Patriots

One more thing for Sam Darnold to worry about vs. Patriots defense

One more thing for Sam Darnold to worry about vs. Patriots defense

Not only does Sam Darnold have to face a team on Monday night that leads the league in scoring defense, total defense, third-down defense and quarterback rating. 

He might have to do it with a makeshift offensive line. 

The Jets are riding high after their first win of the season last week over the Cowboys. Darnold came away with AFC Offensive Player of the Week honors in his first game back from mononucleosis and looked every bit the franchise quarterback he was drafted to be.

While Darnold has taken on this week with "swagger," saying in a press conference that the Jets offense would find the weakness in the Patriots defense on Monday night and hammer away at it, the Jets have been trying to figure out how they'll protect him. 

Left tackle Kelvin Beachum is dealing with an ankle injury, which could thrust third-round rookie into the starting left tackle role. Edoga played right tackle for two weeks as he beat out Brandon Shell for that particular gig. Now, according to Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News, Edoga will head over to the left side with Shell forced back into action due to Beachum's injury.

Edoga was primarily a right tackle during his collegiate career at USC, playing just two games on the left side back in 2016. Many offensive linemen have difficulty flipping sides on the line because the footwork is reversed, but Edoga came into last year's draft viewed as a very good athlete -- he also had a strong Senior Bowl week -- and so maybe the transition will be smooth for him. 

Still. First start at left tackle. Against a team that's second in the league in sacks. Not ideal. 

Starting left guard Kelechi Osemele -- who last played against the Patriots in Week 3 -- remains out with a shoulder injury. (The Jets fined him for missing Saturday's practice because they believe he can play through the pain, per Mehta, and Osemele will file a grievance.) Meanwhile, center Ryan Kalil is questionable with a shoulder issue, which means the team may have to play Jonotthan Harrison, who was beaten out by Kalil for the starting job when Kalil came out of retirement this offseason. Kalil is currently Pro Football Focus' 30th-graded center.

Against the Jets in Week 3, the Patriots rattled quarterback Luke Falk with varied pass-rush plans, but the offensive line didn't do much to help out their young fill-in starter. 

They couldn't handle pressures the Patriots brought early on, whether it was with five, six or even seven rushers, and there were times when the entire group looked as confused as Falk did. Later in the game, the Patriots had no issue generating pressure with just four rushers as their twists and stunts worked consistently.

The Jets might be feeling good about their chances of keeping pace with a Patriots offense that's dealing with its share of injuries as well, but it could be a long night for Darnold if his offensive line isn't ready to go against what's been a historically-productive defense to this point in the 2019 season.

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Is Bill Belichick sending a message to NFL refs with this RPO comment?

Is Bill Belichick sending a message to NFL refs with this RPO comment?

FOXBORO -- Bill Belichick knows better than to publicly criticize NFL officials.

But he seemingly found an opportunity to put a bug in their ears Friday.

The New England Patriots coach was asked about the challenges of defending the "run-pass option" (aka the RPO), a play in which a quarterback in a shotgun formation decides after the ball is snapped whether to hand off to his running back, throw a pass or in some cases keep it himself based on the post-snap movement of the defense.

Belichick responded by placing that challenge at the feet of NFL referees.

"The only problem (with) the RPO play in general is just the offensive pass interference: blocking downfield conflicting with the pass," Belichick said. "If it's a run, it's no problem. If the ball actually gets thrown, like what happened last week in the Houston game, it was called once."

Reading between the lines, it sounds like Belichick believes the Texans got away with some illegal blocking downfield last Sunday in their 28-22 win over New England.

Belichick makes a fair point: Offensive pass interference might be harder for officials to call if the decision to run or pass is delayed until the last second, like it is for an RPO.

You could say Belichick acknowledged that difficulty Friday -- or made an indirect plea to officials to keep an eye on pass-catchers blocking downfield.

"I would say any time you run that play, there's some degree of, 'Is there blocking downfield or not?' "Belichick said. "Sometimes there is, sometimes there isn't. It's a tough call for the officials. But that's sort of the complication of that play defensively."

Now is a good time for Belichick to make that suggestion. Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs ran RPOs on 20 percent of their snaps in 2018, per Football Outsiders, more than all but two NFL teams.

They haven't relied on RPOs as much this season but still are a heavy play-action team, which means more opportunities for wide receivers to make contact with defensive backs downfield.

The Patriots and Chiefs will have an experienced referee crew at Gillette Stadium led by 16-year veteran Jerome Boger. If Boger flags a Chiefs pass-catcher for offensive pass interference in Sunday's game, Patriots fans know who to thank.

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Patriots Talk Podcast: Why Tom Brady might consider playing for Chargers, Dolphins

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

Patriots Talk Podcast: Why Tom Brady might consider playing for Chargers, Dolphins

Our Tom E. Curran laid out the hard truth earlier this week: There's a legitimate chance this is Tom Brady's final season with the New England Patriots.

But that begs the question: If Brady leaves New England and doesn't retire -- he just turned 42 and wants to play until he's 45 -- where will he go in 2020?

That hot topic came up on the latest Patriots Talk Podcast, where Curran was joined by fellow NBC Sports Boston Patriots Insider Phil Perry.

Curran and Perry both believe a number of factors would contribute into where Brady might play next, both on the field (style of offense, coaching staff, personnel, ownership, etc.) and off the field (best fit for his family, best fit for his TB12 business, weather, etc.).

Taking those factors into account, Curran and Perry speculated about a few destinations where Brady could land and made compelling cases for two potential front-runners: the Los Angeles Chargers and Miami Dolphins.

Here are their rationales for both destinations:

L.A. CHARGERS

Perry: "They [Brady and wife Gisele Bundchen] have lived in L.A. before. Brady has family in California, northern and southern."

Curran: "His niece will be going to UCLA as a blue-chip softball recruit. That means Tom Sr. [Brady's father] and Galynn [Brady's mother] are frequently making the trip down already."

Perry: "This is a team that could be in need for a quarterback ... [and] could also be looking for a head coach. So, maybe if you're the Chargers, you're looking to hire Josh McDaniels, and you say, 'Hey Tom, we've got $50 million for two years, no problem.' "

"Mike Williams is a very nice deep threat, contested catch guy. ... Big market, great opportunity for TB12 if you're looking for those."

MIAMI DOLPHINS

Perry: "I think it's a good culture. I think it's a team on the rise. I also know it's a team that is slated to have over $100 million in cap space going into 2020. You want me to rattle off some guys who could be available via free agency? Because it's kind of interesting. How about A.J. Green? How about Emmanuel Sanders? How about Randall Cobb? How about Amari Cooper?"

"You've got (former Patriots wide receivers coach) Chad O'Shea. You've got Brian Flores as the head coach. You've got Jerry Schuplinski, who worked with the quarterbacks quite a bit in New England and now has a significant role.

"On top of it ... Big market, warmer climate and a very health-conscious fanbase that might be into the whole TB12 idea."

Perry saved his most intriguing point for last: The Dolphins' owner, Stephen Ross, is an alumnus and generous donor at Brady's alma mater, Michigan -- and also is in the real estate market.

"Very high-end condominiums and townhouses is his deal," Perry added. "And it appears, from the surface research I have done, that Brady has lived in or at least purchased multiple units in Stephen Ross-owned and constructed buildings."

Curran and Perry pointed out that this is all speculation for now. But if Brady indeed leaves the Patriots, there are plenty of clues to suggest where he might end up.

Hear more from Curran and Perry on the latest episode of "The Patriots Talk Podcast," which drops every Tuesday and Thursday as a part of the NBC Sports Boston podcast network.

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