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Patriots Talk: The Rivalry of Tom Brady and Drew Brees

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It’s amazing how long ago it feels when we’re all talking about Tom Brady vs Peyton Manning being the top two Quarterbacks in the NFL. Now with Peyton happily enjoying his life in retirement, it seems unavoidable that Brady will get brought up in the retirement category as well. Same could be said of Saints QB, Drew Brees who Brady has shared much history with. In fact, Brady and Brees have known each other before either entered the NFL.

Brees after high school only received two scholarships, despite being a stellar high school QB for Westlake High. He wanted to originally be recruited by The Texas Longhorns or Texas A&M ‘Aggies’ but sadly neither gave Brees a recommendation. Instead, Bress found himself stuck between either Purdue University or University of Kentucky. He ultimately, chose to go with Purdue where he would play for from 1997-2000.

Near this time, a young Tom Brady was struggling with gaining recognition outside of the state of California. In terms of where he would be rated by today, he was a 4-star recruit out of Junípero Serra High School. Brady was a multi-sport prospect, as he was considered by many to be a better baseball player than he was a football player. Despite Brady being offered high money by the Montreal Expos in 1995, Brady was more passionate about football and when he was given an opportunity, he took it. Brady narrowed his list of options for college to only five: Cal-Berkeley, UCLA, USC, Michigan, and Illinois; Michigan was the one that won out. Brady was sadly hardly given any time to start, as he was 7th on the depth chart by the time he arrived at the University of Michigan in 1995.

While both Brady and Brees moved onto the NFL, they were both in the Big Ten (the division that both Purdue and Michigan played in at the time). It was not known when exactly Brady and Brees came to know each other, but the schedule and time of their first meeting would point to 1999, where the Purdue Boilmakers faced The Michigan Wolverines in Week 5 of the 1999 season. Brady was the starting QB ultimately having won the starting job over Drew Henson. Brady and the Wolverine beat Brees and the Boilmakers 38-12. It would be only one of many meetings that two would have down the road.

This same game was talked about between the two QBs last year during the Week 1 of the 2016 preseason when both teams were having joint practices. That day was rain-soaked and both QBs remember the first time they played against each other. According to Brees:

“So Tom actually threw it out there. He said, ‘Hey, remember that game, Michigan-Purdue in the Big House?’ He said, ‘This is just like it.’

Shows that even after so many years pass, people remember the small details that others sometimes forget. Brady and Brees have known each other only during briefly but their respect for each other is real. Considering what either have accomplished is all that needs to be said (Brady will go down as the greatest of all time and Brees will likely have all the passing records under his name when all is said and done). In fact, Brees went as far to say this:

“I’ve got a ton of respect for Tom and what he’s accomplished. I don’t know if there is a guy in this game that has been more disciplined, more mentally tough and is just so consistent, so, so consistent. A lot to be respected. I have a ton of respect for him, his approach and his accomplishments.”

Both Brady and Brees combined have the most passing yards and passing touchdowns out of any QB currently in the league. With Brady already at 40 and Brees slowly getting there as well, both of them will be by far the oldest on their respective rosters. The Patriots and Saints will be facing off on Sunday at 1:00 PM at the Mercedes-Benz Super dome in New Orleans, Louisiana. this will be the first time they have faced each other since 2013. The game will be broadcast on CBS and will be announced with new CBS commentator Tony Romo (former QB of the Dallas Cowboys). This will be quite the sight to see that much is certain as both teams start the season 0-1, and only one of them is walking away a winner.

Stephen is a Contributing Editor for Trifecta Sports Network and covers the New England Patriots and the NFL.

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Patriots Talk: What To Expect For Week 3

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Patriots

With the Patriots made a great bounce back after the season opener. However, there is still much that the team needs to do going into Week 3. The Patriots will be essentially repeating last season, a Sunday game against the Houston Texans. The thing about the Texans is that their staff is full of ex-Patriots but their team is completely the opposite of the Patriots. The Texans rely much more on their defense than their offense.

Bill Belichick has managed a consist record against O’Brien’s Texans with their last encounters in three years (with Jacoby Brissett being the starting QB for one of them). Two of the games were in the regular season and one in the postseason.

  • 2015: 27-6
  • 2016: 27-0
  • 2017: 34-16

If we are basing the scores from across both teams’ history, the Texans are completely lopsided in this case as well. Since the team first came into existence in 2002 (that means the Houston Texans are only 16 years old, to put that into even further perspective, Bill Belichick has been the Head Coach of the New England Patriots since 2000, 2 years longer than the Texans have been a football team), the Patriots have been 8-1 against the Texans all-time. In terms of overall scores, the Patriots have never scored lower than 23 points against the Texans.

However, the Patriots shouldn’t just push the Texans aside. This is a football team that has never had a fully healthy JJ Watt to face against especially with a defense that has Jadeveon Clowney or Whitney Mercilus. This is a team that can give the Patriots offense problems. In their last meeting, Brady was only able to make 18 completions on 38 passing attempts with 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. The only reason the Patriots won that last game was due to the team having massive headaches at the QB positions and just simple special team mistakes that resulted in two different turnovers.

In addition, the Patriots best weapon, Rob Gronkowski, is currently dealing with a  groin injury and while reports seem positive, that can all change on game day and that simple injury could turn into something much worse (Remember Gronk’s arm brace being a bit massive? It is because they need him to wear that for the rest of his career to prevent further infection or else Gronk would likely have been permanently crippled). It’s still early in the week and things will change as we get closer to game day but its always better to be cautious.

The Patriots will be playing against the Houston Texans on Sunday, September 24th, at 1:00 PM EST at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA.  The game will be broadcast on CBS, and both teams are currently 1-1 to start the regular NFL season into Week 3.

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Patriots Have A Two-Headed Monster In BackField

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Following an embarrassing week 1 loss, the Patriots returned to the field seeking redemption. They trounced the New Orleans Saints 36-20, this past Sunday. Ah, sweet misplaced aggression. From Bill Belichick’s offense, we saw a multi-faceted passing attack that was redolent of the good ol’ days.

Tom Brady stood immovably strong in the pocket, going through his progressions with laser-like precision. We saw him make crafty check-downs to receivers manifold. An unleashed Rob Gronkowski ran crossing routes like a human-boulder, tearing the Saints secondary to shreds. It all made for a beautiful sight to see.

As prolifically as Tom Brady threw the football, it was the effectiveness of our running backs that was most surprising. In this department, offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels hit the Saints with a dual-pronged weapon. Power runner Mike Gillislee scored his 4th rushing TD of the season, while finesse halfback James White pulled in 8 receptions for 85 yards. In tandem, they were absolutely dynamic. And with all our injuries, we’re going to need them to be just that going forwards.

The continued performance of this two-headed monster will arguably be the most critical thing to the Patriots’ success this year. White and Gillislee, early on, have mirrored each other in a productive manner. But beware: The utilization of this duo could become rather calculable. Our one-two punch is going to have to learn to play outside of their respective comfort-zones.

A Tale of Two Tailbacks

When appraising the Patriots backfield, Mike Gillislee and James White should be viewed as a single entity. There’s a mutually beneficial marriage between these two players. They are polar-opposites, who collaborate to produce a formidable rushing attack.

Disclaimer: Some may say that I am negligent to not mention the contributions from Dion Lewis and Rex Burkhead. But if this backfield was a cheeseburger, Lewis and Burkhead would merely be the condiments that make it taste just a tad better. There’s no doubt that Gillislee and White are the featured athletes here.

As many Patriots fans would admit, calling James White a “running back” is sort of inappropriate. This is his formal title, yes, but it’s a misnomer of a title. Go back and watch last year’s Super Bowl. White should just be listed as a wide receiver on the depth chart. That’s what we’ve always used him as. In the absence of Julian Edelman, he may be our most dependable option on passing 3rd-downs.

This year, White is on track to haul in 88 receptions for 920 yards, while racking up an additional 392 rushing yards. That type of production would be invaluable. His hands are immeasurably better than any other RB’s on this Patriots team. Opposing defenses cannot commit to defending one facet of his game or the other, at least so far. But on Sunday afternoon, we saw a pattern being established.

Chances are, if White’s on the field, Tom Brady is going to be throwing the football. It’s no secret. James White has only 12 rushing attempts, this season. Here is where Mike Gillislee comes in. He’s the jelly to White’s peanut butter; the ying to his yang.

Gillislee is off to a fast start, with his new team. He is a virtual inversion of James White. Gillislee is a durable smashmouth back, who acts as a battering ram on the goal line and on rushing downs. Currently, he’s on track for 912 rushing yards and 32 rushing TD’s.

But again there is an appreciable formula, in regards to how Mike Gillislee is leveraged. This is something that will not be overlooked by our future opponents. Since the start of last year, Gillislee has 0 receptions. That’s right, a big fat goose egg. When Gillislee is on the field, 99% of the time he’s going to be hitting his holes as the running play is designed.

Variety is the Spice of Life

It’s odd that both White and Gillislee play such singular roles, because they are physically comparable. James White is slightly more compact, at 5’9” 204 lbs. Mike Gillislee is a rugged 5’11” 208 lbs. But concerning their speed, they’re almost interchangeable. Just look at their 40-yard dash times. White runs a 4.57, while Gillislee runs a 4.55. This is encouraging: They should be able to learn how to imitate each other.

Bill Belichick doesn’t allow any of his players to become complacent. Such comfort could compromise the Patriots playbook. In the coming weeks, look for Mike Gillislee to be a part of more passing formations, and for James White to run the ball more frequently. The Pats have to keep their opponents honest and unprepared.

A live-action attrition has been induced in the Patriots’ leading receivers. Chris Hogan, Danny Amendola, and Rob Gronkowski are currently banged-up. Whether these guys are sidelined or active, the Patriots will be using them minimally. Hence the importance of the running game. Our backfield, with James White and Mike Gillislee at the helm, will certainly be carrying more of the load than anyone expected.

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Who Is New England’s NFC Rival?

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New England hasn’t started off the greatest thus far this year. That comes as no surprise, however. The Patriots have had multiple rough starts in past years and still went to the big show and won it all. So, even though New England isn’t going to go undefeated, as many hoped, Tom Brady and company are still likely to be in yet another Super Bowl this year. But who will they play? What NFC team this year has what it takes to give the Pats a rival in this year’s Super Bowl?

How about the Detroit Lions? With the highest paid NFL player on the roster, quarterback Matthew Stafford has led his team to two victories so far and the Lions remain the only team in the NFC North to be undefeated. Detroit looks to be a contender all year-long. They upset the New York Giants on Monday Night with the win on the road. The biggest challenge for Detroit, however, will come Sunday when the Lions face last year’s Super Bowl losers, the Atlanta Falcons.

Are the Falcons tough enough to return to the big game? Matt Ryan is healthy as ever and Atlanta and their explosive offense are getting the job done. They also are undefeated going into week three. Devonte Freeman and Julias Jones are on top of their game. With the way they toppled the Chicago Bears on Sunday, the Falcons have a good start to returning to the Super Bowl again this year.

The Detroit Lions and the Atlanta Falcons play this Sunday. Could this be a preview of this year’s NFC Championship Game? Is one of these two teams going to be a rival for the New England Patriots in this year’s Superbowl? Granted, this is only week two and there is a lot more weeks of football left to play out. I believe that either the Lions or the Falcons could be the team to give us a good show and a close game against the New England Patriots in a great Super Bowl.

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