Patriots

Dalton Keene responds to Skip Bayless' criticism of Patriots' rookie tight ends

Dalton Keene responds to Skip Bayless' criticism of Patriots' rookie tight ends

The bulletin board material for the New England Patriots keeps coming in, and the latest comes from Skip Bayless.

The co-host of FOX Sports 1 show "Undisputed" was recently reacting to the Patriots reportedly agreeing to sign quarterback Cam Newton when he took a shot at New England's rookie tight ends Dalton Keene and Devin Asiasi. Keene went to Virginia Tech and Asiasi attended UCLA. Both were selected by the Patriots in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft.

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"They took (two tight ends) in the third round and you can't name them because nobody knew them in college football," Bayless said. "Are they diamonds in the rough? ... So one of those guys is going to just rise and shine and become the next Rob Gronkowski or even the next Greg Olsen? Ah, stop it. No, not going to happen."

There are many issues with Bayless' comments, but one that immediately comes to mind is the fact neither Keene nor Asiasi need to become the next Gronkowski or Olsen to make a positive impact on the Patriots offense. 

Keene had a simple, measured response on Twitter when alerted to Bayless' criticism. 

Sure, the Patriots didn't get much offensive production from their tight ends last season. There's no denying that, but to knock Keene and Asiasi before they have ever played a game is pretty foolish. Both showed time and time again in college that they could be a factor in the passing game as a receiver and in the run game as a blocker -- the kind of versatility that Patriots head coach Bill Belichick values a lot.

Bayless joins a long list of experts, former players and talk/debate show hosts who've been critical of the Patriots over the offseason -- one that has seen several important players including quarterback Tom Brady depart New England. In fact, before Newton joined the Patriots, oddsmakers had the Buffalo Bills winning the AFC East.

You might not find a more motivated team in pro football than the Patriots this season. No team thrives off of bulletin board material more than New England, and Belichick has so much content to work with entering Week 1 of the regular season.

Joe Montana: Tom Brady hinted at displeasure with Patriots at Super Bowl LIV

Joe Montana: Tom Brady hinted at displeasure with Patriots at Super Bowl LIV

Joe Montana has wondered aloud how the New England Patriots could let Tom Brady get away to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Based on the conversation he had with Brady in February, though, maybe he should have seen the QB's exit coming.

During an interview Wednesday on ESPN 97.5 Houston's "Jake Asman Show," Montana revealed he talked with Brady at Super Bowl LIV and got the sense the 20-year veteran didn't like his situation.

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"I spoke to Tom while we were back at the Super Bowl," Montana said. "I don't think he was happy with the way things were progressing there and his ability to have input, and I think that was a big decision for him to make to leave there."

Our Tom E. Curran and others have reported that Brady wasn't thrilled about having less of a say in the Patriots' offensive game plan last season, especially after New England mustered just 13 points in a Wild Card Round loss to the Tennessee Titans.

Montana's recollection of his conversation with Brady -- the two QBs were part of an "NFL 100" pregame ceremony at Super Bowl LIV -- certainly lends credence to those reports and suggests Brady was ready to move on from the Patriots after 20 seasons.

It sounds like the 43-year-old quarterback picked the right destination, too: Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich apparently joked that all he has to do with Brady under center is "get out of the way."

Here's Joe Montana's advice for Tom Brady about Patriots-Bucs transition

Here's Joe Montana's advice for Tom Brady about Patriots-Bucs transition

There's plenty of hype around Tom Brady and the new-look Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season. But there are also those who wonder whether Brady can find success without New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick -- especially at age 43.

Joe Montana has heard that line of criticism before.

Like Brady, Montana left a team he won multiple Super Bowls with (the San Francisco 49ers) at the tail end of his career to join an unexpected new club (the Kansas City Chiefs).

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Montana only lasted two seasons in Kansas City before retiring, but he actually had a strong first year, earning a Pro Bowl nod while leading the Chiefs to an 11-5 record.

So, what advice would the legendary quarterback give Brady as he gets going in Tampa Bay?

During an appearance Wednesday on NFL Network's "Good Morning Football," Montana said Brady should start with earning his teammates' trust.

"Obviously it's a little different right now with the virus in the U.S. and what they're able to do and how he was able to communicate with his new team when he got there. And I think the biggest thing is just finding a way.

"No matter what, there will always be those guys that are even a little skeptical," Montana said. " .. Until you prove that you can do it with them, there will always be (people) skeptical about it. The same thing happened (with me) in Kansas City.

"Once that happens, once you get totally accepted into there -- which I don't think will take long. Tom's not the kind of guy that makes something like that difficult, so I think it's going to be fun to watch."

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Montana's point: Brady's impressive résumé with the Patriots won't matter unless he proves he's bought in with the Bucs and committed to winning with a new group of players and coaches.

Brady started working out with his new Bucs teammates back in May (despite the COVID-19-associated risks) and is drawing rave reviews from Tampa Bay players, so it appears he's off to a good start with his new club.

With a talented group of skill players that includes ex-Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, Brady should have no trouble pulling a Montana, according to the man himself.

"They've got a pretty good team down there," Montana said. "They put up some big numbers last year, and when you add Tom and Crazy Gronk down there, I think it will be interesting."