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Jonas 'Van Winkle' Picks Wrong Week to Oversleep on Patriots

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Jonas Gray, or is it Van Winkle, of the Patriots should get plenty of beauty sleep this week.Bill Sikes/AP


"I love sleep. My life has a tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?"
-Ernest Hemingway

Jonas Gray picked the wrong week to oversleep.

His bell tolled on Sunday.

He picked the wrong team, the wrong coach and the wrong organization with which to not do his job.

His job on Friday morning was simple: Wake up and get to his meetings on time.

Mission not accomplished.

The Patriots used Gray, or perhaps it's Jonas Van Winkle these days, to run over, through and past the Indianapolis Colts last week.

Gray had 37 carries for 201 yards and four TDs against Indy. His output was so unexpected that he helped a pair of brothers from Boston win $1 million via the fantasy sports site Draft Kings.Com. This week, Boston-based Draft Kings was down when the 1 p.m. Eastern games began. That's not good when you're trying to make last-minute changes to your fantasy football lineup.

Gray was down, too.

Down and out of the Patriots' game plan in Sunday's 34-9 rout.

He brought the Sports Illustrated curse to a whole new level. Less than 48 hours after he was featured on the magazine's cover, he overslept, blamed his phone's alarm clock, was late for practice, and sent home. He was nowhere close to the field [metaphorically anyway] at 1 p.m. He finished this Sunday's game with exactly 37 fewer carries and 201 fewer yards than he had a week earlier.

That would be 0 and 0 for those who were taught "Common Core" math.

"You never really know what your role is going to be regardless of what happens," Gray said after the game. "You never know how many carries you're going to get or if you're going to be part of the game plan, you just prepare and if your number is called, you gotta go out do what you gotta do."

"We're moving past that. I'm glad we had a team win. It would have stung more if I had played and we lost the game. I wish I could have contributed to the win" Gray added in comments aired on the Comcast New England post-game show. "I can't confirm or deny [the disciplinary actions]. We're just moving on. I'm glad we got the victory"

He could have added: "Now we're on to obscurity."

Gray may the biggest one-hit wonder this side of the Knack, Buster Douglas, David Tyree or the 2013 Red Sox.

His epic-yet-speedy rise and fall is typical of what we might see these days on Twitter [see #AlexFromTarget], reality TV [see whomever got the latest rose on the "Bachelor"] or when it come to investing in today's technology [see the price of Bitcoin].

Legend has it that both Michael Jackson and Seth MacFarlane overslept on 9-11, sparing them from the terrible fate that befell so many others that day. Gray's mishap is far more comical and far less serious. But it is another telling example of how The Patriot Way works.

When Darrelle Revis overslept earlier this season and was late for a meeting, he received nothing of substance in terms of punishment. But Revis is a proven veteran, and one of the best-ever players at his position.

Gray was cut from two other teams before the Patriots signed him. New England would assign Gray to their practice squad before activating him following Stevan Ridley's injury.

Gray's brief role of crushing it out of the backfield was ceded back to ex-Patriot LeGarrette Blount. His ill-fated term in Pittsburgh ended with an ignominious exit from the field during last Sunday's game. Blount was picked up this week after he cleared waivers. Anyone could have signed him. But Bill Belichick and the Patriots did. For the league minimum this year, of course, as part of a two-year deal.

Caution: Diabolical Genius at Work.

The devil allegedly comes soul searching when he/she knows that people are at their weakest and most-vulnerable. Belichick is no different. He has built a historically-unmatched winning resume by finding those who others have cast aside. That began in New England with the 199th selection of the 2000 draft.

The player taken in that lowly spot was Tom Brady, who 14 years ago Sunday took his first live-game NFL snap against these same Lions on Thanksgiving Day. That game was a true turkey in what was the team's last non-winning season.

Belichick continued with his modus operandi of taking those least-likely-to-succeed candidates by signing Blount. The bruising back had nowhere to go [but maybe Canada] after clearing waivers. The Patriots didn't necessarily need him, but he needed them. Belichick knew that and now has another soul indebted to him for the rest of his NFL career. Not to mention a big back who can step up when the reigning Sports Illustrated cover-model forgets to charge his iPhone.

Sunday's neutering of the once-mighty Lions wasn't just another victory for these [far from official but it sure looks like] Super Bowl-bound Patriots. It was rather the continuation of seven weeks of unabashed ass-kicking, interrupted by one close call against the Jets. The 9-2 Patriots have outscored their opponents 170-73 in their past four games. New England and Belichick are also now guaranteed their 14th consecutive year over .500.

As of 12:59 p.m. Sunday, the Lions had what was considered the most-ferocious and highest-rated defense in the NFL. They turned out to be nothing but but a basket of kittens. While they hit Brady all day, the never sacked him once. New England's Brady-led mesmerizing, multifaceted offensive attack complied 349 yards passing on 38 completions, and averaged a whopping 6.0 per play.

This most-important part of the season season, as we know, it always next week's game. Much chatter on WEEI 93.7-FM and 98.5 The Sports Hub this week will center around how this team must "win on the road in Green Bay" to prove itself.

That "never good enough" mantra has been a standard "hot take" for the past 117 months. It's been that long since New England won a Super Bowl.

This team, however, is evolving into perhaps the most-enjoyable Patriots' team in the current Super Bowl Drought Era. Last-year's patch-work and injury-riddled squad vastly over-achieved. But its horizon was always limited. They could not get past Denver when it counted, never mind the eventual NFC champion.

Ultimately, there was nothing enjoyable about going 18-1.

This year's team has the potential and the personnel to win another championship. It is a true Belichickian masterpiece. Sunday's victory showcased all the pieces the oft-maligned coach/GM has assembled for another very realistic Super Bowl run.

The bargain $12 million cornerback, the $6.8 million slot receiver who has been vilified pretty much each week since they signed him in 2013, the lovable, lumbering tight end who may be the best at his position ever, the other tight end they got in return for Logan Mankins, the rejected running back who was unemployed as of Tuesday, and the unheralded free-agent wide receiver signed in the offseason for three years and $9 million, all came together on this sunny Sunday before Thanksgiving in Foxborough.

One crucial sequence late in the second quarter that sealed the game highlighted several of them.

The Lions had a first-and-goal at the New England 3-yard-line early in the second quarter. After a 1-yard run, Matthew Stafford threw end-zone passes to Chris Johnson and Joseph Fauria that fell incomplete. Darrelle Revis and Patrick Chung each denied the Lions a potential game-leading touchdown. Detroit settled for a field goal and a 7-6 deficit.

WR Danny Amendola, who was once deemed the replacement and heir-apparent to Wes Welker, ran back the resulting kickoff 81 yards. Brady found WR Brandon LaFell on New England's first play for 16 yards. After a penalty, Blount barreled in from the 6 head-first to give New England a 14-6 lead. That turned out to be the game-winning play.

Tight end Tim Wright, the one guy who has always loved the Mankins trade, caught a pair of touchdown passes.

Meanwhile, Jonas Gray saw as much as game-action as you or me.

He will have plenty of time to sleep in as the Patriots hit the road for the next two weeks. A team that once went 45 days with just one road trip will visit Green Bay and then head directly to San Diego for its next game. After they leave for Wisconsin this week, the Patriots won't be home again until sometime early on Monday, Dec. 8.

Belichick is just as likely to feature Gray 20 or 25 times against the Packers as he is to sit him indefinitely.

We never quite know what to expect from the Patriots these days, save for the fact that they'll probably score many points and win. That's perhaps the most-entertaining part of this team, which is at its base nothing but entertainment.

One thing is certain, you don't want to oversleep and miss something.

You never know when you'll get another chance.


The OBF column is written by award-winning journalist and Bay State native Bill Speros. Bill has written and reported for ESPN, CBSSports.Com and was a sports/deputy sports editor at several metro daily newspapers. Reach Bill on the OBF Facebook page, on Twitter @realOBF or at his
OBF email Address
. Thanks always for reading.

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