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Tag: Tom Brady

Cam Newton Should Finally Find QB Protection in NE

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

If Cam Newton had not become a quarterback, what position could he play?

At 6-foot-5, 248 pounds, he might make for a Gronk-like tight end. Or perhaps he’d be a Danielle Hunteresque defensive end. Man, a man that big, with Newton’s strength and speed (4.59 in the 40) could have quite an impact on the game.

If he’s not too busy getting impacted that is.

Cameron Jerrell Newton has always been a polarizing figure – from being an oversized prep quarterback, to getting kicked out of Florida after the theft of a computer, to winning the Heisman Trophy and national championship at Auburn, to becoming one of the few black quarterbacks in the NFL, to his marvelously dapper wardrobe – Cam always found the cameras or vice versa.

As did defensive players.

They found Cam’s ribs, back, foot, shoulder and head. Especially his head.

Newton has only been diagnosed with one concussion, that coming in October of 2016. He absorbed at least three other helmet-to-helmet hits that season that drew no flag. After a 30-20 win over the Arizona Cardinals in 2016, Newton let his frustration be known.

“It’s really taken the fun out of the game for me, honestly, because, at times, I don’t even feel safe.”

Anyone who saw the Mack truck-like hit he took from the Saints’ David Onyemata in Jan. 7, 2018 playoff game knows Newton wasn’t on Canal Street, he was a on Queer Street. Onyemata’s hit was clean but Newton has taken more questionable hits to the head, and questionable late hits than any quarterback in the concussion era.

Newton, who agreed to a one-year deal with the Patriots on Sunday, now has a chance to go from being the least protected starting quarterback in the NFL, to the signal caller of the franchise that has had the most protected starting quarterback in league history – Tom Brady.

Remember when Brady suffered his season-ending knee injury in 2008? The NFL quickly enacted a rule that forbids defenders on the ground from lunging at a quarterback’s legs. The Brady Rule as it’s known.

The Newton Rule? Thou Shalt Be Pummeled.

Newton was on the receiving end of a “Brady Hit,” in 2016. No penalty flag was thrown although Arizona’s Calais Campbell subsequently was fined $18,231.

“Enough is enough,’’ said Newton. “I don’t think there’s a person that can go through what I go through and still keep their head, you know what I’m saying? Hits to the head, that’s one thing, but when you’re not protected in the pocket, that’s another thing. The story of my life ever since I came in [to the league] is just, ‘Oh, oh, well, we missed that one, I’m sorry.’ That’s bull crap.”

And remember the time in 2015 when he was hit late on the sideline after throwing a pass. He accused ref Ed Hochuli of saying, “Cam, you’re not old enough to get that call.”

Brady would have gotten that call. Drew Brees would have. Aaron Rodgers. Russell Wilson. Patrick Mahomes. Flag. Flag. Flag. Flag. Flag.

It makes one wonder why Newton hasn’t been afforded the recipient of protection given to players of the NFL’s marquee position. Is it that Newton is so much bigger and stronger than most quarterbacks that he can take it?

Or is it that he is a big, strong, handsome black man as opposed to a big strong handsome white man, such as Brady? Is that microaggression on the part of the suddenly woke NFL or is it macroaggression considering the injuries Newton has sustained? Broken rib. Broken vertebra. Foot surgery. Shoulder surgery. Concussion.

No matter now. Soon after news broke that the Patriots had signed Newton to a financially low-risk, one-year deal to compete for Brady’s job, it was hailed as perfect fit. And it is. Although New England says it has faith in Jarrett Stidham, the Patriots have a win-now roster and a 68-year-old coach-in-chief.

Newton was the 2015 NFL MVP. Stidham was the 2018 Music City Bowl MVP.

It’s Newton’s job to lose. And this time, he should feel safe.

Not only do the 2020 Patriots have a better line than any of the ones Newton played for in Carolina, but he is now part of the Bill Belichick Death Star Dynasty. He will don the protective cloak known as the New England Patriots jersey and immediately become the recipient of questionable calls.

It’s part of the Patriot Way – Do Your Job; Get the Call.

In their 2018 Super Bowl run, the Patriots were the beneficiaries of overturned touchdown calls, not once, not twice, but three times! “It’s dumb,” former safety Rodney Harrison told reporters of the Pats’ perceived preferential officiating. “Everyone hates us.”

Well, true. The Pats are hated because they are the worst kind of cheaters – successful cheaters – Spygate, Deflategate, and now Filmgate. Six Super Bowls.

The NFL just wrist-slapped the Patriots by taking a 2021 third-round pick and $1.1 million in fine for Filmgate, but Belichick trades third-round picks like penny stocks and a $1.1 million fine might as well be Bitcoin currency for a franchise valued at $3.7 billion.

This is Cam’s new team. He will benefit from an excellent coach/GM in Belichick. His skill set will be optimized by offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels. He doesn’t have a great receiving corps but Julian Edelman is better than anyone Newton had in Carolina – sorry Kelvin Benjamin.

Most of all, Newton will have the protection he never had. He’ll be a Patriot.

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Super Bowl LIV Marks a Changing of the QB Guard

ROBBINS NEST

Credit Twitter

By Lenn Robbins.

Any 49ers fan who thought the Vince Lombardi Trophy was headed back to San Francisco with eight minutes and 33 seconds left in Super Bowl LIV and their team leading by 10 should have heeded the words of Eric Bieniemy.

The Chiefs offensive coordinator was recently asked why Patrick Mahomes is a better quarterback this year than last, when he won the league’s Most Valuable Player award.

“He’s learning how to win when things aren’t perfect,” Bieniemy said.

Mahomes was uncharacteristically imperfect or the first 51 minutes and 27 seconds Sunday night. He had thrown more interceptions (two) than touchdowns (one). He had fumbled twice.

Credit Twitter

 It looked as if a great defense was going to get the better of a great quarterback.

And then Mahomes did what the greatest do. He led the Chiefs to 21 straight points and a 31-20 victory. Mahomes was named the game’s MVP, joining Kurt Warner as the only quarterbacks to win league and Super Bowl MVP honors in their first three seasons.

“I don’t know what it is,’’ Chiefs defensive end Terrell Suggs told ESPN, “but he has it.

Yes, he does. Three playoff games. Three come-from-behind victories.

Mark these words: On Sunday, February 2, 2020 in Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, we saw a changing of the guard. Mahomes has surpassed Tom Brady, Drew Brees, et al as the best quarterback in the game, even when he doesn’t play his best.

Mahomes was 26-of-42 for 286 yards with two touchdowns and the two picks for a RQG of 78.1, his second worst rating of the season. Only a quarterback with the confidence of a Marino, Montana, Elway, Favre and Brady finds a way to win.

“I trust in these guys and they trust in me,’’ Mahomes told reporters.

Trust this: Mahomes, 24, isn’t close to reaching the pinnacle of his craft. Heck, he still can’t rent a car without paying a surcharge for being under 25. But by the time he retires, he’ll own every QB record there is, including most Super Bowl titles and Super Bowl MVPs.

Greg Lewis, the Chiefs receiver’s coach, played with Brady and Favre. As an assistant with the Saints, he worked with Brees. There might not be a better evaluator of Mahomes and his place in the game.

“Brady is a guy that’s a study-a-holic, as detailed as I’ve ever seen,’’ Lewis told Sports Illustrated. “Brees is like a gym rat. Favre is that wild-card type of dude. Pat is all of that in one.”

All that in one?

He has none of that for three-plus quarters. With 7:13 left from the Chiefs 35 and the 49ers having taking control of the line of scrimmage, Mahomes faced a third and 15.

“We were in a bad situation,’’ said Mahomes.

Working out of the hurry up and under heavy pressure, Mahomes found Tyreek Hill for 44 yards. That was the moment when everyone in scarlet red and metallic gold felt the fear that Mahomes instills in a defenses, franchises, fan bases.

Brady and Brees used to do it all the time.

Now? Russell Wilson did it for the first half of the season. Lamar Jackson was the regular season MVP. Deshaun Watson does it on occasion.

And Patrick Lavon Mahomes II has it done it with the AFC Championship and Super Bowl on the line. He was 10-of-13 for 136 yards and two touchdowns in that final 8:33.

This is the changing of the guard at the most important position in football.

‘Everything was about, keep firing, keep firing,’’ said Kansas City coach Andy Reid.

And why not? When you have a once-in-a-generation talent like Mahomes, you hand him the keys to the Chiefs Kingdom and let him fire away – for as long as he wishes.

“It’s incredible what (Brady) puts in to get ready for each game every week, mentally and physically, and I think Pat Mahomes is the same way,” former Patriots linebacker and NFL Network analyst Willie McGinest told the Boston Herald.

 “He wants to be perfect. I think he has that ‘it’ about him, that fire, that competitive juice where he gets super intense about the game. And when you have guys like that, it makes everyone around you better. And Pat has that.”

Just ask the 49ers.

The Patriots Have a Decision to Make And Its Name is Tom Brady

File photo Patriots QB Tom Brady looks to pass to tight end Ben Watson, right. Photo by David L. Pokress/The New York Extra

ROBBINS NEST

By Lenn Robbins

The end?

Does Tom Brady’s illustrious career end with a pick six that sealed the Tennessee Titans’ stunning 20-13 upset victory on Sunday?

  The greatest quarterback of all time said it’s “pretty unlikely, hopefully unlike,’ that he will retire at the age of 42 after 20 seasons. But maybe the Patriots should consider where they are after the 2019 season and ponder the unthinkable:

Maybe they’re better off moving forward without the GOAT?

Heresy you scream?!

Perhaps. We are talking about an athlete who has been nothing short of remarkable, set a new standard for the position and has been a great, albeit, demanding leading. But no player is indispensable. No organization is more cognizant of this than New England.

File Photo Patriots head coach Bill Belichick Photo by David L. Pokress/The New York Extra

Bill Belichick has a roster of former Patriots that he let go in order to maintain the New England dynasty – Richard Seymour, Chandler Jones, Brandon Cooks, Malcolm Butler. No New England player is untouchable. Belichick was always looking two, three years down the road, which made the trading of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo such a lightning rod move.

New England had its heir apparent to Brady. Whether or not Brady forced the trade, or there was some friction among owner Bob Kraft, Belichick and Brady won’t be answered until all are out of football, if then.

So here sit the Patriots with a roster that suddenly seems to have more questions than at any time in the recent past. We’ve known all season that Pats desperately needed another outside weapon for Brady and the offense. Rookie N’Keal Henry is applying aloe vera gel to the burns he got from being on the receiving end of Brady’s fury, if not his passes.

But the lack of another weapon wasn’t the only wart we saw yesterday.  The defense, which had been so good early in the season, got steamrolled by Derrick Henry and the Titans. Henry gashed the Pats for 183 yards on 34 carries.

The Pats inability to score took a toll on that defense throughout the season, including Sunday. They were often worn down. Henry became the first running back to rush for 100 yards against the Pats in the playoffs since 2014 when Marshawn Lynch gained 102 in Super Bowl XLIX

The offensive line was solid, only giving up one sack, but Brady was forced off his spot on many occasions. Unlike many of the quarterbacks that played on Wildcard Weekend, Brady doesn’t offer a run threat.

 Led by Lamar Jackson, NFL teams are looking for mobile quarterbacks, even if that just means the ability to slide in the pocket. The Patriots need to take a hard, uncomfortable look at their quarterback heading into the next decade.

 Brady’s contract voids on March 18, the turn of the NFL calendar. The Giants acknowledged wasting $23 million in cap space by giving Eli Manning to extend his time in New York.

“Everybody’s situation on the team is different,’’ Belichick told reporters Sunday morning. “There are no two that are exactly the same, but the future’s the future for all of them just like it is for Tom and anybody else you want to bring up.

“Certainly Tom is an iconic figure in this organization and nobody respects Tom more than I do. I respect all the other players and all the other coaches in this organization, too. I think that everybody that is part of it is an important part of it and I want to give the proper attention and communication and detail and thought into my input into those decisions, but any decision that’s made, it’s not an individual decision.”

New England has a first-round pick, three third-round picks, a fourth-rounder, four sixth rounders and a seventh rounder. There’s a package to be made if New England wants to move up in the draft to take a quarterback.

Or England can decide to stay the course with Brady under center. They can draft a receiver and bolster both lines. This is the easiest decision to make from afar and the most difficult to make inside New England’s practice facility in Foxborough.

“I love the Patriots,” Brady told reporters after the game. “I would say it’s pretty unlikely, hopefully unlikely (I’ll retire). I love playing football. I don’t know what it looks like moving forward.”

Maybe the Patriots don’t know as well.