Super Bowl Recap: The return of the Empire

For the sixth time the New England Patriots are the Super Bowl Champions. On this jam-packed episode we break down the big game from Bill Belichick proving why he’s the greatest coach in NFL history. Why it will be hard for the Los Angeles Rams to recover from the loss, what Patriot is playing himself into Canton, and why this could be just the beginning of a new Patriots dynasty. All this and more only on Rich Sports Talk.

Gruden and Patricia look like busts

 

 

It’s only been one week but two of the NFL’s newest head coaches already look like regrettable hires for their respective organizations. On this podcast let’s break down why the Matt Patricia hiring by the Detroit Lions didn’t make sense and why history has shown he would struggle. Then we get to Jon Gruden and how a recent interview has only hurt his standing in the locker room and why the return of Chuck could be a long nightmare for the Raiders.

Rex Ryan is His Own Worst Enemy

“Belichick outcoached me”. “No question about it”. rex-ryan_672541033024This is how Rex Ryan responded to yet another friendly reminder from Bill Belichick and Tom Brady that the AFC East is the Patriot’s division. After a week of the usual  bravado and feeding the Buffalo fan base with optimism New England simply did what it does best. Defeat the Bills.

With a 40-32 loss on Sunday, the Patriots have won 20 of their last 22 meetings against the Bills will Ryan drops to 4-10 all-time against Belichick. What made the romp even more complete was how the Bills lost to the Patriots. Sure, there were the usual Ryan M.O. such as three turnovers, 14 penalties, and 140 penalty yards. However, what really popped the Ryan bravado was how the Patriots torched his defense.

In six years with the Jets it was clear that Rex Ryan could coach defense. When it came to coaching the whole team, that was a different story. Ryan failed to develop offensive players during his tenure with the Jets and despite having a top defensive unit every year, Ryan’s Jets lacked discipline and would have performance that made New York fans cover their eyes. Still, Ryan landed the job in Buffalo because of the potential he could have with that defense.

For Rex Ryan his defense is his baby. It’s clear that he can coach defense and with the personnel in Buffalo many thought Ryan would have one of the NFL’s premier units. However, after 40 points and 466 yards through the air it’s clear that Brady wasn’t rattled by Ryan’s defense. What was most troubling was that Rex Ryan’s defense wasn’t a Rex Ryan defense.

635783714054768877-JG-092015-Bills-26On 51% of his drop backs Ryan only rushed for after Brady. This number is alarming because Ryan loves to blitz. Ryan is known for utilizing different schemes and bringing pressure from all different directions but on sunday Ryan’s defense was too simple, and  Brady carved them up. Ryan has been successful when being aggressive and forcing Brady to throw the ball earlier. This time Brady had plenty of time in the pocket as Ryan failed to turn up the heat in the pocket.

Still Ryan did his usual song and dance in the post-game conference. Blamed the loss on himself, talked about what went wrong, how the team would improve, and of course add a bit of bravado at the end.

Even after the loss Ryan still jabbed the Patriots by saying “There not exactly the Boy Scouts of America”. Ryan’s a great entertainer, but when it comes to defeating Bill Belichick is still the maestro of the AFC.

New England Patriots Draft Grade

Round 1: Dominique Easley 

Easley a debatable pick

Easley a debatable pick

With their first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft the Patriots selected Dominique Easley from Florida. The first thing that surprised me was that the Patriots did not trade this pick to gain later picks especially in the second round. While Easley does offer versatility on the defensive line, a key in the Patriots defense, the problem is that they would have been better off with a run stopping nose tackle. Also, the value here is questionable. At best Easley was a third or fourth round pick. Why? Despite his pass rushing and play-making ability Easley has multiple red flags when it comes to health. With two ACL injuries in college already, durability is a major concern. Despite his flexibility in the Patriots defense, Easley being just on the field is a major concern in 2014. Also, with multiple late round picks, the Patriots could have picked him up much later and addressed safety position or added another play-maker on offense. A reach pick with injury concerns, this could come back to haunt New England. Grade: C –

Round 2: Jimmy Garoppolo 

Tom Brady's heir?

Tom Brady’s heir?

A great pick in terms of preparing for the future. Ryan Mallet is a great backup, but with his quick release and accuracy Garoppolo is a perfect fit for New England’s passing attack. One great thing about the Patriots is that they plan for the future. The hope is that in three or four years if Tom Brady decides to retire Geroppolo will be ready to step right in. This would be an A+ pick, except that it doesn’t help the Patriots in the present. Grade: A- 

Round 4: Bryan Stork 

Versatile backup

Versatile backup

Stork is a versatile center who can play all along the offensive line. A long-term project in terms of becoming a full-time starter his versatility makes it easy to see why the Patriots drafted him. Once again, the Patriots stretched for a player who would have been available much later. With some very good cornerbacks and tight end prop sects available, the stretch for Stork could have cost the Patriots a starter. Grade: B –

Round 4: James White 

White the right choice?

White the right choice?

After losing their leading rusher to free agency, the Patriots needed to beef up the running back position. By passing on the talented Andre Williams earlier in the round New England took White late in round four. Despite never being the full-time back at Wisconsin, White excelled as a rotational player.  He will be a nice rotational piece in the Patriots offense, but it will be hard to imagine White getting more than a handful of touches in 2014. Another reach for a player who could have been picked much later. Fills a need, but nothing more than adding to the depth chart.  Grade: C

Round 4: Cameron Fleming 

Beefing up the offensive line

Beefing up the offensive line

A steal in round four, Fleming is the best value pick for the Patriots to this point. A massive right tackle with quick feet, Fleming  is a powerful run blocker who has steadily improved in pass protection. With an offensive line starting to get long in the tooth, Fleming could push for a starting job at right tackle or inside at guard. Worse case scenario is that he will be a backup this season, but he has the upside to be a starter within three seasons for New England. Very smart player and a great football student, sounds like a Belichick kind of football player. Grade: B+

Round 6: Jon Halapio 

Threes company

Threes company

A head scratcher especially with two picks already being used on the offensive line. The offensive line maybe aging, but it’s not the biggest concern on the Patriots. Halapio is a decent run blocker, but his athleticism has been called into question. With poor pass blocking in college, it’s hard to imagine Halapio seeing action in 2014. A practice squad player at best, he could be released by Patriots before the season. Costs the Patriots a pick they could have used somewhere else. Grade: D+

Round 6: Zach Moore 

Edge rusher

Edge rusher

A division 2 standout at 6’5 and 270 pounds, Moore defiantly has the raw tools to be an effective pass rushing outside linebacker. The good news is that Belichick could use him as an effective situational pass rusher until he fully develops into an everyday player. With a great upside and a low side of being a situational pass rusher, Moore could be a dark horse for the best pick for the Patriots in this draft. Grade: B +

Round 6: Jemea Thomas 

Addressing the secondary

Addressing the secondary

Even with Darrelle Revis, you still need more than one corner. Thomas could compete with Logan Ryan as the number 2 corner, but will probably play in the slot. His flexibility to play at safety also adds versatility to the Patriots defense. At 5’9 his size does limit him, but he is an all around solid football player. No great attributes, but no major flaws wither. Could be a versatile role player in 2014. Grade: B

Round 7: Jeremy Gallon 

Finally a weapon, but too late

Finally a weapon, but too late

A small 5’7 receiver, Gallon could be used as a slot receiver in New England. With an offense that utilizes the middle field and especially the slot receiver, Gallon could be another great weapon for Brady. He will have to have a great training camp to make opening roster and could help his chances if he can show potential as a punt/kick returner. This pick does address the offense, but waiting until the last pick was a mistake by the Patriots: Grade: B 

Overall Grade: C2005-tom-brady-bill-belichick

This was a very uncharacteristic draft for the Patriots. With no trading down to accumulate additional picks, the Patriots stood pat in 2014. Unfortunately, they stretched in the early rounds for players and while they did get some great value picks late and the Patriots have the tendency to draft a questionable player who turns into a star, this draft has more questions than answers. If anything, the late round picks have more upside then the early picks. The other problem is that this team did not address all of their needs. They ignored the tight end position, which has been devastated over the past two seasons and safety. With the importance of both these positions for what the Patriots like to do, completely ignoring both of these positions came as a big surprise. Finally, while they did shore up the future at quarterback, they did not help their current quarterback. Can the Patriots give Brady some weapons? With the lack of tight ends and wide receivers, it was a shock that the Patriots waited until round seven to get Brady a target. Round 7! If the Patriots want to win another Super Bowl, surround Brady with weapons. Tom Brady can make average players into good players, but he needs elite play-makers to make New England a Super Bowl contender. Take a note from Denver, give your quarterback some weapons. With a great group of receivers and tight ends in this draft, the Patriots missed the boat. The Patriots are still a playoff team, but with this poor draft they are not a true Super Bowl Contender.

 

 

 

 

The “T” Factor: Tim Tebow’s role in Foxboro

Will it be Tebow time in Foxboro?

Will it be Tebow time in Foxboro?

Just mentioning Tim Tebow is sure bring numerous eye rolls, face-palms, and enough debate that would rival anything on capital hill. It’s the same old song and dance; He can’t throw, overrated, not a quarterback, distraction, Skip Bayless’ crush, etc. With the Tebow train pulling into Foxboro for the 2013 season, one thing is for sure, he’s not going to be competing for the starting quarterback role. With one of if not the greatest quarterback of all-time under center the question is, why is Tebow there? The answer, nobody really knows. While Tebow has repeatedly said that he wants to be a quarterback in this league, the problem is nobody wants a quarterback who can’t throw. It will be interesting the see what Bill Belichick has up his sleeve. After all he’s a coach who is known for finding successful niche roles for players on the Patriots roster. So what about Tebow? I don’t see him running a wildcat offense, or coming in for five plays to throw the ball. Taking five throws away from Tom Brady is too valuable. The best role for Tim Tebow? Tebow lovers cover your eyes!! Tight end! I’ll pause for a few seconds so you guys can debate or Tebow fans can scream their obscenities. Ok, everybody get that out of their system? Great, now that your back it only makes sense that Tebow should be used as a tight end. With the Aaron Hernandez situation, I’m not touching that one, and the injury to Rob Gronkowski, the Patriots are thin at both tight end and playmaker. Enter the Tebow, whose combination of size and speed could make him a formidable tight end. Plus, he might not only be catching passes, there could be a gimmick play for a pass, or Belichick could put him in the backfield. He probably wouldn’t run the ball but might take some direct snaps, or be a distraction so that a receiver could get open down the field. I know that Tim Tebow fans want to see him get an opportunity to play quarterback, and I do believe he does deserve another shot, but not in New England. So for all the people with Tebow crushes, I’m talking to your Skip Bayless, if you’re expecting him to drop back and throw passes in New England, you’re in for a huge disappointment. If the Patriots want to use Tim Tebow to help them win football games, it will be as a tight end. Will he be a superstar at tight end over night, no, but he could give Tom Terrific a viable target that he desperately needs. If they want to unleash Tim Tebow upon the NFL use his freakish athletic ability and size as a tight end and give Tom Brady some much-needed help. While he may not resurrect his quarterback career in Foxboro, if Tim Tebow wants to keep his football career alive, he will suck it up and play tight end. Since he is a team player, I think Tebow will do this because he knows that this is what’s best for the Patriots. Who knows maybe Tebow was that missing piece to another Super Bowl for the Brady-Belichick era.