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7 Things Blog.

Part II.

7 Things For Friday Night.

By TOM

Greetings Pats Fans,

First off I just want to thank all the fans of this site. I have been promoting my books for sale primarily on this site. As a result, I have sold almost 500 books in the past year. Thank you for your support and patronage, both are greatly appreciated. I cannot tell you how happy it made me when I read that report. So thank you Draft fans and Patriot fans alike, and mostly thank you to all the fans of my books and website worldwide.

3. The Tight-End/Fullback/H-back- Gronk and Bennett are on the team. So that leaves a few guys fighting for a couple of roster spots. To me it comes down to Clay Harbor verse Develin. They may want to keep all five, but that would mean they could only keep 4 RBs. With Blount, White, and Bolden as the locks. Which means Gaffney is the last RB. Which is not out of the question if you consider that the PUPed Dion Lewis could be back on the team in November. They want Blount and White to be the primary backs until then. So it is not out of the question for both Harbor and Develin to make the team.

AJ Derby has made the team. There is no doubt about that. "AJ has had a solid and pretty consistent several months for us here, going all the way back to the spring, to the offseason program, to OTA's, mini-camp, training camp," BB said. "He has shown up every day, he's improving, he's a young player that only played the position for a short amount of time, basically a year down in Arkansas, has a lot to learn, has a ways to go, but has some skills to work with. He's a smart kid, he works hard, and he's gotten better. He's making some plays for us in the kicking game, some tackles, in coverage he has caught the ball and blocked competitively. He's done some good things." This preseason he has added the spectacular to the solid.

He was a great athlete at Arkansas, who was actually a converted quarterback. "AJ has had a solid and pretty consistent several months for us here, going all the way back to the spring, to the offseason program, to OTA's, mini-camp, training camp," BB said. "He has shown up every day, he's improving, he's a young player that only played the position for a short amount of time, basically a year down in Arkansas, has a lot to learn, has a ways to go, but has some skills to work with. He's a smart kid, eh works hard, and he's gotten better. He's making some plays for us in the kicking game, some tackles, in coverage he has caught the ball and blocked competitively. He's done some good things." He has worked his tail off to become a legit NFL H-back, and his keeps improving his blocking.

He has made the two best catches of the preseason so far in the Bears game alone. "Derbs is coming along," Jimmy-G said. "He had an unfortunate injury last year and everything, but he's coming around and he's made some impressive catches this preseason. All the tight ends as a whole have been working really hard and they're getting an opportunity right now." Both catches were when he was getting hit by two defenders, and the second was a nasty helmet to the head that set him screaming down to earth, and he held on.

He has been showing up in the run and on Special teams. "I think it was great to see him out there," BB said. "AJ really didn't get too far last year even before that first preseason game, if I remember correctly? So he has worked really hard, kind of like Gaffney, kind of like Trey Flowers in a way because his injury happened so early in the season last year he was able to get through the rehab part of it or the bulk of it during the season and then so when we got to the offseason he was really ready to start in and have a great offseason, which he has, but AJ's opportunities came some in the passing game, some in the running game, and some in the kicking game and I thought there were definitely positive plays in all three areas. He was productive, he showed some versatility, made a couple of tackles on special teams, and as you said, made some good blocks and caught the ball a couple of times in tight coverage. That being said, I think there is still a number of things that he needs to continue to work on, but he showed up positively with production in those areas." It is always good to impress the special teams coach.

He has beat Clay Harbor as the third tight end. Harbor brings a veteran presence and better blocking, which is usually what you want in a third tight end. But Derby has shown that he is a special talent who could be a number one or number two tight end in the passing game sooner rather than later. It is in the passing game where Harbor gets completely lost in the comparison.

Derby still has some growing to do. He still falls down too much while blocking. He does a Good job getting into position and grabbing shirt. But then seems to lose his balance too easy and ends up on the ground. But that is usually after he has held on long enough to keep his man out of the play. He has to get lower and wider, and gain some strength and balance. He has also been great on double team blocks.

4. Jimmy-G QB Depth- He is starting to look more and more like a young Aaron Rogers every time I see him play this year. "It's pretty normal," Jimmy-G said. "I mean, this is normal. You kind of just have to adjust as you go kind of thing. Coach does a good job at practice of mixing and matching guys with starters and second-string, whatever it may be. That's kind of how the season goes, you don't know who's going to be in, who's injured, who's whatever. You just kind of have to react to it." He has been reacting on the field like a young Rogers.

His story is such a similar story to Rogers, who sat behind Favre and learned for four years in Green Bay. "I think part of that comes with just learning the offense overall," Jimmy-G said. "Year after year, you're going to be more comfortable in the system, whatever it may be. I think I'm progressing the right way. There's obviously a long way to go. You always want to be as precise and decisive as you can be, but I think I'm working in the right direction." At this point it is looking to me like they can keep both QBs through next season, and Franchise Garoppolo after the 2017 season.

Teams don't really want to do that. They should be able to get a 1st for one these guys this off season, or maybe a 2nd and 3rd for Brady. Having two such valuable assets playing the same position that can't play together is not acceptable. Once Jimmy-G shows that he can be a winning QB as a starter by going 4 and 0 (I'm not a homer), he is going to be worth more than one 1st on the open market.

You can see that things have slowed down mentally for him on the field. "I think that happened day one when he came here," BB said. "I think he has always done that. I don't think it's been any different this year. I think he has grown this year but I don't think his approach has been any different and I think he does have that. I'd agree with that." He keeps growing more and more into that starter role.

He was so efficient against the Bears that he looked ready for Arizona. "Quarterbacks, part of their position is to get other things to other players, make calls, make adjustments, do the right thing that other people are counting on them to do," BB said. "It's their decision to make. So, doing that, playing with poise, there are 1,000 things, probably 10 things on every play. In general players that have a good aptitude for it or some guys are better at it than others, that's all." He has been making the decision that his teammates are counting on him to make. I just wish he would throw a couple of TDs, but they have been working on running on the goal line.

He is still young and seems to make a bad decision or throw every half, but that is part of being a young QB. "The way he handles himself on a daily basis," BB said when asked what gives him confidence in Jimmy-G. "I've been around the kid every day for going on three years, so it's pretty consistent." He has garnered everything a young starting QB needs over the past three Preseasons, except regular season game experience.

Now he is going to get that regular season experience and his consistency, skill, and value is going to increase exponentially. "I think Jimmy's been pretty consistent through camp," BB said. "We'll look at the film and take a look at everything tonight, but again, taking care of the football and taking advantage of our opportunities offensively. If the goal line had been the 3-yard line we would've scored two more touchdowns but it wasn't, so finishing those drives is an area we need to do better in, but had we done that we'd be looking at a lot more production offensively than what we actually had. You get up there in the 30's where you'd like to be. I thought it was a decent performance by everybody offensively. Again, it's hard to evaluate each player when you've got 11 of them out there running around all at the same time. I like us taking care of the ball and not turning it over and creating some field position in the kicking game or the turnovers that we had defensively. Those things all bode well." He already doesn't throw interceptions, and he will gain a ton of regular season experience against Arizona.

BB will be forced to decide if he can afford to keep that value on the bench next season, or trade the older GOAT for Jimmy-G's 10 to 12 year potential. "I just kind of go about my business the same as always," Jimmy-G said. "I've prepared like this for the last two years, so I think that's a big stepping stone for me and definitely helped out. It is what it is. It's football at the end of the day. You've got to go out there and play, study, and prepare as you always have and good things will happen." BB is going to have the most agonizing decision of his coaching career following this season, because Jimmy-G is Rogers' like ready.

If he is not ready to part with Brady, he does still have the Franchise Tag. He can Tag Garoppolo after the 2017 season, and see how it goes with Brady for one more year. I think that is what we all want him to do. But that is not his style. BB will make the hardest of hard decisions to keep the winning going. That means trading Brady, and keeping the Aaron Roger's like Jimmy-G.

5. James White RB Depth- White has taken a giant step forward this off season. Don't be surprised if he ends up starting on 9/11. Blount is the bigger power back veteran, but do you really want to run into Arizona's big defense with Blount. Garoppolo is going to have to come out and pass. They can't fool around with that veteran defense, and maybe letting the Card's veteran offense get a lead, just to pound Blount into the middle.

Last preseason White average about a yard per carry in the Preseason, and may have been the worst RB I ever saw running the ball from scrimmage. It was truly bizarre, because he was a much better runner than receiver at Wisconsin. But all of sudden, he has been hitting the hole and showing the quickness he showed in the passing game this year. He average 1.7 YPC in 2014 (and less than that in that 2015 Preseason, at least it felt that way), and 2.7 YPC last season. He averaged an amazing 4 YPC against New Orleans, which for him was great (but he didn't have a carry verse the Bears).

But since he arrived in Foxboro he has been the exact opposite. "I think so. I mean he did a lot of it at Wisconsin," BB said. "He ran between the tackles a lot. Their offense, they run outside but they run a lot between the tackles and they run a lot, period. I think the thing that jumped out with him was how proficient he was in the passing game based on what we saw in college, and I think his run skills were good. I think they are good. I think they need some refinement. It's a little bit different in this league. I think he can run the ball in there and he has taken more reps at doing that and I think that has helped him." He showed some of the elite short area bursts that makes him so deadly after the catch, in the run game against the Saints.

He has been terrific making guys miss at the LOS in the run game, so far this season. That was something that was completely missing from his game last season. Last year he was thier best receiver out of the backfield. In large part, because he also was able to continue his excellent blocking he showed in pass pro at Wisconsin. He was one of the best blockers in pass pro in college I ever saw.

But something has clearly clicked in him this offseason. From day one he started running effectively, like he did at Wisconsin. "[He is] very dependable, very consistent," BB said. "I think he has worked on his role in the running game carrying the ball, which he did a lot of in college. He hasn't done a lot of it here. He was mainly a passing game player last year and didn't play two years ago in his rookie year. [He was] mainly a passing game player last year but he has taken a more active role in the running game this year, so I think he continues to develop. He had a good run on the two-point play against New Orleans." You have to remember this was a guy who was keeping Melvin Gordon on the bench half the time.

He showed last season that he can be dynamic running outside after the catch, but now he is showing he can make guys miss in smaller areas in traffic, like on that amazing run on the Screen against the Bears. "Well if that's the type of runner you are than it is the same skill," BB said. "It's just that you have less space, generally. But yeah, it's still reading blocks, setting blocks up, and then being able to accelerate either with speed or some combination of speed and or power to break arm tackles and get through the line of scrimmage. Sometimes it's clean but usually it's not and there is some element of either really having the quickness to find the space or having the strength to, like I said, break through an arm tackle or a body that's a little bit in the way." He is so much more explosive and dynamic this Preseason than last season.

He has to continue to improve this Preseason. Because Jimmy-G is going to need him down in Arizona. "I think James is great to have on the team," BB said. "He's a great teammate. He has a lot of great attributes: his toughness, he catches the ball, very smart, so those things are good. Like any role or situation, how many of them can you have and which ones are the most important to you? I think he's effective in his role it's just a question of eventually when you put together your team and your offense, how big are various roles relative to other roles? What's the overall value or contribution of the player in all facets of the team: offense, defense, special teams, situational football? But situations like goal line and short-yardage are pretty important situations so they might carry a little more weight than other situations. In the end we'll just have to see how it all plays out. He's certainly very competitive in what he does, no question about that." He was their best 3rd-down back last year, and has been showing all Preseason that he is ready for more roles than that this season.

They are going to need more than just a 3rd down back from White with Dion Lewis out. Blount will be supplying the power runs inside, but they will need White to be the dynamic big play guy in the run game outside. "A player that maybe only catches a couple passes a game, but if he catches them because of his playmaking ability [it] might be for big chunks of yardage, versus a player who catches more passes for less yardage but maybe [an] equivalent amount [of yards] but off of more catches," BB said comparing WRs to RBs. "I think a little bit of it is the philosophy of your offensive system and what you're trying to do, and how much those plays mean to you. How important it is to have a big play versus how important it is to have consistent, maybe lesser plays if you will. And maybe how likely the player is to break those big plays, but it's a tough conversation when you have that situation and I think you just have to go back to what your real goals are from that particular player and the role that you envision him having. How likely those [big plays] are to occur. But it's challenging when you have that kind of tradeoff. You know: one's good, the other one's good, which one's better? If you can only afford one, and look if they're both good enough, [then] you're probably going to afford both of them, But if it's one or the other then philosophically that puts you into a tough choice. And that probably would be decided based on a bigger philosophy that you have for your either overall team or offensive unit." They are going to need those big chunk plays from White, and those soften the gut of the defense plays from Blount.

It is also looking like Gaffney is going to fit into the role of a guy who can do both roles with some efficiency. "At Stanford he had 1,600 yards or whatever it was," BB said. "He played baseball, he’s a good athlete, he’s got good hands. I don’t think catching is an issue. He ran for a lot of yards, really had one year of production out there because of baseball. We’ll see." He can block and catch the ball out of the backfield.

And we all saw his talent as a power back with surprising speed in the open field that led to a 44-yard TD run against the Saints. "Yeah, you bet [I'm happy for him]," BB said. "Tyler, of course, we knew two years ago in the 2014 season that he wouldn’t play that year. Last year, unfortunately, he didn’t get very far into training camp again, but nobody worked harder than Tyler. He’s there early, he stays late, never complains, always does extra, and so it’s great to see him have an opportunity this year. He has had a good year all spring and in training camp and has done a good job for us, and then got a chance to play tonight and had some positive plays tonight. Yeah, happy for him, happy that he’s out there and got through the game and can just keep building on tonight’s performance." That is four RBs on the roster, with Bolden as a lock as a special teams maven as well.

With Dion Lewis out and his body not dependable, they are gong to have to use the three-headed runningback to get through the season. But the biggest aspect of that so far this Preseason has been White getting yards from scrimmage. He has been good in the run game (instead of simply unacceptable). And he is as dynamic in the passing game as Dion Lewis. Like his long run to the One on the screen run after the catch. That play was pure chaos, and almost all him. Those are the plays Jimmy-G is going to need to beat the Cards in Arizona.

6. Cyrus Jones DB Depth- Cyrus Jones had a great INT that BB really seemed to love. "I think Cyrus was an instinctive player at Alabama," BB said. "I'd definitely put that in as a strong point; he had a pretty good awareness of the ball." You have to have great instincts to play Corner in the NFL.

But Cyrus is showing more than that so far. "It's important for a cornerback to get his hands on the ball," BB said. "And some guys can be real close in coverage and not get their hands on the ball much, other players seem to have their hands on the ball a lot. So whether that's instincts, or anticipation, or knowing how to play, or whatever you want to call it, there's definitely something to be said for that. And at times that anticipation or whatever the adjective is, can make up for a little bit of 40 speed or some kind of test measurable, and that's probably even more true at the safety position than it is at the corner position." Cyrus certainly has that all important knack for getting his hands on the ball.

I don't mean to get off track, but both Logan Ryan and Cyrus lack some of the elite measurables, but get their hands on the ball better than most DBs. They are fighting it out for a starting job right now. "But plays like that where the ball turns over and you take it away from the offense, those are the game changing plays," BB said. "Not saying that you know, breaking up a pass [isn't]. That's a good thing too, and it's like the play that Malcolm Butler broke up in front of our bench. He had no chance to intercept, but it was a break up that prevented a completion. But there are other pass break ups where the defenders, or good pass defenders, would intercept the ball. Then those are really the game changing plays that make that player, give him that extra value." They will give up some plays, but they can also take it away in a flash.

That is such a valuable asset to have: hands, instincts, and ball skills. "And so Cyrus has good hands, good ball skills, and good anticipation," BB said. "So hopefully last night will be the first of more interceptions and turnovers that we'll see from him. You know, I think like Asante Samuel had that ability when he was here for us. Not comparing these guys as players. I'm just saying Asante was, you know, his test measurables were good, [but] not elite. He was quick. But he had very good instincts and ball skills. So when he did get his hands on the ball he intercepted most of them. And sometimes he was just able to anticipate a certain route or situation and make the play on that as opposed to making it on speed or some other measurable." Butler is a better corner, but doesn't have Ryan or Cyrus's hands.

Defensive back has become another position where the Pats are going to have to release some players who are NFL talents. "Well, it's a group that works hard, and we have a lot of young players out there," BB said. "I think we have three rookies, no, four rookies, I'm sorry. Cyrus and Jonathan Jones, and then LeBlanc and Bentley. And then really Darryl Roberts and Justin Coleman, even though they're not rookies. I would put them in that young second-year category. You know, Darryl didn't play at all last year. [He] was injured in the first preseason game. And Justin's had more experience than that, but not a whole lot more. He played in a handful of regular-season games. So when you put those guys in there, and I mean Malcolm's a young player too, and so is Logan Ryan. But you know we certainly have a much better idea of what those players can do." That is a lot of young talent at CB.

The guys who are making plays in the Preseason games will be on the roster. "The key with the young players is there are certainly going to be things that you like what you see from them and then there [are] going to be mistakes," BB said. "Then the question is trying to figure out how much higher the player's going to go, how much more consistent he's going to be. What's that player going to look like a year from now, or halfway through the season, or you know kind of the benchmark you would use to evaluate that type of player, so some of it is what you see, some of it is what you think you're going to see based on his work ethic, skillset, how you feel like he'll play when he gains more experience and maybe more confidence, and so those are all I'd say relatively hard things to [do]. If it was easy to project then there wouldn't really be much of a decision." So is their more upside in Roberts, LeBlanc, or Bentley?

All three of those guys still have a ton of growth in them. "But the ones that are kind of harder to project are the ones that are, everything's not quite there in front of you, but will it be? Or will it be close to that?" BB said. "And sometimes that's what you're betting on when you make those roster decisions. Which yeah, I'd say is a little bit where we were at with Malcolm you know in the '14 season. [He] definitely did some things in training camp that caught your eye. [So] it was carrying an extra guy. But we carried him because there would be significant upside to that player if he continued to work hard and improve, and could correct some of the technical things that he needed to do. And Malcolm's obviously done that, done a great job of that. And now going to the top of the corner list." The young three have to start showing they have the smarts, studiousness, and work ethic to improve like Butler.

Because that is what BB is looking for, who has the ability to improve the most. "But at this point in time in his rookie season you didn't see that then," BB said. "You'd have to envision that, and again that's kind of the hard part. But it's good to have young players back there to work with, it's a good group. They really work hard, they're dedicated and we're definitely young in that position, other than E.J. and Logan, this is only his fourth year. But he's now the player that has the most experience on our team in that position." Biggers has already been released, and they could be trying to sneak him back on the Practice Squad after final cuts in a couple of weeks.

It looks like the Preseason Superstar Cre'von LeBlanc is a flash and stash player running unto the Practice Squad. "He's been really competitive," BB said. "I think he's played well. Obviously, the play he had against the Saints was a pretty special play but day in and day out he's been pretty consistent for us going all the way back to the spring. I'd say his instinctiveness, his ability to be around the ball, his anticipation and ability to recognize routes maybe offset some of the testing numbers that aren't elite. They're good but I wouldn't say they're elite, but all of it kind of together and knowing how to play, he has got some of that. He finds the ball or the ball finds him, however you want to look at it." His one handed interception in the first game was as good a catch as I have ever seen from a DB.

He has made the splash plays that BB needed to see. "Well, when we we're down there [at Florida Atlantic University] we had a chance to visit with him," BB said. "I got to know him personally a little bit. It was what it was. I think it was positive. He's a good kid, you can tell he likes football, and he pays attention and understands football. I'd say probably his measurables coming out are the reason he didn't get drafted. He played at a good level of competition against some good teams, not all top teams, but they played Miami and Florida and a couple of teams like that, teams that were good. The guys on the other side of the ball were fast now, it's not like they were playing opponents that had players that can't run. I think what you saw in film and what you saw in workout numbers, I don't know that it quite matches up. Sort of like Malcom [Butler], it's a little bit of the same thing with Malcom. His testing numbers, I'm sure that's part of the reason why he didn't get drafted either." But he better start showing up on special teams soon.

Brandon King is a lock to make the team, because he is a special teams maven. "I think he can be as good as he wants to be," BB said. "I really do believe that. I've been around the game for a long time now, and I can honestly say that I haven't seen too many guys as talented as him from a physical standpoint. I think the good Lord has given him some excellent physical gifts. And I tell Brandon 'When I was a rookie I wasn't doing the things you're doing', so I really think the sky's the limit for Brandon. I think he believes that, he knows that, he's been working with purpose, and I'm excited to see what he's going to do and the type of career he's going to have." He just has to get some experience at CB to take that next step, but with their great depth at CB that is easier said than done.

The good news is that they have their top four CBs set: Butler, Ryan, Jones, and Coleman. So how many Corners can they keep? "Well, it's a group that works hard, and we have a lot of young players out there," BB said. "I think we have three rookies, no, four rookies, I'm sorry. Cyrus and Jonathan Jones, and then LeBlanc and Bentley. And then really Darryl Roberts and Justin Coleman, even though they're not rookies, I would put them in that young second-year category." Bentley was returning kicks against the Bears.

So BB is going to lose a good young Corner or two somewhere "Darryl didn't play at all last year, was injured in the first preseason game," BB said "And Justin's had more experience than that, but not a whole lot more. He played in a handful of regular-season games. So when you put those guys in there, and I mean Malcolm's a young player too, and so is Logan Ryan, but you know we certainly have a much better idea of what those players can do. That's a lot of young competition that kind of needs to be sorted out." Darryl Roberts and Jonathon Jones just don't have a spot on the Roster. They both could make it onto the Practice squad, even though both showed up on Tape against the Bears.

So this week against Carolina is going to be huge for the young Corners. "The key with the young players is there are certainly going to be things that you like what you see from them, and then there [are] going to be mistakes," BB said. "Then the question is trying to figure out how much higher the player's are going to go. How much more consistent he's going to be. What's that player going to look like a year from now, or halfway through the season." I think both Jonathon Jones and Roberts have a ton of potential if they can just get some experience.

Jonathon Jones was a great Corner at Auburn, who showed he was tough as nails against the run. "You know the benchmark you would use to evaluate that type of player," BB said. "So some of it is what you see. [But] some of it is what you think you're going to see based on his: work ethic, skillset, how you feel like he'll play when he gains more experience, and maybe more confidence. So those are all, I'd say relatively hard things to [do]. If it was easy to project, then there wouldn't really be much of a decision. But the ones that are kind of harder to project are the ones that are [projecting into the future]; Everything's not quite there in front of you. But will it be? Or will it be close to that?" Jonathan almost ran in the 4.3's at the Combine.

But because he is shorter than normally excepted, 5-9 is the minimum height for CBs, he should be able to slide onto the Practice squad. With three CBs becoming free agents after this season there should be some spots available (Justin Coleman was believed to have signed a two-year deal last year, so his contract will be up after this season as well).

Darryl Robert has all the prerequisite Combine numbers that all teams look for, but there is just no space at the Inn. "And sometimes that's what you're betting on when you make those roster decisions," BB said. "Which I'd say is a little bit, where we were at with Malcolm in the '14 season. Yeah, definitely did some things in training camp that caught your eye, filling up the roster. But it was carrying an extra guy. We carried him because there would be significant upside to that player if he continued to work hard and improve. And could correct some of the technical things that he needed to do." He made some play on the ball against the Bears, and has the technique down, but just no roster spot this year.

I though he could follow Malcolm Butler's path. "And Malcolm's obviously done that," BB said. "[He's] done a great job of that, and [is] now going to the top of the corner list. But at this point in time in his rookie season you didn't see that then. You had to envision that, and again that's kind of the hard part.  But it's good to have young players back there to work with, it's a good group. They really work hard, they're dedicated and we're definitely young in that position." So hopefully they can find a way to stash Roberts, Jones, and Bentley, because they all have NFL talent and might have spots on the roster next year.

7. Flowers Vs. Grissom Edge Depth- The Bears game starts off with Geneo Grissom making the tackle on the opening kickoff, and Darryl Roberts getting the assist (Playing on the opening kickoff is a good sign that they still think Roberts is a viable option to make the team). "Trey played inside against a couple of teams, I want to say LSU," Belichick said. "But Geneo played in there more. They had a couple of pretty good defensive ends at Oklahoma and so he was kind of the guy who moved inside. But he's played out on the edge a decent amount, too. Played four-technique his junior year(and last season for the Pats). Last year a little bit more on the edge and outside linebacker. But he's had a little more experience doing that. Maybe it comes a little bit more naturally to him. He's also gotten a lot of reps in the kicking game, which has been good. He's an athletic player, but it's something he hasn't done a lot of. I would say his overall experience in the inside position is more than Trey was, although Trey had some too. We've been working them both in there." I was shocked that Grissom was drafted before Flowers. 

Those two are a great example of a player with superior measurables vs. a player with superior intangibles. "He plays with good leverage," Belichick said about Flowers. "He has longer arms. He uses his hands well and he did that on that play. He showed some acceleration to the quarterback." He plays with so much leverage and power that it surprises opponents right away.

Grissom is a physical marvel, but has no real counter moves, and gets stuck too often on blockers. He tends to win right away or gets stuck. But he is strong as an ox, and can look stronger than Flowers sometimes. It is odd that Grissom seems to play better the further away the ball you put him.

The best and most comfortable I saw him play was on the outside of the tight end on the edge, and on kickoffs. "I’d say he’s very instinctive as a pass rusher," BB said. "And he’s in coverage a decent amount of the time as a walk-off linebacker, so you see a guy play out in space out over the slot, he does a lot of that. I’d say a guy to play from 3-technique to end of the line, to a walk-down linebacker. At the Senior Bowl they actually played him off the line, like in a tackle bubble. So he’s a pretty athletic versatile guy." He has that odd strength, but doesn't always know what to do with it inside. But when he can just run in space, that is when he is at his best.

So while he looks like a 4-tech, he seems to play better as a traditional Linebacker. "He’s played under two different coordinators," BB said. "But when Mike Stoops came back with his 3-4 defense, they didn’t have enough depth there at defensive end, so he played 4-technique in 2013 at 260 pounds. He was way undersized, but he competed well. They didn’t knock him off the line of scrimmage. He didn’t look like a linebacker in there. You probably wouldn’t think he’s that light. You wouldn’t know it by the way he played." I don't think bulking him up is really what you want to do with this guy.

While Flowers has a ton of counter moves, better instincts, and better smarts on the field. He reads and reacts quicker and faster than anyone else on the field. Which is startling when you consider that he has no Regular Season experience. What he is now could be so much better in the 2nd half of the season.

Flowers and Long actually played exceptionally well, but couldn't put their big mitts on the QB for some reason early on against the Bears. "There's always stuff to improve on," Long said. "You could have a practice with a lot of reps out here against your own teammates and see some things you need to identify and work on, and you just try to stack those days up and improve day-to-day, week-to-week, and hopefully at the end of the preseason you have a good body of work and you've improved." Sometimes that just happens.

They were getting up field seemingly at will against the Bears tackles, and was even rushing inside in sub packages. "It’s just going to come down to experience and getting comfortable," BB said. "It’s a little bit different. You’re not working against as long of a guy usually at guard, and maybe not as athletic a guy as the ones that play tackle, but there is less space. So, it’s a little bit different but he’s making progress on it." But they struggled to turn the corner.

Also Flowers made a few rookie mistakes. "He's an instinctive player," Belichick said. "We've asked him to do a lot of different things. He's played in the kicking game, which wasn't something he did at Arkansas. He's a tough kid. Works really hard. He seems to have a nose and instinct for the ball. He plays with good leverage. He has longer arms. He uses his hands well and he did that on that play. He showed some acceleration to the quarterback." But soon both were getting to the QB.

So it was not surprising the Bears took advantage of Garoppolo's and Flowers and Long's slow start to get a big lead. However, when they put Flowers inside to rush he was a beast. "He didn’t play a lot inside in college," BB said. "I think there was one game against LSU when he was in there, but for the most part he was on the edge, so that’s an adjustment that he’s making. He’s definitely getting better at it. He has quickness and, again, the play-strength, and I would say the mentality to play in there." He really showed his strong hands, and how exceptional he is at putting speed to power.

BB's been looking for a D-end who could rush inside like Martellus Bennett's brother since before he nearly killed us in the Super Bowl. "It’s just going to come down to experience and getting comfortable," BB said. "It’s a little bit different. You’re not working against as long of a guy usually at guard, and maybe not as athletic a guy as the ones that play tackle, but there is less space. So, it’s a little bit different but he’s making progress on it." I think he finally found him in Flowers. Just put Flower and Johnson next to each other at DT on rushing downs and see what happens.

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