Ten most important Pats heading into 2015: Chandler Jones


Ten most important Pats heading into 2015: Chandler Jones

Starting today, and leading up to the first day of training camp, we’re going to look at the most important Patriots, counting down from 10 to 1. I went through my vast reservoir of contacts in the league and in the Foxboro offices to come to some sort of consensus.

Okay, I didn’t even come close to doing that. I trust my eyes and this is what they tell me as we head into the 2015 season.


Why? It’s time. This should be his Front Four. Jones has the most talent in that group, the most explosiveness. He’s entering the prime of his career. He can also set himself up for a megadeal when his current contract expires in two seasons (the Pats picked up the fifth-year option this offseason).

Previous Performance: In 2014-15, before he injured his hip in week 7 versus the Jets, the former Syracuse product had 4 1/2 sacks and 15 QB hurries. Impressive, especially when you consider the fatally flawed game plan that had him playing inside in the season opener at Miami and made him a non-factor.

The year prior, in just his second season in the league, Jones looked like he was developing into one of the most well-rounded defensive ends in the NFL. He finished with double-digit sack totals and, for the most part, was solid versus the run. Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia kept him on the field in all situations. Jones was quickly becoming a foundational player, and played more defensive snaps than anyone on the roster.

Questions surrounding the player: Injuries, for starters. Jones missed a huge chunk of games last season, and when he returned he lacked his usual burst off the edge. He did have a sack in the Super Bowl, but spent a fair portion of the offseason on crutches and rehabbing that hip. He was not available during OTAs, although for a player with his experience, that’s not a huge red flag unless the healing has been slowed.

Also, to be an elite DE, which Jones has the tools to become, you want to see him give the business to the game’s best left tackles. That hasn’t been the case, unless you count D’Brickshaw Ferguson has one of the best of the best (Jones usually gets the better of DBF).

Overall Outlook: Jones is a player ascending. If he can avoid a serious injury, this should be the year he post career-bests in sacks, pressures and QB hits, especially when you consider the addition of Jabal Sheard, who should help keep both Jones and Rob Ninkovich a little fresher than they’ve been because of depth issues the past two seasons. Sheard > Zach Moore and Andre Carter (admit it, you forgot he was on the 2013 roster).

Report: Patriots special teams ace Slater visiting Steelers

Report: Patriots special teams ace Slater visiting Steelers

Patriots seven-time Pro Bowl special teamer Matthew Slater is in Pittsburgh on Saturday making a free-agent visit to the rival Steelers, according to an ESPN's Field Yates.

Slater, who turns 33 in September, has spent the past 10 seasons in a New England. The special teams captain and one of the leaders in the locker room signed a one-year, $1.8 million contract extension in 2016.

The Patriots lost special teamer Johnson Bademosi to the Texans in free agency on Friday but signed special teamers Brandon Bolden and Brandon King just before the free agency period began.

More to come...

Brady tests his 'Brady Bunch' knowledge on NPR

Brady tests his 'Brady Bunch' knowledge on NPR

Tom Brady has been making the media rounds lately with "Good Morning America" and "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" appearances this past week to promote his "Tom vs. Time" series and TB12 Method book. On Saturday, Brady was a phone-in guest on NPR's "Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me" for their "Not My Job" segment. 

Before a mostly cheering live audience in Hartford and after a discussion of the benefits and drawbacks - mostly drawbacks - of tomatoes and strawberries, plus an assessment of the intelligence of most defensive coordinators, Brady settled in to handle three questions about the world's second-most famous Bradys, the family from the classic sitcom - "The Brady Bunch".

Click here to listen and see how he did.