FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Quick-hit thoughts and notes around the New England Patriots and NFL:
1. When former Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis heard about Saturday’s trade that sent the Patriots' No. 3 quarterback Jacoby Brissett to the Indianapolis Colts for receiver Phillip Dorsett, he filed it into the category of “the Patriot way of always being in position to turn an asset into something that helps them fill another need.”
Ironically, part of what helped the Patriots do so was the NFL’s four-game suspension of quarterback Tom Brady last year.
Weis agreed, in part, Brissett’s value was greater than it would have been because of the way he responded to his emergency fill-in duty in the 2016 regular season.
“That helped set the table, but I also think how he played in this last preseason game -- even though it was a garbage game -- helped make that happen, too,” said Weis, who will provide football analysis on Comcast SportsNet New England this year. “If he doesn’t throw four touchdown passes and put up a bunch of yards , it probably doesn’t happen, too. So you combine last year and the fourth preseason game.”
While some view the trade as the Patriots assuming risk at the most important position by thinning the depth chart to two players, Weis doesn’t see it that way.
“Most teams go with just two,” he said of the quarterback position. “It’s a numbers game. Obviously, Jacoby is good enough to be on somebody’s team. If they cut him, he probably would have been claimed by at least 10 teams. Here you have a team where their starting quarterback [Andrew Luck] is iffy at best right now. So if you can get somebody like that, it’s reasonable for them, and the Patriots got something good, too.
“You also figure the Patriots are going to end up with a practice-squad quarterback. You just don’t know who that is right now, but let’s wait and see. [Director of player personnel] Nick [Caserio] and Bill [Belichick] already have a pretty good idea of what’s out there, and if they feel they need somebody, they’ll go out and do. That guy could be the answer to the test.”
Weis compared the trade to when the Patriots dealt backup quarterback Matt Cassel to the Kansas City Chiefs in a swap that produced a high second-round pick. He said the Patriots' development of young quarterbacks goes back to the days of vice president of player personnel Scott Pioli.
“Whether they could play for them is not always the issue. If not playing for them, they can still get something good for them,” he said. “In this case, they needed or wanted a receiver. They had an asset there that was a bit of a luxury for them, who had become more or less a security blanket with the first two healthy.
“They have a pretty good track record at it.”
2. Here is a good snapshot of the Patriots’ history in terms of how many quarterbacks they keep on the roster under Belichick:
2017: 2 (Brady/Jimmy Garoppolo)
2016: 3 (Brady/Garoppolo/Brissett)
2015: 2 (Brady/Garoppolo)
2014: 2 (Brady/Garoppolo)
2013: 2 (Brady/Ryan Mallett)
2012: 2 (Brady/Mallett)
2011: 3 (Brady/Brian Hoyer/Mallett)
2010: 2 (Brady/Hoyer)
2009: 2 (Brady/Hoyer)
2008: 3 (Brady/Matt Cassel/Kevin O’Connell)
2007: 3 (Brady/Cassel/Matt Gutierrez)
2006: 2/3 (Brady/Cassel/Vinny Testaverde -- mid-year)
2005: 3 (Brady/Cassel/Doug Flutie)
2004: 3 (Brady/Rohan Davey/Jim Miller)
2003: 3 (Brady/Davey/Damon Huard)
2002: 3 (Brady/Davey/Huard)
2001: 3 (Drew Bledsoe/Brady/Huard)
2000: 4 (Bledsoe/John Friesz/Michael Bishop/Brady)
So this will be the seventh year with two quarterbacks, with five of those coming in the past six seasons.
3. In years when they have kept two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster, the Patriots haven’t always had a signal-caller on the practice squad for a third layer of depth. That can be a risky approach. As for this year, there were more than 20 quarterbacks waived by teams over the past two days, with 2017 sixth-round pick Brad Kaaya (Lions), 2016 sixth-round pick Nate Sudfeld (Redskins) and 2015 third-round pick Garrett Grayson (Saints) among those with draft pedigree being let go. Now it’s a two-layered question: Will the Patriots find one they deem worthy of developing on the practice squad, and would that player choose New England over the team with which he had spent training camp?
4. When you know the regular season is less than a week away: Brady had his personal throwing coach, Tom House, in town this week for a mechanics check-in. Brady sometimes writes notes to himself on his wristband at practice that highlight mechanics, such as his degree of rotation.
5. Two NFL Films-produced programs that will air this week -- “Do Your Job Part II” (Sunday, NBC, 7 p.m. ET) and “America’s Game" (Wednesday, NFL Network, 9 p.m. ET) -- are must-see documentaries for Patriots fans. The “Do Your Job Part II” piece captures, among other things, how hard the team’s assistant coaches and personnel staff work, and part of what makes it so unique is the behind-the-scenes footage provided by Kraft Sports Productions. You really feel like you’re getting a peek behind the curtain. Meanwhile, the “America’s Game” documentary looks at the 2016 season with personality flavor added by Julian Edelman, Dont'a Hightower and LeGarrette Blount. You learn things such as how Edelman, who grew up a San Francisco 49ers fan, had two dogs named Dwight and Montana. They were named after 49ers greats Dwight Clark and Joe Montana, of course. And Hightower on what it’s been like playing for Nick Saban and Belichick over the past decade was unfiltered as he said (with a smile), “I’m very lucky and blessed, but not going to lie, it’s hell.”
6. With Saints receiver Willie Snead suspended for the first three games of the season for violating the NFL’s personal-conduct policy, it has a trickle-down effect on the Patriots, who visit New Orleans in Week 2. Snead has totaled 141 receptions for 1,879 yards and seven touchdowns over the past two seasons. That’s a nice break for Matt Patricia’s Patriots defense, which figures to be working its way through some early-season experimentation, with September usually viewed as an extension of the preseason in terms of finding what works best and who fits best.
7. Here’s a leftover from the end of Thursday night’s Patriots-New York Giants preseason finale: I watched Belichick after he shook hands with Giants coach Ben McAdoo, and he specifically sought out Giants defensive line coach Pat Graham and spent a few minutes talking to him. Graham had coached under Belichick from 2010-2015, and it struck me as an example of Belichick's going out of his way to check in with one of his former staffers. Then, as Belichick headed toward the locker room, Giants players Olivier Vernon (former Dolphin) and Damon Harrison (former Jet) sought him out for a handshake. Some of that old AFC East respect showing up.
8. Five sound bites with veteran Patriots linebacker David Harris:
Having a locker next to Hightower: “It’s been good. He’s been a huge piece of this defense for a long time. He’s played the position. It’s good to have a guy like him next to me so I can pick his brain, and he’s more than willing to give me tips and pointers on things that he sees that I should be doing.”
How much longer he’ll play: “I still enjoy playing the game. It’s still fun. I still enjoy the grind, coming in to work, the competition, being around the guys in the locker room. That’s how I’ll judge it. Once I lose one of those things, you shouldn’t play anymore.”
How long did it take to go from bleeding Jets green to Patriots red, white and blue: “The first day. I enjoyed my experience over the years, but that chapter is closed and this is where I am now. I’m just trying to be a small piece to the big puzzle.”
Comparing the Patriots' scheme to Jets: “It’s a little different, but football is football at the end of the day. It’s still a game of blocking and tackling. I’ve played every coverage, ran every blitz known to man over the years. It’s just different terminology and different language. That’s the biggest thing, but I’m getting it down pretty good.”
Describing the Patriots' locker room: “Fun. Guys love being with each other. That’s all you can ask for.”
9. Did you know: Since 2013, the three NFL quarterbacks who have won the most games as starters are Brady (47), Russell Wilson (45) and Alex Smith (41). That was from a CBS graphic during the Kansas City Chiefs-Seattle Seahawks preseason game I watched last week to get more familiar with the Chiefs.
10. Guests at the Patriots Charitable Foundation annual kickoff gala on Tuesday night relayed a story that sparked laughter and highlighted the healthy but competitive back-and-forth between the offense and defense on a daily basis. As it was told to me, Brady was onstage as part of a four-player panel when he playfully called out Patricia for indulging in perhaps one too many desserts. Patricia took the ribbing in stride but dialed up a blitz for a blindside hit on Brady later in the evening: Patricia was onstage with the team’s rookies for a game in which players had to answer questions to see how well they know their teammates. When the first question was asked, referencing a player who was a Junior Olympian, Patricia looked puzzled and informed the crowd that his group had a different question: Who threw two interceptions in the two-minute drill down the stretch in practice each of the past two days? It was Brady, of course. That brought the house down.