Brady, Belichick still get nervous for season openers after all these years


Brady, Belichick still get nervous for season openers after all these years

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady and Bill Belichick have combined for nearly 60 seasons of experience in the NFL. They've won five Super Bowls together. They've been to two more. They are the most successful quarterback-coach tandem in league history. 

Yet when Thursday night arrives, before their most recent championship banner is revealed, before the five massive replica Lombardi trophies are put on display, they will be nervous. 

"Yeah, well, Opening Day is always a time where you have a lot of questions, butterflies," Belichick said on Tuesday. "Yeah, I think that’s part of opening day. A lot of unknowns on our team, a lot of unknowns on their team, a lot of unknowns when the two collide. So, we’ll see how it goes."

Brady and his teammates aren't expecting to be on the field to see the unveiling of the franchise's fifth Super Bowl banner. They'll be in the locker room, preparing, waiting, as the anticipation builds.

"Yeah, absolutely. You know, I think everybody does [get nervous]," Brady said. "Everyone works hard and it’s very unpredictable. You never know what’s going to happen. We, as players, feel like that, too. We’re prepared, we’re confident, but you’ve still got to go out there and do it, and you’ve got to do it against a team that you’ve studied but not much this year. You know they’re working on stuff, we’re working on stuff, we try to execute at a high level and they do, too. Yeah, there will definitely be nerves and being anxious, but that’s part of football."

And for two of the best to ever perform their jobs, even after all these years, it's still a part of the deal on opening day.

'Leprechaun' Gronk dropping more hints about future plans - sort of

'Leprechaun' Gronk dropping more hints about future plans - sort of

Rob Gronkowski, decked out in his finest St. Patrick's Day duds over the weekend in Nashville, reportedly tried to shed some light on his NFL future.

Of course, while Gronk was doing Gronk things, he told a Patriots fan one thing and a reporter another.

Breech is an NFL writer for His father is former Cincinnati Bengals kicker Jim Breech. And the "69ers" aren't a real team.


AFC East is starting to prepare for post-Brady life

AFC East is starting to prepare for post-Brady life

The Patriots' "direction" never really changes. They're always "going for it" because they're always one of the best teams in the league. 

The rest of the AFC East is usually in flux. The other teams range from hoping for 8-8 to trying to bottom out in hopes of a high draft pick. Yet right now, it seems the stars are aligning and that the Jets, Bills and Dolphins all have the mindset: Change things now and be ready to pounce once Brady is gone. 

The Jets traded up to No. 3 on Saturday, assuring themselves a chance at one of this draft's top quarterbacks. The Bills, with picks Nos. 12 and 22, are expected by pundits to make a similar move up. The Dolphins, fresh off cutting bait with Ndamukong Suh in an attempt at a culture change, have the 11th pick and could use it on a quarterback to either push or replace Ryan Tannehill. 

None of the three teams are close to pushing the Patriots as long as Brady's around, even with the Bills coming off a season in which they reached the playoffs. Yet there's a two-or-three-year plan on which all three teams could have designs: Get the quarterback now, build around him and be in a good situation by the time Brady is done. 

We've seen these teams try to rebuild before during the Brady Era, with only limited success. Mark Sanchez worked out better in New York than anyone could have initially expected, but that success lasted way shorter than any believers could have hoped. Now, it seems they try again. 

Over in Buffalo, the end of the Tyrod Taylor era hardly means the beginning of the Nathan Peterman era. Those two first-rounders should easily be able to get the Bills into the top five, and they've also got two second-rounders and two third-rounders. Hell, they have the pieces to get to No. 1 if Cleveland is bold enough to pass on their choice of Darnold/Rosen/Allen/Mayfield. 

The Dolphins are in the more interesting spot. Tannehill missed all of last season and he's 29. If you're six years into your career and your team still isn't totally sure if you can be one of the better QBs in the league, you probably aren't one of the better QBs in the league. At the very least, Lamar Jackson should be there at No. 11. They could also trade up. 

At the start of last season, the Patriots had far and away the two best QBs in the AFC East. Now, it stands to reason that at least two of their divisional opponents (the Jets and Bills) will come away with what they hope are franchise quarterbacks. And if any of these guys hit, the Pats will have gone from the best QB situation in the NFL to seeing some actual competition waiting for them by the time their own quarterback is done. 

Of course, all three of these teams usually suck at everything, so it shouldn't be a big deal.