Pats send Mallett to Houston for a conditional 6th-round draft pick

Can’t say I’m surprised and really, just happy we got anything for him as I was ready to release him. And it’s only a 6th-rounder if he plays 40 percent of the snaps. Otherwise it’s a 7th-rounder.

That shows you where Mallett’s value was around the league, with Dallas also interested in him.

Garoppolo would have some ups and downs but is a far better fit for the Patriots offense.

Mallett overcame any concerns of “character issues” and was a solid back-up for three seasons. Luckily he was never needed. I wish him the best.

There’s some speed at wide receiver that could accommodate Mallett’s game in Houston. We’ll see if he can develop more touch.

Now we can sign some long snapper and we’re on to Miami!

New England Patriots 2014 Training Camp Superlatives and Awards

As another training camp for the New England Patriots comes to a close, it’s time to take a look back and hand out some awards for those who did or didn’t stand out for the right or wrong reasons.

Undrafted Rookie Star: An undrafted rookie makes the team almost every year and this year certainly won’t be an exception due to the exceptional play of cornerback Malcolm Butler. Rarely did a practice or game pass where Butler wasn’t making plays on the ball. Butler is a near-lock to make the roster.

Biggest Surprise(s): The immediate return to health of Vince Wilfork and Rob Gronkowski has been one of the nicest surprises of camp. Usually players coming off major injuries like a torn ACL or Achilles start out on the PUP list, but both of these major injury concerns appear to be on track for the season opener. Wilfork still shows great get-off and almost appears refreshed after the season off.

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Patriots 53-Man Roster Prediction: Final Prediction

I haven’t had a chance to take a look at last nights game yet, but after reviewing all the observations I feel okay about making a final roster prediction. 

Lot of tough decisions to make, especially at safety, defensive end and offensive line. And I’m sure there will be a surprise cut or two that throws this whole thing off but oh well, we’re just 9 days from Patriots football.

QB (2) Brady, Garoppolo - Garoppolo might’ve come back to earth a bit last night, but I still think I’d rather roll with him if Brady were to get dinged. Would there be growing pains and inconsistency? Sure. But his release and deep ball are so intriguing. 

RB (5) Ridley, Vereen, White, Develin, Bolden - Not sure where Bolden’s been, but I’m keeping him, especially after White seems more and more suited as a passing back. 

WR (6) Edelman, Thompkins, Amendola, LaFell, Dobson, Slater - Tyms sticks around as well through Week 4. Great showing by Dobson last night and in the limited footage I’ve seen of him he looks a lot more decisive and stronger.

TE (3) Gronkowski, Hoomanawanui, Wright - Using an OL in blocking situations is fine and once Gronk and Wright can be out there at the same time, look out.

C (2) Wendell, Stork - Would love to see Stork take the job from Wendell in-season, but I think it’s Wendell’s to start.

G (3) Connolly, Kline, Halapio - Kline should be fine, but could there still be a veteran addition tomorrow? Possibly. Halapio needs time.

T (4) Solder, Vollmer, Cannon, Fleming - Really solid group.

DE (3) Jones, Ninkovich, Buchanan - Scariest position on the roster and Buchanan’s injury issues from last night are not what was needed. I like Moore and he could sneak on as could Bequette if Buchanan’s injury will hold him out.

DT (6) Wilfork, Easley, Jones, Siliga, Worthy, Vellano - Maybe not the most proven group but I love their potential. 

LB(6) Hightower, Beauharnais, White, Mayo, Collins, Fleming - Not great depth but the starters plus Fleming are very solid. 

CB (5) Revis, Arrington, Dennard, Butler, Ryan - Browner starts on the suspended list. These other five should get mixed and matched all over the field. Very curious if any of them actually see time at Safety in the regular season. That would be an interesting schematic evolution.

SS (3) Chung, Wilson, Ebner - Maybe I’m crazy to keep Wilson and Chung but given injury history and the lack of depth at linebacker and it makes sense to keep two in-the-box types.

FS (2) McCourty, Harmon - two good back end guys with solid range, Harmon would be okay in the box as well.

ST (3) Gostkowski, Allen, Aiken

Total players: 53
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Check out my sister’s account of attending the Patriots premiere this past Monday on behalf of the blog. I’m pretty jealous she got to meet a ton of the Pats and take a lot of pictures with them.

I’ll have an exciting promotional partnership to announce soon that will include a ton of awesome giveaways for my readers this season. This was just the first part of it!

Best #Patriots mock uniform I’ve seen!! 

Best #Patriots mock uniform I’ve seen!! 

Pats Posits: Notes on the rewatch of a Patriots team that looks primed

Had a chance to go back and look at last nights game on an actual TV instead of a jumpy internet feed and I liked what saw even more. 

Here’s some random reflection on what I liked and what’s concerning heading into the season. It’s hard to be too critical, this team is stacked.

Offense

Brady is still Brady. Yay.

Brandon Bolden missed this one, I’m so back and forth on him. One day you’re reading how he’s a core special teams guy, the next he might be injured again. I think the Pats will be fine with Ridley/White/Vereen and it seems like Bolden is what he is.

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I feel obligated to post any defensive scheme article even if it’s kind of missing the forest for the trees. When I started writing about football it was the defensive schematics that really interested me. Watching how Bill Belichick would rebuild his defense post-2007 was a huge impetus for me to follow and study the team.

Now, seven years later, I feel like I have a pretty good handle on what Belichick does on defense. Around 2011 I realized that 3-4 or 4-3 is not really that big of a deal.

Here’s the simple facts…

1. From 2000 to 2009 the Patriots spent a good chunk of their defensive snaps in the Fairbanks-Bullough 3-4 defense. This 3-4 is a “read-and-react” defense, where the front three “build a wall” by two-gapping and allow the linebackers to make plays. (There are 3-4s like Wade Phillips’ and Dick LeBeau’s that are more “attacking”.)

2. As the game evolved, and passing offenses became more prevalent, the amount of time the Patriots spent in the 3-4 decreased. The pure Fairbanks-Bullough version of it slowly became a specialty package to stop the run. Since 2010 the Patriots are in “sub” defense, with five or more DBs, around 60-65% of the time.

In 2011, due to the lockout, there was limited time to teach the 3-4 defense, so Belichick just used the nickel front (which of course looks like a 4-3) as his teaching defense since that is what they would be in a majority of the snaps anyway.

3. However, the 3-4 remains Belichick’s teaching defense. So it’s what the Pats run in the preseason and training camp to help teach communication and responsibilities. The preseason defensive game plan is as vanilla as it can get, so seeing them in a 3-4 in the summer means little as to what we’re going to get in the fall.

4. The Pats will still run a 3-4 defense but it bears little resemblance to the Fairbanks-Bullough version. Instead of the three down linemen two-gapping, we now have a combination of guys playing single and double gaps. Read this article for more on this.

5. This current “base” defense (which really makes no sense now that we’re really talking only 30-40% of the snaps) is more of a 2-5. This is an effort to get more athletes on the field to stop the pass, instead of big bodies to build a wall and stop the run.

What matters most is gap responsibility, so whether you want to call Ninkovich and Chandler outside linebackers or defensive ends, it doesn’t really make a difference. They are end of the line players and their job remains basically the same whether they’re rushing the passer or dropping into coverage.

The ability to morph between fronts is where the Pats give themselves and advantage.

The game has evolved and so has Bill Belichick’s defense. What has been missing in my estimation is explosive one-gapping defensive tackles like Easley and Jerel Worthy. They had DT’s one-gapping, but often times they were more nose tackle-ish like Wilfork and Kyle Love or defensive end-ish like Tommy Kelly, Brandon Deaderick and Gerard Warren.

Now the Patriots defense has the personnel to literally play any front, or combination of fronts. Believe me when I say this is the first time they’ve EVER had this kind of flexibility. So there’s some truth to the linked Herald to the article.

But still wondering about the 3-4/4-3 debate is an extreme simplification about a minority of the defensive snaps.

(Low)lights: Patriots vs. Panthers 2013

This was a great game despite the results (i.e. the controversial finish). I try not to complain about losing a game on a non-call but this one was pretty blatant, as much as I love Kuechly as a player.

Should be a great test for the Pats tonight! But of course, most importantly, NO INJURIES!!!

New Patriots Pump-up Video mixes continue to pop up! I’m certainly not complaining, we’re just 17 days from the return of Pats football!!