Who Should Be the Next Member of the Patriots Hall of Fame

Who Should Be the Next Member of the Patriots Hall of Fame

In the last few years we have seen Troy Brown, Teddy Bruschi, Ty Law and Willie McGinest be inducted to the hall, and this year it was Kevin Faulk. We are starting to see a bunch of players from the early Super Bowl teams get in, and with that in mind I want to talk about who next year’s inductee should be. Mike Vrabel was one of the 3 finalists this year and absolutely deserves to be in, but the problem is only one guy gets in each year. In addition to Vrabel, Matt Light, and Rodney Harrison deserve consideration.

Vrabel played all over the field, outside linebacker in the 3-4, inside linebacker in the 4-3, defensive end in the 4-3, and even caught 10 passes for 10 touchdowns. He was excellent as a pass rusher and in coverage. There are two plays by him that really stand out in my memory when I think of him, the first is Ty Laws pick 6 in Super Bowl 36, which Vrabel caused by getting in Kurt Warner’s line of sight and forcing him to throw the ball to an area he thought was wide open. The second play was in Super Bowl 38 where he sacked Jake Delhomme, forced a fumble, and then had the presence of mind to jump on it. He was a first team All-Pro in 2007 and a member of the Patriots 50th anniversary team. He only topped 10 sacks once, but Vrabel was willing to do anything and always turned up his play in the playoffs. He was the perfect Patriot and you won’t go wrong with him as your choice.

Matt Light is one of the least talked about Patriots from this era and that is a very good thing. He protected Brady’s blindside for 10 years and was never given the credit he deserved league wide, although he was a first team All-Pro in 2007. Before Logan Mankins got here Matt Light was the guy who was always hitting through the echo of the whistle and was the first one into the scrum if something he didn’t like happened. In the 2011 playoffs against Denver Brady pooch kicked a punt and after the play Von Miller cheap shotted Dan Connolly from behind. Matt Light was first on the scene and wrestled Miller to the ground, with a mini brawl breaking out on the Patriots sideline. It was plays like these and his stellar protection of Tom Brady that got Light on Patriots all 2000s team and the 50th anniversary team.

Rodney Harrison’s arrival in New England coincided with the departure of Patriots great Lawyer Milloy in 2003. Harrison immediately became a leader in the locker room,he was named captain in his first year with the team, and a force in the Patriots secondary. The loss of Milloy wasn’t even noticeable, as Harrison was named a first team All-Pro in 2003 and a second team All-Pro in 2004. Harrison was injured a lot during the latter part of his time in Foxborough, but when he was on the field his impact was always felt. Harrison much like Vrabel always saved his best for the playoffs. My two favorite plays by him both came in the 2004 Super Bowl run. The first play was in the AFC championship against the Steelers, right before halftime he picked Ben Roethlisberger and returned it for a touchdown, expanding the lead to 24-3 and effectively ending the game. The other came in the Super Bowl when he picked off Donovan McNabb with 10 seconds remaining to seal the 24-21 victory and streaked down the field flapping his arms like an Eagle, it was his second interception of the game. In addition to his two All-Pro seasons in New England and his stellar postseason play, he was a member of the Patriots all 2000s team, the Patriots 50th anniversary team, and the first NFL player to record 30 interceptions and 30 sacks.

My Pick: Rodney Harrison

Harrison is my all-time favorite Patriot other than Tom Brady so this may be biased, but he brought a swagger to this team that was lacking after the 2002 season. When Harrison retired after the 2008 season that swagger on defense was gone pretty much until 2014 when they had one of the best defenses in the league and arguably a top 3 defense in the Belichick era. For that and his outstanding number and contributions on the field he is my choice.

The 5 Worst Losses of the Brady/Belichick Era

The 5 Worst Losses of the Brady/Belichick Era

Yesterday we went through the five best games of the Brady/Belichick Era, those games brought us the highest of highs, now we are going to explore the lowest of lows. In every single one of these games the Patriots were the better team and should have won. Every single one of these games with the exception of number 5 100% cost the team a ring.

  1. Super Bowl 42: Giants 17 Patriots 14

This is not only the worst loss in Patriots history it is the worst loss in sports history. To come that close to perfection and have it ripped out of your hands in the way that it was nearly killed me, Brady leaves the field with a lead late in the fourth, the helmet catch, and despite all that Moss still came within half an inch of catching a ball that Brady through 65 yards in the air. After the game my mom came up to my brother and I, saw how upset we were and decided it would be a good idea to say “just think about how happy the kids in New York are” we both looked at her in disbelief and I broke the silence by telling her she would never understand what it meant to be a Patriots fan.

P.S. There were 7 holds on the helmet catch

P.P.S I haven’t and never will forgive Asante Samuel for dropping that pick

2. 2006 AFC Championship Game: Colts 38 Patriots 34

Brady didn’t have any weapons, the entire defense had the flu, I can run through a whole list of excuses, but the fact remains the Patriots choked this game away. They led by 21-3 late in the first half and lost, that just does not happen to Brady/Belichick teams. In the second half everything that could go wrong did, the Colts threw a touchdown pass to defensive lineman, scored another on a fumble recovery by center Jeff Saturday, and while this was going on googly eyes Reche Caldwell was dropping every pass thrown his way. The thing that stung the most about this game was that it was a guaranteed Super Bowl win if we had held on. The NFC champ was the Rex Grossman led Bears, arguably the worst team to ever play in the Super Bowl.

3. 2015 AFC Championship Game: Broncos 20 Patriots 18

There was something weird about this game from the start. As soon as Gostkowski missed that extra point you knew it was going to come back to haunt them and it did. At some point they had to go for 2 and we all knew they weren’t going to get it, you could just feel it. The Pats were grossly outplayed and still had a chance to force overtime at the end. Denver’s defense played the perfect game and we still had a chance to win it. We were injured and usually I would be okay accepting that this just wasn’t our year, but I’m 100% sure we win that game at home. Add on the fact that this year was different, we were coming off of Deflategate and we needed to shove it down Goodell’s throat and we were deprived of that.

4. Super Bowl 46: Giants 21 Patriots 17

Another game that was weird from the start. The Patriots first possession ended with a safety, where Brady was flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone. The Giants led 9-0 at the end of the first quarter, but we scored 17 consecutive points to take the lead before the Giants cut it to 17-15. With just over 4 minutes remaining the Pats faced a 2nd and 11 from inside Giants territory, Wes Welker was running free up the seam and Brady hit him, but Welker dropped it. The play would have brought us to the Giants 20 yard line and essentially ended the game, but instead we punted 2 plays later, and Manning completed another miracle pass, this time hitting Mario Manningham up the sideline where there was no room at all. A few plays later Ahmad Bradshaw fell into the end zone leaving the Patriots 57 seconds to score. The final play was a Brady hailmary from the 50 that fell inches away from the outstretched hands of Gronk. If he’s healthy he catches that ball, but then again if he’s healthy it doesn’t even come down to that, fuck you Bernard Pollard. Welker has never lived that drop down, and never will.

5. 2010 AFC Divisional Round: Jets 28 Patriots 21

This game hurts the least because there is no guarantee that we would have won it all with the Patriots still needing to get past the Steelers, and eventual champ Green Bay, but the Patriots were better than the Jets and blew it. In week 13 the Patriots blew out the Jets 45-3 at home on Monday Night Football, they should have demolished them again. Unanimous MVP Tom Brady led the Patriots deep into Jets territory on the first drive of the game before throwing his first interception in over 300 attempts. This would have been a perfect opportunity to get ahead early and suck the life out of the Jets. Just before the end of the first half Pat Chung called for a fake punt which he fumbled, the play resulted in a Jets touchdown a few plays later to put them up 14-3 at the half, a lead they would never relinquish. The Patriots pulled within 3 at the end of the 3rd, but the Jets expanded that lead to 14 quickly and the game was never in doubt.

Top 5 Games of The Brady/Belichick Era

Top 5 Games of The Brady/Belichick Era
  1. Super Bowl 49: Patriots 28 Seahawks 24

Maybe I chose this over the next game on this list because it is fresh in my mind, but I honestly believe that this was the best game I’ve seen in my time watching the Patriots. There have been larger comebacks and better stories, but none were in the Super Bowl. After Brady’s interception to Bobby Wagner late in the third quarter this game was OVER. Seattle was up 10 and with that defense you could almost guarantee they weren’t blowing it, and then Tom Brady did what he’s done his whole career. He led the largest 4th quarter comeback in Super Bowl history, by going 13 of 15 for 124 yards and 2 touchdowns. Even after Edelman caught the go ahead score the Patriots faced near certain death, but then the Seahawks did the unthinkable, they passed on 2nd and goal from the one yard line, and the rest is history.

  1. Super Bowl 38: Patriots 32 Panthers 29

Before Super Bowl 49 this was the greatest Super Bowl of all time. This game had everything. It was a battle of two of the best defenses in the NFL in quarters 1 and 3 with no points being scored, and a barn burner between two offenses capable of putting up points in bunches in the 2nd and 4th, with 37 points in the 4th quarter alone. Mushin Muhammad’s 85 yard touchdown with just under 7 minutes to play put the Panthers up 22-21 for their first lead of the game. The Patriots responded with a 1 yard touchdown reception by Mike Vrabel and a direct snap to Kevin Faulk for the 2 point conversion. These were 2 staples of the Pats offense in the early 2000s and seemed to work every time they were run. After the Panthers tied the game up with 1:08 to play, they put the kickoff out of bounds and gave the Patriots the ball at the 40. Needing only 30 yards to get into field goal range Brady calmly drove down the field and set up Vinatieri for a 41 yarder (this was no gimme because he had already missed and had a kick blocked) which he drove through the uprights.

  1. Super Bowl 36: Patriots 20 Rams 17

The biggest upset in Super Bowl history, and the game that started it all. “The Greatest Show on Turf” versus the team of nobodies quarterbacked by a backup 6th round draft pick. At the time the Rams had just put up the single greatest offensive season in NFL history, and no one expected them to be stopped by the 11-5 Patriots, who needed the Tuck Rule to even win one playoff game. Despite this the Patriots led 14-3 at the half. This was a different time in the NFL, and the Patriots defense made the Rams receivers and backs pay the price when they had the ball and when they didn’t, as a result the Rams offense didn’t get on track until the fourth quarter when they scored 14 points to tie the game with 1:30 left on the clock. After the last Rams score John Madden was calling for the Patriots to take a knee and play for overtime since they only had one timeout remaining, instead Brady led a drive to set up Adam Vinatieri, who had never missed in a dome, for the game winner

  1. Week 13 2003: Patriots 38 Colts 34

Our first non Super Bowl and only Brady/Manning game on this list. Much like Super Bowl 38 this game had everything, the two best quarterbacks in the league going head to head for the 4th time in their careers, and the game was decided not by them, but by a goal line stand. Brady started the game 14/14 and threw a touchdown to Dedric Ward of all people, Bethel Johnson (quick #tbt to the curse of Bethel Johnson) returned a kickoff for a touchdown, and Deion Branch did the worm on his back after the go ahead score. After Branch’s touchdown Manning drove the Colts down to the Patriots 1 yard line before being stopped on 4 consecutive plays, the last ended with Willie McGinest stuffing Edgerrin James behind the line, McGinest then proceeded to run all the way down the field with his finger in the air. This is the second best goal line stand in Patriots history.

  1. AFC Divisional Round 2014: Patriots 35 Ravens 31

This game has a special place in my heart because I brought my younger brother as his Christmas gift. The temperature was well below freezing and the only thing keeping us warm was the nips of fireball we hid in our boots and the $8 Bud Lights. The crowd did not sit for second during this game, even when the Pats got down 14-0 early in the first. When Brady ran it in to cut the lead to 14-7, and spiked the ball the place went ballistic and we knew there was no way we were going down without a fight, but then Owen Daniels scored with 10 seconds left in the first half and Forsett walked into the end zone on the first drive of the 3rd quarter to put them back up 14. Little did we know the game was just starting. Belichick and McDaniels broke out the ineligible receiver formations, throwing the Ravens defense completely out of sync and we were able to cut it to 7 again. The very next possession Julian Edelman motioned across the formation and caught a swing pass from Brady, only he didn’t turn up field, he stopped and threw a strike to Danny Amendola for a 50 yard touchdown to tie it. When that happened the building erupted and I honestly thought the stadium was going to collapse, I couldn’t feel my feet, but I was jumping up and down until the next kickoff. Just two plays later Flacco was picked by Devin McCourty, and during the commercial break they played “Your Love” and showed Zolak hanging out of the broadcast booth waving a towel, the place went nuts and we knew there was no shot we were losing. The Ravens went up 3 with 10 minutes left, but with just over 5 minutes to go the Patriots retook the lead for good on arguably the most perfectly placed pass of Brady’s career. Duron Harmon closed the game out with another pick of Flacco, and the Patriots had officially over come not one but two 14 point deficits. Without this game Brady still doesn’t have his fourth ring.

Kevin Faulk is the Newest Member of the Patriots Hall of Fame

Kevin Faulk is the Newest Member of the Patriots Hall of Fame

With Kevin Faulk’s induction into the Hall this week he becomes the fifth member of the 2001, 2003, and 2004 Super Bowl teams to be voted in. He joins Troy Brown, Tedy Bruschi, Ty Law, and Willie McGinest. Also nominated this year was Mike Vrabel so we are really starting to see the guys from those early 2000s teams get in which is awesome.

Faulk played for the Patriots from 1999-2011 and ran for 3,607 yards which is shockingly low. He obviously wasn’t known for being an elite rusher, but I assumed he would have finished with higher numbers than that. His highest single season total was 638 yards in 2003, and while he was never a great runner that was also never his role. If you needed to pick up a third down Kevin Faulk was the guy getting the ball. He was the best screen back I’ve ever seen. Josh McDaniels catches a lot of heat now for calling “give up” screen passes on third and long, but when Faulk was at his peak he picked those up at a very high rate. He was the perfect Bill Belichick back, he was excellent at picking up the blitz, he caught the ball well, and when he did run it he hit the hole and didn’t waste time dancing around (looking at you Laurence Maroney).

I remember a game in 2003 against the Texans where Faulk outgained the entire Texans team by himself, and no one even noticed. He was never a flashy player, but he got the job done when you needed it, and that’s why Patriots fans will love him forever. All of this is before I even mention what really cemented him as a Patriots Hall of Famer. Last month at the draft, just days after Tom Brady’s suspension had been re-instated, Faulk announced the teams second round draft pick. When he announced it he walked up he was wearing a Tom Brady jersey and emphatically stated that “The New England Patriots AND Tom Brady select Joe Thuney.” It was a massive slap to the face of Roger Goodell on the national stage that all Patriots fans needed, and just one of many memorable Kevin Faulk moments.

Making Sense of the Edelman and Amendola Injuries

Making Sense of the Edelman and Amendola Injuries

Ever since the start of the Brady/Belichick era the Patriots have lived by the “next man up” mantra, and it seems as though they may have to do that again with the recent injury news about Jules and Dola. On May 11 we got the news that Edelman had surgery to reinsert the screw into the foot he broke last November. The timetable for this type of injury to be fully healed is 3-4 months, and last year Jules missed the final two months of the regular season before returning for the playoffs, where he looked good against KC, but was invisible in Denver. Clearly he wasn’t fully healthy then, so my question is why wasn’t the surgery done right after the season? The team says he should be ready for training camp, but training camp is two and a half months away. It’s logical to expect him to sit out most if not all of the preseason games and who knows how long it will take him to feel comfortable again.

I felt a lot better about Edelman potentially missing games when the news of Danny Amendola restructuring his contract to stay with the Patriots came out, but only a few days later it was reported that he was recovering from surgery to his knee and his ankle. The reports say that the team is hopeful he will be ready for training camp, but that there is no guarantee he will be ready for week 1 of the regular season.

So where does this leave us? The mark of a good team is depth, and thank god the Patriots have an abundance of pass catchers. The signing of Chris Hogan makes a lot more sense now, because at the time we all questioned why we signed another guy who seems to have the same skill set as Jules and Dola. These injuries should also open up more opportunities for rookie receiver Malcolm Mitchell. After he was drafted most expected him to play a limited role his rookie season with all of the talent ahead of him, but if Edelman and Amendola miss games Mitchell is going to be forced to pick up some of the slack. This is also a huge break for Nate Washington and Keyshawn Martin, both of whom looked like camp bodies just a week ago. They are both veteran receivers who have played in the same system the Patriots run under Bill O’Brien in Houston. If the Patriots aren’t comfortable with Mitchell early on maybe one or both of these players ends up on the roster and playing early.

The good news is whoever is filling in for Jules and Dola, if they even miss time, shouldn’t have to be relied upon too heavily. With Gronk and Bennett at tight end, and Dion Lewis out of the backfield you should be able to get by without a ton of production from the receiver spot for a few weeks while the top guys get healthy.

Why Brady’s Suspension Being Re-instated Is Good For The Patriots

Why Brady’s Suspension Being Re-instated Is Good For The Patriots

Although he’ll never say it Bill Belichick probably thinks that this is a very, very good thing for the Patriots. Many of you will call that blasphemy, and yes it kills me to say the Patriots might be better off without Tom Brady for four games, but when you really look at it, it makes a lot of sense.

Jimmy Garoppolo is about to enter his third season in the NFL and has yet to play a single snap that had any significance. We can talk him up all we want, but until we see him perform with something on the line, and against real competition we really have no idea what he actually is. Why should any team trade a first round pick for Garappolo just because he has learned under Brady, Belichick, and McDaniels? Former Brady backups Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett have been given shots before proving anything and have failed miserably. If you want to maximize Jimmy G’s trade value, or maybe see if you actually have the quarterback of the future he has to play real games and this is the perfect way to do it.

The Patriots start the season on the road for a Sunday Night game against the Cardinals, a game that would be tough even if Brady were to play, but after that they are home for three in a row against the Dolphins, Texans, and Bills. Best case scenario, and the most likely scenario if you ask me, is we come out of Brady’s suspension 3-1 and Garappolo has shown that he can be a legitimate quarterback in this league, but that’s not even what makes this so good for the Patriots.

First off you will have Tom Brady who will have taken no hits and not tired out his arm taking over a 3-1 team. The extra rest alone for a 39 year old quarterback should be enough to make this a win for the Patriots, but what really makes this whole thing worth it is we get lunatic Tom Brady back. Sure he’s always crazy, but if you thought he was pissed off last year after not serving any games just imagine what he will be like this year. Add in the fact that he’s going to feel threatened by seeing someone else quarterbacking his team, and we have the makings for an all-time Tom Brady season which ends with him holding his fifth Lombardi Trophy, while the boos rain down on Fuhrer Goodell.