Bedard: Defense proved thin on depth

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Bedard: Defense proved thin on depth

Mike Felger, Tony Massarotti, and Greg Bedard chat a bit about the Patriots, and more specifically the defensive side of things.

Felger notes that losing their starting cornerback and best pass rusher was huge in the AFC Championship Game. He also says that with those two back next season the Pats have a real chance at the Super Bowl again, and Mazz agrees.

"Losing both Chandler Jones and Aqib Talib given where they were a year ago, was fatal for them ultimately for that game against the Ravens," Massarotti said. "If those guys are still here and you can make an upgrade or two at a couple spots, I think you're talking."

Greg Bedard says that while those injuries hurt the Pats, they didn't have suitable backups to fill the void.

"They were too thin in those spots," Bedard said. "I mean, you lose Chandelr Jones, what do you have left. Jermaine Cunningham did nothing for you afetr his suspension, which raises eyebrows. I mean, Justin Francis is out there, an undrafted guy out of Rutgers is starting for you in the AFC Championship Game? They should be better than that.

"Talib, injury problems, it's been a constant in his care, they have a lot to think about. But I agree with your overall premise, I don't think that they're too far away."

Quick Slants The Column: On booing Goodell and overvaluing Jimmy G

Quick Slants The Column: On booing Goodell and overvaluing Jimmy G

Big night, Philadelphia. How you gonna treat the man NFL owners pay $35 million to be their meat shield? The first round of the draft is one of the few Roger Goodell appearances the league can’t manage. Released from the protection of John Mara’s coat pocket, Goodell has to hear a voice vote from fans every time he approaches the mic. He can grin, bang nipples and backslap all he wants with the first-rounders and sling that “Welcome to the family!” line of BS. He can hit the stage with the ghosts of Reggie White, Buddy Ryan and Chuck Bednarik. Philly’s too smart to get caught watching the paint dry. 

 

Got into a brief and spirited debate on the topic of Jimmy Garoppolo this morning on our “Boston Sports Tonight” email chain. I opined that perhaps Garoppolo is a bit overrated. Overvalued may have been a better adjective. Here’s why. With a fleet of teams dying for a quarterback they can build around, the Patriots squelched all Jimmy G suitors by declaring him untouchable. We may ultimately find out it was all a ruse and the team winds up getting a boatload of picks in exchange for him but from everything I’ve been told since September that’s not happening. Garoppolo will stay a Patriot and the team will figure out later how to proceed with him once his contract is up in March. If Garoppolo isn’t franchised and doesn’t sign an extension to back up Tom Brady until Brady either retires (not on the horizon) or is traded (gasp), then why did the team pass on the haul it could have had? The theory most often posited is that Garoppolo is Brady insurance. If Brady gets hurt in 2017 and Jacoby Brissett is the next-man-up, the team is cooked. But that reality has existed throughout Brady’s tenure whether he had Rohan Davey, Matt Gutierrez, Matt Cassel, Brian Hoyer or Ryan Mallett behind him. It didn’t faze them then. Garoppolo is better than all of them. Potentially. And that’s probably why the Patriots don’t want to make a decision on him before they have to. They look at all these forever .500 teams trying to find a quarterback answer and think, “There, but for the grace of God and the presence of Brady, go I.” Garoppolo isn’t going to be better than Brady. But he fits the suit better than anyone they’ve ever had and they like the fact they found him, developed him and were right about him. Clearly they believe he is a greater asset as a backup with a soon-to-expire contract and a complicated future than the collection of young players they’d be able to draft with whatever picks they got back in a deal. This, of course, runs counter to the way the team has traditionally done business. Bill Belichick and Nick Caserio have found innovative ways to acquire, stockpile and flip picks. The fact the team’s already got its 2017 draft haul of Brandin Cooks, Kony Ealy, Dwayne Allen and Mike Gillislee thanks to pick-flipping. Garoppolo could yield the next batch of picks the Patriots could use in the “rent-to-own” model they’ve shrewdly adopted. But Garoppolo is the extreme outlier. And the Brady-Garoppolo-what’ll-they-do dance is fascinating because it highlights the confluence of everything – draft, free agency, cap management, trades, potential vs. proven, old vs. young, icon vs. phenom – at the most important position in sports on the greatest franchise of this era. 

 

Which brings me to this: we’ll have former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis in studio tonight on BST helping us through the first round of the draft. Looking forward to his insight on why Garoppolo is persona-non-tradeable. Put the over-under on “Tommys” at about 47.


 

Patriots seven-round mock draft: Shakeup in the secondary

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Patriots seven-round mock draft: Shakeup in the secondary

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