Patriots

Patriots fans will love Matthew Slater's mindset on the team's 2020 goals

Patriots fans will love Matthew Slater's mindset on the team's 2020 goals

Don't expect the goals of the New England Patriots to change in 2020, even though Tom Brady will not be the starting quarterback.

For the first time since 2002, the Patriots will go into a new season without knowing who will start at quarterback. The leading candidate to replace Brady is 2019 fourth-round draft pick Jarrett Stidham, but he's one of three QBs on the roster along with veterans Brian Hoyer and Cody Kessler.

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Not only do the Patriots have to overcome the loss of the greatest quarterback in NFL history, they also must deal with the departures of several important defensive players. Linebackers Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Elandon Roberts, as well as defensive tackle Danny Shelton and safety Duron Harmon all have left New England via free agency or trades this month.

Despite these setbacks, Patriots special teams ace Matthew Slater told reporters in a conference call Monday that he doesn't think the team's goals will change entering the new season.

The Patriots, even without Brady and the other players who left in free agency, still have a ton of talent on their roster.

The offensive line, if healthy, should be a very solid group. The wide receiver corps needs more depth and talent, but a healthy Julian Edelman and Mohamed Sanu (both struggled with injuries in 2019) and a promising talent in N'Keal Harry is a good start at that position. The defense also has plenty of skill, and still features arguably the best secondary in the league. 

There are enough quality players remaining for the Patriots to win the AFC East or at least compete for a wild card playoff berth. ESPN's latest NFL Power Rankings have the Patriots ranked 13th overall and fifth-best in the AFC. And let's not forget Bill Belichick is still the head coach, and no one prepares his teams better than the eight-time Super Bowl champion.

It certainly won't be easy for the Patriots to remain among the top contenders in the AFC, and their tough schedule won't give them many breaks. But they absolutely should adopt Slater's mindset when it comes to the goals and the standard the team wants to achieve next season. Fans should expect see a very motivated Patriots team in 2020, and we know they thrive when playing the "nobody believes in us" card.

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Dolphins' Kyle Van Noy bristles at Patriots comparisons: 'We're our own team'

Dolphins' Kyle Van Noy bristles at Patriots comparisons: 'We're our own team'

You could call the Miami Dolphins "Foxboro South." Just don't call them that in front of Kyle Van Noy.

The veteran linebacker is one of four former New England Patriots who signed with the Dolphins this offseason, joining fellow linebackers Elandon Roberts and Kamu Grugier-Hill and center Ted Karras.

Miami is also led by an ex-Patriot in head coach Brian Flores, who has loaded his staff with New England alums in defensive coordinator Josh Boyer, tight ends coach George Godsey and quality control coach Mike Judge.

But Van Noy apparently is growing tired of those who believe the Dolphins are trying to replicate the Patriots' model of success.

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“I don’t now how many New England guys there are, but we’re going to get away from that,” Van Noy told the Miami Herald's Adam Beasley in a recent interview. “We’re our own team, this is not the New England Patriots. This is the Miami Dolphins. It’s totally different, and I’m excited for that. New beginnings.

The Dolphins began to forge their own identity late in the 2019 season, going 5-4 down the stretch after losing their first seven games. While Van Noy and his fellow Patriots cast-offs weren't there for that turnaround, the 29-year-old can already sense the team's new attitude.

"We’re the Miami Dolphins. We’re here to represent the people of Miami," Van Noy said. "They want it bad. I can sense that. Miami’s a football town."

The Dolphins fired ex-Patriots wide receivers coach Chad O'Shea as their offensive coordinator late in the 2019 season and used their No. 5 overall pick on Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, so perhaps they are intent on moving past those Patriots comparisons.

We'll find out immediately if that new approach pays off, as New England hosts Miami in its 2020 season opener.

Devin McCourty, wife share heartbreaking news of daughter's death

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USA TODAY Sports

Devin McCourty, wife share heartbreaking news of daughter's death

Devin McCourty and his wife, Michelle, endured every parent's worst nightmare last weekend.

The New England Patriots safety shared his wife's announcement Saturday that they lost their third child, Mia, last Sunday as the result of a stillbirth.

"I cry as I type this," Michelle wrote in an Instagram post. "My pregnancy had resulted in a stillbirth at almost 8 months of being pregnant — at exactly 31 weeks 2 days, when we found out that the baby girl growing inside me no longer had a heartbeat after being completely fine the week prior at my last doctor’s appointment.

"We are so heartbroken. We are devastated. We are speechless. We are angry. We are sad. We are confused. We are numb."

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The couple has two other young children: a 3-year-old girl named Londyn and a 2-year-old boy named Brayden.

The McCourtys received an outpouring of support from Devin's current and former teammates after he shared the news on Instagram.

Here's ex-Patriots quarterback Tom Brady: "Love you my brother. So sad for you loss! You are in our thoughts and prayers always ❤️❤️🙏🏼🙏🏼"

And here's Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo: "My prayers and love to your family bro."

Patriots wide receiver N'Keal Harry -- "My prayers are definitely going out to y’all. Love you bro💙" -- Detroit Lions defensive end Trey Flowers -- "Prayers for you and your family! 💪🏾 be strong brother" -- and ex-Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib -- "Praying for ya family brotha!" -- were among many other NFL players offering their support to the McCourtys.

Michelle added in her message that she and Devin "appreciate the love and support we’ve already gotten, and just ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time, since we have no answers to give anyway."

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