New England Patriots WR Julian Edelman

Hall of Fame Debates: Julian Edelman and the B-List Patriots

Julian Edelman is a Twitter Football Hall of Famer, which is very different from being a Pro Football Hall of Famer.

A Twitter Football Hall of Famer is a player who was successful and accomplished enough to convince hometown and casual fans that he has a case for Canton, and is also famous enough to "trend," in industry parlance. When such a player enters his retirement cycle, it immediately sparks a debate, because Hall of Fame content is incredibly easy to produce [winks at camera], and because stumping for a local hero is a great way to earn some regional engagement on a blog or podcast.

Some Twitter Football Hall of Famer arguments are sincere, especially when a hometown blogger or podcaster is making the case. A few are even well-informed, providing context about how the Pro Football Hall of Fame actually works, though most take the form of "he was really good and therefore omitting him would almost be a war crime." Some of the cases even have merit. When Edelman's contract with the Patriots was terminated in April, it prompted a Hall of Fame debate that was moderately sincere (there's hay to be made in my business from pandering to both the huge Patriots fanbase and haterbase), mostly ill-informed, and almost totally without merit.

Yes, Edelman ranks second to Jerry Rice in both playoff receptions and playoff yards. These are significant accomplishments, and all of the receivers in his neighborhood on those leaderboards are either enshrined, still active (Rob Gronkowski), finalists (Reggie Wayne), or frequently get mentioned as near Hall of Famers (Hines Ward, Cliff Branch).

Edelman's postseason and Super Bowl accomplishments would make a very strong line item in a Hall of Fame portfolio. Unfortunately, they are his entire Hall of Fame portfolio. Remove Edelman's "I'm with Brady" tee-shirt and he's a weaker candidate than Golden Tate or Emmanuel Sanders, two somewhat similar contemporaries with much better stats (and Super Bowl rings) who won't come within a mile of a finalist vote. Edelman is not a borderline candidate. He's on the borderline between being a borderline candidate and just another name to fill out semifinalist lists for a few years.

But in addition to being a Twitter Football Hall of Famer, Edelman is also a 1960s-style Pro Football Hall of Famer. His case comes down to the fact that he was an important contributor to great teams, which is about all that Lynn Swann, Paul Hornung, or John Stallworth have to offer. As I talked about in the Bengals essay, playoff performances were a big deal 50 years ago, when fans and even national media members had limited opportunities to watch out-of-market regular season games. In a less-sophisticated era, Edelman might have built a case out of being a clutch big-game player, with voters waxing poetically about his Super Bowl achievements and overlooking the fact that his team replaced him with a similar guy for entire seasons with no noticeable dropoff. Or he might not have: even the most dedicated Cheesehead historians don't really stump for Max McGee or Boyd Dowler as Hall of Famers.

As we sort through Hall of Fame debates for the Brady/Belichick Patriots, we need to be wary of applying circular reasoning: the Patriots deserve lots of Hall of Famers like the Steel Curtain Steelers and Lombardi Packers, and this guy belongs in the Hall of Fame because he played for the Patriots. Just because a not-that-historically-great player or three rode into Canton on a dynasty train doesn't mean that the committee should keep compounding that mistake.

At any rate, the Brady-Belichick Patriots will be well represented in Canton without the need to get silly.

Hall of Fame Patriots: Beyond Brady and Belichick

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick will be, of course, first-ballot Hall of Famers. Rob Gronkowski will also be a first-ballot selection. Adam Vinatieri is destined to join Morten Andersen and Jan Stenerud as the only pure kickers in the Hall of Fame (Justin Tucker will become the fourth in about 20 years, but that's a separate article). Robert Kraft will someday be inducted, and you are welcome to have feelings about owners in the Hall of Fame. (I have none.)

Randy Moss, Ty Law, and Junior Seau already represent the Brady-era Patriots; Seau's contributions to the Patriots were relatively minor, but he was a regular for the 16-0 team in 2007, so he counts. That's seven non-ownership Hall of Famers—not a bad haul, but perhaps a little light for a team that dominated the NFL for 20 years. So let's see who else might make the cut.

Richard Seymour will be a fourth-time finalist on the 2022 ballot. Voters are aware that Seymour is "better than his stats" and have heard glowing testimonials about him from coaches/teammates/opponents, so they know he is great. Seymour is basically stuck in the DMV line at this point; eventually, he'll move to the front of the long-time finalist queue the way Alan Faneca and John Lynch did on this year's ballot. I would not be surprised if Seymour is inducted in January.

Vince Wilfork enters his first year of eligibility this year. He could sneak into the Finalist stage right away, which would only cause confusion and delay for Seymour. It's more likely that Wilfork hovers in semifinalist limbo for many years.

Based on articles such as this one and this one, many Patriots observers think Wilfork is a surefire Hall of Famer. (Again: hometown, context-free, "he was really good" reasoning.) One major stumbling block is that Kevin Williams and Haloti Ngata, among others, were considered better defensive tackles than Wilfork during his late-2000s peak. Williams is currently working his way toward the finalist stage; he'll be inducted into the Vikings Ring of Honor this year, which will jog some memories.

Wilfork's candidacy, like Edelman's, boils down to the fact that he played for the Patriots. It won't be a miscarriage of justice if he gets in. It WILL be a miscarriage of justice if he gets in before Kevin Williams.

Wes Welker is probably never going to mount a serious Hall of Fame campaign, and that's illustrative both of just how high the bar for enshrinement is and how skeptical voters are about certain types of players.

Welker led the league in receptions three times, played with both Brady and Peyton Manning, and can lay a reasonable claim to being one of the pioneers of the slot receiver position. I am 100% certain that a few of the folks who stumped for Edelman as a Hall of Famer in early spring were lumping Welker's accomplishments together with Edelman's in their minds, adding Danny Amendola and maybe Danny Woodhead to the mix to create a Fan Favorite Slot Gundam.

A receiver with Welker's regular season numbers and Edelman's postseason accomplishments might well be a Hall of Famer. But neither Welker (whose Super Bowl "defining moment" is a critical drop) nor Edelman is that player. Also, voters have long been wary of possession receivers who pile up high catch totals, and that skepticism will likely carry over to slot receivers in the years to come. Voters like deep threats at wide receiver because the coaches, personnel guys, and defenders they talk to generally single out the deep threats as guys they most worried about each week. Lynn Swann made the Hall of Fame mostly because of opponent's testimonials, with five billion NFL Films reruns of Super Bowl X also playing a role.

I would vote for Welker before Wilfork and well before Edelman. But I have never heard similar sentiment from an actual voter.

Tedy Bruschi is not remotely qualified for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Nor are Mike Vrabel or Willie McGinest. None are likely to ever mount serious campaigns. Devin McCourty is in a similar predicament: he has been a heart-and-soul guy on the Patriots defense for years, but he flunks the black ink and stars-and-crosses tests. I'm sympathetic to these players, and I believe they might have been named to All-Pro teams in the 1960s or 1970s by virtue of being leaders on great defenses. But they are simply underqualified as Hall of Fame candidates.

Rodney Harrison is a more interesting case. I believe that Harrison was underrated for most of his Chargers career; he earned All-Pro status in 1998 but was playing at a similar level in 1996 and 1997, when he was overlooked because he played for weak Chargers teams. (For a similar example, Jessie Bates might earn an All-Pro nod with another great season in 2021 but has deserved consideration for at least two years.) Harrison went on to All-Pro-caliber seasons for the 2003 and 2004 Patriots Super Bowl teams and was still a productive starter as of 2007. His headhunter reputation made him few friends and makes him a dicey player to endorse nowadays (cheap shots went from charming to abhorrent in 1990 or so), but Harrison could get picked up by the Seniors committee in some far-flung future.

Stephon Gilmore has built the kernel of a rather strong Hall of Fame argument over the last three years. I could see him generating real buzz about a decade from now if he has a few more strong seasons. I have trouble thinking of Gilmore as a "classic" Brady/Belichick Patriots contributor, but that's neither here nor there: the Patriots neither reach Super Bowl LII or win LIII without him, so he's a Patriot forever.

Logan Mankins made the Hall of Fame's All-Decade Team for the 2010s. He earned seven Pro Bowl berths, one with the Buccaneers, so his candidacy is by no means ridiculous. Anyone who remembers the hubbub when the Patriots traded Mankins just before the start of the 2014 season, however, realizes that there's an inherent contradiction undermining his claim to all-time greatness. If your team can replace you without missing a beat, it's hard to argue that you were that much more than a product of the system. It's the same issue that hampers any Welker case and torpedoes Edelman.

And now we have arrived at nine-time Pro Bowl and two-time All Pro special-teamer Mathew Slater.

I love Slater. He has been one of my favorite Super Bowl week and post-Super Bowl interviews. He indeed belongs with Steve Tasker and Bill Bates on the all-time short list of special teams greats. I hope he retires to a television gig, a chain of preowned vehicle dealerships, and decades of happiness surrounded by loved ones. That said:

  • The Pro Bowl balloting for special-teamers is a name recognition contest. Even the most unabashed Patriots homer knows that Slater now gets Pro Bowl votes for being the only famous special-teamer in the league. Pounding the table and shouting "nine-time Pro Bowler" will only make well-informed folks toss Slater's case in the same bin as three-time All-Pro "fullback" Mike Alstott.
  • Stanning for Slater, Tasker, Devin Hester, Cordarrelle Patterson or anyone else is fun until the moment you have to tell LeRoy Butler, Tony Boselli, Zach Thomas, Richard Seymour, or some other career starter "yeah, sorry, you must wait as a finalist for another year while so we can honor the guy who played 20 snaps per game."

Career special-teamers, like career middle relievers or utility infielders, make contributions to their teams which, while significant, do not qualify them for Hall of Fame consideration except under unusual circumstances. (To strain this analogy, kickers are more like relief aces).

Seymour will give the Patriots eight on-field Hall of Famers. My guess is that they will end up with 10: Wilfork or Mankins will work their way onto the ballot, Gilmore will cement his reputation, Slater may succeed where Tasker failed, Welker's reputation will grow as memories fade, or so forth.

The Lombardi Packers have 14, but what's done is done: lots of guys have airtight resumes because they were All-Pros for the greatest team of the century in a 14-team NFL, and I'm not going to argue against any of them except the one who was suspended for betting on his own games. The Steel Curtain Steelers are represented by 11 Hall of Famers. but the final choices were a little dubious. The Joe Montana/Steve Young 49ers, on the other hand, are represented by just eight Hall of Famers as of now. The more sophisticated our stats, the better our access to actual film, the more egalitarian our daily/weekly coverage of teams, the harder it gets for a dynasty to just churn out Hall of Famers. And that's a good thing.

The Patriots Way

The Belichick-Brady Patriots are ultimately victims of their own reputation when it comes to Hall of Fame discussions. Brady benefitted from playing with Moss and Gronk, but he is best known for the interchangeability of his weapons, from Troy Brown and Deion Branch through all the aforementioned slot guys to the many not-so-greats he threw to at the end of his Patriots career. Belichick the defensive genius is known for being able to adapt his scheme to the available talent, and Belichick the personnel guru was a master of renting the services of late-career veterans or failed prospects, and of letting apparent stars turn into role players after signing elsewhere. The vaunted Patriots Way, even with all the hornswoggle pumped out of it, was all about creating a whole much better than the sum of its parts. It's hard to worship at the altar of Brady, Belichick, and the "do your job" philosophy for 20 years, then turn around and demand that all of the rank-and-file "cogs" who were shuffled in and out the lineup get singled out for recognition.

From a "story of the NFL" standpoint, the Patriots will be well represented in Canton without Edelman or the other lower-tier candidates. Digging into their second tier of stars simply to flesh out their total number of Hall of Famers is a little like burying scribes and servants to attend to pharaoh in the afterlife. Brady's bust won't need anyone to throw quick slants to. Belichick's bust won't need linebackers and safeties to move around the chessboard. And the Patriots don't need to add any almost-greats to the Hall of Fame for validation of their greatness. Two decades of absolute dominance should be all the validation they need.

Comments

135 comments, Last at 16 Jul 2021, 5:50am

1 If your team can replace you…

If your team can replace you without missing a beat, it's hard to argue that you were that much more than a product of the system.

/laughs in Terrell Davis

 

I looked up his contemporaries when Brian Dawkins was up for enshrinement. I came away very impressed with Harrison (and significantly less impressed with Polomalu). Lynch doesn't even belong in the conversation, but the good thing about his enshrinement is that you can't compare him with Harrison and decide that Harrison doesn't belong in the HoF.

9 This isn't aimed at TD, but…

This isn't aimed at TD, but that argument of saying everything held constant between this season and last doesn't really hold in the NFL. There's a lot of variation in play between season even among the same players that it's hard to make those kinds of causal statements. 

10 I assess it as probable that…

I assess it as probable that the dropoff was mostly the Elway retirement and the Sharpe injury.

However, the counterfactual is unprovable, and Davis is not an example of replacement without a hitch.

Especially since there any many such examples in the Hall, #1's shot at Davis was nonsense.

15 The Broncos got Pro Bowl…

The Broncos got Pro Bowl seasons out of immortals like Olandis Gary and Mike Anderson. Davis was better, sure. He was also playing in a very RB friendly system that got excellent results from lesser talents. It's not a one-to-one comparison, but there's plenty to suggest that, a significant percentage of Terrell Davis's very high, very short peak can be attributed to forces beyond his control.

19 Based on the comment threads…

Based on the comment threads of the last few weeks, it sounds like we better kick TD, Jerome Bettis and Curtis Martin out of the Hall of Fame! It's getting tough for running backs on these streets! 

42 Everytime the rb from their…

Everytime the rb from their favorite team puts the ball on the ground at an inopportune moment, the anti-Martin faction should rethink their stance. Being consistently productive while never screwing up is severely underrated. 

21 Big difference

The Broncos got Pro Bowl seasons out of immortals like Olandis Gary and Mike Anderson. Davis was better, sure. He was also playing in a very RB friendly system that got excellent results from lesser talents.

There's probably no need to re-litigate everything I said in the comment thread for the Julius Peppers article.  But I do want to underline that there is a big difference between what Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson, Clinton Portis, Reuben Droughns & Tatum Bell did in the Broncos system, and what Terrell Davis did.  Those other guys had seasons of one thousand yards.  TD had a season of two thousand yards.  That's not "a little better". 

No, the Broncos did NOT get Pro Bowl seasons out of Olandis Gary & Mike Anderson.  In fact, none of the other Bronco backs of that era except Portis ever got a Pro Bowl bid.
(It turned out that Portis was a very talented back in his own right; almost 10k career yards, after Denver he later had four ~1300+ seasons in Washington, and made the Pro Bowl again.  So, not a product of the Denver system, but actually a really good player.)

The single-thousand, non- Pro Bowl seasons of O Gary, M Anderson, R Droughns & T Bell are not remotely the same as the 1500+, 3x All-Pro, league MVP and Super Bowl MVP seasons that TD had, while also setting the all-time playoff record for rushing yards per game.  It's a false equivalency. 

61 Replying to all three. I don…

In reply to by JimZipCode

Replying to all three.

I don't think anyone thinks TD is some replaceable back. However, it's undeniable that his circumstances were about as favorable to an RB as it gets.

Now that fact alone isn't my gripe with TD as a hall of famer. It's when you pair that with an absurdly short career that I start to view him as borderline. Yes those 3 seasons were otherworldly, but I don't think many other positions would get the same benefit.

63 Yes, *AND*

there's a significant gap between "pro bowl" level and "league MVP as a rb" level performance

Yes, AND none of Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson, Reuben Droughns or Tatum Bell ever made the Pro Bowl.

Clinton Portis did, but he also made the Pro Bowl as a runner for Washington.

13 If your team can replace you…

If your team can replace you without missing a beat, it's hard to argue that you were that much more than a product of the system.

On another note, let's kick Kevin Mawae out of the Hall since the Jets drafted Nick Mangold right after he left. 

24 Favre & Rodgers

On another note, let's kick Kevin Mawae out of the Hall since the Jets drafted Nick Mangold right after he left. 

Packers replaced Favre with Rodgers without missing a beat.  Kick Favre out!

23 Harrison is quickly becoming…

Harrison is quickly becoming the most underrated defender of the millennial turn. He was SO Fing GOOD. EVERYONE buried that Patriots team after the loss of Milloy - but Rodney instantly elevated everything to a completely new level of competence. When you singlehandedly represent a complete level-up over Milloy, you’re doing something right. 

134 wow

EVERYONE buried that Patriots team after the loss of Milloy

The Patriots went 28-4 in the first two seasons without Milloy and won two Super Bowls.

I mean...wow.

You must be thinking Milloy left a year earlier than he actually did.  Milloy left _after_ Harrison was brought in.  

2 Sigh

Another week of good content, and another week of crappy displays on my iPad.

4 I agree with Tanier's…

I agree with Tanier's concluding thoughts. All of the Pats players with the exception of Harrison feel like system guys perfectly positioned into roles they were best suited to do. Its not that these players were frauds. These guys made winning plays time after time, including Edleman who PFF at one point called the best receiver in football. By their method of grading, he probably was! 

I even include Richard Seymore into that group, who was a very good player, but not really a hall of famer. I think his candidacy has a lot to do with, "The Pats original dynasty was all about defense and we need to put SOMEBODY in there" and Seymore is the most profiled candidate who qualifies. But that's still a hollow argument. 

I will mantain, the genius of the Pats system, beyond TB12, rests on a few things the average fan cannot appreciate. 1) Consistently excellent special teams. 2) Consistently competent to great offensive line play. 3) A defense that almost always was better than the sum of its parts. 

Even at their absolute zenith, I never thought the Pats defense had the talent that some of the old Steelers, Ravens, or Bears did. It feels dismissive to call it BB wizardry, but that's what it was to put it bluntly. 

44 Seymour's rocket-like rise…

Seymour's rocket-like rise to elite player during his rookie year was among the most critical developments to their 1st championship, the upset over the heavily favored Rams. People who watched film knew the Patriots should not be such heavy underdogs, in good measure because Seymour, down the stretch, was opening a can on opponents, week after week. Yes, Mike Martz being Mike Martz was likely the biggest factor, but I thought Seymour was going to be really great by the end of his rookie year, and I think he was. He's deserving, in my opinion.

60 My feelings about him are…

My feelings about him are more that he was a valuable cog in the machine, but not someone who they couldn't live without. I certain never viewed him as a perennial all pro type player. And of course his lack of note once he left NE hurts him too.

I'll be curious to hear if anyone disagrees, but Justin Smith was a clearly better player than Seymour.

62 All valuable cogs should be…

All valuable cogs should be so cog-like as to have four 1st team All Pro selections. He also had 2 Pro Bowl selections in Oakland, although I'm not going to bother to find out out if he was a replacement pick.

I'd put Justin Smith in, but he's probably going to get the shaft, because great play for the Bengals will be inadequately recognized. Sort of like Mike Kenn for the Falcons in the 80s.

64 I think his probowl and all…

I think his probowl and all pro nods were in part because the Pats were so good that they needed to reward somebody. And because no one on the Patriots defense was putting up pretty counting stats like sacks or interceptions, they had to do a search to figure out who deserved it and the media was pretty hit and miss for non glamor positions. For example, I don't think Richard Seymour was that much better than his costar in ty Warren, but few people outside of patriot fans will even remember ty Warren's name. Also The media had not gotten wise to the Patriots ability to churn out defense from a revolving cast of characters yet.

I view Seymour is a borderline candidate honestly. I'm not going to be offended if he makes the hall of fame or call him way undeserving.

I agree with Mehl in that I don't think Seymour and Shaun Ellis are appreciably that different other than one got to play in New England. In addition to thinking that Justin Smith was better, I think Trevor price was as well.

72 The DVOA rank of the…

The DVOA rank of the Patriots defense in Seymour's last 5 years, in order, '04-'08, are 6,28,7,10,21. Their ranks from '09-13 were 12,23,30,17,20. The ability of Belichik to plug in cogs and get the same performance is overstated, and they didn't pay him like a cog on his 2nd contract, and they knew him better than anyone. Yes, they traded him with a year left on that deal, as he turned 30, for a 1st round pick, with the typically overpriced 3rd contract looming. Seymour was not obviously undeserving of his four 1st team All Pro selections.

77 Its a bit hard to ascribe…

Its a bit hard to ascribe the DVOA ranking credit pie to Seymore alone, especially given how much defense is a shared responsibility. But otherwise I take your point in general. 

 

5 Spot on. From Seymour to…

Spot on. From Seymour to Welker to Harrison can't agree more. Seymour and Harrison particularly I think come down to whether one is a big hall or a small hall guy. One nit: “cheap shots went from charming to abhorrent in 1990 or so”—I think that is off by at least a decade, but maybe I was just in the wrong circles.

11 What about Revis?

Revis only played one season with the Pats, but he did win a Superbowl. And he is clearly a first-ballot HoFer, with seven Pro Bowls, and four All-Pro selections, and is on the 2010s all-decade team. 

12 If Revis has to wait at all…

If Revis has to wait at all for enshrinement, then the Hall of Fame will have descended into true laughable travesty. Seriously if he can't become a first ballot Hall of famer then there is no such thing as a first ballot Hall of fame cornerback.

20 What about him?

In reply to by ishalev

Just that he wasn't included here? Ok

No need to wait for him but the HOF is already a joke making TO wait so who knows, why not Revis too? (then again someone here told me Revis beat up on bad teams like Miami, NY and NE, it wasn't until he went to TB at 28 that he got exposed! And no I'm not joking I had that convo with someone here)

26 NE?  Yeah, Randy Moss was…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

NE?  Yeah, Randy Moss was horrible back then, kick him out of the Hall too.

I don't think Revis played that poorly at Tampa, they just used him like a Cover-2, which was really foolish.  He was fine until he resigned with the Jets, and even then was good until DeAndre Hopkins torched him in the final third of the 2015 season, when Revis was 30.

14 If Seymour gets in ahead of…

If Seymour gets in ahead of Kevin Williams, it's a travesty.  Williams had more sacks at a harder position to get them.  Personally, I don't think Seymour was a better player than Shaun Ellis, and no Jets fan is going to talk about Ellis being a Hall of Famer without first mentioning Joe Klecko, who had 74.5 sacks in reality, as opposed to NFL stats that didn't start counting until Klecko, Gastineau and Lawrence Taylor went on a sack rampage in the 1981 season.  In other words, he has more career sacks than anyone in this paragraph beside LT and Gastineau.

16 I tend to think of Seymour…

I tend to think of Seymour and Williams as being very similarly talented players, but Seymour has the post-season success. Rings matter.

Williams does have more career sacks than Seymour (63 to 57.5), but that’s a function of playing in 39 more games. 

27 Always wondered how the Hall would treat the EARLY Pats

I've always been curious how the Hall voters would treat the great defenses of the early years of the Pats dynasty, 2001-4.  They weren't an offensive juggernaut at that point in Brady's career; they were a classic defense-and-running team.  At the time it seemed to me that a few of those players deserved consideration, and I wondered if the voters would see it that way.

I guess with the passage of time I now see those defenses as somewhat analogous to the great "No Name Defense" of the Dolphins dynasty years (and 10 years later, the Killer Bs defense).  Only Nick Buoniconti made the Hall from that defense; and maybe that's especially telling for the era, given that the Hall tended to put nearly half the squad in for those dynasty teams of the 60s/70s.

If Richard Seymour does wind up getting in over the next couplefew years, that would make two with Ty Law.  That's probably fine, for that style of defense (as opposed to the blow-you-off-the-field style of defense a la the '85 Bears).  Your point about the "do your job" philosophy versus proclaiming all the rank-&-file cogs to be historically great, is very telling.

28 Who deserves to make it from…

Who deserves to make it from that period? I think Law made it and deserved to. I think Harrison probably should as well. The rest...

The DLine was talented, but not overwhelmingly so. Yes Seymore was the best of the group, but Ty Warren and Ted Washington were pretty good players. 

The linebacking core was entirely derrived of specialists. Ted Johnson for run stuffing. Teddy Bruischi a tweener run/cover guy. Vrable and McGinnist were tweener linebackers/edge rushers. And then of course, they had their usual motley crew of mop up pass rushers.

The secondary has always been BB's ballywick. Somehow, they had a revolving door at most of their corner spots and it never cost them. I mean, Troy Brown actually played slot corner and it never burned them. I just never quite understood how that was even possible.

 

40 I feel like I should have…

I feel like I should have talked about Ted Washington, who had some great years in Buffalo and elsewhere. But he has never gotten any finalist buzz and doesn't pass the stars-and-crosses test, and he only played 1 year in New England anyway.

I get the impression Patriots fans think Bruschi is a Hall of Famer. But as a voter once told me, "every town has its linebacker."

 

56 But as a voter once told me,…

But as a voter once told me, "every town has its linebacker."

I have never, ever, ever once heard Bucs fans talk about Hardy Nickerson's HOF candidacy or Vikings fans talk about Scott Studwell.  Never, ever, ever, ever, and I mean pretty much always.

59 Scott Studwell is deserving…

Scott Studwell is deserving for doing more to keep his qb out of  jail than any other player since Bobby Layne was guzzling through the league. In the 80s, I spotted him cocktail-caddying for Tommy Kramer throughout the 7 county metro area, on a regular basis. Which I suppose is commentary on my habits as well. Hmmmmm......

29 I don't remember much of a…

I don't remember much of a Hall of Fame discussion when Wes Welker retired. It's funny because Edelman is directly comparable to Welker and obviously inferior. His only advantage is the postseason performance, but that's mostly due to six extra postseason games for Edelman (he had 30 more catches than Welker in those 6 games). 

If Welker had come up with the Patriots, as opposed to wasting three years as a backup in Miami, he's probably a Hall of Famer.

 

30 My rambling thoughts

Seymour: Yes, if Dan Hampton (less 1st team All Pros, Pro Bowls and championships and total sacks in the same amount of years as a primary starter) is in, so will Seymour.  Not to disparage Hampton at all though (yes they didn't record sacks early in his career).

Edelman: No. Just no.

"Edelman's, boils down to the fact that he played for the Patriots. It won't be a miscarriage of justice if he gets in."

Oh but it would! Much more than Wilfork too! Dude was never even a Pro Bowler! Despite everyone knowing him! Would be the worst WR in by a long shot. And maybe even straight up player! No ones even given him a sneaky 2nd team All Pro mention if you hate the PB! Yes, I'm sorry I weigh his 85 starts (137 total games) in the regular season more than his 19 total (15 starts) games in the playoffs! I dont care about 2nd in playoff stats! Where does the line end at that point? If you're including 2nd might as well include 3rd. And then 4th and 5th, etc! And who knows where he ranks on that list by the time he's even eligible. Very well could move behind Gronk and Kelce in receptions by then.

Wilfork: Maybe. I though he had only a couple PBs but he's got 5. Yeah shouldn't be in before Williams but good chance he's 4th/5th best on a ballot in a few years. Will be know as the big dude with a FR TD. 

Welker: I'm putting him in before Edelman! Sorry! But leading the league in recs thrice while never in targets is actually good in a way. Some All Pro mentions. The Pro Bowls. Much more of a case for this Patriot slot WR. Does have a higher HOFm than a Tommy McDonald fwiw. Still pretty low but IF  Edelman gets in before him...

Mankins: What's an argument for him over Wisniewski? I could both or neither but before him? Nah. 

Gilmore: Too early to tell. A lot of DBs actually have 4 PBs, 2x APs and a ring. DPOTY doesn't guarantee anything (Dick Anderson, also a DB, has one and 2 ringz, as well on the all 70s team). Soooo...yeah too early. And looking even further Lester Hayers is an even better comparison! An actual CB like Gilmore, but with 5 PB (1 more than Gil), 1x 1st team All Pro (same), 2 ringz (1 more), all 80s team (1 more) and a DPOTY (same) but no HOF (same)!

Slater: How to weigh ST is hard but if there were ever an all ST ballot, he's probably on it! Hester being more quantifiable is more interesting. I'd bump off Gore and Eli for them ngl. Sorry! 

Harrison: Interesting but I swear if he gets in before Leroy Butler...but Dick LeBeau did get in "as a player"...with 3 PBs. No chips. No All Pros, etc. Reconcile that without mentioning his coaching influenced it. So essentially I agree, probably not in the end though. Harrisons got some fame to his name though.

Speaking of Leroy, I've noticed my campaign has infected enough to get a mention the last couple articles. 

35 LeBeau was 3x 2nd team All…

LeBeau was 3x 2nd team All-Pro. When he retired as player he had 62 career interceptions, still 7th all-time in NFL history after nearly 50 years. He clearly deserved his HOF place.

36 Clearly

Lem Barney, Night Train Lane and Yale Lary were better. 

But here's a reason he didn't get in until after he had some coaching success Mr.Lion

Also he's not 7th anymore. He's 11/12th. Same as...Dave Brown (even when he was inducted), who is not in but also had some 2nd team All Pros. Darren Sharper (yikes) has 1 more INT and has been out for 10 years (and generally more accomplished). A Ken Riley has 3 more and isn't in (and also has All Pro mentions) despite being out since 83. Doubt those 3 ever get in, also would say they never had as much help in the secondary.

38   "Edelman's, boils down to…

 

"Edelman's, boils down to the fact that he played for the Patriots. It won't be a miscarriage of justice if he gets in."

Oh but it would! Much more than Wilfork too!

You cut off the quote, mangling it in the process. Tanier was saying it would not be a miscarriage of justice if Wilfork got in, not Edelman.

39 Yes...LIKE Edelman

"Wilfork's candidacy, like Edelman's, boils down to the fact that he played for the Patriots. It won't be a miscarriage of justice if he gets in. It WILL be a miscarriage of justice if he gets in before Kevin Williams."

Quite a big difference between them but the quote does not make it out that way despite the supposed "mangling."

43 Huh?

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

The mangling is not "supposed". The miscarriage line in the quote is about Wilfork, and has nothing to do with Edelman.

"It won't be a miscarriage of justice if he gets in".

"He", in this case, is Wilfork, not Edelman. Remove the words "like Edelman's", and the meaning of the quote doesn't change:

"Wilfork's candidacy... boils down to the fact that he played for the Patriots. It won't be a miscarriage of justice if he gets in. It WILL be a miscarriage of justice if he gets in before Kevin Williams."

 

50 Removing it doesn't prove anything

In reply to by dbostedo

Other than it's still a sentence lol. Like Edelman, even though Wilfork was much more accomplished, not entirely just being a Patriot, like Edelmans case. 

51 Do you disagree that the …

Do you disagree that the "miscarriage" part only applies to Wilfork? And that your partial quote gave the wrong impression, because it implied the the miscarriage part applied to Edelman?

Removing the Edelman part of quote isn't meant to prove anything. It's just a grammatical technique meant to clarify the meaning of the original quote, because you seem to be misunderstanding it. 

If you're reading "It won't be a miscarriage of justice if he gets in" to apply to Edelman in any way, you're wrong. 

98 The way you misquoted Tanier…

The way you misquoted Tanier by starting your quote with "Edelman's..." was a quote mine and dishonest.

- the part was about Wilfork, not Edelman

- it was only a miscarriage if Wilfork got in before Williams, a crucial part of the quote.

Not only was it about the wrong player, it was even taken out of context.

For the sake of better discussions here, please refrain from tactics like that.

99 I literally gave the entire quote

I wasn't talking about Wilfork so I excluded it originally. It was applied it to both. It only applied to one in reality though. 

Tactics like what? Geez yall are getting really pretentious in trying to correct. Acting like I'm try to paint Mike as a terrorist or something yeesh.

106 "It only applied to one in…

"It only applied to one in reality though."

Thank you. That's what it seemed like you weren't getting, but I think we're on the same page now.

It's not pretentious, IMO, to correct someone when they've misquoted in a way that mischaracterizes what the author actually wrote. Referring to it as a "tactic" (i.e. intentional) rather than a simple misunderstanding might be going too far, but people can be pretty sensitive to that. 

121 I didn't misquote

I gave the full thing. I left the rest out originally because it didn't apply for my comment. The entire rest of it was right above for everyone to see. Very pretentious to keep labeling it as a mischaracterization. Yeesh. Acting like I'm characterizing him into Stalin or something. 

124 OK, now I'm confused again…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

OK, now I'm confused again. Do you understand that the way you presented the quote made it appear that Mike Tanier wrote that Edelman getting into the hall of fame would not be a miscarriage? Mike Tanier did not write that in any way. Here's what you wrote:

"Edelman's, boils down to the fact that he played for the Patriots. It won't be a miscarriage of justice if he gets in."

Oh but it would! Much more than Wilfork too! 

By cutting off the first part of the quote, you are claiming that Mike Tanier wrote that Edelman getting in would not be a miscarriage. But that's not what he wrote at all. He wrote that WILFORK getting in would not be a miscarriage. The only reason he mentioned Edelman was to point out the similarity in their arguments for getting in. He DID NOT write that "Edelman getting in would not be a miscarriage". 

That's why what you wrote is a mischaracterization. You are arguing/implying something that the author never wrote. 

 

32 I would be thrilled if…

I would be thrilled if viniterri didn't get in.  He was very good, and sometimes even great, for an extremely long time at a position of low importance.  But he didn't take over games, and opponents never really game planned considering him.  His case boils down to a few kicks in key moments of big games, and while the folks who make those moments are legendary, that's not hof worthy alone.

34 Kicker is the one position…

Kicker is the one position that I think clutch has some measurable ability to it because their performance is almost context free to a large extent. 

Also, having lived through the Mike Vanderjagt experience, I can definitely tell you that vinatieri was a big time source of relief. 

 

41 In addition to kicking some…

In addition to kicking some of the most famous field goals in NFL history and kicking for 4 Super Bowl winning teams across two franchises, Adam Vinatieri leads the NFL in career scoring by over 100 points.

I think there's a real danger of overthinking this stuff if we start asking whether or not a player of Vinatieri's accomplishments is really a Hall of Famer. 

46 Can you provide an example…

Can you provide an example of a kicker that routinely “takes over games” or necessitates being game-planned around? 
 

Or are you saying, in a roundabout way, that kickers just aren’t HOF-worthy?

74 No, but Tucker

Can you provide an example of a kicker that routinely “takes over games” or necessitates being game-planned around?

No, of course not.  But, as a Ravens fan it's interesting how having Justin Tucker changes some end-of-half situations.  Like, if you get the ball back at your own 35 with 20-some seconds to play; that's not generally a situation that seems like a promising scoring opportunity.   But, "get a couple first downs and let Tucker attempt a 55-yarder" is a plan that actually has a pretty decent expectation of success.  When Harbaugh started as HC, he had a fairly conservative approach to end-of-half situations.  That's not so true anymore.  I don't know if the impetus was Tucker, or analytics, or just his QB maturing (Flacco was a rookie in Harbs' first year); but whatever the cause, it's nice.

That said – It's a touchdown league.  Having a great FG kicker is all very well, but you need more than that if you're going to keep up with the Mahomeses.

130 "kickers' FG success rates"…

In reply to by Theo

"kickers' FG success rates". It's in the "subject" of CHIP72's post. So that his whole post is :

"It should be noted kickers' FG success rates... have steadily climbed from the prime years of Adam Vinatieri's career to the prime years of Justin Tucker's career."

(Personally, I hate that there's a separate "subject" line and wish they'd get rid of it. Every single post doesn't need a subject line.)

49 My career as a perpetually…

My career as a perpetually disappointed Vikings fan began as a small child, when it became obvious to me, at halftime in Super Bowl IV, that there was a helluva lot of value in having a historically great kicker like Jan Stenerud, as opposed to a slightly above average kicker like Fred Cox.

57 If any kicker deserves it,…

If any kicker deserves it, it's Vinatieri; there's that whole "can you tell the story of the NFL without him" aspect, and, by that standard, it's easy.  I mean, the Snow Bowl kicker, multiple Super Bowl-winning kicks, the NFL scoring record . . . I rolled my eyes at Morten Anderson because if there's a position where longevity and compilation of stats are far easier than any other, it's kicker, but Vinatieri has all that plus some of the greatest moments in recent NFL history.  He's easy.

66 The fantasy aspect

I think Morten Andersen's longevity matters here because teams cycle through kickers fairly frequently.

I first played fantasy football in the late-80s, when you changed your lineup by phone call to the commish no later than Friday night.  I think we just used scoring stats then?  (TDs, FGs, XPs)  For a couple years my strategy for addressing the Kicker positon was, "is Mort available?"  Then I took several years off from fantasy.  I started up again when a friend set up a new league (with an auction draft!) in the early 00s. 

And goddam if "is Mort available?" wasn't still a totally viable approach.

65 What about Scar?

I know your focus was on "on the field" players and not coaches, but you do mention Belichick. 

If we're including coaches, you're leaving off one of the most important people to the Patriots' dynasty/ies.  (Depending on whether you consider the last 20 years one Patriots dynasty or two).

Dante Scarnecchia.  Patriots O-Line coach for almost the entirety of the dynasty/ies.

Yes, an O-line coach.

I would posit that "Scar" is the second most important person to the Patriots run of success, behind only Belichick, and yes, even ahead of Brady.  He regularly took cast offs, UFA's, and just one or two highly drafted blocks to build around and consistently built one of the consistently best O-lines in the league.  When he retired after 2013, the O-line nose-dived; when he came back it suddenly became great again.

Without his lines, Brady isn't *as* great.  And without his lines put together on a budget, the Pats can't afford some of the key players they have.

I don't know how often position coaches get considered for the HoF, but if position coaches get in at all, Scar deserves to be at the top of the list once he's eligible.

 

 

67 Scar over Brady

Wow I would never have expected this take from a Patriots fan.

In fact I wondered if the pendulum had swung the other way with Brady winning a super bowl in Tampa.

On a separate note I do find it curious to the point of absurd that owners are being recognized for the Hall of Fame but position coaches and coordinators are somehow not qualified. I do agree if we're going to allow coordinators and position coaches, then they better be pretty darn special. 

If it were up to me, Scar, Alex Gibbs, and Toub are names that come to mind who deserve Hall of Fame recognition from the position coaching rank and file. 

71 I don't do assistant coaches…

In reply to by theslothook

I don't do assistant coaches or coordinators for the HoF. It's a can of worms that has not been opened yet. That's why Don Coryell is not in yet: there is no mechanism for assistant coaches. If there ever is one, Coryell, Dante, Alex Gibbs, Jimmy Johnson the DC and others get in. We then have to start asking about whether Buddy Ryan, Norv Turner and Joe Bugel are Hall of Famers. Again: big ol' can of worms.

And to be clear, coaches are "on the field" because they are on the sidelines. I was excluding owners, because screw em.  

76 Wade Phillips and Tom Moore…

Wade Phillips and Tom Moore before Norv, but agree it's a debate for another day. I was so annoyed by Jerry Jones and Eddie DeBartolo (!) being inducted, while Chuck Howley still waits, that I wouldn't comment in a HoF thread for a couple years, other than to note that the institution is a joke.

83 Coordinators and assistants

Scar, Alex Gibbs, and Toub are names that come to mind who deserve Hall of Fame recognition from the position coaching rank and file.
_________________________

I don't do assistant coaches or coordinators for the HoF. It's a can of worms that has not been opened yet ... Coryell, Dante, Alex Gibbs, Jimmy Johnson the DC and others ... Buddy Ryan, Norv Turner and Joe Bugel ... big ol' can of worms.

Bill Arnsparger.
Tom Moore.
Bud Carson?
Maybe Seifert.
Richie Petitbon.
Ernie Zampese?

Yah, it's a can o' worms alright. 

One interesting aspect is how many really great & accomplished coordinators, failed as head coaches.  Imagine that you're arguing for, say, Arnsparger or Bud Carson or Petitbon for the Hall: each of them architects & coordinators of multiple-championship defenses.  Their career head coaching record combined is 22-53-1 (0.298).  I think that's an awkward position, arguing that one of these (great!) coaches should be in ahead of, say, Marty Schottenheimer.  Is a great coordinator more worthy than a very good head coach?  Why?  What IS coaching, anyway?

I would love to see SOME recognition of the great & influential assistant coaches from history.  But, hell if I know what form that should take.  I don't think full-fledged Hall induction is the right answer.  Some kind of Honorable Mention?  A plaque describing tactical innovation in a particular decade?  I dunno.

73 I'm a fan of Brady, and…

In reply to by theslothook

I'm a fan of Brady, and believe he is the GQBOAT, but I am firmly in the camp that, if you made me name just one person most responsible for the Pats success over the last two decades, it would be Belichick.  Maybe that's because I've been following the Patriots since the early 90's, and firmly believe that good players explain why a team wins for a year or two (and the lack of good players explain why a team loses for a year or so), but good coaches are why a team becomes a dynasty.  (And, of course, vice versa). 

The way I think of it is this... Brady didn't spring from the skull of Zeus in full armor ready to dispense righteous justice on the NFL.  He was a physically underwhelming 6th round draft with a mixed scouting report, whose main asset was a fierce competitive drive.  He was 4th on the QB depth chart his rookie year.  He rose to 2nd in 2001, but even after Belichick made the (then very controversial) decision to roll with him after Bledsoe's injury, it was not at all clear that he was better than Bledsoe.  In 2003-2005, he improved steadily, but was generally hovering in the top half of the league but not top 5 in DVOA or other advanced metrics, and people on Peyton Manning Side of the Great Debate that Shall Not Be Named were likely in the right of it... Manning was a far superior QB, while Brady was being carried by his defense, coaching, and running game.  

It wasn't till 2006 that he truly started to be an elite QB, and didn't become the GQBOAT until he had performed at that level for quite a few years, clearly surpassing Manning and Brees and legacy players such as Montana.  

Belichick (and people like Charlie Weiss, etc.) made Brady the QB he would become, not just by "giving him his shot", but by, you know, coaching him, and designing an offense that played to his strengths while masking his weaknesses.  It took 5-6 years to turn that 6th round draft pick with potential into a great QB.  Had Brady been drafted by almost any other franchise, we probably wouldn't be talking about him today.  During that time, Belichick picked up three rings on the basis of what he did with that QB as well as with the rest of his team.  Even without Brady, the Pats still probably win a few SB's over the last 20 years... since they won 3 before Brady became *BRADY*.  

As to 2020... I find people that say "this proves it was Brady and not Belichick all along" to be very misguided.  If a master sculptor spends years crafting a masterpiece work of art, and then that work of art leaves the sculptor's care and goes to a museum and draws huge acclaim, you don't say "well, the sculptor wasn't any good... it was just the sculpture all along!"  You can admire the sculpture as wonderful without forgetting where it came from.  And when the sculptor starts working with a new lump of clay (and, in the case of 2020, doing so with limited tools and limited time and starting from flawed clay), and the new lump of clay isn't immediately as beautiful as the finished sculpture, you don't suddenly decide that the sculptor was no good after all because he didn't immediately replace his work of art.  

In 2020, Brady, with the benefit of 19 years of experience under one of the best coaches ever, went to a franchise that was stacked with talent on both sides of the ball and had a coach that was good enough not to screw things up, and of course succeeded.  That shouldn't have been a surprise, unless you thought Brady might get old (which, to be fair, many people did think).  Belichick had to start over again with an injured veteran retread, leading a cap-depleted roster in the middle of a pandemic when you couldn't have proper training camp or regular practices all seasons.  I don't think anyone expected the Pats to dominate last year.  But we shouldn't let one year, with easily explainable outcomes, wipe out all our priors.  

 

88 Fair enough. Arians is a…

Fair enough. Arians is a pretty good coach. I wasn’t giving him enough credit by calling him “ good enough not to screw things up”. 
 

But that strengthens my point. Brady went to an ideal situation in TB. 

81 I pretty much agree with all…

I pretty much agree with all of this except I would add one bit of nuance.

One can read the Brady career and surmise that more teams should give shots to 6th rounders and spend hours and hours of coaching and patience. I tend to take the opposite view that 99 percent of 6th rounders who are given a shot and given that coaching remain 2001 Tom Brady...basically a game manager.

Tom Brady has some innate abilities(and I don't mean clutch here) that made him different from a typical 6th rounder. Those are special to Tom Brady. So I don't quite view the Pats having created Tom. It might have been a perfect storm of events frankly. 

82 Brady's throwing talent in…

Brady's throwing talent in his prime has tended to be underrated, for a guy widely recognized as a top tier HoFer, but it is his presnap work and speed of light decision making which have made him what he is, and the latter in particular I have no idea how to project in a 22 year old guy.

90 True. Belichick had a damned…

True. Belichick had a damned fine piece of clay to work with in Brady. 
 

Some  people don’t seem to understand the concept of an AND function. That it’s not Brady or Belichick, but Brady AND Belichick that was required to have 20 years of sustained success. 

84 How bad – ?

if you made me name just one person most responsible for the Pats success over the last two decades, it would be Belichick.
...
Belichick (and people like Charlie Weiss, etc.) made Brady the QB he would become, not just by "giving him his shot", but by, you know, coaching him, and designing an offense that played to his strengths while masking his weaknesses. 
...
I find people that say "this proves it was Brady and not Belichick all along" to be very misguided.

As an aside: just how goddam bad do you think Belichick wants to win another championship, with Mac Jones at QB??  Sheesh, talk about a fierce competitive drive.

96 But what about before 2020?

Not exactly favoring Bill there either.

But it's funny how Brady was 3x PB before 06. Led the league in passing TDs in 02. Yards in 05. Not shabby.

And to be exact, the Patriots went 2 games under their preseason odds while the Bucs went 1.5 over. Bill was still getting a healthy benefit of the doubt. Don't think many had the Bucs winning it ALL (3rd in SB odds to be exact) or the Pats being straight up below .500 and/or out of the playoffs (7th in the AFC for SB odds, so just barely in). 

Not sure how one can come away with anything other than point Brady, let alone point Bill, from 2020. Especially since we know Bill was preparing for the end of Tom Brady long before last year, so it's not like he never thought he wouldn't have Brady (really didn't want him at some points it seems like). 

In reality, good QBs are hard to find, and you can't just always build up a day 3 pick. Or I guess #1 overall picks like Cam...or Bledsoe...oh and Vinny T lol...and Bernie Kosar technically (holy crap, forgot about those last two. Ironically Bradys only other HC happened to be similar working with almost only 1.01s like Palmer, Couch, Winston, Manning, etc. lol that's hilariously coincidental). Can't believe that actually lol.

But yeah Brady wasn't the best right away. Neither was Bill (or a majority of those that go through the NFL). Don't think it's fair to say "Belichick (and people like Charlie Weiss, etc.) made Brady" when there's now evidence before AND after that shows Bill wasn't exactly the greatest. Not much for after for Brady. People just generally underestimated (and still do apparently) the work Brady puts in and maaaay have been (slightly) better than a 6th rounder coming out (maybe more like a 4th).

102 I wonder if those preseason…

I wonder if those preseason odds factored in all the Patriots who opted out, far more than from any other team.  And there's no way to factor in "injuries", in this case Cam's Covid-19, which only kept him out of one game but appeared to greatly affect him during the next 2 as he recovered strength.  Belichick was a so-so coach (at best) in Cleveland but must've learned a lot from that mediocrity.  His ability to remake defenses and build differing offenses around Brady is legend, also his game planning to take away opponents' strengths and attack their weak spots.  I wouldn't put too much weight in last year unless that sort of result continues.

105 Finalized 5 weeks ahead of time

Not that FB Danny Vitale should move the needle, but I'm not sure why they'd take them before that day. And that line can't be before Cam especially. 

Bill for sure learned but Brady can't have after so-so Michigan? I think it's important to realize that Brady not only took the Bucs to their first playoff appearance in 13 years but their 2nd SB win in 18. While NE missed the playoffs for the first time since...the last time Brady wasn't the primary starter. That's a little too coincidental to blame on injuries (which all teams have, Bucs were missing AB, Vea and Winfield, etc in the NFCCG) and a practice squad WR opting out imo.

112 Citing Danny Vitale? …

Citing Danny Vitale?  Practice squad WR?  How odd to highlight those two while skipping past Dont'a Hightower, Marcus Cannon, Patrick Chung.  Or even Matt LaCosse, no stud player but 2020 Pats had the poorest TE performance in the NFL.
Because I cite Belichick, thinking that I assume Brady didn't learn and grow is itself an odd assumption, especially as I noted that the Pats' evolving offenses were built "around Brady".
Maybe it's my communication skills...

120 Yes

A couple box players and a OL were the most important ones. But still not the needler movers (combined) a Brady is. 

But LaCosse...yes their TEs were poor but you think a guy with 403 career yards in 5 years would've changed...anythiny significantly? I mean the dude got less offensive snaps than a 39 year old Ben Watson...in more games. Ben Watson didn't play last year btw and is currently not signed so it wasn't like he was a world beater. And since they knew the about all them weeks beforehand they had time to prepare for the losses as opposed to straight up random injuries midseason. 

Sorry. I guess I heard built around Brady as more of a shot at him/praise of Bill. But Bill is the mainly defense focused and there are ways that Brady himself can/does recognize his own weaknesses and works around them himself with his own talent (hard work). 

125 I guess I didn't state…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

I guess I didn't state things clearly.  With "built around Brady" my intent was to say that the main reason the defense-minded Belichick was able to mold offenses that changed from rushers and Smurfs to Moss/Welker to the Boston TE party to the diverse attack of 2014-18 was because he had the GOAT under center.  The QB downgrade was obviously, to me, the main reason for the Pats' mediocre 2020 but was far from the only reason.

128 Ok I see

Yeah it's hard to deny he wasn't the main reason, but not the only reason. I wouldn't ever say he was the only reason. I just think he's more like ~55% of the reason why. Even before 06 he was 2x SB MVP. His impact pretty great as a QB alone but a good one is just crazy impactful. 

85 Players over coaches

In reply to by MJK

every time (usually). Patriots are no different. 

People still don't see it huh (61-72 is plenty of evidence, not that Bledsoe or Cam were talentless either, lol both #1 overall picks). Brady was a PB his first year starting too, before the ringz got him name recognition. 

But an OL coach? That's another level. Brady made a rookie RT, a LT on a joke of a contract, a 6th rounder C, a 3rd guard and Ali Marpet into champs (none of them are Pro Bowlers yet either although Marpet was the only good one, iirc, before Brady). Now their perception is different after the master of getting the ball out quick arrived. Wirfs went from OT4 in his own class to most likely OT1 from on most peoples lists. Smith got another extension too. 

Specifically on Scar with Brady; Bradys sack% was 5% from '00-'13 and 4.7% from '14-'15 and 4.1% from '16 on (4.3% in NE). But you're right Brady isn't as good without him...probably. But it's also probably more likely Scar doesn't look as good without Brady throwing the ball to cover some mistakes. Although it should be noted Scar still hung around NE those two years he wasn't employed but helped a bit. 

But Brady is kinda the proof that OL isn't as valuable as commonly thought. Just throw the ball. Yes you need to hit a certain baseline (in terms of pass protection) but you really don't need a Larry Allen or Athony Munoz to make it work all the time. You can scheme around their weaknesses. Which in turn just makes Brady look better lol. Unless your QB holds the ball too long regardless but this has been talked about ad nauseum. 

But other than trying to put him above Brady, I concede.

Sidenote: as a Spurs fan I can attest to Tim Duncan being more important than Pop too, even though their different sports, same general rule applies. 

95 Sure

but that doesn't mean you couldn't back then either. Regardless, having QBs that recognize that their OL can't block forever is really helpfully. And that's Bradys calling card. Which is awesome for building around him (or any QB like that). And outside of his first year starting, he's always been above average at not getting sacked (at least 103 to be exact). 

101 It depends how far you go…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

It depends how far you go back. There was a time when you really couldn't run the passing game if the qb wasn't willing to regularly stand in the pocket and absorb the beating. The effect on careers tended to be traumatic. I'm glad those days are over.

104 Perhaps

but when exactly? There's definitely a difference between taking a sack and taking a beating tjhough. Former implies the latter but not vice versa. Brady for most of his career has avoided the former (early adopter of sacks are a QB stat). His sack% did drop over his career overall. IDK what his QBHit% is though.

But looking at pressure%: NE went from 18% (29th) in 2018 to 18.6% (29th) in 2019 to 26% (11th) in 2020. And TB went 22.9% (16th) in 2019 to 17.6% (28th) in 2020. IDK what rules changes specifically that far back, affects what seems mostly to follow QBs even at the pressure level (not just sack). 

107 It used to be quite…

In reply to by ImNewAroundThe…

It used to be quite permitted to bludgeon the qb after he released the ball, then in became less permitted, but still fairly frequent, then less frequent, and now pretty infrequent. The last major tipping point came after the Saints deliberately went back to 1970s murderball on Favre in the 2009 NFCCG, and the refs for the most part let them get away with it. Things really tightened after that, and that development has really aided the old great qbs.

I would define the qb battering epochs, in the time I've been watching the NFL, as 70s Murderball, then 80s&90s Manslaughterball, then Aggravatedbatteryball of the aughts, to to the Misdemeanorbatteryball of the past decade. I'm not nostalgic for the halcyon days of yore.

(edit) To lend credence to your argument, however, the 2016 Vikings are worth a look. It was absolutely the worst o-line performance I've ever seen. It either set a record or came close to different combinations of players, due to a tsunami of injuries, and by the end street free agents were starting. The starting qb went down the first week of camp, and No. 2 didn't belong in the league. The HoF rb went down after about  3 games. Starting receivers were hobbled. They should have been at or near the bottom in offensive efficiency.

Instead, they ended up in the middle, because they traded for an immobile qb (this was before they knew their o-line would be decimated), but one that was accurate, with a fast release. Then they brought in a new oc just before the opener who schemed a short passing game. It was ugly as hell, but it kept them contending for the playoffs until quite late, and if they had received just an average placekicking performance, they probably would have made it. It was really interesting stuff, to anyone crazy enough to pay close attention to a mediocre football team.

109 Not a reply to your post…

Not a reply to your post Will, but to this thread: Brady has had the best pocket presence of any quarterback I've ever watched play.  Perhaps Unitas was better, I don't know, but I've never seen Brady take a hit like the one Montana took against the Giants in the NFC championship game. 

110 Unitas played in an era when…

Unitas played in an era when pocket presence didn't do as much, because so much contact after the throw was allowed.

Brady's been great at avoiding hits, but when it wasn't an option he's tended to be extremely impressive. He was really bludgeoned in his AFCCG game played in Denver, and at the end of that game he threw some passes of incredible quality. Now, if he had to take a beating like that 6-8 times a season, would he have held up? Hell if I know, 

113 Pocket presence

Brady has had the best pocket presence of any quarterback I've ever watched play.

Best of any?  That feels like an exaggeration.  Brady's been tremendous at that, but I wouldn't say his pocket presence is levels above Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, or for that matter Dan Marino.  Manning was especially famous for that when he played; so too in his own time, was Marino. 

I don't know if we have good tools to measure that aspect of play.  My sense is that this is an area that would requite more of a film-based scouting evaluation, rather than a statistical one.  Sack% seems too blunt, subject to the confounds of OL play and whether the player is a scrambler or not.  My gut feel is that Manning's "pocket presence" probably was ahead of Brady's – but slightly.  I'd be way more confident grouping players in tiers, with Manning-Brady-Brees-Marino all in the top tier.
_______________________

Interestingly, a couple of current QBs who are excellent players overall, to my eye are surprisingly bad at the "pocket presence" aspect of the game: Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson.  Both of them pull their eyes down and move themselves into trouble, way more often than I like.  I think it's an under-the-radar weakness in their games.

In the other direction, I think Lamar Jackson's pocket presence is excellent, and completely opposite from his reputation/perception as mainly a scrambler.  (Excuse me: I should specify, the pocket presence he showed in 2019, and flashed occasionally in late 2018.  That aspect of his game took a step back this past season.  I'm inclined to believe that was an aberration, given the Ravens OL struggles and Lamar getting covid etc.  But that remains to be seen.)

Mahomes' career sack% is less than Brady's.  I know I poo-pooed sack% above, but I still think that's interesting.  Avoiding sacks is supposed to be a mature QB's skill, not a young one's.  Is there a case that Mahomes' pocket presence is better than Brady's?  Mahomes sack% the past two seasons is exactly Brady's from the record-setting Imperfect Season of 2007.

115 IMO, "pocket presence" is…

In reply to by JimZipCode

IMO, "pocket presence" is how one handles oneself before having to scramble, and Mahomes does the latter perhaps as well as anyone, hence his low sack rate.  TB didn't get many on him last February, but the length of his escapes exceeded either team's total offense.  Of those I've seen much, only the smaller and much slower Tarkenton compared for ability to extend a busted play.

132 Other QBs too

Of those I've seen much, only the smaller and much slower Tarkenton compared [to Mahomes] for ability to extend a busted play.

Other QBs have been great at that too.  Elway & Favre were famous for it.  Roethlisberger ~10 yrs ago was devastating at it.  Rodgers.  Russ Wilson.

I think Randall Cunningham had a big reputation in that area. 

 

123 I'm genuinely curious how…

In reply to by JimZipCode

I'm genuinely curious how Raven's fans feel about Lamar Jackson. There are some Ravens fans here that have expressed concern about his long-term future.

Leave aside his purported regression as a passer, I know he doesn't have much of an injury history outside of covid but I have concerns about his style of play. His scramble to pass ratio is such that he's going to invite himself to hits far more than your typical quarterback will. Now Russell Wilson has managed to stay healthy so maybe it's much Ado about nothing. But I really do worry that he will injure himself at some point in the next couple years playing this way. That's my biggest issue with him.

127 How Ravens fans feel about Lamar

Well: since you're asking!   :-)
 

I'm genuinely curious how Raven's fans feel about Lamar Jackson.

Runs the gamut.  There is a very small, but very hard-core group that feels the Ravens won't win anything with that RB under center, and the sooner the Ravens get on with handing the job over to Trace McSorley, who really showed something in preseason that one time, the better.  The agenda and coded language is too obvious to miss.  At the other end of the spectrum, since the MVP season (and maybe even moreso since Lamar's Willis Reed impersonation vs the Brownies on MNF) there's a group for whom Lamar can do no wrong, and every shortcoming of the Ravens offense is due to Greg Roman having his head up his ass and the WR corps sucking.

I think the consensus is that Lamar is great and the coordinator & pass-catchers have let him down in "the big games", with an undercurrent of fear that maybe there really is some critical flaw that gets exposed in the playoffs.  If the Ravens offense has another dominant regular season similar to 2019, that undercurrent will only burn brighter until the postseason arrives.
 

I have concerns about his style of play. His scramble to pass ratio is such that he's going to invite himself to hits far more than your typical quarterback will. ... I really do worry that he will injure himself at some point in the next couple years playing this way. That's my biggest issue with him.

The party line from the Ravens brass is that QB injuries are far more common in the pocket, cf Peyton Manning's neck and Tom Brady''s knee 2008 and Troy Aikman's concussions and Patrick Mahomes knee 2019 and a million other examples.  The blindside hits and the vulnerable body position while throwing.  Supporting anecdotes: Michael Vick played 13 seasons, and the two he missed were not due to injury.  Randall Cunningham played 16 seasons. 

Conversely, probably the hardest hit I've seen Lamar take was hanging in the pocket to complete a TD pass from 2019 – it might have been this play, though my memory says the hitter was Geno Atkins, so maybe not:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=la7FO0jdivE

So they're disputing the notion that running the QB automatically exposes him to greater risk.
 

Now Russell Wilson has managed to stay healthy so...

They share some quality of on-field smarts.  Lamar has been super clever about not taking huge hits.  He usually evades guys and trots out of bounds, etc.  Very occasionally he'll take on defenders directly, when say the goal line is at stake, but that's not the norm.  Even on option pitches –

One Ravens tactic on defense over the years against option runs, has been to splatter the QB on the pitch.  Make him pay a price, so the team becomes reluctant to keep calling those plays.  That was one element of their game plans against Kaepernick, for example.  I think Chip Kelly bitched about it after the Ravens lit up Sam Bradford in a preseason game (and was told that it's well within the rules).  It's a standard part of the Ravens defense's toolkit against option runs.  So the reason I mention that is, here's a couple of plays where the Ravens call a "plain" option run, a speed option with a pitch man outside (JK Dobbins), versus the Steelers.  On these two snaps Lamar actually does pitch it; and the Steelers D tries to hammer Lamar, taking the free shot.  But Lamar's clearly aware of the possibility, and the defender can't lay a finger on him:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfD4RZTC5Q8&t=46s  (at the 46 secs mark)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IfD4RZTC5Q8&t=75s  (1:15 in the vid)

He's just so damn hard to hit.  Defenses want to make a runner "pay the price": Lamar probably has paid about a tenth of "the price" that we would expect him to have "paid" on his career runs.

That said – what I don't like, the Ravens switched to that QB counter play or Bash or whatever you call it, in the middle of last season, as an adjustment to the way defenses were attacking them.  And that play call sends Lamar between the tackles, rather than on the perimeter runs he was mainly doing in 2019.  He's great at it, and shows the same ability to protect himself: but man it's a lot more crowded in there than it is along the sideline. 

_________________

I don't think the Ravens plan to keep running Lamar ~12 times a game.  They've invested a lot in additional pass-catchers this offseason (Watkins in free agency, 1st- and 4th-rd picks in the draft).  They've beefed up their interior OL (Zeitler in free agency at one G, a 345# mauler in the 3rd round at the other G, moving their incumbent LG to C where he was 2nd-team All America in college), which might mean they'll be able to run the ball effectively without all the option concepts.  Also those interior guys should be able to anchor better against the pass rush than the iOL from the past 3 seaons.  JK Dobbins looks like a star to me: a more explosive Ray Rice, like Rice with a dash of LaDainian Tomlinson.  I see all that adding up as:

  • (More good options in the passing game) + (Greater abiity to run the ball without Lamar) = less carries for Lamar

I do think they'll keep running him a Kaepernick-esque / Tyrod 2015 -esque / Russell Wilson -esque / Deshaun-esque 6 to 8 times a game.  It's just too potent a weapon to keep holstered all the time.

If Lamar is not the main driver for the Ravens rushing attack, and if his carries per game are around 8-ish, I wouldn't be any more worried about him than about Russ or Deshaun.   (Before the bye in 2020, Lamar was averaging 8.3 rushes per game.)

129 For the record I don't…

Thanks for the detailed write-up.

This year is going to inform a lot of what I think of Lamar Jackson. Same with Josh Allen. Right now I have them in this nether world of tier 2/tier 3 qb and this year will really confirm where I think these two players ultimately belong. 

Maybe that's a bit unfair to say in Lamar's case because he was so superlative in his MVP year. In that sense he's probably already at tier two and has a chance to go even higher. Either way I will be very curious.

131 Nice write up, thanks. On…

Nice write up, thanks. On injuries: I would certainly agree that the nastiest QB injuries tend to occur in the pocket. But those are infrequent, and suggest something has gone badly wrong with the play, or some extreme bad luck has occurred. When I think of Lamar, I am more concerned about the type of degrading wear and tear you more normally associate with RBs. Cam Newton - who took on a similar rushing workload - has clearly suffered through this (although he is a more 'direct' rusher than Lamar, and he did have a good run before the injuries took their toll). 

Russell Wilson is crazy elusive, and perhaps Lamar shares those qualities and will be fine. Although again, his current rushing volume hugely outweighs Wilson. It's also notable that Wilson very rarely rushes around the goal-line these days. 

So whilst I agree that Lamar's health isn't an overwhelming concern any given week, or even any given season, it is a concern in managing his contract for years to come. His best path to becoming a consistent, elite QB has to be to continue to develop as a passer.

133 When I claim that Brady is…

In reply to by JimZipCode

When I claim that Brady is the best at pocket presence, I mean that he is the best at moving slightly in the pocket to gain himself time.  You may be correct that Manning and Brees could have an argument for that; I haven't watched Brees enough to see it.  Manning had better receivers and linemen, at least early in his career, and I don't think he needed to move in the pocket that much, at least not in the games I've seen him play.  Marino is another thing entirely; his ability to escape sacks had as much or more to do with his release than his moving around in the pocket.  You could be sacking him and he'd still get the pass off, and also burn you for a touchdown.  Namath had that skill too.  It's a very rare skill.

119 I see

Don't have the specific numbers but after his first year starting (and escaping unscathed, enough), I imagine, he realized that take any sort of "battering" was bad and limited it every sense...by just throwing the ball (since he couldn't run, an ability he knew he was limited at). Probably one of the main reasons he's still somehow going. Throw the ball before pressure messes things up and the play ends up worse than an incomplete throw away. 

A good anecdote illustrating the point outside of Brady. 

68 I think it's cheating

I think it's cheating to count Seau, Revis, and (arguably) Moss as representing the Patriots in the HoF.  

Seau is famous for what he did as a Charger.  His HoF resume was pretty close to complete when he retired as a Charger; playing a rotational role in the twilight of his career on a superteam doesn't mean he now "represents" that team's dynasty.  

Similarly, Revis is not a representative of the Patriots dynasty/ies.  He is mainly famous as a Jet... if you were to put up a Revis poster on your wall, he's probably wearing green.  Yes, he played a single season with the Pats in a (successful) bid to earn a ring, but he was a hired gun, not a core part of the dynasty.  

Moss is a trickier case, because he was probably HoF bound before his stint in NE, or at least in the discussion (much as TO is in the discussion), but the stratospheric heights he rose to (and helped elevate the team to) showed how amazing a player he was.  He also played several seasons in NE instead of just one.  So I guess I'm OK with counting him as a representative of the Patriots in the HoF, but just barely.

So the count of "on the field" Patriots representatives in the HoF, is so far just 1 (Law) but certain to also include Belichick and Brady, and probably Seymour, Harrison, and Vinateri.  So, six players, for a dynasty that spanned 20 years (or, as some would describe it, two dynasties).  That's more than twice as long a dynasty than the Lombardi Packers (14 HoFers) or the 90's Cowboys (6 HoFers), half again as long as the Steel Curtain Steelers (10 HoFers).  It is comparable to the 20 year dynasty of the Montana/Young Niners (8 HoFers).  

Any way you cut it, the Patriots are likely to be underrepresented in the HoF relative to other dynasties.  

I am not arguing that we should put people in just to match dynasties of the past... But I think we can get a little swept up in the fallacious theory that Brady and Belichick were so good that their teammates didn't need to be.  

 

75 I will take the opposite…

I will take the opposite view in that I think Brady and BB were so good that a lot of the teammates didn't matter. 

 

EDIT

I should qualify by saying I don't think its true that BB and Brady could have fielded a roster of undrafteds and won. I do think, however, that seeing the players come and go over time has given credence to the idea that this particular team is far talent dependent than other franchises. 

I think, at a minimum, Brady made sure you had a workable offense with a bunch of slot guys. Obviously, there were limits to this as was seen in 2006, 2013, and 2019, but its a rare a luxury that you can field a competent passing attack nearly every year.

Scar took care of the offensive line, which is really unbelievable when you realize the results they were getting despite who was in there. I am not going to call them talentless, the Pats invested in their line with draft picks but it wasn't Dallas with three first rounders and a high 2nd manning those spots. 

The Pats made a clinic of proving how worthless high picks on running backs are(until they slapped everyone in the face and took not just one, but two in the first round). 

BB took care of the special teams. Yes they got lucky with Kickers, but the rest of the group kept up consistency year after year.

The Pats, outside of a handful of years, really never had much of a pass rush. This is has been an underplayed subplot of the Pats dynasty. A vital component for 31 teams appears to be a mild deficiency(if at all?) for the Pats.

That leaves the secondary and the linebackers. I think BB has usually required at least 1 good corner and 1 good safety for his schemes. Give him that and he can cobble together a good secondary from the junkyard. Somewhere Troy Brown is whistling dixie while he covers Brandon Stokley. 

I think LB might be the group he relies on talent the most. By talent of course he requires lbs who can play in run and pass coverage while offering something in pass rush in a pinch.  

Wrap it all up and I really do take the rather extreme view that outside of maybe 10 people, everyone else over a 20 year stretch could be traded for a bag of peanuts and the Pats approximate about 80% of their success. 

117 depth

I don't think it's so much that Belichick can pluck a bunch of guys off the streeet and turn them in to champs so much as it's that he prioritizes depth over having a handful of studs (besides Brady obviously).  E.g. he's let pass rushers like Trey Flowers and Chandler Jones go as they became expensive, but the last few years he's had 4-5 corners you could stick on a #1 receiver without getting completely lit up.

 

 

86 The Hall philosophy is different now from the 70s

Any way you cut it, the Patriots are likely to be underrepresented in the HoF relative to other dynasties.

I think it's not helpful to compare modern teams to what the Hall did for the 60s Packers and the 70s Dolphins & Steelers & Cowboys.  Mike described in the first Hall debate piece the way voters saw teams and gathered info back then.  for relative comparisons, I think you have to restrict yourself to post-1980.

  • The Niners of 1981-1989 got 4: Montana, Rice, Charles Haley, Ronnie Lott.  (Steve Young was later; and Deion was with him.)
  • The Redskins of 1981-1991 got 4: Darrell Green, John Riggins, Russ Grimm, Art Monk.
  • The core Cowboys of the 90s got 4: Aikman, Emmitt, Irvin, Larry Allen.  Deion & Charles Haley also won a championship with them.
  • The Broncos mini-dynasty got 4: Elway, TD, Shannon Sharpe, Atwater.

If the Pats get 4 core guys Law, Brady, Seymour, Vinateri; plus guest appearances from Seau and Randy Moss and Harrison; plus of course their head coach – that's not a "disrespectful" showing at all.  I wouldn't call them under-represented relative to other post-1980 dynasties.

Part of it is Brady's ridiculous longevity.  If Brady's career were not all one guy – say his first ten years were Montana, and his second ten years were Young – then the Pats would have 5 core guys plus 3 guest HOFers plus the head coach.  Brady's taking up two spots for Pats Hall of Famers.

89 Not unusual for 1 team's HOFers to "guest" on a championship

I think it's cheating to count Seau, Revis, and (arguably) Moss as representing the Patriots in the HoF.  

I feel like you're trying to have it both ways with Seau & Revis & Rodney Harrison.  You say the core Pats would be under-represented; but you're comparing them to team counts that are inflated by "guest stars", players that made their HOF case with other teams and then appeared on a champion roster.

  • The Cowboys 1996 championship team included Charles Haley & Deion; but the bulk of Haley's career was with the Niners, and Deion flitted about between teams. 
  • Steve Young's championship was separated by 5 years from the Niners dynasty of the 80s.

Expanding to include some non-dynasty champions:

  • The 1996-7 Packers had Reggie White, whose Hall credentials were not made in Green Bay.
  • The 2000 Ravens roster included HOFers Shannon Sharpe and Rod Woodson.

94 Rodney Harrison is an…

Rodney Harrison is an interesting case. I think he’s a hall of farmer, but his career really feels like it is half and half between the Pats and Chargers. If he’d retired or gone to, say, the Browns, after his Chargers time, he wouldn’t sniff the hall. If his only years were his time in NE, he’d essentially have as much HoF case as Mike Vrabel or Tedy Bruschi. It took his good years on the Chargers and his good years on the Pats, helping them win 2SBs, that really elevates his case. I use the poster test. If you have a poster of the player on the wall, what uniform is he wearing?  For Revis and Sean, it’s definitely not a Patriots uniform. For Harrison, I’m not so sure. I guess Moss is in a similar category, but I would consider Harrison more of a Patriot than Moss. 
 

For the counts, I used Taniers totals above for some. I confess I didn’t look up each count myself. Good point about only counting true representatives.  I Would count Deion as a cowboy…he did flit around, but he spent more quality time in Dallas than anywhere else. I had counted Haley, but you’re right… he’s more of a Niner. 
 

side note…My goodness those 90s cowboys went crazy in free agency!

103 Oh geez

In reply to by t.d.

left off Gronk

Oops.

Also I omitted Revis in one of my comments.  Seems pretty clear the 21st century Pats are not going to be under-represented in the Hall.

135 You Beat Me to It

Seau started all of 4 games with the Pats. In his last two years there, he only played in seven. 

I think Belichick asked for things from players that tended to diminish the kinds of gaudy numbers that get one into the Hall. The idea that it was just plug and play seems to me an unfair assessment of what the players accomplished - plenty of talented guys washed out of NE because they couldn't fit the system. 

93 Asterisks & plus-signs on PFR

What does "stars-and-crosses" mean?

Not generally-used terminology, I think.  Mike's coining a phrase.

On PFR, if you look at the page for (say) Ray Lewis:
https://www.pro-football-reference.com/players/L/LewiRa00.htm#defense

  • The seasons with asterisks are the seasons when he made the Pro Bowl
  • The seasons with + signs are the seasons when he was named first-team All-Pro

So, using Ray, '97 & '98 were Pro Bowl seasons, as were 2006 & 7.  1999 thru 2001 were All-Pro seasons, as were 2003 & 4.

Asterisks & plus-signs = stars & crosses.

108 Yep. Trying to make…

Yep. Trying to make something stick. And I am also using "stars and crosses" to be a tiny bit dismissive: folks loading up PFR, counting some symbols, and leaping to a conclusion, not factoring in all sorts of things that go into Pro Bowl and All Pro voting.