The Patriots were back in Foxboro on Monday after an impressive 43-0 win over the Dolphins that gave them their first divisional win of the new season. Despite the lopsided affair, there were plenty of developments to be monitored coming out of the game, headlined by left tackle Isaiah Wynn’s health and the effect his absence could have on the depth at the position.
There was no practice as the team reviewed the film and prepared to turn the page to the New York Jets. Bill Belichick held an early afternoon press conference while players were available later in the locker room.
Here’s an update on everything and some key contributors highlighted by the coach.
Replacement Tackles Solid in Debut, Wynn update
Per Ian Rapoport, Isaiah Wynn’s toe will be evaluated today as he’ll have an MRI. The fear is that it’s a turf toe injury, which can greatly vary in severity and length of time it keeps a player out.
New tackles Marshall Newhouse and Korey Cunningham did a pretty good job filling in considering neither were on the team in training camp, but the drop off from Wynn and Marcus Cannon was apparent. Newhouse started on the right side, but then went to the left when Wynn got hurt early in the first quarter.
Bill Belichick pointed out that spending time in Buffalo with Brian Daboll helped Newhouse get up to speed quickly in New England’s similar offense.
“Marshall, although he's only been here for a few days, he came from the Buffalo system where [Brian] Daboll is, and I think a lot of the terminology, although maybe not exactly the same, is close and some of the same concepts, maybe different words or a different way that it's called,” explained Belichick. “But the concepts and a lot of things that they do and we do are obviously the same, based on the background and carryover from Brian's system, and to what we do.”
As for Cunningham, who played left tackle with the Cardinals last season, he actually had more experience at right tackle this summer.
“Korey played right tackle all through preseason for Arizona,” said Belichick. “He did play some left tackle last year, but this year he played on the right side, and they had another rookie who played on the left side. So he's been mostly on the right side, certainly in his most recent exposures, so that's kind of why we have him over there.”
Belichick was happy with both player’s performances in Miami and looks forward to getting more practice time with them.
“They definitely got put to the test there and held up OK,” said Belichick. “Minimal number of major errors and penalties and things like that. It wasn't perfect by any stretch, but no real disasters, so hopefully we can build on last week, or in Korey's case the last couple weeks, and the practice and walkthroughs and time we spent here with now some game experience, where of course all of that happens at a different speed, a different tempo and it's not quite the way it's drawn up in the playbook, it's real football. So just take it one day at a time, just keep grinding away and see how it goes.”
Belichick Presser Points
Three standouts that I noted in today’s film review were Jamie Collins, Adam Butler and Danny Shelton. All garnered praise from the head coach on his day-after conference call with the media, starting with Collins, who had two interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
“Jamie's a very special player,” said Belichick. “He's very smart, instinctive. He's got a great nose for the ball in the passing game and in the running game. He's got the physical skills to play at the end of the line and off the line, to blitz, to play in coverage, play against the run and play against the pass. So we're able to do different things with him and he's been productive and effective in all of them.”
One of the bigger surprises this season has been the emergence of Danny Shelton, who struggled to find his niche in his first year with the team. But after re-signing with the team late in the free agency period, Shelton has emerged with newfound quickness and the kind of strength that made him a first-round pick.
Belichick felt he was better able to put Shelton in position to succeed this season.
“This year, going into the year was really a lot better I think for me and for him, so I have a better feeling for what his style of play is and what things I think we can really take advantage of in the defense,” Belichick told reporters. “I'm not sure that we did a great job of that last year, but he's very good at some things, and we'll try to get him to do those as much as we can.”
Where’s Shelton improved most? Everywhere, according to the coach.
“Run defense, pass defense, read blocking schemes, and just overall awareness and communication on the defensive front, which there's a decent amount of,” said Belichick. “So I like having him on the team, and I think his role and his understanding, and the confidence he has in the defense and the confidence the defense has in him, it's definitely taken a couple steps forward.”
Adam Butler was primarily used as a sub rusher in his first two seasons after making the team as an undrafted rookie in 2017 out of Vanderbilt. After getting five sacks in his first two seasons, he already has two in 2019.
“We have a ton of confidence in Adam,” said Belichick. “He played in all defensive situations yesterday – our base, our nickel packages, our dime packages. He's another very smart player that really understands how to attack protections and do the right thing based on how the line's blocking him on passing plays and what we have called. He has good length over the ball and good length to play defensive end in the running game, but he plays very hard, hustles, gets the plays on second effort, extra effort. He's a very smart, instinctive player.”
Locker Room Sound Bites
Marshall Newhouse on what it’s like going from one tackle spot to the other.
“It’s like wiping with the other hand.”