I’d like to caution Patriots fans from being overly excited about this news, as Brown’s actions over the last month, including his helmet fiasco and his near-altercation with Mayock have proven that he requires a short leash in order to be successful. Brown’s arrival in Oakland was celebrated by the Raiders organization and their fans, and it clearly blew up in their faces due to his unwillingness to be responsible and behave like a professional.
At the same time, the prospect of Antonio Brown being alongside Julian Edelman, Josh Gordon, N’Keal Harry and the rest of the offense is tantalizing to say the least. I’m hopeful that the leadership structure of Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will be enough to rein Brown in, as Belichick has proven that he won’t take insubordination from anyone, regardless of their talent, while Brady and Brown have shown mutual respect towards each other over the years. This transaction reminds me of several Patriots’ additions over the years. For instance, their addition of Randy Moss in 2007, an ex-Raider receiver with a troubled reputation who was able to resurrect his career during his brief stint in New England. It is also similar to the Pats signing Darrelle Revis in 2014 who came from the hated Jets on a one-year contract, en route to emerging victorious in Super Bowl XLIX. Other examples of controversial additions that worked out are James Harrison and Aqib Talib who were able to contribute to successful Patriot teams.
In the end, Brown’s chances of succeeding in Foxborough is contingent on his ability to buy into the Patriot Way. Respecting the organization and fans of New England would go a long way in rebuilding his tarnished image, which would allow him to cash in next off-season.
The Patriots wrapped up home-field advantage for the AFC playoffs during Sunday’s bone-chilling contest against the hated New York Jets. The 26-6 victory gave the Patriots a 13-3 record for the season, and wrapped up the 2017 regular season on a high note.
Here are a few takeaways from Sunday’s game.
1. Dion Lewis continues to lead the offense
D-Lew had another brilliant game, with 93 yards on the ground and a rushing touchdown, to go along with 6 catches for 40 yards and a receiving touchdown. Lewis has been absolutely dominant over the last month for the Patriots, providing the spark that the offense has needed when TB12 has been less than stellar. Lewis’ ankle-breaking moves, and tackle-breaking ferocity will definitely help propel the Pats to another Super Bowl run.
2. The Pats’ defense had a great game
The Patriots defense carried forward its’ momentum from last week’s win over the Buffalo Bills, and didn’t give up an offensive touchdown for the second straight game. They only gave up 40 rushing yards (to 4 different rushers), and got after Bryce Petty throughout the game. Sunday also marked the debut of the former Steeler, James Harrison who had 5 tackles, 2 sacks (which occurred on the game’s final two plays), and a forced fumble which was recovered by New York. Hopefully Harrison will help ignite New England’s pass rush in the playoffs.
3. Looking ahead to the playoffs
As many pundits have noted, the Patriots have won their last 2 games in convincing fashion without looking very dominant on either side of the ball. This can be attributed to the injuries suffered by several of their key players. For example, the Patriots have been without Rex Burkhead (knee), Chris Hogan (shoulder), and James White (ankle), who are all important cogs in the offense. The defense has also been playing without Kyle Van Noy, and Alan Branch. Having a first-round bye will give all the injured Patriots more time to heal, and get back on the field by January 13th for the divisional round. The Patriots may also activate wide receiver Malcolm Mitchell who has been on the IR all season due to a knee injury. Mitchell was a key contributor during last season’s Super Bowl, and may help to make the Patriots’ offense more explosive.