Tag: Miami Dolphins

Mac Jones Embraces Quarterback Competition

By Matt Noonan

Mac Jones knows starting jobs in the NFL are not handed out after three days of training camp. 

“We’re all competing for a job,” said Jones while speaking with members of the media after the New England Patriots’ third day of training camp concluded earlier this morning at Gillette Stadium

Jones has the potential — well, more the skillsets, to be exact — to be the team’s starting quarterback in week one. However, for the Jacksonville, Florida native to secure the starting gig, he will need to outperform Cam Newton, who is entering his second season with the Patriots after starting 15 games last fall. 

“Our goal is to win,” said Jones, who quarterbacked the University of Alabama to a national championship earlier this year against Ohio State. “I guess they’re going to obviously play the best player and that’s going to be whoever it may be, but I’m just here to work.”

Mac Jones spoke with members of the media on Friday, July 30 to discuss his first few days of training camp with the New England Patriots. (PHOTO COURTESY/Screenshot: New England Patriots YouTube Channel)

Competing for the top spot on the depth chart is nothing new to Jones, who has experienced numerous camp battles over the years at both The Bolles School and Alabama. He competed with two current NFL quarterbacks in Tuscaloosa for the starting role, including Tua Tagovailoa, whom he replaced down the stretch of the 2019 season when the current Miami Dolphins signal-caller suffered a season-ending injury against Mississippi State

His experience in both 2019, as well as last fall, should position him well to possibly snag the team’s starting role. But as the first-year signal-caller explained, “I’ve got to get better (because) I’m young and I know that, and I have to produce on the field and do exactly what I’m supposed to do on each play and fix every problem. So, if I can do that then things will work out.”  

Indeed, things could work out for Jones, who certainly has aspirations to lead the Patriots this fall. But as many believe (or think?), we’ll gain a better understanding of how Jones operates the offense when the team competes later this summer in a trio of preseason games, along with a pair of joint practices with the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles

“Every day is a new day,” said Jones. “I’m going to have bad days and I’m going to have good days, and we’re all going to get better together. And when I’m in there, I’m going to do what I’m supposed to do, and everyone else is going to do what they’re supposed to do.”

Bill Belichick: We All Have A Long Way To Go

Bill Belichick says his focus heading into his team’s training camp this week is on football. (PHOTO COURTESY: CREDIT: EPA/JOHN CETRINO/People.com)

By Matt Noonan

Ahead of his team’s first training camp of the 2021 NFL season, New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick met with the media this morning to discuss his team’s upcoming practices.

And as expected, the tenured coach did not have much to say.

“We all have a long way to go,” said Belichick.

Indeed, Belichick and the Patriots “have a long way to go” — the team produced just seven wins last season and missed the postseason for the first time since 2008. But many believe this year’s squad, specifically the defense, should be much better, thanks to some key offseason acquisitions that should help the Patriots contend for the top spot in the AFC East with the Buffalo Bills and Miami Dolphins.

But as Belichick explained — and yes, it has been reported over the past few days (and weeks) — some members of the Patriots won’t be on the field tomorrow when camp begins at 9:45 a.m. And one of those players is cornerback Stephon Gilmore, who was nowhere to be found during the team’s mandatory minicamp.

Gilmore, who signed a five-year, $65 million contract in 2017, wants a new deal. “I just want what I’m worth, however that plays out,” he said to Josina Anderson earlier this month.

Belichick didn’t budge when pressed about Gilmore’s contract. “I’m not going to talk about contracts and personal situations,” he said.

How Gilmore’s contract situation will play out remains a mystery, but for now, Belichick and his team will keep their focus on football going forward.

“From this point on, (I’m) focused on football and trying to get our team ready to go,” he said.

The team’s first practice will be open to the public — fans will also be able to see the team workout on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at Gillette Stadium.

Fans can learn more about the team’s upcoming training camp by visiting the Patriots’ website.

New England will compete three times next month, including once at home when they open their preseason slate against the Washington Football Team on Thursday, August 12 with kickoff scheduled for 7:30 p.m.

New Patriots Training Camp: Will Cam Newton Win The Starting Job?

Cam Newton enters the New England Patriots’ 2021 training camp as the favorite to start at quarterback. (PHOTO COURTESY: AP Photo/Steven Senne, Pool)

By Matt Noonan

A brand new season of New England Patriots football is quickly approaching — are you ready for some football?

I am — I have been counting the days, weeks, and months since the Patriots concluded their 2020 campaign with a two-touchdown victory over the New York Jets in January at Gillette Stadium.

Like many, I am excited to see how some of the team’s offseason signings mesh with members of last year’s squad, including quarterback Cam Newton, who will enter the team’s 2021 training camp on Wednesday, July 28 as the favorite to be spotted under center in week one against the Miami Dolphins.

Newton did not have a great 2020 season — I think many know that or are aware of how he performed last fall. But coach Bill Belichick has acquired some solid pieces for the offense over the past few months, including tight ends Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith. Both players should certainly help Newton, as well as the offense, perform even better than they did last season — New England won just seven games in 2020 but had a chance to squeak out a few more victories had things gone their way down the stretch, especially against the Buffalo Bills in New York.

With a full year under his belt, along with some offseason practices (and meetings, of course), Newton enters training camp more prepared than he was last year, however, he certainly will be challenged by Mac Jones, who the Patriots selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft in April.

Like Newton, Jones competed in the Southeastern Conference (SEC) — Jones played at Alabama while Newton competed at Auburn — and should be ready to take the reigns from the league’s most valuable player in 2015.

Jones led the Crimson Tide to a national championship in January — Alabama rolled past Ohio State, 52-24, in the College Football Playoff National Championship contest, which was held in Miami Gardens, Florida — and recorded career-highs in completions (311), passing yards (4,500), and touchdowns (41). And despite seeing limited action in 2018 and 2019, Jones should be able to translate his junior season’s success to the NFL this summer and fall.

Jones certainly has what it takes to challenge Newton for the starting quarterback spot — I am unsure if Jarrett Stidham is ready to slide up the depth chart considering he will begin his team’s camp Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list.

Selected in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft, Stidham has competed in eight games since becoming a member of the Patriots organization, including five contests last season. The former Auburn signal-caller completed 22 of 44 passes for a career and season-high 250 yards and two touchdowns. He did, however, throw three interceptions compared to one in 2019.

Numerous talking heads, along with various analysts believe Mac Jones could be the starter in the opening week, but it will all depend on how he handles himself during in-game situations. As Patriots.com’s Mike Dussault explains, “Every throw of 11-on-11 work will be dissected ad nauseam, but the bottom line is whether or not Jones or Stidham do enough to dethrone Newton, and can Newton hold them off by taking significant strides in his second year in the offense.”

For now, my bet is Cam Newton will be the starter in the opening week, but I do think Patriots fans will see Mac Jones under center at some point this fall — maybe against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in week four? I am not sure if week four is when Jones will be thrusted into the lineup, but we’ll certainly learn more about his readiness when the Patriots scrimmage the New York Giants and Philadelphia Eagles later this summer. Those inter-squad practices will help us identify which quarterback(s) is ready to lead the hometown team to hopefully a postseason appearance next January.

Noontime’s ‘What If’ NFL Playoff Predictions (Week 10)

Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints are currently the top team in the NFC. (PHOTO COURTESY: NOLA.com/AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

By Matt Noonan

Another week of the National Football League (NFL) is set to kickoff this evening – are you ready for some football?

Whether you’re eager to watch tonight’s contest between the Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans or Sunday’s bounce back win for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it is time to dish out our second-straight ‘What If‘ NFL Playoff Predictions for the tenth week of the 2020 season.

Like last week, I will list the current postseason teams in order for both conference, as well as highlight the best opening round matchup (in my opinion!), along with who will win their respective conference crown and yes, the Super Bowl!

Let me know what you think – send me a tweet to @NoontimeSports or an email to MattNoonan@noontimesports.com.

Who’s in the AFC Playoffs?

  1. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-0)
  2. Kansas City Chiefs (8-1)
  3. Buffalo Bills (7-2)
  4. Tennessee Titans (6-2)
  5. Baltimore Ravens (6-2)
  6. Las Vegas Raiders (5-3)
  7. Miami Dolphins (5-3)

Who’s in the NFC Playoffs?

  1. New Orleans Saints (6-2)
  2. Seattle Seahawks (6-2)
  3. Green Bay Packers (6-2)
  4. Philadelphia Eagles (3-4-1)
  5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-3)
  6. Arizona Cardinals (5-3)
  7. Los Angeles Rams (5-3)

Most intriguing first-round matchup:

  • Miami Dolphins at Kansas City Chiefs: The Dolphins are trending in the right direction while it appears as if the Chiefs are sleepwalking their way to victory. Sure, this match-up may not occur once the postseason begins, but I would love to see this Dolphins defense against Patrick Mahomes. Most likely, the Chiefs would prevail, but no one should count out these Dolphins, which have scored some impressive wins over the past few weeks.
  • Green Bay Packers vs. Arizona Cardinals: These two teams have met previously in the postseason, but who wouldn’t want to watch Kyler Murray face-off with Aaron Rodgers? Pending how the rest of the season goes, this matchup could occur, but again, who knows? Both Murray and Rodgers have been players to watch this season, so you know it would be a game every football fan would want to watch next January.

AFC Championship Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Like last week, this is my AFC Championship prediction, but maybe the Baltimore Ravens, Las Vegas Raiders or Miami Dolphins replace one of these two teams listed above? I could also see the Tennessee Titans in the championship game for the second-straight season, but in the end, the Chiefs are the defending champions and will beat the Steelers by a field goal, not a touchdown. PREDICTION: Kansas City over Pittsburgh

NFC Championship Prediction: Green Bay Packers vs. New Orleans Saints: The New Orleans Saints are the best team in the NFC – sorry, Seattle Seahawks fans, but your defense needs to improve its defense immediately. Additionally, I don’t think Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will go on a deep postseason run – maybe they lose in the opening round to the Philadelphia Eagles in the opening round? – but this matchup would feature two of the best quarterbacks in the game. And in the end, the Saints offense will make a few more plays to beat the Packers and celebrate a conference championship on their home field. PREDICTION: New Orleans over Green Bay

Super Bowl Prediction: Kansas City Chiefs vs. New Orleans Saints: This has the potential for an offensive showcase, but which defense will not break? My answer: the Saints! PREDICTION: New Orleans over Kansas City

San Francisco’s Kyle Juszczyk Receives Praise From Bill Belichick

Kyle Juszczyk will be a player to watch on Sunday against the New England Patriots. (PHOTO COURTESY: Twitter)

By Matt Noonan

As many New England football fans know, Bill Belichick has a soft spot for certain positions and players, both past and present, including opposing members of teams his New England Patriots meet on a weekly basis.

When asked about a certain member of the San Francisco 49ers, who will be competing against the Patriots this weekend, Belichick responded with some positive and kind words about their fullback, Kyle Juszczyk, who played locally at Harvard University before being selected by the Baltimore Ravens in the fourth round of the 2013 National Football League (NFL) Draft.

Since becoming a professional football player, the former Crimson has recorded 186 catches for 1,722 yards and eight touchdowns while rushing for 111 yards on 28 carries and two scores in 112 contests. His best season as a pro occurred in 2015 when he hauled in a career-best 41 receptions for 321 yards and four touchdowns. He also moved the sticks 17 times.

While Juszczyk may not receive the same attention or recognition as his other teammates do like quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo or tight end George Kittle, he is certainly someone to watch every week, according to Belichick, who considers him a “versatile player,” but also one of the best fullbacks in the league.

“When he was with the Ravens, they used him in a lot of different ways and then San Francisco signed him to a big contract for a fullback,” Belichick said when addressing the media via Zoom this morning. “(He) certainly is the highest paid player at his position by quite a bit if I remember correctly, and he continues be used in a variety of ways.”

Belichick would continue by highlighting the various personnel the 49ers use when he is in the game, including 11, 12 and 21 personnel, before adding that the 49ers “use the fullback more than any other team in the league.”

“He’s been very productive for them,” said Belichick.

Through six games this season, Juszczyk has caught six of ten targets for 75 yards while rushing for 18 yards on three carries and one score. He is averaging close to two targets per game and one catch per contest while averaging 12.0 yards per reception.

Juszczyk will be the third Harvard alum Belichick and the Patriots will face this season – New England defeated Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Miami Dolphins in the opening week by a score of 21-11 before falling to Tyler Ott and the Seattle Seahawks in week two.