Tag Archives: Josh Allen

 Patriots Week 16 Report Card, Offense Reappears In Big Win Over Buffalo

Steve Balestrieri
December 24, 2019 at 7:00 am ET

Patriots Win 11th Straight Division Title

The Patriots all week leading up to this game stated that this was a playoff game, and judging from their preparation, intensity, and production, they totally bought in. They won their 12th game of the season, a hard-fought 24-17 win over the Buffalo Bills which clinched the AFC East for the 11th year in a row and puts them one step away from a playoff bye and the #2 seed. 

We’ll get to the grades for the players in just a moment, but first a word about the coaching staff. In any profession, perhaps the hardest thing to do is assess oneself critically and be able to say that something isn’t working, even if that something was your idea. The ability to self-assess, or in Patriots parlance “self-scout” is something they are head and shoulders above everyone else in the league since Bill Belichick took the reins. 

Everyone says they’re going to “self-scout” and they all will change up their gameplans, and occasionally many teams come up with a brilliant one. But nobody, nobody can morph their teams from one week to the next, depending upon their opponent and put in the time, preparation and commitment than the Patriots have done the past 20 years. 

And the players have to buy in completely or it doesn’t work. How many times have we heard the past 20 years, “well Team A is more talented across the board” and how many times has Team A looked up at the wrong end of the scoreboard at the end of the day. So at the end of the day, when the votes are in for the Coach du jour, Belichick will get no votes but his team will probably win 13 games, while the naysayers will tell us they can’t win it all again. 

So, check out our grades and we’ll take one more look at the game film before putting a bow on this week.

Quarterback: A-

Tom Brady was showing signs of age, decline and his elbow has been bothering him for several weeks. Plus he was facing a team that has increasingly played him tougher and tougher for the past few years and was in the top 3 of most defensive categories. So, how did that work out? Brady had his best game in several weeks, perhaps all season. 

Brady completed 26-33 for 271 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions. Completing nearly 79 percent of his passes while averaging 8.2 yards per pass attempt against this Bills defense is outstanding work. 

Brady got everyone involved and mixing things up and hitting nine different receivers kept the Bills defense off-balance all night long. His back-shoulder throw to Matt LaCosse for a touchdown showed perfect touch. This was a vintage Brady performance.  

Running Backs: B+

The Patriots running game followed up their most productive game of the season in Cincinnati with a game that was arguably more impressive considering the opponent. The team rushed for 143 yards against a tough Bills defense and were running physical, getting yards after contact and following the blocking well. 

Sony Michel had his best game of the season rushing 21 times for 96 yards. Rex Burkhead, once again turning it on late in the season, rushed 5 times for 20 yards, including the game-winning touchdown run where he was hit in the backfield and broke two tackles to get into the end zone. 

N’Keal Harry had 18 yards on a reverse, with a lead block by Brady (yes everyone bought in). James White chipped in with 13 yards. Brady picked up a key QB sneak to keep the chains moving. The running backs (Michel, Burkhead, and White) combined for 235 yards rushing and receiving. Solid night? You bet.

Wide Receivers: B-

The Patriots wide receivers led by #11 (Who else?) had a solid night. Julian Edelman was questionable with knee and shoulder issues. Then he missed a few series that nearly took a quarter going through concussion protocol. But he still led all WRs with 5 catches for 72 yards. And maybe the Bills thought that as hobbled as he was, they didn’t need to double him. That assessment was wrong. He was beating coverage consistently and late in the game…was doubled. In a league where all the players are physically tough, Edelman is one of the toughest. 

Burkhead led all Patriot receivers with 77 yards on 4 catches, yes he had a fumble on a good defensive play but more than made up for it. He showed excellent vision and followed his blocks well. Jakobi Meyers came off the bench when Edelman was down and collected 3 passes for 25 yards.

Harry caught two passes for 25 while Mohamad Sanu caught 3 passes for 24. Sanu was again a disappointment. While he may have gotten a poor spot on a third-down pass short of the sticks, he totally whiffed on a block on a 4th and 1 with Harry getting stopped by his man on a play that could have went for a big gain. 

Tight Ends: B-

Matt LaCosse scored his first touchdown of the season on an 8-yard pass from Brady down the seam. He also had his best game in the run blocking department, the offense put him in motion and he did a good job, even lining up in the backfield. His pass protection was much, much better this week. 

Ben Watson had three catches on three targets with two going for first downs. He also had a 33-yard touchdown wiped out on an offensive pass interference call on Edelman. This was a much better day for the tight ends than we’ve seen in a while. 

Offensive Line: A-

The offensive line play was outstanding on Saturday. Buffalo didn’t sack Tom Brady and for the vast majority of the game he played with a clean pocket. They also cleared out big chunks of yardage in the running game. It is amazing what the backs can do when they are not getting hit four yards deep in the backfield. 

Shaq Mason had a very impressive game in the run department, looking like the guy we’re used to seeing blowing people up in the running game. Ted Karras and Joe Thuney were also excellent in the running game. 

Marcus Cannon hurt an ankle and was replaced by swing tackle Marshall Newhouse who played well, he did a good job in the running game but gave up a pair of QB hurries and a hit. But this unit going against the Bills performed as well as one could hope for.                      

 Defensive Line: B+

The defensive line did a tremendous job of bottling up Devin Singletary holding him to just 46 yards on 15 carries (3.1-yard average). And that begins with Lawrence Guy who was outstanding once again. Guy led the team with six tackles, a sack of Josh Allen and two QB hits. Danny Shelton was also solid in the running game. 

John Simon had a QB sack and 1.5 tackles for a loss. Chase Winovich who is looking like Lucius Malfoy these days with his dyed hair more white than blond, was his normal flying around the field self. 

Linebackers: B-

The linebackers were led by Dont’a Hightower with 1.5 sacks and a pass breakup while Jamie Collins and Kyle Van Noy weren’t as impactful as they can be and normally are. Ja’Whaun Bentley played his very tough, downhill style in the running game. 

Elandon Roberts played about 20 snaps as a fullback and seems to be relishing his role. “Same on defense, same on offense. When a linebacker steps into the hole, Imma run through their motherf***n’ face. Period. That’s all I think about, making my block, running through a motherf***r’s face.” How can one argue with that?

Secondary: B

The Patriots secondary had a good, but not great day against the Bills. While Josh Allen only completed 50 percent of his throws (13 of 26), hit on two long completions, one for a 53-yard touchdown and the other (33 yards to Dawson Knox) set up a 1-yard touchdown pass on a tackle eligible play. 

Stephon Gilmore got beat on a double move by John Brown and moved to the right. Brown cut left and safety Devin McCourty got caught peeking in the backfield at the pass rush and Brown then blew right by him too. However, it was his only catch of the game. Knox only caught the one big pass over Pat Chung, but was open on a couple of others but was overthrown. 

Cole Beasley caught 7 passes for 108 yards out of the slot and was finding excellent success all game long. The Patriots missed Jonathan Jones who was out with a groin injury. 

Special Teams: B

The Special Teams were led by Nick Folk on Saturday. Folk hit a 51-yarder to give the team the lead and was 3-3 on field goals for the day. You don’t have to hold your breath on kicks for the first time in a while this season. The return game was forgettable and the coverage units were okay but not their usual shutdown selves. Jake Bailey punted twice averaging 46.5 yards but didn’t drop either inside the 20.  

Coaches: A

The Patriots coaching staff gets excellent marks this week. And it begins with Josh McDaniels. McDaniels was extremely creative of trying to get everyone involved in the offense this week and used so many different looks and formations, there were times he had the Buffalo defense thoroughly confused. That doesn’t happen very often. With his play-calling, they were able to put together those long drives in the death-by-1000 cuts mold. 

Defensively, they had Allen very confused early in the game but give the 2nd year QB credit, he made a few outstanding throws and hung in there. But with the Bills driving late in the game, they brought pressure and got a sack and forced a throw off his back foot to get an incompletion in the end zone to salt the game away.  

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“The East is Not Enough” – Patriots Hold Off Bills 24-17

Steve Balestrieri
December 21, 2019 at 9:50 pm ET

Do you want a playoff atmosphere? You had it in spades today. The Patriots and Bills had a tremendous game with back and forth action and clutch plays by each team. But in the end, the Patriots made a few more plays than Buffalo did and scored 11 unanswered 4th quarter points for a come-from-behind 24-17 victory at Gillette Stadium on Saturday afternoon. 

This win gives the Patriots an unprecedented 11th straight division crown. And a win next week assures them of no worse than the #2 seed and a bye in the playoffs. But it wasn’t easy or always pretty. But this is a mentally tough team and they never quit. 

Down 17-13 in the 4th quarter, they relied on Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, and Rex Burkhead who must love the cold weather because the past two seasons, he’s turned it up a notch in big games. Today was no exception. Down 17-16, Burkhead had a tremendous effort, breaking a tackle by Lorenzo Alexander in the backfield and keeping his feet and powered into the endzone with 5:06 remaining in the game and giving the Patriots the lead. They capped it off with a two-point conversion from Brady to Edelman to make it 24-17.

Edelman was out for a while, getting checked for a concussion. It happened on a play where Edelman got flagged for offensive pass interference that wiped out a 33-yard touchdown pass from Brady to Ben Watson. We’re not going to get into the call or another on Watson that wiped out a huge first down by James White…

But after an impressive Bills drive got them with a first and goal with just under two minutes to go, the defense stiffened and made some huge stops when they had to. So, when the Patriots got into the locker room they had their hats and t-shirts for the division title, their 11th in a row. The message on the shirt, “The East is Not Enough”, and rightfully so. If they play like this, they can beat anyone. 

As we’ve been saying all year, this Buffalo team is tough, with a legit defense and they aren’t going away. They’ll be a tough out during the postseason. 

Some of our observations include:

The Patriots offense rolled up over 400 yards of offense against an outstanding defense of the Bills. And they had the balance they always seek with 271 yards through the air and 143 tough yards on the ground. While they struggled in the red zone again, this kind of offensive output has to be a sight for sore eyes. 

Tom Brady had his best game in quite a while. He looked spot on today and delivered the ball extremely well. Brady completed 26-33 for 271 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions for a QB rating of 111. Maybe that sand in the hourglass isn’t quite ready to run out just yet? Hmm?

Burkhead, as we mentioned above, had a heckuva game, he carried the ball 5 times for 20 yards and a touchdown and had 4 catches for 77 yards, shaking off an early fumble on the Patriots first possession. We pointed out in our keys that the way to beating the Bills defense was to get the running backs involved in the passing game. So with that…

Josh McDaniels gets a game ball. He called a tremendous game and they kept the Bills defense guessing all game long and they kept the tempo and pace in their own favor. McDaniels has had to be very creative with the offense struggling and he definitely was again today. 

Brian Daboll was equally creative for Buffalo. From the tackle eligible touchdown pass play to others, he was able to keep the Bills right on top through the 3rd quarter. This offense is going to get it together…it is easy to see it coming. 

Sony Michel had his best game of the season rushing for 96 yards on 21 carries with a 4.9-yard average. He frequently was making yardage after contact and kept his legs moving. 

The offensive line was outstanding, getting off the ball to rush for 143 yards on a very tough Bills defense and doing a much, much better job in pass protection allowing Brady to throw from a clean pocket for most of the game. 

The Patriots defense played tough when they had to, holding Josh Allen to just 176 yards net passing but gave up two big plays, a 33-yard strike from Allen to Dawson Knox just before the half, and a 53-yard touchdown pass from Allen to John Brown. 

Brown beat Stephon Gilmore with a double move but he passed him off inside to Devin McCourty. McCourty got caught peeking in the backfield at the pass rush and under heavy pressure, Allen delivered another strike. Brown scored easily. 

Cole Beasley had another big day, catching 7 passes for 108 yards out of the slot. Beasley has a habit of finding the open spots in the coverage and delivering. He’s a tough matchup and going back to the spring, I for one was hoping the Patriots would show some interest in picking him up. 

Nick Folk was 3-3 on field goal attempts including a 51-yarder that went right down the middle. It is nice to see the Patriots kicking game getting some traction. 

The defense did a great job of limiting Devin Singletary today. He averaged only 3.1 yards per rushing attempt (15 attempts, 46 yards) and just one catch for 2 yards. Meanwhile, Burkhead, White, and Michel combined for 9 catches, 106 yards. 

So the Patriots won their 12th game this season, the 12th time they’ve done so since the 1970 merger. They are now tied with the San Francisco 49ers with the most 12 win seasons since the merger. 

And the good news is, they are beginning to look playoff ready. With a win over Miami next Sunday in Foxboro, they’ll be 13-3 and getting that all-important bye week off to allow some of their banged-up players to get some much-needed rest. 

 

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Patriots – Bills Week 16, Who Has the Razor’s Edge

Steve Balestrieri
December 20, 2019 at 8:45 am ET

The Patriots can wrap up their 11th straight division title with a win over the Buffalo Bills on Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. in Gillette Stadium. Unlike in years past where the crowning of the division title was a foregone conclusion, this year is very different.

Even with a win, the Bills in order to win the division would have to win next week and have the Patriots lose to the Dolphins. While still a possibility, it is rather remote at this point. However, Buffalo has already clinched a playoff spot of their own and are looking to carve out their own identity. And they’d like nothing more than to knock the Patriots out of a playoff bye.

That could possibly set up a third meeting between the two teams during Wildcard Weekend in two weeks. So, with a playoff bye and the division crown on the line, this IS a playoff atmosphere this week. 

This week’s game will be broadcast by NFL Network on Saturday, December 21 at 4:30 p.m. and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Mike Tirico will handle play-by-play duties with Kurt Warner as the color analyst. Peter Schrager will work from the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.

The Patriots (11-3) beat the Cincinnati Bengals 34-13 and intercepted Andy Dalton four times, with Stephon Gilmore grabbing two, including a 64-yard pick-six.

The Bills (10-4) beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 17-10 as the Bills also intercepted four passes and generated five turnovers in a big win for Bills.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2019 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:

The Patriots and Bills have been playing each other since 1960 and this will mark the 120th time the two teams have faced each other. 

The Patriots have swept the season series the past two years and have won six in a row against the Bills. The Patriots have dominated the season series against the Bills 75-43-1 and since Bill Belichick took over the team in 2000, the Patriots are 34-5 against the Bills.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots RBs vs Bills Front Seven – Razor’s Edge Buffalo

The Patriots running game finally showed some life last week in Cincinnati as they rolled up 175 yards on the ground in the win over the Bengals. Sony Michel led the way with 89 yards while Rex Burkhead ripped a nice 33-yard touchdown run.    

The Bills are 10th in the league against the run allowing just over 101 yards per game. They have the stout men upfront, Star Lotulelei and Jordan Phillips are good at stuffing things at the point of attack. Matt Milano and Tremaine Edwards at linebacker are very active and aggressive in run support. 

Look for the Patriots to try to establish the run between the tackles. In this one guards Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason will be the keys to whether they can get any sustained yardage on the ground. Getting those two out front and doing some damage at the second level will be imperative for the backs to get some traction.

Michel, Burkhead, and James White will be looked to keep the offense in manageable down and distance. In the first meeting, Brandon Bolden got a carry in the red zone and chipped in with a 4-yard touchdown run. Could we see him a bit? Possibly.          

Patriots WRs vs Bills Secondary – Razor’s Edge Buffalo

The Patriots passing game has been consistently inconsistent for several weeks. Julian Edelman is banged up and clearly hobbling. He shouldn’t even play this week, or next. However, it is all hands on deck time and I expect we’ll see him out there. How effective will Edelman be? It is doubtful we’ll see anything close to his optimal game. But he’s as tough as they come and he’ll give what he has. 

The Bills pass defense is second only to the Patriots in stickiness to the wide receivers. They allow only 190.5 yards per game via the air. The Patriots and Bills are #1 – #2 in points allowed this season (12.9, 15.9 respectively). Tre’Davious White leads the secondary with six interceptions on the year. They have an excellent pass rush led by Phillips with 9.5 sacks, Ed Oliver, Jerry Hughes, and Shaq Lawson who all can get after the opposing QB. Two excellent safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde solidify things in the middle. 

What the Patriots need …desperately is for someone else other than James White to step up. Mohamad Sanu and Phillip Dorsett have been MIA for weeks now and if there is ever a time for them to shine, now would be a nice weekend to get it going.  In the first meeting, Dorsett was targeted nine times and had two catches for 10 yards. Look for N’Keal Harry to see some more snaps and targets this week. 

If the Bills pass defense struggles in any area it would be (like New England) with backs out of the backfield in the screen game. That’s why we should see plenty of White and Burkhead in this one.

Next up the Bills offense:

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

The Patriots front seven, in particular, Lawrence Guy and Danny Shelton have been fantastic against the run. They’ve held up opponents at the line of scrimmage and allow the linebackers to flow and make plays. Guy leads the league in missing only one of 53 tackles. Shelton has missed two 52 of 54 tackle opportunities. 

Buffalo has a big bruising back (Frank Gore who gained 109 yards in the previous meeting) and a faster back who can challenge out of the backfield in Devin Singletary who missed the first game. The Bills will want to run the ball to make life easier on Josh Allen in this one and Singletary will present a tough matchup. 

This will be a big game for the Patriots linebackers to try to take the running game away. Kyle Van Noy, Dont’a Hightower, and Jamie Collins will have to be active and sure in their tackling this week as the Patriots will try to force the issue and make Allen throw to win. 

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

The Bills passing game with Josh Allen is beginning to emerge as he gets more and more comfortable in the offense of Brian Daboll. They have an underrated pass receiving group with John Brown who has emerged as their #1 target, Cole Beasley out of the slot and talented TE Dawson Knox, with Singletary out of the backfield.

The Patriots are allowing just 170.9 yards per game through the air. Stephon Gilmore has been outstanding and is in the running for the Defensive Player of the Year (DPOY). He’ll be matched up with Brown. They’ll try to mix up their coverages and looks and try to bait Allen into making a mistake. 

The big matchup to watch this week is Beasley out of the slot. Jonathan Jones is out with a groin injury. Jason McCourty has been battling a groin injury of his own. Those two would be the top two choices to cover Beasley. If neither is available, rookie Joejuan Williams would probably see some action in there or the team may opt for a safety. 

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots special teams units have been the key to a lot of success this season and certainly had a hand in the win over Buffalo earlier this season. They blocked the first of four punts and Matthew Slater scored a touchdown. Look for them to come after some of Corey Bojorquez’s punts in this one to help out the offense. Jake Bailey is having an outstanding rookie season while Nick Folk has at least solidified the kicking game. Coverage on kicks has been outstanding while the return game has been poor. 

Buffalo’s Stephen Hauschka has been very inconsistent this season and has missed several kicks that have influenced games with a lack of range this season. Bojorquez is very solid and the Bills have a dynamic returner in Andre Roberts. But home cooking gives the Patriots the edge here.

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

The Patriots and Tom Brady have enjoyed incredible success against the Bills (31-3) and since Brady became the starter in 2001, and are looking for a win that will give them their 12th win of the season for an amazing 13th time since the 1970 merger which would tie San Francisco for the most in the league.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. Those late-season walkovers are a thing of the past and although the Bills have never beaten Brady in a meaningful game in New England (Sean McDermott is 0-5 overall), the tides are changing. This one is going to be a battle. 

Keys to the game from a Patriots perspective:

Running Game Must Be Effective – Look for the Patriots to try to run the ball between the tackles this week. They have to help out a passing game that is really struggling and going against an outstanding pass defense, this is imperative.

Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, and James White must be physical, and get yards after contact this week. The guards (as we pointed out earlier), have to win their matchups.

Get After Allen – With the Bills offense still a work in progress throwing the ball, Allen still has occasional issues with accuracy and is prone to make mistakes. The defense will have to force the issue this week. They can’t lay back and just try to contain Allen in the pocket, they will have to get after him hard this week. 

Both defenses will be aggressive this week, the Patriots’ unit will have to be better and and generate a turnover or two. 

Continue the Script – This week, that means playing tough opportunistic defense, having the special teams flip field position, and securing the football as well as generating some turnovers. The Patriots are well versed in playing in big games and always seem to turn it up a notch in those….This is a prime opportunity to do so again.

___________

This should be a tough, physical contest… and a very low scoring one and even lower if Edelman can’t play this week. Buffalo is just beginning to learn how to win. They’ve been given very little respect on the national stage. But a win over Dallas on Thanksgiving where they curb stomped the Cowboys started to change the narrative a bit. A win in Pittsburgh last week was impressive and now they are taking on their nemesis in the division. 

They have had zero success here in New England during the Brady/Belichick era but feel they have the team to create a new order in the AFC East. Is it this year? 

The Patriots have been here before, they won’t let the moment get too big for them. And the Patriots defense continues to rise up for the occasion and they’ll have to once again. The Pats defense gets a couple of big turnovers and a huge stop late in the game to salt away another division crown.  Patriots17-16

The “Knocking on Sevens’ Door” tour returns for the final regular-season game of 2019 at home when the Pats take on the Dolphins at Gillette Stadium.

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 breakdown game analysis

Patriots Week 4 Report Card, in Tough 16-10 Win Over the Bills

Steve Balestrieri
October 1, 2019 at 7:42 am ET

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness.”

The Patriots are, despite the hand-wringing going on 4-0 and have already beaten every team in the division. And yes, with the way the defense played, they did deserve to win. The offense, on the other hand, struggled mightily. And the Bills had the same issue, while their defense was lights out, their offense threw four interceptions and had another turnover on downs inside the five-yard line. So it was a tale of two cities…if you will.

Special teams once again played a big role, both positively and negatively in this game but in the end, it was a knock-down grind out contest that the Patriots won, on the road in a very hostile environment. 

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

Quarterback: D+

Tom Brady had a pretty awful day by his standards, completing 18-39 for just 150 yards, no touchdowns, and an interception. The pick in the end zone [his first of the season] was particularly bad as it took points off the field and was a bad mental mistake, something that Brady rarely makes. His best throw was early on a 26-yard drop in the bucket to James White that set up the Patriots first touchdown.

But he wasn’t getting a ton of support from his wide receivers nor his offensive line in this game. There was plenty of negativity to go around…and will. 

Running Backs: B-

The Patriots got back James White this week, and as we pointed out in our keys, he figured to be a big part of the passing game [like the Buffalo game a year ago] and he was. White caught eight passes for 57 yards and was his normal, clutch self out there, setting up the Patriots first TD on a 26-yard wheel route where he beat Matt Milano. 

Sony Michel had 63 yards on 17 carries [3.7-yard average] and showed some signs of getting the running game going. He does, however, seem to take an extra half-second or so, with hitting the hole. And in his defense, maybe it is because there isn’t any there. 

Brandon Bolden again got some early work and scored on a nicely designed 4-yard run. Rex Burkhead was limited with a foot injury and got no carries, and had one reception for 7 yards. [More to this below] Jakob Johnson had some nice moments in the blocking game, including a nice clean out of Milano that sprung Michel on a 10-yard run.

Wide Receivers: D

The Buffalo secondary totally dominated this matchup on Sunday as the wide receivers got very little in the way of separation on Sunday. Josh Gordon had 3 catches for 46 yards including a big 31-yard drag route that the Bills challenged. Julian Edelman was banged up and not targeted nearly as much as normal and had only four catches for 30 yards. He also had a drop where he was in the clear and had a lot of running room. Phillip Dorsett, “the man that catches everything thrown his way” was taken away by the Bills. He was targeted 9 times and had 2 catches for 10 yards. Jakobi Meyers wasn’t targeted but once all game.

Last week the top three Edelman, Gordon, and Dorsett had 19 catches for 198 yards. This week they were targeted 23 times and had 9 catches for 86. That ain’t getting it done folks. 

Tight Ends: D-

Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo weren’t targeted once in the passing game. When the TEs’ biggest contribution is whether or not his rub route was a foul or not, the production isn’t getting there. And the blocking has not been great either, not bad per se, but not great. It makes one appreciate Gronk so much more when he blocked like another tackle out there.  

Offensive Line: C-

The offensive line still is having struggles opening holes in the running game, and they’re not getting a push on the opponent. Too many times the Bills stood them up at the line of scrimmage. The stretch runs don’t seem to be nearly as effective as the middle runs are. They were able to spring Michel on a few of them. 

The pass blocking didn’t allow a sack, but a lot of that has to do with Brady being able to get rid of the ball so fast, as in the second half, the Bills pressure put Brady on rollerskates far too many times. 

Coach Scarnecchia is always preaching everyone pulling together, and I believe that he’s going to sort this out. 

Defensive Line: A-

The defensive line led by Lawrence Guy was excellent. Guy constantly takes on double teams and stops the offensive line from getting any push. Danny Shelton, who is really playing well in his second stint in Foxboro, had another strong game inside. 

The Patriots pass rush racked up another five sacks for 40 yards and eight QB hits this week against the Bills QBs. While Frank Gore rolled up 109 yards on 17 carries, [6.4yard average], two of those runs totaled 61 yards and were from players other than the DL not making the plays at or near the line of scrimmage. 

Linebackers: A-

The Patriots linebackers even without Dont’a Hightower had another excellent game on Sunday. Kyle Van Noy, [becoming one of Bill Belichick’s biggest steals] was outstanding on the field for the Patriots. Van Noy was everywhere, eight tackles, including two for a loss, two sacks and four QB hits, including the final play for the defense where he hit Matt Barkley as he was releasing the ball, and allowed Jamie Collins an easy interception. 

Collins was again very good and has to be loving his second go ‘round with the Patriots.He had four tackles, one tackle for a loss, one sack, one QB hit, one pass defensed and one huge interception to seal the deal. 

Ja’Whaun Bentley was solid in filling in for Hightower, but he had one major gaffe early in the game. Gore showed a run to the outside, Bentley reacted too quickly and tried to fill a gap that was set on the edge. Gore recognized it and cut back to a wide-open B gap and ran it for 20 yards. 

Secondary: A-

The secondary had another big day intercepting three passes and limiting the Bills to just 10 points. J.C. Jackson had a pair of interceptions and provided very solid coverage. Zay Jones was held to 2 catches for 4 yards on 8 targets. John Brown and Stephon Gilmore battled hard all day with Brown coming away with 5 catches for 69 yards on 11 targets. Cole Beasley led Buffalo with seven catches for 75 yards with most of them later in the game after matching up with Jonathan Jones. 

Jackson had two mistakes that he’ll hear about from Belichick. On Frank Gore’s 41-yard run, Jackson had a clear attempt to wrap him up about two yards from the line of scrimmage. He turned and attempted a shoulder block that Gore shook off like a dog coming in from the rain and rolled for 41 yard…tsk, tsk. He also left his feet on a blitz against a mobile QB. Uh-oh, BB will take umbrage with that. But overall the second year UDFA had an excellent day.

Pat Chung had a solid game and had excellent coverage on Dawson Knox who just made a fantastic over the shoulder 26-yard catch on a third down. Couldn’t defend it any better than that.  Devin McCourty had his fourth interception in as many games. 

Special Teams: B

Stephen Gostkowski had another miss on the first extra point of the day in an increasingly puzzling development. That miss may have loomed large if the Bills had scored in their final drive.

But the special teams’ units scored a touchdown on a blocked punt by J.C. Jackson that was returned for a score by Matthew Slater, his first touchdown in a stellar 12-year career. Jake Bailey was outstanding again punting nine times for a 48.1 average including two punts of more than 60 yards.

Coaches: B-

The Patriots coaching staff had the team prepared and they made nearly all of the correct calls on defense and special teams. Obviously, they saw something on tape that showed them the Bills were ripe for a punt block and they executed it flawlessly. 

The offense and Joss McDaniels, however, struggled and the play calling was seemingly stagnant. They were relying on too many screens at or behind the line of scrimmage that the Bills were not fooled by all game. The Bills weakness on defense is the middle of the field targeting the linebackers but the Patriots attempted precious few attempts there. Perhaps Edelman being banged up and lack of confidence in the TEs has something to do with that. But Ben Watson should return just in time. 

We’re on to the nation’s capital to take on the Redskins at 4-0, so there is a reason for optimism around these parts. The “Knockin’ on Seven’s Door” 2019 tour continues. 

 

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.

 

5 Thoughts on the Patriots Win Over the Bills

Ian Logue
September 30, 2019 at 10:52 am ET

Sunday’s game against the Bills went down as one of the toughest ones for the Patriots so far this season, with New England hanging on for a 16-10 road win to improve to 4-0 on the season.

Here are some thoughts coming off the vicotry:

1 ) With Stephen Gostkowski continuing to struggle, Sunday was really the first time his difficulties were magnified as the Patriots found themselves in a tight game that could have turned out badly had their defense not held on.

After missing the extra point on New England’s first-quarter touchdown, the Patriots found themselves in a dogfight late in this one as points suddenly were at a premium and the one point New England was lacking left the Bills with an opportunity to take the lead late.  Buffalo started their final drive of the game from their own 14-yard line, driving down to the Patriots 39-yard line before Kyle Van Noy put a hit on Bills quarterback Matt Barkley, which led to an errant throw and the game-clinching interception by Jamie Collins.

Fortunately, their defense carried the day and both New England’s offense and Gostkowski were let off the hook.  Had the Bills managed to go down and score and hit the extra point at the end of regulation, it would have potentially been a tough division loss that would have put the Patriots at 3-1 heading into next week’s game down in Washington.

Make no mistake, Gostkowski has gotten the benefit of the doubt from Bill Belichick, who is clearly willing to allow him to weather whatever it is causing his current erratic performance.  But as we now start heading into Week 5 and into the second quarter of the season, this is the time Gostkowski needs to start settling in as we start moving into October.  Hopefully, Sunday marks the end of his struggles.


Sunday’s game was tough for Brady and the offense.

2) Sunday was one of the more frustrating performances we’ve seen from Tom Brady and the offense in recent memory, with the veteran struggling to get anything going against a Bills defense that was nothing short of relentless.

Brady finished Sunday’s game 18-of-39 for 150-yards along with a gut-wrenching red-zone interception, which completely turned the momentum of this game as the Patriots had an opportunity to completely change the tone of this one.

The play in question came late in the second quarter after New England managed to string together the longest drive of the day by either team, marching 76-yards on 16 plays while holding the ball for more than 8-minutes.

After battling their way down to the Bills’ 2-yard line, Brady was flushed out of the pocket and forced to roll out to his right, firing a pass to Julian Edelman who was coming across toward the corner of the end zone.  The problem was, he didn’t see safety Micah Hyde, who had dropped off his man and broke on the football and snatched it out of the air for the interception.

That was a critical mistake by Brady, as it negated an opportunity to put them up 20-0 and instead allowed the Bills to take advantage of the turnover and take the football the other way for a field goal.  Suddenly, New England’s lead was just 13-3 and given how much they had struggled prior to that point, this one certainly felt like a game that wouldn’t be easy.

The Bills made Brady’s life difficult, breaking through the offensive line all afternoon and never allowed him to get into much of a rhythm.  In the fourth quarter when it mattered most, the Bills held Brady to just 3-of-8 (38%) for 13-yards throwing the football and it was really New England’s defense who, once again, carried the day.  The Patriots converted just 5-of-18 on third down Sunday, with Brady completing a mere 8-of-16 throwing the football including his interception.

Fortunately, the outcome turned out in their favor and New England survived a rare off day by New England’s signal-caller.  But give the Bills credit.  This group is tough defensively and they’ll likely be another tough out when they meet again on December 22nd.  With Buffalo still at 3-1, depending on how their journey goes from here, the rematch at Gillette Stadium may have a little more meaning next time compared to recent seasons.


New England’s defense was terrific on Sunday.

3) New England’s defense managed another impressive outing on Sunday, pressuring Bills QB Josh Allen all afternoon while holding Buffalo to just 2-of-13 (15%) on third down.  But the biggest story of the day was all the plays they made in key moments, with this group coming up with four big interceptions along with five sacks.

The turnovers started on the Bills’ first possession, with Devin McCourty coming up with his fourth interception in as many games.  That play was probably the most impressive one yet for McCourty, who leaped into the air in front of John Brown and took the ball away before returning it 19-yards to midfield.

New England’s offense took full advantage, scoring a touchdown off the turnover, which ended up being their only offensive touchdown of the day.

J.C. Jackson also got into the action, picking off two passes of his own, the second of which led to a field goal by Stephen Gostkowski, which put the Patriots up 16-10 with just under a minute left in the third quarter.

The final turnover of the day came courtesy of Jamie Collins, who took advantage of an errant throw by Matt Barkley, who was in the game after Allen was knocked out earlier in the contest. On the play, Barkley was hit as he released the football by Kyle Van Noy and his pass landed in the hands of Collins for the interception. That play was the knockout blow, as the Patriots offense ran out the clock and New England walked away with the victory.


Michel had to fight for every yard on Sunday.

4) Sunday saw a slight improvement in the ground game, although it was still a tough outing.  Sony Michel got the lion’s share of the carries, carrying 17 times for 63-yards while averaging 3.7 yards per carry.  That was a big improvement over last week after he finished with 9 carries for just 11-yards against the Jets.

But one thing that stood out is the fact that the offensive line’s struggles remain an issue, with Michel being dropped for a loss or no gain on 4 of his 17 carries.  Coming into Sunday’s game he had been dropped for no gain or a loss on 9 carries through the first three weeks.

To compound the issue, they tried to keep Buffalo off balance but Brady connected on just 6-of-15 (40%) for 34-yards throwing the football on second down, setting the Bills up to come after Brady on third down as the Patriots found themselves in 3rd-or-8 or longer on 11 of their 18 third down attempts.  That made for a tough afternoon as the offense had to fight for every last yard and they were fortunate that the defense came up with a stellar effort.

With all the injuries they’ve been dealing with up front, Sunday’s contest was one of the more frustrating reminders that they still have their work cut out for them.


Slater scored his first career special teams TD Sunday.

5) Special teams were a crucial part of Sunday’s win and veteran Matthew Slater certainly came up big in this one.

Following New England’s touchdown, the Bills had a punt blocked by Jackson, who dove in cleanly and got his hand on the football as it left Corey Bojorquez’ foot.  Slater swooped in and scooped up the football, returning it 11-yards into the end zone for the touchdown.

It was a huge play, with Slater celebrating his first career special teams touchdown in style, falling to his knees and raising his fists in the air as his teammates rushed over to celebrate with him.

His touchdown ended up being the game-winning play, which was massive given that they wouldn’t reach the end zone for the rest of the afternoon.

Another player who was big in this game was punter Jake Bailey, who played a critical role in helping the Patriots win the battle of field position as New England consistently found itself deep in its own territory.  But Bailey flipped things around repeatedly. He punted the football 9 times on Sunday, averaging 48.1 yards per punt.  That was big because for the most part, save for the turnovers, Buffalo didn’t really have good field position for most of this game and Bailey was a huge reason why that was the case.

Fortunately, the Patriots played the more complete game in this one and Bill Belichick was clearly pleased after the game with their special teams effort. However, the Bills were the first big test of the year and it’s obvious they still have some work ahead of them to get to where they need to be offensively.

For now, the Patriots will get back to work as they prepare to take on Washington on the road next Sunday at 1pm.

Patriots Defense Stifles the Bills, Win 16-10, Observations

Steve Balestrieri
at 5:51 am ET

The Patriots are 4-0 and returned home with a hard-fought 16-10 win over the Bills in upstate New York. While they won’t get any style points for this one, a win is a win, and a division win on the road is always important. 

At the quarter-point of the season the Patriots have a one-game lead over Buffalo and have already beaten all three teams in the division. They are also one of only three undefeated teams left. But this one wasn’t like any of the previous three wins, where they won in a cakewalk. This was one of those fingernails on the chalkboard kind of uncomfortable. 

But first the good news. The defense continues its stellar play holding the Bills to just 10 points. The Bills had 200 net passing yards as the defense piled up five more sacks totaling 40 yards, and eight quarterback hits. They also intercepted four passes. 

The front seven, despite missing Dont’a Hightower was very impressive again and today they were led by Kyle Van Noy, who was immense out on the field. Van Noy made eight tackles, including two for a loss, two sacks, and four QB hits. His final QB hit on Matt Barkley forced his pass to go straight up in the air and it was picked off by Jamie Collins to seal the victory. 

J.C. Jackson also had quite a day, intercepting two passes and blocking a punt that was returned for a touchdown by Matthew Slater, his first in his NFL career. Devin McCourty had his fourth interception in as many games this season early in the game. 

The defense had Josh Allen flummoxed badly in the first half, he was constantly trying to hit the homerun pass deep down the field that wasn’t there. His play was much to the chagrin on Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll, who was openly chastising him on the sideline after one interception.

But there were enough plays to give Bill Belichick plenty of fodder for the film room on Monday morning. On Frank Gore’s early 20-yard run, Ja’Whaun Bentley was in perfect position by overshot the gap and left the middle wide open, which the savvy veteran made them pay. 

On Gore’s later 41-yard run, Jackson had a perfect opportunity to wrap up Gore after about a 2-3 yard gain. Instead, he tried to turn his shoulder and bump him down. He bounced off harmlessly and Gore quickly picked up steam and was off the races. Jackson also left his feet on a corner blitz, allowing Allen to easily sidestep him and hit Cole Beasley down inside the red zone. 

However, overall the defense was outstanding again and was on the field an awful lot in the second half. Buffalo was just 2-13 on third down. The defense pulled out this win for the team today. 

Now the not-so-good news… the offense was pretty much awful all day long. Give Buffalo’s defense a ton of credit, we stated in our pregame matchups that the Bills defense is legit. Their secondary is very good and they have a good front seven. 

And once again, everything stems from the offensive line. Fans can clamor for the team to sit Sony Michel all they want, but until the offensive line begins getting a push up front, these issues will persist. The Bills front seven owned the line of scrimmage, far too often, as in the Jets game, they got zero push and frequently got pushed backward. 

It isn’t just the tackles either it is the entire unit, including guards Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason. They are not off to a good start in 2019, and Dante Scarnecchia has some work to do with his group. 

The Patriots running game had 74 yards on 23 carries which isn’t going to get it done. Now, Michel doesn’t seem to be hitting the line quickly enough, but that could be that there just isn’t anywhere for him to go. On the few times that they opened some holes he did seem to move much better.

Tom Brady had a pretty awful day as well, completing just 18-39 for 150 yards with no TDs and an interception. That one was a particularly bad decision. There was nowhere for him to throw and he tried to force into the corner of the end zone, where it was easily picked off by Matt Milano. It cost them points and gave Buffalo a huge lift in momentum. 

Brady wasn’t helped by his wide receivers, who were mostly invisible and relegated to milk carton status. Josh Gordon, Phillip Dorsett, and Julian Edelman were targeted 23 times, they totaled nine catches for 86 yards. Dorsett, in particular, was having a rough afternoon. Targeted nine times he had two catches for 10 yards. That’s not helping your QB out…at all. Granted Edelman was far less than 100 percent.

The only bright spot in the passing game was James White who had eight catches for 57 yards. The offense generated 11 first downs….burn the tape.

And for the really not-so-good news, Stephen Gostkowski missed another extra point today…it is definitely in his head right now…oy vey. 

And we can’t close without mentioning the injury that Josh Allen suffered, Bills fans and media were screaming that Jonathan Jones should have been ejected. First of all, Allen was still moving forward and trying to get the first down. What was Jones to do, let him pass? It was clear Jones turned his shoulder and attempted to tackle him short of the sticks. There was helmet-to-helmet contact, initiated by Allen. Watch the tape at full speed. It was unfortunate but Allen was hardly a “defenseless runner”. It is more sour grapes and something we’ve become very accustomed to around these parts. 

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Patriots Players To Watch, Week 4 Against the Bills

Steve Balestrieri
September 27, 2019 at 7:49 am ET

The Patriots head out to Western N.Y. to take on the Buffalo Bills on Sunday afternoon. Both teams enter at 3-0 but there is real hope in Buffalo that they have a team that can finally solve Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Many national writers have stated that this Bills team is bound for the postseason with a one from NFL Network stating that they will dethrone the Patriots this year.  

The crowd in Buffalo is always a loud and raucous group, expect that x10 on Sunday. This game will be one of the games the league posts in the national spotlight for the 1:00 p.m. timeslot. And it should be a typical Bills – Patriots game with physical play and tough defense. 

Here are our Patriots players to watch this week in Buffalo as the Patriots try to improve to 4-0 on the season.

James White: 

White missed last week’s game with the Jets due to his wife giving birth to a baby boy. But he’ll be back and probably be a big part of the passing offense on Sunday. Last year in Buffalo on MNF, White was targeted 14 times and had 10 catches for 79 yards in the Patriots win that night. 

With Julian Edelman questionable to play this week, White and Rex Burkhead become even more valuable in the passing game as the Patriots will try to replicate some of the production that they normally get from Edelman by using the backs out of the backfield.

Red zone production this week will be key for both teams but having White in the backfield gives Tom Brady the option of moving him around and trying to create favorable matchups for the offense. 

Jonathan Jones:

The Bills brought in Cole Beasley from Dallas this spring and I’ve been beating this drum since then that Brian Daboll will use the slot receiver much like the Patriots use Edelman. He has 17 catches thus far on the season and has become a favorite target of QB Josh Allen. 

Jones has been playing tremendous football since the beginning of the summer and he’ll draw the matchup with Cole Beasley. This should be one of the keys to the game, to see who wins this duel. Jones has the talent to win this but Beasley is much like Edelman in that he’s tough to corral off the line with his quickness. 

One area to watch is the second half. The Bills have targeted Beasley a lot in the first half of games but for some reason have gone away from him in the latter stages of their first three games. They said earlier this week that they’re planning on using him some more. The latter stages of the game may come down to some chain-moving downs with these two battling against each other. 

Phillip Dorsett:

Is there a player who is rated so differently by so many people as Dorsett? Some think of him as an outstanding receiver, others as a JAG while many more think of him as something in between. Forget about convincing anyone else to go along with your feelings, after all, this is the world we live in now. 

Dorsett has been a Dyson vacuum cleaner with anything thrown his way, he captures everything. And he’s been a very good #3 option behind Edelman, and Josh Gordon. He was briefly #4 with another guy who is gone now. But that will change this week.

Can Dorsett step up in Edelman’s absence and be the #1 or #2 guy in the passing offense this week? Those are mighty big shoes to fill and a lot of production to cover. While he’s a very different player than Edelman, they’ll have to get him the ball in different ways than the way JE11 is used, but this week is a big one for Dorsett and the passing game. 

Jamie Collins:

Collins has been fantastic in his return to Foxboro this season. He’s making plays all over the field, and able to rush the passer, step up in run support and drop back into coverage. Part of the reason the Patriots defense has been so dominant this season is that they’ve found a way to unleash Collins in a variety of ways.

This week, Collins will be a very valuable piece in trying to shut down the Bills offense. With the ageless Frank Gore and Devin Singletary in the backfield, Collins will have to continue his play in run support along with Elandon Roberts and Ja’Whaun Bentley.

But in the passing game, one key component for the defense is keeping Josh Allen in the pocket. Collins will have to temper his pass-rushing with the knowledge that they have to contain Allen in the pocket and not allow him to make plays with his legs. 

Jakobi Meyers: 

With Tom Brady’s favorite target in Edelman likely out this week and both tight ends banged up and on the injury report, Meyers is likely to see an uptick in his snaps this week. Thus far in 2019, he’s been productive in the limited chances he’s had on the field. This will be a big chance to earn more reps down the road and build some trust and chemistry with Brady, albeit against a very tough secondary. 

The Patriots have used him mainly outside this season, I would expect to see him operating out of the slot more on Sunday. He doesn’t have Edelman’s quickness but he uses his body well and is a bigger type [6’2, 205] of a slot receiver. In NC State he caught 222 passes out of the slot from Ryan Finley [Bengals], of course doing it in the NFL is another matter. 

It will be interesting to see how Meyers can produce in just the fourth game of the season. Especially with Buffalo’s defense which is very good and particularly their secondary which is excellent. But he has the hands and the willingness to go over the middle and make those contested catches.  

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Patriots – Bills Week 4 Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
September 26, 2019 at 8:44 am ET

The Patriots head out to upstate New York to take on the Buffalo Bills in the team’s third division game in a row. With both teams coming in undefeated, the optimism is sky-high in Buffalo for Sean McDermott’s team to take the next step.  

This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS on Sunday, September 29 at 1:00 p.m. and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Ian Eagle will handle play-by-play duties with Dan Fouts as the color analyst. Evan Washburn will work from the sidelines The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.

The Patriots (3-0) beat the New York Jets 30-14. Tom Brady passed for 306 yards and two scores while the defense held the Jets to just 105 total yards.

The Bills (3-0) beat the Cincinnati Bengals 21-17, Frank Gore powered in from the one-yard line with just three minutes left to give them the win.  

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2019 to give some quick analysis on some of the key matchups of the game and what you can look for in how the game plays out.

Series History:

The Patriots and Bills have been playing each other since 1960 and this will mark the 119th time the two teams have faced each other. 

The Patriots have swept the season series the past two years and have won five in a row against the Bills. The Patriots have dominated the season series against the Bills 74-43-1 and since Bill Belichick took over the team in 2000, the Patriots are 33-5 against the Bills.

Here is a look at some of the key matchups and who holds the Razor’s Edge.

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots RBs vs Bills Front Seven – Razor’s Edge Buffalo

The Patriots running game has been mediocre in the first three games of the season, the offensive line hasn’t been able to get any kind of push against their opponents. Last week against the Jets, they were getting pushed backward especially in short-yardage situations.  And that isn’t just the new tackles but the interior guys including Shaq Mason and Joe Thuney. 

Sony Michel has been struggling to get past the line of scrimmage and is averaging only 2.4 yards per rushing attempt so far. Rex Burkhead has outgained Michel [112-105] and is averaging 4.7 yards per attempt, so we may see more of Burkhead, who has shown some nice cutback ability so far. James White will return this week after missing the Jets game when his wife gave birth to a son. James Develin is on IR so, Jakob Johnson is now the fullback. 

The Bills rush defense has been solid thus far allowing just 88 yards per game, good for eighth in the league, although they allow a 4.4-yard average on rushing attempts. Like New England, they use the big men up front, Star Lotulelei and rookie Ed Oliver to slow up the offensive line which allows linebackers Tremaine Edwards and Matt Milano to clean up. Kyle Peko was elevated to the 53-man roster after Harrison Phillips was placed on IR [ACL tear].  

The Patriots have to find a way to get the running game going as thus far they’ve played poorer teams that haven’t put any pressure on them as the games were all lopsided wins. That may prove to be tough this week. Don’t be surprised if Josh McDaniels decides to ride the hot hand and get Rex Burkhead the bulk of the work this week. But the Bills front seven will make the going tough this week.               

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

The Patriots passing game gets the edge here with the caveat that Julian Edelman is able to play this week. Edelman has traditionally been a thorn to the Bills defense, especially in Buffalo as they’ve had a tough time matching his quickness off the line. Last season in Buffalo on Monday Night Football, Edelman had nine catches for 104 yards. Tom Brady will look to Edelman, Josh Gordon, and Phillip Dorsett outside with Jakobi Meyers sprinkled in a bit. With James White and Rex Burkhead out of the backfield. Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo haven’t had a lot of production at tight end.

The Bills boast an outstanding pass defense that has allowed just 211.7 yards per game through the air, but as wet blankets have said about New England, they haven’t played anyone yet. But that defense was solid a year ago and will be again. Tre’Davious White is an under the radar corner who is one of the better ones in the league. The Bills safety tandem of Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde is terrific. The Bills pass rush has produced seven sacks thus far and will be looking to test the new look Patriots offensive line.

** Interesting Stat** Buffalo’s front seven has 15 passes defensed this year, they are knocking down a lot of passes at the line of scrimmage. This could be a factor on Sunday.

Edelman is the big question mark this week, and the Patriots are hoping that he can play. He’ll test the Bills down low, but regardless, this may be a big James White kind of day. In Buffalo last year, Brady targeted White 13 times, connecting on 10 for 79 yards. He and Burkhead may see a lot of passes directed their way. Dorsett and Gordon will have to produce and keep the Bills perimeter busy or it will be a tough day for the offense. 

Next up the Bills offense:

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

The Patriots front seven has been outstanding against the run thus far this season allowing just 36.7 yards per game, best in the NFL. That will get tested this week as this game should be much closer which means the Bills won’t have to abandon the run as the previous three opponents have had to do. But the big men in the middle Lawrence Guy, Danny Shelton, Adam Butler, and Michael Bennett have been terrific. They’ve stuffed opponents at or behind the line of scrimmage and allowed the linebackers to make plays. 

The Bills running game has the ageless Frank Gore, who has definitely given them a boost and exciting rookie Devin Singletary who is averaging 12.7 yards per rush. The Bills have rushed for an average of 151.3 yards per game, fifth-best in the league. The offensive line play has improved in 2019. And of course, Josh Allen is always a threat to scramble out of the pocket. 

With right guard Jon Feliciano held out of practice with a neck injury, sustained last week and Singletary nursing a balky hamstring, both could miss this game, which would be a blow to the Bills running game. If he can’t go, they may look to use T.J. Yeldon more in this one, he had a big day against New England a year ago. Look for the Patriots linebackers to limit Gore’s yards in this one as the Patriots are able to slow down the Bills’ rushing attack.

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

The Bills passing game with Josh Allen has greatly improved this season as offensive coordinator Brian Daboll has utilized Cole Beasley in much the same way the Patriots use Julian Edelman. Beasley has 17 catches for 171 yards as they now are employing a shorter, quicker passing game than the past. Allen’s completion percentage is now 64.2 compared to about 52 percent last year. John Brown has been excellent and has 18 catches for 246 yards. Zay Jones and TE Dawson Knox are also very much in the mix.

The Patriots secondary has been outstanding this season, Stephon Gilmore has continued his All-Pro play and will be the matchup for Brown. While Jason McCourty will draw Zay Jones. But the biggest matchup to watch Sunday will be Beasley going against Jonathan Jones who has been excellent through the first three games. The Patriots pass rush already has 13 sacks this season, they’ll be looking to create pressure and force Allen into making a mistake. 

Third downs will be key here, as the Patriots defense is allowing opponents to convert on only 13 percent of third downs this season. They’ll be looking to pressure Allen while keeping him in the pocket and prevent his scrambling for first downs. This should be a great matchup to watch.

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge Buffalo

The Patriots Stephen Gostkowski continues to struggle as he missed his first extra-point attempt on Sunday. He then hit his last three and a field goal to end the game on a higher note but this issue needs to be resolved. Jake Bailey was the AFC’s Special Teams’ player of the week after his big game against the Jets. The return game has been so-so and Gunner Olszewski muffed a punt against the Jets giving them a touchdown. The coverage units have been solid. 

The Bills Stephen Hauschka has been solid, his only miss was a 62-yard field goal against the Bengals. Former Patriot punter Corey Bojorquez has been good with a 41.9 average with five punts downed inside the 20. They also boast the dangerous return man Andre Roberts who is now healthy. Their coverage units are excellent.

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

The Patriots and Tom Brady have enjoyed incredible success against the Bills [30-3] and since Brady became the starter in 2001, he has more wins in Buffalo during his time in the league than any Bills QB during the same time frame. Let that one sink in for a second. Sean McDermott is still looking for his first win against Bill Belichick and the Patriots, but they believe they have the team to compete…and win against New England now. 

Keys to the game from a Patriots perspective:

Eliminate Big Plays – Look for the Patriots to try to force Allen into moving the ball down the field a small chunk at a time. Despite his much better play this season, he’s still prone to making mistakes, he had a pick last week that nearly cost them the game against Cincinnati. But he turned it around and led a nice game-winning drive. Will he stay patient all game long? The Patriots are hoping to force him into bucking that trend.

Third Downs Key – With both defenses playing excellent thus far this season, this one may come down to who converts more on third down. Daboll has tried to make things easier for Allen by providing him with a much better third and manageable range. With Gore converting many of those third and short runs, look for the Bills to try to catch the Patriots cheating up and hitting one of their signature plays. Watching the tape so far this season, the Bills like to play action pass and hit Brown with a quick slant, usually to Allen’s right side. 

For the Patriots, Edelman [if he’s available] and White are going to loom large on converting those third-down attempts. They have to keep the sticks moving and keep the Bills defense guessing. The Patriots’ third-down defense [13.6 percent] and the Bills [32.5 percent] are #1 and #8 in the league. 

Continue the Script – What does this mean, you ask? Well in the past five games dating back to last season’s playoffs the Patriots have shut out opponents and put them behind the eight ball. The defense has 13 sacks, 10 QB hits, and 27 hurries so far. If they can continue that type of play and trend, it will put the Bills offense in a mode where Allen, as he has shown on occasion, will try to do too much. 

Offensively, the Patriots need to be patient and mix the run and pass up to keep the Bills coaches guessing. And nobody is better at that than Brady. Both teams want ball control drives and this has been a hallmark of the Brady-Belichick era. The Bills have scored all eight touchdowns this year on drives of at least 70 yards.

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This should be a tough, physical contest… and a low scoring one and even lower if Edelman can’t play this week. Buffalo, as always will be a raucous place as the fans are excited that both teams come in 3-0 and will be playing for control of the division. 

Brady and Co. have been here before, they won’t let the moment get too big for them. And the Patriots defense continues to rise up for the occasion. The Pats defense gets a couple of big turnovers and stops and they win a tough road game.  Patriots 23-13

The “Knocking on Sevens’ Door” tour heads back out on the road next week as they travel to the nation’s capital, well Landover, Maryland, to take on the Washington Redskins next Sunday.

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 breakdown game analysis

New England Patriots News 6-23, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
June 23, 2019 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 06-23 and AFC East notes this week.

Quick Hitters:

Bill Belichick – and his long-time girlfriend Linda Holliday took advantage of the downtime before training camp and vacationed on one of the islands of Greece. Ms.Holiday posted some pics on her Instagram account.

Kenjon Barner – a reserve running back had three different stints with the Patriots last season before being released by the team for good in November. So, Barner was surprised when a note from Robert Kraft arrived with his Super Bowl ring.

Barner was shocked, and on his Instagram account posted this: “Just want to send out a huge thank you to everyone at the Patriots organization again for the opportunity that was given!” Barner wrote on Instagram. “Wasn’t expecting this when I got the call and still wasn’t expecting it when the ring was in my hands! Thank you, thank you, thank you, God is good!” #BacktoBack #2X

Tom Brady – and Josh Gordon took the social media pages by storm last week when the two were photographed tossing a football around at Brady’s home. With Gordon still suspended by the league, this led many to question if this was allowable under the league rules…More on these two will follow below.

Brady was also #1 in NFL royalty cash as his NFL merchandise was the top seller across the league. Not bad for a soon-to-be 42-year old “dink and dunk” QB.

Eagles – will open only one training camp practice to the public this season. They’ve been trending down the past few years and this summer will only allow fans in to see one session. Personally, I see that as a bad move. When the two teams met at Gillette for joint practices a few years ago, the place was packed and thousands of Eagles fans made the trip up for those. With the NFL pricing itself out of the range for many fans, training camp is the only time many of the fans get to see their teams up close and in person.

Bills-Patriots – Game in Buffalo this year will be the scene of a wedding. The Bills are going to host a wedding for a couple of their fans to take place at halftime when the Pats visit. That is a good move and will be a memorable way for a pair of Bills’ fans to tie the knot.

Caserio Story Takes On a Life of its Own:

The on-going saga of whether or not Nick Caserio, the Patriots Director of Player Personnel, would leave this season, seems to be over. The Houston Texans have been courting Caserio to take their GM position for some time now. But the story refuses to die and in fact has grown more legs.

Ben Volin of the Boston Globe wrote a piece titled, “The Real Story in the Patriots-Texans Clash, Nick Caserio Wants Out” which spelled out the reasons Volin believed everything pointed to Caserio wanting out of New England.

As is typical for this and most stories today, a ton of people, fans and media began to comment on the story without ever reading it. Nowhere in it did Volin quote Caserio, his agent or any sources close to Caserio or the situation. He wrote it and came to his conclusions by going over the facts as he knew them and made his own analysis.

Part of the confusion was in Volin himself. His lede for the story didn’t sound like an opinion piece but rather a statement of fact. When Volin went on Houston radio the next day, he stated that it was his opinion and not a report. A firestorm erupted on social media and Volin, who is a favorite target for Patriots’ fans wrath, was being roasted.

This caused him to do a 180 and appear on WEEI on Wednesday and reverse course, stating that his piece wasn’t an opinion but in fact a report.

“Absolutely. I stand by everything that is written there. It’s all, I think, 100 percent true. Yes,” Volin said. “There’s no other way to interpret this story. The facts speak for themselves. And I know things on background. I know things about the relationship among the guys in the front office. I don’t think this will affect Nick Caserio’s job performance this year. I think he’s good at his job and doesn’t want to affect his reputation and things of that nature. But he looks around the league and he sees all these guys who are less accomplished than him getting general manager jobs, probably making more money than him. He’s been here 19 years, he’s restless. He wants to go be a general manager. And the Houston job, while I do think it’s a lateral move, is obviously a good setup for him.”

The bottom line is Volin is free to believe and write whatever he wants. No one knows more than he does, that whatever he does write will be faced with a healthy dose of skepticism by the fanbase.

But the question now is, “does Caserio truly want out?” Most people tend to believe that the answer is yes. Houston is going to carry on the 2019 season (at least for now), with no general manager, ostensibly waiting for Caserio’s contract to be over with New England in 2020.

One local radio host was so incensed at Volin’s remarks on a Houston talk show that he lambasted him for printing opinion but then decided that they would take it at face value as the “real truth” and openly called for the Patriots to trade Caserio’s rights to Houston.

And yet we still haven’t heard yet from Caserio, (the Patriots probably won’t make him available for a while) nor Caserio’s agent stating that his intent was to sign with Houston. Or that he was planning on remaining in New England. It is very surprising that neither Volin nor anyone else reached out to either the man or his agent while preparing their stories.

This much is for sure, this story, like the in-fighting supposedly between Belichick and Brady won’t die. And it will probably continue until we see either the Patriots to lock up Caserio long-term or he does indeed walk next year.

Touchdown in Israel Trip:

Patriots owner Robert Kraft has taken several more players, this year all Patriots either current or former ones on another trip to Israel. It is a unique opportunity for the players who are religious or just lovers of history, maybe both to experience all that the Holy Land has to offer.

From someone who has been there (several times), it is a beautiful and magical place. The players visited all of the well-known sites, and for the 15 players and their wives, it will no doubt be an experience they won’t soon forget.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft and players present a signed Patriots helmet to Benjamin Netanyahu in Israel

On Thursday evening, Kraft was awarded the Genesis Prize in Jerusalem. It is known as the “Jewish Nobel” and was given to Kraft for his philanthropy and commitment to combatting anti-Semitism. Along with the award, Kraft was also awarded $1,000,000 which he further pledged to fight anti-semitism.

The players also got to see youth football up close at the fields that Kraft built in conjunction with the football officials in Israel.

Brady-Gordon Dynamic Is More About the People, Not the Players:

The pictures and a short video of Tom Brady and Josh Gordon tossing a football around last week in Brookline set social media afire for awhile. And then the story by ESPN’s Jeff Darlington which came out about the levels that Brady went to last year to help Gordon get acclimated and feel part of the team was, while intriguing, not unexpected.

The quick clip can be found here:

Darlington on the network’s NFL Live show spoke about the commitment by Brady to help Gordon not just on the field but off of it as well.

“He recognized that Josh Gordon made the team better and recognized that he was going to need some attention,” Darlington said. “Josh Gordon was going out to dinner with Tom Brady and Gisele at times because Tom recognized that he needs to bring this guy in, foster him, make him feel like he is at home, recognizing some of the issues that Josh Gordon goes through.”

“While that is, in part, a guy just trying to get better, it’s also Tom Brady being a really good person, continuing to try to help out and manifest Josh Gordon …Tom Brady, to this day, really respects Josh Gordon and would love to see him live a better life,” Darlington added.

Recently retired QB Josh McCown echoed similar thoughts on Gordon later this week.

“I like Josh, quiet, great… guys like him,” McCown said. “Guys like to be around him, fun guy to be around. Obviously, he’s had his battles. But obviously, when you get to know him… like you’re saying Tom gets to know him… you go, ‘This is a worthy investment.’ He’s a good guy. He just has a fight that he’s fighting. I think the league and New England, they’re trying to rally around to give him the right support.”

While Gordon remains suspended by the league and there is no timetable for his reinstatement, the Patriots offered Gordon a restricted free agent tender this spring and he remains a possibility for the team to add once again this season. If the league reinstates him and he serves any penalties that they hand down.

But what this week’s story really shows that despite the fact that the player being suspended and the very real possibility that he may not play at all in 2019, the Patriots …and Brady are investing in the person. Gordon’s long-term health and well-being outweigh everything else. And that is cause for optimism.

Simms’ Ignites Social Media Over Clickbait QB Piece:

We’d be remiss without mentioning Pro Football Talk’s Chris Simms who penned his annual Top 40 QBs of the NFL. And Simms who’s made a habit out of dismissing Tom Brady out of his Top 5 NFL QBs, this year added to his annual Brady dismissal by dropping #12 all the way to #9 and with Drew Brees at #10.

And while fans went haywire, (shocked face), even Kurt Warner, a former rival, took exception to this latest drivel with “ Are u kidding me???”

Simms of course, rushed to Twitter to proclaim that this wasn’t clickbait….Um, “child please.”

So, in trying to track down all of the Simms past QB lists, I came across Mike Dussault’s column (aka @PatsPropaganda) who cataloged several of these. (Thanks Mike!)

  • November 2014: Tom Brady is not a Top-5 Quarterback
    “Tom Brady’s not in my top five. I mean, he’s still really good, but I like other guys better. I’d go Aaron Rodgers one, Andrew Luck two, Ben Roethlisberger three, Russell Wilson four and Peyton five.”

Simms went on Boston radio to explain and became the unintentionally funniest Tweet of 2014: “If Andrew Luck doesn’t throw for 400 yards and four touchdowns, they can’t win a game. He doesn’t have Jonas Gray (emphasis mine) and the offensive line the New England Patriots do where they can run for 250 yards in a game. … I don’t think anybody bears the weight of the organization on their shoulders week in and week out more than Andrew Luck.”

  • March 2015: Brady shouldn’t have won the Super Bowl MVP

“I don’t think he should have won the MVP, either. That’s just the way I think about it. He had a really good game against a really good defense, but he threw like 35 five-yard passes the whole game. I think in my estimation, (Julian) Edelman should have been the MVP.”

  • 2015? Nope. Simms claimed that ever since his knee injury of 2008 his mechanics had changed and couldn’t throw deep…SMH
  • 2016? Nope. “To say that Tom Brady is still one of the five best quarterbacks at 39 years old is a little crazy.”And this…“I do think as a sports fan, communities, all of us, people have a hard time putting these fairy tale endings to bed. Mickey Mouse isn’t real.”

So, word of advice to PatsFans out there…Ignore the noise, every year when this comes out I get a chuckle out of it, when reading the reactions on social media. Clicking on it? Nope, Simms isn’t on my list of Top 40 sportswriters/commentators to read.

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Daboll/Beasley Key to the Success of Bills/Allen in 2019:

When the Buffalo Bills signed WR Cole Beasley this spring, I immediately thought of how Bills Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll would try to utilize him. The Bills are looking for much better things with both their offense as a whole and with QB Josh Allen in 2019. And the key to a big, big part of it, will probably rest with how successful and how Daboll decides to use the former Cowboys’ slot receiver.

Daboll saw firsthand how the Patriots used Julian Edelman and how Tom Brady continues to get his presnap reads with Edelman. Look for Allen to put Beasley in motion a lot this season. This will accomplish two things.

First, it will help Allen to recognize the defensive alignment. This will make his reads easier and get the ball out of his hands faster. The second thing it will do is to get Beasley a freer release, where he can become a focal point of the Bills offense, much like Edelman is here.

If Allen and Beasley can develop their chemistry and timing, much like Brady/Edelman, the Bills offense will be able to utilize the quick passing game that works the underside and middle areas of the field. I think Beasley is poised to have a really good year.

________________

If you believe in yourself and have dedication and pride – and never quit, you’ll be a winner. The price of victory is high but so are the rewards. Bear Bryant

“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.

New England Patriots News, 4-14, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
April 14, 2019 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 04-14 and AFC East Notes.

It is looking like it is going to be another soggy Boston Marathon this year, we’d like to wish all of the competitors the best of luck tomorrow.


As we stated last week we have begun our draft profiles on players that we feel would fit the team, our first on tight ends can be seen here:  And our follow-up post on possible wide receiver fits can be seen here: Our draft profiles on defensive tackles is here:

ICYMI: Our second Mock Draft 2.0 attempt at building the 2019 Patriots roster is in the books. You can recap it here: I believe we all expect the Patriots to be very active in this one, possibly packing some picks for a trade or perhaps moving around the board as they are very used to doing. Mock Draft 3.0 will be coming out early this week.

Derek Havens and I have been doing a special podcast highlighting the upcoming NFL Draft in addition to the regular one we do with host Russ Goldman. This week, we’re planning on having ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates with us to discuss the draft, what the Patriots may do, especially in the early rounds and about the NFL in general. Please do check that out around mid-week.

Last week did a draft mailbag podcast which can be listened to here:

Quick Hitters:

Tom Brady was on his Instagram account beginning his offseason work at his home. The interesting thing about that was he was still picking confetti from the Super Bowl out of his helmet. Speaking of which, he can no longer wear his old one and must wear the newer version which he tried a few times last year.

Chris Hogan signed a one-year deal with the Panthers. Hogan had quite a few memorable moments and catches in his three years in New England, helping the team get to three Super Bowls and winning two. But his leaving this spring is not a surprise, it seemed like a long shot for him to return.

Pat Chung has signed a one-year extension according to NFL.com, locking up the Patriots safety thru the 2021 season. Ian Rapoport was the first to report the news. Chung broke his arm in the Super Bowl but is expected to be fully healthy by training camp

Tim Tebow was in Pawtucket playing the Paw Sox for the Mets minor league affiliate and was asked about his brief time with Tom Brady. Tebow gave a long answer, gushing over the qualities of Brady as both a QB and a teammate. Then apologizing for giving an answer that was too long.  Tebow was and is always a class act.

RIP Forrest Gregg the longtime Packer great offensive lineman who passed away at age 85 this week. Gregg set a record (since broken) of playing in 188 straight games and later became the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, and Green Bay Packers. Vince Lombardi called Gregg, “the greatest player I ever coached.”

The Patriots were supposedly interested in making a trade for NY Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepherd, but for the second year in a row, the Giants when they found out there was interest in their player (OBJ last year), gave the player a fat extension. In Shepherd’s case a 4-year, $41 million dollar extension.

Seferian-Jenkins Is Excited to Play in New England:

With the signing of TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins this week, it was a move we immediately pegged as a win but then turned around and stated that he probably would not be a #1 tight end here. And we’ll double down on that. The move was for the veterans’ minimum salary with just a $50,000 signing bonus and incentive bonuses totaling only another $40,000. That is peanuts; so the outlay of cash and risk for the team is very minimal.

Seferian-Jenkins could….could step into a #1 role for the Patriots, but they don’t obviously think that is so or they would’ve enticed him earlier with more money. It will be interesting to see how he works out with the team in the spring. And if he can stay healthy and on the field.

A best-case scenario for the team would be for them to get one of the top TEs in the draft (which is still a big need) and have Seferian-Jenkins step into the #2 role as a complementary receiver.

Jenkins took to social media posting a picture of the original Pat the Patriot (he immediately got high marks from here) and thanked the Patriots and stated “I am ready to go to work.” And why wouldn’t he be? Look at the QBs he’s played with and he’s never been on a playoff team.

Belichick Praises Caserio, Scouting Dept. Ahead of the Draft:

Bill Belichick held a pre-draft press conference at Gillette on Weds. and opened with nearly a 7-minute statement praising the work of Nick Caserio, the Pats Director of Player Personnel.

With a big turnover in the coaching staff, Belichick said that there was less scouting of college prospects by the coaching staff than in previous years. But he raved about the job that Caserio and the Director of College Scouting Monte Ossenfort and Pro player Scouting Dave Zigler have done. With the absence of so many coaches, Zigler and his staff jumped in to help with the process.

“So it gives us a tremendous opportunity for him to connect with the coaches and understand the schematics of what’s going on with the coaching side of it, and to try to integrate and correlate the players we’re evaluating on all different levels,” Belichick said of Caserio.

Belichick added that the goal, as always is to come away “as good a predictor as possible as to how the player will fit in and perform on our team, and in our system, (emphasis mine),  in New England regardless of what the league value is for the player. It’s really what the player can do for us is what the final evaluation goal we’re trying to achieve.”

Patriots and Titans Will Hold Joint Practices This Summer:

The Patriots always try to conduct joint practices during training camp and this season will be no exception. Prior to their Week 2 preseason game against the Tennessee Titans, the two teams will conduct joint practices against one another at the Titans’ facility.

“Sure, we are going to practice against the Patriots,” Vrabel said on Friday.

“They’re going to come down here, and it’ll be great for our fans to come out here and see a lot of great players, the team that won the Super Bowl last year. And they’ll be able to watch those practices and see our work and see how we compete against each other and try to improve.”

That immediately set off a lot of good-natured trash talking between old friends and former Patriot Logan Ryan, Devin McCourty, and Pat Chung. Ryan said he was going to play one snap at WR to burn the McCourty Twins. He tweeted, “Easy money, he getting old.”  Which immediately got a response from Devin where he answered, “Which one? I guess it don’t matter, I don’t like you vs anyone!” Chung jumped in with “I mean damn, Let’s do it!…LOL.”

The two teams will meet there in Nashville during the week of August 12. If fans are looking for a nice vacation trip…Nashville is nice any time of the year.

Seahawks and Patriots Trading for #21 Pick in the Draft?

The Seattle Seahawks are expected to be trading back from the #21 pick in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft. And depending upon how the board plays out, the Patriots with a plethora of draft picks could be in a prime position to move up if one of the tight ends they covet are there or perhaps one of the premier edge guys like Clelin Ferrell.

Seattle has only four picks in the upcoming draft, (1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Rounds) so creating a few more would seem to be the order of the day for Pete Carroll. According to the Draft Value Chart, Seattle’s pick at #21 is worth an even 800 points. So to give them adequate compensation, the Patriots could package their first round pick at #32 (590 points) and #73 (225 points) to give Seattle a slight perceived edge or you could delve really deep and package #32, and some of the Patriots mid-to-later round picks for the Seahawks #21 and one of their mid-round picks.

Of course, they won’t be alone. Everyone knows that Seattle may be looking to trade back and that means the Seahawks brass will be looking for the best deal for them. That’s what makes this time of year so interesting.

______________

Speaking of the draft, I was talking about Boston College OL Chris Lindstrom to a high school coach that coached against him in school last week and he remembered how impressive the former Shepherd Hill OL was back then. “They ran those tight formations (Double Wing) and watching him pull out and road grade thru the defenses was impressive,” he said.  “Back then he was about 270 (pounds) and he was still one of the faster players on the field. You could tell he was going to a really special player.”

We say that because don’t go to sleep on a player like Lindstrom. He played right tackle for the Eagles, but projects to be an interior OL at the next level. But he has the versatility to maybe do both.

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Looking For A Big Draft to Upgrade Offensive Weapons:

The Buffalo Bills were very active in free agency and signed six offensive linemen as well as two wide receivers during the early going of free agency. Don’t expect the Bills to stop there. Buffalo has 10 picks in the upcoming draft and they have the flexibility to move around the draft to search for the weapons to surround 2nd year QB Josh Allen with the talent he needs to succeed.

The Bills OLwas a mess in 2018 and they signed three guards, two tackles and one excellent center to help protect their franchise QB. They also added WRs John Brown, Cole Beasley and TE Tyler Kroft to the mix.

But now they are poised to make some noise in the draft. With the #9 pick in the draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper has them taking Iowa T.J. Hockenson and then adding Arizona State WR N’Keal Harry with their 40th pick. The Bills just had the other Iowa TE Noah Fant in for a visit.  Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll doesn’t need to see Alabama TE Irv Smith up close for a visit, he coached him with the Tide.

The Bills also signed FA DE/OLB Eli Harold this week. Harold played two seasons for the 49ers and last year with Detroit where he had eight tackles, four sacks and a pass deflected in 13 games for the Lions.

Dolphins To Pass on Early QBs in the Draft? Quite Possible:

The Miami Dolphins and new head coach Brian Flores have a lot of holes to fill in the 2019 roster. After the jettisoning of Ryan Tannehill and the signing of journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick, most experts believe the Dolphins may reach early for the next potential franchise QB at #13 in the draft. Not so fast…

If someone they like is still around at #13 could Miami pounce on them, but with big holes to fill at DE, the offensive line, running back and corner, they Dolphins may wait to select a QB they can develop in the middle rounds.

Fans may scream given Fitzpatrick’s track record as a starter, but with Brian Flores coming from the Belichick regime, they may be looking at the long-term best solution first rather than trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, which is how they ended up in this predicament.

Jets Ink Montgomery, Maybe the End of the Line for Powell:

The New York Jets signed RB/WR/KR Ty Montgomery this week to back up Le’Veon Bell. The former Ravens player was also reportedly being courted by the Miami Dolphins. A talented kick returner, Montgomery was cut by Green Bay after an ill-advised return at the end of a game with the Rams. Montgomery was told to take a knee and returned it out of the end zone and then fumbled.

He was dealt to the Ravens where in six games he rushed for 83 yards on 15 carries, with no touchdowns. He also caught 10 passes for 65 yards. He began his career as a WR and switched to RB with the Packers. It is expected that head coach Adam Gase will try to find a niche role for him behind Bell.

But that news is probably the end of Bilal Powell’s time as a New York Jet. He suffered a neck injury last season but was thought to be able to continue his career fully. In his eight seasons with the Jets, the 30-year old Powell rushed for 3,446 yards and 15 touchdowns, while catching 204 for 1,567 yards and five touchdowns. He was never the Jets #1 running back but led them in scrimmage yards in both 2013 and 2016.

___________________

We’ve all seen those commercials “Want to Get Away?” When someone does something silly or just plain dumb… How about the editorial staff on Sportsnaut? This week they published a piece on “NFL stars about to fade in 2019” and who leads off the list? Danny Amendola. Okay you say, that could happen, but what? Danny Amendola of the New England Patriots.

“This veteran receiver will likely see an uptick in targets next season now that Rob Gronkowski has retired. In no way does this mean the 33-year-old Amendola is going to be as efficient as we’ve seen in the past.” Ouch. Ummm Amendola hasn’t been with the Patriots since 2017, having spent the 2018 season with Miami and now with Detroit.

The facts checker took the day off it seems. Want to get away? …

“Is it time for the Draft yet? 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.