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#pounditTuesday, August 9, 2022

Articles tagged: New England Patriots

Patriots’ offense getting awful reviews over scheme change

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

The New England Patriots have consistently been running the same basic offensive scheme for two decades. That may be changing this season, and that change is apparently proving to be quite a difficult one.

The Patriots have begun to implement zone-blocking schemes in their offense this year, a departure from their gap-heavy rushing attack of years past. Whether this is used in games remains to be seen, but Patriots team reporter Evan Lazar suggested that the offense is “struggling to execute” the new zone schemes.

The reviews got even more scathing on Monday. Phil A. Perry of NBC Sports Boston said the offense looked “broken.” Colleague Tom E. Curran concurred, calling the offense “distressingly bad” and singling out the offensive line as a major problem spot.

Poor blocking has consistently been a theme of reports from Patriots camp. Only a few days ago, the issue seemed to be impacting quarterback Mac Jones’ ability to operate.

The Patriots have declined to formally name an offensive coordinator this year. Instead, the job appears to be a collaboration between trusted Bill Belichick lieutenants Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, neither of whom comes from an offensive coaching background. Between that and the apparent scheme tweak, things could be quite rocky for New England’s offense this season.

Mac Jones, Patriots’ offense not looking great in training camp?

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 looked very good as a rookie last season. But according to one reporter, he hasn’t looked quite as good to start training camp with the New England Patriots, and the problems are deeper than the quarterback.

NFL Network reporter Mike Giardi says that Jones has not looked as comfortable this camp as he did last year.

“Mac Jones had some moments of uncertainty a yr ago in training camp but not nearly as many as you would expect for a rook. This summer? Far more. Yes, it is early August. There’s time. However, the install started back in the spring & you’d like more comfort & success,” Giardi wrote.

Giardi added that the Patriots’ offense hasn’t been able to run the ball at all in camp and that receivers haven’t been getting open.

“To clarify, this isn’t all on Mac. Blocking has been poor (they haven’t been able to run the ball a lick in camp) and last night, there were a number of times Mac had to hold because receivers weren’t open. Not a wonderful combination…” Giardi wrote.

Giardi isn’t alone in this opinion.

ESPN Patriots reporter Mike Reiss noted that there have been a number of “no chance” plays for the Pats’ offense in camp.

This is only the start of camp, and it’s possible New England’s defense is playing extremely well. But in a league that increasingly is focused on explosive offenses, the Patriots’ offense struggling in camp is a concern.

New England lost offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels to the Las Vegas Raiders. They seem to be replacing him with former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. This could end up being a big problem for the Pats.

Ex-Patriot got into car crash to avoid wrath of Bill Belichick

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 is known for running a tight ship in New England. One thing the longtime coach does not tolerate is players being late to practice, and a former Patriots lineman told a shocking story this week that helps illustrate just how intimidating Belichick can be.

Rich Ohrnberger, an ex-Patriots offensive lineman, said on his “The Hartman And Rich O Show” this week on XTRA 1360 that he once intentionally got into a car accident so he had an excuse for being late to practice. The 2009 fourth-round pick said his phone died overnight and he overslept. When he was already five minutes late with a 15-minute drive ahead of him, Ohrnberger decided to take drastic measures.

“I’m gonna be 10 minutes late for this day. I have this sinking feeling in my stomach like, ‘I’m gonna be cut. (Belichick’s) not gonna have me on this football team come tomorrow. What do I do?’” Ohrnberger recalled, as transcribed by Jared Greenspan of the New York Post. “I see a church van in front of me that’s all dinged up and it’s got the black smoke coming out of the exhaust pipe and I’m like, ‘I’m gonna hit this car.’ It’s better to pay the insurance than embarrass myself by being late for a Patriots team meeting.”

Ohrnberger says he drove his Chevy Tahoe into the back of the van just hard enough to dent his bumper so he had proof of the accident. He said his heart was “pounding with regret and guilt” when an elderly man stepped out of the van, but fortunately no one was hurt.

The Patriots bought the story, according to Ohrnberger. He kept his job despite his offensive line coach saying “that stuff doesn’t work here.”

Belichick has a history of benching players seemingly without explanation, so you can understand why Ohrnberger panicked. Does that mean rear-ending a car on purpose was a good decision? That one is debatable.

Bill Belichick has noteworthy praise of Mac Jones

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 has been a lot of hype surrounding Mac Jones in his second NFL offseason. Typically, Bill Belichick does his best to temper expectations in a situation like that. The New England Patriots coach is not doing that this time, however.

Belichick was asked on Tuesday how much input Jones has had in building the Patriots’ offense. He took the opportunity to shower the former Alabama star in praise.

“I think Mac’s done a great job. He’s worked extremely hard. He’s got a tremendous work ethic,” Belichick said. “In all areas, I think there’s a dramatic improvement — his physical work and conditioning, working on his mechanics, working on his footwork. He’s understanding of our offense, of opponents’ defenses, of situations, all of those things. He did a great job last year but he’s starting from a much higher point this year than where he started last year.”

You can hear more of Belichick’s comments below:

Jones was impressive as a rookie last year. His stats — 3,801 yards, 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions — were nothing special, but he played well enough to lead the Patriots to the playoffs. He is clearly committed to avoiding the sophomore slump.

A recent photo that went viral appeared to show that Jones is in great physical shape. Veteran teammates have also had nothing but positive things to say about him.

It would be a surprise at this point if Jones does not take a step forward in his second NFL season.

Patriots make decision on offensive coordinator role

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 have named their coaching staff for the 2022 season, meaning they have made a decision on who will serve as offensive coordinator. The answer? No one, at least officially.

The Patriots listed Joe Judge as an offensive assistant and quarterbacks coach, while Matt Patricia is a senior football advisor and offensive line coach. The team declined to officially name a defensive coordinator as well, with both Steve Belichick and Jerod Mayo being assigned to linebackers.

In other words, the Patriots simply are not going to tell us who is going to call plays. Supposedly Patricia had the inside track to get the role, but others who know how coach Bill Belichick works are quite skeptical of that.

The Patriots’ playcalling role is vacant after longtime offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels departed to become head coach of the Las Vegas Raiders. We may not actually know who the replacement is until preseason games begin and we see the Patriots in action.

Bill Belichick once savagely trolled his own defensive backs

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

Bill Belichick is known more for his motivational skills than his sense of humor, but the New England Patriots coach apparently knows how to combine the two when the situation calls for it.

Former Patriots safety Duron Harmon shared a funny story about Belichick during a recent appearance on “The Patriots Podcast” with the Boston Globe’s Christopher Price. Harmon said he and two of his fellow defensive backs, Logan Ryan and Devin McCourty, were battling injuries prior to a preseason game in 2016. Belichick did not feel the injuries were serious enough to hold them out of the exhibition game, and he had a hilarious way of conveying that.

“He’s a jokester. He’s got his days where he likes to joke,” Harmon said, via Nick O’Malley of MLive.com. “I’ll never forget, right before the third preseason game, he brings in a glass container of marshmallows. He sent them into the DB room for me, Dev and Log. It was like, ‘Are you guys gonna be soft or y’all gonna be ready to play this preseason game?’ Because I think we were all coming back from injuries, if I’m not mistaken.”

The three defenders responded well to the challenge. They each had an interception in the game.

“So he was like, ‘Soft, soft, soft.’ I promise you, that preseason game, all three of us had an interception,” Harmon recalled. “We go into halftime, and it’s like ‘Well, I guess you (expletive) boys aren’t soft anymore.’”

There are very few coaches who could get away with calling their players “soft” as they nurse injuries before a preseason game, but Belichick is obviously one of them. The results say it all.

Rob Gronkowski reveals why he left Patriots out of retirement announcement

Rob Gronkowski on the sideline

Nov 28, 2021; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski (87 on the sideline in the first half against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

Rob Gronkowski caused some unrest by not mentioning the New England Patriots in his recent retirement announcement despite playing most of his career with them. The former tight end was asked about that Tuesday, and he asserted that any controversy about that has been blown out of proportion.

Gronkowski said he did not acknowledge the Patriots in his most recent retirement post because he had already done so the first time he retired.

“I think it’s a little blown out of proportion,” Gronkowski told Sean McGuire of NESN. “I mean, I kind of did it when, you know, my first retirement.

“There’s no doubt I love New England. I love all the fans here in New England. There’s no doubt. But I felt like that speech or whatever, the time and place I did for the first one was great, and I was just kind of giving it for that retirement for the two years I had in Tampa. But I think it was blown out of proportion maybe a little. But I love New England, love everything about it.”

Gronkowski is correct when he mentions how he paid tribute to the Patriots upon his initial retirement in 2019. In his mind, he did not need to do so again, as that retirement closed the door on that phase of his career.

Whatever his intent, Gronk probably should have seen this coming. After all, Tom Brady caused a huge furor when he initially retired without acknowledging the Patriots. Circumstances were different here, but the omission was bound to be noticed.

Patriots veteran shares what impresses him most about 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 may come across as soft-spoken, but one New England Patriots veteran says the quarterback can become the most fierce player on the field when the situation calls for it.

Patriots tight end Jonnu Smith spoke about Jones’ development during a Monday appearance on NFL Network’s “Good Morning Football.” When asked what has impressed him most about Jones, Smith said he loves that the former Alabama star can be the “goofiest” person in the locker room but flip a switch on the field.

“Honestly, man, just the way he can turn it on,” Smith said. “Mac is definitely one of the most goofiest guys in the locker room, to be honest, man. But when he steps on that field, he’s a different character. He’s just got so much ability and so much dog in him. Once he flips that switch, he’s a whole different character. Some guys don’t know how to cut that on and cut that off when it’s time to do it. He’s so young. He’s poised. He’s got a little swagger to him, man. I’m glad he’s throwing us passes. That’s my guy.”

Smith is one of several Patriots players who have heaped praise on Jones this offseason. The 23-year-old is clearly putting in a significant amount of work heading into Year 2. He has even been imitating Tom Brady in at least one way.

No one really knows what to expect from the Patriots this season. The AFC looks stacked on paper, but any Bill Belichick-led team usually has a chance to reach the playoffs. If Jones is as good as advertised, the Patriots could surprise a lot of people.

Julian Edelman shares thoughts on potential NFL comeback

Julian Edelman pumps up the crowd

Sep 26, 2021; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Former New England Patriots Julian Edelman is honored during halftime against the New Orleans Saints at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Julian Edelman has not closed the door on an NFL return.

The former New England Patriots wide receiver retired last April. He was asked during an appearance at the Sunset Sports Media Festival in Zadar, Croatia last weekend if he would return to the league to play with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“I don’t know, we’ll see,” Edelman said via Jenna Lemoncelli of the New York Post. “That’s called a little teaser. We’ll see. We’re staying in shape but you never know.”

The Super Bowl LIII MVP also said that, if he were to return, it would be to his old team.

“I’d probably go back to the Patriots,” Edelman said. “I love the Patriots. Foxborough Forever.”

This isn’t the first time Edelman has sparked comeback rumors. The 36-year-old has worked out with Tom Brady at UCLA, and a video of the two former teammates went viral. Edelman also had some fun with fans over rumors that he could join the Buccaneers in 2021, but has repeatedly shut down any notion that he would reunite with Brady.

In 11 NFL seasons with the New England Patriots, Edelman caught 620 passes for 6,822 yards and 36 touchdowns, and won three Super Bowls. In 19 career playoff games, he had 118 receptions for 1,442 yards and five touchdowns.

Ex-Bill Belichick advisor weighs in on Patriots’ playcalling mystery

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 have not named a formal replacement for Josh McDaniels, and that is likely the way it will stay through the 2022 season. Still, someone has to call plays, and everyone wants to know who that will be. Michael Lombardi is not buying the latest report.

Jeff Howe of The Athletic reported this week that Matt Patricia is the favorite to be the de-facto offensive coordinator in New England this year. Head coach Bill Belichick said earlier this offseason that Patricia will be working with the offensive line. Former Patriots assistant Michael Lombardi said on “The GM Shuffle” podcast this week that he does not think Patricia can do that and call plays.

“I don’t see how an offensive line coach can call plays,” Lombardi said It’s hard enough to get those five guys to play good, to make sure they handle the protections, to make sure everything is copacetic in the run game, to make sure everybody’s doing their job. You’re focused on them. … Who’s sitting with Mac Jones? That’s the guy who has to call the plays. On Monday through Saturday, that personal relationship between the quarterback and playcaller manifests itself on Sunday.”

You can hear more of Lombardi’s rationale below:

Lombardi served as an assistant to the coaching staff under Belichick in 2014 and 2015. He is quite familiar with how the legendary coach operates. The former longtime NFL executive questioned the source of Howe’s reporting.

“How can Matt Patricia coach the line and those 8-10 guys he’s gotta coach and then have to develop a relationship with the quarterback?” Lombardi asked. “It doesn’t make any sense to me. I think it’s just somebody throwing stuff out there.”

Patricia was an offensive assistant for a brief time in his first stint with the Patriots. He really made a name for himself as a defensive coordinator, however, which is why it would be bizarre if Belichick named him the team’s playcaller. The other top candidate for the job is not one who excites Patriots fans all that much, either.