Patriots – Texans Preview

Patriots – Texans Preview

Thursday Night Football sucks. It benefits no one but NFL because they get to have a third nationally televised game each week. The teams are playing on a short week, and the quality of play is terrible. Not only is there no time to prepare, but there is also no time for injured players to recover in time to play.

The Patriots released their final injury report on Wednesday night and quarterback Jimmy Garappolo was listed as doubtful. If this game were played on Sunday there is a good chance that he would be able to play, but now the Patriots are down to their third string quarterback.

Much was made about Jimmy Garappolo not being prepared leading up to his first NFL start after sitting behind Tom Brady for two years, so I can’t imagine the ideas people have about Jacoby Brissett’s preparedness this week. Quite honestly, Brissett should be fine.

It is a short week, with very little time for the Patriots to put in an extensive game plan for the rookie, but luckily the game is at home and the Texans have even less time to prepare with today being a travel day. Josh McDaniels is a good enough coordinator, and Brissett showed me enough on Sunday to give me confidence that they will be able to figure something out for tonight’s game.

Brissett made all of the throws he was asked to, and did not try to force anything. Those are the keys to being successful early on as a quarterback. As long as the run game is working the way it was against the Dolphins, Brissett won’t be asked to do much more than manage the game, and with this defense that should be enough to get the job done.

The concerning thing about starting Brissett on Thursday is how good the Texans defense is. J.J. Watt is the best defensive player in football, and I’m not sure the Patriots offensive line is good enough to neutralize him right now. Even if they do players like Jadaveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus are stars in their own right, and will be tough to handle. I would expect Martellus Bennett to play a role similar to that of the Arizona game, where he was asked to stay in and block on passing downs.

Getting the ball out quickly, and knowing when to just take the sack and hold onto the ball will be key for Brissett. Texans corners Johnathan Joseph and Kevin Johnson are both good on the outside, but struggle when forced to play in the slot.  This is a massive advantage for the Patriots, who have both Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola playing outstanding football right now. If those two can get open quickly over the middle Brissett will be fine.

Blount should play a huge role again this week. I expect the Patriots to try to establish the run early on, and work on setting up play action to slow down the Texans pass rush. Last season against the Texans Blount was running with success before injuring his hip and winding up on IR. This time around with an improved offensive line he should be effective.

If the defense plays to the level that is expected of them, the Patriots actually matchup well, if not they’re in trouble. DeAndre Hopkins is one of the three best receivers in the NFL, but was held to 52 yards on three catches by Logan Ryan with help over the top by Devin McCourty. McCourty has been utstanding this year, and this plan should work again.

The matchup that worries me is Malcolm Butler on Will Fuller. Fuller is an explosive rookie who excels on deep passes and quick screens at the line of scrimmage. Butler is still dealing with an ankle injury and hasn’t had the burst we’ve become accustomed to seeing. Fuller’s explosiveness could cause McCourty to have to shade him instead of Hopkins, leaving him one-on-one with Logan Ryan. The Patriots will most likely play three safeties for the majority of the game with Duron Harmon over the top of Fuller and McCourty on top of Hopkins.

Last year playing three safeties at all times wouldn’t have been a problem, but Houston’s run game is much better with the addition of Lamar Miller. Dont’a Hightower is returning this week, and his presence will be key in shutting down the run, and forcing the Texans to be one dimensional.

The Patriots lone clear advantage on the defensive side of the ball is the pass rush. Houston’s star left tackle Duane Brown is still out with and injury, and the Patriots should be able to feast off the edge. Chris Long has revived his career this season, and is playing out of his mind. Last year Jabaal Sheard had his best game of the season against the Texans. Expect those two to have a field day, going after Brock Osweiler.

The Patriots are one point home underdogs in this game, marking just the second time since 2006 that they have been home dogs. The Texans are a good football team, and the Patriots are starting a rookie third string quarterback. Just like the Arizona game, everything I know about football tells me the Texans should win this game.

At the same time, everything I know about Bill Belichick and the Patriots tells me that they are going to win this game. The team is at its best when faced with adversity, and this is the toughest situation they have been in in a long time. There are reports that Rob Gronkowski has been telling teammates that he plans to play, and that only furthers my opinion that the Patriots win this game.

The Pick: Patriots 24 – Texans 14

Assorted Thoughts From Patriots – Dolphins

Assorted Thoughts From Patriots – Dolphins

Sunday was a tale of two halves.

 

First Half:

The first half was the Jimmy Garappolo show. Jimmy proved that his performance in Arizona was not a fluke. He was 18/27 for 234 yards and three touchdowns, and he didn’t even finish the first half. For most quarterbacks that is good enough for an entire game.

The most telling part about Garappolo’s performance was the plays that were being called. This wasn’t the game plan you typically see for a quarterback making his second career start. This was a Tom Brady all out aerial assault game plan. We’ve seen it so many times from the Patriots in the past, when a team’s strength is their defensive front the Patriots will spread it out and throw nonstop. They wouldn’t even pretend they wanted to run the ball, and the reason it worked so well was that Brady was so unbelievably good that the other team couldn’t stop it.

It was obvious that Jimmy grasps this offense, and that the coaches have full confidence in him. He was making all of the necessary checks at the line of scrimmage, he is able to understand where the coverage is going and make the correct reads based off of that, and the blitz has not phased him at all.

One of the things Tm Brady does best is manipulate the safeties with his eyes. The Martellus Bennett touchdown was an absolute clinic on how to do this. Garappolo motioned Edelman in tight on the left side which showed him it was zone coverage. At the snap Garappolo’s eyes went right to Edelman, this drew the safety to the left side and Jimmy held him there just long enough before looking right and hitting Bennett wide open up the right seam. It is subtle things like this which make all of the difference in the world when it comes to being a successful quarterback in the NFL.

If you want to see him to it follow this link.

https://gfycat.com/DeafeningWeirdGhostshrimp

The other thing that Tom Brady does better than anyone else in the NFL is beat the blitz. When you blitz Tom Brady he kills you because he is able to decipher where the pressure is coming from, and then get the ball out quickly to where the defense is weak. My biggest criticism of Garappolo during the preseason was that he couldn’t figure out the blitz. Against the Dolphins he was 7/10 for 105 yards and a touchdown with no sacks. The second Amendola touchdown was text book execution against the blitz. Jimmy felt the free rusher coming off the left edge, quickly rolled a few steps to his right and hit Amendola on a slant for the touchdown. Against the blitz you have to know where to step to or you have to get the ball out quick, on this play jimmy did both.

The Patriots were in total control during the first half not only with Garappolo and the offense, but on defense as well. Here is a list of the Dolphins drives in the first half punt, punt, punt, punt, fumble, interception, field goal. Ryan Tannehill looked like Ryan Tannehill, and the Dolphins couldn’t run the ball if their life depended on it. Everything was going according to plan until Jimmy Garappolo’s shoulder was jammed into the turf, after taking a hit from Kiko Alonso.

Second Half:

When Garappolo went down everything changed, and honestly I don’t really know why. Up 24-3 at halftime, that game should be over, as long as you don’t turn the ball over and are able to get one more score. Of course that line of thinking assumes that the defense plays average. Not only could they not keep up the performance they had in the first half, but they were awful. All of the sudden they couldn’t cover or tackle. Justin Coleman got turned around by Kenny Stills for a 24 yard touchdown, and if he looked great against Arizona, he looked that bad against Miami.

It wasn’t just Coleman though, Malcolm Butler looked like the ankle injury he’s been nursing has more of an impact than we may have expected it to have. He lacked the burst that makes him so good at breaking on routes late to break up the pass. Jamie Collins also looked lost at times, which is possibly a result of him getting dinged up when he and Patrick Chung collided on the Jordan Cameron touchdown.

The offense did just enough in the second half to win, and honestly that’s all you could really ask for. With Jacoby Brissett coming in at quarterback the playbook was significantly reduced. Everything was either a run, screen, or play action with quick developing routes.

Considering the circumstances Brissett handled himself well. He was able to take what was given to him, and there were a few plays where he made the correct decision to tuck the ball and run for the first down. The only negative for him was the fumble. He has to feel the pressure there and tuck the ball before getting hit.

The star on offense in the second half was LaGarrette Blount. He hit the hole hard, and even showed off his hurdling ability when he leaped over Byron Maxwell on his way to his long run of 26 yards. The final Patriots drive, was the LaGarrette Blount show. The drive took just over five minutes off the clock leaving Miami with one minute to tie the game.

As good as Blount was, the key to his success was, and always will be the play of the offensive line in front of him. When Blount is able to get into the second level with a full head of steam he is nearly unstoppable, but when he has nowhere to run he lacks the elusiveness necessary to make something out of nothing. Last year Blount looked awful, and that had a lot to do with the fact that the offensive line play last season was garbage. The return of Nate Solder makes a huge difference. Solder is a road grader, and every time the Patriots needed to run the ball they ran it behind him. As long as Solder remains healthy, the run game should be just fine.

The Dolphins moved the ball easily on the final drive before Duron Harmon ended the game with an interception in the end zone. The pick was caused by Chris Long, who was all over the field on Sunday, and was the lone bright spot for the defense. The play of the defense in the second half is concerning because there is so much talent there, and the expectations are so high. This will be something to monitor as the season progresses.

When your quarterback goes down in the first half against a division rival, you’ll take a win however you can get it. The Patriots managed to hold on and that’s all that matters.

Patriots v. Cardinals Preview

Patriots v. Cardinals Preview

When the day began on Friday this game had a very different feel, and what I mean by that is I had no feel for the game at all. I had absolutely no opinion on how I expected it to turn out. The only other game in the last 15 years that I can remember not even being able to predict or say what I thought would happen was the Cincinnati game in 2014. We have not seen Jimmy Garappolo and Rob Gronkowski on the field at the same time and I, like most people, believe that this could completely change the way Jimmy plays. Still though, without Tom Brady, and without really knowing what Jimmy G is, I still didn’t feel confident in making any predictions on this game. Now that we have heard the news that Gronk, Nate Solder, and Johnathan Cooper will not be playing Sunday night I have a much better idea of what should happen.

Gronk’s absence will be massive, this much is obvious, but I don’t even think he’s the player that will be missed the most on Sunday. Martellus Bennett is not Rob Gronkowsk, but he is a damn good tight end and should be able to carry the load while Gronk works his way back to 100 percent. As annoying as it is every time Gronk is slow in coming back from injury I do understand it, and I actually agree with it in this case. Get him healthy for when the games truly matter.

The absence of Solder and Cooper should hurt the team a lot more than Gronk on Sunday. The Patriots are already without Sebastian Vollmer, and will now be forced to start either Cam Flemming, who was cut coming out of camp in 2015, or LaAdrian Waddle who was in danger of being cut this year. Without Cooper, the Patriots will have four interior lineman active for three spots, and one of those four, Shaq Mason, has a broken hand. Mason better be ready to go because I don’t think Ted Karras is ready for primetime yet.

The Cardinals are probably the last team you want to face when your offensive line is in shambles. Last season they blitzed on 43.1 percent of their defensive snaps, a full four percent higher than any other team in the NFL. This should spell trouble for the Patriots after seeing the trouble Garappolo had with holding onto the ball during the preseason. Obviously, the situation with the offensive line does not help, especially now that Arizona has added Chandler Jones to come off the edge.

There is a silver lining to the amount of pressure that the Cardinals bring, and it is that when you blitz you leave your secondary in a lot of one on one coverage. Fortunately for the Patriots, other than Patrick Peterson and Tyrann Matheiu, the Cardinals secondary is not very good. Last season Justin Bethel was decent, but he was mostly a special teams ace. Marcus Cooper, who had a good rookie year for the Chiefs in 2013, but has done nothing since, was just acquired for next to nothing will likely see a lot of snaps in this game. The fourth and final corner on the roster is rookie Brandon Williams, who for his first three years at Texas A&M was a running back. If Jimmy Garappolo can get the ball out quickly in the face of the blitz, the Patriots receivers should be open all night.

The Patriots are heavy underdogs in this game, and rightfully so given all of the talent that they will be missing. There is certainly a scenario where this game turns into the Chiefs game from 2014. Arizona is a notoriously raucous crowd, and this Cardinals defense reminds me a lot of that Kansas City defense. With an inexperienced quarterback making his first start, under these circumstances I could easily see the Patriots getting overwhelmed in this game and getting blown out, but that’s not what my gut tells me is going to happen.

I have seen enough Bill Belichick teams over the last 15 years to know that when the odds are stacked against them is when they play their best games. I also have trouble believing that with a full offseason to prepare that Belichick and McDaniels won’t have a solid game plan in place for Garappolo. The other thing working in the Patrios favor is that this defense is damn good. I don’t think it’s outrageous to say that this could be the best defense since the teams of the early 2000s. To win this game the defense will have to keep it close, and keep the Cardinals around 20 points, which they are fully capable of doing. On offense, Jimmy just has to not make mistakes, and not try to do too much. If he plays within the offense and doesn’t force balls off his back foot against the blitz he will be fine. They of course have to establish the run to slow down the Arizona blitz, which again is easier said than done with a rag tag offensive line, but LaGarrette Blount has looked good so far and should be up to the task.

With all of the talent missing for New England they should have no shot to win this game, and everything I know about football tells me to expect Jimmy Garappolo to look awful against this Arizona defense, but everything I know about Bill Belichick tells me otherwise.

Final Prediction: Patriots 23 Cardinals 17

Tom Brady is Gone

Tom Brady is Gone

The day has finally come. The Patriots began preparation for the Arizona Cardinals yesterday and Tom Brady was not there. He left the team at 4 P.M. on Saturday and will not return until October 3rd. Ever since the entire Deflategate saga began the idea that Brady would be missing games has been abstract. Now, it is a reality.

It is a reality that we as fans, and Brady himself must face. As fans we have known nothing but Tom Brady as the quarterback of this team since 2001. We had Matt Cassel in 2008, but that was under far different circumstances, the silver lining this year as a fan, is that we know Brady will be back week five. Seeing someone else leading the team is going to take some getting used to, but at least we know it will be temporary. Expect a very different brand of football with Jimmy Garappolo under center. No one can run the offense that Tom Brady runs, and he won’t be asked to. The team will try to keep it simple for Garappolo, and hope that they will be able to win on defense. This is just something we are going to have to accept for the first four weeks.

I’m going to guess it will be a little bit tougher for Tom Brady to come to grips with this. He is the ultimate competitor, and not being able to be with his teammates and coaches preparing will kill him inside. This is not like 2008 where he physical could not play. No, this time someone is telling him he is not allowed to play. He can’t be at the facility or have any contact with anyone associated with the team. It’s not like he’s rehabbing an injury and can still practice with teammates to keep his chemistry. It has been reported that he will work-out with Randy Moss and Wes Welker while he sits out, but this cannot replicate live reps with current players, or a live pass rush. I don’t know how Tom is going to do while he waits to return, but I do know that when he does he will be more driven than ever.

Final 53 Man Roster Projection

Final 53 Man Roster Projection

Quarterback 

  1. Jimmy Garappolo
  2. Jacoby Brissett

This group is simple and needs no explanation. Tom Brady’s suspension begins tomorrow, and it will officially be Jimmy Garappolo’s team. It’s time to see what he really has to offer.

Running Back

  1. LaGarrette Blount
  2. James White
  3. Brandon Bolden
  4. D.J. Foster

The only real question at this position was whether or not Tyler gaffney or Foster would make the team. I was leaning towards Foster any ways because he has shown far more speed and elusiveness, but Gaffney’s injury last night sealed his fate. Expect him to wind up on the practice squad if no one claims him. I also would not be surprised if the team swings a trade for a player such as Darren McFadden.

Fullback

  1. James Develin

Develin is probably the most underappreciated player on the roster, and he was sorely missed last season. He doesn’t play a ton of snaps, but he is a crucial part of the run game when the offensive line is as suspect as it was last year. His kick out and seal blocks keep holes open for a player like Blount who takes a little longer to hit the hole.

Tight End

  1. Rob Gronkowski
  2. Martellus Bennett
  3. A.J. Derby

The top two at this position is as good as it gets in this league, and Derby has shown himself to be worthy of at least starting the season on the 53 man. The team gave Clay Harbor a decently sized signing bonus this off season and he’s a proven veteran, but he’s shown nothing this camp that tells me he shouldn’t be cut.

Wide Receiver

  1. Julian Edelman
  2. Chris Hogan
  3. Malcolm Mitchell
  4. Keshawn Martin/Danny Amendola
  5. Aaron Dobson

The top two are entrenched, as we know what Edelman is, and Hogan has impressed throughout camp and should be primed for a career year. The toughest part for me cutting Aaron Dobson with the health of the other three in question. Mitchell has not played since dislocating his elbow in the first preseason game, but is on track to start the season. Martin on the other hand rolled his ankle last night against the Giants and the severity is not known. The Danny Amendola situation is a massive question mark. the team has until 4 P.M. tomorrow to activate him from the PUP list, and the only way I see them doing that is if they think he will be ready before week six, so they just activate him and carry him on the roster until he is ready to go. If Amendola is activated Martin should still make the team unless his injury is serious in which case Aaron Dobson just caught the biggest break of his career. If Martin’s injury is minor the team can afford to play with only four active receivers because of the versatility of the two tight ends to play off the line.

Editors note: This post has been updated to reflect the suspension of Rob Ninkovich. I believe that the suspension results in Aaron Dobson making the team. The suspension opens a spot that wouldn’t have been there if the team had to carry him while he recovered from the torn triceps. The team has enough depth on the edge where they have the luxury of keeping someone at another position. 

Offensive Tackle 

  1. Nate Solder
  2. Marcus Cannon
  3. Cameron Flemming
  4. LaAdrian Waddle

There isn’t a position on the team I feel less confident than offensive tackle. Nate Solder got hurt again last night, although it appeared minor, and his health is the only reason Waddle makes this team. I have no confidence in Cannon or Flemming being able to fill in at left tackle if called upon, but I actually feel decent about them on the right side. Waddle’s spot could be in jeopardy if the team decides to keep five receivers, or if they look for a tackle in a trade, which I really hope that they do.

Guard

  1. Joe Thuney
  2. Josh Kline
  3. Johnathan Cooper
  4. Shaq Mason

Thuney has been the starter at left guard since the first day of camp, and has looked solid so far. Kline is the starter at right guard by default due to the injuries to both Cooper and Mason. Ideally, Cooper is your starting right guard, and he may take that spot back after returning to practice this week. Kline has the ability to play center as well which helps him stay on the roster.

Center

  1. David Andrews
  2. Ted Karras

From the second Bryan Stork got hurt last year David Andrews showed that he belonged. Tom Brady loves him and this is his job. Karras is a 6th round pick who played guard in college, he has been solid this summer and his abilty to play both guard and center keeps him on the roster like Kline, and could eventually push Kline off the roster.

Safety

  1. Devin McCourty
  2. Patrick Chung
  3. Duron Harmon
  4. Jordan Richards
  5. Nate Ebner

By far the deepest position on the team. McCourty and Chung are both All-Pro caliber players who have the versatility to play all over the defense. Harmon has shown the ability to play both deep center field and robber in the 15-25 yard range. Ebner has carved out a role on all of the core special teams and is as reliable as can be there.

Corner 

  1. Malcolm Butler
  2. Logan Ryan
  3. Cyrus Jones
  4. Justin Coleman
  5. Cre’von Leblanc

Another deep position full of play makers. Malcolm Butler is blossoming into one of the bright young stars in the NFL, and still competes like an undrafted free agent. Logan Ryan is ever steady and almost never out of position. Cyrus Jones should slide right into the roll of slot corner, and Coleman has the ability to play there as well. Leblanc has played well all summer and should expect to serve the same role Butler did as an undrafted rookie (minus the Super Bowl saving interception).

Linebacker

  1. Dont’a Hightower
  2. Jamie Collins
  3. Johnathan Freeny
  4. Kamu Grugier-Hill

The Patriots have two of the best linebackers in the entire league in Hightower and Collins. With both of them healthy and on the field at the same time this defense should be one of the five best in the NFL. When one or both of them was out last year the team ran into trouble. Freeny and Grugier-Hill will both be big time players on special teams.

Edge Defender

  1. Jabaal Sheard
  2. Chris Long
  3. Barkevious Mingo
  4. Shea MCclellin
  5. Trey Flowers

Edge defenders are either defensive ends or outside linebackers that are more hybrids with defensive ends. Sheard should be primed for a huge season now that he is the guy on the edge. McClellin and Mingo have the flexibility to play linebacker as well, but I’m really looking forward to what they can do as situational rushers. Chris long has been strong all summer and is going to be asked to play a huge role now with Ninkovich suspended for the first four games.

Defensive Tackle

  1. Malcolm Brown
  2. Alan Branch
  3. Vincent Valentine
  4. Anthony Johnson

Malcolm Brown is already on his way to being the next great Patriots defensive tackle, and Alan Branch is a solid veteran run stopper. Valentine and Johnson are both young players with a ton of upside. Valentine has the potential to become what Branch is now, and Johnson is more of a pass rushing interior lineman.

Specialists

  1. Matthew Slater
  2. Brandon King
  3. Joe Cardona
  4. Ryan Allen
  5. Stephen Gostkowski

Every year the Patriots have one of the top special teams units in the league. The emphasis they put on it and the players listed here are exactly why.

 

 

 

Jimmy Garappolo Has Underwhelmed So Far, and That’s Just Fine

Jimmy Garappolo Has Underwhelmed So Far, and That’s Just Fine

Contrary to what some in the media would like you to believe there is not going to be a quarterback controversy in Foxborough five weeks from now. If this preseason has shown anything it’s that the gap between Tom Brady and Jimmy Garappolo is still massive. This is not to take anything away from Jimmy, he’s looked good at times, but I think we set the expectations too high, which is understandable given the fact that we have watched the greatest quarterback of all time for the last 15 years.

I will be the first to say that Tom Brady should not have played on Friday in Charlotte, but his performance was telling. Jimmy started the game as he should have and looked like a deer in the headlights, now that he was actually facing an elite defense. Tom Brady came in and was certainly far from perfect, but the difference between the two players was obvious from the start. On Brady’s first pass, the 37 yarder to Aaron Dobson he recognized the blitz and decided that instead of giving the play fake to the running back he would skip that to have time to be able to throw the ball. This is a subtle play that probably goes unnoticed to a lot of people watching, but it’s the difference between a completion and a sack or a poor throw. Plays like this have gotten Garappolo in trouble throughout the preseason, one that particularly stands out was the throw against the Saints where he felt the pressure rolled out to his left and threw across his body to Dobson, miraculously the ball was not picked, but he cannot make mistakes like this once the regular season starts.

One thing I really wanted to see on Friday was the chemistry between Garappolo and Julian Edelman, unfortunately I came away disappointed. The Patriots passing game is very reliant on option routes, and no one is better at running them than Edelman. Option routes require the quarterback and the receiver to be seeing the same things from the defense. On the drive that led to Gostkowski’s first missed field goal, Edelman and Garappolo were clearly not seeing the same thing. There was a third down play with Edelman in the slot, he ran a five yard route to the sticks and sat because Luke Keuchly was sitting in zone coverage in the middle of the field. Receivers are taught to sit when you have a defender inside you. Garappolo expected Edelman to continue on his route and threw the ball right into the chest of Keuchly, who luckily dropped it. That play is the difference between first and goal, and a missed field goal, and cannot happen in the regular season.

With all of this being said, I actually still think the team and Jimmy are going to be just fine in the first four games. Just as Charlie Weis did with Brady when he first took over for Bledsoe, Josh McDaniels will protect him and not ask him to do too much. Jimmy has looked very comfortable when he gets the ball out quickly, and that’s exactly what the team will try to do. Expect a ton of quick developing routes and crossing patterns with Edelman and the tightends to allow Jimmy to make his reads without holding the ball for too long. LaGarrette Blount has also looked like his old self this preseason and if that continues it will be a huge asset since having a strong running game will take a ton of pressure of Garappolo.

Even if Garappolo struggles the Patriots should still be fine. This defense is one of the top five defenses in the league and should be able to carry the team if need be. The looks they gave against Carolina on Friday night were kryptonite for Cam Newton, who looked awful all night. If they can do that do the reigning MVP I expect them to cause problems for a lot of teams this season. If the Patriots have to win games 17-10 I have full confidence that they will be able to do it.

Patriots Acquire Barkevious Mingo

Patriots Acquire Barkevious Mingo

On Thursday the Patriots traded a 2017 fifth round pick to the Cleveland Browns for LB/DE Barkevious Mingo. Mingo was the 6th overall pick in the 2013 draft, but has only recorded seven sacks in his three NFL seasons. At first glance Mingo should be labeled as a massive bust, but the thing to remember is that he was drafted and “developed” by the Browns. Cleveland doesn’t exactly have a great track record with developing their young talent. The Patriots, however, have a solid track record in taking talented players who under achieved with the Browns and turning them into NFL stars, see Jabaal Sheard and Dion Lewis.

With Jabaal Sheard and Rob Ninkovich injured the Patriots are obviously a little thin on the edge, so bringing in some help makes sense. Don’t let the trade scare you in regards to the health of those two players though. Prior to the 2013 draft Mingo visited the Patriots and the team has had talks about acquiring him in the past so this isn’t a result of those injuries. He’s also not just a stop gap until they are back. The fact that they traded a fifth round pick and not a late round pick conditional on him making the roster shows that Mingo is making this team and they expect him to contribute.

The first thought with any player that didn’t meet expectations in Cleveland is that they weren’t used properly, which was the case with Sheard before finding a role here in New England. Hopefully this is the case with Mingo as well. He is 6-4 241 lbs, for comparison, Chandler Jones is 6-5 247 lbs. The knock on Mingo has been that he isn’t strong enough and can’t keep muscle on, but despite this he is still a freak athlete. What this tells me is that he should be used as a situational pass rusher rather than your traditional 4-3 defensive end who is asked to stop the run and rush the passer. Mingo is also athletic enough to drop into coverage something that guys currently on the roster like Chris Long and Trey Flowers cannot do.

The talent has always been there with Mingo, but it has never shown up on the field with any level of consistency. The Patriots have two of the best defensive minds in football on the coaching staff, and a plethora of elite, young defenders. This is the perfect place for Mingo to try to resurrect his career, and whatever the Patriots are able to get out of him will be a bonus.