Patriots

When all's said and done, don't expect Brady or Belichick to leave

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When all's said and done, don't expect Brady or Belichick to leave

FOXBORO -- Every Friday, Phil Perry and Mike Giardi will take your Patriots questions on Twitter and answer them as a joint mailbag -- or Friday Bag, as they call it.

Got questions? Tweet the guys using the hashtag #FridayBag. But for now, give the latest edition of the Bag a read.

PP: Anthony! No chance. As soon as Jimmy Garoppolo was dealt, that essentially made Tom Brady a Patriot for life. Anyone the Patriots draft -- whether it's this season, which I think it will be, or next -- will need some time to develop. The timeline should work out that Brady can essentially walk off into the sunset whenever the next guy is ready. So when you hear a breakup suggested due to the incidents detailed in ESPN's report on Friday, it's really, in my opinion, a suggestion that Bill Belichick could leave or retire. Robert Kraft obviously isn't going anywhere. And given the Garoppolo trade, Brady isn't either. The only caveat here: Brady could force the team's hand by refusing to retire once he "sucks" -- he's said before that's when he'll hang 'em up -- and make the Patriots choose between him and a younger quarterback who's better. If that happens, I could see him playing somewhere else. Seems unlikely, though.

PP: I don't think Belichick is gone after this season. And I don't think anyone really knows when Belichick is planning on retiring -- although Kraft indicated last year during Super Bowl week that he had an idea -- so it'd be hard for any assistant to plan based on Belichick's future plans. I don't think the next head coach of the Patriots is on the staff at the moment. I do think, if they could somehow make it work, that Bill O'Brien would be an interesting candidate. He's handled tough coaching jobs in the past, he has the demeanor to help him navigate life as Belichick's replacement, and I think he wouldn't mind being back in the area. 

MG: Lorne, he was ornery and borderline rude in his first interaction with us and then much more pleasant following the game, although there was that whole “put lotion on my back” thing and -- just prior -- some semi-nasty remarks to teammate Jonathan Bademosi regarding the media’s overall intentions. Overall, I’d say he came as advertised. He is very happy to be playing football and feeling like he is being given the opportunity to contribute. The guys look at him like he’s a rental. Get here, do a job and let the coaches/front office figure out if he has a future here beyond this season (seems highly unlikely).

MG: Eddie, he is definitely going to have to answer questions about the clown shirt, but I think the people that know him respect him. Plus, Belichick is a huge backer of his. That carries a lot of weight in this league when it comes to hirings and firings (ask John Harbaugh). I think the other thing to consider here is how well-versed Patricia is not just on the defensive side of the ball, but in a multitude of areas. Belichick loves to break in his newbies with a variety of tasks and Patricia was able to handle all of them. He’s getting a job if he wants it. 

https://twitter.com/CarlCsr63/status/948923455323426817

MG: Carl, way too early to say what QBs might be a fit here but I suspect that’s fairly high up on the list of priorities this offseason -- finding that developmental signal caller who could maybe be Brady’s heir apparent in a couple of years. As for the other spots, I’d look long at hard at linebacker/edge rusher, maybe another stout defensive tackle, a tight end and certainly a tackle, maybe even one fairly high up depending on what happens with Nate Solder and free agency.

MG: Don, the Pats have had to go pretty far into the well this year because of injuries so I’m not sure anyone can be a breakout player at this point. But as for someone who is asked to do a fair amount and is just thought of as another guy, I’m going to peg Eric Lee. He’s going to get a fair amount of snaps and he’s shown up here and there with sacks and that interception versus Buffalo. Maybe he makes a splashy play somewhere in this postseason.

MG: One Tom E. Curran would say it’s him hands down. He does play like 40 hours a week. Phil Perry would argue that he would take Curran down on the low block, put him in the torture chamber and bleed him out slowly but surely. No one has the range I do. That’s a fact. I’m like a 5-foot-9 Steph Curry. I’m in the hot zone the second I cross over half court. I’m also scrappy. And a little mean (dirty). I guess it’s a toss-up but what I would say is that as a 3-on-3 team, we wouldn’t lose and none of the games would be close. 

MG: Barb, he still has some work to do. Nate is also dealing with some developing power alleys in the front but while that may suck for him, I think it enhances the overall impact of said mullet. Nate isn’t sure if he chose the mullet or the mullet chose him but I’m embracing it and he is too.

MG:TT! Trillium but only because I’ve had limited experience with Treehouse. And don’t sleep on Night Shift. Awake is delicious.

MG:Murph, Happy New Year to ya. 1) I’m going to say Van Noy but only because of the number of solid snaps he gives them. Mitchell could certainly help Tom Brady with his ability to run the comebacks/curls and his willingness to fight for the football, but who knows how he’ll hold up after missing the entire regular season. 2) Anything that puts him north of 50 million guaranteed would surprise me. Not that I don’t think he’ll eventually be worth it (I think he’s already there) but there’s still only the 7 starts on the resume. Osweiler got what? 36 million guaranteed with just about the same number of starts. Maybe a little more than that. If I was him, I’d be cool with the franchise tag, ball out and then got oodles and oodles of dollars the following year. 3) Biggest slob is Matt Cefali. Have you seen his shirts? I’m kidding. That has nothing to do with his cleanliness. Just bad taste. Tanguay’s desk is a bit of a cluster, and I think Curran showers only on the days he plays hoops.

PP: If the Patriots did move to activate Malcolm Mitchell, I think they'd make a corresponding move to the receiver group. To me, Kenny Britt would make the most sense as the player lopped off the roster. Otherwise, you're almost too deep at receiver. They'd be hurting themselves elsewhere on the 53 for a sixth receiver. Wouldn't make sense. The Patriots have time to determine if they want Mitchell back, and they've been watching him closely to see how he's progressing since returning to practice. Indications are he's responded to the workload well. Just hard to see exactly how ready he is when he's been out as long as he has, and when the staff is going off of walkthroughs and relatively light practice sessions. 

PP: Great question. Don't be surprised to see a funky field-goal block or another odd-looking onside kick. The Patriots are as forward-thinking as any other team when it comes to creativity on special teams. Remember they tried a misdirection punt return in the Super Bowl with Patrick Chung. And don't be shocked if something that was used this college bowl season pops up. The fake kneeldown the Patriots used at the very end of regulation in the Super Bowl with Dion Lewis last year was plucked from Western Kentucky's bowl game against Memphis a couple of months prior. The Patriots called it "Hilltopper" after the Western Kentucky mascot. They're watching everything. 

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Belichick the G.O.A.T.? He's got this ex-Steeler's vote

Belichick the G.O.A.T.? He's got this ex-Steeler's vote

A Pittsburgh Steelers great sticking up for Bill Belichick? When the argument is who's the greatest NFL coach of all time, sure.

Ex-Steelers Pro Bowl cornerback Ryan Clark, now an analyst for ESPN, says the Patriots coach has no peer, just as his quarterback, a fellow GOAT, said earlier this week. 

“There are things done in today’s football to create parity. Every team needs to have a chance. This is why the Super Bowl moves around now because they want every team to feel like they have an opportunity to host the Super Bowl and play in it at the same time,” Clark said on one of the network's debate shows. "Bill Belichick has totally destroyed that. Every single year when you come into the season, you think the Patriots are the favorite to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Every single time. It’s because he can adjust each and every week to be the best team on the field.

“Bill Belichick recreates himself every single Sunday.”

Watch the full clip here: 

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Patriots' first-round pick Isaiah Wynn out for season with torn Achilles

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AP Photo

Patriots' first-round pick Isaiah Wynn out for season with torn Achilles

There are loads of ways for an NFL team to stock its roster. Free agency, restricted free agency, undrafted free agents, trades, practice squad poaching. Gotta try ‘em all.  

So just because the NFL Draft is the most celebrated and extensively covered avenue, it doesn’t mean drafted players are inherently better. 

Which is good, because the Patriots have been getting kicked in the head by the top of the draft over the past few years. 

The latest instance? An Achilles tendon rupture suffered by first-round offensive tackle Isaiah Wynn Thursday night against the Eagles. Wynn, the 23rd overall pick out of Georgia, is done for the year. 

The Patriots had two first round picks this year and Wynn was kind of the “safe” draft pick. His Georgia teammate, Sony Michel, taken by the team with the 31st overall pick, was supposed to be the dice roll. Both Mike Mayock and Mike Lombardi -- Patriot friendlies -- reported in the days leading up to the draft that teams were concerned about Michel being “bone on bone” in his knee.

MORE TOM E. CURRAN

Voila, Michel was there at 31. The Patriots drafted him -- despite the knee forecast -- because he’s really good and the team believes that the late-first and second-round picks are good times to spend selections on talented players that may have warning flags accompanying them. 

Michel has already had a procedure to have his knee drained and may not play in this preseason. 

Some might also mention here that second-round pick Duke Dawson missed Thursday night’s game with a hamstring and cite that as evidence that furthers the head-kicking the Pats have been taking. But that would be dumb because Dawson will be back soon and he’s performed really well in camp. As has fifth-round linebacker Ja’Whaun Bentley. 

So it’s not like the Patriots go 0-for-April. They just have too many swings and misses on what should be fairly flat fastballs. 

Since 2012, the team has drafted 22 players in the first three rounds. 

Twelve are still with the team (Wynn, Michel, Dawson, Derek Rivers, Cyrus Jones, Joe Thuney, Vincent Valentine, Malcom Brown, Jordan Richards, Geneo Grissom, Duron Harmon, Donta Hightower). 

Of those, Hightower and Harmon are two that you would say have been vital players to the Patriots success. To a lesser degree, Thuney and Malcom Brown. 

Among the 10 who are gone, Jimmy Garoppolo, Jamie Collins, Logan Ryan and Chandler Jones are ones who also had strong impacts. 

So that’s six out of 22. And only two of those impact guys remain. 

Unmitigated misses in the first three rounds would be Antonio Garcia (third-rounder in 2017), Dominique Easley (first-round, 2014) and Aaron Dobson (second round 2013). 

MORE TOM E. CURRAN

Some guys did a little and aren’t here anymore (Jacoby Brissett, Tavon Wilson). 

More guys are still here, haven’t done diddly and don’t appear on the verge of being impact players  (Cyrus Jones, Valentine, Richards, Grissom). 

For whatever reason, the Patriots tend to kick ass later in the draft. Trey Flowers, Shaq Mason, Nate Ebner, Cam Fleming, James White, Joe Cardona, Elandon Roberts and Ted Karras have either fulfilled expectations based on their role and draft position or exceeded it (Mason, Flowers, Ebner and White in particular). 

But at the top they just can’t make the connection. And still they win. 

Why’s that? A lot of reasons. The main one being that -- in 2000 -- they got it right in the sixth round with the 199th pick. It certainly hasn’t been because of Adrian Klemm (second rounder, 2000). 

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