Since second-year unknown Tom Brady was forced into the starting lineup via an injury that made Drew Bledsoe the Wally Pipp of the new millenium, the New England Patriots have been the most dominant franchise in football. In a dozen seasons they've missed the playoffs twice. In both those years they failed to win the AFCE on a tiebreaker. In the remaining ten seasons they have gone to seven AFC championship games and five Super Bowls. They've won three rings, missing two others on miraculous pass plays. Their cumulative winning percentage for the era is staggering. Bill Belichick's Patriots have been a lock to win their division for as long as the Red Auerbach's Boston Celtics were a lock to win the NBA East, Casey Stengel's Yankees a lock to win the AL pennant, Paul Brown's namesakes a lock to win their conference (AAFC or NFL), or Toe Blake's Canadiens a lock to finish first among the Original Six. That's heady company.
It's not supposed to work that way anymore. Those teams were unshackled by free agency, salary caps and the like and had control over their rosters. Once you were good you stayed good unless or until somebody else got better. Yet since 2000 the Patriots, Ravens, Giants and Steelers have accounted for nine of the thirteen NFL championships.
It has to do with beating a system designed to create parity, and teams blessed with strong organizations have done it well, New England being the creamiest of the crop.
The Giants, of course, always have money and glamor on their side. The Steelers have had a Rooney at the helm for ages. New England's Kraft era has been a watershed. The Ravens and the Patriots both have some Paul Brown DNA in their systems --- New England has Bill Belichick, not only an ex-Browns head coach but also an ardent admirer and student of Paul Brown, and the Ravens are the team Paul Brown built.
But even the mighty have their limits. With New England, almost every season begs the question of how they intend to do it this time around. And this year, suddenly the mystery has deepened.
The Patriots went into the offseason stung by their loss to the Ravens, but clearly confident. They had a bunch of money to throw at free agents. Their draft slate was depleted by old trades, but you could almost smell them dealing their first-round pick for lower spots. Amazingly, they scored four of them.
It's a team that has transitioned from a defense-first grinder to an offensive powerhouse over the years. The defense has been lacking lately. This past season the rebuild was supposed to be just about done, and they looked the part all the way up to Aqib Talib's hamstring injury. But most observers thought they still needed DB help and a better pass rush. They have taken steps in that direction so far, but they haven't made a big splash. That's their style, and it isn't likely to change.
But suddenly the defense has taken a back burner. New England has won lately on the back of its offense. That offense suddenly looks a bit different.
Wes Welker is gone, and worse, gone for cheap money. Even worse than that, gone to a huge conference rival. Acrimony seems to have been involved. While Danny Amendola has been acquired, many Patriot fans were looking forward to the unleashing of Julian Edelman, the versatile ex-QB who seemed on the verge of stardom last season when several uncharacteristic injuries struck. Without him the kick return game fell apart, the kick defense suffered, and the offense became Welker-centric again. Now we hear that he's 'reinjured' his ankle in the offseason. And to make matters worse, Rob Gronkowski has apparently partied his way into a fourth surgery on his forearm. That may lead to a fifth. New England essentially has to write him off for 2013. Jake Ballard, picked off the Giants' IR in 2012, might be ready to fill the slot, but he's coming off an injury too, one that sidelined him a full season. And Brandon Lloyd is gone. One assumes Deion Branch is more suited for coaching material than for receiver material at this point.
Who exactly is going to catch the ball for an offense that seemingly must produce big numbers? Right now names like Hernandez, Ballard and Amendola jump out, but what else? Like Giselle said, Tom can't catch the ball too. And Tom is a bit picky. Even of those guys, two are complete newbies. New receivers are always a question mark in the Patriots' system. Joey Galloway? Chad Ochocinco? These were superstars elsewhere, no-shows in New England. A number of high-profile wideouts were available in the offseason. None were aggressively pursued. Anquan Boldin? Mike Wallace? Nope. Lloyd and Josh Cribbs are still out there. Are they on the radar? New England may regret not having signed at least one of them prior to the latest injury reports.
Certainly the setbacks to Gronkowski and Edelman were probably not foreseen, but New England's plan for its indispensable passing game was somewhat mysterious prior to that spate of bad news. Now it has become nearly incomprehensible, as has the general strategy for the upcoming season.
With all of the chaos of the past two weeks in my personal life and here, this post has been on the fire, off the fire smoldering , on the fire, on the back burner and off again…and now on again.
My Mom suffered a mild heart attack and is off for surgery and my patella bursitis has flared up so I'm in a knee immobilizer for a couple of weeks.
With Shorty back in town for the NFL draft, this gimpy legged tandem sat at the end of the bar thru the entire 3 days man… 3 days.
The last time I did anything for 3 days was back in ’69 at Yazgers farm. Everywhere there was song and celebration.
And speaking of Woodstock
Rest peacefully Richie Havens,72 who passed away last Monday. Richie released 25 albums over his career and is best known for being the opening act at Woodstock Music and Arts festival in 1969. Richie played for 3 hours while the other performers were getting ready after arriving late.
Best known for his renditions of Freedom, Hands of Time and Here Comes The Sun.
Hands of Time
Keep looking through the window pane
Just trying to see through the pouring rain
It's hearing your name, hearing your name
I never really felt quite the same, since I've lost what I had to gain
No one to blame, no one to blame
Seems to me, can't turn back the hands of time
Oh it seems to me, can't back the hands of time
Seems to me, can't turn back the hands of time
Oh it seems to me, can't turn back the hands of time
Seems to me, history was left behind
The NFL draft brought a little excitement over at Mo’s Tavern, some of the Gab guys weren’t exactly pleased with their teams picks. Rumor has it that one of our regulars is changing his identity. Our friend IHM will probably be going by I Hate M&M soon.
He was stomping around the un mowed side yard of the Tavern next to the bocce courts mumbling to himself “a funter, a pucking funter…I can’t believe they ficked a pucking funter”
The Beeze was there wearing two hats, his ND lid facing Northeast and A Rangers cap facing Southwest. He was saying how fate had delt him a bad hand with this Cleveland thing and that he shoulda moved to New England years ago for the wifey.
Mo was a little befuddled about the mower and his Hartford Whalers cap had gas and grass stains on the bill. Scott was trying to sell him on the idea of a lawn service. Mo wasn’t sipping a Fred like usual, he had a brown bag under the bar with something good in it…he wasn’t sharing.
Rad wasn’t dazzled at all by this draft, it wasn’t overwhelming at the beginning or end
And probably the best value was the middle rounds
BOB was ecstatic with the Forty Niners 200 picks and
Frag was at the first booth doing his lineup changes and giving fantasy baseball draft and trade tips to Qwazier, Lanz, Bandit and anyone else that would listen.
Sully was there laughing at the Gabbers who were wondering why their team took this guy and not that guy, didn’t move up to get X or down to get Y
…what diff does it make now, most of these guys will need a passport to get to the great cold North and try to catch on in the CFL.
Remember Bill Belichick moving up to take Chad Jackson and leaving Greg Jennings on the board…it’s a crap shoot so lets not get to high or low over it. It could be worse you Brownie fans, you could have been born Cowboys or Jets fans.
This is the first week of May and not wanting to further discuss the NBA or NHL
I’ve decided to bring you this special segment featuring a voice over by:
Read below in the voice of Morgan Freeman
Spring is here
… and so begins the annual migratory of the human kind as they embark on the tedious journey that ends with the female of the species pushing the male drone out of the nest to perform the rigorous tribal ritual know as the: honey do list
We find the limping alpha male oldharry looking over his domain, pondering his list
The windows need to be cleaned
The ceiling fans need a dusting
I have the house needs a new roof
I have the screen house on the piazza project
I have the clean out the shed project
I have the fix the fence before it fall the rest of the way and the neighbors pets get in
I still haven’t replaced the leaky faucet in the bathroom project
I have the buy a new lawn mower project so I can give back the mower I borrowed from Rick
I have the power wash the deck and patio, and paint the house project so I can
Put up the screen house project
I still have the put the new dishwasher in project
I have the dig out the stump project
I have the vegetable garden project so we can have those fresh vegetables all summer and fall. The work never ends with growing food. I have to tend the berries, blue, strawberry and raspberry. I have to watch the grape vine and be sure the weeds don’t win control over the herbs
I have the, we host mothers day brunch so get the flowers in the pots and make the yard
I have the fix the picnic table that got crushed by the tree that blew down and took out the table and the Toyota
I have the take the kayaks and canoe out and clean them so I can skip a few of these other projects and go fishing project
I have the lawn swing project for my mother in law
and so the oldharry drone limps and staggers about his tasks, he can be heard mumbling
Projects projects projects…never done never done…when one gets crossed off two get added on… and on and on
Don’t forget to check out some real sports with Lanz, over there------------à
It is the Monday after the NFL Draft, and I don't know about you, but I need a bath...Why you ask? Well, I live in Cleveland...And after this draft, it really fucking stinks in here!
There is this thing in Cleveland when everyone gets their hopes up when the Draft rolls around...Sadly, since 1999 the Browns have had a lot more misses then hits...In April Browns fans are blindly optimistic, lead by the Cleveland media that is more often than not blindly swinging on the nuts of the team, and believing everything they say to be gospel...There are very few who are willing to criticize the team on draft weekend, and those who do, like me, get shouted down....
Example: When the Browns took Notre Dame Safety Jamoris Slaughter in the 6th round, I voiced my displeasure with this move...You know I love ND, and I like Slaughter, but kid played 3 games, and tore his Achilles last year....The year before he missed most the season after a shoulder injury...He was only in the draft because the NCAA disallowed a second medical redshirt...Yes, he's a big hitter...But he's a small guy, just under 6 ft. and 195 pounds...So of course it was tweeted at me that in 39 games he made 98 tackles...Big fucking deal...Former ND safety, now Vikings safety made 93 tackles in one season...Another ND Safety, Zeke Motta, taken in the 7th round by the Falcons made 77 tackles this year...Why the fuck wouldn't you take the heavy hitter that he is, instead of the guy who has been hurt the last two seasons?
Another asshole tweeted at me, "You know it's the 6th round?" Yeah dick face...I also know there are better players and players who aren't hurt out there! Everyone at 92.3 the Fan are fucking idiots, who just got the rights top air the Browns games this season, so they're all afraid to be fucking honest...
Then they start tweeting that Mike Mayock was raving about the Browns getting Slaughter...Well no shit...He gets one of his paychecks doing color for Notre Dame games...He's not gonna blast a ND guy...Fucking tools!
The Browns first round pick, Barkevious Mingo, DE from LSU...Fine pick there...They had no 2nd round pick...They gave that up when they took Josh Gordon in the supplemental draft last year...Fine...Kid has skills...3rd round they took CB, Leon McFadden from San Diego St....WTF! Kid is 5-9...I like my corners a little taller...Kid ran a 4.5 40...I like my corners faster, especially if they are short...Kid was projected as a 6th rounder....Of fucking course he was! Then they show a quick video of him...The clip showed him getting beat by a WR 4-5 inches taller and if the QB could hadn't overthrown it, it's a TD...
No worries, the Browns have more picks...Wait, they traded a 4th and 5th to the Dolphins for Devone Bess...Okay, so adding him, plus the recent acquisition of David Nelson, the Browns are okay at WR...Then they traded another 4th round pick to Pittsburgh for their 4th round pick next year...Then they traded another 5th round pick to the Colts for their 5th round pick next year...Okay, so they are already throwing in the towel on this year's draft...Got it...
In the 7th round they drafted two guys, one DE and one OL, both from division 2 schools...Listen, no offense to D-2 guys, but if you wanted them, you probably could have signed them as rookie free agents...The DE has a great history of getting busted for selling dope to undercover police...TWICE! Great pick...Then the Browns went and signed Notre Dame C/G Braxston Cave...(Finally a smart move)...They also locked up Bess for 3 years...
The media kept saying this draft was weak...Light in star players...So maybe be smart and load up on depth...Like the Patriots who traded out of the 1st round (29 overall) for a 2,3,4,and 7th round picks...Oh, and they made a trade Jeff Demps and a 7 for LaGarrette Blount...The depth they added...2 WR, OLB, ILB, CB, S, and DE...3 players, all on Defense from Rutgers...I guess Bill liked something he saw from the Scarlet Knights D...
All I know for sure, is a couple months back I talked about me and my sports fandom being free agents when it comes to the NFL and MLB, because the Browns and Indians make me sick...I gave my baseball fandom to The Nationals with an eye on the Orioles and Pirates...In the NFL I talked about the Seahawks and Patriots...Yeah, sticking with that...The Browns proved me right this weekend...All I had to see was what the Bengals and Steelers, and Ravens were doing in the draft...Ravens looking to fill holes and maintain...Steelers and Bengals looking to get better...And they both did...The Browns look like they are maintaining...Only problem is, no one should want to maintain when you are a perennial loser!
-Other Draft news...Matt Barkley proved something I've known for awhile...USC QB's are overrated...4th round to Philly...Ouch...Which of their 4 QB's will stay and which will go?
Geno Smith doesn't go in the 1st round, which is hilarious since both ESPN and NFL network filled their promo shit with him...Lucky guy then goes to the Jets...Clearly the Jets wanted to lead the league in drama again...6 QB's now...Including the hack, Mark Sanchez, and the media darling Tim Tebow, now adding Smith who has already shown what a twat he is by tweeting his smarmy feelings to scouts and draft "experts"...Kid is going to flop...Especially going to that environment...
What I watched of the draft I watched on the NFL Network...ESPN is awful...I can't stand Berman, Gruden, and Kiper...How is it old Mel keeps his job...All this guy does is analyze players for the draft, and he is religiously wrong...Mayock is a douche, but he's right a lot more than the dopes on ESPN....
But then the NFL Network guys got on my nerves when they wouldn't shut up about Manti Te'o...People, you want to know why he slipped? Watch the National Championship game again...Missed tackle after missed tackle...Found himself out of position to make plays for the first time all year...On the biggest stage...With a cloud of lies hanging over his head about a fake, dead girlfriend...It's not the girlfriend shit...It's not even the slow 40 time...It's that game, and how he got owned...I knew he'd get drafted...There is too much potential there not too...But 1st round...No way...hey, lucky for him, he's going to San Diego...Wasn't his girl in the Hospital there!?!
-The NHL playoffs will get started this week...My NY Rangers are playing well and seem to have it all together at the right time...They'll start off with The Washington Capitals...Hopefully they roll right through them...Rick Nash finally gets to take his game to the Playoffs...Looking to see him shine...I'm feeling so confident that I have excepted a bet friendly blogging bet on this series with SunTzu4m!
Chicago is the favorite out West, but they open up with the Minnesota Wild who have been a pain in their ass this year...The Wild have invested a lot this year...They want to win now...Should be an interesting goaltending battle between The Wild's Backstrom and The Blackhawks' Crawford...Both teams have firepower, so it will come down to which goalie can steal a game or two.
-This coming Saturday we have the Kentucky Derby...I love Derby day...We get the kids together and all pick horses...The kids have done well the last few years...Always a good time...Maybe I'll give them a couple Mint Juleps...Make it easier to take their money!
So free agency has passed its big flurry in the NFL. Anybody learn anything? Perhaps we relearned what we knew already. Some of it was hard to fathom at first glance, though. And the real story seemed to be measured in losses, not gains.
The Ravens, they of the Super Bowl rings, had an impossible list of their own free agents to sustain, and they didn't sustain them. They appeared to look at it as a choice --- would they sign Flacco, or would they sign the rest of the team? They chose Flacco, and in a market that hasn't been what one would call 'hot', they signed him for top dollar, letting such luminaries as Anquan Boldin (whose jump-ball acrobatics got Flacco some of his most crucial completions) get away. Add to that Kruger, Ellerbe, Reed, Williams and Pollard from the defense. Don't forget that Birk and Lewis, two eternal mainstays, have retired. Flacco's bonanza was said to have been prestructured to permit the team to sustain itself, but most of their acquisitions, Dumervil the most visible, were flotsam jettisoned from their respective squads. Sort of looks like the Black Hawks a few years back. Maybe it's all they could do. Hey, it's worked out for the Black Hawks.
The two most successful franchises of the new millenium, New England and Pittsburgh, as usual have raised more eyebrows than beer glasses. The Patriots lost Wes Welker. The Steelers cut James Harrison, but he's not the only conspicuous absentee. They have cleaned house. Obviously the past season has been viewed as unacceptable, and the team is going on a character hunt. New England, meanwhile, has simply been quiet, gauging the market almost perfectly with regard to the low demand, but failing to sign any real home-run hitters. That's par for the course. Why should they change what they do? Actually, why should either franchise? Fans wonder who'll accompany Brady and Roethlisberger to the playoffs besides their respective coaches. Chances are, as ever, that someone will. The Bengals are feverishly resigning their myriad FAs. The Steelers are letting most of theirs go. Now, whom do you trust?
The Denver Broncos are a shade different, and predictably so. Despite their loss of Elvis, it must be noted that they weren't all that keen on keeping him anyway. They are loading up a bit, possibly back-burnering the future while recognizing that the present is named Peyton, and that present may be fleeting. Their actions tell you that they perceive the window to be closing fairly quickly. But even then they've been fairly conservative. Welker came at bargain-basement cost for a perennial 100-catch man.
San Francisco, a team with a powerful core, have lost some of that core with names like Goldson, Walker, Sopoaga and Ginn already gone. Oh yeah, Alex Smith. They've made some acquisitions, Anquan Boldin among them. They have no reason to think that success will pass them by, except for....
Seattle has a long list of UFAs to think about, probably too many. They've gone out of their way to bolster the DE position on a fearsome defense though, and ought to contend again, even with SF to deal with. Still, it's unusual to see a young team with this many UFAs all at once.
Philly, surprisingly, has been stocking up on defense. Rather a shocker for a team with a new sidelines regime headed up by a college coach, but it seems the word is 'get better fast'. It won't matter. They will almost certainly curse themselves with Mike Vick again. This season we find out whether the problem was really Andy Reid or not.
Houston has a list of free agents a mile long. Their one big acquisition has been Ed Reed. That's a wait-and-see, owing perhaps only to the question of whether Indy's 11-5 season was a partial fluke or not. And Indy, meanwhile, has been fairly active. They don't seem to be thinking fluke.
The big news out of regular season kingpin Atlanta is the tearful unretirement of Tony Gonzalez and the tearful (in New York) arrival of Osi Umenyiora. That's about it, outside of John Abraham, Michael Turner and Dunta Robinson being cut outright.
The rest of the league is behaving as it usually does. Snyder's Skins, who usually spend the offseason driving up prices like yuppies who food-shop at places with 'whole' or 'natural' in the logo, are saddled this season with a list of their own FAs a mile long. Maybe that's what's holding the market down to a dull roar.
In summary, the bottom feeders are looking for a magic floatation device and most of the sustained winners are doing things the way they always do them, with a few exceptions. Most of the big news has been in losses, not gains. It looks like this season's splash news will be centered on the draft despite a supposedly middling pool of talent compared to recent years, at least at the glamor positions. Every dumb fan, driven by every screaming sports commentator, wants the whole enchilada right now. The real minds seem to see things differently. Likely the smart teams are biding their time with the remainders, figuring that the cost will inexorably drop further and they might get two puzzle pieces for the price of one.
It’s funny. It’s mid-March and I’m already jonesing for football season. I loved the Patriots when they were terrible, then mediocre. I remember the game Mo Lewis took Drew Bledsoe out and said to my wife, “Well, there goes the season.” We went to the November 18, 2001 game against the Rams and I remember saying on the way to the stadium, “this is the Patriots’ Super Bowl.” They were 5-4 at the end of that game and I thought that was as good as it got.
The very first Patriots game I went to was a 1987 game against the Philadelphia Eagles – a game they were trailing so badly by the end of the 3rd quarter that we left before the 4th. The Pats took it to overtime but lost on a field goal. Turns out that field goal was the difference between a playoff berth and not playing until September.
I love the Patriots. I grew up here, in the shadow of Schaefer/Sullivan/Foxboro Stadium . I lived through the Lisa Olsen sexual harassment case. I lived through the Victor Kiam “I liked the team so much I bought it” bull. I’ve lived through the 1-15 seasons and the Super Bowl glory. It’s good to have been a Pats fan, especially over the last 10+ years. Kids today wear Tom Brady’s jersey the same way I wore Terry Bradshaw’s growing up.
I’m covered in snow, over a foot and a half actually, and as I shovel, I’m thinking, “during football season this is awesome…otherwise, this sucks.” It’s March. The Ravens won the Super Bowl over a month ago – I mourn for my beloved friends in Cleveland who had to witness that. The Browns have been a disgrace since re-entering the league, despite the fandom’s fever and passion. I’ve had the opportunity to witness the Dawg Pound first hand and I have to say – as a life long fan of the New England Patriots – there isn’t a fan base out there more deserving of a football championship than that of the Cleveland Browns.
But that’s what the NFL has become. Prime time. 50” plasma. Surround sound. Scheduled date time, Sunday at 1. Have to be there television. 16 games. Miss a week, miss a lot. Baseball? My other love. Baseball is the perfect summer game. No clock. Just ball. Head to the ball park, grab a beer, watch the game. Since the Red Sox won the World Series in 2004, those trips to the park have become fewer and farther between, but they come.
Baseball is a much different creature, and something MLB hasn’t quite figured out. In this age of gargantuan televisions and high definition, baseball is best experienced at the ballpark or on AM radio...the next best experience is on a crackly old B&W television with aluminum foil on its antennae. Baseball is a throwback – please don’t try to sell me mlb.com access to every game. I don’t give a crap about every game – I care about the games that affect my beloved Red Sox and a newspaper boxscore will do.
I honestly don’t care about spring training. I don’t care about the NBA and, although heresy in these parts, the NHL holds little interest for me. Would I prefer the Bruins win than lose? Absofreakinglutely. Do I go out of my way to watch a Canadiens/Bruins tilt? No. Celtics/Lakers? Box score please. You’re more likely to read me talking about Major League Soccer than NASCAR, and definitely more likely to catch me talking some obscure game than anything NCAA.
Sports and its metrics hold currency with me: what really is the “home field advantage?” Why don’t 15-1 teams win the Super Bowl? Hello, let me re-introduce myself. I’m Mo. I like beer and sports, mostly Boston sports. I don't need you or anything...except this ashtray...