Super Brady, Stanford Hoops Rebounds, Chryst Departs

Until last year, I’d always been a Joe Montana guy in the long-standing GOAT (Greatest of All Time) quarterback debate.

But Tom Brady’s performance in the Patriots’ miraculous comeback from a 28-3 deficit in the 2017 Super Bowl against Atlanta swung my vote the other way.

That win gave Brady five Super Bowl championships in seven tries. All five victories featured late fourth-quarter drives for either the winning touchdown or the winning field goal in close, hard-fought games. For the record, the Patriots’ winning margins in their five Super Bowl wins have been 3, 3, 3, 4 and 6 points, with the 6-pointer being a touchdown in overtime last year.

So like everyone else, I wasn’t surprised when Brady pulled off yet another comeback Sunday in the AFC title game against Jacksonville. Even though the Jags led by 10 in the fourth quarter, there was a feeling of inevitability that Brady would somehow lead the Patriots back. And, despite playing with a large cut on the thumb of his throwing hand, he didn’t disappoint.

This will be his eighth Super Bowl appearance in the last 17 years. Not bad for a sixth round draft choice.

QB Review: How did the other three quarterbacks, all NFL journeymen, do on Sunday?

Jacksonville's Blake Bortles played very, very well. He held his own with Brady for most of the game. Couldn't deliver in in the fourth quarter, due in part to a phenomenal defensive play by Pats’ defensive back Stephon Gilmore, but showed he's a solid NFL QB. Grade: A-

Minnesota's Case Keenum was totally overmatched. Pick six. Fumble. Missed open receivers…badly. Seemed out of his element. That's why he's really the Vikes' third QB behind Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford. Grade: D.

Philly's Nick Foles is a guy we've always liked. Was a stud at Arizona. Very accurate. Threw for 27 TDs with 2 INTs and made the Pro Bowl four years ago. Showed Sunday that he's legit. Grade A

Super Bowl prediction: How can you go against Brady and the Patriots? But if Foles keeps his composure, the Eagles have a shot. Call it Pats 26-24.

Super Bowl Rosters: Name the college with the most players on the Super Bowl rosters. No, it’s not Alabama, not Ohio State, not Oklahoma, not USC, not Clemson, not Georgia. It is, you guessed it, Stanford. The Cardinal has five former players, most of any school, participating in this year’s Super Bowl. They are:

New England – Cornerback Johnson Bademosi, offensive tackle Cameron Fleming, and safety Jordan Richards. Philadelphia – Tight end Zach Ertz and defensive end Aziz Shittu.

Random thoughts on NFL 2018: Speaking of Ertz, the former Stanford All-American is emerging as one of the best tight ends in the league. Ertz had eight catches for 93 yards in the Eagles’ 38-7 victory over the Vikings on Sunday. During the season he had 74 receptions for 824 yards and eight TD’s, good enough to earn a Pro Bowl nod. I’d put him in the NFL's top three along with the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski and the Chiefs' Travis Kelce.

The Jags are for real. With running back Leonard Fournette and that defense, they should be a force next year if Bortles continues to play as he did on Sunday.

Minnesota: If Teddy Bridgewater or Sam Bradford can stay healthy at quarterback, the VIkes will be a contender.

Pittsburgh: The Steelers fired a very respected offensive coordinator (Todd Haley). Not sure how or why that happens. There are rumors of discontent everywhere, from Big Ben to Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. Others are calling for head coach Mike Tomlin’s scalp. Not a good look.

49ers: The local lads could be in the playoff mix if they get some receivers for Jimmy G and more production from first round draft pick Solomon Thomas. It would also help if they could keep linebacker Reuben Foster healthy and off the weed.

Chryst Transfer: One of the recent trends in college football has been the tendency of quarterbacks who lose their starting job to transfer to another school. An education, it seems, isn’t a priority if you can’t start on Saturday afternoon.

Usually a transfer must sit out a year before being able to play for his new school (although there is a movement afoot to change that rule). However, the NCAA allows players who've graduated but have a year of eligibility remaining—because of a redshirt year or injury—to transfer without penalty. This has allowed high-profile quarterbacks like Russell Wilson to transfer from North Carolina State to Wisconsin and play immediately. (Hard to believe now, but Wilson had been supplanted as the Wolfpack's starter by Mike Glennon, because head coach Tom O'Brien didn't want him to play baseball in the spring).

So Sunday's announcement that Keller Chryst was transferring from Stanford wasn’t a complete shock. Chryst lost his job to KJ Costello this year and was expected to back up Costello in 2018. He apparently wants a chance to be the starter somewhere, and still harbors NFL dreams.

We’ve never been a big fan of Chryst as a player, but he made a courageous return from a devastating knee injury and is known for being a class act. We wish him well. If the transfer and the NFL don’t work out, at least he has his degree, and it’s a meaningful one.

Hoops Update: Stanford has a good basketball team.

Saturday's two-point loss to powerhouse Arizona proved beyond a doubt that Coach Jerod Haase is building a strong program at Stanford.

It was great to see Maples Pavilion rockin' again, with a near capacity crowd and energy that hasn't been seen since the Mike Montgomery years.

Playing without freshman point guard Daejon Davis for the entire second half, the Cardinal gave Arizona everything it could handle wire-too-wire. Were it not for a missed dunk and two turnovers down the stretch, Stanford would've won.

The next few years should be very exciting, particularly if senior stalwart Reid Travis chooses to exercise his medical redshirt year next season.

Gary Cavalli - Bowl and League co-founder, author, speaker 

Gary Cavalli, the former Sports Information Director and Associate Athletic Director at Stanford University, was co-founder and executive director of the college football bowl game played in the Bay Area, and previously was co-founder and President of the American Basketball League.

Get in touch//@cavalli49//gacavalli49@gmail.com

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