Tag Archives: Sam Darnold

New England Patriots News 11-03, AFC East Notes

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

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

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

 Quick Hitters For the Pats and the NFL:

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

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

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

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

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

Sad End For Josh Gordon in New England: 

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

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

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

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

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

Steve Belichick, Calling the Plays For the Defense:

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

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

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

Patriots Players to Watch Today :

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NFL Schedule Week 9, Who Are Your Winners:

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

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

TNF San Francisco over Arizona 1-0

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

Bye week: Falcons, Bengals, Rams, Saints

Week 9 Thursday Night Football Raiders over LA Chargers

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Look to Rebound Vs Haskins, Skins:

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

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

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

Dolphins Continue to Lose But Confidence in Flores Grows:

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

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

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

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

Jets Once Again Teetering on the Brink of the Abyss :

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

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

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

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

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

________________

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

________________

“So, how was your week?”

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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 7 Report Card, 33-0 Shutout Win Over the Jets

Steve Balestrieri
October 23, 2019 at 7:32 am ET

 Patriots Improve to 7-0 In Impressive Defensive Showing

The Patriots put this one away early, jumping out to an early 17-0 lead in the first quarter and then never looked back as they cruised to a 33-0 blanking of the Jets. The defense was outstanding, allowing zero points, holding the Jets to just 154 yards total and just 2 of 11 on third down. 

The shorthanded offense was clicking early but had their issues later in the game, although it is hard to find fault after they put up 33 points. Most everyone, including the Jets, had this one as being much closer than the first meeting. It wasn’t. 

So, while it wasn’t perfect, it was plenty good enough. Check out our grades and see how the team fared in this week’s blowout win.

Quarterback: B

Tom Brady once again had so-so numbers, 31-45, 249 yards one TD, one INT. But his TD numbers could have been inflated if not for two near scores with James White and an obvious DPI on Trumaine Johnson when got beaten by Jakobi Meyers on a double move as well as a Michel drop where it looked like a score. Regardless, Brady ran the offense very smoothly, especially early, scoring on three of their first four possessions which put the game into the win column. 

He had a pick where he was hit as he threw and that was partially on him for holding the ball too long and an intentional grounding call. The microphones on ESPN picked him up yelling “He was right there!” Ah, no Tom he wasn’t. But he was also victimized by some drops. Overall, with a short-handed offense, he ran it very well. 

Running Backs: C

The running game remains an issue, and while we can point at the running backs, in reality, there is far too frequently nowhere for them to go. As a group, the backs averaged only 2.2 yards per carry. Sony Michel had only 42 yards on 19 carries but did have three touchdown runs. 

Damien Harris got his first carries as a Patriot and finally got some work in, which is a positive sign. Brandon Bolden and James White had very little production in the running game this week. With no fullback, LB Elandon Roberts filled in as a goalline blocker and used his downhill, thumping style to good use. 

Wide Receivers: B

Julian Edelman and James White (as we pointed out in our keys to the game) were the biggest pass receivers, each hauling in seven passes and filled in their roles well. White just missed a pair of TD receptions, getting knocked out of bounds at the one-yard line and scampering down the right sideline and just being taken down around the ankles. 

Jakobi Meyers is gaining the all-important trust factor with Brady, he had five catches for 47 yards including some nice grabs in traffic. While his snaps may see a downtick with the addition of Mohamed Sanu and the return of Josh Gordon and N’Keal Harry, he’s building his rapport with #12 and that will come in hand down the stretch.

Phillip Dorsett returned from his hamstring injury and had a really nice 23-yard TD where he dusted Johnson down the seam. Brandon Bolden had a beauty of a catch along the sideline. A pretty back-shoulder catch for 28-yards where he got his feet in like a top-flight wide receiver. Next week, maybe they’ll try him as a kicker…

Tight Ends: B

Ben Watson and Eric Tomlinson combined for 100 snaps (Watson 62, Tomlinson 38) after not being on the team a week ago. Considering Tomlinson had to jet to Texas for the birth of his child and then zip back this week, was a testament to hard work. The Patriots early in the game went with the heavier two-TE look and it worked pretty well. 

Watson’s timing was off a bit early, he turned too late for the first pass from Brady and it bounced off his face mask but after that, he contributed in the passing game with three catches including a key fourth-down conversion (Trust factor). Tomlinson had a catch but provided decent in-line blocking but did have a holding penalty. 

Offensive Line: C

The offensive line did a good job of pass protection overall, Brady wasn’t sacked and hit just two or three times. But of course, much of that has to do with Brady himself. He was getting the ball out incredibly fast which has to frustrate the pass rushers who have no chance of getting home. Marshall Newhouse continues to struggle against pressure from the outside, however. 

The run blocking remains a hit or miss operation, mainly miss. We can all point the finger at Sony Michel and say he isn’t hitting the hole fast enough, but there frequently isn’t a hole to hit and he’s getting met in the backfield. 

With the game salted away in the fourth quarter, the Patriots attempted eight rushes. This is where they traditionally eat the clock up and go home happy. Those eight rushes netted 10 yards. That isn’t going to get it done. 

 Defensive Line: A-

The defensive line once again was outstanding. Le’Veon Bell had a decent game numbers-wise but was a total non-factor. He got most of them on his own. Lawrence Guy, Danny Shelton, Deatrich Wise, and Adam Butler were stuffing everything at the point of attack. And they created lanes for the pass rush to get home. 

On a day where the Patriots had just one sack, the pass rush was the difference here. As was picked up by ESPN microphones, Sam Darnold was “seeing ghosts” 

Linebackers: A

The Patriots linebackers are having an outstanding season, the depth and versatility in this group are the strength of the defense. Utilizing the “0-blitz” early in the game, they were rushing free and caused Darnold to throw interceptions and sail his throws off his back foot. 

John Simon came free on one and knocked the ball out of Darnold’s hands, which was scooped up by Kyle Van Noy who jumped up and rushed into the end zone. It was eventually blown dead as a Jet TE had bumped legs with Van Noy on the ground. 

Dont’a Hightower rocked Bell on one of the few screens the Jets attempted on a bone-jarring hit that put a bow on the evening. 

Secondary: A

The secondary continued their stellar play, no touchdowns, no points, only 86 yards passing and four interceptions. Robby Anderson who had a huge game against Dallas was rendered to a milk carton by Stephon Gilmore. Slot receiver Jamison Crowder had just four catches for 26 yards, blanketed by Jonathan Jones. The Jets only had four first downs passing. 

Bill Belichick and Jerod Mayo utilized the “Cover 0” technique for much of the game, telling the Jets that they weren’t afraid of getting beaten deep. They weren’t. Before the game, Darnold told the NY media, that Jets offense was going to become unstoppable. Maybe soon but not on Monday Night. 

The only downside was the play of J.C. Jackson who was too grabby on Demaryius Thomas and was flagged three times. 

Special Teams: A

Mike Nugent had a clean game, one field goal and four extra points with no misses. A look at Jake Bailey’s 37.3 net average on Monday and you’d think he had a bad game. That would be wrong. He did have a shank early in the game, but his plus-50 punting was outstanding dropping four inside the 20-yard line including a beauty he dropped on the one which bounced out of bounds at the three. He skied a 59-yarder that should have been put in orbit, with over a five-second hang time.

The return game was good and they recovered a muffed punt by former Patriot Braxton Berrios. A great night for the STs

Coaches: A+

The Patriots coaching staff had extra time to prepare and it showed. The first quarter was complete domination for the Patriots in a game the Jets were hoping to show that they were on their way. They were, but not where they expected. Bill Belichick took Adam Gase to school and Josh McDaniels deserves high marks for scheming up an impressive start with a very banged up offense missing several key pieces.

The defensive coaches knew what they needed to do against Darnold and their players produced much better than anyone could have hoped for, and certainly better than most expected.   

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6 Thoughts Following the Patriots Win Over the Jets

Ian Logue
October 22, 2019 at 10:58 am ET

The Patriots improved to 7-0 after embarrassing the Jets in front of their own crowd and the world Monday night, demoralizing a New York team that had been riding fairly high coming into the game after beating the Cowboys the week before.

With Jets quarterback Sam Darnold back under center, New York seemed to be poised to turn things around and potentially give New England their first loss of the season.  Unfortunately for Darnold, the result was quite the opposite and here are some thoughts on the Patriots’ seventh win of the season.

1) It’s hard not to wonder how we’ll someday look back on this defense given the performance they’ve put forth so far through the first seven weeks of the season.  As Patriots fans, most people look back on the days of Ty Law, Willie McGinest and Tedy Bruschi as the glory days of this group, but the 2019 version has been far more dominant than anyone could have ever expected.

Monday night was certainly a terrific example of how good they could be after they forced six Jets turnovers, including 4 interceptions by Darnold.  It started right away after Devin McCourty nabbed the first, picking the Jets signal-caller off on just his second snap of the contest and setting the tone for the rest of the night.  The turnover gives McCourty an NFL best 5 on the season and it was a good job by the safety who made a nice play on the football.

They kept Darnold off balance all night and came at him from all angles, putting him under constant duress and forcing quite a few errant throws.  Darnold, who was mic’d up for the game, was spotted on the sideline saying, “I’m seeing ghosts” and that quote would come back to haunt him for the rest of the evening as New England refused to take the foot off the gas the entire night.

The Patriots made Darnold miserable Monday night.

It didn’t get any better and he finished having completed just 11-of-32 (34%) for 86-yards for the game.  New England’s defense held New York to just 2-of-11 on third down, with Darnold completing a paltry 3-of-10 (30%) for 27 yards and three interceptions.

The interception total is just ridiculous.  Last night’s game gives New England 18 on the year, nearly double that of the next closest team, which is Pittsburgh with 8. They’ve also defended 50 passes, well ahead of the next closest team, which is the Buffalo Bills with 36.

As Mike Reiss pointed out last night, according to ESPN Stats and Info, it’s the second-highest interception total through the first seven games in the last 30 seasons.  The only team with more is the Packers, who had 20 during their Super Bowl season in 1996 (unfortunately, most of us remember who they beat to win it).

The critics will point to the competition this group has faced so far, but good teams are supposed to beat up on inferior clubs and the Patriots did more than beat up the Jets, they absolutely annihilated them.  This is a group who collectively right now is playing so well as a unit and they didn’t back down all night.  In fact, despite the lopsided score, this game even had a strange feel as if it was still much tighter than the scoreboard showed given the fact they never let up and were playing just as hard in the fourth quarter as they were when the game started.

Needless to say, while it’s hard to believe, we’re witnessing history each week.  With 9 games stil left to go, this unit definitely appears poised to potentially write themselves further into the NFL record books and at the rate they’re going, it should be fun to see how it plays out.

2) With the Patriots without Josh Gordon Monday night, it was Jakobi Meyers who stepped up and had another solid outing.  Brady was 5-of-5 targeting him, with their chemistry starting on the first drive of the night after the Patriots faced a 3rd-and-7 at midfield.  Meyers hauled in a 9-yard pass to extend the drive, but then made a further impact on the ensuing 3rd-and-10 play where he made a key block to allow Julian Edelman to pick up 14-yards.

Both of those moments were big as it helped extend the drive and set up the eventual 3-yard touchdown run by Sony Michel.

It was good to see and Brady clearly appears to be finally getting some confidence throwing to him.  He also went to him on early downs, connecting on 3-of-3 targets for 34-yards on second down, including a 23-yard reception early in the second quarter that helped put them near the goal line to take advantage of a Darnold strip-sack.  That play eventually led to another Michel touchdown.

Overall, games like these could pay dividends down the road and with the addition of receiver Mohamed Sanu, who the Patriots acquired from Atlanta on Tuesday, this is a group that could suddenly become even more dangerous if Meyers can continue to grow into the speedy threat he already appears he can be.


Michel rushed for 3 touchdowns on Monday night.

3) It was another tough night for Sony Michel, who despite his 3 touchdowns had to, once again, battle for nearly every yard.

It’s no secret that the Patriots are still trying to work things out up front on the offensive line and as a result, things aren’t coming easy for the second-year running back.  He carried 19 times for 42-yards Monday night, averaging a mere 2.2 yards per carry.  The frustrating part of last night is the fact that he failed to gain a yard 9 times, including 3 for a loss and 6 for no gain.

It’s been a difficult year for Michel, who coming into the game had 100 carries on the season, which isn’t far off from the 91 he had heading into week 7 in 2018.  But he certainly had better luck breaking through the line last season.  He had 15 carries last year through six games where he didn’t pick up a yard after he was dropped for a loss 7 times and ran for no gain on 8 others.

This season, that total was at 24 heading into last night, with 10 negative carries and 14 where he was stopped for no gain.

It’s not that hard to figure out knowing how injuries have caused shifts in the line-up compared to last season and it’s a further reminder of just how good David Andrews was in providing that middle push to open things up, as well as the effect the absence of James Develin is having.

It was interesting to see the Patriots experiment with several players last night to try and address the issue, with Elandon Roberts and James Ferentz as two players who saw action at fullback against the Jets and both did a decent job with their first opportunities.

Give Michel credit, as he’s remained pretty even-keeled so far this season and is still managing to have a productive year.  But we’ll have to see how things play out in the coming weeks as unfortunately, this quietly still remains an area to keep an eye on.

It wasn’t Brady’s best game, but he was certainly the better QB Monday night.

4) Tom Brady may have not had his best game last night but he was on point in the first quarter after completing 13-of-17 (76%) for 118-yards and a touchdown as New England pulled ahead of the Jets while building an early 17-0 lead.

Two of his best throws of the night came on their third possession where he threw a perfect back-shoulder strike to Brandon Bolden for 26-yards, which helped set up another flawless 26-yard scoring strike to Phillip Dorsett, which Brady dropped in perfectly in the back of the end zone where only Dorsett could come down with it.

The early down success was key as Brady was 11-of-15 (73%) for 57 yards on first down, along with 15-of-20 (75%) on second down.  That kept them out of long-yardage situations as they only faced 3rd-and-9 or longer on just 6 of their 16 third-down attempts.  That allowed them to continue moving the football and sustain drives, holding the football for over 38-minutes and giving their defense plenty of time to recharge and make Darnold’s life miserable.

But after the game Brady was happy but still appeared frustrated as he likely knows the offense remains a work in progress.  Hopefully, Tuesday’s addition of Sanu will start making things a little easier.

5) One player who managed to stay off of everyone’s radar Monday night was Mike Nugent, who quietly had a good game.

Nugent was a perfect 4-for-4 on extra points Monday night, as well as hitting a 34-yard field goal.  Each kick was straight and never in doubt, which is a stark contrast to his first outing where he was erratic and didn’t look anywhere near close to comfortable out there.

It’s a good sign as with the colder months coming, the kicking game tends to be a key part of the offense given how scoring tends to drop as the elements become more difficult for offenses to operate in.  Seeing Nugent settle in was a pleasant surprise and the fact he was able to go out there and get it done should have most fans feeling a little better since the Patriots will still need to soldier on without Stephen Gostkowski, who is lost for the rest of the season.

6) We’ll end on this note, which saw one of the most hilarious sequences in Bill Belichick’s tenure happen last night and it was pretty funny to watch how it all unfolded.

With just over 10-minutes to go in the game and leading 33-0, the Patriots saw their offense stall at the Jets’ 33yd line.  With the punt team on the field and facing 4th-and-2, the Patriots took a delay of game penalty, likely looking to give punter Jake Bailey a little more room to work with to pin the Jets in deep yet again.

Adam Gase declined the penalty, which seemed to amuse Belichick.  It then appeared Belichick ordered Brandon Bolden to commit a false start penalty, hoping to again move them back.  But Gase, again, declined the penalty.

From there, cameras caught Belichick smile, knowing he was still out-thinking Gase even at this point in the football game.  It was an absolutely terrific sequence and certainly will likely go down as a moment that will be mentioned years from now once he walks away.  Fortunately, all of us got to watch it happen in real-time.

https://twitter.com/espn/status/1186477725328072704

It was all-in-all a great night and the Patriots will now return home to get to work as they’ll next face the Cleveland Browns at Gillette Stadium this weekend.

Patriots Boogeymen Bedevil, Whitewash the Jets 33-0

Steve Balestrieri
at 7:32 am ET

In the end, it wasn’t any more contested or closer than the first meeting. The Patriots’  defense flummoxed, frustrated, and dominated the Jets from the opening bell. They throttled the Jets in a 33-0 embarrassment in front of a national television audience on Monday Night Football.    

Just a week after Sam Darnold made a triumphant return from an illness and was the AFC’s Offensive Player of the Week, the Patriots had him literally “seeing ghosts” in the first half, forcing him into 5 turnovers. Darnold, who is one of the up and coming young quarterbacks in the NFL was left tonight looking silly and quite unprepared. 

But if Darnold was left seeing ghosts or Boogeymen in his sleep tonight, he didn’t have the worst game on the New York side. Head Coach Adam Gase was taken to the woodshed by Bill Belichick, his team looked completely unprepared and Gase made no adjustments that could be seen and left his young quarterback in far too long in a game that was decided in the first 30 minutes. 

The Patriots put a stamp on this one early. After receiving the opening kickoff, Tom Brady led a methodical, perfectly executed, time-consuming, soul-sucking drive that covered 14 plays and ate up nearly nine minutes of the first quarter. The much-ballyhooed return of MLB C.J. Mosley was nonexistent as Brady and the offense converted 3rd downs of 7, 10 and 5 yards before Sony Michel finished it off with a 3-yard touchdown on 3rd and 2. 

The Jets’ first possession took just two plays for the defense to force its first turnover of the night, one of six in total, five of which belonged to Darnold (four interceptions and a fumble). On 2nd and 8 from the 10-yard line, the Patriots overloaded a blitz on the right side and Darnold, under pressure lobbed the pass too high and it was easily picked off by Devin McCourty. 

What a difference a week makes. After Darnold picked apart the Cowboys, the confidence level was running high in New York. Darnold was talking about finding the weaknesses in the Patriots’ defense and exploiting them. He even added that once  TE Chris Herndon returns the Jets offense would be “unstoppable.” Not exactly bulletin board material, or overly cocky, but he and the Jets offense had no answers to what was to come. 

Gase, in another move that will be dissected for a long time to come, allowed his young quarterback to be mic’d up before the game, perhaps allowing himself the fleeting thought that after last week, this was to be the changing of the guard in the AFC East. Late in the first half, ESPN ran a clip of Darnold on the bench where he looked lost and admitted he was “seeing ghosts out there”. That clip, unfortunately, will follow him for a long time to come. 

What the Patriots did on defense was simple in its plan and yet brilliant in its execution. They blitzed the woeful Jets offensive line with the linebackers (Boogeymen) running free and forcing Darnold to throw off his back foot all game long. Or they would show the blitz and drop seven into coverage and give him nowhere to throw the ball. 

The Jets never adjusted, and never found an answer. While the Patriots only had one sack for 13-yards last night, the pass rush was the biggest factor for the defense. They had Darnold throwing off his back foot where the ball was continuously sailing on him. Darnold finished the game just 11 of 32 for 86 yards with four interceptions and a fumble. His passer rating for the game was just 3.6. He threw as many interceptions as the Jets were able to pass for first downs. They averaged just 2.7 yards per game.

Le’Veon Bell had a nice game with 15 carries for 70 yards including a couple of really nice runs where his patented patience allowed him to bust a few where it appeared he had nowhere to go. But in truth, he was a total non-factor. 

Robby Anderson, fresh off his big game against Dallas was once again relegated to a milk carton by Stephon Gilmore. Anderson had one catch for 10 yards while being targeted eight times. Gilmore had one of the Patriots’ interceptions. Demaryius Thomas who was chirping at the Patriots and Bill Belichick last week, made it sound like a big revenge game fell flat on his face. Targeted nine times, he had just three catches for 42 yards. 

If there was one downer on the defense, it had to be that cornerback J.C. Jackson was being singled out by the referees for flags. He was whistled for three penalties on the night.

But back to the offense. For all the hand-wringing the fans and much of the media are doing, they scored 31 points, (the defense scored two on a safety), and when the game was still in doubt, put 17 points on the board in the first quarter.

Was it a well-oiled machine? Hardly. But missing two key offensive linemen including the left tackle, two fullbacks who are key to the running game, both tight ends, their “X” wide receiver (Josh Gordon) and their most productive running back (Rex Burkhead), they did what they had to do. 

The Patriots’ two tight ends hadn’t played a snap this year but despite the lack of playing time and timing, both Ben Watson and Eric Tomlinson played a significant amount of snaps. Jakobi Meyers is building his trust factor with Brady more every day and was targeted five times and had five catches for 47 yards. He also drew a pass interference penalty on Trumaine Johnson that would’ve been a touchdown. Johnson bit on a double move and had to grab him or get burned. The usual suspects, Julian Edelman and James White each had seven receptions. 

Tom Brady had a so-so night number wise but ran the offense efficiently and utilized everyone at his disposal, completing passes to eight different receivers. His two best throws were a nice 28-yard back-shoulder throw to supersub Brandon Bolden and a beautiful 26-yard touchdown pass to Phillip Dorsett who dusted Johnson in coverage.

Sony Michel had little running room, finishing with just 42 yards on 19 carries, but added three short touchdown runs. Edelman chipped in with a few jet sweeps. And linebacker Elandon Roberts, known for his downhill run-thumping style, was pressed into service as a blocking fullback for goalline and short-yardage. He did very well. 

So while the pundits will continue to decry about the Patriots opponents or lack thereof, they don’t care. They’ve enjoyed this one for a moment and are already moving on the Browns.  After that they will face the Ravens, Eagles, Cowboys, Texans and the Chiefs. One at a time. Those games will ultimately define their season. But they are 4-0 in the division, including 3-0 in the division on the road, 4-0 on the road overall where they were just 3-5 last year. 

Sleep well Patriots fans, and even though Halloween is still 10 days away (nine since it is officially after midnight), but remember Boogeymen do exist. I think they’ll be haunting the dreams of Mr. Darnold for many nights to come.  

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Patriots Players To Watch, Week 7 MNF  Against the Jets

Steve Balestrieri
October 21, 2019 at 7:41 am ET

The Patriots are on the road again and are taking on the New York Jets on Monday Night Football. They’ve had some extra time off since their Thursday Night Football game but will the time off help them to prepare or will they lose a bit of their edge? They will be missing several members of the offense this week.

Here are our Patriots players to watch this week as they try to improve to 7-0 on the season against the Jets. 

Tom Brady: 

The Patriots, despite having the extra time off since last Thursday’s game are entering this game shorthanded and banged up on offense. That means more pressure on the QB to get it done with less. WR Josh Gordon, TEs Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo, and RB Rex Burkhead are out, while WRs Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett, and Gunner Olszewski are all questionable. 

Brady will be operating with one healthy receiver (Jakobi Meyers) and two tight ends that have been on the team for a week (Eric Tomlinson and Ben Watson), although Watson spent all of the training camp here with New England.

Couple that with an offensive line that has been missing two players all season and things won’t be easy for the Patriots QB. He and Josh McDaniels are going to have to get creative this week. 

Jamie Collins:

The Patriots linebacker is enjoying arguably his finest season with the Patriots and is turning back the clock with the way he’s been playing. With the Jets getting Sam Darnold back last week, they got much more aggressive offensively, throwing on first down more and with Darnold’s mobility he can move in the pocket and make plays with his legs. 

Collins will be one of the players who will be very important for the Patriots to ensure that Darnold doesn’t get out of the pocket. With LT Kelvin Beachum out this week, Brandon Shell will be getting his first NFL start. The Patriots will no doubt want to test Shell and Collins, as well as Kyle Van Noy, will be line up on the right side of the defense to try to bring pressure on Darnold.

Collins had a monster game against the Jets a month ago, with 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 2 QB hits, and a pass defensed. The defense will be looking for him to have another big game this week against a much different offensive team.

Julian Edelman/James White:

We’re lumping these two together this week since they will no doubt be the two players that Brady will target the most and the Jets will put the onus on stopping. Edelman against Brian Poole is a mismatch and one that he’d win easily, but expect Poole to have some help this time around. I’d expect the Jets to use a linebacker or safety on occasion to double up Edelman and force Brady to beat them elsewhere. 

James White missed the first game due to the birth of his son, and Rex Burkhead had 17 touches (11 carries, six receptions) in his absence. I’d expect that White will have a similar workload this week. In the passing game, Sony Michel may see a few touches as well as Brandon Bolden but maybe it would a nice time to let 3rd-round pick Damien Harris get his feet wet. UDFA Jakobi Meyers is the only WR not on the injury report.

The Patriots are going to have to ride Edelman and White heavily, something the Jets coaches are well aware of. The adjustments made in-game will ultimately tell the tale here. 

Adam Butler:

Butler is playing more snaps than any Patriots defensive lineman thus far this season. That speaks volumes to his progression in Year 3, and his versatility in being able to adapt to different situations. It is his play, which is the reason that Michael Bennett’s snaps have decreased so rapidly, more than anything else. 

With Bennett suspended this week, more will be thrust on Butler’s plate. With the ever-dangerous Le’Veon Bell in the Jets backfield, the Patriots defensive linemen have to stop Bell from penetrating and allow the linebackers to clean up. They also have to push the pocket on Sam Darnold and create pressure from the inside. 

Butler has been very good at being a disruptive penetrator inside and this will be a big opportunity to shine. The Bennett news will have him thrust more into the spotlight. And with a national audience tonight, Butler has a chance to create even more playing time for himself with a big game against the Jets.  

Ben Watson: 

Watson will be playing in his first game with the Patriots since the 2009 playoff loss to the Ravens at Gillette Stadium. He spent all of training camp with the team and was a frequent side session participant with Tom Brady getting some 1-on-1 work. But with just a week of practice, his first since the end of camp, it isn’t known how much he’ll play. 

The Patriots need some production from the tight end position, something they’ve gotten very little from Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse who has been hurt most of the season. Especially, this week with the situation involving the injuries to the wide receivers, they need someone to step up.

Watson, despite being 38-years old, still runs well and looks like someone much younger. If he can stretch the seams of the defense, just a little bit and give them some production in the middle of the field, it will open things up for Edelman and White.     

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Patriots – Jets Week 7 Key Matchups, Who Has the Razor’s Edge?

Steve Balestrieri
October 18, 2019 at 7:03 am ET

The Patriots head out to the Meadowlands to take on the New York Jets on Monday Night Football. The Patriots are off their fourth 6-0 start in their history and are on pace for a record league-low in points allowed. With a win, they’ll improve to 7-0 for only the third time in team history.

This week’s game will be broadcast by ESPN and can be seen locally on WCVB Channel 5 on Monday, October 21 at 8:20 p.m.. Joe Tessitore will handle play-by-play duties with Booger McFarland as the color analyst. Lisa Salters 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 (6-0) beat the New York Giants 35-14 on Thursday Night Football where the STs and defense each scored in the victory. Tom Brady rushed for two touchdowns.

The Jets (1-4) came off of their bye week and beat the Dallas Cowboys 24-22. Sam Darnold returned after missing the past three games and threw for 338 yards.

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 Jets have been rivals since the earliest days of the old AFL. The Patriots lead the all-time series 66-54-1 including a 36-25-1 record at home and 30-29 on the road against the Jets. The two teams have met three times in the postseason with the Patriots holding a 2-1 edge there. 

The Patriots have swept the season series the past three years. The Patriots beat the Jets 30-14 a month ago in Foxboro, but that was with 3rd string QB (since released) Luke Falk at quarterback.

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 Jets Front Seven – Razor’s Edge New York Jets

The Patriots running game remains an iffy proposition, last week against the Giants they struggled to run the ball, especially in short yardage situations. Sony Michel has been mostly ineffective, where the play of the offensive line and the tight ends hasn’t been good enough. But Michel has been a tad slow at hitting the holes. Brandon Bolden was brought in for some short yardage situations and Brady had two QB sneaks on the goal line scoring a pair of touchdowns. 

The Jets run defense has been solid but not great. They are allowing 95.8 yards per game which is 13th in the league. Last week they kept Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliott mainly in check until the very late stages of the game. If they get MLB C.J. Mosley back this week it willl be a huge boost to both the run and pass defenses. Rookie Quinnen Williams is living up to his 1st-round draft pedigree and has been very good against the run.  Rookie UDFA Kyle Phillips has been a steal and was outstanding against Dallas.

With the addition of former Jets TE Eric Tomlinson, he should help somewhat in the blocking game, if he’s active on Monday night. If Rex Burkhead is ready to go, he’ll provide a boost to the running game as well. Look for Josh McDaniels to try to scheme up some running plays for the offense. Those outside zone runs aren’t working.  Look for some inside running plays to see if they can get some needed yardage and open up play action.                     

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

The Patriots passing game is dealing with injuries to Josh Gordon, Phillip Dorsett as well as Rex Burkhead have been missing time. Rex Burkhead has missed the past two games.also. That leaves them painfully thin. Julian Edelman has been dealing with sore ribs he got in the Jets game last month. The Patriots are hoping to get Dorsett and Burkhead back for Monday night. That will go a long way in helping the offense get untracked. And with Ben Watson back in the fold, the Patriots have a TE that can threaten the seams and help open things up underneath. 

The Jets have a very good front seven, and with Mosley they are even better. But although they have a pair of outstanding safeties in Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, their cornerbacks are a definite weakness. Former Patriot Darryl Roberts, Trumaine Johnson, and Brian Poole are the weak links of the Jets defense. They’ve allowed 262.0 yards per game, 21st in the league. Gregg Williams’ blitzing defense brings good pressure but they only have 7 sacks as a team. If the blitz is picked up then the corners won’t hold up.

Brady and the offense will have to attack the Jets’ pedestrian corners, notably Poole with Edelman in the slot. Edelman had seven catches for 62 yards and a touchdown when he was injured in the second quarter of the game a month ago. Look for the Patriots to use the 2 RB set (James White, Rex Burkhead) in the passing game. With no Gordon, the backs will have to take up some of the slack. Ben Watson too.

Next up the Jets offense:

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

It’s impossible to judge anything regarding the Jets offense from the first meeting when they were missing both Sam Darnold and Trevor Siemian when they arrived in Foxboro. But the running game of the Jets has struggled to run all season, even when Darnold was in the lineup. Le’Veon Bell is averaging just 3 yards per carry. With Darnold back, the Jets passing game figures to be much better, but they also need the running game and Bell to keep the offense from being one-dimensional. The Jets offensive line also (like New England) needs to do a better job.

The Patriots run defense has been solid this season and is allowing just 73.7 yards per game, good for third best in the league. The average allowed per carry of 4.1 yards is misleading. The one 65-yard run by Frank Gore raised the average per game by 10 yards. Without that run, the average would be 62.8 yards per game and 3.5 yards per rushing attempt. Lawrence Guy, Danny Shelton, and Adam Butler have been excellent at stopping the runs at the point of attack and allowing the linebackers to clean up and make plays. 

Having Darnold back in the fold will definitely help as he’ll force the defense to play it straight up and not allowing opponents to stack the box. This matchup will go a long way in deciding this game. If the Jets become one-dimensional and constantly are in 3rd and long situations, the Patriots defense will make life tough for them to move and score points. Dont’a Hightower and Jamie Collins are key here for the Pats.  

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

The Jets finally got their passing game untracked on Sunday as Sam Darnold threw for 338 yards while completing 23-32 passes with two TDs and an interception. He has Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder in the slot and Demaryius Thomas at wide receiver. They’re hoping to get TE Chris Herndon back for this one which will definitely open things up for them down the seam. Bell is always a threat out of the backfield. 

The Patriots pass defense has been simply outstanding in 2019, allowing just 161.0 yards per game, good for #2 in the NFL. They’ve already intercepted 14 passes and made 25 sacks. They made 30 all of 2018 and have nearly matched that less than halfway into the season. The secondary has been like glue while the linebackers have been tremendous in helping with the pass rush. One of the most impressive things has been the communication, they way they pass off responsibilities when recognizing a blitzing opportunity. 

Anderson will be going against Stephon Gilmore who held him to just 3 catches for 11 yards in the last meeting. But Anderson lit up the Cowboys, including a 92-yard touchdown, so his confidence is high with his starting QB back. Crowder should be matched up with Jonathan Jones in the slot while Thomas will draw either Jason McCourty or J.C. Jackson. All three should be great matchups to monitor. 

In the first meeting, the Patriots got five sacks and with the Jets, they’ll be minus their starting LT Kelvin Beachum, Brandon Shell will be getting his first NFL start. Look for the Patriots to test him early in this one. With Darnold back, the Jets threw on first down more than ran (17-9) and he used play-action very effectively  Overall, on first down, he was 13-15 for 202 yards and a TD. 

Special Teams- Razor’s Edge New England

The Patriots Mike Nugent seems to have the coaches’ confidence, last week he doinked a kick off the upright but the high winds were a huge factor in the kicking game. Jake Bailey has come on extremely well and his strong leg has been on display numerous times already The return game has been so-so at best with Gunner Olszewski but the coverage units and punt blocking teams have been outstanding.

The Jets Sam Ficken has settled down the kicking game. Lachlan Edwards has done a solid job of punting, and the Jets coverage units have been solid. However, Braxton Berrios hasn’t provided much in the return game.  

Next up, who wins and why…

Prediction:

The Patriots are looking for a sweep of the Jets and of their divisional opponents on the road enroute to a 7-0 start. The Jets started off nightmarishly but confidence is high in the Meadowlands as they get their injured players back and their schedule does get markedly lighter after this week. They feel like they can with a second upset in a row go on a winning streak. 

Keys to the game from a Patriots perspective:

Defense Sets the Tone – Look for the Patriots defense to remain aggressive and challenge the Jets receivers. The secondary is playing tremendous and they’ll try to show different looks in trying to get Darnold to make a mistake. The key for the Patriots defense is to take away Le’Veon Bell, in both the running and passing game. If they can neutralize him, they have the secondary players to match up well. 

The pass rush will be an area to watch. Darnold has the ability to move in the pocket and throw on the move, unlike the previous matchup. They’ll attempt to test Shell on the left side and they’ll show him different looks as well. 

Edelman and the Running Backs in the Passing Game: Tom Brady passed for 306 yards on 28 of 42 passing in the first matchup with two touchdowns. Julian Edelman was giving the Jets fits until he was injured. With C.J. Mosley stating he’ll play on Monday, that should help the middle of the field immensely. But Poole is at a disadvantage against Edelman, it will be interesting to see if they give him help. 

James White, who missed the first matchup due to the birth of his son and Burkhead, if he’s able to go will see lots of reps. Expect to see a lot of the two-back “Pony” set where Brady will move them around to create mismatches. It will also help in keeping the Jets from blitzing at times. 

Play-action will be key here. If they can freeze the Jets linebackers ever so slightly, it will open up things more for Phillip Dorsett, Jakobi Meyers and TE Ben Watson.

Get the Running Game Going: Easier said than done. The Patriots running game has been stuck in neutral for much of this season. But they need to scheme some things up to get it going with Sony Michel and Burkhead with a bit of James White and Brandon Bolden mixed in. 

The Jets run defense is solid and they’ll need an A-game from the offensive line. Michel is the key to get everything else going. If they are constantly in 3rd and long, it will be a long evening for the offense. 

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This should be a typical Patriots-Jets game in the Meadowlands, with the game tight right down to the very end. Points will be at a premium here for both teams but in the end the Patriots should be able to pull away thanks to the defense generating a turnover or two. The last thing the coaches want is to see the Jets get off to another start like they had last week. They’ll want to come out strong.  Patriots 23-13

The “Knocking on Sevens’ Door” tour heads back home next Sunday with a 4:25 p.m. game against the Cleveland Browns.

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, Week 7, Jets Get Darnold, Optimism Back

Steve Balestrieri
October 16, 2019 at 8:30 am ET

The New York Jets won their first game of the season last Sunday in the Meadowlands over the Dallas Cowboys and there was optimism in the air. Not only did they get off the schneid, but they got their quarterback, Sam Darnold back on the field, which gave their offense a huge shot in the arm. 

All of a sudden, Adam Gase, who many fickle members of the NY press corps were calling for his head a week ago, now has, as they put it, has a chance to go on a run. As Yakov Smirnov would say, “What a country” only in New York. 

So, here are our second look at the Jets this season:

Darnold Didn’t Look Like He Missed a Beat:

Sam Darnold missed three games with mono and returned to play a very impressive game last Sunday against Dallas. The Jets offense was non-existent during his absence, however, in all fairness, his backup QB was injured early in Game 2 and they were forced to go with Luke Falk who was signed off their practice squad. 

Darnold showed no signs of rust and led the Jets to a big first-half lead which they parlayed into a 24-22 win over Dallas. Darnold finished the game 23-32 for 338 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. It was one of the best games in his young career. It was highlighted by an impressive 92-yard touchdown pass to Robby Anderson in the first half. He also hit Jamison Crowder six times for 98 yards. 

In the three games that he missed, the Jets offense scored one offensive touchdown. On Sunday, they scored three. Is it possible for just one player to transform an offense? It certainly appeared that way on Sunday. He had them moving the ball well all day long.

The Running Game Has Yet to Get Going: 

The Jets got Darnold back and the passing game was clicking for the first time this season with Anderson, Crowder and Demaryius Thomas all contributing last week. But now the focus will be getting the running game with Le’Veon Bell untracked. Bell was given a four-year deal worth $52.5 million dollars this spring, but has yet to break out.

Part of the reason has been with Falk at quarterback, opponents were stacking the box and basically daring the Jets to throw the ball. Which is why Bell has had 85 rushing attempts (16th in the NFL) but only 256 rushing yards. That is only 27th in the league with a long run of just 13 yards. The Jets as a team are averaging just 64 yards per game on the ground, 30th in the league. That will have to change.

They’re going to need a better push from their offensive linemen but with the team using more play-action on first down, that should definitely help matters. Even though left guard Kelechi Osemele is having shoulder surgery, his replacement Alex Morgan is playing well and may have supplanted the veteran.

Williams on the Trading Block? Possibly As the Deadline Approaches:

The jets have a decision looming with their excellent DT Leonard Williams. He’s in the last year of his rookie contract and the 25-year old is expected to draw significant interest…as well as significant money on the free-agent market. That is if the Jets allow him to hit free agency. 

But the Jets have other options, they can lock him up with a long-term contract extension now, or wait and re-sign him in the spring. But another option is out there and that is, they could trade Williams at r before the trade deadline.

There are reports out on social media that the Jets are receiving lots of offers for Williams, and rightfully so, he is an outstanding defensive lineman who frequently draws the double teams from opponents. The Jets have said that, right now, they have no plans to trade him. But with Henry Anderson, Steve McLendon and this season’s first-round pick Quinnen Williams on the roster, they could set themselves up with a deal at the trade deadline. 

Jets Could Get Mosley, Herndon Back for Monday Night: 

The Jets are hoping that LB C.J. Mosley and tight end Chris Herndon can return and play this week against the Patriots on Monday night. The Jets signed Mosley to a huge free-agent contract this spring and he was the QB of the defense and their unquestioned leader. It was no coincidence that before Mosley injured his groin in Week 1, the Jets were beating Buffalo 16-0. After he left, the Bills scored 17 unanswered points to pull out a victory. 

Coach Adam Gase said on Monday that Mosley’s been progressing well and they believe he’s ready to begin practice. If he can practice and play on Monday night, it will be a big boost for the Jets defense. The offense could also be getting a key player back on Monday in tight end Chris Herndon.

Gase also remarked that Herndon is progressing well from his hamstring injury that he suffered as he returned from his suspension and that the team was going to be smart with it and see how it responds. Herndon can give the Jets the ability to attack the seam more and be a bigger red-zone target than his replacement Ryan Griffin. 

Bucking the Trend, Jets Looking to Erase Frustration: 

In recent years the Patriots have owned the Jets in the head-to-head matchups winning the last seven in a row. And that number could have been much, much higher as the Jets pulled out two overtime victories in the Meadowlands including the 2013 game with the bogus “pushing” penalty on Chris Jones, gave the Jets a second chance, erasing a 56-yard miss with a 15-yard penalty, where Nick Folk made his 42-yarder for the win. That penalty hasn’t been heard from since…but New England gets all the calls, right?

This week, optimism is high in New Jersey as the Jets have refound their swagger on offense, their defense has been playing solid football and with their QB and other players coming back, they are hoping to catch the Patriots at just the right time. 

New England lost Dont’a Hightower, Pat Chung, Josh Gordon, Matt LaCosse, and Jakob Johnson to injuries last week. Johnson ended up on IR, while Gordon is not expected to play. If Chung especially, and Hightower can’t go, it puts the Patriots in a much more vulnerable position on Monday night. 

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

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

 

New England Patriots News 9-29, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
September 29, 2019 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 09-29 and AFC East notes this week. 

Game Day,.and the Patriots face off with the Buffalo Bills with both teams entering the week at 3-0. With a win today the Patriots would not only go 4-0 but would have already beaten every other team in the division.   

 Quick Hitters For the Pats and the NFL:

Bill Belichick – was asked about how much he uses analytics when facing situations down in the red zone near the goal line. His answer was classic Belichick. “Less than zero…and I’m a guy who loves math.”

Marshall Newhouse – missed some practice time this week with an illness. With the offensive line already depleted, we’ll be watching him to see if he has any lasting effects of that while taking on Jerry Hughes. 

Jakob Johnson – made his debut last week for just a cameo but we expect that we’ll see more of the German-born fullback this week. Taking over for James Develin is not an easy task, but after watching him progress this summer, it will be interesting to see what he can do.

Twilight Zone – [Rod Serling voice], “Imagine if you will, a world with Bill Belichick holding a press conference where he denies the media the use of video.” The outrage would be thru the roof. What John Henry and the Red Sox did was the ultimate head scratcher and so, so ridiculous. Waiting for the Globe’s skewering of Henry for not allowing the press to “do their job”? Don’t hold your breath.

The Patriots Defense, Still Worries About Coaching Turnover? Nope:

After Brian Flores left and took with him a good chunk of the coaching staff this spring and DL coach Brendan Daly left for the Chiefs for family reasons, it left the Patriots with only Steve Belichick as the only remaining holdover from the 2018 Super Bowl-winning staff on the defensive side. And there was a concern that it could hurt the team moving forward in 2019. No longer. 

That all seems like a very far distant memory now, so much now that it seems the Millennium Falcon “would make the Kessel Run in twelve parsecs” kind of distance. Of course, as expected, Bill Belichick has played an active role in everything on the defensive side. How much he actually is doing is something the Patriots are playing close to their vest and rather than trying to breach the security at Langley, it is not something that will come out anytime soon. 

But the new staff has done a remarkable job. We remarked on this after minicamp and early in the days of training camp. I was sitting next to Bob Socci, the voice of the Patriots at practice and we both remarked how well oiled the machine continues to hum along. It seemed that this group had been working together for years. Belichick may disagree but at least from our perspective, it was impressive. 

And the proof is in the pudding. Say what you will about the first three opponents but this defense has done a masterful job of taking away everything that their opponents are trying to do. 

Jerod Mayo is calling the signals into the players on the field and coaching the inside linebackers. Brett Bielema, a college head coach and defensive coordinator has taken over the reins at the defensive line. DeMarcus Covington is coaching the outside linebackers, while Mike Pelligrino coaches the corners. Steve Belichick remains with the safeties and helps with the communications. Joe Kim is the dedicated martial arts expert who works with the pass rushers with their hand technique and is officially listed as the Director of Skill Development. While Brian Belichick and Bob Fraser are coaching assistants.

We’re used to seeing slow September starts by the defense and seeing them add layers and more packages as the season progresses. If this is the “slow start” for the Patriots defense this year? We’re in for a special year. Is anybody still worried about the coaching turnover? “But Mike, Belichick is just practicing nepotism, these guys can’t coach!”  

Cody Kessler Signing Much Ado About Little:

The Patriots signed veteran QB Cody Kessler and social media exploded in a classic case of overreaction. And it wasn’t just the fans, it was the mainstream national media as well. “Belichick rethinking Stidham as Backup QB”, “It was too early for Stidham”, “Belichick Bringing in New Patriots Backup for Brady”. Like everything else with the Patriots, take it all with a grain of salt and a healthy dose of skepticism. 

The answer is probably much more benign but hey, never let it get in the way of hot takes when it comes to BB and the Pats. Was Belichick happy about Stidham overthrowing a pass that resulted in an easy pick-six? No, but he isn’t going to skewer a rookie QB after three passes in his NFL career. 

With Tom Brady’s age comes certain factors, the team will give him some recovery time in-between starts on occasion, as rest becomes important. Jarrett Stidham can’t continue to learn the offense, run the scout team and then fill in for Brady on his rest day all at the same time. 

So the team brings in a veteran, Kessler who will give the team a good look as the scout team QB, something Brian Hoyer was very good at, to prepare the defense for what they’ll face that upcoming week. Not much of a story, no hot take…sorry, sometimes the truth can be boring…It is what it is.

Matthew Slater Show Why Gunners Deserve a Spot in the HOF:

The Patriots game against the Jets pretty much was a done deal by the second quarter, but for those who watched the game all the way through, they were treated to another classic Matthew Slater gem of a play. It showed as a gunner why Slater is one of the best to ever play that position.  

The Patriots punted from the Jets 40-yard line. Jake Bailey skied the ball high down the right side. Slater had beaten his man and was bearing down on Braxton Berrios who was looking like he was attempting to catch it. Slater had to play it safe as if he played the bounce, Berrios could catch the punt and have a good amount of real estate to return. Berrios opted to let it bounce at the five-yard line, hoping for a touchback. 

Slater then sped down to the one, and snagged the ball, spinning around and dumping it back on the 1-2 yard line, knowing his momentum would carry him into the end zone. The ball was downed at the one by Jonathan Jones and the Jets had to move the length of the field. It was another signature play by Slater. It went down as just a 39-yard punt by Bailey, but it was the best STs play of the day. 

Of course, none of this is a surprise as he’s been doing this his entire career. He had a couple of those in the Super Bowl in January and we’ve grown accustomed to seeing them week after week. If the NFL ever decides to allow gunners into Canton, there will be a lot of push to see #18 wearing a gold jacket someday.

NFL Schedule Week 4, Who Are Your Winners:

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

Last Week: 10-6
Season: 31-16-1

TNF Eagles over Green Bay 1-0 


NY Giants over Washington
Chiefs over Detroit
Atlanta over Tennessee
Ravens over Cleveland
New England over Buffalo
Colts over Oakland
Houston over Carolina
LA Chargers over Miami
LA Rams over Tampa Bay
Seattle over Arizona
Chicago over Minnesota
Denver over Jacksonville
SNF Dallas over New Orleans
MNF Pittsburgh over Cincinnati

Jets and 49ers are on a bye week

Early Thursday Night Football pick Seattle over LA Rams

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Beasley Not Part of Bills Frustration, Only Looking Forward:

The Buffalo Bills are 3-0 and the city is very excited for the prospect of the Bills beating the Patriots, taking an early lead in the division at the quarter-point of the season and finally having a team that can challenge Bill Belichick and New England.

However, the Bills know the prospect of facing a Patriots team with Tom Brady at QB is not an easy task and their frustration in doing so has been torturous for Bills diehard fans. Brady has an incredible 30-3 mark against the Bills and 15-2 in games at Buffalo.

One player who is new to Buffalo and the rivalry is WR Cole Beasley. He’s only played New England once in his career, a 2015 game in Dallas, so he isn’t worrying about history, he’s focused on the future, notably today. 

“I wasn’t here. I don’t care,” Beasley said to Bills.com. “I played for a different team and didn’t play the Pats last year. I don’t know anything about what they were. All I can do is watch them this week. You know about their success. They’ve had a lot of success over the past couple of years. They’re a good football team so we’ve got to be on our A-game just like we have to be any other week.”

“They have a really good defense and they’ve been really disciplined up until this point,” Beasley said. “They’ve done a good job of taking the ball away. We just have to approach it the same way we do every week and focus in on what we can do. We can’t give them extra opportunities on offense because they have a good offense as well. We’ve got to take care of the rock and execute the way we know we can.”

Dolphins Are Facing A Beatup Chargers Team Today:

The Miami Dolphins are in the midst of a total rebuild and they’ve been on the losing end of some big scores in the first three weeks. And at first glance with the Chargers coming to South Florida, it appears to be more of the same. 

But Brian Flores and his players may catch a bit of a break today because the Chargers are limping into South Beach missing a slew of players for the game. The Bolts will be minus both starting safeties, right tackle Russell Okung, TE Hunter Henry, TE Virgil Green, K Mike Badgley, and WR Mike Williams. In addition, WR Travis Benjamin is doubtful while CB Casey Hayward and LB Drue Tranquill are questionable. If there is a time to upset the Bolts, today could be it. 

But the bad news for Miami is that Melvin Gordon is back in camp, having ended his holdout and is expected to play. He and Austin Ekeler provide the Chargers a dynamic 1-2 punch in the running game. Button those chin straps up Fins…

Jets Media Quickly Turning on Gase After an 0-3 Start:

The New York Jets are reeling after an 0-3 start and as always, the fickle NY press is quickly turning on Adam Gase the head coach of the Jets. Truthfully, with three starting QBs in three games due to injury/illness would be tough for anyone to overcome, especially so early in a new regime. Not that Gase is without fault mind you, but the thinking was that Gase could work wonders with 2nd year QB Sam Darnold. 

And on cue, the NY Daily News’ Manish Mehta has flip-flopped on this hiring, changing his tune more on Gase than Sybil had personalities. Early in the week before the Patriots game, he predicted a Patriots romp, then late in the week, he posts a column on how the Jets can win. But now, instead of being the innovator, the QB guru, Mehta is openly questioning if the Jets made a mistake after three games.

Yes, the Jets rank dead last in many offensive categories, scoring, yardage, yards per play, passing yards and first downs per game. Going to your scout team QB in the first half of your second game will do that. Darnold should return from mono soon. When he does, and the Jets get a couple in the win column, this will no doubt have Mehta talking postseason hopes again soon

And on a totally unrelated note, Joe Klecko belongs in Canton. Silly me, I thought the Jets great was already there. I saw some news this week that he isn’t. Forget what the Jets records were in many of those years, Klecko was a tremendous football player who was an All-Pro at three different positions, defensive end, defensive tackle and nose tackle. 

Of course stats hounds will point to Klecko having only 24 career sacks according to the official NFL record books. That was partly because sacks weren’t an official stat until 1982 otherwise he’d add about 51 more. He led the NFL with 20.5 in 1981. Give the man his gold jacket…it is about time. 

________________

“Less than zero. Well, I’m not saying it’s a gut thing. It’s an individual analysis based on the things that are pertinent to that game and that situation. I don’t really care what happened in 1973 and what those teams did or didn’t do, I don’t really think that matters in this game – or ’83 or ’90, you know, pick out whatever year you want. It’s not really my thing. And I like math, too, by the way. I really do. I like math.” – Bill Belichick after being asked what role, if any, does analytics have in deciding when to go for it on fourth down or a two-point conversion for you?

________________

“So, how was your week?”

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

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

 

 

 

Patriots 2019 Opponents, First Impressions of the Jets

Steve Balestrieri
September 18, 2019 at 8:17 am ET

The New York Jets had very different designs on the start of the 2019 season. After firing everyone and beginning a fresh start, they hired head coach Adam Gase, who they hoped would jump-start Year 2 for QB Sam Darnold, were big spenders in free agency signing Le’Veon Bell and C.J. Mosley to big-money contracts.

But a combination of injuries and illness have taken their toll on the roster and the Jets find themselves in an 0-2 hole. Now they’re coming to Foxboro to take on their hated rival New England Patriots who have dominated the matchups in recent years. 

With the offense banged up and already on their third starting QB of the season, they’ll have to lean on their running game and their defense this week if they want to pull an upset. Here’s our first look at the 2019 J-E-T-S, Jets, Jets, Jets.

Luke Falk is the Starting QB for Now:

Luke Falk went from practice squad QB and running the scout team to being the Jets starting QB in a matter of hours.

The football gods dealt the Jets a couple of haymakers early this season. Starting QB Sam Darnold was feeling sick before the opener against the Bills and later it was learned that he contracted mononucleosis and will be out for at least a month. With the weight loss and fatigue that is associated with the illness, there is a dangerous chance of his spleen becoming enlarged, which would put him at serious risk of injury if he were to play before being completely healed.

The team had signed free agent Trevor Siemian this offseason. He spent 2018 with the Vikings after three years of being on the QB carousel with John Elway and the Broncos. Siemian is a smart, strong-armed passer but has had accuracy issues. He got the starting nod [13-11 record as a starting QB] against the Browns. But on a hit by Miles Garrett as he was releasing the ball caused his foot to get caught up in the turf under him. The result was a gruesome-looking injury. He tore the ligaments in his ankle and is lost for the year. 

Luke Falk, c’mon down… It is a tough position for Falk to step into. The Jets will be signing another QB this week to back up Falk but Gase said he will be the starter until Darnold returns from his illness. Falk also signed with the Jets this spring after spending much of his rookie season on IR with the Dolphins. He entered in the second quarter after Siemian went down and completed 20 of 25 passes for 198 yards. He had a 99.7 passer rating. 

Injuries Everywhere For the Jets:

It isn’t just being down two quarterbacks where the Jets are hurting. They are banged up everywhere. WR Quincy Enunwa was lost for the season on IR after suffering a serious neck injury. Le’Veon Bell had an MRI on his shoulder after getting banged up on Week 1 against the Bills. He did play and play well against the Browns but will be operating on a short week.

Newly acquired wide receiver Demaryius Thomas was already dealing with a hamstring issue with the Patriots before his trade to Gang Green, reinjured it on Monday night and it would be surprising to see him play on Sunday. That leaves Robby Anderson, Jamison Crowder at WR with Bell out of the backfield, Ryan Griffin at tight end and a lot of question marks.

The defense is banged up too. ILB C.J. Mosley who the Jets signed to a huge free-agent contract was playing outstanding in the opener, scoring a TD on a pick-six as the Jets raced out to a 16-0 lead. But once he left with a groin injury, the Bills scored 17 unanswered points and took the game 17-16. He missed the Browns game and is considered day-to-day for New England this week. 

Quinnen Williams, the #3 pick overall in this spring’s NFL Draft injured his ankle against the Bills and also missed the Browns game. Jordan Jenkins injured his calf against the Browns and isn’t expected to be ready for the Patriots game this weekend.

Le’Veon Bell “Frustrated By 0-2 Start”, Vows to Remain Upbeat:

The Jets laid out some big money for running back Le’Veon Bell this spring and thus far he’s done everything they’ve asked and then some, totaling up 229 all-purpose yards on offense for the Jets after sitting out the 2018 season in a contract squabble with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But the look on his face on Monday Night was unmistakable as he was visibly frustrated as the Jets fell to 0-2 with a 23-3 loss to the Browns. Now the Jets travel to New England, whose defense has been playing outstanding for the first two games. Bell, who was not used to losing in Pittsburgh was quick to point out that he was looking forward.

Bell took to Twitter and put any questions to rest…for now. “It’s easy to get down, but I don’t let that negativity affect me. I’m BLESSED! I’m healthy, secure, & back doing what I love! Yea, I’m frustrated things haven’t went our way. But I look at life and think, how can I complain? I’m grateful to be in this position & to play this game.”

Expect the Jets to lean heavily on Bell in both the running and passing games on Sunday in Foxboro. 

Jamal Adams Benched, Trying to Force His Way Out of NJ?

During Monday night’s 23-3 loss to the Browns, Jets safety Jamal Adams was benched, albeit shortly [five snaps], but it was his reaction that set tongues wagging. After the game, Adams, changed his Twitter bio that previously read “Former LSU All-American – Defensive Back for the New York Jets.” to “Let the lord fight your battles. He hasn’t lost one yet!”

This immediately got the social media world gaga over his comments, believing that he, like Antonio Brown and Minkah Fitzpatrick was trying to force his way off the Jets and move on to greener pastures. His comments after the fact did little to dispel those rumors. 

He called the questions to his bio change just “outside noise” and insisted he was “just focused on this team.” But his explanation of his benching, although brief, was alarming in its tone. “Yeah, I was benched. They benched me. I tried to anticipate a play … and I anticipated wrong,” Adams said in an interview with WFAN Sports Radio on Tuesday. “It happens.”

The Jets also benched high-priced cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who they gave a five-year $72 million dollar contract last year, but his benching was for the entire game. Whether they are just sending a message or they’re done with Johnson will be an area to watch this Sunday.

Gregg Williams Aggressive Defense Will Be Front and Center on Sunday:

There are fewer controversial figures than the Jets defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams. Williams is no shrinking violet the way he coaches his defense and the manner in which they play. But sometimes, both he and they cross the line. 

Prior to MNF, Browns WR Odell Beckham Jr. called out Williams and accused Williams of coaching “dirty football.” He cited a 2017 preseason game where Beckham Jr. said, Cleveland players told him after the game that Williams wanted the WR targeted for dirty or late hits. 

Williams was suspended for the 2012 season following a tape that was made while he was the defensive coordinator of the Saints where he openly encouraged Saints players to take out opposing players for a monetary bonus.“Kill the head and the body will die”, he was recorded as saying. The tape made its way to the league and both he and head coach Sean Payton were suspended. 

Regardless of those charges, the Jets and Williams should be even more aggressive on Sunday. His team’s offense is struggling and the defense will have to keep them close enough to try to force an upset. The Patriots offensive line is minus three starters including both starting tackles. Williams’ defenses are always aggressive and use the blitz liberally. Come Sunday, look for him to be even more aggressive.

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 01-06, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
January 6, 2019 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 01-06, & AFC East Notes.

Some Quick Hitters this morning:

No…This IS 41: Last week in the aftermath of the Jets game, another hot-take artist of Fox Sports radio with an ax to grind, first complained that the league conspired to get the Patriots the bye because of what he called a terrible call of roughing the passer by the Jets against Brady. “NFL badly needed the Patriots to get that #2 seed. This call is total garbage. Patriots eventually score, up 21-3.”

Then he cherry-picked a missed throw by Brady to Hogan in the end zone to claim, “This is 41.” The funny part was the next day, he called out another writer for having a “garbage take” on the Antonio Brown saga. Glass houses, especially when in the game against the Jets, Brady completed over 70 percent of his throws, threw 4 TDs and had a passer rating of 133.8.

But we can cherry pick too, so…here’s your “This is 41”

Did you Know? Since 2001, the Patriots have had 13 byes, the most in the NFL. The next closest teams are the Denver Broncos and Pittsburgh Steelers with 5. This is the ninth consecutive year earning a bye, the most prior to this Patriots run has been four. . Dallas and San Francisco earned four straight byes from 1992 through 1995 and Denver had four straight from 2012 through 2015.

Did you Know Pt. 2: The only NFL team to win a championship and is no longer in the league was from New England. The Providence Steamroller was part of the league from 1925 -1931 and won the NFL Championship in 1928. Besides being one of two teams (Chicago Cardinals) to be the first to play a night game in 1929, Providence, due to a scheduling snafu and bad weather played four games in a six-day stretch which the night game, attended by 6000 fans was the second game of the stretch.

Patriots Unveil 2018 Playoff Motto: The Patriots, as part of their M.O., have unveiled a motto for the playoffs this year, “Everything We Got.” They unveiled a short video that showed many of the national pundits calling for the demise of the Pats dynastic run.

Then the video shows the team in a quick series of vignettes and then the narrator says:
To get everything,
It’s going to take everything.
So we’re going to give everything.
EVERYTHING WE GOT.

Is it as good as “Do Your Job”? Nope. But it is a step up from “One More” in our opinion. Enjoy the Wildcard Weekend’s slate of the games. There were 12 good teams entering the playoffs this weekend, 11 of them will lose their last game of the year. That’s why our motto, which we’d steal from Hollywood, would be. “There Can Be Only One!”

With McDaniels and Flores Being Courted, Focus on O’Shea, Bielema:

Like clockwork, the staff of Bill Belichick is being raided again as multiple teams have requested interviews with coordinators Josh McDaniels and Brian Flores. McDaniels is rumored to be the top choice for the Green Bay Packers and is very much in the mix for Cleveland, he turned down a request to interview with Cincinnati. It might sound strange but the better job overall and probably better for McDaniels may be Cleveland.

The Packers have a 36-year old QB who got his last coach fired. The offense runs through Rodgers, it is doubtful, he’s going to want to learn a new system at this stage of his career. Cleveland has a good young defense, an exciting rookie QB that knows how to win and is a team trending up.

But we digress… If one, or both leave who will take over the reins as the coordinators for the Patriots in 2019? On offense, it seems like a no-brainer in that Chad O’Shea will take over the play calling there. He’s been being groomed for that spot for some time now. O’Shea has been with the team for 10 years and called the plays during the preseason last summer. That one seems like a slam-dunk. However, O’Shea’s name is being floated around as a possible Offensive Coordinator for Matt Patricia in Detroit. We’ll have to monitor that situation.

Defensively, the situation will be difficult as they have no clear-cut coach lined up to take the reins. In reality, Flores isn’t even a “true” defensive coordinator, as he’s not been even given the title of it yet… why, is a story for another time.

Bill Belichick would probably take most of the onus on himself as the defensive coordinator for 2019, however, there isn’t a clear-cut successor ready yet. The best choice? Bret Bielema who was a head coach at both Wisconsin and Arkansas. Brendan Daly, who coaches the Defensive Line, may become a candidate in a year or two, but right now, the odds would be against him.

AB to the Pats? Not Happening:

When the news broke about the deteriorating situation in Pittsburgh with Antonio Brown, it was amazing how dysfunctional that team truly is. Mike Tomlin has always run a loose ship and that has come home to roost. But as soon as the story broke about Brown requesting a trade, Patriots fans jumped all over the story, wanting Belichick to swing a deal for Brown.

But there is no way that’s happening. For one, the Steelers would still be on the hook for Brown’s huge 2019 cap hit. They’ll probably try to mend the relationship between Brown, QB Ben Roethlisberger, and Tomlin. Barring that, if they do decide to trade him, one place they never would trade Brown to would be New England.

And as ridiculously talented Brown is, I can’t imagine that there would be a mutual interest in bringing him here. Can you imagine Brown’s Facebook Live video going on while Belichick is addressing the team in a post-game setting? And Brown, although in the midst of a terrific season, was mad because Roethlisberger was making JuJu Smith-Schuster, who had an even better 2018, the focal point. I can’t see Brown accepting a role where he’s not “the guy” that the offense runs thru.

After last season and the tabloid-like story on the divorce of Brady/Belichick, while the team was going 13-3 and on their way to another Super Bowl, is there going to be a big breaking piece on the disintegration of the Steelers’ locker room? Their two most talented offensive players quit on their team this season…but we’re not holding our breath on that one.

Young QBs Have Fans Excited in Several Markets:

The NFL had an influx of young QBs this year and many of them played big roles for their teams right off the bat. And it is a great thing for several NFL franchises that have been downtrodden for a number of years as these young QBs generate hope and excitement for the next generation.

The league has their established stars in QBs like Brady, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers but the story this season really wasn’t about any of them but Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes, while technically not a rookie lit the league on fire this fall. While perennial bottom feeders in Cleveland now have an exciting young QB, Baker Mayfield who has instantly brought hope and respectability to the franchise. Lamar Jackson, Sam Darnold, Josh Allen, and Josh Rosen have had different levels of success but at least have their fans tuning in.

No one knows if any of these young studs can keep up the long-term success that they’ve found in their first year of playing.  There are no guarantees, injuries occur as well as other issues that can arise, but right now, the 2019 season looks to be, on paper one to really look forward to.

Who You Have This Week? NFL Wildcard Weekend Predictions:

Last week: 12-4 Final Regular Season 165-89-2

Wildcard Weekend:

Saturday – Houston over Indy,
                 Seattle over Dallas
Sunday –   Baltimore over LA Chargers (tough start time for West Coast teams)
                Chicago over Philadelphia

Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:

Bills Have Their Man in Josh Allen, Now Need a Surrounding Cast:

The Buffalo Bills picked their guy in the QB Class of 2018 in the person of Allen, the big, strong-armed youngster from Wyoming who had a very up-and-down year, which isn’t a rarity for rookie QBs.

Allen has some obvious flaws in his game. He can be woefully inaccurate at times, but those are mechanical issues that can be solved thru coaching. But for a big guy (6’5, 237) he runs deceptively fast from the pocket.

The Bills need to surround Allen with better weapons next year. Although they have Zay Jones and Robert Foster, they could use another WR, RB, TE and a heckuva lot better support along the offensive line.

Allen ended the season in dramatic fashion, throwing for three TDs and running for two more, the first Bills QB to account for five TDs in a game since Jim Kelly. That left fans in Western NY, itching for a winner, looking forward to 2019. That may even stop them from throwing sex toys on the field during games… Maybe not.

Dolphins Search For the Next Head Coach:

The Miami Dolphins, in a mild surprise, fired head coach Adam Gase after the season was over, but the way the team finished their final quarter of the season, it shouldn’t have been. After an improbable, last-second fluke win over the Patriots, Miami was blown out in Minnesota, lost by 10 to Jacksonville and by 25 to Buffalo.

The Dolphins are busy trying to find their next head coach. GM Chris Grier has interviewed the Patriots’ Brian Flores, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy and now are set to interview Saints defensive coordinator Dennis Allen. For Bieniemy, this season was just his first as a coordinator but it was his fourth interview this week. He also met with the New York Jets and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and the Cincinnati Bengals.

Other names included in the search include Vic Fangio, Mike Munchak, Jim Harbaugh, and Dolphins’ Special Teams Coach Darren Rizzi.

Jets May Have Interest in Baylor HC Matt Ruhle :

The New York Jets are in Texas this weekend, interviewing Cowboys’ assistant coach Kris Richard but multiple sources are reporting that the Jets may also have a lot of interest in Baylor head coach Matt Ruhle.

Ruhle would be an interesting choice as he’s been instrumental in turning around a couple of college programs. Ruhle was born in New York City and spent a year on Tom Coughlin’s staff as an assistant offensive line coach.

He was the QB coach and offensive coordinator at Temple before becoming the head coach for four seasons. His last two in Temple, the team won 10 games, the only time in the program’s history that they accomplished that.  He then moved to Baylor to a program that had been rocked by a sexual assault scandal. In 2017, his team went 1-11. This season, they went 7-6. Ruhle got some interest from the Colts last year in their coaching search. He’d be a good coach it is believed to work with Sam Darnold.

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.