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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.

Dark…

…so the title was supposed to mean something different, what with the whole country (world?) seemingly shutting down due to the Coronavirus.

First the NBA

Then the NHL

PGA

NCAA

MLB

MLS

XFL

…and of course everything else right on down the list.  Including restaurants, bars, some stores, construction and all that kind of stuff locally.

People seem to be listening to the warnings to stay home.  Drove around a little last night in my town (gasp!) and it pretty much was a ghost town.

Damn Coronavirus!

So with absolutely no sports to talk about, what the hell is the Blowhard to do?

Do we shut down too?  Not sure what to talk about!  We all for damn sure know there is more than enough coverage about the virus itself, there needs to be nothing else said about it by me.  Not that I could even add anything intelligent about it anyway…we could help spread the news…or at least some misinformation about it.  But why bother?  Does anyone even know what to believe anymore?

I stopped reading coverage.  It’s all over the place.  So are the opinions…which I care even less about.

So I just stay home and stare at a blank TV screen.  Since there are no games…

But wait!

There is something left…NFL free agency.

Glad that was not delayed as well.  Folks were worried about “bad optics” with players getting gazillion dollar contracts during a worldwide health crisis.

Like those wouldn’t have happened anyway.

So why not just do it now?  Especially since sports fans need SOMETHING.  And maybe even non-sports fans need a little bit of this too…for a distraction.  Even if they hate the idea.

As for the local angle, which is really why we are here in the first place, things started off innocuously enough.

Devin McCourty re-signed.  As did Matthew Slater.  And Jason McCourty’s option was picked up.  Also, Adam Butler was tendered at a second round level, making him unlikely to go anywhere.

Although the money was kind of big for the first three, it’s not out of hand.  And it’s not long-term.  So I can live with that.

The Pats then franchised Joe Thuney.  SHOCKING.

Almost 15 mil for a guard.  When their other guard, Shaq Mason, makes like 10 mil.

That’s a LOT of dough for guards.  Thuney was supposedly good last year, according to those who actually grade offensive line play, and Mason has been good in the past (though not last year).  But the line sucked as a whole last season.  So this money is hard to justify.  I guess if they work out a long term deal with Thuney before the deadline in July (I think).  But Joe will still be 8 figures plus every year.

Besides, I thought Belichick only franchised kickers.  Both Adam Vinatieri and Stephen Gostkowski were both franchised by the team…and I think both more than once.  Don’t fact-check me on this, however.

Then yesterday, Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins both departed…well, they can’t officially “depart” until Wednesday when free agency actually starts.  But you get the idea.

They were the first defections.  That mattered anyway.

We thought Van Noy would get paid and walk…and he sure did get paid by the Dolphins.  Thought there was a chance Collins would be cheaper and would stay.  He had a great first half against bum teams, then slowly faded in the second half against better teams.  But he still got 3/30 from old friend Matt Patricia.  Good luck to all that out there in Detroit.

I guess that means Elandon Roberts will re-up at some point.  And that warms my heart.  Ummmmm…no it doesn’t.  He is simply not any good.  At either linebacker or fullback.  Despite what the beat writers want you to think.

We here at the Blowhard do not care about the rest of the Patriot free agents…if you haven’t heard that a million times in this space already.

That means you, Danny Shelton.  And you, Nate Ebner.  And most certainly you, Phillip Dorsett.

Welp, that is a bit of a lie.

Because we cared a smidge about one other guy.

Tom Brady.

Whodya think we were going to say silly, Ted Karras??!!

Yes Brady.  Yes we cared.  No we didn’t necessarily care if he was coming back to the Patriots.  We’ve said time and time again that we are not going to get all worked up about a 43 year old QB.  Despite the legend that he is.  The six Super Bowl rings that he led the Pats to.  The desire to see anyone play their whole career with one team.  The sadness or at least weirdness to see him in a different uniform and finish his career with a different team.

And all that.

But again, we root for the laundry here, and the player that wears that laundry as long as they wear it.  When they go to a different team, we don’t necessarily root for the player to fail (well, depends on who it is I guess…and where they end up…hello Johnny Damon on the Yankees, for example?).

We will NOT root for Brady to fail.  No matter who he goes to.  Even if it is the Jets (unlikely), Bills (probably not) or Dolphins (a chance perhaps?).  Or Steelers.  Or Broncos.  Or Giants.  Or anyone.

I will absolutely have none of that nonsense.

But my rooting interest is still the Patriots.  Simple as that.

Oh wait…in case you missed it, and I don’t know how the hell you may have, Brady announced on Instagram this morning that he will not be returning to the Pats.  There has been no contract agreed to with anyone else, as far as I can tell or have heard.  But he won’t be coming back here.

So the Brady watch is (kind of) over.  For all intents and purposes here anyway.

It will be interesting to see where he lands, no two ways about it.  But the most important part to a lot of us has already been revealed.

My sense all along was that Bill Belichick did not want Brady to come back.  Hell, he wanted Jimmy Football over Tom a few years back, we know that much.  He’s probably glad he was forced to keep Tom though, with the latest Super Bowl wins adding to the trophy case.  But still, it doesn’t change the fact that he wanted to move on from Brady a mere few years ago.

Jimmy Garoppolo is not coming back, however, as some rumors swirling the past few weeks would have you believe.

So who is next?

GREAT question.

Based on the Patriots’ current salary cap situation, wouldn’t it suggest they are riding or dying with Jarrett Stidham this upcoming season?

I know, I know, cap space can be manipulated in many ways.  Trades and cuts and restructurings and all that can happen too.

But at this point, they have very little cap room.  And that has to be a factor for right this second.

Recent rumors have suggested the Pats may be interested in Teddy Bridgewater.  I have a hard time believing they will shell out a ton of dough there though, even if the cap space became available.  Plus, a whole lot of other teams are interested in Bridgewater.

Cam Newton?  Doubt that as well.

Andy Dalton as a stopgap?  Those were the earlier rumors.  But I’d rather just go with Stidham, to be honest.

Lesser “stopgaps” have already agreed to terms with other clubs:  Marcus Mariota, Chad Henne, Case Keenum, Chase Daniel…

Cody Kessler?  Please.

Outside the box QB?  Who no one is talking about?  That may be the best choice of all of the above?

At this point, unless a truly viable QB comes out of the woodwork, I say go with Stidham.

Right now.

But stay tuned…things should get a whole lot more interesting all around…

Super Bowl…

…did everyone enjoy the Pro Bowl in the meantime?

Yup, I actually watched some of it…must have been bored.

This year they must have added a new feature.  Two hand touch.  There were actually plays in the game that the player wasn’t actually tackled.  The whistle blew when a guy got wrapped up…and pretty quickly, I may add.

So it was useless as usual, pretty much like any sports’ All-Star Game.  Though in the Major League Baseball All-Star Game it looks like the players actually try.  The NHL one last week was equally as brutal to watch I have to say.

And in the Pro Bowl, Matthew Slater didn’t even get in the box score.  I think we should all be colossally disappointed in that…

As for what we are actually here for, the Super Bowl pick between the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers, welp, no, I did not forget that I had to make a pick.

Maybe I got a little sad about football season being over.  Maybe I got caught up in all of the “will he go or will he stay” Tom Brady talk, when there is at least a month and a half to go to get the answer on that.  Maybe I just didn’t want to make another erroneous pick in a season full of mediocre picks.  Maybe I felt like that since the New England Patriots aren’t actually in the game, I didn’t care.  Or…maybe I just got lazy.

Whichever one you choose, we are going to skip right to it.

This one is going to be short and sweet.  So if you were expecting a 10,000 word column on the game and all of its matchups and all the minutiae that we could talk about if we wanted to, I suggest you go check out Bill Barnwell’s column on ESPN.

HOLY CRAP!!!

I’m sure the piece is awesome.  It looks extremely detailed with a ton of thought put into it.  Any questions you had about the game could probably be answered just by reading the article.

But I don’t have a week to read that book.  I did skim it, however, so go check it out if you are so inclined.  By the way, looks like 10,462 words by my count.  Not including the pictures and charts and their captions.  Or the ads and links sandwiched in between.  And no, I didn’t actually count the words (thanks Microsoft Word!).  So give or take 100 words, it’s still over 10,000 words.

Barnwell gets paid to write and research all that, so good for him.  I do not.

You’re welcome.

Ok, so enough of all that nonsense…

San Francisco “at” Kansas City (-1.5)

I have not listened to as much of the hype, or read much of it, the last two weeks as I have in past years.  Yes, the big reason is that the Patriots are not in it.  But then again, I don’t care much about what a lot of the “experts” have to say about the game.

Championship Sunday was relatively uneventful.  The Tennessee Titans stayed with the Chiefs, but KC pulled away late…as most expected.  One of the better Blowhard picks of the year, by the way.  We predicted KC 34-24.  It was 35-24.  Just sayin’.  The 49ers ran over the Green Bay Packers in a game that was never in doubt.  The Blowhard pick there?  Let’s move on…

In any event, the hype that I have heard this week has been about how great the SF defense is.  Ummmmmm…don’t we know how great the KC offense is?  And do we already forget about how the New Orleans Saints rolled up 46 points against the Niners in Week 14?  Or the Rams with 31 in Week 16?  Or even the Falcons with 29 in Week 15?

This SF D can be exposed.  And who better to do it than Patrick Mahomes and the KC offense?

I’ve heard a lot about how the Chief defense is atrocious as well.  And that may be somewhat true.  But they have improved as the year went on.  And the 31 the Houston Texans scored against them in the Divisional Round were aided by Houston getting good field position a few times on some KC mistakes.  The Chiefs D was good enough to hold down the NFL’s leading rusher in Derrick Henry in the AFC Championship Game though, no?  Did you know that the Chiefs actually gave up 2 fewer points than the Niners this season?  Me neither.

It’s hard to believe the 49ers will roll up almost 300 yards rushing again.  Raheem Mostert has apparently turned into a legitimate weapon, but will he duplicate his Championship Game performance?  Doubtful.  Tevin Coleman is supposedly “healthy”, but that may be a stretch after seeing what he looked like laying on the field two weeks ago.  And the team is afraid to use Matt Breida all of a sudden because apparently has fumbled too much lately.

This means Niner QB Jimmy Garoppolo will have to throw way more than the EIGHT passes he attempted against the Packers.  Can he be productive?  Sure, he absolutely can.  But I’d rather be the team that has Mahomes throwing a boatload of passes, not Garoppolo.

Not to mention that the Niners and coach Kyle Shanahan feel Jimmy Football can get a little loose with the football when asked to do too much.  So they’d rather have him take a back seat if they could.  I just don’t believe the Chiefs offense will give San Francisco a chance to gain control of the game by getting a nice lead and then running it on just about every play.

Now, I’ve been wrong plenty, as you know.  But the feeling here is that there will be a lot of points scored in this one.  Yeah, I know, I picked the Pats over the Rams last year, 34-30.  And we know it was 13-3.  But the year before I picked 51 total points and it was 74.  And the year before I had NE over Atlanta 38-27, which ended up 34-28.  So there is that.

And I picked against San Fran last week.  Considered doing the same the week before against Minnesota, when I foolishly started believing in Kirk Cousins.  In the end, I took SF, but only by 4, when they demolished the Vikings in the actual game.

So what the hell do I know?

I think Andy Reid finally gets over the hump here.  KC gets the lead early and doesn’t let SF use its ground game to run the clock.  Jimmy G has to throw a lot and while he will have success, it won’t be enough.

Unless Reid has clock management issues yet again…then all bets are off…

Kansas City 38, San Francisco 34.  

Week (against the spread):  1-1

Week (straight up):  1-1

Lock Of The Week (season, ATS):  10-7

Season (against the spread):  135-131

Season (straight up):  170-96

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