Tag Archives: Miami Dolphins

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.

 

 

 

New England Patriots News 9-22, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
September 22, 2019 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 09-22 and AFC East notes this week. 

Game Day,.and the Patriots face off against their old rivals from the AFL, the New York Jets. But something tells me the pregame shows will not be focusing on the game as much as the off-field drama. Let’s all hope that it isn’t the case and we can get all get back to paying attention to the games.  

 Quick Hitters For the Pats and the NFL:

Antonio Brown – lasted just 11 days here in New England, his actions that came to light on Thursday night spelled the end of his short tenure here. We’re not getting into the entire fiasco again, it has been played out ad nauseam elsewhere. It was, however, intriguing, to see the possibilities with him in this offense. That’s the sad part of all of it, his football skills are incredible. C’est la vie. 

Marshall Newhouse – will have a lot of eyes on him this afternoon as he protects Tom Brady’s blindside. Look for the Jets to test him early and often today. Isaiah Wynn’s turf toe will keep him on the shelf until late November and the veteran offensive lineman has a chance to carve out a nice roll and payday for himself. 

Damien Harris – may see his first NFL game action today. With James Develin likely to miss the game this week, he hasn’t practiced, the Patriots will definitely miss their big lead blocking fullback. But it may give the rookie Harris the opportunity to get some game reps in against the Jets. We’ve been excited to see what he can do since they drafted him in May. 

NFL Top 100 Plays – had a couple of Patriots plays in there and two [at least here] were not truly given their due. Malcolm Butler’s interception in the Super Bowl came in at a very respectable #5 but that play was the difference between the Patriots winning or losing Super Bowl XLIX.  None of the top four had that kind of drama, in our humble opinion. 

Adam Vinatieri’s 45-yard field goal in the swirling snow in the old Foxboro Stadium was to me the greatest kick in NFL history. At #18, I believe was woefully underrated, but perhaps my Vinatieri bias is showing. The Philly Special [illegal formation] at #10? LOL Child, please…

My favorite anti-Patriots play was and always will be that Barry Sanders run [#59] where he turned the Patriots defense inside out with an amazing run. Absolutely amazing.

Dante Scarnecchia – Loved to see the Patriots make the assistant coaches available this week, especially Scarnecchia who is a legend in these parts. I could watch him talk all day long. “Continuity is more important than anything right now.” Asked about how tough it is to get new players up to speed, “I don’t do anything, I just coach.” 

The Patriots Passing Game is Just Fine Thank You:

After the Miami game, many were comparing the Patriots passing attack to the 2007 team that ran roughshod over the league when Tom Brady passed for 50 touchdowns and the team went undefeated in the regular season. Now many of the same people are sounding the alarm bell, “the Patriots are back in the same boat they were a few weeks ago!” To quote Joe Kenda here… well my, my, my.

No one is doubting the on-field abilities of Antonio Brown, which are huge. But the rest of the group remains intact and there is help on the horizon if the need arises. And to think the loss of one player makes the entire group go from all-time mention to “uh-oh Houston we’ve got a problem here” is just crazy talk. 

The top three of Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, and Phillip Dorsett is just fine. And with Dorsett back as the #3 option for WRs, he’ll get more looks in the passing game where he’s caught the last 23 passes thrown his way. Rookie Jakobi Meyers who had a strong summer and flashed in very limited reps in the Pittsburgh game is now guaranteed to get some more reps now after being inactive last week. 

The Patriots still have rookie 1st-round draft pick N’Keal Harry on IR and he can return after Week 8. The Patriots signed Cam Meredith and placed him on PUP, he can return after Week 6. Meredith in 2016 caught 66 passes for the Bears. In 2017 he suffered a bad knee injury and was lost for the season. He came back and played very sparingly for the Saints last year and caught nine passes for 114 yards and a touchdown. It is unknown if he can ever recapture his magic of three years ago. 

Harry, on the other hand, is the big, [6’4, 225] rookie wide receiver that the Patriots really like. He’ll be coming back later this year and is eligible to return Week 9 when the Patriots take on the Ravens.

Brady Jumps On the Bandwagon About Too Many Penalties:

The Thursday Night Football broadcast was notable for not only the rain deluge that the teams had to play thru but the number of penalties that were called. The NFL had said that it was cracking down on the amount of holding that has been going on and the TNF game was notable for it. 

The refereeing crew led by Shawn [Baby Guns] Hochuli called 20 penalties in the game, 15 in the first half and eight of those were for holding. Social media was abuzz with the number of calls [12 of which went against Tennessee]. Tom Brady then lit a fire under it all when he went on Twitter to bash the league for the number of flags. 

I’m turning off this game I can’t watch these ridiculous penalties anymore #TENvsJAC
Too many penalties. Just let us play!!!!  #TENvsJAC
@TomBrady

Can We Wait Until A Player’s Career is Over Before Discussing HOF?

The Giants announced that they were moving on from an aging Eli Manning to the young Daniel Jones at QB this week. This immediately set off the HOF debate for Manning the Younger as to whether or not he’s worthy of a bust in Canton. Can we just wait until Manning, you know, actually retires before having this debate?

Because the NFL is a fickle business and there are no guarantees here. Even though many predict great things for Jones [including here], no one knows how he’ll fare while facing the top defenses against the teams he’ll be facing, including the Bucs today. 

Manning is by no means done just yet if Jones struggles or gets hurt, see Nick Foles, Drew Brees, Ben Roethlisberger, Sam Darnold, Trevor Siemian et. al. in just the first two weeks of the season. Manning may find himself right back in the starting lineup. And his story hasn’t been finished. What is the rush anyway? Can’t we all just hold our collective horses before getting into these needless debates before the last chapter is written? 

NFL Schedule Week 3, 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: 21-10-1

TNF Tennessee over Jacksonville 0-1 

Dallas over Miami
Buffalo over Cincinnati
Patriots over New York Jets
Philly over Detroit
Colts over Falcons
Minnesota over Oakland
Baltimore over Kansas City [Upset special]
Packers over Denver
NY Giants over Tampa Bay [Welcome Daniel Jones!]
Cardinals over Panthers
49ers over Steelers
Seattle over New Orleans
LA Chargers over Houston
SNF LA Rams over Cleveland
MNF Bears over Redskins

Early Thursday Night Football pick Philly over Green Bay

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Riding High After 2-0 Start Behind Josh Allen:

The Buffalo Bills and the fanbase are getting really excited about this team’s chances after an impressive 2-0 start to the season behind the solid play of 2nd-year QB Josh Allen. The team was down 16-0 in the Meadowlands against the Jets in Week 1 when Allen led a 17-point comeback win. Last week, after the Giants closed with a score to make it a one-score game late, Allen led a touchdown drive to put the game and the Giants away. And the guy who was specifically brought in to help Allen, Cole Beasley is loving life in Western New York. 

“You know, everybody sees Josh making throws and extending plays with his feet but they don’t really see how he remains level emotionally throughout the mini highs and lows of a football game. It got as bad as it could really get in Week 1 and he remained the same guy the whole time, still pushing the unit, still competing, still leading,” said Beasley on Uninterrupted 17 Week’s podcast. 

“That’s a good sign for a guy as young as he is and that’s really exciting to see and that’s hard to find. You know, a lot of guys, under pressure, you know you always want to see what a guy is about when he is dealing with adversity. He handles it very well. You can’t even tell if he’s going through a bad time or a good time. That’s a great thing to see from a young guy and it is easy to follow a guy like that.”

With a win today versus Cincinnati and a Patriots victory over the Jets, that would set up a meeting of 3-0 teams in Buffalo in Week 4. Then things will really get crazy in Buffalo. 

Rosen Finally Getting a Chance With the Dolphins:

The Miami Dolphins are starting QB Josh Rosen today when the face off against the Dallas Cowboys. And things won’t be easy as facing the Cowboys’ defense is a daunting task. But for Rosen and the Dolphins who invested a 2nd-round pick for him this year, it is time to see what he can do. 

Head coach Brian Flores has seen steady improvement in Rosen all summer.  “There’s been a lot of improvement. That’s something that we’ve focused on really since he got here – reading defenses, making quick decisions, pushing the ball downfield when it’s the right time to do those things, getting in and out of the huddle, managing the game correctly, limiting mistakes and turnovers and things of that nature. I think mentally, he’s processing all of that a little bit better. I think he’s ready to go.”

While the management has made it clear they are tanking for Tua, Rosen has 14 weeks to show them that they already have a franchise QB to build around. Then all of that draft capital can be used to build around him and not Tua…stay tuned. 

Jets Have to Play Mistake-Free Football Today:

The New York Jets are 23 point underdogs today as they face off against the Patriots for the first time in 2019, and their QB situation has a lot to do with it. Sam Darnold is out for at least a month with an illness [Mononucleosis], backup Trevor Siemian was knocked out of the first quarter of MNF with an ankle injury that resulted in him going on IR. So it is up to 3rd string QB Luke Falk. 

They have to play error-free and that begins with Falk. But all of the players know it as well. “We can’t make no mistakes,” DT Steve McLendon said. “Zero. You almost got to play perfect.”

Expect the unexpected today. Trick plays, weird formations etc. The Jets are playing with house money as the Patriots have dominated in recent years, winning 14 of 16 and 10 in a row at Gillette. The last three have been ugly with the Patriots out-scoring the Jets 105-12 in those matchups. Le’Veon Bell throwing a pass? Flea flickers? It is kitchen sink time injury-depleted Jets. 

________________

“Yeah, I think I’ve already addressed this, so we’re going to get ready for the Jets here. I’m happy to answer any football questions, but I’m done with the rest of it..” – Bill Belichick on the incessant questions about Antonio Brown and not on the Jets game.

________________

“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.

Patriots Week 2 Report Card, Filet-o-Dolphin, 43-0 Shutout

Steve Balestrieri
September 17, 2019 at 7:00 am ET

 The Patriots traditionally save some of their worst football for South Beach and have been embarrassed by their performances when on the road against the Dolphins. But if their performance on Sunday was among their worst of 2019, then the future looks mighty bright. The Patriots rolled easily over former coach Brian Flores charges 43-0 on Sunday that, while didn’t erase the sting of the 2018 Miami Miracle, but it certainly helped.

The Patriots completely dominated this one defensively holding Miami to just a total of 184 yards total, most of it, like Week 1 in garbage time. The Dolphins were just 2-15 on third down while the Patriots defense rolled up seven sacks, seven passes broken up, 4 interceptions of which two were returned for touchdowns. 

The offense was workman-like and efficient, wearing down a tired Dolphin defense with a mixture of the pass and run, despite the absence of both starting tackles. The coaching staff had the team well prepared for the Dolphins as well as the heat and a steady stream of rotating players kept everyone fresh.  

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

Quarterback: A-

Tom Brady finished the day 20-28 for 264 yards and two touchdowns with a passer rating of 124.7 against the Dolphins. He was his normal, very efficient self, completing his first eight passes on the day, several of which went in the direction of Antonio Brown who was the recipient of Brady’s first three throws. 

The plan obviously was to get Brown as acclimated and as comfortable in the Patriots as he could be after being only in the building for three practices. There was some lack of timing which is understandable. The pair connected on a beautiful 20-yard back-shoulder touchdown throw in the second quarter. They narrowly missed another as Brady’s throw was short.

TB ➡️ AB ➡️ TD@TomBrady | @ab84 pic.twitter.com/bpq30cgofW— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 15, 2019

But despite Miami not being the most hospitable place for Brady thru the years, he was efficient, cool and accurate. 

Running Backs: A-

The Patriots also wanted to get Sony Michel more involved in the running game after his subpar performance against the Steelers. Michel answered the bell rushing 21 times for 85 yards in a solid performance. Rex Burkhead was once again very impressive totaling 68 yards [21 rushing, 47 receiving] and was quick with his decisions and cuts.

James White added in 10 yards rushing and 19 more receiving including a 10-yard touchdown on a screen pass with three blockers in front of him and seemingly no Miami players. James Develin had a couple of carries in the red zone and short yardage. 

Wide Receivers: A-

Antonio Brown did indeed play on Sunday and he made his presence known right off the bat. On the Patriots second play from scrimmage, Miami blitzed their two inside linebackers, Brown ran a slant across the vacated middle for an easy 18-yard gain. He later added the touchdown mentioned above. He made a nice adjustment on the ball in the air as Brady put it perfectly for him to catch it. 

Julian Edelman had four catches for 51 yards while Phillip Dorsett had three for 39. But Dorsett’s grab on a third and 17 was a beauty. He knew the distance went just past the sticks and dove for a Brady pass that he cradled as he went to the ground. 

Josh Gordon had just two catches for 19 yards as he drew tight coverage most of the game. Brady and Brown, if they continue to work together will find their comfort level and chemistry in short order. The nice part is that the Patriots don’t have to change anything with their offense to accommodate Brown. His skill set fits what they do perfectly. The only question is if [and a big if] will be here for the season without being suspended.  

Tight Ends: B

Matt LaCosse made his first appearance and made two really nice plays in the passing game, netting 33 yards. The first was a throw that was low and behind him from Brady but he made a nice adjustment by going down and getting it and getting the first down. He had another for 22 yards later on a nice catch.

Ryan Izzo was flagged for what Michael Hurley calls the “ode to Rob Gronkowski” for his weekly offensive pass interference penalty. 

Offensive Line: B-

The offensive line played really short-handed on Sunday. David Andrews has been on IR with Ted Karras taking over at center. Right tackle Marcus Cannon missed this week with a shoulder injury and then left tackle Isaiah Wynn went down at the end of the first quarter with a toe injury. That involved bringing in Marshall Newhouse [LT] who’d been on the team for about three days and Korey Cunningham [RT], who has been here about two weeks. 

And the line held up fairly well, partly by design. The coaches knew that with all of the new parts in there, they didn’t want to push the envelope, so they called plays that would get the ball out of Brady’s hands quickly. 

Brady was sacked twice, one of them was a fantastic play by Miami rookie Christian Wilkins who shoved Shaq Mason back into Brady, knocking both of them to the turf. It isn’t often we see Mason knocked back like that. 

But the line also hung tough and opened up enough holes in the running game to help the team rush for 126 yards. Not flashy or great but considering the circumstances and the heat, they had a credible, solid afternoon.

Defensive Line: A

The defensive line was outstanding and completely dominated while they were in the game. The Dolphins rushing game had just 42 yards on 15 carries [2.8-yard average] while the passing game could only muster 142 yards net passing. Dolphin QBs completed 18-39 passes with 0 TDs and 4 Interceptions. The defensive front seven had seven sacks split between the D-Line and the linebackers.

Danny Shelton has found his second season here to be a charm. He’s been outstanding in run support and garnered a sack. Lawrence Guy and Michael Bennett were immovable inside with Bennett getting a sack. Situational pass rusher Adam Butler had a pair of sacks.

Linebackers: A++

The Patriots linebackers were off the charts good on Sunday. They are so deep and so versatile that nobody played a lion’s share of the snaps. Everyone was getting into the act and after rewatching the tape today, there were only about a dozen snaps that they didn’t have four linebackers on the field. On a few plays, they had five.   

Jamie Collins was simply outstanding. He had five tackles, including one tackle for a loss, .5 sack, a QB hit, two passes defensed and two interceptions, the first of which he returned 69 yards for a touchdown. His second pick, from Josh Rosen, was the final play of the game. But he set the tone, on the Dolphins second play from scrimmage, he recognized a jet sweep and shot the gap between the tackle and tight end and buried Jakeem Grant for a four-yard loss.

.@j_collins91 takes the ball then takes it to the house! #GoPats | #NEvsMIA pic.twitter.com/qqhKoVUYiU— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 15, 2019

Edge players John Simon and rookie Chase Winovich were excellent. Simon had a sack, a QB hit and a pass batted down at the line of scrimmage. Winovich had a pair of tackles, a tackle for a loss, two QB hits and 1.5 sacks. 

Kyle Van Noy returned to the field after missing last week’s game due to the birth of his son. He, Dont’a Hightower, Ja’Whaun Bentley, and Elandon Roberts were stout in the running game, allowing none of the Dolphins backs to find cracks in the line. And they too supported the pass rush by applying pressure on Fitzpatrick and Rosen. Another fantastic effort.  

Secondary: A

The secondary continued its stellar play led by the All-Pro Stephon Gilmore. Gilmore was matched up mostly with DeVante Parker on the afternoon. Parker was targeted seven times in the game and had zero catches. Gilmore created the Patriots first interception with a leaping tip of a deep ball by Fitzpatrick that bounced straight into the arms of Devin McCourty. Later in the second half, Fitzpatrick was flushed out of the pocket and tried to force a quick pass into Parker. Gilmore stepped in front of it, picked it off and returned it 54 yards for a touchdown. 

INTERCEPTED AND GOODBYE! @BumpNrunGilm0re | #GoPats pic.twitter.com/AxRA4l44Lz— New England Patriots (@Patriots) September 15, 2019

J.C. Jackson had a nice pass breakup, this one on another deep ball to Preston Williams. Jonathan Jones continues his stellar play and will likely garner some Pro Bowl mention this fall. Jason McCourty was solid. D-Mac and Chung were their normally solid performers as the secondary gave the Dolphins’ QBs nowhere to go with the ball.

Special Teams: B-

Stephen Gostkowski had a truly rough day in Miami, missing two extra points as well as a field goal. Was it Gostkowski or the holding of Jake Bailey? We don’t know but rest assured they will be working overtime this week, trying to get it sorted out. To the legion of fans who want Gostkowski cut, who would you bring in? Nobody out there that is available is even close to Gostkowski’s skill level. While it is a concern, they’ll attempt to work thru it…as they should. 

Bailey punted three times and put all three inside the 20-yard line. He averaged 48 yards per punt with a 46.3-yard net average. The coverage units led by Matthew Slater were outstanding. Returner Gunner Olszewski didn’t have a lot of room in the return game and wasn’t a factor. 

Coaches: A

The Patriots coaching staff once again outclassed their competition, this time former assistant Brian Flores who had a lot of ex-Patriots on his staff. Many believed that their familiarity with the Patriots system would give them an advantage, but Bill Belichick, Josh McDaniels on offense with Jerod Mayo and Steve Belichick calling the defense kept the Dolphins staff a step behind all day long

Belichick has the team ready to go every week and thoroughly prepared for their opponent. It makes them awfully tough to beat. But it is a long season and they are taking it one game at a time. We’re on to the Jets.

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Patriots Mauled and Embarrassed Dolphins

Bob George
September 16, 2019 at 8:36 am ET

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. – All week long, the talk was about Antonio Brown.  He shoots his way out of Oakland, is picked up by the Patriots a minute later, and then gets hit with a federal civil lawsuit alleging rape and sexual assault.

Patriot Nation has a lot to think about regarding the signing of Brown.  The rest of the NFL has another problem to deal with, that being the Patriot defense.

The Miami Dolphins were blasted at home last week by the Baltimore Ravens, 59-10.  The immediate impression was that the Dolphins intend to tank the regular season, and get into a position to draft Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (or perhaps Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts or Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence), prompting several Miami players to contact their agents to try and get them traded away from the Dolphins.  The Patriots came into this game a 19-point favorite at Miami, a remarkable spread given how poorly the Patriots play here, and the fact that it is in hot and humid September, with the heat index at 100 degrees at kickoff.

No such problem for the Patriots.  The Patriots were able to withstand some offensive yips and substandard placekicking and still blast the Dolphins 43-0 at Hard Rock Stadium on Sunday.  The Patriots shut out the Dolphins in Miami for the first time in franchise history.  Miami was held to 184 total team offensive yards and only 11 first downs for the entire game.  The Patriots picked off four passes, two of which went for pick-sixes.  If you picked the Patriot defense in fantasy football, you were rewarded with a whopping 35 points.

There were some interesting backstories in this game, but the overall feeling you get from this game is that this may be, barring injuries down the road, the best defense in Patriot history.  Combined with holding the Steelers to only 3 points last week, and the carryover from holding the Rams to 3 points in Super Bowl LIII, this defense is off and running and looking like a defense for the ages.  It is early, but the Patriot defense, especially minus Brian Flores, looks like a monster.

Flores, now the Miami head coach, may have been the target of some bad sportsmanship by Bill Belichick late in the game.  On the final offensive possession of the game for the Patriots, Belichick left Tom Brady in up 37-0 and needing only to run the ball and run out the clock.  Instead of what would have been a perfect time to indoctrinate Jarrett Stidham into some real game action, Brady was in there.

Brady lined up in the shotgun on some occasions, and he came out slinging as if it was the final moments of Super Bowl XXXVI.  The Patriots drove 59 yards in five plays, with Brady hitting a wide-open James White for a 10-yard screen pass for a touchdown to make it 43-0.  This was clearly an unnecessary touchdown, and it looked like running up the score.  Then on the ensuing drive, the last one for the Dolphins, keeping the shutout was a priority for the Patriots.  Belichick called time with 10 seconds left and the Dolphins at the Patriot 25.  Josh Rosen hit Jakeem Grant in the left flat for 17 yards, which nearly ended the game.  Flores called time with one second left.  On the final play, a tipped ball went to Jamie Collins to end the game and preserve the shutout, but the exchange of time outs by both coaches was also telling.

In his press conference, Belichick gruffly said “We play for sixty minutes.”  On a local postgame show, Bert Breer of Sports Illustrated opined that Belichick was more upset with Flores taking assistants with him (Chad O’Shea, Jerry Schuplinski) than he was with Flores simply going to Miami.  Belichick was in a difficult situation in the offseason with his coaching staff, not helped by the sudden retirement of new defensive coordinator Greg Schiano.  Belichick, as he has shown in past years, is easily angered by former players and coaches who seem to diss him on their way out the door, such as Eric Mangini when he bolted to the Jets and took assistants with him a decade ago.

Collins and Stephon Gilmore both had pick-sixes.  Both came in the fourth quarter on consecutive drives.  Gilmore jumped the route when Ryan Fitzpatrick tried to hit DeVante Parker in the right flat and took it 50 yards to the house.  On the next drive, Fitzpatrick hit Kalen Ballage in the left flat with a perfect throw, but the ball caromed off his stone fingers and landed in the arms of Collins.  He lumbered 69 yards for the score, and seemed to run out of gas after 50 yards of more running than he is used to.

Brady managed some good numbers nonetheless, despite an offensive line missing both starting tackles as the game went along.  Marcus Cannon was an injury scratch due to a sore shoulder, and Isaiah Wynn left the game in the first half with a sore foot.  But Brady finished with 20 of 28 passing for 264 yards, two touchdowns and a 124.7 rating.  He was sacked twice but otherwise looked in control and anything but a 42-year-old.  He spread the ball around nicely, hitting seven different receivers.

Brown started fast and had a good first half, but fizzled on a third quarter drive and wasn’t heard from again.  Brown led the Patriots with four catches for 56 yards and a touchdown, the scoring play coming in the second quarter on a nice timing throw to the left pylon with Brady releasing the ball before Brown made his hook, the play covering 20 yards.  He and Brady have a long way to go as far as chemistry, but for the first game, especially the first half, Brown deserves a lot of credit for looking so good so early in his Patriot career.

Stephen Gostkowski had a bad day with his placekicking.  He missed two extra points and a 48-yard field goal in the second quarter.  His kickoffs were all touchbacks, so the length is not lacking.  Historically Gostkowski kicks poorly here in Miami, so a bad game like this isn’t unexpected nor should be interpreted as a red flag.  But it is annoying at worst, someone of his pedigree consistently playing substandard here in Miami.

The last time the Patriots played in Florida in September, they were smacked around by Jacksonville last year, 31-20, on a hot and humid day worse than this.  For the Patriots to come down here in a stadium which has been inhospitable to them and weather that really bogs them down, to win 43-0 against an obviously bad Miami team is still a good thing.  They come home to the Jets next weekend, minus Sam Darnold who is ill with mononucleosis.  Assuming Brown survives this week and doesn’t get put on the commissioner exempt list, he will get a full week with Brady and everyone else, learning this offense in the process.

Meanwhile, Flores might tuck this loss away and plan for the day when he gets even.  It likely won’t be this year, but he won’t forget the last three minutes of this game.  He will remember this longer than he will anything Antonio Brown.

Whitewash in Miami, Patriots Defense Rocks in 43-0 Blowout

Steve Balestrieri
September 15, 2019 at 8:49 pm ET

No miracle finish this time, and for the Miami Dolphins, the only thing close to a miracle was that the Patriots were missing both of their offensive tackles or else this one could have been much, much worse.

The Patriots dominated this one from start to finish, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Miami managed only 184 yards of total offense, with the vast majority of those coming well after this game was over.  In the first two games of the 2019 season, the Patriots have allowed just three points. 

The only big downside to the blowout win was the loss of left tackle Isaiah Wynn to a foot injury at the end of the first quarter. He didn’t return. With right tackle Marcus Cannon missing this one with a shoulder injury, it definitely affected the play of the offensive line overall. Marshall Newhouse, the 11-year veteran had been on the team for all of three days, stepped in to play left tackle. This situation will bear close watching. 

Here are some of our observations from the blowout win. While it won’t exorcise all of the demons of playing in Miami, it has to feel pretty good for the team as they improve to 2-0 on the season.

  • The Patriots sacked Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen seven times and intercepted four passes, returning two of those for touchdowns.
  • Stephon Gilmore had the first pick-six of his career. As Fitzpatrick rolled to his right, he tried to force a short pass to DeVante Parker. Gilmore stepped in front of him and picked it off and sauntered into the end zone for a 54-yard touchdown. 
  • Gilmore also caused the first interception of the day. On a deep pass down the right sideline, he went up and deflected the ball which went straight to Devin McCourty.
  • Jamie Collins had a monster game. He made five tackles, [one for a loss], had a sack and then had an interception that he returned 74 yards for a touchdown. On the last play of the game, Collins intercepted Rosen and then took the ball straight into the Patriots locker room. 
  • Rookie Chase Winovich made two tackles, one for a loss and had 1.5 sacks
  • Antonio Brown did play and scored a 20-yard touchdown on a nice back-shoulder throw from Tom Brady to him in the end zone. Brady was impressed with Brown’s quick grasp of the offense and said after the game that he had “good snap” off the line early in this one. Brown finished the game with four receptions for 56 yards and the score.
  • Brady finished 20-28 for 264 yards with two touchdowns passing and one rushing. 
  • Sony Michel had 85 yards on 21 carries with a touchdown. He also had a fumble lost later in the 4th Quarter. Rex Burkhead was once again impressive as he had 68 yards combined rushing and receiving on just seven touches. 
  • Julian Edelman had four catches for 51 yards. Josh Gordon had two catches for 19 while Phillip Dorsett had three catches for 39. His catch on third and 18 was a beauty, however. He went right to the sticks and dove for the hard pass from Brady.
  • James White didn’t get a ton of touches in this one [3 rushes for 10 yards, 3 catches for 19 more] but had a too easy touchdown late in the game. Miami sent a blitz at Brady and the screen pass had three offensive linemen with no one to block as White sauntered into the end zone. 
  • Miami has saddled former Patriot DC Brian Flores, their new head coach with a truly awful football team and their performance in their first two games have played that out. They have been embarrassed on their home turf for two weeks in a row. First by the Ravens and then again 43-0 against the Patriots, the first time in their history that Miami has been shut out at home by New England. 
  • Stephen Gostkowski had a rough, rough day, missing a field goal and two extra points. But for all of Patriots fans calling for him to be immediately cut, we’ll ask this. Replace him with who? While it certainly is a concern moving forward, it is not going to cause him to be jettisoned that fast. Bill Belichick will work with him this week and they’ll try to get him back on track. Calm your jets folks…

Miami gained only 42 yards on the ground on 15 carries which worked out to just 2.8 yards per rushing attempt. In two games the Patriots have allowed 74 yards on the ground an average of 37 per game. Fitzpatrick completed just 11 of 21 passes for just 89 yards with three interceptions. His passer rating was just 23.8. Rosen came in with just over eight minutes remaining in the game and completed 7-18 for 97 yards with an interception. His passer rating was just 33.8.

Overall, the Dolphins QBs were 18-39 for 142 yards with 0 TDs and 4 INTs with seven sacks for 44 yards. Fitzpatrick was under duress all game long with nowhere to throw the ball due to the blanket coverage. 

Offensively, with both tackles out, it made both running and passing the ball more difficult but the team still rolled up 381 yards of offense, 126 on the ground and 255 more thru the air. Brown only had a handful of practices this week, but he has already shown how effective he can be once he gets on the same sheet of music with Brady. 

As always I find it amusing that national writers accuse Belichick of running it up but last week, after scoring 42 points in the first half, the Ravens ran a fake punt…crickets. And as to why Brady and Co. were still in the game late into the 4th quarter. Brady said, Belichick’s message all week was to play solid for 60 minutes. In Bill’s mind, football players play football so, while some a few people were lamenting seeing the starters in there, the coach wants to see them continue to work to get ready for the long season ahead.

For now, the team is 2-0 and rolling very impressively defensively. Next week they return home to take on the New York Jets who play Cleveland on Monday Night Football this 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 the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news.

New England Patriots News 9-15, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 09-15 and AFC East notes this week. 

Game Day, and a return to football… hopefully, this afternoon. This past week has been a ridiculously, needless testament to what the news has become in this country. The Antonio Brown saga has been in full-blown TMZ mode all week to where the Patriots opening season big win over the Steelers and the upcoming game at Miami were swept aside like unnecessary backdrops. 

“Should Belichick Release Him?”, “When did the Patriots know?” “Why Didn’t the Patriots Know?” “What Number/Helmet/cleats is AB wearing?” Non-stop since Tuesday.

You know it has gotten ridiculous when CNN fixes a GPS map finder to someone’s car so that he can find Gillette Stadium and then attempt to harangue Bill Belichick with the same question three times like they would third rate politicians as if that is really going to make him answer. 

*Hint for today* – When the team releases a statement stating they are aware of an investigation and will not comment further until there is a resolution…and you ask once, you are doing your job. Ask the same thing twice and you’re getting into rude territory. Push it a third time by talking over the coach saying “you didn’t answer it”, then you’re just a jerk who is making this about yourself…but they have a penchant for that. 

The only thing missing was for Harvey Levin to have one of his dweebs outside the stadium with a video camera. “We got Belichick coming out at 2 a.m. after meetings and film study. ‘So Bill, do you really like football?’” 

So, for a few hours, we can watch the game(s) and not have to be subjected to the same “All Antonio, All the Time” drivel non-stop. Unless Brown does play and has a big game…

 Quick Hitters For the Pats and the NFL:

Malcolm Mitchell – opened up to NBC in an interview on how difficult it is to move on to life after football. His career ended prematurely due to numerous injuries and it was derailed just as it should have been taking off. 

“I guess I knew I would have this breakup with football, someday. I just didn’t know how bad it would be on my mental health. It’s like I’ve been reincarnated, as somebody else. And I don’t want to be anybody else,” Mitchell said. 

“I have to move on,” he added. “I know that. I have to come out of this grieving phase, and I’m working on that. I can’t stay here, because if I do, I’m as good as dead.”

Patriots Baby Boom  – Last week Kyle Van Noy was inactive for the Steelers game due to his wife going into labor and then welcoming his son into the world. On Friday it was reported that James White wouldn’t travel as his wife was giving birth as well. But on Saturday it was reported that he indeed did travel to Miami. However, it seems like there may have been a slight boom during the post-regular season time frame. Perhaps, it was across the region as well. 

Rob Gronkowski – The big man remains in the news as he’s been doing interviews and promoting his new business [CBD Oil] which he claims has healed him. Gronk told an interviewer this week, that despite nine surgeries, he had at least 20 concussions of which five were “total blackouts”. He did add that although not yet a father, he would allow his son to play football as long as he was made aware of the risks involved.

Obi Melifonwu – After being let go with the addition of Antonio Brown, the big safety from Grafton cleared waivers and the Patriots brought him back onto the practice squad. And the team did him a big solid. While the bottom line for pay for practice squad players is $8000 a week, the Patriots frequently pay more and in Melifonwu’s case, much more. The team brought him back at his regular salary of $645,000 or in this case $37,941 a week. When people talk about “how cheap” the Patriots are…remind them of this little tidbit. Melifonwu may still fit in the team’s long-term plans with Pat Chung and Devin McCourty possibly retiring soon. 

Week 1 Overreaction? Say it ain’t so – After the Patriots dismantled the Steelers on opening night, optimism was running very high in New England, and why not? Despite some uneven play at times, they dominated from start to finish, but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves. First, it is one game, and we all remember the horrific opener against the Chiefs a few years ago, right? And second, despite the optimism emanating from Western PA, the Patriots have owned the Steelers in Foxboro. 

That said, the defense played as advertised and the offense despite going 0-3 in the red zone looked much better than advertised. It is a good, no, very good start. But remember, today is another day and let’s wait to see how they play in Miami, where they traditionally lay an egg. FWIW, I still believe Pittsburgh wins their division.

The Patriots Passing Game Now a Position of Strength? You Bet:

The strong showing by Tom Brady and company on Sunday night, plus the addition of the aforementioned Antonio Brown definitely played a hand in the trade of WR Demaryius Thomas to the Jets. We’ll get to more of that below. But as of right now, the passing attack is, at least for one week, much farther along than we would have believed just a few short weeks ago.

With Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers at wide receiver and James White along with Rex Burkhead out of the backfield, the offense has plenty of weapons for Brady to utilize. This is before even adding Brown, running back Damien Harris, rookie WR N’Keal Harry (IR) and veteran WR Cameron Meredith (PUP) to the mix for depth purposes later in the year. Now the possibilities are very optimistic. 

So even though the situation at tight end is far from perfect with Matt LaCosse banged up and Ryan Izzo more of a blocker, there are still plenty of options for Brady to target. Ben Watson can return after the Bills game and he should help there. 

But in Thomas’ case, I received a DM on Twitter asking, “if the Patriots had known about the AB claims, would they still have traded Thomas?” It is a good question, but my answer is yes. The passing game was clicking and even without considering Brown, they still have Harris, Harry, and Meredith. So, they really didn’t need him, and were able to unload his contract so there is no dead money involved. 

But their choice of trading partners was really intriguing. I was also asked what I thought of the choice of the Jets for his landing spot. Bill Belichick has traded with 30 other NFL teams since taking over the Patriots. Until this week, the only team he hadn’t traded with was the Jets. 

My feeling is, and this is strictly just an opinion, that they didn’t feel that Thomas was ever going to recapture enough of his game to be a viable receiver once again. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have traded him to the Jets…we’ll see next week. 

Time to Get Michel More Involved in the Passing Game:

The Patriots will be looking to get Sony Michel more involved in the running game today and get him untracked but they can help in that regard by getting him more involved in the passing game. Last week the Steelers keyed off of Michel’s being on the field by crowding the box and playing the run. And in that, they were very successful as Michel had only 14 yards on 15 carries.

According to my feeble math skills, with Michel on the field, the Patriots ran the ball nearly 75 percent of the time. Pittsburgh, having watched the postseason tape of the Patriots played run-heavy and was able to stuff it time and again. After rewatching the game tape, when the Patriots passed with Michel on the field, they were very successful. Now I get it, it is a minuscule sample size, but they averaged about 15 yards per play. 

Getting Michel more involved in the passing game just removes some of the predictability that other teams will have noticed and make this offense that much harder to stop. Today would be a perfect time to start giving opposing defensive coordinators even more to consider. 

Bulked Up Josh Gordon “In the Best Shape of My Career”:

Josh Gordon is playing at nearly 240 pounds this season as he may be in line for some of Rob Gronkowski’s work in the slot. Gordon’s bulked up presence may have been by design to take on the extra workload of Gronk’s absence. He played only about 10 percent out of the slot in 2018. On Sunday it was around 35 percent.

Gordon spoke about his workload and how he feels physically this week and he’s very optimistic of his long-term outlook. NFL Network’s Mike Giardi asked him if he’s in the best shape of his career and Gordon was quick to agree.

“Oh yeah, by far. By far,” Gordon told Giardi. “I don’t have any injuries this year, fortunately. Me and [strength and conditioning coach] Moses Cabrera have been in the training room every morning getting after it and continue to grow. It’s only Week 2. I’m excited, we’re all excited to see what happens halfways toward the end of the season. I think it’s going to be a huge upside at that point.”

Gordon’s upbeat attitude is definitely a plus and we can expect him to get even more looks in the passing game as the season winds on today.

NFL Schedule Week 2, 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: 11-4-1

TNF Carolina over Tampa Bay 0-1 

Dallas over Washington
Tennessee over Indy
Pittsburgh over Seattle
Buffalo over NY Giants
Patriots over Miami
Houston over Jacksonville
Green Bay over Minnesota
LA Chargers over Detroit
Cincinnati over San Francisco
Baltimore over Arizona
Kansas City over Oakland
Chicago over Denver
LA Rams over New Orleans – Rematch of the NFC Championship
SNF Philly over Atlanta
MNF Cleveland over NY Jets

Early Thursday Night Football pick Tennessee over Jacksonville

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Need to Slow Down Saquon Barkley Today:

The Buffalo Bills can go to 2-0 by winning in the same stadium on the road, two weeks in a row. The Bills scored 17 straight points by beating the Jets in MetLife Stadium last week and take on the Giants today. But they face a very talented back in Saquon Barkley and he’ll be a big difference in who wins or loses.

The Bills pass defense is the strength of their team and they’ve allowed 217 yards or less for nine straight weeks, heading back to last season. And the Giants are banged up at WR. So, it stands to reason that the Giants may opt to feed one of the best RBs in the business in Barkley.

Barkley averaged 10.9 yards per rushing attempt last week in Dallas garnering 120 yards on just 11 carries. Which begs the question, why didn’t they use him more? On the flip side, watch for Bills rookie Devin Singletary to get more work today. The rookie RB had 70 yards on just four carries and added 28 more on five receptions. He was fun to watch. 

Dolphins Minkah Fitzpatrick Possibly Going to Dallas:

The Miami Dolphins agreed this week to allow safety/cornerback Minkah Fitzpatrick to seek a trade partner.  And while there will no doubt be several teams interested, one team, the Dallas Cowboys have already publicly expressed interest. 

Fitzpatrick was a first-round draft pick just a year ago, but he’s unhappy with the way he’s being used by the new coaching staff and wants out. Dallas has been trying to upgrade the safety position all year. They courted the idea of bringing in Earl Thomas and Eric Berry but signed neither. They signed George Iloka. But the veteran was released, beaten out by veteran Jeff Heath and rookie Donovan Wilson. Fitzpatrick is a big upgrade over either of those two. So, this will bear watching.

What would be the asking price? Some circles are pointing to DL Taco Charlton who isn’t playing much because of a deep Dallas front seven. This development may have some bearing on how much Fitzpatrick plays today.

Jets Are Banged Up and Now Lose Darnold to Mono:

The New York Jets have already suffered a rash of injuries this season, Quincy Enunwa is out for the year with a neck injury. C.J. Moseley was forced to leave last week’s opener with a groin injury. RB Le’Veon Bell hurt his shoulder and had an MRI on it. But now they’ve lost QB Sam Darnold to mononucleosis, which is expected to keep him shelved indefinitely. And the schedule isn’t doing them any favors.

Trevor Siemian takes over for Darnold and faces a daunting schedule. The Jets play a Cleveland Browns team that was embarrassed last week on Monday Night Football, then head to Foxboro to take on the Patriots, followed by games against the Eagles, Cowboys, and then the Patriots again. That is a tough five-game stretch even if Darnold was in the lineup.

The Jets offensive line will also have to deal with a very less mobile QB than Darnold as Siemian can’t make plays outside the pocket as Darnold can. 

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“Yeah, Troy’s done a good job. You know, we have three rookie receivers, and Troy was in the same type of situation when he came. Obviously, that was in a different system, but he’s seen a lot of guys come through that. He did it himself, and I think he can help everybody – from the rookies, the guys who have never played before, to new players, to players who have played here a long time like Julian.” – Bill Belichick on the difference former Patriot Troy Brown has made helping coach the WRs.

________________

“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.

Patriots Players To Watch, Week 2 Against the Dolphins

Steve Balestrieri
September 13, 2019 at 12:02 pm ET

The Patriots have a game in the books against the Steelers and now head out on the road for the first time in 2019. Away games were the bane of the team in 2019, as the team went 3-5 away from Foxboro. This week they’re traveling to Miami which has been a non-stop bummer for the Patriots since the Dolphins entered the league in 1966.

Slow starts have plagued the team in September in recent years, with a win on Sunday against the Dolphins the Patriots have the chance to begin the season 2-0 and more importantly, win their first divisional game, with two more against the Jets and Bills to follow in the ensuing weeks. 

Here are our Patriots players to watch this week down in South Florida as the Patriots try to break out of the 1-5 slump they’ve had down there the past six visits. 

Sony Michel: 

Michel had an impressive summer and looked like the explosive Georgia version of himself during training camp and in limited reps in the preseason. We were excited to see what he could bring to the table against a very stout Pittsburgh front seven last week. But the Steelers ensured that Michel wasn’t going to beat him and keyed on him and the run when he was in the game. He ended up with only 14 yards on 15 carries.

The Dolphins struggled in run support last week and were gashed for 265 yards on the ground by the Ravens. We expect the Patriots to put some emphasis this week on establishing the run and to also open up play-action passes. 

We’re looking for Michel to get a lot of work early in this one to help spring the offense into high gear. The Patriots offensive line will be also looking to set the tone for this one early. Look for Michel to run behind some good holes in this one.

Phillip Dorsett:

Whenever we discuss the Patriots wide receivers, Dorsett is always kind of an afterthought. But Dorsett and the Patriots are fine if Miami forgets about him as well. He had a huge game on Sunday, catching all four passes thrown his way for 95 yards and two touchdowns of 25 and 58 yards from Tom Brady.

Dating back to last year, Dorsett has caught the last 20 passes thrown in his direction, 19 from Brady, and one from Brian Hoyer. The last time he was targeted and the pass was incomplete was the Miami game in Foxboro during Week 4 in 2018. So, while he doesn’t get targeted a lot when he is thrown to, he makes the catch.

This week should be more of the same, Brady and Josh McDaniels should have some plays where Dorsett is going to be the “forgotten man” by the defense and facing a backup corner. And he will be counted on to come thru. We’re looking for Brady to give Dorsett a few more looks this week in the passing game. It is never a bad idea to ride the hot hand.

Kyle Van Noy:

Van Noy missed last week’s game due to his wife giving birth to a child on Sunday. But it didn’t stop the Patriots’ linebacker to tweet out during the game as he was keeping an eye on the events that unfolded. Van Noy has been an absolute steal since coming over from Detroit. He’s arguably one of the biggest playmakers on the defense. 

The linebacker position is stacked this year with Jamie Collins, Dont’a Hightower, Van Noy, Elandon Roberts, and Ja’Whaun Bentley. So much so that Roberts, one of the Patriots’ team captains didn’t play a snap. 

Van Noy had a very good summer and was primed to begin the season exactly where he left off last year. After missing the Steelers game, he has to be chomping at the bit to get back on the field. Look for him to have a big impact on Sunday. 

Josh Gordon:

Gordon was/is a question mark heading into the 2019 season due to his repeated suspensions and his struggle to stay on the straight and narrow. Last week, many were questioning whether he’d be sharp as he was suspended from December until late August when he was reinstated. But he played well and chipped in with 73 yards receiving in Week 1, including a 44-yard bomb from Brady. 

If there is a silver lining to the circus surrounding anything and everything Antonio Brown it is that Gordon is now pushed onto a back burner by the media a bit. And he’s free to prepare for Miami without all of the scrutinies that he’d otherwise be subjected to.

Gordon is a tough matchup for the Dolphins, with his size, speed, and athleticism. I’d look for Xavien Howard to lineup opposite him and this should be an intriguing one to watch. Howard is easily Miami’s best cover corner and it promises to be entertaining.

Tom Brady: 

Ah yes, the GOAT. Although he owns a nice 22-11 record against the Dolphins, that number falls to 7-10 in Miami. Brady will no doubt be asked about it, if anyone, …ever decides to ask a football question again [do we detect a pattern here?] and we know Brady thrives on a challenge. 

Forget what happened last week against Baltimore…doesn’t matter. Pundits picking Miami to be the worst team in the NFL? He could care less. The way that game ended last year in Miami and for the Patriots to go home with a loss is a major factor with #12 and it has been festering since last December.

Look for Brady to come out just like this is a playoff game was laser intensity and focus. He’ll approach it as if Miami was trying to take his spot away from him. A big day awaits if they execute well enough.  

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Check back with PatsFans.com for all of our pregame and post-game analysis. And if you’re a wiz at predicting the NFL slate straight up, register for our message board and then post your picks every week. We’ll see who is the top dog at the end of the season. That page can be found here: https://www.patsfans.com/new-england-patriots/messageboard/picks/

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

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