Patriots vs Bills Preview: Is This The Start Of A New Rivalry?

Why the Patriots vs Bills contest has an exciting tease

By: Andy Davies

The Buffalo Bills host the New England Patriots on Monday Night Football in one of the most hotly anticipated games of the season. 

With a combined 15-8 record and one win between them and still two games to play against each other, there is a lot at stake in this game. 

In a battle for the AFC East crown and the number one seed, is this the start of a new rivalry in the NFL? 

Head Coaching Excellence

Both these teams are helped by excellent head coaches. Bill Belichick is widely seen as the greatest head coach of all time and Sean McDermott is one of the best young head coaches around. 

One thing a team needs to succeed is strong and reliable head coaching. This will ensure both teams will be competitive for years to come. 

Since arriving in 2017, Sean McDermott guided the Bills to their first playoff appearance since the 1999 campaign and also their first playoff wins since the 1995 season when they went all the way to the AFC Championship game earlier this year.

Belichick is proving, with their 8-4 record so far, that he can more than cope without Tom Brady. Their defense looks far better than it did last season, without the injuries and opt-outs suffered in 2020. Running back Damien Harris has 643 yards and 8 touchdowns to his name. They also have a new rookie QB that has massively impressed during his first-ever NFL season.

QB Battle 

Mac Jones was drafted fifteenth overall by the Patriots in this year’s draft. He was expected to be the backup to Cam Newton, but the former MVP was cut before the start of the season, leading the way for Mac to be the starter in New England. So far, he has 2,850 yards, 16 touchdowns and 8 interceptions in the 12 games so far this campaign. This has him projected to end the season with 4,038 passing yards, 23 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. Not bad for a rookie. 

He looks composed in the pocket, with a tremendous amount of confidence on the field for someone so new to the league. 

His rookie season has gone a lot better than Josh Allen’s did. The Bills QB had a troublesome first two seasons that led to many questions from outsiders looking in as well as the NFL media. He proved himself last season, with a brilliant campaign as the Bills went the furthest, they have been in the playoffs since the 1993 season. He threw for 4,544 yards, 37 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. This season, he has thrown for 3,071 yards, 25 touchdowns and 10 picks

He also knows how to use his feet, with 8 rushing touchdowns and 421 rushing yards in 2020. He is also the team’s second leading rusher so far in the 2021 season, with 383 yards and 3 touchdowns

This is going to be a very exciting QB battle, between two young quarterbacks that are going to be great for a number of years. Whilst Allen is the more experienced and completed player, Mac Jones has that swagger that not a lot of young players have in the position. It is harsh for Mac more than anyone else to make the comparison to Brady, but he does look like a young version of TB12. 

A Wide Open AFC

The AFC is wide open this year. The NFC has five teams that everyone knows is good whereas no one knows who is good in the AFC. Everyone is beating each other, and suffering shock defeats in the process.

New England have hit form at the right time, with a current six game winning streak that has seen them go from 2-4 to 8-4. Meanwhile, the Bills’ inconsistent past few weeks has allowed their division rivals to creep up the table. The run game has been poor, and teams have been much more able to stop Stefon Diggs, despite the stats telling you otherwise. The defense has made a step up, which will help Bills if they are to make the postseason. 

There is just two wins separating the number one seed Baltimore Ravens and the seventh seed Los Angeles Chargers. Both the Pats and Bills will be optimistic that they can still secure both the AFC East and the top seed in the AFC. This adds more importance onto the game on Monday Night Football as well as their week 16 matchup. 

Game Prediction

This game is going to be tight and tense. Defensively wise, the Bills have allowed the least yards per game, with the Patriots in fourth. Buffalo are also top of the league in passing yards allowed (1,964) whereas the Pats are in seventh (2,411). Buffalo are also fifth in total rushing yards allowed (1,063), with New England in the lowly position of 25th (1,389). This has to be where the Bills capitalise. Whether this be lead rusher Devin Singletary or Josh Allen, this will be the way to beat New England. 

No team has allowed fewer total points in the league this season than Buffalo (1st) and New England (2nd). Despite the Patriots’ poor run defense this season, they have managed to stop teams getting many points, which is a credit to their redzone defense. New England’s 48.39% is only topped by the Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints, with the Bills in seventh (51.61%)

If New England can keep this up against the Bills on Monday, then this is how they can beat the Bills, stopping them on crucial plays and in crucial areas on the field . 

In terms of the game, form is going to be a massive factor and New England have it. They may be on the road, but I am backing the Patriots to secure a vital win and gain a two-win advantage over Buffalo.

Score prediction: Patriots 27-24 Bills 

Who will be the Patriots WR1?

Is Nelson Agholor the Patriots top WR?

By: Jeremy Trottier

The New England Patriots are currently seeming to trend upwards as a team after a very solid offseason and returns of players who opted out last season.  Signings like Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith, Matt Judon, Jalen Mills, and others will help this team move forward and continue the success of an already strong franchise.  With that in mind, the wide receiver position for the Patriots is a relative unknown, and it is pretty hard to predict who will be their lead receiver.  In this article, I will be going over their three main options to lead the receiver group, as well as why they would each be viable options.

Nelson Agholor – #13

First up, we have one of the Patriots more interesting free agent acquisitions in Nelson Agholor, who had a pretty solid season last year.  The move from Philadelphia to Las Vegas clearly helped Nelson out, as he was able to perform at a pretty mid to high level compared to his previous years.  He put up the following statline last season:

  • 16 games played (13 games started)
  • 48 receptions in 82 targets (58.5% catch rate)
  • 896 yards, 18.7 yards per reception, 8 touchdowns

One more worthy stat to note would be his yards per target, which was 10.9.  This is absolutely amazing from a receiver, as he averaged over a first down for every target he had, not every reception, every target.  Being able to get a first down on every time the ball is thrown your way (on average) shows his ability to make plays and get open to the point where he can benefit the passing game a ton.  This capability would help the Patriots a ton as his very high amount of yards per target would only go up with more receptions likely, which being WR1 would give him.

Jakobi Meyers – #16

The Patriots young receiver entering his third season this year was able to break out in 2020-2021, being given the reigns of sorts to the Patriots receiving room.  The NC state product had a relatively uneventful rookie season, however was able to take it up a notch in his sophomore season and prove he was ready to at the very least be a starter with Cam Newton at the helm.  Meyers put up the following:

  • 14 games played (9 started)
  • 59 receptions on 81 targets (72.8% catch rate)
  • 729 yards, 12.4 yards per reception, 0 TDs, 9.0 yards per target

Something else to notice is that Meyers did not play every game, as he was inactive for two of them, and only started just one game over half the season, which makes this statline even more impressive.  You could justify nearly doubling this stat sheet (considering it will be a 17 game season, nearly double what he played last season) and get an idea of his starting production.  Overall his youth and capabilities with having really good hands and solid route trees would definitely make the WR1 position more complete.

Kendrick Bourne – #84

Finally, we have another free-agent addition in the former San Francisco 49ers receiver Kendrick Bourne.  Bourne has shown some flashes as a receiver and started 13 games in four seasons for SF.  His catch rate has pretty much consistently remained above 63% aside from his rookie year, and he has been a quality starter when placed there.  He is not an extremely flashy big-play receiver by any means, but he is reliable, and he makes plays when he needs to, which is something the Patriots desperately need.  

In 2020 he put up a decent stat line, which was comprised of:

  • 15 games played (5 games started)
  • 49 receptions on 74 targets (66.2% catch rate)
  • 667 yards, 13.6 yards per reception, 2 touchdowns, 9.0 yards per target

I would not shoe Kendrick in for WR1 as of day one, no.  However, I think he has the potential to work into that role over time if Belichick can continue his development, as Bourne is still only 25 years of age, and has only played for four seasons.

Why Cam Newton is the ultimate darkhorse candidate for comeback player of the year

Why Patriots Cam Newton could win comeback player of the year

By: Reese Nasser

Every year there are notable players coming off of injury who are all potential candidates for comeback player of the year. But this year may be the deepest group ever. With players such as Dak Prescott, Saquon Barkley, Christian McCaffrey, and Derwin James all returning from injuries, this award could go to anyone. 

This is where Cam Newton steps in. While he did appear in 15 games last season, he not only had Covid-19 but seemed to be impacted by it once he returned. Newton’s numbers were down across the board in the passing game. He threw just eight touchdowns and had 2657 passing yards, the lowest of his career when playing in at least 14 games. 

Newton’s struggles in the passing game did not impact his run game. He had the second-most rushing touchdowns of his career with 13. 

He also rushed for 592 yards on 137 attempts, the second-most of his career. At 32 years old, Newton may be looking to rush less and pass more. With the free agents signed this off-season, Newton will be put into a position where this is possible. 

The New England Patriots offense is rebuilt heading into this season. With free agents such as tight end Hunter Henry, tight end Jonnu Smith, and wide receiver Nelson Agholor, Newton will be surrounded with top offensive weapons, something that he did not have last season. 

In 2020, there were no clear-cut top offensive players in New England. They took a “win by committee” approach, which did not work for them. Wide receiver Julian Edelman appeared in just six games and caught just 21 passes. 

The next two Patriots receivers on the depth chart weren’t much more productive. Damiere Byrd and N’Keal Harry combined for 80 receptions, 913 yards, and three touchdowns. Each of the Patriots new signings all nearly put those numbers up by themselves over the course of last season. 

By surrounding Newton with elite pass catchers that can produce on their own, there will be less of a need for him to make plays on his own. This will then let the offense flow at a much smoother rate than it did last year. 

Newton has already seemed to become comfortable with his new WR1 in Agholor. Agholor played well in his first and only year in Las Vegas last season. He recorded 48 receptions, 896 yards and eight touchdowns. He also averaged almost 19 yards per reception. The deep threat that he will be in this offense will be a welcome for Newton. 

The signings of two of the best tight ends in football in Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry cna also not be ignored. Newton played the best football of his career when lined up alongside Greg Olsen. He will now have two players of that caliber with him on this offense. 

Both tight ends are proven in both the pass-catching game and blocking game. This will undoubtedly open up this offense in more than one way. Henry turned 60 catches into 613 yards and four touchdowns during his final season with the Chargers. Smith produced 41 receptions, 448 yards, and eight touchdowns in his final season with the Titans. Each of these tight ends has big-play capability and Newton will be able to lean on them when other pieces of this offense struggle. 

All signs point to Newton having a big bounce-back season in 2021. With new options on offense and him being healthy, he could have a complete resurgence. A comeback player of the year award could be in his future, and possibly even an MVP award, if he is able to play like he knows he can. 

Why the Patriots defense will return to being elite in 2021

Patriots defense is special again

By: Reese Nasser

The New England Patriots were arguably the team most impacted by Covid opt-outs in 2020. They lost key pieces on both the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. These losses represented both their play on the field and their record at the end of the season. 

New England finished 2020 with a 7-9 record, their first single-digit win season since 2002, and their first losing season since the year 2000. 

But 2021 should be different for this New England defense. They have been aggressive in fixing this defense, through the draft and free agency. This defense will look vastly different than it did in 2020 when they allowed 22.1 ppg, their most in more than 20 years. Here’s why this Patriots defense will return to form in 2021. 

Returning players post-covid 

The Patriots will be getting back veteran linebacker Dont’a Hightower this season after he chose to opt-out of last season due to concerns with covid. 

The last time that Hightower stepped onto the field for the Patriots, he left his mark. He played well in 2019, recording 5.5 sacks, 71 tackles, and 8 tackles for loss. 

He has crafted out his role in New England. He has spent eight seasons with the Patriots and even though this team has gone through a drastic change, he should continue to be a leader on this squad in 2021. 

Young players 

New England has gone out of their way to establish a defense consisting of some of the NFL’s best young talents. They have continued their streak of being one of the best drafting teams in the NFL, continuing to find hidden gems and getting lucky enough to have star collegiate players fall to them in the draft. 

The Patriots drafted safety Kyle Dugger out of Lenoir-Rhyne with the 37th pick in the 2020 draft. New England took a swing on selecting Dugger, as many teams chose to pass on him due to him being from a division II school.

Dugger played well when called upon as he started 7 games for the Patriots and appeared in 14. He recorded 64 tackles and overall looked like a building block for this defense. He will have big shoes to fill, as he steps into the role left by longtime safety Patrick Chung who opted out of 2020 and eventually made the decision to retire.

Linebacker Chase Winovich will also look to be a long term piece of this defense. Entering year-three, Winovich is finally starting to find his footing in this Patriots defense. He has recorded 5.5 sacks in both of his first two seasons and has recorded 74 tackles and 10 tackles for loss during his time. 

Strong Rookie Class

The Patriots went heavy on defense in the 2021 draft. After selecting Alabama quarterback Mac Jones with their first pick of the draft, they doubled up on defense with their next two picks. With the 38th pick, they selected Alabama defensive tackle Christian Barmore. They then selected Oklahoma edge rusher Ronnie Perkins with the 96th pick. 

Barmore was highly regarded as the draft’s best defensive tackle. His lasting until pick 38 caught many people off-guard and the Patriots will benefit from this selection. 

Barmore will look to be a day one starter on this defense. In his final 11 games at Alabama, he racked up 9.5 tackles for loss and 8 sacks. The Patriots will expect big things from their second-round selection. 

Oklahoma edge rusher Ronnie Perkins will be more of a long-term development for the Patriots. He will sit behind and learn from some of the league’s best at his position. 

Perkins was one of college football’s best edge players in recent seasons. He spent three seasons at Oklahoma where he made an impact from day one. During his time, he tallied 16.5 sacks and 32 tackles for loss. He could be a shocking addition to this defense and could be a big piece in the near future. 

Free Agent Signings 

The Patriots went all in on free agency this off-season. They spent big on both sides of the ball. On defense, they added solid defensive players such as Matthew Judon, Kyle Van Noy, and Davon Godchaux. The players that they added on defense could cause this unit to instantly become one of the NFL’s best. 

Matthew Judon could prove to be the biggest signing for this defense. He signed a four-year $56 million dollar deal that will make him a centerpiece of this defense. 

Judon played during his time with the Baltimore Ravens. He spent five years in Baltimore where he recorded 34.5 sacks and 103 quarterback hits. 

The Patriots clearly have a history full of success, and after a lackluster 2020 are looking to make sure that this upcoming season is different. They have gone all in with the team that they have assembled. This defense has been consistent for this team and their 2021 will show that they will return to being elite. Expect big things from this unit this upcoming season. 

Why the Pats could return to being AFC East champions

Belichick will lead Pats to an AFC East title

By: Pat Pitts

The Patriots received a culture shock finishing their season in Week 17, then watched as their former face of the franchise won another Super Bowl. Their 7-9 record ranks as the second worst season Belichick has had in New England. In 2000, the Patriots finished the season 5-11. The next season turned out a bit different. 

History repeats itself. 

If I was asked to summarize the Patriots’ 2020 season, I would not be nice. It was like reading about a tragic car crash in the newspaper. The more you read into it, the worse the incident becomes. 

A new year means a fresh start. Thank you football gods.

The Bills winning the AFC East snapped an 11-year consecutive streak of the Patriots sitting atop of the division. A historic streak that may be in jeopardy by how the Bills looked last season. Josh Allen and Stefon Diggs mirrored Brady & Moss in 2007 at times. The Dolphins caught the eyes of fans after barely missing the playoffs behind a rookie QB. It is going to be a competitive division this year, but not for Jets fans. 

Sorry. 

The Patriots will reclaim their throne at the top of the AFC East this season. The Bills and Dolphins have talented, young rosters ready to compete for a Lombardi, but they are missing one thing. A head coach who has won more Super Bowls than both of the franchises combined.

Belichick needs to prove to the football world he can win without Tom Brady. He trails his former QB in that department. This is the year he will even the score and it starts with the division. 

These three reasons are a few of many reasons why they will win their 18th division title in 21 years. 

A rebuilt offense

The 2020 Patriots lacked a lot of things but mainly star power. Cam Newton can play scapegoat, but look who his receivers were. Jakobi Meyers and Damiere Byrd led the team in targets. Belichick knew he had to make an upgrade. 

The signings of Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor are leaps and bounds better than the mediocrity Newton threw to last season. In addition, however, Newton gained two of the league’s top five tight ends in Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. As a result, the offense becomes an instant improvement without a down of football played. 

In 2011, the Patriots relied heavily on their two TE system in Gronk and Hernandez. The duo ranked two and three in every major receiving category, targets, receptions, yards, and touchdowns. With Newton’s regressing arm, these two will be more significant in the offense than fans realize. 

Defense wins a championship, again. 

Belichick’s championship teams consisted of TB12 and stalwart defense. Guys like Tedy Bruschi, Willie McGinest, and Ty Law were the core of the first dynasty, while Dont’a Hightower, Stephon Gilmore, and the McCourty Bros. carried the torch into the second one. 

Who’s next in line of the throne? 

The Patriots signed a few players to help with their 25th ranked defense against the run. Matt Judon (EDGE), Devon Godchaux (DL), and former Patriot Kyle Van Noy (LB) help the cause with their run-stopping ability and getting to the quarterback. 

They even upgraded their passing defense, signing Jalen Mills and placing a second-round tender on J.C Jackson, who had a breakout season finishing top three in interceptions. Training camp will bring many eyeson who will pick up the torch into the third dynasty era. 

History always repeats itself.

I look at sports a bit differently than most people. Nevertheless, there are patterns within all sports, specifically in certain franchises. The Patriots have a few of these patterns, but one stands out in particular. 

Since 2000, the Patriots have not won the AFC East three times However, the 2000,2002,2008). The season following their failure to capture, they won the division. Two of those three times, they played and won that year’s Super Bowl. 

Yes, it is a bit out there, but history repeats itself. Constantly. 

The New England Patriots are destined to climb back up the mountain, even without Tom Brady. Bill Belichick knows the game better than he knows his own family. He understands how to win and win often. So whether division winners this season. I guarantee it.  

Why Josh McDaniels will be the next head coach of the New England Patriots

Josh McDaniel can be the next Patriots HC

By: Pat Pitts

All good things must come to an end. Nothing lasts forever. When one door closes, another one opens. 

Whatever phrase you want to use, it doesn’t make it hurt any less for Patriots fans. Bill Belichick’s time as head coach has begun to wind down. Brady won without Belichick, but could the opposite happen? That is a question for another time. 

I am here to answer another question—a question sitting on the sidelines for too long. 

No one wants to think about it. The Patriots added a ton of star power during the offseason. Belichick is not leaving anytime soon. However, a particular coordinator refused to accept the Colts head coaching vacancy after taking it hours before. Also, Belichick brought back a former coordinator on his coaching staff after a disastrous first try at being a head coach. They returned with a purpose. 

Josh McDaniels will be the next head coach of the New England Patriots. It’s the obvious answer to the giant elephant in the room. Belichick cannot coach forever; he knows that. He has been planning this for a long time. McDaniels is the prodigal son; what other reason is there for him returning to New England in 2012?

How long has McDaniels coached under Belichick?

In 2001, the New England Patriots shocked the world, winning their first Super Bowl in franchise history against “The Greatest Show on Turf.” It was also the same year Josh McDaniels became a coach in the NFL. First, McDaniels coached under Belichick as a Personnel Assistant, eventually moving up to QBs coach. 

McDaniels has witnessed coordinator after coordinator receives head coaching jobs, so he decided to get one himself. In 2009, he became the head coach of the Denver Broncos. He started 6-0, including defeating his former boss at Mile High. Unfortunately, McDaniels celebrated the victory a bit too hard. 

It was Week 5. Not the best look for a rookie head coach. Even Belichick would agree. 

His looks speak volumes. He cannot believe what he is watching. The face seems to give off an impression of doubt McDaniels took on such a big job too soon in his carrer.

 Ironically, this would be McDaniel’s peak moment of his season. The Broncos started losing, eventually missing the playoffs. McDaniels was fired after the 2010 season. 

McDaniels returned to coaching in a different role under the famous Steve Spagnuolo in St.Louis, then picked back up by Papa Belichick in 2012. His plan began to formulate in fruition. The next head coach of the Patriots was back in the building. 

McDaniels returned to his former role with the addition of play calling in 2012. Belichick knew how to get the best out of his coaches, especially McDaniels. He had his old job back but tacked on with the most critical role on gameday, calling plays for the greatest quarterback of all time. He added more hardware to his shelf, winning three more Lombardis in four appearances to the Super Bowl in five years. Insanity. 

As I mentioned above, McDaniels has seen it throughout his time in New England. He returned for a specific reason. He was being groomed to take over for Belichick. I have been saying it for the past few seasons. The writing is on the wall; I cannot be the only person reading it, right?

Why is McDaniels interviewing for other teams then?

It is the first thing I am asked when I bring the topic up in conversation. Josh McDaniels interviewed for multiple head coaching jobs since the Patriots’ second dynasty began in 2014. In fact, Josh McDaniels accepted the Colts head coach vacancy in 2019, which he backed out of the day before he would be sworn into office. A very Belichick move by one of his soldiers; did McDaniels have the same intentions?

In January 2020, Sports Illustrated writer Devon Clements wrote about the incident, noting how he declined at the last minute because Kraft wanted him to be the heir to the throne. However, the reason was debunked by NFL personality Albert Breer, stating how it had to do with football logistics, meaning its day-to-day operations. There was a disagreement; McDaniels walked away. 

Since then, McDaniels has interviewed for head coaching jobs but has not accepted one. It was even reported that Belichick refused McDaniels to move up head coach interviews a week, even though They lost in the Wild Card round already. Why?

Belichick is playing a mind game with the NFL. He always wants to have the upper hand. So allowing McDaniels to interview for jobs signals to other teams McDaniels is not off-limits. However, the actual interview begins after McDaniels sits down for his interviews. 

The interviews are just more opportunities for McDaniels to gain experience. Belichick knows this and wants to see how much he retained. Also, it will get a sense of how they can improve their offense within the talks. 

The New England Patriots are transitioning into a new beginning. Brady returns to Gillette in another uniform in October. Belichick turns 70 in a year. McDaniels brings the perfect amount of old school and a contemporary era. When he turned down the Colts’ head coaching job, he accepted another one. I believe McDaniels will carry on Belichick’s legacy with honor and even a few more Lombardis to add to the stadium’s hall of fame. Who else to bring Patriots Nation into the next chapter than someone who has been there throughout it all. It makes sense; don’t overthink it.

QB Mac Jones is the future of New England

QB Mac Jones is the future of the Patriots

By: Pat Pitts

New England Patriots fans enter 2021 surrounded by unfamiliar territory. The guarantee of an AFC championship birth vanished along with their golden child to the sunshine state. Belichick prepared for this day to come, but did it come too soon?

It feels like it after the abysmal performance Cam Newton displayed a season ago. Single-digit touchdowns paired with double-digit interceptions are not a way to make a great impression on a fan base. Especially, a franchise expecting a trip to the Super Bowl or else the season was a waste. 

Patriots fans have become a bit greedy. Well, six Lombardi trophies in two decades give them a reason to be. 

Newton’s disappointing play sent Kraft and Belichick to the drawing board ahead of the NFL Draft. The Patriots needed to fill up gaps at nearly every position; the draft helps but is not the only way to improve. 

The Patriots filled every possible gap on the depth chart on the first day of free agency. They smashed the record for most guaranteed money offered on a single day of FA, $159.6M. Signings like Kendrick Bourne, Jonnu Smith, Hunter Henry, and Nelson Agholor give the Patriots receiving options they lacked in 2020.  

The offense has been upgraded, but missing a crucial piece to the puzzle. Who will lead this stacked offense into battle?

Kraft and Belichick knew that their QB of the future was not in the free agency pool, even informing local media personality, @Patspulpit, in an article a few months prior.

“If you want to have a good, consistent, winning football team, you can’t do it in free agency,” Kraft said. “You have to do it through the draft.”

Belichick and the rest of his staff studied every potential QB1 in the draft class. He and Josh McDaniels visited a few pro days, including Mac Jones’ at Alabama. The duo stood off to the side, analyzing every single throw Jones attempted. 

Jones showed off his accuracy with every pass completed to Smith or Waddle. Well, not every pass.

The disappointment written across Belichick’s face displays interest in the draft prospect. If he could prosper in Saban’s system, imagine how well he can perform in the Patriots offense. Belichick cares about one thing. Luckily for Jones, it is the one thing he does at an elite level. 

On draft day, New England’s front office sat and watched the event unfold. They patiently waited for the cards to fall into place. They did not trade up, nor did they complete a trade. Fourteen players drafted without Belichick batting an eye. 

He already had his pick.

Mac Jones became a New England Patriot. His wish came true. 

Mac Jones steps into the Patriots’ offense with a lot of uncertainty. He has only produced one season of elite numbers. He played in the most dominant system in college football with Belichick’s other half. He was surrounded by NFL talent to enhance his play. 

I have listened to experts and analysts say these thoughts and a few other outlandish statements about the rookie QB. Starting with his lack of athleticism and finishing off with how his lack of NCAA starting experience will be his downfall in the NFL. 

Lamar Jackson fell to the 32nd pick of the draft. The Patriots chose N’Keal Harry over DK Metcalf and AJ Brown. Sometimes the “experts” can be wrong. 

Belichick has his first actual QB battle since Brady v Bledsoe. A former number one overall pick fights for his starting job against a scrawny, immobile rookie quarterback. This story sounds familiar. 

History repeats itself constantly, which is why Mac Jones will be the starting quarterback for the Patriots sooner than fans think. Jones brings a highly accurate arm and calm, poised presence in the pocket that Newton lacked all of last season. 

Mac Jones brings change and hope to the Patriots, more so than Cam does. Here are a few ways how. 

What are Jones’ most significant strengths?

Bill Belichick drafted Mac Jones with a purpose. Other than being a clone of his former QB, Jones shares many similarities that Brady built a career doing in Foxboro. Yes, he can air out a deep ball or two, but his ability to move downfield with underneath passing made him the most accurate passer in college football last season. 

Jones’ accuracy stats should cause a big deep breath by Patriots Nation. He led the SEC in accuracy percentage (70.8%) and finished with the lowest interception percentage (1.3%), interceptable pass rate (4.4%), and uncatchable pass rate (11.7%). 

Jones’s ability to throw an extremely accurate ball stems from his poise in the pocket. He allows his receivers to run their routes before making his decision. He knows he has the playmakers around him to get the job done. 

The Patriots added a few playmakers to help mimic Mac’s offense from a year prior. At first glance, it seems like a makeshift fantasy football roster, not the most attractive.

A member of the Boston sports media described these receivers as “Target brand” receivers, meaning that they had a chance to sign an elite WR but settled on two solid ones. It’s called a two-for-one special; we bargain hunt in Massachusetts. 

Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne have demonstrated that they are reliable receivers within the past few seasons. Both players notched career highs in receiving yards in 2020. Agholor tied his career-high in touchdowns with eight. 

The two young WRs are not the only pass catchers to provide Jones with a huge amount of support this year. Jones has the luxury of lining up beside two of the league’s top five tight ends, Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry. 

Smith and Henry ranked third on their respective teams in targets, receptions, yards and touchdowns a season ago. They provided their QB1s with relief and safety on crucial downs and especially in the red zone. 

After the first week of OTAs, Jones has impressed the entire coaching staff with his ability to understand the playbook. The Patriots playbook is one of the most complicated in the league; this is a great sign for Pats fans. 

Belichick surrounded Jones with the right pieces for him to succeed. More importantly, he provided him with top-tier protection. 

How can Jones overcome his weaknesses to earn the starting job?

Death. Taxes. NFL analysts/experts making their case for why a certain player will be a bust. 

Mac Jones ranked as college football’s best QB in 2020, but nearly slipped out of the top five in his draft class. Trey Lance has less experience as a starting quarterback than Jones, yet drafted twelve spots ahead of Jones. 

Why? Because Lance scrambles for first downs; Jones tosses it to someone else for one. Different ways to reach the same destination. 

Jones’ style of play works well in a system with a balanced offense, talented pass catchers and a stout offensive line to protect Jones as the play develops. The Patriots have all three of these key elements, specifically a group of linemen willing to protect their leader. 

How does the Patriots’ offensive line play a role in Jones’ success?

The biggest issue fans have seen with rookie quarterbacks is how poorly they are protected. Joe Burrow, first overall draft pick, tore his ACL and MCL due to the lack of protecting Cincinnati’s golden boy. 

Belichick operates two steps ahead of the entire NFL. He prioritizes developing a stalwart line to stop the pass rush. 

In 2020, the New England Patriots offensive line ranked fourth in the NFL, despite their scoring woes. Joe Thuney, Isaiah Wynn, and Shaq Mason finished the season with a PFF grade above 80. The sixth-rounder, Michael Onwenu, finished with the highest grade out of the group, 84.3. 

Joe Thuney left to sign with the Chiefs, while Trent Brown returned home to Foxboro. Brown’s size gives Jones a sense of security for him to repeat his senior season. 

Jones sat behind a brick wall at Alabama, allowing him to find his wide-open receivers with ease. Jones ranked atop of the NCAA in passer rating in a clean pocket, 142.5. When he passes from a messy bag, he is just as lethal. 

However, Jones does not need to leave the pocket to air it downfield. 

Jones broke the university’s record for passer rating when under pressure. He completed 56 passes for 976 yards, 13 touchdowns, and two interceptions for a rating of 131. The slight decline indicates that Jones does not need to leave the pocket to make plays. 

Mac Jones did not sign his rookie contract with hopes of getting acquainted with the clipboard; Jones wants to compete. There is a slight problem. Cam Newton is still here.  

Newton throws a wrench into the Jones show’s debut. He resigned from a one-year contract this offseason; He wants redemption. 

If OTA’s foreshadow anything for fans, then we are in for an exciting training camp. Newton hurting his hand at practice adds fuel to the fiery battle between Stidham and Jones. 

Jones took first-team reps after Newton left the practice fields. His first test under the microscope did not go as planned. He tossed two pick-sixes within passes of each other along with failing to display his accuracy. Stidham, who struggles with his accuracy, Completed nearly all of his passes. 

Friday’s practice was freaky.

How long does Cam Newton last as QB1?

Cam Newton started 15 forgettable games in 2020. Even in the ones where he shined, Newton found a way to come up a tad short. The fumble in Buffalo was the exact moment the Patriots season’s expiration date was in plain sight. 

It is easy to write about Newton’s offensive play, but the factors surrounding him did not help his cause. Newton caught COVID, forcing him to sit out against the Chiefs. A game which they could have won, but Brian Hoyer refused to allow that. When he was healthy, his pass catchers consisted of Jakobi Meyers and Demetrie Byrd. Also, the lack of incorporating tight ends into the offense added even more to their constant struggles.

Mac Jones waltzed his way into a dream situation. He has the opportunity to learn as much as he can from the greatest coach in NFL history. A coach who operates his squad very similar to Jones’ college coach, Nick Saban. He sits behind a former MVP at quarterback, even with the battle for the starting gig. 

Success is not going to happen overnight with Jones. It will be a long, meticulous process thanks to Tom Brady leaving behind a sinkhole-sized hole to fill. 

Jones brings a Brady-type feel back to Gillette Stadium with being counted out before the preseason kicks off. Both men doubted, overlooked by nearly every team, but have the one thing you need to survive in the NFL, a winning mentality. 

Brady has displayed it for the past two decades. The NFL has learned that you do not need to be mobile as a QB to succeed in the NFL. Jones hopes to carry that torch for another two decades, adding a few Lombardis to his shelf in the process. 

Anything is possible.

Reliving the career of one of the most prominent coaches in NFL history: Bill Belichick

By: Jeremy Trottier

Bill Belichick has accomplished many things during his forty-five years in the NFL, many things that other coaches could not dream of doing during their careers even if they worked significantly longer than he has.  Creating your own name and brand in a sense as a head coach is something not many can do, but Bill has done this in spite of how quiet he may be.  There is a reason the New England Patriots are tied for the most Super Bowl wins ever, and the large majority of them fall onto the shoulders of Belichick.

With this said, his career did not start out with Super Bowl victories and glory, nor did it start with the Patriots, or even as a head coach.  In this article, I will be re-living the career of one of the most legendary coaches in NFL history, and going through each detail of his tenure including from the very begging up to 2021.   

Early NFL Coaching Career

Like I mentioned previously, Bill Belichick did not start at the top or as a head coach, or even with the team he is known for.  Belichick started out like everyone else, an assistant to an assistant for lack of better terms. In fact he started out on a team that no longer exists frankly, which makes it all the more interesting.  Belichick started out with the Baltimore Colts in 1975 as a “special assistant”, practically assistant to the head coach, who at the time was Ted Marchibroda.  This job according to the team records paid $25 per week, which goes to show how dedicated Bill was to this career.  Despite barely getting paid, he took this as an opportunity to learn from the head coach, and from the franchise, as well as gain connections wherever he could throughout the league.

Moving into 1976 and 1977, Belichick spent these early years with the Detroit Lions, starting as an assistant special teams coach before also picking up tight ends and wide receivers coaching in 1977.  Looking back on this today it is rather ironic, as many former Patriots players and coaches have gone to Detroit, such as Matt Patricia.  Knowing that Bill came from this franchise and got his first positional coaching gig there is interesting regardless.  After 1977 Bill was dismissed from the Lions, as well as the rest of the coaching staff in January of 1978.  

His last short one-year stint as a positional coach came with the Denver Broncos after this firing, where he would go back to his role of assistant special teams coach.  He would also pick up a new role of defensive assistant, which gave him the opportunity to see the third part of football he had not seen yet.  By now, he had seen offense (WR and TE coach), defense (defensive assistant), and special teams (assistant special teams coach), which I believe led to his knowledge on football and how important all three facets are.  

First Bigger Coaching Positions

After his one year with the Broncos, Belichick would move on to have a 12 year run with who else but the New York Giants.  Not many know this about his prior career, but he spent time with the team who is now considered one of the Patriots rivals, as well as a rival of Boston in general.  The head coach at the time was Walter Ray Perkins, mainly just known as Ray Perkins.  Ray had a huge impact on Bill both in learning football and schemes, as well as just man to man, as when Perkins passed away Belichick had the following to say about him:

“Ray gave me an opportunity in 1979 to go with the Giants and that was a life-changing moment for me. I’ve always been deeply appreciative of that opportunity and have a ton of respect for Ray. We developed a very close relationship and I appreciate all that he did for the Giants program, which was terrible when he took over in ’79, to make it a highly competitive team in ’81 and ’82 was a strike year. As a former player and coach, Ray had a good perspective on the game. He played for two of the greatest coaches of all time in Bear Bryant and Don Shula. His level of competitiveness and toughness was about as good as anybody I’ve ever been around. With the Patriots, the terminology that Ray and Ron Erhardt used under Coach [Chuck] Fairbanks here in the late 70s, early 80s that then came to New England with Ray and with Bill Parcells after the ’80 season. Certainly the terminology and a lot of the fundamentals and foundation of our offensive system are still in that offense from Ray and Ron back in the late 70s under Coach Fairbanks. So, he had a big impact on my life and my career, and I have a ton of respect for Ray and his family. My personal sympathies go out to them as part of the Patriots family.” 

Clearly his respect for Perkins cannot be understated, and it makes sense that that’s the case, as he gave him a shot at a long term tenure.  Another huge part of Bill’s career would come when Perkins was not head coach, but rather the legendary Bill Parcells.  This is also where Bill would win his first two Super Bowls, XXI and XXV, more notably XXV where his defensive gameplan for that game has been enshrined in the Pro Football HOF, as it is part of history.  

After Super Bowl XXV, Bill went on to get his first head coaching gig with the Cleveland Browns, who he stayed with from 1991 to 1995.  He underperformed with this team record wise, ending up 36-44 by his firing in 1995 and only one playoff win.  This win was over the New England Patriots as well, which is a bit ironic since he would move on to them in 1996.  This playoff win would be the last in Browns history before the 2020 season, so clearly he did something right in Cleveland.  

First Stint in New England & With NYJ

Following in Bill Parcells’ footsteps, Belichick went to New England in 1996 to be an assistant head coach and DBs coach.  This season would end up being Belichick’s first Super Bowl appearance with New England, after an 11-5 record that season.  Bill Parcells was rumored to leave the Patriots before the end of that season, and the Patriots lost the Super Bowl to the Green Bay Packers which would spur a huge number of events.  

Belichick would become the interim head coach of the New York Jets in 1997, but the Jets and Patriots negotiated the release of Bill Parcells to come to the Jets with Belichick, making Belichick assistant head coach again and Parcells to be the head coach.  After two years, Parcells resigned from the head coach position in 1999 and had previously stated that Belichick would succeed him as the new head coach.  However at Belichicks media conference during day one of being a HC, he resigned as the head coach.  In a rather odd change of what was to be expected at the time, he would then go back to start his longest tenure which still reigns with the Patriots, becoming head coach and succeeding Pete Carroll.

Modern Era Patriots

One of the first major moves of Bill in the Patriots organization was he was given almost all control over football operations by Robert Kraft.  This essentially made him the GM in a sense, as he had control over almost all of the football aspects of the game.  In Bill’s first season as a head coach with New England, they went 11-5 and made it all the way to Super Bowl XXXVI, which they would go on to win on a game-winning FG from Adam Vinatieri.

From the span of 2002 to 2019, the Patriots created essentially what is considered one of the biggest dynasties in NFL history.  They would go on to win the AFC East all but two years in that span (both 2nd place otherwise, in 2002 and 2008).  During this time, they would go to eight Super Bowls, including 2003, 2004, 2007, 2011, 2014, 2016, 2017, and 2018, and would win five of them.  This also led to the longest string of NFL playoff appearance seasons, which still holds, at eleven straight seasons from 2009 to 2019.

To sum up this period of time, we can look at Bill’s list of records broken as well as his coaching stats overall, which look as such:

  • 6x Super Bowl Champion (XXXVI, XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLIX, LI, LIII)
  • 3x Coach of the Year (2003, 2007, 2010)
  • Most Super Bowl victories as a head coach (tied – 6)
  • Most Super Bowl appearances as a head coach (9)
  • Most NFL playoff wins as a HC (31)
  • Regular season record of 280-136 or 67.3% winning percentage
  • Post season record of 31-12 or 72.1% winning percentage
  • Only active coach named to the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team
  • Longest tenured active head coach

Overall, his career is legendary to this day, and he will be placed with the likes of Don Shula, Bill Parcells, Vince Lombardi, and the few others that have graced the NFL with their presence.  Being able to meet three different presidents during your NFL coaching career (so far) with the Super Bowl White House visit is pretty impressive frankly, and shows just how capable he has been as a HC in New England.  

Why Steve Belichick can be the next great head coach

Steve Belichick is primed to be the next legend

By: Reese Nasser

Steve Belichick has been a part of the New England Patriots coaching staff since 2012 when he was hired as a defensive assistant straight out of college. His history predates that as his father has been the head coach of the team since 2000.

While many people know him just as longtime Patriots Coach Bill Belichick’s son, Steve has proven to be much more than that. In his nine years with the team, he has quickly climbed his way through the ranks as he is now the coach of the outside linebackers. But what is the future of Steve Belichick’s career? Let’s take a look at why he can be one of the next great coaches in the NFL. 

What He Does Now

Steve is currently listed as the outside linebackers coach for the Patriots, a position that he has held since 2020. Before this. he was both the coach of the safeties and the secondary.   

But that is not all that he does. It is the NFL’s worst kept secret that Steve also calls plays for the Patriots defense, or at least does occasionally.

Former New England linebacker Jarod Mayo is the inside linebackers coach for the Patriots. It has been reported that he calls plays on defense as well. So there is no clear play caller in New England, but instead, a duo that knows all of the ins and outs of the team. 

What the Next Step Is

Bill Belichick, throughout his career, has for the most part always been opposed to officially naming who the defensive coordinator is. There have been few people throughout his tenure that have officially received the title. Even when looking at the Patriots coaching staff right now, there is no defensive coordinator listed. 

But, that could potentially change soon. As noted, Steve has spent time calling plays on the defensive side of the ball, alongside Jarod Mayo. These two are the unofficial defensive coordinator, seemingly splitting the duties.

If Bill Belichick decides to name an official defensive coordinator, it would make sense for it to be Steve. Outside of just being Bill’s son, Steve has achieved a lot during his short time in the NFL.

His coaching helped cornerback Stephen Gilmore have the best season of his career in 2019, which resulted in Gilmore winning Defensive Player of the Year and being named to his second First Team All-Pro team. This 2019 defense also led the NFL in both scoring and yards allowed per game. This success must be attributed to Steve in some way, even if not entirely.

The next step in helping Steve move forward would be to give him the official title of Defensive Coordinator. His proven knowledge on the defensive ball is clearly there but his achievements may be getting lost in the shuffle because he does not have the title of defence coordinator. After receiving this title, if Steve hasn’t already, head coaching looks should begin to roll in.

Why He Can Be Great

Belichick seemingly has all of the intangibles needed to be a great head coach in the NFL. His strong defensive mind will be heavily sought after in a league that is starting to rely so much on offense.

He also, much like his father, seems to live and breathe football. His knowledge and involvement at the highest level of the game can not go unnoticed. He has been in an NFL locker room since 2011 and has already experienced five super bowls and won three. He has been a part of every facet of the game and has become a proven leader. His defensive units have been regarded as some of the best in the NFL.  

The knowledge that his father has passed down to him will only help him become an even better coach. Bill Belichich, when all is said and done, may go down as the best coach in NFL history. His son will undoubtedly learn more about the game through the things that he has already experienced.

The expectations will be high for Steve once he reaches the pinnacle of coaching, whenever that may be. But, if anything that he has shown to this point is real, he will be up to the task. And he might just end up being great. 

3 QBs Bill Belichick Should really Consider Trading For

Belichick trading for Jimmy G?

Daniel Racz @Danny___Dimes

Introduction

During the 2020 offseason, Tom Brady’s departure from New England changed the landscape of the National Football League. While most NFL fans acknowledged Bill Bellichick’s coaching prowess, Brady’s farewell caused the Patriots to change the direction of their franchise. What was once the only dynasty of the 21st century quickly became a re-tooling mission. The Covid opt-outs, specifically Dont’a Hightower and Marcus Cannon, hurt the Patriots’ chances before week one even kicked off. That said, the ultimate demise of New England last season came from their lack of success and stability at the quarterback position. Cam Newton looked promising during the few games before he contracted Covid, but he played like a shell of his former self once he returned. 

New England re-signed Newton to an incentive-laden one-year deal as insurance. During the 2021 NFL draft, they selected Alabama-product Mac Jones with the 15th pick as the 5th quarterback off the board. Going forward, Jones will be given a shot to prove himself worthy of the throne which Brady once helmed. However, the Patriots can also look for more proven options soon to maximize their current winning window. 

The Proven Superstar: Deshaun Watson

Watson’s legal situation is on the backburner of the current NFL news cycle, and there are certainly backroom conversations occurring between front offices. Watson and his accusers will likely reach settlements, and the league may suspend him for up to one season. Reports from Houston Chronicle’s John McClain signal that Watson will not suit up for the Texans again. When on the field, Watson is a top 8 quarterback that can elevate his surrounding talent. Placing Watson behind the Patriots’ stellar offensive line and competent weapons group would lead to a dynamic offense. Paired with an above-average defense, a Watson-led Patriots team would be a super bowl threat from the Get-go. An offer for Watson would require a combination of starting-caliber talent and a plethora of draft capital, so it might be wise to explore more affordable options at the quarterback position. 

The Proven Commodity: Jimmy Garoppolo

Bill Belichick already has a relationship with Jimmy G dating back to 2014. During the second round, the Patriots drafted Garoppolo as a potential successor to Tom Brady. Towards the end of Garoppolo’s rookie deal, it became clear that Brady was not going anywhere. The 49ers sent a second-round pick back to New England for the quarterback. As of today, the 49ers have their potential franchise quarterback in South Dakota State’s Trey Lance. After June 1st, The team can cut Jimmy and save 25 million dollars towards their 2021 salary cap. The 49ers could use those savings to re-sign Richard Sherman and add other free agents. 

Belichick knows that with a good supporting cast, Garoppolo can bring a team deep into the postseason. If the Patriots are not content with their current QB room, they could acquire Garropollo for nothing more than a day three draft pick and restructure his contract as part of the trade. While Jimmy Garoppolo would not elevate the Patriots to super bowl contender status, he would provide more insurance. 

The Shot in the Dark: Jordan Love

The current Packers quarterback situation is not one many other teams would envy given the turmoil. However, there is going to be some shakeup in Green Bay this offseason, whether it be in the front office or on the roster. If Aaron Rodgers is on the move, he will not want to go to an organization like New England. However, if Rodgers stays in Wisconsin, Jordan Love could be on the move. The 2020 first-round pick, dubbed a project since his selection, could be a developmental piece for the Patriots. Love’s arm strength is undeniable, though there is much to be desired in almost every other aspect of his game. If Love sits on the bench and learns from Cam Newton in year one, there is a chance the Patriots select him as their future. Given the unusual circumstance surrounding Jordan Love, a trade package is difficult to nail down, though a package would likely center around a day two draft pick. 

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