Tag Archives: Mohamed Sanu

5 Thoughts Following the Patriots Win Over the Eagles

Ian Logue
November 18, 2019 at 8:34 am ET

After two weeks away from the football field, the Patriots were back in action on Sunday looking for a big win out in Philadelphia as they began their second-half push toward another postseason run.

Much like their game against the Ravens, Sunday’s contest against the Eagles was a difficult battle, but this time New England managed to come away with a 17-10 win to improve to 9-1 on the season.

Here are some thoughts on the win:

1) Many will talk about the defense’s difficulties on Sunday as the Eagles had success early in the first half moving the football, but it’s hard not to appreciate what they managed to do down the stretch. With Tom Brady and the offense struggling, it left them responsible for closing out the game and they stepped up and did just that.

Their second-half performance was outstanding, with this group coming through in big moments against Carson Wentz and his receivers. After allowing Wentz to complete 11-of-16 for 87-yards and a touchdown in the first half as Philadelphia built a 10-9 lead, they were absolutely relentless and made him miserable over the final two quarters.

Belichick was spotted late in the first half holding court with the entire defense on the sideline, clearly settling them down after the Eagles scored their lone touchdown of the afternoon after a 16-play, 95-yard march down the field against them, the longest drive allowed by a Patriots team in the regular season in the last eight years.

Whatever he said obviously worked, as things changed from there and even more so when they came out of the locker room after halftime.

How good were they? They held Wentz to just 9-of-24 (38%) for 127-yards in the second half, including zero points.

That was key because New England’s offense came out in the second half and marched right down the field on their opening drive, with Brady going no-huddle and taking them 84-yards on 10 plays, which saw a trick play where Brady threw out to the right to Julian Edelman, who then fired a 15-yard strike to Phillip Dorsett in the end zone for the touchdown. James White would take it in for the 2-point conversion, giving New England a 17-10 to begin the second half.

Dorsett would be knocked out of the game on that play, leaving the Patriots short-handed against an Eagles team that was pretty tough all afternoon. As it would turn out, this would be a game where the defense would be the group responsible for carrying them to a victory.

It didn’t start off perfectly, as Jason McCourty was called for a 49-yard pass interference penalty on the first play of the game, leading to a 42-yard field goal as the Eagles took an early lead. Two possessions later, they allowed the aforementioned 95-yard drive that resulted in their first and only touchdown of the afternoon, giving them a 10-0 advantage.

But that would be it as New England held them scoreless the rest of the way, with the team getting back in the win column as they maintained their edge over the Ravens in the AFC for the top seed.

While it wasn’t pretty, it was enough and Belichick’s group now heads back to New England with their ninth victory of the season.


Brady was under pressure all afternoon down in Philadelphia.

2) Prepare for the pundits to be all over Brady this week, with the veteran finally showing cracks in his Hall-of-Fame armor for the first time on Sunday.

Brady is no stranger to making the occasional mistake, but he made several uncharacteristic decisions on Sunday, including a few questionable throws that he was very lucky didn’t lead to turnovers in key moments.

The Eagles brought pressure all game long, giving him little time to find anyone and he had to work for every single throw. But the biggest thing that stood out was that for the first time in recent memory, instead of showing frustration, he actually looked panicked on several occasions. That’s unusual for a player who is normally so poised, but he had moments where he didn’t look like himself at all on Sunday, which saw him get sacked once and hit 6 times.

Philadelphia did a good job making him uncomfortable, not allowing him to get set and throwing off the timing on quite a few plays and New England’s offensive line certainly didn’t do him any favors.

But Brady’s demeanor will likely be the story this week as he finished with a career-high 14 incompletions in the first-half, a stat that will probably be repeated by the talking heads and critics who will start pointing to the beginning of the end for the quarterback. Now, it was obvious that there are problems personnel-wise which are clearly contributing to these issues, but it’s unusual to not see Brady overcome them and falter in the uncharacteristic panicked moments he had on Sunday. He also nearly threw another red zone interception after almost getting picked off on a bad throw to Mohamed Sanu during their second scoring drive.

Following the game, it was clear there was a lot of frustration as Brady looked very sullen during his post-game press conference. He offered little in terms of any encouragement and looked like a player without any answers as to why they haven’t quite been able to get things going through 11 games.

Unfortunately, despite the fact there were moments where receivers weren’t in the right spot (one route by Jakobi Meyers where he broke off his route obviously come to mind), Brady wasn’t exactly his normally sharp self. There were a few plays that will likely be the topic of discussion all week, a couple of which could have resulted in turnovers. Brady was lucky he escaped unscathed after getting away with a few that could have been disastrous.

The good news is, history has shown that this should hopefully be an anomaly for the 6-time Super Bowl Champion. However, seeing him even have these moments was certainly unsettling for a player who is normally much more poised than he was on Sunday.

3) Jake Bailey walks away as the player of the game in this one, spending much of the afternoon flipping field position and forcing the Eagles to have to work with a long field all game long.

He was unbelievable, finishing with 8 punts, including six where he pinned the Eagles inside their 20-yard line. In fact, 3 of those drives started inside their own 10-yard line, with two more starting from their own 12.

That was huge because not only did it force the Eagles to start with bad field position, it gave the offense some terrific field position after Philadelphia was forced to punt quite a bit inside their own territory.

The bad news is, the Patriots obviously struggled to get anything going offensively and they weren’t really able to take advantage of it.

The other thing that stood out was the fact that Bailey’s high, booming kicks were a reminder that the swirling winds teams will be dealing with over these final months will likely cause some problems, with the Eagles punt returners looking a little shaky on a couple of his kicks. After seeing Cyrus Jones muff one two weeks ago in Baltimore, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Bailey get someone else to misjudge one at some point. The only thing that would have made his afternoon complete would have been if Bailey would have been able to recover a fumble on a kickoff in the second quarter after their field goal. On the play, Boston Scott was returning Bailey’s kickoff but Brandon Bolden came in behind Scott and punched out the ball, leaving Bailey as the player who was in position to recover it. Bailey dove and appeared to nearly have it, but couldn’t quite hang on to it and it went out of bounds.

Other than that, he was terrific and ended up being a big factor in the victory. He’s been outstanding all season but Sunday was definitely one of his best performances yet.

4) It was good to finally see N’Keal Harry in the line-up, with the rookie entering the game on just the second play. He spent most of the game blocking the running game, but did haul in three passes for 18-yards.

His first came on a 2nd-and-10 from their own 36-yard line, with Harry making a nice grab for an 11-yard pick up early in the second quarter on their first scoring drive. That helped keep things moving as the offense marched 59-yards on 13 plays, with Nick Folk hitting a 35-yard field goal to get them on the board after they trailed 10-0.

Harry’s addition seemingly comes at a good time as the Patriots lost Dorsett on his touchdown reception after he took a hard shot to the head on the play but somehow managed to hold on after the throw from Edelman. Dorsett left the field and appeared to be O.K., but was later looked at on the sideline and he didn’t return.

While it was a relatively quiet game, it was a good start for the rookie first round pick. With a home game up next, it should be interesting to see if his role expands this weekend.


New England’s defense was terrific Sunday.

5) It was also good to see Ben Watson get more involved again for the second straight week, with the veteran making several key receptions on Sunday.

Watson finished the afternoon with 3 receptions for 52-yards, including a 22-yard grab on a 3rd-and-10 from their own 47-yard line on the same drive Harry had his catch, with the team finishing it off with their first field goal of the game.

The veteran tight end also hauled in a 19-yard pass on the ensuing drive, which helped set up their second set of points after that one ended with a 22-yard field goal by Folk.

That’s a positive sign as Watson appears to be getting more comfortable in the offense and it’s certainly coming at the right time. With Dallas up next, followed by key AFC battles against Houston and Kansas City, the road doesn’t get any easier. Hopefully his contributions are a sign of things to come, which will if all goes well will also see Brady settle back in heading into their final six games.

The Patriots will face Dallas at Gillette Stadium next Sunday at 4:25pm.

Patriots Players To Watch, Week 11 Against the Eagles

Steve Balestrieri
November 15, 2019 at 8:31 am ET

The Patriots are on the road again and are taking on the Philadelphia Eagles after their bye week. The Eagles always seem to give the Patriots a tough matchup and we all remember SB LII which Philly won 41-33.

Don’t be fooled into believing this is a weaker or middle of the road Philadelphia team by their 5-4 record at this point in the season. Many picked them to be one of the teams to fight for the NFC crown this season. To be sure they were very inconsistent earlier this year, but enter winning two games in a row over the Bills and Bears before having their own bye week last Sunday. Both teams have had two weeks to prepare. 

Here are our Patriots players to watch this week as they try to improve to 9-1 on the season against the Eagles. 

Mohamad Sanu: 

The Patriots wide receiver has played in just two games with his new team but has already exhibited a familiarity and chemistry with Tom Brady that belies how little time he’s had here. He’s had 12 catches in his first contests with New England and he and Julian Edelman should provide a very potent duo that the Patriots can move inside or outside depending on the matchups.

Sanu fulfilled a need for another wide receiver to step up in this offense and the feeling is, that they are just scratching the surface of his potential thus far. We look for Sanu being targeted early and often against an Eagles secondary that has had its issues this season, although they are getting healthy now. 

Sanu has already proven to be a great fit for the Patriots offense. Now with the meat of the schedule here, is his chance to show how good he can be. Barring any health concerns, he should be in line for a career-high in receptions. A big game against the Eagles would be a nice way to kick off the second half of the season.

Pat Chung:

Chung has been limited in practice this week after missing last week’s only two bye-week practices, suffering from heel and chest injuries. Chung is tremendously versatile in the Patriots defense, doing a bit of everything. Bill Belichick has said continuously how valuable Chung has been in his second stint with the team.

Chung is especially needed this week. Philadelphia has two excellent tight ends in Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert. Ertz is the Eagles go-to guy on 3rd down and covering him will probably fall to Chung, which is no easy task. 

Being able to limit Ertz’s effectiveness (notice we didn’t say shut down), will go a long way in giving the Patriots the advantage for the defense in being able to slow down and stop this Eagles team from scoring. Chung, if he’s available will be that guy. 

Julian Edelman:

We always seem to put Edelman in there because, after Tom Brady, he’s the most indispensable player on the roster. While the debate can rage across the NFL on whether Edelman is HOF worthy or is he a #1 WR, the fact is, in the Patriots offense, he IS their #1 WR and go-to guy in the passing game. 

Edelman has been banged up since the first half of the first Jets game (eight weeks ago) but is as tough as they come in the league. He’s absolutely fearless in going across the middle and doing the dirty work underneath, which is why the Patriots have had so much success in the past few years. 

Edelman will continue to be the focal point of the Patriots offense as well as the guy to stop for the Philadelphia defense. It is the matchup within the matchup that makes the game so fascinating.  

Jamie Collins:

The Patriots linebacker had an outstanding first eight weeks of the season, worthy of Defensive MVP consideration. Two weeks ago against the Ravens, he wasn’t put in a great position to succeed early in that game and he as well as the rest of the defense was gashed. 

While the Eagles use the run/pass option concepts in the running game and have a mobile quarterback of their own (Carson Wentz), it is a pretty different offense than the one the Patriots faced in Baltimore. However, with several excellent running backs and good WRs and TEs, they are no less a formidable task.

We look for Collins to get back on track as being a dominant, disruptive force on the Patriots defense. Look for him to be very aggressive this week as they look to get back to where they had been playing. 

Rex Burkhead: 

This is shaping up to be a game where the Patriots are throwing more than running. Philadelphia’s rush defense is excellent and is 4th best in the NFL. So, with Sony Michel presenting more of a one-dimensional threat at this point of his career, we expect to see more of Burkhead and James White in the backfield this week. 

Burkhead gives the Patriots a little bit more of a versatility factor in the offense. While he’s neither a great runner nor a great receiver, he’s very good at both. And they’ll need that versatility to keep the Eagles defense honest and keep them guessing. 

Look for his role to increase, similar to what we saw down the stretch last year and in the postseason. If he can stay healthy and on the field, he’ll see a lot more reps, which will hopefully get the running game going a bit more.    

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Patriots Week 9 Report Card, Defense Struggles in 37-20 Loss to Baltimore

Steve Balestrieri
November 5, 2019 at 8:26 am ET

Patriots are 8-1 at the Bye Week

The Patriots weren’t going undefeated, we’ve been saying it all year since the summer but yet people continued to predict it like it is a walk in the park. Think about this, it has only been done twice in the past 50 years and four times in 100 seasons of the NFL.

The point is they were bound to have a game where they were making too many mistakes and ran into a hot team. Earlier on Sunday, I watched Green Bay scarcely resemble the team they’ve been all year play sluggishly on the road in LA. And wondered if it was the Patriots’ time. Baltimore, rested after a bye week was the perfect storm and pretty much kicked the Patriots defense behind all game long. 

So, please stop with the over the top reactions to a single loss. Although some of them were unintentionally hilarious.  Check out our grades and see how the team fared in this week’s game in Baltimore.

Quarterback: B-

Tom Brady got off to a rough start but was able to get it going in the second and third quarters when the team went to the hurry-up, up-tempo offense. Brady finished 30-46 for 285 yards with a touchdown and an interception. 

Brady put the team on his back when they were trying to dig out from the big hole they got in and targeted Edelman and Sanu almost exclusively in this one. Everyone else was an afterthought. The best throw of the night was his 30-yard completion to James White, however. 

Running Backs: C-

The running game either by design or the way the game unfolded early was relegated to the back burner on Sunday night. We said in our pregame keys that we thought they’d eschew the ground game for the most part and try to attack Baltimore through the air. 

They ran just enough to keep the defense honest and ended up with just 17 carries for 74 yards (4.2-yard average). While no one stood out as outstanding, neither did anyone stand out badly either. Going into a 17-0 hole in the first quarter will take an offense out of their game plan if indeed they did plan on running more. 

James White had the most production out of the group with 38 yards on 9 carries. He tripped and ended up just short of the goal line just before the half where the team actually had a chance to tie the game up. He later added a touchdown. 

Wide Receivers: B

Julian Edelman and Mohamed Sanu were both featured in this one and it is easy to see that Sanu is going to fit this offense quite well. Edelman was targeted 11 times and had 10 catches for 89 yards. Sanu was targeted 14 times and had 10 catches for 81 yards and a touchdown, his first as a Patriot. 

Sanu in just his second week on the team has already been determined to having the trust factor with Brady. In our keys, we also thought that both he and Edelman would have good games with the short quick passing game against the Ravens secondary.

Edelman’s fumble hurt. After crawling out of a 17-point deficit, the team actually had the chance to take the lead early in the 3rd quarter, the idea of which seemed ridiculous earlier in the game. It happens. Give the Ravens defense the credit there. It flipped the momentum right back into their corner. They didn’t relinquish it again.

Phillip Dorsett had just two catches. Jakobi Meyers played one snap. White, Burkhead and Michel had only four combined catches out of the backfield.

Tight Ends: C

Ben Watson went the distance for the Patriots at tight end and had four catches for 28 yards on five targets. Ryan Izzo was active but didn’t play a snap. Watson played pretty well but did have a drop on a contested 2nd-down catch, that set up the 3rd and 10 play where Brady was picked off deep. 

The team can’t expect Watson to play all the snaps down the stretch at 38-years old and will need somebody else to step up. 

Offensive Line: C

The offensive line got back Shaq Mason this week although he didn’t play particularly well in his return. Marcus Cannon did have arguably his best game of the season. After a tough start, the line did a decent job of pass protection when the team decided to spread out the defense and go up-tempo. But although they gave up just two sacks, 10 QB hits is a lot, but considering the score, it could have been worse.

The run blocking was fair enough this week, the Ravens are a tough team to run against and they didn’t really ever get the chance to establish anything considering the early deficit. But the 4.2-yard average was better. 

 Defensive Line: C-

The defensive line struggled for the first time this year against an opponent. There wasn’t anything exotic, the Ravens didn’t scheme up some things that they hadn’t seen before. They just lined up and played very physical. What did give the line problems was the option plays where Jackson stuck the ball in the hands of a back and either kept it or left it depending on the play of the defense. They never really figured that out.

Baltimore’s running game, especially Mark Ingram gashed the Patriots for 210 yards on 41 carries. Ingram had 115 yards on just 15 carries. The team also did a much poorer job of setting the edge, it is rare to see a back or QB turn the corner and see no one there. It happened more than once. 

The group was able to generate just one sack and three QB hits.  

Linebackers: C

The linebackers had their most lackluster game of the season. Dont’a Hightower’s fiery speech on the sidelines lit a fire under the group for a bit and their play improved…for a bit. He led the team with 13 tackles and one tackle for loss, something the unit had precious little of on Sunday night. Kyle Van Noy had a solid game, providing backside coverage when Lamar Jackson would cut back. 

Jamie Collins had a rough game, getting taken in on those option plays by Jackson early, he certainly wasn’t alone. Elandon Roberts struggled as well.   

Secondary: B

The secondary wasn’t really tested by the Ravens wide receivers, mainly out of design. They passed for only 163 yards because their running game was a difference-maker for them. When they did pass it was to the tight ends. 

Stephon Gilmore matched up with Marquise Brown who had three catches for 48 yards. Willie Snead had two grabs for 15. That was it for the wide receivers. The tight ends did the damage with Nick Boyle, Mark Andrews, and Hayden Hurst combining for 9 catches for 63 yards and a score. On the surface, it doesn’t add up to much, but it seemed every catch was a key first down.  

Special Teams: B+

Nick Folk gets passing marks this week, he made both extra points and both chip shot field goal attempts. It is a strange night when Justin Tucker misses an extra point or field goal but he did although it didn’t hurt the overall scheme of things. 

Brandon Bolden did well in the kick return game and the coverage units were outstanding. Lost in the hot takes of the dynasty crumbling was the STs coverage units. This was easily their best game of the year. The Ravens averaged just 12.7 yards on kick returns and 3.5 yards on punts. They forced a fumble on a Cyrus Jones muff and recovered by newcomer Justin Bethel. 

Jake Bailey continued his stellar rookie season, averaging 46.6 yards per punt while dropping three inside the 20. 

Coaches: C

The Patriots coaching staff didn’t have the team properly prepared to handle the Ravens running game, especially those options by Jackson. As Bill Belichick said after the game, they didn’t do anything well enough to win, coaching, playing, or preparation.

The offense played in “11 personnel” all game long and it is a head-scratcher when the team has struggled all season long to find a viable red-zone target for Tom Brady and you have a big 1st-round draft pick at WR who is inactive for a tight end that you didn’t play a single snap.   

There will be plenty of self-scouting to do this week before they take off for a few days during the bye week before preparing for Philadelphia.   

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

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

 

Ravens Run Roughshod 37-20 Over the Patriots

Steve Balestrieri
November 4, 2019 at 7:16 am ET

The Baltimore Ravens had their bye week to prepare to face the Patriots and it was obvious from the opening moments that they used their time wisely. And the Patriots now enter their own bye week with some work to do. 

Baltimore’s running game was simple in its inception and executed wonderfully as they bludgeoned the Patriots defense to the tune of 214 yards and waltzed away with a 37-20 beatdown of the previously unbeaten Pats on Sunday night in Baltimore. 

The Ravens completely dominated the first quarter of the game outscoring the Patriots 17-0 and did it by running the ball right down their throats. The Ravens said they wanted to punch New England in the mouth with their running game and they did just that.

The Patriots did a poor job of setting the edge, there were uncharacteristic huge swaths of open space for the runners to exploit and the Baltimore offensive line was clearly the winner of the trenches on Sunday night. The Patriots had never faced Lamar Jackson and it was clear, his speed was very much an issue for them all night long.

Baltimore dominated that first-quarter very much like the Patriots had dominated nearly every first quarter this year. It was ultimately too big a hole to fight out of. Baltimore ran for 142 yards in the first quarter, almost double what the Patriots had been allowing in a game. 

As a result, it was New England who was making the mistakes that we normally see the opposition do. Shalique Calhoun jumping offside on the initial field goal attempt, giving the Ravens a first and goal was a harbinger of things to come. 

And when the Patriots clawed back in the game at 17-13 and actually appeared to be ready to take the lead early in the third quarter, the Julian Edelman fumble and scoop for a 70-yard touchdown going the other way drove home that this wasn’t their night. Although the Patriots answered with a touchdown drive to close again to four at 24-20, one could sense the feeling that the Ravens weren’t going to bend anymore. 

The Ravens dominated time of possession from there on going on two long, time-consuming touchdown drives to blow the game wide open. They converted several key third and fourth downs to keep the chains, and the clock moving in their favor.

The Patriots offense changed things up offensively tonight and eschewed the running formations that haven’t been bearing fruit this season and opted to spread Baltimore out with the receivers out wide, allowing Tom Brady to see the defense and adjust the protection and then hit the open man with a quick, short passing game. They went to a hurry-up offense, with the hope that it would gas the Ravens pass rushers and allow them to run the ball later in the game. 

It was working for a bit, the Ravens defense appeared totally gassed at the end of the touchdown drive that cut the score to 24-20. The problem was that they had dug themselves into too deep of a hole to make it work. And the fact that because two wide receivers were inactive (N’Keal Harry, Gunner Olszewski), the wide receivers were as gassed as the defense was. *Note* watch Julian Edelman on his fumble play. But it was all rendered moot when Baltimore answered with an eight-minute scoring drive that gave their defense the rest they needed. 

On a bright note, Mohamed Sanu appears to be a great pickup for the offense. In just his second week with the Patriots, he caught 10 passes for 81 yards and a touchdown. Edelman caught 10 passes for 89.   The pair are going to be a handful for opponents to cover down the stretch. 

The issue, however, continues to be the red zone and especially once the team gets inside the 10-yard line. They don’t have a go-to guy or a big target they trust enough to attack opponents once they get down close. And if we want to be nitpicky here, the team drafted a 6’4, 225-pound wide receiver in the 1st round who was inactive on Sunday night because he wasn’t conceivably “ready” but activated a tight end (Ryan Izzo) for the game who didn’t play a snap on offense? 

So, the Patriots enter their bye week at 8-1 and the #1 seed in the AFC and yet to log onto social media tonight, one would think they are in dire straits at 1-8. They have some self-scouting to do and now have two weeks to prepare for the Eagles in Philadelphia who coincidentally are also on a bye week this week. 

They’ll file away what they learned in what doesn’t work against the Ravens but this isn’t the time to dwell on rematches that won’t happen, if at all for two months. It is time to get back on track and move on to Philadelphia. 

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

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

New England Patriots News 11-03, AFC East Notes

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

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

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

 Quick Hitters For the Pats and the NFL:

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

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

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

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

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

Sad End For Josh Gordon in New England: 

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

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

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

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

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

Steve Belichick, Calling the Plays For the Defense:

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

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

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

Patriots Players to Watch Today :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NFL Schedule Week 9, Who Are Your Winners:

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

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

TNF San Francisco over Arizona 1-0

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

Bye week: Falcons, Bengals, Rams, Saints

Week 9 Thursday Night Football Raiders over LA Chargers

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Look to Rebound Vs Haskins, Skins:

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

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

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

Dolphins Continue to Lose But Confidence in Flores Grows:

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

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

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

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

Jets Once Again Teetering on the Brink of the Abyss :

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

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

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

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

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

________________

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

________________

“So, how was your week?”

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

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

 

Patriots – Ravens Week 9 Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
November 1, 2019 at 6:45 am ET

The Patriots head back out on the road to take on the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday Night Football. This should be the marquee matchup of the week as Lamar Jackson and the Ravens offense has been lighting it up thus far in 2019. 

They’ll be going against the Patriots defense which has been the stingiest unit in the league. The game will be taking place in Baltimore where the crowd is always loud and where the games are always tough

This week’s game will be broadcast by NBC and can be seen locally on NBC 10 Boston. Al Michaels will handle play-by-play duties with Cris Collinsworth as the color analyst. Michele Tafoya will work the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The Sports Hub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Capello.

The Patriots (8-0) beat the Cleveland Browns 27-13, Tom Brady threw two touchdown passes to Julian Edelman while the defense held the Browns to just 13 points.

The Ravens (5-2) are coming off their bye week. 

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

Series History:

The Patriots and Ravens have had some memorable matchups in the past, and this one figures to add to that. Overall the Patriots are 8-1 against Baltimore in the regular season and 2-2 against them in the playoffs.  

One memorable Sunday night game in 2012 featured a last-second field goal by Justin Tucker that was ruled good but appeared to miss. Bill Belichick was livid over that one. 

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

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots RBs vs Ravens Front Seven – Razor’s Edge Baltimore

This matchup clearly favors Baltimore. The Patriots running game remains stuck in neutral. Sony Michel has clearly not found the holes he enjoyed a year ago and his yards per carry average has suffered. Rex Burkhead, James White, and Brandon Bolden have all struggled to find consistent running room. 

The Ravens run defense has been outstanding thus far in 2019 allowing just 84.3 yards per game, good for third-best in the league.  The big men up front, Matthew Judon, L.J. Fort, and Josh Bynes have done a tremendous job of limiting any push from the opposing offensive line and stopping the run in its tracks.

Don’t look for Josh McDaniels to try to establish the run this week as they’ve done in other games. They’ll run enough just to keep the defense honest, but this week, they’ll look to get it done elsewhere. It would like banging your head against the wall.                  

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

The Patriots passing game is getting 1st round draft pick N’Keal Harry on the field for the first time in 2019. He’ll be asked to fill the Josh Gordon “X” role outside. Mohamed Sanu will be playing in his second game and is still learning the offense. But Tom Brady’s passing game still goes through Julian Edelman and James White out of the backfield. Ben Watson is getting more comfortable in the offense as well. 

Baltimore’s pass defense is 26th in the league, their secondary was hit hard by injuries and their pass rush hasn’t been what they’re used to there and has only 12 sacks. They traded for Marcus Peters who is a boom or bust type of player but will be up for a prime time game. They have Jimmy Smith returning this week and his availability gives them good depth with Marlon Humphries and Brandon Carr also at the corner.

This will be a “spread ‘em out” type of week for the Patriots passing game. If Shaq Mason is back, the pass protection should be improved and will give Brady time to work the routes to Edelman and Sanu. Phillip Dorsett can always be counted on to hit a couple of key plays while White out of the backfield is always a matchup problem.

Next up the Ravens offense:

Ravens RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge Baltimore

Baltimore has the top rushing attack in the league and it begins with QB Lamar Jackson. Although he is more than capable of scrambling, many of his runs (he leads the team in rushing) are designed runs, schemed to take advantage of his talent. Mark Ingram is another weapon in the running game, he is averaging 4.7 yards per carry. The Ravens are averaging 204.1 yards per game on the ground, the best in the league. 

The Patriots run defense is allowing 85.3 yards per game on the ground, fourth-best in the league, just behind Baltimore, but we’ve seen some issues prop up in recent weeks in the running game with Le’Veon Bell and Nick Chubb. This rushing attack will be a big, big test this week.

The big men inside, Danny Shelton and Lawrence Guy will have to control the gaps inside to allow the linebackers to make some plays and try to limit the running game, which has averaged 35+ minutes of possession time this year. Setting the edge will take on paramount importance when Jackson takes off.

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

The Ravens passing game is middle of the road but improving.  A big key for them is if Marquise Brown is able to go this week, he’s been injured with an ankle issue and is the Ravens deep threat receiver. He’ll be matched up with Stephon Gilmore. The Ravens also use Miles Boykin and Willie Snead at wide receiver.  Jackson’s most targeted receiver, however, is Mark Andrews at tight end. 

The Patriots have been outstanding against the pass this season, allowing just 148.8 yards per game. They’ve intercepted opposing passers 19 times and have 31 sacks. Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, and Jason McCourty give New England arguably the deepest cornerback roster in the league. Pat Chung, Devin McCourty, and Duron Harmon have been excellent at safety. 

But the secondary play has been stellar this year and while Jackson is steadily improving, he still isn’t the most accurate passer in the league and the opportunity will avail itself to more turnovers this week.

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge Baltimore

The Patriots special teams signed former Raven All-Pro ST/S Justin Bethel last week. He, Matthew Slater, Brandon Bolden, and others form an excellent unit. Mike Nugent was released and kicker Nick Folk was signed. Rookie punter Jake Bailey is having an excellent rookie season. 

The Ravens have a kicker who is as automatic as there exists in Justin Tucker. There’s Tucker and then everyone else.  Sam Koch is excellent at pinning opponents inside the 20-yard line. Former Patriot Cyrus Jones is the Ravens’ punt returner averaging 10.6 yards per return. 

Next up, who wins and why…

The Patriots are looking to improve to 9-0 before heading home for their bye week. Then follows games against the Eagles, Cowboys, Texans and the Chiefs. They begin the meat of their schedule right now.  

Keys to the Game from a Patriots Perspective:

Spread Them Out – Look for the Patriots offense to go more to a 4-wide look this week and attempt to get the passing game going quickly. How much can they get or expect from N’Keal Harry this week? We may not see much from him until after the bye week when he starts to find his stride. Edelman and White remain the go-to guys until Sanu too finds his comfort level in the offense. Ben Watson may see more targets this week. 

Limit The Running Game For Baltimore: The Ravens are going to get their yards on the ground, but the key is to force them to have to throw to beat you and then it plays into the strength of your defense. Jackson is a dynamic player and the type of mobile QB that used to give New England fits. But the defense is much better equipped to slow down a runner like Jackson. Can they do it? That may be the key to this game.

Keep the Turnover Machine Going: The Patriots have been ridiculous at forcing turnovers this season. They obviously want to keep that going and if they can force a couple more this Sunday, it will go a long way towards earning another victory. They’ll have to bring pressure and force Jackson into making mistakes, while not allowing him to use his legs to hurt the defense.

___________

Prediction: 

We’ve said all along that the Patriots aren’t going undefeated this season and with this five-game stretch, this may be a perfect time for the Ravens to knock them off. The Ravens are coming off of their bye week and have had two weeks to prepare.

With them getting their top draft choice just on the field and having Sanu for just the second game, the passing offense could struggle somewhat, albeit against a secondary that hasn’t been great. And we’ve already put out how effective the Baltimore ground game has been. But until someone puts a lick on this New England defense, I’m sticking with Bill Belichick finding a way to make them settle for field goals.

Brady and the offense will score just enough, with some help by the defense with a key turnover as the boys of Foxboro improve to 9-0. Patriots 24-16

The “Knocking on Sevens’ Door” tour hits the bye week before they head back out on the road to take on the Philadelphia Eagles on November 17.

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

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

 

Best Of Social Media: Week 8 Patriots vs Browns

Robert Alvarez
October 31, 2019 at 8:40 pm ET

The Patriots entered Sunday’s matchup with the Cleveland Browns on Sunday seeking to become the third team under Bill Belichick to start a season 8-0.

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

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It’s all clicking… #LFG

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Locked in.

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The Patriots jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter courtesy of the “boogeymen” defense, a squirrel, and the Cleveland Browns beating themselves.

 

 

 

In the second quarter, the Browns cut into the Patriots lead courtesy of a Baker Mayfield touchdown pass to Demetrius Harris.

A 17-7 New England lead was taken to halftime.

The Browns opened up the second half with a field goal to cut the deficit to 17-10 as the Patriots offense struggled to pull away.

A James White 59 yard run reignited the Patriots.

Tom Brady found Julian Edelman for a second time to push the lead back up to 24-10.

https://twitter.com/thecheckdown/status/1188582989409579008?s=20

 

In the fourth quarter the Patriots defense shut down the Browns the remainder of the game.

A field goal by both sides concluded the scoring as the Patriots improved to 8-0 with a 27-13 victory.

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Football guy weather ⛈ #OnToBaltimore

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Great team win ‼️ #LFG

A post shared by Mohamed Sanu Sr. (@mohamedsanu) on

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☔️ ☔️☔️ 8-0

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W.

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Patriots Week 8 Report Card, Defense Shines in 27-13 Win Over Cleveland

Steve Balestrieri
October 29, 2019 at 7:18 am ET

 Patriots Improve to 8-0 at the halfway mark of the season

The Patriots defense put the team on their back early in this one, forcing three Cleveland turnovers in three consecutive snaps to springboard the team out to an early 17-0 lead in the first quarter. They held Baker Mayfield to under 200 yards passing and frustrated the talented Browns wide receivers.

The shorthanded offense sputtered a bit but came up with a key drive in the third quarter when the Browns threatened to crawl back into the game. The Patriot played perhaps their worst game of the year, but it was more than enough to down the mistake-filled Browns.

So, while the Patriots aren’t perfect, they are certainly undefeated. Check out our grades and see how the team fared in this week’s win.

Quarterback: B

Tom Brady completed 20 of 36 passes for 259 yards with two touchdowns in Sunday’s win. Dealing with the absence of three starting offensive linemen, two tight ends, both fullbacks and with a WR who had been on the team just a few days, he ran the offense as well as one could expect. 

Despite having to get rid of the ball very quickly because of pass protection issues, Brady still had several nice throws. His movement in the pocket, sliding to the right and hitting Julian Edelman for a 14-yard touchdown was a nice play. He delivered a beautiful deep ball right on the money to Phillip Dorsett. And threw a dart down the seam to Ben Watson. 

Running Backs: B-

The running game continues to sputter but things got off to a good start on Sunday afternoon before grinding to a halt later in the game. Sony Michel got off to a nice start and broke a couple of nice runs, breaking tackles, giving the Patriots some early balance. Michel finished with 74 yards on 21 carries (3.5-yard average). 

But when Cleveland knew they were going to run late in the game, the running game ceased. James White and Rex Burkhead didn’t fare any better with five carries for eight yards. The issue wasn’t with the running backs but with the blocking up front.

White, however, was a big factor in the passing game catching four passes for 75 yards including a huge 59-yarder that led to a touchdown that broke the game open in the second half. Burkhead after missing the past few games had one catch for nine yards.

Wide Receivers: B

Julian Edelman and James White were the biggest targets in the passing game (no surprises there) and each came through in their normal fashion. Edelman had a game-high eight receptions for 78 yards with two touchdown catches. White, as mentioned above had four for 75. Phillip Dorsett had three catches for 43 yards. 

Newcomer Mohamed Sanu played in 37 snaps, which was over half, considering he just arrived last week, that number was surprisingly high. He chipped in with a pair of catches for 23 yards. His numbers will increase every week as he gains a better grasp of the offense. He was right with White downfield blocking on his 59-yard catch and run. That had to get the attention of the coaching staff. 

Jakobi Meyers was targeted just twice and had one catch for five yards.

Tight Ends: B-

Ben Watson and Eric Tomlinson both saw considerable action with Tomlinson logging in nearly half of the offensive snaps and Watson around 70 percent. Tomlinson did a good job in the run blocking game inside, he sprang Michel for a nice run up the middle sealing the linebacker off in a play that was highlighted on the telecast.

Watson caught the only pass he was targeted with but it was a big one, a 26-yard rope from Brady down the seam that set up the team inside the 10-yard line. We can Watson’s role in the passing game expanding in the near future.

Offensive Line: C-

The offensive line was missing another key piece in Shaq Mason, the left guard was ruled out and James Ferentz took his place. Ferentz stepped up and played all 69 offensive snaps. However, with three of the five starters out, it is little wonder that the unit struggled in both the running game and pass protection. 

Early results were good in the running game, but they tapered off to nearly nothing late in the game when the Browns knew the Patriots were going to run. Trying to close out the game by running the ball once again failed and continues to be an issue. 

Pass protection wasn’t good on Sunday. The Browns sacked Brady three times and he was forced to get rid of the ball far too often. Health is the biggest factor in holding back this unit right now. 

 Defensive Line: B

The defensive line had some issues in the running game, part of it was by design as they were being aggressive in getting after QB Baker Mayfield, but they were pushed around a bit as well. But they tightened things up when they had to. It is an issue that they’ll address in the meeting rooms to be sure. 

But they did a very good job of getting pressure on Mayfield. Lawrence Guy perfectly read the shovel pass coming to Jarvis Landry and blew up the play in the backfield intercepting the pass to boot. Adam Butler continues his high level of play with two sacks, three tackles for loss and a pair of QB hits.

Linebackers: A-

Jamie Collins was the star of the group again. Seemingly everywhere on the field, Collins logged 13 tackles, 1.5 sacks, 1.5 tackles for a loss and two quarterback hits. Kyle Van Noy caused the first turnover, setting the edge and as the blocker was going to the ground he kicked the ball out of his own runner’s hands. Van Noy added a sack.

Dont’a Hightower scored the first touchdown of the game on a scoop and score off a Nick Chubb fumble, caused by Van Noy. Hightower was beaten for a 21-yard touchdown pass in the first half where he took the wrong angle inside and was beaten to the pylon. 

Chase Winovich in limited snaps added a half-sack and a QB hit. Overall the Patriots sacked Mayfield five times. ***Note*** The Patriots defense in 2018 had 30 sacks for the entire season. The defense this year has 31 with the season just half gone.  

Secondary: A

The secondary continues their outstanding play of 2019 limiting the Browns to under 200 yards passing. Stephon Gilmore once again goes to the head of the class. Going against the dangerous and explosive Odell Beckham Jr., Gilmore easily won this matchup. He held Beckham to four catches for 21 yards until a late garbage time 31 yarder. The Patriots will take that all day long. 

Jonathan Jones continues his strong play in the slot and showed tremendous speed while chasing down Chubb and causing the fumble to take away a scoring opportunity from the Browns. Jason McCourty and J.C. Jackson were solid.  

Pat Chung returned from injury and he, Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon continue their strong play at the back end and in the box. Missed tackles were an issue for the entire defense but the weather no doubt had a hand in that. But give Chubb credit, he runs hard and is a tough guy to bring down, rain or shine.

Special Teams: C+

Mike Nugent had a block on a 29-yard field goal attempt and badly missed another. Jake Bailey had a good game with a 45.4 yard average with one punt inside the 20 and another that was a touchback. The coverage units did a very good job on a dangerous returner in Dontrelle Hilliard. The return game didn’t do much

Coaches: A-

The Patriots coaching staff were working on a short week. They wanted to get off to a quick start and they did, racing out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter. That was huge in putting the Browns and their coaches behind the eight-ball. They weren’t up to the task. 

Bill Belichick got his 300th career win while Freddy Kitchens showed he has a long, long way to go. Josh McDaniels because of injuries and new personnel had to limit the playbook somewhat, and he’s still searching to find the offense its identity.   

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

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

 

5 Thoughts Following the Patriots Win Over the Browns

Ian Logue
October 28, 2019 at 11:07 am ET

The Patriots improved to 8-0 on Sunday with their win over the Browns and here are some thoughts on the victory:

1) It can’t be said enough how much Bill Belichick has meant to this franichise and it was only fitting that his 300th career win came in front of the home crowd at Gillette Stadium who, despite the rain, gave their coach quite the ovation at the end of the game.

The fact it also happened as head coach of the team he earned his first victory against (he got his first win after beating the Patriots as head coach of the Browns back on 9/8/91), along with beating the Browns, his previous head coaching job prior to his arrival in New England, was a nice bit of poetic justice. For anyone who followed Belichick during those days in Cleveland, it’s still a little tough to understand why people felt he did so poorly during his first coaching stint.

During his first three seasons from 1991-1993, he finished 6-10, 7-9 and 7-9 as he revamped the roster and then came out in 1994 and led them to an 11-5 record, which even included a playoff win over the Patriots.

But the following season when it was announced that the Browns were suddenly being relocated to Baltimore was when the wheels came off, which had nothing to do with Belichick. During a documentary, Belichick brought to light what a tumultuous period that was for both he and the players and it played a key role in the fact that decision, not Belichick, was the reason things fell apart.

It’s good news for the Patriots, who ultimately ended up being the place he got his second opportunity. Fortunately, we know how things have turned out and seeing him set himself among greats such as George Halas and Don Shula is only fitting. What’s even more incredible is the fact he’s done it during the salary cap era, finishing with a winning season every year he’s been here, while also winning 10 or more games every season going back to 2003. He even did it in 2008 without Tom Brady, after Brady was lost mere minutes into that season.

He’s the best ever and each week is another little notch as he continues etching himself into the record books. But Sunday was a historic milestone that while the weather was far from perfect, the result certainly was as the Patriots remained perfect and won their eight game of the season.


Nice start for Sanu in his debut.

2) The weather likely spoiled a potentially more productive day for newcomer Mohamed Sanu, but what we saw from him Sunday was hopefully a sign of things to come.

Sanu finished the game with two receptions on the afternoon, with his first coming on a 4th-and-4 late in the first half. It was a big play and extended the drive, getting the Patriots down in scoring territory. Unfortunately, the drive eventually stalled and Mike Nugent’s field goal was blocked, but it doesn’t change the fact that he appears like he’ll be a good fit in this offense.

The big thing that stood out was the energy and intensity he played with, which was a stark contrast from Josh Gordon, who looked pretty tired and worn down during his final outings. Sanu took some big shots on Sunday but popped right back up and got back in the huddle and was also spotted doing a good job blocking on run plays and overall played pretty well.

He was targeted 5 times and while he only had two receptions, the rain played a part in a couple of those missed connections. But if initial impressions are any indication, it should be fun to see his contributions in the coming weeks now that he’s part of this offense.


The defense was big again on Sunday.

3) Sunday was another unbelievable day for the defense, which set the tone early.

The Patriots got their first touchdown of the day off of a fumble by running back Nick Chubb, with Dont’a Hightower scooping it up in stride and taking off 26-yards into the end zone to give New England a 10-0 advantage, but the most impressive play came on Cleveland’s next snap from scrimmage.

After Chubb broke off a 44-yard run down to the Patriots 16, Jonathan Jones, who initially fell down, got back up and sprinted the length of the field and came in and punched the football out, with Devin McCourty falling on the football at the New England 4-yard line. That was big, because had the Browns gotten into the end zone they would have been back in the game and it could have changed the momentum.

Instead, Jones’ effort fired up his group, who came after Baker Mayfield on the Browns’ first play of their ensuing drive and Lawrence Guy stepped in front of a short pass from Mayfield to Jarvis Landry, intercepting the pass and giving the Patriots the football at the Browns’ 11-yard line. Two plays later, Brady hit Edelman for an 8-yard touchdown and the Patriots were in command at 17-0.

It wasn’t perfect, as the Browns did have a fairly decent day running the football, with Chubb finishing with 131-yards on the day. However, considering the Browns were probably the most talented offense they’ve faced, New England held them to 3-of-12 (25%) on third down and just 13 points, making key plays when they needed to.

They still lead the league in points-per-game allowed (7.6) and Guy’s interception gave them 19 picks for the season, an NFL best. They also lead the league with 31-sacks after taking Mayfield down 5 times on Sunday.

Overall, it was a solid day’s work against a pretty good offense. The big test now is up next as the Patriots start getting ready for the Ravens, who are second in the NFL in yards-per-game and second in the league in points-per-game behind New England. They also lead the NFL in average time of possession.

4) Sunday’s game highlighted a solid afternoon for running back Sony Michel, who had a pretty good performance against the Browns’ defense.

He finished Sunday’s contest carrying 21 times for 74-yards, averaging 3.5 yards per game. But the thing that stood out was the fact Michel did a better job accelerating
and darting through openings against Cleveland’s defense, which gave us glimpses of the player we saw quite a bit last season.

And it’s not like the Browns defense wasn’t tough. They stopped Michel and Burkhead for either a loss or no gain seven times on Sunday, as well as another for a loss by Edelman. But the fact Michel was able to do what he did in those conditions was big as it kept Cleveland off balance just enough for Brady to throw for over 250-yards in driving rain.

A lot of the credit obviously goes to the guys up front, as they appear to be making progress. But this is the time of year where you need to see that improvement and hopefully Sunday is a sign of things to come.


Despite tough conditions, Brady played well Sunday.

5) Speaking of Brady, give him credit for the way he orchestrated the offense on Sunday, with the veteran making a couple of key plays in big moments.

One of the first was a perfectly thrown 33-yard pass to Phillip Dorsett on their second drive of the game, putting New England in business in Browns territory. It eventually led to a 20-yard field goal by Mike Nugent to give them an early 3-0 lead.

His next big play came on 2nd-and-7 from the Browns’ 8-yard line following Guy’s interception. Facing pressure, Brady rolled right and threw a perfect strike to Edelman, who caught the ball in stride and slashed into the end zone. That touchdown was Brady’s 12th of the season and also put him in the record books as the most touchdown passes in a season by a 42 year-old quarterback, breaking the previous mark of 11 by Warren Moon in 1998.

His throw to Sanu on the 4th-and-4 play was also terrific, firing a strike between the numbers as Sanu caught it with defenders bearing down on him and he turned just quickly enough to reach the first down marker.

Given the conditions, it was a terrific showing against a pretty good football team and Brady did a good job against a Browns defense that got fairly good pressure on him.

With a trip to Baltimore up next Sunday night, this will potentially be their biggest test of the season thus far.

Expect this one to be tough, as the Ravens are also coming off a bye and have had extra time to start preparing for this one. To add a little extra to this rivalry, Baltimore wasted no time making things interesting, having added recently released safety Jordan Richards and signing another defensive player in Ufomba Kamalu off New England’s practice squad.

That’s just Ravns head coach John Harbaugh being Harbaugh, likely looking for whatever edge he can find against a team that has always made things tough against him. Whether or not any of it really makes a difference this Sunday remains to be seen.

Undefeated but Imperfect Patriots Improve to 8-0 With Win Over Cleveland

Steve Balestrieri
October 27, 2019 at 10:23 pm ET

The Patriots took care of business at home on a very rainy and windy Gillette Stadium on Sunday and went to 8-0 on the season with a 27-13 win over the Cleveland Browns.

Bill Belichick joined the 300 club as today the win was the 300th of his career, the fastest any coach has ever won that many. Belichick was victorious in his 434th game as a head coach. (Hint, that is a pretty darned good winning percentage)

Tom Brady waxed poetic in his praise for Belichick. Asked about the significance of the coach’s 300th win, he had this to say.

“Three hundred wins is pretty spectacular. He’s the best coach of all time and it’s a privilege to play for him for as many years as I have. He’s taught me so much on and off the field, just been a great mentor for me,” Brady said.  “

Being here 20 years ago – it was his first year, it was my first year. It’s been a great journey. Just proud of him, everything he’s accomplished. Amazing to think that he coached for another place and they didn’t think he was good enough, and then he comes here and does a great job. It’s a great celebration for him and certainly hard-earned, well-deserved. And the only thing better than 300 is 301. So, we’ll be back at it this week.”

So, while the team is undefeated, they are far from perfect. But the Patriots have a way to bring out the very worst in their opponents and they used the Browns’ many miscues to put this one in the rearview mirror early. 

The Patriots defense forced turnovers on three straight offensive snaps by Cleveland to take a 17-0 lead in the first quarter and the Browns could never recover. The first turnover was created on a solid play by Kyle Van Noy and Nick Chubb’s fumble was scooped up by Dont’a Hightower and returned for a touchdown. 

The next turnover occurred when Chubb rolled for 44 yards and appeared headed for a touchdown. But Jonathan Jones ran him down and tomahawked the ball out. Devin McCourty recovered for the Patriots at the five-yard line.

The third turnover was perhaps the most bizarre of all. The Browns attempted a shovel pass to Jarvis Landry. Lawrence Guy read the play and got penetration inside and actually made contact with Landry before he was in position. Baker Mayfield should have never attempted the pass and in essence, he passed it right to Guy who had to be the most surprised player in Gillette Stadium. 

Not many teams can spot an opponent 17 points on the road and come back to win. Especially with the weather conditions the way they were and facing a defense that has been playing like the Patriots’ have thus far this year. 

Cleveland hung around, thanks to the terrific running of Chubb who settled down after his first two miscues and pounded out 131 yards on 20 carries. But the Browns never gave the impression they were seriously threatening to challenge for this game. 

Although they made things interesting with a field goal to open the third quarter to make the score 17-10, the Patriots immediately answered with Tom Brady leading the team on an 84-yard drive in seven plays putting them up 24-10 and pretty much putting this one to bed. The key play was a 59-yard pass play from Brady to James White on a 3rd and 10. Brady capped off the drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Julian Edelman, his second touchdown reception of the game. 

Baker Mayfield completed 20 of 31 passes for 194 yards with a touchdown and an interception. While it wasn’t his worst game of the season by a long stretch, it wasn’t a great one either. Mayfield broke up a streak of 71 straight points by the Patriots when he connected with Demetrius Harris for a 21-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Harris got by Hightower who tried to play inside leverage. Harris broke for the pylon and Mayfield hit him with a nicely thrown ball. It would be the only touchdown of the game for the Browns. 

The Patriots defense held Cleveland to just 13 points and generated another three turnovers while adding five more sacks to their total while scoring another touchdown. It wasn’t perfect there either as Chubb and the ground game gained far too much yardage. But Mayfield and the passing game never got untracked. 

Stephon Gilmore and Odell Beckham Jr. were matched up and the talented wide receiver had five catches for 52 yards but 31 of them came late on a deep pass at garbage time when this one was already decided. This match goes to Gilmore. Jarvis Landry led all Browns receivers with 5 catches for 65 yards on 10 targets. 

Which brings us to the Patriots offense. The problems at the offensive line with replacements at the center, left tackle, and right guard this week are becoming a show stopper. The running game could muster only 79 yards on 27 carries, a measly 2.9-yard average. This against a team allowing 154 yards per game. 

Sony Michel had 74 yards on 21 carries but his yards per carry average suffered late in the game when the Browns knew the Patriots were trying to run out the clock and they stuffed him time and again. 

Brady was only sacked three times but the pressure was such that he is forced to get rid of the ball in under two seconds or he’s going to get hit more often than not. The playmakers on offense aren’t the problem. When he did have time to throw, he made nice throws to Edelman for a pair of touchdowns, a nice deep throw to Phillip Dorsett and a really nice seam pass to Ben Watson for 26 yards. The protection has to improve. And the run blocking has to vastly improve. 

Newcomer Mohamed Sanu had a pair of catches including a nice first down where he just made it to the sticks before getting popped but was able to hold on to the ball. He’ll get more involved the longer he’s here and learns more of the offense. 

In our pregame key matchups, we said that Chubb was the key for the defense and that James White and Edelman were the go-to guys on offense. Edelman had eight catches for 78 yards with two touchdowns. White had four catches for 75 yards on five targets. 

So the team moves on to Baltimore “for their first real test” of the season. They’re 8-0 at the halfway point of the season. Unbeaten but hardly perfect. They’ll be taking on a Ravens team that is on their own bye week. They’ll be rested and at home. 

So, be forewarned, the airwaves will be filled this week with ways that the Ravens can beat New England and reasons given why you should fear Baltimore.  We’ll get into that more as the week goes on. 

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