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.

QUICK SLANTS PODCAST: Belichick ignoring noise? Or trying to change the narrative?

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QUICK SLANTS PODCAST: Belichick ignoring noise? Or trying to change the narrative?

3:00 Why has Bill Belichick been so surprisingly positive of his team’s performance in tight wins?

6:30 Phil Perry breaks down what grades he gave the Patriots on his report card following the win over the Jets

15:00 Reaction to the Austin-Seferian Jenkins overturned touchdown, and what changes need to be made in the NFL replay system. 

23:00 Why was Patriots offensive line much more effective against Jets?

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

25:00 Patriots-Falcons preview, how did Falcons blow a 17 point lead to the Dolphins?

What's missing from Patriots? A defense that has a clue

What's missing from Patriots? A defense that has a clue

FOXBORO - We’re not quite at the point of fire and brimstone coming down from the skies, or 40 years of darkness, or even dogs and cats living together, but this Patriots season isn’t headed down the right path, despite a 4-2 record and the top spot in the AFC East. 

There are several elements that appear missing at this juncture - chief among them a defense that actually has a clue. Please don’t celebrate holding the Jets to 17 points - I’m looking at you, Dont’a Hightower. Josh McCown threw for just 194 yards against the Cleveland freakin’ Browns for goodness sake, but he got you for 354 and two scores?! Even the 2009 Patriots defense is offended by that.

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We’d be foolish to think the Pats can’t get this leaky unit fixed for reasons so obvious I won’t state them in this space so as not to waste my time or yours. We also know - long before Bill Belichick’s 6 1/2-minute explanation on the Monday conference call - that it's not supposed to be perfect right now. Actually, it’ll never be perfect. That’s not how this game works. 

Yet week after week, we see uncommon breakdowns and one defender looking at the next as if to say, “I thought you had him?” or more to the point, “what the hell were you doing?” It started Sunday at MetLife on the third play of the game. Malcolm Butler, playing 10 yards off Robby Anderson, looking as if he’s never played the position before, inexplicably turning his back on Anderson even though the wide receiver makes no real move to the post. That results in just about the easiest completion of McCown’s life, a 23-yarder on third-and-10. 

On the same series, on another third-and-long, the Pats rushed four and dropped seven into coverage. Defensive end Cassius Marsh continued his season-long trend of rushing so far upfield he ended up in Hoboken. With Deatrich Wise ridden outside on the opposite edge, McCown wisely stepped up and found prime real estate with New York City views. He wanted to throw and could have when the Pats fouled up a crossing route from the backside of the play. But with that much room to roam, McCown took off, scooting for a quick 16 yards and another first down.

Fittingly, that drive ended with a Jets touchdown on yet another dumb play, this one courtesy of Mr. Hit or Miss, Elandon Roberts. Channeling his inner Brandon Spikes, the second-year pro blew off his key and responsibility on third-and-goal from the 1, charging hard to the line. This, despite one of the most feeble play-action fakes you’ll see. In fact, I’m not even sure it was a real play-action fake. Anyway, score it as a touchdown to Austin Seferian-Jenkins and an indictment on David Harris, who apparently can’t vault past the erratic Roberts on the depth chart.

Similar to the week prior in Tampa, the Pats found better footing after that. They forced three straight three-and-outs in the second quarter and then helped turn the game when Butler intercepted an ill-advised throw by McCown just prior to the half. They got another turnover to start the third, with Butler coming off the edge on fourth-and-1 and forcing McCown into panic mode. The veteran QB fired an off-target throw to - get this - a wide open receiver who went uncovered on a drag route and Devin McCourty was gifted an interception.

But this group frowns on prosperity. It took a little-seen rule to prevent a Seferian-Jenkins touchdown in the fourth, and on the game’s final drive, the Pats allowed a 32-yard completion on fourth-and-12. Then, on what turned out to be the Jets final play, the Pats let Tavaris Cadet leak out of the backfield and run unchecked 20 yards down the field. Had McCown not soiled himself again, Gang Green would have had a first down and at least one crack at the end zone. Then, who knows what the heck happens?

It was just a season ago that the Patriots led the entire NFL in scoring defense. If you’ll recall, we spent a better part of the year wondering if that defense was championship quality. Turns out they were. Right now, we’re wondering once again if this defense is of that ilk, but through an entirely different prism. It’s on the players and staff to change the current outlook, or those cats and dogs will have to figure out their shared space.