Loving the intrigue of all things Patriots (and other quarantine-induced thoughts)

Jim Hackett
April 10, 2020 - 8:11 am
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I’ve got plenty of Boston sports glory day DVDs to get me through but I must say, thank God for the Patriots offseason ...

Not only have the Patriots been the most successful sports franchise in all of American sports the last two decades, but the storylines during this period of time have been equally fascinating. Now, just weeks into the post-Tom Brady era, it would be nothing but foolish to predict anything near the kind of success we’ve enjoyed in Foxboro for this upcoming season. A total reversal of said success is a safer bet at this point. However, thanks to this rocky offseason the Patriots are keeping the intrigue high at a time when we desperately need it.

Brady is gone, will never be forgotten and yet some things never change. The realities of COVID-19 have truly altered our lives, sports are on hold and that’s the least of our troubles. Thanks to the Patriots though, there’s always plenty to talk about.

Here are some thoughts from my couch as I write in front of a blank TV screen:

The Patriots

Watching the 2020 Patriots roster come together the over next two months could be enough to carry us all right through the flattening of the COVID-19 curve. We hope. Regardless, home or blissfully abound, as the NFL Draft nears and free agency tapers but continues, each day brings with it significant intrigue. With rumors of players’ potential landing spots circling and hearing which teams are considering who, the quiet hooded assassin in Foxboro remains intriguingly silent. Most years, Belichick plays his hand exactly this way, letting the biggest names fall off the free agency board and watching the values trickle in to round out a largely complete and competitive roster. The Stephon Gilmore splash stands out loudly amongst the surrounding years of silence. Darth Hoodie pushed all of his chips on the table that 2017 offseason and scored a huge pot and another Super Bowl Championship one year later.

This year is far different though. The superstar anchor of the franchise for the last 20 years is no longer here and his giant void leaves question marks surrounding all sides of the ball.

Will they roll with the unproven, second-year prospect Jarrett Stidham? Draft a quarterback early? Both? Sign a big-name free agent like Cam Newton? Or a lesser but safer stiff like Andy Dalton? The scenarios are vast and unpredictable and these questions spotlight just one position on a roster filled with needs. Belichick’s silence is creating a feeling of unknown we haven’t felt in these parts since the time he first started as head coach in New England back in the year 2000.

And yet, silence abounds.

We just don’t know and thus the intrigue grows. The NFL Draft is merely two weeks away. Literally anything in terms of this teams’ construction can happen and we have nothing but time to revel in the speculation.

Trade up, trade down, trade for proven players, move salary to improve draft position and build cap space, it’s all on the table for the Patriots. The best part is, you’ll never get a clue on which direction they are leaning. Belichick doesn’t seem like a rebuild guy to me. Build up and compete feels more his style. The initial roster moves including the signings of the McCourty twins and the fortification of special teams seem to signal a desire to stay competitive to a degree.

I for one am enjoying all the ‘what if’ scenarios the Patriots offseason is providing.

Need something more while stuck inside?

Fantasy Football helps

Since March 19, which is on or about the day life truly changed around here, I have been immersed in an ongoing Dynasty Fantasy Football draft. Right now in real-time I’m in round 33 of a 36 round draft. I’ll just say this, it’s helping. Quarantine is better when you’re drafting a fantasy football team. If you’ve never participated in a fantasy football draft during this time of year, you can get involved in a Dynasty or Best Ball league. Either is available in abundance on a weekly basis. Searching on Twitter is a good place to start. Get involved. It helps.

NBC Sports Boston

Stick tap to the folks behind the scenes of channel 852 on my cable box. NBC Sports Boston has been delivering the goods. Note to everyone in broadcasting, you can’t play enough Larry Bird to make Boston sports fans forget their troubles. Whether it’s the Glenn Ordway narrated “1986 Celtics” documentary or the classic Bird era games, my clicker is getting far less use than I could have ever imagined when all this started. Anticipating the lull, I literally dusted off all my classic sports DVD’s pictured at the top of this article three weeks ago.

Wednesday night they aired the 1991 playoff battle against the annoying Indiana Pacers led by one of Bird’s favorite enemies, Chuck Person. Person had an immensely punchable face and nobody seemingly wanted to clobber him more than Bird during those latter days of his career. No matter Bird’s age, or ailing back, he always summoned enough to best Person. He went out of his way to do it. Person was darn good, but Bird owned him in a big way and owned the Pacers too, as he did so many during his brilliant career. I’m so enjoying reliving that.

Keep em’ coming cable guys.

Final Observation

Like NBC Sports Boston, right here at WEEI some classic games have been airing of the Red Sox variety. One interesting nugget came from both Wednesday and Thursday night's broadcast of the 2018 playoffs. In both games, Joe Castiglione and Tim Neverett referenced that both the Astros and Red Sox were quite obviously very concerned with protecting their signs. File under: Interesting and more to come.

So even though the live-action is a major void, there may be just enough sports-related content to get us through.