Patriots

Five thoughts from Patriots-Chargers: Patriots prevent Bosa, Ingram from taking over

Five thoughts from Patriots-Chargers: Patriots prevent Bosa, Ingram from taking over

FOXBORO -- Here are five quick-hitting thoughts from what transpired between the Patriots and Chargers on Sunday afternoon at Gillette Stadium . . . 

1) The Patriots were not going to let Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram beat them. When they threw, Tom Brady got the football out of his hands quickly. Fifteen of his 26 first-half pass attempts went to running backs and tight ends. Even when the wideouts were involved, they were mostly quick-hitters. Brandin Cooks was targeted seven times in the first half with several throws sent his way on slants and crossing routes. Cooks even had a screen set his way...which went for a two-yard loss on New England's first drive. Brady had plenty of time on a flea-flicker and went to Cooks deep down the middle of the field in double-coverage instead of Chris Hogan, who was wide open going across the field. 

PATRIOTS 21, CHARGERS 13

2) Keeping Bosa and Ingram in check got a lot tougher in te second quarter when Marcus Cannon left the game with an ankle injury. LaAdrian Waddle replaced the 2016 All-Pro and seemed to handle himself well during his team's two-minute drill at the end of the first half. That continued into the second half as Waddle seemed to deal relatively well with two of the game's top-10 pass-rushers. Ingram did good work attacking the middle of the line, while Bosa seemed to have the majority of his hurries come from the left side. 

3) The Patriots came onto the field for their two-minute drill with two tight ends, and neither was named Dwayne Allen. With Brady set to throw, Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels went with Rob Gronkowski and Jacob Hollister. Brady targeted Hollister on the first throw of the drive, picking up 13 yards. Allen still doesn't have a catch this season. 

4) Malcolm Butler seemed to be confused on the coverage when Travis Benjamin got behind him in the fourth quarter to make the score 18-13. The Patriots appeared to be playing zone, and Butler made it look like he was under the impression he had the hook-flat area. When Benjamin ran by him, Butler read Philip Rivers' throw and tried to catch up, but he was too late. Should it have been Devin McCourty in that deep half of the field? Or did Butler play it incorrectly? Hard to tell, but the communication issues in the secondary -- though fewer and farther between -- haven't been totally eradicated. 

5) The Patriots rotated through their linebacker group with Dont'a Hightower out. Everyone got a shot. Some more than others. Elandon Roberts and Kyle Van Noy got the start at the second level, while David Harris was relied upon more than Trevor Reilly and Marquis Flowers. Harris was used at times coming up the field on pressures, and he flushed Rivers from the pocket when Rivers inexplicably fumbled in the third quarter and lost 20 yards. Harris also seemed to help blow up a Chargers screen late in the third. Two solid weeks in a row for the veteran linebacker.

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Patriots cut ties with Cassius Marsh, sign Eric Lee to help front-seven

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Patriots cut ties with Cassius Marsh, sign Eric Lee to help front-seven

Cassius Marsh was brought to New England to help a depleted defensive end group and play in the kicking game. The Patriots wanted him badly enough that they parted with two draft picks -- a fifth and a seventh -- to acquire him in a trade with the Seahawks just before the start of the season. 

Less than three months later, they've decided to part ways with the 6-foot-4, 245-pounder. 

Marsh played in nine games for the Patriots this season, providing the team with an edge defender and someone with special-teams experience. He blocked a kick in Week 7 against the Falcons that earned him an enthusiastic attaboy from coach Bill Belichick. 

Coming off the edge, Marsh recorded one sack and 13 hurries. Against the run, he was used more sparingly, and he was one of the Patriots on the scene for Marshawn Lynch's 25-yard run in the second quarter on Sunday. He played in just two snaps in Mexico City after missing the previous week's game in Denver due to a shoulder injury. 

Without Marsh the Patriots remain thin at defensive end. In order to help bolster that spot, the corresponding move the Patriots made to fill the open spot on their 53-man roster was to sign defensive lineman Eric Lee off of the Bills practice squad. 

Lee entered the league with the Texans last season as an undrafted rookie out of South Florida. Listed at 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, Lee has bounced on and off of the Bills practice squad this season since being released by the Texans before this season.

The Patriots got a good look at Lee during joint practices last summer with the Texans at The Greenbrier in West Virginia. In the preseason game with the Texans that week, Lee played 40 snaps and according to Pro Football Focus he had two quarterback hurries. The Patriots have a history of snagging players they've practiced against, and with Lee, that trend continues

Belichick takes some heat for 'earthquake' comment

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Belichick takes some heat for 'earthquake' comment

Bill Belichick sounded less than enthused about traveling to Mexico to play a game. And his line about being "fortunate there was no volcano eruptions, earthquakes or anything else while we were down there," didn't exactly sit well with some folks south of the border.

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“Personally, I wouldn’t be in any big rush to do it again,” Belichick said on his weekly appearance on WEEI's "Dale and Holley with Keefe" show Monday. “Players did a great job dealing with all the challenges that we had to deal with. I think we’re fortunate there was no volcano eruptions, earthquakes or anything else while we were down there. I mean you have two NFL franchises in an area that I don’t know how stable the geological plates that were below us [were], but nothing happened so that was good.”

Pancho Vera of ESPN Mexico took exception to Belichick's comment on Twitter, which, translated, called out the "ignorance of the genius of the NFL." More than 200 people were killed after a quake centered near Mexico City struck in September. 

Other Twitter users said, using Belichick's reasoning, they wondered if they'd be fortunate not to be killed or wounded in a mass shooting if they were to travel to the US:

Translated, the tweets read "I also have luck in Las Vegas I was not in a shooting" and "But you are right, I apply the same when I go to the U.S. and say I was fortunate I was not in some crazy shootout."