Tag Archives: Leonard Floyd

Sloppy Patriots Beat Bears 38-31, Observations, Three Up, Three Down

Steve Balestrieri
October 22, 2018 at 7:29 am ET

This win, the Patriots first win on the road this season, wasn’t the way they drew it up on the chalkboard but it is a win. And in what is turning out to be a wacky 2018 NFL season, the team will take it. The Patriots made far too many mistakes but turned things around with some big plays on special teams and left Chicago 5-2 after downing the Bears 38-31 on Sunday afternoon. The craziness extended to the final play of the game where the Bears tried…and converted a Hail Mary on the final play of the game but the play was stopped at the one-yard line. 

But the biggest news was that rookie running back Sony Michel left the game in the first half in what looked like a serious knee injury. Michel was hit and wrapped up at the line and was twisted in the pile. It was one of those plays that just didn’t look good for the rookie as he was being helped off the field. He’s scheduled for an MRI on Monday.

Other observations from the game include:

The Patriots offensive line once again did a tremendous job. The Bears came in with 18 sacks, boasting edge rushers Khalil Mack, Leonard Floyd, and interior pass rusher Akiem Hicks.  They sacked Tom Brady only once and generally were handled easily. However, the Bears helped the Patriots cause by dropping both edge rushers frequently into coverage. Despite that, the offensive line gave Brady plenty of time to throw.

Despite the sloppy play, which initially caused the team to fall behind 17-7, the Patriots found a way, to persevere and come away with the victory. Granted, there won’t be high marks for style points in this one, but they beat a division leader on the road and they did what they had to do.

Speaking of Mack, while he did miss most of last week’s practice, he played and clearly wasn’t 100 percent. But he didn’t line up against LaAdrian Waddle, but Trent Brown who clearly handled him easily. Mack was pancaked by Dwayne Allen on a running play in the second half. Much like Mexico City a year ago, Mack was a non-factor.

The game started off with one of the Patriots most impressive drives of the year. Taking the kickoff and starting at their 25, Brady and Josh McDaniels had the Bears totally discombobulated on defense marching 75 yards on 9 plays capped off with a Brady 9-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman. It also featured a lot of Sony Michel.

Taking advantage of the aggressive Bears defense, they ran a run delay play to Michel for 18 yards and then utilized the screen game to perfection. James White had a 14-yard screen, Michel had another for 13 more. It was a great start that soon went awry.

The three turnovers will have the coaching staff seeing red. The one fumble by Michel is a free pass. He was injured, apparently severely and him dropping the ball there isn’t something we or anyone else should point the finger at. But the fumble by Cordarrelle Patterson was a play where he has to take better care of the ball in that situation. And once again a Brady pass into the hands of a receiver is bobbled and deflected right into the hands of a defender. Unbelievable.

Patterson did redeem himself, showing why he is the best kick returner in the NFL returning a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown, narrowing the gap to 17-14. He later nearly broke another, returning a kick for 38 more.

An area that the team continues to struggle (badly) in is containing mobile quarterbacks. Mitch Trubisky looked like Bobby Douglass out there on Sunday. He rushed six times for 81 and his running kept the Bears in the game when they couldn’t do anything offensively in the first half. Trubisky had an 8-yard touchdown run where he ran around the field for about 65 before getting in untouched.

His 39-yard scramble in the second half was an ugly sequence for the defense where he kept making defenders miss. The defense keeps losing containment and once these mobile QBs get free, the lack of speed at linebacker is concerning. Two words…. Deone Bucannon. Anyone? Bueller?

Besides the fumble by Patterson, the Patriots special teams continued to make several gaffes that cost the team, a pair of 15-yard penalties, unsportsmanlike conduct for the gunner going out of bounds and a facemask really hurt. Ryan Allen’s punt at the end of the game was far from one of his good ones. Julian Edelman muffed a punt inside the 10 but was able to avert disaster by falling on it. 

Bill Belichick played the odds at the end of the game and with 29 seconds left and facing a 4th and 6 at the Bears 33. Rather than try a long field goal, he decided to punt and pin them deep. Allen who normally is excellent at putting punts inside the 10, boomed this one nine yards into the end zone.

The sloppy play hit the coaches too. The Pats were flagged for a delay of game on a kickoff of all things and then only had 10 men on the field while the Bears were attempting a 4th down and 2. This cost them a timeout. Could they have used it at the end of the half? Possibly. But the field position may have played much into it.

Rookies J.C. Jackson and Keion Crossen were victimized by several penalties but Jackson was redeemed by an interception, one of two the defense had. The other was a terrific play by Jonathan Jones who high pointed the ball perfectly. In reality, the defense should have had two more interceptions. Trubiski forced a pass into the end zone where he threw it right to Elandon Roberts for what should have been a gift pick. But he couldn’t hold on.

Later Stephon Gilmore jumped a route and was in great position to make another pick, but he too dropped it. On both sequences, one play after Roberts’ drop and two after Gilmore’s the Bears scored touchdowns. That was a huge swing. The Pats make those two plays and this is a blowout win.

The special teams did redeem itself with the Patterson return, later they saw something on film and inserted Dont’a Hightower into the punt team. Hightower burst thru the protection and smothered a punt for a block that Kyle Van Noy scooped up and returned for a touchdown. That 29-yard score put the Pats up for good.

Patriots Three Up, Three Down:

Trending Up:

Josh Gordon – This was Gordon’s first game with 100 yards receiving, catching 5 passes for 100 yards including a 55-yarder where he ran out of gas and was tackled at the one. Gordon, who’s been limited with a hamstring admitted that the 96-yard drive had him gassed there.

But the conversion he made where he went up, fought for the ball and came down on his head causing his helmet to fly off but still holding on to the ball was a fantastic play. He’s just scratching the surface of his potential. I would expect to see his role increase as he gets more in tune with the offense.

James White – Already missing Rob Gronkowski on the offense this week, out with a back and ankle injury, the team lost Michel on the first play of the second quarter. White picked up the slack and was his normal productive self in the passing game, 8 catches 57 yards, two touchdowns. He also carried 11 times for 40 yards and helped the Patriots kill nearly all of the clock at the end.

While the Patriots offense goes thru Tom Brady and will until he ultimately hangs it up, White has become the second most important piece of the puzzle. With the injury epidemic at running back, White is now even more important to both the running and passing games.

Tom Brady– Facing a Bears defense that has gotten a lot of props as one of the best in the league, Brady completed 25 of 36 passes for 277 yards with three touchdowns and the one interception, that we mentioned above.

Brady was in control all day despite missing two of his biggest offensive weapons in Gronkowski and Michel. He spread the ball around and had the Patriots in position, twice…to put the game away late.

Honorable Mention: Patterson, Offensive Line, Chris Hogan

Trending Down:

Sony Michel – The Patriots rookie running back appeared to suffer a serious leg injury and was in excruciating pain as he was twisted to the turf. We won’t know until Monday how serious it is, but his injury was a huge blow to the Patriots offense as he’s been the featured back in the running game.

Michel was off to another dynamic start in the game and was featured on the Patriots opening touchdown drive. We’ll keep our fingers crossed that he dodged a bullet on that one.  

DL “Containment”– Yes, this one could easily have been labeled, “non-containment”.  Time and again, Trubiski hurt the Patriots with his running and the team looked, at times, powerless to stop it. He ran both outside and inside up the middle and the Patriots didn’t seem to have an answer.

One would have thought that the Patriots would have (at least by the 2nd quarter), assigned a linebacker to spy on Trubiski in case he decided to…you know scramble all over the field.

Sloppy Patriots STs Play – Granted they balanced the ledger with two huge scoring plays on Patterson’s TD return and the blocked punt TD return. And yes they nearly had a third, but the uncharacteristic mistakes this unit is making is beginning to be a concern. Could the loss of Bolden and Richards off the STs units mean more than we ever believed possible?

A fumble by Patterson, two costly penalties and another near turnover where Julian Edelman muffed a punt inside the Patriots 10-yard line, (Edelman alertly scooped it up), are the types of plays this unit isn’t known for. The coverage units were only okay on Sunday and allowed a 17-yard punt return to the speedy Tarik Cohen.  

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.

Who Are the Key Players To Watch Patriots-Bears Week 7?

Steve Balestrieri
October 19, 2018 at 7:30 am ET

Another Big Game, Another Explosive Offense  

The New England Patriots are off to the Windy City this week as they take on the Chicago Bears for what is a rare 1:00 p.m. start for the visiting team. The last two games have been prime time affairs and next week, it is back to another late game as the Pats will be on Monday Night Football against the Bills.

This week, the Bears return home disappointed after they let the chance to return 4-1 and atop the division with some breathing room slip away. They melted late in the game in the South Florida heat, something the Patriots are well familiar with dropped the game in overtime. At 3-2, they have a half-game lead on the Vikings and Packers.

The Patriots at 4-2, have won three in a row and are tied with Miami for the top spot in the AFC East. They’re entering a tough stretch with KC, Chicago, the MNF on the road and the Packers, before taking on Tennessee before their bye.

The Bears offensively run a similar offense to what the Chiefs do and have some explosive offensive players in Tarik Cohen, Taylor Gabriel, and Allen Robinson to go along with the mobile quarterback Mitch Trubiski. The Bears and Trubiski exploded a few weeks for six touchdown passes in the blowout win over Tampa Bay.

So, from a Patriots perspective, here are our Players to Watch on Sunday:

LaAdrian Waddle:

The Patriots swing tackle will no doubt get the start this week at right tackle as Marcus Cannon hasn’t practiced this week after leaving the KC game with a concussion. This is the reason the Patriots resigned Waddle this spring when he was a free agent. They knew that at some point they’d need him.

He may or may not be facing the Bears’ Khalil Mack, who also hasn’t practiced this week with an ankle injury and is considered day-to-day. Waddle faced Mack a year ago when Mack was a member of the Raiders defense. The Patriots beat Oakland in Mexico City 33-8 and Waddle was in for Cannon that day. Mack against Waddle that day had a sack, a tackle for a loss and three QB hits.

But regardless of whether Mack plays or not, Waddle will have a very important role in the Patriots game plan this week. Not only will he be responsible with protecting Brady’s right side from whoever rushes off the edge (Leonard Floyd, Akiem Hicks), but he’ll have to be solid in the running game as well.    

Josh Gordon

The Patriots wide receiver is still working on his chemistry with Tom Brady. The deep out routes, the comebacks, and the back shoulder throws are all things that they’ve not worked the kinks out of yet. Those things will come in time, but this week, Gordon could see his role expanded a bit more.

The Bears have a pretty stout front seven and the running game may need the passing game to get it going instead of the opposite. Gordon has the size and athleticism to stretch the field vertically a bit more this week. They tried it a few times against KC. On one play, Gordon was open and ready to catch a deep ball before being interfered with, drawing a 37-yard penalty.

We’d look for the offense to begin expanding Gordon’s range more and more as he gets a bigger comfort level in the offense. Gordon will probably draw Prince Amukamara on the outside, the big, veteran corner should be an intriguing matchup to watch this week.

Dont’a Hightower:

The Patriots big linebacker had a pretty productive game against the Chiefs despite the team allowing 31 second-half points. Hightower had an interception, a tipped pass and had quarterback pressure on Patrick Mahomes which forced him to throw an interception in the end zone, wiping out a Chiefs scoring threat.

This week the Patriots will have to contend with the diminutive but lightning-fast Tarik Cohen out of the Bears backfield. He’s a threat to run the ball or catch it out of the backfield and can be the Bears “X-Factor” in their offense this week.

How well (or badly) the Patriots defense does this week, will have a lot to do with how well they defend Cohen. While a bit different, the Bears offense does run a similar look to the Chiefs and they utilize the RPO (run/pass option) concepts which try to freeze and take advantage of the opposing linebackers. And for New England, that begins with the big man in the middle.

Julian Edelman:

With a Bears defense that gets a lot of sacks (18) and is much better at stopping the run that the past few opponents that the Patriots have faced, they’ll look to what has always worked for them. The short passing game with Julian Edelman will be key this week, helping Tom Brady get the ball out fast and keeping the chains moving.

Edelman’s short area quickness and ability to find the open seams of the defense are a hallmark at the chemistry that he’s enjoyed with Tom Brady for many years.

The Bears defense will have their hands full with trying to jam, throw off the timing and re-route Edelman off the line. That will no doubt fall to the veteran corner Bryce Callahan. The Bears are really happy with the play of  Callahan and resigned the smaller (5’9, 188), but very feisty cornerback this spring.

With the Patriots looking to use the middle of the field, players like Callahan and Danny Trevathan will be tasked with taking that away. The matchup between Edelman and Callahan will be an intriguing one to watch this week.

Trey Flowers:

The Patriots defense has not been good at getting home against opposing quarterbacks and creating consistent pressure this year. Now they’re facing another mobile quarterback that can move and more importantly, throw on the move in Trubiski. That means the defense will have to set the edge and keep him in the pocket.

Flowers has been the best Patriots defensive lineman and although he has only two sacks on the season, he’s played very well. He got a lot of praise from the Bears’ coach Matt Nagy this week, “He’s not the ‘big-name guy,’ but he’s the big-name guy among the coaching world,” Nagy said. “He can hold the point. He’s strong, he’s quick, he’s fast, he plays in front of the quarterback. So, we know that he’s a good football player. … We have a lot of respect for his game.”

The Patriots are going to need a big game out of Flowers this week, setting the edge, and getting after Trubiski if they want their defense to have a better showing than they had with Kansas City. And they’ll need their best defensive player to lead the way.

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.

Patriots Mock Draft 2.0 – Early April Edition

Steve Balestrieri
April 4, 2016 at 6:00 am ET

Free Agency signings make for better draft flexibility

With the Patriots still being active in free agency, it is time to conduct our Patriots Mock Draft 2.0 – Early April Edition. Obviously with the moves their making with available veterans it will affect the way they approach the draft.

There is a fascinating tool to use for doing a mock draft made possible by the guys over at Fanspeak.com that we touted last year and is even more fun to use in 2015.
In their “On the Clock” simulator, you are the GM for any NFL team. You can choose how many rounds you’d like to draft for (1-7), and pick one of nine different big boards to choose from.

All of the big boards differ quite a bit and the site has a random selection process that picks for the other 31 teams based upon the best player available and team needs that are constantly updated. For this second mock draft (4-2), I used the big board of Optimum Scouting.

I say this because the big boards differ a great deal depending upon the board chosen. I did another using a different big board and the results were vastly different. Looking at how the board plays out, I think we can all expect the Patriots to make a move to move into either the 4th or 5th rounds as the talent level begins to drop steeply between the third and sixth rounds.

With the continued moves the Patriots are conducting in free agency, it makes their job a bit easier once the draft rolls around. Without as many holes to fill, they can be flexible and opt for the best player available or move up and down if they so choose. It was a surprise to see both a well-known RB and CB plummet down the draft boards until they were available much later that we thought earlier… Read on.

Here is our Patriots Mock Draft 2.0 – Early April Edition:

Round 2, Pick #1 RB Alex Collins, Arkansas: Collins earned second team All-SEC honors behind Heisman winner Derrick Henry in 2015 where he had his third 1000-yard season in a row, rushing for 1577 yards and 20 touchdowns for the Razorbacks.

Collins has good size at 5’10”, 217 pounds and was a TD machine getting 32 scores in three years. Great vision and patience, keeps his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage and stays low with excellent pad level thru the hole.

Displays very good hands out of the backfield and is very consistent at finding daylight and moving the sticks. His major red flag is ball security, with 16 fumbles over the past three seasons.

Round 2, Pick #2 OT Joe Haeg, North Dakota State: Haeg was a 4-year starter at NDSU and is versatile, playing both tackle spots. Athletic at 6’6, 304 pounds, he could use some bulking up at the NFL level as well as building up his core strength.

Haeg uses his length to his advantage in pass protection and has good agility and lateral quickness to get to the edge in the running game. His run blocking needs to improve a bit.

Selecting him in the 2nd round may be a bit of a reach, but with the NFL strength and conditioning program and being coached up by Dante Scarnecchia, Haeg could be a nice pickup.

Round 3, Pick #3 OLB Leonard Floyd, Georgia: Here was the first of a few surprises in this draft as Floyd fell all the way to Round 3. He’s been widely mocked to go in the 1st in many spots. With a playmaker of his caliber, he was too good to resist.

Floyd has great length at 6’4, 244 pounds, and is a rangy, athletic player with off-the-charts numbers in the vertical (39.5 inches), and in the broad jump (127 inches) which for a player of his size is fantastic. He ran a 4.60 time in the 40-yard dash and a 7.18 time in the 3-Cone Drill.

Floyd is extremely versatile and played ILB, OLB and as a down lineman for the Bulldogs. While his production wasn’t eye-popping, he led the team in sacks for three seasons in a row. He can rush the passer by blitzing off the edge and cover in space. He needs to add some beef before he can set the edge in the running game but would be a great addition in the Pats sub-packages.

Round 3, Pick #4 WR Keyarris Garrett, Tulsa: Garrett is a big-bodied WR (6’4, 221 pounds) who had a tremendous 2015 in the high-flying Tulsa offense. He grabbed 96 passes for 1588 yards and eight touchdowns.

He’s a huge target that can go up and catch contested balls in space. Dropped only 3 of 99 catchable balls in 2015. Once he gets his hands on the ball, he can make opponents miss and forced 21 missed tackles last year.

He ran a limited route tree at Tulsa and his route running needs to get crisper but he has all kinds of potential and the Patriots have the offensive personnel now that they can take their time with him to develop him into a big target for the offense.

keyarris-garrett

Round 6, Pick #5 RB Kenyan Drake, Alabama: Shocked to see Drake still available on this mock. Drake was the #2 back to Henry in Alabama but the 6’1, 210 pound back has good size and is explosive as both a runner and a pass receiver.

Has quick feet that never stop moving and he’s elusive in the open field and has the ability to make people miss. Extremely versatile, Drake was sometimes split out as a slot receiver where his value as a receiver was showcased.

He can run, catch the ball, has been a kick returner and blocked a punt on special teams. He’s perfect insurance for Dion Lewis, in case he’s not ready to start the season while recovering from his ACL injury.

Round 6, Pick #6 CB Artie Burns, Miami: Another shocker here as I expected to see Burns gone by Round 2 at the latest. Burns has good size at 6’0, 190 pounds with excellent ball skills and the ability to play press man coverage or zone.

Burns shows good awareness and can read the play and react quickly, but he needs to add some weight at the NFL level and improve his tackling. He’s very aggressive which could lead to some penalty flag issues in the NFL

Another versatile guy, he was a kick returner and is a very mature young man, foregoing his senior season to care for his two younger brothers and a son after his mother died in October of a heart attack.

Round 6, Pick #7 OL Willie Beavers, Western Michigan: Beavers was a three-year starter at left tackle at Western Michigan and has very good size at 6’5, 321 pounds. He has good athleticism and agility with quick feet which aids in pass protection. He’s quick off the snap and is able to slide and protect against speed rushers on the edge.

Good run blocker that is able to fire out, and push him man downfield with leverage. Has no major weaknesses, he just needs to fine tune his game, something Coach Scarnecchia will be bound to do.

Round 6, Pick #8 DT Darius Latham, Indiana: Latham was a two-year starter for the Hoosiers playing both the one and three-technique in the hybrid defense, improving every season. He has good size at 6’4, 311 pounds and shows good lateral agility and strength. He can overpower blockers at the point of attack. Plays with a mean streak.

Plays a bit upright and doesn’t have great vision. Latham has some red flags for off-field issues. Was suspended twice for violation of team rules and for an altercation with the student ethics committee.

Round 6, Pick #9 DE Miles Grooms, Hampton: Grooms is a small school stud, playing for Hampton but the 6’3, 251-pound edge player has dominated and is looking to make the big jump to the NFL.

He projects to be a strong side linebacker in the NFL and has the speed and athleticism to be able to cover in space and blitz off the edge. He has excellent initial burst, quick feet, and the flexibility and knee bend to consistently force tackles off balance.

Round 7, Pick #10 OT Tyler Marz, Wisconsin: Marz has good size at 6’6, 316 pounds and played well for the Badgers for the past three seasons. He has decent but not great arm length at 33.5 inches. He’s a good, tough run blocker but at the East-West Shrine game, struggled against good pass rusher in one-on-one drills.

Probably a fit at right tackle or guard is in store for him at the NFL level.

Round 7, Pick #11 QB Brandon Doughty, Western Kentucky: Doughty was a three-year starter at WKU and finished up his FBS career with 111 TD passes (15th all-time), and had the 10th best career completion percentage at 68 percent.

Doughty has decent size at 6’3, 216 and has adequate arm strength but is inconsistent with his deep ball throw. Draft expert Dane Brugler from CBS Sports said that “Doughty was an ideal fit for the up-tempo scheme that relied on a quick release and smart decisions, making most of his reads pre-snap and identifying soft spots in coverage. He has improved functional pocket mobility and carries himself like a coach.”

 

mock Draft 2.0 2016

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.