Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 01-26 and AFC East notes this week.
We hope that everyone is keeping busy without the Patriots being involved in the Super Bowl this year, it is a different feeling to be sure from what we’ve been accustomed to (spoiled?). But it does promise to be an intriguing game with the strength against strength. The explosive Chiefs’ offense against the Niner’s defense.
Quick Hitters For the Pats and the NFL:
Tom Brady – sent Eli Manning a message congratulating him on his retirement. And then added, that he wished he didn’t win any Super Bowls in his career in a tongue-in-cheek admission that it still bothers him.
AB – Crickets… those fans clamoring for the Patriots and skewering Bill Belichick and Robert Kraft for not bringing back Brown are awfully quiet on social media right now. As we said back in September, his on-field talent is remarkable but didn’t think his baggage was worth it. And judging from what transpired this week, the team was absolutely right.
Drew Bledsoe – Shared a funny story on Brady this week, saying that he didn’t think Brady would ever be a starter, and considered him to be a “Jason Garrett” type of QB with a long career as a backup. And Bledsoe tried to get his financial adviser to take Brady on to protect his money… Drew missed it juuuust by a little bit there.
Brady Pt. 2 – I read with interest what Adam Schefter wrote about the Patriots not going to wait on Brady to make his decision this year, harkening back to Gronk’s decision to retire, coming at somewhat of the 11th hour.
But… coming from the cheap seats, the two situations don’t really compare. First, Gronk was already under contract and was trying to make up his mind on whether to retire or not. Brady has made it pretty clear that he intends on playing in 2020. And, don’t the Patriots have to make an offer first before Brady can “make up his mind?”
Joejuan Williams – The Patriots 2nd round draft pick was arrested in Nashville and charged with drug possession. He was stopped by police and is facing charges for speeding, possession of a controlled substance, possession of legend drugs without a prescription, and possession of drug paraphernalia. Not a good look.
4th & 2 Podcast – If you’ve haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, Please do check it out.
Thoughts on the Aaron Hernandez Docuseries:
I watched the Netflix mini-series on Aaron Hernandez and wasn’t too impressed by it. While on one hand, they tried to cram as much of his own words in there with recorded jail phone calls, they missed the mark (IMO) on this overall.
It seemed like the producers wanted to give every excuse for Hernandez, absolving him of his sociopathic behavior by blaming both the NFL and CTE. That is far too simplistic …and convenient for the people involved in the film. AH wasn’t the victim here, Odin Lloyd was along with Safiro Furtado and Daniel de Abreu.
While I thought the cameos by some of the sports reporters and people who knew him growing up were well done and provided good background, adding in Ryan O’Callaghan and Chris Borland was unnecessary. Neither had any connection to Hernandez, and it was a stretch.
No new ground was broken here, we don’t know what motivated him anymore now than when this all took place. But he hardly came off as a sympathetic figure, despite showing human sides of his personality as well.
Belichick’s Staff Gets a Boost:
The Patriots have made two additions to their coaching staff this week. Longtime offensive assistant Jedd Fisch has been hired, first reported by the Globe’s Jim McBride. And Vinnie Sunseri from Alabama has also been brought in.
Fisch was coaching with the Rams as their assistant offensive coordinator. Fisch coached with the Denver Broncos in 2008. He was the Jacksonville Jaguars’ offensive coordinator in 2013 and 2014 and the Seattle Seahawks’ quarterbacks coach in 2010.
Vinnie Sunseri, a graduate assistant with the Alabama Crimson Tide has also been hired. After Joe Judge was hired by the New York Giants as their new head coach, the Patriots needed a Special Teams Coordinator and Wide Receivers’ coach as well as a DL coach, as Bret Bielema left to go with Judge to New York.
It hasn’t been released yet what roles that Fisch and Sunseri will be holding with the team yet.
Patriots Scouts “Gushing Over” SMU WR James Proche:
The Patriots need some playmakers to help the passing game in 2020. One player that has gotten a lot of early attention is SMU WR James Proche. NESN’s Doug Kyed was among the first to report that according to Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline, Patriots scouts at the 2020 Senior Bowl were “gushing over” the wideout down in Mobile.
His last two seasons were extremely productive ones for Proche. In 2018, he caught 93 passes for 1199 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Mustangs. He followed that up with a stellar senior season grabbing 111 passes for 1225 yards and 15 touchdowns. He also can carry the ball on jet sweeps and return kicks.
Proche is a bit on the small side at 5’10, 196, for comparison sake, Julian Edelman is 5’10, 198. Like Edelman, he’s not fast but relies on excellent route running and quickness off the line to get open. He is expected to be a slot receiver in the NFL. Proche is considered a 4th round prospect and the Patriots have three selections in the third round and a single fourth-rounder.
We’ve been beating the drum for a speedy wide receiver this season. And not for the deep threat which everyone keeps reminding me with is not a big part of the Patriots offense. Speed wins in the NFL. And speed mixed with route running is tough to stop.
Look at the Chiefs offense. While their passing game thrives on the deep ball, they eviscerate teams who play far off the ball, respecting that speed, by throwing short passes underneath where those same players turn a 3-4 yard slant into big chunk plays down the field. They have plenty of possession types of guys, and Proche, if they actually draft him would look to be an Edelman replacement down the road. But we’re a long way from that just yet.
Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:
Bills Success Can’t Shake that Buffalo is “Least Favorite NFL City to Visit” in Player’s Poll:
The Buffalo Bills are improving and made the postseason this year, but the city is still considered the Siberia of the NFL. The Athletic did an unscientific poll among players at the Pro Bowl and Buffalo was the runaway winner for the “Least favorite city to visit”.
Buffalo received 10 votes as the worst city to visit on the road. “No charm, and all the negatives of Green Bay,” one unnamed player said.
Of course, winning trumps most negativity. If the Bills, who have turned the corner from the frustration of many years with no playoff berths, can continue this upward trend, perceptions will change and more free agents will consider moving to Buffalo
Dolphins Still In on Tua? May Opt For Herbert or Love in the Draft:
The Miami Dolphins are in the market for a QB in the NFL Draft. But picking at #5, they know that Joe Burrow will be long gone as he’s considered virtually a lock to be taken #1 by the Bengals. What’s next for the Fins?
Tua Tagovailoa was considered an early target by Miami, but that was before he injured his hip. But Justin Herbert and Jordan Love are gaining momentum as top tier prospects at the QB position and the Senior Bowl on Saturday (this was written Friday night) may have a lot to do with that.
Tagovailoa could still find himself as the QB of the Dolphins but with Miami sitting at #5, they may have to move up and leapfrog other teams if they feel he’s the guy. If Miami opts to wait for their second pick at #18, they could then lose out on either Herbert and Love especially if another team moves up in the draft.
Love is getting some favorable comparisons with his arm strength and on-field mentality to Patrick Mahomes. The Dolphins will really have to do their homework and be prepared to pounce if the feeling is that other teams are going to move up.
Jets Looking to Bolster a Bad Offensive Line in 2020:
The New York Jets had a pretty awful year along their offensive line, and that unit did little to help 2nd year QB Sam Darnold or veteran RB Le’Veon Bell. The Jets offensive line was 30th in pass protection and 31st in run blocking according to Football Outsiders.
Jets GM Joe Douglas needs at least three new starters on the OL in 2020. They will attempt to remedy this both through free agency as well as the upcoming draft in April. Included among the free agents… Patriots left guard Joe Thuney, who may be on Gang Green’s radar.
“Relative to the 2020 team, we have more time and we’ll try to use that time as productively as we can. We’ll sit back, we’ll take a look at what the priorities are, what we can try to accomplish and then make the most efficient use of this time that we can. That’s what we’ll do. Has all of that been laid out yet? Absolutely not. That will be one of the first orders of business.” – Bill Belichick on the extra time he has to prepare for the 2020 NFL Draft with the Patriots early exit from the playoffs.
“So, how was your week?”
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