Toucher & Rich

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ESPN NFL Nation reporter Mike Reiss joined Toucher & Rich live Monday morning, fresh off the New England Patriots’ loss to the Miami Dolphins in Sunday Night Football. The Patriots now fall to 0-2 to start the season, both losses at home. Mike didn’t sugarcoat the team’s issues as they move forward into Week 3.

Transcript: Mike Reiss on Toucher & Rich

Rich Well, Mac was apparently at his locker with his all of his stuff still on 15, 20 minutes after the game was done. He wasn’t alone.

Mike Reiss I saw that. Yeah. I walked in there and just to get a feel for what was going on and and that was probably the thing that stood out to me was he was still in his uniform, sitting in his locker. He had a white sort of Gatorade towel. You know, those towels you see on the sideline sort of draped over his head, processing everything. And, you know, those those are actually as a reporter, those are moments that are that’s why you go in there, you know, you see how much it affects guys like that, and they put a lot into it. And it was, you know, not good enough performance.

Rich So there was a quote also from Jabrill Peppers yesterday. He seemed pretty frustrated with all of it. And he said, I’m tired of us digging a hole like this. You know, we didn’t come out on our game down big again. Is this a team that you see being able to stay dialed in to winning if they continue to have these losses, especially ones that, you know, it looks like they had a shot at winning, do you think that they’re that locker room strong enough for this not to splinter if things get worse for Rich?

Mike Reiss I was right there next to Jabril when he said that he’s a he’s a fiery guy. He’s a emotional, passionate guy. And I definitely felt that, you know, the way he said it. Like I would say, the leadership to me is strong. But you got to see results, Rich. You know, like, I mean, you can get up there and talk about, you know, like Matthew Judon said, you know, hey, this is I know it doesn’t look good, but this is a good team. I think ultimately you got to go out and prove that. Right. And so it’s a hard question to answer. But I would say with captains that they have, you know, stand up guys, I always take note, you know, David Andrews always stand that right away, you know, stands up accountable. Matthew Slater, Hunter Henry. You know, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Deatrich Wise, like, that’s a pretty good group. You know, Judon keep it together. But I would say like if we ask the question next week, if they’re on three or two weeks from now, if they’re on foreign, like, I mean, it’s different, you know what I mean? Oh two you’re still a little early, even though the odds tell you, like, that’s not a good place to be if you want to be in the postseason.

Rich So these downfield throws by Mac Jones, it’s become a pretty, pretty bad. And I know that yesterday he was running for his life and you know, the offensive line in many places was essentially a revolving door. But is it more than that? Because we’ve seen a little bit of a sample size here or at least enough to possibly make some judgments? Why is there an issue with Mac Jones and downfield passes.

Mike Reiss To just back you up with some numbers? I this was something that came through last night. So right right after the interception to Xavien Howard, which I actually had a thought on that but he was over six with an interception on throw is more than ten yards downfield. So I look at the answer as multilayered guys like I think first you rightfully what you said was offensive line wise. You know I’d like to judge it when I see like the full line there that’s played together. That’s not the case and that’s not the case for a lot of quarterbacks. And you have to overcome that. So I start with that. I think that interception like to me that’s that’s as much about the decision as the throw. Yeah it’s like a 5050 ball against the dolphins best corner and to me that’s probably a decision you probably like you talk more about the decision than the actual throw which wasn’t I probably wasn’t the best placement on the throw either. So I think that’s part of it too. And then I think part of it too is who he trying to, you know, I mean, are those 5050 balls or is there open windows? And to me that you put all that together and that’s why the production isn’t there in the deep throws.

Toucher Mike Devereaux and it home and you know that’s statistically very hard to get out of how how much trouble is this team in?

Mike Reiss Seems like they’re in trouble to me. You know, I mean, you mentioned statistically, I think I’m going to pull up the numbers as we talk. I think the 17 game regular season helps them a little bit. But you get two now, you get two games on the road. This the first time since 1975 that they’ve opened up a season by losing their first two games of the season on the road and the back you up. I don’t know if you guys talked about this on the numbers when you’re open to playoffs are usually tough. Only 31 of 270 teams that began a season open to qualified for the postseason since 1990. So now they switch from a 16 game regular season to 17 a couple of years ago. The Bengals started out one two. Last year they ran the AFC title game. It’s not impossible, but to me it’s like you got to start playing better football if you even want to. You know what I mean? To even mention the playoffs right now seems a little silly.

Wallach The coaching decisions have come under fire this morning, and rightfully so. I know you guys tried to get as much as you could out of Bill Belichick about Pop Douglas, but that just seems very, very strange given the fact that this offense is lacking an explosive player.

Toucher Which it is. And John, if I can, this is just my own take on it. This is just from and I’m interested in your opinion on a you how egregious a fumble do you think Douglas’s fumble was? I mean do you think it was worthy? If you’ve watched a lot of football, you’ve watched a lot of patriots, is that something you saw and was like, wow, Like that was a huge mistake. He needs to learn his lesson.

Mike Reiss So it was sloppy. He’s got to hold the ball high and tight, not leave it vulnerable to someone coming behind him. It was the same. I mean, it was the same play that Ezekiel Elliott had the week before and he didn’t get benched. Right. And so I think that’s the comparison to me is especially the way that the defender approached the ball carrier to get the ball out. I mean, it’s almost the same exact thing. And I think it highlights, you know, how Bill looks at a young player versus a veteran player because he didn’t bench Zeke last week after the fumble. So if teach him a lesson with the big picture in mind more than the short term and obviously I can see why it’s easy to question that based on the results and the way they were struggling to move the ball. But that’s very consistent over 24 years with young players and him. The first thing I thought of with Stephen Ridley, the old running back from about a decade ago, remember the same type of thing with him.

Rich Now taking a look at that Jets team and how they’ve been playing. And I know that they don’t have Aaron Rodgers. Are you even confident that this Patriots team can go into New York and and beat those guys? I mean, with that defense? No, yesterday, Fred, you’re right. They didn’t have the best day. But still.

Toucher The defense was terrible.

Rich We know the talent that they’ve got there. How are you feeling about next week after seeing what you saw yesterday?

Mike Reiss Not not great, Rich. Not great. And I think it comes back to just the line of scrimmage. You know, like the offensive line. It’s been an issue since the first day of training camp, and that’s your weakness against their strength. And I just think it’s going to be hard to score points. Right. And and you almost have to hope that they’re struggling to score points without Aaron Rodgers. So maybe you hope that evens out. I think I saw something where they’re actually favored, which surprised me, to be honest with you, in terms of the betting, their early betting line.

Toucher Won 14 in a row.

Mike Reiss So I know. But then you look at history, right? I mean, they hadn’t been on two since 2001. But you’re right. You’re right with that. With that. But to me now, Rich, to answer your question, like a game that last week at this time after or you know after Aaron Rodgers injury you think oh that’s a more winnable game doesn’t doesn’t really feel that way to me right now.

Rich All right. So I got to be honest, I the last week, I chalked it up to being all right. That’s a good team. They got close, and for some reason I’m way more depressed about what I saw this week. It really does change everything. And and I don’t even think that, you know, Bill O’Brien had a good game plan. I know there wasn’t a lot you could do, but just execute.

Toucher You got it.

Wallach That’s the one thing that’s shocking in all of this, Mike, is the lack of execution.

Toucher Okay. I got a question for Mike. How come they can’t start to run against a team that’s not a great running team when the when apparently the strength of your best unit is your defensive line.

Mike Reiss So. So I looked at that one, Fred. I’m going to go back and watch, obviously the game again. But I think part of what they were doing was was protecting against the big play, right? Like, so what are the Dolphins do best? Tyreek Hill finished with five, get five catches for 40 yards and a touchdown. Like if we were going into the game and you said that’s what you’re going to hold Tyreek to.

Rich To win.

Mike Reiss Probably be pretty happy with it. So it’s almost like you’re picking your poison to a degree. They could still play the run a lot better than they did, but that was sort of the game within the game, you know, that they were playing. I also wanted to follow up guys on one thing. I know we talked last week. We were talking about Jack Jones, and I told you I wanted to dig around on that. Remember we were talking about that.

Rich Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. That was.

Mike Reiss Yeah, I did, I did. And I do want to tell you, it was like a freak injury at practice. That’s what I was told. And, you know, a significant hamstring pull. No surgery, I’m told on that. But like significant to the point that like mid-season, you know, but nothing I feel confident based on just sort of because I wanted to do that after our conversation. Yeah. Just go ask around a little bit and like people who watched it happen and I feel confident passing that along to you that I that, that that’s legit.

Rich So you’re saying it was a freak injury that did affect his hamstring and that he’ll be most likely returning the you said midpoint of the season like somewhere around the midpoint in.

Mike Reiss That range that’s that’s what I was too I feel I feel confident with that and and a couple I mean the same thing with like Jonathan Jones their cornerback not not the same timetable. He could be back, you know, much sooner but like just a freak thing in practice where, you know, turned his ankle and, you know, obviously he wasn’t out there for for last night’s game.

Toucher Well, I mean, Bill can’t even having practice right anymore. I mean, he’s screwing that up. He’s getting everyone injured with his crazy old school Bear Bryant ways. He cranking the heat and kid, it’s war by attrition. Oh, Mike. All right, well, listen, when you read something negative or people upset at you, Mike.

Mike Reiss Oh, I know. I think you call it like it is. You start your first two games at home like that in the first quarter. Lose the turnover battle. Like you can’t you can’t sugarcoat that right now so you just right what it is it’s right.

Toucher I got a question is your feeling on Mac Jones evolving like how is it evolving? What do you what do you think of the more you watch him play? How is your opinion swaying?

Mike Reiss Like he’s lowered to me on the list of reasons why they’re open to, you know, like I actually I’m more I would say I’m more encouraged, you know, at this point. And that’s sort of looking at a silver lining based on the bottom line results. The keys played pretty well, guys, the first two games of the season.

Toucher Do you think they’re giving him? I mean, he what do you make of Bill O’Brien’s offense in the passing game? Do. Do you think they’re giving him enough shots? I mean, we talked about how he’s not overly effective downfield, but then again, he’s not. I mean, downfield to him could be eight yards. I mean, he’s not he’s no bigger throwing it vertically.

Mike Reiss Yeah, I see. I think he can throw it vertically.

Toucher He does. I’m not saying he can’t. I’m just saying you think that maybe he’s being hamstrung a little bit?

Mike Reiss Well, a little bit. The thing I see offensively is just the lack of a consistent running game. You know, the first two weeks and that comes back to me to the offensive line. And this is not like great sports talk radio. I know. But like to me, until you get the line back and get some consistency there, it’s hard to judge what we’re talking about. Like 25 carries for 88 yards, you know, 3.5 average. That’s not going to. That’s not going to win you too many games. And so I think if they get that develop some balance, I think we’ll start to see things open up a little bit more down the field.

Toucher Yeah, you take Mac Jones out of that equation. They near 3.5 carry I’ll tell you that Mac Jones with that little showing a little little speed on his on one of them scampers you take that out of the out of it not as much. All right. Well, listen, Mike Reese, thank you for your time. Thank you for investigating the Jack Jones injury and appreciate that. The good news is that there at the Jets next week. So that is always good news. That’s a good slump buster. It’s like Mark Grace would have sex with a heavy woman when he was in a slump. The Patriots just have to play the Jets. So thank you, Mike, In every way. We could read Mike Reese on ESPN and watch your money, ESPN and everything else with ESPN. Thank you.


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