Patriots (good) linebacker situation

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Two years ago if you had told me the patriots were going to have to cut 2 good linebackers I would’ve laughed. During the 2017 season the Patriots linebackers consisted of an injured Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy (before he was turned into an animal) , Shea McClellan who was a first round flop and Elandon Roberts a guy who no one knew about.

 

Fast forward 2 years and were now looking at a completely different group including now healthy defensive captain Dont’a Hightower, a dominant Kyle Van Noy who next year will be one of the best linebackers, Ex patriot Jamie Collins who is an athletic monster, Michigan rookie Chase Winnovich who works the Patriot way, Ja’Whaun Bentley who last year shone before sadly tearing his ACL and others. The only question is, who gets cut?

Is Hightowers time up as a Patriot?

All Patriots fans love Hightower thanks to his two Superbowl winning moments in 49 and 51. Hightowers biggest advantage is that you can rely on him he doesn’t put up huge sack numbers like Von Miller or make he hits like Jadeveon Clowney, he’s very consistent which I would much prefer but he is also consistently injured. Even though he played 15out of 16 regular season games last year he also has only played 1 full seasonback in 2013. Hightower is a great leader on and off the field and a good linebacker when healthy but he’s only getting older and the injuries are piling up.

The new guys and the young ones

In the last 2 years the Patriots have added 3 new linebackers that have been drawing attention. This includes;  Jamie Collins, who they recently acquired from free agency. Jamie was traded by traded by Bill Belichick to the Cleveland Brownsin 2016for a 3rdround pick despite having a tremendous season. Collins was later cut this offseason after having a disappointing stint with the Ohio based team only mustering 7 sacks and 204 combined tackles, which are not stats you would be expecting from a linebacker that you’re paying 50 million over 4 years to. But after recently being picked up by the Patriots he has a chance to re-invent himself. The second guy is Michigan rookie Chase Winnovich. Chase had a successful career in Ann Arbour but wasn’t the star of the 2ndranked overall NCAA defence. The Patriots picked up Chase in the  3rdroundand the day after he got the call he flew out to Boston to get to work. Winnovich played defensive end in college but due to him only weighing 116kgmade the move to outside linebacker.Chase has something to prove and seems ready to make a name for himself in Foxboro. In 2018 the patriots picked up Ja’Whaun Bentley 143rdoverall. Ja’Whaun was quickly in the headlines during training camp after being praised by Bill and other colleagues being called “smart” and “athletic”. Bentley started in the first game of the season against the Texans and didn’t necessarily blow anyone away but was consistent enough to stay on the field. For me he is the future of New England’s linebacking core and was a steal in last years draft

 

The final cut

We haven’t arrived at mini camp yet but my early predictions for the depth chart looks like this

 

Left outside linebacker- Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins

 

Middle linebacker- Dont’a Hightower, Ja’Whaun Bentley

 

Right outside linebacker- Chase Winnovich, John Simon

 

Hightower is expensive but is just too crucial to lose this year with a lot of young guys in the team. The biggest loss would be Elandon Roberts someone who has been key the last two years but in the mix with this talent pool he just won’t make the cut in my eyes. One player to watch is Trent Harris, a linebacker who was drafted out of Miami last year and spent last year on the practise squad. He has turned a few heads during practise but will be fighting for his roster life in this squad.

 

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The Patriots offseason goals

What a crazy season especially for the Patriots, the apparent end of their dynasty to then go on and win the Super Bowl is just typical Patriots. But even I won’t deny the Patriots struggled at times and are going to have to make some off season moves to get to Miami on February. The Patriots go into free agency with $12 million in cap space after the signing of Michael Bennett.

Wide Receiver depth

With the suspension of Julian Edelman the loss of Josh Gordon halfway through the season and the injury prone Gronkowski at times Brady struggled to move the ball through the air. Hogan and Dorsett struggled to provide separation and it looked like Brady just didn’t trust them. My favourite fit for the Patriots right now would be Cole Beasley. Cole is a Patriots type of receiver standing at only 5 foot 8 and 180 pounds Cole gets open thanks to his superb route running and is fantastic in the slot he had 65 receptions for only 672 yards and 3 touchdowns. Cole is no superstar but should fit right into the Patriots system alongside Edelman

Re-Signing Vital players

The Patriots have a scarily long list of players that are free agents. But for me there is 3 vital players we need to keep. While I would’ve loved to keep Trent Brown and Trey Flowers I cant justify paying them the money that they want. The three players are Cordarrelle Patterson, Jason McCourty and Jonathan Jones. Cordarrelle as we know was explosive last season and on both offence and special teams. He’s got the versatility that Bill loves and can use so unbelievably well. Jason McCourty had a tough start to the season playing under Eric Rowe but by the end of the season was a guaranteed starter and solid number 2 cornerback that makes big plays as we know thanks to Super Bowl 53. And finally Jonathan Jones, one of the Patriots most underrated player Jordan made some big plays this year on defence including a one handed interception against the Bears. But he’s also a fantastic special teams player than can make fantastic open field tackles. For me he’s a great player for the future because he can play both special teams and defence well and is only 25

Signing a solid back up quarterback

This was one of my concerns last season and even though Brady showed us he’s still (somehow) got it but we all know that Brian Hoyer is no long pole Foles and isn’t going to win us a Super Bowl. Danny Etling has finished his 1 year of practice squad but sadly I do not know how his progress is. For me there is only really 2 options in a limited quarterback free agency and one of them isn’t even a free agent. The first player is Tyrod Taylor, I am a big fan of Tyrod who showed a lot of bright spots in Buffalo (who knew that was possible) but struggled to out play Baker Mayfield in Cleveland, Tyrod is a great veteran but I would be hesitant because his mobility and bad short accuracy doesn’t fit into the Patriots system. The other viable option that isn’t in this years draft is Josh Rosen who after a year has struggled to find his place in Arizona and there is now talks of the Cardinals drafting Kyler Murray first overall. Rosen who was drafted 10th overall in last years draft threw for 2278 yards and 11 touchdowns but 14 interceptions. The Patriots could trade their first round pick to acquire Rosen if the Cardinals draft Murray and he could sit under Brady for 3 to 4 years.

Patriots season prediction

Who Will the Patriots Beat on the Chase for the #1 Seed

        Ah yes, October is finally here. It has to be the best month of the year for us Patriots fans. We are able to get out of the September slump and on with the rest of the season. After going 2-2 to start the season after losing to the best pass defense in football in Jacksonville and a coach that knew every play the Patriots were going to run in Detroit. 

        I have the Patriots beating the Colts this Thursday, I like Belichick’s ability to out gameplan a rookie head coach in Frank Reich on a short week. Tom Brady will be more in-sync with his receiving corps as Julian Edelman is returning from suspension and there is more time to practice with Josh Gordon. My final score prediction is 31-20.

        The following week we play the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football. I have the Patriots winning this game in a shootout. If he has one this season, this will be the breakout game for Josh Gordon. The Chiefs have been winning though the gunslinging of Patrick Mahomes and that high powered Chiefs offense. I feel like with the extra few days coming off a short week the Patriots offense with explode and be able to match the Chiefs blow for blow and eventually winning the game 42-38.

        October 21st, the Patriots play the Bears in Chicago. I have the Patriots winning this Game in an ugly defensive battle. Belichick will do his part in stopping Trubisky and the gimicky Chicago offense designed by Matt Nagy. The Patriots offensive line will have a hard time keeping Brady upright and it will eventually come down to Brady leading a game winning drive with the Patriots edging out the Bears 17-14.

        October 29th, the Patriots face off against the Bills in Buffalo on Monday night football. Belichick is going to take away the run game and force Bills quarterback Josh Allen to throw the football in tight windows like he did with Ryan Tannehill last Sunday. Allen is going to struggle tremendously and Tom Brady is going to pick apart the Buffalo defense. The Patriots are going to win this one comfortably, 35-10.

        November 4th, the Packers come to town on Sunday Night Football. This is the game both teams have circled on the calendar. Rodgers versus Brady, the main debate since Peyton Manning has retired of who is the best quarterback in pro football. It will be back and forth game as both defenses play well. Brady will lead a game winning drive in the fourth quarter and Rodgers will not be able to complete the hail mary. Patriots win 24-20 securing Brady as the best quarterback in the NFL.

        November 11th, the Patriots travel down to Nashville and the Patriots dominate this game. The Titans offense will not be able to stay on the field with Mariota at quarterback and their defense will not be able to keep Tom Brady off of it. The Patriots win this one in a blowout fashion 31-14.

        Coming off of a bye week the Patriots will face the Jets on November 25th. The Jets are going to try to put up a fight with rookie quarterback Sam Darnold leading the charge. Belichick is 17-5 versus rookie quarterbacks although I believe this rookie is a different breed. This game is going to be closer than most people will predict, but the Patriots will edge out the Jets 27-21. 

        December 2nd the Patriots play the loaded Minnesota Vikings at Gillette. This is the game where the Patriots win streak comes to a screeching halt.  Brady will make a few mistakes early throwing into that secondary and the Patriots don’t find a way to get back. Vikings win 30-17.

December 9th, the Patriots go down to hot Miami where they always seem to struggle late in the season. This game will be different though, the Patriots seem to have this team all figured out and if the defense remains healthy the Patriots are going to have a field day and beat Miami 31-10.

December 16th, the Pats battle Pittsburg in a meaningless game due to the dysfunction around the Steelers organization. Big Ben will play a subpar game while Brady and Dorsett link up for 2 touchdowns. The Patriots will win this one easily 35-14.

For the last two games of the season the Patriots face the Bills and Jets. I feel like these games the Patriots will coast and win both of them with a mixture of starters and backups as they prepare for the playoffs.

These are my own predictions if you want to make a comment or suggestion message me on Instagram @hrl_2003

Is Josh Gordon the Patriots answer at Wr? Or not…

When most people think Josh Gordon they think one thing, Steven A. Smith saying stay off the weeeeeed.

Josh Gordon like many people has faced the woes of addiction head on with multiple suspensions for substance abuse violations. This is an all time talent willing to sacrifice everything for alcohol or pot.

Bill Belichick is a no nonsense head coach that expects the very best out of all of his players. James Harrison the future hall of fame defensive end has even stated in the past he has seen Tom Brady sprint to meetings in fear of being late. This level of excellence has resulted in five super bowl rings for Belichick and the Patriots organization.

Gordon does not appear to be your prototypical Patriots player, the whole reason he got traded is because he came in late with a hurt hamstring from shooting an advertisement. One of the things that separate the Patriots from other teams is their willingness to test out players that have a history of issues. For example, they claimed Mike Floyd off of waivers two years ago after a DUI bust cost him his spot in Arizona. He did not stick around long but he was a key contributor in the week 17 win over the Miami Dolphins that year.

Gordon is much better Mike Floyd though, he is one of the most talented players in the entire league. In 2014 in only his second season Gordon in 14 games led the league in yards at over 1600, WITH THE BROWNS! This is a player with much more upside than any 5th round pick the Patriots could have gotten. He is probably the most talented receiver the patriots have had since Randy Moss in 2007. Randy at that point was getting past his prime, Gordon is only 27 and he has really only played  2 good seasons of NFL football.

The Patriots had only 3 receivers active in the last game and it limited our production versus the Jaguars. If Gordon can come and produce what he produced for the Browns once he was out of suspension around 70 yards a game and the ability to make tough contested catches, that will bring the Patriots offense to a whole new level especially once we get Edelman back. He could be the piece that puts us over the top by being able to take the top off of opposing defenses. Think like a six foot three inch Brandin Cooks that can highpoint the ball.

The very real downside is this, Gordon has a history of being an unreliable person off the field. If he is not sober and shows up the meetings late than I guarantee that the Patriots will cut him. The Patriots have no problems with taking risks on the players and failing. I am sure Belichick would rather trade for a problemed known quality player with high upside than draft Chad Jackson.

Gordon is a hell of a football player. If he can come through and produce in the Patriots system long term than he can be one of the greatest of all time. If he flakes out like he has in the past than that is still a 5th round pick worth losing.

Stay tuned for more weekly posts by senior writer Hunter Langley.

Patriots v Redskins preview

FOOTBALL IS BACK. The Patriots pre-season kicks off on Thursday against the Washington Redskins. Although the pre-season means nothing statistically there is a lot to watch for as our Patriots take the field once again.

Who to watch

The quarterbacks- It has been rumoured that Bill isn’t happy about his quarterback situation, (Brady excluded). In this game we will look at how both Quarterbacks are playing, plays bill will call and play time for each our out back ups – because we believe we could see a switch up before the regular season kicks off.

Mike Gillislie- The former Buffalo Bills running back is going into his second season as a Patriot after a sub par first season. Gillislie missed 9 games last season; never making it back on the field after being labelled as a healthy scratch following a previous injury. The Patriots added veteran running back Jeremy Hill and first round pick Sony Michel – is there a place for this ex-Bills powerhouse? Keep an eye on Gillislies performance and his frequency of carries.

Harvey Langi- Last year we signed Langi as an undrafted free agent from BYU. However, Langi sustained season ending injuries early on in a motor vehicle accident. Now he’s full recovered he’s fighting for his place on the 52 man roster, and I believe he could be a big part of the Patriots this season.

The training camp stand outs

Jacob Hollister- Jacob was another undrafted free agent last year that made it to the 52 man roster. The Tight end was our third string so naturally didn’t get very many snaps. However, this year he’s been lightning at training camp and might just sneak up past Allen to second string. Although he might not play on Friday, Hollister is certainly someone to watch over the rest of preseason.

Deatrich Wise- Wise was drafted in the 4th round last year and had a mediocre 1st season with the patriots, getting only 5 sacks on a struggling defence. However, this year he seems to have a point to prove, and Belichick has noticed. When speaking about Wise and teammate Derick Rivers Bill said,

“Nobody works harder than those two guys, Nobody”

Deatrich will be competing for the starting job this season and therefore may have limited playing time in the first game of pre-season.

The game kicks off at 7:30 (ET) in Gillette stadium. Keep an eye out for our Post game analysis as well

Brady: The Legit G.O.A.T?

While there hasn’t been a huge amount of news this offseason since the trading of our receiving core, one of the main reports circling is the battle of ‘who is better’ between two players; Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.

Many people have stated throughout the years that A-Rod is the true ‘G.O.A.T’ and that Brady is a system QB who has been blessed with a great management system. However, these are situations that cannot be changed, and therefore are pointless to debate; Brady is a Patriot, Rodgers is a Packer – to really determine the G.O.A.T we must look at the facts.

First of all, G.O.A.T means ‘greatest of ALL TIME meaning that whoever holds this title must be a class above players like Joe Montana, Dan Marino and Peyton Manning; a class which we believe Rodgers just does not make due to his stats, achievements and rings.  Brady, on the other hand, has more accomplishments than all of these players, however, is still debated amongst ‘fans’ as to whether or not he is the greatest of all time… crazy.

ll81vgWStatistics are taken from 2014 post-Bradys 4th win.

What about hardware, the reasons people play; the Super Bowl rings?

Many people argue Rodgers is better than Brady, and the reason for his lack of Superbowl success is due to having ‘fewer weapons than New England’ and in some ways, I agree. I do believe that A-Rod and the Packers may be more successful if the management didn’t resemble that of a rookie fantasy football commissioner but there is no way A-Rod would have more rings than Brady, super team or not. In 2010, when the Packers won the Super Bowl, they had 6 Pro Bowl players on the roster; a team which was obviously primed for success. However, when the Patriots won the 2014 Superbowl, they had only 4 Pro Bowl on the roster, one being Brady and another was a kicker. It seems to me that Brady has had much more success with a lot less weapons than the Packers.

Finally, let’s talk about stats and records. Tom Brady holds many, many records especially in the postseason which include; playoffs wins, Super Bowl wins, Super Bowl MVPs, passing touchdowns, passing yards and many more. Aaron Rodgers’ most impressive stat is most consecutive attempts at home without an interception (288 attempts) which although impressive, does not translate to success in the NFL.

We have no doubt that Aaron Rodgers is a special Quarterback and one that will go down in Packers history. However, the constant ‘fan’ pursuit to crown Rodgers the G.O.A.T is quite frankly ridiculous and one which Patriots Nation has wasted far too much breath defending. Here at the Hudson Halftime Report, we loved debating with Colts and Broncos fans on whether Brady or Manning was the G.O.A.T, because at least there was some actual defence of Manning against Brady – Rodgers, on the other hand, falls short of the throne and will forever be an understudy to the greatness of Tom Brady’s legacy.

Kenny Britt: The Breakout WR?

There is still SO much time between now and the start of the Patriots season (we haven’t even hit training camp yet) but Patriots nation is already scrambling trying to figure out who will be the next man up at wide receiver (nothing new, we do the same thing every year at the running back position). However, this offseason, in particular, hasn’t been great for the WR position; the Pats lost Dola to Miami, Cooks to the Rams, and Edelman has been suspended 4 games for ‘PEDs’ (F*ck Goodell).  So the big question on everyone’s mind is, who will be the man to step up? The Spike Kings pick? Kenny Britt.

I’ll admit, this isn’t just me pulling something out of thin air, this thought came to me at the end of May when I attended the ‘Tedy’s Team’ Football game. Brian Hoyer was the QB for both teams and threw a nice dime down the sidelines, to which someone said to him,

“Wow, that was a great catch, just like Chris Hogan!”

Hoyer’s reply go me thinking as he looked back at the guy and said,

“Yeah that was nice, but I’m a big fan of Britt from Cleveland. He’s fast. Reminded me more of him.”

This had me intrigued as Hoyer has been working with Britt last season during practice. I had to rush home and gather some stats to see how he compares to the rest of the crew.

I think we can all pretty much agree that Chris Hogan becomes the major player to step up with Jules out the first 4 games. Last year he had 34 Rec, 439 yards and 5 touchdowns and has been pretty consistent in crucial moments. It’s a no-brainer that he will start, but will he become the ‘Edelman’ the team needs during the first four games? I’m not sold.

Kenny Britt is the tallest WR on the depth chart standing in at 6ft3 and weighs in around 223lbs making him two inches taller and 10lbs heavier than Hogan for a start. In addition, Britt has the same explosive speed as Hogan, (both logging 4.5 in the 45-yard dash) so on paper, Britt seems the better option.

However here is my take. Brandin Cooks last season had 1082 yards and 7 Touchdowns, which led the Patriots receiving core (Gronk is a TE for you sticklers). In comparison two seasons ago with the Rams, (with Goff/Keenum as QB) Britt had 1002 yards and 5 Touchdowns making him only 80 yards and 2 touchdowns short of Cooks production but without having the GOAT Brady to throw at him. His quiet year last year could easily be a ‘warming up’ period as he gets used to the new playbook.

Also, one thing not to forget out of all this, Britt is a Rutgers Alumn & a former first-round pick. Both traits that make Belichick salivate.


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What about Malcolm Mitchell? Isn’t he meant to be our WR prodigy?

Everybody fell in love with Malcolm two years ago due to his shown potential in such a short amount of time (Mitchell started 6 games, with 401 yards at 4 touchdowns). However, the big question is, can he stay healthy? He seems to be battling a hamstring problem already this year. I believe that the longer he has a nagging injury, the likely it is that Britt takes over the starting role. Hogan is already locked in due to the Edelman suspension so Patriots fans can expect a battle between Britt and Mitchell for the other starting position.

With one year left on his contract before becoming UFA, Britt has to shine in order to earn an extra payday. I believe that the talent is there and Britt can execute however it is still too early to tell what will happenn. My advice though, keep a close eye on Britt. #TrustHoyer