Patriots

Devin McCourty draws fitting Patriots parallel in Rutgers commencement speech

Devin McCourty draws fitting Patriots parallel in Rutgers commencement speech

Devin and Jason McCourty had some quality life experience to draw on at their alma mater this weekend.

The twin brothers and New England Patriots defensive backs delivered the commencement speech to Rutgers' Class of 2019 on Sunday at the school's football stadium.

The theme of the McCourty twins' speech was realizing success, as Devin told the 2019 graduates, "Don’t just be successful, but redefine success and then do it again."

Devin and Jason reached the pinnacle of success with the Patriots this past season, becoming the first twins to win a Super Bowl as teammates when New England defeated the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl LIII.

But that achievement was the result of years of hard work for both brothers, who stepped outside their comfort zones to pursue their NFL dreams despite not being elite recruits out of high school.

"If we accept those fears from others, how can we unlock our true purpose on this earth?” Devin said. "Failure is a feeling long before it becomes an actual result. The power of positive thinking can change your life."    

Devin then brought it back to the Patriots, whose modern-day dynasty began when head coach Bill Belichick trusted his gut and stuck with Tom Brady as the team's starting quarterback in 2001 over Drew Bledsoe.

“I know chasing goals can be scary," he said. "You may be doing things for the first time in your family’s history. You may be following in the footsteps of someone great. But do you think we’d be standing here, celebrating the 100th anniversary of Paul Robeson’s graduation, if he let fear and doubt step in the way of being great?

 "Would the Patriots have won six Super Bowls if Bill Belichick listened to other people and put (Tom) Brady back on the bench?" 

Devin is right, as Belichick's QB decision led to a series of events that reunited the twins on New England's sixth Super Bowl title team.

You can check out the McCourtys' full speech in the video below:

 

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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.