Patriots prepare to face Fitzpatrick

Patriots prepare to face Fitzpatrick

By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
Follow @sherrodbcsn
FOXBORO A Harvard graduate making a name for himself comes as a shock to uh nobody, really.

But when you're talking about the NFL and its glamorpretty boy position -- quarterback -- it's clear that Buffalo Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick and his Crimson pedigree don't exactly come to mind.

It doesn't matter.

Fitzpatrick's game has said more than enough about his place among this season's quarterbacks.

And although the NFL season is still young, Fitzpatrick's play has been one of the early feel-good stories of the season.

If he has his way, it'll only get better on Sunday when the Bills host the New England Patriots in a battle of AFC East powers -- powers? Buffalo? Sounds weird, I know.

Fitzpatrick, in his sixth season with his third different team, is living the dream, folks.

He comes into Sunday's game with a 7:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio, an impressive start that is only matched by some dude named Tom Brady.

Fitzpatrick has completed more than 63 percent of his passes and comes into Sunday's game having led the Bills to scoring drives in all five of their possessions in the second half of their 38-35 come-from-behind win over the Oakland Raiders.

Buffalo's early success has certainly fueled the interest level of those in Fitzpatrick, who threw for 3,000 yards with 23 touchdowns to 15 picks a year ago for the Bills.

Nice numbers, right?

When it came to the Bills, the only numbers that folks really cared about was four -- as in, the number of wins they had all season.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick had seen enough from the 28-year-old last season to know he's a pretty good quarterback.

"He's accurate, he gets rid of the ball quickly and he's smart," Belichick said. "He's doing a good job and so are all the other 10 guys that are out there."

Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty was impressed with Fitzpatrick last season, especially after he put a major scare in the Pats before New England eventually squeaked out a 38-30 win.

"He's better this year, but I felt he made a lot of really good plays last year, too," McCourty said. "I think he's just steady improving his game."

Patriots defensive end Shaun Ellis was with the New York Jets last season, so he, too, is familiar with Fitzpatrick.

Even though the Jets drubbed the Bills 38-14 -- that was the week after New England's eight-point win -- Ellis recalls how Fitzpatrick continued to battle, despite the score getting out of hand.

And like Belichick and McCourty, one of the first words Ellis used to describe Fitzpatrick was, 'smart.'

"He went to Harvard, right?" Ellis said. "So you know he's a pretty smart guy. He understands his offense, his keys, where to go with the ball and they do a great job of getting open, his receivers."

And with a comeback win already under his belt this season, Ellis sees him picking up where he left off a year ago.

"He's one of those quarterbacks, when you're playing against, you know he's going to make a lot of plays. He's heady, tough and he's smart. For us, we have to go in with our game plan, try to execute and make plays."

And with most up-and-coming quarterbacks, there's always the inevitable comparisons.

The way Ellis sees it, Fitzpatrick is an original.

"He has his own style," Ellis said. "With that being said, it's good to have your own style. You're only compared to yourself. With this guy, he's going to compete for 60 minutes, regardless of how the game is going. We have to be ready to fight the whole way."

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached at sblakely@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn.

Cyrus Jones: 'I'll never take credit for something I don't feel I contributed to'

Cyrus Jones: 'I'll never take credit for something I don't feel I contributed to'

It was a tough rookie season for Cyrus Jones after being selected by the New England Patriots in the second round of the the 2016 NFL Draft.

Despite struggling in the return game all season and being inactive for the playoffs, Jones will forever the labeled as a "Super Bowl Champion" after his team's victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.

But you won't hear Jones bragging about the victory.

"I'll never take credit for something I don't feel I contributed to," Jones told Childs Walker of the The Baltimore Sun. "I was part of the team, but I didn't feel a part of it."

The 23-year-old rookie played in 10 games for the Patriots, seeing 147 snaps on defense. But his struggles in the return game were a talking point for most of the season after he came in with such high expectations as a returner out of Alabama. 

"Honestly, it was hell for me," he explained. "That's the only way I can describe it. I didn't feel I deserved to be part of anything that was happening with the team. I felt embarrassed that these people probably thought they wasted a pick on me."

Jones has already turned the page on his rookie season saying, there's "no such thing as an offseason" because he "didn't earn it."

Robert Kraft profiled on this week's 'Real Sports' on HBO

Robert Kraft profiled on this week's 'Real Sports' on HBO

Robert Kraft is a bit taken aback when he walks into a room at Gillette Stadium and sees the Patriots' five Lombardi trophies lined up.

"Wow. That's the first time I've seen five trophies there," he tells Andrea Kremer on HBO's "Real Sports" in a interview that will air as part of this week's episode Tuesday at 10 p.m.

"A lot of people have their big dreams and get knocked down and don't have things go their way," Kraft says, "And you never give up hope and you really just hold on to it. Hard work and perserverance. You just keep getting up and getting up and then you get that breakthrough. I think that's what happened in overtime down in Houston. And that's lessons in life that are good for anyone." 

Here's an excerpt: