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#pounditTuesday, October 19, 2021

Articles tagged: New England Patriots

Bill Belichick had great explanation for not challenging Mac Jones incompletion

Bill Belichick

Mac Jones looked sharp in his preseason debut with the New England Patriots on Thursday night, and his stat line could have been even better if not for a bad call. Bill Belichick had an opportunity to challenge the play, and you can probably guess what the coach’s explanation was for passing it up.

Jones had a 15-yard pass attempt to Jakobi Meyers in the first quarter that Meyers had to pick off the turf. It was ruled incomplete. Replays showed that Meyers got his left hand under the ball and kept it from hitting the ground. You can see the video below:

The incompletion came on 2nd-and-6. Jones completed a 7-yard pass on the next play for a first down, so it didn’t cost the Patriots much. When asked after the game why he didn’t challenge the ruling, Belichick said he simply didn’t feel like it.

That explanation would be a lot more infuriating for Patriots fans during the regular season. At the same time, it’s good to see Belichick already in midseason form with the media.

Jones completed 13-of-19 passes for 87 yards in his team’s 22-13 win. He looked comfortable in his first live NFL action. Belichick recently shared a small hint about New England’s QB situation, but Cam Newton is the favorite to start in Week 1. If Jones keeps playing like he did on Thursday, Newton will have to be at the top of his game to keep his job.

Why Patriots-Buccaneers may not be Tom Brady’s final game at Gillette Stadium

Tom Brady Bucs

This year’s regular season game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots is one of the most highly anticipated NFL contests of all time. Tom Brady is returning to Gillette Stadium for the first time as a visiting player, and the belief is that it will be his last. But what if it isn’t?

ESPN’s Mike Reiss shared an interesting observation on Sunday when discussing the 17th game that has been added to the NFL’s regular season schedule. The 17th game is a home game for the Patriots in 2023, and they will host the NFC South team that finishes in whatever place New England finishes in the AFC East that season. That means the Patriots could, in theory, host the Buccaneers again in two years.

Brady’s goal for a while has been to play until he is 45. He’ll turn 45 just before the start of next season, and his longtime trainer recently said he expects Brady to play through 2022 and potentially beyond. Depending on how things go the next two seasons, it is not unrealistic to think Brady might play in 2023.

If you have seen how much Patriots-Buccaneers tickets have been selling for, you know the the general consensus is that Brady’s trip to Gillette Stadium this season will be his last. It still might be even if he plays in 2023, but there is no guarantee.

The Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski Tampa party continues! Treat yourself or a friend with this great Tampa Fiesta shirt. You can buy it here.

Cam Newton offers optimistic outlook for his 2021 season

Cam Newton

New England Patriots fans have very low expectations for Cam Newton heading into the season, which is understandable when you look at how the former MVP played in 2020. While Newton is not quite ready to tell people to get their popcorn ready, he seems like he expects much better results this year.

During an appearance on ESPN Radio’s “Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin Show” on Thursday morning, Newton spoke about what has changed for him between his first and second years in New England.

“I don’t want to get so caught up in promises and things like that, but I can guarantee you that there’s been a shift in comfort of knowing more,” Newton said, via ESPN’s Mike Reiss. “And I think that’s added value in itself.”

There were many, many factors working against Newton last season. He was signed late in the offseason, and there were a number of restrictions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic. That limited the amount of time players were able to spend working out with their teammates. Newton then contracted COVID-19 during the season and was out for a while.

The Patriots also had arguably the worst collection of skill position players in the NFL last season. They have since added star tight ends Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry as well as wide receivers Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor.

While the new weapons should help, Newton clearly knows he will be under a microscope this year.

“I know who I am. At times, I do remind myself people forget who you are, and what you’ve done,” he said. “So now I’m a position now where I need to be my best self. It’s really put-up or shut-up time.”

The Patriots used the 15th overall pick in the draft on Mac Jones. Based on everything we have heard about the former Alabama star this offseason, Newton may need to play very well to keep his job. Bill Belichick has repeatedly said that Newton is the team’s starter, but there is virtually no chance it stays that way if the 32-year-old struggles the way he did in 2020.

Cam Newton is back with the Patriots! Treat yourself or a friend with this great Cam Newton Patriots shirt. You can buy it here.

Stephon Gilmore breaks silence on his contract holdout

Stephon Gilmore

Stephon Gilmore made it clear that he wants a new contract from the New England Patriots when he chose not to show up to minicamp, but the All-Pro cornerback has now removed all doubt.

Gilmore confirmed to NFL reporter Josina Anderson on Friday that he is seeking a new deal. He said he simply wants to be paid what he is worth and is hopeful he and the Patriots can work something out.

“I just want what I’m worth, however that plays out,” Gilmore said. “Every player should be paid what they’re worth. That’s just how it is. … Hopefully we can find some common ground and get it situated. I just know what I bring to the table and my style of play. Right now I’m just trying to focus on myself and make sure I’m good mentally and physically.”

A report earlier in the offseason claimed it was a foregone conclusion that Gilmore would be traded. That was before the Patriots went out and spent more during free agency than they ever have. Gilmore told Anderson he is not looking to be traded.

Gilmore suffered a quad injury last season, but he says his recovery is going well. Some of the reports we heard this week should make Patriots fans feel more optimistic about the situation, though it’s never a great sign when a player goes public with his frustrations.

Report: Stephon Gilmore, Patriots working toward contract extension

Stephon Gilmore

Stephon Gilmore has yet to report to the New England Patriots this offseason, but there seems to be plenty of optimism surrounding the situation.

Gilmore, who is set to make less than $8 million this season, wants a new contract. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler said on “SportsCenter” Thursday that the Patriots are open to giving him one. The two sides are expected to sit down before training camp in hopes of working out an extension.

There was talk early in the offseason that the Patriots wanted to trade Gilmore, but that was before they went on a free agent spending spree. Now, the belief is that Bill Belichick is committed to contending in 2021, and it would be a lot tougher for New England to do that without Gilmore.

While Gilmore is coming off a significant quad injury, he’s still one of the best cornerbacks in football when healthy. At least one rival player has tried to recruit Gilmore, but all signs point to the Patriots doing what they can to keep him around.

Patriots not open to trading Stephon Gilmore?

Stephon Gilmore

Stephon Gilmore is seeking a new contract, and there has been talk that the New England Patriots may have to trade the All-Pro cornerback. They are hoping to avoid that outcome, however.

Gilmore held out of minicamp and likely will not report to training camp without a new deal. He is set to make a base salary of $7.9 million in 2021, which is well below market value for a top cornerback. Despite that, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe notes that the negotiations between Gilmore and the Patriots have not seemed tense. The reporter also does not believe the Patriots have interest in trading Gilmore.

As Volin notes, New England shelled out $175 million in contract guarantees this offseason. Bill Belichick obviously wants to field a playoff contender this year, and trading his best defensive player would create a huge hole in the roster. Even with Gilmore coming off a quad injury, his importance to the Patriots’ defense cannot be overstated.

A report earlier in the offseason claimed it was viewed as a foregone conclusion that the Patriots would trade Gilmore. That seems like a last resort at this point, though things could change if contract negotiations take an ugly turn.

Draft bust N’Keal Harry publicly requests trade from Patriots

N’Keal Harry is the latest in a long line of wide receivers who have struggled in the NFL after being drafted by the New England Patriots. Clearly, the former Arizona State star believes that is the team’s fault, not his.

Harry’s agent, Jamal Tooson, said in a statement on Tuesday that he has informed the Patriots his client wants a trade. Tooson pointed to the fact that Harry has drawn just 86 total targets in two seasons in New England since he was drafted 32nd overall in 2019. The agent said Harry “understands a key ingredient to production is opportunity.”

Here’s the full statement:

The Patriots signed two starting-caliber wide receivers this offseason in Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne. They are almost certainly open to trading Harry, but they probably have not received an offer that they deem worthy.

Harry, who flashed serious playmaking ability at Arizona State, has 45 catches for 414 yards and just four touchdowns in two seasons with the Patriots. He has missed a total of 11 games.

Harry’s trainer previously pointed the finger at Cam Newton for Harry’s struggles last season. Now we have his agent blaming the Patriots for not giving Harry enough opportunities. It will be interesting to see if the 23-year-old can salvage his career elsewhere.

New Patriot Hunter Henry held his gender reveal at Gillette Stadium

Hunter Henry gender reveal

Hunter Henry has only been with the New England Patriots for a few months, but the star tight end is already fully immersed in the team’s culture. We know this because he chose Gillette Stadium as the spot where he found out if he is having a baby boy or baby girl.

Henry and his wife Parker are expecting their first child later this year. They held a private gender reveal at Gillette Stadium this week, and Henry shared the video on Instagram. Hunter, who predicted the couple would be having a girl, and Parker, who was “Team Boy,” stood facing the video board at their new home stadium and got the news.

It’s a boy. Check out the video:

Henry may have predicted that he and Parker were having a girl, but he was clearly pumped with the result. We can’t say the same for the last Boston athlete who went public with his gender reveal.

Anonymous Patriots player has telling comment about Mac Jones

Mac Jones

New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick seems intent on having Cam Newton start the season as his No. 1 quarterback, but there have been numerous reports that Mac Jones could push the former NFL MVP in training camp. Judging by what one Patriots player said about the rookie this week, an open competition almost seems inevitable.

Mike Giardi of NFL.com wrote on Monday that Jones looked better than Newton throughout most of minicamp this month. While many players have struggled to grasp New England’s offense, it sounds like Jones already has a handle on it.

One anonymous Patriot who plays on the offensive side of the ball told Giardi that “Mac sees the game the way (offensive coordinator) Josh (McDaniels) sees it.”

Considering Jones was drafted less than two months ago, that is quite telling.

Newton never got a fair shot in his first season with the Patriots. He was signed late in the offseason, and restrictions related to the pandemic made it so he was way behind in learning a new offense. The Patriots also had arguably the worst collection of skill position players in the NFL. That is likely why Belichick insists on keeping Newton at the top of the depth chart, but that could change.

Even Newton has had very high praise for Jones, so the former Alabama star has quickly made his mark. Newton clearly has the inside track on the starting job, but it would be naive to say Jones has no chance at supplanting him.

Patriots temporarily gave away Rob Gronkowski’s old number to rookie

Rob Gronkowski

Rob Gronkowski’s number hasn’t been officially retired by the New England Patriots. They offered a reminder of that recently when they gave it away for the first time since the tight end’s departure — to a tryout rookie, no less.

As noted by Mike Reiss of ESPN, wide receiver Devin Ross wore Gronkowski’s old No. 87 during his recent tryout, raising some eyebrows. The Patriots ended up signing Ross to their 90-man camp roster, but with a new number — No. 8. It’s not clear if that was the plan all along or if the Patriots had second thoughts about giving Gronkowski’s old number to a rookie receiver — or anyone else, for that matter.

It’s too early for the Patriots to retire any numbers from their two-decade dynasty. It’s almost certain Tom Brady’s No. 12 will not be worn again by a New England player. Guys like Gronkowski are more of a question, though he will forever be closely associated with that period of time in Patriots history.

There doesn’t appear to be any animosity between Gronk and the Patriots. For that and many other reasons, it wouldn’t really be a shock if the franchise keeps No. 87 out of circulation at least for a while.