Posts Tagged ‘Patriots’

Realistic Free Agent and Veteran Options:

The Crown JewelDak Prescott – Not really realistic unless Belichick retires and New England hires Kellen Moore to be their head coach. And they offer Dak Prescott a dozen Dunkin Donuts franchises in addition to the 40 million guaranteed he’ll want. Dak would not want to leave Jerry Jones’ wealthy and warm embrace for cold New England with no receivers barring a major contract dispute.

The Ex-PatsJacoby Brissett, Jimmy Garoppolo – I believe the starter for New England in 2021 will be one of these two quarterbacks. Belichick has already put his stamp of approval on both of them and wanted them around for when Tom Brady decided to move on. Both have shown they can handle starting quarterback duties in and out of New England and would operate Josh McDaniels’ offense better than just about anyone. Brissett is the safer option with Jimmy’s health issues, but both would be attractive options for the Patriots to get a trusted vet in at QB. Garoppolo is technically still under contract with the 49ers so they would have to trade for him if San Francisco doesn’t cut him and is open to a deal.

The Grizzled Vets/Mentors – Ryan Fitzpatrick, Philip Rivers, Josh McCown – Fitzpatrick looks FANTASTIC in that Dolphins offense with Chan Gailey. Miami may pay him to stick around another season to support Tua, he would be an excellent bridge quarterback to help tutor a young QB should the Patriots actually draft someone. Rivers doesn’t look like a spring chicken in Indianapolis, but the Colts are winning with him at Quarterback and may lure him back for another season while they draft their future passer. McCown has looked serviceable, but only came out of retirement for the Eagles. He may not be willing to play for another team, especially a bad team. Josh McDaniels would have to adjust the offense for any of these players, they’re not likely to learn the playbook in one offseason with a bunch of castoffs at wide receiver.

The Jilted Ex-loversTyrod Taylor, Andy Dalton, Jameis Winston, Marcus Mariota – I actually really like all of these options. Taylor does the best job of protecting the football (something Belichick values) and may want another crack at a starting job after being stabbed out of a chance to start with the Chargers. Taylor brings some badly needed mobility to an offense that needs all the help it can get and has started several games. A late round pick who worked his way to the top of the depth chart at Buffalo, Taylor is the most “Belichick”ian of this group. Pro Football Focus’s Sam Monson and Steve Palazzolo repeatedly pointed out how Andy Dalton on the same drive would make a stellar throw, and a horrendous throw on the very next play. Dalton actually earned a second contract and has been a key part of some great Bengals teams. He will be certainly motivated to compete for a starting spot where ever her goes next. Winston’s still got a great arm and can throw with the best of them, but tarnished his reputation in 2019 with 30 interceptions, which the Patriots will not like. Overall, Jameis hasn’t thrown tons of interceptions if you look at his career as a whole, and his ceiling is the highest of anyone they could realistically get. Jameis may not be the locker room presence that the Patriots are looking for in their next quarterback, but beggars can’t be choosers. Mariota is under contract with the Raiders for $10 million. The Raiders’ Gruden and Mayock would likely want a minimum of a third round pick to trade Mariota to a (much hated) AFC foe. Mariota looked great in the Raiders loss to the Chargers where Derek Carr got injured.

The (I say this with love) ScrapheapMike Glennon, Nick Mullens, Blake Bortles, Brett Hundley, etc. – Most of the rest of the group would likely compete for a backup spot in New England, if at all. Mike Glennon has put up better than expected stat lines with Jacksonville and may be attractive to Belichick and Caserio as a competitor for the starting job. Gardner Minshew is an interesting thought exercise, but the Patriots would likely have to give up a lot to get him. Assuming Jacksonville drafts Trevor Lawrence, Minshew would immediately be the league’s top backup quarterback in an offense he’s already familiar with and for dirt cheap.

Sam Darnold – I kind of forgot about Darnold. It is possible the Jets will hold on to Darnold in 2021, but even if they don’t draft a QB at #2, they probably won’t stick with him long term. Darnold was terrific as a prospect coming out of USC. If they can get Darnold for a third round pick, that may be worth it for New England. Dwayne Haskins is now available, but I don’t see how New England can support a young passer who looks like he needs to get back to fundamentals and go somewhere he can be a backup for a bit.

The Draft:

There are lots of great quarterbacks in this draft class. I’m only listing some of the names I feel the Patriots might like or who might be a fit for what Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick value in a QB. I’m excluding the big four (Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, Zach Wilson, Trey Lance) as their traits are well documented already.

Mac Jones – I see this as the best fit for New England. Jones doesn’t have a ton of starts under his belt, but Belichick is known for being close to Nick Saban and Jones if nothing else is accurate and doesn’t turn the ball over.

Kyle Trask – This is a quarterback I think the Patriots would’ve loved back in 2001, Trask is accurate with several starts against NFL caliber defenses. Trask is not a mobile guy and had loads of talent around him at Florida. He will not have elite talent around him at New England and Belichick will likely prefer a mobile quarterback. Belichick will still value quarterbacks with starting experience, and may be on the Patriots draft radar in round 2 or later.

Sam Ehlinger – Ehlinger hasn’t had much “WOW” tape but has been a consistent, above average performer for Texas for four years of starts. Ehlinger rushed for 4 touchdowns and over 100 yards against Oklahoma, so he’s a capable runner. I personally don’t love his tape, but Gil Brandt has mentioned Ehlinger as among his top seniors for the 2021 class. Ehlinger has gotten it done with a variety of different receiving talent at Texas.

Jamie Newman – Newman’s been described as a more raw, high ceiling prospect rather than a safe, high floor guy. This pick would make sense if the Patriots somehow ended up with Ryan Fitzpatrick or Philip Rivers, a quarterback nearing retirement who would be willing to mentor a rookie/youngster. Newman has made some great throws at Wake Forest and is an athlete with the ball in his hands. If the coaching staff feels they can “coach him up” to protect the football better, Newman could be a steal even in the first round.

Kellen Mond – Mond is a quarterback who would’ve met most of the ‘Bill Parcells QB rules‘. Like Ehlinger, Mond has a ton of starts under his belt. Mond has played against loads of SEC defensive talent and coaching, about as good an education as you can get for the NFL. His accuracy percentage slowly improved into the 60s at Texas A&M and he’s demonstrated he’s an above average runner with the ball in his hands. Mond is a hard worker and will likely be able to handle the challenges of being an NFL rookie on a bad team. Mond’s looked inaccurate at times and will likely need a strong supporting cast to look great (like Kirk Cousins or Andy Dalton). Mond’s lower career yards per attempt suggest he’s more comfortable checking the ball closer to the line of scrimmage than going for the big play. I don’t see this being an issue with Josh McDaniels and the Patriots offense.

Brock Purdy – It’s not yet clear whether Purdy goes back to school in 2021 or declares for the draft. 2020 has been a rough year for him, but there’s been enough buzz around his name that he would likely get drafted in the mid to late rounds. Purdy had some real stinkers in 2020, but generally did a good job of distributing the ball at Iowa State. Like many college offenses, Purdy’s job was more focused on quickly finding the open receiver rather than throwing it deep to his star wideout. Purdy would definitely be a third round selection at the earliest, Belichick’s shown he’s willing to wait on drafting a quarterback even if he has a pressing need.

Brady White – White’s more one of “my guys” that I’ve felt has played at a high level at Memphis, though smarter dudes than me aren’t impressed with his tape. Memphis looks like they run a little more of a vertical offense, but White has no problem taking the checkdown if that’s what’s asked of him. White’s a true senior with a load of starts under his belt, though it’s mainly come against AAC defenses. I feel White would give the offense a little higher of a ceiling, as White has one of the stronger arms in the draft, White’s not a runner, with a career total of negative 23 rushing yards.

Today’s song is “Staring at the sea without you next to me” by San Holo

The NFL media has already begun forecasting doom and gloom on Foxboro’s team after New England visited Arrowhead stadium and got flattened 41-14. Brady looked like a senile old man at times in Kansas City throwing a late pass to Edelman when he could have dived for the first down. But that’s splitting hairs in a horrific loss for New England created by their inability to stop Jamaal Charles and their inability to protect their passer. Belichick’s Belichickian insistence on not overpaying for aging talent (and trading 6-time pro-bowler Logan Mankins) seems to have come at the worst time possible as the Patriots offensive line is struggling severely. For all we know, Mankins would have gotten injured just the same or his level of play would be just as poor as the rest of the line’s and New England would be sitting in a similar spot. But the world will never know. The world only knows that New England’s offensive line is definitely struggling without him.

The lack of pass protection only highlights the Patriots’ lack of receiving weapons. Gone are the days when the Patriots had Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez and a spritely Wes Welker to dissect opposing secondaries. In 2014, their top receiving threat is a tie between ever-injured Rob Gronkowski and underwhelming Julian Edelman. Losing to the Chiefs (a strong AFC playoff team) on their turf shouldn’t be too shocking. Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid and QB Alex Smith have decades of big game experience between them.

Negativity aside, the Patriots weren’t exactly towering football behemoths at the start of 2014. Sure, the signing of Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner look great on paper. But these guys can’t play on the line, and they don’t catch any passes. The Patriots two greatest areas of needs. The Patriots are certainly a capable team, but they can’t force their will on opponents like they used to. They need to play to their strengths. And no one can do that better than salty captain of the ship Bill Belichick.

New England hosts undefeated Cincinnati next Sunday night at home. A win in Foxborough would re-energize the embattled Patriots team, but first they’ll have to earn it.

I’m still high as a kite from my N.O. Xplode rush from my gym session this evening. So I’m going to write.

The New England Patriots let go of run-stopper Brandon Spikes and premium corner Aqib Talib in free agency. Starting DT Vince Wilfork has requested to be released from the team, suggesting he will, in fact, not be a Patriot for 2014.

New England went to the AFC championship game without Wilfork thanks to some quality depth at the position (Chris Jones and Sealver Siliga) and saw backup Jamie Collins play admirably in the absence of pro bowl linebacker Jerod Mayo.

New England stayed toe-to-toe with Denver in the AFC title game until CB Aqib Talib got injured. Talib’s injury signified the breaking of the dam holding back Denver’s passing attack. Denver went on to win the AFC title game as Demaryius Thomas ran unchallenged with his superior size and speed (6’3” and 229 lbs, and a 4.38 40 time). In the past 72 hours, New England signed Darrelle Revis after being cut by Tampa Bay, and 6’4” pro bowl corner Brandon Browner after being released by Seattle. New England’s depth at cornerback was solid prior to this offseason without injury looking to Alfonzo Dennard, Kyle Arrington, and rookie Logan Ryan who’ve produced solid play at the position in previous seasons.

If Danny Cardboard Amendola and Rob Brokekowski can keep themselves healthy New England looks primed to return to the AFC championship game already, this time with a secondary that can match up with any receiving corps the AFC has to offer.

There’s still the majority of the offseason to go, including a number of valuable free agents and the draft to determine which teams start who in 2014. New England’s handled the free agent market like true professionals, and look like early favorites to challenge for the AFC throne again in 2014.

Buffalo Bills

2012 record: 6-10, 3rd place AFC East (tied with NY Jets)

Notable offseason losses: QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, WR Donald Jones, LB Nick Barnett, SS George Wilson, QB Tarvaris Jackson

Notable offseason acquisitions: HC Doug Marrone, QB Kevin Kolb, WR Da’Rick Rogers

Notable draft picks: QB E.J. Manuel, WR Robert Woods, LB Kiko Alonso

Dave’s 2013 record prediction: 9-7

The winds of change blow in Buffalo. New head coach Doug Marrone brings experience as a former offensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints and head coach of the Syracuse Orange. Buffalo selected the first QB in the draft with E.J. Manuel who should challenge Kevin Kolb for the starting job as the weeks progress in Buffalo. Kolb has shown he can perform as a competent backup in tight spots (see Philadelphia), but has struggled in the past as a starting quarterback (see Arizona). Kolb should perform the buffer role to help Manuel ease into the pro game.

Buffalo clearly drafted for need as former USC standout Robert Woods comes into challenge David Nelson for a starting spot left by departed Donald Jones at wide receiver. Additionally, former Oregon Duck Kiko Alonso looks to be the natural replacement for former starting linebacker Nick Barnett. Former Tennessee Tech wide receiver Da’Rick Rogers failed to get drafted, but Buffalo signed the controversial talent this offseason with hopes that he’ll bring a spark to the offense.

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Buffalo Bills rookie wideout Robert woods

On defense, Buffalo has a surprisingly talented defensive line. Established star Mario Williams accrued a healthy 10.5 sacks last season while defensive tackles Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus collected 5 and 5.5 respectively. That’s a lot of pressure coming only from the defensive line. While Buffalo did not statistically speaking have a great defense last season, and gave up oodles of yards on the ground, they performed respectably against the pass. Safety Jairus Byrd intercepted five passes, defended six more, and forced four fumbles. Second round pick Kiko Alonso should help turn things around on a defense that ranked second to last in rushing last season.

Miami gets all the attention for bringing in plenty of free agent talent, but Buffalo may challenge New England for the AFC East crown this season. If Marrone (an offensive mind) and Manuel can get the ball rolling on offense, all the tools are there for Buffalo to assemble a very balanced attack. Running back Fred Jackson is one of the very top running backs in the league when healthy. C.J. Spiller has proven his worth as a very talented runner averaging six yards per carry to break 1,200 yards this past season. Wide receiver Stevie Johnson broke out two seasons ago and tight end Scott Chandler has a nose for the endzone. If Manuel can live up to first round pick expectations, Buffalo may catch many teams sleeping in the coming season.

Miami Dolphins

2012 record: 7-9, 2nd place AFC East

Notable offseason losses: RB Reggie Bush, OT Jake Long, DB Sean Smith

Notable offseason acquisitions: WR Mike Wallace, TE Dustin Keller, WR Brandon Gibson

Notable draft picks: LB Dion Jordan, CB Jamar Taylor

Dave’s 2013 record prediction: 8-8

Miami is undergoing the Oregon Ducks treatment this offseason with brand new uniforms hoping to inspire change in the team atmosphere. That and the drafting of former Oregon Duck Dion Jordan should help. Expectations are high in Miami with budding second year QB Ryan Tannehill and a host of receiving options including: Mike Wallace, Dustin Keller, Brandon Gibson, and hometown hero Brian Hartline. NFL.com pundits suggest that second year running back Lamar Miller will have a breakout year in the absence of Reggie Bush. While Miller has done little to hint of any breakout NFL performance, the talent is there for Miami’s offense to break out if Tannehill can take the next step.

Miami RB Lamar Miller

Miami RB Lamar Miller

Miami ranked seventh in scoring defense last season, with an average of 19.8 points per game allowed. Their most glaring weakness appeared in their inability to stop the pass ranking 27th out of 32 in passing yards allowed per game. The addition of first and second round picks OLB Dion Jordan and CB Jamar Taylor should bolster Miami’s pass defense.

Miami may be looking to eventually replace the departed left tackle Jake Long with the drafting of OT Dallas Thomas. Long left some big shoes to fill in Miami, widely regarded as one of the, if not the best left tackle in the game.

By and large, Miami’s season rests on Tannehill’s shoulders. The load a starting quarterback carries can be daunting, especially in a system built around the pass, which, looking at the team’s recent free agent acquisitions, appears to be the direction Philbin and his team are moving in. Watch for the new-look Dolphins to make a run for a wild card spot in the AFC this coming season.

New England Patriots

2012 record: 12-4, 1st place AFC East

Notable offseason losses: WR Wes Welker, TE Aaron Hernandez, WR Brandon Lloyd

Notable offseason acquisitions: WR Danny Amendola, WR Donald Jones, RB LeGarrette Blount

Notable draft picks: WR Aaron Dobson, OLB Jamie Collins

Dave’s 2013 record prediction: 11-5

New England may have the least familiar offense in the AFC east this coming season with the way their offseason has developed. Wide receiver Wes Welker defected in free agency to the Peyton Manning-led Denver Broncos. Former receivers Deion Branch, Brandon Lloyd, and Donte Stallworth were not asked to return to the team. Former running back Danny Woodhead left for San Diego. Star tight end Aaron Hernandez has been arrested for murder and was cut by the team. Other star tight end Rob Gronkowski has had medical issues since week eleven of the 2012 season, but is expected to return by the start of the NFL season.

Brady, Belichick & Co. have led an offense into the playoffs with lesser known players before. Before Wes Welker was a star in New England, he was a walk-on at Texas Tech, undrafted in the NFL, and waived by San Diego. Part of Welker’s former responsibilities included returning kicks and making kicks. Welker is now a highly-respected star receiver on a high-powered Denver offense after his tenure in New England.

In his prime, Deion Branch won a Super Bowl MVP award in 2004 as a New England Patriot and netted New England a first round pick for 2007 in a trade with Seattle. Branch never fulfilled his potential outside of New England, and actually got traded back to New England from Seattle for a fourth round pick. The Patriots offense should rank in the top seven in scoring regardless of who is catching the ball this season.

New England’s defense got involved in many a shootout this past season, ranking 29th in passing yards allowed with 271.4 per game. New England drafted two pass rushers and two defensive backs in the draft, likely hoping to address defensive needs well enough to propel them further into the playoffs.

New England will likely face stiffer competition in the division this season as Buffalo and Miami have undergone significant change on offense, though the Belichick-Brady formula has not changed, suggesting the Patriots will again take the division crown.

New York Jets

2012 record: 6-10, 3rd place AFC East

Notable offseason losses: CB Darrelle Revis, RB Shonn Greene, TE Dustin Keller, S LaRon Landry

Notable offseason acquisitions: RB Chris Ivory, TE Kellen Winslow

Notable draft picks: CB Dee Milliner, DL Sheldon Richardson, QB Geno Smith

Dave’s 2013 record prediction: 5-11

The Jets stumbled this past season with a struggling offense and an aging defense. The Jets pass defense stood strong ranking 2nd overall in fewest passing yards allowed per game, but were gashed by the run and allowed 23.4 points per game. Since their dominant 2010 season, the Jets offense has failed to put up quite as many points, but more importantly, the notoriously stingy Jets defense has been much more beatable in the past two seasons. The loss of star corner Darrelle Revis should only exacerbate this issue. Instead of relying on former first round picks Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson to fill the role, the team drafted first round pick Dee Milliner out of Alabama early to shore up the secondary in a division with Mike Wallace, Stevie Johnson, and whoever Tom Brady feels like throwing to this season.

The Jets offense looked, at times, like the keystone cops. The forcing of Tim Tebow into roles he was clearly never meant for and the infamous Mark Sanchez butt-fumble underscore some of the issues the Jets faced on offense. The drafting of Geno Smith should push Sanchez to raise his competitiveness throughout camp, and the season. Smith, widely considered as the number one quarterback prospect in the NFL draft, may be the future of the offense in New York if Sanchez doesn’t put together an uncharacteristically impressive season in 2013.

With the departure of Shonn Greene, Jets running back Chris Ivory will likely assume the starting role. Ivory rushed for 700+ yards and five touchdowns over twelve games in his rookie season in New Orleans in 2010.

Ivory, while no doubt reliable, is not thought of as one of the NFL’s dominant running backs. Dustin Keller, former Jets tight end and arguably their most effective receiving option, left for division rival Miami. Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer Kellen Winslow was brought in and is expected to claim the starting tight end spot in camp. The Jets face an uphill battle in an improving AFC East. Miami and Buffalo are priming to climb into the 8-9 win column this season, and Rex Ryan has more questions than answers on offense this season.