New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick takes questions from reporters before an NFL football practice, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) and head coach Bill Belichick, right, speak during an NFL football practice, Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2019, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)
Cleveland Browns' Christian Kirksey (58) celebrates with Myles Garrett (95) after Garrett sacked New York Jets' quarterback Luke Falk (8) during the second half of an NFL football game Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)
New York Jets head coach Adam Gase watches his team play during the first half of an NFL football game against the Cleveland Browns, Monday, Sept. 16, 2019, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Bill Kostroun)
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) When the New York Jets called New England earlier this month to inquire about trading for wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, it was a long shot considering Bill Belichick hadn't once traded during his Patriots coaching tenure with the team he infamously resigned from after one day as head coach in 2000.
But Jets coach Adam Gase recalls New York general manager Joe Douglas being optimistic about the prospect in the aftermath of New England signing four-time All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown.
Thomas, who played under Gase when he was offensive coordinator in Denver in 2013 and `14, was a perfect fit for an offense the first-year Jets coach felt needed a boost after a season-opening loss to Buffalo.
''We were trying to figure out, `How could we go about this?''' Gase recalled. ''I think to Joe's credit, he was like, `I'm just going to call him and the worst they could say is no.' And when they said, `Let's talk,' then those guys worked it out.''
Belichick acknowledged that the stars aligned perfectly to make a rare deal between the AFC East foes possible.
''I would say, a certain period of time when there's no way this transaction would've happened,'' Belichick said. ''They're not the easiest trades to make, but, you know, if the trade is good for both teams and ultimately what we're trying to do is improve our team.''
It may be the only bit of kindness Belichick shows New York (0-2) when it arrives at Gillette Stadium for Sunday's matchup.
The Patriots (2-0) ran through Pittsburgh and Miami in their first two games, outscoring them 76-3 in a pair of routs .
Now they face a Jets team against which they have won six straight games and eight consecutive regular-season games in New England. The Jets beat the Patriots in Foxborough in the playoffs in the 2010 season, but haven't won a regular-season game there since 2008.
The Jets opened as an 18-point underdog. The line quickly grew to 23 by early in the week.
Asked this week if he's ever gone into a game with his opponent favored by that much, Gase smiled.
''Oh, I'm sure,'' Gase said. ''I was in Detroit five years.''
Some things to know as the two AFC East rivals square off in the first of two meetings this season:
Luke Falk will make his first NFL start after making his debut last Monday night against Cleveland.
The 24-year-old quarterback was on the practice squad a week ago, but was promoted to the active roster a few hours before the game. That was because Sam Darnold is recovering from mononucleosis . Trevor Siemian started against the Browns, but is now out for the season after injuring ankle ligaments. Falk went 20 of 25 for 198 yards after replacing Siemian.
Gase chose to stick with Falk as the starter - until Darnold returns in a few weeks. Falk was with Gase last season in Miami.
''He's very confident in his abilities,'' Gase said of Falk. ''He's confident in his intelligence, and he's able to take things from the classroom with no reps and go out and execute. Obviously, being in the system for two years now, he has a really good grasp of it.''
The Patriots are the only team in the NFL yet to give up a TD and are just the fourth team in the Super Bowl era to allow three points or fewer through their first two games. The previous one was 1981 Buffalo Bills.
ON THE CORNER
Trumaine Johnson entered the season as the Jets' No. 1 cornerback. He opened the team's second game on the sideline - and stayed there most of the game.
Johnson, who signed a five-year, $72.5 million deal last year, was replaced in the lineup by Nate Hairston. And, it appears that could be the case against the Patriots.
''It just hasn't worked out as well as we need it to,'' Gase said of Johnson's benching. ''The good thing is we've got a long ways to go.''
Johnson didn't play until late in the fourth quarter when Hairston dealt with cramps. Johnson acknowledged after the game against the Browns and again during the week that he was ''upset'' by the team's decision. He insisted, though, he just wants to do what's best for the team to help them win.
''When my number's called,'' Johnson said, ''I'll be ready to play.''
New England's offensive line took another hit this week when starting left tackle Isaiah Wynn was placed on injured reserve .
Wynn hurt a foot during the Patriots' 43-0 win at Miami. This is the second straight season Wynn has been placed on IR. A preseason Achilles tendon injury caused him to miss his entire rookie season in 2018.
It comes after starting center David Andrews went on IR before the season opener with blood clots in his lungs. Starting right tackle Marcus Cannon also sat out last week after injuring his shoulder in the win over Pittsburgh.
Marshall Newhouse, who was signed last week, started in Cannon's place against Miami. He is likely to get nod this week if Cannon remains out.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Blake Jarwin was targeted just once in Week 7, but he made it count, catching that one target for a one-yard touchdown. Jarwin continues to play behind starter Jason Witten and won't have any predictable fantasy value unless Witten is forced to miss time. Even then, he won't be a high-upside play by any means.
Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten caught all four of his targets in Week 7, gaining 33 yards. Witten had yet another very typical Jason Witten game, making a handful of catches and picking up just a few yards with each one. He'll continue to be a low-floor, low-ceiling depth option when the Cowboys return from their bye after Week 8.
The Dallas Cowboys Defense played well in a Week 7 win over the division rival Philadelphia Eagles. They allowed just 10 points, recovering three fumbles and securing one interception. They were also able to sack Carson Wentz three times. The Cowboys ended up winning a blowout in what was expected to be a much closer game. Dallas goes into their bye week in Week 8, but should come out as one of the better fantasy defensive units after the bye.
Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher had a big game in a Week 7 win. He knocked through all four of his extra points and made his three field goal attempts too. He knocked through a 63-yard boot and has proven to be one of the more consistent kicking options while also having a big enough leg to make the long kicks. He's one of the better fantasy options at an unpredictable position.
Dallas Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott accounted for two touchdowns in Week 7. He completed 21 of his 27 passes, gaining 239 yards and throwing one touchdown and one interception. He added five carries, adding 30 yards and another touchdown. Prescott's passing score was a one-yard toss to Blake Jarwin, and his rushing score came on an eight-yard run in the fourth quarter. It was an overall productive day for Prescott, although the Dallas running game was really mostly in charge. The Cowboys go into their bye week comfortably in first place in the NFC East.
Dallas Cowboys rookie running back Tony Pollard notched eight carries in a Week 7 blowout win over the division rival Philadelphia Eagles. Pollard's eight carries were well behind starter Ezekiel Elliott's 22, but he was still able to pick up 28 yards. Pollard has shown well while on the field, but he won't be able to do much as long as Elliott is around. Pollard has league-winning upside if something were to force Elliott to miss time, but even in blowout wins, Pollard's value is severely limited by his place on the depth chart.
Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott ran the ball 22 times for 111 yards and a touchdown in Week 7, adding six catches for 36 more yards. Elliott was most of the Cowboys offense in this one, and was more than what they needed against a struggling Eagles team. Elliott ceded eight carries to rookie Tony Pollard once the game was firmly in hand, but he remains one of the highest-volume backs in the league and will continue to be an easy RB1 play every time he takes the field.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper caught all five of his targets in Week 7, gaining 106 yards. Cooper wasn't even a sure thing to start in this one, but he came down with every ball thrown his way and went over 100 yards in a game the Dallas offense dominated. He should be even healthier after the Cowboys Week 8 bye, and will return as a surefire WR1.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Tavon Austin missed his lone passing game target in Week 7, but he was given a single carry and took it in 20 yards for a touchdown. Austin has defense-burning speed, but little else to offer as a football player. That means some plays will set him loose on the field but there will never be a predictable enough matchup to determine his value. He's not a fantasy option despite the single impressive play on Sunday Night Football this week.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Michael Gallup only came up with three catches on his four targets in Week 7, gaining 34 scoreless yards. It was certainly a dud in a matchup where Gallup was occasionally being considered a WR1 option, but the Dallas offense simply didn't need him in a game where they had no trouble moving the ball against a scuffling Eagles Defense.
Philadelphia Eagles kicker Jake Elliott connected on his one field goal try and on his one extra point try in a Week 7 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Elliott made his 38-yard field goal in the third quarter, but wasn't needed much in what ended up being a blowout loss to the division rival Philadelphia Eagles. Elliott should fare better next week in what is expected to be a closer matchup with the Buffalo Bills.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery made just two catches in Week 7, coming up with 38 yards. He tied for the team lead with five targets, but much like the rest of the Eagles offense, he wasn't able to do much. Jeffery was running as the team's WR1 with DeSean Jackson (abdomen) still on the sideline. The Eagles desperately need Jackson's seam-stretching ability and could have him back for Week 8. Unfortunately, they'll have another tough matchup against a strong Bills Defense.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz came down with just two passes in Week 7, gaining 38 yards. Ertz was targeted five times but he was soundly outplayed by Dallas Goedert, who scored the only Eagles touchdown. Ertz has been mostly disappointing this season so far, and next week against the Buffalo Bills Defense doesn't look like a likely get-right spot. He's a TE1 no doubt, but perhaps moving slowly out of the top tier.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor had another disappointing week in Week 7, catching just two passes and gaining 24 scoreless yards. Agholor was targeted four times in a game where almost the entire Philly offense struggled to get anything done. With DeSean Jackson (abdomen) possibly back next week to take on a stout Buffalo defense, Agholor will be nothing more than a last-ditch effort in most formats.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Mack Hollins was targeted only once in Week 7 and was unable to come down with a catch. Hollins has been running in three-wide sets in place of DeSean Jackson (abdomen) for several weeks, but has been unable to do anything at all. Even if Jackson can't return for next week's tough matchup against Buffalo, Hollins will not be a recommended fantasy option in any format.
The Philadelphia Eagles Defense struggled in Week 7 against the Dallas Cowboys, allowing 37 points and recording just three sacks and one interception. The Cowboys offense had its way with the Eagles secondary, as was mostly expected. The Eagles will take on the Buffalo Bills next week and should see better results, although there are likely stronger DST options on most league's waiver wires.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Boston Scott tallied seven carries in Week 7, gaining 32 yards. He also caught his lone target, picking up five more yards. Scott actually ended up with just one touch less than Miles Sanders. With the Eagles taking on a similarly tough Bills Defense in Week 8, Scott won't be worth much in most fantasy formats, but the Eagles backfield has certainly become one worth keeping an eye on going forward.
Miami Dolphins running back Kalen Ballage only had three carries for seven yards in a 31-21 loss to the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, but two of them came inside Buffalo's five-yard line, with Ballage cashing in the second of the two for a three-yard touchdown. Ballage was far out-touched by Mark Walton and Kenyan Drake and is currently the clear third option on the league's worst team, making him nothing but fodder for the waiver wire. Even if Drake is traded before this month's deadline, it seems that he'd still be behind new starter Walton in the pecking order, which should give fantasy owners few reasons to roster the once-popular sleeper pick ahead of a Week 8 matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Philadelphia Eagles tight end Dallas Goedert led the team in receiving in Week 7. He caught four passes, gaining 69 yards and scoring a touchdown. Goedert's score came on a 28-yard pass from Carson Wentz. Goedert was also charged with a lost fumble, however. In a game where the Eagles offense could barely do anything, Goedert was the lone bright spot. It could be more of the same types of struggles next week for the Philly offense, making Goedert a TE2 at best.
Philadelphia Eagles running back Jordan Howard did as asked in Week 7, running the ball 11 times for 50 yards. He added two catches for six more yards. Howard didn't have a ton of room to run, but he out-touched Miles Sanders 13-to-9, again solidifying his spot atop the Philly running back depth chart. The entire Eagles offense struggled in Week 7, and they should have another tough time in Week 8 against a stout Bills Defense. Howard will be a volume-based RB2/3.