New England Patriots – NFL: Judge Berman’s “No Deal” Is No Surprise

The good news is we could have Judge Richard M. Berman’s ruling in Tom Brady’s four game suspension, you know, “deflategate,” before I actually get to publish this article. After Monday’s meeting he said he will have a decision by Friday and possibly as early as Tuesday.

The bad news is, no matter how the Judge rules, odds are we won’t be through hearing about this fiasco for another year or more.

Judge Berman: “We did not reach a settlement. … In some cases, it doesn’t happen and this is one of those cases.”

In an abbreviated meeting Monday (8/31) between the attorney’s for the NFL and those for Tom Brady and the NFLPA, Judge Berman gave up. Yup, no matter how hard he pushed for a negotiated settlement neither party was willing to move enough (or at all) off their original position to bring about closure.

All the big guns were there for both sides, including NFL Commissioner (King) Roger Goodell, John Mara (chairman of the NFL Management Council Executive Committee), Tom Brady, Jay Feely (a member of the union’s executive committee) and a horde of Attorneys charging huge $$$$$$$$$. Could anyone really expect a last minute miracle? Not only no, but hell no!

Feely, speaking for the NFLPA outside the courthouse after the meetings, had this to say:

“For us it reinforces the desire and the need for an independent arbitrator in these matters of personal conduct,” … “But we understand Tom’s position and I think the process will work itself out.”

S-L-O-W Is Where We Go Now

No matter what he rules in the next few days, it is highly likely the loser will appeal the decision…and, when that happens, things slow to a crawl. If you think it’s been forever to get to this point your patience is about to be drained.

Judge Berman fast tracked this ridiculous case through his court with the hope he could force a settlement, but the higher courts have more important things to do than to rule on deflated football theories and they will take their time. You can be sure Berman will write his decision carefully to avoid being overturned.

Per Michael McCann of Sports Illustrated An appeal might not be decided by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit until next summer, meaning Brady could lose this round in court but play the entire 2015 season without disruption

Nothing New

So, nothing has changed from all the discussions everyone has had and, no matter what anyone says…once again…don’t believe anything you hear until the Judge issues his ruling. We’ll be writing a lot more about the silliest court action ever (should work it’s way into Ripley’s Believe It Or Not) once we hear what Judge Berman decides.

Follow me on Twitter @SnowdonBob


Cautiously Optimistic

Optimism exists in the heart of every fan regardless of what team they root for at the start of each and every NFL season. In some cases it would be ludicrous to think your team wasn’t a front-runner, such as the case with the Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos, or Green Bay Packers. For a Minnesota Vikings fan, Jacksonville Jaguar fan and especially a New York Jets fan, the beginning of the season is really the only time that you are allowed to be so assured of your team’s potential abilities.

The New England Patriots are used to being heavy favorites to compete for a Super Bowl title and this year in theory should be no different. Oddly enough, coming off a Lombardi Trophy win, the Patriots are a bit more of a wild card than one would typically expect. In the shadow of Deflategate many things have changed since the beginning of February. Under center we have a scenario like no other in Patriot’s history. Backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo probably pictured that he would gain the starting position job a bit differently than by a trumped up suspension of Tom Brady over a loss of air pressure. Garoppolo for better or for worse is currently the starting quarterback for the New England Patriots for the first four games of the 2015 season. If the suspension holds up this could either be a chance to shine or an unmitigated disaster.

During free agency the Patriots lost several key components to last year’s winning formula. The secondary was stripped clean with the losses of superstar cornerback Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner and Kyle Arrington. Vince Wilfork, the veteran run stopper on defense, now plays for the Houston Texans. Shane Vereen, a dynamic third down back, is now the New York Giants’ shiny new toy. Dan Connolly, stablizing offensive lineman, retired. Like with any team these are parts that can and have been replaced but the current mix of players lacks the former’s track record.

The injury bug has crept its way into the New England Patriots locker room as well. Popular slot receiver Julian Edelman and wide receiver Brandon LaFell have both been battling nagging injuries which have kept them off the field. Newly acquired wide receiver Brandon Gibson and dynamic receiver Brian Tyms Have both suffered season-ending injuries. Offensive line Center Bryan Stork has missed quite a bit of action due to injury, which has been hindering the offensive line during much of the preseason. As recent as Saturday night, the Patriots lost fullback James Devlin for an extended length of time. Granted, these are the more notable injuries but they do play a large part in the New England Patriots’ chances to repeat as champions.
Still there is room for plenty of optimism. The preseason football games are hardly a barometer for how well a squad will perform during the actual season. That being said, the Patriots defense has shown that the absences of top cornerbacks doesn’t mean they won’t go down fighting. Super Bowl hero, cornerback Malcolm Butler has looked exceptionally strong. Defensive end Jabaal Sheard looks as though he may have been the perfect free-agent pickup for this defense. Sheard’s fight and tenacity help make the defensive front seven a force to be reckoned with. The offense, once healthy and stable, has the potential to be world class. An angry and focused Tom Brady throwing to the likes of Julian Edelman, Brandon LaFell, superstar tight end Rob Gronkowski, slot receiver Danny Amendola, tight end Scott Chandler and future Hall of Famer, Reggie Wayne could make an awful bit of trouble for most NFL defenses.

Do the 2015 New England Patriots have their share of doubters, when it comes to the burgeoning success of back to back championship seasons? Of  course, but like the other 31 clubs you can’t tell their rabid fan base that this season doesn’t belong to them. Lest we forget, the month of September 2014 which at the time did not look so promising for the Patriots either. How did that season end again? So, let’s all just agree to be cautiously optimistic.

2015 Preseason NFL Power Rankings

It is crazy to believe we are ten days away from the start of another NFL season.  With so many story lines completely unrelated to football, I’m not giving any of them one syllable of press.  Will we see our first repeat Super Bowl champions since the Patriots did it over a decade ago?  Will Aaron Rodgers get his second ring?  Will Big Ben and Elijah get their third?  Is this Peyton Manning’s last year under center?  These are just a few of the burning questions facing the 2015 NFL season.  Let’s kick off the 2015 season and take a look at our first weekly power rankings.


  1. Seattle Seahawks – I believe Kam Chancellor will be back in time for the season opener. Ciara’s Bitch (Russell Wilson for all you newcomers) got a new toy in Ginger Graham (Jimmy Graham) and the Seahawks defense is still the best in the league.
  2. Green Bay Packers – The Denim King (Aaron Rodgers) may have lost Jordy Nelson, but he still has The Demon (Randall Cobb) and Davante Adams at his disposal. The Packers literally gave the NFC Championship game away to Seattle last season.  They win that game, they beat New England in the Super Bowl.
  3. New England Patriots – Tom Brady’s suspension is still looming and the Patriots have health concerns at WR and OL. They lost three of their starting CBs from last season to free agency, and depth is another issue as well.  Anytime you have BB and TB12, you have a fighter’s chance.  However, how long can they keep this train going?
  4. Indianapolis Colts – The Neck Beard (Andrew Luck) has a freight train in the backfield now in Frank Gore and another weapon to throw to with Andre Johnson. Did this defense get tough enough to win come January?  Is their rat bastard owner going to keep his nose clean or get caught driving a mobile pharmacy again down Route 66 in Indy?
  5. Denver Broncos – Remember how John Elway went out when it was his time? I see the same thing happening for The Forehead (Manning) this year in Denver.  The defense is healthy and vastly underrated.  Kubiak is going to keep the pressure off Peyton having to drop back 50 times a game with a more balanced attack.
  6. Arizona Cardinals – Carson Palmer has all of his extremities intact which is good news for fans of the red birds. Patrick Peterson and the Honey Badger will police the back end of a ferocious defense that didn’t lose their second game into mid-November last season.
  7. Kansas City Chiefs – We all know the story about Kansas City not throwing a touchdown to a WR all of last season. Jeremy Maclin coming on board changes all of that and changes it big time. Travis Kelce will have double digit touchdown grabs as well.
  8. Philadelphia Eagles – Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez, and Tim Tebow. God, I love seeing those names scroll across the ticker on the four letter network.  Chip will keep teams on their toes with the up tempo offense lead by Bradford and newcomer Demarco Murray.  Can the defense hold up their end of the bargain?  Time will tell.
  9. Dallas Cowboys – Locking up Dez Bryant was the best move for all parties involved. Jerry Jones is still the biggest puppet Roger Goodell has in his toy box, but I like the draft and FA moves he made in the offseason.  Can Tony Underwood/Simpson (Tony Romo) finally break through and win the big game?
  10. Pittsburgh Steelers – The Steelers have a scary offense on paper. Regardless if Martevius Bryant decided to eat a few adderalls a few weeks ago, Pittsburgh is going to be solid.  Can the defense survive the switch from years of Dick Lebeau calling the shots?
  11. Baltimore Ravens – No set of twins, besides the Olson twins, piss me off more than the Harbaugh brothers. My feelings were validated Saturday night when he was ready to throw down with Jay Gruden.
  12. New Orleans Saints – The Saints may be ranked a little high here, but Bruce Allen and Rob Ryan working together is going to improve their team drastically. Brandon Cooks is going to be a fantasy monster this year.
  13. Miami Dolphins – Miami is going to win some games this year. Even though the coach is a doppelganger for Mr. Dobeck in Stepbrothers, the Fish are going to be a respectable team.
  14. Houston Texans – Captain America (JJ Watt), Jadaveon Clowney, and Big Vince is a scary defensive front. Can the offense put up enough points to keep the Texans competitive this year?  It will rest of the shoulders of former TB12 backup, Brian Hoyer.
  15. Detroit Lions – Fat Face (Matthew Stafford) needs to take care of the football. Plain and simple.  The loss of Suh is not going to be offset by gaining Ngata.  Stop fooling yourselves Lions fans.
  16. Cincinnatti Bengals – The Ginger (Andy Dalton) is 0-4 I believe now in the postseason. What does that get you?  Let’s say around $100MM.  Ladies and gentlemen, meet your 2015 Cincinnatti Bengals.
  17. San Diego Chargers – Antonio Gates was another “party boy” over the summer. These guys are just crushing vodka sodas and popping adderall in the offseason.  The Bolts just aren’t good enough on the defensive line to stop a mostly run first AFC west.
  18. New Jersey Giants – Eli Manning wants to be referred to as Elijah now. That and OBJ was on the Madden cover.  That is all you need to know about the Giants this year.
  19. Buffalo Bills – Rex went with Tyrod Taylor as his starting quarterback, because he is tough to defend. Rex, let me break it down for you here bud….  That is what decent quarterbacks are, tough to defend.
  20. Chicago Bears – New coach, same puss face quarterback.
  21. Atlanta Falcons – Many people are high on the Falcons this year, I for one am not. I don’t think they are decent enough on the defensive side of the ball and were pretty soft for the most part last season.
  22. Minnesota Vikings – Teddy Bridgewater wants to complete seventy percent of his passes this year? If he does that, the Vikings will be playing meaningful football in December.  Can AP make it back to his 2013 self?  Will the defense take another step forward as they did in 2014?
  23. Louis Rams – The Rams are another team many are high on this season. They have major questions at running back and Nick Foles may have been a product of the Chip Kelly system.  We’ll find out in a few weeks.
  24. New Jersey Jets – Todd Bowles just doesn’t strike me as motivational head coach. With the cast of characters and divas he has in that locker room, it could get ugly in New Jersey…. Fast.
  25. Carolina Panthers – Cam Newton won a brutal NFC South last year by the skin of his teeth. He has no Kelvin Benjamin to throw to and I couldn’t tell you who the number two receiver is.
  26. Jacksonville Jaguars – Blake Bortles has supposedly made strides thus far in camp. The bar wasn’t set too high to begin with.
  27. Cleveland Browns – Johnny Football has some elbow issues while Josh Gordon is in Jamaica somewhere enjoying the fruits of the “earth”. They are a mess at RB and have even uglier jerseys than last season.
  28. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – King Crab looks like a rookie so far into his preseason campaign. Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson may make things interesting for the Bucs, but they are still a few years out.
  29. San Francisco 49ers – Ebola Head (Colin Kaepernick) lost his head coach and ¾ of his team to retirement or other injuries. It is going to be a long season in the Bay Area.
  30. Tennessee Titans – Marcus Mariota has looked the best out of any rookie quarterbacks so far this preseason. I’m eating crow thus far when I said he would be a bust.  He takes on King Crab (Winston) in week one to open the season.
  31. Oakland Raiders – The Raiders are still a year or two away from being a playoff contender. However, Derek Carr threw over 20 TDs and started all 16 games last season.  Amari Cooper is no slouch either.
  32. Washington Redskins – Can’t decide on the name of the team, building a new stadium, and who their starting quarterback is going to be. That is par for the course for the Redskins.

Feel free to follow on Twitter @mikeprocopio or email at


Catching Up With André Carter: Still Making The Grade


On Saturday afternoon I had the privilege of speaking with former Patriots, Raiders, Redskins, forty-niners, and California Golden Bears great Andre Carter. I spoke with him about how he has adjusted to life after football and what his focus is now, along with some reflection points of his career. Here are some of the highlights from our conversation.

What have you been up to since we last saw you on the field?

I’ve been going to get my diploma at Cal Berkeley, my alma mater. You need your degree in order to get into coaching at the collegiate level.

It must be kind of different this time of year now that your out of the game as opposed to getting ready for the upcoming season for so many years, do you ever get that itch to get back out there?

I feel great, I’ve been so busy with school, thats just been my mind set. I think before last year going into the 2014 season, I came to the realization that I wasn’t getting picked up and it was kind of like, okay thats a wrap. Then you start to think, “Okay what am I gonna do with my time?” Well, I can only workout and run so much you gotta find new hobbies.

I looked into the commentating world for a hot second. It was something that was fun to a certain extent, but it wasn’t something that I truly loved. Most guys ask themselves when they retire, “Whats my new passion?” You go through a journey, and mine was only two years and I found out I wanted to coach. I looked into the pro level but the pro level is very hard because it’s not always about what you know, it’s who you know. Most organizations have their guys who are locked into multiple year deals. Talking to my wife we decided what was best was for me to create my own path and that was coaching at the collegiate level, okay what does that take?

Well personally for me I had to earn my degree and that was a long time coming. It wasn’t just to start coaching, I owed it to myself to get my degree from one of the nation’s best institutions in Cal Berkeley very known for academics, I wanted to add that plaque on my wall and know that I did it, and come back and learn the X’s and O’s and work with defensive lineman and linebackers and teach them my level experience and be nationally known as one of the best college players in the nation, my work ethic and what got me to that point, and thats a good outlet and I enjoy talking to them. I enjoy coaching.


You talked about how you wanted to get into coaching to shed some of your wisdom on young players, when you were a rookie coming into the league who were some of the veteran players that influenced you the most?

Brian Young during my forty-niner days was a prime example of being a professional on and off the field, his mindset was practice hard play hard. His work ethic was phenomenal, everybody knew he was strong, and he knew his body so well and where to be and how to be and what to do, so thats definitely one of the best. Derrick Deese offensive tackle, Garrison Hurst. When I came to the forty-niners we were a veteran team actually, those guys set the tone, you know you feed off each other.

You gotta have that balance. Steve Mariucci was definitely one of those coaches to communicate with the players. He would come to the vets and say what do you wanna do about practice? They’d say okay will cut this down and do this, because so and so is hurt. He was the type of coach who would say, “Okay If you guys do great we’ll continue but if you mess up we going back going back to what we were” and thats how he was. We were successful doing that, we had success, my first two years with the forty-niners.

When you came back to the Patriots in 2013, you were part of a defense with three young players at the time in Chandler Jones, Dont’a Hightower, and Jamie Collins. Many think that those three are the future of the Patriots defense. Did you have a good relationship with those guys and if so can you elaborate on them?

Yeah I mean we had a great working relationship, unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to hang out with those guys on a personal level but when we did they were great. Chandler Jones, one thing I remember he was a student of the game and being so young one thing I remember on a Wednesday grabbing my breakfast and he was already in the meeting room watching film, and i’m like wow. Thats not heard of, most guys get film and watch it at home or later in the day, and to see him watching film first thing right before team meeting was impressive. Dont’a Hightower is just a physical specimen just for as big as he is, he can run like the wind. Jamie Collins always reminds me of Julian Peterson. I remember we asked him to play corner or safety for a few plays or something and he did it, and Jamie Collins sort of reminds of that.


You came to the Patriots in 2011, you weren’t a huge signing at the time but you made an immediate impact on that front seven, being named to the Pro Bowl that year. Unfortunately you suffered a season ending leg injury late in December. Your team would go on to make it to the Super Bowl, so how did it feel to have to sit back and watch when you wanted so desperately to be out there on the field with your teammates?

I think any player whether its myself or any other player when you have the opportunity to play in the big show and you can’t it’s tough, especially against the New York Giants. From my time with the Washington Redskins, I don’t know what it was but whenever we played the New York Giants I got after it, you know. I remember during pregame I was on my crutches trying to take it all in surveying the field, and there was a scout who knew of me and I knew of him and he came to me and said, “Hey great year man, you did awesome, but trust me we’re happy your not playing.”

So you know we were kind of joking and laughing, because those Giants offensive lineman we battled, but it was a respectful battle. I was gonna bring the wood and they were gonna bring it right back. It was kind of one of those old throw back type of games. I was very blessed to be apart of that team, whether it was contributing on the field or on the sidelines.

You played under Super Bowl winning head coaches Joe Gibbs and Mike Shanahan with the Washington Redskins. What was the difference between playing for those guys and playing under Bill Belichick? 

I’ve never been around a coach that is so hands on in all aspects of the game. Whether it’s offense, defense, special teams. He would be involved in all individual meetings, and I would just wonder how does this man sleep at night? We would go into team meetings and he would tell everybody exactly what they had to do and where they had to be. His memory is just superb. He truly is a student of the game.

You still follow the team pretty closely, what do you think the Patriots chances are at repeating this season?

You just have to take it game by game man. It isn’t easy getting back to the big show, its too hard to tell now you just have to take it game by game.

The Patriots have a lot of excess noise from outside the team going into this season, how does Bill Belichick block out the noise within the team?

He has it down to a science, nobody gets a second chance, which is very fair.

Final question here, what was your favorite moment as a pro football player? 

Wow, its tough to narrow it down to just one so I am gonna give you three. First off, I think a moment that every player remembers the most is the day they get drafted. For me being a second generation NFL player, because my father played for the Denver Broncos, drafted in the first round, it was dream. Also, getting drafted right in my back yard to the forty-niners coming out of Cal Berkeley, it was a dream. Another one was in 2007 when I was with the Washington Redskins, and we all just rallied around Sean Taylor, that was a really special moment for the team to come together for him. Lastly, just being apart of the New England Patriots. Bill Belichick gave myself a chance at redemption. In 2010 with the Redskins I was going through a position change, and then I came to New England and Bill Belichick really allowed me to be the player that I wanted to be. It didn’t end the way I wanted it, but it was still great to be apart of the Patriots organization and play for a great coach in Bill Belichick.

That was the bulk of my interview with André Carter. He is a very humble person who is now trying to shed some of his wisdom that he has gained as a long-time NFL player, on young college players that hope to be in his position one day. He is a true professional, and it was great speaking with him.

You can follow André on twitter at @mr_carter93

New England Patriots: James Develin and other Thoughts


There might not be a more unsung member of the Patriots than FB James Develin. The former Ivy Leaguer can play half back, full back and tight end and is a tough, heady player. His injury hurts, but there are silver linings: First, it’s a clean break, so he’ll be out 6-8 weeks. If he was put on the PUP, it means that either the Colts game or the Cowboys game is an option. By moving Michael Hoomanawanui to Fullback will allow a better chance for Asante Cleveland, acquired from San Francisco last week, a better chance to make the team. With that being said, it might have secured Dion Lewis’ roster spot. After a strong game, he is making a strong case to be New England’s third down back. With Brandon Bolden being able to focus on special teams and be a power back in the place of Develin early, the Pats can see if Lewis’ resurgence can carry over into the regular season.

Lewis’ success might have been one of the few bright spots last week on offense, but while the struggles of the offense was disconcerting, there has to be perspective there. Wendell just came back from injury, no Edelman, LaFell or Gronk. Brady looked rusty, but this mimics what happened last year. The offensive line last year was terrible until they started Stork after the Chiefs game and the team took off. There’s a lot of youth on the team and with the pre-season, continuity is an afterthought. It will be a rough first month regardless if Brady plays or not. Keep all that in mind and brace yourself for some struggles.

The defense looked A LOT better, most notably Tarell Brown and Malcolm Butler. Both were stout and made some aggressive plays. They look like the starting tandem going into Week One. With Logan Ryan and Robert McClain as the reserves, the CB position might not be so dire as once was thought. Even if was against the receiving starved Panthers, they showed enough promise to keep going. With how stout the front seven is, this means that the defense will be better than we all thought going into Week One. It’s nice to remember that Hightower and Mayo have just suited up this week, and there’s promise on the field.

All in all, the starters look pretty much set, but Week 4 will determine who will be the 3rd TE and solve the back end of the running back competition. Also, the LG spot is still being battled for between Josh Kline and Ryan Groy. It will be a non-factor for a lot of teams and it’s also nice to think that the Patriots have a mini bye after Week One with the Pats playing on Thursday and not playing until the following Sunday. If there are huge issues after the Pittsburg game, getting an extra 3 days could do wonders for the team.

The Patriots Secondary Still Has Many Question Marks

Now that the third preseason game for the New England Patriots is in the books, we have seen just about all that we are going to see from what we believe is going to be the starting defense that has had so many question marks this offseason. With a complete turnaround in the secondary, fans did not know what to expect in training camp from so many young unproven players and cast off veterans.

Due to his second half of the Super Bowl heroics, Patriots followers were holding high hopes for Malcolm Butler to take control of the starting job. At the start of training camp it seemed like a far fetched fantasy, but Malcolm Butler has not only taken control of the number one spot, he has cemented himself there. Throughout the end of July and the month of August Butler has been making plays on the practice field, and when the bright lights of the preseason games come on.

When going up against the top tier quarterbacks in the league in Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees, and Cam Newton, Butler shut down receivers and didn’t allow many completed passes when the ball was thrown his way. Also, in New Orleans last weekend he showed some big time physicality coming up on sweep plays and laying the boom. However, it is only the preseason and I am still cautious about putting all my eggs in the Malcolm Butler basket.

Patriots cornerbacks have had a history of shining in their rookie season and falling off during their sophomore campaign. Examples include Devin McCourty, Darius Butler, and Alfonzo Dennard. Wait until he can prove himself against an elite receiver such as Antonio Brown, then you can say he is the real deal.

Another player that had expectations of starting at the beginning of the summer was third year cornerback Logan Ryan. Ryan was very inconsistent his first two seasons, but the coaching staff seemed to like him judging on the amount of time he spent on the field. So far this preseason he has once again been underwhelming, getting beat often, and playing deep into each game which is not a good sign for a player with his experience.

He is very much in danger of losing his job. Although, he is a good contributor on special teams and he was drafted in the third round. That could be Bill Belichick’s excuse to keep him around unfortunately. The Patriots do need players at the cornerback spot, but Ryan has proven to be a liability when he is on the field.

Tarell Brown was a late addition to the Patriots roster right before training camp began. He has spent all of his career in the Bay Area with the 49ers and Raiders. He was a starter on the San Francisco defense that was in the tops of the league between the years 2011-2013. So far in a Patriots uniform Brown has impressed.

Last night against Carolina he received his first real game action, and even though he did not face and tough competition at receiver he made multiple plays breaking up passes. Most media members expect a rotation at cornerback for the Patriots to start the season. However, expect to see Tarell Brown at right corner more than others giving his experience. It might also be a benefit to have a young corner in Butler, match up with a savvy veteran like Brown.

With Bill Belichick surprisingly cutting Kyle Arrington late in the offseason, the nickel back position on the Patriots defense has basically been given to Robert McClain. The 5-9, 194 pound cornerback is in his first season with the Patriots after spending his first five season in Carolina, Jacksonville, and Atlanta. In the first preseason game against Green Bay he showed spurts of talent. His physicality and swagger is something the secondary could use this season because of a lack of talent.

He did however have a difficult night against the Panthers when back up quarterback Derek Anderson marched right down the field exploiting him. He was ranked out of the top forty best nickel backs in the league by Pro Football Focus. Arrington was in the top ten. The loss of Kyle Arrington has gone underrated up to now, but when the season begins fans will begin to realize just how influential he was.

With rookie Darryl Roberts now on injured reserve, a spot could be opened for a second year players such as Daxston Swanson. He has been solid in the preseason, even though he has only seen time late in games. On the practice field he has received good reps. He was a practice squad player in 2014, and that’s where I would expect him to be in 2015 unless he has a stellar last preseason game.

At the safety spot the Patriots are all set as long as Devin McCourty stays at safety. Next to him there are a few questions. Last week at the Super Dome when McCourty was down playing corner, Duron Harmon was left alone as the top safety. he was picked apart by Drew Brees most notably on a forty-yard touchdown from Brees to Brandin Cooks who ran right past Harmon.

Not encouraging for fans due to the fact that Harmon will be asked to play a lot this season because of the amount of pass heavy teams they will face, and if McCourty were to get hit with injury it would be all up too Harmon. Patrick Chung and Jordan Richards will play heavily in run support.

In conclusion, Patriots fans should feel just as uneasy now about the secondary as they did at the start of the summer. Malcolm Butler has been a ray of hope and fans need to pray that he can continue some of his Super Bowl heroics in the regular season, and most importantly stay healthy. If not it will be back to 2011 and 2012 where the defense is constantly on the field giving up ridiculous yardage. Lastly, fans can’t rely on the old adage of, “Belichick will coach them up” because he has never proven that he can do that with a sub par secondary.

“Save Roger”: What The NFL is Trying to do at any Expense

A confident Roger Goodell (Photo:
A confident Roger Goodell (Photo:

Corruption. Power breeds it, no matter how good one’s intentions are when push comes to shove power destroys ideals. It doesn’t have to be malicious, it rarely is at first but when absolute influence goes unchecked the results are no less poisonous.

Article 46 of the collective bargaining agreement has given Roger Goodell absolute autonomy to rule the NFL. What exactly is article 46 of the CBA? In a nutshell, it allows the commissioner to impose the discipline and to designate the hearing officer (this can also be the Commissioner himself) to handle all appeals in regards to matters relating to conduct detrimental to the integrity of and public confidence in, the game of professional football. This effectively makes him Roger GODell.

Why would the National Football League’s Player’s Association agree to such a grand deliverance of power? To be honest, article 46 has been around since the very first CBA was drafted back in 1968. In a game of give and take the NFLPA for whatever the reason, they always felt this was a car that was better left on the showroom floor. If the past few years abuse of power are any indication, it would seem that the next time the NFL and the Union meet, this will be a point of contention.

The year 2014 is more than likely a year Roger Goodell would like to forget. The Ray Rice scandal was devastating to his tenure as commissioner. In the interest of protecting “the Shield”, Goodell and the NFL thought it best to ignore and deflect rather than hold Ray Rice responsible for assaulting his then fiance. The Commissioner lied about seeing a crucial piece of evidence (elevator video), the world reacted with disgust and Goodell has been over compensating ever since.
It’s safe to say that at the start of the “Save Roger” reclamation project, much of the public was thrilled when he rescinded Ray Rice’s mere two game suspension and changed it to indefinite. Never mind that this act showed that  he was inconsistent but it reeked of desperation. Roger mishandled an important case and tried to cover his tracks ultimately leading to the case being overturned and making his power seem less omnipotent.

Roger hid behind his stature and tried desperately to find a scapegoat to get him out of this mess. Star running back Adrian Peterson’s child abuse case and defensemen Greg Hardy’s assault case weren’t enough to scrub the perceived ineptitude from Goodell’s hands.
The NFL Commissioner needed to deflect all this bad publicity, much to his delight the Baltimore Ravens and Indianapolis Colts were about the hand him a gift. Deflategate arrived like a proverbial wrecking ball and suddenly the world was now focusing on the fall from grace of Tom Brady the cheater.

It's been a headache for both Roger Goodell & Tom Brady
It’s been a headache for both Roger Goodell & Tom Brady

Roger got his diversion.

Goodell has made his share of mistakes with Deflategate, the most recent being when he came under fire due to his admittance that (after months of saying otherwise) the entire investigation was never really independent. Remember Article 46? Once again, Roger has been delighted to hide behind his greatest weapon, his  magic wand.
In the eyes of the NFL, it doesn’t matter how Roger has handled any of this, Article 46 states he can conduct himself in any manner he sees fit when protecting the integrity of the product. “Save Roger” is in full effect, leaving many players in the NFL to ask who will save them?

New England Patriots Evaluations And Observations From Preseason Victory Over Panthers

In the first half of the Patriots preseason week three matchup against the Carolina Panthers, the starters came out of the gates very slow on offense. Tom Brady did not have his key targets on the field in Julian Edelman, Rob Gronkowski, and Brandon LaFell once again. He was left with players like Danny Amendola, Jonathan Krause, Michael Hoomanwanui, Aaron Dobson, Scott Chandler, and newly acquired Reggie Wayne to throw to.

For the better part of the half, all players had a tough time getting open leading Brady to scramble on multiple occasions. Once for a first down on a third down and three play. After Brady had set the Patriots up nicely with his first down scramble, Aaron Dobson spoiled the drive by dropping a nicely placed ball inside the ten-yard line into the hands of Panthers cornerback Charles Tillman.

Carolina then took the ball all the way down the field. However, they were stopped inside the five yard line when Devin McCourty blanketed Panthers tight end Greg Olsen on a third down in the end zone. It is safe to say McCourty proved Friday night that he belongs at safety. The starting secondary looked good as Tarrell Brown and Malcolm Butler made multiple pass breakups. That gives you confidence as a fan seeing how those are your two starting corners.

On the next possession by the offense, the unit was off the field quickly as Brady fired the ball into the hands of Panthers safety Kurt Coleman. The defense once again picked up the slack of the offense, thanks to two very nice pass breakups by Malcolm Butler. Nevertheless, the offense continued to struggle due to bad interior offensive line play by the three rookie starters, not allowing running backs to go anywhere.

Also, Reggie Wayne’s only target was a terrible drop on an easy seven yard pitch and catch play. Cam Newton then proceeded to take his team down the field in a drive that should have ended with seven points. However, Panthers wide receiver Corey Brown dropped a ball in the end zone that couldn’t have been placed anymore perfectly in his hands, after he broke the ankles of Malcolm Butler. The drive ended in yet another Panthers field goal, putting them up by a score of 6-0.

With little time remaining in the first half, the Patriots offense had yet to accomplish anything and were concerning fans due to their lack of production throughout the preseason. This would be the last time fans would see Tom Brady on the field until possibly week six.

Brady did exactly what he needed to do, he brought his team down the field feeding the ball often to first-year Patriots tight end Scott Chandler. The Patriots were looking like they were stalling once again, until Tom Brady hit Danny Amendola, who was wide open, on a post route that put them inside the red zone. Then, Brady lobbed the ball up to the 6-7 Scott Chandler on a fade route in the corner of the end zone for his first touchdown pass of the preseason. The Patriots lead going into the break by a score of 7-6.

At the start of the third quarter, it was obvious that Bill Belichick had told his starters in the locker room that their night was over. That was obvious for the Patriots defense, as Cam Newton took the Panthers right down the field and scored on a play action touchdown to Mike Tolbert in the flat. The coverage was awful, and they should have expected that play on third and two inside the five yard line seeing how that play is Carolina’s bread and butter. Panthers lead 13-7.

Jimmy Garoppolo then came into the game, and he started out a little bit to rambunctious. His first pass of the game should have been taken back for a touchdown by cornerback Bene Benwikere, on an out route intended for Jonathan Krause. Two plays later on a pass intended for Chris Harper, Josh Norman dropped a ball right in his hands that also would have been taken back for six. Those are mistakes the Patriots can’t afford for Garoppolo to make in the regular season. If that were to happen on opening night, they would be trailing early against one of the league’s top offenses. Not acceptable.

Later in the drive the Patriots were facing a tough third down and six situation. Garoppolo made a pro level play by stepping up in the pocket and firing the ball to Asante Cleveland right over the first down marker. Television broadcaster Dan Roche called the play, “Brady esque” which may have been a bit overzealous, but made some sense. However, on a fourth and four play a few plays later, Garoppolo made a another mistake throwing the ball to Jonathan Krause short of the marker where he was stopped. Not smart decision making on his part.

On the following possession by Carolina, back up quarterback Derek Anderson picked apart Patriots defensive backs Robert McClain, Nate Ebner, and Logan Ryan leading to a Panthers 39-yard field goal giving them a nine point, 16-7 lead. The Patriots were looking flat for the second week in a row, and Jimmy Garoppolo had to pick up the slack again.

Garoppolo took some time to get back into his groove. He under threw Aaron Dobson badly on a drag route across the middle of the field. Had he put it over his shoulder he would’ve been gone for a touchdown. He did bounce back, hitting Aaron Dobson down the sideline and putting the Patriots in the red zone. On the next play, running back Dion Lewis continued his stellar night by flexing out wide and running a slant route into the end zone where Jimmy put the ball right in his hands for the touchdown.

The Patriots then stopped the Panthers on their following drive thanks to tremendous pass break ups by Logan Ryan and Daxston Swanson, who had multiple on the night. The Patriots ended their next drive with a clutch 53-yard field goal by Stephen Gostkowski who has earned his money thus far this preseason.

The points did come with a price. James Develin looked like he suffered some sort of lower leg injury after catching a pass in the flat. He was carted off the field with his teammates, and coaches surrounding him. That is never a good sign. More than likely he will done for the year, which is a huge blow to the offense and he will be greatly missed.

The Patriots then made a very good stop on defense, and got the ball back with just over four-minutes to go in the game. Jimmy Garoppolo managed the offense very well handing the ball off and dinking and dunking the Carolina defense until the clock wore out. On a third down play with less than two-minutes to go, Garoppolo hit Zach D’Orazio on a screen play for a first down, sealing the Patriots victory.

In the end, the Patriots started off the game slow once again on offense Friday night, but Tom Brady’s final possession was very encouraging. The defense as a whole was solid. The starters made some great stops in the red zone, and are already living up to their reputation of, “bend don’t break.”

Next week against the Giants, we will hardly see any of the starters, therefore this was our last glimpse of the starting group before September tenth against the Steelers. That is not something fans should be over confident about, seeing how many of the same questions we had going into the preseason still remain. For example, will the secondary be able to hold up? Will the offensive line be able to protect Brady? I feel the same way about those situations now as I did going in. There are still starters that need to come back, but for right now I am a bit nervous as a Patriots fan.

New England Patriots: Questions About Jimmy Garoppolo Will Be Answered Against Panthers

The third preseason game for any National Football League team has annually been the, “dress rehearsal game.” It is the closest teams will get to a live action, regular season contest. The starters play throughout the first half and into the third quarter. In addition to the in-game level of play, the week lead up is very similar to a regular season game with strategy, film analysis, and most importantly who is going to start.

What Patriots fans should expect to see on Friday night in Charlotte is for Tom Brady to be on the field to start the game with as many starters as possible, that are healthy. Rob Gronkowski has not played in a preseason match up since 2012, mostly due to health. Due to this year’s circumstances, there seems to be a better chance that Gronkowski will play in this upcoming game.

More often than not in the third game of the preseason Tom Brady has played all through the first half. Bill Belichick in his press conference earlier this week finally hinted at, “Tom’s situation” being a factor in the game plan routine. Opening night is less than two weeks away and Bill Belichick still does not know who his starting quarterback will be. Belichick has to take precautionary measures and play both players equally with the starters.

When Jimmy Garoppolo finally gets out on the field Friday night, we will get a look at what he looks like with the first team players against a legitimate pro level defense. With players such as Luke Kuechly, Star Loutulelei, Charles Johnson, and Thomas Davis coming at him Garoppolo will get a taste of what it is really like to be the starter.

Jimmy Garoppolo leads Pats to comeback win vs The Saint (Photo: Keith Nordstrom/NewEnglandPatriots.Com)
Jimmy Garoppolo leads Pats to comeback win vs The Saint (Photo: Keith Nordstrom/NewEnglandPatriots.Com)

Since he was drafted in April of 2014, Patriots fans have been gushing over Garoppolo. He has not been criticized much by fans and some media members. It is almost as if he is being coddled because he, “shouldn’t be compared to Tom Brady.” Well that is too bad because thats who he is taking over for, and it comes with the territory.

Last week he came into the game in the second quarter with all second-team players on the field. He had a very good game bringing the Patriots back from a 21-0 deficit, to win by a score of 26-24. He went 28 of 33 on the night throwing precise passes to Chris Harper and Jonathan Krause. Also, when his down field reads were gone he made the smart decision of dumping it off to James White and Dion Lewis. That was the first time I saw him really control the offense with the poise of a starter.

However, the speed of the game in the second half of the second preseason game against back ups is much different than when you are going up against starters. Even the third game can’t even compare to regular season speed, but it will be the highest level we have seen Garoppolo play at.

Throughout training camp, Garoppolo’s biggest issue was holding onto the football. He would sit back in the pocket and scan the field too long to the point were he would have to throw it away in a real game, or he would force it down field and get intercepted. On Friday night receivers are going to get jammed up at the line of scrimmage or they won’t be open down field as quickly as they should. This is when we will learn what Garoppolo is made of.

What Garoppolo should do when everything collapses is use his biggest attribute, his legs. Use your instincts and run for the sideline, get some yards and get out of bounds. That is how he can make a name for himself because it is something that Tom Brady has never been able to do overly effectively.

In the end, I believe that Jimmy Garoppolo will be slightly upsetting for Patriots fans on Friday night. He has just never truly taken snaps in a real full-go situation against big time players. In addition, there will be a patch work offensive line in front of him trying to block one of the league’s best defensive fronts. I think that the pressure will get to him and force him to make bad decisions. I hope I am wrong, but I have a feeling that after Friday night fans won’t feel as good about the situation with Tom Brady if he does have to serve some type of suspension.

FANTASY ALERT: Martavis Bryant to Miss First Four Games

at EverBank Field on August 14, 2015 in Jacksonville, Florida.

Gather ‘round kids, it’s story time. Let me tell you a story about a guy who loved to play fantasy football. This guy was in a very high-stakes league, with a lot of money involved. His league-mates were impatient, and loved to have their draft extremely early. So, at the end of July, they drafted. This guy was a very-well prepared fantasy player, and was very happy with his draft. His quarterback was Ben Roethlisberger. Many mocked this selection. He defended it adamantly, believing the Steelers to have the most dynamic offense in the league. The Steelers boast possibly the top back in the league, Le’Veon Bell, who is a dynamic runner who is also arguably the best receiving running back in the NFL. They have Antonio Brown, perhaps the best receiver in the league, who while undersized, is an extremely versatile receiver who can play against all types of coverage. He has the perfect compliment in Martavis Bryant. Bryant was a rookie a year ago, but is the ultimate deep threat, catching eight touchdowns as a rookie and averaging well over 20 yards a catch. This guy also had Bryant on his team, believing he got a steal to put in his flex spot. He sat and laughed as Kelvin Benjamin and Jordy Nelson both suffered season-long injuries. While he felt sorry for the players, he felt it was what his league-mates deserved for rushing the draft. Now karma has struck, and Martavis Bryant will miss the first four games for violating the NFL’s substance abuse policy.

If you haven’t guessed by now, that guy is me, and I’m still a little sour about it. For a long time now, we knew Le’Veon Bell would not be on the field to start the season. His three game suspension has been reduced to two, however, and it looks like it shouldn’t by too big of a deal for anyone. Now Bryant is out for the same amount of time as Tom Brady, the first quarter of the season. Think about this: on opening night in New England, Le’Veon Bell, Tom Brady, and Martavis Bryant will all be on the sideline. The NFL might think they’re doing what’s best for them, but what they’re really doing is self-inflicting themselves with wounds that will probably drop viewership, and therefore cost them money.

The Bryant suspension is not definite at this point. He is appealing, and as we all know, appeals of NFL suspensions can take forever. Tom Brady appealed in the middle of May, had his appeal hearing at the end of June, and still

it wasn’t ruled on until the end of July. Oh yeah, and the “crime” he’s being punished for occurred in January.

In 2014, there were a multitude of rookie receivers that burst on to the scene. Amidst the rise of Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Kelvin Benjamin, and Sammy Watkins, among many others, Bryant kind of got lost in the shuffle. All he did was catch 26 passes for 549 yards, 8 touchdowns, and his deep threat helped open up even more for the already dynamic Antonio Brown. As it stands right now, Bryant will miss games against the Patriots, 49ers, Rams, and Ravens.