New England Patriots: Wide Receiver- Who makes the team?

New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker ...

New England Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker on the field prior to an away game against the Oakland Raiders. The Patriots won 49-26. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wes Welker This is a given that he will make the team, it is just about when he arrives. His contract dispute will no doubt hold things up and draw some attention that the Patriots do not want.

Brandon Lloyd Although I am not a fan of this signing just because everyone is treating it like this guy is Randy Moss V.2 but he’s not people, and neither was Chad “Ocho” Johnson and we shouldn’t expect those kind of results. Lloyd has talent, and he knows McDaniels’ offense so for those reasons I see him landing a spot.

Deion Branch He will make it but his role will be heavily reduced but he will be competing for time playing the second WR. Even if he does not make the team, I do not see Branch going to another team but might pull a Tedy Bruschi and retire.

Jabar Gaffney Still has some in the tank and will beat out Stallworth for a spot on the team. Gaffney seems to have Stallworth’s number because he beat him out back in 2007 here with the Patriots and again with the Redskins last season.

Chad Ochocinco This might be an unpopular decision to say that Chad will make the team over Donte. Why? Well, because if Chad actually gets the playbook and plays well then he has more talent left than Donte ever had to begin with. I think that we put too much into knowing the playbook and sometimes forget talent. Chad may have diminished skills compared to two years ago but that is still more than Donte ever had.

On the outside looking in

Donte Stallworth Donte was beat out for time by Gaffney so we know that will most likely happen again so it will come down to Chad versus Donte and like I mentioned Chad I believe will win. Donte, while he does know the playbook, never had as much talent or was a top talent like Chad was. Now, of course, Chad has to get the playbook down but I am going on a limb to say that he will. Maybe I am basing too much of my decision on the past but that is okay with me.

Anthony Gonzalez While Gonzalez was a decent signing because of the talent he does actually have, he has some injury issues and I believe he will somehow end up being injured and either be cut just like Torry Holt a few years ago. Most likely he’ll get hurt stepping out of his car or mowing the lawn. (joking on the last part) If he does make it and doesn’t get injured then he could help this team, I’m just not holding my breath.

Julian Edelman I don’t think he will make the team as a Wide Receiver but will definitely make it in some other form. Whether that be on special teams or defense or trick plays, he will find his place. That’s not to say that he does not have some sort of future as a Wide Receiver but as of right now the depth chart changes his position.

Jeremy Ebert– He will most likely be a practice squad guy for the first year or so and will have to prove himself in order to stay on this team. He has a good chance to make the team in the future as an Edelman or Slater kind of player but with the failures of Taylor Price, Chad Jackson, Brandon Tate and the millions (and millions) of the other players I am being cautious.

Overall Chad will have to prove himself to make this team but that is obvious. You can call it a “mark” move of me to choose him over Donte but I just have a feeling that Chad will have it together and if he does not then we’ll be just fine. We are loaded at Wide Receiver and if Chad does not have it again then he will not make it and someone else will step up. This is a win-win situation for Bill and the Patriots.

So what is my quick analysis of the running back and fullback positions? Well I believe that Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Danny Woodhead and Tony Fiammetta will make the team. Spencer Larsen and Eric Kettani I think will make the team in some other position whether it be special teams or practice squad member. As for Joseph Addai I am not sure what kind of role he will play on this team. I just hope that it doesn’t hinder the development of Ridley and Vereen because honestly they can’t progress and get better if they aren’t playing on the field during games that matter. With that being said I thought the signing was decent because they need someone who can come in and help Ridley, Vereen and even Woodhead develop but hopefully not hurt them. I think that Ridley and Vereen are talented and have the potential to be great running backs but not as practice squad guys.

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New England Patriots 2012 draft

National Football League Draft

National Football League Draft (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Chandler Jones DE/OLB from Syracuse University An athletic guy who has a big wingspan. He needs to work on his pass rushing moves but could develop into a great player. He could step in right away as the starter or play some significant time on sub packages so either way they have some options. He is a versatile player who can play in either defensive set but I do not see him being a “making waves” kind of production in his first year. His kind of size and athleticism does not come around all of the time so I love that the Patriots saw him still on the board and grabbed him then traded back up to get the guy they really wanted. GRADE- A

Dont’a Hightower ILB from Alabama– I do not see him being used as just an ILB but I can see him playing in different positions. I am a little surprised that he was still on the board but I am glad that Bill traded up to grab him because Baltimore would have otherwise. He is a guy who can play in the middle with Jerod Mayo and Brandon Spikes, but I also see him playing some time at OLB or even in coverage. He is good at blitzing up the middle but I do not think he is a pass rusher, he might contribute to that but will not be the main guy. The only thing that might hurt him is the development of Brandon Spikes, which could cut down his playing time, unless Bill has a plan to move either Mayo, Spikes or even Hightower to another LB position. GRADE- A

Tavon Wilson CB/S from Illinois- Officially labeled by NFL.com as a free safety but spent the first two seasons in college as a cornerback then converted over to a safety before the 2010 season. I do not know where he fits in the Patriots defense, whether it is as a cornerback or a safety but I do think that this pick was a head scratch especially since so many other defense backs were still on the board at the time. Defensive backs that are more known, most likely higher potential, and will most likely be in the league later. I do not get this pick and I just do not know if Tavon will be an impact player. I will trust Bill on this one I guess but the fact that they did take a DE later on in the draft kind of gets to me. They could have picked up a better, more productive DE at this pick and still picked up Wilson at 90. GRADE- D

Information on Tavon Wilson

Patriots trade 62nd pick for the 90th pick and the 163rd pick. SHOCKING. Did you really think that Bill was not going to disappoint us all and avoid drafting some players who can actually start and instead end up with a new class of practice squad members. Maybe I am being a little harsh on this move but I am just a little taken back by the second round moves that they made, especially after such a great start. First they pick up someone who MIGHT sniff the practice squad and then they trade out of the second round. Okay, so let us see where this goes and be optimistic about this. Belichick is the coach with the rings and we are the fans who are just anxious and want the Patriots to pick up everyone with a name we know but that is not going to happen. GRADE- F

Jake Bequette DE from Arkansas– This was taken from NFL.com on Bequette.

“Bequette was a strong player for Arkansas, though his productivity could be attributed more to competitiveness and intelligence than great athleticism. He stood out as a leader and high-energy player for the Razorbacks. He had the strength to rush, set the edge and hold his ground in the run game, able to battle bigger linemen and go hard until the end of the play. He is a solid tackler around the ball and consistently pursues plays from the backside. His versatility across the line makes him a good value for NFL teams, especially those running a 3-4 defense. He will likely be taken in one of the later rounds.”

His weaknesses summarized that he gets lost on double teams, not too athletic, not a factor in the passing game, does not play as fast as he could. Jake seems like a decent pick and will contribute in his own way but not sure, how often or how big that impact will be. He could compete with Jermaine Cunningham for playing time and who knows who will win that battle but either way the Patriots will get a good player out of it. GRADE- C

Something to worry about Patriots fans is that the Patriots have the fewest draft picks left with just one pick, which is 163, a 5th round pick. We always hear the same thing, the word value is thrown around, and it just gets annoying. Yeah you can trade all kinds of picks for later picks in the draft because you can get some value players… wow… great… how about players who can start and make an impact on a game that can say… I do not know… help you actually win the Super Bowl versus not being able to stop the other teams offense. Would it have been so bad if you did not have any picks after 62? Does that spell a bad draft if you only have four picks? Well it is quality not quantity, and while Hightower and Jones are quality picks the rest of the picks are not. However, let us be positive here and say that for whatever place they do not hit they can always plug-in another free agent because you still have some talented names available on the market.

I’ll update this again when they make their final selection but most likely the player won’t be any good so does it matter, I think not. Who will the pick be? A new practice squad member or bench guy.

*UPDATE*  4/29

Nate Ebner DB from Ohio State- A kid who will come in and contribute on special teams right away. Not a bad pick at all, a nice depth move for the Patriots and considering the injury problems they have had in the past at both CB and S this is a good pick up. Bad part about the pick is not sure he will be anything more than a special teams guy. GRADE- C

Alfonzo Dennard CB from Nebraska- This was a high risk-high reward pick for the Patriots. Dennard could have gone a lot earlier in the draft. He was once considered an early round pick until performance and bad decisions pushed him down the board. At that point in the draft, in the seventh round, if you miss it’s not a huge deal but if you hit you’re a genius and Dennard could be a hidden gem if he can get his act together. If anyone can do it it’s Bill Belichick and that core group that they have and leaders like Jerod Mayo, Vince Wilfork and Tom Brady to show him. I have to say that I did really like this pick from the Patriots. He is shorter and can get blocked by more physical receivers but will also try to be involved in the play which is good, and according to the breakdown at NFL.com, is NFL-ready which is good for a seventh rounder. Now it is just up to Dennard to get his act together or he’ll be a newcomer with WWE or the CFL. GRADE- B

Jeremy Ebert WR from Northwestern- Could eventually be the replacement/competition for Julian Edelman as a slot receiever and special teams player. The fact that he came on strong his last two seasons at Northwestern tells me that he will get better with time and will learn the system eventually. He’ll most likely be a practice squad guy since they have a lot of receivers on the roster but still a decent pick for that late in the draft. GRADE- C

Overall- A very good draft for the New England Patriots as they were primarily defensive oriented which is an area that needed to be addressed. Not that I put a lot of stock into the grades on NFL.com, because it is based on others opinions at the combine and pro days and if you don’t go then you have a low-grade but aren’t neccessarily a bad player. However, the player with the highest grade according to NFL.com is actually seventh round pick Alfonzo Dennard at 85.7 then Dont’a Hightower at 85 and the lowest being both Nate Ebner and Jeremy Ebert who didn’t have grades at all. Again, doesn’t really mean much but I thought it was a little interesting. Why didn’t I like the Tavon Wilson pick? Well because I see him as a blend in kind of player which means that he won’t do anything great but most likely won’t do anything bad either but I don’t think you use a second round pick on that kind of player. Hey, if I’m wrong, that’s awesome and I’m more than happy to be wrong on this one but I see him as a guy who you can forget is even playing just because he won’t stand out positively or negatively. He had a private workout with Bill and the Patriots however and seven other teams worked him out so teams had a different grade on him then the scouts and analysts did so I do trust Bill but I’m not going to be surprised if he is not on the team in a few years.

 

Can Tim Tebow fix the New York Jets’ locker room?

Tim Tebow, a player on the Denver Broncos Amer...

Tim Tebow, a player on the Denver Broncos American football team. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All of last season it was one of the constant things that you heard. Back and forth from the Jets’ players and them talking trash about opponents and even other teammates. Whether it was Holmes quitting on the team, Sanchez calling his team gutless, Holmes calling out Sanchez and the OL and it was just an NFL soap opera. I mean if Mark Sanchez ended up being related to Rex Ryan it would have been soap opera gold, goodbye HBO hello CBS. Therefore, you have to wonder what the Jets’ angle with Tebow was. Competition for Sanchez? Converting to a hybrid type of player? An attempt to fix and weed out the poison in the locker room? I am leaning towards all of the above because by nature, we humans are creatures of habit and we often mimic each other. Good deeds, good people, habits, personalities and other things can leak out on each other and with the Jets; it was in the negative side of the tracks the last few years. Trading for Tim Tebow will help alter that path, change that state in the locker room and I think provide a real role model and potential true leader of the locker room.

Antonio Cromartie and other Jets can say whatever they want on this subject but the fact is they brought this upon themselves by not being a team. The negative attitudes and egos in that locker room have also changed the path of Mark Sanchez and the path he was once on. From here on out who knows what he will turn into but it will be a product of that locker room and atmosphere. Ladainian Tomlinson walked away from the Jets saying it was the worst locker room he had been in, and I think LT did attempt to change the ways of the room but the dark “aura” that surrounds the team is overwhelming.

Whatever flaws Tebow has as a QB I think the biggest impact he will have on this team is off the field. However, LT had the same heart of gold and he could not change a thing. I think maybe it is time for Rex Ryan to step in and change this culture just as Belichick did with Adalius Thomas, Shawn Springs and the other negative influences they had. I give Rex Ryan credit in that situation as well, believe it or not, because he did not sign “AD” after the Patriots released him, even though he had a past with him. Rex I think identified that even though Thomas might have had some talent at one point, his negative influence on the locker room would not be worth it.

Bringing in Tebow will also be a football move, obviously, and Tony Sporano new Jets Offensive Coordinator, will figure out how to use Tebow whether it be as a QB, HB, FB, TE or WR or all of them. It will put some pressure on both Sanchez and Tebow, which could make them play better. As of right now I believe Mark Sanchez is the starter and it would take a lot for Tebow to take over but the fact that the Jets could has the potential to push Mark to play up to his potential and be a better QB. Mark Brunell did a good job as a back up QB but I do not think that Sanchez ever thought that Brunell was ever going to be a threat to take over his job so never felt the need to improve. His ego simply told him that he was the best QB on the team, which he was, but he owed it to the team to improve and be the guy and compete with the other young QB’s for the title of the next elite QB and he did not. Will this signing make the Jets a super bowl contender? No, I do not think it does but it could make them better then last year but they need more positive influences in that locker room to help guide Sanchez and other young players in the right direction.

It would benefit Tebow if he played some other positions and shows that he can be a team player and not so stubborn. He has said in the past that he wanted to be a QB but he would really benefit from changing that stance. He can still come out and say, “I still see myself as a QB but right now I’m doing what is best for the team and winning games.” If he can somehow master the hybrid position, I think he could really change the league in the future. Players like him, Brad Smith, Aaron Hernandez and some others will not be limited to just one position but could move around and not be seen as odd or a trick play but a smart play by a versatile athlete and a smart coach. Is Tim Tebow ever going to be an NFL QB? I don’t think so, at least not the level of Peyton Manning or Tom Brady but maybe he could be a game manager and end up leading a team to the super bowl but he REALLY needs to work on reading defenses, accuracy and playing from the pocket. If he does not then he will end up just a bust, which I think he is not. He would be a better HB/FB or TE then a QB and if a team wants to throw in a wildcat play or an option play with him then that would be smart. The Jets could also benefit from picking up a real speedy running back to play behind Shonn Greene in those situations.

I am a Patriots fan all the way and I love that the Jets did not win the division last season but I also like a competitive division. I think Rex Ryan is a good coach and the players are doing an injustice to him by being so egotistical and selfish. The Trail Blazers players got a good coach fired and it was their own fault and the Jets can make a stand to be better players, better people and be more positive. With that being said, I hope they do not ever win a Super Bowl, ha, just kidding. If they do then good for them and hopefully, it means that all of the heads in the locker room are on straight. Bottomline is I do not think that Tim Tebow will fix the New York Jets‘ locker room on his own but the TRUE leaders of the team need to STEP UP and make the others listen and start a positive culture on this team because Rex Ryan is a good coach and deserves better.

**cough** Go Pats!! **cough**

One statement spelling out past and future draft strategies by Belichick

Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England P...

Head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots watches the preseason game against the Washington Redskins at FedExField on August 28, 2009 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was going through ESPN and saw the Patriots Mailbag with Mike Reiss and something caught my attention with one of his answers. The question was about Belichick and trading up for an impact player.

“It sort of ties in to Belichick’s thoughts as relayed in Michael Holley’s “War Room” book about the Falcons trading up to No. 6 to draft receiver Julio Jones in 2011. Belichick didn’t endorse the move because he felt the difference between Jones and Jonathan Baldwin (a later first-round pick) wasn’t worth all it would take to move up.”

Now I can see what Belichick was talking about and sort of agree no doubt about it but I might also see where some of the Patriots drafts woes have stemmed from. Now both Julio Jones and Jonathan Baldwin were first round picks and both saw some significant time on the field but there were some clear differences in performance.

Jonathan Baldwin played 11 games, had 21 receptions for 254 yards and one touchdown. A decent season for a rookie wide receiver I must say.

Julio Jones played in 13 games, had 54 receptions for 959 yards and eight touchdowns. That is a great season for a rookie wide receiver.

While the Falcons did give up a lot to get Jones, I think it paid off in the end. As of right now I think the difference between the two is upside and other little things. Julio Jones, I believe, has a higher ceiling and has more upside than Baldwin has. Baldwin is no doubt talented, maybe as talented as Jones but I don’t think he has as high a ceiling as Jones honestly. Now the argument can be made that there were two completely different quarterbacks throwing to them. One is Matt Cassel, who is a slightly above average quarterback who benefited from backing up the great Tom Brady. Matt Ryan however is a first round pick who came to the Atlanta Falcons after they fell from grace because of the whole Michael Vick situation. Therefore, you would be right to make that connection and bring that up but either man could have ended up on the other team and I will argue that the results could be the same. Jones would still out perform Baldwin, even with Cassel as his quarterback.

Therefore, Belichick is right, sort of, and that giving up all of that might not have been worth it but comparing the two, right now it seems that the Falcons won. Would the Falcons, if they kept all the picks they had, and chose Baldwin and filled some other spots they really needed like defensive line, secondary and getting someone to eventually replace John Abraham, have made it to the playoffs? Maybe, maybe not but drafting Julio Jones did not hinder that at all, they still made it… granted they lost but they made it.

So is that why Brandon Tate, Taylor Price, Darius Butler, Terrence Wheatley, Jonathan Wilhite, Shawn Crable, Chad Jackson, Laurence Maroney, Tyrone McKenzie and some others haven’t worked out and why Jermaine Cunningham and Ron Brace are currently not working out? Did he see that they had just as much talent as someone else in the draft but that they had a little less of an upside? While a good strategy by the mastermind Bill Belichick sometimes you have to take that “higher upside” talent to be surrounded by the others. Therefore, you have some adequate young talent surrounding one or two superstars and now you have a team.

However, hey, who am I? Just a fan, someone who watches the games and has an opinion on things. I am obviously not a part of the NFL or any station that follows them, but this is just my opinion and what I see.

I will say that in the last few drafts he has made some key hits with Brandon Spikes, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Patrick Chung, Devin McCourt (well, judge is still out with his horrible season last season but for now I’ll count him), and Zoltan Mesko. Judge is still out on the 2011 NFL draft class but so far some hits seem to be Nate Solder, Marcus Cannon and who knows how Shane Vereen, Stevan Ridley and Ryan Mallett turn out but right now, they seem to be a part of the Patriots’ future. Ras-I Dowling is a question mark for me because of his past with injuries and the fact that he ended up on Injured Reserve last season. Before going on IR, he was doing okay but you were, well I was, just waiting for him to end up on that list and he did.

Although, some key misses at least from 2011 was Brooks Reed who went to the Houston Texans and when Mario Williams went down him, Conner Barwin and J.J. Watt made it not so bad that they lost Williams to the Buffalo Bills this past off-season. Another I think was Torrey Smith WR who went to the Baltimore Ravens. I am not going to rehash all of the other misses from the other years because quite honestly, they have been talked about repeatedly and we all need to forget about them. I think it just seems that the Patriots miss more because Belichick piles up so many picks. I still think Brooks Reed and Torrey Smith were misses in time they’ll be in the same category as the others… under a file that just says, “I don’t want to talk about it.”

In my opinion in this 2012 NFL draft that is a little over a month away Bill has to be aggressive, or at least stand pat with his picks and not trade down. Bill, Nick and the powers that be will have the master plan and do what is best for the team but with Tom Brady getting older and his seasons numbered, I think it’s more important than ever to snag a playmaker or two sooner rather than later. However, with what he said I see him continuing to trade down unless he sees an incredible talent on the board that is a once in a lifetime type of talent.

With whatever criticism we all have of coach and General Manager Bill Belichick it comes with an understanding that he is one of the best in the game. He has made questionable moves but we’re lucky to have someone who can win constantly and run the office side of things for as long as he has and like I said still have an “elite” team. At least we don’t have a revolving door at coach and G.M. like some other teams in the NFL. Of course, you could say that Tom Brady is the person who makes sure the Patriots keep winning but Belichick is the one who brings the talent in. Brady can’t do it by himself… don’t believe me? Well 2006 seems to point that way and if they had better talent at that time, they would have won it all instead of the Colts.

It was an interesting mailbag check it out:

ESPN Patriots Mailbag with Mike Reiss

Patriots off-season grades and thoughts part two

NEW ENGLAND Patriots Wallpaper

NEW ENGLAND Patriots Wallpaper (Photo credit: Axel.Foley)

TE- Daniel Fells A good move for the Patriots because it adds some depth behind Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez. It will also allow Hernandez to play in the WR position more, as he did last season and still have the option to have a 2 other TE’s on the field to help block or run a pattern or both. Grade: B

WR- Donte Stallworth It’s been about 4 seasons since Stallworth has played in a Patriots uniform and while he was good while he was here back in 2007, what does he have left? This gives the Patriots some insurance if and when Gonzalez gets hurt and could be the nail in the Ocho experiment. Although since leaving, the Patriots Stallworth has not exactly been lighting up the stat sheet. His best season since leaving was last season with 11 games played, 22 receptions, 309 yards and 2 touchdowns, that’s not much of an upgrade over what Chad Johnson but I still like the move. You know that Donte knows the system, so adjusting will not be a problem for him. The only thing I don’t like about this move is that it most likely pushes Deion Branch out of the picture, even if they did trade or release Chad. Grade: B

DB- Marquice Cole- Who? This is a depth move and a player who will play on special teams mainly. Not the move I wanted to see but at least they are improving the depth, something that they needed to do. Hopefully they don’t forget that they need playmakers not just roster fillers. Grade: D

OL- Robert Gallery- Robert, who played for Seattle last season and was a first round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders back in 2004, is a good depth signing. He was pretty healthy for both Oakland and Seattle, except towards the end of last season where he missed 4 games because of injury. Belichick apparently had some interest in him during that 2004 draft and claimed if he had the first overall pick he would have taken Gallery (he was selected 2nd overall) He could jump in and start depending on what happens with Brian Waters and Matt Light who have been toying with the idea of retirement and also could step in if someone gets injured. Definitely like this signing. Grade: A

Visit of DL Luis Castillo- This tells me that Bill is not done on defense and has a plan in mind and is just playing his game of chess. He is just 28 years old but is coming off an injury. He, however, is not a pass rushing type of player either with just 2.5 sacks in 2010 and 2 in 2009. Therefore, I can see why they put him in and tried to see what he had, he can add to the depth of the DL but is not a game changer in my opinion. Some names are still available: Mark Anderson, Andre Carter, Shaun Rogers, Matt Roth, Aaron Smith, and Gerard Warren to name a few.

Jets sign LaRon Landry This is a blessing in disguise because Landry has a history with injuries for some reason (look up his recent photo and you’ll see why this is actually sarcasm). If he does well for the Jets, hey cool, but I’d rather give a chance and time to someone who can stay on it. Some interesting names still available on the market: OJ Atogwe, Melvin Bullitt, Bob Sanders, Jim Leonhard, Brian Dawkins, and Jarrad Page just to name a few.

Trade Rumors of Tim Tebow to the Patriots- While the Patriots were interested in Tim Tebow during the 2010 NFL Draft a lot has happened since then. Mainly, Brian Hoyer has got better and we drafted Ryan Mallett so I don’t know where he would fit. The idea though is intriguing and Josh McDaniels, who did draft him, is on the team and can share the ideas he had for using Tebow with Belichick. However if he came here he would have to change positions, to something like TE/RB/FB hybrid who can occasionally take a direct snap, or run a wild cat type offense. You can do many things with Tebow on this team but he would have to agree to be something other than a QB, even if you have to sell it to him that it’s just for now. You can have Tebow in the backfield with Brady and Woodhead, in the shotgun formation and Tebow can take the direct snap, Brady does his typical fake and then the Pats can run some form of the option-offense. Tebow can either throw it, run it, or hand it off to Danny but of course that’d be only one play but Tebow I think can fit as that TE/RB/FB type of hybrid. So many options, but I honestly don’t see him on this team because I don’t know if he’s ready to put his “dream” of being a QB aside, especially since Tom Brady is the main man and you don’t want to take the ball out of his hands. Message to Tim Tebow- don’t be stubborn, if Bill Belichick a Hall of Fame bound head coach wants you and asks you if you want to change positions… you change positions man. Also, just a fun fact, the Broncos need some WR help and the Patriots have an abundance of them and one in particular could be odd man out… sooo maybe you offer Chad Johnson and a pick to Denver for Tebow. I think that Chad has plenty left in him even though he is 34 and if he can’t prove it to New England fans on the Patriots then we will on another team… they I could be wrong but I just don’t see it that way. Do I see Tebow in a Patriots uniform? No.

The Patriots could also look at the draft to upgrade the pass rusher position but I am not going to hold my breath. Free Agency is not over so we’ll see what the Patriots do with the time they put into it but safety is not deep in this drafting according to some analysts so the only key I think would be getting some sort of impact DB. Belichick has done a good job this off-season focusing in on needs but getting mid-range players who aren’t horrible options. We’ll see what happens, so far it’s been pretty decent.

UPDATE: Dolphins continue to go in the opposite direction by planning to cut starting Safety Yeremiah Bell. Um, sure, Ireland is nuts I think… this is like Timberwolves and Kahn… entertaining. I mean they went from maybe one, two or three pieces away to rebuilding… already.

NFL should inflict harsh penalties against ‘BountyGate’

Gregg Williams at the 2010 commencement ceremo...

Image via Wikipedia

In case you live under a rock, you know that the New Orleans Saints and Gregg Williams, ex-defensive coordinator for them and now with the St. Louis Rams, have come under a spotlight because of a bounty system. A system that rewarded players for hurting other players and knocking them out of the game and paid them for it, a bonus check. The NFL must come down hard on Gregg Williams for this, especially if he had such a program in place when employed for other teams. Let’s get this straight, this isn’t about just hard hits, or bang-bang plays, it’s about hurting someone on purpose and being rewarded for doing so. How can it be seen any other way really? I understand that hard hits happen in the NFL, will continue to happen and I wouldn’t want it any other way but when it comes to taking people out… that’s wrong.

Think of it this way and maybe you can see it in a different way. Did Bernard Pollard get a “bounty check” for taking out Tom Brady in 2008? Was it bigger because it was a season ending injury? Did Kerry Rhodes and Eric Smith get a “bounty check” for taking out Anquan Boldin, then with the Arizona Cardinals? How about Philip Daniels and his wrenching of Peyton Manning’s neck back in 2006, what did he get for that? Does it matter that those actions most likely changed Peyton Manning’s life and career? What about Kimo von Oelhoffen and his hit on Carson Palmer in the playoffs? These are just a few instances that I can think of and if these players got what I call, a “bounty check” for what they did that’s just wrong and shouldn’t be in the NFL or any sport.

Other hits like the Dunta Robinson-DeSean Jackson, the hit Kurt Warner took in the 2009 playoffs and some others… those will happen and those are different. How are they different? Well, they are football plays and will happen and can happen at any given moment in any game but someone going out of there way to hurt someone because they’ll get paid extra for it, that’s the difference. If you fall during a foot race then it’s just something that can happen but if someone is paid to push you over, that’s different.

I am not sure what the penalties will be but considering how much Williams has lied I don’t see it ending well for him and serves him right. You know you can have a performance incentives plan and base it on getting interceptions, sacks or breaking up a big play… no one is getting hurt in those, at least not intentionally. Personally, if he was to be fired from the Rams or banned from the game it’d be harsh but you can’t go lightly on him just because other teams do it and he was caught. The NFL has to make a statement to other teams that, ‘if you have this kind of plan in place, end it now.’ From what I’ve read, the NFL is now going to investigate the Washington Redskins since Gregg Williams spent time with them, next maybe the Tennessee Titans and his time with them. Matt Bowen, former Redskins safety, did mention such a program existed when Williams was there as Defensive Coordinator. Williams also spent time with Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans, Buffalo Bills (where he was the Head Coach), and Jacksonville Jaguars. This isn’t just on Gregg Williams though; current General Manager of the New Orleans Saints Mickey Loomis also knew about the program and lied about it but so far, his job seems to be safe.

In addition, just to throw in that this is much worse than SpyGate. You can spy all you want but the players still have to go out and execute and make the plays. You can argue that in most cases the other team knows what you’re going to do just by watching all the film that they do and still usually can’t stop you. As if teams had no idea this season, that Tom Brady, in crunch time, was going to pass it to Rob Gronkowski or Wes Welker. Bottomline is that this is wrong, not just in sports but in life. You should never intentionally hurt someone, it’s immoral and against the law, and to pay someone to do it… that’s low. It will be interesting to see what kind of penalty they give out and something tells me it will be a harsh one.

Where do the New England Patriots go from here?

NEW ENGLAND Patriots Wallpaper

NEW ENGLAND Patriots Wallpaper (Photo credit: Axel.Foley)

After losing to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl you have to think, where do they go from here? Well it was obvious, to me anyway, that the Patriots have some holes that really need to be filled if they want to win another Super Bowl ring. The score of the game cannot blind them, yes, if they scored a touchdown then they would have won and ESPN and other outlets would be swamped with comparisons of Tom Brady and Joe Montana, and we would be trying to find a channel that was not talking about it and most likely failing. However, the Patriots defense could not stop the Giants on that last drive and even on other drives made some crucial mistakes and they lacked playmakers on that defense. The Giants had 114 yards rushing and 282 through the air and they won the time of possession battle. So where do the Patriots go from here?

So out of all of the Patriots free agents, a list can be found here, who comes back? Wes Welker I believe is a given, Deion Branch, Dan Connolly, Matthew Slater, I do believe will all be back. Who is on the fence? Andre Carter, Mark Anderson and BenJarvus Green Ellis– all had decent seasons and could be offered contracts that the Patriots don’t want to match or beat. Especially with Green Ellis who hasn’t fumbled yet, what team wouldn’t want that and by letting him go you make a commitment to the two young running backs that you drafted last season, Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen, they deserve to play more than they did last season and bringing back Green Ellis will just stunt any production I believe. The top priority is obviously Wes Welker but Matthew Slater is also on top of that list as well and as for Branch, well if he is willing to take a reduced role then we should sign him.

So what positions should be looked at in free agency? They need a pass rusher we all noticed the impact Andre Carter had so to have that consistently and from both sides would really make a difference. Defensive backs- they need better corners and safety. Bringing some impact defensive backs can really turn around a defense and a game. I’m not sure any team respects our corners and safeties. They also need an explosive Wide Receiver, only one who is strictly a deep threat but just an explosive WR that will get teams to respect the talent and notice he can be a deep threat. Even with the pending retirement of Brian Waters, I believe the Patriots are okay with the offensive line but grabbing a player or two in free agency or the draft would not hurt.

As much as we say it’s an offensive league, a defense still wins championships. Since 2004, every team who won a Super Bowl had at least a good defense, except the Indianapolis Colts but they were against the Chicago Bears who probably should not have been there. Maybe it’s not all about where you rank but more about the players you have and the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers this season I believe proved that but they shouldn’t be fooled, The Patriots deserved to be last especially when they released Brandon Meriweather and James Sanders without getting anything in return.

So who do the Patriots look at in free agency? Well this is a little tricky because they will look for talent but most likely not top talent because they will command big money. So with that being said who could be on the radar? Well you have Wide Receiver Reggie Wayne, something that former Patriots Willie McGinest pointed out. I know he’s a top WR but I have him because he played with Peyton Manning in a complicated offense, so you know he will grasp the playbook and know what is expected of him from another future Hall of Fame Quarterback Tom Brady. So what other names jump off the page? Well Defensive End Aaron Smith is one name, if healthy, can provide some energy and make an impact. Also obviously, Mario Williams would also be worth looking into but who knows if the Houston Texans will franchise tag him. Corners and safeties that could be available- Rashean Mathis, Marcus Trufant, Eric Wright, LaRon Landry, Chris Hope and Jordan Babineaux. Also some decent linebackers available, which could be on the radar as well. What should be watched is the situations in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Oakland because Pittsburgh and Philadelphia want to dump salary to make room for others and Oakland is going under a change in direction, strategy and everything since Al Davis passed away and is looking to release some “bad” contracts.

Some moves might be based on how they feel about Ras-I Dowling who was a 2nd round pick and was on injured reserve, also has a past of injuries. In addition, do they cut or keep Ron Brace, Jermaine Cunningham, Myron Pryor, and Chad “Ocho” Johnson and will they move Devin McCourty permanently to safety. This is certain though, Bill Belichick will make some moves, just as he did last off-season and with a whole off-season to teach the playbooks and system it will make a difference.

Key areas to improve- Cornerback, Safety, Defensive End, Outside Linebacker, Wide Receiver and Offensive Line.

Whom to target in the upcoming NFL draft? Safety Mark Barron from Alabama could drop to them since he has an injury and his time at the Scouting Combine will be limited. If he is still on the board at 20 or so, they should try to trade up and snag him. DT- Michael Brockers, DT- Dontari Poe, DE- Fletcher Cox, WR- Mohamed Sanu, OLB- Courtney Upshaw. It’s hard to predict what Bill will do in the draft but this is what I predict- Mark Barron will indeed fall to the Patriots at 27 but Bill will trade down for another second round pick and the Baltimore Ravens will pick Barron. Why? Well they will see someone else who maybe has the same skill set as Barron but with a lower ceiling and will be cheaper.

Franchise Tags can be applied- February 20th

Free Agency begins on March 13th

NFL Draft starts April 26th

Chad Ochocinco doesn’t know the playbook still? I don’t buy it!!

English: Chad Ochocinco praticed in 2011 New E...

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Yes a bold statement from a guy who watches sports and maybe a little too much and has a blog who no one reads but still… I would like to think I have at least minimal knowledge. At least more knowledge gained from listening to the radio, reading about it, watching it, and etc. than some have who actually play football claiming that they learned what they know from Madden the video game. Madden, really? You learned about a team’s defense or offense by playing MADDEN and that’s how you see the NFL in real life? So if you let a corner beat you and coach asks you what happened you reply… what? That guy is an 86 overall, I’m only a 79 of course he beat me? You realize the coach is going to test you for drugs every hour after that right?

Anyway, sorry for the rant but I found that funny but annoying when I read that, back to the point. Chad Johnson has been less than productive this season for the New England Patriots and you hear a lot of chatter about him not knowing the playbook. You also hear that he doesn’t know where he is supposed to be on the field at a particular time and his 15 catches for 276 and a TD certainly does draw those conclusions but I do not agree, maybe it was that at first but I’m just not sure. I mean we are missing something, he is still on the team, still getting praised by his teammates and Bill, so I have to say… what are we missing? They didn’t defend Joey Galloway, Torry Holt, or any of the other epic failures that have worn a Patriots uniform, usually when asked they give a typical “Patriots answer” and move on but not with Chad. Is it because Bill, Tom and teammates respect Chad and genuinely like him as a person so they defend him more? Or is it because we are not seeing everything? Or is it both? It’s not like we are in the locker room all the time, or in Bill’s meetings with his players and coaches so we diagnose what we are seeing on the field quickly and assume and lean on this one idea until proven otherwise… and so do I.

I believe Chad knows the playbook, knows where he is supposed to be and even knows what Brady and Bill expects out of him but what holds him back? Could it be as simple as him trying too hard, being nervous and afraid to screw up? I think so. When you go from driving a 1980 P.O.S. that you’ve been driving since you got your license to years later owning your dream car, or a new car you don’t drive it the same way right? No, you drive paranoid, nervous and might make some stupid mistakes that you normally wouldn’t make because you’re thinking too much and 9 times out of 10 you think “crap, why did I just do that?”. So why is he still nervous, or thinking too much you ask? Well it’s because he is trying to prove himself, no not to us, but to Bill and Tom and is just making mistakes he wouldn’t normally make and when he does he gets pulled or not looked at when on the field. Is it right? No, but are they wrong for doing it? Not necessarily.

Chad went from being the number one guy for the Bengals to someone who is probably close to last looked at while he is on the field. Not his fault, Brady will look at Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski, Deion Branch and Aaron Hernandez before Chad if all are on the field at the same time so sometimes he might have to get open 2-3 times on a play and by then he has abandoned the route but before Tom can get back to him he must dump it off or hit the hot receiver cause he doesn’t have forever back there, 2-3 seconds tops. What has stood out to me during his time here is that he has seemed to really buy into the Patriots Way. He’s been quite, hasn’t complained about anything really and has been a true professional and from what I can tell has done everything that they have asked, that stands out because if this was the Bengals I don’t think we could say that. Almost like when the Boston Celtics were in the playoffs two years ago and Nate Robinson came into the game and made an impact on defense, yet when he came here all you heard was he is “uncoachable“… Doc didn’t seem to have many issues coaching him… it just didn’t work out and he has become a solid role player for the Golden State Warriors and even contributed heavily in a win they had against the “almighty” Miami Heat.

Has Chad worked out as a Patriot? No he has not, I’m not denying that but I don’t believe that his lack of production is because he doesn’t know the playbook. The Patriots offensive system doesn’t help him much either, but I’ve already talked about that, you can check that out on my page. For you guys out there it’s like this: you’re in a relationship with a girl who is 7 out of 10 and then one day you meet a girl who is a 25 out of 10… You really don’t want to mess up the opportunity but yet with each mistake dig yourself into a deeper hole and after a while, you’re digging up and that is not easy. So in conclusion I will make this BOLD statement: I think the Patriots should bring Chad Johnson back next season and see if he is any more comfortable… after all what do they have to lose really? Not working out again then see you later.

Does the new CBA need to introduce a new NBA?

Photo of game between Boston Celtics and Miami...

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The NBA games have become hard to watch and just like the MLB you can pretty accurately predict who will win it all and who will have a tough time. The new Big 3 in Miami just proves the point that small market teams will always have a disadvantage unless this new CBA changes that. What in my eyes makes the NFL so much better than the NBA? It’s because I feel that anything can happen, a small market team can win the Super Bowl and a big market team can go 0-16 cause it’s more equal and more difficult really to get an all-star cast all on one roster. The NBA needs competitiveness so that it creates a stir and creates more change and the feeling that if you don’t watch, you actually might miss something. Instead of now where you can predict that the NBA Finals would probably be Heat Vs Lakers but wouldn’t it be more interesting if it could be any team. You could argue that the smaller market teams could play at the top of their game and come out on top but really, when you have all-star casts running to bigger markets to “play together” it seems unlikely and honestly not appealing. I’m a huge Celtics fan, but I do think it would be nice if for once it’d be more equal, can you imagine if it was a 76ers Vs Grizzles, I know sounds like a yawn fest but with the talent spread out equally who knows who could on those teams.

I find it sad that typically a player does not finish with the team that drafted him, that 5-6 teams dominate the league always, that it seems there is always a high turn over for owners and that means that teams could be moved rather easily, and that the all-star weekend means nothing cause it’s typically Heat/Celtics Vs Lakers/Spurs… it gets boring. A more competitive league means it will be more entertaining and less predictable, which means for me as a Celtics fan that after the Big 3 era I don’t have to worry about another 10 year drought. It could still happen but the likely hood, I believe, goes down if the talent is spread out and it’s more of a competitive league. What NFL fan isn’t happy that finally the Lions and Bills are legit threats? That the Eagles tried to do it the NBA-way and have failed so far? A big market team like the Cowboys can stink? It’s fun to watch the NFL, not so much with the NBA. Take notice Stern cause this is a more important decision than you may know, or maybe you do. A high-octane league with all-stars teaming up in 3’s to join one team may offer more ratings, when and if they actually face each other, but what of those other smaller teams? Who is watching them? Maybe you can hope that by all those big names joining forces will open doors for players on smaller teams to reach that level and soon every team will have multiple all-stars on them, hm, maybe.

I believe that Stern knows what he is doing, he is a smart man and hopefully can make this more fun to watch and not so dominated by the refs. The lock outs that have happened under his reign will tarnish his legacy but the outcome of this one I think will define just how much of an impact it makes, it could be a little side note or it could be the main story. It is not easy to run a league I could imagine and I would not want to be in the shoes of either of the commissioners but I can share my opinion on how to improve them, interjecting a fans point of view. So does the new CBA need to introduce a new NBA? Yes, unless it wants the ratings to stay the same as it is now, maybe even decline a little. Hey, I could be wrong but I think a competitive NBA is a good NBA.

Tim Tebow is the next Tom Brady?!

Tim Tebow

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Tim Tebow, drafted by the Denver Broncos in the 1st round of the 2010 NFL draft by Josh McDaniels. I think the one thing I took from that move by McDaniels is his thoughts about whether Orton can run his offense. Is Tebow, who is now starting over Orton when Fox saw what Josh did, the next Tom Brady? Please! Absolutely not. He does not have the accuracy nor the consistency or a team that will back him if he has a bad performance. I think that Tebow has some potential to become a decent Quarterback in the NFL but I’m not sure he is a Franchise Quarterback. If you use smoke and mirrors and have shorter routes by the wide receivers and yeah that hurts them but Tebow is a young Quarterback who has some issues throwing the deep ball. He can scramble, energize the offense, is becoming known as a 4th quarter Quarterback, throw the short routes and maybe some medium ones and from what I have seen will protect the ball. Look at what the 49ers are doing with Alex Smith. Instead of trying to mold him into someone he just simply is not, they decided to use what skills he possesses to their advantage and simplified the offense and are now winning.

What will happen to Tebow next season? This is all based on what he does this season and how much time Denver gives him. If they have passed on Kyle Orton and have determined that Kyle is not the future for them then I see them just going with Tebow for the rest of the season cause you spent a 1st rounder on the kid so you should just see what he can do. Maybe if you see that he can’t play Quarterback full-time then you move him to a different position and use Tim as a wildcat type QB. I don’t read much into what ESPN and others have said and I am waiting to see what he does on the field and if he progresses from week to week simply because they have been wrong before.

Tim Tebow will not be the next Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Joe Montana or Steve Young. I see him, if he can get his accuracy to at least a respectable level, reading the defense better and making adjustments, being a Jason Campbell, Chad Pennington, Jon Kitna, Trent Dilfer, Kordell Stewart. Which is a Quarterback who can run your team, can win you games and even get you to the playoffs but probably won’t get you a ring and needs a very good defense. Anything can happen in the NFL however and who knows who Tebow will eventually become… maybe an above average QB, maybe a Game Managing QB, maybe a bust, maybe a Tight End or Wide Receiver. The Broncos don’t have anything to lose by playing him for the rest of the season cause I didn’t think they’d make the playoffs anyway and figured that Kyle was not in the plans for Fox or Elway.

 

Bottom line is that Tim Tebow has a lot to learn in order to become a viable NFL Quarterback and I do think that most of that comes with more playing time but I do not see him being elite nor will his throwing motion completely change. He might be best suited to switch his position or becoming a hybrid player. That is one thing that no player has perfected which names like Kordell Stewart, Brad Smith and some others have tried but no one has made it as dangerous as Tebow could.