Fast Friday 5: Tua Tagovailoa to Patriots talk a terrible waste of time

By WEEI 93.7
Five fun Friday mini-columns from the world of (mostly) Boston sports for the price of one free click!

The Patriots have the 23rd overall pick in next week’s 2020 NFL Draft.

Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has been projected for months to go somewhere between the No. 3 and No. 5 overall selections. A recent mock draft had him “slip” all the way to the No. 9 overall pick.

Yet, for the last few weeks it seems there has been this uncontrollable, unexplainable and unfathomable spread of Tua talk within the borders of Patriot Nation.


What am I missing?

This mythical draft night marriage between Tua and the Patriots simply makes no sense.

Tua is a talented but short, left-handed, injury-prone passer coming off hip surgery who built his career surrounded by the best talent in college football on a weekly basis.

The questions, they are a many for a guy who some want to stamp as a can’t-miss franchise QB worthy of selling the farm for.

Make no mistake, that’s the only way New England would have a shot in stay-at-home hell of landing Tua. There aren’t enough QBs to go around and even a guy with his questions is going to go off the board well before 23.

Do we really think Belichick is going to trade up all the way to the top-10 or even top-5 for Tua? A deal that would necessarily include future first-round picks for a Patriots team could be very well be mediocre or worse in 2020 to earn a high-than-usual selection in 2021?

Does that sound like sound Belichickian roster management?

Can I get a, “oh hell no!”?

There are lies, damn lies and then NFL pre-Draft rumors, speculation and pure fantasy.

Tua to the Patriots is some amalgamation of the latter.

Sure, New England is doing homework on all the quarterbacks in the draft. They do, after all, need to add at least a third quarterback to the roster between now and whenever there is a return to football practices and games.

Maybe they are “in the quarterback mix” and wouldn’t mind using a “premium pick” to acquire one, as NFL Network suggests.

Getting Tua would take more than a premium pick for a team that has the lackluster No. 23 selection and doesn’t pick again until the end of the third round.

Maybe there are a boatload of trades coming for Belichick. Maybe he’ll move around and acquire some Danny Ainge-like assets.

But unless Belichick is prepared to trade at least one future first-round pick, among other pieces, he’s got no chance of going to get Tua.

And please don’t give me that crap about using franchise tagged left guard Joe Thuney to get the job done. That’s laughable.

Could Belichick and Josh McDaniels like Tua, despite all his questions and warts? Maybe, let’s not forget their past flirtations and relations with Tim Tebow.

Are they going to be in position to draft Tua? Nope.

So why don’t we all step back into the real world and stop talking about it.

Thanks. And have a nice day!

‘Stid’ more dud than stud?

Speaking of Belichick’s affinity and potential need for a quarterback, the future Hall of Fame coach’s assessment of second-year former fourth-round pick Jarrett Stidham is and always has been at the center of the Patriots post-Tom Brady quarterback situation.

We all know the story of Stidham’s past as one of the top handful of quarterbacks to come out of high school, his pure physical abilities and the pretty ball that he throws.

But NFL history is littered with bust QBs with impressive resumes and highlight reels.

Can Stidham play? Or, more aptly, after spending a year with Stidham, does Belichick think he’s got a future as an NFL starter?

That’s the key question in New England and the key piece to the Patriots immediate future.

It took Belichick only a year to decide past New England developmental quarterback draft picks like Kevin O’Connell and Jacoby Brissett had no future in Foxborough.

It took even less time for Belichick to realize that Jimmy Garoppolo was a clear NFL starter.

What does he think of Stidham – who he seemingly affectionately began calling “Stid” almost immediately last fall – as the pair approach 12 months working together?

Recent comments and projections from NBC Sports Boston and NFL Network stating that journeyman backup Brian Hoyer might be in line to be New England’s starting quarterback to open the 2020 season, whenever that comes, have to be a bit alarming in terms of Stidham’s future.

If that’s true and those are in any way educated opinions it’s a really bad sign for Stidham and the Patriots quarterback position. It means right now there is no palatable plan. It means they, like so many second- and third-rate football teams over the years, don’t have an answer at the most important position in sports.

Hopefully Belichick still has hope for Stidham. Hopefully he thinks Stid can start. Hopefully all the Hoyer talk or the need to sell the farm for a prospect like Tagovailoa is speculation.

Only Belichick knows. Only time will tell.

Speaking of Tom Brady

Belichick held his pre-Draft press conference earlier this week and unsurprisingly made it clear that he only wanted to talk about just that, the lead up to the 2020 NFL Draft.

But, he also somewhat appeased inquisitive reporters with some answers related to the elephant in the conference call room – Tom Brady’s decision to move on from the Patriots to the Bucs via free agency this offseason after his 20 years of dominance as the G.O.A.T. It was certainly more than Belichick gave on Rob Gronkowski’s retirement last March.

After acknowledging that “we’ll be talking about [Brady] for years and decades to come” as he tried to turn the page to his team’s offseason and draft preparations, Belichick later answered a general question about how the quarterback and a team’s offensive system/decisions are tied together.

“Over the last two decades, everything we did, every single decision we made in terms of major planning, was made with the idea of how to make things best for Tom Brady,” Belichick said.

Almost immediately the analysis of the comment began. It is, of course, understandable.

Was it a return of volley by Belichick against the oft-told, overblown and somewhat disingenuous narrative that Brady wasn’t surrounded by much talent on offense in recent years? That he was hung out to dry by Belichick and the team?

Or, was it a more matter-of-fact, obvious assessment that when you have a proven guy at the quarterback position you make decisions around him that suit his skills, needs and desires.

Think of how the Ravens built an offense around Lamar Jackson last season. It’s called smart coaching and roster management.

In all likelihood it was the later. Do we really think Belichick wants to sling arrows and get in some war of words with his former start QB as both are trying to move on and build a new while apart?

The bigger question is whether we’re really going to play this game and overanalyze every comment that Belichick makes about Brady, the quarterback position or anything that’s even closely related to the topic in the coming weeks, months and years?

Brady moved on. Belichick is moving on.

So, too, should the rest of us.

If every quote, decision and aspect of the Patriots and Bucs is going to be viewed through some sort of Belichick vs. Brady prism it’s going to be a long, frustrating, controversial couple years.

Can’t we all just move on?

Horsing around

ESPN aired its basketball H-O-R-S-E competition this week.

I wanted to like it. In this sports-free, coronavirus-controlled world where I can’t even get kicked out of my son’s town league baseball game for arguing a call I think I could have enjoyed it.

But ESPN’s execution was tough, especially the contest I watched between Thunder guard Chris Paul and WNBA sharpshooter Allie Quigley.

The personalities were lacking. The shots weren’t creative. The energy was absent.

And don’t blame it on a lack of fans.

We’ve all played plenty of H-O-R-S-E in our lives. You can’t go to the same free throw bank shot three times in the first handful of chances, as Quigley did on her way to the upset win.

We need bounces, blindfolds, change of hands, anything to keep us interested. Remember those old Michael Jordan vs. Larry Bird games of H-O-R-S-E in the McDonald’s commercials?

As is the case with so many forms of entertainment it’s sometimes as much about the performers as it is the performance. Garth Brooks isn’t the best singer. Bill Goldberg was never close to a technically-sound professional wrestler.

But packaged and presented properly both are capable of putting on tremendous shows.

We have no sports. We crave competitions to watch. I hope ESPN and others keep trying.

If at first you don’t succeed…

McDaniels’ time…to be blamed or be overlooked?

Josh McDaniels is well entrenched as not only the Patriots offensive coordinator but has also overseen the quarterback position for most of his time in New England.

As such he’s ridden the successful wave that was Brady’s time in Foxborough.

Now, though, McDaniels is tasked with leading the Patriots offense with someone other than Brady under center. And not for a couple games, but for the whole season.

Could be Stidham. Could be Hoyer. Could be a quarterback – veteran or rookie – to be named later.

Earlier this week, a column right here on posed the idea that McDaniels has more to prove than Belichick in the post-Brady era. He, after all, will be leading the next man into battle, calling the plays and culling the offense together.

While that’s true, McDaniels is actually probably in a no-win situation.

If the Patriots offense is successful next year, regardless of who is under center, Belichick will likely get the bulk of the credit for continuing the dynasty, for rolling along without Brady and answering the age-old talk radio debate.

But, if the offense sputters – as it’s likely to with a new, questionable quarterback and limited talent around him – McDaniels not Belichick is likely to get much of the blame. Criticisms of McDaniels riding Brady’s coattails for decades can practically be heard already. His tenures in Denver and St. Louis will be brought up.

McDaniels also certainly has a lot to lose here. Unlike Belichick, his career isn’t winding down. He probably hopes to have a couple decades of NFL life ahead of him. He still wants to be a head coach again.

But the way this season plays out it will very much affect his future employment.

Sadly, in the eyes of many outside analysts, McDaniels probably won’t be able to win in 2020.

Offensive success will be the Hall of Fame genius Belichick retooling, rebooting and rebuilding on the fly.

Failure will be McDaniels being exposed.

Good luck, Josh, you’re going to need it.