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New England Patriots links 9/28/23 - Fixing the downfield passing game

Daily news and links for Thursday.

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NFL: Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
DeVante Parker catches a pass vs. Miami
Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

More chunk plays! More downfield passing plays! The pundits have determined what needs to be done to fix the Patriots offense —and they’re not wrong. Last week the team showed improvement in the run game so I expect we’ll start to see more explosive plays too. But deep passes need more time to develop. If the health of the offensive line holds up, and the outside receivers find ways to gain separation (and hold on to the ball), the rest will follow. They’re working on it. They’re close. But ‘almost’ doesn’t cut it in football.

With continued effort — and a brighter, hotter light in Will Grier’s eyes, the Pats will get the edge they need in Dallas.



  • Matt Dolloff suggests four ways that the Patriots come up with more ‘chunk plays’ on offense.
  • Phil Perry identifies the three issues that have kept the Patriots from a successful downfield passing game.
  • Andrew Callahan points out how Mac Jones has improved under pressure, allowing the Patriots to extend possessions in a way they failed to last year. /Good read.
  • Zack Cox relays Mac Jones discussing studying other teams to figure out how to improve at creating big plays.
  • Sean T. McGuire suggests it would be wise for New England to commit to the run vs. Dallas after watching the Arizona Cardinals have their way on the ground.
  • Chris Mason says all eyes will be on Zeke Elliott this weekend in Dallas, and he’s motivated to prove doubters wrong not just this week but ‘every week.’
  • Karen Guregian looks into Rhamondre Stevenson’s production through three games (averaging less than three yards per carry) and the RB has a theory why that’s been the case.
  • Zack Cox notes Bill Belichick has a warning for Mac Jones ahead of the upcoming matchup with Stephon Gilmore.
  • Mark Daniels highlights Jabrill Peppers explaining why he didn’t listen to coaches when they told him to not return punts on Sunday.
  • Jerry Thornton offers his take on the Patriots paranoia that still continues with the Cowboys. “Hysterical. In both senses of the word.”
  • Zack Cox notes the Patriots reportedly signed DL Manny Jones, who played in four games for Arizona last season.
  • Alex Barth mentions the Cowboys were missing multiple starters for the first practice of Patriots week.
  • Keagan Stiefel notes Travis Kelce responds to Bill Belichick’s Taylor Swift comments.
  • Zack Cox’ Patriots Practice Notes: Injured starters LG Cole Strange and DT Davon Godchaux return; Plus: Five players were recognized for their practice field contributions.
  • Ian Logue (PatsFans) Patriots Notebook: Jones making progress; More.
  • Jerry Thornton talks about how the supercut of all Mac Jones’ ‘almost comebacks’ is equal parts fascinating and horrifying.
  • Nick Goss highlights Matt Cassel telling a great story about wrestling Tom Brady, and how Rodney Harrison was not amused one bit. /Ha! Never heard this one before, good read.
  • A Clare Perspective podcast: Clare welcomes Jerry Thornton to talk all things Patriots. (47 min.)
  • Locked On Patriots podcast: Mike D’Abate and Marcus Mosher (Locked On Cowboys) preview Pats-Cowboys on Crossover Thursday. (28 min.)


  • Michael David Smith (ProFootballTalk) Ezekiel Elliott on facing the Cowboys: “It’s just another week for me.”
  • Jori Epstein (Yahoo! Sports) Cowboys’ matchup with Ezekiel Elliott is a stark reminder of their No. 1 issue on offense right now.
  • Josh Alper (ProFootballTalk) Jerry Jones on plans for Ezekiel Elliott’s return: Don’t want to blow a surprise.
  • Josh Alper (ProFootballTalk) Jerry Jones: Red zone offense not a long-term concern.
  • Albert Breer (SI) Week 4 NFL Mailbag: Broncos closing in on complete rebuild if they fall to 0–5; Plus, what’s next for the Bears, Chargers, Jets and Browns.
  • Joe Lucia (Awful Announcing) NFL Week 4 announcing schedule. Pats-Cowboys: Kevin Burkhardt, Greg Olsen.
  • Ben Austro (Football Zebras) Week 4 referee assignments. Patriots at Cowboys: Scott Novak.
  • Mike Florio (ProFootballTalk) Non-disclosure of player illnesses highlights another type of NFL inside information.
  • Sam Farmer (Los Angeles Times) NFL Week 4 picks. ‘As with Denver, Dallas was embarrassed last week. This figures to be a fairly low-scoring game, considering the defenses. But QB Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense have the edge at home.’ Cowboys win 23-18.
  • John Breech (CBS Sports) NFL Week 4 picks: Patriots stun Cowboys with upset in Dallas (23-20), Bills beat high-flying Dolphins in thriller.
  • Pete Prisco (CBS Sports) Week 4 NFL picks: Bills cool off Dolphins. Cowboys win 23-9.