The defensive players on the New England Patriots seem to know who they want as their starting quarterback going forward.
Cornerback Stephon Gilmore is the latest Patriot to endorse Jarrett Stidham, saying that the quarterback improved last year during his rookie year and challenged the defense during practices.
“He came in and worked hard and got better and better as the year went on. He has a strong arm,” Gilmore told Mike Reiss of ESPN. “He makes some tough throws. Definitely made it hard on me in practice each and every week, going against whoever I was covering, making some great throws. It allowed me to get better in practice to prepare for the games.”
This is similar to what another Patriots defensive back said recently. Stidham will have to beat out veteran Brian Hoyer to earn the job, but it sounds like he has the confidence of some of his key teammates already.
The NFL regular season is over, and we know the 12 playoff teams that will be chasing the Super Bowl this year. For others, Sunday brought the bitter end, or raised new questions heading into the most important stretch of the season. It’s those teams who will be left licking their wounds — some even while preparing for another game next week.
Here are ten big disappointments from the final week of the NFL season.
Referees, NFL at end of Seahawks-49ers game
There’s no way around it: the referees on the field missed a blatant pass interference by San Francisco on 3rd-and-goal at the end of “Sunday Night Football.” The refs missing the call is bad, but what was equally bad — if not worse — was the lack of a booth review. The NFL now has the ability to intercede and correct a badly missed pass interference call such as this one, yet they failed to act. The Seahawks came up short on 4th-and-goal (a good call by the officials), but the missed pass interference was a game-changer. That was the difference between the 49ers having the top seed and the Packers getting it; the difference between the Saints getting a bye and having to play in the wild card round; and the Seahawks having the fifth seed rather than the third.
Pete Carroll, Seahawks coaches
The NFL and referees missed a pass interference on 3rd-and-goal, but that doesn’t absolve the Seahawks’ coaches from their mistakes. Seattle inexplicably took a delay of game penalty on 2nd-and-goal in the final minute. How did they have a full play clock to execute a play and make that error in that situation? Because of the penalty, the ball was moved back from the one to the six, and they had to sub out Marshawn Lynch from the goal-line package. Seattle was unable to get in on three straight pass plays after that and did themselves no favors in the 26-21 loss.
Stephon Gilmore struggled in coverage on Sunday in a Week 17 loss to the Miami Dolphins and is shouldering a lot of blame.
DeVante Parker had eight catches for 137 yards in the Dolphins’ surprising 27-24 upset of the New England Patriots. According to NexGen Stats, Parker was covered by Gilmore most of the game. He caught seven of nine targets for 119 yards against Gilmore. Based on yardage stats, this was Gilmore’s worst game since signing with the Patriots prior to the 2017 season.
DeVante Parker got the best of Stephon Gilmore, who lined up across from Parker on 40 of 45 routes (89%).
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) December 29, 2019
Gilmore told reporters after the game he felt he let his teammates down.
Stephon Gilmore said he feels like he let the 52 other players down today. DeVante Parker had a monster day and Gilmore had him in coverage the majority of the game.
— Ryan Hannable (@RyanHannable) December 29, 2019
Gilmore’s bad game didn’t help, but that’s not the only reason they lost. The offense barely did anything in the first half, and Tom Brady threw an uncharacteristic pick-six. Many factors contributed to the Pats losing and dropping into the No. 3 seed in the AFC.
Sammy Watkins and Stephon Gilmore got into a scrap on the sidelines during the fourth quarter of Sunday’s Kansas City Chiefs-New England Patriots game.
The Chiefs had a first down from their 18 up 23-16 on the Patriots and decided to run an option. Patrick Mahomes pitched to Tyreek Hill, who rushed for a short gain. Watkins was down field blocking Gilmore, and the two kept going at it on the sidelines.
No call. pic.twitter.com/UcqZoWMIII
— Casey Baker (@CaseyBake16) December 9, 2019
No penalty was called on the play even though their scrap seemed extracurricular.
The two used to be teammates on the Buffalo Bills and went to rival colleges — Clemson for Watkins, and South Carolina for Gilmore.
Antonio Brown issued yet another lengthy statement on social media Friday essentially begging NFL teams to give him another shot, and several New England Patriots players rushed to show support for him once again.
In his latest Instagram post, Brown acknowledged some of his past mistakes and called his behavior “inexcusable.” He also said he regrets the way he handled himself after “false information and allegations” came out.
“I do take full responsibility for my actions and I’m working everyday to repair what I broke,” Brown wrote. “I do know that if I’m ever given the opportunity to play the game that I love, I’m going to work extremely hard to show the world how much I appreciate another chance. To the organizations that I offended, I offer my sincere apology to you and my hope is that you forgive me and help me move on from this minor setback. I look forward to competing and helping a team reach their goals.”
As has often been the case when Brown posts on social media this season, a number of prominent Patriots players “liked” the post. Tom Brady, Julian Edelman, James White and Stephon Gilmore were among them.
Tom Brady and several other prominent Patriots players once again showed support for Antonio Brown’s latest Instagram apology (via IG: jayward09) pic.twitter.com/GIS1vXSpQi
— Steve DelVecchio (@SteveDelSports) December 6, 2019
Brown’s latest apology was more general than the one he issued a few weeks ago, which was directed at the Patriots. Several players “liked” that post as well, and there have been reports that players and coaches in New England would welcome the star receiver back.
Brown had ripped Robert Kraft in a since-deleted tweet when the team released him back in September, and he recently reposted something from a fan that included criticism of the Patriots owner. He also showed love to Tom Brady with a post, and the Patriots could certainly use him with their offense struggling.
In all likelihood, Brown is going to have to wait until the offseason to sign with a team. The NFL still has not announced whether or not he will be suspended, but he probably will be at some point.
Stephon Gilmore had the exact same reaction to the Antonio Brown trade report as so many of us.
Shortly after news broke that the Pittsburgh Steelers were close to trading Brown to the Buffalo Bills, Gilmore sent a tweet with a bunch of laughing in tears emojis:
— The Gilly Lock (@BumpNrunGilm0re) March 8, 2019
Keep in mind that Gilmore spent his first five seasons in Buffalo before signing with the Patriots as a free agent.
If the trade goes through, Gilmore’s defense in New England would have to go up against Brown twice per season. He doesn’t seem too worried.
Gilmore’s reaction was similar to many others. Plenty of media members laughed in response to the trade, which sends Brown from one of the consistent winners in the NFL to one of the consistent losers.
— Dave Softy Mahler (@Softykjr) March 8, 2019
— Josh Henschke (@JoshHenschke) March 8, 2019
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) March 8, 2019
Antonio Brown did his best to get cut and the Steelers said nah you're going to Buffalo I am over here crying. I hope they took a seventh round pick back.
— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) March 8, 2019
The trade reminds us of a couple of adages, such as “be careful what you wish for” and “the grass isn’t always greener.” Or maybe Brown will prove us all wrong and lead the Bills to success they haven’t seen in years.
Stephon Gilmore knew the New England Patriots’ defense would be given an opportunity to make a big play, and he was the one who made it.
Late in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LIII, the Los Angeles Rams trailed by seven points and were driving. On a second down play, Goff threw a pass intended for Brandin Cooks that was intercepted by Gilmore at the four-yard line, completely changing the game.
— NFL (@NFL) February 4, 2019
Gilmore apparently had a feeling Goff would present an opportunity for a turnover. According to teammate Jason McCourty, Gilmore predicted the interception.
Jason McCourty said Stephon Gilmore predicted his interception before that drive:
“He said, ‘(Goff) is going to throw us one, we just need to squeeze it and hold on.”
— Zack Cox (@ZackCoxNESN) February 4, 2019
Patriots CB Stephon Gilmore on his pick: “To be honest, I couldn’t believe he threw it.”
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) February 4, 2019
Goff wasn’t the only member of the Rams to struggle during the team’s 13-3 loss. Head coach Sean McVay admitted he was outcoached by Bill Belichick and his staff.