Patriots

Why Jason McCourty doesn't like proposed NFL onside kick alternative

Why Jason McCourty doesn't like proposed NFL onside kick alternative

Consider the following scenario: The New England Patriots lead the Jets by 14 points late in the fourth quarter when New York scores a touchdown to cut the lead to seven.

But rather than sending out their "hands team" to field the Jets' onside kick attempt, the Patriots must send their defense back onto the field to stop New York in a fourth-and-15 scenario from the 25-yard line.

That's the bold rule proposal the NFL's competition committee will vote on at the league's virtual meetings.

If Jason McCourty had a vote, it'd be a hard "no."

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"From the competitive side, especially as a defensive back, you don't mind that pressure going out there on fourth-and-15 and saying, 'All right, we've got to show up to win the game,' " the Patriots cornerback said Wednesday during a video conference with reporters.

"But conversely, if I'm a team and we've earned the right to be up, we’ve made the plays necessary to be winning in the fourth quarter ... I have a chance to seal the game by just going to catch an onside kick versus being out there for a fourth-and-15.

"From that standpoint, I don't really understand it. We're now basically rewarding you for being behind."

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It's not easy to convert a fourth-and-15; only two teams successfully converted that scenario in 2019 on seven total attempts. But that success rate was still higher than for onside kicks: Only eight of 63 (12.7 percent) onside kicks were recovered last season, per NFL Research.

Based solely on the numbers, this rule change would make it easier for teams to come back. So, it stands to reason that McCourty -- a defensive player on a team that's usually on the winning side -- isn't a fan.

The 32-year-old veteran is well aware of why the league would be motivated to pass such a rule, though -- and knows head coach Bill Belichick will be prepared for whatever the NFL decides.

"We're in the entertainment business, and an onside kick versus a 4th-and-15 is a lot more intriguing," McCourty said. "So, we have no control over it.

"If they vote yes, then we'll be out there preparing situationally how to stop fourth-and-15s with the game on the line."

WATCH: Cam Newton, N'Keal Harry meet for first workout as Patriots teammates

WATCH: Cam Newton, N'Keal Harry meet for first workout as Patriots teammates

Cam Newton is wasting no time getting to know his New England Patriots wide receivers.

The new Patriots quarterback, who officially signed a one-contract with the team Wednesday, linked up with wideout Mohamed Sanu last week for a few throwing sessions in Los Angeles.

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This Wednesday, it was N'Keal Harry's turn to catch passes from Newton, according to Boston.com, which obtained video of the duo's L.A. workout from EBA Sports.

The video shows Newton meeting Harry for the first time as a member of the Patriots before throwing the second-year receiver a handful of passes.

Newton and Harry worked out together for about two hours and were later joined by Cleveland Browns star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., per Boston.com.

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Harry has been working hard this offseason to improve his game after a disappointing rookie campaign. The Patriots' 2019 first-round pick appeared in just seven games last season due to a nagging ankle injury, catching 12 passes on 24 targets for 105 yards and two touchdowns.

It's encouraging to see the 22-year-old on the practice field with Newton, who's aiming to bounce back from his own foot injury that limited him to two games in 2019.

Newton will have to beat out second-year QB Jarrett Stidham for the starting job, and it appears he's eager to get started while developing chemistry with his new pass-catchers.

Deion Branch 'excited' to see what Patriots offense looks like with Cam Newton

Deion Branch 'excited' to see what Patriots offense looks like with Cam Newton

The New England Patriots offense could look very different during the 2020 NFL season, and not just because Tom Brady is no longer the team's starting quarterback.

Not only will the Patriots enter a season with a new starting QB for the first time since 2001, the actual scheme and identity of the offense might take on a totally new form. The reason for that is the arrival of veteran quarterback Cam Newton, who the Patriots recently signed to a one-year contract reportedly worth up to $7.5 million.

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Newton is one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks the league has ever seen. His passing ability is impressive, no doubt, but he really puts pressure on opposing defenses with his legs. The 31-year-old veteran has ran for 500-plus yards in six of his nine pro seasons, and his 58 career rushing touchdowns are the most by a quarterback since he entered the league in 2011.

Former Patriots wide receiver and Super Bowl XXXIX MVP Deion Branch is pretty excited about the Newton addition for New England, and he can't wait to see how the coaching staff, including offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, devises a game plan to maximize Newton's unique skill set.

“I expect big things,” Branch said in a recent interview on CBS Sports Radio's "The Zach Gelb Show". “I’m just excited to see what Josh McDaniels can come up with, with this type of athlete. He’s had, with Tom, the greatest quarterback to ever play the game. That’s the easy part. But the Patriots have never had a dual-threat quarterback such as Cam Newton at the helm. So I'm excited to see -- Josh is a brilliant offensive coordinator. This is going to be exciting to see what these guys can create, and what they can come up with. If they can make this work — just to see what it looks like. I'm excited for him. I know Cam is excited for another opportunity."

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McDaniels has done a tremendous job in New England. The Patriots' ability to change their identity and offensive gameplan based on the upcoming week's opponent is quite impressive. They've been able to win games in a lot of different ways, whether that means throwing the ball 40 times or bullying defenses with a power running game.

Newton brings a skill set we've rarely seen in the Patriots offense. His ability to throw the ball with success and also take off into the open field like a running back gives McDaniels a ton of different plays and packages to run that the team hasn't used much in recent years.

It remains to be seen if Newton will be able to bounce back from last season's injury woes and rediscover the form that made him a top 15 QB on a consistent basis, but watching him in the Patriots offense will certainly be among the most compelling storylines of the 2020 season.