It’s Thursday, one day to go before we reach the finish line for this week. Grab your coffee and have a seat, here’s this morning’s rundown with commentary as well as a look at this morning’s stories.
Patriots heavily invested at quarterback – With a 39-year old quarterback still leading the offense, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick has been trying to build some depth behind Tom Brady should the unthinkable happen.
It’s one of those things that obviously helps fill an important position since without a viable back-up, any sudden loss involving Brady would certainly dampen their championship aspirations. New England was able to bring out the best in Matt Cassel in 2008 when Brady went down in week one with a season-ending knee injury and Cassel lead them to an 11-5 record. But they lost the Division to Miami that year and there were also five other teams who finished with 11 or more victories in the AFC, which thanks to being on the wrong end of some tie-breakers left New England on the outside looking in on the postseason.
As a result, the Patriots haven’t had the opportunity to see what anyone other than Brady could do in the playoffs. But should New England find themselves in contention and were to lose Brady again, the other 52 players on the roster would still have football games to play and would need someone to lead them.
So for the last few seasons New England has invested two high round picks at quarterback behind Brady, taking Jimmy Garoppolo in the second-round in 2014 and Jacoby Brissett in the third round last week. Garoppolo was a necessity as the Patriots needed a quarterback, which worked out because they shipped former Patriots back-up QB, Ryan Mallett, off to Houston at the end of August that year. Garoppolo is already light years ahead of where Mallett was in his third season, so it appears at this point that they made the right move from that standpoint.
But the decision to draft a quarterback, who up to this point has been more or less just an insurance policy until Father Time gets the better of Brady, has cost them. New England could have opted to bring in a veteran free agent to back him up and invested those picks in other players, and with hindsight being 20/20 it’s always easy to get a little frustrated when you consider who they lost out on, especially when they could have added talent around Brady.
For example, after selecting Garoppolo with the 30th overall pick, the Dolphins jumped up and grabbed wide receiver Jarvis Landry with selection number 31 after making a trade with Denver. Landry has already had two terrific seasons as an NFL receiver and is coming off of a season where he finished with 110 catches and 1157 yards and four touchdowns, including having six receptions for over 70-yards against New England in each of their two meetings. Looking back at how last season ended in Denver, it’s hard not to wonder if Landry could have helped them during the time where Edelman was injured and Brandon LaFell wasn’t playing well.
Garoppolo has developed into a solid back-up behind Brady for the Patriots.
No one will argue that Garoppolo is a good player, but having to miss out on guys like Landry who could obviously have been a help to Brady is frustrating. By this time next year we’ll know what the move to select Brissett cost them, and we already know what selecting Mallett cost them, which saw them miss out on some key players. Considering Mallett never had to play a meaningful snap and never really developed, it’s disappointing to think of what could have been had they gone in a different direction.
After using a 3rd-round pick last weekend, there will likely be some second-guessing yet again in the coming years, but so far offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has been pleased with the selection of Brissett and he’s confident that he has the work ethic to be successful in this system.
“Jacoby is a big, strong kid. He’s got great football character. He’s an intelligent kid. Learns well,” McDaniels said via ESPN.com. “He was recruited by Coach Weis down there in Florida before he went to North Carolina State, so we’ve spoken to quite a few people about him, and just his work ethic, his leadership, just the way he handles himself in the building, there are a lot of good traits to like.”
As Garoppolo heads into his third NFL season, it’s a key time for any quarterback and in his case, this might be the closest he’ll ever be to starting depending on how the DeflateGate situation plays out should Brady’s suspension stand. To take it a step further, should the situation change here where Brady suddenly falls off and Garoppolo becomes a starter in the next couple of years and continues the Patriots’ winning ways, no one will question the selection and they’ll be glad he’s here.
For now, while missing out on someone Landry may have hurt them last year, 2016 may see them finally reap the benefits of picking Garoppolo, especially if he opens the year strong and keeps them in contention for Brady to step back in and put together another championship run. While it probably wasn’t what they envisioned when they drafted him, it’s the job of any back-up to play well when the starter isn’t out there. Hopefully if his number is called, Garoppolo will be ready.
Garoppolo & Stork Lead Football Clinic – Speaking of Garoppolo, he joined center Bryan Stork at Harvard Stadium on Wednesday, leading a football skills clinic for 150 high school students with disabilities.
According to the Worcester Telegram, Garoppolo is trying to adjust to the additional focus on him now that the possibility exists he could be the Patriots’ starter to begin 2016 should Brady’s suspension stand.
The third-year quarterback said he had fun during the clinic, and he thanked the kids who attended and hoped they enjoyed it as much as he did.
“Thanks for having us out again. It’s my second time here. I came (last time) with Malcolm (Butler). We had a great time,” Garoppolo told the kids via Telegram.com. “Some impressive throwing out there today … We had a great time, felt welcomed, and it was a really cool atmosphere. … It was a fun day. Hope you guys had fun, too.”
Harmon Visits Elementary School – Also doing his part in the community was Patriots safety Duron Harmon, who recently spent time with kids at Cedar Elementary speaking with students while teaching them about the importance of nutrition, exercise and studying.
According to WickedLocal.com, Harmon educated the students on the importance of eating a healthy breakfast to ensure they have plenty of energy throughout the day to be successful both athletically and in the classroom.
“You want to help your brain work to the best of its ability,” Duron told them, while also asking the students what their favorite breakfast foods were.
Harmon also challenged them to try and do more than doing just enough to finish with passing grades, citing Bill Belichick as he encouraged them to try and excel and to push themselves to be as successful as they can in the classroom.
“A C is passing, but do you want to pass or do you want to be the best?” asked Harmon. “What do you think Coach Belichick wants us to be?”
Hopefully he got the message across.
Mitchell and Witherspoon Talk Books on Twitter – Not sure if you caught this but newly drafted receiver Malcolm Mitchell and actress Reese Witherspoon recently had an exchange on Twitter discussing their favorite books.
Mitchell, who came out with a children’s book and is an avid reader with his own book club, was invited to join Witherspoon’s book club by the actress via Twitter, who obviously learned about his story and called him “inspiring”.
— Reese Witherspoon (@RWitherspoon) May 1, 2016
— Malcolm Mitchell (@Money_Mitch26) May 1, 2016
Thank you! I will definitely check it out. Have you read Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn? I think you will enjoy it! https://t.co/VNLckWijsZ
— Malcolm Mitchell (@Money_Mitch26) May 3, 2016
— Reese Witherspoon (@RWitherspoon) May 4, 2016
— Malcolm Mitchell (@Money_Mitch26) May 4, 2016
Just two people talking books on Twitter. Good stuff.
SOCIAL POST OF THE DAY:
Tom Brady pushing his love for avocado ice cream:
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