Giving Thanks, Patriots Style


Patriots fans have more to be thankful about than just 10-0.

NEPD Staff Writer CJ Sousa

I can’t think of many holidays that beat Thanksgiving.  Food, family and football.  The only thing missing this year is a Patriots’ thrashing of the Lions at Ford Field.

Since we can’t watch the Patriots this Thanksgiving, let’s look at some Patriots to be thankful for who have played vital parts to a 10-0 start.

David Andrews, Center

Honestly, where in the world would the offensive line (and offense overall) been without the former UDFA out of Georgia?  Until last week Andrews played every snap for the Patriots, completely bailing the team out of a crisis when Bryan Stork went down.  Not that it really matters, but consider this: Andrews went from an UDFA lucky to get a practice squad spot, to full time starter, to leading the Pro Bowl vote for all AFC centers after week 11.  His value with Bryan Stork out was extremely high, and even now with Storks’ return Andrews figures to contribute somewhere on this patch work offensive line in the future.

Malcom Butler, Cornerback

This may be an obvious one, but not to me.  Patriots’ fans were hoping Butler could be a true lock down cornerback after his Super Bowl heroics, but that was no guarantee.  He isn’t Darrelle Revis, but Butler’s solid play against top tier competition (Antonio Brown, Brandon Marshall, Odell Beckham Jr. just to name a few) has helped lead the Patriots to the #1 scoring defense in the NFL.  Shutting down Bills’ star Sammy Watkins last week was just the latest example, as Watkins was a near non-factor.  Anybody remember the pre-Darrelle Revis secondary’s (particularly 2010,11)?  Without Butler, 2015 would be a similar sight.  Belichick’s defense just has a different feel to it with an elite level cornerback capable of playing with opposing elite level talent, and it looks like that’s exactly what New England has going forward.  I’d say that’s something to be thankful for.

Chris Harper, Wide Receiver

This is a gut feeling here, as Harper has done absolutely nothing so far for the Patriots on the field.  The UDFA out of Cal has a chance to be a major factor down the stretch, and could really help out an ailing wide receivers core.  He’s just 5’11, but plays bigger than his size while having the versatility to line up inside or out.  With Edelman out until (hopefully) the playoffs, Danny Amendola banged up, Keyshawn Martin banged up and  Aaron Dobson possibly done for the year, Harper will be counted on.  Patriots’ fans should love his hands as well, he had just one official drop compared to 163 catches in three seasons at Berkeley.

Patrick Chung, Safety

I don’t ever want to see him return a kick ever again, but Chung in his second stint in New England has certainly played a major part of the secondary.  Capable of playing as an in-the-box linebacker role, covering a deep half as well as flanking out as a cornerback, Chung has given Belichick the versatility he craves and has been a nice compliment to All-Pro safety Devin McCourty.  With Chung’s improved play this year (as well as Duron Harmon), this could be the best safety group Belichick has had in at least 8 seasons.

Stephen Gostkowski, Ryan Allen, Brandon King & Matthew Slater, Special Teams

Good teams win field position, and you do that by having excellent special teams.  Gostkowski is the best in the business, period.  He’s 23-24 on field goals (only miss a 54 yarder) and has a very Vinatieri-esque game winner to his resume this year. Allen has averaged an astounding 41.8 net yards per punt, thanks in large part to two special team’s ace’s Brandon King (8 total tackles) and Matthew Slater (11 total tackles).  It’s truly a group effort on special teams, so it’d be unfair to single out one of them.   It goes unnoticed to most fans, but great special teams win games – and that’s exactly what the Patriots have.


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8 Responses to “Giving Thanks, Patriots Style”

  1. Dan Sullivan says:

    My five most under rated Patriot players this season.
    1 Alan Branch DT
    2 Logan Ryan CB
    3 Bryan Stork OL
    4 Shaq Mason G
    5 Nate Ebner S/ST

    Congratulations to The Red Sox for signing another Pedro Martinez in David Price.
    A strong move tor the organization and the Red Sox are back!

  2. Russell says:

    Brandon King 6’2″ 212lbs maybe a great find as undrafted as David Andrews. King is doing well on special teams, and may compete for a S job in the future.
    I’m not a big fan of Chung, mostly in coverage, however in the run game he does well.
    I also like Chris Harper’s future, even after his fumbled punt in the Denver game. He just needs time to develop.
    Patriots are VERY thin at LB, not a fan of Freeny, and I’m not sure about Grissom.

    • Ryan says:

      Mostly agree with you: King’s good, Chung’s meh, and Harper’s arrow is pointing up despite his heart-wrenching fumble. I’d love to see Harper used more as a receiver because I think he might be able to outplay Keshawn Martin at times.

      • Ryan says:

        On the linebacking front, it’s a damn shame that James Morris is on the Giants. Pats need to make an acquisition there and at wide receiver. It’s gotten desperate.

      • Daniel R. Martin says:

        Harper’s arrow is pointing out the door now, LOL.

  3. Daniel R. Martin says:

    Does anyone know what’s going on with Jamie Collins? I’m hearing worrisome rumors that MRSA could end his season. I can’t imagine a flu bug that would sideline a professional athlete for three weeks. I hope he is okay. He’s one of the best defensive players in the league.

  4. Ryan says:

    I agree with almost all of these. Harper deserves hype for his preseason play and should start as the second or third receiver, Amendola pending. I would rather give him a shot than roll with an injured Keshawn Martin. I can’t agree about Chung, however. I think he’s only gotten a little smarter, as he’s a massive liability in coverage down the field and pretty average as an open-field tackler. I think he’s looking a lot better because Belicheck is subbing in Harmon a ton, which is definitely paying off on passing downs while getting Harmon some valuable experience. I like that Belicheck is playing to Chung’s strengths, but I still don’t like one of safeties being a coverage liability and I hope that Harmon replaces him in a year or two.

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