Patriots

Can the Patriots again have the NFL's No. 1 scoring defense?

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Can the Patriots again have the NFL's No. 1 scoring defense?

Covering the NFL for almost 20 years allows you to make relationships with a bunch of people. So I thought I'd tap into some of those people as we gear up for New England Patriots training camp for a series of pieces about topics we've been kicking around.

The panel consists of one former Pats player still in the game, two scouts of AFC teams, one front-office member in the AFC, and one NFC scout. They all requested anonymity for obvious reasons (as the player said, "Hey, I might want to end up back there!") I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I had talking to these guys.

OTHER TOPICS


Today's topic: Was that No. 1 scoring defense a year ago repeatable?
 
Scout 1: Why the hell wouldn’t it be? From a talent perspective, they’re better. {Stephon] Gilmore is an upgrade over Logan Ryan. [Trey] Flowers this year, with another year of experience, is better than Flowers from last year. I’m a big believer in their three safeties [Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon]. With a secondary like that, even if it takes them time to find a consistent pass rusher, they’ll still be effective. I like the addition of David Harris too. He’s not the player he once was but to me, that’s a major league upgrade over the mismatch of bodies they used alongside [Dont'a] Hightower once Jamie Collins got sent away.
 
Scout 2:
Look, you can’t dismiss the numbers from last year. You just can’t. But I never thought they were ALL that. You have the best offense in the league. You have teams consistently chasing points. And you have an intelligent coaching staff that says, "Okay, take all the underneath stuff you want. Eventually, you’ll have to try and make a scoring play and that’s where our playmakers take over." The fact that group showed discipline is a feather in their cap, but I think they’ll miss Logan Ryan more than most do, and I think wear and tear are showing on Chung and a couple of other guys that will test their depth. They’ll be Top 10, maybe even Top 5 -- and that’ll be more than good enough -- but I don’t see a repeat. 
 
Scout 3: I’m not a fan of the Gilmore signing. I think his effort was inconsistent in Buffalo and his performance was too. Do you think [Bill] Belichick and [Matt] Patricia will tolerate that? Maybe they have no choice because of the contract and the need to make it look right, but I’d be surprised if there weren’t some hiccups there. Then you wonder how that plays with the guy across from him [Malcolm Butler]. He deserves to get paid. It didn’t impact Logan Ryan. He kept showing up, no matter how he was deployed. They aren’t a great pass rushing team to begin with and that was with [Rob] Ninkovich. I think to expect some of those journeyman types - [Kyle] Van Noy, [Shea] McClellin - to aid the rush is probably wishful thinking. Oh sure, they’ll scheme up some pressures and whatnot, and that defense will still be in the upper half of the league but I don’t see similar numbers. I just don’t.
 
Front office executive: I just looked at their schedule. This isn’t last year just based on that and that alone. [Drew] Brees. [Cam] Newton. [Jameis] Winston. [Matt] Ryan. [Philip] Rivers. [David] Carr. Some of the best receivers in football: Michael Thomas, [DeAndre] Hopkins, Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson, Julio Jones, [Demaryius] Thomas and [Emmanuel] Sanders in Denver, [Amari] Cooper in Oakland. That’s a pretty good reason to go out and make the Gilmore signing. I know they pride themselves on not allowing the big plays but with that group, eliminating them entirely will be difficult. And if you make that your mission, then there are catch and run plays to be had underneath. That will put pressure on what I would consider an underwhelming group at DE/OLB. Never mind if something happens to Hightower. I trust Bill and the defensive coaches to make the necessary adjustments and even go out and do something before the trade deadline to address a shortcoming.
 

Did Tom Brady fire back at 'dad bod' comments via Twitter?

Did Tom Brady fire back at 'dad bod' comments via Twitter?

Was Tom Brady, via his TB12 center Twitter account, firing back at those who took shots at his "dad bod" as seen in recent paparazzi photos?

Check out the pinned tweet at the top of TB12's Twitter 

It's no doubt in response to what GQ called "#TorsoGate"

He's come a long way from the 2000 NFL combine before he was made the 199th pick overall:

Brady's TB12 Method famously touts pliability, eschews weight training and promotes what some see as an untraditional diet for an elite athlete - remember him eating a strawberry with Stephen Colbert this past winter?

The soon-to-be-41-year-old (Aug. 3) Patriots quarterback will apparently have an early start on getting into football shape. He plans to be at training camp ahead of Wednesday's veteran reporting date. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Edelman won't take four-game PED suspension to court

Edelman won't take four-game PED suspension to court

We won't be following this four-game suspension through the federal court system the way we did another one.

Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman is not going to pursue an appeal of his four-game PED suspension in court and will sit out the first four games of the regular season.

Tom Pelissero of the NFL Network was first to report that Edelman wouldn't be going to court to appeal.

Edelman's teammate, Tom Brady famously took the appeal of his Deflategate four-game suspension through various federal court hearings before dropping the case before the 2016 season.

Edelman, 32, who missed all of last season recovering from ACL surgery, can participate in training camp and preseason games but will miss regular season games at home vs. the Texans Sept. 9, at the Jaguars Sept. 16, at the Lions Sept. 23 and at home vs. the Dolphins Sept. 30. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE