Patriots

Did Bill Belichick hint at potential Patriots return for Ben Watson?

Did Bill Belichick hint at potential Patriots return for Ben Watson?

FOXBORO, Mass. -- The New England Patriots brought back a familiar face at tight end after Rob Gronkowski's retirement, but Benjamin Watson's second stint with the franchise ultimately didn't work out.

Watson was suspended for the first four games of the regular season because of a failed drug test. He could have played in Week 5 against the Washington Redskins but wasn't activated by the Saturday deadline. The Patriots chose not to activate him to their 53-man roster by Monday afternoon's deadline, thus making him a free agent.

"Like Ben. We just don't have a roster spot for him right now," Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said at his Tuesday press conference. "Maybe that will change, but for the moment, that's where it is."

It's interesting Belichick noted the situation could change.

The Patriots roster could look a bit different after the trade deadline, which is set for Oct.29 at 4 p.m. ET. CBS Sports' Jason La Canfora reported Sunday the Patriots have been among the "most active" teams ahead of the trade deadline. Based on any moves made and not made before that deadline, maybe the Patriots decide Watson would be worth having on the 53-man roster. He has far more experience than any of the tight ends currently on the Pats depth chart.

Speaking of those tight ends, New England primarily has used Ryan Izzo and Matt LaCosse at the position this season. Belichick admitted Tuesday the Patriots intend to keep developing them. 

"They're both younger players who are developing," Belichick said. "We feel like they have some upside, done a decent job for us. We certainly have a ways to go, but have had enough production that we want to keep working with them."

LaCosse and Izzo haven't factored much into the Patriots passing attack, combining for seven receptions, 138 yards and one touchdown on 11 targets. Izzo has been the more productive tight end with four catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. His best game came Sunday versus the Redskins, when he caught two passes for 29 yards and a touchdown.

The Patriots are the third-highest scoring team in the league with 31 points per game, which is pretty impressive when you consider the tight end position hasn't contributed much.

However, for the Patriots to have a well-balanced offensive attack entering the playoffs, they need more production from their tight ends in the passing game, especially with veteran wide receivers Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon and Phillip Dorsett all having been banged up a bit at various points throughout this season.

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Patriots Report Card: Pats make Jets lives miserable

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Patriots Report Card: Pats make Jets lives miserable

The Patriots did enough early on Monday night that they made their jobs a little bit easier later on. They jumped out to a commanding early lead by scoring on three of their first four drives with varied personnel packages. They confounded Sam Darnold early and forced him to play spooked to the point that he made mistakes even when he wasn't pressured into them. 

It wasn't perfect. And the grades reflect that. But it was yet another dominant effort from Bill Belichick's point as they get closer to the season's midway point. 

Click here to read Phil Perry's full Patriots Report Card>>>

After horrible game, Sam Darnold still can be difference maker for Jets

After horrible game, Sam Darnold still can be difference maker for Jets

The New England Patriots dominated the New York Jets 33-0 Monday night, and Sam Darnold was atrocious. The second-year quarterback finished 11-of-32 for 84 yards, 4 interceptions, and a lost fumble. He posted a quarterback rankings of 3.6.

Tom Curran discussed the Jets quarterback with Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, and it sounds like the blame needs to be put on multiple people -- not just Darnold.

"It's partly Gase, partly the offensive line, partly Darnold," Mehta told Curran on Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast. "You're right, Darnold was terrible. He panicked, his footwork was absolutely brutal."

"I'm not going to blame the offensive line coach and then absolve the offensive coordinator because that, in effect, is what Gase does and you need to work in tandem with your offensive line coach to figure out protections and what particular blitz is going to entail. I'm not saying it's all on Gase, because it's clearly not on Gase. But I can't absolve Gase, I think it's a collective effort. Everybody was at fault."

While everyone is to blame, it's easy to acknowledge that Darnold wasn't great on Monday, and Bill Belichick's defense played a role in the Jets QB's misery.

"He didn't see the field well at all. It really, completely the opposite of the week earlier when he saw the field really well against Dallas," Mehta said. "And as you said earlier, this is a great defense. Clearly it's the best defense in the NFL, better than San Francisco. It was a terrible performance, his worst performance in college or the pros. That doesn't mean he's scarred for life. I think the ghost comment will probably stick for a while."

"From what I saw yesterday, they play such smart football," Mehta said. "I don't know how Belichick teaches it or coaches it, but they had that Jets offensive line confused."

While Darnold had one of the worst games of his career, Mehta still thinks Darnold still will have success in the NFL.

"He's shown enough to me that he can still be a very good player. I'm not going to bury a guy after one horrible performance on national TV just because of what I've seen prior to that. I think he'll bounce back. I think he'll play much better and I haven't moved off my stance all along back when he was at USC. I think this guy can be a difference-making player."

Darnold will need to have a huge bounce-back performance for New York against the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday if he wants to boost his confidence.

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