Patriots

Report: Revis return to the Patriots looks 'increasingly likely'

Report: Revis return to the Patriots looks 'increasingly likely'

Darrelle Revis put together the worst year of his career in 2016 and was released by the Jets despite being guaranteed $6 million next season. The team was willing to pay him to simply stay home. 

A return to the NFL hasn't been ruled out for the 31-year-old and seven-time Pro Bowler, though, and multiple people are reportedly under the impression that Revis will make his way back to New England.

According to Jason La Canfora, a Revis return to the Patriots "looks increasingly likely." One personnel person told La Canfora that he believes Revis can still play, but his team is convinced he's headed to New England.

"We did our work on him," the personnel man told La Canfora. "He can still play. He can cover. He doesn’t have that long speed anymore; he’s not going to cover a No. 1 receiver deep. But he can cover in tight spaces and he has great instincts. The film is not as bad as some would have you believe. He’s a perfect fit in that quarters scheme Belichick runs, and they have the kind of safeties who can help him out, too. We’re convinced he’s going back to New England. It just makes too much sense."

The Patriots could have some depth concerns at corner should Malcolm Butler play elsewhere in 2017. They signed Stephon Gilmore to be their top bread-winner at the position, and they have Eric Rowe, Cyrus Jones and Jonathan Jones rounding out the depth chart.

Revis could be an attractive option to potentially fit into the mix as a top-three guy at the position, but does he still have the ability to reach that level? Quarterbacks had a rating of 104.2 when targeting him last season, and he has admitted he was in less than peak physical condition for the 2016 season. 

Bill Belichick typically likes to field motivated teams that are hungry to compete for championships. After Revis won his title in 2014 with the Patriots, he earned a huge pay day from the Jets and seemed less than fully-motivated in his second season after returning to the team that drafted him. 

Revis insisted recently that he still wants to play. 

"The hunger is definitely there," Revis told reporters last week after he had assault charges dismissed in Pittsburgh. "It’s just passion and love for the game. I’m excited for the season to start. I can focus on what team I can fit with and the best system."

Some believe a move to safety is coming for Revis, but the Patriots are well-stocked there with Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung and Duron Harmon as their top-three options.

Tom Brady on pace for huge numbers, so why is he down on his play of late?

Tom Brady on pace for huge numbers, so why is he down on his play of late?

FOXBORO -- Tom Brady is on pace for 5,224 yards passing in 2017, just a shade under his total from his career-high in 2011. He's on track to have 34 touchdowns and just five picks. Barring a continued run of ridiculous efficiency from Kansas City's Alex Smith, those numbers would be MVP-caliber in all likelihood.

But Brady's not thrilled with the way he's played of late. What gives? 

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In his past two games, he hasn't thrown the football as consistently as he would have liked. After starting the season with a 10-to-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio, he's 3-to-2 in the last couple of weeks. His accuracy has been at times pinpoint (as it was on his 42-yard completion to Brandin Cooks to help set up a Rob Gronkowski score against the Jets), but it has also been uncharacteristically erratic.

He was picked deep down the middle of the field by Buster Skrine last week, but the more concerning throw may have been the quick out-route to Gronkowski that Skrine dropped for what should have been an easy interception. Brady missed Phillip Dorsett on what looked like it could have been a long touchdown with Dorsett running free behind the defense. He threw behind Chris Hogan twice in the game, one of which opened up Hogan to a rib-shot that landed him on the injury report this week.

Against the Jets, Brady was not sacked and he was hit only four times -- a light day for him compared to other weeks this season when he's been battered. Yet he still completed just under 53 percent of his passes for 257 yards and a season-low 6.76 yards per attempt. 

"Well, I've got to hit the open . . . If the throws are there I've got to be able to make them," he said on Friday. "It's disappointing when I don't. To me, it just comes back to technique and fundamentals and making sure everything is working and that's the consistent daily thing that you're working on. I'm always working on my accuracy.

"I wish I hit them all. I'm capable of hitting them all and I need to be able to do that. I said last week that some of these games wouldn't be as close if I was playing better in the red area. I think some of those missed opportunities in the pass game with me hitting guys would really help our team. Hopefully, I can do a better job for this team."

Brady is no longer listed on the Patriots injury report, but he dealt with a left shoulder injury against both the Bucs and the Jets, and it's worth wondering if that somehow impacted how his passes traveled in those games. Balance is key in Brady's world, and even though he can make flat-footed throws look easy, perhaps an injury to his front side limited his ability to place the ball where he wanted. 

Keeping Brady upright could go a long way in helping the 40-year-old regain his form from Weeks 2-4 when he didn't dip below a 104 quarterback rating. Bill Belichick said earlier this week that part of the reason the Jets pass-rush wasn't quite as effective as others they'd faced this year was his team's ability to run the ball. Productive rushing attempts on first and second down mean manageable third downs, which mean shorter pass attempts. Those of course, in theory, lead to less time standing in the pocket and a healthier quarterback.

"It's great," Brady said of his team's recent surge running the football. "I mean, to be able to run the ball consistently in the NFL is important for every offense. It does take a lot of . . . I wouldn't say pressure, it's just production. If 400 yards of offense is what you're looking for and you can get 150 from your running game, the 250 has got to come in the passing game. If you're getting 50 yards in the rushing game then it means you've got to throw for more.

"I don't think it's pressure it's just overall you're going to get production in different areas and the backs are a big part of our offense and handing the ball off to them is an easy way for us to gain yards if we're all coordinated and doing the right thing. But those guys are running hard. The line is doing a great job up front finishing blocks and so forth."

Against the Falcons and their talented -- though underperforming -- offense this weekend, the running game could be key. First, it could help the Patriots defense by controlling possession and keeping Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman off the field. Next are the obvious advantages for the signal-caller who could use a stress-free day in the pocket to help him solve his recent accuracy issues. 

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