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Free agency frenzy is slowly dying down a bit

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Post time 2019-07-11 15:39:29 | Show all posts |Read mode
— now is New England’s time to strike."/Disney/Graphic: Pats PulpitIn 1936 White John Hannah Jerseys , American author Munro Leaf wrote The Story of Ferdinand. The title character, a young bull living in the Spanish countryside, was different from the other bulls: he didn’t join the frenzy when the recruiters for the bullfight in Madrid came to the farm and instead kept sitting under a cork tree watching the spectacle from afar. Ferdinand kept minding his own business while the rest was competing for attention.Bill Belichick is Ferdinand.The story is the same every year: the rest of the NFL is scrambling to get the biggest names to enter the open market, while Belichick and his New England Patriots are sitting back. Seemingly inactive, they let teams outbid themselves for the upper echelon of players while they make minor moves: a re-signing here, a low-level trade there. Last year was a perfect example for this approach, that once again seems to be on display in 2019.New England lost Nate Solder, Dion Lewis, Danny Amendola and Malcolm Butler during the legal tampering period, while bringing special teamer Nate Ebner (coming off a torn ACL) and rotational running back Rex Burkhead back into the fold. The four former starters, meanwhile, contributed to the Patriots getting the maximum of four compensatory draft picks the following year — two of which in the third round.Only when the first wave of free agency started to die down a bit did the Patriots pick up speed. They signed Adrian Clayborn, and swung trades for Jason McCourty, Danny Shelton and Cordarrelle Patterson. And while New England did not acquire the same big names like other teams, they made cost-effective moves to bolster their roster’s depth by bringing in seasoned players to give them flexibility heading into draft season.So far this year, it appears as if the Patriots — who, by the way, won the Super Bowl last year despite all their big-name departures — are taking the same route down the free agency rabbit hole. The club’s biggest players to enter the market, defensive edge Trey Flowers and starting left tackle Trent Brown, were both lost on day one of the NFL’s legal tampering period. Belichick, in true Ferdinandian fashion John Hannah Jerseys 2019 , sat back and waited out the storm.As colleague Alec Shane wrote yesterday in his story Why do Patriots fans worry during free agency? New England fans “have absolutely no excuse for being upset over the lack of big moves the Patriots have made during these first few days of Free Agency.” After all, it is the same approach, discipline and value-based belief system that has helped the club stay on top of the mountain that is the NFL for the past two decades.Of course, this also means that the Patriots have now entered crunch time when it comes to their involvement. With the first wave of free agency over, now is the phase during which Belichick and company throw their proverbial hat into the ring. The first sign of this has already been on display: New England signed a total of five players on Thursday in Bruce Ellington, Maurice Harris, Terrence Brooks, Mike Pennel and Matt LaCosse.Slowly but steadily, they are looking for the high-value players: the Jason McCourtys, the Lawrence Guys, the Trent Browns — men who became available for one reason or the other and entered New England with little expectation before turning into starting-caliber players. For the first three-and-a-half days, the Patriots sat back and let other teams dictate prices and headlines but make no mistake: they knew their time would come.In the story of Ferdinand the Bull, the other bulls are exhausting themselves trying to impress their judges. The main protagonist, however, does no such thing — but when he enters the arena, frantically running around after getting stung by a bee, he shows who is the strongest and most impressive of all the bulls; who is the one worthy of being praised for his outstanding performance in the spotlight.Belichick, of course, enters the arena a bit differently than Ferdinand — more slowly, at least most of the times — but the impact should still basically be the same. He swings trades, signs under-the-radar players like ones already acquired on Thursday White Irving Fryar Jerseys , and shows once again that financial restraint is a virtue when it comes to doing business in the NFL. In short: 2019 looks like another classic Patriots year. Losing consecutive games for the first time exposed several flaws with the Chicago Bears.Although coach Matt Nagy sees no easy fix after a 38-31 loss to the New England Patriots, he believes solutions are within reach for problems with Mitchell Trubisky's passing, a fading pass rush, and a feeble running attack."Numbers don't matter, we've got to get the wins, and we've lost two in a row now," Nagy said Monday at Halas Hall. "I've also said that adversity strikes and you've got to be able to be prepared to have little peaks and valleys."We're in a valley right now. So we've got to get out of the valley."The Bears (3-3) had 18 sacks in their first four games and led the league. They've had one for the past two games since linebacker Khalil Mack suffered an ankle injury.Nagy said every pass rusher has to find ways to pressure the quarterback, not just Mack."We say it on the offensive line — you have to win your one-on-one battle," Nagy said. "Defense? Same thing. You get home."It doesn't mean you always get a sack or you always tip the ball, but you're affecting the quarterback and you're breaking down that green grass and he sees color when he throws. And that's what we need more of."Nagy isn't sure where Mack is health-wise in terms of percentage, but acknowledged Mack would have been rushing the passer more than he did Sunday if he were closer to 100 percent.In each of the past two games, Mack had one tackle, and Sunday the Bears put Mack in pass coverage much of the time. They'll have to keep gauging his availability."We all know that he's not 100 percent, but where are you at?" Nagy said. "That's where we trust him, he trusts us and then we go ahead with the action plan and that's what we ended up doing. It's not an easy decision or process."Offensively, quarterback Mitchell Trubisky's wildness problems surfaced again against New England.Even worse were Trubisky's decisions to throw into coverage twice in the end zone. The Patriots dropped both easy interceptions, and he had two interceptions in the game."He played a game better than most people think he played," Nagy said. "There were some throws now that he missed in the later part of the game — see, early in the game, there are some throws that look like he missed them, but he missed them because the guy isn't open and it's more of a throwaway."Trubisky went 26 for 50 for 333 yards with two touchdowns. At halftime Irving Fryar Jerseys 2019 , he was just 8 for 20 for 92 yards. Twice Trubisky should have been picked off, but the ball was dropped, and one of those came on a tackle-eligible play when Nagy said Trubisky should have known better than to pass."You can't do that, right?" Nagy said. "He knows that... That's a critical error that you cannot do. There's no excuses for it. He knows it."The running game has been elusive to pin down for the Bears, who in the past counted this as a strong asset.Jordan Howard has 311 yards on 90 attempts. As a team, the Bears have 182 attempts for 784 yards, but Trubisky has accounted for 245 yards largely through scrambles."The easy answer is that, again, learning this offense as a whole, all of us together and kind of going through this deal, the run game, trying to figure out the identity of who we are, has taken a little bit longer than the pass game," Nagy said."And so what we're going to do — that's why we're coaches — is figure out who we are, what we do best and we talk about it."Howard is averaging 3.5 yards a carry and has had only one game with more than 15 carries. He averaged 17.1 carries a game his first two seasons."It doesn't mean that you change the pass-run ratio or anything like that, but when you do run, your yards per carry has to be better," Nagy said.


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