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McGinley: Do the Patriots Really Need Antonio Brown?

| Thursday, September 19, 2019

The name Antonio Brown comes with a lot of baggage.

First, his requested departure from Pittsburgh due to an authority issue between him and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Then, his removal from the Oakland Raiders after a helmet grievance debacle and other childish complaints. Now, he’s been accused of sexual assault and misconduct, less than a week into his stint with the New England Patriots.

None of this, however, is new for Brown. He caused his share of drama every year he’s been in the league but his talent on the field used to outweigh his slip ups. With 1,000 yards and 100 catches a season for six-straight years, he would pay fines, and problems would disappear. But as his desire for attention has grown, so have his antics and now they are most definitely out of hand.

So why then would Patriots head coach Bill Belichick sign him?

Last year, when Belichick wanted to complete a trade with the Steelers for Brown, it made sense. With wide receiver Chris Hogan departing, Rob Gronkowski retiring and wide receiver Josh Gordon suspended, there was a void for Brown to fill. But now, he’s a greater liability off the field than he is an asset on the field and with Gordon back, there’s plenty of receivers for Brady to hit without being repetetive or predictable.

Let’s compare the last two games.

The Patriots’ season opener against the Steelers was a 33-3 blow-out in favor of New England, a game they played without Brown. With Tom Brady at the helm, hitting targets like Phillip Dorsett, Julian Edelman, and the now-active Gordon on top of a run game led by Rex Burkhead and James White, the offense finished with 373 passing yards, three passing touchdowns and 99 rushing yards. A spectacular defense to finish off this list seems to leave no hole for Antonio Brown to fill.

This brings us to this past Sunday’s game; one that was full of Brown’s name, before, during and after. With a final score of 43-0, another strong New England win, it would seem as though the offense ambushed a weak Miami defense thanks to the
presence of their new receiver, but in actuality, the passing game did much worse than in week one. Brady had two passing touchdowns, only one of which was to Brown, and 264 total passing yards.

In regards to receiving those 264 yards, a supposedly stellar Brown simply fell into the line up, barely standing out. He and Julian Edelman both had four catches for 56 and 51 yards, respectively.

The bulk of the points, instead, came courtesy of running back Sony Michel and his one rushing touchdown, another rushing touchdown from Brady, kicker Stephen Gostkowski and most impactfully, the undoubtedly stellar Patriots defense with an interceptions from Devin McCourty, Jamie Collins and Stephon Gilmore, the latter two of which where returned for touchdowns.

With all of this to reflect on, the question for Belichick still stands — Why sign Antonio Brown?

He causes more problems than he’s worth and likes things his way, which Belichick has never cared for. I would not be surprised if Belichick only signed him so no one else would, and I would be even less surprised if the team found a way to cut him the second things get out of hand.

He’s unreliable and Bill  Belichick runs too tight of a ship in the Patriots locker room for anyone unreliable to stick around.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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