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Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 7: Tom Bradys Bucs, Patriots are headed in opposite directions – CBS Sports

Sorting the Sunday Pile, Week 7: Tom Bradys Bucs, Patriots are headed in opposite directions - CBS Sports

Bill Belichick hasn’t had many truly terrible NFL Sundays over the last 20 years or so, but Week 7 of the 2020 season had to qualify as one of the worst. Belichick’s old backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo led the 49ers on a multi-pronged revenge game drubbing of the Patriots while in the same time slot, a very spry looking Tom Brady appeared to be testing out a “2007 Tom Brady” costume against the Raiders in a five-touchdown effort that helped the Bucs surge to the top of the NFC. 

Even for someone who had the 49ers as a best bet, the outcome in Foxborough was shocking, with Garoppolo and Co. trouncing Cam Newton and the Pats 33-6. Things got so bad, that Belichick yanked Newton off the field for Jarrett Stidham in what amounts to a mercy benching of his first-year quarterback. 

For San Francisco, it had to be a sweet victory. Jimmy G returned to his first squad, the one that generously traded him to the 49ers, where he’s found a great deal of success and an even larger pile of guaranteed money. Two weeks after getting a mercy benching of his own, Garoppolo was largely impressive, completing 20-of-25 passes for 277 yards. He had one really bad interception on the 49ers second series and a mostly-meaningless pick taking a shot down the field at the end of the half — several passes set up the rushing scores by Jeff Wilson and Kyle Juscyzk. It wasn’t some MVP game, but Garoppolo was the better quarterback. That matters. 

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Also getting to hand out some icy dishes were Kyle Shanahan, toppling Belichick in a rare matchup between the squads. It’s hard not to think of the pairing and Belichick’s comeback Super Bowl win against the Falcons — Shanahan was OC then — in Houston, the famous 28-3 game. Outcoaching Belichick has to feel good for anyone, especially so for Shanahan. It wasn’t mano-o-mano though, as the 49ers completely outflanked the Pats coaches in this one. 

Garoppolo had guys running wide open into space and despite missing some important skill guys (Raheem Mostert), the 49ers were in advantageous spots because of Shanahan’s schemes and an impressive performance from the offensive line, which blew away the Patriots front seven for most of the game. Meanwhile, Newton wasn’t able to get his running game going — credit the 49ers defensive scheme for keeping eyes on him — and the Pats didn’t have a gameplan to get guys open against the Niners coverage. 

I actually don’t think Newton played quite as bad as the numbers would indicate, but 9-of-15 for 98 yards and three picks isn’t an ideal stat line against another contender visiting your home turf. One of Newton’s picks was an arm punt and another was tipped off Julian Edelman into the air where it was snatched by the 49ers. Not making excuses for Cam — he’s been bad the last two weeks — but I think his stats might be more about the Pats being outplayed and lacking skill-position talent than it is about Cam just forgetting how to play quarterback. It’s at least reasonable to ask if he’s dealing with some post-COVID physical situation. Maybe it’s a combination of all those things.

Whatever the case, the Patriots have now lost three straight games under Belichick for the first time since 2002. New England is 2-4 and in third place in the AFC East. The Pats are 5-1 to win the division (not a terrible bet if you believe in Belichick and are seeing the same cracks in the Bills I’m starting to see), the longest odds for New England in a long, long time. 

That’s bad enough for Belichick, but imagine dealing with this while your former long-time quarterback yuks it up in his new landing spot, lighting up the Raiders defense and launching his new team to the top of the NFC. Brady tossed four touchdown passes against Jon Gruden’s crew and looked like vintage Brady, growing more and more comfortable in his new skin.

Anyone who thought Brady was just going to fall off a cliff this year was a fool. He’s Tom Brady! But it was fair to wonder how quickly he could acclimate to a new team and new offensive scheme. The answer? He figured it out pretty fast. After a slow start to the year against the Saints, Brady and the Bucs have incorporated a more Brady-friendly offense, nicely blending what Brady likes to look for and what Arians likes to call. 

The result is an absolutely explosive offense that will soon be adding Antonio Brown. Whether or not you like the karmic aspect of bringing in Brown is largely irrelevant — Brady loves Brown as a player and Antonio was the best receiver in football for nearly a five-year stretch. If he’s operating at peak Antonio Brown — or even something close to it — the Bucs will be even more lethal on offense. 

Seeing the Patriots and the Buccaneers operate on Sunday, in that same time slot, was a startling juxtaposition. Is it possible Belichick regrets letting Brady walk? Certainly it’s in the realm of possibility. Would this Pats team be that much better with Brady? 

I’m not so sure. I could definitely see Belichick being frustrated seeing Brady have tremendous success away from New England. The reality of the split between these two parties was always going to be a hefty dose of comparisons throughout the 2020 season. Early on it was advantage Belichick, but Brady clearly has a leg up. There’s plenty of time and a lot of season left — the Pats could make some kind of a trade to shore up their pass catchers and the Buccaneers could run into better defenses (see what happened to them on a Thursday in Chicago). 

But on Sunday it was impossible to ignore the shocking difference in trajectory between Tom Brady and his old team. 

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Bruce Arians on lack of big plays from Antonio Brown: “Well, he was open” – NBC Sports – NFL

Bruce Arians on lack of big plays from Antonio Brown: “Well, he was open” - NBC Sports - NFL

Bruce Arians on lack of big plays from Antonio Brown: “Well, he was open” - NBC Sports - NFL

Getty Images

Through three games with the Buccaneers, receiver Antonio Brown has 18 catches for 157 yards and no touchdowns. Coach Bruce Arians apparently thinks the numbers should be higher.

“Well, he was open,” Arians told reporters on Tuesday when asked why Brown hasn’t made more big plays. “We had one go off his fingertips [and] I’m used to seeing him make that catch. We missed him last week on a ball, so it’s just a matter of hitting him. He’s doing a great job of running after the catch and within his role, I think he’s doing a really good job. It’s just when he’s going deep, we’re not hitting him.”

Quarterback Tom Brady targeted Brown 13 times on Monday night against the Rams, with Brown catching eight passes for 57 yards. Brown led the team in all three categories.

Brown has $750,000 in incentives tied to performance: $250,000 for 45 catches, $250,000 for 650 yards, and $250,000 for six touchdowns.

Over the final five games, Brown needs 27 more catches, 493 yards, and six touchdowns to meet the minimum requirement. The Bucs also must make the playoffs for any of the money to be paid.

Another $750,000 hinges on 35-percent playing time, a threshold he’s easily satisfying. However, the playing-time payment is tied to the Bucs winning the Super Bowl. That’s currently looking like a steep uphill climb for Tampa Bay.

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Inside the John Harbaugh, Mike Vrabel pregame exchange – NBC Sports – NFL

Inside the John Harbaugh, Mike Vrabel pregame exchange - NBC Sports - NFL

Inside the John Harbaugh, Mike Vrabel pregame exchange - NBC Sports - NFL

USA Today Sports

After Sunday’s game between the Titans and Ravens, both Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel and Baltimore coach John Harbaugh downplayed a pregame interaction sparked by Harbaugh approaching Titans players who were on the Ravens’ midfield crest.

As usual, however, NFL Films cameras and microphones are everywhere.

Andrew Siciliano of NFL Network posted a clip from Showtime’s Inside the NFL containing the exchange.

Harbaugh says, “It’s disrespectful.”

Vrabel dismissively waves his call sheet as he says, “Go coach.”

“It’s disrespectful.”

“Go coach a game.”

They trade more words that are hard to hear (an “F” bomb may or may not be included) before they return to their “tastes great” vs. “less filling” exchange: “It’s disrespectful” and “go coach.”

So, yes, something happened. And, yes, the decision of Harbaugh to dismiss Vrabel’s attempted handshake after the game ended (both coaches claim that a handshake happened) now makes more sense.

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Bruce Arians: Bucs’ offense comes down to whether “quarterback plays well or not” – NBC Sports – NFL

Bruce Arians: Bucs’ offense comes down to whether “quarterback plays well or not” - NBC Sports - NFL

Bruce Arians: Bucs’ offense comes down to whether “quarterback plays well or not” - NBC Sports - NFL

USA Today Sports

The season-long dance of the awkward continues between Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians and Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady.

The Bucs have won seven games and they have lost four. When they lose, Arians has no qualms about placing blame on Brady, if need be. On Tuesday night, Arians painted with a broader brush.

“[O]ffensively, it’s just a matter of each and every week if the quarterback plays well or not,” Arians said on his weekly radio show, via “And our job is to make sure he’s comfortable and let him play well.”

In the same show, Arians said the pass blocking against the Rams was “really, really good.” Arians also reiterated that the interception from Brady that sealed the defeat late in the fourth quarter “was just a poor decision,” that Brady “did not read the coverage properly and threw a poor ball.”

Although Arians has at times made it clear that Brady still needs time and continuity to become fully comfortable in the offense, that sense doesn’t become obvious in sound bites that come off as dumping blame on Brady. At a time when it’s believed that the Buccaneers’ primary objective for the rest of this year is to ensure that Brady will be back for another one (one in which all tickets hopefully will be available for sale), Arians either didn’t get the memo — or he’s not fully on board with the idea.

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Legacy of S***stain 17 could be decided Friday against ISU – 247Sports–155365524/

Legacy of S***stain 17 could be decided Friday against ISU - 247Sports

They’re proudly known as the “Sh*tstain 17” because they didn’t get a cool recruiting-year nickname from Tom Herman’s creative marketing staff like the classes in 2018 (RevolUTion 18) and beyond.

On Tuesday, three members of the SS17 definitely sounded determined to outperform their nickname when Longhorn seniors play their last home game at Darrell K Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium Friday at 11 a.m. CT against a surging Iowa State team.

“It’s really important for this senior class, with all the ups and downs we’ve been on, to leave this football program better than we found it,” said senior defensive tackle and captain Ta’Quon Graham.

“What we mean by that is, we want to ride out on top as Big 12 champions. We obviously have to take this week by week, and we’ll meet our destination if we take care of business.”

Longhorns’ senior quarterback Sam Ehlinger was taken for a trip down Memory Lane by reporters, one of whom asked him if he regretted saying, “Longhorn Nation!! We’re baaaaaaaaack!!” after beating Georgia in the Sugar Bowl, capping a 10-4 season in 2018?

“I don’t regret it, because I learned from it,” a chuckling Ehlinger said. “It’s one of those things that I’ll look back and be like, ‘That was pretty funny.’ I was still a teenager, so you can expect something like that from a teenager. But it was a great learning moment for me.

“Definitely don’t have any regret about it. Now, would I do it again? Probably not. But I don’t regret it.”

Ehlinger, however, didn’t open up when was asked what was really said between him and then-Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray after Texas’ 48-45 victory in the Cotton Bowl in 2018.

Ehlinger smiled and said, “Sorry. I don’t remember.”

Several seniors who will be recognized Friday, transferred in, such as defensive end Jacoby Jones and graduate transfer receivers Tarik Black and Brenden Schooler.

Others are fifth-year guys like safety Chris Brown and offensive linemen Denzel Okafor and Tope Imade. Still others are long gone, such as running back Toneil Carter and receiver Jordan Pouncey, who transferred. A couple walked away from football (cornerback Kobe Boyce and defensive lineman Rob Cummins).

The seniors who came in as part of the SS17 followed three straight losing seasons, resulting in Charlie Strong being replaced by Herman heading into the 2017 season.

“We came in as a class that wasn’t super highly recruited,” said senior center and captain Derek Kerstetter. “We weren’t just all big-name guys. But a lot of us have come in and played. So I think that was something special – just seeing how we really wanted each other to be successful.

“We just kind of came in with our heads down, didn’t care what people said about us. So I think it was just fun seeing guys like Sam Cosmi, who was a very low recruit, come in and just do so well. So it’s been fun just seeing guys like him (Cosmi) and TQ and all those different guys become so successful.”

The remaining members of the SS17 who will be recognized on Senior Day are Ehlinger, Graham, Kerstetter, left tackle and captain Sam Cosmi and tight end Cade Brewer.

There were highs for these seniors: going 3-0 in bowl games, including a Texas Bowl win over Missouri to cap a 7-6 season in 2017; the Sugar Bowl win over Georgia; and an Alamo Bowl win over then-No. 11 Utah, capping an 8-5 season in 2019.

There were lows. Like losing seven times to unranked opponents when Texas was ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 – the most such losses in that span. Back-to-back upsets by sad-sack Maryland teams made the program feel like a deflated balloon gasping through the air to open the 2017 and 2018 seasons.

These seniors are 1-4 against Oklahoma; 1-3 against TCU; 2-2 against Oklahoma State; 2-1 against Iowa State; 3-1 against Baylor, Texas Tech and West Virginia; and 3-0 against Kansas and Kansas State.

As far as memorable moments, Ehlinger said throwing a fourth-down touchdown pass to Armanti Foreman with 45 seconds left to take a 17-14 lead on USC at the Coliseum as a freshman in 2017 is high on the list. Kerstetter said his memorable moment was beating USC the next year in Austin after trailing 14-3 early.

There are more memories to be made with three games left against ISU, K-State and KU as part of UT’s Control Your Own Destiny Tour.

With Kansas State (4-4, 4-3) having lost three in a row and now on its third-string quarterback – who happens to be a freshman – and Kansas being winless (0-7, 0-6), the most daunting challenge for Texas (5-2, 4-2) to close the regular season will come on Friday.

Iowa State (6-2, 6-1) is a veteran team on a roll that happens to have the nation’s leading rusher in sophomore Breece Hall and perhaps the Big 12’s defensive player of the year in linebacker Mike Rose, who leads the league in interceptions (four) and is second in the league in tackles.

Take down the Cyclones and these proud members of the SS17 keep their dream alive of possibly playing for (and winning) a Big 12 championship – leaving no doubt about putting the program in a better place than where they found it.

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Utah, Washington to play Saturday after Arizona State game canceled – ESPN

Utah, Washington to play Saturday after Arizona State game canceled - ESPN

Utah and Washington will play Saturday in Seattle, the Pac-12 announced Tuesday.

The game came together just hours after Utah’s game against Arizona State was canceled, leaving both the Utes and the Huskies without an opponent this week. Washington’s Apple Cup rivalry game against Washington State was canceled on Sunday.

“The scheduling of this game is consistent with the Conference’s commitment to provide opportunities for student-athletes through maximum scheduling flexibility while still prioritizing health and safety,” the Pac-12 said in a statement.

When the Pac-12 announced that it would allow nonconference games, it included a stipulation that should any Pac-12 team become available by Thursday of a given week, a nonconference matchup would be called off in order to prioritize a conference game. That rule would have prevented a BYU-Washington game from taking place, had the schools’ early-week discussions led to an agreement to play.

The game is scheduled to kick off at 10:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

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