The unbelievable has happened. Antonio Brown is a New England Patriot. Bill Belichick, of his own will, has brought in the diva to end all divas of wide receivers for the second time in his coaching career. Imagine telling someone a year ago at this time that Brown would be a Patriot by the start of 2019. There are many, many takeaways about this situation, but one thing is abundantly clear: this is going to be fascinating.
Let’s start with his fit in the offense. Brown will easily be the most talented receiver Tom Brady has had since Randy Moss. The possibilities are essentially endless given Brown’s prowess at every level of the field. When he’s on the field, Josh Gordon has a similar, if much lesser, skillset as a threat in the short, intermediate, and deep areas of the field. Josh McDaniels will have a field day with what those two can do. It’ll open up the entire offense, from Julian Edelman toasting linebackers underneath to limiting stacked boxes for Sony Michel and the rest of the Patriots’ cadre of running backs.
Brady is a much different quarterback than Ben Roethlisberger. One of the biggest advantages the Steelers had was that Roethlisberger was so tough to take down that Brown had more time than a normal receiver to break out of double-coverages. Brady doesn’t have as good of a deep ball as he once did, and how long he has in the pocket is mostly determined by the offensive line and his ability to move his feet within the pocket. But Brady is just as good, if not better, at understanding when his receivers will come open and putting the ball in the right spot than Roethlisberger. Once he gets on the same page as Brown, the sky is the limit for the pairing.
But the real fun will come from the fact that Antonio Brown is playing for Bill Belichick. One of the most outspoken players in the league has chosen to play for a coach that abhors any sort of media attention at all. Parameters were obviously set in that regard. Say what you will about Belichick, he isn’t stupid, and knows what he’s getting in Brown. They wouldn’t have given him $9 million as a signing bonus if they didn’t believe he’d get with the program at some level.
In the span of one month, the Patriots went from having Demariyus Thomas, N’Keal Harry, Edelman, and Jakobi Meyers as their main receivers. Now, it’s Brown, Gordon, and Edelman as the three starting wideouts. The Patriots didn’t need much help to create an effective offense, and now they have a set of the most dangerous weapons in the league. Love the Pats or hate them, it will be must-see TV.