Patriots

Patriots' Van Noy feels for Michael Bennett, but 'hard to argue' coaching decisions

Patriots' Van Noy feels for Michael Bennett, but 'hard to argue' coaching decisions

Kyle Van Noy feels for Michael Bennett. 

On 98.5 The Sports Hub's Zolak and Bertrand program, Van Noy was asked what it must be like for a player like Bennett to deal with a reduced role after being used to having a more regular role over the course of his career. Bennett played just 11 snaps against the Giants last week and has been suspended for having what he called a "philosophical disagreement" with coach Bret Bielema the following day.

"Man, I'm sure it's really tough," Van Noy said. "He is a really, really good football player. He wants to play. When he's been on the field, he makes really good plays. When you look at his sacks they're really good for the amount of snaps that he's played. Look at the defense, it's hard to argue anything . . . Everybody's playing really, really good. It's a fight to get reps."

Bennett has 2.5 sacks to go along with a quarterback hit and six hurries in six games this season. He's played 130 total snaps, slotting him in behind Adam Butler, Lawrence Guy and Danny Shelton as the top defensive linemen on the depth chart. 

LISTEN AND SUBSCRIBE TO TOM E. CURRAN'S PATRIOTS TALK PODCAST

Deatrich Wise looked like he had worked his way ahead of Bennett last week, as he played 14 total snaps. Seven of Bennett's 11 snaps came when the score was 35-14 late in the fourth quarter.

Van Noy was dealt to the Patriots from the Lions in 2016 as he dealt with sporadic playing time despite starting each of Detroit's first seven games that year. Bennett is playing far less now than Van Noy was then, but Van Noy may have some insight into how Bennett is feeling. 

"It's a hard thing to do," Van Noy said. "You really gotta set your pride to the side and . . . that's a hard thing to do when you've been the guy at other places in your career. I love Michael and I'm going to have his back."

Bennett's one-week suspension hit the league transaction wire on Tuesday afternoon. He will lose one game check while suspended. If the Patriots plan to trade him off their roster in the hopes of recouping some value in return for the veteran defensive end, they'll have to do so prior to the Oct. 29 deadline. 

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Patriots Report Card: Receivers fail to answer Chiefs' aggressive plan

Patriots Report Card: Receivers fail to answer Chiefs' aggressive plan

In two meetings against the Chiefs last season, the Patriots lit up the scoreboard, averaging 40 points per game.

But on Sunday in Foxboro, Tom Brady and the struggling New England offense was only able to muster 16 points.

The Patriots had little in the way of answers for what the Chiefs threw at them. It's not a world-beating Kansas City defense. But it sure looked like one. 

Among the reasons they were as stout as they were at Gillette Stadium was their plan to take away what the Patriots did best. Double-team Julian Edelman. Double-team both Edelman and James White in the red zone. Eschew a free safety — against a receiving corps devoid of consistent deep threats — in order to add another body to pressure Tom Brady. 

Those were the ingredients for a dominating Chiefs performance and a Report Card that won't be making its way onto anyone's fridge at One Patriot Place any time soon.

Click here for Phil Perry's Patriots Report Card.>>>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Would Emmanuel Sanders have been better Patriots fit than Mohamed Sanu?

Would Emmanuel Sanders have been better Patriots fit than Mohamed Sanu?

Hindsight is always 20/20. Hindsight also suggests the New England Patriots may have been better off with the *other* veteran wide receiver.

The Patriots acquired Mohamed Sanu from the Atlanta Falcons on Oct. 22 in exchange for a 2020-second round pick. Hours later, San Francisco 49ers -- who reportedly had interest in Sanu -- "settled" for Emmanuel Sanders, sending a 2020 third-rounder and a 2020 fourth-rounder to the Denver Broncos for the 32-year-old receiver and a 2020 fifth-rounder.

Fast forward to Dec. 10, when both receivers and their respective offenses are going in opposite directions. Here are Sanu's stats with New England compared to Sanders' stats with San Francisco, including both teams' records since the trades:

Sanu (3-3 with Patriots): 18 receptions, 135 yards, one TD in five games played
Sanders (5-2 with 49ers): 28 receptions, 407 yards, three TDs in seven games played

Those stats come with a caveat: Sanu suffered a high ankle sprain in his third game with the Patriots that sidelined him for one game and has limited his effectiveness in the last two. Sanders, meanwhile, has stayed healthy after recovering from a torn Achilles in the offseason.

But as The Athletic's Mike Sando points out, there's evidence to suggest Sanders would have fit better in New England even if both players were healthy.

Per Sando, Sanders has caught 67 passes of 15 yards or more in the last four seasons, compared to Sanu's 44. Those kinds of big plays have been relatively rare in New England, where the Patriots are tied for 13th in the NFL in passing plays of 25 yards or more.

That's not too surprising considering the Patriots lack of weapons compared to San Francisco, which has an All-Pro tight end in George Kittle and a speedy slot man in Deebo Samuel.

"Sanders would be the intermediate to deeper threat that they don’t have in New England right now," an NFL evaluator told Sando.

Patriots rookie N'Keal Harry eventually could be that deeper threat but has yet to realize his potential. And save for a 10-catch, 81-yard effort against the Baltimore Ravens, Sanu hasn't been able to get open consistently for quarterback Tom Brady.

That begs the inevitable question of whether Sanders -- who averaged 5.9 receptions per game last season compared to Sanu's 4.1 -- would have given New England's offense a bigger spark.

Sanu still has time to carve out an increased role for the 10-3 Patriots down the stretch and into the playoffs. But if Sanders continues to thrive with ex-Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo, it will be worth wondering "what if."

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.