The Patriots went through a transition year in 2019 that had us guessing when we put together our Prototypical Patriots series.
Along their defensive front, were they looking to replace Trey Flowers — a sturdy 4-3 defensive end checking in at 265 pounds — or would they be going lighter on the edges and roll with more 3-4 looks? Then the team dealt for Michael Bennett, who looked like a Flowers fill-in, and that only further clouded the picture as to their intentions.
Now we know what happened. They did indeed shift to more 3-4 style fronts, with lighter outside linebackers (Kyle Van Noy, John Simon, Chase Winovich) handling edge duties. Bigger bodies (Lawrence Guy, Danny Shelton, Adam Butler) handled interior defensive line roles. Meanwhile 3-4 'tweeners like Bennett and Deatrich Wise became awkward fits in the scheme. Bennett's role completely disappeared and he was traded midseason.
Looks like — with Winovich, Simon, Guy, Butler and newly-acquired nose tackle Beau Allen — they're built to remain more of a 3-4 "base" defense.
That means this offseason, for the purposes of our Prototypical series, we'll focus in on lighter (between 250 and 260 pounds) outside linebackers for the edge who can rush and cover.
Defensive ends in this scheme are typically long and hulking (between 300 and 320 pounds) and strong enough to occupy double-teams. Nose tackles (about 330 pounds or more) are classic space-eaters and critical to the scheme as well.
All three types are available in this draft class, should Bill Belichick want to get younger at any of those spots.
Several of the NFL's biggest stars are stepping up to speak out against systemic racism and the racial injustices that once again have come to light in the wake of George Floyd's murder.
New England Patriots cornerback Stephon Gilmore joined up with the New York Giants' Saquon Barkley, Kansas City Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes, Cleveland Browns' Odell Beckham Jr., Arizona Cardinals' DeAndre Hopkins and a number of other high-profile black players to put together a powerful video on Thursday.
In the video, the players reveal what they would like to hear the NFL state about the racial injustices that continue to plague the country.
Drew Brees has taken plenty of heat lately due to the comments he made about players "disrespecting the American flag" by kneeling during the national anthem.
The New Orleans Saints quarterback was asked during an interview with Yahoo! Finance about players kneeling during the anthem to protest police brutality and racial injustice in America. Brees answered, “I will never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America or our country."
It didn't take long for the veteran QB to get backlash for those insensitive remarks. A number of Brees' NFL peers, including both Devin and Jason McCourty of the New England Patriots, scolded him for his comments.
On Thursday, the McCourty twins delved deeper into the subject on a special edition of their Double Coverage podcast titled "Bridge To Action." Following an enlightening interview with former FBI special agent M. Quentin Williams, which you can watch below, the McCourtys addressed the Brees situation.
"Everybody's been in an uproar over Drew Brees' comments, and obviously we've responded on Twitter," said Jason McCourty. "Somebody had asked earlier, 'do we forgive him?' and I don't think any of this thing is about forgiveness. It's not about Drew Brees, it's not about Jason or Devin McCourty, it's about realizing, 'Alright, here's an issue and we need to find a solution for that issue.' Like, you don't have an issue with Drew Brees when he makes those statements. You have an issue with that train of thought, and that thought is what we're trying to move away from.
"So as soon as anyone who has that thought is willing to dive in and learn, and open up dialogue to talk about -- because I think sometimes we subconsciously have thoughts that we don't know we have, and then we say some things that we may have to take some time to go back and self-reflect ... Maybe I need to look inwardly and see like, 'Hey, maybe I'm not looking at this thing the right way. And I think when we're able to do that, there's no animosity or hostility toward anyone because that's not what we're trying to do. It's about there's an issue, and we want to fix this issue."
Devin McCourty doubled down on what his brother had to say and mentioned that he doesn't have anything against Brees. Rather, he hopes this will help the 41-year-old and others like him look at the situation from a different perspective.
"It's not about forgiving or hating," said Devin. "Like, I've never hated Drew Brees. I don't even know Drew Brees. So it was never about that. It was just, how can we get people to now not look through those lenses. And he's a guy who if he doesn't look through those lenses, he can get a lot of other people to feel the same way. So hopefully some good turns out from that."
Brees has since issued an apology for his comments, saying they "lacked awareness and any type of compassion or empathy."
Beyond the McCourty twins' comments on Brees, their interview with Williams is well worth the watch. Williams is the founder and CEO of the non-profit organization Dedication to Community, whose mission is to "empower individuals and communities to achieve their business and societal goals through the spirit of entrepreneurial enterprise and community advocacy. The McCourtys and Williams had a mindful conversation about the recent killings of unarmed black men, the relationship between law enforcement and communities of color, and the next steps to implementing positive change in the United States.