February 27, 2024

Patriots

Malik Cunningham left the Patriots with out throwing a single regular-season move for a 3-10 group with quarterback points. That is a disgrace.

Malik Cunningham. Photograph by Chris Unger/Getty Photos

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COMMENTARY

Final month, I requested Patriots nice Kevin Faulk if he had any recommendation for Malik Cunningham.

Mac Jones was struggling, and Bailey Zappe was getting used solely in case of emergency. And but Cunningham, who flashed potential in the course of the preseason, had solely appeared in a single recreation towards the Raiders.

“Be affected person,” Faulk suggested Cunningham. “If it ain’t right here, it’s going to be some place else. For those who belief in God, it’s going to be someplace. Enterprise, you realize?”

Faulk’s phrases rang true. Baltimore signed Cunningham to it’s 53-man roster this week. As a substitute of toiling on the observe squad of the 3-10 Patriots, Cunningham will get to reunite with outdated school teammate Lamar Jackson and expertise a playoff run.

Cunningham’s time in New England ended earlier than he may even throw a single move in the course of the regular-season, and that’s a disgrace.

Jones’s 11 consecutive begins to start the season make it clear that the plan was for New England to trip with him till the wheels fell off. That made sense at first, contemplating that he was a first-round choose, performed effectively throughout his rookie season, and was anticipated to make huge strides of enchancment in Invoice O’Brien’s offense.

However issues went unhealthy rapidly for Jones. He threw a pick-6 on the primary drive of the season. A number of extra adopted over the subsequent few weeks. He ended up throwing extra interceptions than touchdowns.

The Patriots waived Bailey Zappe on cutdown day. Regardless of that, he has a 3-1 file as an NFL starter and confirmed final Thursday that he’s worthy of extra alternatives. Nonetheless, he was finishing 40 p.c of his passes on the time when he received the nod to start out towards the Chargers.

Why on earth, in a 12 months when the Patriots are averaging a league-worst 13 factors per recreation partially due to constantly unhealthy quarterback play, would they not exhaust all choices on the place?

No passing makes an attempt for Cunningham, who threw for 7,889 yards and 62 touchdowns at Louisville and is liable for extra touchdowns than some other Cardinals quarterback ever together with Jackson?

That’s the man they checked out and stated “hmmm, possibly he ought to observe primarily as a receiver and spend time working as particular groups gunner?”

The place had been the reported packages that might contain Cunningham? No speeding makes an attempt for an athlete that JuJu Smith-Schuster referred to as a “harmful dude?” Nothing?

Credit score to the Patriots for signing Cunningham within the first place. He did go undrafted, so it’s not like different groups had been clamoring to get him at first.

However, there are questions on why he wasn’t used within the Patriots system in any respect and what the Ravens see in him that New England wasn’t offered on.

In a farewell social media put up for Cunningham, Patriots offensive lineman Trent Brown instructed the quarterback to “go flourish the place your expertise is revered.”

Why couldn’t that be right here?

“They offered him on the chance, the offense, Lamar, so definitely their offense fits Malik higher than some other offense within the league,” Patriots coach Invoice Belichick instructed reporters on Tuesday.

I requested O’Brien within the week main as much as the Chargers recreation what traits would make the Patriots take a look at a school quarterback’s tape and determine he’s a greater match as a receiver.

“He did plenty of nice issues at Louisville,” O’Brien stated. “I truly went to Louisville and labored him out, and he had plenty of traits that might lead you to consider that he may play quarterback, but additionally that he may do some issues as a receiver whether or not it was velocity, total athletic capability, his fingers, the best way he caught the ball.”

“He did plenty of various things within the exercise that we had with him together with throwing the ball, he performed plenty of quarterback within the exercise and did a pleasant job. So these are the issues that led us to consider that he may discover a position on the group.”

I’m not saying Cunningham ought to have been the Patriots’ starter. Who is aware of if he’ll truly turn into a great quarterback within the NFL? However, the Patriots have the league’s worst offense and are already mathematically eradicated from the playoffs. How a lot wouldn’t it have actually harm to search out out?

As O’Brien stated, Cunningham has some promising traits and it could have been good to know whether or not they would have panned out for the Patriots.

However, sadly, we don’t get to search out out. The Patriots didn’t play him, and now he’s gone.