The Daily Thread: Is the AFC East finally up for grabs?

The Daily Thread: Is the AFC East finally up for grabs?

What are we kicking around in our virtual newsroom these days? The digital editors at NBCSportsBoston.com will compile the best from the daily e-mail exchanges amongst our on-air personalities, insiders and producers from both “Arbella Early Edition” and “Boston Sports Tonight” so you can get a sense of what’s on our minds.

Jeff Capotosto, Producer, "Arbella Early Edition" (9:35 a.m ET) -- Rank the quarterbacks in the AFC East. Gary Tanguay made the case he could see Jarrett Stidham being the best out of Sam Darnold, Josh Allen and Ryan Fitzpatrick. I was a big Darnold fan but the Jets and Adam Gase have done everything possible to stunt his growth. Josh Allen has Stefon Diggs but he’s still Josh Allen. He ranked dead last in completion percentage last season and I don’t see that improving. Ryan Fitzpatrick has never appeared in the postseason and there is a reason for that. Maybe Gary is right.

I was going through Todd McShay’s Round 2 NFL mock draft and couldn’t find the Patriots and then realized we gave it away for Mohamed Sanu. With all the receivers in this year’s draft, that trade looks worse by the day. In fact, the Patriots only have one selection in the first 86 picks. I keep hearing about a one-year rebuild. Could this rebuild be much longer than that?

Would you be against the Patriots drafting another receiver in the first round? I wouldn’t hate it. What do you expect from N'Keal Harry, Sanu and Jakobi Meyers next season? Does Julian Edelman have another great season in him?

Steve Hamblin, Associate Producer (10:44 a.m. ET) -- We’ve spent the better part of two decades trying to talk ourselves into someone having a chance at challenging the Patriots -- or just outright dismissing it before the season even begins. So if we’re going to have a tradeoff for not being able to talk about their Super Bowl chances, at least the regular season is going to be compelling again.

In all seriousness, when was the last time we entered a season and didn’t expect the Patriots to get a first round bye and be playing in the AFCCG? Heck, two years ago I had a buddy plan his once-a-year trip from Florida for the AFC Championship. The cockiness (warranted btw) to do that is unbelievable, but it was our reality for almost 20 years. Does it suck to know we won’t be making Super Bowl plans this year? Yeah. Will it be fun to have 16 games of interest -- and not maybe 3 or 4 -- during the regular season? Hell yeah.

Gary Tanguay, host, "Arbella Early Edition" (11:59 a.m. ET) -- Hey, on the AFC East quarterback ranking maybe I am right. This re-build will take longer than a year, by the way.

When we say rebuild in regard to the Patriots does it have the same meaning as it would for another team? When I think of rebuild, in general, I think of 1-15. I cannot see NE dropping that far. A rebuild to me is 8-8/7-9, which for other teams would be labeled a reboot. See what I am sayin’? OK, since the Patriots set the high bar of winning titles a .500 record seems like 1-15 in comparison. Got it, good.

Trenni Kusnierek, host, "Arbella Early Edition" (12:36 p.m. ET) -- What is about Josh Allen that always has the national talking heads sticking with him and saying he’s close? Is it his size? His so-called upside? He did improve his TD-to-INT ratio substantially last year, so there might be something there. At the very least he’s two seasons ahead of Stidham so for at least 2020, I think he’ll be better.

Phil Perry, Patriots Insider (12:36 p.m. ET) -- I don't hate the idea of the Dolphins going all in to get Joe Burrow. He's the clear No. 1 quarterback in the class according to every evaluator. If they want to use Patriots standards with their picks, Tua isn't really a fit. Smallish. Does not have a big arm. Is not an uber athlete. He's closer to Justin Herbert than Burrow in terms of career outlook. He's much more polished. Herbert has much better physical traits. If the Dolphins plan on being halfway decent next season after spending all the money they did in free agency, this is their chance to get to No. 1. Go do it. Be aggressive. (Tua also reportedly was totally taken aback by the Dolphins not bowing down to him in their official meeting at the Combine. He thought it was going to be a big love in. I could see Flores hating that.)

Michael Holley, host, "Boston Sports Tonight" (12:49 p.m. ET) -- I love the tweet from Gil Brandt. It allows us to have a right-now conversation (can Bill Belichick’s drafting make the Patriots contenders sooner -- this year -- than we think?) and a big-picture one: who are Belichick’s top five draft picks ever? As I think about it, it’s a really difficult question. Just think of a coach who’s drafted three Super Bowl MVPs, yet none of them in the first round.

The AFC East. It’s 2002 again, people. That was the year three teams in the division went 9-7, with the winner (J-E-T-S) winning on tiebreakers. It’s gonna be that type of division. My first thought is that Buffalo is the best team. But what makes me think the Bills know how to handle being the favorite? That was one of the sneaky remarkable things about the Pats over the years, in the division and at large: they always knew everyone was coming for them, week after week, and they almost always delivered. That’s hard to do. I don’t know if the mentality of Buffalo matches the talent of Buffalo.

The Daily Thread: Plenty of opinions on Jarrett Stidham as the future

The Daily Thread: Plenty of opinions on Jarrett Stidham as the future

What are we kicking around in our virtual newsroom these days? The digital editors at NBCSportsBoston.com will compile the best from the daily e-mail exchanges amongst our on-air personalities, insiders and producers from both “Arbella Early Edition” and “Boston Sports Tonight” so you can get a sense of what’s on our minds.

Jeff Capotosto, Producer, "Arbella Early Edition" (8:41 a.m. ET) -- The Pats appear to be going with Jarrett Stidham. I was watching the "Lombardi Line" yesterday morning (not quite "Tiger King," I know) and Mike Lombardi said Stidham would have been a Top 10 pick if he stayed at Baylor and is more talented than a lot of QBs drafted in the first round over the last few years. We all know Belichick and Lombardi are tight and Lombardi is sometimes used to get a message out. But what is Lombardi’s goal here? Simply to hype up Stidham? Drive the price down on Cam Newton or another free agent? Make people think the Pats won't draft a QB in first round?

Mel Kiper still has the Patriots drafting Jordan Love in his latest mock draft. Should the Pats draft a QB in Round 1? Also Peter King believes they should give serious thought to signing Cam Newton.

Adam Hart, Manager, Creative Content (9:11 a.m. ET) -- Add into your Lombardi equation is that his son is the assistant to the quarterbacks coach and probably wants to puff up his resume as the guy who worked with Stidham last year.

All those years they had Logan Mankins and paid him well, never won a Super Bowl. That’s why on the surface I’d say see ya to Joe Thuney. But one year of big money for Thuney could help two transitions: from o-line legend Scarnecchia to the next guy and from Brady to Stidham. I’d be fine paying that if it means Stidham survives the year.

Trenni Kusnierek, host, "Arbella Early Edition" (9:47 a.m. ET) -- I guess the question I would have is: will they try to win now with Stidham or rebuild around him? If it’s the latter, why not trade Thuney and Gilmore? Unless our football guys think Thuney will be an anchor on the line for years to come. That would be my one hesitation. If you put a young, inexperienced QB behind a sub-par O-line he may never get the chance to really develop.

Gary Tanguay, host, "Arbella Early Edition" (10:00 a.m. ET) -- Stidham could be the best QB in the AFC East because of coaching. Do not trade Thuney.

Tom E. Curran, Patriots Insider (10:02 a.m. ET) -- What if Stidham can't get the Year 1/Year 2 bump because of the virtual lockdown? He's going to miss OTAs, minicamp, working with teammates. This is a underrated blow to his development. If Hoyer is the starter, is that a bad sign for Stidham?  Not necessarily. Save him from being humiliated/set up to fail. Let Hoyer take the bullets. Are people ready for this? Is Bill ready for this? This could be a significant dropoff from the annual 12-13 win seasons to a 5-8 win season. There's no ulterior motive for pumping up Stidham, in my opinion. As was said going into last year's draft (and coming out), he had the most "arm talent" in the group.

Anyone still talking about Cam Newton, I don't get it. Were you asleep for 20 years? They just did what they did with the 199th overall pick, developed a Div. II second-rounder into a very good starter ... they don't want no "name" quarterbacks. They want no names.

Phil Perry, Patriots Insider (10:16 a.m. ET) -- I wrote about Lombardi's love for Stidham a week or two ago. He called him "their future" on his podcast. He's still close to BB, obviously, but I think the bigger connection is his son is the assistant QBs coach. Mick Lombardi spent all last year with Stidham in the Jerry Schuplinski role. (JS used to be attached at the hip with Garoppolo, Brissett. Young guys took Pats Offense 101 as rookies, while Brady did his thing. Stidham and Kessler did the same thing last year.) Maybe Lombardi is trying to pump up Stidham to throw people off the scent of Pats taking Jordan Love in the first round or something? Like Adam's thought of Lombardi trying to help pump up Mick's resume. If it works out, great for Mick. If it doesn't, no one's looking at Mick as the reason why. I also don't think it's beyond Lombardi to just try to get out ahead of this and make himself look good if it works out. "Bill knew the kid was good and so did I. No one believed, but I did! Love you, Bill!"

I've talked to a number of people in scouting who love Stidham's arm/athleticism. There's a chance he's good. There's a chance he isn't. Using him as the starter isn't a guarantee that they're "Tanking for Trevor." If it works out, great. If it doesn't, then you're in range to go get Lawrence (or Justin Fields, who I think is better).

Michael Holley, host, Boston Sports Tonight (12:30 p.m. ET) -- I think the Patriots are at the point, with their collective age, that they shouldn’t draft for need. Why do I say that? As I look at their roster, I think they have one, maybe two, unquestionably great players: Gilmore and Thuney. I guess you could add Slater, but you know what I mean. Gilmore is 30, and even the great corners start to slip at 31, 32. They need that first-round pick to be an awesome player, not necessarily a “system fit” or “fills the gaping hole here ...” Nah. Give me the highest rated guy on your board -- unless it’s a running back -- which I don’t want to pick there.

Tom Giles, host, "Boston Sports Tonight" (2:11 p.m ET) -- I don't have a problem with drafting best talent available considering their entire roster needs an injection of youth.  I wouldn't mind if they loaded up defensively, especially with this shortened off-season.  Integrating new offensive players will be far more difficult than integrating new defensive pieces.  

Three Patriots Super Bowls among FOX Sports' Sunday afternoon re-airings

Three Patriots Super Bowls among FOX Sports' Sunday afternoon re-airings

While football Sundays aren't supposed to be back until the fall, with the sports void created by the coronavirus pandemic, FOX Sports is jumping on the classic games train in the next few weeks with Sunday afternoon re-airings of past Super Bowls, including three involving the Patriots - one good and two...not-so good.

The games are also being re-aired on FOXSports1 on Thursday and Friday nights.

It kicks off this Sunday at 3 on FOX with the Patriots' historic comeback win over the Falcons in Super Bowl LI. 

On Easter Sunday, April 12, FOX will show the Patriots' Super Bowl XLII loss to the New York Giants, ending New England's bid for a perfect 19-0 season, and on Sunday, April 26, the Patriots' loss to the Packers in Super Bowl XXXI will be re-aired.

The full schedule for NFL games on FOX and FS1:

Sunday, 3 p.m.: Super Bowl LI, Patriots vs. Falcons, FOX
Thursday, April 2, 8 p.m.: 2018 Divisional Playoff, Minnesota Vikings at New Orleans Saints, FS1
Friday, April 3, 7 p.m.: Super Bowl LI, Patriots vs. Falcons, FS1
Sunday, April 5, 3 p.m.: Super Bowl XLV, Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Packers, FOX
Thursday, April 9, 8 p.m.: 2010 regular season, Philadelphia Eagles at Giants, FS1
Friday, April 10, 7 p.m.: Super Bowl XLV, Steelers vs. Packers, FS1
Sunday, April 12, 3 p.m.: Super Bowl XLII, Patriots vs. Giants, FOX
Thursday, April 16, 8 p.m.: 2017 Divisional Playoff: Packers at Dallas Cowboys, FS1
Friday, April 17, 7 p.m.: Super Bowl XLII, Patriots vs. Giants, FS1
Sunday, April 19, 3 p.m.: Super Bowl XXXIII, Denver Broncos vs. Falcons, 3 p.m., FOX
Thursday, April 23, 8 p.m.: 2010 NFC Championship, Vikings at Saints, FS1
Friday, April 24, 7 p.m.: Super Bowl XXXIII, Denver Broncos vs. Falcons, FS1
Sunday, April 26, 3 p.m.: Super Bowl XXXI, Patriots vs. Packers, FOX 
Thursday, April 30, 8 p.m.: 2015 NFC Championship, Packers at Seattle Seahawks
Friday, May 1, 7 p.m.: Super Bowl XXXI, Patriots vs. Packers, FS1