47 In

We are 47 games into the Red Sox season.  David Price has had 9 starts so far.  The early returns on him aren’t inspiring.  As of this writing he’s 4-4 with a 4.38 ERA.  Numbers like that are good for a 5th starter but terrible for a guy with Price’s talent. Sabermetrics stat gurus put a lot of stock in the WHIP stat.  Price’s 2018 WHIP is 1.266 which is the worst mark of his career.

It’s painful to say but needs to be asked…

Can we file for a divorce from David Price?

I don’t say this lightly.  On pride and principle you hate to realize your team made the wrong decision.  He’s been in Boston for three years and has made tons of starts.  Nothing should get in the way of seeing the truth.  Dombrowski ignored the warning signs about Price and signed him to a bad deal.  It wasn’t a smart use of the teams money.

This isn’t personal.  This is business.  Listen to him talk and you get the impression he’s upset, claustrophobic and hates being in Boston.  Being in an environment you hate isn’t conducive to success.

He seems like a sensitive guy that gets riled up from boos and Twitter trolls.  It’s a shame John Henry can’t give him an extra million to stay off social media.  Bill Belichick’s edict of “ignore the noise” needs to be drilled in Price’s head.  At this point I know that will never happen.

A sports divorce could play out in three possible ways. 

(1)    Price could be released outright.  This would be like when John Henry considered releasing Manny Ramirez after the 2003 season.

(2)    Price gets traded for starting pitcher depth or useful bullpen arms.

(3)    Price has an awesome year, opts out of his contract and I’ll drive him to Logan

Normally when a player leaves town it’s a mixed bag.  Big contracts create expectations.  In 2016 I was expecting 30 starts, 210 innings, 20 wins, low ERA and top 5 in the voting for the Cy Young award.  It’s natural to be bummed out when a player doesn’t live up to what you thought he’d be.

I have no acrimony or disappointment with David Price.  The book on him was very clear.  His makeup is big fish small pond.  Some guys have the alpha dog competitive clutch gene in their DNA and others do not.  David Price does not.  He wasn’t going to become more clutch. In retrospect it was unrealistic to expect that kind of production from Price.

No matter what I wish him well.

COLUMN DISCLAIMER: The purpose of this column is merely trying to articulate what Bill Belichick was thinking during the Patriots 2018 draft.  No viewpoints will be advocated one way or the other. 

The Patriots are the polar opposite of the Rex Ryan Era Jets.  Normally they don’t tip their hand about what they are thinking.  Reporters have to be especially ravenous for any clues and news that may tip Bill’s hand.  If you could slip a microphone in the Patriots draft war room what do you think Bill and Nick were saying to each other? Here is one mans thoughts on what they might have said to each other.

“You know Nick I don’t think much of the 2018 quarterback draft class.  Back in 2013 I thought we need to prepare for life without Tommy hence why I drafted Jimmy.  I got to hand it to Brady.  He successfully staved off competition from the guy I thought would succeed him.  Once Jimmy left for Frisco I thought I’d dip back into the draft for a quarterback.  My plan was I’d draft a QB, give him a clipboard and he’d take over for Tommy in 2021.  Now that I’ve seen the tapes I realize none of these guys are worth trading up for or staying put and using a first on them.”

“This years draft class isn’t the best for defensive players.  Detroit and the Titans have traded up on the last few defensive players worth taking.  Lets nab a great OL and stud skill player for Tommy.”

“The front seven wasn’t very good in the Super Bowl.  Tre Flowers was the only real good pass rusher so let’s get Clayborn.  We’ll have to make a leap of faith with Derek Rivers.  I think he’s progressed enough from his ACL tear.  Let’s gamble that he’ll be recovered by September and bank on him.”

“Solving the problems with the front seven won’t get done via the draft.  You can build a team via three ways; trades, free agency and draft.  Let’s grab Danny Shelton to tie up blockers, stuff the run and collapse the pocket.  Jason McCourty will replace Malcom Go Butler.  Passing offenses these days almost always feature a 3rd receiver.  We are going to need a 3rd corner so I'm going to nab that kid from Florida.”

“Gronk is probably just angling to get a new deal.  If he’s considering retirement due to the punishment he’s gotten no way he’ll go to the WWE.  Wrestling is arguably worse for your body than pro football. Let’s light a fire under Rob, keep Dwayne Allen and sign Troy Niklas.  He’s good at blocking and OK as a receiver. “

Something like this had to have been said in the Patriots draft war room.  What other conclusions can a person come to? 

 

Breaking down the Patriots 2018 Draft

We are about to enter the slow news portion of the NFL offseason.

The NFL draft is over now.  The predictable patent column formula after the draft is to recap the picks.  Grades are dished out by draft gurus about two seconds after the Mr. Irrelevant pick is made.

OK, I get the logical behind writing a recap.  I want to go a slightly different route.  Instead of doling out grades I have one question for each rookie.

What is the minimum a player has to do in order for us to consider him a good pick?

Isaiah Wynn OT = the book on him is his superb talent.  It’s a good omen when a player excels against high end talent.  Wynn excelled when he went up against the football factory schools of the SEC.  Lately it feels like every NFL offensive tackle is 6’8’’ 340 pounds.  NFL.com lists Wynn as 6’3’’ and 313 pounds, and that is a midget in comparison.  If he can be an above average tackle like Solder or guard like Logan Mankins then I’ll consider him a good pick.

Sony Michel RB = I actually like how Bill did a 180 this year.  The last time he picked backs high was seven years ago.  Laurence Maroney was the last back he took in the first round. The Patriots can now play the ball control/keep the offense off the field/keep the D fresh/burn clock style Bill Parcells did with the Giants.  He’s a first round pick so I’m expecting Michel to put up a few 300 touches, 1,000 yards rushing, 500 yards receiving double digit touchdown seasons.  If he can reach that baseline I’ll be thrilled.

Duke Dawson CB = Bill spent a ton of money on Gilmore and Malcom is gone.  He must be thinking I need to get a hungry rookie and develop him like I did with Butler.  Recent history shows the corners Bill drafts are a mixed bag.  Hopefully Dawson shows Bill fixed the blind spot he had.  He played at a top tier school and reportedly knows the schemes and coverages the Pats D runs.  The book on him is that he’s smart, can quickly read routes and react to break up passes.  My bare minimum for him is starter/effective slot corner.  If he can reach that bar I’ll consider him a success.   

Ja’Whan Bentley LB = My hope for him is an effective complimentary piece on the Patriots defense.  If he can be a mean tone setting run stuffing middle linebacker like Brandon Spikes Bentley will be aces in my book.

Christian Sam LB = He’s big for a linebacker who can swallow up tight ends.  The scouting report on him is that he can cover swing passes to running backs, and that was a weak spot for the Patriots D.  If he’s strictly a coverage linebacker then I’ll be A-OK with this pick.

Braxton Berrios WR = Malcolm Mitchells career might be cut short due to his knee problems.  2018 will be Edelman’s 10th year in the pros.  A slot receiver is critical to keep the Patriots offense moving.  Berrios knows he’s not a high draft pick so he’ll have to work extra hard just to make the roster.  If he can be an Edelman esque receiver; quick shifty good at racking up yards after the catch and quality return man I’ll be satisfied.

Danny Etling QB = I’m hoping for a young back up as good as Brian Hoyer.

Keion Crossen CB = Another corner for special teams/returns/rotation corner.

Initially I was clamoring for a couple of front seven guys and a tight end to prepare for like without Gronk.  Will Bills moves be vindicated again?

Only time will tell.

We are 23 games into the baseball season and I’m feeling cautiously optimistic about the Red Sox.  As of this writing the team is on pace to win 126 games.  Failure is so ingrained in the sport so we can’t realistically expect them to keep this pace up. 

Over the years I’ve noticed I tend to be either wildly optimistic or fatalistic about the Sox.  This year I want to try a new middle ground.  My definition of “new middle ground” is guarded but still optimistic.  The best team in MLB history was the 2001 Seattle Mariners with a record of 116-46.  Their winning percentage was 71.2%.  It’s highly unlikely the Sox will keep this up.  A market correction is coming soon.  New York will bash their way to the playoffs.  I still think they go 99-63 and lose to the Yankees in the ALCS.  You want to look on the bright side, so all I can think is so far so good! SO GOOD!

Chris Sale has picked up where he left off last year.  It’s like we are watching a poor man’s Randy Johnson every time he toes the rubber.  He’s a tall, lanky lefty who is all business on the mound.  His heat comes at you 95 with a biting slider.  Lefties must feel like can touch them when he fires a pitch. 

David Price has been good so far.  We know he lacks the clutch gene so I want to keep expectations demanding but also realistic.  All I want is for his elbow to hold up so he can opt out of his contract.  Dave Dombrowski probably shouldn’t have signed him because he’s all wrong for Boston.  No shame in that.  Once the season is over I’ll drive Price to Logan and give Sale $30 million a year.

Porcello looks spectacular so far.  He’s slide into role of 3rd starter nicely.  2016 and 2017 look like fluke seasons.  What’s the best we can hope for? I’d say 30 starts, 205 innings pitched, 15 wins and sub 3.50 ERA. Brian Johnson has fit the “awesome no. 5 starter junkball lefty” role to a T.  Velasquez looks a nice gem.  He can be a depth starter or awesome long reliever out of the pen.

Let’s not forget Pomeranz is working his way back.  Steven Wright will be back from suspension soon.  It’s nice to have a floating knuckleballer after going up against power lefties like Sale, E-Rod and Price.  Odds are E-Rod won’t make 30 starts this year so we need Wright to eat innings.  Hitters will have a tough time going up against him

The pen looks good enough and Kimbrel is money in the bank.

Offensively things are looking up.  Benintendi looks OK right now.  He’s not hitting great but he’s drawing a ton of walks and stealing bases.  Jackie Bradley will go on one of his patented hot streaks soon.  Betts looks like a cross between Andrew McCutcheon and Joe Carter.  He’s drawing walks and could break the single season record for homers by a leadoff hitter.

Xander was tearing the cover off the ball before he got hurt.  Lin will carry the water for him until he gets back.  Once Bogaerts is back Lin will make a nice utility infielder.  Devers looks OK so far.  Hanley is determined to have a great year to get his 2019 option.  At the plate he looks slimmer.  Tommy Bundchen’s pliability exercises have worked wonders for Hanley. 

If I wanted to nitpick about the team I could, but I’m not in the mood.

 

-Erik

Why Bill is one of the best offseason GMs in the game

Brandin Cooks is gone.  Initially I wanted to see him improve in the Pats system, but I’m over it now.  Visions of him catching 50 yard bombs while Edelman moved the stakes ran in my head.  It wasn’t meant to be it.  OK fair enough.  The silver lining is Bill got another first round pick.  Once I heard that I felt like Homer Simpson…

Bill and Nick have another first round pick!  This means a shot to draft the next Richard Seymour, Daniel Graham, Ty Warren, Vince Wilfork, Ben Watson, Logan Mankins, Jerod Mayo, Malcolm Brown etc.  Even the most ardent anti Patriots hater would concede Bill’s record on first round picks is pretty good.  If you wanted to nitpick you could say a few didn’t live up to expectations.  Laurence Maroney and Brandon Meriweather probably didn’t live up to expectations, BUT they were still good pros.  Dominique Easley is in a unique category.  It would be wrong to say he’s a bust.  He’s a fine player on the Rams now.  You could say he was a bad gamble due to his knee problems.  In retrospect Bill probably should have just drafted a different DL. 

Cooks departure got me thinking….how good was his tenure? Let’s take a look at veteran receivers Bill has brought in, view the results and see where we classify Cooks.

Category 1: Bill struck gold when he bought these guys in!

1.       Wes Welker = (926 targets, 672 catches, 7459 yards, 11.1 yards per catch 37 TD)

2.       Randy “Straight Cash Homie” Moss (52 games, 259 catches, 3904 yards, 15.1 yards per catch 50 TD)

3.       Danny Amendola = (29 targets, 21 catches, 278 yards, 13.2 yards per catch and 2 TD in 3 Super Bowls)

4.       David Patten = (165 catches, 2513 yards, 15.2 yards per catch, 16 TD, 3 Super Bowl rings)

Category 2: All things considered these guys worked out reasonably well…………..

 

1.       Brandin Cooks (114 targets, 65 catches, 1082 yards, 16.6 yards per catch 7 TD)

2.       Brandon LaFell (111 catches, 1468 yards, 13.2 yards per catch 7 TD)

3.       Reche Caldwell (102 targets, 61 catches, 760 yards, 12.5 yards per catch 4 TD)

4.       Doug Gabriel (47 targets, 25 catches, 344 yards, 13.8 yards per catch 3 TD)

5.       Donte Stallworth (75 targets, 46 catches, 697 yards, 15.2 yards per catch 3 TD)

6.       Jabar Gaffney (43 games, 85 catches, 1059 yards, 12.5 yards per catch 8 TD)

7.       Brandon Lloyd (131 targets, 74 catches, 911 yards, 12.3 yards per catch 4 TD)

8.       Chris Hogan (117 targets, 72 catches, 1119 yards 15.5 yards per catch 9 TD in 24 games)

Category 3: Useful role players/decent when they got a chance

 

1.       Charles Johnson (almost done by the time he got to New England)

2.       Dedric Ward (good back end depth receiver in ’03)

3.       Sam Aiken (quasi reliable pass catcher in ’08 and ’09)

4.       Keshawn Martin (good for a 5th receiver in 2015)

 

Category 4: no way to sugarcoat it.  These guys were a swing and a miss

1.       Bert Emanuel (he was done by the time he got to New England)

2.       JJ Stokes (2 games, 3 targets, 2 catches, 38 yards, 19.0 yards per catch 0 TD)

3.       Chad Ochocino Johnson (lost his skills almost overnight)

4.       Joey Galloway (couldn’t pick up the offense)

Patriots fans, here's why next season will be another great one!

“Everything is amazing and nobody is happy.”

Louis CK’s words ring in my head as I read about the Patriots this offseason.  The media is acting as if it’s the end of the road for Bill and Tommy after eighteen years.  It’s kind of staggering how the anti-Patriot haters are basking in their Super Bowl loss, but that’s human nature.

I refuse to let their glee get to me.  To borrow a line from the “fun to listen to no matter who you are” Taylor Swift I’m just going to shake it off. 

A silver lining in the Super Bowl is this will force Bill and Tommy to right the ship, knock off any complacency, put the work in and fight to get their 6th Vince.  The future still bright.  Here is one mans thoughts on why we need to keep our heads up.

Number 1 = Bill partially filled the need for a pass rusher with a proven vet. 

Case in point Adrian Clayborn.  During the Super Bowl it felt like Nick Foles had 5 hours to complete a pass.  In the modern day NFL a quarterback needs only 3-5 seconds to drop back and complete passes.  On the bright side Clayborn is powerful and quick enough to elude offensive tackles.  Watch any of his games and you’ll see if he didn’t get the sack he forced alot of bad passes.  If you can’t get the sack forcing a QB into a fumble, an incompletion or interception is just as sweet.

Number 2 = Jason McCourty baby!

Asking a rookie to fill the void left by Malcolm’s departure is a pretty tall order.  Jason is a respectable corner behind Stephan Gilmore.  I believe in twin telepathy and I’m convinced Devin can get through to him.  Bill knows his track recording drafting corners is a mixed bag so he grabs a competent veteran instead. For every Butler, Harmon and Ryan that work there are just as many Wheatley, Wilhite, and Brock Williams misses.

Number 3 = they got a few vets to replace Nate Solder.

Matt Tobin is here to compete for Nate’s old job.  If Matt fails they could turn to Luke Bowanko.  Who knows if Tony Garcia will pan out.  Bottom line the team has options to fill the void left by Nate going to the Giants.

Number 4 = their draft capital has been restocked.  

As of this writing the Patriots have nine picks in this years draft.  The team has had some misses, some bad luck and theft by Roger Goodell lately.  Easley is in LA, Jimmy G is in Frisco,  Stork had to retire due to concussions and Jordan Richards hasn’t lived up to expectations.  Cyrus Jones looks like a bust.  Deatrich Wise is the only good thing about the 2017 draft class so far.  I’d be happy if they stood pat and used all the pics.  Bill got another 1st round pick.  History shows his judgment with first round picks is pretty good! 

Here is where the team stands right now

1st round - No. 23 overall – grab the best possible defensive player
1st round -  No. 31 overall – a QB to take over for Tommy Bundchen Brady
2nd round - No. 43 overall – another quality defensive player
2nd round - No. 63 overall – a TE for life after Gronk
3rd round - No. 95 overall – best possible player
6th round - No. 198 overall – a fresh RB in case Hill doesn’t work out
6th round - No. 210 overall – another receiver for the sake of depth
7th round - No. 219 overall – a kicker to give Gostkowski competition

 

Number 5 = Bill has set the team nicely for the 2019 draft.

 

As of this writing the Patriots have won 3 compensatory picks for losing Solder, Butler and Dion Lewis.  Bill and Nick have more ammo to trade up and down to get the next QB!

 

Number 6 = a renewed commitment to the rushing attack.

 

Bill and Josh know they can’t ignore the running back position even though they have Tom Brady.  Rex looked like an awesome dual threat back when he played.  Jeremy Hill showed talent in Cincy.  I’d rather they take a 22 year old back with fresh legs, but I can live with signing Hill.  Best case scenario for me is the two of them get 400 carries next year.

We’ve got to keep our heads up!  Bill and Tom have pride.  It has to burn them to lose a Super Bowl.  I can’t imagine they want to go out a loser. 

Things will be just fine

Thanks for reading, Go Pats!

-Erik

As the Red Sox season starts one thing that stands out is the lack of roster competition in this year’s camp.

To his credit Christian Vasquez hit fairly well for a catcher, played top notch D and earned the contract extension he got.  It’s unfortunate Leon is blocking Swihart at catcher.  OK, I get Sale loves throwing to him but that’s not enough.  Sandy doesn’t hit enough or shut down teams defensively to warrant blocking Blake.

We need to play the hand we are dealt.  Leon isn’t going anywhere so lets’ make 2018 the year of the Blake Swihart Reclamation Project.  With Pedroia on the shelf and Nunez banged up can we move Blake to second? History shows baseball players need to play every day if they are going to develop.  Blake is still just 26 years old.

Dustin Pedroia has been hit very hard by the injury bug.  He had knee surgery in the offseason.  Dave Dombrowski has talked about how they’re going to need to manage his symptoms for the rest of his career.   Over the past 4 years he’s only played 145+ games once and just turned 35 years old.  All of these factors make me think we won’t get a full season from him ever again.

Moving Blake to the outfield didn’t work.  Andrew, Jackie and Mookie are blocking him anyway.  Plus those three guys are going great and I don’t want to mess with that.  Blake is too talented to cut.  No trade offers have come up that we know about.  Eduardo Nunez had a rough looking knee injury as well.  He’s been in the big leagues 8 years and only played one full season.  His style on the field is wild full speed ahead and hasn’t shown he’s durable either.

This could work.  Can Blake become a respectable player at 2nd? Absolutely! I see him as a cross between BJ Surhoff, Jason Kendall and Craig Biggio.  Craig is reportedly 5’11 185 while Blake is 6’1” 200 pounds. According to baseball reference BJ is 6’1” 185.  Over time I bet Blake could have been a fine defensive catcher, but moving will be good.  A position change will help save Blake’s legs.

Both Biggio and Surhoff developed reasonably good power.  Biggio’s career high in moon shots was 26 while Surhoff’s was 28.  The same thing can happen with Blake. All three men show great foot speed for catchers.  

Craig eventually led the league in doubles three times and hits twice. Over the course of a 162 game season Craig hit .281 17 HR 67 RBI.  Surhoff’s season average is .282 13 HR 81 RBI.  That kind of production is easily attainable for Swihart.  He just needs a chance to play full time.  Both Blake and Craig have good speed.  I’d like to move Blake to second to preserve his speed like Houston did with Biggio. In 355 at bats Blake has already hit 17 doubles and 4 triples.  Having a switch hitter adds a level of versatility to any managers arsenal that I don’t want to pass up.

I don’t want to take a loss on this one.  He’s young and doesn’t make too much money. Let’s make Blake the 2nd baseman for now. Perhaps over time a team can offer the Sox a nice package for Blake.  I don’t want to do it, but it would be nice to see him get a shot.

I just hope it’s with the Red Sox.

- Erik

The Patriots Off Season Mass Exodus/Rejuvenation

The Patriots offseason has felt like a mass exodus followed by a sweet rejuvenation.  My faith in Bill was tested, but did not drop off.  No doubt losing the Super Bowl sucks, but Tommy and Bill went to their 3rd Super Bowl in four years.  To put this in perspective, we marveled at the Cowboys winning 3 out of 4 Vince trophies in the ‘90s.  Tommy and Bill went to 3 out of 4 Super Bowls twice in 18 years.  This is why I still have faith.  Thank God for YouTube.  Anytime something frustrates me I pull up a clip of Malcolm’s pick and immediately feel better.

Bill and Nick Caserio would have to have three terrible off seasons to get me to lose faith.  I’m talking like Gigli Pete Carroll ’97 draft class bad.  If that happened then I’d think OK Bill lost his fastball and we should move on. As of this year I would have pushed the panic button and played Malcolm in the Super Bowl, but I’m not him.  One thing that drives me insane about the media coverage is the way they are absolving Malcolm of responsibility.  He played under Bill for four years and should know his Head Coach by now.  Butler has to know Bill is demanding and perfectionist.  He’s willing to take a loss to get his point across.

As personnel decisions pop up I try to put myself in the team shoes. I can’t quite pull it off though.  It’s so hard to say goodbye by Boys 2 Men runs through my head when a Patriot we like leaves.  Sentimentality and gratitude creeps into my thinking every time. Once Bill makes his decision all I can say is thanks for the memories and good luck!

The way I see it a personnel decision is a two part equation.  Step 1 is deciding it’s time to move on from a player.  Step 2 is finding a suitable replacement.  The Patriots record with Step 1 isn’t perfect, but very very very good.  Step 2 makes me uneasy. I get moving on from Amendola.  He’s older and not a sure bet to play all 16 games.  It’s just their record drafting receivers isn’t great.  Finding a suitable replacement is what concerns me.

Bye Danny!  Good luck in South Beach.  You took many pay cuts so it’s nice to hear you’re getting paid in tax free Florida.  Over the past 5 years the Pats went to 4 AFC title games, 3 Super Bowls and won two titles with him.  Signing him worked out great.  He was so clutch and Tommy trusted him in big spots.  I hope to see you on TMZ partying in South Beach with Olivia

THREE CORNERS! THREE CORNERS! MALCOM GO! In the league where first round picks go bust all the time the story of Malcolm Butler was impressive.  He’s not the biggest or fastest guy.  It enrages us to see a guy waste his talent

Malcolm was the polar opposite of the that.  He didn’t get complacent & played like a rookie free agent a millimeter away from getting cut.  He followed up his great play with great years in 2015 and 2016.  In your heart of hearts you hoped he’d play 12 years in New England.  He embodied all the things you ask for; tough, hardworking, team oriented, smart and quite talented.  Once he got his rings he was all about getting paid like Asante Samuel.  Can’t fault him for that.  Good luck in Tennessee!

Dion Lewis worked out great overall.  I knew him as the slippery speedster who backed up LeSean McCoy.  Scouts doubted him due to his size and its amazing to prove them wrong.  Lewis could run, catch and carried the ball a lot for a guy his size.  The life of an NFL running back is so short.  You can blink and miss a guy tearing up his knee and ending his career.  The Patriots decision to let him walk makes football and salary cap sense.  You wish Lewis well except when he plays New England!  I just hope Bill remembers to give Tommy a nice running game.  Let’s look for another Lewis in the late rounds of this year’s draft.

Last but not least is Nate Solder.  Matt Light retired and it felt like they didn’t miss a beat.  Nate was a freak.  For the longest time tackles were built like Bruce Armstrong.  Nate comes along and Bruce looks like a midget in comparison.  Thanks to you Tommy was free to carve up defenses.  He owes his longevity partially to you AND the avocado ice cream.  In seven years he was in 7 AFC title games and 4 Super Bowls.  UNBELIEVABLE!  This clip shows just how good he was keeping the wolves at bay.

On the bright side the first wave of free agency is over.  Now is the time where the Pats make unheralded but effective moves.  My next column will dive into why things are looking up for the 2018 Patriots!

 

GOOD TIMES!

-Erik

Richard Sherman - Is he worth the risk??

As a die-hard 49er fan I was a bit reluctant when I heard that Richard Sherman was coming to the 49ers. His past relationship with the 49er faithful is well documented. With of course the cherry on top of the hate filled Sunday being the moment he shut down Crabtree during the NFC Championship game and then went off on the post-game interviewing. Basically, enraging all of the 49er fan base. Personally, upon further reflection, I don’t blame Richard for being all fired up at that point. His team just won a huge game against a bitter rival, high emotions and high energy were spilling out everywhere. Richard had just made the biggest play of his career, his outburst and elation during that moment is forgivable. 

So, I ask myself. Is Richard Sherman worth that 3 year 39-million-dollar contract that he just agreed on with the 49ers? I unequivocally say yes. Even with Richard coming off a horrible injury he is worth the risk. The 49ers needed a defensive playmaker. Richard Sherman is that guy and is definitely worth that risk. Since 2011, no player has more interceptions (32) and Pass deflections (99). He is a prototype corner at 6’3 with great speed 4.59 40 Yard Dash. IF his Achilles is 100%, he’ll be a top 5 corner once again. 

Therefore, let’s give this guy a chance to bolster the 49er defense and prove that he is one of the best corners still in this league. If anything, he will bring years of experience and that locker room defensive leadership that was lacking the last few years. 

Thanks for Reading

- Jason

If you like these type of columns, let me know, send me a DM on Instagram @tozofitsport on any ideas or topics you'd like for me to explore

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Is JD a consolation prize for not landing Giancarlo Stanton??

As we gear up for another baseball season it’s nice to finally have JD in Red Sox camp.  All we can do now is try to make sense of it all.  Has the emptiness finally been filled by the void left by David Ortiz?

Some media & fans have said JD is a consolation prize for not landing Giancarlo Stanton. I don’t buy that premise for one moment.  No way in h#$% that Yankee Jeter was going to help the Red Sox by moving Stanton.  As far as I’m concerned any media reports saying the Red Sox had a chance is 100 percent BS.  Like the Surgeon General in South Park I base that statement on absolutely nothing.  Reports like that defy logic.  Derek had to make it look like he was shopping Stanton, so he leaked rumors his star player vetoed trades to NL then trolled New England acting like we had a chance.  His “my hand was forced so I sent Station to NY for bag of balls” act is a lie.  It’s a shame the league won’t look at bag job trades, but that’s life.

 

In my gut I do not like this deal.  Historically speaking their judgment when it comes to signing big free agents isn’t very good.  It doesn’t matter who the GM is.  Let’s go back a few years.  Edgar Renteria, David Wells, Matt Clement, Carl Crawford, Dice K, Pablo Sandoval, David Price, John Lackey, Hanley Ramirez, Rusney Castillo and now JD Martinez.  To be fair Lackey rebounded nicely and was part of the 2013 championship team.  Price, Hanley, Lackey and Dice K did JUST enough where I’d say the return on investment was OK.  The rest of them were terrible.  If you looked at them alone and were pessimistic about JD you’d be justified in thinking that.

One factor isn’t being mentioned enough is the transition to DH after being a position player.  JD can rake but doesn’t field particularly well.  Early indications are he’s going to DH.  What factors in his persona make you think he can transition to DH? I haven’t seen any.  Ortiz was one of the rare guys who was mentally tough enough to just hit.  Who else besides Big Papi has been a stud DH for an extended period of time.  Other than Edgar Martinez I can’t think of one.  In 140 at bats he has hit just .250 as a DH.  To give you a better idea of the drop off his career average is .285. Thankfully the Sox aren’t the Pirates.  It’s not like one bad contract can knee cap their chances of winning another World Series.  All I ask is my team spend every dollar they can efficiently and with minimal waste.  For the kind of money JD got I want to be sure he’ll be on the field for at least 145 games.  In his seven year pro career JD has played 150+ games just once.   

 

His injuries alone are enough to get me to back off.  Allen Craig taught to back off signing guys with foot injuries.  Feet are so critical to generate power with your hips.  JD’s foot is already compromised.  He’s missed 85 games in the past two seasons.   I wish I could extend my general optimism I have with the Patriots and Celtics over to the Sox.  At least the team protected themselves in incase JD’s Lisfranc injury comes back.  In the 4th and 5th year the AAV of his deal goes down.  The way salaries rise a $19.3 million salary in 2022 will feel like a grand bargain.

My baseline expectation for JD is 145 games, .281 30 HR 110 RBI .352/.525/.877 OBP SLG OPS line.  Anything above that is aces in my book.  Hopefully this pans out and I’ll be proven wrong.

Hopefully.

Erik

Career over for Linebacker with limitless potential

 

One of my most favorite pass rushing line backers to watch career is officially over. After what appears to be an accurate accusation of Domestic abuse, the Oakland Raiders have had enough and parted ways with Aldon Smith. Even though, it’s more and more clear that Aldon is a master level bad decision maker. I wanted to use this blog post to pay homage to his career. I did thoroughly enough watching him play when he was in his prime.

Aldon went to high school in Raytown Missouri at Raytown High School. Coming out of high school he was ranked as a 3 star recruit by Rivals and ESPN. Aldon made some noise in high school. In 2008 Aldon was actually the Senor Male Athlete for the year at his high school. His dominate play was able to secure offers from multiple Division 1. Missouri, Iowa, Kansas, Kansas State and Nebraska all pushed hard to get Aldon to play for them. Eventually Aldon choose the Missouri and stayed close to home.

Aldon’s first year at Missouri was dominating to say the least. He compiled 11.5 sacks as a freshman! His sophomore year was not as successful as he had a tough leg injury that really put a damper on his performance. Check out his college highlights, you can absolutely see his speed and power reeked havoc on the opposing teams. 

His leg injury did not deter the San Francisco 49ers from taking him 7th in the 2011 draft. Aldon made an immediate impact. He proved to the 49ers organization that he was well worth his draft position. In his first year as a pro he racked up 14 sacks. Alson's 2nd year campaign was even more outstanding, recording a whopping 19.5 sacks! Aldon was truly unstoppable at his best when faced with a 1 on 1 blocking scheme. Which, give some credit to his fellow pass rusher Justin Smith for forcing teams to pick there poison when those two beasts came rushing the opposing quarterback. You can see in his 49er highlight clip below his build and athleticism alone caused havoc. 

Alas, in what seemed too good to be true for 49er fans. Aldon Smith started to implode. His last two season with the 49ers he only racked up an paltry 10.5 sacks, while his 2014 season was basically, what I believe the beginning of the end. 10 total tackles and 2.5 sacks in 7 games. If you look at where it really began was the 2012 offseason, where he was arrested for driving under the influence. After that his rap sheet was much more impressive than his on the field performance. In 2013 he was charged with 3 felonies, 2014 he was arrested again for being belligerent with w TSA security guard, 2015 he was arrested for a hit and run. Even after all of this, after being cut by the 49ers after his 2014 incident, the Raiders still believed in him and signed him. He played in 9 games in a somewhat limited pass rushing only role and had 3.5 sacks. Everyone in the Bay Area was ready for Aldon to go back to his dominating ways. Especially the Oakland Raiders.

Aldon’s suspension was due to be over this year. He was supposed to come back and play a major role in the Oakland Raiders defense. However, Aldon being Aldon messed up. He messed up big time. On March 3rd Aldon was arrested for Domestic Abuse. Arguably his worst offense. His fiancé stated that he was entered himself in rehab. The Oakland Raiders have parted ways and the Bay area police have issued an arrest warrant. 

And there we have it, from underrated 3 star high school recruit, to a Superstar at Missouri, an All Pro in the NFL, to out of the league and unfortunately hated by many. Truly Aldon never reached his true potential. Who knows what got to him. Was it the Money, was it CTE or was it some underlying personality that was just waiting to rear its ugly head. Hopefully he get his life together, because the path he is on now is one of destruction and sadness. Thank you for all the hard work, as a 49er fan you brought true joy to my heart watching you play, but also true disappointment in your failures. 

Thanks for reading!

-Jason

Redsox Spring Preview

Spring training is starting and I’m thrilled.  Football is a weekly event that I dig immensely but I also appreciate the day to day nature of baseball.  It’s like having a dog you walk all the time.  At the end of the day you chill on the couch and the dog plops down next to you.  Baseball is that friend you see through thick and thin for almost seven months.

 

Early news out of Red Sox camp is about how much “fun” the Red Sox plan to have this year.  In my gut I find this irritating.  It’s as if they know fans were put off by David Price and they’re trying to spin me.  If I had my druthers I’d have Alex Cora chug sodium pentothal like a college kid and get his unfiltered thoughts on this year’s team.  My guess is he’d say something along the lines of…

 

Dear Red Sox fans, 

A new year is upon us and I’m thrilled!  I’m thrilled to get the gig and promise I will know strategy cold.  You can have faith that I will be on top of things unlike John Farrell.  Let’s run down the roster….

Catcher = on the bright side Christian Vasquez started to hit in 2017.  He still hasn’t shown he can catch a full season.  My initial plan is to hit him 9th.  If he can hit .270, draw more walks and produce an OPS above .750 I’ll be happy.  Depth wise I feel OK if Vasquez regresses or gets injured.  The way the Sox mishandled Swihart is terrible.  He’s had two down years but I still believe in him.  He’s still just 25 and he’s catching if Christian slips.  Offensively I think Blake can be a poor man’s Jason Kendall and eventually be above average behind the dish. Sandy Leon didn’t standout to stave off any competition from Blake.

First Base = I wish we could get another option at first besides Mitch Moreland.  Don’t get me wrong he’s a fine player.  He just doesn’t slug the ball enough for my tastes.  Mitch’s career OPS is just .756.  First base is a power position so I expect at least .830 OPS.  Mitch has had just two seasons where his OPS was above .800.  Hanley is hit or miss.  At times he can be a manager killer.  We can’t be sure he’ll be healthy and focused on having an awesome year.  If he does that’s great but I’m not betting on it. Hanley is not a good bet to stay healthy either.  Over the past five years he’s played in 86, 128, 105, 147 and 133 games.

Second Base = Pedroia's knees scare me.  He’s missed enough time these past three years that I’m glad to have Nunez back.  Dustin’s injuries probably cost him a shot at making the Hall of Fame and that’s said.  Nunez will hit for a good average, steal a lot of bases and show enough doubles power.  Nunez’s career high in games is just 141 so realistically I think we are looking at a platoon situation.

Shortstop = I will handle Xander Bogaerts right.  He’s going to be limited to 145-150 games to keep him fresh for the season.  The idea is to stave off his second half slump.  At the plate we are going to encourage him to drive the ball.  We want him to only swing at strikes.  Take the walk if they don’t throw you anything good.  With his size and swing a 20 HR 20 SB season is certainly possible.

Third Base = Rafael Devers will be at third.  He’s playing every day and we will live with the ups and downs.  His power looked good so far (10 HR in 222 AB) and he also hit for average. Defensively his arm looked strong and accurate.  His quickness and agility going for grounders looks good so I don’t think he’ll be a liability.  Rookies prosper when they get the chance to play every day and I think Devers will take off this year.

Outfield = Ben Cherington hit pay dirt when he drafted Benitendi.  In his first full season he belted 20 bombs, drove in nearly 100 runs and swiped 20 bases.  What’s not to like about Benitendi? Mookie Betts’ OPS dropped almost 100 points but he still had a fine year.  His eye and ability to draw walks improved a lot in 2017.  In 2016 Mookie drew 49 walks in 672 at bats which is just 7.3 percent of the time.  Last year he drew 77 walks in 628 at bats which is 12.3 percent of the time.  Both men are threats for quasi rare 30 HR 30 SB club.

Outfield and DH = I will have my new hitting coach trying to make Jackie Bradley Jr. less of a streaky hitter.  Overall though I have faith that he can rebound after a down year.  It was great to hear Hanley embraced the Tom Brady methods.  He should slim down to about 220 and focus on pliability to keep his shoulders intact.  JD Martinez isn’t with the team yet so I can’t comment on him.

Pitching = Sale worked out pretty well! I want to bribe Price into deleting his Twitter and adopt the Patriots MO of IGNORE THE NOISE.  Tell David to settle in and be the second banana behind Sale. The rest of the rotation should fall into place.  Porcello is a good no. 3 hurler.  E-Rod isn’t particularly durable and he hasn’t made the leap yet.  However he is still a good back end starter. Steven Wright will have a role on this team.  He’s a quality knuckler when healthy. I was thinking keep Fister around as a no.7 starter when E-Rod eventually misses a few starts.

Pitching = Brian Johnson should be one of my depth starters or long relievers.  He strikes me a poor man’s David Wells.  He doesn’t throw very hard but his curve is amazing.  Elias will be a good depth piece.  Austin Maddox should get a role in the pen.  I liked what I saw so far

Kimbrel is not a concern.  I have faith he’ll have a great free agent year.  I’m not ready to say Carson Smith is fully recovered from his TJ surgery.  Thornburg is a wild guess.  He’s supposedly recovered from his shoulder problems, but he hasn’t shown he can defeat American League lineups. Joe Kelly improved his control big time and he’s reliable. Barnes is usually reliable.  My one concern is that he throws his heat very straight and is liable to give up the home run.  Hembree is hit or miss.  Workman will have a role in the pen.

I’ll give my honest thoughts on JD Martinez soon but right now he’s not in camp.  Once he reports to Fort Myers I will talk about him.

GO SOX!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As Bill might say, we are onto the offseason!

 

Once the Super Bowl is over and a new league year beings I think of Bill Parcells.  As we know he lost the power struggle to draft Cedric Jones over Terry Glenn.  In his final press conference where he announced he was leaving he said

 

“If they want you to cook the dinner, at least they ought to let you shop for some of the groceries.”

 

What should Bill and Nick Caserio shop for this off season? Let’s look at the positions.

 

RB = I’d cut my losses with Gillislee and move on.  My guess is Dion Lewis gets a deal that is too rich for their blood and moves on as well.  I’d keep Burkhead and use two late round picks on backs with fresh legs.  I’d feel a lot better about Josh eventually taking over if he featured more designed runs.  This is the 3rd Super Bowl loss where he didn’t utilize the running game enough.  Philosophically speaking I’m getting annoyed with them abandoning the run every time they get stuffed for no gain.  Next year they need to run the ball at least 47 percent of the time.

 

OL = Solder won me over this year.  His start wasn’t the greatest but eventually he righted the ship.  I want them to take another tackle for (1) the sake of depth and (2) just in case Cannon’s injury is serious.  Tony Garcia is a project.  Over time I think Scarnecchia will turn him into a quality NFL tackle.  Keep Shaq Mason and pick up an undrafted guard as a rookie free agent.

 

WR = I want to draft another receiver.  My gut is telling me Malcolm Mitchell’s knees will cut his career short. Edelmans’ ACL tear could affect his ability to cut and juke defenders.  Let’s try like all hell to keep Danny Amendola.  He’s tough, reliable and clutch in the playoffs.  If I had my way they’d put him on the PUP list then unleash him in the playoffs.  Cooks, Amendola, Hogan, Britt, Dorsett, Mitchell and an unnamed rookie give Tommy a skilled group to work with.

 

TE = Dwayne Allen worked out OK this year.  He’s a fair blocker and decent pass catcher.  Am I the only guy who thinks he’s the second coming of Jermaine Wiggins?  Both guys are similar in build.  You could trust them to catch anything even though neither were very fast.  As much as you appreciate them you still want them to upgrade at the position.  Bill might think of Allen as a cap casualty.  Gronk came into the league with a bad back.  Realistically he’s suffered enough major injuries that I don’t think he’ll have Jason Witten’s longevity.  We need to prepare for life without him.  Let’s spend a draft pick on a tight end.

 

QB = I bet if Jimmy stayed in New England he’d have 2-3 championships of his own.  The recent success of Jimmy and Jacoby renews my faith in Bill’s QB judgment.  Hoyer is a useful veteran and fine backup.  If God forbid something bad happened to Tommy I think they’d go 10-6 with Hoyer and lose in the divisional round.  Hoyer is getting older and that’s why they need to dip into the draft again.  Draft Tommy’s successor, sign him on Day 1 and give him a clipboard.  If I were a betting man I’d put my money on Tommy winning a 6th then retiring to placate Giselle.  Basically I’m expecting a new QB in 2020. 

 

QB II = Recent history shows teams need to spend a high pick on a quarterback in order to win a championship.  For the sake of this column I’m defining rounds 1-3 high, 4-5 middle and 6-7 late.  Let’s take a look at the evidence.

 

2017 = Nick Foles 3rd round

2016 = Tom Brady 6th round

2015 = Peyton Manning 1st round

2014 = Tom Brady 6th round

2013 = Russell Wilson 3rd round

2012 = Joe Flacco 1st round

2011 = Eli Manning 1st round

2010 = Aaron Rodgers 1st round

2009 = Drew Brees 2nd round

2008 = Ben Roethlisberger 1st round

2007 = Eli Manning 1st round

2006 = Peyton Manning 1st round

2005 = Ben Roethlisberger 1st round

2004 = Tom Brady 6th round

2003 = Tom Brady 6th round

2002 = Brad Johnson 9th round

2001 = Tom Brady 6th round

2000 = Trent Dilfer 1st round

1999 = Kurt Warner undrafted

1998 = John Elway 1st round

1997 = John Elway 1st round

1996 = Brett Fav-ruh Favre 2nd round

 

22 years is a big sample size.  Johnson, Warner and Brady are the outliers but otherwise my point is backed up by the evidence.

 

Over the past two years I’ve been a tad uneasy about their draft picks.  Cooks worked out great in exchange of their first round pick.  After that their draft class was thin with only 4 picks.  Rivers already ripped up his ACL.  Garcia hasn’t played yet.  Deatrich Wise was great this year for a rookie. McDermott is in Buffalo.  Goodell screwed them out of their 2016 first round pick.  Cyrus Jones hasn’t shown he can play in the NFL.

 

If Bill wanted to trade down and acquire more picks I’d be OK with it.  I’d also like to grab an LB and 2 DL in the draft.  Thankfully there is also trades and free agency to improve the roster.  Gostkowski has missed enough kicks lately.  Let’s get him competition so he steps up his game.  Malcolm Go Butler is probably gone.  He was basically benched in the Super Bowl so there is probably Katy Perry Taylor Swift level bad blood between him and the team.  Let’s get a proven vet to pair with Gilmore.

 

Time is slowly healing the wound of the Super Bowl loss.

 

We are ON to 2018!

It’s been twelve days since the Patriots lost the Super Bowl loss.  Last night I was mulling the game over and I had a moment of clarity.  I’ve come to think the seven stages of grief is applicable to sports fandom too.  These thoughts ran through my mind like Usain Bolt.

(1)    Shock and denial = Good God they lost? Normally when the Pats are down in the Super Bowl they come from behind and win.  Whether they’re down 10 against Seattle or 25 against Atlanta doesn’t matter. They didn’t win this time around?

(2)    Pain and guilt = damn what a bummer.  Tommy and the offense were awesome as usual but they didn’t have enough on D.

(3)    Anger and bargaining = I’m not going to absolve Malcolm Butler of responsibility for his benching.  He’s been with Bill for four years and should know his Head Coach’s persona by now.  In Bill’s mind he did something that warrants getting benched.  At the same time here is our chance to win a 6th Vince.  Can we please bury the hatchet? Their pass D can’t contain Philly right now.  Perhaps bringing in Malcolm Go means they make a few stops on 3rd down.

(4)    Depression, Reflection and Loneliness = OK this sucks.  Teams that lose the Super Bowl can go into a real tailspin after the big game.  Case in point the Seahawks.  Their beat reporters wrote about how Butler’s interception has caused turmoil to this day.  Good for Philly though.  It is nice to see other fans celebrate after a long title drought.

(5)    The Upward Turn = this isn’t so bad.  The Brows just went 0-16 and that is the epitome of terrible.  How can I sit here and complain? The Pats are still conference champs. It’s like a silver medal.  A silver medal is a nice accomplishment even if it’s not glorious like a gold one is. Most quarterbacks go to 1 or 2 Super Bowls tops and Tommy has been to eight. He’s gone to half a years’ worth of Super Bowls.  My mind is blown thinking about it along those lines.

(6)    Reconstruction = in retrospect this year was a lot like 2011.  Bill probably knows he needs to invest on D if he wants a 6th Vince.  Odds are they won’t slip to 6-10 with Tommy under center.  Keep in mind they followed up their last Super Bowl loss with 2 AFC title game appearances.  Three years after their loss they won.  Nick Caserio is a bright guy who knows what he’s doing.

(7)    Acceptance and Hope = I’m going to give the Iggs and their staff a golf clap.  Congrats on breaking a drought that lasted almost 60 years.  Hopefully they will mellow out a bit.  I saw Silver Linings Playbook and man they are rabid.  Doug Pederson is a fine coach.  He learned under Reid and intrinsically knew to never let up.  Keep attacking their secondary and you can beat the Patriots.

What’s up next?  Hopefully Bill drafts the positions he’s good at and fills the holes on the roster with proven NFL talent.

 

GO PATS!

An unemotional take on the Super Bowl from a Patriots die hard

I’m a new convert to the Matrix.  The idea of taking the red pill truly resonates with me.  See the truth no matter what.  Get beyond your emotions and pre-existing ideas.  See things for what they really are.  The upcoming Super Bowl has me wondering what is the red pill truth about the 2017 Eagles?

Some people are pretty thrilled Wentz is out.  I am too.  I’d pick the Eagles if Carson were under center.  At the same time I’m baffled how Nick Foles is dismissed as just a backup quarterback.  This isn’t like going from Aaron Rodgers to Brett Hundley.  Foles made the Pro Bowl under Chip Kelly and is 17-10 as a starter for the Iggles.  Let’s not get complacent and think we have this in the bag.  With his physical skills and track record Foles is worthy of our respect.

Philly looks balanced in all three phases of the games.  Their offense scored almost 29 points a game this year.  Defensively they gave up 18.4 points a game, which was 4th in the league.  Blount, Clement and Ajayi are a quality three headed monster.  I can see them moving the ball against the Pats front seven reasonably well.  Ertz has a great size advantage over whoever the Patriots will put on him.  If I were their OC I’d target him at least 10-12 times. Agholor is a fine slot receiver.  He can be a problem in the middle of the field.  I’d put Butler on him.  Malcolm isn’t quite big and physical enough to go toe to toe with Alshon Jeffrey.  Eric Rowe is my guy to go up against Jeffrey with safety help.  Defensively I can see them rushing Brady with 4.  The Super Bowl losses to the Giants show a good pass rush can cover up an OK secondary.  Philly has good depth on their defensive line and can get to Brady with just four guys.  They will probably copy Jacksonville’s plan of beating up Gronkowski so he’s taken out of the game.  Cooks has unreal speed and Philly knows they’ll have to respect.

Dion Lewis will be vital.  Josh McDaniels must stick to giving Brady a complimentary running game.  Lewis, Burkhead and White should get at least 25 carries a game.  Basically they need to be just enough to run for first downs, kill clock and give Tommy a break as needed.  Amendola must be utilized as well.  If the situation is 3rd and 9 Brady should go to Danny at the stakes to get the first down. Danny has been carefully managed and now is the time to take off the kid gloves.  It’s cliché but true.  I really want them to establish the run at all costs.  It will help neutralize the aggressiveness of their D since they’ll know they can’t just wait to tee off on Brady.  Dion Lewis has the speed and shiftiness to be effective. Two components that I fear are defending the run pass option and getting turnovers.  If the Patriots can solve those options (and I think they will0 we will celebrate the 6th title in team history.

My best guess? Patriots 31 Eagles 30. This feel like another nail biter Super Bowl win for the Patriots.  Philly is too talented for this to be a blowout.

Best NFL Franchise in the history of the NFL? Superbowls W's don't lie!

Tom Brady is going to his 8th Super Bowl.  Legit a half a season’s worth of Super Bowls.  Even going to a Super Bowl is a nice accomplishment and he’s already back on his 8th.  It’s absolutely staggering.

One recurring theme sticks out this year, and it’s the Patriots feel like an A+ team while the rest of the league is an A-.  This year feels like shades of ’03.  Philly looks good overall but I think they can narrowly pull out a win.

Looking back what were my old thoughts before the games?

1996 = Bledsoe had an awesome year but the defense looks just OK.  I don’t like my chances against Favre.

2001 = I had the pleasure of going to the Patriots Rams game in the regular season.  It was really close and I’m glad they’re getting another crack at them.  I could see a Bills Giants upset here.  Pound the Rams skill players and wear down their will over time.  Antowain Smith is exactly the kind of power back that can neutralize their defense.

2003 = I like their chances.  Jake Delhomme feels like the epitome of OK QB that just doesn’t turn it over like Jay Fiedler.  Smith and Faulk can move the ball and score against their D. The Pats D feels better than the one they had two years ago.

2004 = The Pats have this.  McNabb isn’t quite on Brady’s level.  Vrabel, Willie McG, Ted and Rosevelt Colvin will keep Westbrook in check.  Their receivers don’t scare me other than Owens.  Branch and Givens are quick and shifty enough to get separation from the Eagles secondary.

2007 = Wow.  I really think they will go undefeated.  The Patriots are the only the 2nd team in the modern Super Bowl era to go undefeated.  The passing attack was running out of steam but it’s still lethal.  Lawrence Maroney gives them a complimentary rushing attack they’ll have to respect.  Eli is not always accurate and A LOT of his passes get picked off.  He’ll chuck it up for grabs, it will get picked off and that will seal the 19-0 season.

2011 = I don’t like their chances.  The Patriots are too pass happy.  Green Ellis and Ridley don’t run enough to give Brady a break.  Their D is OK points wise, but their 3rd down stats are terrible.  New York has enough on offense.  Brandon Jacobs can play ball control and wear down the D to burn clock and give them the win.  Cruz gets a lot of media attention but let’s not forget how good Hakeem Nicks is.

2014 = My guess is Seattle pulls this one out in the end.  This feels like a narrow loss.  Seattle’s pass rush is vicious.  I can see Bennett or Irvin beating the tackles late to sack Brady and kill their chances for a comeback.  Lynch will have some success on the ground.  Wilson will move the ball when the play breaks down.  Seattle by an eyelash.

2016 = Patriots by a millimeter this year.  Atlanta’s head coach worked under Peter Carroll.  Tommy knows their D pretty well.  The Falcons don’t have the skill players Seattle had so I don’t think scoring is a problem.  Their skill players are unreal.  Freeman and Coleman are quick and so fast they make Willie Parker look slow.  Jones is the face of their receivers but depth wise their 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th options are awesome as well.

This year feels like 2016 all over again.

GO PATS!

Patriots are destined to win today

Seven straight years where the Patriots have been at least a Final Four team is absolutely staggering.  Tomorrow they have a host to make their 8th Super Bowl and I’m feeling giddy.

You’d think the Patriots success would make me arrogant about them, but it hasn’t.  The Tyree catch shattered any I may have had.  My mind went back to “Eli throws a fair amount of picks.  He’ll chuck it up for grabs, it’ll get picked off and that will seal the 19-0 season.”

Right now I straddle the fine line of quiet confidence but not arrogance in the team’s chances.  Bill’s edict of always respect your opponent but not fear them rings true. Staying within this mindset seems to be right MO.

Situationally it’s been great to see things break the Patriots way.  Atlanta could have learned from its mistakes and outshot the Pats in a rematch.  New Orleans had a defense and rushing attack to beat them.  Thankfully Pittsburgh had the talent, but their coaching staff lacks the strategy to defeat them.

As Bill would say we are onto Jacksonville.  What are the chances Jacksonville could win? I peg them at 15 percent.  Fournette is big and talented enough to have success even if his ankle is banged up. TJ Yeldon is big, powerful, quick and good at catching passes.  You can see them moving the ball with those two.  The overwhelming majority of the time a great defense and running game can’t carry an OK quarterback to the Vince Lombardi trophy.  Trent Dilfer and 2015 Peyton Manning are the notable exceptions.

Blake Bortles is good enough to play mistake free.  Mercedes Lewis is big enough that he can beat Pat Chung in coverage.  Jacksonville can get to Tom Brady with just 4 rushers.  Their secondary is talented and can blanket the Pats skill players.  Tommy’s hand is injured so it’s fair to wonder if he can deliver the ball with accuracy.

How do I see this unfold? I respect Jacksonville but I don’t fear them.  My guess is their D holds Brady in check for a while.  Offensively they will move the ball but get stalled in the red area.  By the 3rd quarter I bet Jacksonville’s D get tired.  Brady turns the game into a track meet and targets Gronkowski.

Patriots 26 Jaguars 19

Tommy goes to his 8th Super Bowl!

GO PATS!

Pats Playoff and QB Drama

It’s a new day, New Year and the Pats are in the playoffs again.

 

Patriots Nation is knee deep in anticipation of the playoffs.  I’m wondering if Tommy will fit his other hand for Super Bowl rings the then the stuff hit the fan.

 

All of a sudden Seth Wickersham wrote an article saying there was a rift between the trio.  The song End of the road by Boys 2 Men rolled in my head.  As painful as it was to admit I couldn’t help but wonder if the gist of the article was right.  History does repeat itself.

 

Did Bill want to put Tom out to pasture only to be stopped by Kraft? Not likely. Tommy hasn’t slipped enough to consider removing him.  It’s more like he may have declined, but not enough to be removed.

 

Questions like this make you do down the rabid hole of conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories seem logical but are devoid of evidence so it’s hard to accept them as truth.  Twenty one years ago Bill Parcells lost a power struggle and was forced to take Terry Glenn.  The loss eventually led to his departure.  Kraft wouldn’t make the same mistake twice, right?

 

My spider senses shot up.  ESPN’s track record of fair and accurate reporting on the Patriots is especially awful.  I was 96 percent sure ESPN was full of lies, half-truths and outright fake news.  ESPN is a propaganda outlet for the NFL.  They publish known falsehoods like the Rams walk through being taped and Mortensen’s tweet.  Once they were caught for their falsehood they buried the retraction

 

What’s the truth? Kraft probably didn’t arm twist Bill to trade Jimmy.  Over the past 17 years he hasn’t intervened on personnel.  Bill probably realized Tommy still looks pretty good, he couldn’t keep Jimmy and moved him out of the conference.  Brady isn’t retiring anytime soon, you can’t get Jimmy to take a cheap deal and franchising him is bad business.  It would be better to get a 2nd round pick and Brian Hoyer instead of a compensatory 3rd round pick.  It makes sense hardly worthy of ESPN’s sensationalist headlines.  What really happened with Alex Guerrero being moved out? A lot of Guerrero’s principles like pliability, water, vegetables, getting lots of sleep and pliability make sense.  I’d bet Bill thought he was in a turf war and had to assert his control.  Nothing more or less.

 

NFL stands for Not for Long for a reason.  The idea that long term security exists is simply not true.  Jobs are always up for grabs so guys are going to be at each other’s throats.  ESPN and the rest of the anti-Patriots media are pretending like Brady is evil incarnate and its nauseating.  What’s the truth? Tommy and Jimmy had some issues at times but worked them out.  By all accounts they are friendly work buddies but not personal friends.  Jerry Thornton reported Jimmy had his own TB12 key card and used it often.

 

ESPN acts like there’s an ominous feeling around the team where the wheels could come flying off at any given time.  The truth probably is the team is prepared for a coaching exodus.  It’s an inevitable byproduct of success in in the NFL.  All of the talented assistants on a head coach’s staff leave for their own gig.

 

Deep down I figure Tommy has two more years left.  By then I figure he’ll win his 6th Vince and get complacent enough to hang up his spikes.  Bill was in a slump, but after drafting Jimmy and Jacoby I think he’s snapped out of it.  Ryan Mallett, Kevin O’Connell, Rohan Davey, Kliff Kingsbury and Zac Robinson were his misfires.  He’s hit pay dirt on Tommy, Matt Cassel, Brian Hoyer, Jimmy and Jacoby Brissett.

 

With a better I can see someone like Josh Allen, Baker Mayfield or Mason Rudolph taking over in 2020 and the good times keep rolling along.

 

GO PATS!