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A New England Patriots Community Blog

Updated: 2017-11-19T05:00:01-05:00


Sunday NFL Thoughts: After Larry Fitzgerald’s extension, who is the next “aging veteran always in Patriots trade rumors”?


Along with some input on the Jerry Jones fiasco. 1. For as long as Bill Belichick has openly professed his love for certain players, the NFL Rumor Mill has connected those players as potential trade bait for the New England Patriots, and will continue to do so as those players enter their twilight season. It can be Chad Ochocinco or Torry Holt or Joey Galloway or Fred Taylor or a whole host of players in pursuit of another Super Bowl ring. Maybe they pan out and maybe they don’t. Heck, maybe they won’t ever be a part of the Patriots like those endless rumors surrounding Andre Johnson and Calvin Johnson. And that brings us to Larry Fitzgerald. The Arizona Cardinals just signed Fitzgerald to a one-year extension that should keep Fitzgerald in Phoenix for another year; the deal includes a nice bonus for when Fitzgerald climbs into 2nd place all time in receiving yards. The contract almost certainly won’t remove Fitzgerald from the trade rumors to the Patriots (Belichick loves Fitzgerald’s hands), especially when the Cardinals are out of the playoff picture by the trade deadline, but it’s worth looking at some other possible targets for the Patriots to be rumored to have interest in acquiring. The rules? They must be over the age of 30, they must have significant career production, and they must be in pursuit of either their first Super Bowl ring. That’s it. Here are the candidates. 2. Indianapolis Colts running back Frank Gore. Gore is in the final season of his three-year deal with the Colts and should be a free agent. He is still plugging along and is on pace for 1,057 yards from scrimmage this year at the age of 34 without the team’s starting quarterback. Gore posted 1,200 or more yards from scrimmage every year from 2006 to 2016 and there’s still a chance to extend that streak this year. He ranks 7th all time in rushing yards and fits the bill perfectly if the Patriots wish to move on from Mike Gillislee after just one season or need a replacement for Rex Burkhead on offense. 3. New York Jets running back Matt Forte. From 2008 to 2014, Forte exceeded 1,400 yards from scrimmage every season. He’s seen that figure decline to 1,287 in 2015, 1,076 in 2016, and he’s on pace for 860 this year. He’s dealing with injuries and has struggled to remain healthy. Forte has one more year under contract with the Jets, but the running back will be 32-years-old next season and New York can move on with minimal dead cap space; they might want to move forward with Bilal Powell or a younger running back. The Patriots wanted Forte, but he decided to sign with the Jets. I bet he wishes he could have a do-over on that one. 4. New York Giants wide receiver Brandon Marshall. Marshall is on the injured reserve after having ankle surgery and the Giants can move on from the 33-year-old after this season with little dead cap space. Marshall ranks 16th all time in receptions, 23rd all time in receiving yards, and 23rd in receiving touchdowns. Marshall hasn’t had the best luck when it comes to quarterbacks over the course of his career- he’s caught touchdowns from Kyle Orton, Matt Moore, Chad Henne, Josh McCown, and Jason Campbell and the best he’s played with is Jay Cutler- and he could have a last-gasp renaissance with the Patriots as a big outside threat for Tom Brady. 5. Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten. Witten just signed a 4-year extension in March so he’s not a real good trade option...right? From 2007-13, Witten was a 90 catch, 1,000 yard, 5 touchdown machine and he is always open on third down. While his production has declined, he remains one of the most respected players in the league. Witten will be 36 years old next year and he’s really settled into the 70 catches for 700 yards and 3 touchdowns phase of his career and his contract is surprising team-friendly. His annual pay shifts his base salary to game-day bonuses so he’ll only get paid if he’s healthy. He’ll average $6.5 million over the next four seasons, which isn’t terrible when you consider he’s still one of the best pas[...]

Patriots vs Raiders: Stephen Gostkowski should just boot every kickoff through the end zone


A look at the special teams showdown. Kickers in high altitude games receive some help from the thin air to get some extra distance on their kicks. New England Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski will use all the help he can get against the Oakland Raiders to make sure his kickoffs don’t land in the hands of the Oakland Raiders returnmen. The Patriots used their advantage on special teams to take down the Denver Broncos one week ago, so this oft forgotten facet of the game deserves special attention- especially when both the Patriots and Raiders are pretty good at it. The Raiders are coached by former Patriots special teams coordinator Brad Seely and while Oakland doesn’t dedicate as many resources to their special teams as the Patriots do, they certainly aren’t without quality players. “They have a very explosive group of specialists – punter, kicker, returners, punt returner, kickoff returner,” Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said about the Raiders. “Those guys can change field position. They can make big plays. So, it’s a very explosive group. Brad does a great job with them, no question. He’s an outstanding coach. “ There are five main categories of special teams plays. There are 1) field goals and extra points; 2) kickoffs; 3) kick coverage; 4) punts; and 5) punt coverage, and Belichick has taken special attention to two of the Raiders’ facets. “[Punter Marquette] King can change field position, and of course they’re very explosive with the two returners with [Jalen] Richard and [Cordarrelle] Patterson. Those guys are very dynamic players,” Belichick explained. According to Football Outsiders, the Raiders rank 4th in the NFL in kick returns, led by Cordarrelle Patterson as the primary returnman, and 5th in punts. Oakland is average on kickoffs and field goals and an ugly 30th on punt returns. For comparison, the Patriots lead the league in value added from kickoffs and kick return and are roughly average on field goals and extra points, punts, and punt returns. While there’s little the Patriots can do to eliminate King as a “threat” for the Raiders to flip the field, the Patriots can definitely do their part to eliminate Patterson. The average Patterson return has gone to the 28-yard line and 7 of his 13 returns have gone for 30 or more yards. His average return of 30.9 yards leads the NFL for any kick returner with 6 or more attempts (Patriots running back Dion Lewis ranks second at 30.8, thanks to his touchdown return). There is a valid argument that the Patriots should fight strength against strength with New England’s elite kick coverage unit, and perhaps the altitude would allow Gostkowski to get more hang time and allow for better coverage by the kickoff unit. That would certainly be in line with what the Patriots have been doing all season, as Belichick noted. “Steve...[has] given us a lot of good kicks, a lot of great kicks to work with,” Belichick said about Gostkowski. “Several of our touchbacks have been on balls that were a yard or two deep in the end zone whereas a lot of times you see those returned, but the aggressiveness of the team is probably a factor there.” The Patriots have intentionally tried to pin the ball one or two yards into the end zone all season. That depth forces the returnman to waste a precious millisecond debating whether it’s worth returning the kick at all, and allows the coverage unit to get into place. Perhaps there’s a middle ground where Gostkowski can kick it three or four yards into the end zone to test if Patterson is willing to be aggressive enough on the return, but those echo the famous last words of coaches that thought kicking to Devin Hester was a good idea. Patterson leads the NFL over the past five seasons with 30.5 yards per kick return and a ridiculous five (5!!) kick return touchdowns. He ranks first in NFL history in yards per kick return by those with 100 or more attempts. Sometimes the best way to win is simply to never play at all. Don’t give Patterson a chance to fli[...]

Bill Belichick explains how the Raiders defense is similar to the Broncos and Chargers



He also highlights two of Oakland’s key special teamers.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick joined Scott Zolak at the Belestrator to breakdown this week’s opponent in the Oakland Raiders. He spends his time analyzing four key players.

Now the Patriots only get the extra cap space if the Packers win their grievance, which means that the money will be coming out of Bennett’s pocket, so it’s not a perfect situation. But if the Patriots end up getting a quality tight end and additional cap space, then that just shows that Bill Belichick and Ernie Adams are simply wizards from another dimension.

Week 11 Patriots vs Raiders final injury report: David Andrews is OUT, along with 3 others


The Patriots will have to find suitable replacements. The New England Patriots released their final injury report of week 11 in preparation of the Oakland Raiders and they’ve declared four players OUT for Sunday’s game. Here’s the full report. It should be noted that DT Alan Branch was listed as “limited” in practice on Friday with a neck injury, but did not have a game status definition and should be expected to play. OUT Patriots: C David Andrews (illness), RT Marcus Cannon (ankle), WR Chris Hogan (shoulder), WR Matthew Slater (hamstring) All four players did not practice and are not going to play on Sunday. Hopefully a few will be able to make their return next week against the Miami Dolphins. Ted Karras is expected to get the start at center in place of Andrews, while LaAdrian Waddle should play for Cannon, Phillip Dorsett should play for Hogan, and Johnson Bademosi should play for Slater. DOUBTFUL Raiders: CB David Amerson (foot) Amerson didn’t practice all week so I’m not sure why he’s not considered “out”, but he’s the Raiders top cornerback. Look for the Patriots to pick on his replacement Dexter McDonald. QUESTIONABLE Patriots: WR Danny Amendola (knee), TE Martellus Bennett (shoulder/hamstring), DT Malcom Brown (ankle), DE Cassius Marsh (shoulder), CB Eric Rowe (groin) Raiders: G Gabe Jackson (ankle), LB Cory James (knee), OT Marshall Newhouse (hip/quad), FB Jamize Olawale (hamstring) Both teams have some pretty important names on the questionable list. Jackson and Newhouse are the Raiders starting right side of the offensive line, while James is their starting inside linebacker. The Patriots should make Bennett, Brown, Marsh, and Rowe gametime decisions. Amendola should be expected to play again. [...]

Patriots Friday practice update: Ted Karras could start at center on Sunday



It’s looking likely.

The New England Patriots held their Friday practice and the same four players were absent that missed practice on Thursday, too.

The trio of RT Marcus Cannon, WR Chris Hogan, and ST Matthew Slater are back in New England and shouldn’t be expected to play. RT LaAdrian Waddle, WR Phillip Dorsett, and ST Johnson Bademosi should see increased roles at their respective positions.

C David Andrews also remained sidelined with his illness and it’s possible he could be out on Sunday. Illnesses leave the door open for a player to return, but the Patriots tend to bench players that don’t participate in Friday’s practice. If Andrews is unable to play, then Ted Karras is the most likely option to start at center and Cole Croston should be the top interior back-up. Cameron Fleming will provide additional depth.

The Herald’s Jeff Howe also reported that Joe Thuney took snaps at center, which suggests that if Karras is injured that Thuney would move to center and Croston or Fleming would slide in at guard.

We will have the full injury report when available this afternoon.