Patriots

Belichick: Newton is 'Public Enemy No. 1' when it comes to scrambling quarterbacks

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Belichick: Newton is 'Public Enemy No. 1' when it comes to scrambling quarterbacks

FOXBORO -- Yesterday in this space we highlighted some of the difficulties that the Patriots had in containing Deshaun Watson's ability to scramble, extend plays, and pick up yardage down the field. 

With Cam Newton headed to Gillette Stadium over the weekend, Bill Belichick indicated that his team's job will only get tougher in regards to limiting those types of plays.

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"Well, I think both guys probably have a few plays that are designed runs, and then there are other plays that are improvised runs," Belichick explained. "I think when you’re talking about mobile quarterbacks, guys that are tough to handle, tackle, can throw, run, make good decision -- I mean, I would put Newton at the top of the list."

Watson ranks No. 1 in the league, according to Pro Football, when it comes to longest average time to throw (3.27 seconds). Other mobile quarterbacks -- DeShone Kizer, Tyrod Taylor, Russell Wilson and Aaron Rodgers -- round out the top five in that category through three weeks this season. Newton is currently eighth on that list at an average of 2.76 seconds from snap to throw.

That's not all that far off from where Newton was when he was named MVP in 2015 (average of 2.85 seconds to throw). The difference this year is that regardless of when Newton throws, the results have been lacking. 

In 2015, his quarterback rating on throws that took 2.6 seconds or more was 97.9 -- third best in the league. And he was even better when getting the ball out more quickly, recording a 101.4 rating on passes that occurred 2.5 seconds or less from the time the ball was snapped.

This year? It's a small sample, but his rating on longer-developing throws is 69.7. It's only slightly better when he throws it more quickly: 71.0. 

Whether it's the shoulder injury that plagued him all offseason or turnover among the personnel with him in the offensive huddle, something's not allowing the Panthers offense -- which has scored 45 total points in three games -- to click.

Still, Belichick insisted on Wednesday that the Patriots have to respect Newton's ability to move in and out of the pocket to create explosive plays.

"Not saying that there aren’t a lot of other good players that do that, but I would say, of all the guys we play or have played recently in the last couple of years, he’s the hardest guy to deal with," Belichick said. "He makes good decisions. He can run. He’s strong. He’s hard to tackle. He can do a lot of different things, beat you in a lot of different ways. We saw that in the game down there in '13, so I would put him at the top of the list.

"Not saying the other guys aren’t a problem, because they are, but he’s Public Enemy No. 1."

Buccaneers GM on Rob Gronkowski: 'I have no idea if he'd want to play'

Buccaneers GM on Rob Gronkowski: 'I have no idea if he'd want to play'

Now that Tom Brady has left the New England Patriots to join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in NFL free agency, the dreams and speculation of Rob Gronkowski potentially returning to pro football have moved south to Florida.

Many Patriots fans hoped the former tight end would come out of retirement and join the team for the 2019 season, but it never happened. The Patriots never found any adequate replacements for the future Hall of Famer, and as a result, tight end was a position of weakness for them last season. Benjamin Watson, Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse were unable to provide any consistent offensive production in the passing game.

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Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht was asked about Gronkowski during a media conference call Thursday. Here's what he said, per ESPN's Jenna Laine:

Licht is right when he notes the Patriots retain Gronkowski's rights. For him to return to football and leave the Patriots, the team would have to trade him or release him. Gronkowski can't just unretire and sign with the Bucs.

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It also should be noted that, unlike the Patriots, the Bucs aren't exactly in need of another tight end. Sure, Gronkowski could probably still be an effective player at 30 years old, but O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate currently give Tampa Bay a solid 1-2 punch at tight end.

Howard, in particular, should benefit greatly from Brady's arrival in Tampa Bay. He was a 2017 first-round draft pick, and similar to Gronkowski, he has good speed for a tight end with impressive size (6-foot-6 and 251 pounds). Howard has shown flashes of top-tier talent, but he hasn't yet displayed it on a consistent basis. Brady's history of success targeting tight ends bodes well for Howard having a breakout campaign in 2020.

Gronkowski and Brady had a legendary connection with the Patriots, but between the Bucs' current tight end situation and Gronk's busy career away from football -- he recently won a WWE title belt -- it's hard to envision any more touchdown passes will be thrown from No. 12 to No. 87.

Patriots WR Julian Edelman won't be prosecuted for vandalism charge

Patriots WR Julian Edelman won't be prosecuted for vandalism charge

It looks like Julian Edelman got a little lucky.

The Patriots wide receiver will not be prosecuted for the misdemeanor vandalism charge filed against him in January, according to a report shared by ESPN's Mike Reiss. 

Edelman was arrested in Beverly Hills for jumping on the hood of a car one week after the Patriots 20-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans in wild-card action. 

The 33-year-old was scheduled to appear in court on April 13, but the owner of the vehicle stated that all damages had been paid for and he doesn't wish to press charges.

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"The owner of the vehicle has informed the DA's Office that he does not want the arrestee to be prosecuted for the proposed vandalism charge," the official filing said, according to Reiss. "The arrestee has no known criminal history. Case filing declined in the interests of justice."

Edelman had been out to dinner with former Patriot Danny Amendola and former Boston Celtics star Paul Pierce before the incident occurred.