Patriots

Shananan: Brady influence on Jimmy G may have created QB monster

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Shananan: Brady influence on Jimmy G may have created QB monster

Jimmy G, all new and shiny to San Francisco 49ers fans, continues to captivate after leading his team to consecutive wins.

With his first home start coming this weekend against Tennessee, there were some insightful questions posed to head coach Kyle Shanahan about Garoppolo’s style this week. What did he take from Tom Brady? What does he do differently?

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It’s interesting to read Shanahan’s take on it, particularly Garoppolo’s leadership ability.

Asked about that in relation to Brady, Shanahan said, “Anytime you get an opportunity to hang around someone and just watch their process and how they go about their job, especially someone like Tom, where you have the guy who’s arguably the best of all time and has had an unbelievable career, I think it’s been great for Jimmy to watch how he carries himself.

“When you’re a quarterback you’re almost CEO of the company to a certain degree,” Shanahan continued. “I think people look at Tom that way. There’s just this certain way to act and handle things and talk to people. Jimmy is very good at that stuff. I’m sure it helped getting to watch someone who’s probably the best at it.”

That’s what’s jumped off the screen to me watching Garoppolo. The ability to divorce himself from the chaos of pressure situations and manage the team and his communication with the sidelines. That he’s seen the best in the business to do it – Brady and the New England coaching staff – has to make him feel empowered to take charge. It may not be a stretch to say that he’s probably as adept as anyone on the Niners coaching staff at doing it because of the level at which he was taught and the reps he took.

Shanahan also talked about Garoppolo being able to conquer his “quick-twitch” tendencies as a scrambler because he saw the rewards Brady reaped by staying stationary as much as he could.

“They are wired two totally different ways as athletes,” said Shanahan. “Tom is a slower moving guy, which gets him a lot of patience in the pocket and he stays there very calm and I think that’s also how he moves naturally, where Jimmy is more a quick-twitch guy who sometimes it’s harder to get those type of guys to slow down and be patient in the pocket, because they just move faster.
 
“I think that’s what has been impressive with Jimmy and I’m sure he does get that from watching a guy like Tom do it,” he added. “You want both in your game. Jimmy does have both. That’s what allows him to stay in the pocket and let things develop. When there isn’t one he does have a chance to get outside of there and extend the play.”
 
Shanahan alludes to the possibility that Garoppolo may not be as disciplined had he not apprenticed behind Brady.  
 
“Sometimes the better athlete you are growing up, you don’t sit in that pocket very long. You drop back and you just run. Usually, you’re a better athlete than everyone else, so you just run around and get touchdowns and make plays and some guys go to college and continue to do that,” he said. “A lot of people win Heismans doing that kind of stuff.
 
“Eventually, you get to the NFL and you can’t always do that,” Shanahan said. “You have to learn how to sit in the pocket and let a play develop and I think that’s tough for guys who have been great athletes because it’s all about reps and you’ve just never had to do it before. Then you’ve got some guys, to me, like [former NFL QB] Peyton [Manning], probably Tom, I don’t think they were ever that fast or running around on a football field just making plays with their legs. I’m sure since Pop Warner and early on, they learned to sit in that pocket and go through progressions and do stuff. That’s why those guys are a little bit better at it when they get to the league, because they have been doing it their entire life and they don’t have to just learn versus NFL defenses. When you have both of that aspect, it definitely gives you a higher ceiling to be successful.”
 
As Garoppolo continues to have success, he will inevitably keep pushing the boundaries of what works and what doesn’t. Shanahan seems to expect that.
 
Asked about Gaoppolo as a risk-taker, he said, “He’s definitely taken some. So, we’ll see as this goes. You want guys to be aggressive and let it rip. You just don’t want guys to guess. You want guys to see it and believe it in and not hesitate and think about it and let it go.
 
“When guys do that, it usually gives them a chance to be great. It’s also going to give you some games where you have a lot of picks and stuff and you just didn’t see it right and it’s how you respond to those and what do you learn from them. Does it make you more gun-shy and do you get worse as it goes because of it? Or do you learn why you saw it wrong, why you made that pick and you get better? I think if you look at a lot of the great quarterbacks through all-time, a lot of them, especially early in their careers, they have had a lot of picks. They have had a lot of pick-sixes and stuff. Those guys learn from it and get better from it and the guys who don’t, it usually gets a lot worse.”
 
So far, it couldn’t be going much better for Garoppolo. Or Shanahan.

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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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