Decisions to be made

BaseballJones

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An interesting conversation on sports radio this past week on the topic of: Who does Tom Brady think is the best receiver he's ever had the pleasure of throwing to. Doesn't have to be a WR. And a corollary: If Brady had to complete one pass to win the Super Bowl (call it....12-18 yards, so not a Hail Mary and not a dump off or screen), which player he's played with would he most want to throw it to?

So to put that to SoSH, these questions:

1. If the Pats had 4th and between 12-18 to win the Super Bowl, and you could pick one Patriot during the Brady era for him to throw to, who would you want that player to be?

2. If the Pats had to get one stop to win the game, and the other team was throwing...(a) Which Pat during the Brady era would you want to send in to rush the QB, and (b) Which Pat during the Brady era would you want to be covering the other team's receiver (again, a 12-18 yard pattern)?
 

wiffleballhero

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In the simulacrum
1. year 1 Moss.
2, a. Hightower
b. Law


Edit: after reading the thread, I'm switching: Moss is out, Edelman is in.The case is convincing.

Hightower and Law seem like unassailable picks still (if I do say so myself).
 
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Rook05

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1. Gronk—we had this situation albeit in the AFC title game against Denver. (And he was open again on the two pointer.)

2. My heart wants to say Arrington, but my head says Willie.
 

Ralphwiggum

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1. Gronk and the only other answer that even tempts me is 2007 Moss. But Gronk is the ultimate red zone weapon.
2.a. Trey Flowers
2.b. Ty Law
 

InstaFace

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1. 2007 Randy Moss and it's not even close. Gronk did many things amazingly well, and had amazing hands for a TE, but his ability to make magic happen on jump balls, or gain position without getting called for OPI, was just not in the same ballpark as one of the greatest WRs of all time.

2a. 2003 Richard Seymour, although McGinest's best years give me pause
2b. 2014 Darrelle Revis
 

RetractableRoof

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1) That scenario requires the ability to bring down a ball in traffic which Moss is great at, but end of game situation there is more than average congestion - it's a job for peak Gronk. If it were at midfield or so and they needed that yardage to then call a timeout for a winning field goal, then it's Moss - although peak Branch/Edelman might be good choices as well.
2a) Deciding between Chandler, McGinest and Seymour, but I'll go with Chandler.
2b) Another tough choice, I think its gotta be Law, but Harrison would probably get it done as well. Edit: Revis wasn't peak in a Pats uniform, so I don't think it's fair to choose him.

Edit: InstaFace beat me to mentioning Seymore by a nose...
 

Ale Xander

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1.a Gronk (12-18 as in OP), b(6-11 yards) Julian Edelman c (1-5 yards) James White d(19-49yards) Randy Moss e(50+ yards) Chris Hogan

2. a. McGinest b. Law
 

SMU_Sox

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Chris Hogan’s name shouldn’t be anywhere near this thread.
-50 Internet points
Chris Hogan compares himself to 7/11 because he’s always open. While that was somewhat true in years past this year he was more like Chick Fil A on Sundays.
 

Eddie Jurak

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1. Julian Edelman.

Randy Moss is, tempting, but is clearly the wrong answer to question 1. As great as he was during the 2007 regular season, he was a playoff non-factor. His best playoff game as a Patriot was 5 catches for 62 yards in a game where just one big play from him might have been the difference between a win and a loss. If you want a Randy Moss who made plays in the postseason, it would have to be the 1998 to 2000 version - during the whole rest of his career he didn't do diddly squat in the playoffs - as good as he was playoff coaches could shut him down. Rave about his ability to make the big play all you want, but when he had the chance he was nowhere to be found.

Gronk is a much better choice, especially if healthy. There's little doubt that his injuries cost the Pats at least 1 SB, maybe more than 1. But take him as he is, injuries and all, and he's still a better playoff performer than Moss. He's probably even the correct choice, given his athleticism.

But look at what Jules has done in the playoffs, just over the past 5 seasons. More 100 yard games, catches, and yards than either Moss or Gronk. He's played more playoff games than either of them, to be sure, but fewer as a starter and lead receiver (heck, once he was a nickel back). He's also been consistently more of a big play guy in the playoffs than in the regular season. And he's made the SB-saving plays that Moss never did (eg, Pats version of miracle catch against Atlanta).

2a. There are many people to choose from. I'm very tempted to go Hightower because he's done it. So has Seymour. So did Willie. I think I'll go with Willie.

2b. Tempted to go with Malcolm Butler, because he made an actual game winning stop in the SB. If not him, Law.

Question 2 honorable mention to Bruschi, because he's the one guy who stands out as smeone who might have chipped in a key sack or made a big play in coverage. Also to Rodney. Question 2b seems really tailored towards a cornerback, but if we are looking at a big play safety, it would have to be Rodney.
 

tims4wins

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1) Gronk - enough has been written
2) I'll throw out a new name: Mike Vrabel. The dude just had huge, huge plays in the playoffs. He was the one rushing Warner on the Ty Law pick six. Strip sack of Delhomme in XXXVIII that led to the Pats first TD. Just countless huge plays throughout his career.

I also like seeing Bruschi's name, because during his prime he came up with the ball a ton.
3) Yeah I'm going with Law on this one.
 

BaseballJones

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I'm not surprised that mainly the answers to (1) are Gronk and Moss, with some Edelman thrown in there. I'm a little surprised that there hasn't been an argument for Branch or Troy Brown.

Pass rusher...lots of good options, not sure the Pats have that all-time great pass-rusher to go to. Hightower, McGinest, Vrabel, Seymour, Jones, and Flowers all getting mention. Good choices.

The last one...very interesting. Stephon Gilmore not getting any love? Like Butler, he closed out a Super Bowl win (not *technically*, but really, he did), though that was a much easier play than the one Butler made. Still...he came through big-time when the game was on the line. For what it's worth, here's the complete list of all-time Patriots' first-team All-Pros at corner:

Ty Law (1998, 2003)
Stephon Gilmore (2018)
Darrelle Revis (2014)
Asante Samuel (2007)

So Revis may not have been peak Revis in 2014, but he was still first-team All-Pro. Samuel was elite in 2007 but had a chance to seal the Super Bowl and it went off his hands. Ugh. Law had the huge INT against the Rams and Gilmore clinched the SB this past year.

When you combine their best season (defined as a first-team All-Pro season), with a Patriots' victory, with a signature play made by these guys in that game, there's only one guy who has all three the same year: Gilmore. All-Pro in 2018, the Pats win, and Gilmore has essentially the game-sealing interception. Revis was an All-Pro when the Pats won in 2014, but he didn't have a signature play. Law had a signature play in the 2001 championship, but he wasn't an All-Pro that year. He *was* an All-Pro in 2003 when the Pats won the SB, but Law didn't have a signature pick in that SB (though he did have three in the AFCCG against Manning).

So good options from which to choose. Emotionally, I'm leaning towards Law, but I think there's a real legit case to be made for Gilmore.
 

Zososoxfan

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1. Between Gronk and Jules, with the nod to Gronk.

2. My first reaction is Big Willie. I think Nink deserves some consideration although he's behind Willie and probably some of the other guys mentioned as well.

3. I'm going with the Law.
 

HowBoutDemSox

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Is there a better big game, big moment linebacker than Dont’a Hightower? Well, sure, maybe. But, SB 49 he had the famous stop on Lynch to set up the Butler interception. SB 51 he had the pivotal strip sack on Ryan. SB 53 he had two sacks, after only one in the entire regular season. With a title on the line and needing a stop, I’m sending in High. Maybe if he’s healthy for SB 52, they could have gotten that last stop that eluded them.
 

Jimbodandy

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Another great debate with many rational choices

I'm going with Gronk, Seymour, and Law.

But there aren't a lot of questionable choices in this thread so far. If you wanted to go with Moss or Edelman, or Bruschi/Nink/Flowers/McGinest/Hightower and Revis/Gilmore, I wouldn't call you crazy.
 
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SMU_Sox

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Not that it matters, but Hogan didn’t call himself 7/11, did he? I thought that was a nickname coined by a Dolphins player in Hogan’s first training camp.
He calls himself 7/11 on his twitter bio. I’m not really a confrontational person and this is subjective but @Ale Xander while Hogan was a very solid to good WR 2-3-4 depending on the game he wasn’t someone I’d count on in the clutch. In his later career he struggled with press from what I could tell. Some of that might have to do with his injuries. Hard to use you upper body to get off the line if your shoulder is hosed. Same with getting off contact later in the route. YMMV.

My answers:
1) Gronk
2) Big Willie
3) Embarrassment of riches here. Which elite corner? 2018 Gilmore. He needs some love too.
 

SMU_Sox

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Pats Pulpit has a pod where the two hosts compete to draft starting 22s just of Patriots from BBs time here. It’s incredible the amount of talent we have had here the past 20 years. It’s a fun listen and you go back memory lane revisiting the greats.

My favorite stacked position is corner: Law, Samuel, Revis, Talib, Gilmore. Damn. That’s a fine list and I probably forgot someone.
 

DourDoerr

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1. Peak Gronk. The lower end of the 12-18 range gives me pause as Edelman is amazing at that distance, but overall Gronk has the entire range covered. A hobbled Gronk just made a huge (and technically difficult) catch over the middle last SB - and that is probably not his greatest catch.

2. Hightower. Agreed on Seymour and Willie - they were clutch, but Hightower just has an extra gear at these moments. Perhaps recency bias, but he's made big plays against the challenging, presumably more sophisticated, offenses of today.

3. Law. If Gilmore can put together another post-season or two like this past one, he might squeak by, but it's Law right now. I have zero doubt he makes the INT that Samuel missed in the Scottish Game. I recall that miss at least once a month.
 
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1. Reche Caldwell
2a. Albert Haynesworth
2b. EarthWind Moreland

Rationale: They’ll just win anyway b/c Brady is God

(Serious note: no love for Troy Brown?)
 

Super Nomario

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I'm not surprised that mainly the answers to (1) are Gronk and Moss, with some Edelman thrown in there. I'm a little surprised that there hasn't been an argument for Branch or Troy Brown.
I think the "12-18" part of it skews it towards guys like Gronk and Moss who can win jump balls, especially where it's 4th down so teams don't have to play honest against the short routes that guys like Edelman and Brown could hit them with. 12-18 I want Gronk or Moss; 10-12 I want Edelman, Brown, or Branch; anything under 10 or so and I want Wes Welker (Brady's favorite target ever). Red zone or not matters, too; Welker / Edelman / Brown were never big RZ weapons. Gronk (5 times) and Moss (3) are the only Patriots in the B/B era to log double-digit touchdowns in a season.

Pass rusher...lots of good options, not sure the Pats have that all-time great pass-rusher to go to. Hightower, McGinest, Vrabel, Seymour, Jones, and Flowers all getting mention. Good choices.
I probably need to go back and watch more vintage Seymour and McGinest, but Flowers is my guy here, at least for the latter half of the dynasty. His ability to generate pressure from anywhere along the line is huge, and he came up big in big games. He and Chandler Jones both played 9 postseason games with the Patriots; Jones had 2 sacks, 2 TFL, and 8 QB hits; Flowers had 5.5 sacks, 8 TFL, and 22 QB hits. He was the best defensive player on the field in SB LI, and his sack to take Atlanta out of field goal range after the Falcons hit the ridiculous completion to Julio was super-clutch.

FAKE EDIT: Willie blows everybody away statistically. 11 games, 11.5 sacks, 17 TFL.

The last one...very interesting. Stephon Gilmore not getting any love? Like Butler, he closed out a Super Bowl win (not *technically*, but really, he did), though that was a much easier play than the one Butler made. Still...he came through big-time when the game was on the line.
He also made the biggest defensive play of the season last year in the AFCCG vs Jacksonville with the huge 4th down PBU. Probably a more impressive play than his INT, all things considered. I just think it's hard to compare him after two seasons to Law's decade with the Patriots, including five years under Belichick.
 

Eck'sSneakyCheese

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1. I’m surprised no one has mentioned Kevin Faulk. Rushing or receiving he was a chain mover. Would he overtake a jump ball 15 yds downfield? No. A wheel route? Possibly. Get it to him underneath though and he found a way to get those extra yards. He at least belongs in the conversation. I still probably have peak Gronk ahead of him, like most of you, because of how unstoppable he was but Faulk is right with Welker/Edelman/Brown at 1b. James White is moving up this list as well.

2a. Big Willie. My first and only Pats jersey. Broke my heart to see him go to Cleveland. The guy was a monster and consistently came up huge in big games. Another honorable mention, Wilfork. I know the question was who would you want to send in to rush the QB and that makes you think edge rush but why not collapse the pocket completely? Big guys make big plays.

2b. Has to be Law. Just a ball hawk. Gilmore/Samuel/Revis are all deserving as well. I’ll throw out Harrison/Milloy/DMC as guys I’d want over the top.
 

Eddie Jurak

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1. Reche Caldwell
2a. Albert Haynesworth
2b. EarthWind Moreland
No love for Sterling Moore? Hank Poteat?
I think the "12-18" part of it skews it towards guys like Gronk and Moss who can win jump balls, especially where it's 4th down so teams don't have to play honest against the short routes that guys like Edelman and Brown could hit them with. 12-18 I want Gronk or Moss; 10-12 I want Edelman, Brown, or Branch; anything under 10 or so and I want Wes Welker (Brady's favorite target ever). Red zone or not matters, too; Welker / Edelman / Brown were never big RZ weapons. Gronk (5 times) and Moss (3) are the only Patriots in the B/B era to log double-digit touchdowns in a season.
I thought about Welker but the yardage thing and the fact that he literally had a chance to do this in a SB and dropped the ball convinced me otherwise.
 

tims4wins

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No love for Sterling Moore? Hank Poteat?
I thought about Welker but the yardage thing and the fact that he literally had a chance to do this in a SB and dropped the ball convinced me otherwise.
I know the Sterling Moore comment is in jest, but if Welker comes down with that catch then Sterling Moore goes down in history as a hero who helped enable the 4th Lombardi.
 

TheoShmeo

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1. Jules. So many big playoff catches.

2a. Willie McGinest. I fell in love during the 96 season Jax AFCCG. And never stopped.

2b. Law. Best corner they ever had. Only Mike Haynes is in the conversation with him and Haynes isn’t eligible.
 

Eddie Jurak

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I know the Sterling Moore comment is in jest, but if Welker comes down with that catch then Sterling Moore goes down in history as a hero who helped enable the 4th Lombardi.
True enough.

Edit: I'm still bitter about that Welker drop, along with the 2006 Reche Caldwell drop, the Pats' inability to get a single stop in 2017 vs the Eagles, and fucking helmet catch.
 

amRadio

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I'm still bitter about that Welker drop, along with the 2006 Reche Caldwell drop, the Pats' inability to get a single stop in 2017 vs the Eagles, and fucking helmet catch.
So, essentially, you're a NE sports fan.



1. Gronkowski

2a. Mike Vrabel

2b. Ty
 

BaseballJones

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I think the "12-18" part of it skews it towards guys like Gronk and Moss who can win jump balls, especially where it's 4th down so teams don't have to play honest against the short routes that guys like Edelman and Brown could hit them with. 12-18 I want Gronk or Moss; 10-12 I want Edelman, Brown, or Branch; anything under 10 or so and I want Wes Welker (Brady's favorite target ever). Red zone or not matters, too; Welker / Edelman / Brown were never big RZ weapons. Gronk (5 times) and Moss (3) are the only Patriots in the B/B era to log double-digit touchdowns in a season.


I probably need to go back and watch more vintage Seymour and McGinest, but Flowers is my guy here, at least for the latter half of the dynasty. His ability to generate pressure from anywhere along the line is huge, and he came up big in big games. He and Chandler Jones both played 9 postseason games with the Patriots; Jones had 2 sacks, 2 TFL, and 8 QB hits; Flowers had 5.5 sacks, 8 TFL, and 22 QB hits. He was the best defensive player on the field in SB LI, and his sack to take Atlanta out of field goal range after the Falcons hit the ridiculous completion to Julio was super-clutch.

FAKE EDIT: Willie blows everybody away statistically. 11 games, 11.5 sacks, 17 TFL.


He also made the biggest defensive play of the season last year in the AFCCG vs Jacksonville with the huge 4th down PBU. Probably a more impressive play than his INT, all things considered. I just think it's hard to compare him after two seasons to Law's decade with the Patriots, including five years under Belichick.
I kept it 12-18 yards specifically to eliminate bombs (in which the answer can only be Moss) and screens/dump offs. I wanted a reasonable range that would allow for a variety of good options, and be a “legitimate” downfield pass. That yard range works for Brown, Welker, Branch, Edelman, Moss, Gronk, Givens, or virtually anyone else (even a RB on a wheel route).
 

Super Nomario

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I kept it 12-18 yards specifically to eliminate bombs (in which the answer can only be Moss) and screens/dump offs. I wanted a reasonable range that would allow for a variety of good options, and be a “legitimate” downfield pass. That yard range works for Brown, Welker, Branch, Edelman, Moss, Gronk, Givens, or virtually anyone else (even a RB on a wheel route).
Maybe I am misinterpreting, but I read a "do or die" element to your framing, which changes it completely IMO. Can these guys catch 12-18 yard passes? Sure. Can they do it when the defense doesn't have to respect, say, an 8-yard pass? That's a lot trickier. A wheel route is a great example. A wheel is sort of a double-move where the initial move fakes the flat and then cuts up the sideline. On 4th-and-15, defenses don't have to respect that flat route at all. White / Faulk is way less likely to catch a 15-yard wheel on 4th-and-15 than he is on 1st-and-10 or even on 4th-and-4.
 

BaseballJones

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Maybe I am misinterpreting, but I read a "do or die" element to your framing, which changes it completely IMO. Can these guys catch 12-18 yard passes? Sure. Can they do it when the defense doesn't have to respect, say, an 8-yard pass? That's a lot trickier. A wheel route is a great example. A wheel is sort of a double-move where the initial move fakes the flat and then cuts up the sideline. On 4th-and-15, defenses don't have to respect that flat route at all. White / Faulk is way less likely to catch a 15-yard wheel on 4th-and-15 than he is on 1st-and-10 or even on 4th-and-4.
True. I can't come up with a perfect scenario. Did my best to find one that opens up as many possibilities as possible.
 

PedroKsBambino

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If there was a single passing down with it all on the line there is no question in my mind Willie McGinest is the Pat I'd want rushing. He is on the very, very short list---with Von Miller, guys like that---among all players.

He really seemed to have another gear he could reach when it mattered most.