Tag Archives: Patriots

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.

Adam Butler Has Stepped Up His Game For the Patriots Defense

Steve Balestrieri
October 17, 2019 at 7:58 am ET

The New England Patriots defense is off to a tremendous start in 2019, thru the first six games, they’re off to an unprecedented start and are playing some tremendous football. As Bill Belichick would say, “there is a long way to go”, (there is), and the true meat of their schedule lies in front of them. However, regardless of the opponents, the way the defense is playing right now is awfully impressive. 

And speaking of an unprecedented start, third-year defensive lineman Adam Butler has been playing tremendous football. In his first two seasons, the UDFA from Vanderbilt was used mainly as a third-down pass rusher. In 2018, Butler played on 36 percent of the team’s defensive snaps and garnered 3 sacks, 2 passes batted down and one forced fumble. 

Through the first six games this season, Butler’s playing has increased to 50 percent of the defensive snaps. This off-season the Patriots 4-3 base defense has morphed into more of a 3-4 base but they are very multiple and switch fronts and looks constantly. And Butler’s rise in the interior DL has given way to better production, he’s already notched 2.5 sacks, a pair of passes knocked down and 3 quarterback hits. 

Butler’s rise has been a major factor in the reason that Michael Bennett’s snap counts have decreased so much. It isn’t so much that Bennett has been playing poorly, but that Butler has played so well. 

Butler and defensive line coach Bret Bielema spoke in the spring about Butler having a bigger impact and becoming a more complete player. Bielema, it should be noted, that besides being a head coach at Wisconsin and Arkansas, he was a defensive coordinator prior to that at both Kansas State and Wisconsin. He comes from a defensive background. And he’s liking what he’s seeing from the 3rd-year lineman. 

“He’s long, he’s athletic; he has a way to bend. He’s one of those guys that really does very seldom ever get out of position. He has very good balance; understands leverage. He’s a very intelligent player,” Bielema said on a conference call to the media. 

“He truly is a guy that really gets it, understands it, can process it and the thing this year working with him during the course of a game, he literally understands when things happen literally on the spot. He can come to the sideline, digest what just happened, what they’re trying to do, how we can combat it. He gives a lot of really good information. As coaches, sometimes you don’t get all the most accurate information sometimes, but I will say that AB really does take a lot of pride in his skill set on game day and that’s what’s really shown up.”

Butler still is playing his role as a designated interior pass rusher but has expanded his role into more of a base role and has earned his coaches’ respect. Bill Belichick spoke about him after the Buffalo game. 

“Adam’s a very intelligent player and he has very good football instincts,” said Belichick. “So you can give him a lot of information and he kind of knows when to apply it and when not to apply it. So his ability to do the right thing at the right time based on a call, or based on the way that the line blocks, or kind of the protections they use, things like that in the pass rush, even in the running game; he does a good job of recognizing those things quickly and making good decisions, which is really hard to do when you’re in-line like that.”

Belichick added, “All players get better with coaching, all players get better with experience, but his growth in three years now has really been impressive.”

Butler’s rise has been impressive in his third year. On a defense that has been firing on all cylinders, Butler doesn’t do a lot of the flashy stuff that ends up on the highlight reels but he’s been playing his role extremely well and for the 6’5, 300-pound lineman, his coaches have seen his value. And they’re rewarding him with more playing time and responsibility. 

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.

 

Patriots Defense Stifles the Bills, Win 16-10, Observations

Steve Balestrieri
September 30, 2019 at 5:51 am ET

The Patriots are 4-0 and returned home with a hard-fought 16-10 win over the Bills in upstate New York. While they won’t get any style points for this one, a win is a win, and a division win on the road is always important. 

At the quarter-point of the season the Patriots have a one-game lead over Buffalo and have already beaten all three teams in the division. They are also one of only three undefeated teams left. But this one wasn’t like any of the previous three wins, where they won in a cakewalk. This was one of those fingernails on the chalkboard kind of uncomfortable. 

But first the good news. The defense continues its stellar play holding the Bills to just 10 points. The Bills had 200 net passing yards as the defense piled up five more sacks totaling 40 yards, and eight quarterback hits. They also intercepted four passes. 

The front seven, despite missing Dont’a Hightower was very impressive again and today they were led by Kyle Van Noy, who was immense out on the field. Van Noy made eight tackles, including two for a loss, two sacks, and four QB hits. His final QB hit on Matt Barkley forced his pass to go straight up in the air and it was picked off by Jamie Collins to seal the victory. 

J.C. Jackson also had quite a day, intercepting two passes and blocking a punt that was returned for a touchdown by Matthew Slater, his first in his NFL career. Devin McCourty had his fourth interception in as many games this season early in the game. 

The defense had Josh Allen flummoxed badly in the first half, he was constantly trying to hit the homerun pass deep down the field that wasn’t there. His play was much to the chagrin on Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll, who was openly chastising him on the sideline after one interception.

But there were enough plays to give Bill Belichick plenty of fodder for the film room on Monday morning. On Frank Gore’s early 20-yard run, Ja’Whaun Bentley was in perfect position by overshot the gap and left the middle wide open, which the savvy veteran made them pay. 

On Gore’s later 41-yard run, Jackson had a perfect opportunity to wrap up Gore after about a 2-3 yard gain. Instead, he tried to turn his shoulder and bump him down. He bounced off harmlessly and Gore quickly picked up steam and was off the races. Jackson also left his feet on a corner blitz, allowing Allen to easily sidestep him and hit Cole Beasley down inside the red zone. 

However, overall the defense was outstanding again and was on the field an awful lot in the second half. Buffalo was just 2-13 on third down. The defense pulled out this win for the team today. 

Now the not-so-good news… the offense was pretty much awful all day long. Give Buffalo’s defense a ton of credit, we stated in our pregame matchups that the Bills defense is legit. Their secondary is very good and they have a good front seven. 

And once again, everything stems from the offensive line. Fans can clamor for the team to sit Sony Michel all they want, but until the offensive line begins getting a push up front, these issues will persist. The Bills front seven owned the line of scrimmage, far too often, as in the Jets game, they got zero push and frequently got pushed backward. 

It isn’t just the tackles either it is the entire unit, including guards Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason. They are not off to a good start in 2019, and Dante Scarnecchia has some work to do with his group. 

The Patriots running game had 74 yards on 23 carries which isn’t going to get it done. Now, Michel doesn’t seem to be hitting the line quickly enough, but that could be that there just isn’t anywhere for him to go. On the few times that they opened some holes he did seem to move much better.

Tom Brady had a pretty awful day as well, completing just 18-39 for 150 yards with no TDs and an interception. That one was a particularly bad decision. There was nowhere for him to throw and he tried to force into the corner of the end zone, where it was easily picked off by Matt Milano. It cost them points and gave Buffalo a huge lift in momentum. 

Brady wasn’t helped by his wide receivers, who were mostly invisible and relegated to milk carton status. Josh Gordon, Phillip Dorsett, and Julian Edelman were targeted 23 times, they totaled nine catches for 86 yards. Dorsett, in particular, was having a rough afternoon. Targeted nine times he had two catches for 10 yards. That’s not helping your QB out…at all. Granted Edelman was far less than 100 percent.

The only bright spot in the passing game was James White who had eight catches for 57 yards. The offense generated 11 first downs….burn the tape.

And for the really not-so-good news, Stephen Gostkowski missed another extra point today…it is definitely in his head right now…oy vey. 

And we can’t close without mentioning the injury that Josh Allen suffered, Bills fans and media were screaming that Jonathan Jones should have been ejected. First of all, Allen was still moving forward and trying to get the first down. What was Jones to do, let him pass? It was clear Jones turned his shoulder and attempted to tackle him short of the sticks. There was helmet-to-helmet contact, initiated by Allen. Watch the tape at full speed. It was unfortunate but Allen was hardly a “defenseless runner”. It is more sour grapes and something we’ve become very accustomed to around these parts. 

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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.

 

Patriots Fourth And Two – Season Predictions And Opener Preview

Russ Goldman
September 4, 2019 at 3:48 pm ET

In this episode, Steve and Derek shared their views on the final Patriots Roster for the new season. They also gave their season predictions for each Division. They finished up by previewing the upcoming season opener for the Patriots against the Steelers.

Patriots Fourth And Two: Training Camp Review From: Patriots Fourth And Two

Russ Goldman
August 6, 2019 at 2:39 pm ET

In this episode, Derek and Steve share their views on Patriots Training Camp so far.

Patriots Fourth And Two Podcast: Analysis Of The Patriots Regular Season Schedule

Russ Goldman
July 11, 2019 at 1:24 pm ET

In this episode, we analyzed the Patriots regular season schedule, and we broke it up into four parts. We also talked about where we see as the toughest stretch of this upcoming season. We ended the show by giving our season predictions.

Patriots Fourth And Two Podcast: The Nick Caserio Situation

Russ Goldman
June 21, 2019 at 7:43 am ET

In this episode, we discussed the Nick Caserio situation, which involved interest from the Houston Texans, and we looked at it from many different angles. During the show we talked about the Patriots role in this situation, along with potentially Jack Easterby’s involvement, and we also analyzed the Ben Volin article. I have a strong feeling you will find our discussion very interesting.

Patriots Fourth And Two Podcast: Patriots Mini Camp Observations

Russ Goldman
June 6, 2019 at 5:04 pm ET

In this episode, we discussed Patriots Mini Camp, as Steve Balestrieri was there, and he gave his takeaways from what he witnessed. We also talked about who was not there, and also what Tom Brady had to say at Mini Camp.

Patriots Fourth And Two: What Can Jamie Collins Offer The Patriots This Time Around?

Russ Goldman
May 16, 2019 at 2:28 pm ET

In this episode of Patriots Fourth And Two, we debated the signing of Jamie Collins, and what his arrival could mean for the team. We also discussed the other recent signings for the team which include Ben Watson. We finished up the show by talking about Rodney Harrison, who will be inducted into the Patriots Hall Of Fame.

Patriots Fourth And Two Podcast: Early Roster Building

Russ Goldman
May 2, 2019 at 5:38 pm ET

The three of us were back together, and the focus in this episode was early roster building. We first discussed several of the Patriots draft picks. 

After that, we talked about the importance of undrafted free agents to the roster building process. We also had a discussion on the positions of need that we feel the Patriots still should address. 

We ended the show by talking about the Patriots Hall Of Fame!