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Wednesday, 29 July 2015 16:25

Patriots Should Target Gio Bernard

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Enough of this "Deflategate" nonsense. Let's talk football, not the PSI of footballs. Why should the Patriots call Cincinnati on their third year running back?

            The New England Patriots have a lot of running backs, but no true starter. LeGarrette Blount has shown that he can run against the Indianapolis Colts, but not much else. Jonas Gray has shown promise (yes, I believe he has shown more than just HIS game against the Colts), but Bill Belichick does not seem to believe in him…or is still mad at him for showing up late to practice. Travaris Cadet is a receiving threat, but has never carried the ball more than ten times in a season. James White is coming off a rookie season in which he was barely active on Sunday. Brandon Bolden is about as much of a running back as Matthew Slater is a wide receiver; he is just around for special teams.

            While Tom Brady is still playing at an elite level, we must realize that there will be a day when he declines and needs more help on offense. Yes, running back has become a devalued position in the NFL, but a good running back can make a huge difference on a team. Look at the Seattle Seahawks. They do not have a high-powered passing game. Marshawn Lynch makes that offense. Marshawn Lynches do not come around every day, but the point is a good running back can do wonders for an offense. That is why the Patriots should call the Cincinnati Bengals about Giovani Bernard.

            Gio Bernard will be entering his third year in the NFL. He had a very good rookie season in which he had over 1,200 yards from scrimmage and eight total touchdowns. However, the Bengals drafted Jeremy Hill in the second round of the 2014 draft and, by the end of 2014, he had won the starting job. The Bengals appeared to be a better team with Hill as the workhorse back than they were when they were splitting carries between Hill and Bernard. Bernard, however, has some special skills that I believe the Bengals are taking for granted.

            The former University of North Carolina Tar Heel is an exceptional pass catching back. He reeled in 56 balls as a rookie and another 43 last season. The Patriots love to utilize the running back in the receiving game; however, they lost Shane Vereen to the New York Giants this past offseason and are banking on either Cadet or White to fill that void. The difference between Bernard and all three of those pass-catching backs though, is the fact that Bernard is a very capable runner as well. In addition to being a capable runner and very good pass catcher, he is a very good blocker as well, something Belichick values very highly in all of his players.

            Bernard is both quick and fast. His quickness is incredible. He can stop on a dime, cut back, and just flat out make defenders miss. He has even drawn comparisons to legend Barry Sanders, especially after this run against the Miami Dolphins in 2013. Normally, such a back would not be available for trade; however, with the Bengals seemingly thrilled with what they have in Hill, he may be expendable.

            The Bengals, if willing to part with Bernard, would most likely be looking to upgrade their defense, as they already have a very good offense. That is where we hit a snag. Belichick has built up the front seven of this team to the point that it could be one of the best in the game and make his secondary look better than it is. And his secondary is not in much of a position to trade off any significant pieces. The one piece that he would probably be willing to part with would be Patrick Chung. Chung is coming off a very good season, mostly in part to having Darrelle Revis at cornerback and allowing Chung to essentially play as a linebacker. He, however, would probably not be enough to pry Bernard from the Bengals. That being said, you never know. Throw in a late round pick and maybe they would look at it as an upgrade defensively while not losing much on offense since they have Hill. The Patriots would be selling very high on Chung. I wouldn’t hold your breath on that one, though.    

            The odds that the Patriots make a trade for Bernard are slim to none. The odds they call the Bengals to inquire about his availability are probably equally as bad. But if they were to go after anybody that could possibly be available and could seriously improve the team, Bernard is the guy. 

 

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Sam Pericolo

Sam is a Patriots writer for CLNS Radio. He is a graduate of Assumption College where he studied History, Marketing, and Political Science and was a Co-Producer on a weekly sports talk television show.

Sam has a baseball knowledge and that compares to that of Tim Kurkjian, football expertise equal to Adam Schefter, along with being very proficient in sports in general. He is an avid sports fan and columnist who brings ideas to the table that sparks the fun-filled sports debate that everybody enjoys and you'll love arguing with him (even though you'll never win one of those arguments). 

Follow Sam on Twitter @SamPericolo

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