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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Quick hit thoughts and notes about the New England Patriots and NFL:
1. Are impressed with QBs: It’s 18 months since Dante Scarnecchia retired as the Patriots’ offensive line coach, and he has happily transitioned from one of the longest-serving and most valuable teammates to a fan. So like most others in the New England region, he tuned in to the team’s first two preseason games.
“I saw quarterbacks to see what they look like after all the things that have been said. I was really, really impressed with both quarterbacks,” he said.
“It looks like Cam [Newton] has better control of the offense and the ball seems to come out a little faster. And I think what they do with Mac Jones is everything. They line up in things that have gone beyond Basics 101 and to other things – the empty backseat sets, the protection adjustments, all the things that come with it. And it seems that he is doing very well with it all. “
I had originally contacted Scarnecchia last week to speak to him about offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels in hopes of gaining his insight into the importance of McDaniel’s role with the club (“I would not have come back another time if he did not was not here “).
We did not get in touch until a few days later as the conversation rounded off to other topics.
“To me, the closet definitely looks half-full,” he said of the Patriots. “They can run the ball. Got better weapons outside on offense. I think the front is really good.”
And of course, things circulated back to quarterbacks, and specifically Jones.
“I went down and visited with the Alabama staff for one day, they asked me to come down and talk football. I know that. [former Alabama offensive coordinator] Steve Sarkisian and I know it [former] offensive line coach there, Kyle Flood. They’re really good coaches, all those guys.
“And when I saw their tape and saw the things they were making and the sophistication of it, you could see [Jones] is quite special. … He’s smart. Gets the ball out quickly. Know where to go with it, probably before the ball is snapped, which I think is half the game. Read in advance, what do you see? Post-snap what it really is, and then get the ball out when it needs to be out. He does all that.
“Having said all that, it’s amazing how many games, the amount of really good players are not playing in the preseason right now. There’s a whole new page they have to flip there that will say, ‘This is the right one agreement. ‘Then you have to see what it all looks like. “
2. Cam’s health: One of the reasons Cam Newton has been optimistic about his chances of a productive season is his health, as he pointed out he had an offseason without surgery, giving him more time to focus on football. So it should not be overlooked that the catalyst for his three-practice absence last week – as a result of a “misunderstanding” of the COVID protocol – was a team-approved trip to a medical appointment outside the region. It is the right of every player to seek a different opinion. That Newton did so was more than a passing note because it reflects some degree of concern that he has.
Mac’s answer: Like all beginners, Jones has made a good deal of mistakes on the court. But what I hear all the time has most impressed teammates and coaches is how he reacts to them – rarely doing them again and not allowing himself to ride the roller coaster of emotions that come with them. “He’s very uniform,” veteran quarterback Brian Hoyer said. “I noticed it – especially for a young guy.”
4. Eyes of Gilmore: The Patriots’ acquisition of rookie cornerback Shaun Wade from the Baltimore Ravens last week may be an ominous sign as it pertains to Stephon Gilmore’s availability to the season opener. September 12 Gilmore remains on the physically unable to complete the list (quad). But even before considering Gilmore’s status, the Patriots’ depth in the secondary – as they also included collateral – was something that needed attention given how often they play with five, six and sometimes seven defensive backs on the pitch. Wonder if they might regret not bringing veteran Jason McCourty back in the offseason.
5. Michel and Maroney: The Patriots’ trade in driving Sony Michel back to the Los Angeles Rams for a sixth-round pick in 2022 and fourth-round in 2023 reminded me of another trade from coach Bill Belichick’s past prey in 2010 driving back Lawrence Maroney (and a sixth-round pick) was sent to the Denver Broncos to pick a fourth round. Michel and Maroney were first-round picks (some may sadly say so) into the final year of their contracts and had no bearing on the team’s future plans. So receiving a fourth-round in each swap is a significant chip because that draft pick is usually going to make the list.
6. Resetting the draft pick: After trading Michel and acquiring Wade, here’s a look at the Patriots’ updated draft choices over the next two years:
2022: First, second, third, fourth, sixth, sixth, seventh
2023: First, second, third, fourth, fourth, sixth, seventh
The fifth round in 2022 went to the Raiders in the March deal for offensive tackle Trent Brown, and another consideration is that the team should not expect any compensation choices in 2022 based on its aggressive approach in free agency.
7. Uche’s fit: Second-year Patriots linebacker Josh Uche has had some practice in training camp, where he has been one of the most disruptive defenders on the field, most recently Thursday with the New York Giants. The key seems to be the coaching staff’s determination that his best fit is on the line. In his rookie season, Uche worked mostly off-line, which meant more coverage and communication responsibilities (there were some notable fights in a loss in Week 16 to the Buffalo Bills). This year it’s about playing forward and speeding past. Medlinebacker Dont’a Hightower gave him a big compliment by calling him “a little [Matt] Judon. “
8. Cajuste’s comeback: Someone clicked on third-round pick in 2019 Yodny Cajuste – who has not played a game for the Patriots after tearing his quad before the draft and then suffered a freak broken leg in the leg during training camp in 2020 – and now he is able to claims the all-important swing offensive tackle job with a strong performance in Sunday’s final of the season against the Giants (18.00 ET). “He’s a kind of vet, an older guy, but he has not played much. None of that is his fault,” said center David Andrews. “Seeing him work through this, it’s inspiring to see and says a lot about his mental toughness.”
9. Mac’s honor: Jones was named the All-American Academic of the Year by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), an honor that recognizes the best academic athlete in the nation, regardless of sport or gender. He is the fourth Alabama athlete to earn the honor (no college has had more). “Being an academic American is something I have always dreamed of and it has been a goal for me for as long as I can remember,” he said.
10. Did you know: The Patriots and Giants have closed the preseason every year since 2005, and this will be the Patriots’ first season game on a Sunday since traveling to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, August 8th. 17, 2008.