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A New England Patriots Community Blog

Updated: 2018-01-18T15:00:01-05:00


Patriots played much better than the Jaguars against their 3 common opponents over the past month


The Patriots and Jaguars played the Steelers, Bills, and Titans over the past month. New England was much better against that competition. (cheers and hat tip to Rob L for the e-mail tip on this) Want an easy way to compare the New England Patriots and the Jacksonville Jaguars ahead of the AFC Championship Game? How about we just compare their recent opponents. The Jaguars past three games have come at the Tennessee Titans, versus the Buffalo Bills, and at the Pittsburgh Steelers going 2-1. Three of the Patriots past four games have also come against the Titans, Bills, and at the Steelers and they went 3-0 (with the fourth game being the season finale against the New York Jets where the Patriots were able to rest their starters). It’s pretty rare for two playoffs teams to play roughly the same exact schedule leading up to their game and it’s not an unreasonable way to measure how the two teams stack up with one another. In those three games: The Jaguars scored 65 points and allowed 60, while the Patriots scored 99 and allowed 53. That’s a major edge of 13.7 point differential per game for the Patriots. The Jaguars gained 435 passing yards and 402 rushing yards in those game for a total of 837 yards. The Patriots gained 838 passing yards alone in addition to 371 rushing yards for a total of 1,209 yards from scrimmage. That’s a huge edge of 124 yards per game for the Patriots. The Jaguars allowed 711 passing yards and 329 rushing yards for a total of 1,040 yards from scrimmage. The Patriots allowed 714 passing yards and 292 rushing yards for 1,006 yards from scrimmage. That’s a smaller edge of 11.3 yards per game, but it’s still in favor of New England. The Jaguars forced five takeaways and turned the ball over four times for a +1 turnover margin. The Patriots only forced one turnover and gave it up twice for a -1 turnover margin, so this goes in Jacksonville’s favor. According to the expected points added model, the Jaguars were roughly 4.2 points below average on offense and 15.7 points above average on defense. As a team, they were 11.5 points above average, so they were still an above-average team. The Patriots, however, were 61.9 points above average on offense and 7.1 points below average on defense, and 54.8 points above average. That’s a monster edge for New England. So against the same there opponents over the past month, the Patriots were better than the Jaguars at scoring points, better at preventing points, better at gaining yards, and better at preventing yards. The Jaguars were better in the turnover battle. Will this have any bearing on Sunday’s game? Probably not. But it definitely shows that the Patriots are the rightful favorites based on how they’ve fared against similar opponents. Meet the JaguarsGet to know the Patriots' AFC title game opponent, the Jacksonville Jaguars.Posted by Pats Pulpit: For New England Patriots News on Wednesday, January 17, 2018 [...]

Resetting the expectations of a Dion Lewis contract extension with the Patriots


Dion Lewis exploded onto the scene again in 2017 — but what does it mean for his future with the Patriots? Dion Lewis has the NFL’s undivided attention. It’s about time. The former Pittsburgh Panther had been towards the top of both modern and traditional statistical categories and performance indicators over the season’s second half. Leading up to his 142-scrimmage-yard performance in last Saturday’s victory over Tennessee, the national media cultivated a newfound reverence with the veteran running back’s story of determination, as well as his unique skill set. “It’s great to have recognition, but I’m a very confident person,” Lewis told reporters on the Wednesday leading up to their Divisional-round contest, according to a NESN’s Doug Kyed. “I don’t speak much, but I believe in my abilities, and I feel like I’m one of the better players in the league.” While his self-characterization as one the league’s best is absolutely correct, it could shine a light on why he and the Patriots failed to ink an extension this season. No reports surfaced in 2017 on whether or not the Patriots pursued further communication with Lewis and his management team in regards to a deal, although it would come as a surprise if the team hadn’t made some kind of an effort to do so — even if talks never progressed to the point where figures were exchanged. This is a projection from the end of October on what a potential contract extension keeping Lewis in New England through the end of 2019 could have looked like. At that point in the season (through seven games) he had only amassed 272 of his eventual 1,110 total yards from scrimmage, and just two of his nine total touchdowns. A modest deal like this would have been emblematic of the many “team friendly” agreements the Patriots have inked with in-house personnel over Bill Belichick’s tenure with the organization. If such a deal were offered to Lewis before the season, it would have been a gamble to turn it down, considering it would have given him two more years of stability heading into a season with an expected backfield platoon — a situation not particularly conducive for the accumulation of notable statistical production. This hypothetical extension would also average less per-year dollars than each of the other three running backs that Lewis was expected to platoon with this season. James White’s contract, which runs through 2020, averages $4 million per season, Mike Gillislee’s two-year deal averaged a maximum of $3.2 million per year, and Rex Burkhead’s one-year pact was worth a maximum of $3.4 million. It’s also not the kind of deal you sign if you have the self-confidence and belief that you’re an elite, All-Pro-level player who is just one season away from the sweet rewards of NFL free agency. If Pittsburgh Steelers star Le’Veon Bell receives the franchise tag again in 2018, a serious argument can be made that Lewis would become the preeminent available asset on the free agent running back market. Mark Ingram, who can have his final contract year voided this offseason due to a selection to this year’s Pro Bowl, and Carlos Hyde represent Lewis’ best market competition from a talent and role-versatility standpoint. Players like Jerick McKinnon and Isaiah Crowell, who provide more down-specific, specialized services , will also be available. As great as Lewis’ season has been, injury history, age (27-years-old), and a softened running back market are major factors working against him according to salary cap guru Miguel Benzan of The Boston Sports Journal. These circumstances are also why Benzan expects Lewis to back in Foxborough next season. However, with the presupposition of additional suitors in free agency, just how much more money will Lewis and his management team be able to procure from the Patriots in addition to the aforementioned “team friendly” projection? A benchmark Lewis’ team could realistically set is the contract Bilal Powell signed with the Jets[...]

Patriots QB Tom Brady set a playoff record for 3+ touchdown games against the Titans


Another playoff game, another playoff record for the GOAT. Heck, at this rate, even Peyton Manning’s all-time passing touchdown record doesn’t really seem safe anymore. After Saturday night’s complete, thorough, and utterly evil-laugh-worthy demolition of the Tennessee Titans on both sides of the ball, Tom Brady broke a postseason tie, not Peyton Manning. Brady was deadlocked with Joe Cool himself, Joe Montana, for a very specific playoff record: most games with 3 or more passing touchdowns. Montana has 9, including his 5-touchdown Super Bowl master class against the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XXIV. Brady also had 9 playoff games of 3 or more pass touchdowns, including his cold-blooded murder of TebowMania in 2012. Key word, “had”. Brady spread the ball all over the field to the tune of 53 passing attempts, 337 yards, and 35 completions to seven different receivers, and three of his old pals found the end zone for scores - Danny Playoff Amendola, Rob Gronkowski, and James “Just here to do whatever you guys need me to do” White. (Yes, I’m well aware that James White’s real nickname is “Sweet Feet”, but given that he’s happily assumed a role behind Dion Lewis and still came through in his first playoff action since the Super Bowl, where he was also pretty good, he deserves credit for staying on the edge of his seat even if he’d more or less been reassigned to third-down duty again.) With that, Tom Brady moves into sole possession of yet another NFL postseason record - he’s already had Montana (and everyone else) smoked for a while for most postseason passing touchdowns of all time - and former Patriot/current Titans cornerback Logan Ryan knows exactly why. From SI: “The points count in the game,” Ryan said. “When he’s scoring touchdowns in practice they don’t count. But he got going man. He got in his rhythm. It wasn’t just one guy who played bad defensively. It wasn’t the scheme. He continued to attack, continued to attack. It’s what he does well. He executed as well as I’ve seen him.” “There were some good battles in there. He got me a couple times, I got him some. It’s the game within the game. He’s a great Hall-of-Famer. The GOAT,” Ryan said. “I firmly believe that because of the work he puts in. I know that. He came out there and he loves the big stage.” “Number 12,” Ryan said. “Number 12 got going.” One more thing to stash this away for trivia night, too: guess which game Tom Brady scored the most postseason touchdowns in besides that Denver game in 2012? It was against the Seattle Seahawks, on February 1st, 2015, where he threw for four touchdowns and 328 yards...and he still almost lost. [...]

Film review: Dissecting the Patriots' eight sacks versus the Titans in the divisional playoff round


Let's take a look at the film to find out how New England generated a franchise playoff record eight quarterback takedowns. The New England Patriots put forward a dominating performance during the divisional playoff round. The AFC's number one seed defeated the visiting Tennessee Titans 35-14 behind a perfectly clicking offense, an effective defense and the usual high level of special teams plays. In short: It was exactly the performance you would like to see from your team coming off its first round playoff bye if you are Bill Belichick. New England's head coach has to be especially pleased with the performance of his defense against both the rush and the pass: The unit coordinated by Matt Patricia limited the Titans' potent ground game to 65 yards on 16 carries; only 28 yards of which were gained by running back Derrick Henry. Furthermore, the Patriots' pass rush applied constant heat on quarterback Marcus Mariota. Overall, New England was able to take down the former first round draft pick a total of eight times – a franchise playoff record and testament to how well the defense played in this area on Saturday. Let's take a look at the tape to find out how exactly the Patriots were able to sack Mariota that often and find out what this might tell us about New England's game plan for the upcoming AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. 1) 3-7-TEN 25 (10:03) (Shotgun) M.Mariota sacked at TEN 21 for -4 yards (D.Wise). New England's first sack of the day effectively ended the Titans' first offensive series of the game. Tennessee approached the down in an 11-personnel group with Marcus Martiota (#8) in shotgun and running back Derrick Henry (#22) as the offset back to his right. Given the nature of the situation, the Patriots countered with a dime package featuring three down-linemen and two stand-up linebackers: (c) NFL Game Pass At the snap, all five of New England's front-line players initially attacked the pocket. However, both linebackers backed off: Kyle Van Noy (#53) dropped back to cover Henry, while Marquis Flowers (#59) served as a spy on the athletic Mariota. Still, their initial rush was enough to occupy two of Tennessee's defenders and force one-on-one matchups across the board – and the Patriots were able to take advantage. It all started in the middle, where 1-technique defensive tackle Adam Butler (#70) was able to attack the offensive right-side A-gap versus Tennessee center Ben Jones (#60). And even though right guard Josh Kline (#64) moved over to help Jones once it became clear that Van Noy was not rushing the passer, Butler's upfield movement was enough to move Mariota off his spot: (c) NFL Game Pass What should not go unnoticed is that the Patriots secondary also contributed to the pressure – and by extension the sack – by locking down the quarterback's initial reads. With Mariota unable to get rid of the football before Butler's rush got to him, his only chance was to climb the pocket. At that point, he could have tried an off-balance throw to wideout Rishard Matthews (#18), who had shaken Malcolm Butler (#21) on a crossing route. However, Mariota was never able to do that as he was running directly towards the spying Flowers. But before the first-year Patriot had a chance to tackle the scrambling quarterback, Mariota was taken down from behind by another player in his first year with the club: Rookie defensive edge Deatrich Wise Jr. (#91) recorded his first playoff sack – and sixth overall of the season. Before the snap, Wise Jr. lined up as a 7-technique defensive end outside of Titans left tackle Taylor Lewan (#77). The rookie attacked his one-on-one matchup straight up and drove the Pro Bowler a few steps back. At that point, it appeared as if Lewan had stopped Wise Jr.'s momentum enough to guarantee Mariota no blind-side pressure. However, what the tackle did not see – and the defender did – was Mariota moving up: ([...]

Jaguars defense has a huge weakness that the Patriots are built to exploit


The key is Rob Gronkowski. The Jacksonville Jaguars have the best defense in the AFC and they’re neck-and-neck with the Minnesota Vikings for the best unit in the entire league. They ranked 2nd in points and yards allowed per game and had the best passing defense by a country mile. But as the New England Patriots prepare to face the Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game, it’s important to highlight that this Jacksonville passing defense is not without a fatal flaw- and that the Patriots are perfectly equipped to exploit it. According to some incredible research by Sharp Football Analysis, the Jaguars passing defense is the best in the league when teams use three or more wide receivers on the field. They hold opposing quarterbacks to 5.0 yards per attempt and a passer rating of 59. Cleveland Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer finished last in the NFL with a passer rating of 60.5; the Jaguars make opposing quarterbacks look worse than the worst quarterback in the league when playing against three or more wide receivers. That’s an incredibly high performance level. But Sharp also discovered that the Jaguars defense plummets to a bottom 10 unit when playing against one or two wide receivers. They rank 28th in yards allowed per attempt at 9.6 and 18th in passer rating at 99. Patriots quarterback Tom Brady had a passer rating of 102.8, for context. This discrepancy in how the Jaguars defend two or fewer receivers versus three or more is incredible- it’s the difference between making opposing quarterbacks look like Tom Brady or DeShone Kizer- and the Patriots have the personnel to take advantage. “The Patriots used 11 personnel [3 receivers] the 6th least of any team in the league,” Sharp writes. “They also used 21 personnel [two backs] (the same formation that the 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo used to torch this defense) more than any team in the league.” For context, Sharp finds that the most common NFL personnel package is “11” or one running back, one tight end, and three receivers and it’s used on nearly 60% of plays. The Titans, which swept the Jaguars in the regular season, and the Cardinals, which also defeated the Jaguars, use 11 personnel the least in the league at roughly 39%. Meanwhile a team like the Steelers, which the Jaguars swept in both showing, used 11 personnel the fourth-most in the league. This makes sense, too. The Jaguars are great against three-receiver sets, but struggle against two-or-fewer-receiver sets, so teams that rely on three receivers will struggle and those that use two or fewer will thrive. The Patriots just happen to be one of those teams that doesn’t rely as heavily on 11 personnel and that’s definitely in New England’s favor. According to Sharp, the Patriots used a fullback more than any other team in the league at 26% and two tight ends on 15% of snaps, totaling just two receivers on roughly 41% of snaps. And Sharp finds even more advantages for New England when he parses the data. “[On first and second downs] the Jaguars are quite weak in 12 personnel to WRs, allowing a 60% success rate, 11.7 YPA and a 104 passer rating.” Sharp finds. “On early downs in 12 personnel, the Patriots WRs have posted a 73% success rate, 17.7 YPA and a perfect 158.3 passer rating. It was the best personnel grouping to target WRs from all season for the Patriots. “On early downs, the Jaguars were very weak against RB targets in the passing game from 11 personnel, allowing a 52% success rate, 6.4 YPA and a 103.9 passer rating. The Patriots delivered almost identical results from 11 to RBs: 51% success rate, 6.3 YPA and a 100.4 passer rating. “The Jaguars were at their weakest on early downs to TEs from 12 personnel. Jacksonville allowed a 55% success rate, 12.6 YPA and a 99.6 passer rating. As it turns out, passing to Gronkowski in 12 personnel was the Patriots most successful time to target him (from formations with at least 3 targets). Brady posted a 5[...]

New England Patriots links 1/18/18 - Young leader Trey Flowers keeps pedal to the metal


Daily news and links for Thursday TEAM TALK Patriots - Jaguars Wednesday Injury Report. Erik Scalavino shares the news, notes and locker-room buzz from Wednesday at Gillette: Brady injures throwing hand; Execution over experience; Injury update. Press Conference Transcript: Bill Belichick. Media Availability Transcript: Devin McCourty, Rob Gronkowski, Matthew Slater, Adam Butler, Brandin Cooks, Marquis Flowers, Stephon Gilmore, Chris Hogan, Eric Rowe, Nate Solder. Transactions: Patriots re-sign WR Bernard Reedy; Place DB Jonathan Jones on Injured Reserve. Angelique Fiske talks with a few lucky Patriots fans from around the world who were on hand for Saturday’s game and had the trip of a lifetime. LOCAL LINKS Jeff Howe reports the improved run defense has hit the brakes on opponents of late, and now needs to turn in its best performance of the year against ‘runaway train’ Leonard Fournette. Mark Schofield (LockedOnPatriots) Stopping the run: Three critical questions. 1. Will Bortles audible? Jeff Howe spotlights key matchups heading into Sunday: Patriots front 7 vs. Leonard Fournette. Mike Dussault (PatsPropaganda) Jags defense will attack Pats offense with speed at all levels. Sam Hollister (PatsPropaganda) An in-depth look at Blake Bortles and the Jaguars offense. Ian Logue (PatsFans) Six reasons to be worried about the Jaguars: 2. Opportunistic defense. Doug Kyed notes the Jaguars seem to believe the Patriots an predict plays on offense and defense. Matthew Geagan tells us which Jaguars will give the Pats the most problems on Sunday. Steve Balestrieri (PatsFans) Get to know Jacksonville Jaguars by revisiting joint practices. Karen Guregian is worried about Tom Brady ‘having a bad right throwing hand four days before Sunday’s game against Tom Coughlin’s Jaguars’. Ian Logue (PatsFans) Brady’s no stranger to overcoming an injury to his throwing hand. Mike D’Abate (FullPressCoverage) Brady limited in Wednesday’s practice with hand injury. Mike Reiss hears from the players on why no one has done playoff football better in the history of the NFL than Bill Belichick. Mike Reiss says Brandin Cooks is among seven Patriots who have played in games for more than 90 percent of the snaps. The value of availability. Stephen Hewitt tells us Rob Gronkowski is well aware it won’t come easy against the Jaguars. Mike Reiss notes Matthew Slater lets his ‘New England vs. Everybody’ T-shirt help do the talking. Doug Kyed catches up with Julian Edelman and his reflections on watching the Patriots playoff run from afar. Jeff Howe Patriots Notebook: Malcolm Mitchell won’t return to action this season. Adam Kurkjian Jaguars Notebook: Tom Coughlin earns coach’s praise for helping to turn team around. Karen Guregian reports Roger Goodell will skip Pats-Jags for the NFC title game. Mike Dussault (PatsPropaganda) Belichick Hoodie AFC Championship prediction. Matt Chatham (BlogTalkRadio) Real Thing Patriots Podcast - AFC Championship Preview: Taming the Jaguars. (1 hour, 33 min.) Steve Balestrieri & Thomas Murphy (SoundCloud) One Patriot Place Podcast: AFC Championship edition. Special guest: Kevin Duffy. (63 min.) NATIONAL NEWS Arthur Weinstein (Sporting News) Tom Brady named NFL MVP, Todd Gurley, Calais Campbell win player of year honors from NFL writers. Conor Orr (SI) Logan Ryan’s unique viewpoint of Tom Brady. Jenny Vrentas (SI) Belichick and Saban: The stories behind football’s most powerful friendship. Rich Cimini (ESPN) Pats say they won’t underestimate ‘winner’ Blake Bortles. Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) Bill Belichick heaps praise on the Jaguars, #asexpected. Rich Cimini (ESPN) Pats DT Adam Butler calls Jags CB Jalen Ramsey’s guarantee ‘a bold statement’. Steven Ruiz (ForTheWin) Please, Jaguars, for the sake of football, let Jalen Ramsey cover Rob Gronkowski. Michael David Smith (ProFootballTalk) Doug M[...]

Pro Football Writers of America name Patriots QB Tom Brady the 2017 NFL MVP



This is a good sign for Brady’s AP MVP candidacy.

The Pro Football Writers of America announced their selection for 2017 NFL MVP is New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. This is Brady’s third PFWA MVP award (2007, 2010, 2017), but it should not be confused with the Associated Press MVP award which is considered the standard in MVP discussions.

Brady led the NFL with 4,577 passing yards and ranked third in the NFL with 32 touchdown passes and a 102.8 passer rating, leading the Patriots to the top seed in the AFC.

The PFWA MVP award is a good indicator of which player will win the AP MVP award. Each PFWA MVP dating back to 2004 also won the AP MVP award, and 25 of the past 30 PFWA MVP winners also won the AP MVP award.

The only exceptions also go in favor of Brady since the PFWA prefers skill players, while the AP gives more credit to quarterbacks.

In all five of these deviations between the PFWA MVP and AP MVP, the AP winner was a quarterback. And since Brady is competing with Rams running back Todd Gurley for the MVP award, it is extremely like that the Patriots quarterback will ultimately receive the AP distinction.

Belichick Breakdown: Patriots head coach can’t wait to break down footage of Matthew Slater on special teams



He also looks at the Patriots third down defense, a James White touchdown, and a big catch by Rob Gronkowski.

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick breaks down game tape of the previous game if the team is victorious and he looked at some of the team’s best plays against the Tennessee Titans. Watch it here.

Belichick looks at some of the plays by the Patriots pass rush, with special kudos to Trey Flowers, Adam Butler, and Ricky Jean Francois, and he also breaks down one of James White’s touchdown and a nice catch by Rob Gronkowski. If it feels like Belichick is breezing through these plays, you aren’t making that up. I felt it, too.

But time slows down when he gets to Matthew Slater making plays on special teams and it all makes sense. Belichick just really wanted to skip the boring offensive and defensive plays to highlight how Slater dominated the Titans two best special teams players, once on punt coverage and once on kickoff coverage. Don’t worry, you’ll get to see multiple camera angles of both plays.

Watch it here.