Tom Brady's work ethic is among the best the NFL has ever seen, and one of his former New England Patriots teammates recently shared another great story about the legendary quarterback's dedication to improving his skills.
Patriots safety Devin McCourty, who played 10 seasons with Brady, recently crashed a high school football team's Zoom meeting with his brother Jason. During the video, he shared a story about how Brady threw a red-zone interception in practice and watched 109 (!) plays later that night to make sure the same mistake didn't happen in the game that weekend.
Preparation is perhaps the most common denominator among successful NFL teams, and no franchise has been better prepared on a weekly basis more consistently than the Patriots. Two of the people most responsible for that impressive preparation are Brady and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick.
Brady's preparation and work ethic set a fantastic example for his Patriots teammates over the 20 seasons he spent in New England, and his new teammates with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers should similarly benefit once the entire team is able to practice together.
Thursday's deadline for players to opt out of the 2020 NFL season has come and gone.
A total of eight New England Patriots players, including linebacker Dont'a Hightower, safety Patrick Chung, and tackle Marcus Cannon, have chosen to sit out of the 2020 campaign due to concerns about the coronavirus.
With the Pats impacted by opt outs more than any other team, Tom E. Curran and Phil Perry discuss on a brand new Patriots Talk Podcast the toll they will have on New England this season.
"Dont'a Hightower may end up being the most high-profile guy that chooses to opt out. I would say Patrick Chung and Marcus Cannon are somewhere in that next tier," Perry said. "So when you have three starting-caliber players and four real contributors ... there's no other team in the league I think you can look at and say they've been just as hard by these opt-outs as the Patriots.
"And we talked about what they might do to fill in. I think right now is the most important time because if you're somebody like Josh Uche or Ja'Whaun Bentley or Yodny Cajuste, it doesn't matter that you're getting no time on the field right now. You have to squeeze every last drop out of every single meeting that you have the opportunity to attend, every rep you can do in the weight room ... you're going to be thrown right into the fire and you have to make sure that you're ready."
There is some optimism heading into the new season, believe it or not. Perry notes that the defense -- even after all of the opt outs -- might be better than expected for New England in 2020.
"I think if you look at the Patriots defense, I think that is the one thing that we all looked at even before they signed Cam Newton and said, 'If you were hoping they were gonna suck for Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields or somebody else near the top of the draft, the defense might do you in this year,' " said Perry. "Because they still should be good. Even if they're not the best defense in football, they still have arguably the best secondary in the league.
"And even without Dont'a Hightower, they have enough pieces and they've done well enough to scheme quarterback pressure that it should give you a representative effort each and every week which still some teams across the league you look at these rosters and wonder how they're gonna compete at all."
Curran and Perry also discuss power rankings in the AFC East after the opt outs, whether the Patriots offense will be fun to watch, takeaways from Tom Brady's introductory press conference with the Buccaneers, and why Brady may struggle in Tampa Bay.
So what matters the most this year? Is it the guys you had in 2019 who are coming back? Is it the guys you added in the offseason? Is it the young guys you drafted? Is it the length of time the coaching staff’s been together? Or the offensive coordinator and coaching staff?
Is it how well the team blocks out the distraction (“distraction” feels like an inadequate word, I know) of COVID-19 and deals with the logistical walls it’s created? Or is it how well the team’s players deal with the daily mental stress that they can either get it and get really sick; get it and have nothing happen; get it, not know it and pass it on to someone who may then get really sick or get it, pass it to a teammate and then see the whole league come to a grinding halt?
Do you know? I don’t know. As a result, there’s little jumbling in the Power Rankings. But three factors affecting every team right now that never are: opt-outs, the lack of offseason work and the approach of core, veteran leadership in an unprecedented time. Let’s get it. (Predraft ranking in parentheses).