The New England Patriots since Tom Brady took his talents (such as they were …) to Tampa Bay have floundered. Brady was the greatest quarterback to have ever played the game.
Since the team allowed that to happen through negligence or whatever, they have paid the price of mediocrity. They are a mediocre team.
In the 2000 NFL draft, the Patriots stumbled onto the best of the best in Brady, due to the brilliance of the late Assistant Coach, Dick Rehbein. They drafted TB12 in the sixth round.
The rest, as they say, is history. But, can history repeat itself? Well, maybe not quite to that extent but might it repeat itself to a facsimile thereof, perhaps.
The person in whom that might be achieved is an undrafted free agent no less. That would be Malik Cunningham of the Louisville Cardinals. He was signed by the New England Patriots and he may just be the best signing this team has made in decades.
Why the New England Patriots Malik Cunningham may be the steal of the decade
People like success stories. Tom Brady is perhaps the best “success story” in the history of the National Football League. Brady was a sixth-round draft choice with a chip on his shoulder the size of a California Redwood.
For the Alpha Male, the scent of the hunt is the key to success. Brady had that attribute. We will see in the coming months if Cunningham may, as well. The guess here is, he just might.
Why is that the case? Not quite sure, but here are the suppositions. First, Cunningham is an ultra-competitor. Look at any of his tapes and that is obvious.
He will do whatever it takes to lead his team to victory. It may be a pass or, if a play breaks down, it may be to run with the ball. No matter, this young man is a competitor of the highest echelon. He will do what it takes to win.
Here’s what nfl.com had to say about the dual-threat quarterback:
"Dual-threat quarterback who was much more effective as a runner than he was as a passer in 2022. Cunningham’s build is slighter than teams typically like at quarterback, and his accuracy is spotty. He possesses premium running talent for zone-read and quarterback draws, and he can turn a lack of contain into a huge play with his legs. Teams will need to decide how Cunningham would fit into an offense, but his ability to make explosive plays with his legs should not be discounted."
The operative phrase in that narrative is, “… he can turn a lack of contain into a huge play with his legs.” And that, fellow Patriots fans, is the central point.
New England Patriots greatest offensive need is filled by Cunningham
The New England Patriots’ top two quarterbacks on the roster are solid but immobile, as in lead-footed. With the offensive line the team has, this is not an optimum situation, quite the opposite.
Cunningham has the amazing ability to escape the rush with his elusiveness and uncanny ability to make the right move at the right time. And when he finds a seam in the defense, he is electric.
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And he finds those seams often. When a team has a suspect offensive line as the New England Patriots most certainly do, at least at the tackle position, that escapability is critical.
This space has pointed out the deficiencies at the tackle position ad nauseaum. They exist and are critical. Cunningham can overcome those deficiencies. Having a quarterback in the 2020’s NFL who can do this is an attribute whose value is almost incalculable.
Have a porous offensive line and a stationary quarterback, and you will have serious issues. Have a dual-threat quarterback who can run as well as pass, and you have the ability to improvise and overcome.
Malik Cunningham has those attributes and the bet here is that if given the opportunity, he will excel. Let’s see if the New England Patriots are astute enough to recognize this and allow it to happen.
Maybe if the team gives him the opportunity, lighting could strike twice. Who knows? We may have another Tom Brady or Lamar Jackson on the team. Now, wouldn’t that be just fine?