It’s Friday, with a couple of interesting tidbits to close out the week.
Will Gronk End up on the trading block? – One of the topics of discussion coming out of the league meetings centered around the future of Rob Gronkowski, with Boston Sports Journal’s Greg Bedard probably providing the best insight out of anyone as it pertains to the tight end’s future.
Bedard reported that he spoke to agent Drew Rosenhaus, who wouldn’t give an answer either way on Gronkowski’s plans for 2018. Bedard happened to mention that the tight end has been spotted at the stadium working out, which lead to a hesitation before Rosenhaus responded that he didn’t have an update. However, the impression Bedard took away from the conversation was that not even Rosenhaus is sure about what Gronkowski is planning on doing.
One other point that Bedard pointed out was that with Gronkowski contemplating his future, that mindset may be leading Belichick to consider trading him, with one source telling Bedard, “He imagines you gone”, referring to Belichick’s thought process when it comes to players who start slipping into that stage of their careers.
Bedard believes sending Gronkowski out of the conference to San Francisco and reuniting him with Jimmy Garoppolo makes the most sense, with one AFC general manager agreeing with him.
Given Belichick’s calculated approach this past season, the thought of moving Gronkowski wouldn’t come as a shock but it would most certainly strike a nerve with Brady, who would lose one of the most effective weapons he’s had during his career. The return of Julian Edelman would soften that blow, but if Gronk was to be moved, that essentially takes away 43.4% of Brady’s completions on third down last season after both Danny Amendola (who took an offer from the Dolphins as a free agent this offseason) and Gronkowski each accounted for 36 third-down receptions and 31 first downs. The latter total is the more alarming one because the team had 63 receiving first downs on third down during the regular season in 2017, which means that the players who accounted for 49% of those would be gone. Included in that total were nine touchdowns, four of which were made by Gronkowski (3) and Amendola (1).
Edelman’s return will most certainly help, but not having another possession receiver like Gronkowski would most definitely make Brady’s life more difficult and putting all that pressure on Edelman coming off of a significant knee injury seems unwise.
Needless to say, it will potentially make for another tough situation. While the team seems to be operating as if they plan on having Gronkowski in the fold for 2018, everyone knows how quickly things can change. Whether or not Belichick would be willing to pull that trigger remains to be seen, but stranger things have certainly happened.
Caserio In Louisville – The Patriots continued doing their due diligence on draft prospects as the NFL Network’s Andrew Groover reported on Thursday that Nick Caserio was among 31 team representatives on hand to take in Louisville’s Pro Day, which included quarterback Lamar Jackson.
One of the criticisms on Jackson has been the question about whether or not he can be as effective under center, as most of his snaps in college came primarily out of the shotgun.
He’s obviously aware of those whispers after he reportedly made 59 throws on his pro day, which each came from under center. He reportedly showed good accuracy and good touch on his deep throws, but one thing that surprised many was the fact he reportedly didn’t run a 40-yard dash, which puzzled those who were there considering how athletic he is.
Jackson, however, isn’t worried about it and doesn’t believe anyone else should be either.
“I feel, game speed is going to tell it all,” said Jackson. “You’ve got to catch me first. I’ve proved that.”
Whether or not Jackson fits New England’s system seems unlikely. For a team that values precision passers, Jackson doesn’t seem to fall into that category. Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com wrote in his report that throws outside the hashmark were an issue.
“However, the concern I have about his accuracy throwing the ball outside the hashes still exists,” writes Jeremiah. “That’s still something he’s working through. He was inconsistent in that regard on Thursday. I would like to have seen him make more drive throws during the workout, but he really emphasized underneath and touch throws.”
Perhaps Caserio needed to see for himself what type of player Jackson is and likely gained some insight into other Louisville prospects, which should be something to watch. With the draft a month away, it makes for some interesting further speculation for a team that obviously has needs to fill.
Garoppolo won all five of his starts in San Francisco last season. (USA TODAY Images)
Shanahan Method Mirrors New England – One of the things that was talked about following the Patriots’ historic comeback win over the Falcons was something that Tom Brady took advantage of as the team starting going fast against Atlanta, which played a key role in their dramatic championship victory.
Brady told Peter King in a podcast shortly after that game that one of the advantages of accelerating into the no-huddle offense is the fact that the coach-to-quarterback communications last until there’s 15 seconds left on the play clock, which allowed he and Josh McDaniels more time to diagnose defenses and figure out the best match-up to move the football. It was an interesting revelation, with Brady saying it’s been extremely effective and something that definitely helps in those moments where they’re picking up the tempo on an opponent.
Out in San Francisco, that’s something that new head coach Kyle Shanahan admitted he did with Jimmy Garoppolo last season, although Shanahan admitted that he too has taken advantage of that rule in the past.
“If you can get to the line of scrimmage quick enough and you can talk to him, especially the situation Jimmy was in last year, where he needed as much as you could because of his lack of time in our offense,” Shanahan said this week. “Yes, we did that a lot with Jimmy. But it’s done with all quarterbacks.
“We’ve been doing that for a long time. That’s why we go no-huddle sometimes, so we can get to the line of scrimmage and you can see stuff and you can talk until 15 seconds. We’ve been doing that for a number of years.”
It obviously worked out as Garoppolo went on to play in six games, starting five of them and he won each of those starts. Overall, he finished 120-of-178 (67.4%) for 1560 yards with 7 touchdowns and 5 interceptions.
Garoppolo obviously had more time this offseason to get more immersed in the offense, and Shanahan is just hoping that barking in his ear doesn’t make him too crazy.
“Hopefully, it doesn’t make him worse,” Shanahan quipped. “He played pretty well last year.”
Howe Leaving the Herald – For anyone who follows the Patriots beat with any regularity, Jeff Howe of the Boston Herald has quietly become one of the top reads among the reporting group.
For those who may not be aware of his history, Howe started out as a hard-working guy at NESN who put together thoughtful and insightful content on a daily basis – even during a period of the offseason where there was absolutely nothing going on – helping make NESN.com a solid destination for Patriots content before the Boston Herald eventually hired him following the departure of Ian Rapoport from the Patriots beat.
According to Boston.com media beat writer Chad Finn, Howe is reportedly moving to an internet start-up called “The Athletic” and will continue his work there.
Howe made the announcement on Twitter but not his destination, calling his time at the Herald “the best six years of my life”.
With a ton of emotion, I want you all to know this is my final day at the Boston Herald. I do have another job and will share that news in the near future, but I want to take today to express how much it’s meant to me to spend the six best years of my life at the Herald.
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) March 29, 2018
The Athletic is a subscription-based site focused on journalism and not the click bait and other such articles that tend to plague other sites that rely on clicks and ad impressions and are forced to include that style of content. It was started by Adam Hansmann and Alex Mather in 2016 and according to Crunchbase.com, they’ve raised $27.7 million and currently cover 15 of the 32 NFL teams, with the Patriots obviously about to be added to that list.
What’s interesting about the move is the news comes just a year after Greg Bedard launched BostonSportsJournal.com, with Chris Price and our own Miguel Benzan joining him to handle the Patriots coverage. The site, which covers each pro team, has slowly made progress and Bedard has done a good job as he’s surrounded himself with talent and has already managed to add 8,000 subscribers in his first year, producing quality content.
As for The Athletic, their subscription does give access to all teams they provide coverage for, so for fans who are interested in a multitude of teams, it certainly fits that bill. But the thing that might be interesting to watch here locally will be whether or not fans will open up and support a rival company when they have local guys doing it on their own without the millions behind them that The Athletic has.
Howe’s departure marks the second change they’ve gone through recently. According to BostonSportsMedia’s Bruce Allen, they recently laid off long-time columnist Ron Borges, who was involved in a Catfish-style episode last month where a fan pretended to be Tom Brady’s agent, Don Yee, and provided false information to Borges that he, unfortunately, published and it ran on the newspaper’s front page. The Herald suspended his column after that episode, but the timing was tough as it came not long after the news came of the paper officially being sold to Digital First Media. No word on whether or not that played into him being laid off, but it likely didn’t help his cause.
As for Howe, those of us who know him definitely wish him well. Either way, the Boston Herald now faces the challenge of replacing a very good beat reporter as they look to fill what is suddenly a very big void.
Posted Under: Daily Patriots Notebook