Good morning, here is your Sunday Patriots news 05-09 and AFC East Notes this morning.
Happy Mother’s Day to all the great moms who give so much of themselves to the families on this day.
Have you checked out our team news feature for all 32 teams yet? It is a great resource to keep up with what is going on all across the NFL.
Aaron Rodgers: When this story appeared during the NFL Draft, I admittedly looked upon it as nothing, just a ploy to get more say in things, as Tom Brady was enjoying in Tampa Bay. Now, it isn’t remotely that simple.
Now it seems like Rodgers is intent on forcing his way out of Green Bay, and how and even more important… when this plays out will be intriguing. Last year Rodgers was lobbying for more weapons for the offense. Green Bay used their 1st round draft pick on his replacement, Jordan Love with the 26th pick in the draft. And that started the ongoing split between Rodgers and the organization.
Many people equate what is going on with Rodgers and the Patriots drafting Brady’s heir apparent in Jimmy Garoppolo in 2014. While both QBs were 37 at the time of the drafts, it isn’t close to the same thing. For one, the Packers kept their decision to draft Rodgers’ heir apparent a secret. The Patriots let Brady know, and he welcomed the challenge.
But beyond that, Rodgers’ issue with the Packers is not personnel, but personal. And as we’ve seen with his own family, Rodgers can and will hold a grudge.
Rob Gronkowski: While many Patriots fans need a double dose of red-a$$ salve after the uber-talented tight end signed with Tampa Bay last season, he remains committed, at least in part with the New England community.
Gronk thanked the Patriots and Patriots’ owner Robert Kraft during a ceremony on his $1.2 million donation toward a playground for city kids.
“The Patriots taught me the importance of giving back the very first day I stepped into that organization,” Gronkowski said. “So a huge shout out to Mr. Kraft and the Patriots for installing that into me and showing me the importance of giving back, and they’re still doing that to this day.”
The playground is slated to open in 2022 on the Esplanade, across from Massachusetts Eye and Ear. Gronkowski said the location was chosen specifically.
“It’s a perfect location because it’s where the duck boats come in and out of the Charles River, and you know I love duck boats. Who knows? Maybe we might have a duck boat in the playground, too. I don’t see why not,” he said.
Christian Barmore: Barmore has been the subject of plenty of question marks about his play, which happens frequently, but recent Twitter blowups between Greg Bedard who owns Boston Sports Journal, and many Twitterati over character concerns and off-field questions, have fueled controversy of the Patriots 2nd round pick.
Apparently, it was reported on social media (and we know how accurate that is), that Bedard said that Barmore had done something so heinous that would derail his career. And that neither Bill Belichick nor Nick Saban knew anything about it. Just a few days ago Saban came to Barmore’s defense and said the coaches never had any issues with him, either football or academics related.
This is something that the Patriots don’t need to hear about in a young player they just moved up for in the draft in Round 2. The best thing the young man can do is to put his nose to the grindstone and be an excellent teammate, on and off the field.
Salary Cap Questions? Ask Miguel: There is no one with more knowledge when it comes to NE’s salary cap than our old buddy Miguel Benzan aka @Patscap. If you’re going anywhere else for salary cap information, you’re doing yourself a disservice.
4th & 2 Podcast – If you haven’t checked out our PatsFans.com podcast, “Patriots 4th & 2” in a bit, please check it out. Russ, Derek, and I recorded a post-draft podcast last Sunday.
Russ Francis/ Chuck Fairbanks: The former Patriot tight end and head coach both should be in the Patriots team Hall of Fame…this will be on our Sunday posts until it happens.
Bill Belichick’s right-hand man, Ernie Adams has ridden off into the sunset, retiring after a long NFL career that began with the Patriots during the Chuck Fairbanks years. But he and Belichick have known each other since their days at Phillips Andover Academy.
The two were together on the Giants but left for a bit while Adams made a bundle off of Wall St., and when Belichick took over the Browns, the pair was linked forever it seemed. Adams would have made a marvelous CIA operative. He was meticulous, organized, and completely faded into the background. Most fans would have never noticed in practices in training camp, but he was there, silently watching every little detail, each nuance of players. But what exactly did Adams do? He was, as Winston Churchill once said, a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.
But when it came to Belichick, nobody had his trust or his ear more than Adams. During games, Adams had a direct line down to Belichick, and the coach would always tell his coach on plays he should challenge. At halftime, Adams would relay to Belichick, many of the things he was noticing, and the team made third-quarter adjustments that were astounding through the years.
Belichick relied on Adams with scouting players for the NFL Draft, and the two would work together on game planning looking for the most minute of tendencies for opponents, that they’d use when preparing a game plan.
Perhaps the biggest feather in Adams’ cap, was the famous “Malcolm Go!” play in Super Bowl XLIX after the 2014 season against the Seahawks. Adams had noticed a tendency on the goalline for Seattle to run a pick play. The Patriots practiced for it, installed it in their game plan, and executed it to perfection at the end of a wild Super Bowl. While legions of Patriots haters will point to that as the play that “Pete Carroll handed them a Super Bowl”, Seattle had success running that play all season. The Patriots were prepared, thanks to Adams, and won the Lombardi that year.
We all remember the 2014 video of the Patriots season and the infamous “Pink Stripes” binder in his office. He will be missed by Belichick and the staff.
The Patriots drafted Oklahoma running back Rhamondre Stevenson with the 96th overall pick in the 4th round of the draft. And with the news that the team declined the fifth-year option on former first-round pick Sony Michel, it naturally set fans to wondering if this was the season that the Patriots would part ways with Michel, rather than waiting for him to become a free agent in 2022.
It is entirely possible, that Stevenson, who reminds several people of LaGarrette Blount because of his size and violent running style (Lance Zierlein called his running style “a human wrecking ball”), but he’s not a one-dimensional threat. He can also pass protect and is a good weapon out of the backfield. He caught 18 passes for 211 yards in just six games in 2020.
That versatility is something Michel has never displayed enough of, only flashes. The Patriots have had Rex Burkhead for the past few seasons, and he has the ability to run between the tackles as well as catch the ball out of the backfield. But if there was a knock on Burkhead is that he was bitten by the injury bug. He tore his ACL last year, and with the drafting of Stevenson, it would seem that the team won’t be bringing Burkhead, who is a free agent back in 2021.
The other thing that Stevenson has is core special teams’ ability. He was a core STs player at Oklahoma, something that Michel has never done. So, depending on how quickly Stevenson can pick up the Patriots’ offense and make a mark on their STs units, he could break the mold of many Patriots running backs who are basically “red-shirted” in their rookie seasons.
Of course, there is another possibility, and that Stevenson, because of his STs play could unseat long-time Patriots STs maven Brandon Bolden. Stevenson has more upside than Bolden offensively but obviously doesn’t have the experience that the long-time Patriot favorite in the locker room does. Raise your hand if you’ve heard countless times that Bolden could be replaced. But the clock keeps ticking and he could find himself on the outside.
A running back core of Damien Harris, Stevenson, James White, and J.J. Taylor would give the team plenty of versatility with either Jakob Johnson or Danny Vitale at fullback. They could always opt to keep Michel for one more season or Bolden. They could also opt to part with both. It promises to be a very interesting off-season for the running back crew of Ivan Fears.
If you haven’t had a chance to read Jeff Howe’s piece in the Athletic earlier last week, then make sure that you do. He has, as Howe wrote, a maniacal approach to his craft where even last weekend, after making his appearance at Foxboro with the Krafts, officially welcoming him to Foxboro, he zipped home to Alabama, not to celebrate, but to seek out his long-timing throwing coach to start working on the Patriots playbook.
Jones had just received his first look at the Patriots playbook and he was anxious to get a head start on it before the Patriots rookie mini-camp next week. Jones had unfailing belief in himself and even signing on with Alabama who already had Jalen Hurts and Tua Tagovailoa, he studied the playbook, put the time in, and impressed the Alabama coaches with his preparation, moxie, accuracy with the football, his leadership, and he made it look easy.
Jones already checks the blocks on all of the things that Bill Belichick looks for in a QB. During the draft last year, Daniel Jeremiah shared a nugget that he had received while working as a scout for the Baltimore Ravens in the early 2000s. Baltimore had relocated from Cleveland. When Belichick was in Cleveland, he had this snippet in the scouting department, and obviously, Baltimore thought enough about it to keep it.
At first glance, it looks like Belichick wrote this about Tom Brady, but when you think about the fact that Belichick wrote this about a decade before they drafted Brady, it explains why he had so much success in the Patriots’ system.
But looking at Jones, it is clear that he already checks most of the blocks that Belichick is looking for. Add in the piece from Howe about Jones’ work ethic, then he is definitely off to a very good start. As Belichick said, he has a long way to go, but if it is up to him, it won’t take long.
“We started the day and moved up to take [Christian] Barmore in the top part of the second round there. It’s pretty unusual to get the first defensive tackle to be drafted at that point and the first interior defensive lineman to be drafted at that point in the draft, so we traded up. Felt good about acquiring that and look forward to working with Christian. He’s played a number of different positions in Coach [Nick] Saban’s defense and has worked pretty much across the front from five-technique to the nose. So, obviously, as we talked about with Mac [Jones] yesterday, he’s been in a great program, has been very well-coached, and look forward to working with him. And then took Ronnie Perkins at the end of the third round there. Ronnie’s a disruptive player, physical outside linebacker defensive end-type. We’ll see how that goes when we get him here and work with him, but another guy that has good ability to be disruptive on defense and play physical has a very physical playing style.”
Bill Belichick’s comments about Day 2 of the draft and his feelings about the trade and moving up for Christian Barmore of Alabama.
“So, how was your week?”
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