Patriots

Belichick did indeed write letter to Trump

Belichick did indeed write letter to Trump

CSN New England confirmed this morning that Bill Belichick did indeed drop a note to Donald Trump on Monday. 

The Republican presidential hopeful, speaking in Manchester, New Hampshire on Monday night said he had the backing of both the Patriots head coach and quarterback Tom Brady. 

Trump, then read the Belichick letter onstage:

"Congratulations on a tremendous campaign. You have dealt with an unbelievable slanted and negative media, and have come out beautifully – beautifully. You’ve proved to be the ultimate competitor and fighter. Your leadership is amazing. I have always had tremendous respect for you, but the toughness and perseverance you have displayed over the past year is remarkable. Hopefully tomorrow’s election results will give the opportunity to make America great again. Best wishes for great results tomorrow.

Bill"

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Given the nationwide loathing of the Patriots, it's hard to imagine the Belichick backing will help Trump carry assorted states that hate all things Patriot. But the imprimatur certainly won't hurt in the land of Live Free or Die. 

49ers' George Kittle likely will break this Rob Gronkowski record in NFC title game

49ers' George Kittle likely will break this Rob Gronkowski record in NFC title game

Former New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski owns several NFL records, and one of them is likely to be broken Sunday when the San Francisco 49ers take on the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game.

49ers tight end George Kittle has become arguably the best tight end in the league, and his unique blend of great size, strength and overall football talent have drawn many comparisons to Gronkowski.

Kittle is very close to breaking one of Gronkowski's records in Sunday's matchup at Levi's Stadium. In fact, he needs just 26 receiving yards to do it. Here are the details, per NFL Research:

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Kittle finished the 2019 regular season with 85 receptions for 1,083 yards and five touchdowns. These are pretty good stats, but he was mostly ineffective as a receiver in the NFC Divisional Round versus the Minnesota Vikings. Kittle caught only three passes for 16 yards in the win over Minnesota. Kittle, like Gronk, is a tremendous run blocker, and that's really where he made his mark against the Vikings.

Gronkowski not only put up Hall of Fame-worthy stats, he also shined brightest in the playoffs. He tallied 81 receptions for 1,163 yards and 12 touchdowns in 16 career postseason games. Kittle is a tremendous player, but he cannot be compared to Gronkowski until he starts dominating when the stakes are highest.

Jimmy Garoppolo praises Tom Brady's preparation, consistency

Jarrett Stidham focused on improving during 2020 offseason, not Tom Brady's free agency

Jarrett Stidham focused on improving during 2020 offseason, not Tom Brady's free agency

Tom Brady is set to hit unrestricted free agency for the first time in his 20-year NFL career. While the legendary quarterback could return to the New England Patriots in 2020, there's no guarantee that he will.

If Brady doesn't return, the Patriots will have a number of ways to address the quarterback position. They could target a free agent passer in one of the strongest free agent quarterback classes ever. They could spend a draft pick on one in a strong 2020 quarterback draft class.

Or they could roll with the only other quarterback option they currently have on their roster, 2019 fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham.

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Stidham spent his rookie season backing up Brady and played a grand total of 15 snaps for the squad. He completed 2-of-4 passes for 14 yards and threw an interception in that action.

Despite his relative inexperience, Stidham would theoretically be the next man up at quarterback if Brady leaves. But moving forward, he isn't thinking a lot about Brady's impending free agency. He's more focused on what he can do to improve heading into his second year.

"Right now, I can't really think too much about [Brady's free agency]. I have to worry about what I need to do to prepare to enhance my game, to learn as much as I possibly can," Stidham said per ESPN's Mike Reiss. "That's the biggest thing I've focused on, making a big stride from Year 1 to Year 2."

That said, Stidham did call his time learning as Brady's backup "priceless" and said that Brady is "phenomenal" in all facets of the game.

"He's a phenomenal teammate, a phenomenal person, obviously a phenomenal player," Stidham said per Reiss. "There was just so much that I got to learn from him. He was obviously very open to me about stuff that he's thought about the game of football, and stuff like that. It was great. I can't speak highly enough of that guy."

Perhaps Stidham's time learning from Brady has served him well. After all, Patriots fans haven't seen him in action since Week 7 and Phil Perry reported that Stidham was impressing his teammates and coaches alike in late-December.

But is he ready to be a starter? The Patriots moves this offseason will surely tell us more about their thoughts on that.

The Patriots won't definitively know what Brady's plans are for 2020 until he puts pen to paper somewhere. In the interim, it's at least encouraging that Stidham is putting in the effort behind the scenes to improve after spending a year learning from Brady.