The New England Patriots must have been pleased with what they saw from Antonio Brown on Sunday.
After officially joining the Patriots last Monday, Brown was tasked with familiarizing himself with New England’s offense ahead of the team’s Week 2 contest with the Miami Dolphins. The star wideout, obviously, still has a long way to go before he has a full grasp of the playbook, but he still managed to make an impact in his Patriots debut.
Brown collected four catches for 56 yards with a touchdown in New England’s rout of Miami. Tom Brady sought AB out right from the get-go, as the duo thrice connected on the visitors’ opening drive at Hard Rock Stadium. The seven-time Pro-Bowl selection also was visibly ecstatic as his teammates racked up highlight-reel plays in the divisional matchup.
All good, right?
Not so fast, says Skip Bayless.
Despite Brown’s status as one of the league’s premier playmakers, Bayless fears how AB could trouble the Patriots down the road.
“I was stunned by what I saw and I was disappointed by what I saw because you say he played only 24 percent of the snaps — it was clear that both Belichick and Brady were waving their middle fingers at the NFL world right out of the box because technically he didn’t start the game because he didn’t play the first play, then he comes hopping onto the field for play No. 2. I said, ‘Only those guys would do that,'” Bayless said Monday on FS1’s “Undisputed.” “Those two are ‘watch this’ guys. ‘Oh, you don’t think he should play game No. 1 for us? We should keep him on ice for a while? Ease him in? Nope. Watch this, NFL.’ I’m watching and I’m not loving because again, second play of the game goes to AB and then two plays later it’s to AB and two more plays later it’s to AB. Tom’s first two passes went to AB, or as I’m starting to call him ‘Antonio Moss’ because he’s starting to fill that role. It feels like, to me, he’s about to hijack their offense because they’re going to let him hijack it.
“This is the one guy you can’t let take over your football team because if you do, he will very quickly become more trouble than he’s worth. I believe he ultimately will become more trouble than he’s worth to the Patriots. I’m going to say it one more time: they got Moss’d in ’07 because they broke all those records until they got to the Super Bowl and then they threw it 48 times and ran it only 16 times and they lost 17-14. Randy Moss helped them win exactly no Lombardi’s. Three years and four games he was there. Were they really good in ’07? Sure, they set records and got to 18-0 and they lost because they weren’t balanced. They looked incredibly, like unstoppably balanced, to me, a week ago Sunday night against Pittsburgh. They dismantled the Pittsburgh Steelers and left them for dead.
“The point is, I liked that team and I picked that team to win the Super Bowl. I don’t love this team as much as I liked that team before. Again, if you’re going to get AB conscious — I hate to keep referring to it, but that IG post that he put up when he first signed where he was the caricature of himself sitting on a pile of money with the caption, ‘This is the Patriot Way.’ It’s not. It is not the Patriot Way. Now it looks like the Patriot Way is going to be, ‘Watch this, NFL. We have an electric receiver.’ He is that. He might be the best receiver in pro football. All things considered, with the electric feet, you can’t press him, he’ll beat you short, he’ll beat you deep. He’s difficult to cover until you start making your locker room out of balance, unhappy because he’s ruling your world. He had eight targets yesterday which led the team. Julian Edelman, the second-best receiver in the history of the postseason, the Super Bowl MVP reigning — he got four targets. Do you think Julian was really happy last night? I’m sure he’s saying, ‘Oh this is just Game 1. It’s like a scrimmage. We just had to sort of initiate him, indoctrinate him into your system.’ I will see more of this because they will fall in love with a guy that can destroy them from inside.”
Given his rocky history, there’s undoubtedly a chance Brown will go off the rails in Foxboro, which is something the Patriots surely considered as the pursued him upon his Oakland Raiders release. As far as the game plan and offensive attack is concerned, it’s really not up to Brown. If New England ever lays an egg on offense, the bulk of the blame should fall on Brady, Belichick and Josh McDaniels. The Patriots will look for Brown to deliver when called upon, but he’s not in charge of calling the plays.
There’s also no sense in comparing this Patriots team to the 2007 squad either. Aside from the 2019 campaign only being two weeks old, the offensive makeup of the current group is different than the unit from 12 years ago. Sony Michel, James White and Rex Burkhead are a much stronger running-back stable than Laurence Maroney and Co., and these Patriots wideouts could prove to be the greatest arsenal Brady has ever had.
The ’07 Pats got “Moss’d” as Bayless puts it, but that was their bread and butter throughout a season that had never been seen in New England prior. It’s tough to imagine Brady putting all of his eggs in one basket this time around.
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images