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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: Alan Branch On Butler’s Benching in Super Bowl 52

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Many Pats fans are still licking wounds from the Super Bowl 52 loss, but the off season right now is set up to be an exiting one nonetheless. The Patriots have many potential cuts that will be made before the NFL Draft in April such as with veteran DE Alan Branch. In addition, the team has several free agents set to hit the market including Rex Burkhead, Dion Lewis, Matthew Slater and among others, obviously Malcolm Butler.

What happened to Butler was the very definition of an oddity. There was no seemingly logical reasoning to it all. Many sports analysts called Belichick’s ego being put ahead of the team in the biggest game of the year. Yet even with the news outlets going almost full on detective mode, none of the Patriots’ personnel have any idea. Some like fellow CB Eric Rowe had no idea leading up to the benching during the game. And other like FS and team captain, Devin McCourty, said that they were informed well in advance and act ignorant.

There is no doubt that Butler’s benching was a coaching decision. But all the same, it just doesn’t make sense unless you studied the game tape. A guy like Butler played over 98% of the team’s snaps last year. Even his teammate Alan Branch was seemingly off guard by the news. According to Dale & Holley with Keefe on WEEI (or however long till the station is officially closed), Branch ‘didn’t know anything, honestly.’

 “I noticed he wasn’t in the game, but then again you never know the reason for what is going on at certain times in that organization, especially. It’s neither here nor there.”

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Patriots Talk: Josh McDaniels And The Colts Wouldn’t Have Worked Out

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A Case of Behind The Scenes

 

 

Josh McDaniels and the Patriots thought their time to depart after their tough loss in Super Bowl 52 was unavoidable. However, not only did Josh McDaniels get extended, but its been many rumors that Robert Kraft had contacted McDaniels literally hours before he was suppose to take off Tuesday for Indianapolis.

 

It’s difficult to know anything within the Patriots’ organization as they have remained firm in not explaining what goes on behind closed doors. However, multiple sources over at ESPN for the past week since the story broke out about McDaniels’ abrupt decision to not become the Indiapolis Colts Head Coach. The way things broke down was that Kraft and Bill Belichick got together and sat down with McDaniels. With Defensive coordinator, Matt Patricia going to Detroit, this seemed like a desperation move to maintain the coaching staff from the previous season.

 

However, according to ESPN writer Mike Reiss, there was more to the situation then just that. In one of his articles regarding the McDaniels’ decision, he stated:

 

Belichick offered to include McDaniels on more of the inner workings of the organization, from roster construction to financial/salary-cap related considerations. That was viewed as “extremely valuable” to McDaniels. Ownership also endorsed it as a way to extend Belichick’s influence on the organization in future years, although no assurances were given to McDaniels that he would succeed Belichick. McDaniels, who a source confirmed got a significant raise, has privately said in the past that he did not want to be the coach who succeeds Belichick. Although he since may have changed his mind, McDaniels knows Belichick, after five Super Bowl victories, will be a hard act to follow.

Beyond financial and professional stability, McDaniels also was thinking of his family. He wanted a long-term commitment from the Patriots so his four children, ages 12 to 3, would be able to attend the same schools over the next several years. The transient life of a coach doesn’t always make that possible.

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Former NFL Official Claims Eagles Used Illegal Play To Win Super Bowl

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Did you have doubts that the Eagles lined up correctly on the Nick Foles touchdown catch?

Well, you are not the only one with a former analyst now claiming that Philly was indeed lined up illegally on the play.

Appearing on the Talk of Fame Network, former head of officiating and FOX rules analyst Mike Pereira said the Eagles were in fact lined up illegally.

“I know the league came out and said that it’s a judgment call, which it is,” Pereira said, via Pro Football Talk. “The down judge, who was the one that [the play] was on his side of the field, they felt that it was his judgment, and [receiver Alshon Jeffrey] was close enough. Well, he wasn’t. They lined up wrong.

“Not only that, it’s a trick play. And if you’re going to run a trick-type play, then you have to be lined up properly. You could either have six men on the line, or you could have an ineligible number lined up at the end of the line, which was the case. I know what the league has said, but they would have been a lot more comfortable if they would have called an illegal formation.

“We always use a yard [within the line of scrimmage], maybe a yard-and-a-half. But that’s two [yards], and even a little bit beyond two. It’s kind of one of those that has no effect on the play. I get it. But they didn’t line up properly. And it really should’ve been called.”

Bottom line is it was simply a judgment call be the officials, might have been the completely wrong judgment, but based on what we know about Super Bowl LII the New England Patriots were never going to win the game. The Malcolm Butler benching paired with Doug Pederson‘s mindset of keeping his foot on the gas and exposing New England’s weaknesses were the reasons the Patriots lost the game, not this particular play.

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