Patriots

QB South? Saints' Drew Brees, Falcons' Dan Quinn react to Tom Brady joining division

QB South? Saints' Drew Brees, Falcons' Dan Quinn react to Tom Brady joining division

Don't look now, but the NFC South now has one of the NFL's best crops of quarterbacks.

The division obviously got a boost when Tom Brady left the New England Patriots in free agency to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But the South has two incumbents with very strong pedigrees in New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees and Atlanta Falcons signal-caller Matt Ryan.

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And don't forget about former Saints backup Teddy Bridgewater, who replaces Cam Newton as the Carolina Panthers' high-upside starter.

"The NFC South is turning into QB South," Falcons head coach Dan Quinn quipped Wednesday, via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's D. Orlando Ledbetter.

Quinn is well aware of what Brady brings, though -- his former team hasn't lost the AFC East since 2008 -- and knows the Bucs are an immediate threat with the six-time Super Bowl champion under center.

"I think that makes the division more competitive. It will be a battle, man," Quinn said, via ESPN.com's Vaughn McClure.

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Brees apparently agrees with Quinn's assessment.

"Yeah, well, the division just got a little bit better, didn't it?" the veteran quarterback told Ellen DeGeneres on Wednesday during an appearance on "The Ellen Show," via ESPN.com.

" ... Our division has Teddy Bridgewater, Tom Brady, Matt Ryan and myself with the Saints. It's always been a very challenging division, and it just kicked up a notch."

Brees' Saints still are the betting favorites to win their fourth straight NFC South title. Brady's Bucs are right behind them, though, and if the soon-to-be-43-year-old QB gets on the same page with offensive weapons Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay could snap that streak.

As for the AFC East? With Jarrett Stidham (Patriots), Josh Allen (Bills), Sam Darnold (Jets) and whichever QB the Dolphins land on in the 2020 NFL Draft, it's safe to say they've slid in the Division QB Power Rankings.

Dolphins' Kyle Van Noy bristles at Patriots comparisons: 'We're our own team'

Dolphins' Kyle Van Noy bristles at Patriots comparisons: 'We're our own team'

You could call the Miami Dolphins "Foxboro South." Just don't call them that in front of Kyle Van Noy.

The veteran linebacker is one of four former New England Patriots who signed with the Dolphins this offseason, joining fellow linebackers Elandon Roberts and Kamu Grugier-Hill and center Ted Karras.

Miami is also led by an ex-Patriot in head coach Brian Flores, who has loaded his staff with New England alums in defensive coordinator Josh Boyer, tight ends coach George Godsey and quality control coach Mike Judge.

But Van Noy apparently is growing tired of those who believe the Dolphins are trying to replicate the Patriots' model of success.

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“I don’t now how many New England guys there are, but we’re going to get away from that,” Van Noy told the Miami Herald's Adam Beasley in a recent interview. “We’re our own team, this is not the New England Patriots. This is the Miami Dolphins. It’s totally different, and I’m excited for that. New beginnings.

The Dolphins began to forge their own identity late in the 2019 season, going 5-4 down the stretch after losing their first seven games. While Van Noy and his fellow Patriots cast-offs weren't there for that turnaround, the 29-year-old can already sense the team's new attitude.

"We’re the Miami Dolphins. We’re here to represent the people of Miami," Van Noy said. "They want it bad. I can sense that. Miami’s a football town."

The Dolphins fired ex-Patriots wide receivers coach Chad O'Shea as their offensive coordinator late in the 2019 season and used their No. 5 overall pick on Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, so perhaps they are intent on moving past those Patriots comparisons.

We'll find out immediately if that new approach pays off, as New England hosts Miami in its 2020 season opener.

Devin McCourty, wife share heartbreaking news of daughter's death

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USA TODAY Sports

Devin McCourty, wife share heartbreaking news of daughter's death

Devin McCourty and his wife, Michelle, endured every parent's worst nightmare last weekend.

The New England Patriots safety shared his wife's announcement Saturday that they lost their third child, Mia, last Sunday as the result of a stillbirth.

"I cry as I type this," Michelle wrote in an Instagram post. "My pregnancy had resulted in a stillbirth at almost 8 months of being pregnant — at exactly 31 weeks 2 days, when we found out that the baby girl growing inside me no longer had a heartbeat after being completely fine the week prior at my last doctor’s appointment.

"We are so heartbroken. We are devastated. We are speechless. We are angry. We are sad. We are confused. We are numb."

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The couple has two other young children: a 3-year-old girl named Londyn and a 2-year-old boy named Brayden.

The McCourtys received an outpouring of support from Devin's current and former teammates after he shared the news on Instagram.

Here's ex-Patriots quarterback Tom Brady: "Love you my brother. So sad for you loss! You are in our thoughts and prayers always ❤️❤️🙏🏼🙏🏼"

And here's Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo: "My prayers and love to your family bro."

Patriots wide receiver N'Keal Harry -- "My prayers are definitely going out to y’all. Love you bro💙" -- Detroit Lions defensive end Trey Flowers -- "Prayers for you and your family! 💪🏾 be strong brother" -- and ex-Patriots cornerback Aqib Talib -- "Praying for ya family brotha!" -- were among many other NFL players offering their support to the McCourtys.

Michelle added in her message that she and Devin "appreciate the love and support we’ve already gotten, and just ask that you respect our privacy during this difficult time, since we have no answers to give anyway."

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