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#pounditSaturday, October 1, 2022

Articles tagged: New England Patriots

Former 1st-round pick may need desperation move to make Patriots

NKeal Harry in Patriots uniform

Dec 26, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots wide receiver N’Keal Harry (1) during warmups prior to a game agains the Buffalo Bills at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

A notorious New England Patriots’ first-round pick is facing a major uphill battle to make the team’s roster in training camp. His odds are so bad, a radical position switch may be his only chance.

Wide receiver N’Keal Harry, the Patriots’ first-round pick in 2019, is considered a “long shot” to make the final 53-man roster barring injuries, according to Mike Reiss of ESPN. Harry’s situation is so rough that, according to Reiss, a switch to tight end to compete for a third-string role may be his best chance of making the roster.

Harry, the No. 32 pick in 2019, probably isn’t well-suited to the position. At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, he’d be slightly undersized, not to mention he has registered little success in his career so far.

The 24-year-old entered the league with high hopes, but they simply have not materialized. He had just 12 receptions in 2021 and failed to catch a touchdown, and only has four touchdown catches in his career. He has been on his way out for quite a while now.

Mac Jones reportedly taking big step in second offseason

Mac Jones looks on

Nov 18, 2021; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Mac Jones (10) during a timeout against the Atlanta Falcons in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

There has been a lot of talk this offseason about the New England Patriots losing their offensive identity now that Josh McDaniels is gone, but it sounds like Mac Jones is doing everything he can to make sure that does not happen.

Jeff Howe of The Athletic shared a few notes out of New England in his latest notebook on Friday. One of them is that the Patriots “sound ecstatic” with the dedication Jones has shown heading into his second NFL season. As Howe describes it, Jones has been taking ownership of the offense and is “willing to vouch for plays and concepts that he likes and pump the brakes on the stuff that hasn’t worked.”

Bill Belichick has not publicly named a new offensive coordinator with McDaniels now the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. It is unclear who will be calling plays for the Patriots. Belichick has brought back two former assistants — Joe Judge and Matt Patricia — following their failed stints as head coaches elsewhere. Those decisions have been met with a great deal of skepticism, especially since Judge said this week that he will be working closely with Jones.

A lack of development from Daniel Jones was one of the reasons the New York Giants fired Judge. Will the coach have more success working with Jones? Time will tell, but it is a good sign that Jones is taking the initiative with months to go until the start of the 2022 season.

Cole Strange had hilarious reaction to draft phone call from Patriots

Cole Strange during an interview

Bill Belichick left the NFL world scratching their heads when he selected Cole Strange with the 29th overall pick in the draft last month. If you want to know how unexpected the decision was, just ask the former Chattanooga offensive lineman’s father.

Strange’s father Greg told Chris Mason of this week that Cole got a call from an unknown number at around 11 p.m. on the first night of the NFL Draft. He put the phone on speaker. Greg said Cole’s initial instinct was that someone was pranking him.

“(Cole) said, ‘Sir, I don’t mean to be disrespectful at all, but I’ve gotta know because I’ve got some crazy friends. Is this a prank?’” Greg recalled. “The guy said, ‘Hold on just a second.’ And then Bill Belichick got on the phone and of course, unless you’ve been under a rock for the last 20 years, you know Bill Belichick’s voice.”

Greg and Cole both felt much better after hearing from Belichick himself. Greg said Belichick even gave his son some friendly ribbing when things quieted down.

“Belichick is sitting there and when we got through, the first break he had, he said, ‘Hey Cole, you’ve gotta act like you’ve been there, man.’ It was classic to us,” the elder Strange said. “We absolutely loved it.”

Almost everyone outside of the Patriots’ draft room was stunned by the Strange pick. Rams head coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead probably had the best reactions.

The 6-foot-5, 307-pound Strange impressed teams in drills at the Scouting Combine earlier this offseason. Belichick told reporters after the first round that Strange “wouldn’t have lasted much longer,” but even the Strange family probably disagrees.

Report: Patriots players have 1 concern about upcoming season

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

There have been a lot of questions about how the New England Patriots will look on offense next season now that Josh McDaniels is gone, and those are not exclusive to the media. Some players are reportedly a bit concerned, too.

Greg Bedard of said this week that there are players on the Patriots’ roster who are “alarmed” about the direction of the team’s offense. More specifically, there are people who were baffled by the comments offensive assistant Joe Judge made earlier this week.

Judge, who was fired as the head coach of the New York Giants after last season, has returned to New England. He served as an assistant on Bill Belichick’s staff for eight years prior to landing the Giants job. He was mostly a special teams coach, but Belichick added wide receivers coach to his title the season before Judge was hired by the Giants.

While the Patriots have not named a new offensive coordinator (at least publicly), Judge told reporters on Tuesday that he will be working closely with Mac Jones. He shared some of his plan to help the second-year quarterback develop.

Judge also babbled at length about how all offensive coaches need to be able to coach all skill position players. Bedard found those remarks to be puzzling.

The phrase “in Belichick we trust” is a popular one in New England. However, the coach is going to face a great deal of criticism if the Patriots struggle on offense this season. Daniel Jones did not make strides under Judge in New York. If Jones hits a wall, Belichick’s decision to bring Judge back will look pretty bad.

Joe Judge shares his plan for helping 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

Joe Judge returned to the New England Patriots as an offensive assistant after he was fired by the New York Giants. While we still have no idea who will call plays for Bill Belichick now that Josh McDaniels is gone, one thing is clear — Judge will be working directly with Mac Jones.

Judge told reporters this week that he is excited to work with Jones. He went into some of the details of his plan for helping the former first-round pick.

As for who is calling plays, Judge said no one has been told anything. He said his job at the moment is to work with the quarterbacks. Many Patriots fans are concerned about that after the lack of development we saw from Daniel Jones under Judge in New York.

Former Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia, who also returned to New England as an offensive assistant, told reporters he has mostly been working with the offensive line. He was primarily a defensive assistant during his first stint with the Patriots.

Belichick will face a lot of criticism for his coaching hires if Jones does not improve in his second NFL season.

Patriots could have surprising offensive playcaller in 2022

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

Matt Patricia lasted less than three full seasons as the head coach of the Detroit Lions, but Bill Belichick still seems to view him jack of all trades.

The New England Patriots have not named an offensive coordinator in the wake of Josh McDaniels leaving to become the head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. Belichick may not name one, which is something he has done in the past immediately after coordinators leave. Someone will still have to call plays, so who will it be?

According to USA Today’s Henry McKenna, Belichick may hold some sort of competition during training camp to determine who will be the Patriots’ offensive playcaller. Assistant coaches Matt Patricia and Joe Judge are viewed as the top candidates.

Patricia’s official role with the Patriots is “senior football advisor.” He made a name for himself as a defensive assistant under Belichick for 12 years from 2006-2017. Patricia was defensive coordinator for the last six of those before he was hired by the Lions. Though, he did spend two seasons as an offensive assistant under Belichick in 2004 and 2005.

Judge was a special teams coach during his entire first stint with the Patriots from 2012-2019. He added wide receivers coach to his resume in 2019 before moving on to become the head coach of the New York Giants.

Either Patricia or Judge would be an unconventional choice for an offensive playcaller. If Belichick is not comfortable with one of his assistants calling plays, there has already been talk that he may go a different route.

Longtime Patriots broadcaster Gino Cappelletti dies — dead at 89

Geno Cappelletti during an interview

The New England Patriots lost one of the most recognizable figures in their franchise’s history this week, as Gino Cappelletti has died.

The Patriots announced on Thursday that Cappelletti has died at age 89. The former wide receiver and placekicker played for the then-Boston Patriots from the franchise’s inaugural season in 1960 through 1970. He was only the second player in the Patriots Hall of Fame when he was inducted in 1992.

Fans in New England both young and old are very familiar with Cappelletti. After he retired from playing, he spent his first stint in broadcasting from 1972-1978. He then served as the Patriots’ special teams coach from 1979-1981 before returning as a radio broadcaster for the team in 1988. Cappelletti announced his retirement from broadcasting in 2012.

Cappelletti called Patriots games on the radio alongside play-by-play announcer Gil Santos for 28 seasons. They worked an NFL record six Super Bowls together. Santos and Cappelletti were considered by many to be the voices of the original Bill Belichick-Tom Brady dynasty.

Report: Patriots trade once-promising QB prospect to Raiders

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 gave Jarrett Stidham an opportunity to be the heir to the Tom Brady throne, but the former Auburn star was unable to capitalize. He is now headed to a new team.

Albert Breer of The MMQB reports that the Patriots have agreed to trade Stidham to the Las Vegas Raiders. The two teams are expected to swap late-round draft picks in the deal.

James Stewart of 98.5 The Sports Hub was the first to report the news.

New England drafted Stidham in the fourth round back in 2019. He appeared in eight games over his first two years and then underwent offseason back surgery prior to last season. Stidham was activated in November and served as the Patriots’ third-string quarterback behind Mac Jones and Brian Hoyer. He did not play in any games.

New Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels was the offensive coordinator with the Patriots when they drafted Stidham. That connection was likely the catalyst behind the trade.

Sean McVay had must-see reaction to Patriots’ draft pick

Sean McVay and Les Snead at a press conference

The New England Patriots traded back in the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night, but they were still able to get their guy at 29th overall. That guy happens to be someone most people have never heard of, and Sean McVay got a real kick out the pick.

McVay and Rams general manager Les Snead happened to be meeting with reporters at the time the Patriots selected Chattanooga offensive lineman Cole Strange. McVay’s face lit up and he said “Strange just went!” Snead got just as much of a kick out of the pick. McVay then joked that the Rams “wasted our time” scouting Strange thinking he would still be available when L.A. finally came on the clock at No. 104.

If Strange becomes a Pro Bowler, that clip is probably going to haunt McVay and Snead. The two seemed to be laughing at themselves for thinking they had found a gem in Strange who might be there at No. 104. Obviously New England saw the same thing the Rams did and didn’t take the chance that someone else might like Strange.

Strange is a tremendous athlete. The 6-foot-5, 307-pound lineman impressed teams in drills at the Scouting Combine earlier this offseason. Belichick told reporters after the first round that Strange “wouldn’t have lasted much longer,” but media analysts seemed to disagree.

Belichick is often a step ahead of his peers, which is why he is a future Hall of Famer.

Bill Belichick has made notable change to offseason approach

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

Bill Belichick turned 70 on Saturday, which was a sobering reminder that most of the future Hall of Famer’s legendary coaching career is behind him. One might think Belichick would start to slow down given his age, but apparently the opposite has happened this offseason.

Albert Breer of The MMQB was told by someone familiar with Belichick that the New England Patriots coach is working even harder this offseason than he has in the past. Some of that work has been done via Zoom in Jupiter, Fla., and Nantucket, Mass., but Breer notes that it shows “there really isn’t any place (Belichick would) rather be.”

Belichick’s sons, Stephen and Brian, are both on his staff with the Patriots. That has been cited as one of the main reasons Belichick has not lost his passion for coaching. While many coaches retire to spend more time with their families, Belichick is able to do that at work.

Belichick is also chasing an important piece of NFL history. He currently has 321 wins in his career, including the playoffs. That places him third behind Don Shula, who has 347, and George Halas, who has 324. Belichick should surpass Halas this season, and Shula is well within reach.

While he said in the past that he did not want to coach into his 70s, Belichick is already there. He is likely motivated to prove he can win without Tom Brady, and he took a step in the right direction last season when the Patriots reached the playoffs with rookie quarterback Mac Jones.

As of now, there is no reason to think the Patriots will be looking for a new head coach anytime soon. Robert Kraft made that fairly clear with the recent goal he laid out for Belichick’s future.