Tag Archives: Shea McClellin

Best Of Social Media: The New England Patriots Honor Veterans Day

Robert Alvarez
November 12, 2018 at 7:45 pm ET

As Veterans Day arrived on Sunday, current and former members of the New England Patriots made sure to thank the true Patriots of the United States through a variety of social media tributes to those who serve.

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November is Salute To Service month across the NFL as all teams honor and support veterans of the United States Armed Forces, for more information check out nfl.com/salute.

Former Patriots Provide Clarity Following Reports Of “No Fun” In Foxboro

Robert Alvarez
May 31, 2018 at 8:43 pm ET

Over the past week a few more NFL players have come out voicing their thoughts on how tough it is to play in New England under head coach Bill Belichick and shared some criticism of the so-called “Patriot Way” coaching philosophy.

On May 26th, the San Francisco Chronicle published an interview with current 49ers defensive Cassius Marsh, who had strong strong words for Belichick during his brief time in New England last season. Marsh was waived after just nine games last season.

“They don’t have fun there. There’s nothing fun about it. There’s nothing happy about it. I didn’t enjoy any of my time there, you know what I’m saying? It made me for the first time in my life think about not playing football because I hated it that much.”

Marsh later clarified his comments following backlash from Patriots fans over social media.

“I just want to address all you Patriots fans who don’t like this new article. I’m sorry to hurt your feelings. Seems to be breaking your heart. But if you can’t handle the truth, stay off my page. Don’t read articles. That’s how I felt. That’s how I still feel and I’m grateful to be away from there, grateful to be where I’m at.”  He said via a since deleted video to Reddit.

The negativity didn’t stop there, on Wednesday, Philadelphia Eagles lineman Brandon Brooks called his time with Bill O’Brien, a Belichick protege, “miserable” while he was in Houston with the Texans.

“It’s crazy that people haven’t known this,” said Brooks. “It’s been this way for like a decade. You’ve seen— Reggie Wayne did it. He retired. He went there [to the Patriots] for a training camp and retired. Shit is not fun there. I was under the same regime in Houston [with O’Brien]. I almost retired. Shit was miserable, every day. Every day.” 

In response to the latest critics, a few former Patriots took to Twitter to defend their former team while also providing some clarity to the “no fun” comments made by Marsh and Brooks.

 

Shea McClellin Thanks Patriots Following His Release

Robert Alvarez
March 19, 2018 at 2:06 pm ET

On Twitter Monday, linebacker Shea McClellin voiced his appreciation for the Patriots and the fans following his release from the team after a failed physical.

In March 2016, McClellin signed a three-year, $8.95 million contract with the Patriots and contributed to the teams fifth Super Bowl championship with 39 tackles, a sack, and a fumble recovery. Notable 2016 moments included a blocked field goal attempt against the Baltimore Ravens when he leaped over the line of scrimmage and a 69-yard fumble return against the Miami Dolphins for a team record longest return. The NFL would ban McClellin’s leap play the following offseason, citing safety concerns.

In 2017, McClellin was placed on injured reserve in September and never saw the field again following a concussion. By releasing McClellin, the Patriots cleared $2.3 million dollars of cap space.

Patriots Edge Rushers in 2018, Biggest Need is Health

Steve Balestrieri
February 26, 2018 at 8:00 am ET

If there was an area more snakebit than the edge for the Patriots in 2017, then please share. The team lost both Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long during free agency. But with Rob Ninkovich, Trey Flowers, Dont’a Hightower, Shea McClellin, and Kyle Van Noy returning, they weren’t in terrible shape. Then they addressed it with two draft picks, Derek Rivers, and Deatrich Wise. Kony Ealy was brought in with a trade and Harvey Langi was added as an undrafted free agent. So things didn’t seem bad at all, …and then the wheels came off.

Ninkovich retired abruptly during training camp. Rivers and McClellin were hurt in training camp and lost for the season. McClellin may be gone for good as he’s suffered numerous concussions and this one may be it for him. Wise missed time during camp but came on strong afterward. Things weren’t helped when Ealy flamed out and the player they brought in from the Seahawks Cassius Marsh wasn’t a fit. Langi was shelved for the year after he and his wife were rear-ended at a traffic light and both got seriously injured.

Derek Rivers, here against the Jaguars, was just beginning to flash in TC when he got hurt. (SBalestrieri photo)

The team moved Hightower to the edge before he too was injured and ended up on IR. Keionta Davis never took the field as he had a bulging disk in his neck that didn’t hurt him in college but it made it where no one drafted him. It remains to be seen if he’ll be able to contribute down the road.

The team brought in Eric Lee who displayed a decent ability to rush the passer but struggled to set the edge. And very late they brought in James Harrison who at 39 still set the edge very well and had some juice left to get after the passer. Harrison, as well as ST/Edge player Geneo Grissom, are both free agents.  Now entering 2018, the team is back to square one. Obviously, edge rusher is a big need, but good health is paramount.

Getting Hightower, Rivers, and Langi back is big. Hightower is a known commodity and he’s the Patriots best defender in the front seven…when healthy. Which is becoming an issue. We still don’t what they have in Rivers and Langi. But both flashed potential last season. Although they both got to sit in the meeting rooms last season, they’re still essentially rookies on the field. So while question marks on one side, they’re both like a free draft pick on the other.  McClellin will bear watching, it may be in his best interest to call it a career after multiple concussions and missing the entire season due to others.

Harvey Langi in coverage against Tommy Bohanon, was injured in a car wreck. (SBalestrieri photo)

Free Agency Options: So what is out there in Free Agency? Top tier pass rushers Demarcus Lawrence and Ziggy Ansah are going to command much more cash than the Patriots can afford. Second tier players that may interest New England are Adrian Clayborn from the Falcons, who had 9.5 sacks in 2017. Trent Murphy from the Redskins had a nice 2016 but then missed all of 2017 with an injury.

Of course, they could bring back Harrison but one name to keep an eye on, could be Julius Peppers. The ageless, 38-year old pass rush specialist for the Panthers had 11 sacks last year in Carolina and could be one of those veteran players the Patriots and Belichick have brought in to bring some heat on the QB.

While we have been beating the drum that they need to get younger and more athletic on the edge, why bring in Peppers? Great question, while we’ll continue to believe that, there is nothing like solid production. Peppers hasn’t had less than seven sacks since 2007. He could be a nice fit with Belichick and the Patriots in a limited snap count role.

Names in the Draft: Now we’ll be the first to say, don’t even bother with draft scenarios until free agency is about played out. That will ultimately decide how the team decides to approach the draft and not the other way around. However, we always get a ton of questions about talented edge guys coming out in the draft.

Some guys to watch during the NFL Combine are Bradley Chubb, NC State, who will go far before the Pats select, and in no particular order (yet) are some edge rushers that could be of interest to New England:
Arden Key, LSU 6’6, 265
Marcus Davenport, UTSA, 6’6, 250
Harold Landry, BC, 6’3, 250
Sam Hubbard, Ohio State, 6’5, 266
Marcell Frazier, Mizzou, 6’5, 260
Duke Ejiofor, Wake Forest, 6’3, 275

This list will grow as we get past the combine and get deeper into our NFL Draft coverage as we’ll look at some players whose skill sets may be of interest to the Patriots. If they opt for a guy like Peppers in free agency for instance, then they’ll likely look for an edge player closer to the middle rounds.

But regardless, the biggest thing the team needs now is health. Getting a healthy Hightower, Rivers, and Langi all on the field will do wonders for what ailed the team in 2017. Be intriguing to see if Davis, who was a productive college player can get a clean bill of health, ditto for McClellin.

We’ll be watching as free agency unfolds like everyone else, but with a limited amount of cash this spring, the Patriots will probably not be big players in free agency this season. They’ll have to do some creative work with the cap to make that happen and most of their big decisions will come down to whether or not to sign their own players. And while it won’t be the kind of moves that Patriots fans want to see, their biggest moves this spring may be just getting their own injured players back in the fold.

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

The Patriots Decision With James Harrison Will Be Intriguing

Steve Balestrieri
February 19, 2018 at 8:00 am ET

The Patriots will enter the beginning of the 2018 league season with several important decisions to make in regards to free agency. Among the veterans looking for a new deal are Nate Solder, Danny Amendola, Malcolm Butler, Dion Lewis, Rex Burkhead, Nate Ebner and Matthew Slater.  There are other veterans such as Brandon Bolden, James Harrison, LaAdrian Waddle and Cameron Fleming who have played significant roles at times and have been limited in others.

The Patriots have only $13.14 million dollars under the salary cap right now and will have to be creative in creating some room as well as decide who they want to retain. They’ll need to sign a few of their own free agents as well as grab some others who they covet from other teams. All the while knowing they have draft choices to sign.

We’ve been doing profiles on each of the free agents and will have more in the upcoming days and give you our take on whether they return or move on. One of the biggest surprises for the end of the season was the addition they made during Week 17 of the regular season when OLB James Harrison fell into their lap after he was surprisingly and probably not wisely let go by the Steelers.

The Steelers barely used Harrison in 2017, he played a total of 29 snaps total for the season. He wasn’t happy about it and let the coaches know about it. They released him and the 39-year old cleared waivers. No team contacted him except the Patriots. He signed and immediately put his nose to the grindstone trying to learn the Pats defense in a crash course.

The conspiracy theorists who see a nefarious end to everything New England does chalked up the signing as merely a Bill Belichick ploy to steal the Pittsburgh playbook for when they were supposed to meet in the AFC Championship Game. Wrong again. Harrison fulfilled a role and played meaningful snaps more each week.

Meanwhile, the team that didn’t need him, spent more time talking about New England and forgetting they had a game against a Jacksonville team that had blown them out in Pittsburgh early in the season. Harrison could have been used as the Jaguars scored 45 points and knocked them out.

Harrison played a key role in the Patriots comeback win over the Jaguars a week later and played an even bigger role in the Super Bowl. Now with free agency approaching, the Patriots and Harrison both have to do what is in their best respective interests.

Why Harrison Will Return: The Patriots lucked into a player who helped them down the stretch by one of their bigger rivals in the conference. Despite being the NFL’s oldest defensive player at 39-years old, he fulfilled a much-needed role. He did a very good job of setting the edge, providing a sorely needed ability at rushing the passer and was decent dropping into coverage, an issue that plagued the Patriots’ linebackers all year.

Harrison earned praise from Bill Belichick who lauded his ability to learn on the fly and was constantly putting more on his plate as the weeks dragged on. His teammates raved about his professionalism and his knowledge, he was quick to help his younger teammates, something his experience lent itself to extremely well.

He could easily return to a type of role that Danny Amendola was used in the offense. The coaches could limit his pitch count to save him to have fresh legs for the defense down the stretch and into the playoffs. His performance down the stretch and into the playoffs showed (much like another 40-year old) that age is a number. He still had plenty of gas left in the tank and can be a valuable, if limited contributor on the field and be a steadying veteran presence on the field especially at crunch time during games.

Why Harrison Won’t Return: There is a dearth of speed and athleticism for the Patriots at linebacker, and with so much uncertainty at the position heading into 2018, the Patriots could possibly not afford to add another player who’ll they have to limit his pitch count during the regular season.

Dont’a Hightower is a very talented but injury prone player who can’t seem to get thru a season intact. Shea McClellin missed the entire season with concussion issues and may be told it isn’t in his best interests to play professional football anymore. Both were missed during the season. Harvey Langi was an intriguing prospect but was badly injured in a car wreck when he and his wife were rear-ended at a traffic light. The Patriots aren’t sure what they have in Langi yet, although he has potential.

At this point, Elandon Roberts is who he is. He can look tremendous one play and lost on the next. He’s a backup. Marquis Flowers played well this season and could be in line for an increased payload next year. Kyle Van Noy was the glue that held it all together. Harrison is going to be 40, and no one keeps themselves in better physical condition or works harder than he does. If there is a doubt check out his Instagram page. But playing one of the most physical positions at 40 is really tough. Can he hold up physically over 16 games and the playoffs?

Bottom Line: The Patriots appealed to Harrison and vice versa. The team liked what he brought to the table and he feels he can still contribute. He told Mike Reiss of ESPN, that he wants to play until he is 40 or 41. I don’t believe money will be an issue with Harrison this season. He’s made some good money and now he wants a chance to compete for another championship while getting another season or two in the sun.

There may not be a big market for a 40-year old linebacker despite what transpired in New England at the end of the season, so the team won’t have to outbid many other would-be suitors.

Had the injury situations with Hightower, McClellan, and Langi be different, I could easily see the team opt to bring Harrison back for a short-term contract and let him play out his career in a place where he can still contribute 15-25 snaps a game. But the current situation that exists in New England right now may preclude that. There are far too many questions lingering at the linebacker position. So, it is the opinion here that the team will go for an injection of youth and athleticism at the position. And sadly I think the chances are better than 50/50 that Harrison won’t be brought back.

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

New England Patriots Possible Cap Casualties in 2018

Steve Balestrieri
February 15, 2018 at 8:00 am ET

We’ve been posting our free agent profiles for the Patriots in the offseason of 2018 as we’re trying to come to grips who will return and who won’t. This post will look at who may not return this year.

It is interesting to note via our friend Miguel @Patscap, that the Patriots have just about $13 million dollars (13.14 to be exact) to work within the salary cap this spring. That isn’t nearly enough. So what do they do? Well for starters, they’ll approach a few players to re-do their contracts and convert some of that money into signing bonuses so that it eases up some of their cap hits on the team this season.

But they’ll also be looking to cut their ties with some players or ask them to take significant pay cuts if they want to return. In no particular order here are some Patriots players who may get released in a salary cap scenario.  

TE Martellus Bennett: Bennett carries the biggest cap hit of all of the players listed here. After he signed with Green Bay last offseason, he was suffering from a shoulder injury that required surgery and Bennett was at peace with the decision and planned on announcing his retirement.

But the Patriots called and he returned to New England where he performed very well in 2016 and was instrumental in helping the Patriots win Super Bowl LI. But soon after he hurt his hamstring and was placed on IR after just a few weeks with the Pats.

Bennett may take all the guesswork out of the equation and decide to retire. If he does not, then the Patriots can ask him to take a big pay cut or just release him. If he’s released, that will save the team, $6.1 million dollars in the salary cap.

TE Dwayne Allen: Allen came over to the team after Bennett left last year in free agency. Allen was a very good blocker, which has always been his strength but really struggled in the passing game. It wasn’t a lack of effort that slowed him but he was really laboring out there in the passing game.

His struggles were so great that it was the reason the Patriots brought back Bennett late in the year, to begin with. With Gronk healthy last year, that limited his targets but even when the big man was out, he barely registered in the passing game.

Could the team bring him back in 2018? Absolutely. But at $5,000,000? That is really doubtful. This could be a scenario where the team just decides to move in another direction and cut their ties with him. That would be another $5,000,000 in savings.

DT Alan Branch: My, oh my what a difference a year makes. Branch, since coming to New England has played some of the best football of his career. Fresh off of the win in Super Bowl LI, he was given a two-year deal and it was hoped that he’d live out that contract and give the team that immovable object inside that he’s done so well.

But when big men, such as Branch go, their game goes really quickly. Branch started the season slowly, which wasn’t unusual but he never caught on to where he was in the past. When he did play this season, he was often a shell of his former self. Granted he was dinged up for a good part of 2017, but at 33, his best days are probably behind him.

Branch was a healthy scratch for this season’s Super Bowl along with Malcolm Butler, how crazy is that after the big roles each has played. Cutting Branch would save the team $3.55 million, this move is sadly, going to happen.

LB Shea McClellin: I liked what McClellin brought to the table in 2016, he could do a little bit of everything. He could rush the passer, cover in the secondary and act as a middle linebacker and support the run when needed. His versatility was such that they asked to do several things and he did them well.

But he suffered a concussion, a pretty severe one in training camp and was placed on IR at the beginning of the season. The team brought him back midway thru the year and while practicing during his 3-week return window, he suffered a setback and was lost for the year with yet another concussion.

With a lack of pass rushers, the Patriots could opt to let him come back and work his way back into the lineup. But long-term health concerns for the player trump the team’s needs. They should just encourage McClellin to get on with retirement and enjoy life. If they cut McClellin, they’d save. $2.1 million in cap space.

LB David Harris: Harris was released by the Jets and the Patriots scooped him up last year. Harris was the consummate professional and approached every day like he was the starter and worked hard.  But he obviously lost more than a step and couldn’t keep up with the flow of the game any longer.

Harris played very sparingly (180 snaps) for the season while appearing in 10 games. With the lack of depth at linebacker, that had to be crushing for the proud veteran. He only appeared against run-heavy teams on early downs but did show he still brought a pop in the trenches.

But his lack of speed was the reason he too was a healthy scratch for the Super Bowl. If Harris is cut, the savings for the team will count $2.1 million against the salary cap.

RB Mike Gillislee: Gillislee came over from the Buffalo Bills last season and began the season as the Patriots’ lead back. While most look upon his year as a bust, it didn’t have to do with his success as a runner as much as it did his lack of skills in the passing game. Once the team decided to go with Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead, Gillislee was pushed into being a healthy scratch.

Lewis and Burkhead gave the team the run/pass option whereas Gillislee was basically a threat just to run so the coaches decided on a switch. And the offense was much more difficult to stop. Cutting Gillislee would save the team $2.1 million in salary cap savings.

But both Lewis, Burkhead and backup Brandon Bolden are all free agents. That leaves Gillislee and James White as the only pure running backs on the roster. They could opt to hold onto him for that reason. Or they could cut him and use the saved money to bring back Lewis or Burkhead.

These cap savings would push the Patriots up to the $30,000,000 dollar salary cap cushion, due to the Top 51 players rule in the salary cap. But that scenario is a much better one than say $13.14 million.

And of course, for every player cut, another has to be there to take his place. Two young players who we saw very little a year ago are top draft choice Derek Rivers and UDFA Harvey Langi. It will be interesting to see if they can carve out a role for themselves this year in camp. We’ll have more on them and others in the upcoming weeks.

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Best Of Social Media: Week 16 Bills vs Patriots

Robert Alvarez
December 28, 2017 at 8:17 pm ET

The New England Patriots entered Week 16 looking to maintain their standing atop the AFC as the number one seed, but they had to get past a Bills team that came into last Sunday’s game still in the hunt for a wild card spot.

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sunday in foxboro #gameday #letsgo

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GAMEDAY – locked in! #patsnation #newenglandpatriots #patriots #patriotsnation

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For the second time this season, neither the Patriots or Bills could get much going in the first quarter. As the lone scoring game from a Stephen Haushka 41 yard field goal to give the Bills a 3-0 lead after one.

To open the second, Stephen Gostkowski hit a 21 yard field goal to knot the game at 3, but when the Patriots got the ball back two drives later, quarterback Tom Brady made a very uncharacteristic decision, and allowed his first interception return for a touchdown for the first time since lasts years Super Bowl. Jordan Poyer made the play and the Bills took a surprising 10-3 lead.

Needing a response, Rob Gronkowski found the end zone with an incredible catch for a touchdown that again tied the game up. 10-10 midway through the second quarter.

The Brady connection to Gronkowski was the 75th time both hooked up for a touchdown, fifth all time among quarterback to receiver duos. Both the Patriots and Bills would trade another field goal each and would go into the half tied at three, but not without another officiating controversy.

Despite the calls of “cheating”and “fixing” by outraged Bills fans following the ruling, their team managed to keep the game within reach heading to the locker room.

In the third quarter, both the Patriots and Bills again traded field goals to up the score to 16-16 as Bills running back Lesean McCoy broke ankles on his way to setting up red zone opportunities.

Seeking to get some space, Brady continued to find Gronkowski, which helped setup the Patriots second touchdown of the game, by former Bill Mike Gillislee.

Through three quarters 23-16 Patriots.

In the fourth quarter, the game shifted to become the Dion Lewis show, as the Patriots began to pull away from the Bills. Brady found Lewis from 12 yeards our for his 30th touchdown pass of 2017, which extended a record for most all time by a quarterback over the age of 40. It was also the seventh time in Brady’s career with 30 plus touchdown passes. 30-16 Patriots.

Lewis again would find the end zone with about four minutes to play in the fourth, a four yard run extending the lead to 37-16 and all but closing the door on any Bills upset.

On a day that would later earn him AFC Offensive Player of the Week, Dion Lewis ran for a career high 129 yards to go with his two scores.

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“What a feeling”

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Best Of Social Media: Week 13 Patriots vs Bills

Robert Alvarez
December 7, 2017 at 10:44 pm ET

The New England Patriots entered their week 13 matchup with the Buffalo Bills seeking to get one step closer to locking up yet another AFC East division title and would continue a stretch of five divisional games in six weeks to round out the 2017 regular season.

let’s go boys #gameday

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In the first quarter it appeared the Bills would draw first, until a former teammate just recently released from their practice squad, came back to haunt his former team. New England, meet your new defensive end Eric Lee.

A red zone interception by Lee thwarted early Bills points.

Getting the ball back and an early momentum shift, it appeared the Patriots would make the Bills pay for their costly interception, but Tom Brady missed his recievers on third down and were forced to settle with an early field goal.

CBS cameras would catch Brady in a heated argument with offesnive coordinator Josh McDaniels over the missed connections downfield.

3-0 Patriots after a quarter.

Althought the Patriots still struggled to find a rhythm in the end zone, Eric Lee continued to punish his former team on defense.

In the second quarter, the Patriots running game stepped up, with Dion Lewis tallying the teams longest running play of the season.

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Unfortunately the Patriots again would comeup short in the red zone and have to settle for a second field goal. 6-0 Patriots at the 6:20 mark of the second quarter.

The Bills would finally get on the board with a Stephen Hauscka field goal to cut the lead in half to 6-3 but the Patriots running game continued to shine, this time with Rex Burkhead.

The career long 31 yard run by Burkhead would setup a third Gostkowski field goal and the Patriots would go into the half surprisingly only up six with no touchdowns.

In the second half, the trio of Lewis and Burkhead continued their big day, and would finally setup the first touchdown of the game. Burkhead would find the end zone and a 16-3 Patriots lead.

Despite the lack of touchdowns, Buffalo native Rob Gronkowski also had a big day on the stat sheet,  nine receptions for 147 yards, including this ridiculous catch.

Unfortunately a short time later, it would all be overshadowed by an uncharacteristic dirty play by Gronkowski after losing his cool about being held with no flag.

Gronkowski dove onto Bills cornerback Tre’davious White well after a play was over that resulted in a Bills interception. Gronk earned a one game suspension as a result and heavy criticism from around the league.

 

Rex Burkhead continued his strong game with his second touchdown of the quarter, and the Patriots all but put away the Bills with a 23-3 lead that would stand as the final score.

The Patriots would earn their tenth win of 2017 and eighth in a row.

#tbtimes

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Great team win in Buffalo and @nfl weekend for #mycausemycleats @teamjackfoundation

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Best Of Social Media: Week 10 Patriots vs Broncos

Robert Alvarez
November 15, 2017 at 8:54 pm ET

Entering their week 10 matchup with the Denver Broncos, the New England Patriots were seeking to put behind their past demons of struggle in the mile high city. Coming into Sunday night, quarterback Tom Brady was jut 3-7 lifetime in Denver, and head coach Bill Belichick held a .500 record of 9-9 versus the Broncos while in New England.

The game marked the return of tight end Martellus Bennett, who signed on with the team after an ugly release from Green Bay.

During the pregame, WBZ TV cameras caught Tom Brady on a brief face time call.

Two of Tom Bradys predecessor’s caught up on the sideline as Drew Bledsoe made an appearance with his son John, and chatted with his former backup Scott Zolak.

Great to catch up with Zo at the game tonight!!

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Away from the stadium, social media briefly exploded when former Patriots safety Rodney Harrison called out former Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy for being a Patriots “hater”, Dungy would change his prediction as a result.

In the first quarter, the Patriots special teams stepped up early as tight end Jacob Hollister recovered a fumble on a Broncos punt return.

The Patriots would cash in on a Brady strike to running back Rex Burkhead and a 7-0 lead.

Following a Broncos field goal to cut the lead to 7-3, special teams did it again as Dion Lewis returned the kickoff 103 yards to put the Pats up 14-3.

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The Broncos responded with another drive into Patriots territory, but again only came away with three and the Patriots led 14-6 after one quarter of play but Martellus Bennett also hauled in his first catch in his return.

Early in the second quarter, the Patriots red zone struggles continued as they went up 17-6 with a Stephen Gostkowski field goal but Broncos quarterback Brock Osweiler also had problems of his own with accuracy.

The theme of big special teams plays continued for the Patriots, as Rex Burkhead blocked a punt leading to another Gostkowski field goal to extend the lead to 20-6.

The Patriots defense held the Broncos to a third field goal to make the score 20-9 midway through the second, and Brady responded with a much needed touchdown to tight end Dwayne Allen, who at long last got his first reception of 2017, and it was for six. 27-9 Patriots heading into halftime.

WARNING: NSFW, Language.

https://twitter.com/fearthe_beard11/status/929909006205726721

To open the second half, the Broncos finally managed to reach the end zone to get the defecit to 27-16 following a Brock Osweiler strike to Demaryius Thomas.

…but Brady woukd find Cooks deep to immediately shift the momentum back to New England.

This catch would setup Dion Lewis’ second touchdown of the game and push the lead back up to 34-16 through three quarters.

https://twitter.com/patriots/status/930157258956140545

As the Patriots defense continued to keep the the Broncos at bay, the Brady offense continued to attack the Denver defense, and they soon found themselves running away with the game in the fourth quarter. A 41-16 lead following Brady’s third touchdown pass of the game to running back James White.

Chris Collinsworth didn’t have the best of moments.

Eventually, Bill Belichick took Brady out, and fans were treated to a Brian Hoyer sighting in a convincing 41-16 victory over the rival Broncos in their house. The Patriots would move to 7-2 in 2017 while the Broncos five game slide continues as they moved to 3-6.

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Audience of One. #ForHisGlory

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Gotta keep my eyes on the prize. #blessed

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Denver’s Offensive Woes Continue As the Team Struggles to 3-5 Start

Steve Balestrieri
November 8, 2017 at 12:00 pm ET

The Broncos have lost four straight and are officially on the hot seat and can watch their hopes of making the postseason blow up with another loss on Sunday night to the Patriots. Denver is limping into this one at 3-5 and the reason they’re struggling has to do with the offense.

The defense has been holding up their end of the bargain despite last week’s anomaly in Philadelphia where everything that could go wrong did. But Denver’s offense has scored just 52 points during the current four-game losing streak. And 14 of those points came in garbage time when the game was already lost in Philly. That won’t win many games and the team is struggling to find the answers to right the ship.

Here are a few of our first impressions of the Broncos before Sunday night’s matchup.

Carousel Under Center: Quarterback Trevor Siemian has been benched and the team has turned to Brock Osweiler. Osweiler started in place of an injured and aging Peyton Manning in 2015 and played well. The highlight of his career could easily be the Sunday night game where he beat the Patriots in a thrilling overtime win. However, soon after Denver’s Super Bowl win, Osweiler bristled at GM John Elway’s waffling on whether to sign the young QB to an extension or to sign Manning to a one year deal.

Osweiler bolted to Houston for a big money contract, who could blame him? But he quickly flamed out with the Texans and with them drafting DeShaun Watson, they shipped Osweiler to the Cleveland Browns. And he couldn’t make the team there, despite the woes of the QB position in Cleveland. With the injury to QB Paxton Lynch, he’s was brought back full circle to the Broncos.

He didn’t play well in Philadelphia last week, but neither did any of the other players. Now the team is hoping he can catch lightning in a bottle twice against the Patriots and hold the season together (with their defense) until they know what they have in Lynch, who Elway spent a first-round draft pick on in 2016. He’s getting healthier and if Osweiler doesn’t want to be replaced again in Denver, Sunday night is a big one.

Running Game Needs to be the Focus on Sunday: In Denver’s first few games of the 2017 season, they ran the ball down the throat of their opposition and jumped out to a 3-1 start and people were already pencilling them in for a long playoff run, thanks in no small part to their dominant defense.

A big part of their quick start was the running game. Running back C.J. Anderson was averaging 82.5 yards per game, (nearly 100 in their three wins). But during the four-game losing streak, Anderson’s production has plummeted. He’s gotten only 152 yards the past four weeks with 78 of them coming against the Giants.

But don’t dismiss the Denver running game, or in case you need a refresher for your memory, think back to that snowy game in 2015. Anderson ran for 113 of Denver’s 179 yards and that running game opened up a big game for Osweiler who passed for 272 yards.

Denver as a team are averaging 4.2 yards per rush, which is exactly what Anderson is averaging. Jamaal Charles is averaging 4.4 yards per carry and Devontae Booker is tops with a 4.6 yard per carry average. Defensively for the Patriots here is where the game will be won or lost.

The Patriots aren’t doing a great job of stopping the run and with Malcolm Brown and Dont’a Hightower out, it will make the running game a harder option to stop. When Denver has run well, they’ve won. When they haven’t, their quarterback play has suffered and they’ve lost. It isn’t hard to see where the Patriots defensive focus will be this week.

Turnovers Have Plagued the Team During Recent Skid: Like everyone else with an offense that is struggling, the Broncos can’t afford turnovers and that is exactly what they’ve been doing during the recent losing streak. Denver right now is woeful -12 in the turnover department. One of the reasons that Siemian was benched was turnovers. In the seven games that he started, he turned the ball over 15 times with 10 interceptions and five fumbles.

On the flip side of that, the Denver defense will be looking to feed off of the normally raucous crowd of their home field and force a couple of turnovers of their own. They are feeling a bit salty after allowing 51 points in Philly and the Patriots are always Public Enemy #1 for them.

Again, going back to that 2015 game, what turned the tide? A turnover. Chris Harper muffed a punt in the second half and the Patriots went from having a double-digit lead to quickly being down and having to force an overtime. Turnovers will be key to both teams this week.

Don’t Expect Defensive Meltdown At Home: Pundits are entirely too quick to throw dirt on this Broncos team, especially the defense. Even many Broncos fans on social media have been quick to predict gloom and doom this week as the two teams will meet on primetime Sunday night.

Besides giving up the 51 points last week, particularly galling for members of the defense was HOW they gave them up. Philadelphia had over 400 yards of offense but 197 of them were on the ground. Entering the game last week, Denver had allowed just 510 yards rushing or 72.8 yards per game.

Von Miller spoke about that game and how the team was approaching the rest of the season this week to ESPN.  “We are where we are right now,” Miller said. “Right now, [Sunday] … we’re not a good football team.

“We still have time. We still have time to be great,” he continued. “We’re not a great football team right now, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a great football team within us. But [Sunday], we’re not a good football team, offensively, defensively, special teams, whatever. We’re just not good right now.”

Don’t expect to see Dion Lewis running wild this week. Look for the Broncos to be much better and back to their normal selves on Sunday night.

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

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