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Summer Is Over…

…bummer.  But you know what that means?

THE NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE IS BACK!!

Ok, I’d kind of like a little more summer.  But I guess there is nothing I can do about it, sssssooooo…

The defending champion New England Patriots do not actually open the season on Thursday Night Football.  That honor belongs to the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears.  Hey, they’ve been playing each other for almost 100 years, and the NFL is 100 years old this season, so I think we can all live with that.

We will get to that game in a smidge.  But let us follow up on the recent Patriot roster projection columns with some random comments on what the final roster actually looks like.  Not to mention other random NFL thoughts as the season gets set to begin.  Once again, in no particular order:

*3 years, 12 mil (9 mil guaranteed) for Brian Hoyer in Indy??  Yikes!!  Throw in the Colts jacking up Jacoby Brissett’s salary, that is…crazy.  Welp, guess they had to spend Andrew Luck’s salary on someone.

As mentioned in the last projection, I would’ve cut Hoyer too.  No way did I think the Pats would do it though.  And Tom Brady seems a little upset about it, judging by his comments in recent days.  When is Brady going to realize that he can’t play forever and that the Pats will need to get younger at QB someday?  And the sooner the better.  Sometimes he seems to just act like a big baby over stuff.  Once he retires and is running the whole TB12 nonsense he will have to manage people himself, no?  Then he may really understand what it is like to “run a business”.  Can’t wait for that.

In any event, the Pats wouldn’t be winning a Super Bowl with Hoyer if something happens to Brady.  They won’t with Jarrett Stidham either.  But wouldn’t you rather give the experience to the kid anyway?  Seems like a no-brainer to me.  Then you get someone of Hoyer’s ilk off the street to back Stidham up.  Guys like that are a dime a dozen out there.

Which makes Indy’s contract to Hoyer kind of silly, no?

Good for Brissett to cash in a little now that he is the starter.  But a jump that huge may be a little much.

Wait…if Brady gets hurt, they can always bring back Matty Cassel right?  Will that make Tommy happy??

*Speaking of Luck, kudos to him for leaving the sport if that’s what he wanted to do to help maintain his long term health.  Honestly, he could have just been placed on Injured Reserve and missed the whole year…thus collecting his entire salary for the year.  And then retired at the end of the season.  But he passed all that dough that up.  Gotta give him some credit for that.

But boy, the timing left a lot to be desired, no?

A part of me doesn’t blame the fans for being pissed that he retired a couple of weeks before the season.  They will get over it.  But it would have smacked me right in the face as well.

Wonder what his teammates think?  They probably have seen him suffering over the years.  And they also know what it’s like to play in the league.  The sacrifice it takes.  So even though the Colts’ chances decreased after Luck left, my guess is that the players are ok with it.

Maybe not the front office though…and perhaps the coaches.  But again, they will get over it too.

And maybe Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels saw the writing on the wall when he ended up declining the Colts gig a year and a half ago?  That may be a stretch.  But you never know…

*Speaking of retiring early, is anyone else sick of seeing Rob Gronkowski now?

Kudos also to Gronk if he retired thinking about his health and his future as well.  And if “football was bringing him down” as he said last week.

And now that he is outside of the strict hand of Bill Belichick, he can act however he wants.  Good for him.

But PLEASE stop with the whole “I could come back if I wanted to…” thing.  I hated when Roger Clemens would pull this crap every year.  Take the year off, do your CBD thing and if you want to come back next year, do it.  Already tired of the “will he or won’t he come back” talk.  Not to mention his pimping of the CBD stuff.  But I guess he needs something to do.

Though the Pats could use him, no doubt.  None of the 27 tight ends they brought to camp inspired anyone…

*Was anyone really surprised that Demaryius Thomas was cut and immediately brought back?  Shouldn’t have been.  That was a done deal all along.

It allowed the team to put receiver N’Keal Harry on the injured list in-season.  Meaning he can come back if the team deems him ready about halfway through the season.  And with the injury uncertainty with Julian Edelman, the suspension uncertainty with Josh Gordon, the “what does he have left in the tank” uncertainty with Thomas, along with the very average Phillip Dorsett and the two kids after that, it buys the team time to get Harry fully healthy, while evaluating all else above.

Thomas didn’t show much last year.  Then he hurt his Achilles.  Sure, he played well in the last preseason game against guys that aren’t playing anymore this week.  But there was zero chance of flight risk.

*Speaking of the two kids at receiver, I fully expect Jakobi Meyers to be a healthy scratch every week, despite his huge preseason.

Why?  Well, he didn’t really mesh with Brady in their short stint together in the third preseason game, for one.  He did return some kicks in the preseason, but I don’t think he is much of a special teamer overall.  He came out of college a little raw.  Probably needs some more time to develop.

It actually wouldn’t shock me to see the Pats try to quietly move him to the practice squad at some point when they need a body elsewhere.

You heard this here first.

*…and GUNNER!!  Great story.  Actually surprised he ended up making the team.  Looks like another team would have claimed him and he would not have snuck down to the practice squad.  Hard for me to believe even that.  But that has to be why he made the final 53.

I hope they use him as a returner.  Especially a punt returner.  No need to subject Edelman to that abuse (unless it is a “gotta have it” moment).  I will say this though:  If I see Gunner Olszewski doing anything on the football field other than returning kicks and other special teams tasks, I will be very, very, very, VERY nervous.

Maybe he turns into something in the future.  But as great a story as he is, he is not ready to be an NFL receiver yet.  Or certainly an NFL cornerback either.

Because, you know, I am an expert!!

*Melvin Gordon wants money and Ezekiel Elliott just got paid.  Good luck with that.  I know, I am a Patriots honk.  But I will never understand why teams spend money on running backs.  Elliott is AWESOME.  But doesn’t Dallas ALWAYS have a great offensive line?  Hmmmmm…Gordon?  He’s good?  But whatever.

I know.  The Pats spent a first round pick on Sony Michel last year.  And he was good last year.  Think he will be GREAT this year.  But still.  By the time his rookie contract is done, he will be discarded.  Make no bones about it.  Take that to the bank.  The Patriots will use him up and let someone else give him a fat second contract.  And let’s not forget about the bad knees going back to college…what will they look like in 3-4 years.

*Houston!!  Keep doing what YOU do!!  Is it this bad while you wait for Nick Caserio to take the reins next year??  Jadaveon Clowney for 20 cents on the dollar.  Then overspending on Laremy Tunsil?  AWESOME!!

By the way, where is that Dolphins “revolt” after the trade of Tunsil??  What a joke.  The ‘Phins are tanking and everyone knows it.  Including the players.  There will be no revolt.

Good luck Brian Flores.

*Antonio Brown.  Has this loser found a helmet yet?  Yes, loser.  One of the most dynamic receivers of this era, this guy is pretty much a laughingstock right now.

Sure, he can come out and make Derek Carr look a lot better than he is this year.

But would it surprise anyone if he went even more off the reservation?

Not me.

I really don’t have much else to say.  His actions speak louder than anything else.

*Final Patriot roster thoughts…in the secondary.  Surprised that Keion Crossen got dealt.  The team seemed to think of him highly.  Not only in the secondary, but as a potential “Matthew Slater replacement”.

Ok, a Slater replacement should not be hard, with all apologies to Bill and his special teams’ cronies across the world.

But still…

On the opposite spectrum, Duke Dawson.

Ouch.

Yet another failure for a second round defensive back in the Billy Belichick drafting queue.

Ras-I Dowling, Cyrus Jones, Patrick Chung (1st time), Eugene Wilson, Darius Butler, Terrance Wheatley, Jordan Richards, Tavon Wilson…and yes, I just looked some of them up.

Some of the other second rounders leave a lot to be desired as well.  But this focus is on defensive backs because this seems to be a real bugaboo for Bill.

Dawson didn’t even play a down for the team.

Yikes!

Let’s just hope Joejuan Williams breaks the mold this time.

I’m not counting on it though.

The chatter on local talk radio this week was that the Patriots swing for the fences in the second round.  Also meaning that they play it safe in Round One.  Then get value in Rounds Three through Seven.

Kind of makes some sense.

But there have some BIG misses in that round.

Gronk, Jamie Collins, Sebastian Vollmer, Matt Light, Deion Branch were hits.  But the aforementioned DBs and some offensive players like Chad Jackson and Adrian Klemm have been big strikeouts.  More K’s than hits.

So maybe there needs to be some change in philosophy?

Ok, I guess they have six rings, so what do I know??

Anyway, the actual Thursday Night game to open the season?

Green Bay at Chicago (-3.5) 

I have no idea, really.  Aaron Rodgers and his new coach, Matt LaFleur, already seem to be at odds on play calling.  But who knows how much of that is actually real?  We do know Chicago still has Mitchell (or is it Mitch?) Trubisky at QB…a good thing?  Don’t think so.  Chicago is at home.

Again, I don’t know.

But one thing I do know?  The Bears had some kicking problems last year with Cody Parkey.  And they replaced him with who?

No idea.  But my feeling on this night is that will actually matter.

Green Bay 24, Chicago 23.

2018 Season (against the spread):  147-120 

2018 Season (straight up):  171-96 

Career (because I love numbers!) (against the spread):  290-244 (54.3%)

Career (straight up):  351-183 (65.7%)

New England Patriots Roster Projection-Final

A little late on this and since things are happening as we speak, we’d better get cracking!!

Offense:

QB (3):

Locks:  Tom Brady, Jarrett Stidham

In:  Brian Hoyer

Out:  None

Way Out:  None

Comments:  I’d personally cut Hoyer.  Even if Stidham isn’t completely ready, it’s not like the Pats are winning a Super Bowl with Hoyer if Brady goes down.  Besides, couldn’t you get him, or someone like him, off the streets if something catastrophic happens to Brady?  I think so.  But alas, the Pats won’t do it…I don’t feel like it anyway.

RB (5):

Locks:  Sony Michel, James White, Rex Burkhead, Damien Harris, James Develin (FB)

In:  None

Out:  Jakob Johnson (FB)

Way Out:  Nick Brossette

Practice Squad:  Johnson

Comments:  Pretty easy here.  Burkhead didn’t sniff the field last night, so I imagine he gets back up to the “lock” category.  Johnson won’t count against the 10-man practice squad limit as an international signing.  Plus, he played some linebacker last night.  So he will ultimately stick in this capacity.

WR (6):

Locks:  Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, Demaryius Thomas, N’Keal Harry, Phillip Dorsett

In:  Jakobi Meyers

Out:  Braxton Berrios, Gunner Olszewski

Way Out:  Damoun Patterson, Ryan Davis

PUP:  Cameron Meredith

Practice Squad:  Berrios, Olszewski

Comments:  Big change from the last projection.  Didn’t think Gordon and Thomas would be there for Game 1 with their respective situations.  And with Dorsett not playing last night, that pretty much makes him a lock.  Meyers probably did enough this preseason that he won’t slip through waivers to the practice squad.  Berrios has been all hype, no results for 2 preseasons now.  Gunner is a nice story, but there is no room.  He should be able to work on his skills on the practice squad.  Played cornerback in college and found himself there in the second half last night.  So he could be one of those jack of all trade guys to reach down and get as needed.  Big fall for Maurice Harris as well.  Big time hype all offseason and into the preseason games, disappointed a bit on the field, got hurt and was released a week or so ago.

TE (2):

Locks:  None

In:  Matt LaCosse, Ryan Izzo

Out:  Stephen Anderson, Eric Saubert, Andrew Beck

Way Out:  None

Suspended:  Benjamin Watson (4 games), Lance Kendricks (1 game)

Practice Squad:  Beck

Comments:  LaCosse hasn’t played much, but again…the contract.  Izzo didn’t play last night, so that tells me he is in.  I’m not sure Anderson has practice squad eligibility, but if he does he could end up there.  Beck can play fullback apparently, so that may get him on the p-squad himself.

OL (8):

Locks:  Isaiah Wynn (LT), Joe Thuney (LG), Ted Karras (C), Shaq Mason (RG), Marcus Cannon (RT),

In:  Korey Cunningham (T), Jermaine Eluemunor (G), Russell Bodine (C)

Out:  James Ferentz (C), Dan Skipper (T), Cole Croston (T)

Way Out:  Tyler Gauthier (C), Martez Ivey (T), Cedrick Lang (T), Tyree St. Louis (T)

IR:  David Andrews (C), Hjalte Froholdt (G)

NFI:  Yodny Cajuste (T)

Practice Squad:  Skipper, Croston, Ferentz

Comments:  Huge changes here as well since the last projection.  Bill apparently saw enough of Skipper, Croston and Ferentz this preseason to realize they are not the answer to anything.  Combined with the unexpected and unfortunate medical situation of Andrews, the Pats made trades for the three offensive linemen in the “in” category.  The compensation given up would seem to indicate they all make the squad despite not really seeing them play.  We noticed Froholdt a little bit this preseason, not necessarily a good thing for an O-Lineman.  So his injury last night would seem to have come at a fortuitous time for both he and the team.

Defense:

DE (4):

Locks:  Michael Bennett, John Simon, Chase Winovich

In:  Deatrich Wise

Out:  None

Way Out:  Nick Thurman

IR:  Derek Rivers, Keionta Davis

Comments:  A lot of talk about Wise not making the cut.  And his inclusion in the game yesterday may not be a good sign.  But he has some talent, so I am not sure he gets tossed aside so easily.  Rivers is hurt…again…and that may buy him another year.  But there is the possibility the Pats just cut bait and let him have a fresh start elsewhere.  I thought the Pats released Davis, but he shows up on their roster as being on injured reserve, so there’s that.

DT (4):

Locks:  Lawrence Guy, Adam Butler, Danny Shelton

In:  Byron Cowart

Out:  Ufomba Kamalu, David Parry, Trent Harris

Way Out:  None

Practice Squad:  Harris

Comments:  Shelton was such a non-factor last season that it was kind of a shock he was eventually re-signed.  It will be an even bigger shock when he makes the team.  Both he and Cowart apparently played their way on to the team this preseason, making arguably the Patriots’ biggest free agent signing, Mike Pennel, expendable and released already like a week ago.

LB (5):

Locks:  Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins, Ja’Whaun Bentley, Elandon Roberts

In:  None

Out:  Calvin Munson, Christian Sam, Scooby Wright

Way Out:  Terez Hall

IR:  Shilique Calhoun

Practice Squad:  Munson

Comments:  Some big buzz around Munson, but I don’t see it.  Yeah, I suppose it is as a special teamer, to replace a guy like Brandon King.  But my sense is he could go through easily to the practice squad and you could go get him when you really need him.

CB (6):

Locks:  Stephon Gilmore, J.C. Jackson, Jonathan Jones, Jason McCourty, Joejuan Williams

In:  Keion Crossen

Out:  Ken Webster

Way Out:  None

IR:  D’Angelo Ross

Traded:  Duke Dawson

Practice squad:  Webster

Comments:  Rapid fall for Dawson.  Second round pick last year then got hurt and missed most of the year.  When he got healthy, he couldn’t crack the active roster.  Then the Pats took Williams in the second round this year and all of a sudden he gets dealt for like 20 cents on the dollar today to Denver.  Ouch.  At least they got something.  Crossen has been a mixed bag defensively this preseason, but they also like him on special teams.  And you know how Bill feels about his special teamers.

S (4):

Locks:  Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon, Terrance Brooks

In:  None

Out:  Obi Melifonwu

Way Out:  A.J. Howard

IR:  Malik Gant

Practice Squad:  Melifonwu

Comments:  Moved Brooks to safety in this projection.  That is his primary position, but it seems the team will spot him at safety some too.  Gant got carted off last night, so he gets to go on IR instead of the street.  Chung’s legal issues won’t likely affect him this year.  Not sure if Obi is eligible for the P-squad but if he is, I think he will be there…unless he is claimed by another team of course.

Specialists (6):

Locks:  Stephen Gostkowski (K), Jake Bailey (P), Joe Cardona (LS), Matthew Slater (ST), Nate Ebner (ST), Brandon Bolden (ST)

In:  None

Out:  None

Way Out:  None

IR:  Brandon King

Comments:  Not much to say here.  We already knew Bailey beat out incumbent Ryan Allen.  We will always have last years’ Super Bowl Ryan!!

Lots of moving pieces still to come.  But this is where I see it for now.

Gronk…

…ok, so now we have an answer.  Rob Gronkowski is done.

As the weeks have gone on since the Super Bowl in early February, I honestly thought that there was a decent chance he would be back for at least one more year.  One more run at yet another Super Bowl.  I just figured the longer Gronk hadn’t made a decision, the better the chance that Tom Brady got in his ear and convinced him to come back.

I guess not.

But can you blame him?

Certainly not.

Gronk was a shell of himself last season.  We will never know specifics because it’s, you know, the Patriots.  But it appears that he was battling several different injuries during the year.  Of course, the beating he took over the years likely played some role in his reduced numbers as well.

So was all of that going to get any better?  Unlikely.  And he knew it.  WE knew it.  Some of us just didn’t want to admit it.

He’s walking away from the game while he can still…walk.  People talk about this kind of stuff all the time, but this would seem to apply to Gronk more than any other player, no?.  How many back surgeries has he had?  And all the various other operations?

Listen, any player is the proverbial “one hit away” from not only a career-ending injury but a possible life-altering one as well.  Based on Gronk’s lengthy medical history, could one say that he would be more susceptible to something like that?  Can’t discount that line of thinking.

On top of all the surgeries and all the rehab he has had to do throughout his career, spanning back to college as well, perhaps he also couldn’t bear to see himself become a lesser player?  Everyone loses skills as they age, but did Gronk want to become what someone like Antonio Gates has become?  Playing a handful of downs and catching significantly less passes with each passing season?  Not to mention becoming more of a blocker as New England seemingly is becoming more of a running team as other skill players such as Tom Brady and Julian Edelman age as well?

Can’t imagine any of those prospects were very appealing to Gronk, even if the team continued to win…and win Super Bowls at that.

I’m not sure we as fans would like the prospect of watching Gronk deteriorate on the field either.  It was tough enough to watch him last season.

So let’s celebrate the career of Rob Gronkowski and wish him well going forward.  He was perhaps the best tight end to ever play the game.  Definitely a Hall of Famer despite the truncated career, probably even a “first ballot” one.

I just personally hope we don’t now see him in something like the WWE, or some D-level movies or the like and watch him end up turning into some sort of laughingstock.

I suppose he doesn’t give a rat’s arse what we think though…

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