Jaguars – Review & Josh Gordon

So…you’ve probably read a million reviews by now or listened to podcasts that have all said similar things and I’m in agreement with pretty much all of it.

We stuffed the inside and dared Bortles to go over the top and make throws and guess what? He made throws. It was said last season and this that as long as the Jags are in front then they can trundle along and win most times but they’d struggle from behind. Well they commanded this one…and then some. There were mistakes made that will hopefully be ironed out such as Gilmore getting beat by Moncrief for the TD (which I believe should never have happened) but one thing I’m not sure anyone could’ve banked on was the game Corey Grant would have.

Grant freewheeled out of the backfield in acres of space far too often, where I think most of us thought that would be Yeldon’s job since he’s not great at charging down the middle, breaking tackles. If they (The Jags) can keep up the dynamism when Fournette is back then they’ll be a force to be reckoned with.

I thought the we had the possibility to go 0-2 to start the season so to come out 1-1 isn’t the worst that could happen. Watson just wasn’t at the races and keep up the offence’s end of the bargain that the defence were trying to forge. Jacksonville has not been a sanctuary for the Jags in recent seasons but Doug Marrone looks to change that and wins against the Patriots will push that mindset to the forefront.

Going forward I saw promising signs from Sony Michel – who I don’t think anyone expected to play – and along with Burkhead and White our running game is good but not great. For as high a draft pick as Michel was, he doesn’t come across as the studd back like Kareem Hunt or Le’Veon Bell. Maybe we can steal him in the next off-season?!

The receiving corps has expanded and contracted this week with the addition of the notorious Josh Gordon and release of Corey Coleman (although he has since been signed to the practice squad). Gordon will go straight in to reps and more likely than not, be featured heavily on Sunday Night Football. He’ll stretch the field and create opportunities but I’ve still got that niggling feeling that he is a trash can fire waiting to blow.

Who says “The Hoody” has some devine right to shake him like a stick and get all the bad stuff out of him? He’s clearly an addict and only addicts can help addicts. They have to cry for help before others can help them. It’s a gamble worth taking but whether the lights and sounds will signal a jackpot win, I’m not so sure. The House always wins at the end of the day and in this instance, Gordon’s substance abuse is the House.

Look for my Lions preview before Sunday and hit me up on Twitter @MattInksterNFL with any comments.

Week 2 – Jacksonville Jaguars – Preview

So this Sunday at 9:25pm UK time, the AFC Championship rematch, as it’s being billed, takes place in the Sunshine State. Admittedly the Patriots don’t have the greatest of weapons at the minute but does that mean we should be worried? Should we be trembling at the thought of Sacksonville in Jacksonville?

At the start of the season I would’ve said yes but now I’m not so sure. Fournette is struggling with a hamstring injury, Yeldon is more of a backfield catcher than straight up grab the ball and run kind of guy and then there’s Blake Bortles… They don’t have a true number one receiver (or at least not figured out who it is yet) as last week the receptions were spread around with Westbrook getting 5 and Cole 3 whilst other receptions were shared between the runners and Seferian-Jenkins.

Until Doug Marrone trusts his QB to take them to the house with aggressive play start to finish then Bortles and the Jaguars will continue to struggle when it matters. They’re a run first team and when everyone knows you’re a run first team it’s easier to defend. Couple that with a promising glimpse of Patriots pass-rush, then I feel a lot happier about going in to TIAA Bank Field and taking home a W.

Match-ups to look out for:

Rob Gronkowski vs Jalen Ramsey – If you need to put your best Corner up against a TE then it says it all. It’s a waste of a Corner Back and plays in to Gronk’s hands.

Corderelle Patterson vs anyone – I have a sneaky feeling that Patterson might have a reasonably big involvement in this game than last week, especially now that Jeremy Hill has been confirmed on IR for the season. You could also replace Patterson with Corey Coleman as he could be thrown in on a few plays to surprise the Jags.

Yannick Ngakoue vs Trent Brown – This match-up is so intriguing it gives me goosebumps. If Brown repeats last week’s performance then he should keep Ngakoue quiet and Brady on his feet but if there’s any chink in the armour he could be flat on his back, along with Brady and the chances of a Patriots win.

All in all I feel relatively confident about this one but wouldn’t be surprised if we do lose. I’d rather take a loss now than in January when it really matters and being 1-1 is better than the 0-2 I thought we’d be to start the season.

Prediction: Patriots 24 – Jaguars 20

Week 1 – Houston Texans – Review

So with the intention of doing a preview blog for the Texans, I would’ve put the Texans down for the W. However a sick child needed tending to and I didn’t write my preview.

The Patriots usually have a slow start to the season but Gillette is something of a fortress to the team as well. The Texans have had a good grasp on us recently and with the D fully loaded to take on our O line and down Brady. It didn’t pan out like that though.

Trent Brown kept Jadeveon Clowney quiet all game, Deshaun Watson wasn’t as dynamic as expected and Sweet Feet had a solid as usual performance. Watson will feel his way into the season after his ACL injury cut short last season, where he was on for a huge rookie year. On Sunday vs the Patriots it wasn’t to be and those 7 games of available tape might be all that’s needed by the opposition to work out how to stop the Texans offense.

Even though they gave up 20 points, the 7 point difference was flattering towards a Texans team who weren’t really at the races. Watson had a 50% completion for 176 yards, 1 TD and 1 INT in comparison to Brady who had a 67% completion for 277 yards, 3 TD and 1 INT.

The New England Patriots were on point, efficient and ruthless. It wasn’t a stellar performance that will be remembered come Christmas but it was enough to start 1-0 as they head to Florida and take on the updated version of the Legion of Boom.

One sad note from week 1 is that Jeremy Hill’s season is over as he was placed on IR Tuesday with a torn ACL picked up from a collision with James Develin. Belichick said of the injury “He’s a tough kid, I know he’ll work hard and I’m sure he’ll be back.”

Every week I’ll have some takeaways from each game. Here they are for this week:

MOTM – Rob Gronkowski / Trent Brown
One to watch – Phillip Dorsett
Must do better – Chris Hogan

On to Jacksonville next and a rematch of the AFC Championship game. Will they be 2-0 after Sunday? Look our for my preview blog going up soon with my prediction.

The off-season and pre-season review

So…the season is almost here, which means there’s been the off-season. OTA’s, draft, signees and cuts…not all in that order.

Going in to the new season I’m very excited. I have to be. I’m a Patriot. It’s in our blood is it not? However, the receiving core is a bit frightening in a bad way. Having Dorsett and Patterson as WR1 and 2 is a bit daunting BUT there’s Chris Hogan and Edelman (from game 5). And another plus is there’s no Kenny Britt.

The preseason games are a source of controversy for many but when I see what it means to the fringe players on a series like Hard Knocks it’s hard to justify getting rid of them, or scaling them down to reduce the number played. I understand the impact they have on players who go through season ending injuries but what’s the alternative? How do you judge talent on the cusp of making the 53-man roster? Flag football would just be plain weird with full gear on! And besides, you wouldn’t see a gut-busting run from your third string quarterback otherwise!

I was surprised to see Danny Etling fall to the 7th round but pleased we picked him up. He’s looking like a dynamic player with a bright future and being able to learn from the greatest QB ever will never be a bad thing.

This is a short blog, since the season is upon us. Having a baby and family life to juggle makes me forget to blog as often but I’m determined to make that change and up the content. Most things have been said now by various sources about the comings and goings between February and now. Time flies so quick that if you don’t write about it soon after, I’m not sure there’s much point regurgitating old news.

Look out for my season preview and week 1 preview coming out before Sunday against the Texans.

Patriots being patriotic

Well the NFL decided to stir up a hornet’s nest this week by confirming a new rule when it comes to standing (or not) for the National Anthem and “respecting the American flag”.

Firstly, I love the patriotism shown by American’s and American sports by standing, hats off, hand on heart, and singing proudly for the Anthem before every game and each morning in school. I wish we did something similar in the UK but having Scottish people sing God Save The Queen, which is seen as an English Anthem, would have people up in arms – as would vice versa – and that’s not counting the Welsh and Irish. However, there’s something great about uniting under one banner and feeling our hearts swell with pride.

Secondly, free speech is a wonderful. The dictionary defines it as the right to express any opinions without censorship or restraint“. Even without the first amendment, the dictionary definition is enough for many to realise that what the NFL has done is completely absurd and has undoubtedly brought it back to the forefront rather than leave it in the background.

So what does that mean for the New England Patriots? I think it means potential disruption to the players and division behind the scenes but I guess maybe no more than it has in the past already. It certainly means for fans, analysts and commentators that come opening day against the Texans, we’ll be playing count the number of players on the sidelines. We’ll be ready to interrogate the reasoning behind coming out to the field vs staying in the locker room. This tit for tat game, could last all season but hopefully by Halloween another horror story will have taken over our consciousness.

I fear former Patriot Chris Long said it best when he Tweeted “This is a fear of a diminished bottom line. These owners don’t love America more than the players demonstrating and taking real action to improve it.”

It’ll be an interesting spectacle but not one I’m particularly looking forward to…

The Patriots Roster…

Free agency started like a whirlwind for most teams and before you knew it, the draft was upon us. We’ve picked up some decent players in both and I’ve got a feeling Coach Belicheck is not done yet. Pass-rush hasn’t really been addressed yet and it’s my opinion that is where we’ll see some activity before our first game against the Texans.

Some smart acquisitions like Cordarrelle Paterson to replace Amendola as special teams returner and Danny Shelton to beef up the defensive line.

The draft is always an exciting time for all but with no 3rd and 4th round picks, smart choices had to be made early on. Isaiah Wynn was announced as a tackle and between him and Trent Brown, should fill the void left by Nate Solder’s departure to NYC. I’m not a Mock Draft person but I do see who people have at the top of their lists in each respective position and with Wynn being the number one OL on the board it was a great pick at number 23. To get the number two RB with our second 1st round pick at 31 was almost unbelievable! So far so good…

Now I’m not going through all the picks one by one but overall I’d say we’ve had a good draft and with some solid free agency dealings we could be a playoff team again. I say could because nothing is certain. Our divisional rivals haven’t done much to cover themselves in glory, maybe apart from Minkah Fitzpatrick, so topping the division can be done again but getting to an eighth championship game might be a struggle.

Tom Brady has committed to at least two more years and with him and Bill, anything is possible but apart from Gronkowski, there’s very little star talent to receive the ball. It’ll be the usual running back by committee and dragging 3 star receivers up to 5 star standards. Edelman will hopefully be back fighting fit for the new season and Hogan could be the shining star, shining brighter than everyone else. Here’s hoping anyway. There’s certainly no talk of 19-0 this year!

This is just a short, “get back on the horse”, blog for now and I know I need to up my game and produce more content for your eyes to read. Trying to balance family life with work and hobbies can be difficult for the best of them and all I can do is try.

Let me know in the comments if you’d like me to write snippets of my life as well as Patriots chat or just stick to the topic in hand πŸ™‚

Should he stay or should he go?

In almost the same words uttered by seminal punk-rockers The Clash, Malcolm Butler is a hot-topic on everyone’s lips that has the Patriots at the forefront of their thoughts.

My take…it’s time he went. Will it come back and bite us in the ass? Possibly. Is it worth it and to move on from this tense situation? Probably. It could all be a bit Much Ado About Nothing but on the surface of it, it’s really not. He’s been a pivotal part of recent history in New England and being suited and booted but left at such an important part in the season, I imagine it was like a knife in the back from Coach Belichick.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see him stay, improve and kick on from what is a clear low point in his career but I’m not sure if the chemistry in the locker room will allow it. If he stays, Coach Belichick would be best to sit everyone down and give a clear and concise explanation as to why events transpired as they did on February 4th. Players such as co-captains Duron Harmon and Devon McCourty just dismiss the questions and deflect to a standard response of “Ask Bill”, which could be a telling sign of their discontent and even Tom Brady expressed his support of Butler on social media. However, if that doesn’t happen, then I feel the best course of action is to let him leave as a Free Agent, pick up a contract of the monetary value he deserves and then Coach Belichick will draw a line under it and move on. I’d like to think the players then draw a line under what happened and do their jobs.

I think whatever happens, the players, will more than likely, will find out Bill’s thoughts on the matter and what transpired during the course of Super Bowl week if they’ve not already done so but the party line will be “no comment” or something to that effect. I’d be very surprised if anyone but Butler (if and when he leaves) or Coach Belichick will reveal what happened to lead the cornerback to be benched for the biggest game of the season.

I’m the first one to say that he didn’t have a great season in my opinion.

Year
Team
Games
Tackles
Interceptions
GP
GS
Comb
Total
Ast
Sck
PD
Int
Yds
Avg
Lng
TD
2014
NE
11
1
15
14
1
0.0
3
1
1
0.0
0
0
2015
NE
16
16
67
56
11
0.0
15
2
9
4.5
9
0
2016
NE
16
16
63
48
15
1.0
17
4
28
7.0
21
0
2017
NE
16
15
60
55
5
1
12
2
βˆ’1
βˆ’.5
1
0
Career
59
48
205
173
32
2.0
47
8
36
4.5
21
0

The stats back up my thoughts that he had a poor season. Maybe it’s a good season for some CB’s but not for Malcolm Butler, not for the New England Patriots. The final year of your contract, when you’d expect big numbers to put yourself in the shop window or justify your own ideas of getting Stephan Gilmore money, and you actually perform the worst you have for three years.

I hope I’m wrong and he does come back but I just can’t see it. Where does he go, I’m not sure but if he does go to the rumoured Steelers in Pittsburgh at least he won’t have to face Antonio Brown anymore!

His signed mini helmet will be adored in my man cave forever more for what he’s done for this franchise and for that play but what will be will be and good luck to him if he’s not seen in the home dressing room at Gillette in September.