Tag Archives: T.J. Yeldon

Patriots Dismantled By the Jaguars 31-20, Three Up Three Down

Steve Balestrieri
September 17, 2018 at 9:39 am ET

Another Ugly Early Season Blowout

Welcome to overreaction Monday, lines for the Tobin are forming to the right…and it looks like they’re handling the overflow to the Zakim. Yes, the Patriots stunk up the joint earlier on Sunday. Yes, the score doesn’t nearly do justice to how soundly they were beaten…And yes, we’ve seen this before.

The Jaguars were by far the better team on Sunday afternoon, the most important thing was they completely dominated the line of scrimmage both offensively and defensively. When that happens, you’ll tend to get those lopsided scores.

The team lost two of their best defenders to concussions, Trey Flowers and Pat Chung and Deatrich Wise left with a hand injury that looked serious. We’ll be watching how that plays out this week.

Blake Bortles torched the New England secondary to the point we haven’t seen since Week 1 of last year. He completed 29 of 45 for 377 yards with 4 TDs and one interception. The Jaguars receivers consistently beat man coverage and when the Patriots went to zone coverages, the Jaguar receivers found wide open spots like it was a 7-7 practice session.

We wrote here that the Jaguars would come out throwing and they did. The Patriots were playing to stuff the run and dared them to throw. They dared and won. Handily. The Jaguars played like this one like a perfect storm. The home opener, the heat and a very good game plan along with excellent execution doomed the Patriots.

Containment and setting the edge? After a very good week of doing that against Houston, the Patriots did a terrible job of it this week.

Offensively the Patriots couldn’t run the ball and the wide receivers struggled to get any kind of separation. Pats WRs had just 11 catches for 104 yards with two TDs, both from Chris Hogan. Keelan Cole alone had seven grabs for 116 yards and a score. That’s the kind of day it was all around.

The Patriots won the toss and elected to receive, wanting to start fast in the humid, hot conditions with a heat index of around 107 at kickoff. The actually moved the ball and got into Jacksonville territory.

Brady had Gronkowski on a crossing route with a lot of green in front of him. But the linebacker had a fistful of jersey and the white material stretched far out behind him, blending a perfect contrast to the green grass. Apparently it invisible to the naked (official’s) eye. On third down Brady’s pass was incomplete and he was pile driven to the turf…also with no call. On fourth down Stephen Gostkowski badly shanked a long field goal attempt.

Jacksonville got the ball and promptly moved down the field with ease. Bortles made a beauty of a pass, one of several on the day, to Donte Moncrief in the end zone and although it was only 7-0 at that point, the writing was already on the wall.

A Patriots three and out and another quick score and it was 14-0 and this one was already badly slipping away much like that woeful game in KC four years ago. At the end of the half, the Jags got a gift when they set a pick play and blocked Pat Chung far from the line of scrimmage and Austin Seferian-Jenkins was wide open to make it 21-3.

But as much as the media is playing up the storyline that the Jaguars finished this time unlike the AFC Championship Game, it wasn’t for lack of trying to give it away on their part. Brady in his post-game remarks lamented the loss of chances and Jacksonville tried to give it away but the Patriots just weren’t having any of it.

A fumble recovery off of D.J. Chark could only net three points. On the Jags next possession, Bortles made his only mistake of the day. He tried to force a ball inside with a pair of Patriots defenders in tight coverage the ball was deflected and Kyle Van Noy alertly picked it off.

The Patriots were just 25 yards away from making it a one-score game. But instead Dante Fowler knocked the ball out of Brady’s hand and the Jaguars recovered, ending a big chance to actually make it a game.

On the ensuing drive, James White’s dive for the first down marker was overturned by an official’s call. But Jacksonville tried to give it away again by jumping offside on the fourth down punt. But Brandon King, who is on the team strictly for his Special Teams’ ability stood there dumbfounded as if he were made of stone. If King touches the defender, it is a first down. These are the kind of mistakes the Patriots normally feast on.

On the first play after the punt, Bortles hit Dede Westbrook with a short slant and he cut across the field, leaving a sea of white jerseys in his wake for a 61-yard TD. Thank you for coming, please put your seats and trays in the upright position.

Still, Jacksonville attempted to play with fire. After Brady hit Chris Hogan for his second touchdown of the day to make it 31-20 with Jalen Ramsey in trail, the Jaguars started on their 15-yard line. Nathaniel Hackett who had called a tremendous game foolishly called a backward pass at the 10-yard line. They were fortunate that the play lost only five yards, had it hit the ground, anything could have happened. But didn’t. Regardless of the lost opportunities, this was a game, they had no business even being in at the end, never mind winning.

Three Up, Three Down:


Sony Michel – The Patriots rookie running back made his first appearance in a Patriots uniform after missing all four preseason games and the season opener. While there was certainly plenty of rust involved, it was good to finally see the rook on the field. He had just 10 rushes for 34 yards and one catch for seven, but he hasn’t played in a meaningful game since college.

He looked good, albeit in a small dose, and should be a very dynamic member of the offense once his feet are under him.

Jacob Hollister – The second-year tight end has missed some significant time with a hamstring issue and was also shaking off the rust as well as Michel. Hollister chipped in with three catches for 35 yards, which, if he can do consistently every week will eventually take a big load off of Rob Gronkowski.

Tom Brady – Considering the pressure that the Jaguars put him under all game, the fact they got only two sacks speaks well of Brady’s ability to move in the pocket and get the ball out quickly.

His numbers were pedestrian by his standards, 25-34, 234 yards with two TDs and O INTs. and he’d definitely like to have a few plays back, the throw-away where he had Patterson across the middle that looked like it could go for a TD was one. But overall, he hung in and somehow kept the team in the game late when they had no business being there.


Offensive/Defensive Lines – Take your pick, both were awful and were dominated at the point of attack. Plain and simple. After a very good effort on Week 1 on both sides of the ball, the offensive and defensive lines took a huge step back.

No sacks, very little pressure and not setting the edge are recipes for a loss. The Jags OL was getting a great push and the NE DL was consistently on roller skates. The OL couldn’t get anything going in the running game and the pass protection was iffy all game long.

Ja’Whaun Bentley – The rookie linebacker has been so impressive thus far in his short NFL career had a rough afternoon, especially in coverage. He was far from alone in that aspect but after looking so strong initially, this was a step back for the big, rookie LB.

This is a perfect learning experience for the young player and the coaches will point out where the mistakes were, and they were all correctable.

Eric Rowe – No one could have wanted to get on a Southwest Air commercial than Rowe yesterday “Want to Get Away?” Rowe had one of those days that everyone has and tries to put behind him as quick as possible.

The Jaguars picked on Rowe everytime they threw the ball in his direction. Keelan Cole smoked Rowe for a TD that made the score 14-3 and Belichick quickly sat the veteran. That wasn’t a good sign for the rest of the day. Good thing for Rowe was that Bortles and the Jags were equal opportunity abusers, they picked on everybody.


So, we’re well used to early season stinkers and this was a stinkeroo and the problems that we saw on Sunday are all correctable. As we said at the outset, this is overreaction Monday, the “AFC goes thru Jacksonville” talk in Week 2 is laughably ridiculous.

There are 14 weeks left in the season and as we’ve seen many times, this team will get it straightened out. Watch the tapes, fix the errors and then bury them with the game balls at the back of the practice field.

We’re on to Detroit.

Players To Watch Patriots – Jaguars Week 2

Steve Balestrieri
September 14, 2018 at 7:15 am ET


The rematch of the AFCCG  A Big Early Test

The New England Patriots hit the road to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars in a big Week 2 matchup. After the two teams met in the conference championship in January, and Tom Brady led the Patriots to a big 4th quarter comeback win, many people believe that Jacksonville is ready to take the next step and challenge the Patriots for supremacy in the AFC.

Sunday’s game, in that respect, will be more important to Jacksonville than to New England, who under Bill Belichick, tend the treat the first quarter of the season as an extended preseason. But the hype is there for both teams and we would expect to see both teams approach this as a big, albeit early season game.

There has quite a bit of chirping from the talented but brash Jalen Ramsey about several members of the Patriots, including Rob Gronkowski. Ramsey doubled down on his comments this week, basically calling him out.

“I might be crazy, I don’t care,” Ramsey said. “He’s good, don’t get it twisted, he’s good. You saying this to me is supposed to bring fear to me or something? I don’t fear no man, period. So he’s going to have to come out there and line up on me.”

Actually, he backtracked a bit on what he said last month when he said Gronkowski is overrated so no, no one is getting it twisted.

“I don’t think Gronk’s good,” Ramsey said in an interview with ESPN Magazine. “Let me say, I don’t think Gronk is as great as people think he is. . . . Any time Gronk has been matched up with a corner, he’s had a very bad game, and that corner has had a very good game.”

So Ramsey will get what he wants, playing for a small market team, he’ll now be the focus on Sunday’s broadcast regardless of who lines across from him in a Patriots uniform. It won’t be the Jaguars defense but Ramsey that will be the subject of much of the talk this week. It has already begun.

However, the game will feature a number of key matchups that will determine the ultimate winner on Sunday around 8:00 p.m. and bragging rights, for a few weeks anyway. The Jaguars defense plays a very Seahawks-esque Cover 3 and they have tremendous speed all over the field. But they also have the capability to mix in man coverage as well when they want. The front is very hard to run against, they consistently get penetration across the board which interrupts the flow of the offense.

What seems to work against the run defense is some zone runs, misdirection, players in motion. The backs will have to have the vision to see some cutback lanes when they avail themselves.

So, from a Patriots perspective, here are our Players to Watch on Sunday:

Tom Brady:

The Patriots QB is coming off a very solid game where he threw for 277 yards and three touchdowns but he knows that the Jaguars secondary is much better than Houston’s, something he witnessed firsthand in the conference championship.

The pass rush is very good and they get excellent pressure from the inside, which takes away from Brady’s ability to step up and slide from the outside edge pressure. Brady can counter that with getting the ball out quickly something he’s done for virtually his entire career.

He’ll look to spread the ball around and get everyone involved in the passing game. James Develin caught four passes last week after catching six all of last season. Brady will use his backs, James White and Rex Burkhead, (if he’s available) much like slot receivers and try to get them in motion.

Rob Gronkowski:

Gronkowski had a huge game last week and with the thin depth at Wide Receiver, his role becomes even more important to the offense. He’s Brady’s most trusted go-to guy on the roster and Jacksonville will try to take him away and force Brady to go elsewhere to beat them.

Last year, the Jaguars did a good job on Gronkowski with safety Barry Church in the first half of the conference championship. It was Church’s borderline head shot that knocked him out of the game with a concussion.

Look for Brady and Josh McDaniels to move Gronkowski around the formation trying to free him up as much as possible, especially right off the line. But McDaniels will also use Gronkowski as he did last week, to open up more field for the other wide receivers.

Chris Hogan/Cordarrelle Patterson

Phillip Dorsett seemed to make great strides last week in his development with the Patriots offense, making seven catches on the day. This week, the team may need similar efforts from Chris Hogan and Cordarrelle Patterson.

The team got Patterson involved early and he had four touches in the first half, but none in the second half. Hogan had a very disappointing game and had just one catch for 11 yards. That won’t be enough this week.

Both will have to step up their games to give Brady other options to work with. Patterson will likely see single coverage outside and other than his usual gadget type package that the team worked on with him this summer, he could be used to stretch the field along the boundaries.

Trey Flowers:

The Patriots best defensive lineman made his first appearance on the field last week and had a very impressive game. He’ll be looking to keep his production up this week as the Jaguars present a more difficult opponent for the Patriots, especially on the road in what promises to be a loud and raucous stadium.

I actually look for Blake Bortles and the Jaguars offense to be more aggressive in the early going and throw early and then use their punishing ground game to wear down the Patriots defense in what promises to be 93-degree heat and keep the offense on the sideline.

Bortles can move and scramble with the ball, Flowers and the other edge players must push the pocket without losing containment and bring pressure on Bortles and try to disrupt their passing game. He’s the guy that sets the tone for the other Patriots edge players and he’s in the spotlight this week.  

Ja’Whaun Bentley:

The Patriots rookie linebacker had a very solid summer followed by an impressive rookie debut against the Texans last week. With the power running game of Jacksonville with Leonard Fournette and T.J. Yeldon, the Patriots run defense must be much better than it was last week.

The Texans ran to the left and I expect that the Jaguars will as well. The inside running game will be a key area to watch and the big (6’2, 255) rookie from Purdue will have another big test this week. He played more snaps at linebacker than anyone last week and I would expect him to have a heavy workload again.

With the heat to play a factor late in the game, I’d look for the Patriots to rotate players in and out as often as possible. So Bentley, Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy and to a lesser extent Elandon Roberts should all see a significant amount of snaps. Third downs will be even more key this week with the heat factor. The team that wins third downs will wear down the other in the fourth quarter.  

James White:

The Patriots running back core was supposed to be one of the deepest areas of the team. But Sony Michel had his knee drained of fluid and has yet to see the field this season either in preseason or the regular season. Jeremy Hill was placed on IR  with an ACL tear and Rex Burkhead is limited in practice with a concussion. That leaves James White and the just signed Kenjon Barner as the only healthy backs on the roster.

Michel and Burkhead’s status this week is pretty murky so the team will lean heavily on the experience of James White. His plate is going to be full this week by default and add in facing a defense with the capability of the Jaguars and his workload will be extra heavy as the offense looks to find some room to maneuver.

While White is usually the Patriots go-to back in the passing game, this week, he may be forced to take on a larger role in the running game as well.

Pat Chung:

The Patriots veteran safety has had an increased role in his second stint with the team and has earned the trust of his fellow players and the coaches as well. With the changes the Jaguars had in their own wide receivers this year, Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson left via free agency, Marquis Lee on IR, they’ll lean more on their tight ends.

Which means Chung will draw more of Austin Seferian-Jenkins this week. Jenkins played well against the Patriots a year ago with the Jets and this will be a key matchup to watch. Chung is always good in run support and he’ll be expected to help there as well.

But against the Jaguars this week, we’ll probably see more of the “Big Nickel” with more three-safety looks with Devin McCourty and Duron Harmon to lend more support for the run defense. Chung should factor prominently this week in the Patriots game plan.

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Brady Further Cements His Legacy Among the Greats in Patriots Win Over Jags

Steve Balestrieri
September 28, 2015 at 6:18 am ET

As if we didn’t already know, this skinny kid from Michigan is pretty good… Patriots QB Tom Brady passed another milestone on his way to the Mount Rushmore of quarterbacks by passing for his 400th touchdown pass in the Patriots 51-17 shellacking of the young Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday in Foxboro.

Brady hit Danny Amendola in the back of the end zone for his career milestone and in true Patriots fashion; neither Amendola nor Brady made a big deal of the spectacle. Brady later laughed at Amendola’s faux pas as the WR forgot that the touchdown was number 400 and handed the ball to a fan. Brady later in the game passed for #401 to new wide receiver Keshawn Martin.

“I don’t care. I’ve had a lot of fun ones, so Danny can do whatever he wants with it. Danny made a great catch.”

“I’ve been a part of so many great teams and played with so many great players. I’ve always said, ‘I don’t care whether we run it in or throw it in, as long as we score points and are winning, it makes it fun for me,” Brady said.

“I was happy. It’s still early, there’s a lot to improve on. We have a break here, and we come back to work and see if we can make some improvements and try to get to 4-0.”

Brady has been a remarkably stable presence for a franchise that was anything but in its early days. Many fans weren’t even born during the Patriots nomadic days of drifting in limbo between Fenway Park, Harvard Stadium and BC’s Alumni Stadium before finally getting a permanent, albeit substandard home in the old Schaffer Stadium.

The quarterback play in those days was largely substandard as well, with the likes of Mike Taliaferro, Joe Kapp and many others that marked years of struggling offenses. Those days are long gone as fans can now take for granted the excellence that they witness every week.

Brady systematically carved up this young Jacksonville team just like he did the much bally-hooed Bills defense the week before. The Patriots scored every time they had the ball on Sunday, save for a pair of Jimmy Garoppolo kneel downs at the end of the game.

They rolled up 471 yards of offense with Brady passing a crisp 33-42 for 358 yards and two touchdowns and more importantly no interceptions. The team rolled up 35 first downs and was 11 of 14 on third downs including six of eight in red zone attempts. Those team stats were the ones Brady was more interested in speaking about.

Brady resides in 4th place among the all-time touchdown passers behind Peyton Manning, Brett Favre and Dan Marino, however one other stat should be looked at when comparing the top four. Interceptions…Favre resides at #1 with 336 career picks, Marino is 8th with 252, Manning in 13th place with 237. Brady? He’s way down at 61st with 143. There really is no comparison among who’s the greatest any more.

Other observations from Sunday:

Gostkowski Sets NFL Record with 424 straight PATs: Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski has been remarkably durable and steady in his NFL career since replacing Adam Vinatieri in 2006.

Gostkowski’s 423rd straight PAT on Sunday broke the previous record set by Matt Stover and will be a tougher one to best now that the extra point has been moved back. Gostkowski last missed an extra point during Week 17 of his rookie 2006 campaign.

Blount, Lewis Look to Be a Dynamic Dou: LaGarrette Blount was a much bigger part of the offense on Sunday as he and Dion Lewis shared the reps against Jacksonville and were impressive. Blount carried the ball 17 times for 78 yards mainly in the second half and scored three touchdowns.

Lewis played most of the snaps in the first half and carried eight times for 37 yards and a touchdown and also caught five passes for 30 yards on Sunday. With Brady efficiently eviscerating the Jaguars secondary, it allowed the team to run the ball more and to close out the game with the run, which they did. The team rushed 32 times for 125 yards and four touchdowns.

Martin Makes nice Patriots debut: WR/KR Keshawn Martin made his first appearance with the Pats and showed that the Houston offense is indeed very similar to that of New England’s. While many wide receivers struggle to pick up the Patriots offense, Martin seemed quite comfortable out there and chipped in three catches for 33 yards and a touchdown.

While his performance wasn’t earth-shattering, it showed a nice grasp of the playbook for just about 10 days worth of work. And the fact that Brady went to him in the end zone speaks volumes about the trust he’s already earning in practice. The depth at WR just increased a bit and once Brandon LaFell returns, the team will have the good problem of trying to figure out how to keep all of them involved.

Stalwarts Julian Edelman had another impressive day at the office with 8 catches for 85 yards while TE Rob Gronkowski tallied just four receptions but for 101 yards, mainly in the first half as the Pats rolled easily.

Defense has a nice day: Save for one drive in the first half where Jacksonville went on a 17-play clock-killing touchdown drive, the Patriots defense answered the bell and played much stronger on Sunday especially against the run.

The Jaguars wanted to run the ball effectively and limit Brady’s chances but rookie T.J. Yeldon couldn’t get untracked against the Pats front seven. Yeldon rushed 11 times for just 33 yards and as a team averaged only 2.8 yards per carry, rushing for only 57 yards on 20 carries.

The secondary bottled up the young and talented wide receiver corps of Jacksonville pretty well on the day. Prior to a garbage time touchdown drive with under two minutes left in the game, Jags QB Blake Bortles was only 12-26 for 162 yards with a touchdown and an interception.

The front seven didn’t get much pressure on Bortles but the coverage for the most part was good. Newcomer Justin Coleman playing in place of game-day inactive Bradley Fletcher was competitive. Rookie second round draft pick Jordan Richards showed up well in run support especially.

The Patriots now enter the bye week with a 3-0 record and after an emotional win on the road in Buffalo came out in a workman type situation and dismantled a game but overmatched Jaguars team. And now they have two weeks to prepare for the Dallas Cowboys. They’ll probably do some self-scouting early this week before cutting the players loose from Weds-Monday for some down time.

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

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

Patriots – Jaguars, Who Has the Razor’s Edge? Key Matchups

Steve Balestrieri
September 24, 2015 at 6:44 am ET

The New England Patriots return home to find themselves atop of the AFC East with the Jets at 2-0 after their big win over Buffalo. They host the Jacksonville Jaguars at Gillette Stadium on Sunday afternoon, with the kickoff scheduled for 1:00 p.m. The game will be televised locally by WBZ-TV on CBS and will again feature Kevin Harlan and Rich Gannon to handle play-by-play and analyst duties. They covered last week’s game in Buffalo.

The Patriots won a much anticipated matchup against the Bills last week 40-32. Tom Brady passed for 466 yards and three touchdowns and needs only one more to break the 400 TD Pass plateau.  New England would love to head into the bye week at 3-0 and then have two weeks to prepare for the Dallas Cowboys.

The Jags upset the Miami Dolphins 23-20 last week evening their record at 1-1. WR Allen Robinson caught 7 passes for 155 yards and two touchdowns. It was a huge win for a franchise that struggled mightily out of the gate in both 2013 and last season. Gus Bradley is slowly turning the corner with this young team that still has a long way to go.

We here at PatsFans.com are continuing our  “Razor’s Edge”  column in 2015 to give a quick break down 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 Jaguars don’t have a lot of history of playing one another having only met 10 times since 1995, but four of those games have been in the playoffs. The Patriots hold an overall advantage of 9-1 in those contests, having won all six home games against the Jaguars.

The teams last met in 2012 with the Patriots edging the Jags 23-16 in Jacksonville.

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

First up is the Patriots offense:

Patriots 2015 Opponents, Five First Impressions of the Jaguars

Steve Balestrieri
September 22, 2015 at 6:54 am ET

The Patriots return home to the friendly confines of Gillette Stadium in Foxboro to take on the Jacksonville Jaguars. The game is scheduled for 1 p.m. and will be televised locally on WBZ-TV.

The Jaguars are a bit of an unknown for the Patriots; Bill Belichick told the team exactly that in the post-game locker room in Buffalo. They don’t see the Jaguars play very much so the team is a bit unfamiliar to them. This will be the first time the Patriots face off against them with head coach Gus Bradley who came over from the Seahawks last year.

The Jaguars upset the Miami Dolphins 23-20 on Sunday; Allen Robinson had with 6 catches for 155 yards and two touchdowns. QB Blake Bortles had a solid day as did the Jacksonville defense.

The Patriots enter after dispatching the Buffalo Bills 40-32 on Sunday. Tom Brady had the second most yards in a game (466) in his career and the team improved to 2-0. The defense registered eight sacks and three interceptions.

Here are our Five First Impressions of the Jaguars:

Gus Bradley Has them Handling Adversity: Maybe it was just baby steps last week but looking at the tape the team is building up their confidence level. After being up early in the game, Miami tied it at 20. The Jaguars had numerous chances to fold up their tents and drop this game but they didn’t.

They put together a solid effort and kicked the winning field goal to defeat the heavily favored Dolphins. Bradley is molding a good solid team in Jacksonville. They may not be ready just yet, but they are moving in the right direction.

Much like last week’s opponent, this team is a reflection of its head coach. But this week, the Jaguars are not going to beat themselves with stupid penalties and let the events of the game overwhelm them.

Offense is Improving Week by Week: Just a week after allowing five sacks in the opener, the team allowed zero against the stout Dolphins front seven. Left tackle Sam Young filling in for an injured Luke Joeckel was particularly solid.

The Jags were perfectly balanced on offense with 33 runs and 33 passes and while they didn’t gash Miami, RB T.J. Yeldon with 25 carries made the Dolphins respect the run enough to make play action effective.

Robinson was outstanding, burning Brent Grimes for a 36-yard reception, and wrestled the ball away from a defender for a 52-yard catch later in the game. He was on his way to breaking the team’s rookie receiving record last season before breaking his foot in Week 10 and missing the team’s final six games. But the former Penn State WR turned in solid numbers, 48 catches, 548 yards and 2 TDs in 10 games. Now he’s ready to take the next step and will require lots of attention on Sunday.

Blake Bortles had his first 100+ QB rating last week and is looking to build off of that. He still made some questionable throws against Miami but has a talented supporting cast with Robinson, Marquise Lee, Allen Hurns as well as tight ends Julius Thomas (injured) and Marcedes Lewis.

Defensive Front Seven is Solid…and Big: The Jaguars have a solid defensive line with veteran SenDerrick Marks, Andre Branch and newcomer Jared Odrick. Odrick was impressive facing his former team in the Dolphins last week. He consistently put pressure on Ryan Tannehill, registering a 4th quarter sack and will be looking to do the same against Tom Brady.

The Jaguars front four boasts three of its starters over 300 pounds and they can stop the run as well as bring pressure on the quarterback.

Linebackers Dan Skuta and Telvin Smith are both playmakers for the defense; flying all over the field and each had a pass defensed on Sunday.

Injuries Test Running Back Depth: While the Jags stuck with the run and gained 123 yards on 33 carries with Yeldon leading the way with 25 of them, they suffered a significant loss when Dennard Robinson went down with a knee injury and is expected to miss a few weeks.

With Toby Gerhart already injured it leaves Jacksonville with just three healthy running backs coming into Foxboro; Yeldon, Bernard Pierce and Corey Grant.

Bradley is already high on his new back in Yeldon the former Crimson Tide standout has turned heads during training camp and into the first two weeks of the season. “He does a great job of making people miss,” Bradley said. “He can turn a negative yardage play into a couple-yard gain and a couple-yard gain into a seven or eight yard gain.”

Secondary plays thru Injuries: Last week against the Dolphins, the Jaguars entered the game already minus starting safety Jonathan Cyprien and their #3 corner in Dwayne Gratz. To make matters worse, they lost starting cornerback Davon House for a time due to dehydration and yet the secondary played solid.

It is a testament to Bradley that despite missing these players, they have a true “next man up” preparation in place and don’t just give it lip service.  Aaron Colvin missed a few plays with leg cramps and at crunch time reserves Demetrius McCray and Peyton Thompson played key roles in stopping the Dolphins on their final opportunity.

Even former Auburn QB now turned DB Nick Marshall found his way onto the field and played a few meaningful snaps. That’s the kind of thing we’re used to seeing in Foxboro with Bill Belichick. And that is the kind of program that Bradley is beginning to put together.

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

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast 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.