Patriots

Patriots' Phillip Dorsett 'can't wait' to work with, learn from Antonio Brown

Patriots' Phillip Dorsett 'can't wait' to work with, learn from Antonio Brown

FOXBORO, Mass. -- Antonio Brown is going to make the New England Patriots better purely with the extraordinary talent he brings to the field each play. But the All-Pro wide receiver also will have the opportunity to share his impressive knowledge of the game with the Patriots' younger wideouts, and Phillip Dorsett is ready to soak up that information.

"I can't wait to learn from him because we have similar body types, similar play types," Dorsett said after the Patriots beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 33-3 in Sunday night's season opener at Gillette Stadium. "I've always wanted to learn from him, and now I get to see him everyday and work with him. I can't wait."

Dorsett has long been a fan of Brown's talent, and his reaction to the Patriots signing him was shared by many fans across New England.

"I was like, 'Wow,'" Dorsett said. "I can't wait to work with him. He's always been a guy I've looked up to when it comes to football. He's a beast. We all know that."

The Patriots offense is spoiled with several talented wide receivers capable of making big plays on any given night. Dorsett was the star against the Steelers, tallying four receptions for 95 yards and two touchdowns.

Brown's arrival could end up taking some snaps and targets away from Dorsett, but there's no doubt that having a front row seat to watch one of the most talented receivers of this generation make defenses look foolish is going to be a beneficial experience for the 26-year-old.

Tom Brady reacts to Antonio Brown signing>>>

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Dante Scarnecchia hints at new Patriots offensive line coaching structure

Dante Scarnecchia hints at new Patriots offensive line coaching structure

Dante Scarnecchia reportedly helped the New England Patriots at this year's NFL Scouting Combine, but he's not coming out of retirement a second time.

How do we know this? Because the former Patriots offensive line coach has already named his successors.

In a recent interview with ESPN's Mike Reiss, Scarnecchia all but confirmed that Patriots assistants Cole Popovich and Carmen Bricillo will coach the offensive line in tandem this season.

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"They're both really good coaches and both really good people. Very, very smart guys," Scarnecchia told Reiss. "I know no one has been named, and there are reasons for that, but clearly those are the two guys that are going to do it, and I think they'll do an outstanding job.

"The other thing is they know the players. It's not like they're new, coming in from the outside. They've both been around there -- especially Cole, who has been in the system for five years. Carm for one."

The Patriots' official website (which has never been heavy on details) still lists Scarnecchia as the team's offense line coach. Popovich is listed as New England's assistant running backs coach, while Bricillo is labeled a "coaching assistant."

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Both assistant coaches have experience on the offensive line, though: Popovich was the offensive line coach at Minot State for two seasons until joining the Patriots in 2015, while Bricillo spent nine years as Youngstown State's offensive line coach before coming to New England in 2019.

The Patriots went outside the organization to replace Scarnecchia the first time he retired, naming Dave DeGuglielmo their offensive line coach in 2014. DeGuglielmo lasted just two seasons in New England, though, and it appears the Patriots are promoting from within this time to replace the legendary Scarnecchia -- who, to be clear, is not coming back in 2020.

"I've done it for 48 years. I think that's plenty," Scarnecchia told Reiss, "and I'm really, really grateful for every day, every year of those 48, and all the things it's provided us."

This NFL analyst's 2020 Patriots prediction might be boldest one yet

This NFL analyst's 2020 Patriots prediction might be boldest one yet

Finding a consensus opinion on the 2020 New England Patriots has proven to be difficult over the last few months.

One reason for that is, for the first time in two decades, we will soon see the Patriots without legendary quarterback Tom Brady, who left the franchise as a free agent in March.

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Brady was the team's starting quarterback since 2001, and he won six Super Bowl titles in his 20 years with the franchise. Brady didn't miss many games in his career. Although, when he missed almost all of the 2008 season with a knee injury, New England went 11-5 and nearly made the playoffs. In 2016, when Brady served a four-game suspension stemming from Deflategate, the Patriots went 3-1 with Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett leading the offense at quarterback.

Even though the Patriots have enjoyed some success without Brady in a small sample size, most experts aren't expecting another great season from New England in 2020. 

NFL.com columnist Adam Schein is included in that. He recently broke down his nine bold predictions for the upcoming season, and the first one was titled, "Patriots will collapse to a top-five pick in the 2021 NFL Draft." Here's a portion of his explanation:

The problems that ultimately led to New England's undoing down the stretch last season still exist -- in fact, they're probably even more problematic. And the Patriots no longer have the G.O.A.T. to serve as the ultimate deodorant for what stinks. The receiving corps remains underwhelming. I like the long-term upside of the two tight ends New England drafted in the third round -- Devin Asiasi and Dalton Keene -- but the roster lacks a proven NFL commodity at the position. The offensive line is average at best. Same with the backfield. Defensively, the Pats went from historic during the team's 8-0 start last season to leaky in the second half of the year. And the unit lost a number of key players, including Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins.

What record does Schein see the Patriots earning in 2020?

This season in Foxborough has 5-11 written all over it. If everything breaks right. I think the Jaguars, Patriots and Giants are the three worst teams in the NFL right now.

Even for a bold predictions piece, this is quite bold.

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The Patriots simply have too much talent to finish 5-11.

The defense did struggle at times against better competition last season, but this unit is still loaded with talented veteran players, including the league's best secondary and the reigning AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year award winner in cornerback Stephon Gilmore. 

The offensive line was among the league's best in 2018, and it took a step back last season mostly because of injuries. Starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn missed a good chunk of the year with a foot injury, and starting center David Andrews missed the entire campaign due to blood clots. If healthy, this o-line should be among the 10 best in the league, especially if right guard Shaq Mason returns to his elite form after a down 2019 season.

The offense as a whole lacks a dominant playmaker, but few teams have more depth at running back than the Patriots. The receiving corps is a bit underrated, too, and this group should be plenty productive if Julian Edelman, Mohamed Sanu and N'Keal Harry are healthy in 2020.

Quarterback is the biggest question mark. Jarrett Stidham impressed as a rookie last year during training camp, the preseason and regular season practices. His teammates and former coaches have been singing his praises throughout the offseason, too. That said, he's only thrown four career regular season passes, so the 2019 fourth-round draft pick very much is still an unknown. Stidham has never started an NFL game, and the pressure that comes with being the guy to replace a legend like Brady is going to be challenging.

Will the Patriots extend their streak of winning 10-plus games in 2020? You could make a strong case for why that run will end. You also could argue New England's 11-year postseason appearance streak will end. But to predict the Patriots will finish 5-11 and/or be one of the league's worst teams is just a little too bold (even for bold predictions) when you look at the talent on the roster and the quality of the coaching staff.