Been a bit since I’ve posted. So here is some general mishmash, in completely random order:
*Yup…starting with the New England Revolution…whoda thunk it??! It’s cuz I can. And it’s somewhat interesting to me. The team has played 3 games (0-2-1). They have zero goals. ZERO! How is that possible? Didn’t this team make the MLS Finals last year? In no way do I claim to remember their exact roster from December, but I just scanned the current one and it appears to have a lot of the same names I heard during the playoffs last year. Mystifying to me anyway…
Note: The Revs are waaaaaaaay down on the list of my concerns. But since they are local…and oh for five in championships…it would be nice if they could win one someday.
*Big week at the owner’s meetings in the NFL. (Wow…the second point is one that I normally don’t care about either!). Apparently there were 23 rule changes to be discussed. Due to complete lack of interest (both by any readers here and myself as well) I’m not going to comment on the majority. But the Patriots’ three proposals are worth spending a second or two on anyway.
- Having the ability to challenge any call…or however it is defined…it would be increasing the amount of replays available regardless. Wouldn’t be excited about this at all…and apparently enough teams weren’t either, in order to change this rule. Sure, there are probably more plays that should be reviewed. But where do you draw the line? EVERY play can be reviewed for some kind of reason. So do you want 6 hour games? I love football, but that is a little much.
- Having fixed cameras on boundary lines. This is an absolute no brainer and something William Belichick has championed for years. Why wouldn’t you do this? It would make so many replays shorter. They say because owners do not want to foot the cost to set these up? How ridiculous is that, coming from a bunch of billionaires? Oh yeah, right. These are the same dudes that penny-pinched the officials a couple years back and we had to suffer through replacement officials that were clearly in over there head. Nevermind…
- Move the PAT to the 15 yard line. Not sure this will solve much, still a chip shot. But better than where it is now, I suppose. It is time for a change, no question in my mind anyway. What was it, like 99.7% of these are made now? Seems kind of outrageous that any kind of points are automatic. I haven’t thought enough about it to have a solution, but something should be done. Force a 2 point conversion play? Make the 2 pt. conversion start at the 1 yard line to entice more teams to go for it? Make the extra point at least 40 yards out? Smarter minds than me hopefully will work this out in the near future.
*I’ve started to live with the fact that Darrelle Revis will not be here next year…even accepting it to some degree. I know there are several contracts coming up soon and that they are still close to the cap, blah, blah, blah. I get it. But the cornerback depth chart right now? Yikes!! One projection had Malcolm Butler #1 and Bradley Fletcher #2 now. Double Yikes!! Butler seems to be able to play, but that is quite a big jump to expect him to take. Maybe Fletcher gets some confidence back and is serviceable next year. But another big “if” as well. I won’t go through the rest. Good thing it’s only March…
*But please, Bobby Kraft. Don’t insult our intelligence by saying “we really TRIED hard to get Revis back”. If you really wanted him back, the contract the Jets gave him was not prohibitive enough where you wouldn’t have been able to bring him back. Sure, a couple of decent bodies would have to have been sacrificed. And additional maneuvers necessary in future years. But you really could have figured it out. So please stop it.
*I’ve made a decision. As painful as it is for me to say this, I do NOT want the Bruins to make the playoffs. It’s time for change. All around. Major. And missing the playoffs is the only way change will happen.
Starting with Peter Chiarelli. He’s had a nice run as GM, no question about it. But the bad contracts (either too long, too soon, too much money, or in some cases, all three), the bad drafts, being seemingly too satisfied some years (after blowing a 3-0 series lead in the second round against Philadelphia in 2010, he said “well, we are one of only 5 teams to make the second round of the playoffs the last 2 years”), the laissez-faire attitude towards the players some years (after getting bounced from the playoffs in the first round the year after winning the Cup, he said “well, the players came to me and said they felt like it was really just one long season and were tired…”. I would have lit any player up had they told me that!). Etc. It’s time to go.
As much as I’ve changed my opinion on Claude Julien over the years and see him in a much more favorable light, it looks like it is time for a change there as well. For one, the players seemed to have tuned him out…specifically the “core” guys. There is a noticeable difference on the ice this year, as far as intensity and pride go it seems. Talent too, I suppose. But it’s just not the same. Not saying it is all Claude’s fault. But I’ve said it many times before, sometimes you just need a new voice. He’s been here a long time and it has been a nice run. But it happened to Doc Rivers. It happened to Terry Francona. It hasn’t happened to Belichick, probably because there is a lot more roster turnover year to year in football. Not to mention the fact that with all the nonguaranteed contracts in the NFL, there is a way to rectify any player situation quickly by jettisoning him. I just wonder if the three year contract extension given to him before the year will preclude Charlie Jacobs from doing anything here. Then again, a new GM will want to pick his own coach…
The roster. Complete overhaul, I say. I will leave open the possibility that a new GM & coach may light a fire under some of these guys. But here’s the list of players I WOULDN’T dangle in trades:
Dougie Hamilton, David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron.
Yup, that’s it. I’m not likely to deal David Krejci. Or even Malcolm Subban. But I am up for dealing anyone else. For whatever that’s worth. The team is full of third/fourth line types. And third pairing defensemen. There are not many quality bodies in Providence ready to step in and contribute. Well, maybe there are. But youngsters are usually stifled by this regime, so we may never know. Time to find out, I say.
Enough for now…but still more to catch up on…
…because the one thing that I wanted them to do in free agency, as well as what most other Patriots fans wanted them to do, was to re-sign Darrelle Revis. Everything else would be gravy, right?
Of course they did not. And it made me sick to my stomach initially. Can’t say much has changed over the past couple of days. Though I have TRIED to look a little more at the big picture.
So I would have kept Revis, of course that is clear. Even in the worst case scenario, I would have picked up the option year. Even though that option was exorbitant, not to mention the cap hit that came with it, it’s hard for me to believe that the Patriots couldn’t have maneuvered the cap to fit it in. Restructuring a few players, cutting some dead weight, all that. It could have been done.
But this is the New England Patriots. We should have known there was no way they going to pay Revis. No way that they were going to pick up that option. ESPECIALLY after winning the Super Bowl.
Was it the right move? Only time will tell. Every year I am disappointed with the team at the start of the free agent process. Every year, the team seems to shop in the bargain aisle. And every year when the rosters are full and they are ready to start the regular season, it turns out things are not as bleak as everyone made it out to be in March.
In Bill We Trust? Maybe.
But this one feels different. As I stated in previous posts, the formula for winning a Super Bowl seemingly came down to keeping Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and Revis healthy. Everything else would work out. Last year everything fell into place and the Pats were Super Bowl champions. Prevailing wisdom would be to bring most of the band back together for at least one more run…before Brady’s “window” closes. Made total sense. Seemed that the team could work the cap to make this happen. Then after next year? Who knows? But one more shot would’ve been nice.
This isn’t to say they won’t get another shot next season. Still plenty of talent on the roster and plenty of time to acquire more. The draft has yet to happen too. None of the other free agents that have left this offseason will kill them. Brandon Browner was nice, and yes, I wanted him back too. His penalties frustrated the hell out of me, but the refs largely put their whistles away in the postseason, when it mattered. But without Revis on the other side, is Browner truly a #1 now? We will see how that one works out for the Saints. Shane Vereen can be replaced, as can Big Vince Wilfork, sad to say. The Pats weren’t going to pay guys like Akeem Ayers and Jonathan Casillas like triple their worth. Liked what I saw from Ayers actually, but he can be replaced…and apparently has already by Jabal Sheard.
But it goes without saying that Patriots Nation would have felt more comfortable with Darrelle back there.
I believe people are mistaken with the whole guaranteed money thing however. The Jets gave him 39 million fully guaranteed. The Patriots were said to have offered 35 mil guaranteed. People have been ripping the Pats…how could they let him get away for only 4 million???!! But was it FULLY guaranteed? Doubtful. Reports have not indicated the fully guaranteed dollars, from what I have seen. So was the money really that close? Again, doubtful. Big difference between the two offers, it would appear.
I don’t think the Kraft family is cheap. But they are hard core businessmen. As is Bill Belichick. It does bug me sometimes how they continue to look at the future more than “loading up” and trying to take advantage of Brady’s last couple of years. But they have had a pretty good run and who can really argue with it? As businessmen, I think they also see some things coming up after next year and didn’t want to lock up too much dough for Revis where it would preclude them from doing things with the players that are up. Gronk has a huge bonus next offseason that will need to be addressed one way or another. Nate Solder, Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower, Ryan Wendell and of course the franchise tagged Stephen Gostkowski are up after next season. Wendell may not be a key guy to keep, but right now there is not much guard depth on the team and he remains the backup center, so maybe he will be useful. In any event, kind of a big deal to keep most of those guys. Would they be able to if they locked Revis up? Possibly, but who knows?
One other decision we may never know the answer to: Why Devin McCourty and not Revis? I’d have paid Revis first. McCourty failed as a cornerback. And it’s not like he’s Ed Reed out there at safety. A good player, but many do not feel he is great. I don’t anyway. But I’m not in the NFL in any capacity, so I suppose it’s possible I am missing something. For my money though, I am paying a franchise, shutdown cornerback over a decent, centerfield safety any day of the week. It’s kind of shocking that Devin got 28.5 mil guaranteed. Yes, maybe none of it is fully guaranteed, but still. Just seems like a wild overpayment for a team that does not normally overpay in the slightest bit. I have no explanation for this move. Other than they knew they were losing Revis, (and maybe knew if they lost Revis, they were dumping Browner), so they sure as hell weren’t losing another starting member of the secondary. But the whole thing is hard to fathom.
So as usual at this time of year, we just have to sit back and see how everything shakes out over the next couple of months or so. See if Bill and Robert were right again. I like the Sheard move mentioned above, but I am not sure it’s a game breaker. And other than that, I have to say none of the other moves so far, free agent (Brandon Gibson, Kevin Dorsey, etc.) or re-signings (James Develin, Sealver Siliga, etc.), have raised my antennae too much. Drafting #32 in the first round come May doesn’t really get me all fired up either.
Here’s hoping Chimdi Chekwa is the next Revis…hey, he supposedly runs a 4.3 40, it’s a nice start, no?
Moving onto the Offense today…while still sweating out that the Patriots will stick to their historical ways under the Kraft family and let Darrelle Revis walk…and have him sign with another AFC team…not good…
Under contract: Tom Brady, Jimmy Garoppolo, Garrett Gilbert
Free agents: None
Thoughts: Nothing to see here. Brady apparently will play for much less than he is worth (though make no mistake, every time he renegotiates, he makes more money than people think he does). He can still play at a high level. Just need to make sure the offensive line is stout enough to keep him upright and it will be business as usual. Jimmy Football is of course unproven, but the organization seems to love him. Hopefully we won’t have to see him play again next year anyway, other than mop up time.
Garrett Gilbert? Who cares? The 3rd QB will be on the practice squad. And if we see the 3rd QB at any time next year, the season is surely over. So it could be anyone. But Gilbert should be thanking his lucky stars the Pats signed him last December 17. Apparently, the Pats wanted to sign some dude named David Fales off the Chicago Bears practice squad. Chicago ended up elevating him to the 53-man roster. So the Pats went for Gilbert instead. Then Garrett got to enjoy the ride for 6 weeks and also got himself a Super Bowl ring. I know no one cares about this stuff but me, but good for Gilbert anyway…and I suppose too bad for Fales.
Under contract: LeGarrette Blount, Brandon Bolden, James White, Tyler Gaffney, Jonas Gray, Dion Lewis
Free agents: Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley, James Develin (FB)
Thoughts: Kind of a run-of-the-mill group in the backfield. But you know what? It’s actually probably good enough. That’s assuming White and Gaffney can play a little. Blount is an average back…he can take advantage of the poor run defense teams, but is not a game breaker, despite what many Patriots fans think. Gray showed some flashes, obviously. He seemed to run pretty well when given the chance. Looked like he had more burst than Blount. But there was a reason he was on the practice squad for the first half of the season, where every team in the league had a chance to add him and they did not. I think it’s more than the alarm clock thing and getting buried in the doghouse. There must be some more limitations…again, despite what many Patriots fans think. Bolden is a nice guy to have on the team, but I don’t want him getting carries…many of them anyway. Lewis…if you want.
The keys here as it stands are White and Gaffney. White was a preseason darling, but couldn’t get on the field last year. When he did, no one saw much. Perhaps he needs more reps. But I’m not completely sold on him yet. Gaffney was stolen from Carolina after he got hurt early in training camp and they wanted put him on injured reserve before they actually needed to. Did it during a period where he had to clear waivers before they could put him on IR. If they kept him until the first cutdown from 90 to 75 players, they could have put him straight to IR without exposing him to waivers. Needed that 90th roster spot I suppose. Anyway, dumb move by them if they liked him. But if Carolina was willing to take that risk, how good can Gaffney really be? The Patriots did something like this a couple of years back when the New York Giants tried to do the same exact thing with Jake Ballard when he was hurt one year. The Pats claimed him and stashed him on an injury list all year. Got everyone all fired up about him making contributions the following year…and then he never made the team. So we will see.
As for the free agents, I’d actually take Ridley back. I’m assuming he will have to get one of those one year, “make good” deals, to prove he is healthy and still a decent back. Why not here? But if I’m Ridley, I don’t know if I would do that in New England. Too many bodies and he won’t get the carries he needs to cash in next year. I’d let Vereen walk, especially if he is looking for like 5 mil a year, as I have heard. He stayed healthy last year, but what are the chances of that happening again, with his history? Plus, he got some yardage last year, but to me, he seemed to be less explosive than he has been in the past. I like him, but he can be replaced. Develin is restricted, so he will likely be back, if the Pats want a fullback. No problem with that. I wouldn’t argue adding another veteran here, but I’m not rolling out tremendous cash to do so.
Under contract: Julian Edelman, Danny Amendola, Brandon LaFell, Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, Jonathan Krause, Matthew Slater
Free agents: Brian Tyms, Greg Orton
Thoughts: Again, probably enough here as well. No need to spend major dough on anyone…such as trading for Andre Johnson’s good sized deal. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love a big name like ‘Dre here. But I’d rather spend the dough on other positions than extending for someone at this position. I wonder if Dobson will ever be anything, but I’m not opposed to giving him another chance. He showed some promise in his rookie year. He supposedly is “rededicating” himself this offseason. We will see, but why not? Boyce, Krause, Slater? Yeah, filler. There has been talk about maybe replacing Amendola with someone like Brian Hartline, but what’s the difference? Tyms and Orton are both restricted, but again, who cares? I’m not as high on Tyms as everyone else seems to be. Loved him in the preseason though, for whatever that’s worth…pretty much nothing, I know. If Edelman can stay healthy and LaFell keeps progressing here, it’s enough.
Under contract: Rob Gronkowski, Michael Hoomanawanui, Tim Wright
Free agents: None
Thoughts: Keep Gronk healthy! That’s it! I see Wright contributing more next year, as a receiver, now that he will have an offseason and a full training camp with the team. I think they will find a way to work him in more. I’d love to see them acquire a backup, through the draft or otherwise, that can both catch and block. I’m not saying another Gronk, but someone who is capable of doing both to take some of the load off Gronk during the regular season. To a much smaller degree, obviously. But if their plan is just to have these guys and then having an extra offensive lineman be a blocker, then I am ok with that too. Unless that OL is Marcus Cannon. Because he was awful in that role last year. Nate Solder and Cameron Fleming were good at it though, so there are other options.
Under contract: Sebastian Vollmer, Nate Solder, Ryan Wendell, Marcus Cannon, Bryan Stork, Cameron Fleming, Josh Kline, Jordan Devey, Chris Barker, Caylin Hauptmann
Free agents: Dan Connolly, Danny Aiken (LS)
Thoughts: I think the Patriots are set at tackle and center with Vollmer, Solder and Stork. Would love to see Solder get his cap number down with a long term deal though. He struggled at times last year, but I’m ok with keeping him on the blind side. Can you do better? Not sure. Stork seemed to make a difference when he was in the lineup. Vollmer has been good. Not a huge Cannon fan…who is actually? But as a backup swing tackle, again, you could do worse. I believe Fleming is technically a tackle as well, though they tried him at guard too…and of course as the blocking TE. Will be in his 2nd year, I’m good here. Guard seems to be one of the highest priority positions to upgrade to me. I like having Wendell on the squad. He played ok at guard and you can play him at center as well. I’d love to bring Connolly back for depth at the right price too. He also has the flexibility to play C. I’d like to see them get another big guard to at the very least groom next year. Kline appears to be deep depth. Barker has been around for 2 years and has barely played. Devey is atrocious and Hauptmann is someone I’ve never heard of. Maybe he’s the guy, but doubtful. Seems ripe for another high level player here. Aiken is here as the long snapper and it doesn’t matter to me if they re-sign him or let him go. Someone will do it next year.
Under contract: Stephen Gostkowski (franchise tag)
Free agents: None
Thoughts: I’m not terribly excited the Pats used their franchise tag on their kicker. But there really was only one other option to use it on among all of their impending free agents: Devin McCourty. As stated above, I’m not sad they didn’t use it on Devin. So you may as well make sure you have a reliable kicker going forward…on a team poised to score plenty of points. Sure, I’m not positive he has made too many clutch kicks over his career, certainly as compared to his predecessor, Adam Vinatieri. But again, having a reliable kicker is a good thing. Some teams in the past have gotten derailed because their kicker was terrible (Billy Cundiff anyone?). His kickoffs are strong as well. I’m fine with it. May as well lock him up for a few years though, so they are not tempted to use the franchise tag on him again next year.