Tag Archives: Miami Dolphins

No Panic Necessary, Patriots To Stay the Course With the Offense in 2019

Steve Balestrieri
December 5, 2019 at 10:00 am ET

The Patriots offense has been scuffling along for the majority of the 2019 season and we’re now three-quarters of the way through. The team struggles in the red zone, on third down and doesn’t seem to have an offensive identity. 

Much of the fanbase has descended into full-blown panic mode, begging the owner of the team to sign one of the most self-centered players to suit up in the NFL within memory. Forgetting that the same player has only himself to blame for his ouster. All he had to do was shut up and play football. That was too much to ask. Ciao…

So, with the offensive struggles, we’ve heard the same things, we hear every year, “the Patriots are done, Brady is done, they can’t win…yawn. Wash, rinse, and repeat. As my friend Terry said the other day, “Bashing Tom Brady has become a cottage industry.”

After the loss to the Texans that dropped the team to 10-2, (gasp, how horrible!) the crescendo rose even louder. But what about the Patriots? Is there any panic coming from Gillette Stadium? Nope. Frustration, sure, who wouldn’t be? 

Flashback to Week 15 last year, the offense was ugly in the 17-10 loss to the Steelers in Pittsburgh and everyone (again) wrote the team off. They figured things out and then won their last two games of the regular season averaging 31 points and then three playoff games where they averaged 30 more.

We’re in Week 13 now, with the Chiefs who are playing much better now than they were about a month or two ago. So, they have a month instead of two weeks to figure it out. 

I know, I know, “this team doesn’t have that feeling that they can turn it around” right? How many times have we heard that one? The issues on offense, HAVE been consistent, so is the panic justified this time or is it just more of the same old rot?

However, the fact remains that what ails this offense is execution issues. The plays are there, they’re schemed up but for some reason, aren’t getting done.  I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve been one to say that they lack speed on the outside and it influences the way opponents play them. And I’ll stand by that, however, (comma), the Patriots have never really had a bunch of speedy wide receivers. 

So, what’s the difference this year (so far), execution. Just like Bill Belichick says all the time that pass defense is a combination of pass coverage and pass rush, the passing game is a combination of three things. 

The offensive line has to give the quarterback enough protection to allow him to go through his progressions to hit the open receiver. The wide receivers have to run precise routes and be on the same page as the quarterback in terms of route selection. And the quarterback has to make his reads and deliver the ball accurately to where the receivers are. 

Too often this year, one or more of those three items have broken down, sometimes several on the same play. These items are still fixable. Two of the wide receivers (Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry) are rookies with Harry only playing in a couple of games due to injury. Mohamad Sanu came over in midseason from the Falcons and may still be hobbled a bit by his ankle injury. 

Phillip Dorsett is coming off a concussion, however, he’s now in his third season with the Patriots and his production is far from what it should be now. It seems like ages ago we were discussing his streak of completed passes thrown his way. 

All of them can be better, and in doing so, take some of the pressure off Julian Edelman. 

The offensive line has been in flux all season. Isaiah Wynn was taking over at left tackle and then was injured and put on IR. He’s been back just two games. David Andrews was lost for the year on IR, Ted Karras took over at center, now he’s hurt and may miss a few weeks. Marcus Cannon has been fighting an illness for two weeks. And Shaq Mason just isn’t having the type of season we’re accustomed to seeing from him. 

We have seen some improvement in the run blocking, the team ran for a season-high 145 yards on Sunday, facing a team (KC) that is pretty awful at defending the run (141.3-yard average), it is imperative that they run the ball well. 

Which leads us to Brady. Of course, the national bobos who glance at stats and will have you believe that he’s done have been saying that BS for years. But if you see the game and not just watch it, the truth says differently. Can he be better? Of course, but the lack of a running game, hit or miss protection and an inexperienced WR core have taken its toll. Is the trust factor real or imagined? I tend to believe it, but some ex-players have pooh-poohed the idea as overrated.

Josh McDaniels on a conference call with the media earlier today (Dec.4) spoke about what the team needs to do to right the ship. 

“I think there’s a lot of factors in the passing game that would determine what being on the same page really means, but practice, repetition – there’s no shortcut to it, he said. 

“Every rep we take in practice, every pass we throw, every side session that we’re able to take part in, every conversation, every one-on-one drill that we do in practice, every film session that we’re in, it just continues to try to build off of the last one. I think patience is something that – I know everybody wants everything to be a finished product, and we do too, but at the same time you have to understand there’s going to be a process and we’re going to try to stick to it.” 

He added, “We have to be committed to it, and we know that it’s productive when we stay the course and continue to coach the right things and fix the right things and then the players go out and make corrections and they have success with it.”

There is a month to go, tough matchups with KC and Buffalo are at home where they tend to play better. Those games are sandwiched around their last away game in Cincinnati and at home against Miami. Both of those are eminently winnable. 

They have a month to figure things out, can they do it? While many people tend to think that they can’t, their track record speaks otherwise. 

I’ve seen many, too many posts that say… “There’s no way they beat Kansas City this week!” I’m going to drink the Kool-Aid this week and say the offense plays much better and begins to turn things around. 

Who knows? That’s why they play the games. Check back later tomorrow and we’ll have the breakdown of the Chiefs game and the key matchups.

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news and game analysis.

 

New England Patriots News 11-24, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
November 24, 2019 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 11-24 and AFC East notes this week. 

Gameday! The Patriots are back home to face the Dallas Cowboys later this afternoon. 

 Quick Hitters For the Pats and the NFL:

Bill Belichick – As part of the NFL’s Top 100 Panelists, is it any wonder that Bill would rave about one of the last of the two-way specialists, Earl “Dutch” Clark who played for the Portsmouth Spartans? Last full-time player to drop kick. On Jim Brown, Belichick said, “I’d still put him in there on 3rd and 1.”

Rob Gronkowski – Is holding a beach party on Super Bowl Sunday… that was his big announcement on Tuesday. If you expected anything else, shame on you. He’s made it clear that he’s in a good place with his retirement. He just hints around that he may not be done just yet. It is sinking the hook into a fanbase that is desperate for him to return. As I said earlier this week on the Pats UK Podcast, if he was coming back, the Patriots would have announced the press conference. 

Look, he put up with a bunch of injuries and surgeries and was always the good, loyal soldier who busted his tail for the team and the league. If he can use his fame to further his own business ventures….more power to him. 

AB – Now that Gronk isn’t coming back, Patriots fans are clamoring for AB to return. It is really a panic move as they’re convinced that the Patriots can’t win #7 without bringing AB back to the offense. Brown’s apology looked suspiciously like Drew Rosenhaus wrote it up, right down to the semicolon. 

4th & 2 Podcast – If you’ve haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, Please do check it out. 

Myles Garrett Suspension Upheld: 

The NFL has upheld the Browns player’s indefinite suspension. One interesting tidbit was that Garrett in his appeal said that Mason Rudolph uttered a racial slur towards him in the moments immediately before Garrett ripped off Mason’s helmet and swung it, hitting the Steelers QB over the head with it. 

The Steelers were justifiably ticked that Garrett used this ploy to lessen his suspension now when prior to his hearing, he hadn’t said a word about this, which makes it quite unbelievable. 

In fact, when he apologized to the Steelers and Rudolph on the day after the game, he didn’t utter a word about this. “Last night, I made a terrible mistake. I lost my cool and what I did was selfish and unacceptable. I know that we are all responsible for our actions and I can only prove my true character through my actions moving forward. I want to apologize to Mason Rudolph, my teammates, our entire organization, our fans and to the NFL. I know I have to be accountable for what happened, learn from my mistake and I fully intend to do so.”

The NFL replayed its on-field audio and could find no such thing was uttered by Rudolph. Timothy Younger, Rudolph’s attorney made the following statement: “According to ESPN, in his appeal, Myles Garrett falsely asserted that Mason Rudolph uttered a racial slur toward him, prior to swinging a helmet at Mason’s uncovered head, in a desperate attempt to mitigate his suspension. This is a lie. This false allegation was never asserted by Garrett in the aftermath of the game, never suggested prior to the hearing, and conspicuously absent in the apology published by the Browns and adopted by Garrett. The malicious use of this wild and unfounded allegation is an assault on Mason’s integrity which is far worse than the physical assault witnessed on Thursday. This is reckless and shameful. We will have no further comment.”

Isaiah Wynn Will Return Today, Coaches Confident on His Impact :

Isaiah Wynn has been activated and should see his first action since September later today against the Cowboys. While we believe he’ll definitely help the Patriots offense, we have tempered our expectations a bit. But the Patriots coaches are having no such thoughts. In fact quite the opposite. 

Running back coach, Ivan Fears, normally a man who gives faint praise, surprisingly was quite confident. Asked how much Wynn could help, he said: “A lot,” running backs coach Ivan Fears replied. “We were just talking about it. Isaiah is a very good football player. He’s a talented athlete that’s got a great love for the game and he’s got a little nastiness, which is what you need. Having him back in there will make a world of difference when it comes to making some of the blocks that we like to see that guy make — and I think he’s capable of doing that stuff. That’s probably going to open a hole here or there.”

“ I think right now, what we’re seeing is a guy that’s really, completely healthy. Stronger than he’s been,” said Dante Scarnecchia. “We thought he was a good player when we went into the season and we still think even that much more of him now.”

“I really like Isaiah,” Scarnecchia added. “I like the person. I like the player. We all like the person and we like the player. We’ve just gotta keep him out there. That’s really important.”

Bill Belichick chimed in as well. “Isaiah always works hard,” Belichick said. “He did a lot of scout team work to get his timing back and all of that, so working against a defense. But yeah, he works hard and he’s always ready to go.”

Sanu and Dorsett Are Questionable Today: 

As the Patriots get ready to play Dallas this afternoon, they are physically beaten up and have 12 players listed on the injury report. QB Tom Brady headlines the list with an elbow injury that just popped up on the report, but he’s expected to play. Right now, however, the big names that are questionable are WRs Mohamed Sanu and the Phillip Dorsett. 

With a Patriots offense that is struggling to move the ball consistently and score in the red zone, losing both of those players will really put a damper on the offense if they can’t play today. Sanu injured his ankle returning a punt against the Eagles and Dorsett suffered a concussion after he was drilled in the aftermath of his touchdown catch. 

The Patriots listed as questionable to play include: QB Tom Brady (right elbow), RB Damien Harris (hamstring), WR Mohamed Sanu (ankle), WR Phillip Dorsett (concussion), WR Julian Edelman (shoulder), WR Matthew Slater (hamstring), OT Marcus Cannon (illness), DE John Simon (elbow), LB Ja’Whaun Bentley (knee), CB Jason McCourty (groin), S Patrick Chung (heel/chest), S Nate Ebner (ankle/back)

NFL Schedule Week 12, Who Are Your Winners:

How are you feeling about the games this week? We have a post on our PatsFans Forum where our readers can predict the slate of games for that week. I did it on our weekly Sunday column here and will post it up below. Here is the link if you’d care to pick your own: https://www.patsfans.com/new-england-patriots/messageboard/picks/

Last Week: 13-1
Season:105-56-1

TNF Houston over Indy 1-0

Seattle over Philadelphia
Detroit over Washington
Oakland over NY Jets
New Orleans over Carolina
Cleveland over Miami
Pittsburgh over Cincinnati
Chicago over NY Giants
Buffalo over Denver
Tampa Bay over Atlanta
Tennessee over Jacksonville
Dallas over New England
SNF 49ers over Green Bay
MNF Baltimore over LA Rams

Bye week: Arizona, Kansas City, Minnesota, LA Chargers

Week 13 Thanksgiving Day Football
Detroit over Chicago
Dallas over Buffalo
New Orleans over Atlanta 

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Have a Tough Four-Game Stretch Upcoming:

The Buffalo Bills are 7-3 and off to their best start in 20 years, but although the defense is playing very well, the offense can’t seem to get untracked or find an identity. Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll is trying to find a package that works. But after the Bills game against Denver today, they have a very tough four games that may define their season. 

The Bills go to Dallas, come home against the Baltimore Ravens and then go back on the road in back-to-back weeks against the Steelers and Patriots before closing out at home against the Jets. 

How the Bills fare in those four big games, with three of them on the road will go a long way in determining if they are playing in the playoffs or going home. The Bills have only made the playoffs once in 20 years and that was a one and done 10-3 loss.This year’s Buffalo team seems much better designed and constructed to handle tough games down the stretch. 

Dolphins Facing a Browns Defense Missing 6 Week 1 Starters:

The Miami Dolphins are taking on the Cleveland Browns today and the Browns have a bunch of players who are missing. Morgan Burnett injured his Achilles and is out this week.  Both Myles Garrett (suspended for the remainder of the season) and Larry Ogunjobi (suspended 1 game) are both going to be missing for their roles in the melee at the end of the Steelers game. 

But the Browns have had a slew of injuries on their defense. Sunday they could be without six of their original Week 1 starters on defense. That could play into the hands of Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Dolphins offense. 

Or will it be Josh Rosen? With Miami not going anywhere this season, there is some noise about replacing Fitzpatrick with Rosen to end the regular season and build for the future. Will that hold Rosen? Or will they look to the draft (still Tua?) to find their franchise QB? 

Jets Face Big Test in the Raiders At Home:

The New York Jets have built up a little bit of momentum winning their last two games against the Giants and Redskins but now face a much tougher test against a Raiders team that is in the playoff hunt. And the defense will be looking to set the tone. 

The Raiders have a very tough, physical offensive line and running back Josh Jacobs, the league’s 4th leading rusher has run for 100 yards or more in four of his last six games. But the Raiders have also given up six sacks in their last two games and that may be a key to a win today. 

While Derek Carr is completing 72 percent of his passes thus far this season, look for Gregg Williams to attack the Raiders with blitzes and over-pressure to force the issue. “We don’t catch and react. We’re an attacking defense and you’ve got to do a really, really, really good job on not letting them get outside,” Williams said. 

“When you let them get outside, it’s a tough game to play because now you’ve got to match up with them in space. If your athlete isn’t as good as their athlete – they do a good job. Tom Cable, Jon Gruden, that staff is a really, really good staff on running the football and we’ve got our work cut out for us this week.”

________________

Yeah, we’ll share it when the injury report comes out after practice. I’ll make sure you get a copy. No point in guessing on it. Might as well go out and practice, see what they can do, and make an accurate report. I’m not going to sit here and try to ouija board it here this morning, tell you how a guy is going to feel before he’s gone out and done anything. I mean, that wouldn’t be responsible on my part.”Bill Belichick being asked if he had a sense on the status of Sanu and Dorsett. When pressed if he’d share, this was his answer.

________________

“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 11-17, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
November 17, 2019 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 11-17 and AFC East notes this week. 

Gameday! The Patriots are back from their bye week and are set to take on the Eagles in the late afternoon game. It is a big matchup for both teams and should be one of the best games to watch today. 

Veterans Day is tomorrow. To those who served before me, to those I served with and to the ones who followed and will follow in the future…I salute you. 

 Quick Hitters For the Pats and the NFL:

Bill Belichick – Addressed the Myles Garrett incident (more below) and how the Patriots address those issues. “Every situation is different. There’s no two that are the same. We can go back and look at 50 of these through the years, some type of fighting or ejections. They’re all different. I wouldn’t say it’s like offsides penalties. There’s a lot of different things happening, different situations and so forth and so on. Yeah, fundamentally, I told players what we should do in those situations, how we should handle them. I think they’ve done a good job with it.”

Tom Brady – This will get plenty of airplay now, as Brady’s personal trainer says Brady could play until he’s 46, or 47. “We talk about it all the time, Alex Guererro said. “Every year he just adds another year. He goes in and he’s like, ‘Guys, I feel so good still. I think I am going to go till 45.’ I am like, ‘OK.’ Now he’s like, ‘Alex, I think I can go like 46 or 47.’”

4th & 2 Podcast – If you’ve haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, Please do check it out. 

Patriots – Bills – The Patriots have had enough prime time games this season. And thankfully there won’t be another added as the NFL has released the late-season schedule and the Patriots and Bills will meet on Saturday, December 21 at 4:30 p.m. The game could have got flexed to another night game

N’Keal Harry’s Situation Will Be Closely Watched Today:

Will he play or will N’Keal Harry be inactive again? If he does play, how active will he actually be? Will he just play enough to get his feet wet or is he ready to jump in and become an integral part of the Patriots offense, which we all envisioned when he was drafted this past spring?

Nobody knows the answers to those questions just yet. But some of those answers we’ll find out later this afternoon. It isn’t quite as simple as just coming off of IR and being close to being physically ready. That’s just a small part of the equation. 

For a rookie like Harry, he was just beginning to round into form during training camp, learning the offense, his route tree and was just beginning to learn the little nuances of the offense as Tom Brady likes to run it. He and Brady were working a lot of one-on-one during STs portions of practice as he was getting the chemistry and timing down for the first time. For someone like Julian Edelman, who’s been in the system for several years, it is much simpler. He already has that built-in chemistry with Brady, and he’d just have to get his timing down.

Harry had to basically restart everything from scratch. However, he was able to sit in the meetings and soak up all of that, so that part of it should be just fine. Knowledge of the playbook and his route tree is essential. Then he just has to be where Brady expects him to be. Brady throws to spots on the field where he expects (actually demands) his receivers to be. We watched him discuss this with Harry and everyone else who has come along, down to the minutest detail. 

If he doesn’t trust that you’ll be there, you won’t get many second chances. But the reason the Patriots offense has been so successful for so long is that Brady and Josh McDaniels always try to put players in their best position to succeed. They don’t ask a guy to do something he’s not good at. They’ll find your strengths and play to them.

I can’t wait to see what Harry can bring to the table. Just know this… what you see today and moving forward this season, is just scratching the surface on his potential moving forward… Let the games begin… 

Miles Garrett Situation, Scary, Ugly, and Dangerous: 

As the game on Thursday night between the Browns and Steelers was winding down, an ugly incident unfolded and will have fans and media discussing it for a long, long time. Myles Garrett took down Pittsburgh QB Mason Rudolph hard after he tossed a screen pass. Rudolph took exception to that and as the two were on the ground, he twisted Garrett’s helmet. 

What unfolded went from ugly to scary to dangerous in a matter of seconds. Garrett and Rudolph began to tussle and then the Browns edge rusher ripped Rudolph’s helmet off his head and then swung it hard and made glancing contact (thankfully) before bedlam ensued. Maurkice Pouncey, coming to Rudolph’s defense tried to kick Garrett in the head several times before punching him on the ground.  The benches emptied and it nearly got out of control. 

The referees insisted on playing out the game which was at that point smoking around a powder keg and Freddy Kitchens wisely sent out the Browns backup QB to take the final snap. Garrett was suspended indefinitely, at least through the rest of the season and the playoffs and rightfully so.  There is absolutely no defending what he did. And for one of the NFL’s youngest and brightest stars, it is crushing for his team as they hope to climb out of a deep hole and make a playoff run. 

I still can’t believe what I watched there. I fully expected to Rudolph to go down and not get back up. No one wants to see that, especially if the aftermath were very different which it could have been. 

Pouncey was suspended three games for kicking Garrett in the head. Larry Ogunjobi was suspended for one game for his own actions, as he leveled Rudolph after the fact. The Steelers and the Browns are bitter rivals, everyone knows that, but what transpired was way beyond football and any rivalry. Thankfully, Rudolph wasn’t seriously injured and the courts didn’t get involved in this. Which is the last thing anyone, especially the NFL wants to see.

What Is the NFL Doing With The Kaepernick Workout?

It is a bizarre scenario with the entire Colin Kaepernick being shadow-banned by the league, his lawsuit which was settled out of court and now his league-sanctioned workout. Actually, it wasn’t sanctioned, it was almost an ultimatum. Take it or leave it.

Kaepernick was given no notice and had only hours to agree to the terms, will supposedly work out this Saturday (this was written on Friday) for representatives from 24 NFL teams in a private event funded and arranged by the league.

The entire thing is crazy. Why on Saturday, the day before a game when coaches and general managers are prepping for their game the next day? Tuesdays are the day off for all of the teams that play on Sunday and would have been a much better choice. 

The Patriots will attend and if they were interested in Kaepernick, and we’ve examined this n the past, they’d have to change their offense if they wish to get the most out of Kaepernick’s talents. Could it be a look to the future? Kaepernick is now 32 and after not playing for several years, how much of a future does he truly hold? 

NFL Schedule Week 11, Who Are Your Winners:

How are you feeling about the games this week? We have a post on our PatsFans Forum where our readers can predict the slate of games for that week. I did it on our weekly Sunday column here and will post it up below. Here is the link if you’d care to pick your own: https://www.patsfans.com/new-england-patriots/messageboard/picks/

Last Week: 4-9
Season:92-55-1

TNF Browns over Pittsburgh 1-0

Carolina over Atlanta
Dallas over Detroit
Indy over Jacksonville
Buffalo over Miami
Baltimore over Houston
Minnesota over Denver
NY Jets over Washington
New Orleans over Tampa Bay
San Francisco over Arizona
Oakland over Cincinnati
New England over Philadelphia
SNF LA Rams over Chicago
MNF Kansas City over LA Chargers

Bye week: Green Bay, NY Giants, Seattle Seahawks, Tennessee

Week11 Thursday Night Football Browns over Pittsburgh

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills, Hauschka Looking to Rebound:

The Buffalo Bills lost a golden opportunity to gain ground on the idle Patriots by dropping a 19-16 decision to the then 2-6 Cleveland Browns (the Browns have now defeated Buffalo and Pittsburgh to move to 4-6). The loss dropped the Bills to 6-3 and two games behind the Patriots (New England owns the tie-breaker too). 

With the Patriots facing a tough test against the Eagles this afternoon, Buffalo is facing the Miami Dolphins who’ve won two in a row. Miami’s offense should have a tough task taking on the Bills defense, but after practicing in the cold and snow this week, the game is in South Beach, so that may have some bearing on it. 

One player looking for some bounceback is kicker Stephen Hauschka. He hasn’t been good this season (4th worst FG average) and his range looks seriously shorter than we remember. He missed two big kicks last week, right before the half, and at the end of the game. Those kicks were costly.

Dolphins’ Fitzpatrick Maintains His Love for the Game:

The Miami Dolphins are just 2-6 but QB Ryan Fitzpatrick has lost none of his enthusiasm and love for the game. ESPN Insider Field Yates was a guest on One Bills Live podcast and said Fitzmagic’s love of the game rivals that of Brett Favre. 

“And, not that Ryan Fitzpatrick has had Brett Favre’s career at all,” he said, “but he reminds me of Favre in his pure enjoyment of football. Fitz seems to have a blast every time he is out there. Sometimes people may see it as carefree, I look at it as passionate. He’s a warrior. He’s incredibly tough. I think his teammates respect the heck out of him. I’ve really enjoyed the various chapters of Ryan Fitzpatrick’s career.”

The Dolphins players respect and believe in Fitzpatrick, which is why he’s still the starter and Josh Rosen is not. 

Jets Facing Haskins, Redskins Today, Prepare for Heat Young Man:

The New York Jets are facing the woeful Washington Redskins this afternoon and Washington is starting rookie QB Dwayne Haskins. The Skins want to run the ball with Adrian Peterson and Darius Guice but the Jets have a very good run defense. 

Translation, Gregg Williams is going to stack the box to take away the run and blitz the heck out of Haskins. The rookie will be throwing to Terry McLaurin, his Ohio State teammate, but don’t expect him to have much time to throw it down the field.

This one is ready-made for Williams to throw the kitchen sink at Haskins. Look for the rookie to have a rough outing against the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets today. He’ll need the cold tub tomorrow.

________________

See what happened, check it out, absolutely,” Belichick deadpanned. “Interact with everybody, see what they think, get my opinions out there. I don’t want to get left behind on that. Then brush my teeth.”Bill Belichick being asked about jumping on social media first thing in the morning to give his take on issues trending around the league.

________________

“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 11-10, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
November 10, 2019 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 11-10 and AFC East notes this week. 

The Patriots are off, on their bye week so, this weekend is a time to watch the other games and check out some of the Pats’ future opponents.

Veterans Day is tomorrow. To those who served before me, to those I served with and to the ones who followed and will follow in the future…I salute you. 

 Quick Hitters For the Pats and the NFL:

Tom Brady/Ed Reed – We saw a glimpse of the two in the tunnel before the game on Sunday night embracing and it wasn’t hard to see the respect those two have for each other. Of course, NFL Films detailed the respect Brady and Belichick have for Reed a long time ago. Reed was honored at halftime after being inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

OBJ/Larry Fitz – It seems Larry Fitzgerald to New England rumors will finally go the way of the dodo. And the rumor makers have seemingly found new fodder for the rumor mills- Odell Beckham Jr. We’ll be hearing and seeing this rumor a lot from now on.

4th & 2 Podcast – If you’ve haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, Please do check it out. 

Iron Men – The Patriots offense played virtually the entire game against Baltimore with the same 10 players. Nine players were on the field for 100 percent of the snaps. A 10th player, Phillip Dorsett missed one play and was replaced by Jakobi Meyers. The only position where the team rotated was running back.

Former Patriot DE Jake Bequette Now An Army Officer: 

After his playing career ended, former Patriot defensive end Jake Bequette fulfilled a life-long dream of his, in serving in the US military. Jeff Howe of the Athletic got in touch with Bequette who is now a 1st Lieutenant and serving in the 101st Airborne Division at Ft. Campbell, KY. 

Bequette, now 30, spent parts of four seasons with the Patriots (2012-2015) before moving on with his life. Initially, he couldn’t pass the medicals to enter the Army because of the injuries he suffered as a football player. 

“I’ve known for a long time I wanted military service to be part of my life,” Bequette said to Howe. “I couldn’t say for certain exactly how that was going to manifest itself. I wanted to play football for as long as I could. Toward the end of my time in New England, I knew if I wanted to serve in active duty, if I wanted to do what I wanted to do — be an infantry officer and go through Ranger School and all that — it was kind of now or never.”

Bequette graduated the physically grueling Army Ranger School in 2018 and has already conducted two combat tours. 

“Ranger School is a life-changing experience,” Bequette said in the interview. “It challenged me like I’ve never been challenged before. Mentally, physically, it’s a great leadership challenge as well. That was a goal I had going in, to graduate Ranger school. I was lucky enough to accomplish that goal. It was tough going from football. I played ball at about 270 (pounds). I went into Ranger School about 245. I graduated at about 200 pounds. People lose a lot of weight during Ranger School. Coming from a sports background, we’re used to being well-fed. Ranger school is more about pushing yourself past what you think are your boundaries. That was definitely one for me.”

With Veterans Day tomorrow, it is great to see more young men like Bequette take up the call and serve our country. Maybe this will soften Bill Belichick about getting an Army guy on the team… Maybe not.

Patriots Players Up and Down At the Bye Week:

It is hard to argue with the fact that the first half of the season has been very successful for the team at 8-1. While too many people (media/fans/hot take artists) are dwelling on their one loss, only one team, San Francisco has a better record at this point. 

So, here are our Patriots Players who have performed well or better than expected at this juncture of the season and those who have not. 

Players Trending Up: 

Jamie Collins – Taking a page out of the Pat Chung “Yes you can go home again”, Collins has been fantastic through the first half of 2019. The Browns cut him loose after a so-so time in Cleveland. He has been a huge FA signing by Bill Belichick. He’s had 48 tackles, including seven tackles for a loss, six sacks, four passes defended, two forced fumbles, and three interceptions.  And scored a touchdown. 

Yes, you can go home again. We were very wrong with this signing. And right beside Collins, you can add Kyle Van Noy and Dont’a Hightower.  The Boogeymen cometh.

Stephon Gilmore – No surprise here. He’s finally getting the due across the league as the best corner in football and his performance through the first nine weeks has put a stamp on that.  Remember a few years ago in his first few games as a Patriot? Bill Belichick took a lot of heat on that one… Those people are very quiet now.

Jake Bailey – The Patriots rookie punter caught a bit of flak when the usual ninnies who are infinitely better GMs than Belichick whined: “Why is Bill wasting a 5th round pick on a punter?”  After watching him put several punts in the ozone during minicamp/training camp he beat out Ryan Allen who was outstanding at directional punting in his time here.

But Bailey has been getting better and better with his own directional game and he still routinely puts punts into the flight path at Logan. He’s helped out with kickoffs as well as punting and has proven to be a very smart selection…Imagine that?

Honorable mention: Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, James White. Much is always expected from these three and they’ve done nothing to disappoint. 

Players Trending Down:

Offensive Line – The favorite whipping boy, Marshall Newhouse is already on the tip of everyone’s tongue but in reality, he hasn’t been bad. He’s a long-time veteran journeyman offensive lineman, thrust into the starting left tackle for the most successful franchise over the last 20 years. Has he been good? No, but he’s hardly alone.  

The offensive line as a whole has not performed as expected and that includes such usually solid performers Shaq Mason and Marcus Cannon.

Sony Michel – As the season began, we all expected big, big things from the Patriots 2nd-year running back. Things haven’t worked out that way as Michel has struggled.

While much of his struggles concern the play of the line (see above), Michel isn’t totally blameless as he’s not seeing the holes and reacting quickly enough. 

Rookie Class – With the exception of the aforementioned Bailey and Chase Winovich the Patriots haven’t got much from their rookie class. N’Keal Harry has been injured and hasn’t played a snap. 

Joejuan Williams, Damien Harris, Jarrett Stidham (thankfully), and Byron Cowart have barely seen the field. Yodny Cajuste and Hjalte Froholdt are on IR. Ken Webster was cut and is a Dolphin.  Although UDFAs Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski have played well in spurts. And part of that is the depth that the roster has…Glass half-full.

NFL Schedule Week 10, Who Are Your Winners:

How are you feeling about the games this week? We have a post on our PatsFans Forum where our readers can predict the slate of games for that week. I did it on our weekly Sunday column here and will post it up below. Here is the link if you’d care to pick your own: https://www.patsfans.com/new-england-patriots/messageboard/picks/

Last Week: 9-5
Season:88-46-1

TNF Raiders over LA Chargers 1-0

Kansas City over Tennessee
Arizona over Tampa Bay
NY Giants over NY Jets
New Orleans over Atlanta
Green Bay over Carolina
Buffalo over Cleveland
Baltimore over Cincinnati
Detroit over Chicago
Indy over Miami
LA Rams over Pittsburgh
SNF Dallas over Minnesota
MNF San Francisco over Seattle

Bye week: Patriots, Eagles, Broncos, Texans, Jaguars, Redskins

Week11 Thursday Night Football Browns over Pittsburgh

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Getting No Respect From Vegas, Underdogs at Cleveland:

The Buffalo Bills are 6-2 and have only lost to the Patriots and the Eagles. But somehow they are three-point underdogs as they travel to the dog pound to take on the very dysfunctional Cleveland Browns who are 2-6.

Has Cleveland done anything to deserve the preseason hype piled upon them? And the Bills are getting no love or respect around the NFL as they have compiled a very good record through the first half of the season. The Bills are completely healthy today, they had nobody on the injury report, a rarity these days.

Baker Mayfield and the underutilized OBJ will be facing a very tough defense in the Bills this week. Look for the Browns to feed Nick Chubb a lot in the early going as the Bills have struggled a bit in their run defense. Take the Bills, they’re for real. 

Dolphins Gesicki Being Utilized More Lately and Thriving:

The Miami Dolphins barely used 2nd-year tight end Mike  Gesicki in the first four games of the season but in the last four, his numbers have more than doubled as he begins to thrive in the Miami offense. Gesicki had just six catches in the Dolphins first four games but has 15 more in the last four. 

Gesicki had 22 catches as a rookie last season and has nearly equaled that halfway through the 2019 season.  Gesicki has developed a nice rapport and chemistry with veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, who recognizes the value of a big (6’6) tight end. 

“The big thing about playing with Fitz is that he’s just going to give you a chance to go make a play, which as a receiver, tight end, any pass catcher, that’s the trust and the belief that you want your quarterback to have in you that when the play … worst comes to worst, he’s just going to give you a shot and go make a play for him,” he said in an interview with The Audible.

Jets Enter Home Stadium “Rivalry Game” Against the Giants:

The New York Jets are 1-7 and in the throes of another meltdown and are facing the 2-7 New York Giants in what some NY fans are dubbing the “Toilet Bowl”.  Expectations are so low for this game, that some innocuous comments by Jets LB Jordan Jenkins have been termed trash-talking by the media.

Said Jenkins, “We both share the same stadium. It’s almost like playing for the rights [to it].”

“It’s the team right up the street. You’re competing with who has bragging rights for the year and all that type of stuff,” he said. “We know it’s going to be a physical game. We’re battling for who’s home field it really is. It’s going to be fun.”

I doubt even the Patriots would find that bulletin board material. But I digress. C.J. Mosley will miss another game, it was a huge mistake for the Jets coaches to allow him to come back …too early against the Patriots and now he’s hurt and the season is rapidly becoming a wasted one for the big-money free-agent inside linebacker.

The clock is already ticking for Adam Gase and a loss to the Giants and his hot seat may become too hot to handle.

________________

“Yeah, because that’s the way it is. It’s not about rating what did or didn’t happen. It’s about correcting the mistakes and improving on them, and there’s a lot of room for all of us to do that, and that’s what we’ll focus on – every player, every unit, every coach. I mean, when you look at it collectively, there are things we could have done better in every area that would have helped us, and we all need to address those and we all need to improve on them.” – Bill Belichick being asked about whether any positional group played well on Sunday against the Ravens.

________________

“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 11-03, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
November 3, 2019 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 11-03 and AFC East notes this week. 

Game Day, as the Patriots are in Baltimore to take on the Ravens on Sunday Night Football on NBC.

 Quick Hitters For the Pats and the NFL:

Oh, those Frequent Flier Miles – NFL teams in 2016 flew a total of 564,820 miles during the course of the season. Traveling around the world equals 25,000 miles, so NFL teams basically circled the globe 22.5 times in 2016. That is a lot of logistics to cover.  

Tomlin, Steelers Fined – The Steelers were fined $75,000 and head coach Mike Tomlin an additional $25,000 for failing to accurately report Ben Roethlisberger’s injury during Week 2. The Steelers’ QB hasn’t played since then but the team listed him missing practice as non-injury related. 

Boogeymen 2? Child Please – The 49ers defense has been outstanding this season, but perhaps they need pointers on originality. Yes, the Niners are calling their defense “the Boogeymen” as well as the Patriots. On the Niners Instagram page on Thursday night, they posted a picture of DeForrest Buckner sacking Kyler Murray with the caption, “the Boogeymen live in the backfield.” 

Brady/Gisele Buying in CT – The Patriots QB has been the subject of endless rumors of the TMZ variety, i.e. “Rift with BB, “Taking shots at Kraft”, Playing elsewhere in 2020” yada, yada. So the news they just bought a house in Greenwich, CT won’t slow those down at all. It’s a long commute to Foxboro … However, if you’re wondering about the home they just purchased, “The home sits on 10 acres of land and was built in 1990. It features approximately 14,862 square feet of living space with 7 bedrooms, 8 full and 4 half bathrooms, 2-story foyer with staircase, 2-story great room, formal dining room, gourmet kitchen, breakfast room, family room, gym, indoor pool, 3-car garage and more. Outdoor features include a motor court, balcony, patios, gardens, swimming pool, and a tennis court.” 8 full, 4 half bathrooms? Never have to wait there… 

If you care to take a look at the humble manse of the Brady clan, check out the pictures of the new place here:

Sad End For Josh Gordon in New England: 

After the Patriots announced that Josh Gordon was going on IR and would then be released, one’s immediate reaction was to believe that he was having a relapse of his well-known substance abuse problems. That is perhaps unfair but hardly a stretch since it has been a constant thorn in his development and his career. 

Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston was the first to report that the Patriots were growing concerned with Gordon being consistently late to things. That is troubling because that is where it started with Cleveland so long ago. And as Curran said, “he was showing signs of undependability.” That, the team couldn’t afford to play around with. 

And with diminishing production, just 20 catches for 287 yards this season, perhaps they felt that he was not going to ever recapture the speed and athleticism that he once dominated the league with, albeit for a very brief time. 

But they had a decision to make. The team invested in a first-round draft pick in N’Keal Harry this spring and as Curran points out, right now, he’s faster and more athletic than Gordon. But after missing the first half of the season, could the team have moved on too quickly from Gordon? Certainly but we aren’t in the building there every day so at this point, you’d have to assume the coaches know better. 

But after watching Gordon here for the past two years, you can’t help but root for him personally to conquer the inner demons that have haunted him for most of his life. He’s now a Seattle Seahawk, but more than anything we all root for the per    Watching those tapes of 2013, my what a player he could’ve been. 

Steve Belichick, Calling the Plays For the Defense:

It is hard to argue with the job that the Patriots defense is doing these days. And while the naysayers will point out the schedule, regardless of who you are playing when your defense is scoring as many touchdowns as they are allowing, then you’re on to something special. 

Of course, some radio hot take artists will tell you that the only reason Steve Belichick got hired by his father was through nepotism. Now, it turns out that Steve is the one that is calling the defensive signals in from the sidelines. Many believed that it was Jerod Mayo who was calling the signals or that the two were sharing the responsibility. 

But this week, Andrew Callahan of the Boston Herald reported that several players confirmed that it is the younger Belichick is the one calling the signals. And when you hear him speak, he sounds exactly like his father. And if his football mind is half as keen as his father (and early results play out that he’s on the right track), then the future is bright indeed for the younger Belichick. 

Patriots Players to Watch Today :

With the Patriots taking on the Ravens tonight, here are our Patriots players to watch for the game. If they are to leave Baltimore victorious these players will have to step up for them in a big way tonight. 

Jamie Collins: The Patriots linebacker is in the middle of an outstanding career renaissance in his second stint with the team. The most athletic linebacker in a very solid group, he’s been tremendous through the first half of 2019. 

He’ll have to be on top of his game tonight.  The Ravens running game, through the read-option is where they make things difficult defensively. One of the key players to combat that is Collins. 

Mohamed Sanu: The wide receiver is in his second week with the team and should be a little bit farther along in the offense this week than he was against the Browns. The team really needs him to learn the offense as quickly as possible to become a trusted member of the passing game. 

We expect that he’ll see more targets tonight as he begins to settle into this offense. We look for Sanu and Julian Edelman to be a dangerous pair inside for Tom Brady to utilize. 

Pat Chung: One of the Patriots’ most versatile and important players on the defense, Chung is somehow always overlooked when talking about his worth to this team. 

Chung plays a huge role in run support and he’ll be the first line of defense against the Ravens’ tight ends, where Mark Andrews is the team’s leading receiver. 

Julian Edelman: The Patriots offense’s most irreplaceable piece after Brady should play a big role in the offense tonight. The Ravens defense is quite different than the ones we were used to seeing in the past. After watching several of their games if there is a weakness in this unit, it is with the short, quick passing game.

That is a recipe for Edelman and Sanu to become big factors in the game tonight. If they are successful, the offense should be in better shape than we’ve witnessed lately. If the Ravens shut them down, it will be a long evening for Brady & Co. 

N’Keal Harry: Harry hasn’t even been activated yet, so we’re leaning a bit forward in the foxhole here (Friday night), but the feeling here is that not only will Harry be activated, but he will play as well. 

We’re going to temper expectations in his first NFL game action, but it is really important for him to get some game action and get his feet wet before the bye week. He can do all the things that Josh Gordon did for the offense, but now the 1st-round pick will have to go out and prove it. Welcome to the NFL… 

NFL Schedule Week 9, Who Are Your Winners:

How are you feeling about the games this week? We have a post on our PatsFans Forum where our readers can predict the slate of games for that week. I did it on our weekly Sunday column here and will post it up below. Here is the link if you’d care to pick your own: https://www.patsfans.com/new-england-patriots/messageboard/picks/

Last Week: 14-1
Season:79-41-1

TNF San Francisco over Arizona 1-0

Houston over Jacksonville (9:30 a.m. London)
Philadelphia over Chicago
Indy over Pittsburgh
NY Jets over Miami
Kansas City over Minnesota
Carolina over Tennesse
Buffalo over Washington
Seattle over Tampa Bay
Oakland over Detroit
Green Bay over LA Chargers
Cleveland over Denver
SNF New England over Baltimore
MNF Dallas over NY Giants

Bye week: Falcons, Bengals, Rams, Saints

Week 9 Thursday Night Football Raiders over LA Chargers

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Look to Rebound Vs Haskins, Skins:

The Buffalo Bills went through a rough patch to a small degree, after a close win over the Titans, they had more trouble with the Dolphins than perceived and then played poorly in a 31-13 loss to the Eagles last week. But this week, their defense is facing rookie QB Dwayne Haskins, in the loud, friendly confines of Buffalo. 

For the Bills defense, this should be a prime time to get their A-game back under control and going against a rookie 1st-round QB in Haskins who, the Redskins were loathing to put in the game because the coaches felt he wasn’t ready. Now, they have no choice and Haskins is being thrown into the deep end of the pool. 

This Bills defense is excellent and is a tough test for even the most experienced pro QBs. For a rookie making his first start and on the road in Buffalo? This could get ugly early. Expect the Bills to roll big today. 

Dolphins Continue to Lose But Confidence in Flores Grows:

The Miami Dolphins may be winless and going nowhere, but the fans see the growth (baby steps) and the players’ trust and belief in Brian Flores and what he’s trying to accomplish down in South Beach. 

The Dolphins will be meeting the Jets for the 108th time in their history today and they’re going to have to accomplish a few things if they want to get off their winless streak and sink the Jets even lower in the standings. 

They’ll have to limit LeVeon Bell and the Jets running game, Bell’s offensive line is a far cry from what he enjoyed in Pittsburgh and he’s been a non-factor. Miami will be looking to continue the struggles of Sam Darnold. After returning from illness with a stellar game against the Cowboys, Darnold was awful against New England and that continued last week with more interceptions. His confidence was shaken by that nightmarish New England game, and the Dolphins defense has to continue that trend. 

Finally, Miami has to empty the tank to get the offense going, try every trick and gadget play they can think of. What a way to end their winless streak if they could get B-Flo a win over their long-time rival Jets.

Jets Once Again Teetering on the Brink of the Abyss :

The New York Jets are back in familiar territory, and that is they’re straight into the eye of another really bad season. Disfunction has followed this franchise around gum on your shoe for too many years. The 2019 season was supposed to usher in a new era, with a franchise QB, a new coach, and a new attitude. But so far, we’ve seen that nothing has changed. 

Granted, some things that happened were completely out of their control. Sam Darnold’s illness and then Trevor Siemian’s gruesome injury were just horrible bad fortune. How many teams could rely on a practice squad QB by the first quarter of Week 2 and be successful? Not many. 

But since Darnold’s return, the wheels have seemingly came off again. After a huge win over the Cowboys, everything was pointing in the right direction and confidence was sky-high. Then came the debacle against the Patriots where the team was shellacked 33-0. Darnold looked lost and Adam Gase left him in there long after the game was decided. 

Darnold’s struggles continued against the Jaguars and the team lost 29-15 as he threw for three more interceptions. With the trade deadline, the team jettisoned former 1st-round pick (6th overall) Leonard Williams and stated that they were open to trading Le’Veon Bell, who they just rewarded with a huge FA contract this spring. They then dangled Jamal Adams who is their best player on defense. 

Now, the Jets are facing a must-win against the winless Dolphins or this season the team may implode again. And this won’t bode well for Gase…

________________

“Well, we have a lot of confidence in our secondary. There’s a give and take with the rush and the coverage, so the more guys you have in coverage, the fewer guys you have rushing. The more guys you have rushing, the fewer guys you have in coverage. I mean, it’s pretty basic so you try to do what you think is best in a particular situation or against a particular team and the matchups that you have. There’s an element of changing it up, but ultimately it comes down to that decision – do you want to rush more and cover with less, or cover more and rush fewer. There’s middle ground there. We’ve done all of the above and I’m sure we’ll continue to do that, like we always have. It’ll just depend on the situation, the team, so forth.” – Bill Belichick being asked about bringing extra pressure on opposing QBs and the pressure it puts on the secondary.

________________

“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 10-27, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
October 27, 2019 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 10-27 and AFC East notes this week. 

Game Day, as the Patriots take on the Browns in the later game this afternoon.   

 Quick Hitters For the Pats and the NFL:

“We’re Not in Kansas anymore Toto” – If I told you… say three or four years ago that the Patriots would have Antonio Brown, Demaryius Thomas, Josh Gordon and Michael Bennett on the roster in the same season, and then either cut or trade every one of them? I’d have been locked up. It just goes to show what a crazy season it has been.

Behind the Scenes – The Patriots video department was the subject of a very cool behind the scenes clip for the Patriots All-Access crew. Ever wonder what it takes for the video crew to break down the coaches’ film from games and how fast it gets to the coaching staff? Check it out here:

Mohamad Sanu – has been made to feel right at home this week. Sanu spoke about Tom Brady who spoke highly of the Patriots’ new acquisition. Sanu jokingly said that Brady even offered him the #12 jersey that Sanu wore with the Falcons. Sanu’s answer? “Nah, you got that. I’ll change to 14.” Asked as a follow-up if he offered anything to Brady for the jersey, Sanu laughed it off and said, “No, I’ll just go out there and do my job and let him be great.”

Bill Belichick, Not a fan of the Weathermen- The Patriots coach has never been a fan of the weathermen who are predicting heavy rains for the Browns game this afternoon. Asked during a press conference if the team was preparing for the deluge, Belichick scoffed at the notion.

“In the Giant game, it was supposed to be a monsoon and everything and, like usual, there was not one drop of rain and let’s say minimal wind. Although there was some wind. It was across the field, so it didn’t affect the game that much.

“We went down to Miami. We thought it was going to be hot… So predicting heat in Miami in September … maybe you and I can figure that out.

“I’ve seen the forecast. This is the exact same forecast we had for the Giants. Not one drop of rain. So we’ll see. I don’t know. I’m sure it’s hard to get it right, especially specific locations like this. Where it is 10 miles from here and where it is here makes all the difference in the world to us. That’s the world we’re in. So we’ll see.” If there is one person who Belichick believes is wrong more than the weatherman? Charley Casserly.

Trade Deadline Approaching, But Will Anyone Trade With Bill? 

After the Patriots traded for Mohamed Sanu, their cap space was down to $10K according to Miguel, aka @Patscap. Not $10 million but 10 thousand.. Yikes.  That number was increased to a little over $2.8 million with the trade of Michael Bennett to the Dallas Cowboys but still leaves the team with precious little room to maneuver.  With the trade deadline rapidly approaching, do they have enough cap space to make another deal? And will anyone make a trade with New England? 

There are still some players out there who the Patriots have been linked to but how much they are actually interested at this point remains to be seen. Or was their interest simply doing their own due diligence? Among those players are:

TE O.J. Howard: Howard is a big, athletic tight end in the Gronk mold. We’re not comparing him to Gronkowski, but he could be that kind of complete tight end. He’s 6’6, 255 and he can run. But he’s woefully underutilized in Bruce Arians’ offense in TB and has just 13 catches so far this season. The Patriots reportedly inquired and were told no…He’s not playing today, I’d try one more time.

TE Austin Hooper: The Falcons trade of Sanu made sense, their season is shot and they still have Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. The got a 2nd round pick for Sanu which will help with the retooling process there. But trading Hooper? That would be folly for Thomas Dimitroff.  He’s only 24 years old and is on pace for a 100 catch 1100-1200 yard season. Several teams have supposedly asked about Hooper but have been told that he’s staying. 

TE Tyler Eifert: The Cincinnati Bengals tight end has been another name that has frequently been rumored to be on the Patriots radar. Eifert is a very good tight end when he’s on the field which is very rare in the past three years. Eifert appeared in a total of 14 games in the three seasons of 2016-2018. He has appeared in all seven games this season and has 17 catches for 118 yards and a touchdown. Picture a more fragile Rex Burkhead…

Rumors persist about WRs A.J. Green of the Bengals and Danny Amendola returning to New England. But unless the Patriots decide that they are not going to activate rookie WR N’Keal Harry, bringing in another wide receiver just doesn’t make sense at this point.

Redskins LT Trent Williams name continues to be tossed about to the Patriots, who were reported to have offered Washington their 1st round draft pick for the veteran tackle who hasn’t played a down this year. How they could afford him now under the cap is a major mystery. 

Patriots Players to Watch Today :

With the short week due to Monday Night Football, we didn’t get to post our normal players to watch that we usually do on Friday. So, with the game in just a few hours, we still have time to share our players who we feel need to step up for a Patriots victory today. So, (Jim Lang voice) Heeeerrrree they are.

Stephon Gilmore: The best cornerback in the league is facing the most explosive, dynamic playmaker for the Browns in Odell Beckham Jr. today. This is the kind of matchup that is tailor-made for the national television audience. 

Baker Mayfield has been trying to force things to Beckham in the early going of the season. Will he do it again today in Gillette? Seeing two players of this magnitude competing against one another is always must-watch territory. 

Mohamed Sanu: The newest Patriots wide receiver has only been on the ground for a few days. We expect that he and Tom Brady will eventually forge a nice chemistry on the field. But how much can we reasonably expect this week? 

Wouldn’t it be a great storyline if Sanu can turn in a big game this afternoon? But we’ll temper expectations a bit this week …and next. After the bye week, he should be fully involved in the offense. 

Dont’a Hightower: The Patriots linebacker is off of the injury report and he’ll be needed against the Browns top running back Nick Chubb this week. Cleveland needs to move the ball on the ground and control the clock against the Patriots defense. They can’t get into 3rd and long situations. Chubb is the man who can do this. Hightower is the player the Patriots need to step up against the Browns today. 

Hightower is always at his best in big games. Against an opponent who was considered the up and coming team of the year and on national television, this is a big game. How well the Patriots defend or don’t defend Chubb will go a long way in determining this game today. 

Marshall Newhouse: The Patriots left tackle hasn’t been great thus far this season. He hasn’t been terrible, just not great. He’s facing the Browns’ best defender in Myles Garrett who leads the Browns with nine sacks. 

We don’t expect Dante Scarnecchia to put Newhouse out there all alone. I would expect the Patriots to chip Garrett with a tight end or have help with running backs to stay in and block. However, Newhouse will also be under a microscope this afternoon. 

James White: It seems like the Patriots Swiss Army Knife at running back is on here every week. With the running game sputtering for the most part and Rex Burkhead hurt again, the team has come to rely heavily on White, who is as reliable as they come. 

Look for Tom Brady to target White heavily again this week. The pass rush of the Browns is a concern, one way to minimize it is to get White involved in the short, quick passing game where he’s outstanding. 

NFL Schedule Week 8, Who Are Your Winners:

How are you feeling about the games this week? We have a post on our PatsFans Forum where our readers can predict the slate of games for that week. I did it on our weekly Sunday column here and will post it up below. Here is the link if you’d care to pick your own: https://www.patsfans.com/new-england-patriots/messageboard/picks/

Last Week: 11-3
Season: 65-40-1

TNF Minnesota over Washington 1-0

Seattle over Atlanta
Indy over Denver
Tennessee over Tampa Bay
New Orleans over Arizona
LA Rams over Cincinnati
Philadelphia over Buffalo
Chicago over LA Chargers
Detroit over NY Giants
Jacksonville over NY Jets
San Francisco over Carolina
Houston over Oakland
New England over Cleveland
SNF Green Bay over Kansas City
MNF Pittsburgh over Miami

Bye week: Dallas, Baltimore

Week 9 Thursday Night Football San Francisco over Arizona 

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Still in the Market For a WR After Losing Out on Sanders:

The Buffalo Bills tried to bring in Emmanuel Sanders from the Denver Broncos to help out their passing offense but lost out on the bidding war with the San Francisco 49ers. Today the Bills are facing the suddenly desperate Philadelphia Eagles in what is a big barometer test for both teams. The Eagles were considered one of the top teams in the NFC but dropped two in a row to fall to 3-4. The Bills are 5-1, but are hearing the same lament as their neighbors in the AFC East, “They haven’t played anybody.”

Besides Sanders, who would have made the division race even better this season, the Bills are also rumored to be looking at the Jets Robby Anderson, Eagles WR Nelson Agholor, Taylor Gabriel of the Bears, as well as Miami’s DeVante Parker and A.J. Green of the Bengals.

It will be interesting to see if the Bills can land a quality WR by the trade deadline and improve the passing game. With a good running game and a very good defense, an improved passing game would put the Bills in great position down the stretch.

Dolphins Could Get Two Important Players on IR:

The Miami Dolphins season is one of rebuilding and evaluation of the players on the roster to decide whether they will remain when the team begins it long retooling in 2020. But two Dolphins players that are eligible to soon return of the PUP list are DL Robert Nkemdiche and CB Cordrea Tankersley. 

It will be interesting to see what these players can bring to the table for head coach Brian Flores who has the unenviable job of starting from scratch. Nkemdiche was a highly touted prospect who spent three forgettable years in Arizona. 

In other news, many teams have contacted Miami about RB Kenyon Drake but the Dolphins request of a 4th round pick is deemed too high. Current indications are that most teams aren’t willing to part with any more than a 6th rounder.

NY Media Turning on Jets Adam Gase Already:

This didn’t take long. A week after hyping the game with the Patriots, the media has already grown tired of New York Jets head coach Adam Gase. After being forced to play his third-string QB for about a month, Gase finally got his starter, Sam Darnold, back two weeks ago. And after an impressive win over Dallas, Darnold …and Gase were overmatched and overwhelmed at home against New England. 

But according to the NY Daily Post and noted flip-flopper, Manish Mehta, Gase is redefining  “non-competitive” one blowout loss at a time. Well, with their starter, it IS one blowout loss. Amazed? You shouldn’t be.

It seemed like yesterday, Mehta was guffawing over the Jets’ weak slate upcoming. Now the sky is falling. 

________________

“Smart kid picks things up well. We’ll see what we can do here. Sometimes as it accumulates – early downs, third down, red area, situational stuff. We’ll see what the load looks like, but he’s made good progress both days. Works hard. Good kid. Is really in-tune and trying very hard to pick up things quickly and get on the same page as everybody else. That’s obviously a long way to go, a lot of work to do, but he’s working hard at it, so we appreciate that.” – Bill Belichick being asked about new Patriots WR Mohamed Sanu

________________

“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 10-28, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
October 20, 2019 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 10-20 and AFC East notes this week. 

Game Day, but not for the Patriots who play the Jets on Monday Night Football tomorrow night.   

 Quick Hitters For the Pats and the NFL:

Patrick Mahomes – it seems dodged a serious injury on Thursday night in Denver. And that is a good thing not just for Mahomes and the Chiefs but for the league as a whole. Mahomes’ star is rising and he’s quickly becoming one of the new faces of the league. No one wants to see any player, let alone a star suffer a serious injury. Anyone who would do so, needs to seriously reevaluate the lives. 

However, what the heck is wrong with some media types who before Mahomes is even off the deck, turn his injury into some kind of an anti-Patriots diatribe. It was a disgusting lack of empathy. We know you can’t help the slant against the Patriots but for cryin’ out loud, have a little humanity.  His injury at the time had zero to do with NE, a horrible lack of timing there, but it has become par for the course in some places.

Andy Reid – He knows he dodged a bullet with Mahomes’ injury and he’ll return at some point this season. Hopefully, he won’t rush his QB back too soon and risk further injury. Despite the game on Thursday, they have a woeful defense, but they still have plenty enough playmakers on offense to remain competitive in Mahomes’ absence. They’ll still be in a position to carry their division with Matt Moore. They’ll get their QB back for the stretch run and go from there. 

Eric Tomlinson – had a crazy week. According to NESN, the Patriots new tight end signed and practiced with the team on Tuesday, and then jetted off to Texas for the birth of his son who was delivered by Caesarian section on Wednesday morning. He’s back in Foxboro and preparing for his former team the Jets and may see reps at both tight end and fullback.  

Two-Point for Tua? Seemed So- The Miami Dolphins scored a late touchdown last week against the Washington Redskins in the closing moments of the game and trailed 17-16.  Rather than attempt an extra point to tie the game and send it into overtime, Miami, winless like the Redskins, decided to go for the win. But their attempt seemed like they were determined to fail rather than succeed. The Redskins snuffed it out in the backfield and came away with a victory in the debut of interim coach Bill Callahan.

Trent Brown – In case anyone was wondering is a member of the Oakland Raiders. In fact, Oakland signed Brown to the highest contract for an offensive lineman in NFL history this spring. But once Brown was charged with domestic assault, Brown wasn’t a Raider at all. Several media outlets including those here in Boston led off with “Former Patriots OL Trent Brown…” Funny thing is when all of the sexual assault allegations came against Antonio Brown, I didn’t see a single headline stating “Former Pittsburgh Steeler Antonio Brown…” and yet every allegation against him occurred when he was a member of the Steelers. Coincidence? You be the judge.

Brady Rightfully Pi$$ed At Supposed Kraft Dig:

Tom Brady is livid that people who saw a clip of a new Paul Rudd Netflix film, took it to mean that it was a dig against Robert Kraft. And unless everything we’ve ever believed about Brady and his relationship with Kraft is wrong, then yes, people jumped to conclusions before bothering to research the clip and the meaning.

“That’s not what that was about,” Brady said. “I think that was taken out of context, just like you’re taking it out of context and trying to make it a story for yourself, which has a negative connotation to it, which I don’t appreciate. It was meant to be something different than that. The fact it’s a distraction or you’re bringing it up is not something I want to be talking about.”

“It was shot on a green screen,” he said, remarking it was not filmed at a strip mall. “It was agreed to a year ago. It was written four years ago. Again, it’s unfortunate that people would choose to think I would ever do something like that about Mr. Kraft. I think that’s a very bad assessment of my relationship with him. I would never do that.”

Timothy Greenberg, a fan of the New York Jets, said that he wrote the scene as a “subtle dig” at Brady, who at the time was coming off his “Deflategate” suspension. Brady, while exiting the spa is supposed to be a clone of himself, not receiving a “happy ending” at a massage parlor.

“There was this implication that maybe he’s a clone and he’s cheating,” Greenberg said in an interview. “When I wrote it, he was 37 and had won four Super Bowls. And then by the time I actually make the thing, he’s now 41 and he’s just coming off his sixth Super Bowl win. So he became even more perfect. He was our number one choice for that.”

The media ran with the clip without bothering to do due diligence in an attempt to get it out there first and tried to paint it as Brady slamming his boss when the fact of the matter is that it had nothing to do with Kraft or his situation. I’d say we’re shocked, but no…we’re not here. He’s been raked over the coals for nothing for the past several years and one has to wonder when he’ll decide it isn’t worth it anymore.

The filmmakers knew what they were doing, they filmed Brady on a green screen and then after the Kraft situation, superimposed the strip mall to make it look like the Florida spa. They did him dirty, but no worse than all of the sites who ran with the false narrative. The total a$$-covering by the rest is… not surprising.

Will Michael Bennett’s Situation Play Out? Probably Not Well:

After the Patriots suspended DL Michael Bennett for “conduct detrimental to the team”,  it naturally opened up conversations if Bennett is on his way out of Foxboro. It certainly would appear so, his snaps have been steadily decreasing and last Thursday he played in only a handful of snaps against the Giants, most of which at garbage time. That led to what Bennett described as a “philosophical disagreement” with positional coach Bret Bielema. 

Bennett was brought in to help replace Trey Flowers after he bolted in free agency. Bennett thrives in a 4-3 system as a defensive end, which is what the Patriots played in 2018. But the defense morphed into more of a 3-4 defense this season and that hasn’t played into Bennett’s strengths. Because the down linemen in the Patriots 3-4 still have the same two-gap responsibility that they’ve always had. 

Bennett has always been an attacking 4-3 end and a 3-4 defensive end is more of an interior lineman. It hasn’t been a great fit, scheme-wise. When he’s able to pin his ears back and rush the QB, he’s been pretty successful. But with the depth and the production of the linebackers, he’s been relegated to a subpackage interior pass rusher. So, now the question arises, where do they go from here?

The trade market would be very limited, given Bennett’s age and the state of the league. Few of the teams still in the hunt for a playoff spot would be willing to take on or need a player with his strengths. The Lions or the Raiders would possibly make sense or maybe the Rams who are looking for a spark defensively. If the Patriots were to trade Bennett it would free up about $2 million in salary-cap space where they’re right up against the cap.

Releasing Bennett is, of course, an option, if those philosophical disagreements get any worse or continue for that matter. That would free up the cap space and possibly rid the team of any distractions in the locker room. But then you run the risk of another rival picking him up for nothing and adding him to the mix against you down the road in the postseason. And if the team suffered an injury on the defensive front, it would leave the team thinner with their depth. 

Or they could choose to ride things out and hope that they can get Bennett to buy-in for the duration of the season. With several tougher games on the slate, a player like Bennett, especially in the postseason has the experience and pedigree to give the team some outstanding production in those game-changing moments. 

But Bennett is a proud player and in reality, not a great fit for what the Patriots are running defensively right now. And I will be surprised if he’s still with the team by the end of the season. 

Demaryius Thomas’ Tenure With NE as “A Waste of Time” :

The Patriots traded WR Demaryius Thomas to the Jets in the fallout of the signing of Antonio Brown and hindsight being 20/20 it shows that now it was a mistake. Both in trading Thomas and of course signing Brown.

Thomas on Wednesday didn’t mince any words over how things played out and characterized the Patriots and Bill Belichick’s actions as “disrespectful”. 

“Like, you know, you could trust me and I could trust you,” Thomas said. “You told me when you cut me at the [final] cut, sit around you’ll bring me back. And I stayed. I could have easily become a Jet once I got cut.… I could have been here the next day after I got released. But I chose to stay.”

“Bill Belichick came up to me and was like, ‘Uh, we got too many guys. We can’t get the ball around enough and we’re going to trade you to the Jets,’” Thomas added. “And that was that…. Ain’t no reason to yell. They’ve won championships without me. I was only trying to be a part of something that was going to be good when I was there… They’re doing a hell of a job.”

Thomas’ frustration is certainly understandable but he must remember that he told the media that the Patriots were the only team who contacted him after his Achilles injury with the Texans. They worked with him all spring and summer, and in retrospect should have stuck with him. But from a pure football standpoint, the decision between Thomas at this point in his career and Brown is truly a no-brainer.

NFL Schedule Week 7, Who Are Your Winners:

How are you feeling about the games this week? We have a post on our PatsFans Forum where our readers can predict the slate of games for that week. I did it on our weekly Sunday column here and will post it up below. Here is the link if you’d care to pick your own: https://www.patsfans.com/new-england-patriots/messageboard/picks/

Last Week: 7-7
Season: 54-37-1

TNF Kansas City over Denver 1-0 

Buffalo over Miami
Jacksonville over Cincinnati
Minnesota over Detroit
Green Bay over Oakland
LA Rams over Atlanta
Indy over Houston
49ers over Washington
NY Giants over Arizona
Tennessee over LA Chargers
Saints over Bears
Seahawks over Ravens
SNF Philadelphia over Dallas
MNF Patriots over NY Jets

Bye Week – Panthers, Browns, Steelers, Bucs

Early Thursday Night Football pick Minnesota over Washington

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Looking to Be Buyers at the Trade Deadline:

The Buffalo Bills currently have the second-best record in the AFC behind the Patriots and will almost certainly improve that today with a home tilt against the Dolphins. With the trade deadline approaching in less than 10 days, the Bills aren’t looking to unload talent, but bring some in to help for a postseason push where they are still very much alive in the AFC East. 

Buffalo’s defense is stacked although if they were to add a piece there, they may want a defensive end who can get after the QB. The Bills have plenty of depth there but not a ton of production. But overall, their defense is solid and the strength of the team. 

If they can use some help, it would probably be at wide receiver. A.J. Green has been mentioned as a possible Buffalo target (including here), he’d give the Bills a big, physical target who has had plenty of production in his career but has had issues with staying healthy and on the field. 

Other names that have been supposedly tied to Buffalo include the Falcons wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, Giants wideout Golden Tate, and TE O.J. Howard. Sanu has played mainly in the slot for the Falcons but can slide inside or outside and has made an average of 64 catches for over 700 yards in his time in Atlanta. 

Tate is a talented receiver but the Giants, who aren’t going anywhere this season have two young talented WRs in Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard and may decide to dangle Tate as a search for draft capital. 

Howard is a very talented tight end who is not being utilized in the Tampa Bay offense. Coupled with the young and talented Dawson Knox, he could give the Bills a huge and athletic target in the passing game. He’s also an excellent blocker.  

Dolphins Drake on the Trading Block:

The Miami Dolphins in the midst of an awful rebuilding program where the fans are either on the “Tanking for Tua” or “Bailing for Burrow” storylines won’t be surprised to see that several teams are contacting the Dolphins about the availability of running back Kenyan Drake for a possible deadline trade. 

The former 3rd-round draft pick has always somewhat under-utilized in Miami’s system under both Adam Gase and now Brian Flores. With the bad offensive line play, Drake is on par for his worst statistical season of his career. 

Drake is in the final year of his rookie deal and would be a really nice pickup for any playoff teams looking for a reliable, versatile player. 

Jets/Docs Dispute Extent of G Kelechi Osemele’s Shoulder Injury:

The New York Jets are facing some backlash over the shoulder injury suffered by guard Kelechi Osemele. He’s been out for four weeks with his injury and the Jets team doctor and an independent doctor have cleared him for play. And if he doesn’t return to practice by Saturday, Osemele is subject to fines and/or suspension for “conduct detrimental to the team.” 

The rub is Osemele is saying he needs surgery to repair his shoulder. The Jets counter that the injury is a pre-existing one that can wait until the season is over. 

“It’s been killing me,” Osemele said to the media on Friday. “I’m just trying to get this done. I’ve done everything I can. I’ve been at work every day, waking up at 5 in the morning, doing all the rehab and the treatments and stuff like that. I’m like the last dude out of here at night. I’m doing everything I can.

“I’m working with my agent. We’re communicating with the team. There’s just no communication between the team and my doctor and my agent. It’s just been butting heads for whatever reason. Hopefully, it gets resolved soon.”

There is a source who reported to the Jets media that Osemele wasn’t cleared by the two doctors and that surgery was recommended, due to a torn labrum. The same source also said Osemele was told to take the painkiller Toradol, prescribed by the Jets’ doctor, so he could play. He did and aggravated it against the Patriots a month ago. He’s making $11.7 million dollars this season (non-guaranteed) but if he’s injured, the Jets can’t cut him loose without forking over the rest of his money.

________________

“Demaryius is a great kid. I have a ton of respect for him. He’s very professional and did everything we asked him to do. Our circumstances changed a couple times in that period leading up to when he was traded, and so I felt like I was always truthful with him, but things changed, and therefore what I said was not the same as what it was – what I had said previously. So, it is what it is..” – Bill Belichick being asked about the comments by Demaryius Thomas on the “insulting and disrespectful” trade by the Patriots with the Jets.

________________

“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 10-13, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
October 13, 2019 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 10-13 and AFC East notes this week. 

Game Day, but not for the Patriots who are off until next Monday evening when they take on the Jets on Monday Night Football.   

 Quick Hitters For the Pats and the NFL:

Tom Brady – so much hand-wringing over a QB who completed 31-41 for 334 yards on a short week throwing the ball to two UDFA wide receivers and a seventh round tight end. Look, no one is arguing that Brady was lights out in the Giants game…he wasn’t. But despite all the missing pieces, and the scuffling of the offense, he completed 15 in a row at one point and made some terrific throws. On that subject…. 

Wright, Kellerman, Parker – who or what exactly are the Three Stooges going to make asses of themselves with every week when Brady retires. How anyone can actually watch these bobos or take anything they say remotely seriously? I see the clips every week on social media. It is the dumbing down of America. Are the haters of everything Brady and Patriots so desperate for hope that they get their pablum from these people?    

Chase Winovich – The Patriots rookie LB scored his first NFL touchdown on a blocked punt in the Giants game and then hurled it deep into the stands…oops! His boundless enthusiasm and motor got the best of him there. Hopefully, the fan with the ball will get some face time with “Thor” and return it for some Pats swag.

Matthew Slater – was quoted as not being a fan of the Thursday night games and made his point in his usual eloquent style. “You could be 22 years old — it’s [still] tough. Player safety, player health? This doesn’t fit into that as far as I’m concerned,” Slater said. “I know we’ve had a lot of discussions about it as a union. I know it’s a good product as far as the consumers are concerned, and the fans enjoy these Thursday night products. But I think when you talk about the rigors of playing in an NFL game, and then what it takes to recover and be able to do it again the following week, to do a Sunday-to-Thursday turnaround is tough. It doesn’t fit under the umbrella of player safety as far as I’m concerned. But you guys know that — I’ve said that every year.”

TNF – I’ve made it clear I hate Thursday Night Football. From the lack of preparation/rest that creates sloppy football, it is dangerous to the players as well. The Patriots suffered six injuries on Thursday night. And yes it includes those awful “color rush” monstrosities that the NFL has sold the fans on what they “must-have”…heaven knows why. “If you take the blue pill..” However, I digress.

If the league was truly invested in player safety then make TNF after the opening week wait until teams come off their bye week [Thanks Murph]. Teams coming off the bye week can play on Thursday nights, and still, have 10 days until they play again. Problem solved. It can be done but would require some work by the good folks on Park Avenue. Although we’d still be subjected to those awful uniforms…

Sunday’s Games – One of the key games to watch today will be the Houston-Kansas City game with the Chiefs being the home team. This should be as exciting a matchup as we’ve seen all season. The Chiefs are coming off a home loss to the Colts and are getting Tyreek Hill back from injury. But Patrick Mahomes isn’t completely healthy, he injured an ankle against the Colts that could the mobility that makes him so dangerous.

For the Texans, they’re coming off a 50-point explosion where QB Deshaun Watson threw for five touchdowns. This one ought to be fun to watch and may come down to the team with the ball last wins. 

But the NFL is a Passing League: You know the old saying that the NFL is a copycat league? If you think teams didn’t notice how the Patriots ran the ball in the playoffs, think again. While going to these light fronts with smaller athletic players on defense, offensive coordinators are adjusting accordingly. Look at last week…

Carolina gashed Jacksonville for 285 yards rushing including 176 for my early MVP vote Christian McCaffrey. The Colts kept the potent KC offense sitting on their hands Sunday night while rushing for 180. San Francisco’s two-headed rushing attack had 275 yards against the Browns, while Arizona ran over Cincinnati to the tune of 266 yards on the ground. Think Bill Belichick may have been ahead of the curve once again?

Issues in the Running Game Start at Tight End:

After the lackluster game by the offense in the 35-14 win over the Giants, the lack of a consistent running game has really hurt the offense. The box score of the Patriots rolling up over 400 yards of offense and over 100 on the ground belies the fact that they were struggling for much of the night, especially on the ground. 

Naturally, the abuse gets piled on the head of Sony Michel [“He sucks, he blows” ring a bell?]. But while we can point fingers at Michel’s lack of quickness in getting to the hole at times, you can’t fault him when he’s being consistently hit behind the line of scrimmage.

The offensive line hasn’t been great by any stretch of the imagination, but a big part of the issue is at tight end. The Patriots were spoiled the past few years having Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen in the blocking role at tight end. They were like having an extra tackle out there. They drafted Ryan Izzo in the 7th round [250th overall] last year, and that was supposed to be his strength. But being put out on the edge hasn’t been anywhere near good enough. 

Look, comparing him to Gronkowski isn’t fair, we know that. But one stat that leaps off the page is this. The Patriots have run 18 outside zone runs this year. It is a staple of their offense…in the past. Gronkowski and Allen were outstanding at blocking in these. Those 18 runs this year have resulted in just 21 yards this year. Izzo and Matt LaCosse just aren’t getting it done. He’s constantly overmatched out there. Last week LaCosse and Izzo were better, but they took a step back against the Giants.

And now LaCosse is hurt again. He has been snakebit by injuries this season. The runs inside, between the tackles, have been much better, Michel’s big runs against Washington and his final big run against the Giants come to mind. Brandon Bolden has chipped in here as well. 

While everyone is clamoring for the Patriots to trade for a wide receiver [and with the injuries it may happen, more to that below] bringing in a blocking tight end, and yes, Dwayne Allen is available, maybe in the cards. They could still trade for one too.  

Wide Receiver Depth, Becoming a Show-stopping Issue:

The Patriots have a little bit of time to do some self-scouting they normally do during the bye week, but thanks to the TNF schedule have some time to do so again.  Julian Edelman has been banged up for the past few weeks but has toughened it out Phillip Dorsett has a hamstring injury where he missed nearly all of the Redskins game as well as this week. Josh Gordon injured his knee on Thursday and although it looked ugly, we’re told he didn’t injure it “significantly”. 

This left the Patriots with a hurting Edelman and two rookie UFDA wide receivers [Jakobi Meyers and Gunner Olszewski] as the only wideouts remaining. With the Monday night game coming in eight days, we still have no idea about the availability of either Gordon or Dorsett, but smart money suggests Gordon won’t be ready. 

And if both are out, that leaves the cupboard dangerously thin. One injury to any of the three listed above and they won’t have enough WRs to fill out their “11 personnel” package. They need to get healthy and still get some help there. 

The rumor mill has beaten the Stefon Diggs story to death and while others are beating the AB return to New England, that has a less likely chance of happening than the Patriots bringing in an Army guy. Rumors continue to swirl around A.J. Green and Emmanuel Sanders. Of those, Sanders would be the best, most logical choice. The Patriots liked him enough a few years ago to sign him to an offer sheet. He’s in the last year of a contract with a team with a real chance of being 1-6 by Thursday. He’d be a seamless fit in the offense if they can pry him away from Denver. But John Elway knows they need help and he’ll try to squeeze them for everything he can. 

However, help IS on the way. N’Keal Harry the Patriots 1st-round draft pick can begin practice on Wednesday. And he’s eligible to return two weeks hence. If Dorsett and Gordon can return soon, the coaches may opt to wait it out and have Harry help out the passing game. We’ll see how this plays out. 

Jakob Johnson to IR, Another Big Blow for the Offense:

Wait! What? Did I just hear myself say that? If I said back in June during minicamp that losing Jakob Johnson in early October would be a big blow to the Patriots offense, I can only imagine what my timeline would like. “You’re outta yur mind, you loosah!” But here we are.

After losing James Develin to a neck injury, the Patriots turned to Johnson who has looked good thus far but in the Giants game, he suffered a shoulder injury, that, according to Jim McBride of the Globe will put him on IR. The team is now lacking a fullback. And that is a big blow. 

No team relies on their fullback as much as the Patriots do. They rely on their fullback to open holes in the running game. So, what do they do from here? Well, they can sign one, and while there aren’t a ton of fullbacks out there, I’m sure they could bring one in for him to learn the offense. Or the answer may be internally answered. 

The team used Izzo a few times in that role on Thursday night. His size would lend itself well to that role…plus he already knows the offense. But with tight end bare already with LaCosse always hurt it may require more help. Enter Brandon Bolden. While he has nowhere near the size of a Develin/Johnson-type, he can add more in short-yardage as a ball carrier and pass receiver than those two plus he’s already on the roster and there isn’t much he can’t do.  

NFL Schedule Week 6, Who Are Your Winners:

How are you feeling about the games this week? We have a post on our PatsFans Forum where our readers can predict the slate of games for that week. I did it on our weekly Sunday column here and will post it up below. Here is the link if you’d care to pick your own: https://www.patsfans.com/new-england-patriots/messageboard/picks/

Last Week: 8-7
Season: 47-30-1

TNF New England over NY Giants 1-0 

Carolina over Tampa Bay [London]
Washington over Miami
Philadelphia over Minnesota
Kansas City over Houston [Mahomes isn’t 100%, shootout]
New Orleans over Jacksonville
Seattle over Cleveland
Baltimore over Cincinnati
LA Rams over San Francisco
Atlanta over Arizona
Dallas over NY Jets
Tennessee over Denver
SNF LA Chargers over Pittsburgh
MNF Green Bay over Detroit

Bye Week – Buffalo, Chicago, Indy, Oakland 

Early Thursday Night Football pick Kansas City over Denver

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills on the Bye, A Likely Landing Spot for A.J. Green? Maybe:

The Buffalo Bills are 4-1 and on their bye week. They’ve had an impressive start to the season, with their only loss to the Patriots at home. Their defense has been top-notch and impressive but offensively, they’re in need of some help, as their division rival Patriots at the wide receiver position. While many people have A.J. Green on the Patriots radar, he could also be on the Bills’ and even more so. 

Buffalo has two good wide receivers in Cole Beasley and John Brown but lacks a viable third option. Beasley is the Edelman of the Bills offense but they lack that big wide receiver on the outside, [Beasley is 5’9, while Brown is 5’10,180]. They traded away Zay Jones this week. 

Green, if healthy, would give them a big, viable target who would instantly upgrade the offense. And, if the rumors of New England being interested are indeed true, it would keep him away from the Patriots while helping Josh Allen.  

Dolphins Take on the Redskins in the Tua Bowl:

When the Miami Dolphins take the field against the Washington Redskins, the fans for both teams will be torn in their loyalties. While both are winless, Washington is 0-5 and Miami is 0-4, their fans will balance their desire to see their team win with the knowledge that the worse record will result in a better position to draft the next big QB prospect, in this case, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa.

Miami, coming off of a bye week, is reeling with 11 players listed as questionable. Cornerback Johnson Bademosi, [ankle]; running back Kalen Ballage, [foot]; guard/tackle Jesse Davis, [elbow]; wide receiver Jakeem Grant, [hamstring]; linebacker Trent Harris, [foot]; cornerback Xavien Howard, [knee]; safety Reshad Jones, [ankle]; cornerback Chris Lammons, [toe]; safety Bobby McCain, [hamstring and shoulder]; wide receiver Albert Wilson, who is hoping [calf and hip]; and cornerback Jomal Wiltz, [groin]. 

The Redskins are beat up as well and have already ruled out several players. Tight end Vernon Davis is out of the game [concussion]; safety Deshazor Everett [ankle]; linebacker Josh Harvey-Clemons [hamstring]; guard Wes Martin [chest injury]; and tight end Jordan Reed [concussion]. The team also listed tackle Donald Penn on the report, listing him as questionable, with a hamstring issue.

The big question is…other than the fanbases, will anyone be watching this one?

Jets Facing the “Laughably Overrated” Cowboys:

Leave it to Manish Mehta, the Jekyll and Hyde beat writer for the Jets, who proclaims every spring that the Jets will unthrone the Patriots in the AFC East, then calls for the coach to be canned in his next tweet. The 0-5 New York Jets face the 3-2 Cowboys who Mehta calls “laughably overrated”. 

Mehta was saying that “back-half of the 2019 [Jets] schedule is cupcake city.” If there is something the Jets and Adam Gase shouldn’t be doing, it is considering any of their upcoming opponents as cupcakes. 

But that never stopped Mehta from bloviating his usual tripe. He’s putting this one as eminently winnable despite the fact that the Jets rank near the bottom of every offensive category. If the Jets do pull the upset today [don’t hold your breath], then Mehta will go over the top with the Jets-Patriots predictions next week.

________________

“No, we’re trying to cover the receiver, and when he tries to catch the ball we use technique. Jon [Jones] did a pretty good job of that. He got his hands on the ball, but it just popped up in the air and went to Tate. I thought he played the ball well. It’s the National Football League. It was a good throw and they got a favorable bounce on it. We could’ve certainly played it better and done some other things better but Jon was in good position. He did what he was coached to do.” – Bill Belichick being asked about the touchdown pass allowed this week and specifically if Jonathan Jones played it correctly

________________

“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 10-6, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
October 6, 2019 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 10-06 and AFC East notes this week. 

Game Day,.and the Patriots a pretty unfamiliar foe in the Washington Redskins, as the two teams have only met 10 times in the regular season. This week unlike last week’s game in Buffalo highlights teams moving in different directions. The Patriots are 4-0 while the Redskins are 0-4 and appear to be ready for another house cleaning.  

 Quick Hitters For the Pats and the NFL:

Tom Brady – already owns several milestones in the NFL record books but with a big game today could pass Brett Favre and Peyton Manning as the #2 QB in terms of career yardage. Favre would be passed of Brady throws for 264 yards which is pretty attainable, but he’d have to throw for 365 yards to pass Manning, which is looking pretty doubtful right now.  

Ted Harper – is the Patriots dietitian and is in charge of overseeing what the players eat while they’re in the facility. Our own Robert Alvarez posted a longer video than was shown on Patriots All-Access and shows how much detail and planning as well as the amount of food the team goes through each week. Harper came from the US Special Operations Command where he had a similar position taking care of Army commandos. I wish we had a guy like Harper back when I was in Special Ops. What a difference nutrition makes today for athletes and tactical operators.    

Matthew Slater – The Patriots STs ace was the subject of a column here last Sunday as we said, after his superb play against the Jets, Slater should get some love from the NFL Hall of Fame. Well, just a few hours later, the Pats’ J.C. Jackson blocked a punt and Slater returned it for the first touchdown of his outstanding 12-year career. 

Stefon Diggs – was the subject of countless rumors about being traded to the Patriots this week, fueled in part by Diggs’ frustration with the way things are going in Minnesota. But it makes no sense for the Vikings to trade such a young, dynamic playmaker away. They need to make a move, but not with their WRs, with the guy who is in charge of getting them the ball. 

We don’t even know if the Patriots are in the market for more WR help other than rumors. The AB scenario played out and was too good to pass up [from a football standpoint]. They may feel they are good enough until N’Keal Harry comes off IR in a few weeks. But a more realistic trading partner may be  the Denver Broncos. Emmanuel Sanders is in the final year of his contract. The Broncos are 0-4 and going nowhere. Sanders was signed to an offer sheet a few years ago by Bill Belichick, but the Steelers matched it.

Younghoe Koo – The Korean-born kicker has been signed to the Patriots practice squad. His name is pronounced, “young-way” and he played for the Chargers for four games connecting on 3-6 field goals and all nine EP attempts. He played in the AAF for the Atlanta Legends this spring.

Nugent Takes Over For Gostkowski as the Team’s Kicker:

After Stephen Gostkowski was placed on IR for a hip ailment, it answered the questions as to what was wrong with the Pats kicker early this season. Gostkowski had a hip issue last year, but it was believed that rest and therapy would fix the problem without needing surgery. But his issues popped back up again this year and he’s lost for the year. 

After trying out several kickers to take Gostkowski’s place, the team settled on veteran Mike Nugent. Nugent has played for several teams but lasted the longest with the Cincinnati Bengals, but was released after missing five extra points.

Nugent last played for the Raiders in 2018 and for the Bears and Cowboys in 2017 as a fill-in for their injured kickers. He made 17 of 19 field goals, including a 55-yarder which is a career long. He was 20-22 on extra points. 

The Patriots have been remarkably stable at the kicker position having Adam Vinatieri and Gostkowski there since 1996. When Gostkowski was hurt in 2010, Shayne Graham was brought in, but the Patriots have been quite fortunate in that regard.  

Bennett Frustrated With His Role [or Lack of One]? Possibly:

The Patriots brought in Michael Bennett this spring and it was thought to be a tit-for-tat reaction to losing Trey Flowers in free agency. We thought that Bennett would be a very valuable piece to the Patriots defense moving forward. And all seemed well, he had a personal issue at the beginning of training camp, which caused him to miss the first few days. However, he was excused by Bill Belichick, something Bennett spoke glowingly about when he arrived this summer.

And early this season, with Bennett playing a limited role, we felt like the coaches were putting him on a pitch count against lesser opponents, in an attempt to save him for the stretch run when he will really be needed. Plus, he’s had a minor shoulder issue. 

But apparently, Bennett may be getting a bit dissatisfied with his playing time. Bennett said to Henry McKenna who covers the team for PatriotsWire that he’s been playing the “zero role” thus far this year. When pressed further, he said he was joking.

But then he also added, “It’s different,” Bennett said. “I just try to adjust to it as best I can. We’ll see how I keep going. But all the guys are playing good. We’ve got such good players. Lawrence Guy’s just so good at what he does. A lot of guys are good at what they do. It’s different. I’m just used to guys playing one position all the time, and I’ve just got to get used to it.”

Adam Butler is getting the lion’s share of the snaps right now and is playing very well. We’ll see how this plays out moving forward, it could be that the team is just saving Bennett for a much bigger role down the stretch. 

Devin McCourty is the AFC Defensive Player of the Month:

The Patriots long-time safety Devin McCourty is playing some of the best football in his career this season and he has been recognized as the AFC’s Defensive Player of the Month for September. McCourty has four interceptions in the team’s first four games, something that hasn’t been done in the NFL since 2003. 

The Patriots have never had a player start the season with picks in the first four games, however, Mike Haynes did a have a four-game stretch in midseason where he picked off passes in four straight games back in 1976. Bill Belichick said that while interceptions are great but that McCourty’s value goes well beyond what is on the stat sheet at the end of the day. 

“In addition to all of the plays that we see or that he’s in position to make, or tackles and things like that, there’s the communication aspect of making decisions for the entire defensive unit that are critical,” Belichick said. “He also does a great job of that. It’s a little too much to just put it all on stats.

“Look, interceptions are big plays and we love to see them and love to have them. There are other critical plays in the game, too, that don’t show up on the stat sheet, and we recognize those as well, he added.”

If you’ve never seen McCourty’s speeches to fire up the safeties before the game, you should check them out. They’re all excellent and make you want to run out on the field. D-Mac could have a second career as a ‘fire and brimstone’ preacher when his playing days are done. Congrats, well deserved #32.

NFL Schedule Week 5, Who Are Your Winners:

How are you feeling about the games this week? We have a post on our PatsFans Forum where our readers can predict the slate of games for that week. I did it on our weekly Sunday column here and will post it up below. Here is the link if you’d care to pick your own: https://www.patsfans.com/new-england-patriots/messageboard/picks/

Last Week: 8-7 [Yikes that’s terrible!]
Season: 39-23-1

TNF Seattle over LA Rams 1-0 

Carolina over Jacksonville
New England over Washington
Tennessee over Buffalo [Super Bowl hangover?]
Baltimore over Pittsburgh
Cincinnati over Arizona
Houston over Atlanta
New Orleans over Tampa Bay
Minnesota over NY Giants
Chicago over Oakland
Philadelphia over NY Jets
LA Chargers over Denver
Dallas over Green Bay
SNF Kansas CityS over Indy
MNF Cleveland over SF

Bye Week – Miami, Detroit 

Early Thursday Night Football pick New England  over NY Giants

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Defense Front and Center Again As They Take on the Titans:

The Buffalo Bills lost a close one last week to New England at home but have to turn the page quickly as they head to Tennessee to take on a tough Titans team that always plays well at home.  And the Bills will have to wait until game-time decisions on whether they have two of their biggest offensive weapons in QB Josh Allen and RB Devin Singletary. 

Regardless, they’ll need another big game from their defense as they take Tennessee QB Marcus Mariota who has thrown 7 TDs and 0 interceptions thru the first month of the season.  RB Derrick Henry is a bruiser who is coming off a 100-yard game against the Falcons, and the Buffalo secondary will have to cover a trio of receivers in Corey Davis, A.J. Brown and Adam Humphries that is playing well. The Titans can also add Tajae Sharp, tight end Delanie Walker as well as Dion Lewis out of the backfield. 

Last year the Buffalo defense created three turnovers [2 fumbles and an interception] in a 13-12 victory. They’ll need another effort like that, especially if Allen and Singletary aren’t ready to go. 

Dolphins Get a Bye at Just the Right Time:

When the Miami Dolphins hired Brian Flores, they knew that the team needed a complete overhaul and things could get frustrating in 2019. But no one could foresee how bad the Dolphins defense, specifically the pass defense would be at the quarter pole of the season. 

The Fins first four games had them facing tough teams in the Ravens, Patriots, Cowboys, and Chargers. But Miami allowed 163 points in those games…ouch. Worse still, the opposing QB rating for the first month was 137.6.  A perfect QB rating is 158.3 and Miami’s pass defense has been nearly a perfect nightmare thus far. 

Flores needs to take a page out of his Patriots playbook and spend the week doing a ton of self-scouting. On deck in the next four weeks are the Redskins, Bills, Steelers, and the Jets. A repeat of the first four weeks can’t be allowed to happen. Stay tuned.

Darnold Won’t Play, It Will Luke Falk Time Jets-Eagles:

The New York Jets won’t have Sam Darnold to return this week when they take on the Philadelphia Eagles. But although Luke Falk isn’t anything close to Darnold in terms of talent, the Jets offensive line has to step things up this week. 

Gang Green’s offensive line has been terrible and Darnold or not, they have to play better or their season will be lost before it even begins. At 0-3, the J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets are in big danger of falling to 0-4 this week. And with the Eagles, Cowboys, and the Patriots on deck in the next three weeks, things could ugly quickly for Adam Gase.

Obviously they need Darnold back, but can’t risk his life with an enlarged spleen due to his mono sickness. But they do need to get Le’Veon Bell involved and that begins with the offensive line. With an 0-6 start [which is entirely feasible right now], the NY tabloids will be screaming for Gase’s scalp. 

________________

“Devin has a lot of experience in our system so he’s very well-versed in what we do, but he’s a smart player that understands the entire defensive concept, not just his position, what everybody else does, what the strengths and weaknesses of the defense are, as kind of the last line of defense where to position himself to have the most impact on the play, to take away threats or to fill voids or space in the defense based on what we’re in, their personnel and their formation and so forth. Just instinctively he does a lot of things right. He’s a very good communicator. All of those things are strong points..” – Bill Belichick after being asked about what makes Devin McCourty a special player.

________________

“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 9-29, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
September 29, 2019 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 09-29 and AFC East notes this week. 

Game Day,.and the Patriots face off with the Buffalo Bills with both teams entering the week at 3-0. With a win today the Patriots would not only go 4-0 but would have already beaten every other team in the division.   

 Quick Hitters For the Pats and the NFL:

Bill Belichick – was asked about how much he uses analytics when facing situations down in the red zone near the goal line. His answer was classic Belichick. “Less than zero…and I’m a guy who loves math.”

Marshall Newhouse – missed some practice time this week with an illness. With the offensive line already depleted, we’ll be watching him to see if he has any lasting effects of that while taking on Jerry Hughes. 

Jakob Johnson – made his debut last week for just a cameo but we expect that we’ll see more of the German-born fullback this week. Taking over for James Develin is not an easy task, but after watching him progress this summer, it will be interesting to see what he can do.

Twilight Zone – [Rod Serling voice], “Imagine if you will, a world with Bill Belichick holding a press conference where he denies the media the use of video.” The outrage would be thru the roof. What John Henry and the Red Sox did was the ultimate head scratcher and so, so ridiculous. Waiting for the Globe’s skewering of Henry for not allowing the press to “do their job”? Don’t hold your breath.

The Patriots Defense, Still Worries About Coaching Turnover? Nope:

After Brian Flores left and took with him a good chunk of the coaching staff this spring and DL coach Brendan Daly left for the Chiefs for family reasons, it left the Patriots with only Steve Belichick as the only remaining holdover from the 2018 Super Bowl-winning staff on the defensive side. And there was a concern that it could hurt the team moving forward in 2019. No longer. 

That all seems like a very far distant memory now, so much now that it seems the Millennium Falcon “would make the Kessel Run in twelve parsecs” kind of distance. Of course, as expected, Bill Belichick has played an active role in everything on the defensive side. How much he actually is doing is something the Patriots are playing close to their vest and rather than trying to breach the security at Langley, it is not something that will come out anytime soon. 

But the new staff has done a remarkable job. We remarked on this after minicamp and early in the days of training camp. I was sitting next to Bob Socci, the voice of the Patriots at practice and we both remarked how well oiled the machine continues to hum along. It seemed that this group had been working together for years. Belichick may disagree but at least from our perspective, it was impressive. 

And the proof is in the pudding. Say what you will about the first three opponents but this defense has done a masterful job of taking away everything that their opponents are trying to do. 

Jerod Mayo is calling the signals into the players on the field and coaching the inside linebackers. Brett Bielema, a college head coach and defensive coordinator has taken over the reins at the defensive line. DeMarcus Covington is coaching the outside linebackers, while Mike Pelligrino coaches the corners. Steve Belichick remains with the safeties and helps with the communications. Joe Kim is the dedicated martial arts expert who works with the pass rushers with their hand technique and is officially listed as the Director of Skill Development. While Brian Belichick and Bob Fraser are coaching assistants.

We’re used to seeing slow September starts by the defense and seeing them add layers and more packages as the season progresses. If this is the “slow start” for the Patriots defense this year? We’re in for a special year. Is anybody still worried about the coaching turnover? “But Mike, Belichick is just practicing nepotism, these guys can’t coach!”  

Cody Kessler Signing Much Ado About Little:

The Patriots signed veteran QB Cody Kessler and social media exploded in a classic case of overreaction. And it wasn’t just the fans, it was the mainstream national media as well. “Belichick rethinking Stidham as Backup QB”, “It was too early for Stidham”, “Belichick Bringing in New Patriots Backup for Brady”. Like everything else with the Patriots, take it all with a grain of salt and a healthy dose of skepticism. 

The answer is probably much more benign but hey, never let it get in the way of hot takes when it comes to BB and the Pats. Was Belichick happy about Stidham overthrowing a pass that resulted in an easy pick-six? No, but he isn’t going to skewer a rookie QB after three passes in his NFL career. 

With Tom Brady’s age comes certain factors, the team will give him some recovery time in-between starts on occasion, as rest becomes important. Jarrett Stidham can’t continue to learn the offense, run the scout team and then fill in for Brady on his rest day all at the same time. 

So the team brings in a veteran, Kessler who will give the team a good look as the scout team QB, something Brian Hoyer was very good at, to prepare the defense for what they’ll face that upcoming week. Not much of a story, no hot take…sorry, sometimes the truth can be boring…It is what it is.

Matthew Slater Show Why Gunners Deserve a Spot in the HOF:

The Patriots game against the Jets pretty much was a done deal by the second quarter, but for those who watched the game all the way through, they were treated to another classic Matthew Slater gem of a play. It showed as a gunner why Slater is one of the best to ever play that position.  

The Patriots punted from the Jets 40-yard line. Jake Bailey skied the ball high down the right side. Slater had beaten his man and was bearing down on Braxton Berrios who was looking like he was attempting to catch it. Slater had to play it safe as if he played the bounce, Berrios could catch the punt and have a good amount of real estate to return. Berrios opted to let it bounce at the five-yard line, hoping for a touchback. 

Slater then sped down to the one, and snagged the ball, spinning around and dumping it back on the 1-2 yard line, knowing his momentum would carry him into the end zone. The ball was downed at the one by Jonathan Jones and the Jets had to move the length of the field. It was another signature play by Slater. It went down as just a 39-yard punt by Bailey, but it was the best STs play of the day. 

Of course, none of this is a surprise as he’s been doing this his entire career. He had a couple of those in the Super Bowl in January and we’ve grown accustomed to seeing them week after week. If the NFL ever decides to allow gunners into Canton, there will be a lot of push to see #18 wearing a gold jacket someday.

NFL Schedule Week 4, Who Are Your Winners:

How are you feeling about the games this week? We have a post on our PatsFans Forum where our readers can predict the slate of games for that week. I did it on our weekly Sunday column here and will post it up below. Here is the link if you’d care to pick your own: https://www.patsfans.com/new-england-patriots/messageboard/picks/

Last Week: 10-6
Season: 31-16-1

TNF Eagles over Green Bay 1-0 


NY Giants over Washington
Chiefs over Detroit
Atlanta over Tennessee
Ravens over Cleveland
New England over Buffalo
Colts over Oakland
Houston over Carolina
LA Chargers over Miami
LA Rams over Tampa Bay
Seattle over Arizona
Chicago over Minnesota
Denver over Jacksonville
SNF Dallas over New Orleans
MNF Pittsburgh over Cincinnati

Jets and 49ers are on a bye week

Early Thursday Night Football pick Seattle over LA Rams

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Beasley Not Part of Bills Frustration, Only Looking Forward:

The Buffalo Bills are 3-0 and the city is very excited for the prospect of the Bills beating the Patriots, taking an early lead in the division at the quarter-point of the season and finally having a team that can challenge Bill Belichick and New England.

However, the Bills know the prospect of facing a Patriots team with Tom Brady at QB is not an easy task and their frustration in doing so has been torturous for Bills diehard fans. Brady has an incredible 30-3 mark against the Bills and 15-2 in games at Buffalo.

One player who is new to Buffalo and the rivalry is WR Cole Beasley. He’s only played New England once in his career, a 2015 game in Dallas, so he isn’t worrying about history, he’s focused on the future, notably today. 

“I wasn’t here. I don’t care,” Beasley said to Bills.com. “I played for a different team and didn’t play the Pats last year. I don’t know anything about what they were. All I can do is watch them this week. You know about their success. They’ve had a lot of success over the past couple of years. They’re a good football team so we’ve got to be on our A-game just like we have to be any other week.”

“They have a really good defense and they’ve been really disciplined up until this point,” Beasley said. “They’ve done a good job of taking the ball away. We just have to approach it the same way we do every week and focus in on what we can do. We can’t give them extra opportunities on offense because they have a good offense as well. We’ve got to take care of the rock and execute the way we know we can.”

Dolphins Are Facing A Beatup Chargers Team Today:

The Miami Dolphins are in the midst of a total rebuild and they’ve been on the losing end of some big scores in the first three weeks. And at first glance with the Chargers coming to South Florida, it appears to be more of the same. 

But Brian Flores and his players may catch a bit of a break today because the Chargers are limping into South Beach missing a slew of players for the game. The Bolts will be minus both starting safeties, right tackle Russell Okung, TE Hunter Henry, TE Virgil Green, K Mike Badgley, and WR Mike Williams. In addition, WR Travis Benjamin is doubtful while CB Casey Hayward and LB Drue Tranquill are questionable. If there is a time to upset the Bolts, today could be it. 

But the bad news for Miami is that Melvin Gordon is back in camp, having ended his holdout and is expected to play. He and Austin Ekeler provide the Chargers a dynamic 1-2 punch in the running game. Button those chin straps up Fins…

Jets Media Quickly Turning on Gase After an 0-3 Start:

The New York Jets are reeling after an 0-3 start and as always, the fickle NY press is quickly turning on Adam Gase the head coach of the Jets. Truthfully, with three starting QBs in three games due to injury/illness would be tough for anyone to overcome, especially so early in a new regime. Not that Gase is without fault mind you, but the thinking was that Gase could work wonders with 2nd year QB Sam Darnold. 

And on cue, the NY Daily News’ Manish Mehta has flip-flopped on this hiring, changing his tune more on Gase than Sybil had personalities. Early in the week before the Patriots game, he predicted a Patriots romp, then late in the week, he posts a column on how the Jets can win. But now, instead of being the innovator, the QB guru, Mehta is openly questioning if the Jets made a mistake after three games.

Yes, the Jets rank dead last in many offensive categories, scoring, yardage, yards per play, passing yards and first downs per game. Going to your scout team QB in the first half of your second game will do that. Darnold should return from mono soon. When he does, and the Jets get a couple in the win column, this will no doubt have Mehta talking postseason hopes again soon

And on a totally unrelated note, Joe Klecko belongs in Canton. Silly me, I thought the Jets great was already there. I saw some news this week that he isn’t. Forget what the Jets records were in many of those years, Klecko was a tremendous football player who was an All-Pro at three different positions, defensive end, defensive tackle and nose tackle. 

Of course stats hounds will point to Klecko having only 24 career sacks according to the official NFL record books. That was partly because sacks weren’t an official stat until 1982 otherwise he’d add about 51 more. He led the NFL with 20.5 in 1981. Give the man his gold jacket…it is about time. 

________________

“Less than zero. Well, I’m not saying it’s a gut thing. It’s an individual analysis based on the things that are pertinent to that game and that situation. I don’t really care what happened in 1973 and what those teams did or didn’t do, I don’t really think that matters in this game – or ’83 or ’90, you know, pick out whatever year you want. It’s not really my thing. And I like math, too, by the way. I really do. I like math.” – Bill Belichick after being asked what role, if any, does analytics have in deciding when to go for it on fourth down or a two-point conversion for you?

________________

“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.