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QB Carousel: Tom Curran, NBC Sports Boston Patriots Insider

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March 9, 2023 9:39 pm

QB Carousel: Tom Curran, NBC Sports Boston Patriots Insider

Zach Gleb Show / Zach Gleb

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March 9, 2023 9:39 pm

Tom Curran joined Zach to discuss how the Patriots view Mac Jones and if Bill Belichick is on the hot seat. 

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Step right up here!

Don't be shy! The Super Bowl is over, but the NFL quarterback carousel is just beginning. You could ask yourself a question.

Do I feel lucky? What does the future hold for all 32 NFL teams at the QB position? Now, I'm gonna give you an opportunity to spin this wheel right here. Let's spin the wheel and find out which teams we hit today. The New England Patriots. Alright, let's go out to New England and we will chat with Tom Kern. He does a great job as a long-time Patriot insider for NBC Sports Boston.

Tom, appreciate the time. How are you? I'm great. How have you been, Zach? I've been fantastic.

So, this is the part that I don't really understand. So many people are talking about the relationship of Mac Jones and Bill Belichick. I know last year it was not pretty in terms of the product on the field, but I know you can never really get a truthful answer out of Bill, but what do you think your understanding is of the relationship between the two? Well, at the beginning of training camp, Belichick professed how much Mac Jones had developed in the offseason, how much he had improved, and that was from an already, as Belichick termed it, and he was effusive, an already very impressive rookie year. By the end of the year, Belichick's final press conference, when asked about Mac Jones, he said, well, you know, we know he can play in the league.

That's an outstanding and astounding come down from where he was in July. So, what transpired over the course of time? Well, Mac Jones was kind of served a poop sandwich with no bread on the coaching staff, and as a result, his production suffered, and as a result, his attitude suffered, and as the season wore along, his patience wore thinner and thinner with Matt Patricia and Joe Judge, so that I think that there was a level of agitation that Belichick had towards Mac Jones to, okay, suck it up a little bit here. But I still think Mac Jones had a point. When you go back to that decision to have Patricia and Joe Judge run the offense, why the heck did it happen?

Because I remember at the time, when we found out about it, it was like, this makes absolutely no sense. It happened because Bill Belichick has great confidence in his own ability to coach, in the people that he has fostered the careers of and surrounded himself with to coach, and I think he had great confidence in Mac Jones being able to just rise to the challenge. But in the end, it was a hell of a lot more difficult. What Josh McDaniels did for a decade, what Tom Brady did for two decades, I think was a hell of a lot harder to do than Bill Belichick even appreciated, even though he had more than a front row seat to it. I thought Bill Belichick imagined it would be a lot easier than it was.

I mean, think about it Tuesday afternoon. They didn't only replace one of the best coordinators in the league with two guys who hadn't done the job, they changed the offense. They completely shelved what they had been doing to go to something that the players had not done before, and they were ill-equipped to do it. So it was just horrible decision-making by Bill Belichick and whoever was advising him all down the line. Here's my concern moving forward. I love that they brought in Bill O'Brien.

It makes 110% sense. But with that being said, are they going to add a number one wide receiver? Because if you just bring in Bill O'Brien and you don't bring in someone to really elevate Mac Jones, I think it's a mistake, and you take a glance at when Brady was there, and go forward to not get the best players, the best wide receiver, because you knew Brady would find a way to just make it work. Yeah, it's an ongoing conversation here. I believe that the Patriots, and because I've watched them for so long, I kind of subscribe to the same belief, that if you have enough pass-catchers on offense, the notion of your WR-1 is overrated.

I am in the minority. I know that. But when you look at Kendrick Bourne's production two years ago in Max Brookie year, when you look at the ability when he's on of Devante Parker, when you look at Hunter Henry and John O'Smith, who have yet to be completely unlocked in this offense, Taequann Thornton, who's a burner, and if they re-sign Jacoby Myers, nobody is expecting any of those guys to make the friggin' Pro Bowl. However, when you put them all together on the field at once, you do have a defense that's going to be stretched thin.

Your question is good, though. The Patriots need to go get somebody like Gronk, like Edelman, like Randy Moss, like you name it, James White even on occasion, who made defensive coordinators say, what the hell are we going to do with this guy on third down? The Patriots don't have that guy. Do you think players still want to be a part of New England? Like the free agents, guys via trade, do you think they still view New England as a destination? We're talking about that tonight, actually.

I'm going on to Boston Sports tonight on NBC Sports Boston. DeAndre Hopkins is obviously an accomplished player. He is on the trade block, and I think he's gettable for the Patriots. If he wants to play with Bill O'Brien again, but DeAndre Hopkins at 31, with all he's accomplished, want to go from Houston to Arizona, not in New England, where you're going to work 90-hour weeks. You're going to run your ass off. You're going to be in the cold. You're going to be in a place where it's demographically and culturally different from the Houston's and the Arizona's. It's a big country.

New England's a different place, as we all know, from being around the country and realizing different places. Does he want to do that at 31? So, four years ago, five years ago, he'd say, yeah, maybe the Patriots will deign to talk to DeAndre Hopkins, because that's the sway they had.

I don't know if they still have that same sway. I would probably say, certainly not at the same level. What do you think the ceiling is, Tom Kern, for Mac Jones in this league? I think he could play in a Super Bowl. I think he could guide a team to a Super Bowl. Could he carry a team to a Super Bowl? No. Is he going to have a 5,000-yard, 45-touchdown season?

I highly doubt it. I think that he is a good enough quarterback to, with the right surroundings, make the right decisions. We're looking at a league where guys are able to restart plays and turn third and eights into first and tens because of their athletic ability when something breaks down. What the Patriots are trying to find is a player who's smart enough who never has to restart the play because he figures it out before the snap.

That's the advantage that Mac Jones can bring you. He needs 17-yard scrambles on third and 11 because he makes a 12-yard read before the snap and gets the ball out on time. So he can be a top ten quarterback, but right now he's, honestly, probably between 15 and 23. Tom Kern, do you think, and maybe it already happened, will Josh McDaniels and Bill Belichick have a conversation this offseason about a Mac Jones trade?

Even if they do, I don't think that that would be a wise move on Bill Belichick's part. The reason being, so far Mac Jones was drafted. His first year he had to beat out Cam Newton.

He did that, and he played well. The second year, the Patriots, to put it plainly, pissed it away. Now you're into the third year of a four-year rookie contract, which he's making about $4 million a year. And if you're going to go to Robert Kraft and say, hey, Tom Brady's been gone now for going into his fourth season, we want to reboot again. We want to get rid of Mac, who we loved last July, and try and figure something else out. I think Robert Kraft's going to look at him and say, no, you broke it, you bought it, fix it. Look at what John Mara had to say last year after Joe Judge left about Daniel Jones. We've done everything in our power to screw this kid up.

It's time to help him. And they did that with Brian Deval. The Patriots had a good year in Mac's first year, but since then, they did everything in their power to screw the kid up. Give them a year. Don't bother talking to Robert Kraft, in my estimation, about moving on from Mac Jones. Next year is a different time.

Figure out what you got. And it's a right first step, like we're talking about, bringing in Bill O'Brien. I think, and I know we disagree with this, they have to go get a number one wide receiver, but what happens if Bill, I don't want to say he's starting to feel the heat, because I think that's a stretch, but if he knows what the perception is, right, Brady wins without him, maybe he kicks the tires on Lamar Jackson this offseason.

I know they have respect for one another. Can that happen at all, or is that just too big of a price tag that the Patriots historically would never pay? I think it's too big of a price tag, and if you really scrutinize what Lamar Jackson has done over the last two seasons, it doesn't look like someone you say, wow, that's a guy who's worth giving $200 million guaranteed to, which seems to be at least what he's looking for, unless we're all missing the tea leaves on that. So, again, you're going to reboot at the quarterback position after using the 15th overall pick with a kid who was fairly capable in his first year to go spend $200 million on a player who's played 12 games each of the last two seasons.

I just think it's not the right time for it. I don't think it would be the right player for it, because Lamar Jackson, to me, is someone you have to wholly commit to embracing every bit of his unique, and really, honestly, if you look at the numbers, including Michael Vick, never-before-seen skill set in terms of running with the football. Nobody's run it like he has in as few a game as he has played. So, are you going to embrace that, or are you going to have, again, the money that you're investing in tight ends and just say, you know, we'll just take a flamethrower to that? To me, I don't think Lamar Jackson will be the answer here, nor do I think they'd look into it. It's mac or bust for your quarterback carousel here in New England. Well, it's kind of weird, Tom Kern, because if someone's probably listening to this conversation and they're hearing me talk about Belichick, they probably think, like, I just trash Belichick all the time. That's the farthest thing from the truth. But it's kind of weird to how we evaluate Belichick now because he is getting the most out of this roster, but he's also in charge of this roster, and this roster, when I look at it, it's just not all that impressive or good. He's not getting the most out of it.

I mean, that's what's interesting. If you're on the beat, if you're here, you're looking at the numbers and realizing that in 2022, the Patriots spent more in cap capital on tight ends than any team in the league, and they got, like, 14 catches from John O'Smith. They had a decent season for Hunter Henry. They spent the third most, Zach, we're talking about wide receivers and need to have a WR1. They spent the third most in cap space on wide receivers in 2022 in the entire friggin' NFL. The wide receivers and tight ends, and how did their offense look?

Anemic. So you're right to scrutinize. Yeah, they have a good defense, and I don't know if you lose the greatest player of all time and go 25-25 as the Patriots have in three seasons with any other coach. Bottoming out for the Patriots is going 7-9 because Bill Belichick's here. But still, Pete Carroll gets fired after never having to lose in season in New England.

The expectations are different because of what they've accomplished and the foundation that Bill has built in many ways. When does Bill get put on the hot seat, just wondering? I never thought I'd ask that question, by the way, Tom. I mean, he's there.

He's on it. How warm is it right now, though? It's warm enough for him to check the controls and say, how hot is this seat right now? Because I'm sitting in my car as I do this. I'm working my little seat warmer. But sometimes, would you have a seat warmer in your car?

Yeah. Okay, and you look down, you forget, you put it on, and you're like, holy crap, my butt's hot. Yeah, my ass is on fire.

I've been there and done that. Yeah, and you try to turn this thing off. It's enough for him to say, that's warm. Is this thing on?

The reason being, for anyone out there who's listening and saying, are you out of your mind? Look, Robert Kraft, in 2022, right at the beginning of the season, the owner's meetings, he said, we haven't won a playoff game in three years, and that's unacceptable. Asked him when he expected for the team to compete again, he said, this year, now, immediately. We have a quarterback, we have a coach, they're both in place.

We expect it this year. And what happened? They went eight and nine. They were anemic on offense. They were a punchline. So, there's players that have been signed, the Patriots have gotten very little from. The decision made to put Van Patrician and Joe Judge in those positions of power were wrong.

Stupid, yeah. So, all of that puts Bill Belichick in a position where he's kind of on a cold streak. And Robert Kraft wants to win. And you look at this division, the Bills are very good, we know that. The Dolphins, if two could say healthy, can be a force. The Jets may have Aaron Rodgers. If they miss the playoffs this year, you think Belichick's out at the end of the year?

That's kind of a bridge too far for me to go at on March 10th, whatever it is. Depends on what it looks like. But the expectations remain what the expectations have been, which is to compete, to be a playoff team, to win your division, and to look like a threat to the rest of the AFC.

And right now, they are not that. And it's going on the fourth season of that. So, does he get fired? I mean, what's it look like? How close is Bill Belichick to Don Shula at the end of the year? Does Robert Kraft have it in him to have Bill Belichick eight games from tying or surpassing Don Shula after a 10-win season and saying you're fired? I don't know.

Tell me what it looks like. Let's say they go 7-10 or 8-9. Call me after they do that, you dink. Tom, I was looking for the headline.

Tom Curran says Bill Belichick will be out at the end of the year if he gets fired. That's my first rodeo, Zach. See, you're a dink. You didn't help us tonight, Tom.

No, I'm just teasing. Tom, appreciate it. Thank you. See you, buddy.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-09 23:10:11 / 2023-03-09 23:17:01 / 7

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