Patriots

This Patriots fan is still rooting for Tom Brady, even with the Bucs

This Patriots fan is still rooting for Tom Brady, even with the Bucs

In every good story you need a protagonist (our hero) and the antagonist (the villain).

What I have observed in the Patriot fan base is an equal balance of views that place Tom Brady or Bill Belichick in either category. Logical? Certainly, because both possess justifiable reasons for their actions. 

But that’s no fun!

Riding in from the North on his steady and loyal steed named Alex, the white hat-wearing, TB12-pitching, best ever to play the game quarterback gallops into Tampa Bay to not only save the day but save his career as well. 

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For the third time in his life, he is the underdog.

He is John Wayne’s Rooster Cogburn charging across the field with reins in mouth and a gun in each hand blowing away the bad guys. He is Paul Newman’s Frank Galvin who battles his own demons and the Boston medical establishment in "The Verdict." He is Robert Downey Jr’s. Tony Stark/Iron Man in "Avengers: Endgame," willing to give his life in order to save humanity. 

Sorry, I got carried away on that last one.

I just wanted to throw a movie reference in from this century. If you haven’t seen "True Grit" (the original, though Bridges and Damon perform admirably in the remake) or "The Verdict," penned by David Mamet, stream them. What else do you have to do? 

Let’s be real, people. Tom is Luke Skywalker and Bill is Darth Vader — yes, he is his football father! Bill wears that damn hoodie that he has made legendary but in actuality, it looks like hell. With that hood on, Belichick even looks like he is The Dark Side.

Tom represents what we have all experienced at one time or another: the feeling of being unwanted. That's whether you have been dumped by a boyfriend or girlfriend, cut from a team or fired from a job. (I have been whacked twice by the way. It sucks!) 

The Patriots and Darth Belichick no longer wanted Tom Skywalker. Holy Jabba The Hutt!

It does not matter that Tom is 43 years old and no longer a fit for the Patriots’ rebuild, and it is a rebuild. Or that Belichick has never been wrong when letting go of a veteran. Or that the way to go is with a more mobile quarterback who can throw on the run. 

NO! NO! NO! 

None of those perfectly justifiable reasons will keep me from rooting for Tom Skywalker. You can’t go against the underdog!

May the Force be with you, Tom.

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Chris Simms: Patriots' Jarrett Stidham 'reminds me a little of Tony Romo'

Chris Simms: Patriots' Jarrett Stidham 'reminds me a little of Tony Romo'

Jarrett Stidham is expected to take over the New England Patriots offense in the 2020 NFL season, and he's getting rave reviews from teammates, former coaches and several members of the media.

Despite having thrown only four career regular season passes, Stidham impressed people with his work in training camp and the preseason last year, and in practices during the 2019 regular season.

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Where does he rank among NFL quarterbacks? NBC Sports analyst Chris Simms placed Stidham at No. 35 on his latest list. While that isn't very high, Simms had plenty of good things to say about the Patriots quarterback.

"First off, I loved (Stidham) coming out of college," Simms said. "I saw a lot of him in preseason last year and loved the way he looked. Really, when you look at him, there's nothing to say or look at him physically and go, 'Oh, there's a weakness to his football game.' He reminds me a little of Tony Romo. He's a very pure thrower of the football. He's got great mechanics, he's natural that way. He's smart, and we know he's being well-schooled up there in New England.

"He doesn't have as strong of an arm as Tom Brady, but it's not far off -- it's right there in that range. It's a really good arm, and he's a good athlete. Not an athlete that's going to run for a ton of yards, but can move around the pocket and extend plays that way. That's what I'm excited about with Jarrett Stidham. He's got great feel. He's a natural at playing the quarterback position, let alone, he's got skills that can really shine and stand out as well."

The Romo mention is interesting. Say what you want about Romo -- sure, he didn't win a ton of playoff games, but he was a top-tier quarterback for a long time. If Stidham puts up similar stats to Romo, the Patriots should be quite pleased.

Watch the full segment with Simms in the video below:

While it's easy to like what Stidham has shown so far, he's still very much an unknown. The Auburn product will need to go out and prove these people right, and it looks like that opportunity will come soon for him.

The Patriots have not brought in a veteran quarterback this offseason, aside from Brian Hoyer, to give Stidham a tough competition for the starting job. So, unless something changes over the next few months, all signs point to the post-Tom Brady era in New England beginning with Stidham at quarterback.

Why is there a need to debate the 'Tom Brady or Bill Belichick' question?

Why is there a need to debate the 'Tom Brady or Bill Belichick' question?

Tom Brady left town 10 weeks ago. That’s it. It’s only been two and a half months.

But in that short time, one of the worst questions of the last 20 years has emerged, and I’m afraid it’s lurking in a corner of your neighborhood:

Brady or Belichick?

As in, who’s more important? Or, what would one’s career be without the other? There’s the familiar, how many Super Bowls would they have won on their own? And: whose side are you on now that they’ve separated?

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The big question, which leads the army of the other annoying ones, is not new. I used to wait for it as I appeared on radio shows in other markets. I’d sit there patiently, knowing that it was coming toward the end of the interview in the form of, “One last thing before we let you go… and we’ve been debating this here for a while….”

Quiet sigh.

Eye roll.

Then my stock answer: Fortunately, in New England, we don’t have to look at it that way. It’s the perfect combination of quarterback and coach, and they work best together.

I’d finish with whatever duo analogy I was feeling that day (Lennon and McCartney; Thelma and Louise) and then hang up, feeling sorry for the people outside of New England who just didn’t get it.

Then Brady messed around and went to Tampa.

Suddenly the question that never had to be New England’s began popping up in New England. Tom Brady or Bill Belichick? It’s the ultimate intoxicant that doesn’t need an answer, and still sucks you in anyway.

It built slowly after Brady left the Patriots. He went on with Howard Stern and said the Brady-Belichick debate was a “shitty argument.” He told Stern, “To have him allowed me to be the best I can be, so I’m grateful for that. I very much believe that he feels the same way about me, because we’ve expressed that to each other.’’

It seemed that most people, especially here, agreed that picking just one was unnecessary.

You have memories and “3-28” shirts and Richard Sherman memes because Tom and Bill were together. It seems silly to take sides now. That feeling got a challenge when Rob Gronkowski came out of a 13-month retirement and absolutely picked Brady over Belichick.

The Tom or Bill lines got even heavier last week when Brady had the nerve to voluntarily organize a group of his new Tampa teammates, trying to get a head start on the season. The controversy being that he’s willing to do for the Bucs what he didn’t for the Patriots.

For 18 seasons in a row, Brady walked and talked and even negotiated like a Patriot. He attended voluntary camps, pretended to be happy throwing to Chris Hogan, and never publicly shared his thoughts with Howard Stern. He was a company man. He was that as a 23-year-old kid wearing a backwards baseball cap, and he was that as a 40-year-old man wearing a grown man’s fedora.

I’m sure Belichick wasn’t pleased that his quarterback skipped voluntary workouts for two years. Then again, the coach got outsized quarterbacking value — in every way imaginable — in those 18 that Brady was there.

Besides, I always get some cheap entertainment when I imagine where the outcries about voluntary camp are coming from. I don’t know about you, but I’ve worked with some folks over the years who volunteer nothing and, on the contrary, want days off for everything from Sweetest Day to Arbor Day to Canadian Thanksgiving. Don’t make me name names.

But seriously, beyond that, what is it about this particular tandem that makes people want to assess the individual value?

Most of the time in dynasties, the partnership is praised rather than parsed. Did anyone feel the need to pick Red or Russell? Popovich or Duncan? Montana or Walsh? In the last example, which Brady knows well because it’s his hometown team, Walsh is linked to Montana even though Montana won his last Super Bowl without him.

Even before Brady went to Florida, the Tom or Bill question was out there. I dismissed it then because it was someone else’s problem. Now, I’m convinced, it’s there to taunt me.

No matter what happens, don’t let the either/or, this or that people win. Tom is in Florida, Bill is in Massachusetts and the right answer, still, is both.

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