Today marks the final day of 2016 and it’s time to reflect on the year that’s now in the rearview. This has been a great year for PatsPulpit.com and I just want to thank everyone for their continued support.
The Patriots are in the thick of things, yet again, thanks to a high level of production from all facets of the team. The front office did an outstanding job over the offseason, finding new contributors like WR Chris Hogan, TE Martellus Bennett, LG Joe Thuney, and CB Eric Rowe. The staff also did a great job once the season began, swinging a trade for LB Jamie Collins, while also adding LB Kyle Van Noy.
The players have also been exceptions. Back-up QBs Jimmy Garoppolo and Jacoby Brissett put the league on notice with a 3-1 record during QB Tom Brady’s suspension, while the league’s #1 ranked defense has surprised everyone.
In an act that might be interesting only to me, I’ve compiled the top 10 most-read stories on Pats Pulpit during 2016. Feel free to go back down memory lane as most of our top articles have come during the offseason.
10. Cowboys draft board accidentally leaked and the Patriots did pretty well
The Dallas Cowboys posted their 2016 NFL Draft board and allowed us to compare the Patriots draft to another franchise’s prospect rankings. The Patriots selection of QB Jacoby Brissett might’ve led the Cowboys to select phenom QB Dak Prescott since the Cowboys had Brissett rated one place above Prescott in their quarterback rankings. CB Cyrus Jones and OG Joe Thuney received 4th round grades.
9. Brock Osweiler and the Texans are why Bill Belichick won't give big money contracts in free agency
The Texans gave QB Brock Osweiler a humongous contract in March before the Houston coaches could even talk to Osweiler. The Patriots avoid the first wave of free agency and invest in homegrown players because they know how their own players can and will perform in their system. Head coach Bill Belichick wants to avoid giving away bags of money to players that are unproven in the Patriots schemes.
Osweiler has been benched, by the way.
8. NFL Network is saying some preposterous things about Patriots QB Tom Brady and DeflateGate
A handful of NFL Network hosts argued that Brady should drop his DeflateGate appeal because of targic events that were happening around the country, ignoring the fact that Brady’s court case has serious repercussions for labor law and was no longer about football.
7. Panthers Suggest a Rule Change that Could Affect Tom Brady and the Patriots
The Carolina Panthers proposed a change to the definition of “intentional grounding” and wanted the new rule to state "if a player intentionally throws a ball to the ground, it is intentional grounding, unless the receiver is surrounded by defenders on an attempted screen pass."
6. Here's why the Patriots gave LB Jon Bostic away to the Lions pretty much for free
I didn’t know Bostic was such a big draw for the site. The Patriots traded Bostic to the Lions for a conditional 2017 7th round pick. Bostic has not played all year and is on the injured reserve. The Patriots will not receive a 7th round pick.
The Patriots went back to the Lions and acquired LB Kyle Van Noy and a 6th round pick in exchange for a 2017 5th round pick. Van Noy has been a starter for the Patriots defense over the past four weeks, playing roughly 80% of the snaps, and has been a key part of the Patriots defensive rejuvenation.
5. 6 winners and 3 losers from the Patriots 27-0 domination of the Texans
This is the only story from the regular season that ranks in our top 10. The Patriots went to their 3rd string quarterback to defeat the Houston Texans and the defense played arguably their best game of the season.
4. ESPN Suggests a Crazy Offseason Move for the Patriots that Might be Brilliant
How naive does this look now? Back in February, ESPN argued that the Patriots should trade back-up QB Jimmy Garoppolo for a second round pick to compensate for the DeflateGate penalty and lack of a first round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Garoppolo is now expected to net the Patriots a first round pick minimum in the 2017 NFL Draft. It’s a good thing the Patriots waited.
3. Bill Belichick and the Patriots Laugh as the Dolphins Trade for CB Byron Maxwell and LB Kiko Alonso
The Dolphins made the first splash of the 2016 offseason to defend their title as “Offseason Champions”, but it appears to have paid off. Miami is in the playoffs and has a chance to spoil the Patriots chances at homefield advatage in the playoffs. I argued that the Dolphins were going to regret the trade because it would hurt the roster’s depth. Miami has five starters on the injured reserve, but they’ve won nine of their past ten. We’ll see if the lack of depth will rear its ugly head in the playoffs.
2. Tom Brady Doesn't Think He's One of the Best Ever; Names Six He Considers Better
Ever the humble quarterback, Brady was asked if he considers himself to be one of the best quarterbacks of all time. He deferred to Joe Montana, Steve Young, Troy Aikman, Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson, and Cam Newton as players he watches and tries to emulate. I’m sure those six players would all laugh and call Brady the best of all time.
1. NFL Owners Admit DeflateGate Was All About Nailing Patriots Owner Robert Kraft
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell deserved all of the criticism for his handling of DeflateGate, but the outrage blurred a more important storyline: the fact that the other owners were out to get Kraft, reduce his influence in leadership circles, and levy a draconian penalty against the franchise that has dominated the league for the past two decades.