Patriots Talk Podcast: Titans rookie WR flourishes, why can't Pats'?

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Patriots Talk Podcast: Titans rookie WR flourishes, why can't Pats'?

The Patriots find themselves in the unfamiliar position of playing on wild-card weekend for the first time in a decade and part of the reason why they're there is an offense that has sputtered at times as Tom Brady tries to incorporate young receivers into the mix.

New England's playoff opponent Saturday in Foxboro, the Tennessee Titans, have gotten plenty out of their rookie receiver, A.J. Brown. The second-round pick from Ole Miss (51st pick overall) is averaging a whopping 20 yards per catch. 

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On the latest episode of Tom E. Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast, that kind of production compared to the struggles of the Pats' young receivers (rookies N'Keal Harry and Jakobi Meyers) left Curran asking the key question of former New England backup quarterback Matt Cassel.

"Why, why, why???!!!"

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Cassel spoke about an "intimidation factor" in being incorporated into the Patriots offense.

"There's a disconnect in terms of somehow the rookies just coming in and being able to produce," Cassel told Curran. "I don't know if it's an intimidation factor of who they're playing with. There's a high standard and it takes a little bit of time to get used to the culture, the environment and the demanding nature of being in that building. 

"Part of it is the intimidating culture and what it creates. Instead of going out and playing free they just don't want to mess up."

The problems drafting and developing receivers through the years left Curran wondering if any of those successful with other teams in recent drafts would have flourished in Foxboro. 

"I sat out here and I knew prior to each of these drafts the Patriots should get Sterling Shepherd, the Patriots should get Tyler Lockett, the Patriots should this year have gone after Mecole Hardman," Curran said. "I just don't get it...if any of them came here, how would they have done?"

Hear more from Curran and Cassel on what the Titans do well on both sides of the ball and how coach Mike Vrabel and defensive coordinator Dean Pees' familiarity with the Patriots could work to Tennessee's advantage. Also: why Tom Brady might have regressed last week against Miami and a final look back at the season-ending debacle against the Dolphins on the latest episode of Tom Curran's Patriots Talk Podcast presented by CVS Health, which drops every Tuesday and Thursday as a part of the NBC Sports Boston podcast network.


Raiders QB Derek Carr to face Patriots early in what could be bounce-back season

Raiders QB Derek Carr to face Patriots early in what could be bounce-back season

Editor’s note: In the coming weeks our Patriots insiders will be speaking with beat writers from around the NFL to get an outside view on what the future holds for the Patriots. Today’s team: The Las Vegas Raiders with Scott Bair of NBC Sports Bay Area.

The Las Vegas Raiders reportedly were among the teams with some level of interest in signing Tom Brady in NFL free agency, but the Silver and Black ultimately decided to stick with Derek Carr as its starting quarterback.

Carr shouldn't be too comfortable, though.

Despite making the most of a tough situation in 2019 during which the Raiders lacked skill and depth at many offensive positions, Carr's job doesn't appear to be safe. For example, the Raiders signed veteran quarterback Marcus Mariota in free agency, and he has several seasons of starting experience.

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NBC Sports Bay Area's Raiders insider Scott Bair recently spoke to our Patriots insider Phil Perry, and one of the topics centered around Carr's future and if he can once again perform at the level of a top-tier quarterback.

"Actions speak louder than words, and (head coach) Jon Gruden and (general manager) Mike Mayock at the combine and all these different places, they say the right things -- Derek Carr is their guy," Bair said. "But then, they're constantly flirting with Kyler Murray and Dwayne Haskins, and they sign Marcus Mariota to a deal that could evolve into paying him starter money should he take over that job. Those actions don't say (Carr is their guy).

"I've seen every professional snap that Derek Carr has ever taken. I've seen every practice rep that I've been allowed to see, and I may be in the minority, but this is a guy I believe can be an upper-tier NFL quarterback. He can make every throw, and if you go back to 2016 when he had a loaded offensive line and lots of good skill players, he finished third in MVP voting despite the fact he broke his leg in Week 16. I know that's in there. Now, Raiders fans don't believe me, the national media doesn't believe me, but I think the stage is set for him to have a career year and find that 2016 form yet again, that most fans think is lost forever."

One defense Carr will go up against in 2020 is the New England Patriots.

The Raiders are scheduled to visit Gillette Stadium on Sept. 27 for a Week 3 matchup, and they currently are underdogs by almost a touchdown, according to oddsmakers. Bair thinks the matchup is closer than the betting lines would suggest.

"I would definitely hammer the Raiders pretty hard right there," Bair said. "I just think they're going to have a lot of explosive firepower, and when there's uncertainty at quarterback, (the more explosive team) seems to be a safer bet. Maybe you know better than I do exactly how (the Patriots') quarterback situation is shaping up, but if there are major questions marks there, I would go with the more established quarterback, the more established offense. Again, (the Raiders) are going to be able to score in bunches, and I think they're going to be pretty excited to come to Foxboro and finally get a win, even if Brady isn't there."

The Raiders and Patriots both face a bit of uncertainty at quarterback entering the 2020 season, and whichever coach is able to surround his young QB with the best system and the right talent will put his team in a strong position to reach the playoffs. The Patriots haven't missed the postseason since 2008, while the Raiders have made only one appearance since 2002.

If Brian Hoyer starts for Patriots in Week 1, that's absolutely crazy

If Brian Hoyer starts for Patriots in Week 1, that's absolutely crazy

Rob Ninkovich sounded drunkovich when he spoke of Brian Hoyer starting Week 1 for the Patriots.

Get that man a breathalyzer. Stat.

And if Nink turns out to be right, get Bill Belichick one too. 

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I have said this before — and I will say it again: I will not watch one down of Brian Hoyer under center for the Patriots.

And you shouldn’t either!

Don’t be a sucker. Really, you’re going to waste your time watching a guy who has started 25 games in 11 seasons in the NFL?

He may be a nice guy, good at carrying a clipboard and ridding Tom Brady of his insecurities, but he is a lousy quarterback. Patriot fans deserve better.

Going from Tom Brady to Brian Hoyer is cold turkey to the extreme. I can feel the cotton mouth, cold sweats and shakes coming on already. 

Does Bill Belichick expect you to accept Brian Hoyer as a starter? If he does, it should piss you off. 

If Hoyer does get the call you can still watch some of the game. I plan to. When the Patriots are on offense I will switch to the other game or Red Zone, and when I see on my phone that the Pats are back on defense, I will switch back over and watch Gilmore, Hightower and the McCourtys do their thing. 

That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it.