Patriots

#FridayBag: Farewell, Jimmy G Edition

#FridayBag: Farewell, Jimmy G Edition

Each week, Tom E. Curran, Phil Perry and Mike Giardi take your Patriots questions in a joint mailbag, or #FridayBag as it’s come to be known. Giardi takes a bye during this bye week, but Curran and Perry aren’t sitting this one out. 

Got a question for the trio? Tweet it using the hashtag #FridayBag and they’ll do their best to answer it. On to this week’s edition:

TC: They wouldn’t have gotten anything. Every team would have known that Garoppolo was headed for free agency in early March. Why pay for something you can bid on later. It’s not a terrible question and maybe the Patriots could have gotten that second-rounder in February but that’s not a dice-roll worth playing, in my opinion.

TC: I don’t know where I’ve made Bill Belichick “look like a genius” in this. The Patriots had a bad hand. If they traded Garoppolo in the spring and Brady got hurt or dipped, they’d have been screwed. If they trade him now, they get a diminished return and kept him around as insurance they didn’t really need. If they auctioned him around the league, maybe they’d have gotten more but my sense on that is Belichick WANTS to see Garoppolo do well and felt he owed it to him to put him in a decent spot. Additionally, he didn’t want the attention that a “FOR SALE” sign hung on Jimmy would have attracted so he quietly sent him to SF. If they franchised him, they would have been on the hook for $25 million if/when Garoppolo signed the thing and the roster would have to be revamped in order to keep a trade chip when a QB-loaded draft was approaching. They have a bad hand because they were smart enough to draft Garoppolo and do a great job developing him but they were even smarter 18 years ago when they drafted Brady. You pay car insurance, right? If you don’t get in a crash by the time the year runs out, did you get fleeced? I mean, think of all the money you spent. Same thing.

TC: That was the perfect way to split the baby. Jimmy hates the cold though. It was a no-go.

TC: Hey Jeff, I would venture there was thought. But the level at which Brady is playing, the stickiness of trading the greatest quarterback ever while he’s still putting up numbers and the fact this team is still competing for a Super Bowl annually meant it never rose to the level of “serious thought.” Brady’s dip has been too slow in coming for the team to contemplate moving on to a promising but unknown quantity. 

PP: The Patriots are in need of defensive tackles at the moment so Vincent Valentine would be a nice addition if and when he's able to return off of IR. He is sticking around the Foxboro area during the bye week as he continues to rehab. If he returns, that might mean fewer reps for players like Lawrence Guy or Malcom Brown, who've been used extensively through the first half of the season. Valentine's presence may also allow someone like Deatrich Wise, who has played inside occasionally, to spend more time on the edge. 

As far as McClellin goes, who he replaces will depend on how the Patriots use him. If he's viewed as an additional edge piece, maybe he sees some of Cassius Marsh's workload. If he's going to play off the line, David Harris could see his recent bump in play slide back down. 

PP: It's already evolving, Steve! Bill Belichick acknowledged that because his team is thin on the defensive line, they used their linebackers to supplement that group against the Chargers. That meant more linebackers getting up the field and into the line of scrimmage. We'll have a piece on the creativity in the front-seven hitting NBCSportsBoston.com this weekend. It's interesting stuff, and it'll take you back to 2014. 

Now, just to get to all the specific players you mention . . . here are my takes, quickly: Kyle Van Noy has taken on the Hightower role as hybrid end/'backer, it seems; McClellin's return may allow him to play a similar role and could cut into some of the workloads that players such as David Harris, Elandon Roberts, Marquis Flowers and Trevor Reilly have seen lately; Valentine isn't guaranteed to return, remember, since he's continuing to rehab and since the Patriots could opt to bring back Malcolm Mitchell instead. That hasn't been ruled out. Teams are only allowed to bring two players back off of IR, and McClellin should be the first. 

PP: It's close. Brady was 22 and (about) eight months old when he was drafted. He would have to play through his 44-year-old season (2021) to earn the "majority of my life in the NFL" thing. Pretty impressive considering quarterbacks between 2008 and 2014 had an average career length of less than three years, according to the Wall Street Journal. 

PP: Maybe, Mason, but I don't think so. The motivation will be there for Brady as long as he knows they're looking for the next guy. Which they are. The decision to draft Garoppolo was the just the air horn signaling the search was real.

PP: Real funny, Giardi! Just kidding. Of course, it's not him. His handle is @IllmissyouforeverJimJim10. Poor fella. First pick? I'd say the Browns get it for the second straight year. Just can't see them winning more than a couple by season's end. Think the Niners have the ability to win two or three, especially since their schedule includes the one-win Giants and the Watson-less, Watt-less, Mercilus-less Texans. 

PP: If there were, now would be the time to fill them. The bye week could be a valuable catch-up period, and so the fact that none of these are already in-house makes me think they won't be. 

PP: Yes. And keep an eye on the 2019 class while you're at it, Chris.


 

 

Speed to burn: Cooks, Brady team up to form most productive deep-ball combo

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Speed to burn: Cooks, Brady team up to form most productive deep-ball combo

The first came in the second quarter, when Brandin Cooks turned on afterburners to beat a Raiders double team and glide underneath a Tom Brady heave for 52 yards. The second came in the third quarter, on the third play from scrimmage of the second half, when Cooks faked an out-route, jetted past rookie corner Obi Melifonwu, and sped into the end zone to make the score 24-0. 

Both deep completions in New England's 33-8 win over Oakland just added to cumulative effect that Cooks has had on the Patriots offense since arriving before the season to become their top deep threat. 

Paired with Brady, Cooks has actually become the most productive deep threat in the NFL. 

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According to Pro Football Focus, Cooks leads all receivers with 431 yards on deep passes (throws that travel 20 yards or more down the field). In second place is Houston's DeAndre Hopkins with 313 yards. 

And Brady, who has long been more effective in the short-to-intermediate range than he has been deep, is now among the league leaders in creating explosive plays from the quarterback position. The Patriots are third in the NFL with 41 pass plays of 20 yards or more, and they are tied for second with nine plays of 40 yards or more. 

"You're always trying to work on that," Brady told WEEI's Kirk and Callahan Show of his team's deep passing game. "It's not one particular year [you work on it]. I think that's been a concerted effort by our entire offense, trying to make more explosive plays in the pass game. 

"Sometimes your offense is built differently. We actually have some guys now that can really get down the field so that becomes more of a point of emphasis. The way Brandin runs, the way that Chris Hogan runs, the way that Phillip Dorsett runs, they're very fast. You need to be able to take advantage of their skill set . . . 

"When we had David Patten we were throwing it deep. I mean, but David Patten didn't run a lot of short routes. I would say Brandin Cooks, in general, he doesn't run a lot of short routes. Everyone has a different role. If we can get by you, I think that's a good place to throw the ball. if we can't, we gotta figure out ways to throw it underneath and different weeks are going to call for different things based on the strengths of the defenses we're playing, too."

A week before beating the Raiders, against the Broncos and their talented corners, the Patriots had less luck pushing the ball down the field -- though they tried to hit Cooks deep multiple times. In Mexico City, Cooks matched up with a weaker secondary, and he wasn't at all slowed by the altitude, catching six passes in all for 149 yards and a score. 

Per PFF, Cooks has seen almost one third of his targets (30 percent) come on deep passes, which is the ninth-highest rate in the league. He's caught all 11 of his catchable deep passes, three of them accounting for scores.

"Obviously when you're throwing the ball 50-60 yards down the field," Brady said, "your chances of completion go down, but if you hit it, it ends up being a very explosive plays and you can change a lot of field position and get a defense really on their heels if they have to defend every blade of grass on the field." 

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Belichick remembers Glenn: 'A good person with good intentions'

Belichick remembers Glenn: 'A good person with good intentions'

Terry Glenn, the Patriots' top draft pick in 1996, died early Monday morning in a one-car accident in Irving, Texas. He was 43. 

Bill Belichick coached Glenn as an assistant with the Patriots during Glenn's rookie season. He was later Glenn's head coach in 2000 and 2001. Belichick traded Glenn to the Packers before the 2002 season after a tumultuous run in New England that involved legal trouble, injuries and clashes with the coaching staff.

During a conference call with reporters soon after the news of Glenn's death was published, Belichick remembered Glenn for his natural physical ability and "a good heart."

"I was pretty close with Terry," Belichick said, "and his rookie season was my first year here in '96, and so I had a lot of interaction with him and other people that were involved in his life and his upbringing separate from the Patriots. Terry's a very smart individual. Had a lot of, obviously, a lot of physical skill and talent. Could do a lot of things on the football field very naturally. And I think he was deep down inside a good person with good intentions and, you know, a good heart. Obviously it's very unfortunate. Very unfortunate passing. I mean, it's a sad day. Sad news."

According to reports, Glenn was with his fiancee at the time of the accident. She's being treated at a local hospital for unspecified injuries.