Patriots

Here's what the Patriots didn't do in their loss to Jacksonville

Here's what the Patriots didn't do in their loss to Jacksonville

TOM E. CURRAN'S PATRIOTS-JAGUARS PREVIEW: Revenge of the Jags? 

And so it was. The Jaguars got their revenge for last year's loss in the AFC Championship Game with a 31-20 victory. Here's how it played . . . 

WHEN THE PATRIOTS HAD THE BALL

The Patriots got moving a little on their first drive with a 23-yard completion to Jacob Hollister before an uncalled hold on Rob Gronkowski (by Jags linebacker Telvin Smith) led to a lengthy field-goal attempt that Stephen Gostkowski shanked. On their second drive, they went to Sony Michel three times and didn’t convert a first down. After their third fruitless possession, both Brady and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels unloaded on the offense. On the ensuing drive, Brady went 8-for-10 throwing short passes underneath and to the sideline and got the Pats to the Jags 11 before they stalled and settled for a Gostkowski field goal. After a three-and-out to open the half, the Patriots cashed in a recovered fumble with a Brady-to-Chris Hogan touchdown pass. They settled for a field goal on their next drive to make it 24-13 and were back in business in Jacksonville territory after a Kyle Van Noy pick. But La’Adrian Waddle got beat by Dante Fowler and the strip sack took probable points off the board. The Patriots were forced to punt on their next drive early in the fourth after a challenged first down by Jacksonville overturned a James White catch-and-run. The Patriots tacked on a garbage-time TD by Chris Hogan. The heat Brady saw in the first half wasn’t as hard to deal with as the game went on but he still was under semi-regular duress. The Jags sent double-teams on Gronk (2 catches, 15 yards) all game. James White had 7 catches for 73 yards and was a regular bailout option. The Jaguars did a great job limiting YAC for the most part. The Patriots had moments of effectiveness in the running game but weren’t able to nor inclined to stick with it. The Patriots are working very hard to get the matchups they want and scheme things up but there just aren’t any true mismatches they can generate. They can’t yet outperform, they have to outwit. The Patriots went 4-for-12 on third down. 

WHEN THE JAGUARS HAD THE BALL

Blake Bortles opened the game hot as a pistol, going 10-for-13 for 123 yards and two touchdowns on the first two drives. He extended the second drive with a nice scramble on third-and-6 when Patrick Chung lost track of him. Bortles hit Keelan Cole twice over Eric Rowe for the score. Stephon Gilmore was in coverage on the first touchdown, a brilliant throw by Bortles. Rowe took a seat on the next Jags drive, replaced by Jason McCourty and the Patriots forced a punt from their own 40 after they held up on a third-and-17. Jacksonville got a big conversion on a third down right after the two-minute warning when New England sent everyone and Bortles found tight end Austin Sefarian-Jenkins for a conversion in front of Devin McCourty. Coming out in the second half, the Jaguars kept tearing off chunks of yardage with simple pitch-and-catch throws to their wideouts including a completion on third-and-11 in front of Rowe. On their next third down, they ran a simple pick that yielded an 11-yard completion. A Bortles scramble was another third-down conversion and the Jags capped it with a field goal. The Patriots finally had a drive that didn’t enter their territory when Stephon Gilmore forced a fumble that was recovered by Duron Harmon and set up a Chris Hogan touchdown catch. The Patriots forced a three-and-out and came up with a pick on their next two possessions but got just three points out of it. The Patriots were still hanging in midway through the fourth but a simple crossing route run by Dede Westbrook turned into a 61-yard touchdown to make it 31-13 with 7:30 left. The overview? First, Bortles was ridiculously accurate for most of the game (29 for 45 for 377 and four TDs). He got precious little heat put on him as the Patriots seemed content to make him be accurate and drill some throws. He did. The tackling was very poor after the catch on some plays as well. There was a stretch when the defense started to play faster and with a little more aggression after the Jags started to get separation and some turnovers resulted. But the competitiveness in the secondary for the most part was subpar. The Jags were 10-for-14 on third down.

THE KICKING GAME

Stephen Gostkowski missed his 54-yard field goal attempt by a mile. Ryan Allen’s first punt was a bomb – 57 yards and perfectly placed on the sideline. Allen averaged 55.5 yards on his four punts. Jags punter Logan Cooke had a key punt in the second when he pinned the Patriots at their 6. Patrick Chung was back deep to field punts. Gostkowski hit a chip shot later in the first half. After Chung got hurt, the Patriots didn’t have anyone deep to field a plus-50 punt in the second half. The Patriots covered better on kick returns. 

GAME WITHIN A GAME

It took three drives to do it, but the Patriots finally started squeezing throws out more quickly. A lot of those were quick ones into the middle of the field to James White or in front of corners giving cushion but it did help to slow down the Jacksonville pass rush.   

JAGUARS HAD TO STOP . . . ROB GRONKOWSKI

The Jags took care of Gronkowski, though the ever-vocal Jalen Ramsey didn’t have much to do with it. Gronk caught just two passes for 15 yards and Jacksonville made it their business to take him away. Gronk was targeted just four times. 

PATRIOTS HAD TO STOP . . . MYLES JACK

Jack had eight tackles. He didn’t do anything particularly outstanding but the Jags in general didn’t do anything spectacular. They just took care of business. 

INJURIES

Trey Flowers left in the first quarter after taking a whack on the back of the head from a teammate. Patrick Chung later got concussed and both were out after their injuries. Deatrich Wise left late with an apparent finger injury. 

THAT SUMS IT UP, PATRIOTS STYLE

“I think it raises everybody’s game as long as it doesn’t get to the point where you do something stupid. I mean, I think emotion in football is critical, and I think you have to have the energy and emotion. Because, I mean, it’s a game of poise certainly, but it’s also a game of just cutting it loose, and that’s got to be a lot of confidence, a lot of trust in the people that are next to you so you can go be really free of what you’re doing to go play a very anticipatory sport. So, you just can’t wait for things to happen. If you wait for it to happen, it’s too late. You’ve always got to anticipate, and playing with energy and enthusiasm are all part of the game.” – Tom Brady, when asked last week if he expected an emotionally-charged game. 

While Brady might have embraced the idea of feeling some emotion – and showed some during the first half – this felt like a flat, tentative performance from a team that doesn’t know what it is yet. On either side of the ball. 

THAT SUMS IT UP, JAGUARS STYLE

“Jalen and I have had conversations. Obviously, those conversations remain between me and the player and I’ve said that before. I know that I have the greatest amount of respect for Rob. I’ve known him a long time, know his dad, family, the whole nine yards, and we’ve played against him quite a bit and we have a ton of respect for him. He’s probably one of the best guys, if not the best, that’s ever played the game at his position, and we know that he’s a challenge in many different ways in what he can do. That’s how I feel and that’s how our team feels.” – Doug Marrone, Jags head coach, when asked before the game about Jalen Ramsey’s dismissive comments about Rob Gronkowski.
 
Ramsey checked Gronk a couple of times and the ball never went there while he was on him. Ramsey did do some gum-flapping with James White after a tackle on the sidelines. One would hope he could bring down a running back who had his back turned to him when he made a reception. But Ramsey was not visibly consequential. 

THE CREW AND THE LINE

Carl Cheffers was the referee. His crew did Bears-Packers on Monday night. There were 13 accepted penalties in that one. The CBS booth had Jim Nantz and Tony Romo for the 4:25 p.m. start. The Patriots were favored by 1.5 and the total was 45. 

There was a missed (and obvious) hold on Gronk on the first Patriots possession and there was contact created by Jags wide receiver Dede Westbrook in the end zone that could have been an OPI on the Seferian-Jenkins touchdown. The Jags challenged a spot in the fourth quarter that overturned a first down in the fourth quarter. But the Jags had seven penalties for 71 yards and the Patriots had 2 for 25 so it’s not like the game hinged on what the officials did.  The Jags covered and this went over. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

2020 NFL Pro Bowl live stream: Watch Skills Showdown online

2020 NFL Pro Bowl live stream: Watch Skills Showdown online

New England Patriots fans haven't had much reason to watch the NFL Pro Bowl in recent seasons, but 2020 is different.

Patriots players haven't participated in the Pro Bowl in each of the last three years because they were playing in the Super Bowl and thus not allowed to take part in the league's version of an All-Star Game.

The Patriots were eliminated from the AFC playoffs on Wild Card Weekend, giving the team's three Pro Bowl selections (cornerback Stephon Gilmore, linebacker Dont'a Hightower and special teams ace Matthew Slater) the opportunity to participate in this season's game. Hightower was ruled out due to injury, but Gilmore and Slater are expected to play.

Gilmore also will feature in Thursday night's 2020 Pro Bowl Skills Showdown. The event is basically football's version of NBA Saturday night, which includes the Skills Challenge, the Slam Dunk Contest and 3-Point Shootout.

Here's the information you need to watch Gilmore compete in the Pro Bowl Skills Showdown.

When: Thursday, Jan. 23 at 9 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Live stream: WatchESPN

Gilmore reveals his Chiefs-49ers Super Bowl prediction

Could this former Patriots receiver's son be the next Patriots receiver?

Could this former Patriots receiver's son be the next Patriots receiver?

One way to get a feel for just how long Bill Belichick has been head coach in New England? Players who were kicking around the league in the early portion of Belichick's Patriots tenure have children Belichick has the opportunity to draft in April. 

Last week we touched on the fact that Randy Moss has a son entering the NFL Draft as a tight end out of LSU. Thaddeus Moss could end up being a mid-to-late round option for a team in need of a tight end. 

This week? Another former Patriots receiver has a son who's putting on a show in Mobile, Ala. for this week's Senior Bowl. 

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

Belichick never had a chance to coach Shawn Jefferson. The longtime NFL wideout with over 7,000 career receiving yards left the Patriots via free agency for the Falcons after four years in New England.

His first year with Atlanta, 2000, was Belichick's first as head coach of the Patriots. (The two did overlap in Foxboro in 1996, when Belichick coached defensive backs under Bill Parcells.)

But might Jefferson's son end up a Patriots draft target?

Van Jefferson, from the University of Florida, has been one of the most impressive performers at his position at this year's Senior Bowl. The week's practices — thoroughly covered and broadcast by NFL Media these days — has allowed Jefferson to put his nuanced skills on display against some of the best defensive backs in the country. 

After a strong showing on Tuesday in the week's first practice, Jefferson was one of the best pass-catchers on the field again Wednesday.

Despite lacking the athleticism of some of the others at his position who will be considered first-rounders this year — it's thought to be an incredibly deep class at receiver — Jefferson has made plays this week both down the field and at the intermediate level by understanding leverage and making contested catches.

"He is a route technician on a level that has the corners tripping over themselves," The Athletic's Dane Brugler wrote this week. "And it is tough to blame them because they haven’t faced many players at the college level with Jefferson’s detailed patterns. Instead of pure speed, he relies on pace, tempo and purpose, making every step matter and tying defenders in knots."

Jefferson spent three years at Ole Miss before transferring to Florida. The 6-foot-1, 197-pounder finished his collegiate career with 2,159 yards and 16 touchdowns. He caught 49 passes for 657 yards and six scores in his final season.

Belichick and his coaching staff are in Mobile for college football's premier postseason all-star game. Perhaps what they see from the Florida wideout with some Patriots connections will push them to consider him on draft weekend to bolster a receiving corps that needed all the help it could get this season.

Or not. Jefferson's father is currently assistant head coach and receivers coach for the Jets.