I’ve had some things going on that have bogged me down recently but hopefully, we’ll get back to this being a daily feature. Here are this morning’s news and notes on this Monday.
1) I wrote this previously, but I believe that by not stomping his feet a month ago after the San Francisco 49ers traded up to the #3 overall selection, Jimmy Garoppolo has now put himself in a no-win situation.
Had Garoppolo made some noise and forced San Francisco to deal him prior to the draft, he would have potentially landed back in New England with a coach that actually wanted him and in another offense that matches his skillset. Instead, both teams replaced him with younger options and barring an unbelievable year and potentially a Super Bowl victory, his future beyond this year is suddenly pretty murky.
For New England, they’re set up for the future but it likely removed the “win now” option, which some reports have indicated was on Belichick’s mind when it came to exploring the idea of bringing Garoppolo back. Having played in this offense, as well as having already led a team to a February appearance, Garoppolo’s potential return would have allowed New England to hit the ground running with a roster that’s more than equipped to make a championship run. It would have taken financial maneuvering to make that happen on Garoppolo’s part, but the chance to go where he was wanted with a shot at a secure future probably would have swayed his thinking.
Instead, that possibility is gone, making 2021 likely a year that will be fun to watch, but probably won’t include a title run. As it is, the selection of Jones likely won’t be appreciated until possibly midseason, with the rookie quarterback more likely to make a second-year leap. Tom Brady sat for a full season before Drew Bledsoe’s injury elevated him into the starting role, and he was clearly ready. Asking Jones to one-up Brady and lead them to a title in his first year would be a massive ask and just not realistic.
Needless to say, the moment the Patriots took Jones, the door slammed shut and if the 49ers slam it closed after this year, it’s hard to imagine Garoppolo being the same player outside of each of those two organizations. Now, instead of playing for someone who wants and appreciates him, he’s a QB with an uncertain future.
Let’s be honest, Garoppolo isn’t Aaron Rodgers (although…that isn’t a bad thing) or Brady. He’s not a future Hall of Fame QB who is playing at a level that will keep a quarterback like Trey Lance on the bench or potentially see him traded away. He’s simply now a player who is on borrowed time. Worse yet, with a coach who is no longer fully behind him and a player who the 49ers mortgaged their future for getting ready to replace him, there’s no way this ends well for him.
Even worse, with his safety net now gone, all he needs to do is look at a player like Nick Foles before realizing that even winning a championship doesn’t necessarily mean a secure landing spot for his services will be in his future.
2) The selection of Mac Jones is one that continues to garner scrutiny, yet I’ll stand behind my belief that the Patriots found themselves a gem.
Reading a recent column by Jeff Howe in the Athletic, I absolutely love how tenacious this kid is and how focused he is on even the smallest details.
Like Brady, Jones’ time in college wasn’t easy. He wasn’t elevated into the starting role until Tua Tagovailoa went down with an injury and he was still forced to fight off Bryce Young for the job. He took things to a different level, including showing up at the facility at 5:30am on a Sunday to watch film along with working relentlessly to get better both on and off the field.
From Howe’s column:
When he was allowed back at the football facility, he’d head there every night until 11 p.m. to set up targets and throw more balls. He taught the offense to his girlfriend, so she could call out plays and he could process the reads and any checks at the line. He usually woke up by 5:30 a.m. to watch film at the facility, especially Sunday mornings when he knew he’d have the building to himself.
Jones meticulously took notes of every game of his Alabama career, including those he didn’t play, using a pen with six colors – red ink for the red zone, green ink for the green area, other colors for third downs, backed-up situations and so on. He filled up a notebook for each opponent and neatly labeled everything in order to find specific pages as quickly as possible. It’s been said Jones has a photographic memory, so if a past situation presented itself on the field in real time, he wanted to be ready to pounce.
What’s going to be really interesting could be a potential off-field competition coming up between Cam Newton and Jones, as Newton made it known on a number of occasions that he was always there first thing in the morning while not leaving until 10:30pm at night.
Knowing what we now do about Jones, it will be interesting to hear whether or not Jones starts pushing Newton as the first one in the building, with the two also potentially in a staredown at the end of the day to see who is willing to go home first.
Some say it’s not likely that Jones is the superstar that everyone hopes he can be, but there’s something else to consider. It’s been over 20-years since the Patriots last found a star player at quarterback, so it’s hard not to wonder that with that big of a gap, whether or not this is simply their time to have once again found that player. But nevertheless, the great ones love the game and are tenacious at improving their craft, both of which seem to be traits that Jones has.
3) Albert Breer had an interesting detail in his Monday morning column this morning, which centered on how Bill Belichick executed things in this year’s draft compared to years past.
Breer reports that Belichick was present much more often this spring, which included more frequent meetings with his staff leading up to the draft.
I’m told Belichick was in the office more in the spring this year than in the past, held more formal draft meetings, something that really hasn’t happened under Belichick before, and reworked other past practices with the help of Ziegler, Wolf and Groh.
The result to scouts outside the organization was obvious: The players the Patriots took were all highly productive college players, and there wasn’t the kind of wild Belichick curveball those who’ve been there got used to (i.e. Jordan Richards or Tavon Wilson in the second round), where the New England coach valued a player way over where the rest of the NFL’s scouting community did. And the proof is right there in the numbers.
It’s obvious that Belichick wasn’t afraid of change and given who they ended up with, they definitely seem poised for what should hopefully include a group of players with productive futures.
4) Ben Volin of the Boston Globe pointed out on Sunday that a surprising number of players taken in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft saw their fifth-year options picked up, or saw their contracts extended.
According to Volin, 17 of the top 18 picks and 20 of the top 24 from that draft were rewarded accordingly, which is an exceptional number considering how many players taken in the first round don’t always work out. Isaiah Wynn (#23) was among those players for the Patriots, after his was picked up this offseason. Quarterback Josh Rosen (49ers) and linebacker Leighton Vander Esch (Cowboys) were the two guys in the top 20 whose options weren’t picked up.
Meanwhile, Sony Michel, who was taken with the 31st overall pick, didn’t see his option picked up either but that’s not really a surprise. It’s been a strange journey for Michel, who has been a terrific player and it’s interesting to wonder what the perception of him might be had he been selected as a 3rd or 4th round pick.
Instead, with the emergence of Damien Harris and the selection of Rhamondre Stevenson during this year’s draft, it’s clear that a lot has changed since Michel’s selection and New England is clearly headed in a different direction. That likely means 2021 could be the last we see of Michel, and it will be interesting to see how this year goes for the 26-year old.
5) The 2021 NFL Schedules will all be released this week and for those people out there wondering when Brady’s triumphant return to Gillette Stadium might occur, Reiss pointed out that November may be the time to target.
Given that TV sweeps fall into that time frame, that’s where he believes executives may place the game and he cites some history to back that up.
“From 2003-2011, there were nine Patriots-Colts regular-season games — seven were in November and one in the first weekend of December,” writes Reiss.
One other note, given that the Patriots haven’t traveled to London since 2012, several reports have indicated that this could be the year, with the Falcons as the likely match-up.
As a result, Wednesday’s release should finally allow us to start pondering how 2021 might play out and it should be a fun week.
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Atlanta Falcons Bill Belichick Cam Newton Damien Harris Drew Bledsoe Isaiah Wynn Jimmy Garoppolo Mac Jones New England Patriots Nick Foles Rhamondre Stevenson San Francisco 49ers Sony Michel Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tom Brady Trey Lance