Saturday, February 11, 2017

Reloading The Musket, Part 1 - Brady To Return, But Who Backs Him Up?

Tom Brady 'Indiana Joneses' people.

That unique but not so preposterous analogy of how the New England Patriots' quarterback led their epic comeback in Super Bowl 51 was offered by defensive end Chris Long shortly after his Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons in overtime of what will be remembered as the greatest game in the history of the big game - and perhaps the greatest football game of all time.

"He tears people's hearts out." Long offered not long after sheepishly trying to embrace a celebration that he had never witnessed as a football player, "Remember the scene in Indiana Jones where the guy rips the other dude's heart out?  That's what I think when I see Tommy.  He Indiana Joneses people."

You can search far and wide, and never find a more fitting description of Brady.

Despite articles pondering the future of Brady and the fact that his Super Model wife asked him to retire, Brady will be back with the Patriots next season and, presumably, beyond.  This undoubtedly casts a mean shadow on the rest of the teams in the National Football League, but also opens potential opportunity to those teams whose fortunes at the quarterback position have them thinking signal caller in the upcoming draft.

Brady's performance in the Super Bowl and, indeed, the entire 2016 campaign has proven that his skills haven't eroded like those of many of his peers (term loosely offered) who have reached their football golden years - and all you have to do is to watch his laser-like throws in the second half of the Super Bowl to see that for yourself...

...but also click over onto the NFL Network and listen to the Sound Effects broadcasts of the championship game and hear players and announcers use words like "filthy" and "sick" to describe his remarkable placement of balls to his receivers, all of which leave them in position to gain yards after the catch.

Ah, we could go on and on about Brady, but you already know.  So with Brady sticking around for a couple of more seasons, what does that mean for the other two quarterbacks on the New England depth chart?

This is how sick the Patriots' college scouting department is: In 2014 they laid out second round draft capital on Eastern Illinois quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, trumping the Houston Texans, who wanted him at the top of the third round, by four spots.  Houston went on to draft Pittsburgh's Tom Savage, who has been buried behind some very mediocre starting signal callers, including two former Patriots.

Then last season, they went out and drafted North Carolina State's Jacoby Brissett, spending third round draft capital on a player that had been mentored by a guy named Bill Parcells and raved about by his former college offensive coordinator Charlie Weis - both of who said the Patriots are a perfect fit for him.

And they should know, right?

Belichick was the defensive coordinator under Parcells with the New York Giants, Patriots and New York Jets and Weis served as offensive coordinator under Belichick at New England before moving coaching in the college ranks, so they both have a pretty decent idea of the Dark Master's style and system.

But why?  The Patriots already had Garoppolo on board and Brady had already declared that he was going to play well into his forties - so here's the thing, and there's no getting around it: Belichick drafted Brissett because he knew there was going to be a bidding war on Garoppolo between other teams, he just didn't know how intense it would actually be...

...but when Jimmy Clipboard toughed out a season-opening win in Arizona, then lit up the Dolphins  before getting plowed into the ground unnecessarily by Kiki Alonzo and injuring his shoulder, the asking price for the third-year product went up exponentially, especially considering that Brissett played well in relief of Garoppolo.

So now, it's simply a matter of Belichick being patient and letting the trio of interested teams try to outmaneuver each other with compensation packages.

There are currently six teams who are in legitimate need of a starting quarterback, and the three most desperate - The Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers and Chicago Bears - just happen to hold the top three positions in the draft, while teams who have quarterbacks, just not very good ones - the New York Jets, Houston Texans and Denver Broncos - will probably not even get a call back from Belichick if they want to get in on the bidding.

The reason is simple: Those three team are all frequently-played rivals of New England, and there's no way Belichick sends a quarterback of Garoppolo's talent to any of them.  A case could be made to steer clear of Cleveland as well, since they are an AFC team, but the Browns have the most bargaining chips (the top pick in the first and second rounds plus the number twelve overall) and could easily outbid everyone else.

The Jets are a hated division rival, so the only thing Belichick would send them is a whoopie cushion (postage due) and the Broncos have been a thorn in his side for a long time.  The wildcard is the Texans, who overpaid for Brock Osweiller last offseason - and while they are still on the books with him for a hefty cap hit in 2017, Garoppolo would come cheap and offset the money they are paying for Osweiller.

The smart money has Garoppolo going to the 49ers, as new head coach Kyle Shanahan has publicly commented that Prince Ali would be his man, if he could get him, and Belichick would probably deal with him for his second rounder (34th overall) and a myriad of mid-round picks.

Regardless, Jimmy Garoppolo will most likely not be with the Patriots come training camp, which means it will be Brady and the talented youngster Brissett, which is still the best quarterback situation in the league - bar none.

1 comment:

  1. We're so blessed to having not only the greatest coach in the game ever. We got the greatest QB ever. And from the looks of it This may not end anytime soon
    I have a good feeling about Jacoby and think he is Tommy's replacement in 3 or 4 years. However, if Tom Brady can get his sixth Lombardi next season, I think then, he'll call it a career.