Patriots (good) linebacker situation

Image result for ja'whaun bentley patriots

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.

 

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

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.

Far too early NFL award predictions.

At the end of each season the NFL gives out awards for, Defensive MVP, Offensive MVP, Offensive Rookie of the season and defensive Rookie of the season, comeback player of the season and the much chased after all round MVP. I will look at Offensive and Defensive MVP, Rookie of the year as a general term, Comeback player of the year and MVP

Offensive MVP- Antonio Brown (Steelers)

This is one of the hardest collums to predict but over the last 3 seasons AB has shown that he has what it takes for at least Offensive MVP. Brown had a magnificent season last year and was a strong MVP candidate but an injury in the last few games and an on fire Tom Brady stopped that. That still didn’t stop Brown from having 1533 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns. The only thing stopping Brown from having an MVP season is Big Ben, who has caused a stir in the steelers camp which might hurt Browns production.

Defensive MVP- Chandler Jones

Chandler Jones productivity has went unnoticed the past 2 seasons leading the league in sacks last year. The former Patriot is a consistent injury free player who last years put up 17 sacks and 59 tackles. Jones will be the leader on the Cardinals front four and if their offensive improves with the drafting of Josh Rosen the Cardinals could have a very strong playoff run.

Rookie of the year- Sony Michel

No I’m not biased, well maybe a little. But the Georgia running back will not be a flop. After the departure of Dion Lewis, the 31st overall pick should be in challenge of the 1st spot on the depth chart against James White. With the Patriots strengthening their offensive line Michel should get enough space to run. The only thing that might stop him will be how well Saqoun Barkley can play behind a useless Giants offensive line.

Comeback player of the year- Deshaun Watson

Watson had a fantastic rookie despite starting on the bench and finishing on IR on the depth chart. Watson threw for 1,700 yards and 19 touchdowns in only 7 games. I fully believe that hype around Deshaun is deserved as does Brady who last season said

Heck of a game – keep grinding,’ keep doing what I’m doing. We’ll probably see them again.”

If Watson can recover in time for the start of the season I truly believe he will beat Carson Wentz to this award.

MVP- Todd Gurley

Todd Gurley was electric last season and was a huge reason for the Rams regular season success (if only that correlated with the playoffs) after a sophomore slump in his second year Todd put up 2098 all purpose yards and 19 touchdowns. If Todd Gurley can maintain that consistency I would be shocked if last years offensive MVP doesn’t win all round MVP this year. He certainly wants to help out those that own him on fantasy football

Fantasy owners you’re welcome now leave us alone. Merry Christmas!

These are very early predictions and will probably change but I’d love to hear your thoughts

Interview with the Patriots 7th Round Pick – Keion Crossen

Over the next few weeks, The Hudson Halftime Report is running a series on NFL rookies that we believe will thrive in the NFL environment. The first of these rookies is Keion Crossen, OTAs standout and the Patriots 243rd overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft who agreed to do an exclusive interview with us.

1: First off, Thank you so much for agreeing to interview with us, I can imagine life is a little crazy right now. Congratulations on being drafted by our Patriots, can you tell us a little about what it felt like when you heard your name called?

‘The moment I heard my name called I instantly thought of it as a blessing. It was such a humbling experience and I am forever grateful to be on such an amazing team such as the Patriots

2: You are from Western Carolina, which is a relatively small school, what lessons did you learn there that would translate to the NFL?

‘Western is a smaller school compared to other D1 schools, but I appreciate the opportunity to have attended Western and even more grateful to be around such a hardworking group of players. Attributes I would bring [from Western] is a willingness to learn, to work hard and to do whatever the coaches ask.’

3: You were drafted in the 7th round but reports have detailed that you are already turning heads at OTAs, what drives you on a daily basis to be the best you can be?

‘I’m not sure about any reports, however, I am working hard at being a great understudy, learning from all the vets and doing whatever I am asked to do for the bettering of the team.’

4: We here at the Hudson Halftime Report are massive fans of you, and any player attempting to better our home team is a star in our books. Can you reflect on any moment in your life that shaped who you are today? Who were some of the key people in making you, you?

‘Thanks. Any moment that God has put in my life has shaped me to be the man I am today. There is no specific person, but God deserves the credit for allowing me to be the person he wants me to be.’

5: Okay, let’s talk Patriots. How is it training with the New England Patriots? Is there a massive amount of pressure from day one? Or do you already feel part of the culture? How is the Atmosphere? What makes Keion Crossen different to other Cornerbacks on the roster?

‘I’m out here presently learning, working hard and doing my best to do what is best for the team. Also, [As for how I am different] I’m not into comparison – I’m here to do my job, learn from the vets and get better as a football player.’ 

6: What NFL player do you look up to at your position?

‘All corners in the NFL are good players, so there’s not a specific one I truly look up too, but I do look to learn and grow to be a well-rounded player.’

7: On a scale from one to ten, how excited are you about having the opportunity to pick off Tom Brady in practice? I mean, surely it’s got to be pretty high on your list of things-to-do haha!

‘I am honoured to be on a team with such great players as Tom Brady and others, but as I have stated before I am here to do my job, learn from the vets and make the best out of the opportunity.’

8: Once again Keion thank you so much for agreeing to do this interview, it’s been an absolute pleasure to work with you. We here at Hudson Halftime Report wish you every success for the future and we are looking forward to seeing you at Gillette sometime soon, (save us a seat). Is there anything you want to say before signing off today, any last comments for your fans in the UK?

‘Thanks for having me on it’s my pleasure. Also, follow me on Twitter @keioncrossen and Instagram @Keion_Crossen

Throughout the interview, Keion seemed more focussed on ‘doing his job’ and ‘bettering the team’ than bigging himself up – an attitude that is much needed at the Cornerback position in New England currently. We look forward to hearing more about his progress and will be rooting for him come September.

The Basics of Drafting in Fantasy Football

Don’t reach for the receivers

The first round can either make or break your season, so making the right choice is crucial. Therefore, my biggest piece of advice is to draft positionally with a focus on Running Backs. Although many analysts place wide receivers (such as Julio Jones and Antonio Brown) as locks in the first round, we at the Hudson Halftime Report do not agree.

Last season, Julio Jones averaged 7 points per game which for some people seems like a respectable number. However, that average was distorted due to JJ having a huge 38 point game mid-season. Without that monster game, he only averaged 5 points a game which in my opinion is not first round worthy. Additionally, Jones is nowhere near being a young receiver anymore, and with the addition of some off-season pickups, his production levels are yet to be seen. Lastly, blaming 2017’s average solely on JJ would be wrong, as Matt Ryan had a dreadful year. Just remember when you draft a Wr, you are also ghost drafting their Qb – make sure it’s a good one.

Don’t just look at the player

… look at the whole team.

So we have decided that Running Backs are the place to go in the first round, however, when looking to draft a running back look at how the offensive line ranked last year because it doesn’t matter how good the runner is, if they have no time to build up speed (unless your Dion Lewis).  Additionally, if you do decide to go Wr, remember to Look at the Quarterback, remember for a receiver to catch a ball – some dude gotta throw it well – an example this year? The Browns traded for Jarvis Landry, and although Landry is an unbelievable player, Cleveland’s quarterbacks don’t exactly have a good track record, leaving Landry’s production an enigma…

Look at the Players’ Off-Field Performance

A fantasy football player is also a real-life human being who can make real-life mistakes and decisions which can affect their fantasy scores. Whilst Leveon Bell is clearly the best Running Back in the NFL and a very productive fantasy football player, Leveon has missed the start of most seasons due to smoking ‘illegal substances’ and has also said that he won’t play under this year’s franchise tag.  So while Bell is fantastic he might not be as productive as he can be because of his off-field shenanigans. However, if you have the 4th or lower pick in your draft and he is still there Snap. Him. Up. because we all know this guy can eat.

Also, if you are finding year-long fantasy too stressful (I mean injuries crippled my season last year) give Weekly Fantasy a try! FanDuel provides the best, most interactive Weekly Fantasy Football service and also give you the ability to earn some cash while playing. win-freaking-win.

Who are your Top 5 picks for this year’s upcoming Fantasy Football Draft?

Patriots Draft Analysis

The past 3 days have been FILLED with sports news thanks to the NBA playoffs and the annual NFL draft. However, this time it’s Bill Belichick crazy draft antics that get priority over ‘Scary Terrys’ Celtics run.

The New England Bulldogs

The Pats had two first round picks and which they used to select Offensive Tackle ‘Isaiah Wynn’ (23rd overall) and Running Back ‘Sony Michel’ (31st overall). Going into the draft The Patriots needed to fill multiple holes, (drafting the future GOAT) and two of them could potentially be filled with these picks. Isaiah Wynn will replace Brady’s blindside after the departure of the stud, Nate Solder and after picking up Georgias best tackle what do you do? You pick up their best Running Back. Here at The Hudson Halftime Report, we believe Michel is the second coming of Alvin Kamara, who as you know is the current reigning ‘offensive rookie of the year.

Michel and Wynn have both shown great attitude and leadership on an off the field, which could have potentially increased their draft stock with New England. They also have a huge amount of chemistry, with Michel totalling huge yards whilst running behind Wynn, this could be due to them being roommates for the last few years. These picks were obvious needed replacements for Lewis and Solder and The Georgia stars will be joining former teammates David Andrews (Starting center) and Malcolm Mitchell (2nd-year receiver).

Heir to the Throne

Many fans and critics thought the Patriots were going to select Lamar Jackson after meeting with him on multiple occasions. However when Jackson was still on the board at pick 31, Bill passed on the mobile-QB. Once Jackson passed by, the Hudson brothers thought Kyle Laulleta (Richmond) was a sure-fire lock for the Patriots, however once again another round passed without a QB.

Instead of the analyst picks, Bill selected Danny Etling (LSU) who dropped to 219th overall. After Googling this guy, and figuring out who the hell he is, we can safely say that Etling is not ready to start in the NFL, but looking at his tape shows a potentially bright future. Etling has a 120.9 passer rating when throwing deep which is 4th overall compared the rest of the Qbs in the Draft. Etling’s accuracy still needs work but with a year or two behind the GOAT, there is a chance he develops into a starter in the NFL, and potentially more. Let’s be honest at least it isn’t Hoyer.

Bill Has a Type…

Small, good-looking, white, wide receivers (that should be the Patriots slogan).

Braxton Berrios (standing at just 5,8″ and weighing 184 pounds) is a slot receiver who sounds just like a clone of Danny Amendola and a prototype Brady target. The Miami prospect was drafted 210th overall which in my opinion was a steal for one of Miami’s leading receivers and team captain.

What else does Bill like? Versatility. Another feature that will have attracted Bill is that Berrios is lethal when returning kicks/punts, a position that’s been fumble-worthy for the Patriots after since Edelman stopped fielding kicks. (Does anyone else get PTSD remembering Cyrus Jones fielding kicks?) Braxton joins a very deep receiver depth chart, but hey a small, white dude always will find a spot on the roster; get ready to see this guy used often.

The Pats also added some big defensive players in the late-round that should help lighten the load for Donte Hightower who is coming of injury this season.

The Patriots were very active in the NFL draft with more trade downs than picks but filled much-needed positions and are finally beginning to take shape for the upcoming season. It will be nice to see some old faces returning from injury also, providing an automatic lift to the roster. We can expect Belichick to make some more moves before the regular season starts, and we will keep you up to date with all our thoughts and analysis on future moves.