New England Patriots News 2-11, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
February 11, 2018 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here are your Sunday’s Patriots news 2-11, & AFC East Notes.

It has been a long week but not short for news when it comes to the Patriots. After a thrilling Super Bowl where the team came up short, the team officially lost Matt Patricia who signed to become the Head Coach of the Detroit Lions. Then Josh McDaniels did an about-face and decided to return to New England to become the official “coach-in-waiting” for Bill Belichick’s retirement. McDaniels’ decision, brought the ire (and understandably so) of the Colts. Then the Tom Brady non-story that developed… We’ll get to them all, but as we say all the time, the Patriots could be considered many things, but boring is never one.

And perhaps the biggest possible news is that Rob Gronkowski is contemplating retirement to become a Hollywood action star. While we’d want to see him remain here in a Patriots uniform, he made a great Russian “heavy” in a James Bond film.

We’ll have to wait and see how this plays out before we actually see this having a definitive conclusion. Gronk did have a cameo in an action film about a year ago. (Pictured below)

Borges Saga, A Sad Sign of the Times:
If you were up late on Thursday night, no doubt you saw the shocking story penned by the Herald’s Ron Borges that said that he, (Borges) had sources close to Brady that said that the Patriots QB was fed up with being paid like a middle of the road QB and that after seeing the big money deal that his former backup Jimmy Garoppolo signed with the 49ers (5 years, $137 million), that he’d hold out and not show up to OTAs until he was paid a similar amount.

Immediately other Patriots beat writers started hitting their own sources. Doug Kyed on NESN very soon after Borges’ column hit, published his own saying that it was false. Tom E. Curran of NBC Sports Boston posted that his Patriots sources said that the Borges report “was off the reservation.” Why the discrepancy?

Borges believed that his “source” was none other than Brady’s agent, Don Yee himself. Except it wasn’t. Borges was duped, “catfished” is the term that is bandied about today and was taken in. Somehow, one of the trolls that are everywhere on the internet found out Borges’ number and began texting him, pretending to be Yee. The elaborate hoax was played to the hilt, although to a lesser degree, these incidents are quite common. And this is the time of year where the fake Twitter accounts abound.

Between the NFL Combine and the 2018 NFL Draft, every day, multiple fake accounts claiming to be ESPN’s Adam Schefter or NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport will tweet out fantastic trade scenarios or breaking news that will inflame the masses for a few fleeting moments. But this one went much deeper.

Borges, a veteran writer (I won’t say ink-stained) thought he had an exclusive from Yee. And was completely duped. And the vast majority of Patriots fans were just fine with it since Borges has always been a target of vitriol from fans due to his perceived negative spin on everything Patriots, rivaling only perhaps a Boston Globe writer who constantly harps on the negative.

Borges is hardly without fault here, yes he was duped, but should have known better. But he fell for the all-too-common trap today of wanting to be first on the story instead of accurate. An all too common occurrence in today’s news. Plus the fact, you can see by his text messages, he wanted that story to be true. So, he ignored the fact he should have confirmed it and ran with it. The Herald put it on its back cover of their Friday morning edition.

The Herald was forced to issue a retraction of the story and suspended Borges.

“A column by Ron Borges in today’s Herald regarding Patriot Tom Brady’s salary discussions was based on information which proved to be false,” the paper said in a statement. “The Herald apologizes to Brady, his agent Don Yee and the Patriots, and to our readers for this erroneous report. Borges’ column has been suspended pending further review.”

Perhaps more puzzling was the reception that the con artist received on-air with WEEI host Kirk Minihane. Minihane was doing his over-the-top schict on this and stopped just short of announcing that he and this person set up Borges.

WEEI can hardly point fingers here, they hired the biggest dupe in Boston sports history in John Tomase. Tomase was catfished into believing a “source” that the Patriots taped the Rams walk thru of  Super Bowl XXXVI. That was quickly proven false but the truth was lost somewhere and now that is repeated so often, that most people in the U.S. believe it to be truth. So much so in fact the Eagles ran a fake walk thru prior to this week’s Super Bowl, “in case the Patriots were watching.”

And while Tomase is a regular on WEEI’s airwaves, no one is allowed to question him at all about his false report. Yet Minihane went on a rant about Kyed for apparently stealing his thunder, when Kyed had called it false a full 8-hours before. Bad look.

There were no winners here, only losers. One has to truly feel for excellent Herald Patriots beat writers Jeff Howe, Karen Guregian and Adam Kurkjian who will have to deal with the aftermath of this mess.

McDaniels Situation, While Great for New England, Could’ve Been Handled Better:
“Oh what a tangled mess we weave…” While the Patriots were preparing for the Super Bowl, the Colts thought that the oral agreement that they had with Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels to become their next head coach was firm.

Then on Sunday, Colts GM Chris Ballard had to deal with tragedy as LB Edwin Jackson and his Uber driver Jeffrey Monroe were killed on the side of the road by a drunk driver. Rumors were swirling that McDaniels was having second thoughts during the game but nothing was said publicly.

On Monday the Patriots did their exit interviews, on Tuesday, the Colts were preparing to send a plane to pick up McDaniels for him and announced his introductory press conference. That’s  when it all fell apart.

Robert and Jonathan Kraft, along with Bill Belichick made a concerted effort to McDaniels to keep him and become the next coach after Belichick retires. That along with a significant raise and a long-term commitment, tipped the scales.

McDaniels called Ballard at 7:15 that night and broke the news, Ballard said that he was blindsided at the altar, and rightfully so. They thought they had an agreement and although nothing was signed, the Colts wanted McDaniels and assumed vice versa.

The Colts are now back to square one and forced to go back and interview prospective coaches. Ballard had even signed assistant coaches, who are the real ones out on a limb here. While Ballard has every right to be mad at the jilting he got, he probably, in hindsight should not have signed any of the assistants until McDaniels put the pen to paper.

McDaniels could have definitely handled this in a better manner although it seems the Patriots didn’t make a concerted effort to retain him until the 11th hour.

The Patriots were set to lose three coordinators, Patricia, McDaniels and STs coach Joe Judge who was set to follow McDaniels to Indianapolis. But now McDaniels is remaining and Judge is supposedly working on a deal with the staff.

Brady’s Detractors Jump at the Super Bowl Loss, But the Numbers Don’t Lie:
The Super Bowl was barely over before the same naysayers that follow Tom Brady around like gum on your shoe were out in force. Despite the fact that Brady threw for a SB record of 505 yards and 3 TDs with 0 Interceptions, it was conveniently dumped on Brady’s lap that “he choked.”

When you reach the Super Bowl, there are no more doormats to pad your stats against. The two finalists are the best teams in each conference…right? So we went back to the last three Super Bowls and looked at Brady’s numbers. And compared them to two of his contemporaries that he’s most often compared to, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning. To be fair, we included Rodgers’ one Super Bowl and his last two conference championship game appearances. We included all four of Manning’s Super Bowl appearances so that no one could use the excuse that one was left out that tipped the scales.

Peyton Manning’s four Super Bowl appearances: 1001 yards, 3 TDs, 5 Interceptions.
Aaron Rodgers (1 SB, 2 Conf.CGs) appearances: 769 yards, 7 TDs, 3 Interceptions
Tom Brady (SB XLIX, LI, LII) appearances: 1299 yards, 9 TDs 3 Interceptions

These last three SBs are at the age (37-40) when Brady is supposed to be approaching “the cliff” and his numbers are anything but. In the Super Bowls, Brady has completed 101 of 160 passes (63 %), for 1299 yards (8.1 ypa) for 9 TDs and 3 INTs for a 99.5 QBR. Those numbers compare quite favorably to his peers when on the biggest stage.

Brady Takes to Instagram to Thank Fans:
Tom Brady has stated that he is jetting down to Costa Rica to get some family time in and get some beach time as well as attend a family wedding but before he did, he wanted to thank the fans for all the support this season.

 

It has taken me a few days to reflect on our SB loss as well as the great season our team had. There are many emotions when you come up short of your goal. And they are all part of learning and growing in this journey of life. Learning turns everything into a postitive. And the number one feeling I have had the past 4 days is gratitude. Gratitude to my teammates for the incredible effort given all season regardless of the challenges we faced. Gratitude toward my coaches for the effort and sacrifice they make to put us players in the best position to win. Gratitude to the NEP organization for supporting us on our very challenging and difficult journey. Gratitude to the Philadelphia Eagles team and organization for bringing out the best in us and being gracious winners (as well as congratulations on winning the championship) Gratitude toward our fans who showed up every week to cheer us on and commit their time and energy and love and support to what our goals are. And gratitude to my family and friends who continue to love and support my dreams. Thank you all. I love you all. Best, Tom

A post shared by Tom Brady (@tombrady) on

Free Agency Questions Loom, Replacing Butler Tops the List:
The next big item on the Patriots agenda will be the decisions on their own free agents, which we’ll address individually in the coming days. The Patriots have several areas that they’ll need to address either in FA or in the upcoming draft, but the first will be to replace Malcolm Butler at cornerback.

Several of the beat writers have mentioned that the Patriots could be in the market to swing trades with either the Broncos for Aqib Talib, bringing him back to NE or with the Seahawks for Richard Sherman. Neither of these are pie-in-the-sky wishes, however they’d have to do some creative cap space control to make it work for either.

Jeff Howe reported that the Patriots tried to swing a trade with Seattle a year ago and that Sherman is open to coming to play for New England. With a possible house cleaning going on in Seattle, that could be something to watch.

Combine Will Begin the Preparation for 2018:
Although the team is busy preparing for the 2018 season already, the next events to keep an eye on are as follows.

Feb. 20:When teams can begin designating franchise tag or transition tag to players
Feb. 27- Mar 6:  NFL Scouting Combine begins
Mar. 12-14 – NFL Legal Tampering Period (Can negotiate with pending unrestricted free agents)
Mar. 14 – New league year begins at 4:00 p.m New York time (Can being trading, signing unrestricted free agents)

Eastbound and Down…AFC East Notes:

Bills, Need a Franchise QB and an Edge Rusher:
Although the Buffalo Bills made the playoffs for the first time in several years in 2017, the Bills enter 2018 with some big holes to fill. Notably at quarterback and along the defensive line.

The team seems to be moving away from QB Tyrod Taylor and every possible free agent QB has been the subject of rumors to the Bills, including, Alex Smith (now traded to Washington), Sam Bradford, Nick Foles, Kirk Cousins and more. They are also supposedly high on Oklahoma QB Baker Mayfield.

Buffalo also needs help on the edge, their only true edge rusher is Jerry Hughes and he’s hot and cold. Buffalo logged only 27 sacks a year ago, while they get creative with their blitz packages, another edge rusher will certainly help.

Dolphins Hopes Again Rest On Tannehill:
Miami had high hopes entering the 2017 season, they’d won 10 games in 2016 and made the playoffs and put together plenty of weapons around Ryan Tannehill. But Tannehill was injured in training camp and never played a down. The team spent $10 million on Jay Cutler and to say he was a disappointment would be putting it mildly.

Miami dropped to 6-10 and now the Dolphins hopes are once again tied to Tannehill and more importantly this season, his health. If he’s ready to go, the Dolphins offense should be much improved in 2018, the rust factor obviously will be something to watch early in the season but he gives them their best chance to win now.

The running game will miss Jay Ajayi who was very impressive in Philadelphia, after being traded away. And the question will be can Kenyan Drake hold up being a feature back for an entire 16 game season?

Jets Too Need a QB, Could Josh Allen Be the Guy?
The New York Jets have several holes to fill this season and of course the first and most glaring is…who will QB the team select to be Gang Green’s next QB?

ESPN’s Todd McShay believes that the Jets will eschew free agency to find their franchise signal caller and believes they will target Wyoming’s Josh Allen in the upcoming 2018 NFL Draft.

The  6’5”, 240-pound Allen passed for 5,015 yards, 44 touchdowns and 21 interceptions while completing 56.2% of his passes in 25 games, during the past two seasons for the Cowboys.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and myself from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.



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Steve Balestrieri

About Steve Balestrieri

A former US Army Special Forces NCO and Officer, Steve has been following the Patriots since their days at Fenway Park. Steve has worked in the film industry and writes as an Editor at SpecialOperations.com and as a reporter for the Millbury Daily Voice, Millbury-Sutton Chronicle, and the Grafton News. He's also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America (PFWA)


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