Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 04-05 and AFC East notes this week.
From all of us here, we hope everyone is healthy and happy. Stay safe folks, we will all get through this.
Quick Hitters For the Pats, and the NFL:
Robert & Jonathan Kraft: We were pleased to see but hardly surprised that the Kraft family stepped up big time for the hospital workers and first responders in the state. Kraft stripped down the Patriots plane and had it flown to China to pick up the sorely needed masks for medical workers in Massachusetts and New York.
The plane was only given a three-hour window to load the masks. Although they purchased 1,700,000, they were only able to load 1,200,000 masks before having to take off. The Krafts who are trustees of Mass General Hospital (MGH), showed the kind of empathy that we expect from leaders, be those in industry or government. Well done.
Even the NY Post, a never-ending source of needling toward everything New England, to say the least, had this to say… “THANK YOU Pats!”
Of course, there are always some who can’t take a gesture for what it is and have to try to quantify the gesture with divisive B.S.and try to make themselves relevant once again. Ignore the noise and consider the source, if you’re making this into a political statement, you need to look in the mirror…hard.
Tom Brady’s Home “Breaking News”: I had to read with some amusement all of these people fighting over the news that the Brady Bunch was moving into Derek Jeter’s mansion on Davis Island outside of Tampa Bay. We knew about that about two and a half weeks ago and wrote about it here on March 22
But whatever, I guess when you’re the ‘worldwide leader” you can take victory laps over anything you want. Stay close to home Pats Fans…
Bill Belichick: The coach’s philosophy was put on display by NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah who posted a copy of Belichick’s 1991 notes on the draft that Jeremiah received when he was in “scout school” with the Ravens.
Great stuff, his comments about QB play seem like a perfect description of Tom Brady, a full 10 years before he was drafted. “#1 is to make good decisions — then arm, size, physically tough, leadership, guys look up to and have confidence in, a real competitor,” Belichick wrote. “Accurate, rather than a guy with a cannon. Emphasis on our game will be on decision, timing, accuracy — guy needs to be confident, intelligence is important but not as much so as field awareness & judgment. Can’t be sloppy fundamentally unsound guy with ball handling, [techniques] etc.
James White: The Patriots running back who had such a fantastic game in Super Bowl LI admitted this week that he had never watched it…until the quarantine.
In the game, White had 14 catches for 110 yards and a touchdown, adding six rushes for 29 yards and two more touchdowns. He also successfully converted a two-point conversion. White accounted for 20 of the Patriots’ 34 points. That was a Super Bowl record for any one player, and White’s 14 receptions also made for a Super Bowl record. But he never watched any of his own highlights until the coronavirus quarantine.
“It was actually my first time actually watching the full game a couple of days ago when it was on,” White said in a video conference call. “It was pretty cool to see.”.
4th & 2 Podcast – If you’ve haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, check it out. This week Russ, Derek, and I discussed Jarrett Stidham and how we felt things may progress with him…or another young QB. And we uploaded a video in the best Patriots team of the Brady/Belichick Era
How Will the Patriots Value the LBs in the Draft:
With the losses of Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, and Elandon Roberts this spring, the linebacker depth has become an area where the team will have to make some moves to shore that up.
That does not appear to be the case for a free agent signing with the state of the team’s salary cap space right now. And barring a surprise trade…where are they at right now. While they did make a move to bring in Brandon Copeland, they still need help, especially on the edge. John Simon returns, he should have an even bigger role moving forward. Ditto for Chase Winovich, who played well for the team as a rookie.
Looking ahead, many fans, as we mentioned a week ago, really like both LSU LB Patrick Queen or perhaps Wisconsin LB Zack Baun with the 23rd pick. I wrote before that while Queen is very athletic, and a three-down linebacker who can roam sideline to sideline but his lack of size, the same with Baun, makes me feel that the Patriots won’t target either.
The Patriots like their linebackers, especially outside on the edge to be big guys. Queen is just a tad over 6 feet and 229 pounds. Baun is 6’2, 238. The Patriots (read Bill Belichick) have traditionally gone after bigger guys on the edge. He shares the same philosophy with his close friend, Nick Saban from Alabama. Saban has two linebackers in the draft that could be of interest to the Patriots.
Terrell Lewis is an outside linebacker that is cut from the mold that Belichick likes his edge backers to be. He’s 6’5, 262, and has that rare combination of power and explosion off the snap that makes his ceiling very, very high. But he’s had injury issues with the Tide and that could entail the Patriots passing on him.
A couple of other OLBs that the team could target later in the draft are Lewis’ teammate in ‘Bama, Anfernee Jennings who is 6’3, 252 or Casey Toohill from Stanford who stands in at 6’4, 250.
Jennings is the kind of versatile guy that Belichick likes and can switch between defensive end and outside linebacker. He’s frequently compared to John Simon. So coming from a respected program coached by a FOB (Friend of Bill), and frequently compared to a valuable Patriots’ role player could tip the scales for the team on Day 3.
Toohill seems like a guy who is just scratching the surface of his potential. He has the frame to fill out some more and get a bit stronger. While he struggles to defend the run, he has a very high potential as a pass rusher. He’s smart too, and was a finalist for the William V. Campbell Trophy, which is awarded to a scholar-athlete for “combined academic success, football performance, and exemplary leadership.”
The team also needs some depth behind Dont’a Hightower (and Ju’Whaun Bentley), inside. And if the Patriots decide to stick with a 3-4, one player that may fit is Evan Weaver from Cal who is 6’2, 240. Weaver may not look the part, but he was the Pac 12 Defensive Player of the Year. He’s not fast but is able to diagnose quickly and plays faster than his timed speed. He’s a hard-hitting thumper who has been remarkably durable. He hasn’t missed a game all the way back to high school.
But the guy they may covet is Ohio State LB Malik Harrison. Harrison is 6’3, 247 and is another versatile guy, who has played all of the different LB positions. While Weaver may not look the part, Harrison has the chiseled, v-shaped frame. He has freakish athleticism and is another guy that is just scratching the surface of his potential. The knock-on him was he was slow to diagnose but improved as a senior.
Kessler Release Means Another QB Taken in the 2020 NFL Draft:
The Patriots, in the end, did Cody Kessler a solid…releasing him before the draft and giving him the opportunity to find a new home. They were probably waiting to see if Tom Brady was going to return for one more season to decide what their plan of action was going to be.
By letting go of Kessler now, makes a couple of things clear at least from our point of view. I keep hearing that the team is still looking at Cam Newton/Andy Dalton/Blake Bortles even though Jeff Howe from the Athletic, who is as connected as anyone, says his sources say they have no interest. And now I’m convinced more than ever that this is absolutely the right move when I see Nick Wrong saying BB is making a mistake by signing Newton.
The Patriots have virtually no cap space to even sign their own draft picks. Clearing a bunch of space to sign a retread QB and then finding yourself back in the same position, doesn’t make a ton of sense. Is it out of the realm of possibility? No, but the chances of that happening are slim.
Nope, the feeling here is that the team is planning on drafting a QB in the draft and not a high one. They’ll address the QB position in Round 3 or later. One kid who checks all the blocks Belichick likes in a QB is Jake Fromm. Although one guy I really like is Jalen Hurts. But we’ll see.
Eastbound and Down AFC East Notes:
Bills Brandon Beane Says Don’t Write Off New England:
The Buffalo Bills GM Brandon Beane has seen the news and he’s read the early predictions stating that this is the year that the Buffalo Bills dethrone the Patriots as the AFC East Champions, something the Patriots have virtually owned for two decades. And he’s telling everyone to just pump the brakes a little bit.
“Playing against (Tom Brady), I go back and forth,” Beane said. “You know you always want to take down the best… So I think it’s funny and comical that people are writing them off and labeling, whether it’s us or another team as the team to beat in the East.
The team to beat in the East is the Patriots, and until somebody beats them, they are the team to beat. And as long as Bill Belichick’s there, you’re talking about probably the greatest head coach of all time that was paired with the greatest quarterback of all time.
So until we beat them, we’ve done nothing, and we’ve got our work cut out for us.”
So, while Beane is confident that his team is moving in the right direction and continuing to improve, he’s made the conservative (and correct) call. They haven’t won anything yet. The Bills will have to go out and earn it in 2020. And while fans around the NFL are rejoicing at the fall of the hated Patriots, Beane is approaching the season as if nothing has changed. But regardless, the Bills persona is changing now. In the division, they’ll be the hunted in 2020 and not the hunter. And it is a much different look from there.
Dolphins Flores Building a Program That FAs Believe In:
The Miami Dolphins hired Brian Flores last year and promptly gave him a team that was considered the worst in pro football at the outset of 2019. Many pundits thought that the team was tanking on purpose.
But that attitude didn’t cut it with Flores and his team believed in what they were trying to build and played hard. While they finished at 5-11, that was after an 0-7 start. They won their last two games in the season, including a last-minute 27-24 stunner over the Patriots in Foxboro, knocking the Pats out of a bye.
Despite all of the losses as well as the lack of a franchise QB, the attitude in Miami is one of confidence, that they’ve found the right guy to lead the team and turn things around. And that is reflected in the free agents that have signed with Miami. They’ve signed on as much in their belief in Flores as any other factor.
“My number one reason is Coach Flores. He just made me feel so comfortable with coming down,” linebacker Elandon Roberts said. Roberts spent three of the past four seasons with Flores as his position coach. “Just knowing how good of a leader he is on and off the field, how much he cares about you as a player. … I’m 100% bought in. I can’t wait to get down there, and I love that I’m a Miami Dolphin.”
“He takes something that’s so small and is able to put it into football and relate it, and he’s really good with his players,” Kyle Van Noy, also a former Patriot under Flores said. “He’s ready to go all the time, and he brings that same energy each and every day. That’s what you want as a coach; and as a player, that’s who I want to play for.”
“Flores is a young coach and I love that. He’s got young energy. I hear he’s intense and he likes to create competitive scenarios, competitive situations,” said CB Byron Jones who came over from the Cowboys. “That’s just something that I like and I wanted to be a part of. … That’s exciting for me, just to be on a team that he’s leading.”
Foot in Mouth? Former Jets Coach Ryan Calls Amari Cooper a ‘Turd’:
The New York Jets former coach Rex Ryan had to walk back one of his comments when he said the Dallas Cowboys made a huge mistake in paying WR Amari Cooper and not QB Dak Prescott.
Cooper who has gained 1000 yards or more in every season except for one in his NFL career, signed a five-year, $100 million-dollar contract with the Cowboys.
“[Amari Cooper] is the biggest disappearing act in the National Football League. … I wouldn’t have paid this turd,” Ryan said on the Get Up football telecast.
Ryan was brought back later in the day on ESPN, Ryan apologized for his choice of descriptive words, by calling Cooper a turd and said that he hoped Cooper would accept his apology.
““Thank you to our heroic medical professionals; doctors, nurses, medical workers, and others, who are selflessly and courageously doing their job to take care of others in need,” Belichick said in a video posted on the team’s Twitter page. “We have heard your stories, and have seen some of your great work. You are truly champions and warriors…”we are facing a difficult opponent” and “it will take teamwork, discipline and commitment to do the right things all of the time… I encourage everyone to shelter in place for as long as necessary as we fight this virus together. “There are plenty of things we cannot do right now, but let’s focus on what we can do. We can adapt, we can adjust, and we can make better decisions right now for the betterment of the future. As I tell our team, let’s keep stringing good days together, and we will get through this.” Bill Belichick in a PSA to all of the people out there trying to get through the Coronavirus pandemic.
“So, how was your week?”
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