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Patriot Maven Notebook: Vrabel Talks ‘Challenge’ of facing Patriots, Judon Reaches Milestone and More

Also, the Patriots head coach and his starting quarterback are apparently ‘simpatico’ when it comes to their preference for Thanksgiving side dishes.

As the New England Patriots continue to savor their 25-0 victory over the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, they have also begun to make preparations for their Week Twelve matchup with the Tennessee Titans.

From a former Patriot explaining the challenge of facing his former team, to a coach and quarterback agreeing on their preference for Thanksgiving side dishes, here are the latest Pats news and notes, courtesy of the Patriot Maven Notebook.

Vrabel Calls Patriots a “Huge Challenge”

Former Patriots linebacker and current Tennessee Titans’ head coach Mike Vrabel knows all too well the challenge that lay ahead in facing his former team on Sunday. Having spent eight seasons in New England, playing for head coach Bill Belichick, Vrabel is well-versed in the level of preparation which the Pats and their head coach will be putting in throughout the week. After all, a Titans’ loss this week would move the Patriots ahead of them in the AFC playoff picture. As a result, the urgency level for both teams should be high as they prepare for this pivotal Week Twelve matchup.

When speaking to the media, Vrabel offered the following on his team’s upcoming matchup with the Patriots in Foxboro this Sunday:

“They have created 13 turnovers in five games, and obviously they have won five games in a row,” Vrabel said, via the team’s website. “The Number One scoring defense in the league, offense has been very efficient, Number Six scoring offense. They are not turning it over, they are not doing things to beat themselves. Obviously they have done a great job of taking advantage of bad football. [They’re] well-coached, they are running the football, they are playing physical. It will be a huge challenge.”

Judon Joins an Elite Group of Patriots in his First Season

Patriots linebacker Matthew Judon reached double-digit sacks for the first time in his career after a 9-yard sack of Atlanta Falcons’ quarterback Matt Ryan in the second quarter of Thursday’s Week Eleven matchup. Judon increased his season total to 10.5 sacks. His previous best was 9.5 in 2019 with the Baltimore Ravens. It is the seventeenth time that the Patriots have had a player reach 10 or more sacks in a season. As a result, Judon has joined an impressive list of former Patriots, who have earned that distinction.

Patriots with 10-plus sacks in a season:

12.0 — ​Tony McGee, 1977

10.0 — ​Bobby Hamilton, ​1977

11.5 — ​Tony McGee, ​1978

10.5 — ​Tony McGee, ​1979

18.5 — ​Andre Tippett, ​1984

16.5 — ​Andre Tippett, ​1985

10.0 — ​​Garin Veris, 1985

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11.0 — ​Garin Veris, ​1986

12.5 — ​Andre Tippett, ​1987

11.0 — ​Willie McGinest, ​1995

12.5 — ​​Mike Vrabel, ​2007

10.0 — ​Tully Banta-Cain, ​2009

10.0 — ​Mark Anderson, ​2011

10.0 — ​Andre Carter, ​​2011

11.5 — ​​Chandler Jones​, 2013

12.5 — ​Chandler Jones​, 2015

10.5 — ​Matthew Judon​, 2021

Similar Tastes in Thanksgiving Sides?

With the Thanksgiving holiday soon approaching on Thursday, Patriots players and coaches are not only reflecting on their gratitude for the year’s blessings, they are anticipating Thursday’s holiday feast.

Appearing on WEEI’s The Greg Hill Show on Monday morning, Patriots’ head coach Bill Belichick was asked to divulge his favorite Thanksgiving side dish. Apparently, the HC of the NEP is a big fan of potatoes.

“Oh boy. It would be hard for me to turn down any type of potatoes,” Belichick said. “I’ll go with whatever; mashed potatoes, scalloped, baked ... Load ‘em up. Load ‘em up. ... Throw some butter on there. Starch me up!”

In similar fashion, Pats’ quarterback Mac Jones was also asked about his preferred side dish for his Thanksgiving meal. During his appearance on WEEI’s Merloni and Fauria, Jones revealed that his tastes coincide with that of his head coach:

"I’d just say mashed potatoes and gravy. You have to on Thanksgiving,” Jones said.

The 23-year-old also disclosed that he is not a fan of either pecan or apple pie. "I like the chocolate stuff," he said.