(Steve is away this week, so I’ll be filling in for him and trying to fill some pretty big shoes. He’ll be back next weekend)
Good morning, everyone. Here’s a look at this week’s New England Patriots News and NFL Notes for Sunday, May 24th, 2020.
Quick Hitters For the Pats, and the NFL:
Ninkovich picks Hoyer over Stidham: Jarrett Stidham may be the fan favorite, but former Patriot Rob Ninkovich believes it will be Brian Hoyer, not Stidham, under center to start 2020. He believes experience will be the reason, with Bill Belichick opting to go with a veteran to begin the year. That seems unlikely, primarily given the fact there’s no time like the present to put Stidham’s feet to the fire. Besides, given his history, the odds of Hoyer getting through the entire season without faltering seems unlikely at best. As a result, the best case is simply to hope the second-year QB can step up and win the job.
Patriots “Super Back” is Ready to Go: Fullback Danny Vitale heads into the preseason with a good opportunity to earn a role and has a solid nickname to go along with it.
The former Northwestern standout had the moniker of “super back” in college, which he earned due to the fact he did so much in the offense. “Yeah, it’s funny, actually. I had never heard of a super back before I got to college, either, but basically it was just like an H-back, a move tight end,” said Vitale via 98.5 The Sports Hub. “Northwestern, back when I was there, didn’t use a true hand-in-the-dirt tight end, so I played a little bit in the slot – a lot of times in the slot – on the wing, fullback when they used it and played a lot of receiver, basically, as well. It was just a kind of versatile player who could do a little bit of everything, and it was good for me because it kept me on the field playing 60 plays a game, sometimes more there.”
We all know Bill Belichick loves versatility. But more importantly, given the injuries they’ve suffered in recent years, durability and reliability are definitely two traits that also make him attractive. Vitale seems to check all the boxes and the fact he’s such a good athlete certainly changes the dynamic of how they might use him. Needless to say, it will just be fun to see him hopefully put it all together.
SOLD – Kraft’s Super Bowl Ring: Robert Kraft made a surprising move this week, parting with something pretty special after putting up one of his Super Bowl rings up for auction. The crazy part was the fact the ring he selected was the one associated with the greatest comeback in Super Bowl History and it sold in a charity auction this week. It was featured in the “All-In Challenge” where the proceeds ended up being substantial. Kraft’s ring sold for a staggering $1,025,000, with the money going to Feeding America, Meals On Wheels, World Central Kitchen and No Kid Hungry charities. It’s definitely quite an acquisition for whoever purchased it and the historic nature of what it represents. If you don’t get chills just thinking about that game, you may need to go watch it again.
Like Brady, Rodgers may not finish his career with his original team.
Rodgers Has Doubts About Future with Packers: The selection of quarterback Jordan Love in Green Bay is already starting to have its expected effect. Aaron Rodgers recently admitted he doesn’t know what his future holds as Packers quarterback.
“Well, I think what it does is just reinforce kind of the adage that you can only control what you can control,” Rodgers said in a recent press conference. “And it’s always been, you know, a mantra for myself. I think any, you know, any great athlete, there’s things that are just out of our control. That obviously is something that’s very important to me but I think is definitely, the feeling at this point, that that is truly something that’s out of my control. What I can control is how I play and making that decision at some point a very hard one. You know, if I were to retire on the organization’s timetable, then it’s an easy decision. But if there comes a time where I still I feel like I can play at a high level and my body feels great, there are other guys that have gone on and played elsewhere.”
If you caught Rodgers referring to himself as a “great athlete”, you too likely cringed at his clear lack of humility. But it’s obvious that the odds of the veteran quarterback finishing his career with Green Bay just dropped dramatically and he definitely sees the writing on the wall.
Stafford’s Future In Detroit In Doubt: Matthew Stafford recently put his house on the market, leading to speculation that his future might be coming to a close with the Lions. The move isn’t surprising. Head coach Matt Patricia is under pressure to produce results and there have already reportedly been trade discussions this offseason involving Stafford, although no deal was ever reached. Stafford has remained emphatic that he’d like to remain with the Lions, but this step indicates that his time with the club could be coming to a close. The home is beautiful and sits on the water and is listed at $6.5 million.
However, his wife took to social media to try and shoot down the rumors. She claims the fact the two have young children now makes being near water a concern in terms of their safety, which she said is the real reason they’re deciding to move. “That house has been incredible. We’ll never have another house like it,” said Kelly. “So it is a super sad thing, but it just makes us feel better knowing that there’s no real dangers of having tiny ones running around all the bodies of water, so that is the reason.”
The NFL is a cold business and Florida Sun-Sentinel reporter Omar Kelly suggested back in January that the relationship between Patricia and Stafford is “an issue”. Although he also thought in the same Tweet that New England might be a landing spot, so take it for what it’s worth.
Former Bills QB Kelly says “Something’s Wrong” if Bills Don’t Take Back AFC EAST: After surprising everyone with 10 wins and a playoff appearance, expectations are high in Buffalo heading into 2020 and former QB Jim Kelly is leading the charge. He thinks his former club is currently the team to beat now that Brady is out of the way. All the Bills need to do is take care of business. “If they don’t, then something’s wrong,” Kelly said via NBC Sports Boston. “I mean, Tom Brady is not there to block you anymore. So that, to me, is huge.” While Kelly does have a point, the bigger issue for New England is the fact the Bills defense was one of their strengths last season. However, if anyone can help Stidham potentially figure things out and give them a shot, Josh McDaniels is certainly the guy to get it done.
One of the best parts heading into this year is the fact we really don’t know what to expect, which is what will make every game so interesting to watch. But whether or not that means a changing of the guard is coming remains to be seen and fortunately, the coaching edge remains on New England’s side heading into this season.
Despite a strong finish, O’Shea didn’t survive his first year in Miami.
Whispers Surrounding O’Shea’s Departure Were Surprising:
Speaking of coaching, one of the interesting stories of this week involved the offseason firing of Dolphins offensive coordinator and former Patriots receivers coach, Chad O’Shea down in Miami and the details on the firing definitely raised eyebrows.
Miami finished out the 2019 season with a two game win-streak that saw them put up 38 and 27 points respectively, the last of which included a come-from-behind win over New England at Gillette Stadium. That victory was huge for Brian Flores, who closed out his first season as head coach on a high-note with a devastating win over his former team. It was a dagger that spoiled a potential bye for the Patriots, providing some solace for Dolphins fans who had just endured a 5-11 season.
The loss ultimately ruined any shot the Patriots had to rest and regroup to try and make a postseason run. Instead Bill Belichick’s club ended up getting knocked off in the Wild Card round against a Tennessee Titans team that came into Foxboro with momentum and rode it all the way into the AFC Championship game.
However, the win wasn’t enough as O’Shea found himself on the outside looking in after the dust settled.
We found out the reason why this week. According to the Miami Herald, O’Shea attempted to install a New England-like system at Miami that the younger players simply couldn’t handle. Anyone who has followed the Patriots over the years knows how difficult the receiver position has been when it comes to new guys coming in. Those problems apparently carried over as O’Shea just couldn’t get his guys on the same page.
That led to what one player told the newspaper ended up being a “[expletive show]”, as O’Shea tried to teach a system that players apparently complained was too complex for a young team.
Behind the scenes, it led to a conflict that started building. As players struggled, O’Shea reportedly told Flores that they didn’t know the playbook. On the other side, the same report said players placed the blame back on O’Shea for how it was being taught.
In the middle was quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who by all accounts it sounds like did the “translation”, as he actually did understand the offense. Being a former Harvard standout and an NFL veteran with 15-years of experience, it wasn’t as complex for him as it would be for a rookie. As a result, he reportedly took a bigger role in the offense, which helped overcome some of those issues.
Unfortunately, it still left Flores with a difficult decision. The two worked together during their time in New England and that relationship obviously helped in the two reuniting in Miami. But clearly, there must have been enough evidence of those issues for the first-year head coach to part ways with O’Shea.
Following his departure, the embattled coordinator landed in Cleveland where his official title is listed as “Wide Receivers Coach and Passing Game Coordinator”. Best of luck to O’Shea, who faces an even bigger challenge with the Browns as they’re in need of plenty of help after a frustrating 2019 season.
Tom Brady Docuseries Coming in 2021:
For anyone who took the time to watch ESPN’s The Last Dance, which was a documentary series on Michael Jordan, it appears one may be coming involving Brady in 2021.
According to reports, the Network is planning one for the former Patriots QB next year, which will reportedly be titled “Man in the Arena: Tom Brady”.
ESPN made the announcement on Thursday, with the series expected to be a nine-episode look “from Brady’s perspective at the six NFL titles and three Super Bowl defeats”.
If it comes together like The Last Dance did, it should be interesting to watch.
One thing worth noting is the fact the production company that Brady previously announced, 199 Productions, is listed as one of the series producers.
Brady announced the project on his Twitter page this week, with the quarterback explaining where the name of the title came from.
“I have quoted Theodore Roosevelt’s ‘Man in the Arena’ speech since I saw it painted on our weight room wall at UM in 1995. It’s a constant reminder to ignore the noise, buckle my chinstrap, and battle through whatever comes my way,” Tweeted Brady.
The trailer is also interesting if you haven’t seen it with Brady admitting, “Man, that’s quite a journey” as he looks back at how far he’s come.
I have quoted Theodore Roosevelt’s “Man in the Arena” speech since I saw it painted on our weight room wall at UM in 1995. It’s a constant reminder to ignore the noise, buckle my chinstrap, and battle through whatever comes my way.
— Tom Brady (@TomBrady) May 21, 2020
Changes Coming to PatsFans.com
On a final note, some changes are coming to the site in the coming weeks as I continue doing some work behind-the-scenes to get us ready for this season.
One change includes an upgrade to our Patriots Message Board, which is going to take on a completely different look in the new design. The functionality will remain similar, save for some additional improvements, but it will be cleaner and an overall sleeker experience.
If you’ve followed the evolution of this site since I launched it prior to the 2001 season (I had no idea what was about to happen) you’ve probably noticed that it tends to evolve every couple of years. If you’re a member in our community, this latest step should hopefully be one of the better upgrades the site has received in recent years. So definitely keep an eye out for that.
There will also be some additional site features and improvements heading into the season, including a free picks contest that we’ll be running again in 2021 with some additional games. Again, these will be free to all our registered members so if you haven’t signed up, visit the forum and register for an account. You can also sign up to our email list below and you’ll get a notification there as well.
In the meantime, hope all of you have a safe holiday weekend and don’t forget to Subscribe To Our Podcast, “Patriots Fourth & Two”, on Stitcher.
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: 2020 Patriots Offseason Aaron Rodgers Bill Belichick Brian Hoyer Buffalo Bills Chad O'Shea Danny Vitale Detroit Lions Green Bay Packers Jarrett Stidham Jim Kelly Matthew Stafford Miami Dolphins New England Patriots Rob Ninkovich Robert Kraft Super Bowl Tom Brady