Patriots

Goodell: NFL won't share this year's PSI numbers

nfl-commissioner-roger-goodell-72414.jpg

Goodell: NFL won't share this year's PSI numbers

SAN FRANCISCO -- You are Roger Goodell, NFL Commissioner.

You allowed more than $10 million of your bosses’ money to be spent on an investigation, court proceeding and appeal that left you looking like you didn’t understand seventh-grade science. You’ve also put an important portion of the Collective Bargaining Agreement in jeopardy as regards to discipline and cemented an already well-earned reputation for bullying and twisting the truth.

You now have numbers in hand that will either prove you were right all along, that the Patriots footballs measured (haphazardly) last January dropped so precipitously the results couldn’t be duplicated. Or you have numbers in hand that prove you threw up all over yourself.

What do you do with these numbers?

You pretend you never wanted anyone to see them.

On Tuesday, Goodell appeared on The Rich Eisen Show and, when asked about the PSI checks, replied, “What the league did this year was what we do with a lot of rules and policies designed to protect the integrity of the game, and that’s to create a deterrent effect.

“We do spot checks to prevent and make sure the clubs understand that we’re watching these issues,” he added. “It wasn’t a research study. They simply were spot checks. There were no violations this year. We’re pleased that we haven’t had any violations and we continue the work, obviously, to consistently and importantly enforce the integrity of the game and the rules that are designed to protect it.”

It’s funny, because in October, when I reached out to the league to ask about this, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said the league hadn’t decided yet how to disseminate its findings.

Not “if.” “How.”

This notion of “spot checks” was never even broached before Goodell opened his gob today.

Here’s how the NFL described its plan for checking footballs back in August:

“At designated games, selected at random, the game balls used in the first half will be collected by the [kicking ball coordinator] at halftime, and the League’s Security Representative will escort the KBC with the footballs to the Officials’ Locker room. During halftime, each game ball for both teams will be inspected in the locker room by designated members of the officiating and security crews, and the PSI results will be measured and recorded.  Once measured, those game balls will then be secured and removed from play.”

Does that sound like a damn spot check to you? Because, to me, it sounds like data gathering and evidence preservation. Spot check would be goosing every 33rd ball a ref comes in contact with every couple of weeks, giving a thumbs-up and tossing it back into play.

So the NFL got the numbers in its "spot checks" and Goodell is “pleased to report there are no violations this year.”

Reptilian.

How many were under 12.5? How much did they deflate in similar conditions to last January’s AFC Championship Game? How much did they inflate in the heat? Did any get into the 10 PSI range on really cold days?

This stuff was really important last January through September. Studies commissioned, investigations launched, reputations dragged along behind the NFL bus. Was it all worth it?

Of course it wasn’t. And that’s why you keep it all in the dark. 

Chris Simms: Patriots' Jarrett Stidham 'reminds me a little of Tony Romo'

Chris Simms: Patriots' Jarrett Stidham 'reminds me a little of Tony Romo'

Jarrett Stidham is expected to take over the New England Patriots offense in the 2020 NFL season, and he's getting rave reviews from teammates, former coaches and several members of the media.

Despite having thrown only four career regular season passes, Stidham impressed people with his work in training camp and the preseason last year, and in practices during the 2019 regular season.

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Where does he rank among NFL quarterbacks? NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms placed Stidham at No. 35 on his latest list. While that isn't very high, Simms had plenty of good things to say about the Patriots quarterback.

"First off, I loved (Stidham) coming out of college," Simms said. "I saw a lot of him in preseason last year and loved the way he looked. Really, when you look at him, there's nothing to say or look at him physically and go, 'Oh, there's a weakness to his football game.' He reminds me a little of Tony Romo. He's a very pure thrower of the football. He's got great mechanics, he's natural that way. He's smart, and we know he's being well-schooled up there in New England.

"He doesn't have as strong of an arm as Tom Brady, but it's not far off -- it's right there in that range. It's a really good arm, and he's a good athlete. Not an athlete that's going to run for a ton of yards, but can move around the pocket and extend plays that way. That's what I'm excited about with Jarrett Stidham. He's got great feel. He's a natural at playing the quarterback position, let alone, he's got skills that can really shine and stand out as well."

The Romo mention is interesting. Say what you want about Romo -- sure, he didn't win a ton of playoff games, but he was a top-tier quarterback for a long time. If Stidham puts up similar stats to Romo, the Patriots should be quite pleased.

Watch the full segment with Simms in the video below:

While it's easy to like what Stidham has shown so far, he's still very much an unknown. The Auburn product will need to go out and prove these people right, and it looks like that opportunity will come soon for him.

The Patriots have not brought in a veteran quarterback this offseason, aside from Brian Hoyer, to give Stidham a tough competition for the starting job. So, unless something changes over the next few months, all signs point to the post-Tom Brady era in New England beginning with Stidham at quarterback.

Patriots Roster Reset: N'Keal Harry's improvement in Year 2 key to WR group

Patriots Roster Reset: N'Keal Harry's improvement in Year 2 key to WR group

The Patriots were desperate for receiver help in 2019.

They held onto Josh Gordon. They selected a wideout in the first round for the first time in Bill Belichick's tenure as head coach. They signed Antonio Brown. They traded a second-round pick mid-season to add a veteran with a year and a half left on his deal.

Very little stuck.

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With a loaded receiver class in this year's draft, it was a given they'd invest at the position again . . . right? They added four undrafted wideouts, but none went to New England on draft weekend.

Instead, it's clear the Patriots will rely on seeing improvement from that 2019 first-rounder, N'Keal Harry, and from the vet who cost a second-rounder, Mohamed Sanu.

"I'm sure all our young players will improve in year two," Belichick said after the draft. "Got a first-round pick on N'Keal last year, second-round pick on Sanu. That was really off this draft. Obviously have Julian [Edelman] and a number of other young players. I think that will be a very good group.

"There's a lot of different ways and times to build your team. The draft is one of them. As I mentioned, whether it's Sanu or free agents signing like [Damiere] Byrd, whatever the case might be, there's multiple ways to build your roster, and this is one of them."

Here's how the Patriots depth chart at receiver is looking as things stand right now.

LOCK ‘EM IN

This group could end up being six or seven players deep, and yet the number of true locks currently on the roster? Two: Julian Edelman and N'Keal Harry.

Mohamed Sanu was mentioned by Bill Belichick earlier this offseason as being the team's second-round pick this year since that's what they traded away to land him. But the reality is he's a wideout in his 30s, coming off offseason ankle surgery, making $6.5 million on the salary cap. It'd be a second-round pick wasted if the Patriots ended up releasing Sanu — maybe they could pick up some value for him if they found a trade partner — but they were desperate for receiving help when they acquired him last season. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

That pick is now a sunk cost. If there's a younger player on the roster the Patriots feel could provide what Sanu does at a lower price, then it would not come as an overwhelming surprise if the Patriots moved on.

Matthew Slater, if you want to include him in this group, is a lock as a special-teams captain. The 34-year-old is coming off one of his best seasons and will provide the same steady leadership he has for a decade as the team navigates a season without Tom Brady.

ON THE BUBBLE

Let's start with the players from last year's roster who will look to reclaim roles after the Patriots re-tooled the back end of the depth chart this offseason.

Jakobi Meyers showed real chemistry with Jarrett Stidham when the two then-rookies embarked on their first pro preseason together. That could help him carve out a role as a depth piece, but his place on the 53-man roster can't be considered a sure thing.

Same goes for Gunner Olszewski. He made the club as a reserve wideout and the No. 1 punt returner before landing on IR last season.The team added a variety of punt-return options offseason — including second-round pick Kyle Dugger — which adds to the challenge Olszewski faces in making the roster.

Damiere Byrd is a 5-foot-9, 180-pound speedster who could bring a dynamic vertical element to the Patriots passing game if given the opportunity. He received $600,000 guaranteed to sign, according to the Boston Globe, which is more than some of the names you'll see under our "Long Shots" section, but it doesn't exactly guarantee him a roster spot.

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LONG SHOTS

Have to include all four undrafted rookies on this list just by the nature of their arrival to the Patriots.

Isaiah Zuber from Mississippi State pulled in the most guaranteed money among Patriots undrafted wideouts this year with $100,000. Jeff Thomas of Miami might be the most talented of the group, but he went undrafted after running into issues with two separate coaching staffs in college. Sean Riley — who like Zuber and Thomas could end up competing for a punt-return role — is an undersized interior option at 5-foot-8, 178 pounds out of Syracuse.

Auburn's Will Hastings is the player from this group we like as the favorite to make the roster at the moment. He lit up his pro day (one of the few this year that wasn't canceled) with elite-level agility numbers. He also has a built-in rapport with Stidham after their time together as Tigers teammates. Marqise Lee has to be included here after dealing with injury and being robbed of almost two full seasons. He did not play in 2018 and in 2019 he had just three catches in six games played.

Devin Ross and Quincy Adeboyejo, both of whom spent time on the Patriots practice squad last year, should be considered long shots as well.

NEWCOMER TO WATCH

Jeff Thomas has talent. He's an NFL-caliber athlete. Listed at 5-foot-10, 174 pounds, he was a four-star high school recruit coming out of East St. Louis, Illinois — the No. 2 recruit in the state behind only edge defender A.J. Epenesa — and had offers from Alabama and Ohio State. His speed is instantaneous at the line of scrimmage and when he has the ball in his hands, he's able to hit another gear and pull away from defenders nearby.

His maturity level, meanwhile, has been an issue for him. He was dismissed from the Miami program by Mark Richt, who said at the time, "We have high standards for excellence, for conduct and for the commitment to the team for all of the young men who wear our uniform, and we will not waver from those standards." When a new coaching staff took over in 2019, he was welcomed back to the program . . . then suspended in October for two games for violating team rules.

If he can get with the Patriots program and adhere to everything they ask him to do, he has a real shot to make the roster and provide the team with an electric play-maker. But given his history, that's a sizable "if."

X-FACTOR

Marqise Lee told reporters earlier this month that he'd been working with Mick Lombardi as he gets caught up on the Patriots offense, and it sounded as though Lombardi had been handed the receiver coach's gig. There's been no official announcement by the team in terms of Lombardi's title, but if he has the receivers coach job then that's three in three years in New England. (Joe Judge, now head coach of the Giants, replaced Chad O'Shea as Patriots wideouts coach in 2019.)

Someone like Julian Edelman shouldn't be too severely impacted by the transition. But in a room that includes so much youth — including some intriguing undrafted rookies and the team's 2019 first-round pick — it'll be interesting to see how those players develop. Lombardi, son of former Patriots assistant Mike Lombardi, was most recently the assistant quarterbacks coach in New England. That's a title Lombardi held previously with the Jets.