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  • N’Keal Harry shows promise in his NFL debut despite catching just three passes
    by Ryan Spagnoli on November 18, 2019 at 8:00 pm

    Photo by Elsa/Getty Images Related: Patriots vs Eagles snap counts: N’Keal Harry plays rotational role in his NFL debut The New England Patriots finally got their talented first-round draft pick — the only wide receiver Bill Belichick has ever taken in round one in his 20 years of leading the team — back onto the field on Sunday afternoon: N’Keal Harry returned against the Philadelphia Eagles after starting his rookie season on injured reserve. Despite catching just three balls for a combined 18 yards, Harry showed promise as a receiver and a blocker as he was on the field for the Patriots’ first four run plays from scrimmage. He finished the night playing 31 of a possible 74 offensive snaps snaps with, 20 of them being passing plays and the other 11 being runs. However, the plan may have been to ease Harry back into it which could be why he played just seven snaps in the first half. But when Phillip Dorsett headed to the locker room with a head injury suffered on his go-ahead touchdown grab, and when Mohamed Sanu got banged up on a punt return, Harry was sprung into action and was given a much bigger role than the one the coaching staff may have had in mind for him. At one point, he was on the field for 25 consecutive offensive snaps and made a key block on one of James White’s runs late in the third quarter. One of his key moments, however, was his first career catch when he went over the middle against Ronald Darby on a slant route. The play came at a time when the Patriots couldn’t get anything going offensively and helped pick up a key first down on a 13-play, 59-yard drive that ended with three points. Moving forward, I would expect the Patriots to use Harry in different packages and expand his route tree on a week-to-week basis. We saw him run some ‘Josh Gordon’-type routes — mainly slants with one screen mixed in. He is a project, though, and it’s going to take some time to put it all together. However, given the environment and circumstances thrown his way last night, I think he did a nice job adjusting and making plays when he needed to. “N’Keal has worked hard,” said quarterback Tom Brady when speaking about the 21-year-old during his weekly appearance on WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show. “He got some opportunities and we’ve got to just keep getting him up to speed. He missed a lot of football, so we’re going to try to incorporate him the best way we can and use his skills to see if he can be a productive player for us in the second half of the year.”

  • Patriots plan to activate Isaiah Wynn ahead of Sunday’s game against the Cowboys
    by Bernd Buchmasser on November 18, 2019 at 7:00 pm

    Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images Related: 7 winners and 4 losers from the Patriots’ 17-10 win against the Eagles The New England Patriots’ offense has been out of sync for considerable portions of its first 10 games this season, with the offensive line in particular playing some inconsistent football. Help appears be on its way, however, in form of a player who missed the team’s previous eight games: offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn will soon be officially activated from New England’s injured reserve list if head coach Bill Belichick is to be believed. “I think that we would certainly want to make him active. What the role would be and how everything would play out and so forth, we’ll just have to see,” said Belichick during a media conference call on Monday when asked about the status of his team’s starting left tackle — one that was placed on IR after suffering a toe injury during the Patriots’ Week 2 game against the Miami Dolphins, but was recently designated to return off the list again. Wynn, who is the second and last return designee after rookie wide receiver N’Keal Harry, will fill a spot upon his comeback that has been a weak link for New England recently: Marshall Newhouse was signed as a depth option shortly before Wynn’s injury and has filled the left tackle spot ever since, but has struggled as both a run blocker and a pass protector (he has surrendered 29 quarterback pressures this season, including seven sacks). Despite his inconsistent performance as a stand-in for the starting option, however, Belichick spoke highly about Newhouse on Monday: “Marshall’s done a good job at left tackle, and our offensive line has gotten a little bit of continuity there over the last few weeks, so we’ll just see how it goes going forward. But we’re always excited and happy to have as many healthy players as we can out there on the field,” he said. “We’ll do the best we can to put [Wynn] in positions that are competitive or possibly advantageous and let him play,” added Belichick. It certainly sounds as if the second-year lineman will get his chance soon, which could be good news for a Patriots offense that will have to go up against a top-10 scoring defense this week: the Dallas Cowboys come to town, and having Wynn available would be big for New England up front. The latest the Patriots can bring the former first-round draft pick back from injured reserve for him to be eligible to play on Sunday against Dallas is Saturday, 4:00 pm ET.

  • The Black Friday shopping guide for Patriots fans
    by Isaac Chipps on November 18, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports For sports fans, Thanksgiving is more than just a day full of turkey, family and copious amounts of stuffing. Thanksgiving is also one of the year’s best sports days, filled with 10-plus hours of football from sunrise to sunset. And to top it all off, the holiday season kicks off with Black Friday deals too! With the biggest shopping weekend of the year hitting its stride, retailers (sports and non-sports alike) are starting to drop their holiday deals and sales as Black Friday quickly approaches. With retailers gearing up for the holidays, we want to make sure you are covered on all the latest TV, tech and video game deals. So with the holiday spirit upon us, here’s a roundup of the deals and discounts that are starting to drop as we prepare for the biggest shopping day of the year. When is Black Friday and Cyber Monday? Black Friday hits on Friday, November 29, this year, the day after Thanksgiving. Cyber Monday is just a few days later, on Monday, December 2. Any recommendations? Here are a few items to get your holiday shopping rolling in the right direction! With deals already dropping, we’ll continue to update this post with more recommendations and ideas as new deals are released over the next few weeks. Best Black Friday TV deals for football fans Whether you’re looking to keep it simple or take your game day experience to a whole new level with 4K, here are a few TVs options to consider as the Black Friday deals kickoff. Best Black Friday soundbar deals for football fans There’s nothing quite like hearing the sound of a roaring crowd in your own living room, so why not upgrade your sound with a new soundbar system for the holidays? Check out a few options here! Best Black Friday gaming deals for football fans Prove you can assemble a better team and call better plays between the IRL games with these great deals. Patriots apparel Watch this space for deals from our friends at Fanatics, BreakingT, and more just as soon as we get the details. Looking for more Patriots apparel? Visit our new Pats Pulpit Patriots FanShop for jerseys, hats, and more.

  • A frustrated Tom Brady acknowledges the Patriots’ current strengths are defense, special teams
    by Bernd Buchmasser on November 18, 2019 at 6:00 pm

    Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images Related: Julian Edelman provided the spark New England’s offense needed against the Eagles Tom Brady has won a lot of football games over the course of his legendary career, but hardly ever did he look as dejected after a victory as he did on Sunday. Despite the New England Patriots defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 17-10 and improving to 9-1 on the season, the quarterback was visibly frustrated during his postgame press conference — his answers were short, and after just 1 minute and 40 seconds he was gone from the podium again. Brady had his next media appearance on Monday morning, when he joined WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show, and he did acknowledge his dissatisfaction with the current state of the Patriots’ offensive attack: “It’s just frustration with the offense; we’re trying to grind them out. I’m happy we won on the road, but at the same time, I just wish we’d score more points. We have to figure out how we can fix our problems as best we can.” Against the Eagles, the Patriots gained just 298 yards of offense and scored only one touchdown on a pass that was not thrown by Brady: wide receiver Julian Edelman received a backwards pass from his quarterback, before himself throwing the football down the field for fellow wideout Phillip Dorsett. The score and the ensuing two-point conversion by running back James White ultimately proved to be the difference in the game. But while wins come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, and New England was able to take one back home from Philadelphia to stay atop the AFC’s playoff race, it is obvious that Brady and the rest of the Patriots offense remain a work in progress 11 weeks into the regular season — something he pointed out on Monday: “As crazy as it sounds, we’re still kind of relatively new; getting familiar with each other on offense,” he said. Brady certainly has a point. Against the Eagles, the Patriots received contributions from a rookie playing in his first NFL game (N’Keal Harry), an in-season trade acquisition (Mohamed Sanu), tight ends who were acquired during the offseason and have only appeared in a combined nine games so far (Benjamin Watson, Matt LaCosse), and a struggling offensive tackle that only joined the team in September (Marshall Newhouse). All the way back to the offseason, the Patriots saw considerable personnel turnover on the offensive side of the ball. Tight end Rob Gronkowski retired, wide receivers Cordarrelle Patterson and Chris Hogan left in free agency, center David Andrews and fullback James Develin were placed on injured reserve, and wide receivers Josh Gordon, Antonio Brown and Demaryius Thomas were added to the team only to be let go again a short time later. “I just wish we would play better offensively. We have to go do it. I don’t think it’s about talking about it. It’s about doing it and trying to get the best we can out of our offense, and seeing if we can be more productive and score more points,” said Brady about the the Patriots’ offense following its game in Philadelphia. The 42-year-old also went on to point out that the unit is the team’s weakest link in its current state. “The strength of our team is our defense and special teams,” Brady said. “So on offense, we just have to take advantage when we get opportunities, understand where our strengths lie and try to play to them. Not giving short fields. Not turning the ball over. Try to take advantage when we get into the red area and score touchdowns. That’s kind of where our offense is, and that’s kind of where our team is.”

  • Patriots vs. Eagles: Fan Notes from the Game
    by Alec Shane on November 18, 2019 at 5:00 pm

    James Lang-USA TODAY Sports Notes, musings, and observations from the New England Patriots’ 17-10 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. Welcome back to football! The New England Patriots came out of their bye week with a solid road victory over the Philadelphia Eagles and now sit at 9-1 on the year, still firmly in control of the #1 seed in the AFC. Of course, it wasn’t a good enough win, because no win is ever good enough for the Patriots, but that’s just fine with me. They can amass all the lousy, useless wins they want for all I care. I have no idea if there was any talk of the previous Patriots/Eagles Super Bowls over the past week; I milked my bye for as long as possible and ignored the league completely until 4:25. But I for sure got a week’s worth of it before the first quarter was even over, and if I needed any reminder as to why I don’t care as much about football anymore, I certainly got it right away. It was good to see the defense get back on track. After their loss to Baltimore, in which they got embarrassed on more than one occasion, it was obvious they came out of the gate much in the same way that a boxer who gets rocked early tries too hard to answer back with a killshot of his own. Guys were overcommitting, too quick on the reads, and jumpy up front, and the result was a 16 play, 95 yard scoring drive that ate up almost an entire quarter and left a lot of people sweating a little more than usual. I mean seriously; all we heard for the first eight weeks was that the defense hadn’t faced anybody at all, and the first real test of the season was a beatdown. Now here come the Eagles, minus their offensive weapons as it is, and they march right down the field at will? If you weren’t looking for a new pair of shorts after that first TD drive, you’re far braver than I. However, once the defense settled down, is was back to the unit we fell in love with early in the year. Interior runs are still something to be concerned about, but this secondary is simply on another level, and with the athleticism of the linebackers, everything is just gooey and delicious. It was weird to watch the Eagles offensive line dominate the way it did early, when Philly had 6OL and 2TE on some of the runs, but when New England countered with a bigger package (heh) and played more outside press in the secondary, it seemed to take away the safe option and forced Wentz to read more than he was used to. On offense, though... There appears to be a large contingency, seemingly led by none other than Tony Romo himself, who somehow think that the return of a 2nd year offensive lineman who has played less NFL games than Tom Brady has Super Bowl rings is going to magically make the offense unstoppable again, open up the running game, restore Brady’s trust in his blocking scheme, expand the playbook, give out free foot rubs, and predict the winning lottery numbers for the upcoming PowerBall. And I hope that’s the case. I truly, truly do. But I’m sorry if I just can’t buy it. Absolutely nothing Isaiah Wynn has shown me thus far in very limited action gives me reason to believe that he’ll stay healthy or anchor an offensive line with a lot of problems. I know that LT is one of the most crucial pieces of any offensive line, and right now we’re stuck with the NFL equivalent of Scrappy Doo (name a worse addition to a classic show. I’ll wait), but I just think the offensive woes go beyond that. Although “woes” might be a strong word, because the offense is still productive when it needs to be and is doing enough to win games. And when you’re used to your team scoring points at will for almost an entire decade, it’s a bit of an adjustment. So I don’t want to pile on too much here. But this offense isn’t scaring anybody right now and, 11 weeks into the season, there’s not all that much time to turn it around. People have been ragging on Josh McDaniels’ playcalling a lot this season, but I think that yesterday’s game was a great example of his ability to adjust mid-game. The Patriots opened the game with a lot of screens and quick in passes to mitigate the Philly front line. Philly adjusted to it well, which opened up the middle of the field for seam routes and post patterns. Results were mixed, but much of that had to do with solid defensive play and some drops by receivers. As well as more than a few Tom Brady throws that were flat out terrible. New England seems to have incorporated a new play into their playbook this season, one they run at least twice a game, where Tom Brady throws the ball sharply into the dirt at the feet of James White as he comes out of the flat. Not sure whether it’s a way to get into the defense’s head or what, but maybe they should phase “HB Right Dirt X Delay” out of their playbook. I also counted three passes Brady threw that should have been picked, one coming in the end zone on a poor decision to try and hit Sanu as McLeod played the under. I’m more than happy to close my eyes, plug my ears, and chant “IT’S BECAUSE HE HAS NO TRUST IN THE LINE! IT’S BECAUSE HE HAS NO TRUST IN THE LINE!” over and over again, but you have to call a spade a spade sometimes. And the fact of the matter is that you can’t triple stamp a double stamp. I had completely forgotten that Jim Schwartz was a) still in the league, and b) the D coordinator for the Eagles. I’ll forever remember him from that Week 3 preseason game against the Lions in 2011 or so where the Lions blew the doors off the Patriots 34-10 and Schwartz literally skipped off the field, beaming and waving to the crowd, like he had just won the lottery. Then again...the Lions did manage to lose in the NFC Wild Card round that year, which is a pretty massive achievement for them. So maybe Schwartz was onto something. New England seemed to want to attack the outside of the field and operate outside of the hashmarks, with very limited success. The screens worked early, but then never fully developed. Toss plays went for negative yards. Rub routes and quick slants got blown up. And this will all be totally fixed next week when Wynn comes back, right? Right? Sony Michel really can’t catch, eh? Are people still calling for more screens to him? I’ve been looking around all morning, and I can’t for the life of me find the official rule change that states The New England Patriots must pull out a trick play every single time they play the Eagles. So if anybody can find me the link, I’d be grateful. If you’re a Brady hater (a sadly dying breed, alas), you got yourself a nice “the best QB on the field yesterday was Julian Edelman” bone to gnaw on for a while. It’s witty, original quips like that that keep the internet internetting. I move that we make “questionable to return” applicable to real life as well. There’s no rhyme or reason to whether a not a player who is questionable to return actually makes another appearance that day, and we all just accept it. Why not do that in reality as well? “I’m going out for a cup of coffee, boss. I’m questionable to return this afternoon.” “What’s that? Dinner at the in-laws? Mark me down as questionable.” “Your deadbeat dad went out for cigarettes 15 years ago. He’s still questionable to return.” I find myself liking Baker Mayfield commercials in spite of myself. Good thing, too, as that may be a more viable future for him than NFL QB. But of all the commercials I don’t like - and there are legion - I think the saddest story is the rise and fall of the Bud Light Knight. We’re currently living in a culture where if something garners even the slightest modicum of success, we go back into that well over and over and over again until whatever it is that had said success is a useless, shriveled shell of what it once was. TV show reboots and movie remakes. Celebrity reality shows. Knock-off products and shoddy merchandise. It’s horrible to see, and yet there’s no end in sight. Bud Light, for some reason, struck a chord with the phrase “Dilly Dilly” several years ago, and they’re still trying to make it work. You had a good run, Bud Light. Let the Knight walk off into the sunset with Spuds McKenzie and those talking frogs. At this point, he’s the old guy at the club with too much cologne on and a gold chain adorning his open shirt while all the girls laugh at him. So far, the Patriots have had the most success out of 11 personnel when they run the hurryup offense. I’d love to know what Julian Edelman did to allow people to continue to think he rarely drops passes. There has been a narrative that Edelman never drops passes, and that just isn’t true. Drops are part of his game. It’s like Tommy B and the back foot pick when he gets pressured up the middle. You just have to accept it. Just like we have to accept that Julian Edelman is going to get the occasional deep ball. I’m hoping that the 6’4” behemoth the team drafted a few months ago will ultimately replace the 5’10” slot guy who works best underneath, but what do I know. Illegal hands to the face is such a garbage penalty, and one you could probably call on every play. If the league insists on enforcing it, they should just make it a five yard penalty and not a completely new set of downs. Zach Ertz is so damn good. I miss having a tight end. I don’t know why Gilmore wasn’t on him at all times. Speaking of tight ends...I’m sure you know by now that Gronk has a “big announcement” scheduled for tomorrow, which of course means he’s unretiring announcing his latest partnership or business venture. For all the meathead jokes, the man is a marketing genius, and he’s stringing us along like a one-armed man trying to play a game of Cat’s Cradle. I hate that this league has gotten to the point where I literally cringe after every single incomplete pass as I wait for the inevitable flag for DPI or illegal contact. I’ve completely ignored the defense for the bulk of these Fan Notes, and I think that’s the biggest compliment I can pay them. Complex looks, stunt blitzes, stifling coverage, and turnovers have just become part of the lexicon now. They stayed disciplined against the RPO and didn’t give Wentz the tell every RPO quarterback needs in order to diagnose the play properly. Good fundamental football all around from top to bottom. I have been watching professional football fairly religiously since I was 10 years old. That’s almost three decades of absorbing, studying, and enjoying the sport. It has been a major part of my life, for most of my life. Only recently have I found myself starting to stray from it. And a big part of that may very well be that I now know less about what the very simple act of catching a pass is than I did when I ordered off the kids menu without getting a weird look. I can say the same about pass interference, unnecessary roughness, unsportsmanlike conduct, possession, in the grasp, forward progress, and down by contact. This shouldn’t be so complicated, and consistently the league can’t get out of its own way. At the end of the day, this is the kind of win we used to get 11-13 times a year back in the early aughts. Tough, grind-em-out wins led by a stifling defense and an efficient offense that does just enough. We’ve been so used to Tommy B’s superhuman abilities for so long, and the expectations surrounding this team are just so absurdly high, that a road win against a good team to move to 9-1 just isn’t enough anymore. They have to look a certain way and post certain numbers in addition to winning the game. The Patriots are 5-1 on the road this year; they were 3-5 on the road last year. So let’s all just enjoy it, OK? Congratulations to the Patriots for securing their 19th straight winning season. There are people who will finally old enough to vote in their first-ever presidential election next year who literally weren’t even alive the last time New England won less than nine games. Too bad the offense is so terrible, though, right? Home against Dallas, and then the two games that will likely end up deciding who goes where in January when the time comes. The Texans just got spanked, and the Chiefs are kind of on a skid right now...but each week is a lifetime in the NFL, so take nothing for granted.


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