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New England Patriots need clutch plays to prove they are good team – New England Patriots Blog

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells once famously coined the phrase, “You are what your record says you are.”

The 2021 New England Patriots are a 2-4 football team after Sunday’s crushing 35-29 overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium. That’s not very good.

Multiple players have a differing view, however, which highlights a notable disconnect for coach Bill Belichick’s team.

Defensive tackle Davon Godchaux tweeted after the game: “Tough one!! Got a good team but the record doesn’t show it! Keep going and keep getting better!”

Core special teamer/cornerback Justin Bethel added, “I think we are a good team with a bad record right now.”

While there have been glimpses of hope, good teams still find a way to win the games the Patriots are losing. And good teams don’t open the season 0-4 at home.

So, while there might be some promising signs — such as quarterback Mac Jones‘ resilience and a stingy short-yardage run defense — the bottom line is the Patriots, who next play host to the New York Jets on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS), have to start closing teams out when they have a chance. The opportunities were plentiful against the Cowboys.

Most disheartening was the end of the fourth quarter after Jones connected with Kendrick Bourne on a 75-yard touchdown pass, and then found Jakobi Meyers for a 2-point conversion and 29-26 lead with 2:11 remaining.

The Patriots’ defense had the Cowboys in a fourth-and-4 from their own 35. One play would have ended it.

And even if you give quarterback Dak Prescott and receiver Cedrick Wilson credit for making that play (a 13-yard catch on the sideline), what unfolded four plays later — on third-and-25 — was more about a Patriots breakdown than anything else.

Good teams don’t give up a 24-yard catch in that situation (receiver CeeDee Lamb caught it on the in-cut in front of cornerback Jalen Mills).

“A little better on that play changes the game,” safety Devin McCourty said.

McCourty lamented that the Patriots didn’t have more defensive backs in the game. They previously had to play a stretch of the action without cornerbacks Jonathan Jones and Bethel, and safety Adrian Phillips, because of injuries. They also looked tired, with the Cowboys having held a 39:17 to 26:51 time-of-possession advantage by game’s end.

This is where coaching and roster management warrants some scrutiny. The Patriots voluntarily went into the game shorthanded in the defensive backfield, essentially dressing an extra linebacker over cornerback Joejuan Williams (healthy scratch) or potential practice-squad elevation Myles Bryant, another cornerback.

And on the playcall, they rushed four and dropped seven, appearing to play man coverage in their dime package (six defensive backs). Belichick said Monday that the dime package was what they planned on playing in that situation.

“Good throw and a good catch. Coverage was pretty good,” Belichick said, in an analysis that is fair to challenge.

In retrospect, the combination of roster management and playcall seemed to hurt the Patriots.

Meanwhile, when the offense had a chance to dictate things at the start of overtime, the drive started with a brutal drop by receiver Nelson Agholor, who was wide open on a slant over the middle.

And while it was disappointing to the Patriots that officials missed a face mask penalty committed on Agholor on an incomplete pass on third down, Jones talked the most sense after the game when he said: “Sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn’t. You can’t blame everything on the refs. We have to find ways to not be in that position.”

Precisely, that’s what the good teams do.

“When you look at the big picture, you never want to say you’re close; it’s hard to do that,” Jones said. “But the games we’ve lost we’ve been two or three plays away. I guess that’s how the NFL works, and I’m learning that the hard way.”

Added center David Andrews: “A few plays here or there, but that’s how it goes in this league. There’s not a big margin for error.”

If the Patriots truly want to be considered a good team, it’s time for them to start making those plays.



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Los Angeles Rams RB Darrell Henderson, WR Odell Beckham Jr. active vs. Jacksonville Jaguars

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The Los Angeles Rams running back Darrell Henderson Jr. is active for Sunday’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

A source had told ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the team was not optimistic about him being able to play but he would test out his injured thigh before Sunday’s game before it made a decision.

Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., also is active. Like Henderson, he was listed as questionable. Beckham has a hip injury.

Running back James Robinson is active for the Jaguars. He had been listed as questionable due to heel and knee injuries. Robinson has been hobbled for weeks with the injuries but was feeling better Saturday.

Henderson, the Rams’ top running back, has rushed for 648 yards and five touchdowns this season.

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Gardner Minshew throws first TD as an Eagle, a 36-yard dart to Dallas Goedert

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Minshew mania — it is upon us.

Starting in place of the injured Jalen Hurts, Eagles quarterback Gardner Minshew II got off to a red-hot start against the New York Jets on Sunday, connecting with tight end Dallas Goedert for a 36-yard touchdown on the team’s opening drive. Facing a second-and-1, Minshew unfurled a pass downfield as he was being hit. Goedert hauled it in and shed a tackle attempt before walking into the end zone.

Minshew went 3-for-3 for 61 yards on the Eagles’ first possession, with each of those completions going to Goedert. Hurts is sidelined with a sprained left ankle, opening the door for Minshew’s first start since Dec. 20 last season, when he was with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Minshew hit Goedert again, this time for a 25-yard score, later in the first half.



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Carolina Panthers fire offensive coordinator Joe Brady with team sitting at 5-7

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The Carolina Panthers have fired offensive coordinator Joe Brady with five games left in their season, the team announced Sunday.

Panthers coach Matt Rhule said in a statement that he met with Brady on Sunday morning and “informed him that I have decided to make a change.”

“I’m very grateful to him for his time and effort in helping us get established over this past year and a half,” Rhule said.

Senior offensive assistant Jeff Nixon will take over the offensive coordinator duties with the rest of the offensive coaching staff for the remainder of the season.

The Panthers are on their bye this week.

In October, Rhule said he was sticking with Brady but wanted him to commit more to the running game. Brady, however, never committed to the running game to the level Rhule preferred (at least 30 attempts per game).

The Panthers started the season 3-0 but are currently 5-7. Star running back Christian McCaffrey is out for the season with an ankle injury while the team has started three different quarterbacks. Sam Darnold struggled after a strong start in the first three games and is currently on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Cam Newton is now starting at quarterback in his second stint with the franchise.

Brady joined the Panthers in January 2020 after helping LSU win a national championship as the Tigers’ passing game coordinator.

ESPN’s David Newton contributed to this report.

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