Earlier this month, GQ’s deep dive on Jaguars corner Jalen Ramsey caused a stir when Ramsey strafed a bunch of quarterbacks with harsh reviews.
New week, new deep dive, this one from ESPN’s Mina Kimes. And the targets this time are Rob Gronkowski and Danny Amendola.
“In generall . . . fans underestimate the effect that quarterback play has on wide receivers. For example, he says, look at Danny Amendola, who just signed with Miami. "Or is it Edelman?" he asks out loud. He mulls it over. No -- he's thinking of Amendola. "He just got a brand-new contract and he is terrible," he says. "People think he's so great. No, he's not. Tom [Brady] made him look good. Tom could take me as a receiver and I'd be a first-team All-Pro.".
Kimes offers up Gronk as a rebuttal.
"I don't think Gronk's good." Registering my involuntary blinking, he course-corrects. "Let me say -- I don't think Gronk is as great as people think he is." Before the Patriots game, he explains, he had the Jaguars' analytics staffers pull some numbers for him. "Any time Gronk has been matched up with a corner, he's had a very bad game -- and that corner has had a very good game." (Gronk has performed much better when lined up in the slot than he has on the perimeter, where he's more likely to encounter elite corners -- his catch rate drops from 71 percent to 56 percent, which is lower than that of the average NFL tight end.)
I ask him what Gronk did in the AFC championship. "Literally nothing. He may have had, like, one catch," he says. (Ramsey is correct, though Gronkowski left before halftime because of a concussion.)
The kernels of truth in Ramsey’s statements are what make his trash-talk so much more interesting than, say, blather we used to hear from someone like Terrell Suggs.
Brady undoubtedly got more from Amendola than most quarterbacks would have because Brady is really good and -- over five seasons together -- he and Amendola reached a point where they could outthink and outmaneuver defenses. And Amendola is smaller and a lot less imposing than conventional receivers.
But alleging Amendola is “terrible” conveniently overlooks his short-area explosiveness, leaping ability, game sense and hands. He’s been a good player in the NFL for a decade.
As for Gronk, Ramsey is right. When he’s covered by corners, his size advantage is occasionally negated somewhat by smaller, quicker players who can get under him and agitate.
But if a team has to use its No. 1 corner to deal with a tight end, the defensive domino effect that follows leads to matchups elsewhere that Brady will pick on.
Which, in a roundabout way, is the point Ramsey was trying to make. The quarterback makes all the difference in the world.
The Patriots will see Ramsey in person in Week 2.
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First things first. All that talk about turmoil in Foxboro?
"There's not really much truth to [the rumors that there was a ton of turmoil inside the walls], to tell you the truth," said ex-Patriots and current Miami wide receiver Danny Amendola. "There is always going to be some friction between a coach and a player in a business."
Second things second. The talk that there's been no explanation as to why Malcolm Butler was benched in the Super Bowl, and that the players -- or at least this player -- remain baffled by it?
"I don't know the answer to [why that happened] to this day . . . " said Amendola. "[For] whatever reason, [Bill Belichick] felt, you know, he's the coach. I can't make that decision. I can only do my job and focus on my job.
"But in hindsight, it's like, 'Really, what agenda are we on?' It's something that I will probably never really understand."
Amendola said all this, and much more, on Barstool Sports' Comeback SZN Podcast with Kayce Smith, formerly of NBC Sports Boston. Amendola -- who played five years in New England before signing as a free agent with the Dolphins this past offseason -- gave a fascinating glimpse behind the Patriots' iron curtain.
Like when he signed with the Pats on March 13, 2013:
The realization he was headed to New England "set in when Bill called . . . and said, 'Get your ass to Foxboro and ink this up . . . we're not having a press conference, we don't give a [crap] about that.' Then I realized [New England] was all work, no glitz. No glamour. It's just about playing good football, the Patriot Way."
And what it was like with the Pats:
"I got to understand what it was like to put the work in and really grind it out . . . and learn how to win. When I was in St. Louis" -- Amendola played for the Rams from 2009-12, when the team went 17-46-1 and was below .500 every year -- "I learned that wins are hard to come by in the NFL . . . but sometimes we'd win in New England and [Belichick] wasn't happy. Tom [Brady] wasn't happy. Or we knew we could play better here or play better there. I learned how to win and how to play and what it meant to play good football."
Did he enjoy it?
"I have mixed feelings about business is done," he admitted.
However . . .
"I got to play for the greatest coach of time, [with] the greatest quarterback of all time and [for] one of the greatest owners of all time (in Robert Kraft). I got to understand what it was like to put the work in and really grind it out . . . and learn how to win."
Some of the other things he had to say . .
On the difference between Belichick and his new coach, Adam Gase: "Adam Gase is one of the guys. He's our leader. He's our head coach, but he's also our boy. It's cool. It's refreshing to have that kind of relationship with a coach, which is something that I haven't had in a long time. You want to fight hard [for a coach like that]. Back in New England, it was almost like you've got a principal and a principal's office and [stuff] like that. You know, in a good way. And in a bad way, too."
On how playing with Tom Brady impacted his career: "Tom is not only a great football player, but he makes every one on his team better around him. He's created a lifestyle for himself and diet and the way he approaches the game on and off the field around the clock. . . . he's preparing his body. He's really instilled that in me. I've watched him do it for five years. That's inadvertently changed that way I approach the game."
More on the Patriots' reported turmoil: "Personally, I can't speak for Tom or Bill. But I know that regardless of business -- and I have mixed feelings of how business is done [in New England] -- I know for a fact that Coach Belichick is one of the best coaches of all time. He has all of his players' respect. I know Tom would say that same thing. I know [Rob Gronkowski] would say the same thing, regardless of how they feel about their contracts or certain situation or whatever may be going down."
On his favorite off-the-field memoires as a Patriot: "[Going] to the [Kentucky] Derby every year after we won the Super Bowl with Tom was fun . . . we'd gas up the jet and we'd get down there and four or five Louisville cops would pick us up. We could literally do whatever we wanted with cops by our side . . . of course, Gronk and [Julian Edelman] being there (spices things) up a bit. And when you're with Brady, every head in the building turns. He changes the energy in any room. It's fun. It's adult fun.
"I went to the Derby twice and I don't think I saw a horse one time. [Wes] Welker, one year, brought in a boombox.. We created our own club vibe in there. Wes brought like $500,000 in fake 20s and 100s stacked it up on the table and everybody thought it was real money . . . Another year, we had a karaoke machine. And this is like in the most distinguished area of the Derby. People are suited and booted . . . and we have a karaoke machine. Travis Tritt was there . . . and he sang 'Sweet Home Alabama'. It was awesome. It was electric."
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