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A New England Patriots Community Blog

Updated: 2017-10-20T16:22:57-04:00


Patriots-Falcons Friday injury report: Stephon Gilmore declared OUT, Johnson Bademosi QUESTIONABLE


The Patriots will be without their top cornerback against the Atlanta Falcons. The New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons released their final injury report of week 7 and it looks like the Patriots defense will be greatly shorthanded against the potentially potent Falcons offense. OUT Patriots: CB Stephon Gilmore (concussion/ankle), LB Harvey Langi (back), CB Eric Rowe (groin) Falcons: LB Jordan Tripp (concussion) The Patriots will be without two of their top three cornerbacks, forcing Johnson Bademosi, Malcolm Butler, and Jonathan Jones to shoulder the load. If they pull this off, then the Patriots defense will have seriously risen to the occasion and showed their heart. With Langi unlikely to play in 2017, it’s possible the Patriots will place him on the injured reserve and promote CB Ryan Lewis from the practice squad. QUESTIONABLE Patriots: LB Elandon Roberts (ankle), CB Johnson Bademosi (abdomen), TE Jacob Hollister (chest) Falcons: NONE Roberts returned to practice in a limited capacity and is questionable to play. Bademosi and Hollister were new additions on Friday, although Bademosi was listed as a full participant and should be expected to play. Hollister was limited. The trio of RB Rex Burkhead (ribs), WR Chris Hogan (ribs), OL Shaq Mason (shoulder) were all full participants and removed from the injury report. Hogan told the locker room that he planned on suiting up on Sunday, while Mason didn’t miss any time against the Jets despite hurting his shoulder. There’s a chance Burkhead will make his return after missing the past four weeks with his injury. Tripp was the only player with a declared status on the Falcons injury report. LB Vic Beasley (hamstring), K Matt Bryant (back), LB Jermaine Grace (hamstring), and LB Duke Riley (knee) were full participants on Friday. LB Deion Jones (quadricep), DE Takk McKinley (shoulder), WR Mohamed Sanu (hamstring), and DL Courtney Upshaw (ankle/knee) were all limited at practice, but they were not listed as doubtful or questionable on the injury report and should be expected to be available to play. [...]

Rob Gronkowski thinks fellow Patriots TE Dwayne Allen is “going to turn the corner soon.”


Hopefully Gronk is correct. The New England Patriots replaced tight end Martellus Bennett over this past offseason by acquiring Dwayne Allen from the Indianapolis Colts. Allen had a promising start to his career derailed by injuries, but if he could find his old form he would provide the Patriots a starting-caliber tight end to pair with Rob Gronkowski. The trade hasn’t gone as planned. After struggling with drops all of minicamp and training camp, Allen has zero catches through six games (Bennett has 22 for the Green Bay Packers) and he’s seen his role reduced in recent weeks, playing just 15 combined offensive snaps against the Carolina Panthers and New York Jets. He hasn’t seen a target since week 4, when Tom Brady underthrew a wide-open Allen for a missed 35-yard gain. Now Allen could have definitely made a better adjustment to the football, but Brady also could have thrown a much more accurate pass. It’ll be hard for the two to get on the same page without giving Allen better opportunities in the game, but at least one teammate thinks the Brady-Allen connection is about to take off. “Dwayne's been a great teammate,” All Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski said about Allen. “He’s a great guy and he comes out and works every single day, works his tail off, works his butt off, and I feel like he’s going to turn the corner soon. He’s right around the corner. He’s been working hard. He’s been grinding and he’s a great guy. I love having him out there with me.” Perhaps Allen will see an expanded role in the coming weeks, but with Danny Amendola playing so well in the slot and James Develin blocking well from the backfield, there are already so few extra snaps to go around. Factor in the Patriots decision to use a sixth offensive lineman in the running game against the New York Jets, with offensive tackle LaAdrian Waddle coming on the field instead of Allen, and there are almost no more offensive snaps to go around. Allen hasn’t made anything of his passing opportunities, including a dropped pass in flat against the Texans, but it’s not like he’s been given a fair chance on too many of his targets. In addition to the underthrow against the Panthers, he’s seen the following targets: Week 1 against the Chiefs Week 2 against the Saints Week 3 against the Texans Allen’s total: Six targets. Two overthrows. One underthrow. One throwaway. One bad quarterback decision against the Saints. One drop. Dating back to 1992, when target tracking first started, Allen is the first and only player to have 0 receptions on 6 targets through 6 games. The Patriots didn’t play Allen much against the Panthers or the Jets. He was either a decoy or taken off the field in favor of Jacob Hollister against the Buccaneers when Gronkowski didn’t play. When will the turnaround happen? It’s hard to say, even with Gronkowski thinking it’s right around the corner. It’s hard to entirely pin Allen’s lack of receiving production in the first quarter of the season on the tight end when Brady isn’t throwing a good ball, and it’s not like Allen isn’t getting open. But that lack of connection is why Allen was benched. If there’s no connection through four games, the Patriots aren’t going to keep forcing it and it’s not like they’re going to bench Brady- so why not use a player like Amendola that has a productive rapport? And so any future role for Allen will require some serious improvement in practice- and Gronkowski is a great source to speak about what’s happening off the field. [...]

Patriots LB Harvey Langi reportedly “unlikely” to return to the field this season



The rookie suffered injuries during a car crash last week.

One week ago, news broke that New England Patriots linebacker Harvey Langi was involved in a car crash that left him and his wife Cassidy hospitalized. While Langi suffered neck and head injuries (and a back injury, according to the Patriots' injury reports), his wife suffered fractures to both her hips as well as broken ribs. Both are on the road to recovery right now, as a recently posted video shows.

It will, however, likely take a while for Langi to return to the football field as NFL Network's Ian Rapoport emphasized earlier today:

For Langi, I was told his car accident-related injuries make it unlikely he plays this season.

If Rapoport's report turns out to be true, the Patriots will likely place Langi on the non-football injury list in the near future (since his injury happened off the football field). The corresponding roster move projects to be activating fellow linebacker Shea McClellin off injured reserve.

In order to place Langi on NFI, New England will likely have to ask permission from the league (like the San Francisco 49ers once had to do with linebacker Aldon Smith). If indeed placed on the NFI list, the Patriots would no longer have to pay Langi's base salary. However, it would be a surprise to see the team opt to go that way.

Of course, playing football again is a secondary concern right now. The most important thing is that both Langi and his wife receive the necessary treatment that allows them to recover from their injuries.

All the best to both of them as they embark on this journey!

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Film review: Patriots on the verge of a running game explosion


Evan Lazar takes a look at the Patriots’ running game against the Jets. Over the last two weeks, the Patriots’ offense has scored just 21.5 points per game, which pails in comparison to its 32.3 PPG mark over the first month of the season. However, despite concerns about ball security and overall consistency, the Patriots’ running game seemed to find its stride over the last two weeks. Taking a look at the box score, the Pats have averaged 115.5 yards per game and an impressive 4.8 yards per rush in Weeks 5 and 6. The running game success goes deeper than just the box score, however. In fact, according to Football Outsiders, the Patriots’ offensive line is the #1 run blocking line in all of football, averaging 4.92 adjusted line yards, by far the highest mark in the league. The offensive line, led by right guard Shaq Mason, has been terrific at the point of attack, but the success on the ground in recent weeks is also due in large part to fullback James Develin and tight end Rob Gronkowski. In particular, Develin had a standout performance against the Jets, which we’ll get to in the film review. As for Gronkowski, his ability to serve as essentially a sixth offensive lineman at the tight end position has been valuable beyond box score stats for years in New England. The combination of good run-blocking offensive lineman, two extremely valuable assets in Develin and Gronkowski, plus a stable of running backs gives the Patriots a terrific formula to be successful on the ground. Below, I will outline the specifics of how the Patriots were able to average nearly five yards per carry against the Jets. The Hogs Up Front Whenever you discuss the running game everything always starts up front with the offensive line, and as stated above, the Pats have a terrific group of run-blocking lineman. src="" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> The Patriots got a strong effort from center David Andrews against the Jets. Andrews’ ability to reach the linebacker on this run by Dion Lewis opens up the yards at the second level of the defense. You also see both right tackle Marcus Cannon and right guard Shaq Mason run the Jets’ defensive lineman out of the gap. The combination leads to a relatively easy 9-yard gain for Dion Lewis. src="" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> One of the most devastating double-teams in all of football over the last two seasons team-up for another vicious block on this one. Marcus Cannon and Shaq Mason consistently combine for bone crunching double-teams. Jets defensive lineman Mo Wilkerson found that out the hard way on Sunday. The block knocks Wilkerson to his knees almost immediately and the two Pats offensive lineman finish him off continuing to block the poor man while he’s down on the ground. It’s a modest gain but you can see how this will create bigger runs in the future for the Patriots. src="" style="border: 0; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; position: absolute;" allowfullscreen="" scrolling="no"> Unfortunately, one of the best blocking efforts of the game for the Pats came on Mike Gillislee’s fumble in the first quarter. First, Andrews gets another terrific reach block on a Jets linebacker, knocking him right off his feet. Second, when you watch offensive lineman in the run game most of the time you can tell if it’s a good block or not by the direction of their bodies. Look at Shaq Mason and Marcus Cannon on this play. Both are able to turn themselves and the defenders they are blocking sideways, which opens up the hole for Gillislee. Whenever you see a lineman get their hips turned like[...]

Week 7 Patriots vs Falcons: Comparing the teams' rosters to Super Bowl LI


A lot has changed since February. Not even nine months ago, the New England Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI – one of the most dramatic and entertaining title games of all time. On Sunday, the two teams will meet again: The Patriots will host the Falcons at Foxboro's Gillette Stadium for a prime time rematch of the game ended 34-28 victory in New England's favor. A lot has changed since that Sunday in February, though. While both teams are still among the best in the NFL and it would not be a surprise to see them return to the Super Bowl this season, their respective rosters have seen quite the turnover since the final game of the 2016 season. Be it because of offseason acquisitions or losses, retirement or injury, both teams look a lot different today. Let's find out how different. New England Patriots The Patriots have had the standard 53 players on their active roster on the day of Super Bowl LI. Of those 53, the following 17 are either no longer with the club or on an injury-related reserve list: QB Jacoby Brissett, RB LeGarrette Blount, RB D.J. Foster, WR Julian Edelman (IR), WR Michael Floyd, WR Malcolm Mitchell (IR), TE Martellus Bennett, TE Matt Lengel, DE Chris Long, DE Rob Ninkovich, DE Jabaal Sheard, DT Vincent Valentine (IR), LB Shea McClellin, LB Barkevious Mingo, CB Justin Coleman, CB Cyrus Jones (IR), CB Logan Ryan Not all of the players listed above have had big roles in Super Bowl LI. In fact, five of them were not even active on game day. However, the rest does include some big names in all three phases of the game: Julian Edelman, Martellus Bennett, Rob Ninkovich and Logan Ryan all played more than half of the Patriots' snaps at their respective positions, while Barkevious Mingo and Shea McClellin played more than 50% of kicking game snaps. While New England has lost some noticeable talent, the team has been able to adequately replace at least some of the players listed above – a look at the Patriots not on the team for the Super Bowl shows that: RB Rex Burkhead, RB Mike Gillislee, WR Brandin Cooks , WR Phillip Dorsett, TE Dwayne Allen, TE Rob Gronkowski, TE Jacob Hollister, OT Cole Croston, DE Cassius Marsh, DE Deatrich Wise Jr., DT Adam Butler, DT Lawrence Guy, LB Marquis Flowers, LB David Harris, LB Harvey Langi, CB Johnson Bademosi, CB Stephon Gilmore Be it through offseason acquisitions like Brandin Cooks or the recovery of previously injured players like Rob Gronkowski, New England has added some bonafide talent to their team the past nine months. And while some of the names above have yet to find their groove or role on the team, the Patriots do have a very deep team – just like they did in February. Atlanta Falcons Just like the Patriots, the Falcons have had to replace 17 players from their 53-man 2016 NFC championship squad. Those 17 players are as follows: WR Aldrick Robinson, WR Eric Weems, TE Joshua Perkins, TE D.J. Taialavea, OT Tom Compton, OG Chris Chester, DE Dwight Freeney, DT Jonathan Babineaux, DT Ra'Shede Hageman, DT Tyson Jackson, LB Josh Keyes, LB LaRoy Reynolds, LB Philip Wheeler, LB Paul Worrilow, CB Jalen Collins, SS Dashon Goldson, CB Deji Olatoye While the list might lack the star power of New England's, it still includes a lot of talent. Only three of the 17 names have not been active for Super Bowl LI. Of those that did appear in the game, six players played more than half of snaps: Chris Chester on offense, Dwight Freeney and Jalen Collins on defense, LaRoy Reynolds, Paul Warrilow and Eric Weems on special teams. To replace the 17 names above, the Falcons brought back or aboard the following players: FB Derrick Coleman, WR Marvin Hall, WR Andre Roberts, TE Eric Saubert, OT Austin Pasztor, OT Ty Sambrailo, OG Sean Harlow, DE Adrian Clayborn, DE Takkarist McKinley, DE Derrick Shelby, DT Ahtyba Rubin, LB Jermaine Grace, LB Kemal Ishmael, LB Duke Riley, LB Jordan Tripp, CB Desmond Trufant, FS Damontae Kazee Not only did the Patri[...]

PICTURE: Patriots left Super Bowl defensive game plan on locker room whiteboard



Whoops. Someone’s going to get in trouble.

Editor’s note: With the Patriots facing the Falcons this week, I thought it would be a good idea to bring this gameplan back to the surface.

The New England Patriots rarely make mistakes, but they made a big one at the Super Bowl. They forgot to clean their locker room whiteboards and left their defensive game plan for all to see, according to USA Today.

The Patriots had their schedule, their players for kickoffs (#33 Dion Lewis, #18 Matthew Slater) and punt returns (#11 Julian Edelman, Lewis? or #23 Patrick Chung, #80 Danny Amendola), a projection of the Falcons offensive depth chart, play calls for early downs, third down, red zone, and two minute drill, and a series of 10 Musts for the game.

(image) (Photo: Josh Peter, USA TODAY Sports)
Whiteboard in the Patriots' locker room.
  1. Start Fast & Do Your Job Well
  2. Stop The Run
  3. Go After #2 -> Attack The Spot
  4. Eliminate #11 & No Big Plays
  5. Win Turnover Battle = Win Game
  6. Tackling Is The Game
  7. Situational Football
  8. Play Smart & Aware
  9. Most Physical Team!
  10. “It’s All About Us!!!”

And the graphic is finished with an underlined “DEFENSE WINS CHAMPIONSHIPS!!!”

The Patriots defense stepped up in a major way down the stretch and LB Dont’a Hightower was responsible for the turning point in the game as he forced a key fumble to set up an easy Patriots score. The defense held the Falcons to zero points in the first and fourth quarters, but they struggled to stop the run in the first half. The defense also allowed 11 plays of 15+ yards, tied for the most all season with week 2 against the Miami Dolphins.

Still, the Patriots defense came through in the Super Bowl when it mattered most and certainly helped win the Championship for New England.

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New England Patriots links 10/20/17 - Patriots vs. Falcons: How good is Bademosi?


Daily news and links for Friday TEAM TALK Patriots-Falcons Thursday Injury Report. Erik Scalavino posts his locker room news and notes from Thursday at Gillette: Another good opportunity for Bademosi. Paul Perillo scouts the matchups: Signs point to a shootout. Conference Call Transcript: Tom Brady. Press Conference Transcript: Devin McCourty. What They’re Saying: Atlanta Falcons. LOCAL LINKS Kevin Duffy relays NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell on seeing a decline in Tom Brady's accuracy, timing and what appears to be a disjointed offense so far this season. Zack Cox calls attention to how the Patriots passing attack has been incredibly balanced so far this season. Jeff Howe writes about Brandin Cooks, his all-business dedication at practice, and how he feels he's not even close to being as good as he can be. Mike Reiss notes Mike Gillislee isn't letting last week's fumble get him down. Adam Kurkjian says disruptive DT Grady Jarrett poses a big problem for the Patriots offensive line. Doug Kyed discusses Pro Football Focus’ controversial ranking of the Patriots defense at 17th in the NFL. Mike Dussault (PatsPropaganda) First down problems for Pats defense continue. Doug Kyed says no one imagined we'd be talking about CB Johnson Bademosi covering Julio Jones, but here we are. Mike Giardi notes Julio Jones presents Johnson Bademosi an opportunity to prove he's not just a niche player. Mike Reiss reports on the possibility of the defense playing with just Malcolm Butler, Johnson Bademosi and Jonathan Jones as healthy CBs. Jeff Howe Patriots Notebook: Julio Jones will provide a stern test Sunday to whoever starts in Patriots’ banged-up secondary. Ryan Hannable hears Devin McCourty kind-of-sort-of explain how the Patriots will attempt to stop Julio Jones. Zack Cox Patriots Notes: Why New England's defense is wary of Falcons QB Matt Ryan. /See below. Mike Reiss tells us the Patriots are the first team to allow a 300-yard passer in six straight games. Jeff Howe Patriots Mailbag: What’s left for Tom Brady to accomplish before retirement? Doug Kyed Patriots Mailbag: Is talent an issue for New England's defense? Michael Hurley tells us what to watch for Sunday night. 1. Backfield, both ways. Murph (SportsXMedia) Monster keys to Patriots-Falcons. 3. Run at them, all day long. Steve Balestrieri (PatsFans) Patriots-Falcons key matchups: Who has the razor’s edge? Mike Dussault (PatsPropaganda) Scouting Report: Atlanta Falcons. Henry McKenna (PatriotsWire) 5 Reasons why the Patriots will beat the Falcons. 1. Super Bowl LI. Steve Balestrieri (PatsFans) Falcons, like the Patriots are still searching for consistency. The Herald reports the Patriots how the Patriots have fared at home in the Belichick era. Mike D'Abate (Cover32) Top Ten: Most impactful injuries. 6. Julian Edelman. /[sobs]. Mike Giardi asserts last offseason's moves changed the team's personality and may have done more harm than good. Tyler Sullivan (247Sports) Tom Brady won’t pick his favorite Super Bowl. Eric Wilbur believes in the Sports Illustrated cover curse and mentions that Tom Brady is now the last man standing. Ray Glier finds that nine months later, Atlanta is still haunted by their Super Bowl collapse. Report (AP) Super Bowl rematch doesn't have a real super look. Jim Lazar finds these two teams too mediocre to have played in the Super Bowl last year, and makes his Week 7 picks. Pats win 34-28. /I see what you did there. NATIONAL NEWS Robert Mays (The Ringer) What happened to the Falcons' world-destroying offense? Rodger Sherman (The Ringer) The Patriots pass defense is bad at everything. Mike Reiss and Vaughn McClure (ESPN) How Falcons defense, Patriots offense have fallen off since Super Bowl. Sean Wagner-McGough (CBS Sports) Patriots defense is trending up, but can be exploited by underperforming Falcons. Kristopher Knox (Bleacher Rep[...]

PFF: Patriots defense “hasn’t been that bad” in 2017


It’s not the highest praise, but we’ll take it! You know the drill by now. The New England Patriots rank 32nd in yards allowed per game and yards allowed per play and passing yards allowed per game and passing yards allowed per play and first downs allowed per game. They rank 30th in points allowed per game. They rank 26th in rushing yards allowed per play and third down conversion percentage. They rank 24th in sack rate. This isn’t a stellar defense, but don’t worry, Pro Football Focus says, it’s not that bad. “For as catastrophic as some of the Patriots bottom line numbers have been, down to down this unit hasn’t been that bad,” PFF writes in their defensive rankings. “Most of the big plays have come on complete coverage busts which, though obviously a major issue, are likely to iron themselves out over a season.” The Patriots have PFF’s 17th ranked defense, which is perfectly mediocre and good enough to make New England a contender if they can fix their mental errors in communication and alignment. PFF notes that DT Malcom Brown is the Patriots best defensive starter, while LB Kyle Van Noy is the worst. They also give props to rookie edge defender Deatrich Wise, saying, “has been a major boost to the team’s pass-rush, with 19 total pressures on 140 pass-rushing snaps.” According to PFF’s rating system, there are a whole lot of average players on the New England defense. Brown and Lawrence Guy have fairly similar average/above average grades (77-to-81 out of 100), as do edge defenders Trey Flowers and Deatrich Wise, and defensive backs Devin McCourty, Duron Harmon, Patrick Chung, and Malcolm Butler. That leaves just three starters with below average grades. Cornerback Stephon Gilmore has a below-average grade of 66.9, while linebackers Dont’a Hightower (46.0) and Kyle Van Noy (38.1) are not grading well. When the linebackers are struggling in a Bill Belichick defense, then the whole unit is going to underperform. We’ve noted Gilmore’s struggles over and over and now he’s dealing with another injury; hopefully he can pick up where he left off with his strong showing against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. As for the linebackers, much of Hightower’s low grade is from him playing on the edge in his first two games of the season and he’s moved back to playing more off-the-ball linebacker over the past two games. This tweak allows Kyle Van Noy to use his versatile skill set to generate more pressure and this could allow both players to get back to average (or better) grades. The fact is simply that a lot of players are underperforming. Gilmore, McCourty, and Butler are capable of much more than what they’ve brought thus far in 2017, and the same applies to Hightower, Van Noy, Flowers, and Alan Branch. If any or all of these players can climb back to their historical level of play, then this defense will elevate from “hasn’t been that bad” to “actually pretty good.” [...]