Patriots

Hard Truths Game Preview: When the Patriots have the ball

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Hard Truths Game Preview: When the Patriots have the ball

When we last left the Patriots, they were getting waxed 34-10 two weeks ago in Tennessee. Will a week off followed by a visit to the 3-7 Jets be enough to get them right?

By Land: The Patriots offense peaked when they scored 119 points in three games against the Dolphins, Colts and Chiefs. That’s when Sony Michel was at his best, Julian Edelman returned from suspension and Rob Gronkowski was available. They’ve scored 84 offensive points in the four games since and it’s been tough sledding at times. Even though the Jets aren’t a patsy defensively, this is a good week for New England to surge. Michel will be in his second game back from his knee injury, Gronkowski is poised to return from his injuries and the offensive line had two weeks to heal and should have Shaq Mason. In two of their past three games, the Jets have been routed on the ground (179 yards allowed vs. Chicago and 212 to the Bills). In order to take the heat off of Tom Brady and his tweaked knee and to begin preparing a playoff antidote to teams such as the Chiefs, the Patriots need to find who they are on offense. Rediscovering their ground efficiency is the best way to do that. Look for the Patriots to be run-heavy against the Jets. The Jets’ front is anchored by Leonard Williams and their primary linebackers – Avery Williamson and Darron Lee – are fast and fill well.

By Air: The Tennessee game was a bad one for myriad reasons but the fallout centered on Brady. Same as it ever was when the Patriots look disjointed. The primary reason the Patriots were so punchless that day was protection. Tennessee got heat with four-man rushes all day. But Brady didn’t have a great patience either and, in the past four games, has been overly reliant on James White and Edelman. Good players to rely on, for sure, but the Patriots made it a point in their bye week to get under the hood and try to fix some of their tendencies. Look for more shots to players who’ve been under-utilized and an effort to get the ball downfield more than Brady has been. Brady is listed as questionable with his tweaked knee and an illness that kept him out of practice Friday but is expected to play. The Jets lead the league in third-down defense and are one of the top red-zone defenses in the league so this isn’t a walkover.  

Kicking Game: Stephen Gostkowski is having an outstanding season for the Patriots with his only misses coming outside 50 yards. The Patriots are only averaging 7.5 yards on punt returns.in

Key Matchup: Rob Gronkowski on Jamal Adams. The second-year safety’s been an impact player for the Jets and – with fellow safety Marcus Maye doubtful to play – Adams will be in the middle of things as Gronk, having three of his past four games, is trying to reassert himself.

Who’s Hurt: Brady, Gronkowski, Mason and Michel are all questionable. Tight end Dwayne Allen won’t play. For the Jets, Maye is the big injury to watch.

Recent Past: The Patriots lost to Tennessee before the bye but had won six in a row prior to that. They are 7-3 and a win would keep them a game behind the Chiefs in the race for the top seed in the AFC.

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Panthers TE Greg Olsen says Bears nearly traded him to Patriots in 2010

Panthers TE Greg Olsen says Bears nearly traded him to Patriots in 2010

In an alternate universe, Greg Olsen is a New England Patriot.

The veteran Carolina Panthers tight end nearly was traded back to the Pats back in 2010 when he played for the Chicago Bears. What caused the deal to fall through was the Patriots selecting Rob Gronkowski in the second round of the 2010 NFL Draft. Olsen discussed the story of the near-trade Thursday on The Dan Patrick Show.

"Jerry Angelo brought me into his office and he's like 'hey, I'm just going to be honest with you, we have a trade in place with you contingent on how the draft falls tomorrow night,'" Olsen said. "Come to later find out through some guys I knew in the organization it was with the Patriots and it was them assuming [Gronkowski] was going to be taken in the first round.

"That year, the Patriots had three second-round draft picks and they were going to trade one of those for me if Gronk was already taken in the first round. He fell to the second round, they took him with their second-round pick, Belichick called back the Bears and said 'we're going to take Gronkowski and the trade is now off.'"

Watch below:

Olsen has told the story before, but this sheds more light on how trade talks between the Bears and Patriots went down prior to New England opting to go with Gronkowski instead.

While we can't help but wonder "what if?", it's safe to say things worked out just fine for both sides. Gronkowski developed into one of the best tight ends of all time and helped the Patriots to three Super Bowl titles, and Olsen has enjoyed a stellar career in Carolina where he's clearly cherished playing for the last eight years.

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Patriots Talk Podcast: Matt Cassel explains what it takes to earn Tom Brady's trust

Patriots Talk Podcast: Matt Cassel explains what it takes to earn Tom Brady's trust

Michael Bennett's suspension, Tom Brady's expectations, and the hierarchy in the AFC are among the topics Tom E. Curran and former Patriots quarterback Matt Cassel discuss in the latest episode of Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast. 

2:46 — Tom Curran is joined by Matt Cassel to discuss the Patriots one-game suspension of Michael Bennett. How do organizations determine a punishment for altercations and how does a player acting out affect the rest of the team?

13:41 — Matt talks about the perfection Tom Brady expects on the field (from everyone) and how that relates to N'Keal Harry being reintroduced into the Patriots offense.

21:01 — Curran wonders what it is that new or young receivers consistently mess up as they try to learn the Patriots offense. Matt gets into the Xs and Os.

24:49 — Is 'laces out' really the golden rule when it comes to place kick holding? Cassel questions this andtalks about his experience as a holder.

29:31 — Tom and Matt give their picks for second-best team in the AFC. One of the contenders may shock you (hint — it's in the Patriots' division).

LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE

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