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Patriots Talk: Who Are The 5 Players That Have the Most To Prove In 2017?

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Patriots Talk: 5 Players That Have the Most To Prove In 2017?

There are a lot of players in the NFL that want to prove they are worth the money. Some will go to different teams to get the chance to win a championship, others want to get the most money they can while they are young and healthy. However, the Patriots have a lot of players under their banner that are going to need to prove themselves this upcoming season. The question is: Which one to start?

 

Rob Gronkowski

 

Let’s start off with the player that many of us are all concerned with going into the 2017 season. Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots both know that his injuries are becoming an issue. No matter how much he can bounce back, any further wear and tear on his body will likely mean the end of his NFL career. He is effectively a ‘glass cannon’: explosive and powerful, but fragile and breakable.

 

The reality is Gronk is coming off a severe back surgery that he suffered during the Week 9 game from Seattle Seahawks [Free Safety], Earl Thomas. Gronk also now has a newly restructured contract, that if he plays to his full ability, will make him the highest paid Tight End in the NFL. Everybody who has watched Gronk play, knows he is the best TE in the league and arguably one of the most lethal offensive weapons in the game. As of now, Gronk has a lot to prove to the team that he is worth the money and 2017 is his year to do so.

Cyrus Jones

Cyrus Jones (24)

Cyrus Jones was the Patriots highest pick in the draft last year (2nd Round, No. 60) and yet he struggled throughout his rookie campaign. His whole rookie season he was mainly on special teams: only returning 11 punt returns for 46 yards total and 8 kick returns for 180 yards total. Nothing speculator to-day the least. According to reports from training, he is still has the same struggles as before, and likely will need further work.

 

Cyrus coming off a bad rookie season is always difficult. (I don’t even want to imagine how much pressure Jared Goff from the Los Angeles Rams is feeling!)  However, Cyrus was a player that was brought in to potentially play defensive back. (to fulfill Logan Ryan‘s shoes before he went into free agency and went the Tennessee Titans) As of now, Jones needs to prove himself before Week 1 or he could be warming the bench before the season even begins.

 

Julian Edelman

It would seem odd to see Julien Edelman on this list as he is coming off Super Bowl LI with one of the greatest catches in Super Bowl history. (It was so unexpected that it made the cover of Sports Illustrated with the title ‘The Comeback’) Many would say that he is secured as anybody on the Patriots roster, hell he was the safest target in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus.

 

 

Edelman is already turning 31 alongside his teammate, Danny Amendola, who just restructured his whole contract with the team. However, Edelman has been seen as the Patriots #1 receiver for the past few seasons but with the addition of Brandin Cooks, its become clear that the Patriots are loaded at the roster right now. With players like Malcolm Mitchell who is coming off a stellar rookie campaign, Cooks showing promise already on his first week of OTAs, Edelman will need to step up to separate from the crowd. The current wide receiver core consists of:

  • Julian Edelman (11)
  • Devin Lucian (13)
  • Brandin Cooks (14)* – Traded from the New Orleans Saints
  • Chris Hogan (15)
  • Andrew Hawkins (16)* – Free Agent
  • DeAndrew White (17)
  • Matthew Slater (18)* – Special Teams Captain
  • Malcolm Mitchell (19)
  • Danny Amendola (80)

With about eight total receivers, players will be not be fighting for roster spots, but rather where they will rank on the depth chart. Lucian and White are practice squad players (or camp bodies). Slater is the special teams captain and his role is too crucial to the team as he is the best gunner in the NFL. However, Hawkins is a player who is both a new player that will likely warm the bench since he is just as old as Edelman and Amendola. Chris Hogan has become one of the main stays for the team going forward. Mitchell’s development will be important here if he continues to improve off his rookie season and the same is true with Brandin Cooks likely becoming the Patriots’ new #1 target.

 

Edelman will stay, that is not a question but after 2018 he will be an unrestricted free agent. He will likely not be resigned after 2018 unless he feels that he can maintain his performance past the age of 32. Right now, Edelman’s focus will be keeping his competitive drive as he will need to prove his worth in 2017.

 

Malcolm Butler

 

Probably one of the biggest free agent signings this off-season, Gilmore has become a big topic of discussion during practices. Despite Malcolm Butler being the #1 corner seemingly going forward, Gilmore has shown early on that he is capable of being a top corner in the league. Butler is now playing under his tender for only 1 year for almost 4 million. His window is running short on making a big pay-day.

 

Butler right now, is coming off a good season where he was a starter for all 16 games during the regular season. He was available for 1,009 of possibly 1,044 defensive snaps (which is 96.7% second most on his team). Including his three additional starts in the post-season and was on the field for 185 of 187 snaps (98.9%). Most of these times, he was asked to cover the number 1 receiver for the opposing team. (Julio Jones was probably the only exception)

 

Right now, Butler is fighting for not only his roster spot as the top corner on the team, but he also is fighting for his NFL career if he doesn’t resign with the Patriots. Butler is turning 27 this season, and cornerbacks are one of the positions with the most limited time frame in the NFL. Butler will need to make an even bigger impression going into 2017.

 

And now finally the one I am sure many already know…

 

Tom Brady

 

Many all knew this, but it needs to be said: Tom Brady is getting old. He is going on 40 years of age in the next few months. Many players by this age typically fall off and many NFL critics have overstated this. Brady believes he can play till he is 45 or older which is pretty incredible but after what he did in Super Bowl LI, some are starting to believe.

 

However, some people over the last month have started the rumor that he might make a surprise retirement after 2017? It starts with his wife, Gisele talking about Brady having concussions without telling protocol and Jimmy Garappollo is a free agent next season and his leave could be potentially be a big issue. It’s all kinds of crazy going on, but I believe Brady truly does want to play till he is 45.

 

The only issue is if Belichick believes as well. Brady has done everything that one could have ever imagined from him. Brady’s story is one that will be talked about in NFL history books, and will be further solidified when he is eventually accepted into Canton someday. But right now, Brady going into 2017 is riding off a huge amount of hype. He just elevated himself from his long time idol, Joe Montana, from being one of the all time greats to being the G.O.A.T.

 

Right now, Brady is playing the best football of his career and the question isn’t if he can keep it up, its whether can still play football at the same level he has always been playing at? Brady’s greatest strength has been his consistency and many are wondering just how long he has left. Personally, Brady could retire tomorrow and he will be called the greatest quarterback to ever live but I believe he will stick longer than everybody is giving him credit for.

New England Patriots

Patriots Talk: Patriots Shut Out Raiders In Mexico City

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What a day for the Patriots to secure a win in the most Patriot way possible. The game was effectively over before the 2nd quarter ended. The team was dominant throughout the entire duration of the game and it showed. In many ways, there were a number of factors within this game that caused the Raiders to ultimately fold early on in the game

The Altitude Difference

The Patriots had the smart idea to stay in Denver and travel to Colorado Springs to adjust their bodies to the pressures of high altitude. The Raiders took the same approach when they traveled to Mexico City to play against the Houston Texans in Week 11 of the 2016 season. Although, the method worked last year, you can’t deny that there was a lot of outside interference in that game.

This time around, it was very clearly from just the fact that CB Stephon Gilmore and WR Danny Amendola leaving the game due to dehydration showed how taxing the high altitude was on them. The Raiders were arguably worse with their team as they allowed 4 turnovers on the offense yesterdays. The sheer pressure the game put on most of the players was quite significant in this game for both team. But the Patriots ultimately minimzed the effect that it had on them.

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Patriots Football Talk: Patriots Dominance Continues In Mexico

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It was a sunny Sunday at the Estadio Azteca, Mexico’s Premier Stadium, in Mexico City.  The New England Patriots were facing off against the Oakland Raiders in what was called a Road Game.  It was a made for TV experience to draw in a more viewers and fans.  It was the NFL’s way to reach a larger market, that being fans in Mexico City.

The Game showed off the best in the NFL.  And you know what?  The best Team in the NFL showed what it means to be the best.  Of course I’m talking about the Patriots dominating yet another Team.  They continue to out preform their opponents on the field.  It’s something that this year’s Team has grown in to.  From being just a contender to being an all-out reigning champ; this Team has figured out how to be great.  Today’s game was proof of that!  I’d say they played perfect, but they didn’t get the shut out.  Hey you can’t have everything!

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NFL Talk: Week 11 Picks

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Patriots

We are finally getting down to the last stretch of the season where teams will finally start to line up where they will make the playoffs and those who will simply tank for the higher pick in the 2018 NFL draft. At this point, most people have teams figured out and know how games should go from here on out. As of now, I got 11-3 correct last week, which puts me at 95-51 for the season.

Tennessee Titans @ Pittsburgh Steelers: Winner – Steelers

At this point in the season, I think the Titans will likely make the wildcard as Jacksonville will run away with the division. The Steelers are pretty much a lock for the playoffs. Their division has the Browns with the worst record in the NFL, and the Bengals and Ravens have fallen off. Even though the game was already played yesterday here was my thoughts before the game:

They are playing the Titans at home and the Steelers defense has been a hack of a surprise for this season. It’s mainly because of how much money was invested into their offense yet their defense has improved substantially from last year. The 2nd best passing defense in the NFL (allowing only 181.8 passing yards per game) and 11th against the run (allowing 102.7 rushing yards per game).

The Titans will have some serious difficulties holding the Steelers down while they are playing at home. Despite the Titans not having a bad team by any stretch (they have the 6th best rushing defense in the NFL), this is the Steelers game to lose and thankfully after what we have seen, that isn’t alot. Steelers won by 40-17 and my prediction was they would score 27-20. (Titans couldn’t even get me that)

Jacksonville Jaguars @ Cleveland Browns: Winner – Jaguars

If the Jags somehow throw this game away I will be so done with predicting their games this season. The Browns are a team that needs a massive overhaul and I don’t see it being enough for them to win this game. The Jaguars will win this game 24-21 with Blake Bortles somehow almost throwing the game away. Almost.

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