The countdown is almost over. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is one week away from his season debut.
Because Brady’s suspension is almost over, this week’s mailbag is heavy on the legendary QB. Let’s get into it.
@DougKyed What X factor makes NE so successful each year? W/ so many ex players & staff on other teams why can’t they replicate it #MailDoug
Whew. That’s a loaded question.
I’ll simplify this by categorizing it into three factors:
1. Bill Belichick
He’s one of, if not the best head coach in the history of football. And he’s also one of the best talent evaluators. Belichick knows what kind of players will succeed in the Patriots’ system and has a great track record of signing, drafting and trading for them.
Belichick certainly has had some misses — the mid-2000s drafts among them — but he has fewer than most general managers. And he knows when to cut bait better than most.
It’s nearly impossible to separately find a head coach and a general manager as good as Belichick. To get them to agree is a whole other issue. Belichick being both and having final say is monumental. There isn’t a whole lot of clashing in Foxboro.
2. Tom Brady
The Patriots also have the best quarterback in the history of football. That helps.
There’s very little turnover in the Patriots’ organization, and when there is, the team fills the void from within.
Here’s how many seasons the Patriots’ coaches have been with the team:
Head coach Bill Belichick: 18
OL coach Dante Scarnecchia: 31
RBs coach Ivan Fears: 20
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels: 13
Defensive coordinator Matt Patricia: 13
LBs coach Brian Flores: 12
TEs coach Brian Daboll: 11
CBs coach Josh Boyer: 11
WRs coach Chad O’Shea: 8
Asst. ST coach Ray Ventrone: 6
Head strength and conditioning coach Moses Cabrera: 6
STs coach Joe Judge: 5
Safeties coach Steve Belichick: 5
DL coach Brendan Daly: 3
Asst. QBs coach Jerry Schulplinski: 4
Director of player personnel Nick Caserio has been with the team since 2001, director of scouting administration Nancy Meier has been with the team since 1975, director of college scouting Monti Ossenfort has been with the team since 2003, and college scouting coordinator Matt Smith has been with the team since 2000.
Teams essentially have to start over when they get a new quarterback, head coach or general manager. The Patriots barely have to start over at a new position since Belichick came on board in 2000.
@DougKyed Who are the offensive/defensive MVP’s so far?
Offensive MVP: LeGarrette Blount
I’ll admit I was wrong about Blount this season. I didn’t see him having this kind of start. The offensive line has helped, but they’ve also hurt his production at times, when they have trouble getting a push, and he only finds a yard, if that.
The Patriots wouldn’t be 3-0 without Blount’s big plays.
Defensive MVP: Jamie Collins
This one isn’t a surprise, but it’s closer than the offensive MVP. Cornerback Logan Ryan, safety Devin McCourty and defensive end Chris Long also have been very valuable for the Patriots.
Collins was extremely dominant Thursday night against the Houston Texans, however. If he could do that every week, he’d be a league MVP candidate.
@DougKyed who’s making room for Brady and Nink?
Good question. Click here for the answer.
@DougKyed How much of difference of the difference in the o-line can be attributed to Scarnecchia’s return vs health and personnel?
I’d say it’s a little bit from Column A, little bit from Column B. Scarnecchia’s return certainly helps, but so does having Nate Solder, the extra year of experience for Shaq Mason and David Andrews, the addition of Joe Thuney and improvement out of Marcus Cannon.
@DougKyed in your personal opinion, how should the Patriots handle the QB situation over the next year? All things considered…
I’d keep Brady and Jimmy Garoppolo in 2017. And depending on how Brady plays in 2017, I might franchise Garoppolo in 2018 too. Garoppolo has the potential to be a top-tier quarterback with the Patriots. I don’t think you can risk giving him up.
But as long as Brady is at the top of his game, you have to keep starting him. Things start to get messy in 2018 and 2019, but I have no idea how Brady will be playing at that point.
Patriot besides Brady that will have biggest impact coming back from suspension/injury? Lewis, Nink, Vollmer, Cooper, Hightower #MailDoug
Hightower, if he’s included. He’s the Patriots’ most consistent defender.
Dion Lewis, among long-term injuries, however. Blount has been fantastic, as referenced above, but if he keeps getting 20-plus carries per game, he very well could break down. Bringing Lewis into the mix would be huge.
Lewis is eligible to return in Week 7, but it remains to be seen if he’ll be ready. He’s been in the facility, and he wasn’t wearing a knee brace last Thursday.
Let’s go rapid fire:
@DougKyed #mailDoug What are your career ambitions?
Just trying to get better everyday. Taking things one day at a time.
In all honesty, I always wanted to be an NFL beat writer. Anything else is gravy.
@DougKyed which beat reporter is most likely to get punched in the face by Rex Ryan?
All of us?
Rex Ryan conference calls are pretty funny to witness. But I’ll say this: It’s a lot easier holding a guy’s feet to the fire when you’re on the phone and you don’t have to face him every day.
@DougKyed How’s Harambe? #MailDoug
Still dead 😢. #RIPHarambe
Just kidding. My cat is the Harambe that Taylor is referencing, and he’s great, but he has to stop jumping on our dining room table, behind our TV, into the fridge and kitchen drawers.
He’s a Jimmy G guy, though. He’ll be confused when Brady comes back. Garoppolo has been the Patriots’ starting quarterback for his entire life.
@DougKyed who would win in a fight? One 500-lb duck or 500 1-lb ducks?
One 500-pound Doug.
@DougKyed What’s up with Hightower?
He looks fine. I wouldn’t be surprised if he plays this week.
He also was wearing some 🔥🔥🔥 Ken Griffey Jr. sneakers Thursday.
@DougKyed What would the cost be in providing throwback helmets? Understand this is why there’s no throwbacks. Seems pretty weak.
It’s not a cost issue. The NFL doesn’t allow teams to introduce an entirely new set of helmets during the year, so the Patriots can no longer wear white helmets. It’s supposedly a safety issue.
@DougKyed is Tom Brady still good?
Good question. I think we’ll find out next Sunday. My guess is yes.
@DougKyed Do patriots players get fan mail delivered to the stadium?
Yes, they do. I was actually looking at a pile of it Thursday.
@DougKyed would you watch an episode of SNL in any era where Rex Ryan replaces a cast member? What era and who gets the axe? #MailDoug
Sure, let’s go with Season 34 with Rex replacing Darrell Hammond. I was never a big Hammond guy.
@DougKyed #MailDoug March 1st, team offers (2) 1sts and a 2nd for Gronk- do you take it or not?
Depends on which team is offering. If it’s a team that usually picks early in the draft, then yes. If it’s a team that typically picks late, it becomes a tougher question. Given his injury history, I’d probably have to accept.
@DougKyed Going to ROH All Star Extravaganza tomorrow night? 5th row, good chance one of the Young Bucks jumps off a ladder and kills me.
I’ll be there.
Thumbnail photo via Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports Images