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So Much For That Theory…

…the one where we here in this space insisted for quite some time that the New England Patriots’ plan for the quarterback position was to have Jimmy Garoppolo take over the starting job by the start of the 2019 season.  Tom Brady will turn 42 in the 2019 preseason and really, how much further can he go?  I know, he talks about playing into his mid-40s and takes care of himself and blah, blah, blah.  But there simply isn’t any kind of track record of QB’s performing at a high level after age 40.  What makes Brady (and anyone else) think he will be different?

I say this often about players, but it’s certainly valid:  I don’t know if Garoppolo can actually play QB in the NFL at a high level.  Or even at an average level.  Sure, he looked pretty good for 6 quarters at the beginning of 2016.  He also didn’t play the other 2 games of Brady’s suspension due to injury and many people believed that he could have sucked it up and played…at least the last one after missing one week.  So that could be viewed as a little bit of a red flag.  But who really knows if he was the real deal?

You know who did think he was a sure thing though?  Bill Belichick.

Now, Bill has obviously never said that publicly.  But you can tell by his actions.  He hung on to him all of this time.  He apparently tried to re-sign him to some sort of “bridge” deal covering the time until (ideally) Brady retired.  Hell, he originally drafted him higher than most people thought Jimmy G would go.  And also drafted him when Brady theoretically had plenty of “life” left.  Add in the comments Bill made in his press conference earlier Tuesday, seemingly not happy to have traded Garoppolo.  And the fact that Belichick most likely would have loved to try to win a Super Bowl post-Brady.  I think all of this and then some means Bill thought he was the next guy.

Because of all of that, I believed that Jimmy Football was the next guy.  Again, who knows, since he really hasn’t played many meaningful snaps?  But from the above with Belichick and also trusting Bill knows what he has seen in practice for the past three and a half years, I had to go with that theory, right?

So that all being said, the Blowhard does not like the deal.  Other reasons?  You got it, in no particular order:

*Only a second rounder in return?  Seems light.  IS light.  People are now saying that Cleveland did not offer a first and some other compensation over the spring/summer as has been reported widely all along.  Who knows what reports are accurate?  But you’d have to believe they would have gotten more than just a second rounder if they shopped Jimmy G this past offseason.  I see at the deadline that Cincinnati almost dealt their backup QB, AJ McCarron, to Cleveland for a 2nd and 3rd rounder.  McCarron has played a few more games in the NFL than Garoppolo.  But not since 2015.  Probably puts them in the same ballpark as to what to expect for compensation.  Side note:  Glad to see that the Browns screwed things up again by filing late paperwork and not getting the McCarron deal done.  Great work.

*Why now?  Sure, they get a pick in the low 30’s in 2018.  Instead of perhaps a pick in the high 90’s in 2019 (as a result of the compensatory pick process if they consummated a trade after this season).  Yeah, that’s a 60ish spot difference and a year earlier.  But who cares?  Bill is going to turn that 2nd rounder into a third and two fourths at some point anyway.  It’s not like they got a top-10 pick.  What happens if something happens to Brady this year?  After all, he is getting crushed every week.  It could be a matter of time before he goes down.

*Speaking of something happening to Brady, what happens if his play falls off a cliff next year?  Not unheard of at that age.  And the Pats then will have traded the “future” a year or so too early.

*Why now, Part II?  The Patriots could have franchise tagged Jimmy after this year and then dealt him off of that tag if they so desired.  Once again, you would think that he would demand more compensation than a second rounder in the offseason.  When you could market him more.  One year at huge dollars would not scare teams off.  Including the 49ers, whom reports indicate have a ton of cap space available.  Plus, the team that acquires him could work out a long-term deal which would work better for that franchise.  And probably Jimmy himself.

*I believe Patriot owner Robert Kraft called the shot on this one.  Why?  Because in a situation like the QB one, Belichick ALWAYS opts for the younger player eventually.  Because, you know, that makes too much sense.  I know, as an owner, I suppose Kraft should have final say in everything.  Since he is footing the bill overall.  And I know, Brady is clearly a special case here.  It’s one thing to trade guys like Mike Vrabel, Logan Mankins or Richard Seymour…or release a guy like Lawyer Milloy.  It’s completely different when you are talking about one of the best to ever play the game.  Delicate situation, no question.

But one also has to think about the football team on the field.  And you can bet that keeping Brady for the short-term over Garoppolo for the long-term has to do with business…something that is the owner’s right…but something that as a fan I hate.

When an owner gets too involved in any teams’ on the field decisions, it makes me think of Jerry Jones.  Not positive.  But it also brings me back to the days when Kraft was using a stopwatch to time Tebucky Jones.  I’m all set with owners meddling too much with the on the field product.  Even if Kraft doesn’t really do that any more.  And even if it is only this one case.  Let the football people make the football decisions.

*Why now, Part III.  Wouldn’t it have made some sense to keep Jacoby Brissett if they had an idea that maybe Jimmy would have to be traded at some point?  Brissett has looked competent, at the very least, for the Colts after getting traded there right before the season.  Maybe he looks even better if he had a whole preseason and offseason with the team and not getting thrown into the fire there right from the start…on a bad team, no less.  Maybe long-term Brissett can’t play either.  But he sure would be nice to have right this second.

*It amazes me that the Patriots obviously banked a little bit on Jimmy signing that “bridge” deal mentioned above.  Something like a 2 or 3 year deal for good money, but not starters money for sure.  But why would Garoppolo do that?  He’s in his 4th year here.  He has 2 Super Bowl rings already.  He hasn’t made a ton of money.  And of course hasn’t played much.  Why would he want to wait another 1-5 years to take over this team?  I would think he wants to play…and of course get a fat second contract.  We all wanted Jimmy G to take a contract that benefited the team.  But if you were in his shoes, would you?  Ultimately, he wants to play.  And if I had a backup QB on my team that DIDN’T want to play, I wouldn’t want him on my team.  I don’t blame him one bit.  I just can’t believe that the Pats thought they could pull that kind of contract off with him.

So we will see what happens from here.  San Francisco is 0-8.  Maybe Jimmy G goes there and is putrid and then has an average career after his stock drops.  Maybe Brian Hoyer comes here as a backup to Brady, Brady gets hurt and then the Patriots ride Hoyer to another Super Bowl win.  Maybe Jimmy Football is like every other highly touted Patriot backup QB that never makes it…Ryan Mallett, Rohan Davey, Kevin O’Connell, Matt Cassel et al…including Hoyer himself.  Maybe the Pats use that SF pick on a QB from next year’s supposedly deep draft at the position, Brady plays 2 more years at a high level and then that pick takes over and wins games and Super Bowls.  Or maybe Brady plays at a high level until his Social Security kicks in.

We just don’t know.  But on the surface, there doesn’t seem to be a lot to like about this deal.

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Interesting Start To Week Three…

…because we all know Thursday Night Football games are usually atrocious.  Especially the ones early in the season.  But not this one.  And it was Rams/Niners??!  For real?

There was a near pick-six on the first play of the game.  Fumbles.  Great catches (Pierre Garcon with a couple of sweet ones in particular).  Five touchdowns for Todd Gurley…er, I mean three.  But he should have had 5, as he was stuffed at the half yard line on 2 different drives.  Can you tell Gurley is on my fantasy team?  I know…you don’t care.  Sorry.  Anyway, the 49ers also made a nice comeback.  Key onside kick recovery at the end.  Then a late crucial two point conversion that failed.  Speaking of failure, another missed extra point was the reason San Fran had to go for that two in the first place.  Oh, and for good measure, you had a few people go into concussion protocol.  That phrase is now part of everyone’s everyday vocabulary now.

As for the combatants, I said it last week, I’ll say it again:  The Rams scored 224 points all of last year.  They’ve scored 107 points in 3 games this year.  Seems pretty inexplicable.  And the Niners had scored a mere 12 points in 2 games before Thursday night.  Then they put up 39 in Game 3?  Also inexplicable.

Maybe it was a pretty good game because both teams really aren’t that good.  Who knows?  But I think the fact that it was a good game is a step in the right direction, regardless of the squads involved.

Of course, that will all probably come crashing down on the Thursday night game in Week 4.  When the Packers hammer the Bears in Green Bay…

Baltimore (-4.5) at Jacksonville

Well, in London, not Jacksonville.  But that probably doesn’t even matter.  Surprised that the Ravens have come out of the gate at 2-0…though the disclaimer is that they have played the Bengals and Browns.  Surprised that the Jags are 1-1…only cuz I figured they’d be 0-2.  Anyway, I would expect the Ravens to shut down Blake Bortles and the rotating running backs…even in London.

Baltimore 27, Jacksonville 17.

Atlanta (-3.5) at Detroit 

People are getting all giddy about the Lions.  I am not one of them, however.  Sure, they should be a decent team.  But as good as people are talking like right now?  Not so sure.  Matty Stafford as the highest paid player in the league?  Yikes!  Anyway, the Lions have beaten two teams (Cards and G-Men) that people thought may be good this year, but very well may not be.  We know all about Atlanta.  Feel like they still get it done on the road and maybe push those expectations down a bit for Detroit.

Atlanta 31, Detroit 27.

Cleveland (-1.5) at Indianapolis

Ugh.  Someone has to win.  Ummm…I guess they don’t.  But someone has to cover.  Go Jacoby!!

Indianapolis 17, Cleveland 13.

New York Giants at Philadelphia (-4.5)

Philly’s home opener against what has been a wretched Giant team thus far.  By picking the Eagles in this game, I am probably going against my better judgement when I think about it.  Division games are always tough.  Benny McAdoo may be fired up for this game…ok, maybe Eli being fired up may be more appropriate.  ODB has a game under his belt now…and all that.  But I think I’m sticking with the Eagles here.

Philadelphia 27, New York Giants 20.

Tampa Bay at Minnesota (-2.5)

Tampa is another team in which people have been jumping on the bandwagon.  They should be pretty good this season too.  And Minny is going with Case Keenum again.  Seems like an easy TB pick, right?  I’m feeling that the Vikings being at home will matter.  I guess just another hunch.

Minnesota 23, Tampa Bay 20.

Pittsburgh (-7.5) at Chicago 

Breakout for Le’Veon?  I’m sure he rounds into form at some point after taking August off.  I just hope JuJu Smith-Schuster keeps getting involved.

Pittsburgh 31, Chicago 10.

Miami (-6.5) at New York Jets

Some people have called Miami a sleeper team this year.  Yeah.  I’m going to say that they still stink.  But the Jets stink far, far worse.

Miami 27, New York Jets 13.

New Orleans at Carolina (-5.5)

Carolina has given up only 6 total points in 2 games this year.  Yeah, against San Fran and Buffalo, I know.  And a 9-3 win over the Bills at home can’t inspire much confidence in Panther-land.  I’m still buying into the rebound year though.  Plus…New Orleans on the road and out of the dome.  ‘Nuff said.

Carolina 34, New Orleans 24.

Denver (-2.5) at Buffalo 

Not sure how this spread is so low.  Denver has looked pretty good.  Buffalo?  Meh.  Seems like an easy one here.

Denver 31, Buffalo 13.

Houston at New England (-13.5)

Not sure how this spread is so high.  Sure the Pats shut them out last year with Jacoby Brissett at QB.  But the Texans D will most assuredly cause the Pats offensive line some problems.  The NE OL hasn’t exactly been stout this year and may be missing one starter.  Three pass rushers on the Texans are absolutely stout.  Add to the fact that Deshaun Watson will probably make some plays with his legs…cuz, you know, the Texans have no receivers besides DeAndre Hopkins…I’m guessing this one is a little closer than the Pats want it to be…but not close enough to make anyone nervous.

New England 31, Houston 20.  

Seattle at Tennessee (-2.5)

Seattle is off to a slow start offensively…maybe the understatement of the year thus far.  I’m a little on the Titans bandwagon myself.  Kind of another hunch here, because I can see this going either way.  I can especially see the Seahawks breaking out at some point.  Home cooking here though.

Tennessee 24, Seattle 21.

Cincinnati at Green Bay (-9.5)

Marvin Lewis.  It’s time.  Well, it was time long ago.  Like a broken record here.  I’m sure firing the offensive coordinator will make a world of difference.

Green Bay 45, Cincinnati 17.

Kansas City (-3.5) at Los Angeles Chargers 

The Chargers are 0-2 because they apparently chose the wrong kicker in training camp.  The Chiefs are a good team at 2-0.  But these divisional matchups…you never know.  The Chiefs are the better team.  Just not today.  As long as LA has the lead late and doesn’t need to try another game winning field goal.

Los Angeles Chargers 27, Kansas City 24.

Oakland (-3.5) at Washington 

I’m all in on Oakland still, home or away…and even on the East Coast.  The ‘Skins?  Yeah, ok.  But I’m not overwhelmed by them.  Not this week anyway.

Oakland 34, Washington 24.

Dallas (-3.5) at Arizona 

Looking for a nice bounceback game from the ‘Boys this week.  The taste in their mouth from that shellacking last week in Denver couldn’t have been pleasurable this past week.  And the bashing that some of the players have taken as well.  The Cards are at home, but haven’t exactly looked good thus far.  Looks like they are going back to the 85-year-old Chris Johnson to go with the 97-year-old Carson Palmer in the offensive backfield this week.  Doesn’t sound promising.

Dallas 35, Arizona 17.

Week (against the spread):  0-1

Week (straight up):  1-0

Season (against the spread): 16-16

Season (straight up): 23-9

Much better…

…we’re talking about both the New England Patriots’ performance last Sunday against New Orleans, as well as the Blowhard’s Week Two pick performance (did anyone notice we predicted the exact score & winner of the KC/Philly game?  No?  Not surprised…but it happened!).

Now, we don’t necessarily have to go back and entirely analyze the Pats game from four days ago.  But it was good to see the team get back to doing things that we know they are capable of doing.

However, I wouldn’t say all their problems are solved.  And that’s ok, because it is still September.  Plenty of time still to figure things out.  But it was disappointing to see the offense kind of sputter a bit in the second half against a historically bad Saints defense.  That’s one that stands out to me.  They should have put up 50 against that putrid outfit.

Of course, the injuries didn’t help.  Looked like Rex Burkhead was going to be a big part of the game plan.  He left early.  Phillip Dorsett was getting himself involved, then he left a little later.  No need to even talk about Gronk…we know he is an injury waiting to happen.  Every team has injuries and we will see what happens with these guys…including Danny Amendola and Dont’a Hightower, who of course did not play.  As well as Eric Rowe, who also left the game early.  But they seem to be hitting the Pats early this year.

More importantly, what is up with the playing time of Malcolm Butler and Alan Branch?  Is Butler already starting to be “phased out”, seeing that he won’t be here next year?  Is Branch causing problems somehow, as he has been wont to do in the past with other teams?  Curious dip in PT for these two.  And why did the team even sign David Harris when he has only played three snaps in the first two games…and the linebacking corps is suspect to begin with?

And where is Brandin Cooks?  The team dressed only 3 wide receivers and Dorsett eventually went down.  Plus, Burkhead apparently was going to play some receiver and he went down early.  And Cooks only had 2 catches (4 targets).  Seemed to me this was a game to get him involved more.

I won’t even start on Stephen Gostkowski.  3-3 on chip shot field goals, yes, but were any of them straight?  Another missed PAT and I’m not sure the other three made PAT’s were straight either.  And please recall that the game was played indoors.

Perhaps that is a little nitpicking for the second week of the season.  But they are all relevant talking points.  In any event, we are happy with the win, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.

As for Week Three, here’s where we begin:

Los Angeles Rams (-2.5) at San Francisco

Another banner Thursday night game.  This could possibly be a worse matchup than Texans/Bengals last Thursday night.  Sure, the Rams have shown improvement from last year in their first two games of this season, but is anyone buying into them yet?  Sure, the Niners played the Seahawks close last week, but they have scored TWELVE points thus far this season.  Brian Hoyer is locking down that quarterbacking job at this point, I suppose that explains some things.

It’s a divisional battle, so maybe that’s something to grasp hold onto.  The color rush thing is kind of stupid, but if you like it then you can cling to that too.  But this sure smells like another Thursday night stinker.  Will I watch it though?  You bet!!

Los Angeles Rams 17, San Francisco 9.

Week (against the spread):  10-6

Week (straight up):  13-3

Season (against the spread):  16-15

Season (straight up): 22-9

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