Giardi: Is Gilmore dissatisfied with the way he’s been used?

Giardi: Is Gilmore dissatisfied with the way he’s been used?

Bill Belichick is not the most outgoing fellow, even in the best of times. So, you can only imagine what the Patriots coach was like on his Monday morning conference call with the local media following Sunday’s 33-30 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

A root canal would have been more pleasant, for both inquisitors and the man on the other end of the line. Belichick was terse at times, fiery at others. And when it came to one of the biggest free-agent signings in franchise history, Belichick was more slippery than a lugnut bathed in axle grease.


 You see, Gilmore hasn’t missed many snaps this year. In fact, the only snaps of consequence he missed came two Sundays ago versus the Texans. We were told he was dehydrated. A quick pit stop in the locker room remedied that situation and Gilmore played a better part of the second half. 

Then, there was yesterday. Gilmore was bound to the sidelines to open the third quarter, Eric Rowe getting the nod opposite Malcolm Butler. Rowe was in Gilmore's spot. It looked like a performance-related decision, especially in light of Gilmore’s eventful and unproductive first half. It took that one play for Rowe to re-injure his groin and exit the game permanently but it had me wondering. So I asked Belichick that very question on the call. He boogied around it like he was auditioning for “Dancing with the Stars.”
“Well, we rotate a lot of people through the course of the game; linebackers, defensive linemen, defensive backs, so we play a lot of people every week,” he said, without a hint one way or another.
Gilmore came to Foxboro as a press/man corner. It’s in that scheme that the 27-year old former first-rounder has done his best work. Belichick and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia embrace physical corners. Look at the work Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner did in the 2014-15 championship season, or last season, when Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan were allowed to get handsy with receivers almost from day one. In a league where it’s harder and harder to play defense, the Pats seemed to spit at convention. We’ll play it our way and eventually, opposing offenses will make a mistake.
This year has been different. A lot more zone looks and coverages than man or press/man. We know the Pats have taken the long view before, maybe playing a little softer while trying to figure out their best means of attacking and finding success. But Gilmore hasn’t looked comfortable, and - as we’ve seen - communication breakdowns are aiding to what’s on pace to be one of the worst defenses Belichick has ever presided over. Long story short, are the Pats utilizing Gilmore in the best possible way?
“We do what we think is best to help the team win,” said Belichick. “That’s what we try to do. We try to win games.”
Gilmore has done his best to fit in. He’s said the right things. He put the onus on himself, saying after the game he needed to get better with the on-field communication and do a better job seeing what the rest of the secondary is seeing. But you can’t help but wonder if the player is dissatisfied with the way he’s been used. It’s not like Gilmore would be the first, and certainly not the last. 
At times, Gilmore butted heads with the coaching staffs in Buffalo. In his defense, he had to play for an organization that seems to change it’s mind every couple of years what they want to be and what they wanted to do. One would assume the Patriots did their due diligence although there were some reports that they didn’t legally tamper with Gilmore prior to free agency but then opened up the checkbook as soon as allowed by league rules. A couple of hours later, the corner was signed, sealed and delivered. Has he come as advertised?
“I don’t understand the question,” said Belichick when I asked. Ok, let me simplify it: Has Gilmore been the player that you thought he was when you signed him?
“I mean, look, I think everybody on our team has room for improvement; coaches, players, all of us, so you can put everybody into that group. We all need to work harder. We all need to do a better job,” he said. 
Belichick’s not kidding about that, and it will be interesting to see how he goes about it, especially with regards to his highly-paid but inconsistently performing cornerback.

'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.