Brady, Patriots have felt the heat in Miami in December

Brady, Patriots have felt the heat in Miami in December

FOXBORO - Bill Belichick would tell you he's not in the excuse-making business so any attempt to get him to talk about the heat and humidity the Patriots will face in Miami this weekend will get about the same response he offered Wednesday.

"I don't know," he said when asked if Miami's humidity could be simulated this week. "Look, it is what it is out there. So, whatever it is, it is."

The Patriots, notably, were practicing outside during Wednesday's media availability portion of practice. In the past, when expecting to go to work in drastically warmer temperatures, they've headed inside to the Empower Field House. There's still time for that as the Patriots will practice Thursday and Friday this week. 

"Bill would say, 'Put all your stuff on, we're gonna be in the bubble,' " Rob Ninkovich said on this week's episode of the Ex-Pats Podcast. "And they've got the heat on in there. But it doesn't work. Doesn't work. You can only get the bubble to 77."

At the moment, the forecast in Miami is calling for temperatures in the 80s and scattered thunderstorms. It was 35 degrees in Foxboro during Wednesday's practice.

"Eighty-two degrees? Coming from [the 30s]? You better believe they're going to be in the bubble," Jerod Mayo told Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran on Quick Slants the Podcast. "They're going to be in the bubble...It's always tough. You're coming from 30 degrees to 90 degrees. It's a huge shift."

The reality is the heat matters. The Patriots will be able to wear their normal road white jerseys on Sunday, which could help the team manage the effects of being closer to the equator, but it's still an issue without much of a solution.

"Next week is going to be a good test," Ninkovich said. "I love it. Tale of two teams: home and away. Home games, [the Patriots are] undefeated. Away team, they don't bring the energy. 

"In Miami, they gotta bring it. There's gonna be enough Patriots fans there because every year we were down there and you look around there's so much blue, white and red and it's like, 'OK this is like a home game.'

"Then you're sitting there on the bench sweating in the blazing sun, sucking down oxygen because you can't breathe, taking off your chest clips so you can open your lungs up, it's tough. You're not used to it."

The Dolphins are 5-1 at home this year, versus 1-5 on the road. Against the Patriots in Tom Brady's career, Dolphins home-road splits haven't been quite that drastic, but they've owned the series when in Miami late in the season.

Tom Brady is 7-9 on the road against the Dolphins as a starter and 1-5 in Miami in December. Those five December losses in Miami account almost all of Brady's December losses on the road in his career. He has seven total.

This chart shows those games in Miami in the Brady/Belichick Era (Brady was hurt in 2008), including the teams' records following the game and the game-time temperature. 

Brady's individual numbers have suffered in Miami in December as well. His 62.6 completion percentage for the month of December over his career drops to 59 percent when in Miami in December. His career December rating of 92.3 is vastly superior to his 73.3 rating in Miami in December. Brady has an average of 2.5 touchdowns thrown for every pick in his career in December. In Miami? His December touchdown-to-interception ratio is 9-to-10. 

"You're not used to it," Ninkovich said. "I'm telling you, you can sit in a sauna and put a stair-stepper in there, do whatever you want. You're not going to get the humidity and the feel of when you're down there. It's like the sun is closer to you because it is."

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Patriots' Devin McCourty: It's 'an absolute joke' NFL is changing opt-out deadline

Patriots' Devin McCourty: It's 'an absolute joke' NFL is changing opt-out deadline

Devin McCourty didn’t hold back on a Sunday afternoon video conference with New England media.

The Patriots veteran safety took no questions during a six-minute session, choosing instead to make an impassioned statement about his belief that people need to stay attuned to the equality problems in the United States.

McCourty pledged his support for the cause of Breonna Taylor, who was killed by Louisville police when a shootout began after authorities burst into her home with a “no-knock warrant.”

McCourty also spoke about healthcare inequities, the “digital divide” underprivileged students face because some don’t have access to technology and the internet for remote learning, efforts to reach out and listen to minorities involved in law enforcement and the need for the NFL to have more diversity in coaching and personnel.

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McCourty then took aim at the league for reportedly trying to move up an agreed-upon deadline for players to “opt out” prior to the 2020 season.

A source told Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, “Teams are concerned that some players who think they won’t make the team are choosing to opt out and to take the six-figure stipend." While players apparently would owe the money back to the teams if they fail to make the roster in 2021, no team wants to have to chase a former player around next year in an effort to retrieve $150,000 or $350,000.

“Another concern comes from an issue we’ve previously flagged: Some agents, per the source, are using the threat of an opt out as leverage to get their clients new contracts.”

“It’s an absolute joke that the NFL is changing the opt-out period, mainly because they don’t want to continue to see guys opt out,” McCourty said. “I’m sure they’re shocked about how many guys have opted out. But it’s the same thing when we sign the CBA, sometimes some of those things that we think are good, sometimes backfire. You know, we have rookies who are locked in long-term contracts and tagged and tagged. You guys don’t think we would love to change that about the CBA? But we can’t. That’s the point of signing an agreement.

“So I think it’s terrible. I think it’s BS that the league [wants to change] that date.”

So far, eight Patriots have opted out. The latest was tight end Matt Lacosse who reportedly opted out Sunday. Wide receiver Marqise Lee also opted out this weekend.

McCourty seemed to indicate he was still mulling his ultimate decision. Separately, he explained to me that – if he did want to opt out for family reasons at any time – the passing of an opt-out deadline wouldn’t prevent him from doing so.

McCourty encouraged players to understand the power they have right now.

"Monday will be our first day in the building, so to try to act like guys are trying to make a decision about something other than virtual meetings is a joke," he said. "When players understand how much power we have, we've seen things change for us; primarily even with this deal, with the COVID-19 and trying to get everything back. We saw some of that strength. Hopefully we'll see how everything turns out come Wednesday, if it ends up being the deadline.

"I support guys no matter what they decide, but I'm still out here having fun and figuring things out. So we'll see how we go."

The NFL and NFLPA agreed to a host of changes to the CBA to get through the 2020 season but those changes have not been finalized. The opt-out deadline was supposed to be a week after the deal was done. Because of the delay getting it done, the opt-out deadline keeps moving further down the road.

And the concern from some teams seems to be that a player who’s destined for the bubble may see the writing on the wall and opt-out. It’s a cynical concern but it’s also not beyond the realm for a player who was already on the fence about playing and then realizes he’s a longshot.

The other concern according to Florio is players threatening to opt out if they’re not given a new deal. Florio pointed out he hadn’t heard of that happening but he noted, “For plenty of players, a significant bump in compensation could be the difference between opting out and opting in.”

Objectively speaking, players and coaches are the ones taking the personal medical risk. Owners aren’t. For a key player to say, “What will you do to make it worth my while? What’s the additional hazard pay?” is not that absurd.

NFL players don’t often use their leverage. McCourty, it seems, is hoping they start to.

NFL rumors: Patriots place Sony Michel, Mohamed Sanu, Brandon King on PUP list

NFL rumors: Patriots place Sony Michel, Mohamed Sanu, Brandon King on PUP list

The New England Patriots will begin training camp with three players on the physical unable to perform, or PUP, list. 

Patriots wide receiver Mohamed Sanu, running back Sony Michel and special teams standout Brandon King all have been placed on the PUP list, according to ESPN's Field Yates.

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Sanu had offseason ankle surgery in March. He suffered the ankle injury in Week 11 against the Philadelphia Eagles, and it prevented him from playing at a high level for the remainder of the 2019 season. Michel had foot surgery in May. The 2018 first-round pick had a disappointing sophomore season in which he averaged just 3.7 yards per carry. King missed all of the 2019 campaign because of a torn quad. Therefore, it's not too surprising that these players have landed on the PUP list.

In Sanu's case, he's been working pretty hard over the offseason to get back into optimal shape. He's posted several workout videos on Instagram, including some sessions that included newly signed quarterback Cam Newton.