O'Brien on Patriots defense since Week 3: 'I don't know how much better they can get'

O'Brien on Patriots defense since Week 3: 'I don't know how much better they can get'

FOXBORO -- The Patriots shut out the Texans in their Week 3 matchup earlier this season, 27-0, and unfortunately for Houston it seems as though Bill Belichick's defense has improved since then.

Roles have been solidified. Communication has improved. The coaching staff has become more comfortable with the capabilities its personnel. 

Texans coach Bill O'Brien knows he will have his work cut out for him, though he admitted on a conference call that because the Patriots were so good the first time around it would be hard to say just how exactly they've gotten better. 

"I mean, obviously, they shut us out back then," he said. "I don't know how much better they can get than that against us. I mean, they shut us out."

On Saturday, O'Brien won't have to worry about Jamie Collins -- who led the Patriots in tackles in Week 3 and intercepted a pass -- but he will be forced to deal with Dont'a Hightower, who was out with a knee injury for the first meeting between the two teams.

"I would say that the difference is, I don't think Hightower played against us the first game, and obviously Jaime Collins was in there," O'Brien said. "Now you've got [Elandon] Roberts in there. You've got Hightower [who's] going to be in there.

"I think that there are a lot of very good players on their defense. They're very well coached, they're physical. They're good tacklers. They change from week to week, they give you a lot of different things to think about. What we see on paper right now may not be what we see on Saturday night. We've gotta understand that and our ability to follow our own rules, follow the rules of our offense." 

The Patriots have been busy this week calling the Texans the No. 1 defense in the league -- and they are based on yards allowed -- but the Patriots defense has a claim on that title as well since no one in the NFL has allowed fewer points.

 "Matt [Patricia] and Bill those guys do a great job," O'Brien said. "They have a lot of good players."

And they might be even better than the group that embarrassed the Texans back in September.

Patriots release OL Chase Farris with non-football injury designation


Patriots release OL Chase Farris with non-football injury designation

The Patriots made a move on Thursday that opened up a roster spot exactly one week before the start of training camp practices. 

The team announced that it waived offensive lineman Chase Farris. It did so with a "non-football injury" designation. Farris spent most of last season on the Patriots practice squad after catching on with New England's 10-man unit in October. The former Ohio State product was a reserve option on the interior for Bill Belichick and Dante Scarnecchia. 

With Farris now out of the mix, the Patriots have 89 players on their roster and can add one more before camp begins.

Interior offensive linemen on the Patriots roster now include David Andrews, Shaq Mason, Joe Thuney, Ted Karras, Jamil Douglas and James Ferentz. A handful of rookies -- including undrafted rookies Cole Croston and Jason King -- could also see work inside.

Rookies will report to camp on July 24, and veterans will do the same by July 26. On July 27, training camp practice will be held for the first time on the fields behind Gillette Stadium. The Patriots will practice for four consecutive days at 9 a.m. to kick off camp. All practices will be free and open to the public. 

NFL scout on Garoppolo: 'Bill thinks he's got the next great one'

NFL scout on Garoppolo: 'Bill thinks he's got the next great one'

Covering the NFL for almost 20 years allows you to make relationships with a bunch of people. So I thought I'd tap into some of those people as we gear up for New England Patriots training camp for a series of pieces about topics we've been kicking around.


The panel consists of one former Pats player still in the game, two scouts of AFC teams, one front-office member in the AFC, and one NFC scout. They all requested anonymity for obvious reasons (as the player said, "hey, I might want to end up back there!") I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I had talking to these guys.

Today's topic: Why is Jimmy Garoppolo still here?

Scout 1 (AFC) -- "He's Bill Belichick. He doesn't give a [damn] about what you, or me or anyone else thinks. I know teams called about Garoppolo. I don't believe they were ever given a realistic price. Why? To me, the answer is simple: Bill thinks he's got the next great one. I watched his snaps. I think he can be that. [Garoppolo] has a great base, and his mechanics are close enough to [Brady] that you appreciate his willingness to learn and the coaching he's gotten there."

Scout 2 (AFC) -- "I absolutely loved the kid coming out of college. When we interviewed him, [it was obvious] he's got those qualities you want in a QB, as a leader. I begged our guys to take him at the end of the first round. That's how good I thought he was then. He's a hell of a lot better now. The job Bill and [offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels] have done with him, the work he clearly has put in, wrap all that up and it makes all the sense in the world to keep him. They can win with him. That's all you need to know -- in my opinion -- as to why they kept him. The moment that Brady guy starts to show cracks, the next guy is in already there, already knows the locker room, the system, the environment. I think it's genius."

Former Pats player -- "I played against him every day in practice. He's all that." Why? "He can make all the throws. He can process all the information. He is a gamer. He can slow it down. He can spin it. I'm going tell you this, if he had gotten traded to Cleveland, they're a borderline playoff team. I really believe that."

Scout 3 (NFC) -- "I know teams called and got nowhere. Easy conclusion is they see Garoppolo as the next QB. But I think it could be as simple as the value there. He's the player one snap away. Weigh that against the third guy (Jacoby Brissett) or some vet and maybe it was just too wide a gap to risk it. Keep him. See how the year plays out and then decide, do we want to franchise him? Ink him to some kind of bridge deal? Or let him go off into free agency?"

Front Office (AFC) -- "Bill knows something we don't. That's the way I read it. Whether it's Brady's future, or what they didn't see in Brissett, or something about the makeup of Garoppolo, he just couldn't part company with him. I can't say as I blame him. Finding one good QB in this league is hard enough. Two? Maybe only a handful of teams in the league can say they have that. Plus, with Bill, he's not worried about coaching for his job. He can think big picture -- two, three, four years down the line. That's not something too many other coaches/front offices in this environment get. He can afford to pass on a handful of draft picks to keep a player he really likes."