1. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady releases a newspaper cover in the form of a comic strip after every team victory and there’s been a fair amount of discussion about who the crocodile, which SB Nation’s Charlotte Wilder noticed has appeared in almost every comic this season, is supposed to represent.
Reporters asked Brady about it on Friday.
“I'm going to keep you guessing,” Brady replied when asked about the meaning of the crocodile. “I'll tell you at the end of the year.”
Brady confirmed the crocodile is a “crack the code type of thing,” which leaves one job for Patriots fans: figure out who or what the crocodile is supposed to represent.
2. My first thought was to think of any of Brady’s friends that are supposed to represent other animals. Julian Edelman would be my first guess, but he’s obviously a squirrel. Brady’s college friend Beav would naturally be a hippopotam- I mean a beaver.
I’m not sure what Rob Gronkowski or Matthew Slater or Devin McCourty or Stephen Gostkowski would be as an animal (Gronkowski is a Golden Receiver) and I can’t think of them as a crocodile.
3. My first guess would be Bill Belichick. He’s the perfect crocodile, right? It would make sense for him to be in most of the comics and if I had to choose anyone on the team as a crocodile, it would be Belichick.
Robert Kraft is Thundercat, for real. Ernie Adams would be a ghost. Matt Patricia would be a grizzly bear. Josh McDaniels would be a lamb or giraffe and I don’t know why, but I think it just makes sense.
Belichick is the crocodile, 100%.
4. Best alternate theories:
“The crocodile is Brady’s alter-ego,” Kyle suggests. “The crocodile is one of the oldest and ancient predators on the planet from prehistoric times, just like Brady who is timeless.”
This could be the winner.
“I'm assuming the croc references the artist,” jcorye1 writes. “It’s probably his nickname or something, basically a fun way to signal who made the cartoon.”
The cartoonist has the signature and initials “D.K.” I’m not sure who that is, but this could be a solid idea.
5. Brady also spoke words of appreciation about his offensive line, which has done a pretty good job of keeping him clean and protected for the second half of the season.
“It's an incredibly difficult job,” Brady said about the offensive line. “There's five of them. They need to coordinate everything up front. There's a lot of different rush packages that you get and you're facing some of the best athletes in the world and you're always on the defense as an offensive lineman.
“At the end of the day you're always going backwards. Our guys do a great job keeping their poise and I think they're so well coached and they take it to heart. They take the coaching to heart. They play together, they do everything together and they're just a great group.
“The culture of the offensive line is built by a lot of the guys that have played before the guys that are currently here. They take a lot of pride in watching the current offensive line do its job. Matt Light and Logan [Mankins] and Joe Andruzzi and some really great players that we've had here – Dan Koppen. I mean they're always checking in on how the offensive line is doing.
“I think those guys are doing a hell of a job and I love all those guys. They do a great job working hard for our offense and it all starts with them in the run game, the pass game. You really can't do anything if those guys aren't playing as well as they're playing.”
Last year the Patriots were able to field the same five players on the offensive line for almost the entire year. Joe Thuney and David Andrews played nearly every snap, while Nate Solder and Marcus Cannon missed just one game apiece. Shaq Mason started the year with a broken hand, playing 20% of the snaps in week 1, 49% of the snaps in week 2, and then almost every snap for the rest of the year.
Mason still played 91% of the snaps in 2016 and that was the least of the starting five.
This year is different. Thuney and Mason have played nearly every snap, while Solder missed a few snaps against the Broncos and a handful throughout the year due to 6-offensive line sets as the extra blocker.
But David Andrews and Marcus Cannon have missed serious time, opening the door for Ted Karras and LaAdrian Waddle, and now Waddle is hurt and could give way to Cameron Fleming.
It’s just a reminder that the health of the 2016 offensive line was the exception and not the norm; depth is incredibly important and the Patriots have built one of the best and deepest offensive lines in the NFL- and Brady trusts every player on that line to give him time to make plays down the field.