Some news and notes for this morning:
1) Tom Curran is in the middle of his 50 Best Patriots during the Bill Belichick era and he put Troy Brown and Julian Edelman up against each other while trying to decide which one to rank ahead of the other.
It’s a tough call. Anyone who remembers Brown obviously knows what a dynamic player he was, with Brown coming into the league in a similar fashion to Edelman. Brown was actually an 8th round pick back in 1993 (back before the NFL went to 7 rounds) out of Marshall by then head coach Bill Parcells. Brown appeared in 12 games his rookie year finishing with 2 receptions for 22-yards, and had 25 punt returns for 224yds (8.96 avg) along with 15 kickoff returns for 243-yards (16.2 avg), with his longest going for 29yds.
Not bad, but not overly impressive and he was actually waived by Parcells at the end of preseason the following year before being brought back in October.
But from there, he started making a name for himself and his 1996 season was probably his biggest. While we often recall Julian Edelman’s incredible catch against Atlanta, many fans likely remember Brown’s incredible grab on his back against the Giants that year. That play extended a 3rd down and kept the drive going, helping New England overcome a 22-point deficit to beat the Giants and clinch the AFC East.
“I knew it was a big play at the time,” said Brown. “We needed a first down really badly then. I’ve caught a couple while on my back like that before, but that was the biggest one I’ve ever caught.”
That moment ended up being critical as it sparked a run toward the team’s first Super Bowl appearance since 1986, although they ended up falling to the Packers. But it was the first of many big plays for Brown, who like Edelman was a key target for both Drew Bledsoe and Tom Brady on third down, as well as making contributions on defense in addition to his special team’s duties.
Many likely remember Brown’s punt return for a touchdown in the 2001 AFC Championship game against Pittsburgh, which played a part in helping build a 21-3 lead over the Steelers. That edge was big because Brady went down early in that contest with an ankle injury and left the game, with Bledsoe coming in and guiding the team to a win to advance to the Super Bowl. Brown was also in on the blocked field goal they had, initially being the one who scooped up the football before lateraling it to Antwan Harris, who took off and scored a touchdown.
“I saw Troy pick up the ball and I yelled Troy’s name about six times,” Harris said after that game. “He pitched me the ball and it was history from there.”
As for Edelman, the script is similar. He was taken in the 7th round back in 2009 and carved out a similar niche both in the return game as well as a receiver. Both players also even played defense at one point, and the two were just terrific assets to a football team that wouldn’t have had the same success without them.
So the next debate comes down to numbers. While the two were close when it comes to career regular-season receptions (Brown has 557 for 6366yds and 31 TDs, Edelman has 620 for 6822yds and 36 TDs), Edelman did it in fewer games (137 compared to Brown’s 192).
But when it comes to the playoffs, Edelman obviously has the edge. The former Kent State standout walked away from the game finishing with 118 postseason receptions, putting him behind only Jerry Rice. Many of those receptions included some unbelievable plays that were critical to New England’s second group of Championships.
That doesn’t diminish what Brown did. It’s just when you have two players this good, there has to be one area to separate them and Edelman’s playoff performances would have to be it.
Tom Curran asked a variety of former players and reporters and Devin McCourty sort of said it best. He believes the two were terrific, but in the end, Edelman deserves to be placed ahead of Brown.
“You have to be like, ‘All right, this guy gets the edge because he led in receptions or he’s second to Jerry Rice in every playoff category,’ ” said McCourty. “When you put one guy at nine and one guy at 10, when I see that, that’s the same thing.
“I’d just think, ‘All right, he struggled with that. He picked this guy because there was probably one thing where he edged him out. But I think theoretically people that see the list will know that it could have went either way.”
Jones hasn’t signed his contract yet, but fans shouldn’t be worried.
2) Patriots rookie Mac Jones isn’t under contract just yet, but according to Mike Reiss, Patriots fans shouldn’t be worried.
Reiss wrote in his Sunday notes that there’s simply a process playing out and there’s no cause for concern.
First-round pick Mac Jones has yet to sign his rookie deal, and in fact, defensive tackle Christian Barmore (second round) and defensive end Ronnie Perkins (third round) also remain unsigned. A cause for concern? Hardly. Sometimes agents prefer to wait to see more contracts finalized before moving forward, and those close to the situation relay that’s the current dynamic in play.
All seems well with Jones, who was spotted wearing a Red Sox jersey while taking in a game at Fenway over the weekend.
3) While we all know Tom Brady’s thoughts on being overlooked by one NFL mystery team, there was another one I hadn’t thought of that Ben Volin mentioned over the weekend in his Sunday notes.
Volin reminded us that the Bears were one of three finalists for Brady this offseason, which had been previously detailed in last year’s autobiography by broadcaster Jim Gray.
The Bears seemingly opted to instead stick with Mitchell Trubisky before also trading for Nick Foles to back him up.
Brady’s follow-up comments in that episode on HBO where he also suggested he probably wouldn’t have gone to that mystery team anyway would make you think that Chicago may indeed be the winner.
“When I look back, I’m like, I think no f—-n way I would have went to that team,” said Brady. “But they said they didn’t want me and I know what means, I know what that feels like and I’m going to f–k you up because of that.”
The only problem is if it was the Bears, that didn’t turn out too well. That was the game Brady and the Buccaneers lost at the end after Brady lost track of what down it was, not realizing it was 4th down before throwing an incompletion in what ended up being a 20-19 loss in Chicago.
But the “no f—–n way I would have went to that team” comment? Out of all the teams that have been speculated on (and the fact Gray, one of Brady’s closest friends, mentioned them as finalists), that probably makes the most sense.
Bedard believes Garoppolo could still be a Patriot this year.
4) Greg Bedard brought up a scenario in his Sunday notes that is both interesting…but also probably unlikely.
He believes that if things go badly for Jimmy Garoppolo out in San Francisco and if Cam Newton struggles in camp, the possibility remains that Belichick could opt to bring the former Patriots QB back in order to improve the position while allowing Jones the redshirt year Bedard believes he needs.
Bedard wonders if Brady would have been Brady without that first season in 2000 to take everything in and he believes the same holds true for Jones. As a result, he believes this might be a solution.
Let’s play this out … say Newton does not light the world on fire in camp. Let’s also say that Jones is solid but unspectacular in camp as well — which is what he was in the offseason practices. Belichick and Josh McDaniels could obviously say, ‘We have a good defense, or offensive line is great and we’ll be run/tight end focused … Newton and/or Jones will be good enough.’
But in this scenario, with Lance winning the job in San Francisco and Garoppolo making $25 million (highest backup salary in the league is Case Keenum at $6 million and the 49ers have to start giving extensions to Fred Warner, Nick Bosa, etc), doesn’t Belichick have to consider a possible deal for Garoppolo? What better way to face Brady in Week 4 on Sunday Night Football than with Garoppolo, Belichick’s favored successor, on the field with a first-round pick waiting in the wings? “Yeah, you won 2020 Tommy and we took a step back, but now we’re back on our games for years to come … “
I get where he’s going, but Belichick’s loyalty to Newton seems to go deep enough where it would just be unlikely that he would through all that to both jettison Newton and make a deal to bring Garoppolo back. Not saying it’s impossible but playing it out in my head…I just can’t see it working.
5) In the off chance the above plays out, or Jones plays so well in camp that Belichick opts to release Newton early to allow him to seek employment elsewhere, I was trying to think of a potential landing spot and there’s one that may make sense.
One team I came up with could be Miami. That would allow Newton a place to potentially end up with an opportunity to step in if Tua Tagovailoa struggles while also being in a system with terminology that’s probably somewhat similar to New England given the connections.
The Dolphins currently have Jacoby Brissett and Reid Sinnett behind Tagovailoa, so the opportunity would probably be there for him to move ahead of those two with possibly a limited learning curve. Tagovailoa was inconsistent in recent action and there are questions down in Miami about whether or not this will be the year he settles into securing the starting role.
Again, it’s probably unlikely, but if any of the previous scenario played out where Newton would need to find a new landing spot, the Dolphins would make sense. On the other hand, can you imagine Miami potentially bringing in Garoppolo and setting up a new rivalry between the two clubs? That would be pretty crazy, although at this point, I don’t think anything would surprise me after what we’ve seen the last few years.
Either way, it’s crazy to imagine but all of it should definitely make for an interesting preseason.
Posted Under: Patriots News
Tags: Cam Newton Chicago Bears Devin McCourty Jacoby Brissett Jimmy Garoppolo Julian Edelman Mac Jones New England Patriots Reid Sinnett San Francisco 49ers Tampa Bay Buccaneers Tom Brady Troy Brown Tua Tagovailoa