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#pounditMonday, October 3, 2022

Articles tagged: New England Patriots

Report: Bill Belichick had key reason for passing over Bill O’Brien

Bill Belichick with a headset

Dec 29, 2019; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the sidelines during the second half of their loss to the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots’ rough training camp offensively brought back questions about why coach Bill Belichick did not do more to bring former assistant Bill O’Brien back into the fold. A new report shed some light on why such an arrangement was never seriously considered.

According to Albert Breer of The MMQB, Belichick was concerned that O’Brien would be a one-year replacement for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, and that O’Brien would bolt for a head coaching position in 2023. Belichick was apparently wary of that outcome, and made little attempt to speak with Alabama coach Nick Saban about bringing O’Brien back to New England.

O’Brien, currently the offensive coordinator at Alabama, worked for Belichick from 2007 to 2011. In theory, the two sides might have been able to work something out, but Belichick is clearly fixated on a bit more continuity on his coaching staff. Previous reports suggested that the relationship between Belichick and Saban also played a role.

The Patriots have lost a number of high-profile coaches in recent years, with McDaniels leaving to take over the Las Vegas Raiders. That may be why Belichick is content to rely on an unorthodox play-calling arrangement in 2022. The long-term view is admirable, but it might harm the Patriots this season more than it helps.

Reporter shares troubling assessment of Mac Jones

Mac Jones in pads

Aug 12, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones 10) throws the ball during a game against the Washington Football Team at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Mac Jones has drawn rave reviews from teammates and the media for how hard he has worked heading into his second NFL season, but doubts are starting to build about whether all that preparation will pay off.

There have been multiple reports over the past month that the New England Patriots’ offense has not looked good during training camp. In his latest projection of the team’s 53-man roster, Chad Graff of The Athletic wrote that there is “reason to believe (Jones) isn’t fully prepared for Year 2.” Graff cited some issues that are not in Jones’ control, like inexperienced play-callers and poor performances from the offensive line and running game. However, he also said Jones has been at fault for some of the struggles.

“But it’s also not entirely fair to absolve Jones. He threw a bad interception against the Raiders that was right at a waiting linebacker,” Graff wrote. “There’s still plenty of time for Jones to turn things around and deliver a great season, but it was far from the preseason he and the team were hoping for.

Jones and the Patriots could make everyone forget about the preseason struggles if they put together a strong performance against the Miami Dolphins in Week 1. That said, it is more than fair to be concerned about the direction of New England’s offense now that Josh McDaniels is gone.

There was a lot of hype about Jones emulating Tom Brady and looking jacked earlier in the summer. Most of what we have heard since has to have Patriots fans concerned.

Bill Belichick has surprising excuse for Patriots’ preseason loss

Bill Belichick with a headset

Dec 29, 2019; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the sidelines during the second half of their loss to the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots looked bad in their preseason finale Friday, losing 23-6 to the Las Vegas Raiders. Bill Belichick had an interesting theory as to why his team was so flat.

Belichick suggested after the game that the Patriots may have left it on the practice field during joint practices with the Raiders on Tuesday and Wednesday.

“All right, well we didn’t have a really good night tonight in any phase of the game,” Belichick said after the game, via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk. “That’s obvious. Might have left it on the practice field on Tuesday and Wednesday. Certainly practiced a lot better than we played out there tonight.”

It’s not often that you will hear a coach suggest that their team may have actually practiced too hard. Of course, process is hugely important to Belichick, so he can deal with bad preseason showings if he thinks the practices are good enough.

The bigger issue may be that the Patriots once again looked inept on offense. That has been a trend throughout camp, and it raises worries about their bizarre playcalling setup as the regular season looms.

Video shows cheap shot that led to Panthers-Patriots practice fight

Kenny Robinson without a helmet

Oct 3, 2021; Arlington, Texas, USA; Carolina Panthers safety Kenny Robinson (27) against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

One of the ugly brawls that broke out during joint practices between the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots this week was sparked by a ruthless special teams hit, and a video has since surfaced of the cheap shot.

Patriots players on Wednesday took exception to a hit from Panthers safety Kenny Robinson on wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson during a kickoff. The hit looked like it was up in the head and neck area. Wilkerson was motionless on the turf after the play, and Robinson stood over him and celebrated.

The video of the play is grainy, but you can see that Wilkerson had his head turned when Robinson delivered the blow. You can also clearly see the celebration, which is what set Patriots players off.

Robinson was ejected from that practice and the one the day before for being involved in a scuffle. Panthers head coach Matt Rhule was asked about Robinson’s hit on Wilkerson and condemned the taunting.

“I didn’t really see the hit, but I did see him standing over the player. That’s not how we want to practice,” Rhule said, via Justin Leger of NBC Sports Boston. “Things happen in football. There were some good, clean hits, but we don’t stand over someone and taunt them.”

It is always a bad look to stand over a motionless player and celebrate. It is an even worse look to do so in a meaningless inter-squad scrimmage.

Between the Wilkerson hit and a fan almost getting injured by a defensive lineman, joint practices between the Panthers and Patriots were about as ugly as you will see.

Patriots’ second-round pick suffers significant injury

Bill Belichick on the sideline

Oct 10, 2021; Houston, Texas, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick reacts during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots received very bad news about a key second-round pick after Friday’s preseason game.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Patriots wide receiver Tyquan Thornton suffered a collarbone injury Friday against the Carolina Panthers, and will miss significant time. The injury is not expected to be season-ending, but certainly appears likely to linger into the regular season.

Thornton had been having an impressive camp, making this injury news even more disappointing. The 50th overall pick was renowned for his speed. He ran the third-fastest official time at the NFL Combine 40-yard dash at 4.28.

Thornton certainly seemed to be lining himself up for at least some role in the New England offense as a rookie. With him missing time, Bill Belichick may have to reluctantly bring one veteran back into the fold more prominently.

Have Patriots decided on a play-caller?

Bill Belichick with a headset

Dec 29, 2019; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the sidelines during the second half of their loss to the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Who will call plays for the New England Patriots in 2022? Head coach Bill Belichick isn’t ready to publicly commit just yet, but the evidence is clearly pointing in a specific direction.

During a 20-10 preseason victory over the Carolina Panthers on Friday night, it was senior football advisor and offensive line coach Matt Patricia with the playsheet in his hand.

Even though Patricia was the playcaller for the game, Belichick won’t confirm things.

“It’s still a process,” Belichick said with a sly smile, via MassLive.

Belichick even refused to acknowledge Patricia was calling the plays on Friday night despite the obvious.

“Communication with the quarterback, yeah. As far as calling the plays, there’s a whole ‘nother process on that,” Belichick said.

Someone should inform quarterback Mac Jones, because he’s talking differently.

“He’s one of the most brilliant people I’ve ever been around in terms of football knowledge,” Jones said, via the Boston Herald. “Between all the coaches we have, they’ve done a great job preparing us. He’s really starting to get a feel for (play-calling). That’s the thing, he’s just growing each week and making sure that we can stack good days together. He’s very easy to talk to on the sideline, very easy, laid-back kind of type coach but he demands a lot, and I respect that about him. Hopefully we can grow for a long time.”

Joe Judge had been another option for Belichick and the Patriots, but he seems destined to exist in the background.

Patriots fans were asking the same question during Friday’s preseason game

Kendrick Bourne smiles

May 23, 2022; Foxborough, MA, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver Kendrick Bourne (84) speaks to the media at the team’s OTA at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports

Where in the world is wide receiver Kendrick Bourne? That’s a question New England Patriots fans couldn’t stop themselves from asking on Friday night.

It’s also a question head coach Bill Belichick refused to answer in any great detail following a 20-10 victory over the Carolina Panthers in their preseason game.

Bourne did not play, which came as a surprise.

“He wasn’t available,” Belichick said after the game, via Zack Cox of NESN.

Bourne’s absence was not injury-related and capped an ugly week for the 27-year-old. He had been kicked out of Tuesday’s joint practice with the Panthers for fighting and then spent Wednesday taking second-team snaps.

This latest round of misfortune also comes on the heels of an unimpressive training camp for Bourne. After posting a career-high 800 yards and five touchdowns in 2021, he’s struggled to produce this summer. Bourne has caught more than one pass in practice just once since camp opened and his roster spot is now very much up in the air.

The Patriots will conduct joint practices with the Las Vegas Raiders next week before closing out the preseason, and Belichick says Bourne will return to the field.

“I expect probably all of our players to be available this week with maybe the exception of (Kristian) Wilkerson,” Belichick said. “We’ll see what happens, unless somebody walks in here with something today, but I think we should be pretty close with everybody. Hopefully. We’ll see how it goes.”

Bourne has a lot of ground to make up and redemption to find in the coming days. Any more struggles or slip-ups and he may soon find himself on the waiver wire.

Players land on fan during latest Panthers-Patriots practice fight

Patriots and Panthers fight at practice

Tempers flared once again during Wednesday’s joint practice between the Carolina Panthers and New England Patriots. Unfortunately, one fan involuntarily became a part of the scrum.

Players were jawing back and forth right from the start of practice in what quickly turned into a repeat of Tuesday’s session. According to Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston, the most recent brawl was sparked by Patriots defensive lineman Deatrich Wise hitting Panthers star Christian McCaffrey late. McCaffrey spiked the ball at Wise and multiple Carolina players rushed to the running back’s defense. Wise ended up falling on a woman who was seated in the front row at the Gillette Stadium practice field.

You can see some of the altercation below. If you watch the right side you will see where Wise was shoved into the first row.

Fortunately, the woman Wise landed on was not injured. She refused medical attention and was offered tickets to a Patriots game later this season.

That fight seemed even more animated than the one the day before (video here). It’s great to see passion from players during a meaningless scrimmage, but you know things have gotten carried away when a 270-pound defensive end lands on a fan.

Patriots Super Bowl hero out for season

Malcolm Butler warms up before a game

Tennessee Titans cornerback Malcolm Butler (21) warms up before the game against the Buffalo Bills at Nissan Stadium Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.
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New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler’s comeback with his former team will have to wait another year.

Butler will not play this season after being placed on the team’s season-ending injured reserve list. In addition to Butler, cornerback Joejuan Williams was also put on injured reserve.

Butler in March had signed a two-year, $9 million deal to return to the Patriots. It is currently unclear what type of injury Butler suffered, although he had not practiced since Thursday’s preseason game against the New York Giants.

Butler was originally signed by the Patriots as an undrafted free agent in 2014 and played his first four seasons there. His first stint in New England was highlighted by a game-sealing interception against the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. Butler’s first four years with the team concluded on a low note after he was benched during New England’s Super Bowl LII loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Butler claimed earlier this offseason that he and Bill Belichick still had not talked about the infamous decision.

The 32-year-old signed with the Tennessee Titans as a free agent in 2018. In three seasons, he had nine interceptions in 41 games, as well as 201 combined tackles and one sack.

Butler signed with the Arizona Cardinals last year, but sat out due to personal reasons and was released this offseason.

The Patriots still have plenty of depth at the cornerback position to absorb Butler’s absence, however, including Jalen Mills, Jon Jones, Jack Jones, Terrance Mitchell and Shaun Wade.

Multiple fights break out at Patriots-Panthers joint practice

Bill Belichick with a headset

Dec 29, 2019; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick on the sidelines during the second half of their loss to the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers are holding joint practices this week ahead of their preseason matchup, and tempers flared during the first session.

Several players were ejected from practice on Tuesday after multiple fights broke out. The first appeared to start after Patriots wide receiver Kristian Wilkerson caught a pass near the Carolina bench. Some jawing back and forth turned physical, and several Patriots players ran over to get involved. Reporters who were in attendance said Wilkerson had his helmet ripped off during the melee and teammate Kendrick Bourne threw punches at Panthers players.

You can see the two teams swarming together in the video below:

The first scrum led to Bourne, Wilkerson, and Panthers defensive back Kenny Robinson being kicked off the field. A few plays later, there was another heated incident between Patriots offensive lineman James Ferentz and Panthers defensive tackle Phil Hoskins. Both players were also ejected by one of the officials overseeing the joint practice.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and Panthers head coach Matt Rhule called their players together after the second fight and told everyone to knock it off.

There is no known bad blood between the two teams, but this certainly is not the first time we have seen things get heated during a joint practice.