Patriots

Politely asking what the Patriots are doing with N'Keal Harry

Politely asking what the Patriots are doing with N'Keal Harry

Bill Belichick doesn't just know more about football than the rest of us, he thinks about it more than the rest of us.

So the smartest guy in the sport doesn't just arrive at unpopular conclusions without a reason. Deep down, somewhere there's a reason he didn't play Malcolm Butler on defense in the Super Bowl against the Eagles. On a far less dire scale, he probably has some reason as to why the Patriots weren't in a big rush to work N'Keal Harry into the Patriots' offense after he came off IR.

We can take our guesses. Maybe sitting him before the bye would have him better-conditioned for his NFL debut than he would have been last week. Maybe he's just not up to speed with the playbook despite having all season to study it. Maybe the quarterback would rather stick with a smaller number of veterans as he tries to get his own production up.

Here's the counter to all of those: If the goal is to eventually have this guy making significant contributions in the postseason, shouldn't there be a priority to have him getting game reps as soon as possible? And if the quarterback isn't psyched about Harry for some reason, don't you go Costanza and give him the "You're not in the mood? Well you get in the mood!" speech?

These will be questions worth shouting if Harry still isn't on the gameday roster against the Eagles after the bye, but they're at least worth pondering now. This has been a turbulent season for the Pats' receiver group and they've got a potential star -- that's what we all said when they drafted him, no take-backsies -- that either the quarterback, the team or both weren't in any rush to use.  

There's zigging when other teams zag, but there probably isn't a competitive advantage for the Patriots keeping a first-round receiver off the field.

My colleague Phil Perry has mentioned in recent weeks that where the Patriots pivoted in the second half of last season to more of a running offense, the change made this season might be more to a pass-heavy attack like the one they showed against the Ravens. Should that be the case -- which it definitely should, because Trent Brown, Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen aren't coming to rescue the run game -- that should mean Harry gets his snaps. Then will come the question of what Tom Brady does with him.

We've heard the quotes and they haven't been glowing. He said the following of the passing game needing this bye week during his WEEI appearance: "We'll need [more going forward] from Mo, we'll need it from Jules, we'll need it from Phillip [Dorsett], the tight ends, the backs, the line and everything."

When asked about Harry, Brady responded, "Again, coach makes those decisions, so I just go out there and try to play."

Is that Brady saying the kid stinks or that he doesn't want to work with him? Of course not, but when the QB's holding back on singing any praises of a player being kept off the field, you're left to wonder what's happening.

It was around this time of year that Malcolm Mitchell started to get more targets as a rookie back in 2016. He had his first five-target game on Nov. 20 of that season and continued to hold Brady's attention through his six-catch, 70-yard performance in the Super Bowl. So it's not like Brady flat-out refuses to throw to rookies; he just clearly has a preference for older players at the position, a bias that would be to the detriment of everybody if he isn't keen on Harry catching on.

Again, it's one game as a healthy scratch, but Antonio Brown is long gone. Demaryius Thomas is longer gone. Mohamed Sanu wasn't as much of an addition as he first appeared; he was part of a one-in, one-out that saw Josh Gordon's time in New England end. Gosh bless Phillip Dorsett, but if he's one of your primary receivers, your group ain't good. And Jakobi Meyers is either not ready or too young for Brady to take him seriously (which shouldn't be a thing).

With the offense still being a work in progress, it's comforting to imagine Brady being protected by actual NFL left tackle Isaiah Wynn and throwing to three high-end NFL receivers in Edelman, Sanu and Harry. The clock is ticking, though. The longer the Patriots take in getting their first-round pick acclimated, the less realistic than vision becomes.

How Patriots will approach their bye week after loss>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

How Tom Brady thanked Bucs' Chris Godwin for giving him No. 12 for free

How Tom Brady thanked Bucs' Chris Godwin for giving him No. 12 for free

It seemed like a potential predicament: Tom Brady wore No. 12 with the New England Patriots, but a player on his new team already had that number: Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Chris Godwin.

Godwin didn't just fall into No. 12, either. He's worn the number since high school, per ESPN, and both he and his fianceé have the number in their Twitter and Instagram profiles, respectively.

But Godwin agreed to switch to No. 14 so Brady could keep No. 12 with the Bucs, and made the move for free: The wide receiver told the team website he gave up No. 12 out of respect for the six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback and that there was no transaction involved.

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

In fact, Godwin celebrated the change Tuesday with some photo editing magic on Instagram.

View this post on Instagram

New number, same mentality ! ūüė§ #ItsAlways12szn #1fo

A post shared by G Baby (@chrisgodwin) on

So, it was the least Brady could do to show his new wideout love in the comment section.

"Much Appreciated - Very Grateful - Humbled / And ready to get to work!!!" Brady wrote on Godwin's post, adding a pair of "100" emojis.

Fellow Bucs wide receiver Mike Evans also chimed in by commenting, "Already Gs."

Even if Godwin wanted to keep No. 12, it's a smart move by the 24-year-old to get into Brady's good graces.

Brady also can "repay" Godwin by feeding him frequently in 2020: The Pro Bowl wideout finished third in the NFL in receiving yards in 2019 and along with Evans should form a lethal duo for his new quarterback.

Ex-Ravens scout unearths Bill Belichick's blueprint for ideal quarterback

Ex-Ravens scout unearths Bill Belichick's blueprint for ideal quarterback

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has done things by the book since his days as the Cleveland Browns head coach nearly 30 years ago. 

After a long wait, Belichick finally landed his perfect quarterback in 2000 (though he didn't start him until 2001). Well, at least in relation to a 1991 handout that detailed what he looks for and expects from the ideal QB in his system. 

Download the MyTeams app for the latest Patriots news and analysis

NFL Network's Daniel Jeremiah, an ex-Baltimore Ravens scout, revealed a document he received in his time with the Ravens, who descended from the Cleveland Browns after the owner Art Modell moved the franchise to Baltimore. It details what Belichick's ideal offense looks like. Most notable was Belichick's description of what he's looking for in a QB: 

QB: #1 is to make good decisions -- then arm, size, physically tough, leadership, guys look up to and have confidence in, a real competitor. Accurate rather than guy with a cannon. Emphasis on our game will be on decision, timing, accuracy -- guy needs to be confident, intelligence is important but not as much so as field awareness and judgement. Can't be sloppy fundamentally unsound guy w/ ball handling, tech's, etc. Footwork, drops, release, etc. -- QB has to be able to throw the ball with accuracy. 

Sound like anyone familiar? After 10 years (remember, this document was from 1991), Belichick finally landed his guy in Tom Brady when he drafted the Michigan QB in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft and eventually replaced Drew Bledsoe with him the next season. What's more remarkable is he managed to hang on to his dream QB for 20 years before Brady decided to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in free agency. 

Brady certainly fits Belichick's description: He makes extremely good decisions, has a strong arm and is a true competitor. While Brady doesn't necessarily have a "cannon" of an arm compared to other QBs, he's accurate and places a high value on the fundamentals. 

The descriptions in the document Jeremiah tweeted definitely still hold true to what Belichick maintains as his standards today. It'll be interesting to see if he does, in fact, draft a quarterback this year.

If he does, you can bet that guy will be someone who makes smart decisions above anything else.