IF YOU have been paying attention to your New England Patriots during this time of isolation, you might have noticed a subtle changing of the guard at Gillette Stadium.
You might have noticed that Jarrett Stidham is now the New England quarterback.
That’s right. Tom Brady is living in Derek Jeter‘s mansion in Florida. Mediocre veterans have floated past Bill Belichick‘s office window, without any obvious interest from the boss. Cam Newton? No. Jameis Winston? Nah. Andy Dalton? As of Saturday morning, nothing. The draft came and went and no QB was taken by the Pats, who did sign one, Michigan State’s Brian Lewerke, as a free agent.
All signs were pointing at Stidham, the second-year fourth-round draft pick who mostly stood and watched Brady and a shaky, no-Rob Gronkowski offense fail to get far in a bid for Lombardi Trophy No. 7. Stidham played some — very little — but must have impressed enough in practice to show he deserves the shot at replacing Brady when (if???) things kick into gear for 2020.
For two decades, it was about Brady. Brady and Belichick. Belichick and Brady. No. 1 and No. 1A. The argument raged over who was more important to the dynasty.
Now, Belichick remains. And this whole Stidham thing could simply be about the coach’s immense pride as he looks to show the world it was actually Belichick/Brady (in that order) the whole time.
Brian Hoyer is around to help push Stidham, but this appears to be the kid’s job to lose. Belichick seems just fine with that.
As NBCSports Boston said in a recent headline: “Who Won the 2020 Draft? Jarrett Stidham”
While the AFC Least isn’t as bad as it once was (do the Pats now have the weakest starting QB in the division?), it’s still not a killer road for at least another division title in 2020.
If they go to the playoffs in what doomsayers are thinking will be a lost post-Brady season, then Belichick wins. On the other hand, if Tampa Bay goes to the playoffs (and perhaps even becomes the first team to host a Super Bowl), Brady’s the clear winner.
For those into the argument over whether Brady is the greatest of all time — and place Joe Montana second — the website “thedelite.com” agrees with half your position.
The site has ranked the top 40 QBs and while Brady is No. 1, Montana comes in at just No. 7.
On Brady, they said, “When you combine statistical greatness, consistency, clutch performances and winning in the regular season and playoffs, there is simply no better quarterback than Tom Brady. The sheer number of playoff games he’s started in equal more than two full NFL seasons, making his longevity in the game even more impressive, and his .732 winning percentage in them is also staggering.”
Drew Brees came in second, followed by Peyton Manning, Dan Marino, Steve Young, Aaron Rodgers, Montana and then Brett Favre.
“Joe Cool” never led the NFL in passing yards, despite routinely throwing for more than 3,000 yards,” they said of Montana. “His best feature was accuracy, leading the league in completion percentage five times, ranking 15th in NFL history in that statistic for his career. Montana’s 1989 run in the playoffs is still one of the best for a quarterback ever, as he threw for 800 yards, 11 touchdowns and no interceptions on the way to winning his fourth ring.”
Drew Bledsoe was No. 31, Dan Fouts 32 and Joe Namath 38.Cheese trouble
All signs are pointing toward things getting rocky fast in Green Bay after the Packers, on the 15th anniversary of drafting Rodgers as Favre’s successor, tabbed Jordan Love in the first round.
“Aaron Rodgers should mentor Jordan Love,” said FS1’s Colin Cowherd. “If Aaron Rodgers and we know he’s been frustrated before by people in the organization. In two years, if Aaron Rodgers is done and can get out. You know what would have to happen to the Packers to be willing to do it?”
Favre, surprised at the pick, made 15 years to the night from when the Pack tabbed Rodgers to replace HIM, also predicted this won’t end well. Meanwhile, Rodgers, a factor in Mike McCarthy leaving Green Bay, was apparently already at it with his current coach.
Wrote The Athletic’s Bob McGinn: “Public niceties aside, my sense is (Matt) LaFleur, fresh from a terrific 13-3 baptismal season, simply had enough of Rodgers’ act and wanted to change the narrative. With a first-round talent on the roster, the Packers would gain leverage with their imperial quarterback and his passive-aggressive style.
“If the Packers do indeed want to become a running team next season (BC’s AJ Dillon was also selected), they surely wouldn’t want Rodgers rocking the boat and becoming even more difficult to coach.”
Gronkowski claimed he had been studying the Tampa Bay playbook weeks before the Bucs traded for him. The NFL is likely investigating his new team for possible tampering.
Pats fans everywhere will expect Roger Goodell, still not a fan favorite in New England, to lower some kind of boom on the Bucs but it’s hard to imagine this really going anywhere. Right?
“I was in a Tampa Bay Buccaneers playbook four weeks ago, and I wasn’t even on the team,” Gronk, now a former wrestler, boasted.
He scrambled, tweeting, he “was just joking around.”
Bring it back
OK, I surrender. I’m ready to have sports return, in any form.
No fans? Got it. Playing baseball in Florida and Arizona? Check.
Saturday was supposed to be Kentucky Derby day (the first Saturday in May). Did you have an annual Derby party?
I don’t know about you, but watching any of these old games — the MLB and NHL Networks have given us plenty to watch — I immediately hit Google and check the box score, so I know who won and how so I can leave and return.
MGM sent letters to all the sports saying it would be happy to house all athletes at the MGM Grand, with families residing at the nearby Luxor.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today broke a story last week that had baseball dispensing of its two leagues and going to three divisions of 10 teams each. The plan would be set up geographically to limit travel.
The games would be played in home parks (great news for us official scorers), with the Red Sox in the same division as both New York teams.
A schedule could consist of 99 or 100 games. How about playing each division opponent 11 times each with no games outside the division? There would be “inter-league” built right in.
In addition to wearing a mask and scoring games at Fenway, I will watch at home.
No fans would be weird to watch on television. Heck, you’d be able to hear everything on the field, the court or the ice. They’d have to use a delay to bleep out the language. Would they pipe in phony crowd noise, which has been working (as a joke) for Bill Maher on Friday nights?
Without crowd noise, the grunting of the 350-pound football linemen would be clear as a bell. A torn-up knee would be accompanied by screams of pain. In short, we’d learn a lot more about these guys and how human they can be despite playing like animals in the jungle.
Hey, are you watching the Bulls documentary? Episodes 5 and 6 are tonight. The production is full of the hate between the Bulls and “Bad Boy” Pistons.
It’s clear Michael Jordan and Isiah Thomas are NOT friends. Jordan called Thomas a bad name and Thomas, who has had all kinds of trouble since leaving the court (see Madison Square Garden sexual harassment case) and still graces us with his presence on TV, answered this week.
It’s fitting Thomas’ middle name is “Lord.”
Speaking to CBS, Thomas said, “I respect him a lot as a basketball player, I have nothing against him, but I faced better players than him.”
He listed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird and Magic Johnson ahead of Jordan.
The Lord has spoken!
The Red Sox were supposed to be hosting the Texas Rangers this weekend. …
Jayson Tatum is one of the NBA’s bright young stars — and he’s starting to get plenty of endorsement work. …
The Bruins took a gamble when they gave Jaro Halak a two-year deal after he finished his rocky six-year contract with the Islanders. To say it worked out would be understatement — and he just signed a one-year/$2.75 million contract extension last week. With Tuukka Rask leaving the door ajar on retiring after this interrupted season, Halak would be No. 1 in Boston next year. The B’s could do worse. …
From the MGM proposal to the leagues: “Any person entering the integrated resort would have to go through agreed health, safety, and quarantine protocols.” Basketball could be played on five courts built on the Mandalay Bay site, the home of the WNBA’s Aces. …
Andre Dawson, now a mortician in his native Miami, on working during the pandemic, to the Associated Press: “It’s very sad. It’s very sad. Because people mourn and grieve differently and they’re not getting through that process as they would under normal circumstances. You see a lot of hurt and pain.” Morticians see “hurt and pain” all the time; but this has to be SO different as the bodies pile up and families don’t get to grieve properly. …
My nephew went to and graduated Michigan State. Bro tells me Lewerke is nothing special. But the kid is athletic and you wonder what Belichick has in store for him.
Remember, Julian Edelman had 30 touchdown passes and 31 interceptions his last year at Kent State. …
NBCSports Boston continues its Celtics games/series productions tonight. It runs through the end of the month — more chances for C’s fans to complain about officials having it in for their team. …
So sorry to hear about the passing of former Boston Herald colleague Mike Carey, gone at 72. Great NBA writer. RIP!!! …
From the NFL combine overview on Lewerke: “Scouts have gone from bullish to bearish on Lewerke after his dismal two-year run following a promising 2017 campaign. He looks the part from an operational standpoint with good size and mobility, but he’s been unable to inspire confidence in his ability as a field leader. If coaching improves his footwork and follow-through, he might see some improvement from an accuracy standpoint, but it’s hard to say if it will be enough.” …
I watched a 2013 Giants-Dodgers game the other day with the great Vin Scully doing the telecast. The Dodgers left runners on base all day before Buster Posey won it for the Giants with a home run. Said Scully, in a way only he could say it, the Dodgers “Waited around all day to get beat ... and they got beat.”
Tremendous success story being written by a young hockey player. Two years after suffering a broken back in that horrific Humboldt bus crash, Graysen Cameron has committed to play and go to school at Northland College in Ashland, Wis. …
From @petervescey: “Incredulously, Mark McNamara, who has passed away, Is the fourth 76ers center of the 1980s to die at 60 or younger; Moses Malone, Caldwell Jones and Darryl Dawkins are the other three. Bless one and all! …
Complete with the video, the Bengals tweeted good-bye to Dalton early this week. Read the tweet: We have released QB Andy Dalton. Andy has not only been an outstanding player on the field, but a role model in the Cincinnati community for the last nine years. Thank you for everything, Andy.”
Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.