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Are We Ready?

Ready for what?

New England Patriot football post-Tom Brady.  That’s what.

Yup.  It’s here.  Or it will officially be in a few months.  But…are we ready?

I am.

After 20 years of Brady at the helm, is it time for someone different?

Not necessarily.  But that’s what both sides ultimately decided.  So that’s what we are getting.

Gonna feel a whole lot different in New England, no question.  Gonna be weird seeing Brady in a Buc uni, no question.  Wish him all the success in the world.  Thank you Tom for EVERYTHING.  Cannot be stated enough.  But best of luck in your new locale.

Brady’s gone and we have to live with it.  Can the Pats win a Super Bowl under Bill and another QB?  Can Tom win the whole thing in Tampa?  Or WILL they?  No idea, but I’m at least interested to see.  Not necessarily to prove one can win without the other though.  Who cares?  I don’t.  Together they gave us 6 Super Bowls in 20 years.  They both had a great deal to do with it.  But you know who’s else did?  Malcolm Butler.  Adam Vinatieri.  James White.  Danny Amendola.  The defensive backs of 2001:  Ty Law, Otis Smith, Lawyer Milloy & Willie “Big Play” Clay.  J.R. Redmond.  An unconscious (literally) David Patten.  Jermaine Wiggins.  Romeo Crennel.  Charlie Weis.  Dante Scarnecchia.  Josh McDaniels.  Julian Edelman.  Deion Branch.  Dee Ford lining up offside.  Billy Cundiff missing that chip shot…oops, the Pats lost the Super Bowl the game after that miss…nevermind.  But you get the point.  We could go on and on.  It was a lot of Bill and Tom.  But let’s not forget all the others that helped along the way.  So let’s root them both on going forward ok?  Unless we get a NE/TB super bowl.  Then we can pick a side.  But what are the odds of that happening?

So what’s next?

Glad you asked!!

In typical Blowhard fashion, let’s do a roster projection!!  Way too early of course.  The draft is a month or so away.  Still some free agents out there.  The country is still basically in lockdown.  But we can take a look now.  No harm in that.

Why not?  What the hell else is there to write about these days??

There are 67 players on the roster as we speak.  That means there are 23 spots remaining.  12 draft picks upcoming in the aforementioned draft, with perhaps a few vets sprinkled in with some undrafted free agents to fill out the 90 man camp roster.  If camp actually happens, that is.

Bottom line:  Lot’s of bodies still to come.

But these bodies will be low cost guys, no doubt about it.

The Patriots have very little salary cap space remaining.  Yes, the salary cap can be manipulated for sure.  But in 2020, with about 23 million tied up in dead money between Brady, Antonio Brown, Stephen Gostkowski, Michael Bennett and Duron Harmon alone, THIS may be the actual year they cannot manipulate anything.  The chickens do come home to roost sometimes.  I suppose 2020 is that time for the Pats.

I also read somewhere recently where the Patriots view 2020 not as a “bridge year”, mind you.  There are still plenty of good players remaining on the roster.  But it’s a year where the Pats “want to get younger and reset their finances”.  Think it was Tom E. Curran who said/wrote that, but if it was someone else, my apologies.

There are a few huge cap charges on the roster for this year where that player could sign an extension, be traded or cut or whatever else needs to happen to lower that specific cap charge.  Three players in particular.  But we will go over those players when we get to their positions.  And the bottom line is that I think nothing will be done with any of the three.  Not during this season anyway.

Taking all 12 draft picks they have seems like a stretch to me as well, despite having the 23 open spots.  They have 1 first, 4 thirds, 1 fourth, 3 sixth and 3 seventh round picks.  Wouldn’t shock me in the least bit if that first rounder was the first to go.  For a second this year and a first in 2021 perhaps.  Then Bill will turn that second rounder into 2 fifths and sixth.  Then 2 third rounders into a 2nd next year.  Etc.  We know how he does business.

All I’m saying is don’t expect any big names coming through the door from now until the start of the season…whether through trade, free agency or the draft.

Enough of the rambling.  Let’s get into the actual players, just like we normally do it each August.  We are skipping the “way out” category for now.  Because, let’s face it, no one is “way out” at this time of year.

Offense:

QB (2):

Locks:  Jarrett Stidham, Brian Hoyer

In:  None

Out:  Cody Kessler

Comments:  Welp, as I was in the midst of writing this, Kessler was released.  So he’s definitely out.  But let’s leave him in this analysis because we will talk about adding a third QB here.

Forget about that third QB being Cam Newton, Derek Carr, Jameis Winston, Andy Dalton, etc.  I mean, if you actually wanted any of these guys.  The Pats are rolling with Stidham.  And Hoyer as the “veteran backup”.  I guess Hoyer is lucky he knows the system.  Because just about anyone else would be a better backup.  Well, except Kessler apparently.

Those aforementioned established veterans would cost money…potentially lots of it.  A couple of them would cost draft capital and/or players in a trade.  As we said, the Pats don’t have a lot of cap room.  But we also don’t see them spending money on a Newton or a Winston even if they did.  Would they fit the system?  Is Newton truly healthy?  Can Winston take his head out of his arse?  Would either take a short money, “prove-it” type one year deal?  Do the Pats even want someone on a one year deal to quarterback the team?

Not sure about any of that.

We wouldn’t be shocked if the Pats drafted a QB, however.  But then again, do they want Stidham to have “real” competition?  And possibly lose confidence?  I don’t know.

The way it stands now, Stidham HAS to be the guy.  Hoyer’s agent is apparently telling anyone who will listen that his client was told he would be given the opportunity to win the starters’ job.  But…does he actually believe it?  Agent or client?  Or…ANYONE else??!

Sure, Hoyer could start the first couple of games to “ease” Stidham in.  I don’t see it though.  I have to believe they are rolling with “Stiddy” (as Devin McCourty has called him, not me).

Maybe a late round pick for the practice squad.  That’s about it.  But as I believe Bill Parcells once said, “I reserve the right to change my mind”.

Next:  The rest of the offense.

Not Satisfied…

…some quick Patriot thoughts:

*Tom Brady.

Brady sounded like a broken man in his post-game press conference.

Seriously?!

The team is 9-1.  And he has to be that sour?

This has been a huge topic on talk radio this week.  And for good reason.

How can he be so upset when the team has a .900 winning percentage?  He’s always been about winning, why is he so miserable when they have won all but one of their games?

Yes, the offense has not played all that well.  Yes, there is no Antonio Brown (more on him later), or Gronk (ditto), or Josh Gordon (the “in his prime” version anyway).  Yes, the kids don’t really know what they are doing.  Yes, Sony Michel drops an easy pass per game.  Yes, the offensive line is putrid.  Etc.

BUT THEY ARE 9-1!!

I think it’s more than ok for Brady to be frustrated.  But he just has never been like this publicly.  And it doesn’t really sit well with people, including me.  That’s why he is taking some heat from the talk radio yahoos this week.  It is kind of deserved.

And yeah, I hate to bash the player that has given us so many memories over the years.  But it’s kind of disheartening for me to see.  Brady can certainly still get it done.  I suppose he can act however he wants to now based on all of the goodwill he has built up over the years.  But some of the criticism he has taken this year has been valid.  After all, he has worked with lesser pieces in the offense in the past.  I have no doubt about this.  And this point really hasn’t been brought up by anyone in recent weeks.

Brady used to build relationships with players in the offseason program.  You don’t think he would have more trust in guys like Jakobi Meyers and N’Keal Harry if they had a ton of reps over the spring and summer?

But all of a sudden he thinks the offseason isn’t that important anymore?  I guess anyway.  He used to swear by those camps to improve everyone all around.  But now they don’t matter?

I don’t know what the answer is.  We all want Brady, coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and the rest of them to figure out this offense.  But with that putrid offensive line in front of Brady, how can it be fixed?  That is the crux of the offense’s problem.  Not the young wide receivers inexperience.  My opinion anyway.

But with Mohamed Sanu and Phillip Dorsett possibly missing this Sunday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys due to injury, Brady better start having some trust in Meyers and Harry.  He will have to.

*Brady, Part II.

The more I think of it, the more I would be intrigued if, not only Brady played until age 45 or 50.  But if he actually went somewhere else to finish his career.

Listen, I am not about to run Brady out of town.  And my thought here is actually unrelated to his attitude after Sunday’s game.

It’s just been something I’ve been thinking about for a while.  Since, after all, his contract is up and there has been a lot of chatter about what happens to Brady after this season.

He will be 43 years old.  And presumably still be a great starting quarterback in the NFL.  And he is still great, no question about it.  The circumstances around him have prevented him from really showing it, to be honest.

But…he will be 43 years old.  I’ve said it before and I will say it yet again:  There is simply no data from the past to project what he will do next season.  Or beyond.

It will be fascinating to see what happens.

But I am not going to lie.  ESPECIALLY if the Patriots win their 7th Super Bowl this season, I may be interested in seeing Brady elsewhere next year to see what he can do.  And to see what Belichick can do here, with Jarrett Stidham or someone else behind center.

The famous line is that Joe Montana finished his career outside of San Francisco.  Why can’t it happen to Brady?

I don’t know.  But I do know I will be giving it a lot more thought over the rest of the season.  And probably go back and forth at least a hundred times on it.

*Antonio Brown.

I don’t see any way he comes back to the Patriots, despite all the rumblings this week about it.  And apparently with Brady’s desire to bring him back.

Hard for me to believe owner Robert Kraft will let this happen.

Sure, the offense could use a player of his caliber.  And if he does somehow end up back on the team, I will continue to root for the team.

But do you really want him back, at all costs?  I would say I do not.

*Gronk.

Ugh.  Enough big guy.  ENOUGH!

I will forever be grateful for Rob Gronkowski’s contributions to the Patriots over the years.  And his antics here, while a little subdued because of the Patriots’ culture, were often humorous.

But now?

Annoying.

Sure, I would have taken him back in a heartbeat.  But did anyone really actually believe he was coming back this season?

No way.  And I am not sure he will come back next season.

But enough of the nonsense please dude.  And I don’t even care about his beach party, wrestling plans, acting aspirations or even about his work on Fox.

Done with it.

But what I am not done with?  Gronk following Brady to another NFL city next season?

Now, wouldn’t THAT be something?

*Isaiah Wynn.

Or…Jesus Christ?

People have been waiting for the return of Wynn and acting like it will solve ALL of the offense’s problems.

Really??

He has played, what, TWO games in the NFL?  How can we expect him to all of a sudden be an All-Pro and “stabilize the line”?

Listen, he cannot be any worse than Marshall Newhouse.  That would be seemingly impossible.

But I don’t think one guy will save the line.  The rest of the guys have been pretty wretched all year long.

Another thing:  how bad must Korey Cunningham and Jermaine Eluemunor be?  They couldn’t even beat out Newhouse.

One more thing:  I’m expecting to still see Newhouse on the field plenty Sunday.  No, not because Wynn will get hurt again, though we can never rule out that possibility.  But because should we expect Wynn to be ready for a full game after being on the shelf for most of the season?  I think not.

Anyway, on to the games, the Thursday night one anyway:

Indianapolis at Houston (-3.5)

The Texans were blasted by Baltimore Sunday, while the Colts blitzed the Jags.  I think both were aberrations.  Houston can’t be as bad as they looked and the Colts aren’t as good as they looked.  Just can’t be.  In any event, they are both 6-4 and fighting for control of the AFC South, so it should be a good game.  A close one too.  I’m looking for the roles to be reversed from four days ago though.  I know, who the hell knows on Thursday Night Football though?  Hopefully, there will not be any helmet swinging anyway.

Houston 24, Indianapolis 20.  

Week (against the spread):  6-8

Week (straight up):  10-4

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  5-6  

Season (against the spread):  80-82

Season (straight up):  106-56

My Apologies?

I’ll be honest, I am not even sure an apology is necessary, but…I feel like I have to.

About what?  Welp, Antonio Brown of course!!

When he joined the team, I wrote something to the effect of “I’m all in on him being on the team, even if he is an arseclown…because I don’t consider any athlete a role model…stuff he has done thus far has been more due to the fact that he is immature and a tool…there are plenty of crazies in every locker room, what’s one more…etc., etc., etc.”

I also, of course, added that if the rape allegations were true, he should be in jail and certainly not playing football.  But we probably wouldn’t know about that until his civil case had run its course…and who knew how long that would take?

Then, of course, this week he gets caught doing another stupid thing.  Except for that THIS particular “stupid thing” is not harmless as was a lot of the stuff he had done in the past (videoing locker room stuff, whining about his helmet, frostbitten feet, etc.).  This time, he essentially threatened one of his accusers by including his buddies (enforcers?) on a text string where he posted a picture of the accusers’ children.  Kind of a tacit threat I would presume.  At least that’s how I understand the situation at this point.

Wow.

Just…unbelievable.

So the New England Patriots released him yesterday.  Perhaps they never should have signed him in the first place.  We can debate that all day.  Or all month.  Or forever.

The Pats were going to give him a chance with a clean slate.  So would have a handful of other teams as well.  Make no mistake about that.  And it took him a little over a week to mess that up.  It’s too bad because he is immensely talented and I was looking forward to seeing him perform on the field.

But he dug his own grave.  And I, in turn, feel a little dirty for wanting a guy like that on my team.  So if I owe an apology, then you got it.

As for the effect on the Pats on the field, well, no one can say, “well, they didn’t need him anyway”.  Who doesn’t NEED great talent??  But the Pats are pretty talented overall, so the hit may not be all that bad.

I’m also not going to go back and say “well, the team should have never traded Demaryius Thomas because now they need him…”  Thomas, although I wouldn’t mind still having him, may not even be any kind of difference maker anymore.  Remains to be seen.  And I doubt we will see any magic while he is on the Jets.  Especially with the third string QB now taking snaps for the foreseeable future.

I’d rather take my chances with a kid like Jakobi Meyers, to see if there is actually something there.  And to see if Phillip Dorsett can be as useful as many people think he can be with more playing time (I’m still skeptical of that).  If the Jets release Thomas eventually, sure, I’ll take him.  But not worried about that kind of thing…yet…

As long as they don’t start playing Matthew Slater or Gunner O-SHEF-SKI(!!) at receiver more.

Plus, I still expect the Pats to run the ball more this year anyway.  This move may get the third rounder, Damien Harris, into the mix a little bit now.  Would love to see what he can do as well.  And maybe that means more Rex Burkhead out of the slot.  Don’t mind that.

Above all, we really need to be concerned about the offensive line over anything else at this present moment.  A story for another day.

On to the Week Three picks.  After another dud of a Thursday Night Football game.  Marcus Mariota sure looks like a #2 overall pick these days, huh?  Wow, that guy doesn’t look like much anymore.  Not that he ever warranted that draft position, mind you.  I will allow that his offensive line didn’t do him any favors Thursday.  But when your alternative is Ryan Tannehill, you kind of have to stick with Mariota, no?

Anyway, moving on:

Atlanta at Indianapolis (-2.5)

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by Indy’s performance thus far this season.  I was surprised by the Falcons’ win over the Eagles last week…but I wouldn’t say it was pleasant.  I don’t believe that Atlanta is that good of a team, despite Julio Jones and some other decent players.  Adam Vinatieri gets back on track here.  That’s all.

Indianapolis 23, Atlanta 20.  

Detroit at Philadelphia (-6.5)

The Lions surprised the Chargers last week.  The Eagles were surprised by the Falcons.  Things will be very different this week.

Philadelphia 31, Detroit 13.

Miami at Dallas (-21.5)

The first of two 20 point spreads this week.  Hard for me to believe I will be taking both favorites.  I don’t believe the Cowboys are truly as good as they have looked so far.  I mean, the two divisional teams they have played thus far are not really any good.  But the Dolphins are historically atrocious.  Doesn’t matter whether Josh Rosen or Fitzmagic is at the helm.

Dallas 42, Miami 10.

Oakland at Minnesota (-7.5) 

Hey, the Raiders only gave up points in one quarter last week against the Chiefs.  Of course, it was 28 of them, but who’s counting?

Minnesota 24, Oakland 17.

Cincinnati at Buffalo (-5.5)

I love how seemingly everyone is jumping on the Bills’ bandwagon so far since they have started 2-0.  They know their opponents have been the Jets and Giants, right?  Cincy probably stinks too, but they almost beat Seattle on their field in Week One.  Something to note.

Cincinnati 20, Buffalo 17.

New York Jets at New England (-22.5)

LUKE FALK!!!  Bill won’t hesitate to run it up on the J-E-T-S.  You think Brady in shotgun with 4 minutes left last week in Miami was in poor taste and also risking injury?  Picture Brady with a bad calf with 30 seconds left in this one throwing bombs and taking timeouts.  Up 50.  Wouldn’t shock me.

New England 52, New York Jets 3.  Lock of the week…yup, even at that number…  

Denver at Green Bay (-7.5) 

Maybe Joseph Flacco really doesn’t have much left.  Although realistically, the Broncos probably should have won last week.  I can’t believe that the Pack has only scored 31 points thus far.  But they have also only given up 19.  Defense wins this game for GB…wait, really?

Green Bay 24, Denver 10.

Baltimore at Kansas City (-6.5) 

Love how everyone is on the Lamar Jackson bandwagon after two games as well.  He may well become a good QB in this league.  But please remember he has played the Dolphins and Cardinals in his two games this year.  The Chiefs may not have the best defense.  But they have to be better than the two aforementioned teams.  And I don’t believe the Ravens’ current defense can be confused with their best ones over the Johnny Harbaugh (or Brian Billick?) era.

Kansas City 34, Baltimore 24.

Carolina (-2.5) at Arizona

This line may have changed once Carolina QB Cam Newton was ruled out, but hey, these are the ones I use.  Although Cam hasn’t looked all that great this season, this has to be considered a negative.  Maybe after dropping their first two games at home, a road game is what the doctor ordered for Riverboat Ron and his troops.  I doubt it though.

Arizona 17, Carolina 13. 

New York Giants at Tampa Bay (-6.5)

ELI HAS BEEN BENCHED!!  ELI HAS BEEN BENCHED!!  I don’t know if Danny Jones is the answer.  But I do know Eli is not.  And yes, I am still bitter about the two Super Bowl losses to him.

New York Giants 23, Tampa Bay 18.

New Orleans at Seattle (-5.5)

Drew Brees is out and Teddy Bridgewater looked brutal in his stead last week.  The Seahawks are generally unbeatable at home.  Good enough for me.

Seattle 24, New Orleans 16.  

Houston at Los Angeles Chargers (-3.5)

I honestly don’t know what to make of either of these two teams as of yet.

Los Angeles Chargers 24, Houston 20. 

Pittsburgh at San Francisco (-6.5)

Just counting down the minutes until Jimmy Football gets hurt again.  In the meantime, this Steeler season could get even uglier soon.  Can Minkah Fitzpatrick play offense??  Hope that first rounder was worth it for him.

San Francisco 31, Pittsburgh 17.

Los Angeles Rams (-2.5) at Cleveland

The Browns smoked the Jets last Monday, but I can’t say it was all that impressive.  Have people jumped off the bandwagon here yet?  I was never on, despite expecting them to improve this year nonetheless.  People are poo-pooing the Rams this year for some reason.  Yeah, Jared Goff needs the earpiece.  But they have some talent all over the field.  I see Cooper Kupp play and thank our Lord Jesus H. Christ and the Baby Jesus for him being hurt for last years’ Super Bowl.

Los Angeles Rams 37, Cleveland 17.  

Chicago (-4.5) at Washington

Remind me not to put on Monday Night Football this week either.

Chicago 17, Washington 14.  

Week (against the spread):  0-1

Week (straight up):  0-1

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  2-0

Season (against the spread):  17-16

Season (straight up):  24-9

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