Patriots

Deion Sanders makes interesting guarantee about Patriots' wide receiver situation

Deion Sanders makes interesting guarantee about Patriots' wide receiver situation

The New England Patriots are still figuring out how to maximize their production at wide receiver, but one NFL legend is guaranteeing that help is on the way.

"I guarantee it, something’s going to happen within the next few weeks in the receiver department," Hall of Fame cornerback and current NFL Network analyst Deion Sanders said on "NFL Gameday" earlier this week. "They’ve got to get [Tom Brady] some help, because what I saw [Sunday] was ridiculous.”

Check out Sanders' full comments in the video below: 

Sanders didn't elaborate on what kind of help the Patriots would be getting, or how it would materialize. The trade deadline passed in late October, and the only free agent available who could make a real difference is Antonio Brown.

Brown had his chance with the Patriots earlier this season but was released after just 11 days with the team. The veteran wide receiver posted a video to Twitter on Sunday night that made it clear he wants a return to New England. A reunion with the Patriots and Brown seems unlikely, though. NBC Sports Boston's Tom E. Curran reported late last month that the team isn't interested in bringing back Brown.

The Patriots, unless something changes, will have to make it work with the receiving corps they have now. One of the keys to succeeding in this regard is continuing to build chemistry and trust between Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and the team's young wideouts, most notably N'Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers.

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels talked about this challenge during Tuesday's conference call with reporters.

"I don't think there's any shortcut to being on the same page, in terms of anticipating what the other person is thinking, feeling and seeing," McDaniels said. "A lot is made of somebody thinking one thing and somebody else thinking something else. I think there's a lot of factors in the passing game that would determine what being on the same page really means, but practice, repetition – there's no shortcut to it. Every rep we take in practice, every pass we throw, every side session that we're able to take part in, every conversation, every one-on-one drill that we do in practice, every film session that we're in, it just continues to try to build off of the last one. I think patience is something that – I know everybody wants everything to be a finished product, and we do too, but at the same time you have to understand there's going to be a process and we're going to try to stick to it.

"We have to be committed to it, and we know that it's productive when we stay the course and continue to coach the right things and fix the right things and then the players go out and make corrections and they have success with it. Once they make the corrections and have success with it, they gain confidence in it and they start to trust each other more, and there's no shortcut to that. I think our guys are trying really hard. I have absolutely zero issue with our effort and the desire to do it right, and I think that that's what everybody is working towards."

The Patriots need to make some effective offensive adjustments ASAP because Sunday's Week 14 showdown vs. the Kansas City Chiefs in Foxboro could be a shootout. The Chiefs are the third-highest scoring team in the league, and MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes had little trouble moving the ball against the Patriots defense in two matchups last season.

Tom E. Curran's latest AFC Power Rankings>>>

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Here's why a lot of Patriots recent draft picks have Senior Bowl experience

Here's why a lot of Patriots recent draft picks have Senior Bowl experience

Bill Belichick was there. Josh McDaniels was there. The Patriots had a large contingent down in Mobile, Ala. for this week's Senior Bowl practices (the game will air Saturday on NFL Network at 2:30 p.m.), which should come as no surprise.

Just look at how the Patriots have drafted of late. 

In 2019, they selected Jarrett Stidham, Byron Cowart and Jake Bailey -- all of whom participated in the Senior Bowl. They also signed undrafted rookie Jakobi Meyers, who played in the game. 

In 2018, they grabbed Isaiah Wynn in the first round, Duke Dawson, Ja'Whaun Bentley and Braxton Berrios after they'd competed in the Senior Bowl.

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Three of their four draft picks from 2017, plus two undrafted rookies, were in the Senior Bowl. 

From 2013-16, they brought aboard 20 Senior Bowl participants as rookies.

"The great thing about the Senior Bowl is that you're seeing some of the best players," Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio said last spring. 

"There have actually been some underclassmen who have been incorporated into that mix. So you're seeing them against good competition and it's a different dynamic or different situation that they've been placed in. You're kind of taking them out of their environment that they've been in and kind of giving them something new and seeing how they handle it against good people."

The small-school players -- or the players who are asked to do something they didn't do much as collegians -- are the ones who have an opportunity to really land on radars during Senior Bowl work. For the Patriots, who constantly harp on the benefit of having seen players work against great competition on a regular basis when they hail from an SEC program, seeing some of the best in the country work against one another matters.

"It’s one thing if they do it against a lower-level team," Caserio said back in 2016, when asked about the Senior Bowl. "I mean, look, not all teams are created equal. Not all conferences are created equal. That’s just a fact. We can’t control that. So when you can see them actually play against really good players or good players that are at a comparable level of competition that they’re going to see every Sunday, that has to be a part of [the evaluation], no question."

The next year, the Patriots took two Senior Bowlers from smaller programs: Youngstown State's Derek Rivers and Troy's Antonio Garcia. 

"Where [the Senior Bowl] probably helps a little bit is players on a lower level that maybe haven’t competed against the same level of competition," Caserio said back in 2017. "Obviously, they’re making a big jump. . . Garcia was down there. That’s going to be a big jump in competition because this is what they’re going to be playing against. 

"With all due respect to whatever conference Youngstown State is in, there’s not a lot of NFL players in that conference. I mean, that’s just the way that it is. You’re going to have to see him against NFL competition, which the Senior Bowl is usually a pretty good indication of that because you’re talking about the top seniors in the country. It’s a part of the process. You’re not making a decision based off of that, but maybe a player who doesn’t have as much experience against that level, you’re going to see how he fares, and then you just kind of continue to move forward."

Some small-school prospects who may have caught Belichick's eye this week? 

Dayton tight end Adam Trautman was already considered one of the better tight ends in the draft class and seemed to only help his stock.

Safety Kyle Dugger -- who hails from Division II Lenoir-Rhyne University -- impressed. Ditto for Division III offensive lineman Ben Bartch out of Saint John's, who saw rushers from Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, Ole Miss and other high-end programs and reportedly held his own.

Perhaps the most recent success story out of Senior Bowl week for the Patriots wasn't with a small-school prospect, though. It might've been with Shaq Mason, a guard coming out of a run-heavy system at Georgia Tech. The Patriots simply hadn't seen him do much in the way of pass protection for the Yellow Jackets.

But Mason got to the Senior Bowl, took to the coaching he received, and the Patriots took notice. 

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"The thing I’ll say about Shaq," Belichick said after drafting Mason in 2015, "is just watching him at the Senior Bowl, I mean it was only one week, but he made a huge improvement just in those, whatever it was, four or five practices, whatever it was down there. His stance is different. You could see each day progressively how he was taking to the coaching down there and his footwork and his hand placement and his body position. I know it was basic. It wasn’t like it was a big scheme thing at the Senior Bowl, but just doing things on a daily basis better than the day before, looking more comfortable doing them. And it was different than what they did at Georgia Tech."

Big school. Small school. Everyone had something to gain in Mobile this week. And that includes the Patriots. That's why -- with more time off this year than recent years -- they were well represented down there.


 

NFL Rumors: Patriots hiring ex-Rams assistant offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch

NFL Rumors: Patriots hiring ex-Rams assistant offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch

The New England Patriots reportedly have made an addition to their coaching staff.

According to Jim McBride of The Boston Globe, they've hired ex-Los Angeles Rams assistant offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch.

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Fisch's official role with the Patriots offense is to be determined. But now that there's an opening at wide receivers coach with Joe Judge joining the New York Giants, Fisch could be a candidate for the job.

He brings plenty of experience to the table having coached Denver Broncos wide receivers in 2008 and Michigan receivers from 2015-16. Fisch also coached Seattle Seahawks quarterbacks in 2010 and was the Jacksonville Jaguars' offensive coordinator from 2013-14.