Patriots

Chris Hogan sees similarities between Tom Brady and Cam Newton

Chris Hogan sees similarities between Tom Brady and Cam Newton

Chris Hogan wasn't with the Patriots for long, but in three seasons with the franchise, he experienced about as much as you possibly could for that short a time frame. He played in three consecutive Super Bowls and won two while catching passes from the legendary Tom Brady. 

Hogan signed a one-year deal with the Panthers this offseason after he said the Patriots moved on from him, though there are no hard feelings. Now he's working with the talented but inconsistent Cam Newton in Carolina, and has already noticed a key similarity between his new quarterback and Brady, as he told ESPN's David Newton

That competitive nature, it’s there. When it comes time to strap on the pads and play football, their focus is on one goal and that’s winning football games.

Cam wants to win. You can tell that right away from talking to him and being around him.

Newton won the MVP in 2016 and led the Panthers to Super Bowl 50, but lost to Von Miller and that brutal Broncos defense that featured Malik Jackson, Chris Harris Jr. and DeMarcus Ware just to name a few key contributors.

You have to wonder what would have happened if the Patriots hadn't lost to Denver in that year's AFC Championship game. Super Bowl 50 is the only Super Bowl the Patriots haven't participated in over the last five years. 

Hogan had enough time with Brady to notice what made him great, so if he sees that same competitive fire in Newton, then that has to be a good sign for Panthers fans. We already know Newton has the ability to turn a conference on its head, so there's a possibility we see him and Brady square off in February this coming season You never know. 

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These stats highlight the Patriots' excellence protecting the quarterback

These stats highlight the Patriots' excellence protecting the quarterback

The pillars of any good offense in the NFL most likely involve good quarterback play, a solid offensive line and a scheme that maximizes the strengths of its skill players. 

The Patriots have checked all of those boxes for almost two decades, and it's helped them win six Super Bowl championships and nine conference titles. Tom Brady has been the constant for the entire run of dominance and the offensive line's ability to keep a clean pocket has helped him play into his age-42 season. 

According to Connor Price of Pro Football Focus, the Patriots have the fourth-fewest quarterback pressures (2,001) in the league over the last 10 years, trailing only the Bengals (1,786), Saints (1,945) and Titans (1,957). The league-average for the last 10 years is 2,025 quarterback pressures.

Not only that, but New England also sports the fourth-best pressure rate over that span as well (25.4 percent), behind Cincinnati, New Orleans and Pittsburgh with the league average hovering around 28 percent.   

The Patriots have consistently invested in their offensive line and have the masterful Dante Scarnecchia overseeing the unit, but Brady executing the team's offensive scheme to perfection goes a long way in these stats as well. 

What makes Brady so good, among many things, is his ability to understand opposing defense's tendencies and concepts. This allows him to dissect what's happening in front of him quicker than basically any other quarterback and hit his receivers before pass rushers can finish their moves. 

Without Rob Gronkowski going into this season and seemingly more weapons on the outside than normal, it will be interesting to see if the Patriots' offensive line can continue to keep the pocket clean for Brady if he targets more downfield throws. 

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Julian Edelman pumped for Patriots camp to begin: 'School's back in session'

Julian Edelman pumped for Patriots camp to begin: 'School's back in session'

Julian Edelman warmed up for training camp Saturday by putting on a clinic in near 100-degree heat.

The Patriots wide receiver helped conduct his football clinic for about 600 boys and girls at Lincoln-Sudbury High School about 40 minutes north of Foxboro. The Super Bowl MVP compared Pats camp, which begins Thursday at Gillette Stadium, to school being back in session.

“I’m extremely excited for the new year. This is a new team. Training camp coming up, this is kind of like when school’s back in session," Edelman told reporters. "We had summer break, [now] you get to see all the fellas. This is where you learn your team and learn each other and become accountable for each other and work hard together and create a consistency together."

The undisputed veteran of a Patriots receiving corps that is short on big names beside himself, Edelman, 33, is ready to mentor young receivers, such as first-round pick N'Keal Harry. 

“This is like the beginning shape form of your team, these next few weeks. It’s a crucial point. We put a lot of hard work in during the spring, and the next step to playing other teams, so it’s definitely exciting.”

With tight end Rob Gronkowski retired, Edelman takes center stage as Tom Brady's favorite target. He led all Pats receivers with 850 yards in the regular season despite an NFL-imposed PED suspension that kept him out of the first four games. His 10-catch, 141-yard performance against the Rams in Super Bowl 53 earned him game MVP honors.

Starting Thursday, he'll lead a receiver group that includes few familiar names: Phillip Dorsett returns, Braxton Berrios is back from the practice squad, Harry is a top draft pick and free-agent signees Demaryius Thomas, Dontrelle Inman and Maurice Harris are among those who've been added.