The season is halfway over and the Patriots are on their bye week, so what better time for midseason superlatives? In the first of a three-part series, Phil Perry and Tom E. Curran and Mike Giardi look at some of the best -- and worst -- on-field occurences so far in 2017.
PHIL PERRY: The Tom Brady-to-Brandin Cooks game-winning touchdown against the Texans. Brady's execution was flawless as he pumped to hold off the safety, took a huge shot, and still threw a dime. For Cooks, it was an acknowledgement that he was in the circle of trust. Not many game-winners over the course of the season, so this one is the easy choice in my opinion.
TOM E. CURRAN: Brady-to-Cooks, but Phil got there first. So I’ll go with Gronk’s 53-yard TD against the Saints. Brady heaved it to him and Gronk skedaddled and sidestepped his way to a TD that indicated he was indeed back from his back.
MIKE GIARDI: I have watched the 27-yard completion from Tom Brady to James White from Sunday’s game with the Chargers at least 15 times, and we also featured it on Monday Night Patriots. It didn’t win the game, like Brandin Cooks versus the Texans, but it combined terrific pocket awareness by Tom Brady; left tackle Nate Solder engaging one of the best pass rushers in the game, Joey Bosa, for five or six seconds, and then White first chipping Melvin Ingram and then working hard to uncover as Brady moved around. The throw was spot on. The play was sexy. It really was.
PHIL PERRY: Kareem Hunt's 58-yard fourth-quarter run in the season-opening loss to the Chiefs. The Patriots were down one score (35-27) with 4:15 left in the game, when Hunt went streaking down the sideline on a simple toss play. Kyle Van Noy and Elandon Roberts took bad angles in pursuit. Malcolm Butler and Patrick Chung were blocked easily. If not for Devin McCourty chasing Hunt down, it would have gone for a 79-yard score. One play later, Charcandrick West was in the end zone and the game was effectively over. Afterwards, perhaps with this sequence in mind, Tom Brady questioned the team's attitude and competitiveness.
MIKE GIARDI: Which play from the Carolina game do you want to go with? I’ll pick the screen to Fozzy Whittaker in which every single Patriot defender on the offensive left/defensive right vacated the area as if someone launched tear gas into the area. Elandon Roberts. Devin McCourty. Stephen Gilmore. It was the lowest point for a defense that had a dozen or so of those plays over the first month of the season. I still can’t get over Gilmore -- the last player remaining on that side of the field -- just tearing ass to chase rookie Christian McCaffrey. Staggering. And Cam Newton could have easily flipped it the tight end, who was also all by himself.
PHIL PERRY: The Week 7 win over the Falcons. In prime time, against what was thought to be a very good offense, the much-maligned Patriots defense held Atlanta to one score. And the biggest question mark on the other side of the ball -- the offensive line -- showed signs of turning the corner. We may look back at that night as the night things finally got on track for good.
MIKE GIARDI: No brainer. It’s the Atlanta game. It didn’t have the most points or most explosive plays, but it was Patriot football. Clinical, emotional, suffocating and there was never, ever a doubt, despite the talent on the other sideline. If the Pats could play nine more games like this year, I’d sign up for it. I’m sure Bill Belichick would, too.
PHIL PERRY: Deshaun Watson. Mobile. Tough. Accurate enough. We didn't know it ahead of time, but Watson was a matchup nightmare for the Patriots in Week 3. He was able to take advantage of a secondary still finding itself, and he had all kinds of time to do it based on his own quickness and the absence of a devastating Patriots pass-rush.
MIKE GIARDI: To this point? It’s gotta be Watson. The Texans quarterback had his team poised for a huge win at Gillette if not for the heroics of Tom Brady and Brandin Cooks. Watson was as slippery as a snake covered in axel grease. Pats defenders had one shot after another to take him down for a big loss and Watson slithered in and out of their grasp to make one big play after another. His calmness under pressure comes as no surprise. Watson did this in college for years. But he’s made the seamless transition to the NFL and despite some of the analytic sites not loving him, Watson has given the Texans hope at that position, something they haven’t had maybe ever. I’m actually disappointed that JJ Watt and Whitney Mercilus are done for the year. I wanted to see Houston come to Foxboro in January and Watson is a big reason why.
GIVE US YOUR OPINION: Who's the toughtest opposing player the Patriots have faced this year?
Would the New England Patriots consider drafting Randy Moss' son Thaddeus in the upcoming NFL Draft in April? It's possible.
The younger Moss, who helped Joe Burrow and the LSU Tigers to a college football title this past season, could address a glaring need at tight end for the Patriots. New England gave Ben Watson, Matt LaCosse and Ryan Izzo a shot last season after Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement, but none really gained the trust of quarterback Tom Brady.
The 21-year-old was just nine when his father joined the Patriots in 2007 via a trade that sent a fourth-round pick to the Oakland Raiders, and he'll never forget the memories he made while watching his father take the field at Gillette Stadium.
“I don’t know if I’d say [I have] relationships with anybody," Moss said, according to WEEI's Andy Hart. "I’ve talked to Coach [Bill] Belichick before. I’ve talked to Coach [Robert] Kraft [Patriots owner] before. Probably my most fond memories is the undefeated season that they had, obviously they didn’t finish it the way they wanted to. That and on top of that I was in the facility once or twice before. Meeting Tom Brady when I was younger. I was sitting there star struck. Walking down the hallway seeing Tedy Bruschi, seeing Coach [Mike] Vrabel walk down the hallway when I was younger. Those are probably the most fond memories that I have.”
Moss, who was a sophomore last season, put together a solid year for the Tigers in 2019 with 47 receptions for 570 yards and four touchdowns. He was even more impressive in the national championship game against Clemson, adding five receptions for 36 yards and two touchdowns while his father cheered him on from the stands.
The younger Moss could go from one championship title-winning quarterback to another if the Patriots were to draft him, and he admitted that catching touchdown passes from Brady, like his father before him, would be incredible.
“It would mean a lot,” Moss said of the possibility to catch passes from Brady. “Just to catch a touchdown pass period in the NFL would mean a lot. But to catch from Tom Brady knowing that he threw a good amount of touchdown passes to my father, it would be a good story.”
The future of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is a hot topic at the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.
This event gives teams a great opportunity to scout the best players in the upcoming NFL Draft in both on-field and off-the-field settings. However, amid all of the talk about the next generation of star quarterbacks, a 42-year-old veteran also looms large.
Brady is able to test the free agent market in March for the first time in his career. He's arguably the greatest player in pro football history, and even at this later stage of his career, he'd still be an upgrade at quarterback for many teams.
Here's a look at how head coaches and general managers of teams that could be potential landing spots for Brady in free agency are reacting to questions about the six-time Super Bowl champion's future.
Anthony Lynn, Los Angeles Chargers Philip Rivers, after 15 years of being the starting quarterback of the Chargers, will test free agency and not return to the franchise. This situation opens the door for the Chargers to bring in a veteran like Brady or use the No. 6 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft to find a franchise quarterback.
Chargers coach Anthony Lynn asked about Tom Brady rumors: I don’t know. Just rumors. All options on the table for us though. pic.twitter.com/QnPJ1Fl8DE
Chargers coach Anthony Lynn on if he wants a mobile quarterback: “I prefer a winning quarterback. You don’t need to be mobile. I believe that guy in New England won a lot. He’s not very mobile.” 🤔 🤔 pic.twitter.com/cgkEGtCHgH
Bruce Arians, Tampa Bay Buccaneers The Buccaneers could be in the market for a quarterback with starter Jameis Winston hitting free agency. Winston became the first player to throw for at least 30 touchdowns and at least 30 interceptions in the same season in 2019.
Asked for examples of NFL quarterbacks he'd pick up the phone for in free agency, Bruce Arians said "Tom Brady. Philip (Rivers) is another guy. We'll see."
Brian Flores, Miami Dolphins The Dolphins aren't close to being a Super Bowl contender, but they do have almost $90 million in salary cap space at their disposal. Brady also knows Flores well from their many years together in New England.
Brian Flores on Tom Brady potentially signing with the Dolphins: “I agree with (owner Stephen Ross) as far as ‘Why would he want to come to Miami?’ I do. I’ll leave it at that.”
Said Ryan Fitzpatrick did a great job this season.
Mike Vrabel, Tennessee Titans The Titans are a popular landing spot pick for Brady, but Tennessee might not even need a quarterback if it re-signs Ryan Tannehill. He's set to become a free agent after leading the Titans to a 7-3 finish in the regular season and a run to the AFC Championship Game that included upset wins over the Patriots and Baltimore Ravens.
My exchange w/ Mike Vrabel:
- Discussion in Boston that Titans would be a good fit for Brady.
Vrabel: “Why would you say that’s a great fit, I’m just curious?”
- Win now. Good weapons. Good line. Knows the coach.
John Elway (general manager), Denver Broncos Drew Lock was pretty impressive to end the 2019 campaign, so it makes sense for the Broncos to build on that success entering his sophomore season. He has the potential to be a franchise QB.
Asked John Elway if he and the Broncos would ever be interested in Tom Brady if Brady was interested in them.
“We’d always talk to him, but I think we’re happy with what we have in Drew.”