It’s the end of another weekend and the beginning of another week, so as we get set to kickoff another five exciting days, here’s a quick rundown of this morning’s team news:
How will the new kickoff rules affect the Patriots? – A lot of has been made of the NFL’s decision to move touchbacks forward five yards this offseason, with the league setting teams up to start possessions off at their own’ 25-yard line in the event of a touchback in 2016. That should directly affect Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who was among the best in the league when it came to keeping the football out of the hands of opponents’ during kickoffs last season.
The veteran kicker finished tied for the league lead with 69-touchbacks last season and of his 99 kickoffs in 2015, opponents had just 28 returns, with teams averaging just 18.8 yards per return against him.
Now the big challenge for Gostkowski could potentially increasing his hang time and giving the guys on special teams a better opportunity to make a play and push them back even further thanks to the new rule. Gostkowski actually said a few years ago that this is an area he’s always working on, and one that he prides himself in.
“I focus more on hang time than anything,” Gostkowski told Jeff Howe via NESN back in 2009. “And a lot of times, when I focus on hang time and hitting a good ball, it goes farther anyway. I don’t try to just drive it through the end zone. I just try to make good contact, and aim where I’m trying to aim and give the 10 guys running down there running their butts off the best chance to make a play inside the 25-[yard line]. I pride myself on getting good hang time and giving guys a lot of time to get down there and make a play.”
It looks like he may get more opportunities to work on that in 2016. Special teams is one of the key areas Bill Belichick makes sure his team takes plenty of pride in, so it should be interesting to see how they approach things thanks to this move this season.
Patriots Out of the Running for Fairley – For the second time in as many years, the Patriots expressed interest in free agent DT Nick Fairley and for the second time time, he won’t be joining the team.
According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Fairley is expected to sign with New Orleans, ending a chance for him to play for Bill Belichick and the Patriots.
The Patriots also apparently missed out on him last year after the Providence Journal reported they had expressed interest in him, but after they couldn’t reach an agreement, Fairley ended up in St. Louis when he signed a 1-year deal worth $5-million.
The Jets and Eagles were also reportedly in the running, and they join the Patriots among clubs who won’t be adding him this offseason.
Brady’s no stranger to dealing with early success after the way his career started. (FILE PHOTO)
Brady has been “helpful” to Golfer Jordan Speith – Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is obviously considered to be one of the best in the game in the NFL, and professional golfer Jordan Spieth appears to be a fan.
Speith is coming off of an exciting 2015 season, which saw him win two major championships and achieve a Number 1 ranking. At just 22 years old, it’s a lot to grapple with but there’s another player in the NFL who achieved plenty of success at a young age and Speith hasn’t been shy about reaching out to him.
According to the Austin American Statesman, Speith’s taken advantage of the fact he joins Brady as a fellow endorser of Under Armor, which has given him the opportunity to bend the veteran quarterback’s ear.
“He’s obviously in the spotlight, being arguably the greatest — one of the greatest quarterbacks of all times, if not the best,” Spieth said of Brady, who won his first Super Bowl for the Patriots at just 24-years old back in 2002. “So it’s pretty cool just to have that opportunity to talk to him. And he’s been helpful.”
No real surprise, as that speaks to how Brady’s been over his entire career. Brady, himself, enjoys the game of golf and talked about his affinity for the sport back in 2011 in an interview with the Golf Channel.
“I love the game,” said Brady during that interview. “My dad brought me to a golf course when I was two years old and I’ve been hooked ever since. I probably used to take it a lot more seriously than I do now, it’s very recreational for me.”
“It’s such a great sport. It’s really a gentleman’s game. I enjoy being out there and I’ve developed so many special relationships with friends over the years on the golf course.”
Detroit’s Quinn Trying to Build his Own Legacy – Coming from a successful organization is great because it helps create new opportunities, but it also can sometimes be a problem when it leaves those same people in the shadow of the success that got them there to begin with.
That’s been the case out in Detroit, with newly hired GM Bob Quinn finding himself facing the question about how he can instill the “Patriot Way” with the Lions.
Quinn, who spent 16 years in New England’s system, said in an interview with ESPN that what he’s doing isn’t the “Patriot Way”, he’s trying to build his own legacy with the Lions.
“I don’t think you can take the Patriot way to Detroit,” said Quinn via DetroitSportsNation.com. “I think it has to be my way. The things I learned from New England, obviously, I’m going to take with me and try to implement them. New England’s a special place. And I learned most if not everything I know about the NFL from the people at the Patriots, starting with coach Belichick and Mr. Kraft. I want to create my own legacy in Detroit and use the things I’ve learned in New England. It’s not the Patriot way.”
Quinn so far has his work cut out for him, but he’s off to a good start and is taking a similar approach to how things were done here in New England. He’s been adding versatile depth players, with most of the signings also being incentive-laden. Hopefully for his sake it goes well, as the expectations are high for a franchise that hasn’t exactly had a whole lot to smile about in recent years and also saw their all-world receiver, Calvin Johnson, retire over this past offseason.
Former Patriots coach O’Brien Talks About Changes in the NFL – Former Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien talked about how much things have changed in the NFL during the owners meetings last week, telling reporters that coaches don’t get to work with players as much as they used to, which he’s not happy about.
As it stands right now thanks to the changes that came about during the last CBA agreement, coaches can’t even work with their players between the end of the team’s season until April. That’s a problem for clubs trying to acclimate new players, or for ones who are trying to develop younger guys.
“When I first started, nine or 10 years ago, in the league we had quarterback school,” O’Brien said via Ben Volin of the Boston Globe. “I was quality control, I was working with Josh McDaniels at the Patriots. Here came [Tom] Brady and [Matt] Cassel, we had Vinny Testaverde, we had Matt Gutierrez. We had some good guys there and they would come back and we would have quarterback school. We don’t even do that anymore. Why not? Why can’t at least the quarterbacks come back a little bit early so we can start teaching them?”
It’s hard to say how much that really hurts players right now, but when you look at the development of Matt Cassel and how well he played in 2008 after Brady went down with a knee injury, there’s likely some credence behind what he’s saying.
For O’Brien, that’s a problem as they have newly-added quarterback Brock Osweiler, who they lured away from Denver during this offseason.
“Look, I’m only going into my third year as a head coach, but I feel very strong and I’ve said this to some of the league, I have a ton of respect for this league and the league officials and what they’re trying to do and how it works with the players’ union,” O’Brien said via the Texans’ official site. “I get all that. But I believe if you talk to the majority of players in this league, the majority, they want to come back to work earlier than April 18.”
SOCIAL MEDIA POST OF THE DAY:
Tom Brady’s been busy enjoying a little surfing recently:
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