Tag Archives: Vincent Valentine

New England Patriots Training Camp Primer: Defensive Line

Steve Balestrieri
July 17, 2017 at 6:30 am ET

Versatility and Physicality Mark The Pats DL

The Patriots head into training camp in ten days and there should be no shortage of competition at a number of spots. As a lead-in to the beginning of camp, we’ll break down the positions and give our take on who is a lock, a near lock for the 53-man roster and who is on the bubble. Next up on our primers is the Defensive Line position.

Bill Belichick likes to say that the spring’s OTAs and Minicamp is a learning exercise and that the real competition begins in training camp. With a roster of 90 players and no cuts needed before the final 53-man roster cut down, there will be plenty of time for evaluation.

So, we’re going to look at the Patriots Defensive Line and how they shake out. There is much versatility here and that what makes the Patriots defense so effective. In a sack driven league, they’re rather pedestrian at them despite leading the league in points against in 2016.

DL Malcom Brown will be expected to be more consistent in 2017. (SBalestrieri photo)

It wasn’t smoke and mirrors, the team uses a variety of different looks and squeezes offenses from running the ball and then with their pass rushers, do not let opponents out of the pocket where big plays tend to happen. They demand their edge players set the edge first, they’re not and have never been a “sell-out” pass rush team.

The team lost defensive ends, Jabaal Sheard and Chris Long, this spring but drafted two younger guys in Derek Rivers and Deatrich Wise while picking up Kony Ealy from the Panthers in a steal of a trade, during the NFL Draft. The team also picked up the versatile and underrated Lawrence Guy from Baltimore. Trey Flowers was arguably their best DL down the stretch and into the playoffs and Alan Branch was outstanding all season.

Roster Locks: Trey Flowers, Kony Ealy, Rob Ninkovich, Derek Rivers, Deatrich Wise, Alan Branch, Malcom Brown
Everything starts with the big men in the middle and Branch and Brown were very good in 2016. Branch frequently plays over the center and is outstanding at stuffing the run. Brown is as well. Their job is to force everything outside where the defensive ends and linebackers are supposed to clean it up. They each got a little bit of push in the passing game but that is something that Brown could do a bit more of as well as be more consistent in 2017.

Patriots rookie DE Deatrich Wise in action at minicamp in June. (SBalestrieri photo)

Ealy will be an intriguing guy to watch this year. He’s in a contract year and has been given a clean slate by the coaches in New England.  The biggest knock against him was that he didn’t buy in when he was in Carolina. He seems to be doing that right off the bat here, which is a good sign. When he’s on, he’s a difficult man to block. Just rewind to Super Bowl L and watch him against the Broncos.

Big things are expected of Flowers this season, and after the way he finished 2016, he seems to be the go-to guy in the pass rush. Flowers, like many others in the Pats defense, is versatile and can rush from the edge or push inside as an interior pass rusher.

Ninkovich is a guy who is always at his best in clutch situations. He may be losing a step but he’s another versatile guy who can line up as a defensive end or drop as an outside linebacker.

Rob Ninkovich has been a clutch performer for the Patriots defense. (SBalestrieri photo)

Rivers and Wise by virtue of their draft stock are untouchable this season. Rivers is another guy who can play DE or OLB and was the Patriots top draft choice this season. Wise is another big DE in the Patriots mold that is an edge setter first and a pass rusher second. He was hurt in his senior season in college but had a very impressive 2015.

With the depth listed above, these rookie edge players, they won’t have a ton of pressure put on them to produce much this season. They will be able to learn the defense, get used to the speed of the pro game and get some reps here and there.

Near Roster Locks: Lawrence Guy, Vincent Valentine
Valentine showed some nice flashes last year in his rookie campaign. He’s another big body who can stuff the run on the inside. Guy is a versatile, movable piece and plays the 1-technique or out to the 5-technique. He seems like he’s going to be a nice fit in the Patriots defense. We’ll have to see if he can translate that to the field.

It is going to take some hard work from the guys below to unseat either of these two players. But stranger things have happened. Unless someone gets hurt or a case of the Foxboro Flu.

On the Bubble: Geneo Grissom, Woodrow Hamilton, Darius Kilgo, Josh Augusta, Adam Butler
The clock is running out on Geneo Grissom. He’s a guy that was drafted ahead of Flowers and was thought to have all kinds of versatility. But it hasn’t happened for him, he’s been unable to make a dent in the defense. Hamilton made the team a year ago but with the addition of Guy from the Ravens, he’s going to have to turn it up… a lot.

Augusta is a big-body, run stuffer in the Vince Wilfork mold, he’s listed at 6’0, 335-pounds…which may be wishful thinking. Passing the conditioning test on Day 1 will be a tough task for the big man, who failed to complete a lap during minicamp…twice.

Butler is a definite under the radar guy. Signed as a UDFA from Vanderbilt, the 6’4, 305-pound DL can be a run-stuffing tackle or a penetrator from the interior on passing downs. He played OL in college before switching over. He’ll be a guy to watch to see if he can turn some heads.

Kilgo was drafted by Denver and appeared in 18 games in two seasons before being released last November. The Pats signed the big 6’3, 320 DL to the practice squad where he spent the remaining part of the season.

Our next primer will have the Patriots Linebackers… stay tuned.

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: New England Patriots Super Bowl Championship Ring Night

Robert Alvarez
June 12, 2017 at 9:42 pm ET

On Friday night, New England Patriots owner and CEO Robert Kraft hosted the teams Super Bowl championship ring ceremony at his Brookline MA home.

The headliner for the night began with news the 2016 ring contained quite possibly one of the greatest subtle tributes to the teams historic comeback victory. The ring contained exactly 283 diamonds, meant to commemorate the 28-3 deficit the team overcame in the second half and included an engraved message that read “Greatest Comeback Ever.”

The social media posts that followed as the night progressed would make any Patriots fan light up like it was February 5th, 2017 all over again, so without further ado below are some of the best sights and sounds.

Date night ❤ #Patriots super bowl ring ceremony

A post shared by Gisele Bündchen (@gisele) on

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVJI9XYBVgM/?taken-by=tombrady

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVJT6mLhPdS/?taken-by=tombrady

Turn Up Champs!

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

A rare occasion for Head Coach Bill Belichick as he was spotted wearing all of his championship rings from his NFL career. Seven Super Bowl titles across the Giants and Patriots including three AFC Championship rings from 1996, 2007 and 2011.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVLAXCGgVyf/

This happened last night ~ and then this happened! #MagicalNight #TheGreatestCombackEver *Scroll through!

A post shared by Linda Holliday✨ (@lindaholliday_) on

@bombsquad #family

A post shared by Julian Edelman (@edelman11) on

#sundayze

A post shared by Julian Edelman (@edelman11) on

That feeling when you see your Super Bowl ring.

A post shared by New England Patriots (@patriots) on

"I'm so Icyyyyy" – @laflare1017

A post shared by LeGarrette Blount (@l_blount29) on

A crazy/fun night to remember!! #Blessed

A post shared by LeGarrette Blount (@l_blount29) on

Last night was dope @tombrady . Tonight will be even better. #Celebrating6

A post shared by Martellus Bennett (@martellusb) on

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVKtwejhhDB/?taken-by=realloganryan&hl=en

LEGENDARY NIGHT #2timechamp -Dmac

A post shared by Jason+Devin McCourty (@mccourtytwins) on

Wow–just a small sample of the night we all had!! #superbowlchamps #rings

A post shared by Robert Ninkovich (@nink50) on

2X W O R L D C H A M P I O N #PATSNATION

A post shared by Malcolm CB Butler (@mac_bz) on

It was lit !!!!!'

A post shared by Dion Lewis (@d_lew33) on

2X

A post shared by Nate Ebner (@ebs43) on

Special teamer Nate Ebner shared his unique collection of hardware, both of his Super Bowl rings along with the one given to him by the United States Rugby Olympic team when he participated in the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio last year.

LI… Rio 16'… XLIX

A post shared by Nate Ebner (@ebs43) on

Long Snapper Joe Cardona sported his US Naval Academy graduation ring with his new bling.

https://twitter.com/zeus30hightower/status/873150240798461953

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVKi_tpAWKZ/?taken-by=_boomtower

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVLKu4nF-_0/?taken-by=iii_flowers

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVLfRRlBeaW/?taken-by=sweetfeet_white28

https://www.instagram.com/p/BVKSZRMnT-B/?taken-by=vrvj99

"…Big rings, champagne…"

A post shared by Matt Lengel (@matthewlengel) on

https://twitter.com/EricRowe32/status/873300301650030594

Following the presentation of the rings, guests were treated to performances by rappers Snoop Dogg and Gucci Mane.

https://twitter.com/gucci1017/status/873580366505938944

https://twitter.com/SBNation/status/873537175605846016?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw&ref_url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.sbnation.com%2Flookit%2F2017%2F6%2F10%2F15774972%2Fnfl-super-bowl-2017-patriots-ring-ceremony-gucci-mane-popeyes

All in all it was a very special night that officially closes the door on the 2016 Patriots season, as Quarterback Tom Brady would say the best ring is “The Next One”.

Patriots Players Ready For the 2nd Year Jump in Performance

Steve Balestrieri
May 22, 2017 at 8:00 am ET

The Patriots begin the next phase of their 2017 offseason OTAs today at Gillette Stadium and they’ll be on the field for the first time doing football drills. And while many will be focusing on the new players such as Stephon Gilmore, Brandin Cooks, and Kony Ealy, the second-year players should be of equal importance. Bill Belichick always talks of the big jump that players experience between their rookie and sophomore seasons.

There are several players that will bear watching under that scenario but we’re going to focus on just three that could play very large roles in 2017.  Guard Joe Thuney, WR Malcolm Mitchell and CB/KR Cyrus Jones.

Thuney was a Day 1 starter at left guard and had the not-so-unexpected growing pains, Mitchell got hurt in training camp but came on in the second half of the season and was a key contributor in the Super Bowl win over the Falcons. Jones was the team’s top draft choice a year ago, a talented corner and kick returner who struggled mightily and was barely a blip on the radar in 2016.

Thuney was drafted by the Patriots in the 3rd round (78th overall) in the 2016 NFL Draft out of NC State. The 6’4, 305-pound tackle turned guard was a steady, dependable interior offensive lineman last year. He fought his way thru the competition at training camp to become the Day 1 starter at left guard. He showed good communication with LT Nate Solder and C David Andrews and they did a good job of keeping the Patriots QBs upright.


Joe Thuney wants to know “What are Pink Stripes?” (SBalestrieri photo)

He certainly got a good rookie report card from Bill Belichick. “Joe is smart. Joe works hard. He’s here every day. I don’t think he’s missed a day all spring, summer,” Belichick said. “He shows up every day [and] goes to work. A lunch-pail guy. He just grinds it out. And he’s smart. Takes coaching well. He understands what we’re doing.”

He needed to get stronger this offseason and that will bear some watching. But after spending a year with his demanding OL Coach Dante Scarnecchia, he should be ready for the Year 2 jump. His technique, communication, and strength should all be better. There will be no backsliding on Coach Scar’s crew.

The Patriots drafted Mitchell in the 4th round, (112th overall) in last season’s draft. His story was well known when he wasn’t a good reader and joined a ladies’ book club in Georgia. Now he’s an author of a children’s book and a Super Bowl champion.


Malcolm Mitchell puts a move on Darrell Roberts in 2016 TC. (SBalestrieri photo)

Mitchell suffered an injury in the team’s first preseason game and that definitely slowed his progress. He barely registered on the stat sheet thru the first half of the season. But after Tom Brady’s return from suspension, Mitchell gradually worked his way onto the field and earned his way into Brady’s circle of trust. He finished the season with a modest 32 catches for 401 yards and four touchdowns in 2016. But his Super Bowl was a game that showed that his future is bright with New England, catching six passes for 70 yards and again, Brady trusted him to come thru at crunch time late in the game.

The Patriots are stacked at wide receiver this season. With Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, newcomer Brandin Cooks, Danny Amendola, Mitchell and newcomers Austin Carr, Cody Hollister and Devin Lucien. But while Mitchell’s numbers may not increase dramatically in 2017, he should be an integral part of the offensive plan this season.

No one could have predicted the struggles that Cyrus Jones suffered in 2016. Coming from the storied football of program of Nick Saban at Alabama, Jones was a talented corner who was thought to be in line for reps at least in the slot for 2016. He was also a dangerous, valuable kick returner, returning four for touchdowns in his final college season. None of it materialized. Right off the bat in Minicamp, he began to struggle with holding onto kicks and that carried over to the season. He never made an impression defensively and his season was about missed opportunity.


Cyrus Jones had ball security issues in 2016. (SBalestrieri photo)

Jones has a lot of work to do in 2017, the Patriots used a 2nd round draft pick (60th overall) last season on him and ball security should be at the top of his list. His judgment wasn’t great either, and that was the cause of his being inactive for five of the team’s final six games.

Bill Belichick needs to work with Jones early this year….OTAs is a prime spot and build up Jones’ confidence. That’s mainly what his problem was in 2016, a confidence issue and not an ability one. He knows how to play football and has been successful at the pinnacle of the college football world. Once his return issues are resolved, his play on defense should be markedly improved as well. He’s the guy we’re picking here as our selection as the most improved player in 2017.

Other second-year players include Elandon Roberts, Vincent Valentine, Woodrow Hamilton and Jacoby Brissett. In Brissett’s case, we may not see a big jump in play in Year 2 strictly because of logistics. With Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo under center at QB this season, there are only so many snaps to go around. And Brissett may not get a ton of work.

The Patriots will have plenty of new faces to integrate into the system, beginning this week for the OTAs but we’ll be keeping focused on seeing how the 2nd year players perform this spring/summer. Getting off to a quick start is always a good sign for having a good regular season. For Thuney, Mitchell, and Jones that all begins today.

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 Free Agent Profile Alan Branch

Steve Balestrieri
February 16, 2017 at 9:30 am ET

The Patriots will enter the beginning of the 2017 league season with several important decisions to make in regards to free agency. While the team has the third most salary cap room in the NFL this season, they have a slew of free agents including several who are either starters or important role players.

We’ll be doing profiles on each of the free agents in the upcoming days and give you our take on whether they return or move on. One of the starters and a very important piece is defensive lineman Alan Branch.

The Patriots picked up Branch during the 2014 Super Bowl run after Chandler Jones injured his hip in midseason. The Buffalo Bills released Branch after a DUI arrest earlier that year. He then played very well but sparingly down the stretch for the Patriots and was an integral part of the team that defeated the Seahawks.

He was even more valuable this time around, being arguably the Patriots best interior defensive lineman all season long being a two-gap run stuffer inside and providing outstanding support against the run and the occasional pocket push against the pass.

Branch was originally drafted by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2007 NFL Draft and played four seasons for the Cardinals before playing well in two seasons for the Seahawks. Branch spent 2013 as a member of the Buffalo Bills. After playing well for Buffalo that year, he was given a three-year contract extension and paid a $3.1 million dollar signing bonus.

But like Michael Floyd this season, he let a lapse in judgment cost him. But since his release by Buffalo, he’s been a solid teammate and a veteran presence on the team providing very solid play next to two younger players inside with Malcom Brown and Vincent Valentine.

Alan Branch was a tremendous run-stuffer for the Patriots defense in 2016. (SBalestrieri photo)

Why Branch Will Return: The Patriots don’t have a lot of depth inside with just Branch, Brown, and Valentine along with Woodrow Hamilton and the three players have little experience. Brown finished his 2nd season and the latter two were rookies in 2016.

Branch at 32, shouldn’t break the bank in terms of free agency. After the last Super Bowl run he signed a two-year deal for a moderate sum ($5 million-dollar range). If he is willing to accept a similar deal again, it would be easy to see the Patriots paying him around the same amount of money with weight and playing time incentives worked in.

The Patriots are happy with his play the past few years as Branch has been a very solid performer both on the practice and playing fields. There is no reason to think he couldn’t continue to perform at a high level for the next season or two and provide the big immovable object inside, eating up two gaps which allow the linebackers to come in and make plays.

The 6’6, 350-pound Branch while an immovable force inside is quite athletic for a big man and enjoys skateboarding since he was a kid in New Mexico. He didn’t panic after a slow start in Super Bowl LI by the Patriots defense. Instead, he said, the players just trusted in themselves and the process.

“Honestly, we just started finally executing,” he said after the game. “We were on the field and we knew what we had to do, but we weren’t getting it done in the first half. When we came into halftime, we talked to each other. We weren’t down, we didn’t give up. We weren’t talking about rolling over or anything. We just started talking about being on our job, being more positive, having fun out there.”

Branch actually leapfrogged Brown this season on the Patriots depth chart and played more snaps than the 2nd year player after Brown in his rookie year, led the defensive line in snap percentage in 2015. Branch played just under 60 percent of the snaps after playing in under 40 percent of them last year.

Why Branch Won’t Return: Branch has won a pair of Super Bowls with New England and may be wanting to cash in one final time. There are always teams looking for veteran run-stuffing help inside and it is possible that a team will pony up more money than the Patriots will feel fits his value. In that scenario, one could easily see Branch leaving for one final payday in the sun.

It is possible that the Patriots will want to get younger at the position and bring in a rookie player that can stuff the run and play for about 20 percent of what they’d have to pay Branch to return.

Branch is at that age when the big men begin to break down and perhaps the coaches will feel that they’ve already gotten the best that they can ask for from Branch at this stage of his career and be prepared to move on. Remember, they did much the same thing with Vince Wilfork after Super Bowl XLIX.

Bottom Line: The Patriots coach Bill Belichick was asked about Branch earlier during the playoffs and praised his size and athleticism. The Providence Journal quoted Belichick as saying this about Branch:

“How unique is it? I mean, yeah, guys that weigh 350 pounds and are athletic and long like he is — I mean they don’t grow on trees,” Belichick said. “They’re hard to find. Ted Washington had that kind of length and size. Ted was 6-5, but Alan moves better than Ted does, or did at that point in his career. We’ve had some other longer guys like Richard Seymour or guys like that, but they weren’t 350 pounds. There’re not too many of them. Gerard Warren was a big guy that ran well. Money [Warren] was a very athletic player who wasn’t quite as long as Branch, but moving into that range.”

“It’s hard to measure the disruptive plays but he’s certainly got his share of those. He’s played very well for us in the running game. He’s given us a presence in the pass rush of a long, physical player in the middle. That’s all been really good, and he’s played more plays, so all of that is good.”

It will be interesting to see how this scenario plays out. Branch is a very valuable member of the defense. He was a key cog in a Patriots defense that was very solid against the run and his presence inside allowed players like Hightower and Roberts at linebacker to flow and make plays.

If the money is right, it is easy to see him returning for a final contract that will allow him to retire as a Patriot. He’s been very happy here in Matt Patricia’s defense and that factor may sway him to remain. But other teams love to pluck players off of Super Bowl-winning rosters to provide that type of presence and mentorship to their younger players. If someone ponies up the cash, he could bolt. Right now, I’d say it is even money that Branch returns in 2017.

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 17 Patriots vs Dolphins

Robert Alvarez
January 5, 2017 at 5:00 am ET

Entering the final week of the 2017 regular season, the New England Patriots needed a win to secure the number one seed in the AFC Playoffs but needed to get past their prior struggles in Miami against the Dolphins, who had won three straight at home against them going back to 2013.

In the first half, it was the Patriots who came out dominating on both sides of the ball as tight end Martellus Bennett scored the first touchdown of the game.

https://twitter.com/giseleofficial/status/815621971954307072

After the Bennett score, wide receiver Michael Floyd found the end zone for the first time as a Patriot and the Patriots found themselves up 14-0 after one quarter of play.

I believe he's in sir look!!! #newseason

A post shared by Julian Edelman (@edelman11) on

In the second quarter, kicker Stephen Gostkowski tacked on two field goals to bring the Patriots lead to 20-0 as the time of possession continued to be owned by New England much to the dismay of Ndamukong Suh.

With 28 seconds to go until halftime, Dolphins quarterback Matt Moore found Jarvis Landry for a touchdown ending an impressive run by the Patriots defense. 20-7 Patriots at the half.

Getting the ball back to start the third quarter, the Dolphins clawed their way back into the game as Matt Moore found Kenny Stills for another six as it was all of a sudden a six point game.

https://twitter.com/nflnetwork/status/815647279839211520

It didn’t take long for the Patriots to answer, as wide receiver Julian Edelman recorded the longest touchdown pass of his career courtesy of one of the biggest blocks of the season by Michael Floyd.

https://twitter.com/Edelman11/status/816313169278861312

27-14 Patriots with 6:41 to go in the third quarter.

The Dolphins tried to respond again, but the Patriots defense had other plans inside the red zone.

Now inside the Dolphins 20 following the return, LeGarrette Blount made them pay with his 18th rushing touchdown of the season.

A two point conversation to Julian Edelman saw the Patriots put the game out of reach at 35-14 with five minutes to go in the fourth quarter.

At the games conclusion, Brady added another record to his resume.

Posted by Tom Brady on Sunday, January 1, 2017

Great win boys!! #letsgooo #postseason #pats

A post shared by Chris Hogan (@chrishogan_15) on

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Best of Social Media: Week 16 Jets vs Patriots

Robert Alvarez
December 28, 2016 at 5:20 pm ET

The New England Patriots entered their Week 16 regular season home finale versus the rival New York Jets as they looked to maintain their status as the number one seed heading into the playoffs.

At 17.5 point favorites coming in, the Patriots were seeking their first dominant win over the Jets in nearly four years. (Buttfumble game anyone?)

The Patriots defense continued its recent tough play as Malcolm Butler recorded his first of two interceptions on the day.

It didn’t take long for quarterback Tom Brady and the offense to get going. After an early field goal by Stephen Gostkowski, Brady found tight end Martellus Bennett in the back of the end zone for the games first touchdown. A 10-0 Patriots through one quarter of play.

https://twitter.com/NFL/status/812725891373494274

In the second quarter, Gostkowski tacked on his second field goal of the game to extend the Patriots lead to 13-0 before one of Brady’s most unexpected touchdown passes to former practice squad member and one time Northeastern Husky, backup tight end Matt Lengel.

20-0 Patriots midway through the second quarter before James White caught Tom Brady’s second touchdown pass of the game to conclude the first half. A 27-0 lead and the rout was on.

In the third quarter, Tommy “Vick” pulled off some Harry Houdini trickery with this elusive escape from the rush and a big gain downfield to Julian Edelman.

The play setup LeGarrette Blount to join the scoring as he added on to his record setting season with his 16th rushing touchdown of 2016.

With the game well out of reach at 34-0 nearing the end of the third quarter, the Jets unraveled.

Jets quarterback Bryce Petty would be knocked out of the game but it wouldn’t make a difference for cornerback Malcolm Butler who recorded his first career multi-interception game to go along with a fumble recovery.

A 34-0 Patriots lead after three quarters saw Tom Brady’s day end early as Jimmy Garoppolo gained his first significant playing time since Week 2.

LeGarrette Blount would find the end zone for a second time in the fourth quarter as the Patriots refused to let up, number 17 of the season and a 41-0 lead.

With six minutes to go in the game, the Jets pulled off one of the biggest Jets moves ever, by attempting a field goal down by 41.

The Jets found a way to avoid the shutout with the 29 yard field goal by Nick Folk but it would be all they would be able to muster as the Patriots handed them their first blowout loss to their rival since the 49-19 thrashing on thanksgiving back in 2012 during the infamous buttfumble game.

Posted by Tom Brady on Saturday, December 24, 2016

https://twitter.com/TheRealVRVJ/status/812776960568999936

😍😍😍 Great Win #theimaginationagency #heyaj #footballMarty

A post shared by Martellus Bennett (@martellusb) on

Hi Tom, I'm Marty! Remember when I said I was ready to do this?! #theimaginationagency #footballMarty #patriots

A post shared by Martellus Bennett (@martellusb) on

2️⃣1️⃣🔴⚪️🔵#TipDrill#PatsNation

A post shared by Malcolm CB Butler (@mac_bz) on

#Repost @l_blount29 with @repostapp ・・・ Look up Marlon, say cheese 😂😂😂 @d_lew33

A post shared by Dion Lewis (@d_lew33) on

Best of Social Media: Week 15 Patriots vs Broncos

Robert Alvarez
December 21, 2016 at 7:45 pm ET

The New England Patriots entered Week 15 of the NFL season in a tight race for the AFC’s number one seed in the playoffs, with a win they would also clinch the East division title for the eighth consecutive season.

The team knew a tough challenge lied ahead against the Denver Broncos top ranked defense and a building that has historically been a “house of horrors” for the Patriots to the tone of two AFC Championship losses in the last three years.

The first quarter began with some early fireworks by the Patriots special teams unit, a bit of a reversal from the struggles against the Ravens as rookie Jonanthan Jones recovered a Jordan Norwood fumbled punt.

Quarterback Tom Brady struggled early on, starting 0 for 6 and unable to complete his first pass until the second quarter.

The Patriots would cash in on the turnover, 3-0 after a Stephen Gostkowski field goal midway through the first quarter.

Following return struggles against Baltimore last week, Julian Edelman saw brief action on special teams.

Pink Stripes.

The Patriots offense continued to struggle to find its groove, but the defense kept the Broncos in check. Allowing a lone field goal to keep the game tied at 3 following one quarter of play.

https://twitter.com/RFootball/status/810611684796727296

Following the turnover, Brady at last made the Broncos pay.

The short field setup the Patriots first touchdown of the game, and it was a record breaker for running back LeGarrette Blount.

The Patriots would enter halftime with a 10-3 lead.

Heading into the third quarter, Julian Edelman said some NSFW things that were captured by the CBS microphones.

The scoring remained minimal the remainder of the game as Stephen Gostkowski tacked on two more field goals in the third and fourth quarters to bring the Patriots lead to 16-3.

Devin McCourty and the defense stifled Trevor Siemian’s offense until the final whistle.

The Patriots would leave Denver as 16-3 victors over the Broncos to go along with the AFC East championship.

Posted by Tom Brady on Sunday, December 18, 2016

https://twitter.com/TheRealVRVJ/status/810647631286431745

Secured the W in Denver #BoutTime

A post shared by Logan Ryan (@realloganryan) on

Pats QBs run the East!

Posted by Tom Brady on Sunday, December 18, 2016

Holding down the East for our boy @gronk #patsnation #footballMarty #theimaginationagency

A post shared by Martellus Bennett (@martellusb) on

Holding down the East for our boy @gronk #patsnation #footballMarty #theimaginationagency

A post shared by Martellus Bennett (@martellusb) on

https://twitter.com/R_Allen86/status/810698158124761088

https://www.instagram.com/p/BOLilW8jQZe/?taken-by=laflamablanca95

 

 

 

Best of Social Media: Week 14 Ravens vs Patriots

Robert Alvarez
December 13, 2016 at 8:39 pm ET

For the first time in 2016, the New England Patriots were featured on Monday Night Football against the rival Baltimore Ravens who were coming off one of their most dominant games of the season versus the Miami Dolphins.

The Ravens top ranked defense was expected to be a serious test for the Patriots offense but during pregame quarterback Tom Brady showed zero fear.

Now a member of the ESPN broadcast team, former Patriots wide receiver Randy Moss received a lot of love in his return to Foxboro.

https://twitter.com/PatsKam/status/808483515738292224

https://twitter.com/Edelman11/status/808395821960069121

With the game underway, it was the Patriots defense that got the team on the board first with its third safety of the season.

Ravens kicker Justin Tucker had a streak of 35 consecutive made field goals coming into Monday Night, that is until linebacker Shea McClellin timed this leap to perfection and deflected away a 35 yard attempt providing Patriots fans flashbacks to Jamie Collins a year ago. The score remained 2-0 Patriots early.

Running back LeGarrette Blount scored his Patriots single season record tying 14th rushing touchdown to put the team ahead 9-0 after one quarter of play.

They don’t call him “sweet feet” White for nothing.

The pass would set up rookie Malcolm Mitchell’s fourth touchdown catch of the season as Tom Brady continues to show trust in the young receiver. The Ravens defense was being carved up early.

For everything that went right for the Patriots in the first half, went wrong for Baltimore. Quarterback Joe Flacco struggled against the Patriots defense, including this interception to Devin McCourty.

Seeking an opportunity to put the game away before halftime, Tom Brady uncharacteristically was picked off in the end zone by Eric Weddle.

The Ravens would cash in with a field goal but the Patriots were comfortably ahead 16-3 at halftime.

The third quarter began with a bang for the Patriots, continuing where they left off in the second with this successful flea flicker.

The play setup this dime pass to Martellus Bennett on third down and it appeared the Patriots were going to turn this game into a rout.

A 23-3 Patriots lead midway through the third had just about everyone calling this game over, but football can be cruel sometimes.

Rookie Cyrus Jones, out to return kicks in place of the injured Danny Amendola, continued to struggle at the position after committing this huge mistake that gave the Ravens a short field and needed momentum.

 

The Ravens took over at the Patriots three yard line, and Flacco made Jones pay. 23-10 ballgame.

On the ensuing kickoff, special teams errors continued to torment the Patriots as the normally reliable Matthew Slater also fumbled the ball away giving the Ravens yet another short field, and Flacco again would coast to the end zone.

A 23-3 lead imploded into a 6 point as the Ravens found themselves only trailing 23-17 with five minutes to go in the third quarter.

Gillette Stadium, which had been loud most of the game, fell silent following the Ravens 17-0 run, that is until this…

Clinging to a six point lead, the Patriots defense held tough as the third quarter mercifully ended.

The Ravens tacked on another field goal to open up the fourth quarter closing the gap to three until Tom Brady did what he does best and found Chris Hogan for his longest touchdown and pass of the season. The Patriots pushed the lead back to ten at 30-20 with six minutes to go in the game.

Down 10 with five minutes to go, the Ravens were unable to move down the field quick enough as their lack of urgency cost them in the end and the Patriots held on for a 30-23 victory.

ESPN commentator John Gruden played English teacher with his new word to describe Tom Brady.

While also giving a shout out to Brady’s TB12 brand.

Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs, who recorded just one tackle in the game, did his usual post game chirping as boos rained down.

Posted by Tom Brady on Monday, December 12, 2016

https://twitter.com/TheRealVRVJ/status/808554840708235264

https://www.instagram.com/p/BN-rHsvhe58/

https://www.instagram.com/p/BN82qUzgzHQ/?taken-by=mccourtytwins&hl=en

U like that?

A post shared by Robert Ninkovich (@nink50) on

A post shared by Donta Hightower (@_boomtower) on

Too much sauce 💦💦💦 @sweetfeet_white28 @d_lew33 @bbhulksmash

A post shared by LeGarrette Blount (@l_blount29) on

Best of Social Media: Week 12 Patriots vs Jets

Robert Alvarez
November 29, 2016 at 8:45 am ET

Heading into Sunday’s match up with the rival New York Jets at MetLife stadium for the first time in 2016, the New England Patriots were seeking to clinch their 16th consecutive season above .500 with a win.

During pregame warm ups, many media members noted the light attendance by Jets fans and the fair amount of Patriots Nation making the trip.

https://twitter.com/Edelman11/status/802933631811518464

With the game underway, the Patriots struggled early against the Jets defense and found themselves in an early 10-0 hole heading into the second quarter.

The Good News: Dion Lewis is BACK!

While nothing came of the play, fans were also treated to this near-heart attack moment when Brady became a blocker for LeGarrette Blount.

Pre-snap…LG: “Tom I’m gonna bounce back and you lead the way, cool?” TB: "I got you, LG."

Posted by Tom Brady on Monday, November 28, 2016

Cmon TB we out!! 😂😂😂 #PatsNation

A post shared by LeGarrette Blount (@l_blount29) on

Following a Stephen Gostkowski 28 yard field goal to put the Patriots on the board, rookie Malcolm Mitchell found the end zone for the second consecutive week to tie the game at 10 but not before Tom Brady went over 60,000 passing yards during the drive.

The Patriots had an opportunity to take the lead before halftime but Stephen Gostkowski’s season long struggles continued with another miss, this time from 39 yards.

Late in the third quarter, Gostkowski would bounce back by making a 29 yarder to give the Patriots their first lead of the game at 13-10.

It wouldn’t last long after Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick found receiver Quincy Enunwa in what was later called the “Butt Touchdown”.

Hitting the 10 minute mark in the fourth quarter the Patriots again found themselves trailing at 17-13 before Gostkowski nailed a 41 yarder to cut the deficit to one at 17-16.

With the Jets unable to add to their lead, the Patriots got the ball back with 5:04 to go in the game still down only a point, and Tom Brady did what he does best, by engineering yet another late game comeback by throwing six passes including a deep ball to Chris Hogan for 25.

The drive setup rookie Malcolm Mitchell for this second touchdown pass of the game.

The Patriots were unable to convert the two point conversion attempt after a review saw James White unable to cross the white line with the ball. It would be up to the Patriots defense to win the game leading by five at 22-17 with 2 minutes to go.

Enter Chris Long.

The Patriots would take over and run out the clock on their ninth victory of the season moving to 9-2 and the jumped back into the top seed in the AFC Courtesy of another win over a conference opponent.

The win had historical implications for both Tom Brady and the Patriots franchise, Brady alone accounts for nearly 40% of the teams total wins.

https://twitter.com/giseleofficial/status/803033351737188352

On to LA

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Best Of Social Media: Week 11 Patriots vs 49ers

Robert Alvarez
November 22, 2016 at 11:08 pm ET

Heading into their week 11 match up with the San Francisco 49ers, the Patriots were seeking a bounce back following the tough loss at home to the Seattle Seahawks.

The early buildup heading into the game was quarterback Tom Brady’s return home to the Bay Area to play an NFL football game for the first time in his career, he was sidelined during a 2008 season visit with an ACL injury.

During pregame warm ups many in the media immediately felt a Patriots Nation vibe in Levi’s Stadium as thousands of fans cheered the local boy Tom Brady as he ran onto the field.

Former starting quarterback and Oregon native Drew Bledsoe made the trip south to see his former teammate and catch up with owner Robert Kraft.

The game also marked the return of running back Dion Lewis, who’s impact was felt immediately early on in the first quarter.

Some fans even cried for joy.

Catch me if you can #ItsNotRocketScience #Duh

A post shared by Dion Lewis (@d_lew33) on

The Patriots got on the board first, with a little Northern California flavor as San Mateo’s Brady passed to Redwood City’s Julian Edelman for the touchdown.

The fun didn’t last long, kicker Stephen Gostkowski missed his third extra point of the season, on a day in which an NFL record 12 were missed throughout the league.

With the majority of the first half dealing with sluggish, rainy conditions, running back LeGarrette Blount had one of his biggest bursts into the open field of the season.

https://twitter.com/Patriots/status/800460799684640768

James White helped create this catch and run leading to Brady’s second touchdown pass of the game. 13-3 Patriots into the second quarter.

The game remained surprisingly close into the fourth quarter with the Patriots struggling on offense in the rain and the Niners cutting the deficit to 13-10 following a Colin Kaepernick touchdown pass to Vance McDonald. The third quarter saw no scores.

To open the fourth, Brady drove the Patriots down the field and pulled off one of his more remarkable escapes from pressure leading to this Danny Amendola score. 20-10 Patriots.

Brady wouldn’t be denied a victory in his hometown, following up that touchdown with his longest of the season at 56 yards to rookie Malcolm Mitchell, not a bad first career touchdown pass. 27-10 Patriots with 10 minutes to go.

The Patriots would tack on a 38 yard Gostkowski field goal and the Niners would snatch a garbage time touchdown but the Patriots come out on top 30-17, moving to 8-2 on the season.

The rain gave way to this rainbow adding to what was a memorable homecoming for Tom Brady.

Posted by Tom Brady on Sunday, November 20, 2016

https://twitter.com/Edelman11/status/800499632157708288

https://twitter.com/TheRealVRVJ/status/800528863759470592

Good team win! #streetbullywalk

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https://twitter.com/LG_Blount/status/800848885098782720

I need the ball…..

A post shared by Duron Harmon (@dharm30) on

#boomtower

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