I’m in love with the NFL Network’s “Football Life” documentaries and one that premiered last Friday that was sneaky good concerned former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Steve Young.
The doc went into detail about Young’s relationship with Joe Montana, and how late, great Niners head coach Bill Walsh would consistently put Young into games despite Montana being at the peak of his powers. Later, when Montana was coming off of injury and Young had an MVP-level season – Walsh would flip the script and put Montana in - in place of Young. It wasn’t anything Young or Montana did wrong, it’s just that Walsh thought he could get the absolute best out of both quarterbacks by making each player fear for his job. The ploy certainly worked, as Montana and Young are today both regarded as top 10 quarterbacks of all-time.
Now, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is not above stealing ideas from brilliant football minds, so it got me to start wondering whether or not Belichick could be ready to pull some of this QB competition chicanery with Tom Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo in the next few years.
Brady was as good as ever on Sunday against the Browns, completing 28-of-40 passes for 406 yards and three touchdowns. He finished with a sparkling 127.7 passer rating.
Brady – of course - had every reason in the world to be pissed off in his return, given that he was dealt the most bogus suspension in the history of pro football. And he should continue to light the world on fire – in fact if he puts up numbers all years like the numbers he put up in Cleveland on Sunday, he will be a favorite for NFL MVP despite missing four games.
All that said, he’s 39-years-old and the Patriots need to have a backup plan if, 1. Brady gets hurt; or 2. Brady suddenly starts playing like he’s 39. Garoppolo certainly showed great promise in his five-plus quarters as QB of the NEP, so we could see him get more cameos like he did late in Sunday’s win over the Browns. Belichick could even opt to start Garoppolo late in the year just to keep everyone – other teams, Brady and Garoppolo himself – on their toes.
You’ve gotta believe that Belichick expects 28-of-40 for 406 yards and three touchdowns out of Brady each and every week going forward. That’s fair, when you employ a man who is considered by most to be the G.OA.T..
Belichick demands perfection, and he will never stop applying pressure to his players – even the G.O.A.T. - to get that perfection.
“Bend but don’t break” is an annoying football term that ranks right up there with “prevent defense.” As lame as the term is though, the Patriots trot out a classic, bend-but-don’t-break defense each and every week. There’s no way around it.
There were plenty of moans and groans in the first quarter of the Pats – Browns game on Sunday when Cody Kessler (yes, THE Cody Kessler) sliced through the Pats secondary - as if Ellis Hobbs and Kyle Arrington were the starting corners - and tied the game at 7. But the Pats’ defense used this early ugliness as a feeling-out-process of sorts. Truth be told, it didn’t hurt that Kessler got hurt and Charlie Whitehurst took the rest of the snaps – but you get the point. The Browns didn’t score again until the fourth quarter.
While the Pats haven’t reminded anyone of the ’85 Bears this season in terms of defensive aesthetics, the stats back up that they are a top NFL unit. Through five games, the Pats have allowed the fourth least amount of points per game in the league, giving up just 14.8 ppg. Only Minnesota, Philly and Seattle have performed better.