The NFL is always looking to improve its game and these changes typically take place in the offseason around the NFL owners meetings.

Roger Goodell wrote a letter to fans about potential rule changes next season. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

Roger Goodell wrote a letter to fans about potential rule changes next season. (Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports)

The NFL is always looking to improve its game and these changes typically take place in the offseason around the NFL owners meetings.

These will be next week in Phoenix and leading into them, commissioner Roger Goodell has wrote a letter to fans letting them know what the changes could be.

The majority of the changes Goodell wrote about center around the pace of the game.

One of the changes is instead of a sideline monitor for reviews, there will be a tablet brought to the referee who can review the play in consultation with the officiating headquarters in New York, which ultimately has the final decision.

“This should improve consistency and accuracy of decisions and help speed up the process,” Goodell wrote.

Along the lines of timing, there will be a play clock following extra points when TV does not take commercial breaks. Also, they are considering instituting a play clock after a touchdown. Goodell also noted they are going to standardize the starting of the clock after a runner goes out-of-bounds and standardize halftime lengths in all games.

There will also likely be fewer commercial breaks.

“We know how annoying it is when we come back from a commercial break, kick off, and then cut to a commercial again. I hate that too. Our goal is to eliminate it,” Goodell wrote.

The competition committee will meet and vote on a number of rule changes next week.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Bill Parcells talked about Jacoby Brissett recently. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Bill Parcells talked about Jacoby Brissett recently. (Greg M. Cooper/USA Today Sports)

Not many people know Jacoby Brissett better than Bill Parcells.

Parcells has known Brissett since he was a teenager playing at Dwyer High School, which is near Parcells’ winter home in Jupiter, Florida.

He’s taken him under his wing over the years and confirmed to ESPN’s Tony Grossi in a radio interview he recommended him to Bill Belichick before last year’s draft.

New England selected Brissett, out of NC State, in the third round.

“I did speak with Bill about him [Brissett] late in the [draft] process last year,” Parcells said to Grossi. “I thought it [New England] would be a very, very good place for Jacoby because he’s highly motivated much like Brady, and he has the same kind of dedication and work habits. He just needed the proper direction and I thought he’d get it with Bill. Fortunately, he went up there and things so far have gone OK for him.”

As for Brissett’s future in the NFL, Parcells says it’s too early to tell because of the offense he ran at NC State not translating well to the NFL.

“I didn’t really think the system he was in in college was going to translate really well to the pros,” Parcells said. “I would have to see a little more game action, a little more preseason. I think he has attributes that are going to allow him to be successful. But you never know until you see him under fire, and you see him get beat up a little bit, things going bad and how they respond. I think he has a lot of the things necessary to be successful. But I think it’s a little early in the game now to know for sure if it’s going to translate completely.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Bill Belichick and Mike Krzyzewski are two of the greatest coaches to ever coach in any sport.

Krzyzewski hosts a weekly show on SiriusXM called “Basketball and Beyond with Coach K” and in the episode airing Wednesday at 7 p.m. he had Belichick on as a guest.

Bill Belichick reflected on the Super Bowl LI win again. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Bill Belichick reflected on the Super Bowl LI win again. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Bill Belichick and Mike Krzyzewski are two of the greatest coaches to ever coach in any sport.

Krzyzewski hosts a weekly show on SiriusXM called “Basketball and Beyond with Coach K” and in the episode airing Wednesday at 7 p.m. he had Belichick on as a guest.

Belichick and the Duke coach talked about a number of different things, including the Patriots’ 34-28 overtime win over the Falcons in Super Bowl LI.

“Our guys played like champions in the last 20 minutes, and we really were able to have a lot of things go right, which they needed to pretty much just had to fall the way they did or we would have been in trouble,” Belichick said to Krzyzewski, via NESN.com. “So it was a great year and a great victory for our team.”

As Belichick noted the day after the Super Bowl, the team was five weeks behind in terms of the offseason, but clearly it has caught up with the number of moves made in free agency.

“I really enjoy the different phases of the season,” Belichick said. “Right now we’re in a team building phase with free agency and then next month the draft and then all the players will be in and we’ll start. As you know, you can’t pick up where you left off last year, you’ve got to start all over again, so the kind of starting all over again process has really already begun for us.”

Belichick will turn 65 years old next month, but is showing no signs of slowing down. He says working with so many young people is what keeps him going.

“I enjoy working with young people, that certainly keeps me young, even though the gap’s widening,” he said. “And I do my best to absolutely take on the whole social media thing, you know, head on, on a collision course. But other than that, being with young people certainly keeps you young, and that’s been important for me. I’m sure you feel the same way.”

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Rob Gronkowski continues to stay busy this offseason.

On Tuesday night, the Patriots tight end was in Connecticut for WWE Smackdown where he was spotted having a good time.

As it relates to football, his back seems to be holding up pretty well in the months following back surgery, which is certainly a good sign for the upcoming season.

Late Tuesday night, former Patriots offensive lineman Bryan Stork announced on Twitter he is “stepping away from football.”

Late Tuesday night, former Patriots offensive lineman Bryan Stork announced on Twitter he is “stepping away from football.”

“I can’t say I am retiring because I am only 26 years old but I have decided to officially step away from the game of football which I will always love dearly,” Stork wrote.

The Patriots selected Stork in the 2014 draft, and he even started at center in Super Bowl XLIX, but that was his most productive season.

Stork battled injuries, including concussions, throughout his first two seasons in the NFL, missing 11 games. Last preseason the Patriots tried to trade him to Washington, but he failed a physical so he was sent back to New England and then was officially released.

He wasn’t picked up by another team.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable

Rob Gronkowski continues to stay busy this offseason.

On Tuesday night, the Patriots tight end was in Connecticut for WWE Smackdown where he was spotted having a good time.

As it relates to football, his back seems to be holding up pretty well in the months following back surgery, which is certainly a good sign for the upcoming season.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable
Dwayne Allen could have a big role with the Patriots in 2017. (Ed Mulholland/USA Today Sports)

Dwayne Allen could have a big role with the Patriots in 2017. (Ed Mulholland/USA Today Sports)

The first big offseason splash the Patriots made was swinging a trade with the Colts for tight end Dwayne Allen. Allen was acquired along with a sixth-round pick in exchange for the Patriots’ fourth-round pick.

Allen, 27, is signed through 2019 with cap hits of $4.9 million this year, $5 million next year and $7.4 million in 2019 — a very reasonable contract.

It’s clear he was brought in to be a complement to Rob Gronkowski and also an insurance policy in case he gets injured. He is the Marcellus Bennett of 2016, except he has a slightly different skill set.

In his five seasons with the Colts, he’s totaled 126 receptions for 1,451 yards and 19 touchdowns. While those numbers are pretty decent, Allen is hoping for a bigger role with New England than he had in Indianapolis.

“One thing that I’ve caught on to early is Coach [Bill] Belichick’s saying of, ‘The more you can do.’ I’m just about winning,” Allen said on his opening conference call. “I want to win and I understand that the more skills I can provide the offense, then hopefully the more mismatches that can be created for myself and other players. That’s what I’m about. I’m excited to be utilized as a football player again and not be confined to any box, but just to be a football player, a tight end.”

So, what is Allen referring to with being “excited to be utilized as a football player again?”

With the Colts he was primarily used as a blocker until the offense got into the red zone and that was where the tight end did most of his damage in the passing game. New England will use him a bunch and he will have a much bigger role in the offense than he did with Indy.

At 6-foot-3, 255 pounds, the Patriots wouldn’t be doing themselves any good by not having him serve as a blocker on some plays, which will be an upgrade from Bennett last year. The one knock on Bennett would be his blocking skills, which he even admitted at times wasn’t up to par at some points last year. Also, given his success in the red zone, look for Allen to be a frequent target of Tom Brady near the goal line, especially with all the attention likely going towards Gronkowski.

Of Allen’s 126 catches, an insane 15 percent of them have gone for touchdowns and according to Pro Football Focus, he has caught 71.9 percent of his red zone targets since entering the league, the best rate for all tight ends. It’s also third among receivers in that span trailing just Wes Welker (74 percent) and new Patriots receiver Brandin Cooks (72 percent).

Imagine all the possibilities for offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.

When not being used as a blocker, where will Allen line up? Based on what the Patriots did with Bennett, likely in the slot.

According to Pro Football Focus, 41 percent of Bennett’s routes last year came out of the slot. Allen is also very comfortable with that, as 50 percent of his routes came out of the slot, so this is where to expect Allen to line up. With he and Julian Edelman lining up on opposite sides, this could create major matchup problems for defenses.

Allen will likely play a similar role that Bennett had in 2016 with more of an emphasis on blocking and more of a presence in the red zone. Given all the attention Gronkowski will get, Allen could be one of the steals in fantasy football when it comes to tight ends.

Given all that Allen can do, he will just add to the versatility of the Patriots offense in 2017.

Blog Author: 
Ryan Hannable