Tag Archives: Ryan Fitzpatrick

New England Patriots News 11-17, AFC East Notes

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

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

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

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

 Quick Hitters For the Pats and the NFL:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Miles Garrett Situation, Scary, Ugly, and Dangerous: 

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

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

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

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

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

What Is the NFL Doing With The Kaepernick Workout?

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

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

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

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

NFL Schedule Week 11, Who Are Your Winners:

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

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

TNF Browns over Pittsburgh 1-0

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

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

Week11 Thursday Night Football Browns over Pittsburgh

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills, Hauschka Looking to Rebound:

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

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

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

Dolphins’ Fitzpatrick Maintains His Love for the Game:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

________________

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

________________

“So, how was your week?”

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Quarterback: A-

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

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

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

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

Running Backs: A-

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

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

Wide Receivers: A-

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

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

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

Tight Ends: B

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

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

Offensive Line: B-

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

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

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

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

Defensive Line: A

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

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

Linebackers: A++

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

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

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

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

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

Secondary: A

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

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

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

Special Teams: B-

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

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

Coaches: A

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For now, the team is 2-0 and rolling very impressively defensively. Next week they return home to take on the New York Jets who play Cleveland on Monday Night Football this week.  

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

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

Patriots-Dolphins Week 2 Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
September 12, 2019 at 7:50 am ET

The Patriots head out on the road for the first time in 2019 as they travel to South Florida, to take on the Miami Dolphins. The Patriots are looking to get off to a 2-0 start and put behind them the slow starts that have earmarked earlier seasons.

Miami has a new coaching staff in place with Brian Flores, the former de facto Defensive Coordinator for New England serving as their new head coach. He has taken several former New England assistants with him, including Chad O’Shea who is the Dolphins Offensive Coordinator. 

This week’s game will be broadcast by CBS on Sunday, September 15 at 1:00 p.m. and can be seen locally on WBZ-TV Channel 4. Ian Eagle will handle play-by-play duties with Dan Fouts as the color analyst. Evan Washburn will work from 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 (1-0) are coming off a convincing 33-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Tom Brady threw for 341 yards and three touchdowns.

The Dolphins (0-1) were shellacked 59-10 by the Baltimore Ravens where Miami’s defense was gashed for 623 yards [265 on the ground, 378 in the air]. 

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 Dolphins have been playing each other since 1966. Miami holds the overall edge 55-52 with each team holding a huge edge in home games. Miami is 38-16 at home against New England while the Patriots are 36-17 all-time at home against the Dolphins. Bill Belichick’s record versus Miami with the Patriots is 24-14. In games in Miami, Tom Brady is 7-10, and the team is just 1-5 in their last six games there. 

The teams split last year’s contests with the Patriots blowing out Miami 38-7 at home and then losing 34-33 in December in the “Miracle in Miami” game.

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 Dolphins Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots running game didn’t have a great game last week, but it wasn’t all bad either. The team ended up with 99 yards on the ground against a very good Pittsburgh front seven. They’ll be looking to get Sony Michel untracked this week as he was bottled up against the Steelers last week. 

Miami was gashed badly by the Ravens in the opener to the tune of 265 yards and 5.8 yards per rushing attempt. They were overwhelmed at the point of attack and will be looking to do a much better job. They’ll need their big men up front, nose tackle Davon Godchaux, and ends John Jenkins and Christian Wilkins to be much better. If the Patriots big men in the middle, Ted Karras, Joe Thuney and Shaq Mason can get a push to the second level, the ground game will be successful. 

Look for plenty of the two-back sets with Michel, Rex Burkhead, and James White rotating in with James Develin leading the way. It will be interesting to see if the team activates Damien Harris this week, as he was removed from the injury report and having Brandon Bolden limited with a hamstring issue.

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

The Patriots passing game looked really good passing for 374 yards in the opener against the Steelers. Tom Brady was sharp and was getting everyone involved in the passing game. The pass protection against the top team in sacks from 2018 held up quite well. Isaiah Wynn shined in his first game but the team lost Marcus Cannon to a shoulder injury in the second half. His absence will be a place to watch this week. The team did sign veteran tackle Marshall Newhouse this week. 

The Dolphins pass defense was arguably more miserable than their run defense was last week. Lamar Jackson had a perfect passer rating and threw five touchdowns along with 324 yards passing. His backup RG III came in and was 6-6 for 55 yards with a touchdown. Ravens’ QBs were 23-26 for 378 yards with six TDs. The secondary has some good pieces there with Xavien Howard, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Reshad Jones, and Bobby McCain with a bunch of ex-Patriots, Eric Rowe, Johnson Bademosi, Jomal Wilz, and Ken Webster. 

The Patriots running game should open up play-action passing in this one. Seeing how the Dolphins choose to match up with Josh Gordon, Phillip Dorsett, and Julian Edelman with White and Burkhead out of the backfield will be an interesting part of the chess match. Flores knows the Patriots weapons well and he’ll be trying to counter their moves. The pass rush for Miami is key here. If Brady has time to throw, he should light them up again. It is unknown right now whether Antonio Brown [on Wednesday evening] will play. It may depend on how much of the offense he can learn in practice this week.  

Next up the Miami offense:

Dolphins RBs vs NE Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New England

The Dolphins rushing attack was put on the backburner early last week when they fell behind so far, so early. They have Kenyon Drake and Kalen Ballage toting the rock behind an offensive line with new pieces everywhere. 

Jesse Davis was moved to left tackle from the right side. Michael Dieter and Daniel Kilgore at LG and C respectively are the only carryovers. Right guard Danny Isadora and right tackle Julien Davenport are both new and started last week after coming to Miami after the initial 53-man cutdown. 

The Patriots front seven stuffed the Steelers rushing attack last week holding them to just 32 total yards. James Conner only gained 21 yards on 10 carries. The big men up front Danny Shelton, Lawrence Guy, and Michael Bennett held firm and allowed the linebackers to clean up. 

Although Drake has had success against the Patriots in the past, with this patchwork offensive line, it is tough to see Miami getting much going on the ground without them getting really creative here.  

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

Miami has surprisingly gone with veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick in the early going after they brought in second-year QB Josh Rosen earlier this year. Fitzpatrick has the capability to get really hot for a few games, as we’ve seen in the past, but overall he’s 2-9 in his career with the Bills and Jets against the Patriots. 

The skill players are good with DeVante Parker as their possession guy with Albert Wilson and Jakeem Grant as their outside guys with speed to burn. Tight Mike Gesicki will be someone to watch. But this offensive line will decide this matchup. Can they hold up? 

The Patriots defense was outstanding against the Steelers, with the secondary of Stephon Gilmore, Jonathan Jones, and Jason McCourty taking away the outside threats. Look for Pat Chung to cover Gesicki and that will be a great matchup to watch. 

I look for the Patriots left side to attack Miami’s right side of the OL. Davenport who came over from the Texans in the Laremy Tunsil deal gave up 12 sacks, 65 QB pressures and committed 16 penalties last year. Look for the Patriots to bring their pressure attacking the right side. 

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots Stephen Gostkowski had a really solid game after an uneven preseason. He hit on all three extra points and all four field goal attempts. Jake Bailey hit one boomer and one dud last week. But his holds on the field goals were spot on, something they struggled with a bit in preseason. The coverage units were solid and Gunner Olszewski had a nice debut with punt returns of 20 and 15 yards. 

Miami’s Jason Sanders booted a 54-yard field goal last week in one of the few bright spots of that game. Punter Matt Haack averaged 53.7 yards per punt. Their return game didn’t net much on the day.

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

Another year heading to the Patriots House of Horrors? New England is just 1-5 in their last six games in South Florida, including the past two. They always seem to save some of their worst football for games in South Florida. Can they turn that around and start the year off 2-0 and avoid the slow starts that have plagued the team in recent years?

Keys to the game from a Patriots perspective:

Be Aggressive and Get After Fitzpatrick – Look for the Patriots defense to be aggressive and attack the Miami offensive line here, while they try to set the tone of this one from the outset. Fitzpatrick isn’t the most mobile of QBs and the OL hasn’t played together for very long. Show them different fronts [Amoeba look with one down lineman] bring pressure and try to generate some turnovers. 

Jamie Collins, Michael Bennett, and rookie Chase Winovich are the players to watch here. They don’t want to lay back and allow Fitzpatrick to get into a rhythm. This secondary has shown it can play blanket coverage across the field, take advantage of it and force the issue. 

Run the Ball to Open up Play Action: The Patriots running game is looking to get untracked this week and this is a perfect time and place to do so. Miami hasn’t sorted things out yet and the ground game can set the tone for this one early. Michel, Burkhead, and White should give them plenty of yardage to open things up in the passing game. With play-action, Brady will have more open room across the middle and allow him more time to hit Gordon and Dorsett on the perimeter. It will be interesting to see if they give rookie Jakobi Meyers more snaps this week. We’re not counting on Antonio Brown playing in this one, but we’ll have to see how that plays out. 

Put Them Down Early: The Patriots have had a bad habit of letting the Dolphins hang around in games down in Miami and those have come back to haunt them. Sunday, they need to come out firing and put the Dolphins in the rearview mirror early. The confidence can’t be high there right now after last week’s debacle. 

Bill Belichick needs to get the team coming out fired up like this is a playoff game and approach it in that way. A couple of quick scores early and have the Dolphins on their heels. They have done that at home against the Dolphins seemingly every game, it is time to do so down there.  

___________

So, a lot of Patriots fans and some media have been playing up the familiarity idea that the Dolphins’ coaches know the Patriots and their system and know exactly how to attack them. And they point, successfully at the Lions and Titans games from a year ago. And it is a valid point…to a degree. 

But this New England team is a better one than took the field last year, and this Dolphins team is frankly, one that is going to struggle to win 3-4 games in 2019. The only thing holding the Patriots back this week is themselves. They should establish dominance early in this one. There won’t be any miracles this time.  Patriots 42-13

The “Knocking on Sevens’ Door” tour moves back to New England next week to take on the Jets.

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

Patriots 2019 Opponents, First Impressions of the Dolphins

Steve Balestrieri
September 11, 2019 at 9:07 am ET

The Miami Dolphins cleaned house this past spring and brought in a new coach, GM and cut their ties with several players. The new head coach Brian Flores spent many years in New England and played a big part in their Super Bowl championship over the Rams in February. 

So Miami came calling, feeling that they were heading nowhere with Adam Gase at the helm, where he was tied to QB Ryan Tannehill who, despite getting paid like a franchise QB, never produced on the field like one. 

If things didn’t seem bad enough, where many NFL analysts had the Dolphins finishing among the worst teams in the NFL in 2019, right before the regular season worse news hit. The front office traded left tackle Laremy Tunsil and WR Kenny Stills to the Texans.

Their first game was a nightmare with the Raven annihilating Miami 59-10. Baltimore rolled up an incredible 643 yards of offense, 378 through the air and 265 more rushing. Lamar Jackson threw five touchdown passes completing 17-20. Miami could only muster 200 yards of offense of their own. Fans were leaving in droves long before the game ended. 

So, here are our first impressions of the Dolphins of 2019:

Brian Flores and His Staff Have a Lot of Work to Do:

Flores, known affectionately as B-Flo by the players here knew that the Dolphins needed to clean house when he over the team this past winter. But perhaps maybe he didn’t realize how far they had to go. He brought several coaches from New England with him, including former Patriots WR coach Chad O’Shea, who is now the offensive coordinator. After coaching a team that was always in the running for a Super Bowl, Flores and his staff went about trying to change the culture in South Beach.

Management’s decision to jettison both Tunsil and Stills was a sign that the front office is intent on tanking the season, possibly with the hope of landing Tua Tagovailoa, the QB from Alabama despite the fact that they brought in Josh Rosen, a top 10 pick from just a year ago from the Cardinals. 

Last Sunday, the Dolphins had 14 players on the opening week roster that weren’t with the team during the preseason. And it showed on the field. With his former boss Bill Belichick and the Patriots coming to town this week, the Dolphins have a lot of issues to correct, in all three phases of the game. 

Several Dolphins Players Reportedly Already Want Out:

Following the 59-10 debacle in South Beach last week, there were reports that several players are wanting to jump ship. Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk reported that  “multiple Dolphins players contacted their agents after Sunday’s season-opening blowout loss and directed them to attempt to engineer trades elsewhere.”

Florio added that the players in question believe that some of the coaching staff, “aren’t serious about competing and winning and, by all appearances, have bought into the notion that the Dolphins will take their lumps now in the hopes of laying the foundation via high draft picks for building a successful team later.” Ouch.

Flores has denied this stating, “I can’t really speak to the accuracy of that one,” he said on Monday. “We haven’t received any information like that.” But the players know that the front office has decided to tank this season to gain a more advantageous draft position in 2020. 

The Dolphins are basically holding a fire sale. And one player who several teams covet, cornerback Xavien Howard may soon be traded away as by GM Chris Grier. As for this week, Flores has announced that QB Ryan Fitzpatrick will once again get the start against the Patriots.  

Baker and Eguavoen Were the Ironmen for the  Defense:

The Dolphins didn’t have many bright spots in the 59 -10 thumping they took last week from the Ravens, but Flores and the coaching staff have to be pleased with the efforts of linebackers Jerome Baker and Sam Eguavoen who showcased their skills and conditioning, especially in the South Florida heat by answering the bell all day long.

Baker led the way by playing in 84 snaps, including 12 on special teams, while Eguavoen logged 83 of his own. And despite the way the game unfolded, Baker, who was a 3rd round draft pick of the Dolphins in the 2018 NFL Draft [73rd overall], remained upbeat about his teammates. 

On his Twitter account, Baker posted “I’ll go to war with this team every day!” which he tweeted with the hashtag PhinsUp and a dolphin emoji. He was asked about it after the game on Monday and he doubled down.

“It’s just a part of the game,” Baker said. “I don’t want anybody to question that we’ll all stick together. It’s just one loss. We’ve got to bounce back and ultimately stick together.”

Defensive Coordinator Patrick Graham is keeping an open mind and an open door for his players to help turn things around, being open to suggestions that will help the team find some answers. 

 “I think we’re all doing this job together,” Graham said. “There’s definitely a leadership role. It starts with our head coach. It trickles down to me and then to the players and then the leadership within the player group as well, but my door is always open. I’m always open to hear and listen and get communication from the players and input because we are doing this thing together. We spend so much time with one another.”

Fitzpatrick Hoping to Capture Some “Fitzmagic” This Week:

With the Dolphins in full rebuild mode, many fans expected that the team would start second-year QB Josh Rosen to see what they had in the young QB who was saddled with arguably the worst supporting cast in the NFL last year. But the team instead opted for journeyman QB Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick finished the game just 14-29 for 185 yards with one TD and one INT. He gave way to Rosen who mopped up in the loss. Rosen completed one of three passes for five yards with an interception. Fitzpatrick set two records on Sunday, one of them was of the dubious quality. With his touchdown pass, he became the first QB to throw a TD pass for his eighth different team. And of course, his interception also meant that he has now thrown interceptions for eight different teams, also a record.

Fitzpatrick has faced the Patriots 11 times in his career and has a 2-9 record against them, seven of those as a member of the Bills [1-6] and four as a member of the Jets [1-3]. He has completed 238 of 388 passes [61.3 percent], for 3035 yards with 20 touchdowns and 19 interceptions. His passer rating is 82.6 in those 11 games. He’s also been sacked 20 times. 

If the Dolphins expect another “Miami Miracle” this Sunday, they’re going to need a lot more Fitzmagic and less of the Fitzpatrick that has faced the Patriots for much of his career. 

Questions Abound About the Offensive Line:

The trade of left tackle Laremy Tunsil was expected to necessitate change for the Miami offensive line in 2019, but nobody foresaw what ensued in Week 1. The coaches moved RT Jesse Davis to the left side, and then started two players, Julien Davenport at right tackle and Danny Isidora at right guard who had been on the team less than a week, the starting nod while benching Shalique Calhoun. 

The only two constants from the preseason were center Daniel Kilgore and left guard Michael Dieter. The results would speak for themselves. Miami could only manage 200 yards of offense and just 21 yards on the ground.

Both new players on the right side struggled mightily as the Ravens attacked that side and consistently won the one-on-one matchups. Expect the Patriots to do the same until the new players to get up to speed with the playbook, the offense and improve the communication. 

Both Davenport and Isadora struggle with pass blocking. As a member of the Texans last year, Davenport allowed 12 sacks, 65 QB hurries and committed 16 penalties. Expect the Patriots to be very aggressive on the Dolphins’ right side.

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

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

New England Patriots News, 7-21, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
July 21, 2019 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 07-21 and AFC East notes this week. 

Just 4 more days until the hard work begins for “Knockin’ on Seven’s Door.”

 Quick Hitters:

Tony Romo- was effusive in his praise of Bill Belichick this week while doing an interview on 105.3 the Fan in Dallas. Romo called the Patriots Super Bowl LIII game plan as “one of the greatest defensive performances I have ever seen in football.”

“He genuinely is not scared to go outside the box,” Romo said. “And I find in the NFL very few teams vary from what they do. So what he does then, is he drafts people that he believes can adapt from week-to-week.”

Patriots Cheerleaders – were doing their annual calendar shoot in St. Lucia this week, catch up on that on Patriots.com

Tom Brady – was cliff diving with his daughter in Costa Rica, then went horseback riding with his wife Gisele in his last family getaway before training camp starts next week. But his shot at Max Kellerman was the stuff of gold…

Mike Lombardi – Former Patriots front office person and friend of Bill Belichick was a guest on VSIN’s “A Number’s Game” and said he believes the Patriots defense will be better than the 2018 version.

“I think they are better on defense,” Lombardi said. “I think New England is better on defense this year. I think Jamie Collins wanted to come back to New England. He wanted to play. I think he will make them a better team and allow (Dont’a) Hightower to play more on the edge, which is what he’s more suited for than playing in the base. Then, there’s Kyle Van Noy. I think Michael Bennett still has some gas left in the tank, so I do think they will be better on defense. I think the guy that is coaching the defense is a Hall of Fame defensive coach — forget the fact that he’s a Hall of Fame head coach. I do think they will be better.”

Gordon Not In Patriots Plans, But Would Be Welcomed Back:

Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network and NFL.com was on WEEI this week and addressed the Josh Gordon situation with the Patriots. He stated that the team would most certainly welcome the troubled but very talented wide receiver back, but that they were not counting on him in 2019 and have no idea when or if he’ll even be reinstated. 

“Josh Gordon, I don’t know,” Rapoport said. “It’s not a guy who’s in their plans right now. I think that they would certainly welcome him back if he showed that he’s going to be a better version — as a person, I’m talking about — a better version of the one they got last year. I just don’t know that he’s actually going to get reinstated, prove to the Patriots that he has turned the corner, that he’s a different person, show that he’s in the right frame of mind.”

“As always with Josh Gordon, the talent is incredible. We’ve seen probably one-tenth of it, honestly,” Rapoport added. “But there’s always so much that goes into it. I think the Patriots know better than to say this is a guy we’re counting on for next season.”

Hill Situation Highlights Lack of Consistency with NFL:

The NFL decided that Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill will not be disciplined under the league’s personal conduct policy. Whenever an NFL player is accused of off-field wrongdoing, the conduct policy is detailed in Article 46 of the league’s collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the National Football League Players’ Association is brought into play. 

Back in March Hill’s son who is just three years old suffered a broken arm and was removed from the home of Hill and fiancee Crystal Espinal by the Kansas Department for Children and Families (DCF). 

The District Attorney declined to press charges against either which prompted Hill’s attorneys to write the NFL that it was an accident and that he played no role in his son’s injuries.

After doing an investigation, Park Avenue decided not to punish Hill saying it “cannot conclude” that Hill, whom the Chiefs ordered to stay away from the team pending the NFL’s investigation, violated the personal conduct policy. 

This is the same Hill who still proclaims his innocence of beating Espinal while she was pregnant four years ago. He pleaded guilty to domestic assault and battery charges that he hit Espinal in the face and stomach while she was eight weeks pregnant. He also strangled her. Despite his repeated claims of innocence of those charges, he admitted to them in court. 

Then there is the taped phone conversation. In it, Espinal says their son is terrified of his father, Hill responds with a threat.

“A 3-year-old is not going to lie about what happened to his arm,” Crystal Espinal tells Hill in the recording, adding, “He is terrified of you.”

Hill responds, “You need to be terrified of me, too, dumb bitch.”

So while the NFL says that the child’s safety is their priority, it rings with insincerity. 

It cannot conclude Hill caused the child’s injuries…Really? The same man who punched his pregnant girlfriend in the face and stomach, strangled her and threatens her on the phone. Someone broke the child’s arm. So, they have to consider that Espinal is guilty?

The utter lack of consistency is plain to see. Less than a year ago, the NFL suspended Ravens CB Jimmy Smith for threatening and abusive behavior. 

New England fans began to harp on this latest fiasco from Park Ave. Of course, this entailed some people stating it doesn’t apply. to this case. To that, we reply… respectfully, “Bull excrement”. 

The NFL in the Wells report, (Pg 228) it stated that the league couldn’t conclude with certainty that anyone did or did not tamper with a football, but their analysis is “dependent on assumptions and information that is not certain.”  There was a total lack of evidence that anyone even attempted to deflate a football, when in fact a reasonable scientific explanation was right at hand.

But in this case, a player with a history of abuse suddenly has a child with a broken arm and threatens his fiancee openly. And … nada. “There isn’t evidence?” It never stopped them before. One has to conclude that the child’s safety takes a backseat to the fantasy points that will be generated by Hill in the highest-scoring offense in the league. 

“You do not have to be convicted or even charged of a crime to be able to demonstrate that you’ve violated a personal conduct policy, and reflect poorly not only on themselves, but all of their teammates, every NFL player in the league, and everyone associated with the NFL.” Roger Goodell

Joe Thuney Enters Pivotal Contract Year:

Joe Thuney 62) during minicamp a few summers ago SBalestrieri photo

With training camp set to begin later this week, one player who will be garnering a lot of attention this season will be guard Joe Thuney. Thuney is entering a contract year and is part of arguably the best guard tandem in the league with Shaq Mason. 

He is slotted to make about $2 million dollars in 2019 in the final year of his rookie contract and is in line to make much more in 2020. Will it be with the Patriots? Time will tell, but if he plays it out until free agency, the chances of him making significantly more cash will be available to him. The Patriots locked up center David Andrews this spring with a three-year $9 million dollar deal. Last summer, Mason signed a five-year contract worth a total of $50 million with $23.5 million of it guaranteed. Will the Patriots make Thuney as big an offer as he’ll get on the open market? Doubtful. 

Thuney’s versatility, he can play anywhere along the offensive line was apparent this spring. With both Isaiah Wynn and Yodny Cajuste out of minicamp due to offseason surgery, Thuney was taking all of the first-team reps at left tackle. If for any reason Wynn and Cajuste aren’t ready for training camp, look for Thuney to continue to fill in. That will further drive up his already considerable …and growing value. 

He has been remarkably durable, not only playing in all 48 games of his NFL career but in every one of the Patriots 1119 offensive snaps in 2018. Since entering the league, he’s been constantly improving under the tutelage of Dante Scarnecchia. Last year he was the NFL’s 7th rated guard by Pro Football Focus (PFF). 

If you make it down to training camp this week, be sure to check out big #63. It may just be his last season in a Patriots uniform. And he’s been one of their better performers. 

Patriots Players Needing to Rebound in 2019:

Training camp is the time for the young players to show what they can do to earn a roster spot. It is also time for some of the veterans to show that they can still perform at a high level. Here are a couple of players who will be looking to ignite their production in 2019 on the eve of training camp.

Demaryius Thomas – The former Broncos and Texans wide receiver was once one of the most productive WRs in the game but his game has been in steady decline for several years. He’s gone from 1619, 1304,1083, 949 to 677 in the past five years. Then he tore his Achilles with the Texans late last season. 

Thomas may not even be ready for training camp, having not taken part in any activities this spring. He may begin camp (and we suspect he will) on the PUP list. While no one expects him to return to his glory years with Denver, there is some hope that he can still be a viable target in the Patriots offense…time will tell. 

Derek Rivers – We already identified 2019 as a make or break season for the Patriots top draft pick in 2017. He tore his ACL in preseason of his rookie season but was still not looking 100 percent last year. While he did make the team in 2018, he played very sparingly in six games and registered just two tackles and one sack. That isn’t the kind of production the team was looking for out of him. 

He’ll get the opportunity to show what he’s got this summer and he’ll have to shine. With a much more crowded front seven this year, we currently have Rivers on the outside looking in. He’ll have to leapfrog some players and show he can produce at the NFL level. 

Ryan Allen – If it seems strange to you for a player who could’ve been named the MVP of the Super Bowl to need “to rebound” in 2019, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, it is true. The 2018 season wasn’t the most consistent of Allen’s career. But he did turn it on for the playoffs and in the Super Bowl, he was outstanding, out-punting the Rams Johnny Hekker who is among the best in the game.

But for the second year in a row, the Patriots have brought in competition for Allen. This year they moved up in the draft to take Jake Bailey from Stanford. The reports about the strength of Bailey’s leg are well-founded. After watching him at minicamp he puts an absolute charge into the ball. Plus he’s more versatile and can kickoff as well as fill in as a field goal kicker in an emergency. His issue has been consistency as well. 

But with the Patriots possibly relying more on the running game this year, especially early in the year, they may be looking for a punter with more range and hang time in the event they’re punting more from their own side of the field and deeper than in year’s past. Allen will be on watch this summer. 

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Cole Beasley Looks to Be the Top Target in Bills Passing Game: 

When the Buffalo Bills throw the ball this season, they will have a new and revamped passing attack. When we wrote about the changes forthcoming here a while back, we mentioned that Brian Daboll who used to be on the Patriots staff could be looking to replicate a lot of what the Patriots do with Julian Edelman. And that player on Buffalo would be Cole Beasley.

Beasley left Dallas and complained that he wasn’t getting enough looks in the passing game. And he’d have a point. In 2016, he led the Cowboys with 75 catches, 833 yards, and 5 TDs. The Cowboys went 13-3. In 2017, Dallas’ offense went away from Beasley, in 15 games he had just 36 catches for 314 yards and 4TDs. Dallas went 9-7. Last year, he was second on the team with 65 catches for 672 yards and 3 TDs, with Dallas going 10-6. But once Amari Cooper came onboard, Beasley’s numbers and targets went down. In the playoff loss to the Rams in the Divisional Round, he was targeted just twice.

With Buffalo and Daboll as the Offensive Coordinator, he has a chance to be the safety blanket, the chains mover and 2nd-year QB Josh Allen’s favorite target. Like Edelman, he excels in the short-area quickness part of the field. Buffalo threw the ball down the field too often in 2018. Look for them to utilize the short areas of the field more this year. And with the sure-handed Beasley in the mix, he should be the boon of his QB’s throws, especially on a team that had more than their share of drops.

Rosen or Fitzpatrick? The Dolphins TC Will Answer That:

The Miami Dolphins have (finally) moved away from QB Ryan Tannehill, who got more than a fair shake as their team’s QB. Now with a new coach and staff, new QBs and a fresh attitude, they’re going to attempt to turn things around.

With a full rebuild going on, no one is expecting Miami to be very competitive this season for a playoff spot. But with new coach Brian Flores and new signal callers under center, the Fins will be intriguing to watch. 

After signing Ryan Fitzpatrick as their bridge QB, Miami swooped after the Arizona Cardinals simply had to have QB Kyler Murray after drafting Josh Rosen with a Top 10 pick just a year ago. This could prove to be highway robbery. 

While no one knows how this will play out, Flores is going to let the players decide on who starts and who sits. But at some point, he’ll have to let Rosen show what he can do so that they can either stick with him as a potential franchise quarterback or that they have to address the situation next year in the NFL Draft. 

Our money here is on Rosen; he was awful last year, but he was a rookie saddled with an even more awful team. It was a total lose-lose situation. The games in the AFC East this year within the division are much more compelling with all of the new quarterbacks in place. 

Jets Williams Still Unsigned, May Miss the Beginning of Training Camp:

The New York Jets rookie players were scheduled to report for training camp on Friday. Quinnen Williams was not to be one of them. Williams still hasn’t signed his contract, making it the second year in a row that the team has had its top draft pick not show up on time for training camp. Last year, Sam Darnold missed the first three days of training camp while getting his deal finalized. 

Williams took part in all of the Jets’ spring workouts and the hold on his contract isn’t about his salary, which is mandated by the league. The Jets took Williams with the #3 pick in the NFL Draft this spring. What the holdup is, probably centers around offsets and cash flow. 

Is it a big worry? No, but the team never likes having their top draft pick miss any time during his first training camp. This is something that should be worked out fairly quickly and then Williams, who is considered one of the top picks in the draft, should be ready to go. 

________________

“I no longer listen to what people say, I just watch what they do. Behavior never lies” Winston Churchill

“So, how was your week?”

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

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

New England Patriots News, 4-14, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
April 14, 2019 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 04-14 and AFC East Notes.

It is looking like it is going to be another soggy Boston Marathon this year, we’d like to wish all of the competitors the best of luck tomorrow.


As we stated last week we have begun our draft profiles on players that we feel would fit the team, our first on tight ends can be seen here:  And our follow-up post on possible wide receiver fits can be seen here: Our draft profiles on defensive tackles is here:

ICYMI: Our second Mock Draft 2.0 attempt at building the 2019 Patriots roster is in the books. You can recap it here: I believe we all expect the Patriots to be very active in this one, possibly packing some picks for a trade or perhaps moving around the board as they are very used to doing. Mock Draft 3.0 will be coming out early this week.

Derek Havens and I have been doing a special podcast highlighting the upcoming NFL Draft in addition to the regular one we do with host Russ Goldman. This week, we’re planning on having ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates with us to discuss the draft, what the Patriots may do, especially in the early rounds and about the NFL in general. Please do check that out around mid-week.

Last week did a draft mailbag podcast which can be listened to here:

Quick Hitters:

Tom Brady was on his Instagram account beginning his offseason work at his home. The interesting thing about that was he was still picking confetti from the Super Bowl out of his helmet. Speaking of which, he can no longer wear his old one and must wear the newer version which he tried a few times last year.

Chris Hogan signed a one-year deal with the Panthers. Hogan had quite a few memorable moments and catches in his three years in New England, helping the team get to three Super Bowls and winning two. But his leaving this spring is not a surprise, it seemed like a long shot for him to return.

Pat Chung has signed a one-year extension according to NFL.com, locking up the Patriots safety thru the 2021 season. Ian Rapoport was the first to report the news. Chung broke his arm in the Super Bowl but is expected to be fully healthy by training camp

Tim Tebow was in Pawtucket playing the Paw Sox for the Mets minor league affiliate and was asked about his brief time with Tom Brady. Tebow gave a long answer, gushing over the qualities of Brady as both a QB and a teammate. Then apologizing for giving an answer that was too long.  Tebow was and is always a class act.

RIP Forrest Gregg the longtime Packer great offensive lineman who passed away at age 85 this week. Gregg set a record (since broken) of playing in 188 straight games and later became the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, Cleveland Browns, and Green Bay Packers. Vince Lombardi called Gregg, “the greatest player I ever coached.”

The Patriots were supposedly interested in making a trade for NY Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepherd, but for the second year in a row, the Giants when they found out there was interest in their player (OBJ last year), gave the player a fat extension. In Shepherd’s case a 4-year, $41 million dollar extension.

Seferian-Jenkins Is Excited to Play in New England:

With the signing of TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins this week, it was a move we immediately pegged as a win but then turned around and stated that he probably would not be a #1 tight end here. And we’ll double down on that. The move was for the veterans’ minimum salary with just a $50,000 signing bonus and incentive bonuses totaling only another $40,000. That is peanuts; so the outlay of cash and risk for the team is very minimal.

Seferian-Jenkins could….could step into a #1 role for the Patriots, but they don’t obviously think that is so or they would’ve enticed him earlier with more money. It will be interesting to see how he works out with the team in the spring. And if he can stay healthy and on the field.

A best-case scenario for the team would be for them to get one of the top TEs in the draft (which is still a big need) and have Seferian-Jenkins step into the #2 role as a complementary receiver.

Jenkins took to social media posting a picture of the original Pat the Patriot (he immediately got high marks from here) and thanked the Patriots and stated “I am ready to go to work.” And why wouldn’t he be? Look at the QBs he’s played with and he’s never been on a playoff team.

Belichick Praises Caserio, Scouting Dept. Ahead of the Draft:

Bill Belichick held a pre-draft press conference at Gillette on Weds. and opened with nearly a 7-minute statement praising the work of Nick Caserio, the Pats Director of Player Personnel.

With a big turnover in the coaching staff, Belichick said that there was less scouting of college prospects by the coaching staff than in previous years. But he raved about the job that Caserio and the Director of College Scouting Monte Ossenfort and Pro player Scouting Dave Zigler have done. With the absence of so many coaches, Zigler and his staff jumped in to help with the process.

“So it gives us a tremendous opportunity for him to connect with the coaches and understand the schematics of what’s going on with the coaching side of it, and to try to integrate and correlate the players we’re evaluating on all different levels,” Belichick said of Caserio.

Belichick added that the goal, as always is to come away “as good a predictor as possible as to how the player will fit in and perform on our team, and in our system, (emphasis mine),  in New England regardless of what the league value is for the player. It’s really what the player can do for us is what the final evaluation goal we’re trying to achieve.”

Patriots and Titans Will Hold Joint Practices This Summer:

The Patriots always try to conduct joint practices during training camp and this season will be no exception. Prior to their Week 2 preseason game against the Tennessee Titans, the two teams will conduct joint practices against one another at the Titans’ facility.

“Sure, we are going to practice against the Patriots,” Vrabel said on Friday.

“They’re going to come down here, and it’ll be great for our fans to come out here and see a lot of great players, the team that won the Super Bowl last year. And they’ll be able to watch those practices and see our work and see how we compete against each other and try to improve.”

That immediately set off a lot of good-natured trash talking between old friends and former Patriot Logan Ryan, Devin McCourty, and Pat Chung. Ryan said he was going to play one snap at WR to burn the McCourty Twins. He tweeted, “Easy money, he getting old.”  Which immediately got a response from Devin where he answered, “Which one? I guess it don’t matter, I don’t like you vs anyone!” Chung jumped in with “I mean damn, Let’s do it!…LOL.”

The two teams will meet there in Nashville during the week of August 12. If fans are looking for a nice vacation trip…Nashville is nice any time of the year.

Seahawks and Patriots Trading for #21 Pick in the Draft?

The Seattle Seahawks are expected to be trading back from the #21 pick in the upcoming 2019 NFL Draft. And depending upon how the board plays out, the Patriots with a plethora of draft picks could be in a prime position to move up if one of the tight ends they covet are there or perhaps one of the premier edge guys like Clelin Ferrell.

Seattle has only four picks in the upcoming draft, (1st, 3rd, 4th, and 5th Rounds) so creating a few more would seem to be the order of the day for Pete Carroll. According to the Draft Value Chart, Seattle’s pick at #21 is worth an even 800 points. So to give them adequate compensation, the Patriots could package their first round pick at #32 (590 points) and #73 (225 points) to give Seattle a slight perceived edge or you could delve really deep and package #32, and some of the Patriots mid-to-later round picks for the Seahawks #21 and one of their mid-round picks.

Of course, they won’t be alone. Everyone knows that Seattle may be looking to trade back and that means the Seahawks brass will be looking for the best deal for them. That’s what makes this time of year so interesting.

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Speaking of the draft, I was talking about Boston College OL Chris Lindstrom to a high school coach that coached against him in school last week and he remembered how impressive the former Shepherd Hill OL was back then. “They ran those tight formations (Double Wing) and watching him pull out and road grade thru the defenses was impressive,” he said.  “Back then he was about 270 (pounds) and he was still one of the faster players on the field. You could tell he was going to a really special player.”

We say that because don’t go to sleep on a player like Lindstrom. He played right tackle for the Eagles, but projects to be an interior OL at the next level. But he has the versatility to maybe do both.

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Looking For A Big Draft to Upgrade Offensive Weapons:

The Buffalo Bills were very active in free agency and signed six offensive linemen as well as two wide receivers during the early going of free agency. Don’t expect the Bills to stop there. Buffalo has 10 picks in the upcoming draft and they have the flexibility to move around the draft to search for the weapons to surround 2nd year QB Josh Allen with the talent he needs to succeed.

The Bills OLwas a mess in 2018 and they signed three guards, two tackles and one excellent center to help protect their franchise QB. They also added WRs John Brown, Cole Beasley and TE Tyler Kroft to the mix.

But now they are poised to make some noise in the draft. With the #9 pick in the draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper has them taking Iowa T.J. Hockenson and then adding Arizona State WR N’Keal Harry with their 40th pick. The Bills just had the other Iowa TE Noah Fant in for a visit.  Offensive Coordinator Brian Daboll doesn’t need to see Alabama TE Irv Smith up close for a visit, he coached him with the Tide.

The Bills also signed FA DE/OLB Eli Harold this week. Harold played two seasons for the 49ers and last year with Detroit where he had eight tackles, four sacks and a pass deflected in 13 games for the Lions.

Dolphins To Pass on Early QBs in the Draft? Quite Possible:

The Miami Dolphins and new head coach Brian Flores have a lot of holes to fill in the 2019 roster. After the jettisoning of Ryan Tannehill and the signing of journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick, most experts believe the Dolphins may reach early for the next potential franchise QB at #13 in the draft. Not so fast…

If someone they like is still around at #13 could Miami pounce on them, but with big holes to fill at DE, the offensive line, running back and corner, they Dolphins may wait to select a QB they can develop in the middle rounds.

Fans may scream given Fitzpatrick’s track record as a starter, but with Brian Flores coming from the Belichick regime, they may be looking at the long-term best solution first rather than trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, which is how they ended up in this predicament.

Jets Ink Montgomery, Maybe the End of the Line for Powell:

The New York Jets signed RB/WR/KR Ty Montgomery this week to back up Le’Veon Bell. The former Ravens player was also reportedly being courted by the Miami Dolphins. A talented kick returner, Montgomery was cut by Green Bay after an ill-advised return at the end of a game with the Rams. Montgomery was told to take a knee and returned it out of the end zone and then fumbled.

He was dealt to the Ravens where in six games he rushed for 83 yards on 15 carries, with no touchdowns. He also caught 10 passes for 65 yards. He began his career as a WR and switched to RB with the Packers. It is expected that head coach Adam Gase will try to find a niche role for him behind Bell.

But that news is probably the end of Bilal Powell’s time as a New York Jet. He suffered a neck injury last season but was thought to be able to continue his career fully. In his eight seasons with the Jets, the 30-year old Powell rushed for 3,446 yards and 15 touchdowns, while catching 204 for 1,567 yards and five touchdowns. He was never the Jets #1 running back but led them in scrimmage yards in both 2013 and 2016.

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We’ve all seen those commercials “Want to Get Away?” When someone does something silly or just plain dumb… How about the editorial staff on Sportsnaut? This week they published a piece on “NFL stars about to fade in 2019” and who leads off the list? Danny Amendola. Okay you say, that could happen, but what? Danny Amendola of the New England Patriots.

“This veteran receiver will likely see an uptick in targets next season now that Rob Gronkowski has retired. In no way does this mean the 33-year-old Amendola is going to be as efficient as we’ve seen in the past.” Ouch. Ummm Amendola hasn’t been with the Patriots since 2017, having spent the 2018 season with Miami and now with Detroit.

The facts checker took the day off it seems. Want to get away? …

“Is it time for the Draft yet? 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 Maul Listless Jets 41-3, Observations

Steve Balestrieri
December 25, 2016 at 8:29 am ET

No Let-down This Year, Team Remains Focused

The Patriots left little doubt this time that there wasn’t going to be a late season swoon against the New York Jets like what happened in 2015. The Patriots dominated in all three phases of the game from the opening snap and demolished a beat up and demoralized Gang Green to the tune of 41-3.

The last time the Patriots won by 38 points was back in the 2014 AFC Championship Game when they throttled the hapless Colts in what became the Def … well, we aren’t going there.

The win was Bill Belichick’s 200th win as a head coach of the Patriots and only four other coaches have that many wins with one franchise. George Halas, Curly Lambeau, Tom Landry, and Don Shula. Some pretty heady company there. It was probably made a bit sweeter being against the Jets.

While every game since the Jets “Butt Fumble” game has been by one score, this one was never in doubt. The Jets barely showed up for the Miami game a week ago, where they were handled with ease. For the most part, other than a few young players looking to carve out a role, this team had already checked out and was ready for their spring vacation.

Coach Todd Bowles was in the hospital on Friday for a combination of kidney stones and gallstones. He was released from the hospital and flew up to meet the team in New England. He did coach from the sideline, but probably wished he stayed put in the hospital back in New York.

With young QB Bryce Petty at the helm, the Patriots decided they were coming after him and the results were startling. Petty was 0-3 with an interception and was sacked twice. He had trouble throwing in the downpour that the teams suffered early in the game. And he was injured trying to recover a fumble. Khiry Robinson on his first carry of the season was hit in the backfield by Elandon Roberts in a terrific collision. Roberts helmet popped the ball loose.

Malcolm Butler was in a position to scoop up the ball, Petty seeing he was too late, tried to tackle Butler and hurt his left, non-throwing shoulder as he bounced to the turf. It was a rough ending for Petty again as he was sandwiched between two Dolphins on a scary hit last week and forced to leave the game.

In came Ryan Fitzpatrick and he wasn’t the guy who seemed to be in control the last time the two teams met. Fitzy has nine lives; every time it seems he’s relegated to the bench and is done, he resurfaces. Yesterday wasn’t a good day for him.

Without the benefit of the All-22 film, which isn’t available yet, other observations include:

Brady very sharp and focused: After a so-so week in Denver, QB Tom Brady wanted to get the passing offense going quickly and he did. Brady was sharp and was getting a lot of time to throw from the pocket. And he continues to move extremely well in the pocket. He did a spin-o-rama like Aaron Rodgers and got away from pressure and scorched a laser to Edelman for a 28-yard gain.

He was getting all of his receivers involved and was picking the Jets apart. On the first series, the Patriots stalled in the red zone but on the third down incompletion, Brady missed Julian Edelman all alone and wide open in the back left corner of the end zone. But all three touchdowns were nice throws, to Bennett, to James White and Matt Lengel. A true MVP type performance

Overall, he had a fantastic day completing 17 of 27 for 214 yards with three touchdowns and zero interceptions. So complete was the blowout, Brady was removed near the end of the third quarter and gave way to Jimmy Garoppolo, his first work since the Miami game.

Malcolm Butler gets Pro Bowl Snub, has a Fantastic Day: Butler the Patriots best cornerback had himself quite a day. One of our players to watch in the game, Butler turned in one of his best performances.

Butler had two interceptions and the recovered fumble and once again played some stellar defense. He’s not Revis in his prime, but he’s plenty good enough and the Patriots defensive system is a perfect fit for him.

Who Is to Blame Now For this Defensive Gem: After all the hand-wringing about the Patriots defense early in the season, they’ve made a remarkable turnaround. Now, every time they put forth a very good effort, the first thing out of the expert’s mouths are the weekly marginalizing of their work by denigrating the opponent. Matt Patricia has done a fantastic job of finding everyone a role and all of the players buying in.

Yes, we know the Jets offense is putrid and Fitzpatrick is on his way out the door. But you play the games on your schedule and if you’re going to line up at the Tobin Bridge when they give up 300 yards and 17 points, then given them credit when the give up three points and 130 yards. Jets QBs were 8-24 for just 128 net yards with zero touchdowns and three interceptions. They were 1-11 on third down.

This defense resembles nothing of the unit that struggled so badly earlier in the season. They’re now the #1 scoring defense in the NFL and haven’t allowed a touchdown in two weeks. So talk all you want about the weak sisters….or “tomato cans” if you will. The bottom line: They’re doing their job. Haven’t we heard that before?

Bowles Timeout Call, A Bad, Bad, Decision: One of the craziest decisions, other than Chuck Pagano’s fake punt from 2015 was the Jets decision to call timeout with under two minutes to go in the half.

The Jets punted and put the Pats on their 13-yard line with a minute and a half to go. The Patriots were leading 20-0 and at that point, the Jets offense had done nothing. The Patriots, due to field position and the fact they’d receive the second half kickoff, were content to run out the clock. They ran Dion Lewis up the middle twice for six yards.

Inexplicably, Bowles called timeout. On 3rd and 4 from the 19 with 46 seconds to go. Brady delivered a nine-yard pass to Julian Edelman at the 28. Then the Patriots called timeout. On first down, Brady delivered a perfect bomb on a post route run by Malcolm Mitchell who had beat two Jets defenders. Doug Middleton tried to prevent a touchdown and grabbed Mitchell’s arm resulting in a 47-yard penalty.

On first down from the 25, Brady hit James White for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 31 ticks left in the half. The Patriots went 87 yards in a minute and six seconds. They went into the half up 27-0. Game, set, match.

Floyd, Lengel Get Into the Act: New Patriots wide receiver Michael Floyd saw his first action as a member of the Patriots on Saturday, getting a few snaps early and then some extensive work late in the game, trying to assimilate into the offense.

He made a nice catch on an early deep ball by Brady, but the throw led him just a bit too far and he made the catch out of bounds. He did make his first catch as a Patriots later in the game, a short six-yard catch from Jimmy Garoppolo.

Backup tight end Matt Lengel made his first NFL catch today on the Patriots fourth scoring drive. The 6’7, 265 blocking tight end was picked up off of the Bengals practice squad earlier this season. On a 2nd and 8 from the Jets 18-yard line, he ran a post. Brady looked elsewhere first but saw Lengel had a step on his coverage. He uncorked a fastball where Lengel hauled it in for the touchdown.

First NFL catch, first NFL touchdown from Tom Brady. The telling moment was watching Brady rush down the field to congratulate the big guy on his first catch and score. Tells a lot about this team. Lengel’s brother Mike took to Twitter and exclaimed, “My Brother Just caught a TD pass from Brady!”

Running backs are an Eclectic Lot: While the yards per rush wasn’t anything to write home about today, the Patriots once again showed patience in the running game and stuck with, rolling up 114 yards in the process. LeGarrette Blount is having a fantastic 2016 with 1110 yards and 17 touchdowns. The big man has been much better than anyone could have hoped for after suffering a serious hip injury in 2015.

James White is a dangerous back out of the backfield, (see his 25-yard touchdown), he may have had another. On a third down, Brady laid a perfect arcing pass in his hands, as he beat his coverage cleanly, but he dropped it. But Brady isn’t afraid to go right back to him. He’s also excellent in blitz pickup and is improving in that aspect weekly.

Dion Lewis is quickly rounding into form and is looking more and more like the elusive, shifty back we saw in the first half of the 2015 season. For his size, he’s a surprisingly good runner between the tackles and an excellent receiver as well out of the backfield.

The Patriots offense has plenty of weapons for Brady to use. The running back position, something a lot of people (including here) were picking on as not having done enough in the spring to improve has been fantastic.

Well, it is time for Santa to come down the chimney…I hope all of you have a Merry Christmas day with your families.

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 Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Patriots – Jets II Keys, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
December 23, 2016 at 6:00 am ET

The New England Patriots return to the friendly confines of Gillette Stadium in Foxboro for their final regular season home game to take on the New York Jets. The game is scheduled for Saturday Christmas Eve, at 1 p.m.

CBS will televise this week’s game and it can be seen locally on WBZ Channel 4 in Boston. Ian Eagle will handle play-by-play duties with Dan Fouts as the color analyst. Evan Washburn will work the sidelines. The game will also be aired on the Patriots flagship radio station 98.5 The SportsHub with Bob Socci and Scott Zolak on the call, produced by Marc Cappello.

The Patriots (12-2) improved to 7-0 on the road this season with a convincing 16-3 win over the Denver Broncos. Dion Lewis rushed for 95 yards and the Pats got three turnovers while holding the Broncos to just three points and shut them out for the final 53 minutes of the game.

The Jets (4-10) were hammered by Miami last week. Career backup Matt Moore threw for four touchdowns in the win. QB Bryce Petty was hit hard and had to leave the game but is expected to play this weekend.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our “Razor’s Edge” column in 2016 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 Jets meet for the 116th time on Sunday in an intense rivalry that dates back to 1960. The Patriots hold a slight all-time 60-54-1 edge in the series that has been incredibly even and always tough.

The Patriots hold a 32-25-1 edge overall at home and have won 9 of the last 11 meetings. The Pats won a close 22-17 win in the Meadowlands in the first meeting this season as Tom Brady hit Malcolm Mitchell with the game-winning touchdown pass with less than two minutes to go. Mitchell had a pair of touchdowns in the game.

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

First up is the Patriots offense:

Brady Leads Patriots To Big Win Over the Jets…Again

Steve Balestrieri
November 28, 2016 at 7:16 am ET

The Patriots offense scuffled for most of the afternoon against the New York Jets on Sunday. But with 5:04 to go and 83 yards away from the end zone, Tom Brady rose his game up and carried the team on his back, as he’s done so many times before. Brady led the game-winning drive hitting Malcolm Mitchell for the game winner and the Patriots had a gritty come-from-behind 22-17 win over the Jets.

Like all games against Gang Green, it was a marathon, not a sprint and the Patriots had to slog their way thru a variety of factors. The loss of Rob Gronkowski early in the game, Brady’s own knee injury which definitely was a factor, as his passes were uncharacteristically sailing on him all day long and the Jets themselves, who brought their A-game on an otherwise forgettable season.

The Jets had taken the lead on a tremendous catch by Quincy Enunwa in the back corner of the end zone and had to stop the Patriots and Brady just one more time to come away with their biggest win of the season. Their defense had been playing great all day. But these are the times when Brady, even a wounded one elevates his game.

“I felt good,” Jets WR Brandon Marshall said of their lead, “but I knew that Tom Brady has that thing where it kicks in. He’s a special player. He’s one of the best to ever do it. There’s never a time where he’s out of it.”

Brady appeared laser sharp when it counted most and he hit on some big passes, a 24-yard strike to Julian Edelman got things going. But the biggest was the 4th down, 4-yard pass to James White, who dove for the sticks and just barely made the key first down to keep things going. As usual, Brady deflected praise to others and called it a “championship-type” play by White.

On the next snap, he fired a laser to Chris Hogan deep down the middle to put them in the position to win. By then there was no doubt how that drive would end. Brady then hit Mitchell for the game winner, the rookie WR had a pair of touchdown catches, both against Darrelle Revis and the Patriots had an ugly but very satisfying win against their oldest and most heated rivals.

His day included a number of key milestones. Brady tied Peyton Manning for the most career wins by a QB with 200. He passed the 60,000-yard threshold early in the game and the comeback win was the 50th of his NFL career. Brady stressed the team aspects of his accomplishments and stated that it had been a long week for him and the team. And he improved overall to 22-8 against the Jets.

It was a win that characterized mental toughness and Bill Belichick knew that his comments, as well as those of Brady, echoed that sentiment. They took the Jets best shot and although far from their best found a way to win. Brady, as usual, led the way. Just like he did 199 times before.

Other observations from today’s game include:

Mitchell is rapidly becoming a trusted weapon in the offense: While Mitchell’s numbers on the stat sheet won’t necessarily wow anyone, he made five catches for 42 yards, he converted two of those into scores. The rookie WR had the first two-score game of his career and he’s earning the trust factor with Brady. His numbers on the season are a modest 16 catches for 235 yards and three scores but expect him to earn more looks as the season plays out.

The first score was a broken play where Julian Edelman ran a Jet Sweep and knocked the ball out of Brady’s hand. Brady alertly picked it up and found Mitchell at the back of the end zone, who beat Revis to end an important first half drive to tie things up.

Brady tried the deep ball in the end zone later to Mitchell, the ball was thrown about 3-4 inches too long and just went thru Mitchell’s fingertips. But it didn’t deter Brady to going back to the young WR again at crunch time. The Pats ran a bunch route on the left side and Mitchell had just enough separation from Revis to haul in the pass and just make it inside the pylon for the winning touchdown.

Welcome to New England Chris Long: Okay Long has played well for most of the season but his strip sack of Ryan Fitzpatrick was huge and arguably the biggest play of his professional life, considering he played for so many poor-to-middling Rams teams.

That caused the second and most importantly last turnover of the day for the Patriots defense. Earlier Malcolm Butler, who didn’t have the greatest afternoon, forced a fumble ending another Jets drive.

Long showed great explosion off the snap and beating his man on the edge and just got his hand on Fitzpatrick’s arm causing the fumble that the Patriots recovered and put the game away. For a defense with still in search of an identity, it was a huge moment.

Still Questions at CB and LB: The Patriots are still mixing and matching at both the cornerback and linebacker positions and we may see that depending upon individual matchups the rest of the season. But the Jets second WR, Quincy Enunwa, who had struggled for the past two games lit up the secondary for five catches, 109 yards, and a touchdown. After a hot start with five catches in the first half, Brandon Marshall had just one in the second half.

The Pats mixed up a combination of Malcolm Butler, Eric Rowe, and Logan Ryan and will probably stick with that for the foreseeable future. With big games looming against the Ravens and Broncos, they’ll have to step up their game.

At linebacker, they once again used several players opposite Dont’a Hightower, getting Elandon Roberts, Shea McClellin, and Kyle Van Noy in the mix. Each had some good and bad moments but overall the effort was good enough.

Overlooked aspect, the run defense: Coming into the game, the two keys the team wanted to stop was the Jets running game and their backs out of the backfield. And they accomplished both. The Jets were 3-0 when Matt Forte had 25+ carries and the Patriots knew this.  Both Forte and Bilal Powell are dangerous receivers out of the backfield as well, something the Patriots have struggled with.

They did a bang-up job against the run holding Jets runners to just 64 yards on 23 carries, a 2.7 yard average on the day. The Jets longest run on the day was just seven yards. And they held their backs to just four catches for 30 yards out of the backfield. It wasn’t perfect, Van Noy was beaten by C.J. Spiller on a wheel route but Fitzpatrick’s pass fell short, but overall this was a big factor in the Patriots victory.

Is Gostkowski a player they can rely on? This question would have sounded ludicrous a year ago, but after 11 games it is now a legitimate one. The kicker’s struggles continue and today, he missed a very makeable 39 yarder that before was automatic. He did make three more field goal attempts on the day as well as two extra points, but he’s not the same guy he was before that costly miss in Denver.

Was the Patriots decision not to attempt a game-winning 52-yard field goal and go for it on 4th and 4 as well as an earlier attempt just gamesmanship by Belichick or was it a lack of trust in the kicker? We’ll hear more of that as the week drags on but it is the $64,000 question now.

Too Cerebral? Defense Seems to Be Passionless at times: Perhaps this is overstating it but there are times when the Patriots defense seems to be overthinking things a tad and trying to be coming up with a perfect answer and not playing with the speed that they are capable of. We know that this is a cerebral defense, but sometimes it seems like they are competing against themselves out there.

It was General George S. Patton Jr. who stated that “A good plan violently executed today, beats a great plan executed next week.” Sometimes, just pinning your ears back and attacking midrange to poor quarterbacks such as Fitzpatrick may be a better equation than always trying to outsmart them.

Granted….once again they allowed only 17 points but the game certainly had a different feel to it.

Blount and Bennett get high marks: Martellus Bennett was leaned on with Gronkowski getting injured early in this one and then he got his ankle rolled up and played the rest of the game, like Brady in pain and obviously limited. He gets big kudos for gutting it out.

Blount only got 11 carries on Sunday but against a tough Jets front seven, he made it count for 67 yards, especially when the team was trying to close things out. These two symbolized the team-first, can-do attitude that was a big factor in the team’s win.

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 Wednesdays at 12 noon.