Patriots

Adam Gase explains what Jets were looking for in Demaryius Thomas trade

Adam Gase explains what Jets were looking for in Demaryius Thomas trade

The New England Patriots hadn't made a trade with the New York Jets during Bill Belichick's 20-year tenure in Foxboro until the defending champs dealt veteran wide receiver Demaryius Thomas to the Big Apple after their Week 1 win.

Thomas was signed by the Patriots in May, but after the addition of elite wide receiver Antonio Brown last week, they moved on from Thomas and sent him to the Jets for a 2021 sixth-round pick

Jets head coach Adam Gase was asked about the trade during his media conference call Wednesday, and he explained what New York was looking for when it made the call to the Patriots.

"I think when (Jets general manager) Joe Douglas came to me, and when (Antonio Brown) got there, we were kind of in a situation where if we could find somebody that had knowledge of the system, that could help us, that was somebody that fit what we were looking for, which obviously Demaryius does," Gase said. "We were trying to figure out, 'How could we go about this?' I think to Joe's credit, he was like, 'I'm just going to call him and the worst they could say is no.' And when they said, "Let's talk," then those guys worked it out."

Trading with a division rival is difficult, but Belichick isn't afraid to make that kind of move if he feels it will help his team.

"We don't want to help the Jets, and they don't want to help us," Belichick said Tuesday. "We're in the same division, so they're not the easiest trades to make. ... But in the end, if it helps us in the other 14 games and helps our team, then it's something that's worth considering. We'll try to help our team in any way we can."

Belichick also added: "When you look at the beginning of each year, inter-division trading is probably not something that you think is going to be at the top of the list," Belichick added. "But we traded with Buffalo this year, too (acquiring center Russell Bodine from the Bills), so we made two inter-division trades within a week. You never know."

Thomas made his Jets debut during Monday night's loss to the Cleveland Browns. He made one catch for minus-1 yard on two targets.

The 31-year-old wide receiver didn't participate in Wednesday's practice due to a hamstring/knee injury, so it's uncertain if he'll play against the Patriots on Sunday.

Jets coach has high praise for Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore>>>

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Referee assigned to Patriots vs. Jets Week 3 game also officiated Super Bowl LI

Referee assigned to Patriots vs. Jets Week 3 game also officiated Super Bowl LI

New England Patriots fans might recognize the referee assigned to Sunday's Week 3 matchup against the New York Jets at Gillette Stadium.

Carl Cheffers will work the game, and he also was the referee for Super Bowl LI, where the Patriots pulled off a historic comeback to beat the Altanta Falcons 34-28 in overtime after trailing 28-3 in the third quarter. Cheffers, ironically, wears No. 51.

The Patriots have an 8-3 record in games which Cheffers has served as the referee. The last Patriots game he officiated was New England's embarrassing Week 2 road loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars last season. Last week's Patriots game against the Miami Dolphins was officiated by Bill Vinovich, who also officiated New England's victory in Super Bowl XLIX.

The defending Super Bowl champions have won their first two games of the season by a combined score of 76-3. The Patriots also have won six straight games against the Jets, and they are massive betting favorites entering their Week 3 matchup.

Jets coach has high praise for Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore>>>

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Matt Cassel: Why you shouldn't worry about Patriots' offensive line injuries

Matt Cassel: Why you shouldn't worry about Patriots' offensive line injuries

Any time you have rotating parts on the offensive line -- Korey Cunningham and Marshall Newhouse have had to step in for Isaiah Wynn and Marcus Cannon, and obviously the center position has changed with David Andrews being out -- it's going to be a major question mark.

But I think the wild card in this whole situation is Dante Scarnecchia.

I’ve said this time and time again: Dante Scarnecchia is the best offensive line coach in the NFL. He's been doing it for so long, and his ability to coach these guys and have them ready to play is second to none.

Scar is so detail-oriented. He does a great job in the run game, and he also understands protection schemes and blitz pickup identification.

When I was in New England, we would do 9-on-7, which is a run-oriented drill. He'd do a great job of making sure I identified the appropriate linebacker for the offensive line so they knew who to block. He also has a great balance of pushing those guys: pushing to get the best out of them, but also knowing when to pull back.

They’re so detail-oriented in that offensive line room that you feel good as a quarterback -- going into any game or any situation, with whoever’s playing -- that he’ll have those guys prepared to understand their blocking and protection schemes.

In 2005, our starting center, Dan Koppen, went down with a season-ending injury. Russ Hochstein was always our interior "swing guy" -- he played guard and center -- and I remember Russ stepping in and playing beautifully.

Your leader on the offensive line is your center, because the communication really takes place between him and quarterback. And I thought we didn’t miss a beat when Russ came in, because Scar had him prepared at that position.

That said, the best example I can think of is Stephen Neal. This is a guy who never played high school football, college football or anything like that. He was an All-American wrestler in college.

But we picked him up, and Coach Scarnecchia and the rest of the staff developed Steve into dominant force for us at guard for years to come. I think a lot of his development as a player had to do with the coaching and expertise that took place within that room.

You’ve got to have trust in your guys up front. And a lot of that comes from you having a tremendous amount of faith in the coaching staff to prepare those guys every week. 

Every coaching staff has a feel for it. But based on my experience, the Patriots' coaching staff was the best I’ve been around during my NFL career.

If certain pass rushers that were giving us problems on the edge -- we called them "game-wreckers" -- Scar and the coaching staff would always come up with a great scheme to help, whether it was chipping the edge with the running backs or showing tight end presence so the pass-rusher couldn’t get clean run at the quarterback coming off the ball.

So, when we played the Colts and guys like Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis, who were one of the most dominant pass-rushing tandems in the league, we’d always have a plan. We wouldn’t let those guys ruin the game. 

I think that’s the genius part of what the Patriots do: They go above and beyond in identifying the issue and doing whatever they can to make sure it doesn’t wreck the offensive plan. 

That's what I expect Scarnecchia and the coaching staff will continue to do, regardless of who's out there.

Editor's note: Matt Cassel had a 14-year NFL career that four seasons with the New England Patriots (2005-2008). He's joining the NBC Sports Boston team for this season. You can find him on game days as part of our Pregame Live and Postgame Live coverage, as well as every week on Tom E. Curran’s Patriots Talk podcast and NBCSportsBoston.com.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.