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Patriots Replay Thu Sep 20 | 06:00 PM - 11:59 PM

Ask PFW: Summer vacation begins!

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Not sure if I am missing something obvious, but how can the NFL suspend [WR Julian] Edelman for taking a substance that they have been unable to identify for many weeks now? Seems absurd from my chair to publicly announce this suspension but then also publicly state that testing lab is stumped as to what the "substance" is? Chip Huckins

You have indeed missed something quite obvious, Chip. Allow me to explain.

For starters, the NFL has not “publicly” announced anything regarding Edelman. The news of his suspension and subsequent plans to appeal it have been media reports only at this stage. The league may eventually make a declaration, but that has not yet happened.

In fact, according to a recent Boston Globe story, the NFL, with respect to its Policy on Performance Enhancing Substances, has “a strict confidentiality agreement in place, and a $500,000 fine for anyone who breaks it.”

Somebody apparently broke it, as evidenced by the leak to the media two weeks ago, but until the process runs its course, we likely won’t hear anything official or public from the league office in New York.

Meanwhile, the test in question. According to the MMQB website, the independent lab technicians who tested Edelman’s sample are still trying to ascertain what it was that he may have ingested that caused an unusual result. Tests reportedly can be considered “positive” if a player’s ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone is greater than 4-1, or if epitestosterone levels exceed 200 ng/ml.

It seems Edelman’s elevated testosterone levels may have been what triggered the reaction from the league, and while he has apologized on social media for putting himself and his team in such a predicament, he seems clear that he intends to fight the punishment because he believes it was unfairly administered. He apparently thinks whatever caused his positive test result is not anything that’s considered illegal in the NFL. We’ll just have to wait and see if the upcoming inquiry agrees. Erik Scalavino

What are some realistic stats for TB12 this year? I don’t think it’s too farfetched for 4,500 yards as a high end with 30-35 TDs. Is it going to be another year without a 1,000 yard rusher? I don’t think that with the rotation of RBs there’s going to be a real shot unless someone can replicate Dion Lewis's breakout last year. Jason Bickel

Those Brady numbers are certainly reasonable, given what he’s done in recent seasons, and there’s no reason to think this 2018 Patriots offense won’t be as potent as it has been lately. So, yes, I think you’ve set an appropriate bar for Brady this season.

From a rushing perspective, your 1,000-yard dream could come true is rookie Sony Michel is as dynamic in the NFL as he was for the University of Georgia. In all likelihood, though, you should set your expectations for a resumption of the running-back-by-committee approach that’s been the norm under Belichick, given that Rex Burkhead, James White, and Jeremy Hill or Mike Gillislee will also have opportunities to touch the football.

To me, the 1,000-yard rushing mark isn’t as important for an individual as the overall productivity of the running back to complement the passing attack. If New England can effectively run the football no matter who’s in the backfield, that will make life on Tom Brady that much easier. With the talent the Patriots have at the moment, I think that’s the more likely goal that will be achieved in 2018. Erik Scalavino

Is there any chance the Patriots could sign Tyrod Taylor in the next few years? This is the first of the two years Brady “negotiated” with Gisele and might be his last good year of playing. Personally I believe that if we win the Super Bowl this year, he should call it a career and go out on a high note.

Unless lightning strikes twice and the low-drafted [Danny] Etling develops into a good starting QB, we have no succession plan as of now. That might be the objective of the 2019 Draft, but if this ends up being Brady’s last year, the successor will have to develop behind Hoyer/Etling, or will be thrust into the starting spot. Neither is a good option.

The Browns might start Baker Mayfield some time this season, despite what they have said before. Regardless Mayfield will probably start next season. Why not trade for Tyrod Taylor in 2019 or 2020 for a rookie QB to learn behind, or merely use him as a stopgap until we draft someone who works out? He’s a mobile QB who protects the football, and got Buffalo to the playoffs. He could soon become the best back-up quarterback in the NFL. Jonathan Goodman

First of all, you’re thinking much too far down the road, Jonathan. We have no idea exactly how much longer Brady can play at a desired level. It could be one year or five.

Furthermore, even if that number winds up being on the lower end of the spectrum, I’m confident the Patriots can acquire, one way or another, a quarterback who’s more capable of operating this offense than Tyrod Taylor. Set your sights higher. In the meantime, enjoy having Brady under center for at least one more season. It’s okay to think about the future, but not at the expense of the present. Erik Scalavino

If I’m not mistaken or missed something, there hasn’t been one Patriot player on the NFL’s Top 100 [List] for 2017. Not to sound like a homer, but this seems a bit odd to me. Your take? Gary Abrams

My take, Gary, is that there are few things in this life that I care even less about than some subjective piece of material like the NFL’s Top 100 List.

You’re right, though. Before last night, there hadn’t been one Patriot on the list from 100 to 21. However, you can sleep a little bit easier tonight, because last night, tight end Rob Gronkowski made the list at No. 15. I'm sure Tom Brady is destined to be among the Top 10 whenever that final listing is revealed. Erik Scalavino

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