New Contract Tracker: Quarterbacks and Interior DL

Recently, on a popular television show centered around the inevitable zombie apocalypse, the leader of a group of merciless men felt as though another group of people maliciously wronged him.  The leader waited, planned and plotted his revenge until he eventually captured and came face-to-face with his perceived enemy.


Feeling the need to make a lasting impression on his foe and show them who was truly in charge of this particular plot of land, the ruthless leader took a barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat and beat two different members of the opposition about the head until all that remained was a gooey pile of insect food.

While this man on the tv show is named ‘Negan’, I’m wondering if they should change it to Brady because Tom Terrific has been metaphorically bludgeoning defenses to death every Sunday since his return from the NFL’s suspended list.

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HERO:  In four games- all wins- since returning to the Patriots active roster in week 5, Tom Brady has thrown for 330 yards/game at a 73% completion rate with 12 touchdowns and 0 interceptions.

Last Sunday, he met a Buffalo team that had won 4 out of their last 5 contests, was feeling really good and looked forward to measuring itself at home against the long-time AFC East king.

The result was a 22/33 effort from Brady for 315 yards and 4 touchdowns in a game that was never in doubt.  Buffalo blood is still spattered all over the Rich Stadium field turf, leaving little doubt to whom the Week 8 HERO award belongs.

At age 39- 39!- Brady is arguably off to his best start yet in a career that will go down as one of, if not the best we’ve ever seen.  He is so good that Head Warlord Bill Belichick keeps trading away New England’s most talented defensive players because he knows no matter how bad that side of the ball is, Brady has the ability to outscore anyone.

As sick and tired most people may be of seeing the Patriots winning big nearly every year, another group of marauders will have to be tactically intelligent, well-stocked with combat talent, physically tough and have a will to win that matches or surpasses that of Brady’s bunch to knock the king of the mountain down.

Otherwise, it’s gonna get a whole lot bloodier around the NFL landscape.  Again.

ZERO:  Same game.  Tyrod Taylor has been very judicious with the football this season, only throwing 2 interceptions thus far.

Problem is, he’s averaging 185 yards passing per game on less than a 59% completion percentage in a league with rules that are begging offenses to move the ball.

On Sunday, against the neighborhood bully- in his own backyard- Taylor completed just half his passes for 183 yards and 1 (rushing) touchdown.

Again, no turnovers is great, but the Buffalo Bills need more from their quarterback to overtake the New England Patriots, both head-to-head and in the overall standings.  Towing the line of mediocrity isn’t enough.

Patriot divisional foes need MORE to prove to be worthy owners of the 4-team crown.  1 touchdown per game on average and less than 200 yards from the starting quarterback isn’t going to be enough to overtake New England.  Ever.

It’s high time one or more of Moe, Larry and Curly (you decide which team is which) gets fed up with always being the victim in the AFC East and fights back.  But when will that happen?  Will it ever happen?

For nearly fifteen years it’s been the same song and dance and I see nothing on the horizon that makes me think anything is going to change soon.

Death, taxes and the Patriots waltzing to a top-2 seed in the playoffs are life’s only absolutes.

INTERIOR DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

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HERO:  Clearly, Akiem Hicks has been a juggernaut all year long for the woebegone Bears.  Playing a whopping 82% of the team’s defensive snaps, Hicks has been an impact play machine while looking energetic and unblockable at times against the Vikings on Monday night in what turned out to be an easy win for Chicago.

Hicks finished the game and week 8 with 2 sacks, 3 solo tackles and an assist.  He danced, he dominated and at a $5M APY for 2 years, Hicks has provided the Bears with a fantastic return on investment.  His 4 sacks and 13 overall impact plays at the half-way point of the season put him at the top of the leaderboard.

ZERO:  Though he has had a productive season overall, week 8 was not kind to the Jets’ Steve McLendon.

In a game versus Cleveland that guys can’t wait to play because the opportunity to pad individual stats is omnipresent, McLendon saw his number of snaps decrease to 23 (34% of the team’s defensive plays).  Until last weekend, McLendon was playing over 63% of the Jets snaps on defense.

The chance to dominate the beleaguered Browns interior offensive line was limited and McLendon exacerbated the situation by recording nothing in his 23 snaps.

Though he has been a relative bargain for the Jets at a APY of $3.5M, McLendon couldn’t have picked a worse time to fail to play up to the standard he had set through the first seven weeks of the season.

Justin is a contributor to Fansided’s Seattle-centric website EmeraldCitySwagger.com and a life-long Seahawks fan- which was a mostly harrowing experience growing up in Northeast Ohio. You can follow him for thoughts on salary cap information, butchered clock management and the NFL in general @OhioHawk4372.