Patriots

Patriots bring back Hoyer to be Brady's backup

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Patriots bring back Hoyer to be Brady's backup

As expected, the Patriots have re-acquired quarterback Brian Hoyer. He's agreed to a three-year deal to again serve as Tom Brady's backup. 

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The Green Bay Packers tried to sign Hoyer, who was released by the San Francisco 49ers Tuesday, before he agreed to return to New England, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported.

An undrafted free agent signed by the Pats out of Michigan State in 2009, the well-traveled Hoyer, 32, was Brady's backup through 2011 before playing for the Steelers, Cardinals, Steelers, Cardinals, Browns, Texans, Bears and the 49ers.

He was released by San Francisco after the 49ers acquired Jimmy Garoppolo from the Patriots for a second-round draft pick.

When the Lions have the ball: Patriots D has to play faster

When the Lions have the ball: Patriots D has to play faster

WHEN THE LIONS HAVE THE BALL


There are two things worth watching here. First, the plague of “my bad”-type mistakes against the Jaguars last week was arresting. It’s a bad angle here, a loss of contain there, loss of leverage, great play by the offense, mental stuff, physical stuff. 

The Patriots need to tighten it up and to do so, I think they need to play faster, which is something Jerod Mayo also said on Quick Slants the Podcast. The other aspect, though, is that this is a more competent contingent of players than the Jaguars brought to the field. Golden Tate, Marvin Jones and Kenny Golladay are a good complement of wideouts and – if Matt Stafford heats up – he can be as dangerous as any quarterback in the NFL. 

Jones is the downfield threat, Tate is the underneath, possession, move-the-chains guy, Golladay is the guy who profits when defenses worry too much about the other two. Stafford has thrown the ball 99 times in two games and their leading rusher in each game has had just eight carries. With Patrick Chung likely down, the safety spot alongside Devin McCourty is going to be manned by either Nate Ebner or Jason McCourty for the most part. My suspicion is, Detroit will make some plays.
 

THE KICKING GAME
The Lions kick returner is Jamal Agnew and he had a day last week against the Niners on kickoffs. Their punter is Sam Martin and he’s averaging 45.4 yards per punt but has a horrific net average of 26.5 because the Lions allowed a punt return touchdown in Week 1 against the Jets. Their kicker is veteran Matt Prater. He’s missed once this season. Other than Stephen Gostkowski’s shank last week, the Pats have been solid in the kicking game. Punt returner remains unfinished business, though, as the team will be without Chung (likely) and signed Cyrus Jones back to the active roster.

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When the Patriots have the ball: Pass rush from Patricia? Why start now?

When the Patriots have the ball: Pass rush from Patricia? Why start now?

WHEN THE PATRIOTS HAVE THE BALL
Did you think it was maddening when the Patriots – under defensive coordinator Matt Patricia – didn’t get after quarterbacks? Well, on Sunday, you might be muttering, “So NOW the guy creates a pass rush...” The Lions have eight sacks in two games and got to Jimmy Garoppolo six times last week. No matter how delusional Patriots fans may have become since he was traded, Jimmy Garoppolo is no Tom Brady. Detroit’s not getting home six times against the Patriots. 

Still, it’s been aggressive and it’s been getting home with four rushers a fair amount of time even though defensive end Ziggy Ansah’s been lost for all but 19 snaps so far this season. Given his background in the Patriots system, Patricia and his defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni will have the Lions attuned to a lot of what New England likes to do. So it’s an execution game. And that was an issue last week in Jacksonville that left Tom Brady lamenting, “It was us...” 

While this week’s conversation has circled around all things Josh Gordon, look for the Patriots to hammer the ground game against a Lions team that is allowing almost 180 yards per game on the ground. Sony Michel signaled good things with his square-the-shoulders-and-go running style last week in Jacksonville. The offense has to convert early. Their ridiculously slow starts have been plaguing them back to last season. It’s a variety of things – last week, an uncalled hold by Jacksonville’s Telvin Smith short-circuited a play that would have put the Pats in the red zone – but its maddening on the road and puts more heat on Brady late. 

Lions corner Darius Slay is dealing with a concussion and may be down. Ansah, corner Jamal Agnew and linebacker Eli Harold have all had limited participation this week with various injuries. It’s hard to predict what Josh Gordon will bring in his first week. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if Brady went to him early with an easy pitch-and-catch throw to let Detroit know they will go to him. But the bigger impact he may have will be in the trickle-down effect he has on coverage. If he’s out there, you can’t sell out covering Gronk with one-to-three defenders.

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