Tag Archives: Jimmy Garoppolo

Four Saturday Patriots Thoughts 10/26

Ian Logue
October 26, 2019 at 12:53 pm ET

With just one day until game day, here are some thoughts as we finish out this week before Sunday’s showdown against the Cleveland Browns.

1) The suggestion by Adam Schefter this week regarding the future of Tom Brady reignited the speculation of the status of the quarterback beyond this season, which has dominated the airwaves for most of the past few days.

If you haven’t followed this story, Schefter believes that 2019 could be Brady’s final year in a Patriots uniform and he believes that even if Brady doesn’t opt to retire after this year, his era as the signal-caller in New England may be over and he won’t be back in a Patriots uniform next season.

That’s obviously difficult to even fathom given that the vast majority of the younger fan base doesn’t know this Patriots team any other way.  Brady changed the arc of this franchise since he took over as the starter in 2001 and he’s spent every season ever since rewriting both the history and record books for both the team and the NFL with every performance.

But for anyone who has followed Brady throughout his career, it’s obvious that the past few seasons have been more taxing than most.  The ESPN report from two seasons ago regarding a rift internally between Brady and Bill Belichick seemed far-fetched initially but there ended up being a little more truth to it than many ultimately thought.  One part of the report suggested Brady didn’t feel appreciated, which the quarterback later said, “I plead the fifth” when asked during an interview with Jim Gray when asked if he truly felt that way.

Winning a Super Bowl the following year seemed to cure that problem and it all appeared to die down.  However, a lot of that same discussion started again when we found out that the extension he reportedly agreed to this past offseason suddenly left the door open for him to not be here past the end of this year, along with the fact his house was – and still is – up for sale.

It’s easy to dismiss it, but when you fast-forward back to where we are now, it’s hard not to wonder why Schefter felt the need to both bring it up again and continue to push this narrative.  He’s a smart guy and one of the most reputable in the business, so it feels like there’s more to this than what he’s letting on.

Let’s be a little honest, it’s clear that things are still far from perfect with Brady.  Watching him this season, it feels like it’s been more of a grind for him than in past years.  He’s had to work for every pass and every play, with very little coming easy.  That’s largely due to the injury situation on offense, along with the fact that the Antonio Brown acquisition imploded and ruined an unbelievable opportunity for the two to tear up the opposition in a season where their defense has been playing at a historic level.

Since that all went south, he’s made no secret that he’s been a little frustrated with their personnel situation on offense.  If you’ve watched him closely over the past few games, he’s had to hold the ball until the last second and he’s taken a few tough hits where he’s gotten up a bit gingerly on multiple occasions.

It’s entirely possible that the fact they’re as thin as they’ve been personnel-wise offensively has been wearing on him.  Right now, it seems like it’s just not fun.  They’re winning, but it’s clearly been a grind.  They’ve had trouble running the football and it’s made things more difficult on the passing game, which probably would have been far less productive with anyone other than Brady under center.  Yet Brady, as usual, has done a terrific job making the most of what he’s had to work with.  Honestly, the odds of anyone else being able to lead this club to 7-0 with this group is probably pretty unlikely.

Maybe the addition of Mohamed Sanu will solve some of it and things will finally kick into gear.  Sanu isn’t anywhere near as dynamic or explosive as Brown, but he’s an impact player who has been reliable and should become someone teams will need to account for.  That should open things up for guys like Julian Edelman, Phillip Dorsett and Jakobi Meyers to hopefully be even a little more effective.  N’Keal Harry showed plenty of explosiveness during training camp and his addition in a couple of weeks coming back from IR may also be another boost to an offense that needs all the help they can get right now.

Things tend to change from October to December and maybe by then, Brady will start enjoying this run a little more than he seems to right now.  Who knows, it’s entirely possible that winning his seventh title could be enough to make him call it a career.  After all, winning seven championships would further cement him as the best ever and it could make him decide he’s done putting his body at risk with nothing left to prove.  But the thought of him playing elsewhere seems too hard to imagine.  With a lot of football still ahead, fans should realize that the end of an era could be coming, so it’s important to at least try and enjoy every moment before it’s over.


White remains the X-Factor in the Patriots offense.

2) Given all the discussion that has centered around the offense, it was interesting comparing Brady’s numbers through seven games last year against where he’s at so far this season.

Considering a lot of the talk about their seemingly poor lack of production in the passing game, Brady’s actually thrown for more yards at this point this season (1992-yards) than he had in 2018 (1876-yards) and has fewer interceptions.  He had 7 at this point last year, compared to the 4 he has currently.

But one of the things that stands out right now is the discrepancy when it comes to his number of touchdown passes, which totaled 16 at this point last year compared to his current total of 11.  The most staggering difference is in the red zone, which has Brady currently with 4 touchdowns compared to the 12 he had at this point last season.

Many will likely attribute this to the absence of Rob Gronkowski, but if you remember, Gronk wasn’t a scoring machine early last season.  In fact, Gronk had just one touchdown through 7 games last season, and just one target (an incompletion) down in the red zone.

At this point last year it was actually James White who led the team in both targets (61) and receptions (45) along with a team-high 6 touchdowns.  So far in 2019, he has 38 receptions and one touchdown but he’s been the most targeted receiver inside scoring territory, with Brady connecting on 10-of-11 throws.

While the tight end position has been a problem, it will be interesting to see down the stretch how they may start to do some things to open things up and create some spacing to put up more points.  But despite some of the takes we’ve heard on this topic, it’s interesting looking at the totals and seeing how big of an x-factor White continues to be.  White’s contributions this season have been quietly consistent, which is probably the best way to describe him. 

We know that if history is any indication, the offense will be quite different two months from now. We’ll see how White factors into the changes we’ll likely see over that span and it should make this team fun to watch during the final months of the season.


The news on Gordon was surprising, but not shocking

3) The news of Josh Gordon heading to injured reserve was sort of a surprise but the designation that he would be free to seek employment elsewhere certainly caught many people off guard, especially given everything the Patriots invested into him.   However, looking back at how things have been the last few weeks, it may ultimately end up being the right move.

Gordon started off fairly strong to begin the season but as the weeks have progressed, there were signs that not all was well with the veteran receiver.  If you watch quite a few of Gordon’s receptions, each time he was brought down hard, he seemed slow to get up and looked like a player who was grinding out each play and really didn’t even want to be out there.

That was a stark contrast from a year ago when he first got here and even going back to Week 1, so it was obvious that something wasn’t right.  Not to mention that the two weren’t connecting consistently this season, with Brady hitting Gordon on just 20-of-36 attempts (56%), one of the lowest completion rates with Brady this season among his receivers.

It’s possible that Gordon was dealing with an injury prior to the one he suffered in his final game, which looked both scary and painful. But whatever the reason, he was trending in the wrong direction.  That was bad news for a team that’s been in desperate need of turning things around offensively and they made the tough call to turn the page with 9 games left to play.

It’s disappointing but given the physical similarities with Sanu and his style of play, hopefully, the Patriots can make up Gordon’s production.  Many people here were rooting for Gordon’s success and you definitely can say the Patriots gave him every opportunity to be successful.  Unfortunately, sometimes no matter how hard you’d like them to, things just don’t work out and that appears to be what happened Gordon’s case.


Garopplo and the 49ers are unbeaten so far.

4) What’s happening in San Francisco is hard to ignore and as crazy as it sounds, it’s potentially setting Brady up with a collision course for a Super Bowl showdown against Jimmy Garoppolo and the 49ers in Miami.  Many seem to feel like this would be a terrific match-up, but thinking about it further, it’s not as ideal as people may think.

Most likely remember the debate that raged on when Belichick sent Garoppolo to the west coast and continued on with Brady.  Quite a few people were surprisingly split on the move, with a fair amount of them disappointed that the Patriots didn’t figure out a way to either keep Garoppolo around a little longer, or potentially trade Brady.

Well, imagine a situation where Brady faces Garoppolo in the Super Bowl and, heaven forbid, loses to him.

If the Patriots were to be undefeated and it went down that way, that scenario becomes an even bigger nightmare.

It would likely reignite that debate and, if Brady were to walk away, would obviously be one of the most disappointing ways for his career as a Patriot to potentially end.

It’s funny, looking at this situation a few years ago when Brady’s future was being discussed while Garoppolo was still here, Brady to San Francisco was one scenario that made some sense.  Given that the possibility of Brady possibly not finishing his career in New England had come up previously, if Brady had left, the logical move would have been for him to go to the 49ers, who he grew up rooting for in his hometown of San Mateo, California.  Back then, San Francisco was in dire need of a quarterback and didn’t seem close to solving that situation. The team certainly had enough talent to be much better than they were, but they lacked a viable quarterback.

As frustrating as that would have been here, it would have at least allowed Brady to finish his career in his hometown and it seemed like the perfect fit.  Instead, when Belichick sent Garoppolo there, it essentially blew up that scenario.   It eliminated that possibility for Brady and got the back-up quarterback out of the conference.  It worked out since the Patriots have added two championships and appear poised for a third, but if Brady is thinking about a campaign elsewhere, looking around the league, there’s not really a place that would make sense for him to attempt to end his career the way Peyton Manning did.

With the way things currently stand, both Los Angeles teams have quarterbacks and the lesser of the two, the Chargers, even with Brady, definitely aren’t good enough collectively to win a title.  Tennessee might make sense due to his relationship with head coach and former teammate Mike Vrabel, but it’s a risky move because they haven’t even really been consistent on defense. 

Chicago or Tampa Bay could use a quarterback change, or possibly even Detroit if Matt Patricia decides to move Matt Stafford for a draft pick and roll the dice for a season or two with Brady.  But each of the destinations mentioned are anything less than ideal for Brady to put himself through that to possibly tarnish his legacy elsewhere.

Whether or not any of this is/was ever even a possibility is tough to say, but it’s hard not to wonder if Brady’s NFL future would be further in doubt heading into the end of this season if that opportunity was still available.  Instead, Garoppolo being shipped there eliminated that potential vacancy and the further idea that he could be the one to rob Brady of his seventh ring is scary to think about. 

Needless to say, it’s O.K. to root for Garoppolo to lead his team to the postseason and win a game.  However, rooting for him to make it to Miami might be a different story. Hopefully, it will be a seventh ring that allows Brady to go out on his own terms and if an undefeated season is also part of that story, even better.

But losing to Garopplo and spoiling both? Let’s hope that doesn’t happen.

Podcast: Dolphins vs. Patriots Preview Show

Russ Goldman
September 27, 2018 at 9:38 am ET

In this episode of Patriots Fourth And Two, we started this show by discussing the article “Patriots Demise Syndrome, the symptoms and how to cope” by Tom E. Curran.

We then previewed the upcoming game for the Patriots against the Dolphins, as we went through the major match-ups, and also shared the keys to victory. We then gave our predictions for the game to end the show.

Podcast: Patriots vs. Lions Preview Show

Russ Goldman
September 20, 2018 at 10:55 am ET

In this episode of Patriots Fourth And Two, we previewed the upcoming game for the Patriots against the Lions, as we went through the major match-ups, and also shared the keys to victory. We also gave our predictions for the game.

However, to start the show, we did our “Around The League” segment and the topics this week included , analytics in football, the Super Bowl Half Time Show, and drafting the right players that fit your team.

2018 Patriots Training Camp Primer – Quarterbacks

Steve Balestrieri
June 21, 2018 at 1:44 pm ET

The Patriots head into training camp in just a few weeks, the OTAs and minicamp are over and the team has a 90-man roster ready to go. They’ll tweak this a bit as we go on but this group should remain pretty intact to start thru the beginning of training camp. As a lead-in to the beginning of camp, we’ll break down the positions and give our take on who is a lock, a near lock for the 53-man roster and who is on the bubble. So first up are the quarterbacks

Sorry to say, this column is strictly football, so if you’re looking for analysis of body language, the subliminal messages by Gisele or TB12 that may have been sent on social media or the butterfly effect that the Dalai Lama breaking wind in Tibet and the effect it will have on the Patriots this season, you can save yourself the time now.

So… who is locked in and who is on the bubble?

Roster Locks: Tom Brady
The Patriots are so fortunate that every year since early in the 2001 season, they know who their starting QB is and have the luxury of knowing that he is more than capable enough to take them to the promised land.

In 2017, the 40-year old quarterback had an MVP season, completing 385 of 581 passes, (66.3 %), for 32 TDs and just 8 INTs. He led the Patriots offense to 394.2 yards per game, #1 in the NFL and to 28.6 points per game, #2 in the league.

In the playoffs, Brady went 89 of 139 (64%) for 1132 yards with 8 TDs and 0 INTs. He brought the Patriots back in another big 4th quarter comeback in the AFC Championship Game against the Jacksonville Jaguars leading to a third Super Bowl appearance in four years. Against the Eagles, Brady went 28-48 (58.3%) for a Super Bowl record 505 yards with 3 TDs and 0 INTs.

However, every season we deal with the inevitable question of “when will Brady begin to show his age and slow down? Answer: It doesn’t look like it anytime soon. Which is why I have zero issues with Brady taking the OTAs off this season.

Consequently, lost in the all the “Hatfield – McCoy Feud” storyline is the fact that perhaps Brady feels at his age that he wants to limit the wear and tear on his arm and may have been feeling fatigued at the end of last season. That very possible scenario got little to no play this spring.  

If that is the case, I have zero problems with it and neither should anyone else. He’s more than earned that right. But for the record, would I rather see #12 QBing the team during the spring workouts? Of course, especially with the new faces here on the roster. So, we’ll see how all of this works out, but if you’re expecting (hoping) to see a significant drop off in Brady’s production, you may be disappointed.  

However, there are some legitimate questions to ask this year. How will Brady deal with the loss of

  • his top two wide receiver targets from last season, (Cooks, Amendola)
  • New England’s top running back option from last season (Dion Lewis), and finally
  • his starting left tackle of the past six years, (Nate Solder)

Unlike nearly every other quarterback in league history, Brady has shown an ability to adapt to change. 2018 will likely not be any different. On a positive side, the Patriots get back Julian Edelman (albeit after a possible 4-game suspension), picked by Jordan Matthews this spring and drafted the dynamic Sony Michel who should be a big factor in both the running and passing games. And the best tight end in the game Rob Gronkowski is healthy and ready to go.

I watched Brady at minicamp and saw no drop off in his game, nor any indications that he was “mailing it in”, (a familiar question this spring). He looked like the Tom Brady we’ve all come to expect and to see and he looked like Tom Brady….meaning excellent.

Near Roster Locks: Brian Hoyer, Danny Etling

Hoyer came back to New England in the fallout from the Jimmy Garoppolo trade with the 49ers last fall. He was released to make room for Jimmy G. and then quickly signed back with New England as Brady’s backup.

Hoyer is who he is at this point in his career. He’s not a great QB and is limited in the things that he can do. But he knows the offense very well and he has the confidence of the coaches that he can get the job done if the situation arises where he has to step in. .

Etling is a rookie who is still trying to learn the Patriots offense and find his rhythm with it. He has a long way to go. With his limited snap load in training camp, do we expect him to push Hoyer for the backup spot on the roster? Very doubtful.

But the Patriots made an investment in him this spring, albeit a 7th rounder (219th overall). His job this summer is to show enough progress to justify keeping him around this season and to learn the offense enough to push Hoyer out next summer as the backup. I think he’s already shown enough to justify that. He’ll probably get very acquainted with the clipboard this fall, but I think he’ll stick.

With Brady sitting out the majority of the spring workouts, Hoyer was getting a ton of reps and looked a bit arm fatigued by minicamp. With both he and Brady getting up there in age, having Etling around will help him learn the system and keep their workloads down to an acceptable amount.

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcast on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

Podcast: Patriots Draft Recap

Russ Goldman
April 30, 2018 at 11:33 am ET

In this episode of Patriots Fourth And Two, we discussed all the draft picks for the Patriots, along with talking about the trade for Trent Brown. However, we started the show by focusing on quarterback Danny Etling, who the Patriots drafted in the seventh round.

PODCAST: Brandin Cooks Trade Reaction and Discussion

Russ Goldman
April 4, 2018 at 12:02 pm ET

In this episode, we spent a good amount of it discussing the Brandin Cooks trade in three different ways. Later on in the Patriots Fourth And Two Roundtable, we talked about our three positional needs heading into the Draft. After that, we debated if the Patriots issues on defense are scheme related, or about the personnel. We finished the show with a lively discussion on Rob Gronkowski.

Podcast: Do The Patriots Need To Draft A Quarterback In The Upcoming NFL Draft?

Russ Goldman
March 28, 2018 at 12:44 pm ET

In this episode, we talked about several Patriots related topics which included the Brady/Belichick situation, along with Tony Massarotti’s opinion that Josh McDaniels is overrated. However, things got heated when the topic of drafting the next Patriots Quarterback came up.

New England Patriots Draft Profile, Kyle Lauletta, QB, Richmond

Steve Balestrieri
at 8:30 am ET

Lauletta Has Patriots Written All Over Him

As the 2018 NFL Draft draws closer we’ll profile some of the players that may be on the Patriots radar or that we feel would be a great fit.

The Patriots, after trading Jimmy Garoppolo at the deadline last season are back looking for an eventual successor to Tom Brady. While Brady showed no signs of slowing down last season, he’s going to be 41 this August and it is just a matter of time before he finally begins to show his age.

Brian Hoyer is just a journeyman, backup and while they can rely on him to hold the fort down for a week or two in an emergency, he doesn’t have the skill set or the longevity to be the solution. So, who is next successor to Brady? Do the Patriots even dip into the pool this year? While we feel it may be risking things a bit to put it off another year, the team may feel that they don’t like any of the QBs that will be available to them. Although I believe that they’ll at least dip for a developmental guy later in the draft.

There are no shortage of quarterbacks in this season’s draft that speak very highly of Brady. That shouldn’t be a shock, he’s been on top for 17 seasons and his longevity is tied to his work ethic, and the constant desire to improve. Whoever they do pick up will be expected to study under the master for the next year or two and be ready to take over then. There won’t be a big rush in Foxboro to push the next QB before he’s ready unless of an injury.

Kyle Lauletta from Richmond, is, in our opinion a pretty darned good fit for the Patriots. He has good size (6’3, 215-pounds) but it is his pedigree that makes him seem like a Patriot from jump street. Both his father and uncle played football at Navy. His uncle was coached by Steve Belichick on the Midshipman’s Special Teams’ squad as the team’s punter.

But beyond the Navy angle, he has the intangibles the Patriots, as well as other teams, look for. He’s considered a team leader both on and off the field and was elected captain. He comes from a QB line, his dad as we mentioned above was a QB at the academy.

Lauletta was a high school lacrosse player, who could have gotten a scholarship for that but his love for football won out. He didn’t receive any Division I offers. So he went to a lesser level of competition at Richmond and played with a chip on his shoulder. His production spiked in 2016 and 2017. Despite only having a so-so 6-5 team in 2017, he completed 64.9 percent of his throws for 3737 yards with 28 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions.

Lauletta has a quick release and timed with the ability to read and process the information quickly, makes him a very good QB to beat the blitz with quick accurate throws.He does, however, at times get happy feet in the pocket.

Despite being nearly an afterthought for the Senior Bowl, he had a great week of practice there and had a very strong game completing 8-12 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns while taking home the MVP award.

Pros:

– Quick decision maker

– Accurate passer

– Very good on timing patterns

– Throws to spots on the field

Cons

– Arm strength is an issue

– Will throw into double coverage at times

– Gets happy feet in the pocket on occasion

What his Role Will Be:

Lauletta will be under no pressure for immediate playtime and results.  He should be the third QB on the roster and focus on learning the offense, working on his mechanics and improving his arm strength.

Will his Role Change from Year 1-2?

Yes, in Year 2 he could be ready to challenge Hoyer for the backup job and become the true successor for #12.

How Many Downs Can He Play?

N/A

What Current Player on the Roster Will He Replace?

No one, they’ll probably keep three QBs on the roster again and for this year, Brian Hoyer will be the backup for at least 2018.

What is his ST Value?

None

Conclusion:
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein in his profile didn’t give Lauletta high marks, he wrote, Lauletta has decent accuracy and mechanics to work with, but his lack of NFL arm strength will limit the number of teams who are willing to consider him. Lauletta’s interceptions come due to arm issues rather than decision-making and that may not be correctable in the pros due to the increase in play speed that he will see in NFL secondaries.

He has frequently been compared to Jimmy Garoppolo and the feeling here is that is based more on the fact that he’s been rumored to New England, and was a smaller school prospect. I don’t get the Garoppolo comparison at all.

His arm strength issues are a bit overblown (we heard the same things about Brady and Garoppolo) and could be a mechanical fix, If the Patriots decide to take a shot on him, then maybe some sessions with Tom House may be in order. But there is a lot to like about Lauletta. He gets rid of the ball quickly and accurately. He moves well in the pocket and has shown the ability to get away from the rush and scramble a bit.

He throws to spots on the field, which is a Brady trait. It shows that he and receivers work on their chemistry. He knows where a receiver is supposed to be and throws it there. So there is the trust factor which is big.

Another thing to like about Lauletta is how quickly he processes information. No one is as good as Brady at that, but Jimmy G. got much better at it while Jacoby Brissett did not. He throws on the move quite well and seems to have a knack for finding the open receiver once he’s on the move. And his accuracy was outstanding while rolling out. It looked like the coaches had quite a few called rollouts for him and after watching his accuracy, it is easy to see why.

It will be interesting to see what the Patriots do in Round 2. I don’t see them taking him in the 1st round. But although he’s slotted to go in Round 5, I believe that it is far too late after seeing what he did in the Senior Bowl.

Lauletta has a nice highlight reel tape from Priority Sports and can be seen here: 

Follow me on Twitter @SteveB7SFG or email me at [email protected]

Listen to our Patriots 4th and 2 podcasts on blog talk radio as the writers Russ Goldman, Derek Havens and I from PatsFans.com discuss the latest Patriots news Wednesdays at 12 noon.

New England Patriots News, 2-18, AFC East Notes

Steve Balestrieri
February 18, 2018 at 5:00 am ET

Good morning, here are your Sunday’s Patriots news 2-18, & AFC East Notes

It has been a long couple of weeks here since the Super Bowl but the Malcolm Butler story just won’t go away and while we may never have the complete story, fans continue to chime in on it. Was the Butler benching in SB LII “Bill Belichick’s arrogance” as some have repeatedly stated or was there something deeper there? Did Butler do or say something that would have caused him to sit?

That is something the Patriots will never say, other than what Belichick said, which was it was a football decision, made in the best interests of the team. Which can mean many things. It is time to let it go. Regardless of the decision, it is water under the bridge and the Eagles made more plays two Sundays ago and it is on to NFL Combine and Draft. But for the sake of conspiracy theorists, I’d be inclined to believe the latter more than the former…

Happy Birthday to the Man Who Originated the “Gronk Spike”:
If you ever wondered about where spiking the football originated from read on… Back in the 1960s, many players, including several stars, (Frank Gifford of the Giants and Paul Hornung of the Packers) would celebrate a touchdown by flinging the ball into the stands. The NFL cracked down on this in 1965 (even back then) by fining players $500 if they tossed the ball into the stands.

The Giants signed a speedster in 1965, Homer Jones from Texas Southern. A 6’2, 220-pound track star to play wide receiver. Jones wanted a celebration of his own but didn’t want to pay $500 bucks either. So after a touchdown, he started a trend of throwing the ball hard on the ground. Asked what it was, Jones called it “a spike.”

Back before the merger, the Patriots games in the AFL were carried on NBC. The Giants in the NFL were all carried here in New England on CBS. As a youngster, Jones was one of my favorite players to watch in 1967. And what a season he had. In the run-heavy era of the ‘60s, Jones had 49 catches for 1209 yards for an incredible 24.7 yards per catch and an NFL leading 13 touchdowns receiving.

Giants quarterback Fran Tarkenton, said throwing to Jones was like hitting a man on a motorcycle with a butterfly net.

Knee injuries curtailed what could have been an unbelievable NFL career in 1971, but Jones was electric in the open field. His career average of 22.3 yards per catch is the NFL’s best for any player with 200 receptions or more.

Today is Jones’ 77th birthday, in an interview a few years ago, he said he regretted ever doing the spike. Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski would probably respectfully disagree. Happy Birthday to #45.

Colts Still Get Patriots Assistant Coach, Ray Ventrone To Head Colts STs:
After the Colts-Josh McDaniels fallout, Indianapolis hired Frank Reich as their new head coach. And one of Reich’s first hires was to New England’s assistant STs coach Ray Ventrone.

“Bubba” Ventrone was an 11-year player in the NFL and spent the past three seasons as the Patriots assistant STs coach. The Colts will be looking to improve their STs by grabbing a coach from NE who have one of the better STs units in the league.

Who Will the Patriots Draft at QB This Season:
Benjamin Franklin once wrote, “In this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes…” well add to that Ben, the Patriots drafting a QB. The Patriots draft one every year, but this one better be a good one, someone that takes over for Tom Brady once #12’s career winds down.

The team traded Jimmy Garoppolo to the 49ers this season at the deadline and now with Brian Hoyer as the backup, they’ll need to look to the future. But finding a capable backup to Brady isn’t the option anymore. We all know Brady’s age so this is must be someone they feel can lead them to continue to win once Brady decides to hang it up.

So who is out there in the draft in 2018? Forget about the Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, and Josh Allen call, they’ll be gone in the top of Round 1, long before New England picks. A couple of names to keep an eye on are Oklahoma State’s Mason Rudolph, Washington State’s Luke Falk, Western Kentucky’s Mike White and Richmond’s Kyle Lauletta from a Patriots perspective.

We’ll look at them in the upcoming draft series after free agency but one guy who they pick with their top draft choice is Lauletta. Forget about all the lacrosse stuff, yes he and BB share that, but he has the look of a QB that would thrive in this system.

Schuplinski A Key Coach to Watch, For the Next QB Taken:
Another overlooked part of the McDaniels remaining in New England is the retaining of assistant QB coach Jerry Schuplinski who was rumored to be heading to Indy along with McDaniels. Now, Schuplinski, a close friend of McDaniels is opting to remain too.

Mike Reiss of ESPN penned an interesting piece about the role of Schuplinski mentoring both Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett and will likely mentor whoever the Patriots draft this season.

No Mulligans, Now Belichick “Should’ve Drafted Garoppolo in Round 1:
My, my, my (Joe Kenda voice), how quickly the worm turns. The latest idea making the rounds over on social media was that Bill Belichick screwed up by not taking Jimmy Garoppolo in the first round of the draft back in 2014. The feeling is, if he had, then Garoppolo, being a first-round pick would’ve been under the Patriots control for one more season.

First of all, isn’t it amazing how Belichick lasted this long as the Patriots coach because so many of his decisions have come under such scrutiny? How many times have we heard or read, “GM Bill is hurting Coach Bill with bad decisions.” Well, now we have this one. And it isn’t recent, this particular story began circulating back in mid-August I believe.

Just as a reminder, when the Patriots drafted Garoppolo, the talk was that they “reached” for him and that he’d have been available later in the draft. But in actuality, even if you could peek into the crystal ball and look back and ahead, they would still be in a position where they’d probably be doing just what they did. Brady, who led the league in passing in 2017 and threw for 505 yards in the Super Bowl, doesn’t look like a guy getting ready to go over the cliff anytime soon. What was Bill thinking back then?

Resetting the 2018 Season Priorities:
We’ve been exploring the Patriots own free agents here on PatsFans.com but we’ll be exploring some other issues that the team will have to address if they are to return to represent the AFC again in Super Bowl LIII. Some upcoming articles to look for are:

  • Getting younger and more Athletic on Defense, Especially Linebacker
  • Finding the “next guy” at QB in the NFL Draft
  • Sorting out who will be the RBs in 2018
  • Resign Key FAs, starting with Nate Solder and Danny Amendola
  • Who will replace Malcolm Butler, a veteran or draft pick?

Eastbound and Down…AFC East Notes:

Vontae Davis Leaves Buffalo Without a Contract with the Bills:
Although the Buffalo Bills hosted free agent cornerback Vontae Davis, the first visit that Davis attended, he left without a contract. It was then reported that Davis then visited Cleveland and spent some time with the Browns.

This is probably nothing more than Davis seeing what is out there in terms of Free Agency cash that teams will throw around before making his decision. Which is a smart move by the player as he’s under no rush whatsoever to make a decision quickly.

Davis was released prior to the 2017 NFL season ending so he doesn’t have to wait for the beginning of free agency to sign anywhere. He could get locked up with a team early and prepare for the NFL season whenever he’s ready.

Davis will be 30 years old this year and was a Pro Bowl corner with excellent cover skills in 2014 and 2015. But he’s missed significant time due to injury the past two seasons. Many teams may want to give him a one-year “prove it” type of deal to see if he’s healthy or he’s beginning to fade, including the Patriots.

Dolphins Contribute $100K to Stoneman Douglas Fund:
The Miami Dolphins made two payments of $50,000, to the GoFundMe page for the Stoneman Douglas school to help put the donations over $1,000,000 in just two days of being active. It was explained that the Dolphins had to make two donations because the maximum allowed by the page to accept was $50,000.

Soon after the Dolphins gesture, donations began pouring in from around the world. According to the Miami Herald, over 16,000 people have donated to the page.

“Donations raised here will be used to provide relief and financial support to the victims and families of the horrific shooting,” the fund’s organizer said. In a separate donation, Dolphins coaches donated $17,500 to the family of Aaron Feis, the assistant football coach who gave his life, shielding students from the psychopathic gunman who attacked the school.

Jets Have the Cap Space and Expected to Chase Cousins, Perhaps Butler Too?
The New York Jets have an estimated $73,000,000 in salary cap space for 2018 and they’re expected to make a serious run at Washington QB Kirk Cousins as soon as free agency opens. It may not be as far-fetched as some people believe at first glance.

With that much cap space, they can not only snag Cousins but a number of players who can help support Cousins and give him enough weapons to make the Jets relevant again. Another potential selling point is the big market NYC area for Cousins to play in as well as the fact that they can point to the way that the Jets played for Coach Todd Bowles right up until the end of the season. The Jets players believe in Bowles and have bought in.

Another rumor has it that Patriots free agent cornerback could possibly be going to the Jets. Can you imagine the hype for the two meetings this season if both Cousins and Butler end up with Gang Green in 2018? That would immediately make the two meetings even bigger than they normally are, regardless of team’s records.

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Patriots React To News of Garoppolo Record Deal With 49ers

Robert Alvarez
February 9, 2018 at 8:04 pm ET

On Thursday, former New England Patriots quarterback and current San Francisco 49er Jimmy Garoppolo made headlines when he agreed to an NFL record 5-Year, $137.5 Million Contract.

On social media, a few of Garoppolo’s old teammates in New England took time to congratulate him on his new deal and wished him well.

Mood

A post shared by Jimmy Garoppolo (@jimmypolo10) on