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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – Quick thoughts / notes about the New England Patriots and NFL:
1. Mac handwritten notes: The Patriots’ offensive linemen did not want to publicly say what rookie quarterback Mac Jones gave them for the holidays, talking more generally about “Santa Mac” and their appreciation of his efforts, which included everything from Bitcoin to “No Bull” New England shoes, a Yeti cooler, Keurig supplies and more.
Privately, several have said they were mostly affected by two things: his inclusion of backup and training team players for a total of 12 oversized gift packs that filled the locker room, and each of the 12 also received a personal, handwritten note from him.
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Jones had confided in some of his teammates that he was busy falling short in the gift department, which of course he did not. Veteran guard Ted Karras described it as a “big move” and “myriad of items – each one cooler than the next.”
But as it turns out, all Jones really needed was the old-school touch of the handwritten note, including his feelings from the heart about what each lineman meant to him.
“Very thoughtful,” one said.
Jones’ parents, Gordon and Holly, impressed him with the power of pen and paper compared to a text message or email.
“I’ve always been taught that when you sit down and write a note to the person you’re trying to communicate with, it means a little bit more,” said Jones, 23.
Now Jones is hoping to write a successful finish on the field for the Patriots’ season, with Sunday’s home game against the Jacksonville Jaguars (13:00 ET, CBS) a chance to come back after two of his most shocked performances of the season.
The Patriots (9-6) can win a playoff spot with a combination of a win and a loss to the Miami Dolphins (by the Tennessee Titans) or the Las Vegas Raiders (by the Indianapolis Colts).
As for how the offensive linemen feel about Jones after his holiday gesture, Karras summed it up this way: “Very grateful to him. And very happy to be his teammate.”
2. McDaniels and Jaguars: If the Jaguars intend to retain general manager Trent Baalke and involve him in the hunt for the team’s next head coach – as NFL Media reported last week – it would be surprising to me if Josh McDaniels has a significant interest in the job. At this point, I do not see McDaniels requesting a job with a GM already in place.
3. Macs odds: If Jones has a great day against the Jaguars, it could be the performance that places him at the top of the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year award. He is currently -475 to win the prize, according to Caesars Sportsbook, which means he is a significant favorite (you would have to bet $ 475 on him to win $ 100).
The last Patriot to win the award was running back Curtis Martin in 1995.
Other rookies in the run, according to Caesars Sportsbook, are Cincinnati Bengals receiver Ja’Marr Chase (+350), Miami Dolphins receiver Jaylen Waddle (+6600) and Pittsburgh Steelers runner Najee Harris (+10,000).
Chiefs center Creed Humphrey, the Oklahoma second-round pick who has started every game for the AFC’s current No. 1 seed, might ask, “Hey, what about linemen offensive?”
4. Bournes bonus: While many fans were heading for the exits late in the fourth quarter of the Patriots’ 33-21 loss to the Bills last Sunday, wide receiver Kendrick Bourne slung in a 20-yard pass that was irrelevant to the final score, but especially important for him personally. . That gave Bourne 700 receiving yards this season, which qualified him for a $ 250,000 bonus. Bourne can earn an additional $ 250,000 with three more catches to get him to 50, and will earn an additional $ 250,000 if he hits 800 receiving yards.
5. Madden on Belichick: Patriots coach Bill Belichick had amiable remarks about John Madden’s legacy after Madden died last week at the age of 85. Madden had been a guest on the podcast of Cam Inman of the Bay Area News Group and once gave the service when he said about Belichick: “It took him a while to get started, but once he got started he is on a good run. Bill Belichick is not only the best coach in football, he is in my opinion one of the best coaches who have ever trained. “
6. ‘None for’ N’Keal? Nelson Agholor’s absence last week opened the door for N’Keal Harry to take on his role as starting receiver, but the results were disappointing (season-high 61 snaps, two 15-yard catches and a hard drop). With Agholor out again this week due to a concussion, are the Patriots going back to the well with Harry? Their decision will say something as training team Kristian Wilkerson is worthy of getting a chance to take these reps to see what he does with them.
7. Ball detection: Patriots veteran Brandon Bolden publicly shared for the first time that he underwent surgery in 2018 after being diagnosed with mucoepidermoid carcinoma, which is a common type of salivary gland cancer. The ball had spent time with his son, Brycen, as he looked in the mirror and said to himself, “I have my full face back.” It got him to review photos on his phone from when he had surgery and post them on Instagram to share his story. The medical history was part of Bolden’s decision to opt out of the 2020 season as a high-risk player.
“I did not think I would be able to play another down in the NFL, and here I continue four years after the surgery and I’m still working hard,” he said.
8. Damien’s energy: Attend an early part of the Patriots training in recent weeks, and there is usually one voice rumbling over the rest; it’s Damien Harris. The third-year running back has been fired up, and he usually sets things in motion in the direction of Jones, his best friend from the University of Alabama. Asked to explain where it comes from, Harris said: “I love having the opportunity to go out and do what I love every day. It gives me a lot of joy and excitement. When I’m on the field, I can not help myself sometimes. “
Damien Harris … ready to start this practice. pic.twitter.com/eHSApZmdpI
– Mike Reiss (@MikeReiss) December 30, 2021
9. Ziegler’s notes: Like Jones, I’m told that first-year Patriots director of gaming staff, Dave Ziegler, wrote personal holiday notes for the spouses to those on his staff. The spirit of the notes was to acknowledge and say thank you for the sacrifice that families make during the football season.
10. Did you know that? If Harris darkens 100 yards as he rushes against the Jaguars, it will be his third game in a row hitting that mark, helping him become the first Patriot to do so since Corey Dillon in 2004.