Sports analyst and broadcaster Max Kellerman of ESPN has gained notoriety among New England Patriots fans for being a vocal critic of veteran quarterback Tom Brady. In 2016, Kellerman further underscored his anti-Brady reputation by declaring that the veteran quarterback’s career would “fall off a cliff”. Brady made Kellerman eat his words when he led the Patriots to three Super Bowl appearances, winning two to bring his career total to six Lombardi trophies. On Monday, Kellerman had another chance to revive his “cliff” theory following the Patriots’ 28-22 loss to the Houston Texans where Brady completed just 24 of 47 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns with an interception.

However, before Kellerman can reiterate his “cliff” theory on Monday’s episode of “First Take” on ESPN, co-host Stephen A. Smith stopped him in his tracks by coming to Brady’s defense.

Smith said Kellerman is so fixated on his “cliff” theory that he overlooked the other reasons for the Patriots’ loss to the Texans that dropped out of the No 1 seed in the AFC. Smith also accused Kellerman of engaging in cruelty by criticizing Brady for every mistake that he makes. According to Smith, the problem is not Brady but the ability of his receivers to get open or create separation from the defense.

“I have never seen Tom Brady hold onto the football more in my life praying that somebody is getting open,” said Smith. While admitting that the 42-year-old Brady’s not his usual self anymore, Smith said the veteran quarterback has no other option at receiver except for Julian Edelman because his other targets failed to get any separation.

Smith says Brady could use some help

During Monday’s broadcast, Smith underscored the need for the Patriots to give Brady additional help at wide receiver. According to Smith, Patriots team owner Robert Kraft should consider bringing back talented but troubled wide receiver Antonio Brown, who recently apologized to the organization for the troubles that he created during his 11-day stint with the team.

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Smith believes that the Patriots could solve their offensive malady by bringing back Brown, who was released by the team on Sept. 20 after allegations of rape and sexual assault against him surfaced. However, Smith clarified that Brown’s acts should not be condoned if he’s found guilty of the allegations thrown at him. Smith said Brown should be placed behind bars and banned indefinitely from the NFL if found guilty. Earlier, Hall of Fame Deion Sanders expects the Patriots to add another veteran wide receiver in the coming weeks to help Brady.

Belichick speaks about kicker situation

The Patriots on Monday cut kicker Kai Forbath after just one game with the team. Against the Texans, Forbath fared well, making one field goal attempt and going 1-for-2 on extra points, but the Patriots decided to release him and find their fifth kicker of the season. When Stephen Gostkowski underwent season-ending hip surgery in October, the Patriots inked Mike Nugent but he lasted only four games. The Patriots then brought in Nick Folk, who lasted three games before undergoing an emergency appendectomy, forcing the team to sign Forbath.

In a conference call with reporters on Monday, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick said the team will look at its options in the next few days before making a decision that will be best for the team. “I don’t know exactly how that’s going to go, but we’ll see,” said Belichick, per a report by Nick Goss of NBC Sports.

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