Patriots

Willie McGinest noticed chip on Tom Brady's shoulder from the beginning

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Willie McGinest noticed chip on Tom Brady's shoulder from the beginning

Maybe it’s revisionist history, but former Patriot Willie McGinest said he had an inkling about Tom Brady, all the way back to Brady’s rookie year in 2000.

“He didn’t talk a lot but he had a chip on his shoulder, “ said McGinest, who was at the Pats joint practice with the Jaguars as an employee of NFL Network .”He felt like he was overlooked in college, which he was. He outperformed the guy {Drew Henson} who played a little more than him so when Tommy got his opportunity on this level, he wasn’t going to look back.”

17 years later, Brady is still carrying that chip. It’s something he - and the organization - refuse to grow complacent. McGinest saw that up close as a player under Bill Belichick and with Brady for six seasons, and still sees that same edge during the 2nd week in August here in 2017.

“Starting off as an underdog, you always keep that in the back of your mind,” he said, “and I think this franchise and this organization has been so good over the last decade plus because no matter how much success we’ve had - or they are still having - you find ways to motivate and turn yourself into the underdogs. I think that’s hard to instill with so much success but they’ve been about to do that here and it’s special.”

We’ve heard Brady talk numerous times of the last couple years about his desire to play well into his 40’s. We’ve discussed and debated it on television and the radio and in print and on blogs. McGinest smiles at the notion.

“I see a lot of motivation now because people keep throwing that number around {40} and all the players i’ve talked to, or people who really understand the game of football, we don’t really measure the games by numbers,” he said. “It’s more about production, what you’re doing on the field. It’s easy to talk about his age, but if you look at a player who’s involved, who keeps getting better, who’s setting records in the Super Bowl, the biggest game of his life, and people are comparing him to nobody now because he’s accomplished so much.”

“At the age of 40, he was still 1-2 for the MVP award, which he probably should have got. He was voted by players in our top 100 - voted by the players, not us - they voted Tom the number one player in the league. How could you be talking about age, or when he’s going to retire, or when he’s going to be done or any of that stuff? i just think you look at the production, look at what he’s doing on the field. I’m not sitting here saying he’s gonna play another 10 years but I don’t think we should start talking about retirement any time soon.”

We will continue to do, but it’s more than likely an exercise in futility.

EX PATS PODCAST: Recapping Patriots win in AFC title game over Jags

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EX PATS PODCAST: Recapping Patriots win in AFC title game over Jags

1:45 - Mike Giardi and Dan Koppen break down the Patriots comeback win over Jaguars in the AFC Championship Game to advance to Super Bowl LII.

4:20 - Leonard Fournette not looking like himself but Blake Bortles making the right plays against the Patriots defense.

7:40 - A couple of mistakes from the Jaguars, punting before 2 minute warning which gave the Patriots an extra timeout, and kneeling at the end of the 1st half with 2 timeouts and 50 seconds remaining.

12:10 - Dion Lewis struggling to find room and make anyone miss against the Jaguars defense.

13:20 - How serious Tom Brady's thumb injury was and if it had any affect on how he was able to throw the ball.

16:05 - Brandin Cooks has his best game as a Patriot, and how he was able to draw two pass interference penalties against the Jaguars secondary.

18:45 - If the hit by Barry Church on Rob Gronkowski was a dirty hit and if it is better to hit a receiver up high or down low.

24:25 - Danny Amendola with several clutch catches, once again coming back big in the postseason for the Patriots.

Cooks shines on his biggest stage yet

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Cooks shines on his biggest stage yet

FOXBORO -- You’ve always wanted something more from Brandin Cooks. I mean, 65 catches for almost 11-hundred yards is nothing to turn your nose up at yet we have.  But there’s something very un-Patriot like about his style.

We’ve grown accustom to seeing smaller receivers who fight for every inch, from Troy Brown to Wes Welker to Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola. They would scrap and claw to get that extra yard, sometimes risking their own health. Cooks isn’t that guy, despite a similar build of the aforementioned players. He’s a willing blocker, but as a runner will go out of his way to avoid contact. I wouldn’t say that changed in Sunday’s AFC Championship game. He’s still not running slants or crossing routes with any regularity or success, but the 23-year-old wide receiver shined his brightest in his biggest moment and is now headed to the Super Bowl.

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“It’ s a blessing,” he said pausing briefly before repeating “It’s a blessing.”

Cooks himself helped kick start a sluggish Patriots offense late in the second quarter with his team trailing 14-3. Almost nothing had gone right for the Pats since putting up a field goal on the game’s opening drive. With 1:28 on the clock, Tom Brady threw a pretty pass to Rob Gronkowski running down the seam. He appeared to make the catch for a brief moment before safety Barry Church knocked both the ball from Gronk’s hands and Gronk from the game. Church was flagged for unnecessary roughness, putting the ball on Jacksonville’s 40 yard line. But with Gronk staggering toward the sideline, you couldn’t help but feel a slight air of “oh bleep” in the air. Enter Cooks. 

Jags cornerback A.J. Bouye appeared as if he was going to get up in Cooks’ face before backing away just prior to the snap, surrendering some 8 or 9 yards off the line of scrimmage. But with that elite speed, Cooks got on top of Bouye quickly, forcing some contact. Instead of whimpering through the physicality, Cooks pushed back and pushed forward, again causing Bouye to use his hands. This time though the ball was already in the air and out came the penalty flags. A 32-yard pass interference call had the Pats sitting pretty at the Jags 13. Brady went back to Cooks on the very next play, picking up 12 more yards before James White crashed into the end zone for a touchdown. We had ourselves a game again, 

“You just gotta keep fighting {in those moments} because you can never put it into the hands of hoping you’re going to get a PI {pass interference},” said Cooks. “You just want to fight an make sure you get the ball or no one does.”

After his flawless first half, Cooks let one slip through his hands just as it appeared the Pats were poised to answer a Jacksonville field goal with points of their own. Instead, isolated one-on-one with a linebacker, the lithe wideout couldn’t reel in a potential big gainer and the Pats drive stalled. As the game wore on, you couldn’t help but circle back to that drop and wonder if that was an ominous sign. 

“Obviously you want to make every catch,” said Cooks of the play. “I didn’t but had to keep playing. I hoped I’d work to get another chance….Tom trusts me to put the ball in my area and let me make a play.”

It came to start the Pats’ second touchdown drive of the game, this one not beginning until 12:03 remaining on the game clock. Cooks’ speed forced Bouye to overreact, turning his hips and committing to a deep route. Instead, Cooks’ slapped on the brakes and hauled in an 18-yarder, giving him the first 100-yard receiving game of his brief playoff career. 

“That doesn’t mean anything,” said Cooks. “Winning is everything.”

Cooks didn’t make any more catches the remainder of the game, but his speed influenced the Jags to switch Bouye off him and put Pro Bowler Jalen Ramsey on. Cooks got Ramsey too, drawing a 36-yard pass interference call later in the 4th. It didn’t lead to points but did help flip the field which eventually did lead the game-winning touchdown.

“It’s football,” he said. “We knew it’s not going to be easy. You’re talking about a great team, one of the best defenses. We knew it was gonna be hard. We knew we had to play 60 minutes of football. Not get too high. Not get too low. Just play till the clock says 0:00.”

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