Goodell Strikes Back.
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.
Finally we get to see some of the biggest changes the Pats have gone
through this offseason. It was such a tumultuous offseason. So much more
discord than BB likes, mainly because of two tough to take events. But
there were others as well, like Edelman and Amendola getting injured and
essentially missing the offseason. A large influx of veteran talent along
the D-line. And the worrisome problem of their four young star defenders
having their contacts coming up at the same time.
the Pats traded their superstar passrush Chandler Jones for an IR-guy and
a bag of beans. "Steve Keim [Arizona GM] did an unbelievable job
working with them and finding the right fit in the trade," the HC of
AC Bruce Arians said. "We went into the offseason wanting to improve
our pass rush. Free agency wasnít what we were looking at as far as
dollars for certain guys. That cured us for a long time. They got
something they needed. We got something we needed. I think it was a great
trade for both sides." Trading one of the top passrushers in the NFL
is never a good thing.
second was of course Darth Goodell finally forcing the Dark Side to
destroy Brady's good name. The Pats battled Darth's Death Star of lawyers
for as long as they could. But in the end the Evil Empire won out.
Now we finally get to see some of the important changes they made
this off season on display. The big three for me are: Brady sitting, Mr.
Jones being traded, and the signing of Chris Hogan.
Chris Hogan- The most under the radar signing was Hogan. He was a
nifty little athlete from a small school who worked his way into the NFL
in Buffalo. "For me, I'm an undrafted guy," Hogan said. "So
every single year was a battle. Every single year I was on the block:
could be cut, could be released. That's kind of how I approached it. I
never took anything for granted. Every single day was an opportunity for
me to be on the field, if I was starting, playing or not playing, every
single day I came out here ready to work." With Amendola nowhere in
sight, Hogan has hopped over him on the depth chart.
he looks like he is clearly the Number One or Two WR in this offense. One
thing that has really leaped out at me is his size. He is 6-1 and
220-pounds, but also has showed the suddenness in his shoulders and feet
that have made the smaller Slot-WRs so successful in the Pats' offense. We
are so used to seeing their under 6-foot slot guys that it is strange to
see him working inside. He has some speed to get open down the seam as
he has not produced over 500-yards in a season yet. "You might come
out and you might try different things," Hogan said. "You have
to work on your craft. Iím always trying to get better, trying different
things to see what works and what doesnít work. Itís good to get out
and watch the film and weíll have to dissect it. 'This worked against
this or it didnít work.' Then Iíll throw it out and wonít use it
again. Or it did and Iíll add it in. Itís all about just trying to
perfect your craft." With the Edelman question haunting the team, he
needs to be better than he was last season in Buffalo.
year he garnered 450-yard and 2 TDs on 36 catches in four starts. But 7
receptions and 106 yards came against the Pats. That was almost a quarter
of his production in 2 games. "Thereís never going to be a time
where Iím taking the foot off the gas," Hogan said. "Iím
always trying. Itís practice and Iím going to practice like I play.
Itís something that a lot of people have always preached. If youíre
going half-speed in practice and then youíre full-speed in a game, it
really doesnít make any sense. Youíve got to just stay on top of your
rehab and stay healthy. And when you get out here, youíre able to go
full speed so that when it comes game time, nothing speeds up or slows
down." He has to find some consistency on the field, which he hasn't
was their top offensive free agent pick up for a reason. "It
doesnít change," Hogan said. "Obviously, more opportunities
will come about. For me, itís just a matter of being able to take
advantage of those opportunities. Iím pretty hard on myself as a player
to begin with so the fact that someone goes down or someoneís not
playing really doesnít change my mindset. Iím just trying to really
take advantage every single opportunity I get." They need him to step
up and be their Number Two WR.
has been playing very well in practice, even after the slight shoulder
injury. "Youíve just got to take advantage of the
opportunities," the Pats' new Number Two WR said. "It was good.
It was a different look. Weíve been going against the same guys for a
while. Once you get in front of someone, you try to learn their tendencies
and stuff like that. To be honest with you, maybe it was a little bit
sloppy in the beginning but weíll have to watch the film and correct it
and weíll come out here and be better." He has been consistently
catching passes from Brady and Garoppolo so far.
is in a very good position here. With Gronk and Bennett on the team the
role of the Number Two WR (and the Number One WR) has a lot less pressure.
Gronk is really the Number One, and Bennett is going to be the second or
third option in the passing game as well. You are going to see a lot
two-TE sets when they go into their 4 or 5 wide formations. So a 4-Wide
set is going to look like Gronk, Bennett, Hogan, and hopefully Edelman
more often than not. But that is still a bigger change to this offense
than I think most Pats Fans believe. They are not a tiny offense on
passing downs anymore. They might be the biggest.
Passrush- Finally, we will start to see the full implications of
the Chandler Jones trade. Jones had 12 and 1/2 Sacks last season, and was
the guy other O-lines schemed against. This opened up a lot of lanes
inside for guys like Sheard, Collins, and Hightower. Now they all have to
step up and make up for his loss. That is not nearly as easy as it seems.
has always been better as the second guy in the rush. "I want to be
the best player I can be to help this team win," Sheard said.
"Whatever that takes: whether thatís rushing the passer, dropping
back, whatever my job is on special teams. My expectations for myself are
high. And thatís whatís going to help us win this year." They
need him to get 8 to 10 Sacks this season.
really hurts to not having Ninkovich on the field to play opposite Sheard
on opening day. "Ninko is a huge part of our team," Sheard said.
"But weíre going to step up and play good defense," Sheard
said. "Weíve got a great team, a great group of guys on defense.
Weíll go out there and play good football." Those two guys really
have to come through this season.
have a ton of new guys who are working together for the first time, and
have to make up for 12 sacks. "It's been going really well,"
Chris Long said. "We have a lot to build on, we have a lot of work to
do, but we're trying to focus on taking things one day at a time. I think
my focus is just trying to be as coachable as I can be and do whatever I'm
asked to do and do my job, whatever it may be, each and every single
a good start is that they have a lot of versatile guys who can move in and
out of different spots. "There's nowhere here that I've been put that
I haven't done before," Long said. "I've played up and down the
line before, and I have an open mind as far as what I'm asked to do. I'll
just continue to line up where I'm asked to: try to be fundamentally
sound, disruptive, and play hard." I think he can help the rush a lot
best news is that their two young passrushers, Flower and Grissom, both
have spent the offseason getting bigger, stronger, and hopefully faster
running to hit the QB. "Right now, Iím just working on getting
better," Grissom said. "Iím not really focused on the season.
Iíve got to make the team first. It's why weíre here. Weíre here to
play the game." If those two guys can show they have a knack for
hitting the QB, this defense could be back to last years form quickly.
they get a chance to prove it in a real game. "No doubt Iím excited
to come out here and put the pads on once again," the forgotten
Flowers said. "I had to sit out last year, but Iím ready to get it
back going. As far as the time last year, I stayed in the building, stayed
in the playbook, stayed around. Continued to get better and worked on my
craft so I wouldnít be too far behind. I think Iím pretty good as far
as I am." Remember, they were second in Sacks to Denver last season,
and the Broncos used their passrush to win it all this year.
so much for these two young guys is the mental part of the game.
"Part of it is the understanding of the scheme. With them coming in a
year ago, you see some of the athleticism, you see some of the physical
skills," their DL coach Daly said. "Rookies, just by the
inherent nature of the situations, are behind from a mental standpoint. I
think thatís the biggest thing you look at. How far have they come? The
understanding [of their job and scheme]. A lot of times that allows them
to play faster and let their athleticism and natural ability show. Weíre
excited to see where thatís at." Missing games to do injuries last
season hurt both of them mentally this year.
played in more games last season so he is a little more ready mentally
than Flowers. "He did a lot of different things for us and improved
through the course of the season," Daly said. "You could see
that growth from him mentally. [I'm] pleased with the way: he works, comes
in, and works hard every day. Heís focused on getting better. Heís a
team guy, willing to do whatever anyone is asking him to do." He
showed he could get to the QB a little more than I thought last season.
has a little more growing to do mentally this Preseason than Grissom.
"Treyís issues were injury related," Daly said. "I
donít know if Iíd say heís behind. Iíd say heís done a very good
job mentally. Not getting the reps in practice, but being up to speed.
Weíll see. I donít know if that puts him behind. Weíll find out when
we get out here." So far he has been doing very well.
Pats have a lot of good pieces in the Passrush growing up before our eyes.
But they lost their one great one. They have to show they can still hit
the quarterback with a consistent barrage of players, and not just play
off the great talents of Chandler Jones.
And of course Garoppolo- The final massive change to the 2016 Pats
is that Yoda12 will be exiled on Dagobah for the first four games by Darth
Goodell. This is such a massive change that we all have just accepted, and
hoped for the best. But it really put the Pats in a bad place to start the
Season. We all just have to hope that Jimmy-G is as good as they thought
he was when the drafted him in the 2nd round. They need him to be more
Luke than Anakin Skywalker.
much of the success of this team is in the hands of the untested Jimmy-G.
"I'm just trying to go out there and get my game right,"
Garoppolo said. "[And] trying to get the offense ready as much as we
can. We've got a long way to go. Training camp is a grind, but we got to
get through it." They can afford to go 2 and 2 at the worst during
Yoda12's exile, and still be favored to host the AFC Champ game.
they can't go 1 and 3 or worse in the first four games. "Yeah, it's a
great opportunity just like you said. You have to go out there and take
advantage of it," Jimmy-G said. "You don't get many
opportunities in this league, you might only get one, so you've got to
make the best of it." If Jimmy-G proves himself to be a winning QB in
the NFL, it changes everything for him and the Patriots Organization.
has been on the team for three offseasons and two Preseasons, but he is
still almost a complete unknown. "Like I said rookie year, I had the
same mindset," Jimmy-G said. "So however you want to look at it.
I've been preparing to be the starter since the first day I walked in here
and that's just the mindset. Every competitor has that mindset. So it's a
good thing to have." Now everyone in Pats Nation is waiting with
bated breath to see what he does.
Brady also not suiting up for the Saints Game, we finally get to see some
evidence of how far he has come since his rookie season against some real
competition in an almost real game. "Pretty similar to the last two
years, to be honest," Jimmy-G said. "It's an opportunity to go
out there and perform with your teammates. It's obviously different than
practice. Different situations will come up and you don't know how many
snaps you're going to get or how many snaps you're not going to get. It's
all Coach's call, so when you're called on, you've just got to go out
there and perform." He was given the role by BB to be the number one
QB for this game, when he told Brady he wouldn't be dressed for this game.
Pats have been balancing on a high wire act between getting TB12 ready to
start game five, and getting Jimmy-G ready to start opening day.
"Part of that is gauging your receivers, your running backs, whatever
it may be, and just building a trust level in those guys," Jimmy-G
said. "If you want to try something new, something a guy's never done
before, it's good to try it in practice. Obviously, you'd rather try it in
practice than the game and have a bad result. That's what practice is for.
You've got to make the mistakes here so you don't make them in the
game." Now he has to step it up again in a game as the starting QB
for the New England Patriots.
Patriots Defense- With all the attention Yoda12's Exile, and
Jimmy-Skywalker have been getting, the defense really has been left
behind. But don't kid yourself, we are more likely to win as many games as
the defense leads the Pats to in the first four games. Jimmy-S is not
winning any games all by himself. Losing Ninkovich is not a great place to
with no ligament damage he should be back quicker than expected.
"Robís got a great feel for the game," BB said. "First of
all, heís got great physical skills. He can run. Heís athletic. Heís
strong. So he can hang in there against the big guys, but is athletic
[enough] to play in space. Whether that be in the kicking game or as an
off-the-line linebacker, you can drop him into coverage from the line of
scrimmage." They will start Jimmy-G's career as a starter without
their two starting DE/OLB from last season.
have to show they can be physical on all three levels of defense.
"That's a big part of what we do," McCourty said. "I think
if you watch us, you know that's something that we coach a lot here. Every
guy that comes in, whether it's a starter or a guy that comes in off the
bench, every guy is playing the same way and with the same mentality. I
think that's something that, no matter who we play against, our offense or
a different offense, this week, New Orleans, we've got to kind of get that
going. I think we did a good job of coming out and being aggressive.
Obviously, it wasn't perfect, but I think we came out with the right
mentality that will get us better as a group and that we can work
on." Mentally it sounds like they are ready to start the season.
have a lot of hybrid and versatile players to help out, but that is not
just on the D-line. "I think that you are definitely seeing a strong
trend in the league towards corners that play safety or corner-type
athletes that play safety," BB said. "[And] bigger safeties that
play linebacker. Both of those are trends." As teams move away from
the run game, all teams have to have faster cover guys on all three
are now built more with the passing game in mind than the run game.
"Weíve always put a lot of premium on the passing game even going
back to when we had Eugene Wilson," BB said. "Who played corner
at Illinois, and started for us at corner for a couple weeks. And then we
moved him to free safety. But that was an advantage when teams went to the
multiple receivers. Then we already had that third corner on the field and
we could go nickel or we could leave our regular defense out there. Or
leave our corner on the third receiver, what we call penny defense. That
was pretty successful for us." Secondaries are following that trend
of going smaller all over the NFL.
the Pats not only have a CB at Free Safety, they also have a Strong Safety
who can play linebacker. "Devin's given us some of that," BB
said. "So has Chung. Devinís a corner and not that Chung is a
corner, but he has corner qualities. Heís had some corner-type
responsibilities, particularly in the slot. Even going back to when Wes
was here, and he would cover Wes pretty competitively in practice
sessions. Iíd say that has always been something that if you have a
player that can do that, [it is] somewhat appealing." They have one
of the most versatile secondaries in the NFL.
lot of these trends are also being seen in college, where the smaller
faster athletes are being put in at WR and not CB. "The colleges are
seeing the same thing," BB said. "And they probably have to deal
with it more than we do. because there are so many fast-tempo offenses
where they put a lot of fast guys on the field. So they are in the same
boat playing a lot of what we call dime defense, or little nickel, or
whatever it is. Ends are playing tackle, safeties are playing linebacker,
and corners are playing safety. Itís just kind of getting a little bit
smaller in a lot of areas." Which is something BB has been doing for
also have been translating smaller faster tight ends into the NFL.
"Tight ends have become more athletic and less of the conventional
kind of power-blocking type guys," BB said. "Those matchups keep
getting tougher and tougher." So linebackers have to be able to cover
TE's who used to be big WRs ten or fifteen years ago.
has truly changed the linebacker position. "You see less of the big
run-stopping Ted Johnson, Brandon Spikes type players," Belichick
said. "Itís just harder when the offense spreads you out and then
they go fast and you canít substitute and youíre stuck with whoever
you have out there. That creates some problems." Which is why the
Pats have to resign both Collins and Hightower to big deals as soon as
LBs who can stuff the run, but are still athletic enough to cover WR's
posing as TEs, and RB out of the backfield, are worth their weight in
gold. The fact that both are such great blitzers up the gut that they
scare QBs makes them indispensable this season in helping Jimmy-G win
games in September.
Collins, Hightower, Butler, and Ryan - The Jones trade was an
unmitigated disaster. The only real justification for the trade is that
the Pats can now sign their four other young defensive stars this
offseason. Or hopefully add some extensions before the season ends. They
would not have been able to sign all four, or the top three, if they had
to give Jones the 10--Mil contract he is going to get in Arizona. So they
better get it done.
trade of Jones will look worse and worse with every loss of a young
defender next offseason. " I think weíre happy with how the
offseason has gone so far," Bob Kraft said. "I should say
Chandler Jones was an awesome Patriot and should definitely mention that.
Weíre very lucky because we have accumulated a number of young players
who are highly talented, and the way the system is set up, when they all
become free agents you wonít be able to sign them all. So Chandler was
great while he was a part of the team and will always have a special
connection to us, but weíre excited with that move and having Jonathan
join the team and picking up the second-round pick." Teams simply do
not trade guys who just garnered over 12 sacks in one season.
good news is that the Cap has gone up significantly, and the Pats still
have lot of contracts that are over favorable to the team now. And they
are so good at drafting young guys who they turn into starters, like
Jordan Richards, Flowers and Grissom, Cyrus Jones, Thuney and Mitchell.
They understand the Draft, and that you are drafting for the future and
not the right now. They develop young draft picks better than any team in
The O-Line- The O-line doesn't really need to be rebuilt. "If
that could happen and it could all come together and everybody was
available, maybe weíd be able to get to that point and it would probably
be a good thing," BB said. "But weíll just have to see how all
that goes. Iím not against it, thatís for sure." It needs to
looks like they have a new starter at OLG in Thuney. A new starter at ORG
in Shaq Mason, and though Stork will likely be the starter tonight (he has
been working exclusively with Jimmy-G). Andrews should be the starter when
Brady returns (as he has been working exclusively with Brady).
"Honestly I donít feel like a lot of that is in my control,"
BB said. "Itís up to the players how they play. We try to coach
them and give them an opportunity. And then what they do with that
opportunity is really up to them. I canít control that." But really
the problem last year was the devastation that happened at O-tackle.
long as Solder and Vollmer are on the field the O-line is not being
rebuilt. "I think once a player is established at any position, this
isnít just a line discussion," BB said. "At any position, once
a player has established that heís the best player of that group, then
heís going to play. If thatís not the case, then maybe more than one
guy deserves to play until it somehow or other works itself out, or
becomes clear what the roles should be." They will sub-in here and
there inside, but the as long as they can pass block at O-tackle things
will be fine.
me if you'd like a question blogged:
dogs on Main St howl Because they understand.