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Patriots Talk: Results Of The Patriots Off Season So Far



Patriots Talk: Results Of The Patriots Off Season So Far

This week will mark the end of the New England Patriots activities and the official wrap up of the third phase of the off-season program for all teams. The team won’t be officially taking the field in Foxboro again till late July The next time the team officially takes the field will be at the start of training camp in late July. (between either the 21st-30th)

And with this conclusion, the Boston media and NFL analysts have seen what the Patriots are currently capable of. And we have learned who stands out, who struggles and those who are still unknown. Here is what has been seen in the Patriots’ OTAs:

The Stand Outs

Tom Brady: Unsurprisingly, Tom Brady has shown no real decline in his game. The average onlooker wouldn’t be able to tell if this Brady was any different from how he was 5 years ago or maybe even 10. His hard work ethic and overall dedication to perfecting his play is evident. Brady is reaching the age of 40 by next month, but many so far don’t see how he doesn’t continue to play at a high level come September. Brady’s arm strength in particular is still in top form. This can likely be thanks to thanks to his quarterback coach, Tom House, former relief pitcher for the Atlanta Braves, Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners. House has been a long time coach within both baseball and football and has worked out with several NFL quarterbacks such as Drew Brees, Andy Dalton and Matt Ryan just to name a few. Brady’s relying on his technique and footwork have been a key development over the years as he has become more focused on his longevity.

Rob Gronkowski: So far, Gronk hasn’t missed any practices during the OTAs. This is a massive relief to anybody that is on the Patriots roster. Gronk being a 100 percent means he will be making a potential comeback in 2017 that we will likely not see coming if he lives up to his new contract.

Brandin Cooks: So far has been a big standout. His speed and overall route running have been a sight to see at OTAs, but the biggest worry coming into it was his connection with Tom Brady. Transitioning from a future Hall-of-Famer like Drew Brees is seemingly a pretty huge thing when ti comes to the best Quarterback of all time in Tom Brady. He has been taking on the team head on and has been the first one in front during the practice drills.  He was together with Julian Edelman and Chris Hogan the most out of any three-receiver sets.

Jonathan Jones: He is currently the most likely candidate to fill in the cornerback position as nickelback. With Stephon Gilmore and Malcolm Butler already locked in as the two top cornerbacks coming into this season, it a fight for the third spot. Jones, was brought in out of Auburn as an undrafted free agent and initially many didn’t expect him to get as far as he has. His opportunity coming into 2017 season could be a huge stand out year for him.

Ones With Struggles

With how many injuries the team has taken, this could be a list in of itself. Players like Dont’a Hightower, among others, wasn’t at 100 percent during OTAs. Players who didn’t fully participate include: Hightower, receiver Malcolm Mitchell and safety Duron Harmon. This means that they could be possible candidates for PUP list at the start of July training camp if they don’t have any updates after this.

In a addition, backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a leg injury during practice and will likely be put onto the PUP for awhile.  Defensive players Kony Ealy and Lawrence Guy have missed practice time, so their situations will likely be important going forward. Especially since Ealy and Guy will likely be important to the pass rush going forward as the only real factor for a pass rush was with Trey Flowers.

Cyrus Jones has been a big concern as he has continued to struggle at special teams again in OTAs. He will likely be a big concern for this as he was put out of the season when he made to two huge errors during the Patriots-Ravens game last year. At this time, it seems he will more likely be pushed to practice squad if he doesn’t improve by much as he has snaps at nickelback but it seems he will likely be only a backup at best with this current time.


Alan Branch was the only player didn’t have any attendance at OTAs this year. The team still had 100% of the team attended for mandatory minicap, there was no signs of Branch at voluntary workouts. This wasn’t a shock to the team since Branch has never attended a voluntary workout over his career. Instead, Branch choose to stay in his home in Arizona for the beginning of the offseason. Whether his physical condition upon return will be enough to pass the conditioning test will be very critical as he was the main support for the Patriots run defense last season.  His time spent not with the team could be an important factor moving forward.

For the rest of the team, the interior offensive line depth is important. Right now, Ted Karras will be getting significant work this season behind starting center David Andrews as his backup. As for the overall depth, the only players not part of the starting lineup are guards Chase Farris and Jamil Douglas. Both players only made the practice squad last year, and their development is critical in the event of injury to starters Joe Thuney (who made all rookie team at his position last year) and Shaq Mason. Even though the players are well maintained, it is clear that the team is thin at their offensive line and how this could effect things moving forward with their long time QB in Tom Brady is something to be careful of.

Overall, the team has shown alot of positives but there is much that will need to be done come July. Players that stand out are going to need to be prepared for when the team has joint practices with the Houston Texans and Jacksonville Jaguars on August 15th and 16th.

New England Patriots

Patriots Talk: What To Expect For Week 3




With the Patriots made a great bounce back after the season opener. However, there is still much that the team needs to do going into Week 3. The Patriots will be essentially repeating last season, a Sunday game against the Houston Texans. The thing about the Texans is that their staff is full of ex-Patriots but their team is completely the opposite of the Patriots. The Texans rely much more on their defense than their offense.

Bill Belichick has managed a consist record against O’Brien’s Texans with their last encounters in three years (with Jacoby Brissett being the starting QB for one of them). Two of the games were in the regular season and one in the postseason.

  • 2015: 27-6
  • 2016: 27-0
  • 2017: 34-16

If we are basing the scores from across both teams’ history, the Texans are completely lopsided in this case as well. Since the team first came into existence in 2002 (that means the Houston Texans are only 16 years old, to put that into even further perspective, Bill Belichick has been the Head Coach of the New England Patriots since 2000, 2 years longer than the Texans have been a football team), the Patriots have been 8-1 against the Texans all-time. In terms of overall scores, the Patriots have never scored lower than 23 points against the Texans.

However, the Patriots shouldn’t just push the Texans aside. This is a football team that has never had a fully healthy JJ Watt to face against especially with a defense that has Jadeveon Clowney or Whitney Mercilus. This is a team that can give the Patriots offense problems. In their last meeting, Brady was only able to make 18 completions on 38 passing attempts with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. The only reason the Patriots won that last game was due to the team having massive headaches at the QB positions and just simple special team mistakes that resulted in two different turnovers.

In addition, the Patriots best weapon, Rob Gronkowski, is currently dealing with a  groin injury and while reports seem positive, that can all change on game day and that simple injury could turn into something much worse (Remember Gronk’s arm brace being a bit massive? It is because they need him to wear that for the rest of his career to prevent further infection or else Gronk would likely have been permanently crippled). It’s still early in the week and things will change as we get closer to game day but its always better to be cautious.

The Patriots will be playing against the Houston Texans on Sunday, September 24th, at 1:00 PM EST at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA.  The game will be broadcast on CBS, and both teams are currently 1-1 to start the regular NFL season into Week 3.

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Patriots Have A Two-Headed Monster In BackField




Following an embarrassing week 1 loss, the Patriots returned to the field seeking redemption. They trounced the New Orleans Saints 36-20, this past Sunday. Ah, sweet misplaced aggression. From Bill Belichick’s offense, we saw a multi-faceted passing attack that was redolent of the good ol’ days.

Tom Brady stood immovably strong in the pocket, going through his progressions with laser-like precision. We saw him make crafty check-downs to receivers manifold. An unleashed Rob Gronkowski ran crossing routes like a human-boulder, tearing the Saints secondary to shreds. It all made for a beautiful sight to see.

As prolifically as Tom Brady threw the football, it was the effectiveness of our running backs that was most surprising. In this department, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels hit the Saints with a dual-pronged weapon. Power runner Mike Gillislee scored his 4th rushing TD of the season, while finesse halfback James White pulled in 8 receptions for 85 yards. In tandem, they were absolutely dynamic. And with all our injuries, we’re going to need them to be just that going forwards.

The continued performance of this two-headed monster will arguably be the most critical thing to the Patriots’ success this year. White and Gillislee, early on, have mirrored each other in a productive manner. But beware: The utilization of this duo could become rather calculable. Our one-two punch is going to have to learn to play outside of their respective comfort-zones.

A Tale of Two Tailbacks

When appraising the Patriots backfield, Mike Gillislee and James White should be viewed as a single entity. There’s a mutually beneficial marriage between these two players. They are polar-opposites, who collaborate to produce a formidable rushing attack.

Disclaimer: Some may say that I am negligent to not mention the contributions from Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead. But if this backfield was a cheeseburger, Lewis and Burkhead would merely be the condiments that make it taste just a tad better. There’s no doubt that Gillislee and White are the featured athletes here.

As many Patriots fans would admit, calling James White a “running back” is sort of inappropriate. This is his formal title, yes, but it’s a misnomer of a title. Go back and watch last year’s Super Bowl. White should just be listed as a wide receiver on the depth chart. That’s what we’ve always used him as. In the absence of Julian Edelman, he may be our most dependable option on passing 3rd-downs.

This year, White is on track to haul in 88 receptions for 920 yards, while racking up an additional 392 rushing yards. That type of production would be invaluable. His hands are immeasurably better than any other RB’s on this Patriots team. Opposing defenses cannot commit to defending one facet of his game or the other, at least so far. But on Sunday afternoon, we saw a pattern being established.

Chances are, if White’s on the field, Tom Brady is going to be throwing the football. It’s no secret. James White has only 12 rushing attempts, this season. Here is where Mike Gillislee comes in. He’s the jelly to White’s peanut butter; the ying to his yang.

Gillislee is off to a fast start, with his new team. He is a virtual inversion of James White. Gillislee is a durable smashmouth back, who acts as a battering ram on the goal line and on rushing downs. Currently, he’s on track for 912 rushing yards and 32 rushing TD’s.

But again there is an appreciable formula, in regards to how Mike Gillislee is leveraged. This is something that will not be overlooked by our future opponents. Since the start of last year, Gillislee has 0 receptions. That’s right, a big fat goose egg. When Gillislee is on the field, 99% of the time he’s going to be hitting his holes as the running play is designed.

Variety is the Spice of Life

It’s odd that both White and Gillislee play such singular roles, because they are physically comparable. James White is slightly more compact, at 5’9” 204 lbs. Mike Gillislee is a rugged 5’11” 208 lbs. But concerning their speed, they’re almost interchangeable. Just look at their 40-yard dash times. White runs a 4.57, while Gillislee runs a 4.55. This is encouraging: They should be able to learn how to imitate each other.

Bill Belichick doesn’t allow any of his players to become complacent. Such comfort could compromise the Patriots playbook. In the coming weeks, look for Mike Gillislee to be a part of more passing formations, and for James White to run the ball more frequently. The Pats have to keep their opponents honest and unprepared.

A live-action attrition has been induced in the Patriots’ leading receivers. Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, and Rob Gronkowski are currently banged-up. Whether these guys are sidelined or active, the Patriots will be using them minimally. Hence the importance of the running game. Our backfield, with James White and Mike Gillislee at the helm, will certainly be carrying more of the load than anyone expected.

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Who Is New England’s NFC Rival?




New England hasn’t started off the greatest thus far this year. That comes as no surprise, however. The Patriots have had multiple rough starts in past years and still went to the big show and won it all. So, even though New England isn’t going to go undefeated, as many hoped, Tom Brady and company are still likely to be in yet another Super Bowl this year. But who will they play? What NFC team this year has what it takes to give the Pats a rival in this year’s Super Bowl?

How about the Detroit Lions? With the highest paid NFL player on the roster, quarterback Matthew Stafford has led his team to two victories so far and the Lions remain the only team in the NFC North to be undefeated. Detroit looks to be a contender all year-long. They upset the New York Giants on Monday Night with the win on the road. The biggest challenge for Detroit, however, will come Sunday when the Lions face last year’s Super Bowl losers, the Atlanta Falcons.

Are the Falcons tough enough to return to the big game? Matt Ryan is healthy as ever and Atlanta and their explosive offense are getting the job done. They also are undefeated going into week three. Devonte Freeman and Julias Jones are on top of their game. With the way they toppled the Chicago Bears on Sunday, the Falcons have a good start to returning to the Super Bowl again this year.

The Detroit Lions and the Atlanta Falcons play this Sunday. Could this be a preview of this year’s NFC Championship Game? Is one of these two teams going to be a rival for the New England Patriots in this year’s Superbowl? Granted, this is only week two and there is a lot more weeks of football left to play out. I believe that either the Lions or the Falcons could be the team to give us a good show and a close game against the New England Patriots in a great Super Bowl.

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