornerback Joejuan Williams enjoyed his best practice to date. Early in the session, Williams ran stride for stride with Phillip Dorsett and broke up a deep ball on a corner route. Later, Williams stepped in front of Maurice Harris to bat down a short pass over the middle.” – Kevin Duffy, Boston Herald – 7/31/19

“In a late 11-on-11 drill, Harry beat rookie CB Joejuan Williams and reeled in the ball as he toppled to the ground, drawing loud cheers from the crowd. Harry got up and threw his arms in the air in celebration and chest-bumped with WR Braxton Berrios. ” – Matt Dolloff, 98.5 The Sports Hub – 8/01/19

“Williams covered Harry well on a deep post early in this period. He looks to be making progress after looking overmatched at times earlier in the offseason and at the start of camp.” – Matt Dolloff, 98.5 The Sports Hub – 8/01/19

“Harry had a great haul on a deep pass for a touchdown that left Duron Harmon upset with Joejuan Williams.” – Greg Bedard, Boston Sports Journal – 8/01/19

“Patriots cornerbacks JC Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Keion Crossen and Joejuan Williams (two) and safeties Obi Melifonwu (two), Malik Gant and Devin McCourty had pass breakups in 1-on-1s, 7-on-7s and 11-on-11s. ” – Doug Kyed, NESN – 8/05/19

“Decent day for rookie cornerback Joejuan Williams, who ripped the ball away from Lions receiver Andy Jones in a goal line drill. Williams also stood out in 1-on-1s.” – Kevin Duffy, Boston Herald – 8/05/19

“Rookie Joejaun Williams did a great job of hanging with Travis Fulgham on a deep route to force an incompletion.” – Paul Perillo, Patriots.com – 8/05/19

“The Patriots defense had nine deflections in practice – Jamie Collins (two), Duron Harmon (two), Stephon Gilmore, JoeJuan Williams, Keion Crossen, Obi Melifonwu and D’Angelo Ross.” – Mark Daniels, Providence Journal – 8/06/19

“J.C. Jackson and Joejuan Williams both grabbed interceptions. Jackson’s was against Brady going deep for Damoun Patterson, as he stayed underneath and snagged the ball with what looked like one hand. Williams undercut a route to Dorsett on a throw from Jarrett Stidham to make his pick.” – Matt Dolloff, 98.5 The Sports Hub – 8/12/19

“JoeJuan Williams had one of his strongest practices, finishing with two interceptions and two pass deflections.” – Mark Daniels, Providence Journal – 8/12/19

“Cornerback Joejuan Williams had perhaps his best practice of the summer. He was very active and made a few plays. This comes after he saw a lot of snaps against the Lions.” – Ryan Hannable, WEEI – 8/12/19

“Jackson and Joejuan Williams logged an interception.” – Henry McKenna, USA TODAY – 8/12/19

“Joejuan Williams made good use of his height and hands in a jump ball against Harris. Brian Hoyer rainbowed a ball toward Harris, but as the receiver tried to make the catch, Williams stuck in his hands for a breakup.” – Henry McKenna, USA TODAY – 8/12/19

“Joejuan Williams did a nice job staying with Maurice Harris on a deep pattern down the right sideline. Harris couldn’t get position on the rookie, who managed to knock the pass away with an impressive leap.” – Paul Perillo, Patriots.com – 8/12/19

“Jarrett Stidham was 8 of 14 with two interceptions. The first pick would have been a Derek Rivers sack, but the play continued and Stidham tried to hit Danny Etling on a deep ball. Joejuan Williams blocked out Etling and easily picked it off. The second interception was also for Etling, who bobbled the ball and lost it to Gilmore.” – Jeff Howe, The Athletic – 8/12/19

“Williams’ momentum continues to build. He has a team-high seven passes defensed in team drills with one pick and six breakups. It’d take a lot for him to leapfrog Jason McCourty, J.C. Jackson or even Jon Jones, but the coaches have to be happy about Williams’ progress.” – Jeff Howe, The Athletic – 8/12/19

“The second-round pick had his best practice by far with two interceptions and a pass breakup. He appeared much more confident and physical. Was basically a blanket all over the field.” – Greg Bedard, Boston Sports Journal – 8/12/19

“After enduring a rough start to camp, Williams has come on in major, playmaking fashion lately. He boxed out Dorsett to intercept a deep ball in 1-on-1s, then picked off Stidham on another bomb during a team period. Williams also broke up a pass intended from Harris. No doubt this was the second-round rookie’s best practice as a pro.” – Andrew Callahan, MassLive – 8/12/19

“McCourty’s consecutive pass breakups early in team drills set a foretelling tone for the defense. Williams and Keion Crossen were the only other players to post multiple PBUs Thursday.” – Andrew Callahan, MassLive – 8/12/19

“A real nice day for cornerback Joejuan Williams, who had an interception during team drills (against Jarrett Stidham) and another in individual drills (against Tom Brady). The second-round pick also had a pass breakup during full-squad work ” – Jim McBride, Boston Globe – 8/12/19

“Interceptions in team drills: Gilmore (two), safety Patrick Chung, linebacker Jamie Collins and Williams.” – Doug Kyed, NESN – 8/12/19

“Pass breakups in team drills: McCourty (two), Jackson, Jones, Williams, Crossen, safety A.J. Howard and linebackers Trent Harris and Brandon King.” – Doug Kyed, NESN – 8/12/19

“Williams had one of his best practices of the summer.” – Doug Kyed, NESN – 8/12/19

“Had two interceptions today to go with his multiple breakups on Monday. It appears the game is now slowing down for the second-round pick and he’s starting to make plays. This is the type of progress you like to see from rookies and now the hope is he starts to stack success.” – Greg Bedard, Boston Sports Journal – 8/14/19

“The Titans didn’t do much on offense, but most of it was against McCourty, who allowed three big passing plays, including two from Tannehill. With J.C. Jackson and, now, Joejuan Williams possibly breathing down his neck for a starting spot, the veteran doesn’t want to give the upstarts an opening right now.” – Greg Bedard, Boston Sports Journal – 8/14/19

“Stephon Gilmore and Joejuan Williams made nice plays during goal line 1-on-1s. On separate reps, they prevented Titans wideout Corey Davis from coming down with the ball on fade routes to the back corner.” – Kevin Duffy, Boston Herald – 8/15/19

“Joejuan Williams remains a work in progress, but he has steadily improved throughout camp, which is all anyone can ask for at this point. His progress showed up again Thursday when he won a one-on-one drill against a Tennessee receiver by breaking up a fade to the corner of the end zone.” – Jeff Howe, The Athletic – 8/15/19

“Williams, Duke Dawson and Jason McCourty also registered pass breakups.” – Jeff Howe, The Athletic – 8/15/19

“When the Patriots’ twos came in, there was a tough rep for rookie Joejuan Williams and Keion Crossen, who had a bust that resulted in an easy score. Williams also got whistled for a defensive hold in the end zone.” – Tom E Curran, NBC Sports Boston – 8/15/19

“Rookie Joejuan Williams dominated Corey Davis in a one-on-one matchup . . . Fellow rookie Ken Webster is surging.” – Jim McBride, Boston Globe – 8/15/19

“Ryan Tannehill threw a touchdown to Taywan Taylor when it looked like Keion Crossen blew a coverage. Titans should have scored earlier to Darius Jennings but Tannehill’s throw was awful. It bailed out Joejuan Williams, who wasn’t listening to the communication from the other DBs and he failed to adjust.” – Greg Bedard, Boston Sports Journal – 8/15/19

“Cornerbacks Stephon Gilmore, Ken Webster, Duke Dawson and rookie Joejuan Williams had pass breakups in 1-on-1 drills over Titans receivers. Williams’ came on an impressive play over Titans wideout Corey Davis. Webster, a seventh-round pick, Gilmore, Dawson, Jason McCourty and Keion Crossen went undefeated.=” – Doug Kyed, NESN – 8/15/19

“Pass breakups in 11-on-11s: Dawson, Williams, McCourty, linebacker Dont’a Hightower.” – Doug Kyed, NESN – 8/15/19

You can see more players at our 2019 Patriots Training Camp Player News Database, updated each night during camp.