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A New England Patriots Community Blog

Updated: 2017-08-21T13:33:11-04:00


Hall of Fame manager Tony La Russa and Tom Crean share lessons from Bill Belichick



The Patriots head coach has wisdom for even the best coaches in other sports.

Tony La Russa is enshrined in the Baseball Hall of Fame as a manager. He won three World Series and reached another three. He has 2,728 career wins. He can still learn from New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.

Tom Crean is the former head coach at the University of Indiana. He’s reached the Final Four in the NCAA Tournament and has led three regular season conference champions. He has a lot to learn from Belichick.

Both coaches joined Belichick to watch the joint practices between the Patriots and the Houston Texans and they shared their thoughts on the Patriots head coach with Monday Morning Quarterback.

“What Bill does so well, I think, is reset his team every year at zero,” La Russa explained. “What you did last year doesn’t matter. You’ve got to learn from everything, but last year’s over. And he’s got a great leader who believes the exact same thing in Tom Brady. That helps.”

“I would take it another step, beyond Tony,” Crean added. “Bill resets every day. You’ve got to look and see where you are every day. Everything matters. There’s nothing he leaves to someone else that matters. A lot of people say it, but I’ve seen it. He lives it. The fundamentals, the details, the winning in the fourth quarter. Being around Bill, you can see it come to life.”

Belichick is the type of coach to open up the year by showing his team Tom Brady’s worst throws from the prior year, or all the missed tackles by the linebackers, or simply showing Super Bowl LI and shutting it off halfway through the third quarter.

He will have his lesson for his team- they’re not perfect and any talk of 19-0 is ridiculous- and then he will simply move on from 2016 with the intention of rebooting the team for 2017.

There are new faces that haven’t been a part of the Patriots system. There are some that have won two Super Bowls with the team. But every single player needs to approach the offseason with the intention of improving fundamentals and technique so they can dig deep and draw upon their experience when they’re tired in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl.

The Patriots aren’t the only team in the league to approach the new season in this fashion, but they’re undeniably the most effective.

In light of Patriots injuries, would you trade a 7th round pick for this Giants pass rusher?


The Giants might be willing to trade one of their pass rushers. Should the Patriots be interested? The New England Patriots pass rush has been weak this preseason due to all of the roster changes. Rob Ninkovich retired. Chris Long and Jabaal Sheard left in free agency. Rookies Derek Rivers and Deatrich Wise have been dealing with injuries. Trey Flowers hasn’t suited up. Even hybrid linebackers like Dont’a Hightower and Shea McClellin haven’t been playing. There is simply not enough healthy talent at the position. But despite this apparent weakness on the roster, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has stated that he is not looking to add another pass rusher to the roster. We’re not Belichick, though, and our friends over at our New York Giants site Big Blue View think one of their pass rushers might be available for a trade- and I think he’d be an awesome fit. BBV’s Chris Pflum writes that former 2015 third round selection Owamagbe Odighizuwa could be available for pennies and that’s why I’m interested. “Odighizuwa has missed time with injuries of his own and has yet to produce anything like a third round pick, but unlike our other potential trade targets, is a bona fide athletic freak,” Pflum explains. “Odighizuwa is also young and still has two years left on his rookie contract...In light of the injury to rookie Derek Rivers, and their plan for the 2017 off-season, the New England Patriots might be another potential trade partner. The Patriots have been bold about trading for players this year, and Belichick has a long history of getting production out of players who have floundered on other teams. Likewise, Odighizuwa’s athletic ability and experience in both 3-4 and 4-3 defenses might appeal to Belichick.” There’s a lot to break down here. Odighizuwa matriculated from UCLA where he was a part of their hybrid 3-4 defensive front, which could make a transition to New England a little more seamless. At 6’3, 267 pounds, he meets all of the team’s athletic requirements for the position, too. Odighizuwa was regarded as one of the top edge defender prospects, but concerns about his hip surgeries in 2013 and his one year as a starter dropped him down the board. Those injury concerns were realized in 2015 when he missed the majority of the season with foot and hamstring injuries; he spent a portion of the year on the short-term injured reserve. In 2016, Odighizuwa rarely played as he was stuck behind Olivier Vernon and Jason Pierre-Paul in the depth chart, along with rookie Romeo Okwara. With the Giants 2017 fifth round addition of EDGE Avery Moss, there might not be space on the roster for Odighizuwa anymore. Add in the weird series of tweets in April, where he expresses a need “to get away from the game,” and it would make sense for the Giants to move on. So why should the Patriots be interested? Well, Odighizuwa has two more years remaining on his rookie deal, so he’s firmly in the “reclamation project” category. Also, the price to trade for Odighizuwa should be negligible and the Patriots could use another camp body. “Likely the base price for Owa would just be a seventh-round pick,” Pflum writes. “He has significant athletic upside, but he hasn’t come close to living up to his potential — or even making it through a season healthy — yet. But with his youth and upside in mind, it might be possible that the pick could be a conditional one and might grow to something like a fifth rounder if Owa not only makes the team but plays a certain percentage of defensive snaps.” Remember that back in 2015, the Patriots were extremely short-handed at wide receiver heading into the final preseason game and sent a conditional 2018 seventh round draft pick to the New Orleans Saints for WR Jalen Saunders. Saunders was a body for the game, the team released him in the final cuts, and the Patriots will likely not have to send a draft pick to the Saints. The Saints knew they weren’t going to keep Saunders, so why not see if they could make a seven[...]

Patriots vs. Texans: Fan Notes from the Preseason


Notes, musings, and observations from Week 2 of the preseason. The Patriots and the Patriots South wrapped up their week of joint practices with Saturday night’s preseason matchup at Reliant Stadium, site of Super Bowl LI. And while the game was neither as exciting as the last time the Patriots were there nor was the outcome what we like to see, there are definitely some things we can glean from the 27-23 loss. Sadly, a lot of those things are ways in which I should probably make some life changes, as I paid a little too close attention to this one and didn’t realize what I was doing until it’s too late. But as anyone who has been following my writing knows, I’m well past the point of no return by now. I wasn’t able to watch this game until 1PM yesterday, as for some inexplicable reason the NFL doesn’t want to include all preseason games with their exorbitantly expensive Sunday Ticket package with DirecTV. Subscribers lost extra coverage with Thursday Night Football, online streaming, and international broadcasts, but are still paying the same amount for less games. Makes zero sense. Although I guess I can’t be too surprised; the league also charges full price for tickets to these glorified practices. The fact that Patriots fans have to shell out normal cost for weeks one and four of the preseason, games during which the starters rarely play, is absurd. Then again, it’s the least surprising news of the year - the NFL is all about the money and nothing else. OK, rant over. On to the game. One of the things I was excited to see was what the Patriots would do with their depleted defensive line in terms of rotations and who lined up where. New England’s front four to start this game was, from left to right, Kony Ealy, Lawrence Guy, Vincent Valentine, Malcom Brown. and Harvey Langi on the edge as that linebacker/lineman hybrid. Alan Branch and Kyle Van Noy saw time as well, while Elandon Roberts and Shea McLellin got the nod at LB. It’s that kind of hard-hitting analysis - looking at the players on the field and listing them - is why they keep me around here at Pats Pulpit. Plus, Ealy and Guy were also out there late in the game as well – so who the hell knows. There’s no sense in breaking down schemes and the lack of effective reads in the preseason, especially against a team the Patriots play for real in just over a month, but one thing I can definitely comment on is poor tackling. Tackling isn’t something you do different from game to game, regardless of importance, and I lost count of how many times a Texan player got wrapped up, only to break free for extra yardage. I can’t believe we had a Gronk sighting to start the game. What I can believe, however, is Cam Fleming getting worked around on the edge. I really, really hope Nate Solder is going to be ok this season. I wonder what was going through Ryan Griffin’s mind when he was nine years old and Family Guy debuted on Fox. I bet it was fun at first, having almost the same name as an alcoholic cartoon dog…but it probably got old very fast. There are just some last names out there that are fine to have for the first few years of your life, and then once you hit adulthood and we all have to behave ourselves it’s OK again, but for about 20 straight years you’re just going to have to deal with idiots like me. Last names like Butt. Hung. Sharts. Wang. I could go all day...but I’m in my 30s. This kind of behavior simply can’t stand. I think that Harvey Langi has the physical tools and ability, to be a positive contributor to this defense – I just wonder about his size, especially if he’s going to carve out a spot along the edge. Looking at Langi out there with the other guys along the line reminded me a lot of the couch scene from Me, Myself, and Irene. The NFL Network somehow went from Houston’s first scoring drive to an interception replay review on what I think was a pass intended for Chris Hogan. Not sure how much of the game they glossed over, but I’m sure[...]

New England Patriots links 8/21/17 - Analyzing Week 2 matchup in Houston


Daily news and links for Monday TEAM TALK Post Game Notes: Rob Gronkowski plays in the preseason for the first time since 2012. Erik Scalavino offers his observations from the press box at NRG Stadium: Stars appear but backups shine. Paul Perillo Game Observations: Starters get feet wet in Houston. Andy Hart's Stock Watch: Running backs step up, defense falters. Post Game Transcripts: Patriots and Texans. WEEI Patriots Monday: Tom Brady (17.24 min.) LOCAL LINKS Mike Reiss shares some quick-hit weekend thoughts: Rex Burkhead's bond with Jack Hoffman still strong from Nebraska days; Tom Brady has his front-row parking spot back; More. Ryan Hannable Sunday 7: Will Patriots look to make trade before start of regular season? Steve Balestrieri (PatsFans) Patriots Sunday news, AFC East notes: Rivers loss a costly one in the short term. Mike Dussault (PatsPropaganda) Monday Morning Pats regroup. Nicole Yang Morning sports update: Tony Dungy said he doesn’t think the Patriots will repeat as Super Bowl champs. Phil Perry sees Jimmy Garoppolo's accountability a winning sign in the loss. Mike Reiss observes Jimmy Garoppolo was able to bounce back strong after taking a huge hit, which was a positive sign on a night when all didn't go right. Mike Reiss notes Tom Brady ended his night on a high note in return to Super Bowl site. Jeff Howe talks up Rex Burkhead, who had the best night among the starting group's limited workload. Mike Reiss notes Cyrus Jones hopes his performance Saturday allows him to leap forward, after a tough rookie season. Karen Guregian puts the focus on the Patriots' thin defensive end depth. Mike Reiss identifies some potential DE trade targets for Patriots around the NFL. Phil Perry discusses if the Patriots will turn towards trade market to shore up DE depth; Albert Breer calls DE position 'legitimate weakness'. (3.16 min. video) Jeff Howe Patriots Notebook: Rob Gronkowski a surprise participant in preseason play. Jeff Howe reminds armchair analysts everywhere that the Patriots defensive scheme in Week 2 was set to 'bland'. Doug Kyed Patriots-Texans film review: How does Rex Burkhead fit into offense? Nick O'Malley tells us what we learned from Week 2 Pats-Texans, a game full of hits and misses: The Pats are done resting their starters (for now). Hayden Bird offers 5 takeaways from the Patriots' preseason loss to the Texans: The Patriots’ offensive starters are a work in progress. Mike Dussault (PatsPropaganda) Pats Posits: A last minute drive in Houston finally falls short. Mike Reiss picks his initial Ups and Downs from Week 2: Dion Lewis delivers, Malcolm Butler struggles. Steve Balestrieri (PatsFans) Texans down Patriots 27-23 in preseason Week 2, observations. Karen Guregian thinks the Texans are one of few teams who have the ability to keep the Patriots from scoring a ton of points. Ryan Hannable reveals his next Patriots 53-man roster projection: What things look like following Derek Rivers injury, second preseason game. Kevin Duffy passes along a report from Ian Rapoport that Elandon Roberts did not suffer a fractured rib in Saturday's loss to the Texans. Mike Reiss mentions the Patriots raised the Gillette Stadium sign, providing a hint of how they plan to fit their 5th championship banner. Nicole Yang notes the Patriots found Super Bowl confetti at NRG Stadium in Houston. Brent Schwartz picks the top 5 AFC contenders to beat the Patriots in a playoff game in Foxboro. Christopher Matias (90min) Tom Brady posted a super weird 'No Days Off' video on Instagram this weekend. NATIONAL NEWS Peter King (SI) Monday Morning QB: Even in New NFL, Pittsburgh Steelers embrace physicality of football; Bill Belichick's fan club members speak out; More. Mike Tanier (Bleacher Report) Monday Morning Digest: Quarterback fear factor. Mark Maske (Washington Post) 1st and 10: The NFL again is talking about shortening the preseason. Will it ever happen? Robert Mays (The Ringer) [...]

NFL Insider: LeGarrette Blount isn’t a lock to make the Eagles, could affect Patriots 2018 draft picks


Will we have a repeat of 2014? Back in 2014, former New England Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount moved down to Pennsylvania over the offseason, didn’t get much playing time, expressed his displeasure, wound up on the cutting room floor in the middle of the year, moved back to New England, and wound up winning Super Bowl XLIX. We might have a repeat of these events in 2017. According to NFL insider Adam Caplan, via Bleeding Green Nation, Blount has not been playing well and is no lock to make the Philadelphia Eagles. “I mean, I didn’t think it would be this big if you asked me a week ago, but the more information I gather on Blount, the more I understand that he’s no lock to make the football team,” Caplan said on 97.5 The Fanatic. “Again, if you were to ask me a week ago, I’d probably say ‘Ah, he’s going to make it. I don’t see it being an issue.’ But … bad preseason game, just, weight not great, I’ve just been checking in to some things.” Blount has gained 17 yards on 9 carries (1.9 YPC) and has fumbled this preseason. He hasn’t played well at all. Bleeding Green Nation’s Brandon Lee Gowton notes that the Eagles aren’t playing their top offensive line, which could be the cause of Blount’s poor production, but there was a reason Blount wasn’t a priority for the Patriots to sign this offseason and why no team made an offer until after the NFL Draft. If Blount doesn’t play well for the Eagles early in the regular season, they could ultimately release him and, who knows, maybe he’ll make his way back to New England. If Mike Gillislee continues to struggle with a hamstring injury, then head coach Bill Belichick would be the first to take back Blount and end Gillislee’s season; availability is more important than ability, and all that coach speak. Just as importantly, if the Eagles release Blount prior to week 10 of the regular season, then Blount will not count against them in the compensatory draft pick calculus. This should sound familiar to Patriots fans. The team signed TE Clay Harbor in 2016 and the contract canceled out the deal signed by DT Akiem Hicks and the Chicago Bears. The team released TE Clay Harbor on October 3rd and re-gained the 5th round compensatory pick for the loss of Hicks, which they ultimately traded to the Kansas City Chiefs for TE James O’Shaughnessy. Now the Eagles wouldn’t receive a compensatory pick whether or not they retain Blount- that’s part of the reason why they signed him- but the decision could affect the Patriots 2018 draft picks. Currently, Blount is valued as a 7th round compensatory draft pick for New England, per Over the Cap. The Patriots are also scheduled to receiver a 4th and a 5th for EDGE Jabaal Sheard and TE Martellus Bennett, respectively. When looking at the compensatory calculus, we see that the contracts for the signed CB Stephon Gilmore, DL Lawrence Guy, and RB Rex Burkhead cancel out the loss of CB Logan Ryan, LB Barkevious Mingo, and EDGE Chris Long. If Blount doesn’t make the Eagles, then the Patriots won’t earn that 7th round compensatory pick- far from the end of the world, but still a small loss- but the damage grows if, say, Mingo doesn’t make the Indianapolis Colts roster. If Mingo doesn’t make the Colts, then the calculus changes. As of now, Blount would step up in the cancellation chart if Mingo is released. But if Blount is also out of the compensatory picture, then it would be Martellus Bennett and his 5th round compensatory pick that would be eliminated. So Blount serves as a buffer for New England’s 2018 NFL compensatory draft picks and could be the difference between having a 4th, 5th, and 7th, or having just the 4th- and that’s a pretty big deal for the draft. [...]

NFL reportedly close to extending commissioner Roger Goodell's contract



Goodell’s contract is scheduled to expire in 2019.

From Spygate to Bountygate to Deflategate, from Ray Rice to Josh Brown to Ezekiel Elliott, from CTE to domestic violence to arbitrary punishment – Roger Goodell has been in the headlines quite a few times since his tenure as NFL commissioner began in 2006. Of course, not all of the media coverage has been positive; quite the opposite actually.

However, dispite being regularly criticized for his disciplinary stances and perceived favoritism for some owners, Goodell has overseen the growth of the league into a hugely successful product both domestically and abroad. One byproduct of this growth is the financial success the league – and thus its ownership – enjoys. It likely is one of the main reasons why Goodell is not expected to go anywhere (per SportsBusiness' Daniel Kaplan):

Reporting today in @sbjsbd NFL close to extending @nflcommish contract for another 5 years thru '24. Goodell's current contract ends in '19

It would be a surprise if Goddell's new contract did not at least match his current one, which pays him an annual salary of more than $30.0 million per year (in 2015, the last year the NFL had to disclose his financial compensation, it was $34.0 million to be exact). Is it too big of a deal considering how fanbases across the NFL view Goodell and his work? To quote NFL-hired investigator Ted Well: More probable than not.

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Patriots 2017 preseason: RB D.J. Foster, LB Harvey Langi among statistical standouts through two games


Let’s take a look at New England's statistics two weeks into preseason. Last Saturday, the New England Patriots played their second preseason game. Not only does this mean that the 2017 preseason has reached the halfway point, we also get a clearer picture of how the team uses its personnel and which players are getting most closely looked at. With that in mind, let’s do our own looking, namely at who the team’s statistical standouts have been through the first two weeks of the season (pressure and coverage stats via the Boston Herald’s Jeff Howe). Quarterbacks Jimmy Garoppolo: 99 snaps, 37 of 51 (72.5%), 380 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT Jacoby Brissett: 43 snaps, 13 of 23 (56.6%), 124 yards Tom Brady: 16 snaps, 6 of 9 (66.7%), 67 yards, 1 TD Entering the last year of his rookie contract, Jimmy Garoppolo has seen the most action of the Patriots’ quarterbacks, playing more snaps than Jacoby Brissett and Tom Brady combined. The team’s number two has mostly looked solid despite playing with less than sufficient talent around him; his only blemish being an interception on an intended throwaway against the Texans. Brissett, as reflected by his stats, has had an inconsistent preseason thus far. While he appeared to make some solid decisions with the football, his pass placement and accuracy have been an issue. Tom Brady, in the meantime, has looked good in minimal snaps – his snap number is expected to rise against the Detroit Lions this week. Running backs D.J. Foster: 55 snaps; 10 carries for 30 yards, 1 TD; 7 catches for 85 yards, 1 TD Dion Lewis: 39 snaps; 14 carries for 66 yards; 5 catches for 32 yards Brandon Bolden: 33 snaps; 13 carries for 66 yards; 2 catches for 24 yards Glenn Gronkowski: 29 snaps; 1 catch for 10 yards LeShun Daniels: 18 snaps; 11 carries for 39 yards Rex Burkhead: 13 snaps; 7 carries for 20 yards; 3 catches for 50 yards James Develin: 9 snaps James White: 3 snaps Second-year man D.J. Foster has been the most heavily used Patriots running back – and he has generally looked good as a pass catcher and runner. Given his standing on the roster bubble, seeing the team use him in as many situations as possible is not a surprise. What can be considered a slight surprise is Dion Lewis’ 39 snaps; a high workload for a player considered to be a roster lock. Wide receivers Austin Carr: 129 snaps; 8 catches for 75 yards, 1 TD Devin Lucien: 95 snaps; 3 catches for 32 yards K.J. Maye: 58 snaps; 6 catches for 34 yards, 1 TD Tony Washington: 41 snaps; 1 catch for 9 yards Brandin Cooks: 16 snaps; 1 catch for 7 yards Malcolm Mitchell: 15 snaps; 2 catches for 13 yards Julian Edelman: 13 snaps Chris Hogan: 5 snaps Danny Amendola: 2 snaps; 1 catch for 6 yards A total of 16 players have caught passes through the Patriots’ first two preseason games, seven of which wide receivers. Undrafted rookie Austin Carr leads the list in catches, yards and touchdowns while playing the most snaps. And while it would still be a surprise to see him make the roster, the 23-year old should become a priority practice squad signing once roster cuts have started. Of the wide receivers projected to be on the 53-man roster come opening day, Malcolm Mitchell, Brandin Cooks and Danny Amendola have caught passes. Mitchell saw two receptions, while Cooks and Amendola caught one pass apiece. Fellow roster locks Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan were active for the second preseason game but failed to register any stats. Tight ends Jacob Hollister: 76 snaps; 8 catches for 120 yards Sam Cotton: 43 snaps; 2 catches for 29 yards James O’Shaughnessy: 34 snaps; 5 catches for 41 yards Dwayne Allen: 17 snaps Rob Gronkowski: 14 snaps As is the case with the wide receiver, the tight ends are also led by an undrafted rookie: Jacob Hollister, who leads the Patriots with 120 receiving yards and is tied with Austin Carr for the team-lead in catches. Like Carr, Hollister is fi[...]

Patriots returner Cyrus Jones still not afraid to make ‘something out of nothing’


Saturday night in Houston was a step in the right direction for Cyrus Jones. He took his chances. It was only an exhibition Saturday night at NRG Stadium. But for Cyrus Jones, it was a chance to return. Last week, the 2016 second-round pick found himself in the vicinity of two Jacksonville Jaguars touchdowns – Cover-2 safety help or not – and could not do much to recoup the losses on special teams, fielding one punt for no gain and six kickoffs for an average of 19 yards per. Jones played every defensive snap in the preseason opener against Jacksonville. He was also on the field for 48 percent of the special-teams snaps. It was a lengthy sample size to sort through. Little of it reflected positively. But the embattled cornerback had a do-over this weekend; a shot to shift attention from the long scores conceded in coverage to the role in which he fumbled away five times as a rookie. While Jones had another 37 defensive opportunities to handle versus the Houston Texans, it was his 15 in the kicking game that stood out. And for the right reasons. There were no bobbles as he returned one kickoff from the zero to the 17, and averaged 14 yards a pop on four punts. There was far more good than bad. There was also much of the same. As Jones vies to make a New England Patriots team that selected him 60th overall only two Aprils ago, that was vital. That was what “tipped the scales” in the Alabama product’s favor to begin with. “It looks like he made something out of nothing a couple of times,” head coach Bill Belichick said of Jones’ return work following New England’s 27-23 loss to Houston, via, “so that gave us some good field position.” Making something out of nothing got Jones to Foxborough. It remains his best chance at staying there on a cornerback depth chart featuring Malcolm Butler, Stephon Gilmore, Eric Rowe, Jonathan Jones, Justin Coleman, and undrafted rookies D.J. Killings, Kenny Moore and Will Likely. He illustrated why with 11:42 remaining in the second quarter. Jones dodged Texans linebacker Dylan Cole at that juncture, and swung a 42-yard Shane Lechler punt 32 yards up the left sideline before being guided out of bounds. src="" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> The vision was present. So was the creativity and the acceleration. Together, those posed a problem for Houston. With 5:14 left in the fourth, they did again as Jones returned a 49-yarder for 15 yards. He bounced left to escape the rubble that’d fallen before him. Then, he sidestepped a tackle from linebacker Avery Williams and began reversing field before a wave of Texans could crash ashore. It was daring, and it worked. Down the right sideline No. 41 went before being caught by linebacker Brian Peters. src="" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> A run of that nature took risk. The scrambling blockers Jones maneuvered behind could have drawn holding or an illegal hit in the back. The way he tossed and turned could have ended in a shoelace stop for negative yardage. But the fact Jones took that chance at all, given how the last year has gone for him, is as good a sign as you’ll see at this stage. Jones’ time on the stage wasn’t done at that point in the evening, either. End over end, the ball found him once more at the two-minute warning. And from there, the 23-year-old managed to bring the Patriots back to midfield after a 55-yard boot and a 14-yard scamper. Jones took a more traditional path to a more traditional punt this time around, splitting the lanes and galloping forward to prep the Patriots’ offense for one final drive. src="https://www[...]