I’m a busy bee and have been reduced to my old “Lurker” status here as I check in for a quick read. Like the great Steve Miller sings, “Time keeps on slipping, slipping into the future”
So the New England Patriots are playing their division rival New York Jets in a monsoon on Thursday night so I will have this posted and ready to go before 8:30PM. A lot of fun storylines with talk of Darrelle Revis playing some wide receiver? Practice squad running back Jonas Gray stepping into the New England backfield? Jets tight end Jace Amaro finally putting together a good game last week.
STORY OF THE WEEK:
The best storyline is the the Bill Parcells book set to be released in a few weeks and news of the advance copy having plenty of juicy details about the divorce of Parcells-Belichick. Since the divorce--don’t forget--Parcells won nothing while Belichick won three Super Bowls and went to five.
That said, going back twenty years to what football in New England was pre-Parcells and Drew Bledsoe is almost comical. Whenever the team found the smallest measure of success, they found a way to ruin it in spectacular fashion. The Lisa Olsen Scandal. The Cocaine Scandal post getting Super Bowl shuffled in 1986. General Manager Pat Sullivan getting his ass kicked by Matt Millen and Howie Long after he taunted them after the Patriots upset the Raiders in the playoffs in ‘86. Michael Jackson’s Victory Tour failure nearly bankrupting the team owners. The debacle of drafting quarterback Tony Eason over Dan Marino. Steve Grogan, John Hannah, and Steve Nelson playing so many years for so many bad teams. Trading away the draft picks that became Hall of Famers Jerry Rice and Cortez Kennedy. Head coach Chuck Fairbanks bailing on the team. Roughing the passer against Oakland in 1976. This list goes on and on and on and on and on. I am sure the Northeast Gabbers can add about 20 more without taxing their brains.
The Patriots owe a debt of gratitude to Parcells for sure, but kudos to Belichick for getting out from “Big Bill’s” shadow. Belichick has hinted at how he hated being linked to Parcells when he saw him as a defensive assistant coach who got the lucky break of taking on the Giants top position. Belichick always visibly reacted whenever a reporter made the mistake of referring to him as a Parcells protegee. Belichick really is a part of the Joe Collier coaching tree as Collier was the long-time defensive coach in Denver and where the “Orange Crush” 3-4 defense took root. Parcells was a Ray Perkins acolyte and Belichick was more established in his defensive philosophy prior to landing in New York. To lump Belichick into the Parcells family tree is really a stretch when you look at the differing styles and philosophies.
That said, I am really looking forward to Parcells’ book and gleaning a little more information about his ending in New England. Should be a fun read.
I’ve been keeping my eyes on the AFC East as always as I write primarily about the Patriots, but in watching Buffalo the demise of C.J. Spiller has been eye-opening. While the benching of 2013 first-round draft pick quarterback E.J. Manuel has been the top story, the declining touches for Spiller has been shocking. He’s hit 15 carries just twice this season and against New England had just six carries after just ten against Detroit the week prior.
The offensive line in Buffalo is atrocious and Fred Jackson’s quick-decision running style is more conducive to toughing out yards after contact. Center Eric Wood is adequate and left tackle Cordy Glenn is excellent, but right tackle Seantrel Henderson and guards Erik Pears and Cyril Richardson are dreadful and not NFL starting quality.
Now, backup running back and former Philadelphia Eagle Bryce Brown is healthy at last and Spiller looks like the odd man out. Spiller is still effective in the return and passing game, and I believe the game tape does not lie: the problem is his poor blocking offensive line.
The Boston Hollywood Sports Guy returned to Grantland/ESPN this week as his three week suspension for criticizing of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Three weeks later and my life was no poorer not reading his “mailbag” or not listening to his podcast as I haven’t tuned in to that since probably 2007 a few weeks after it came out. Simmons reportedly was furious about the suspension but didn’t go on a public diatribe or anything.
On one hand, Simmons is the godfather to us all. Blogs were not even really a “thing” back in the nineties. Simmons actually is a good writer who was a bartender after not being able to break into the Boston sports reporting scene. Simmons started writing on AOL Digital City (ahh, the heady 90s go-go Internet days!) and had his own website: BostonSportsGuy.com. By 2001 he was onto the big time at ESPN. After a hiatus to join the Jimmy Kimmel show in Hollywood, he was back and soon had his site Grantland.com.
In the pre-ESPN days, I adored Simmons and his unique style of writing. Without him, would TSN have blogs? Would I have started my BostonSportPage.com blog in 2005? Would we be sitting around the Gab loving and sharing sports? Probably not. That said, he went from “Must Read” to “ehhh, whatever” in the past few years. It is hard to maintain momentum and there are a ton of imitators who have come and gone.
I was ecstatic to see Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll come out against the seven inactive players on game day. Currently, the NFL has a 53 man roster that receives full pay and counts against the salary. Randomly, the league has the team only be able to play 46 of the 53. They’re paying them but not playing them? Why?
Since I never heard a rational reason and having more healthy players able to contribute can limit teams using starters on special teams (Rob Gronkowski’s broken forearm in 2012 blocking on an extra point?) is a good thing, what the heck is the league doing? It seems ludicrous for teams to have to pay these players a full salary and sit them? Make it 46 players or keep it 53, but LET THEM PLAY.
Wow, got on a few tangents there. OK, folks, time for me to watch some Thursday Night Football. P.S. Kudos to IHM filling in superbly for the great O.H. here on Thursday. Be sure to swing by next door to check in with the always interesting, informative, and opinioned StorminNorman as well --->.
There, that’s it. Not talking about those idiots anymore. They’re taking away from this fantastic football season and that is a shame.
So many great games to date, so many great games to come:
Matt Ryan is back to being elite. No he’s not. Wait, maybe he is. Tune in next week because with Julio Jones, Harry Douglas, and Roddy White that offense SHOULD be putting up sick numbers. Heck of a performance in week one and now week three (as it is on in the background) tearing apart Tampa Bay. Breakout star tight end Jordan Reed has been hurt and 2011 fifth round draft pick Niles Paul (who had four receptions last year, eight the year before, and just two in 2011) pulls down eight passes in week two for 99 yards and a touchdown. Crazy!
That RGIII injury? OUCH. My ankle hurt just seeing the replay. How about Kirk “Kissing” Cousins stepping in and the offense playing better without Griffin? Robert Griffin III looked efficient but not spectacular. Cousins had a big-game kind of day and just looks right for the role sitting in the pocket and finding everyone EXCEPT DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon seemingly. Yes, it was Jacksonville (why oh why did I go on record about the “huge improvement on defense” for the Jags?) but impressive none the less.
Speaking of the Jaguars, owner Shad Khan (cue the William Shatner cue the Star Trek II “KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAANNNNNNNNN!” clip) fired manager number three in just over a year across the pond as disappointing Fulham was relegated last year and losing to Nottingham Forest (yah, that’s as bad as it sounds...being beaten by the merry men!). I would not want to be head coach in Jacksonville with that track record for an owner. The Jags are 0-2, scored 27 total points in two games, have given up 75 points, top wide receivers Justin Blackmon and Ace Sanders are suspended, tight end Marcedes Lewis is on injured reserve, second-round draft pick Marqise Lee is out with a hamstring injury, and week one star receiver Allen Hurns is doubtful to play with an ankle injury. Current top receiver Cecil Shorts has not played yet after pulling down 66 catches last year and is still questionable for Sunday. That is rough. At least they’re sitting first-round pick Blake Bortles rather than run him out with no receivers to throw to on Sunday.
Super Bowl rematch in week three? Yes! Denver looking shaky but still winning both games...Seattle losing to San Diego as the Chargers picked apart the defense. Did not hear much in the offseason about Seattle’s losses on the defensive line, but Cliff Avril and Michael Bennett can’t do it all every week. Bruce Irvin needs to show up--he’s skated as a first round pick in 2012 for the Seahawks due to their other great personnel moves. Irvin is on the hot seat now. Chris Clemons and Red Bryant in Jacksonville, Clint McDonald in Tampa Bay … that’s a lot of players lose in the middle of the defensive line. Tony McDaniel and Brandon Mebane are run-stuffers, linebacker K.J. Wright does not rush the quarterback, and youngsters Jordan Hill, O’Brien Schofield and veteran Kevin Williams have not contributed much in the pass rush. Are there cracks in the defense in Seattle? Stay tuned.
Speaking of Thursday Night Football on CBS...
I LOVE IT!!! Nothing better than primetime football on free TV.
The commercials for Tea Leoni in “Madame Secretary”?
Not so much of a fan. I predict six episodes and it is never seen again.
The Cincinnati Bengals have been the most complete team looking strong on defense (shutting down the Falcons last week looks even better with the Falcons destroying Tampa Bay Thursday Night) and doing enough on offense without wide receiver A.J. Green and tight end Tyler Eifert hurt last week. Jeremy Hill and Gio Bernard are a dynamic duo at running back and getting back to health makes Cincinnati a favorite...up until the playoffs when Andy Dalton will find a way to lose the game. That said, the Bengals--in week three--and being 2-0 are already having trouble getting to the 85% threshold to avoid a blackout? Seriously? Thumbs down, Cincy...not like anyone is going to watch the Reds trying to hold off the Cubs for last place in the NL Central these next few weeks!
OK, that’s all for today. Have a great weekend, all!
Busy night with yet another fantasy football draft (trying to limit the number of fantasy football leagues this year to single-digits) and then the Patriots-Giants preseason game to watch and note (and get all Twitter-chatting about the game as well) while flipping between the college football action. I do not know where the SEC Channel came from on my cable package, but I love it.
The NFL updated their domestic violence policy after their wrist-slap on Ravens running back Ray Rice. With a second offense leading to banishment, it is a harsh penalty. Hitting a woman is wrong, especially when it is a professional athlete who spends hours in the gym getting ready to deliver bone-rattling hits on other freaks of nature with extreme speed, strength, and athleticism. Nice to the see the NFL did something right.
Loved seeing that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is “very upset” about the Logan Mankins trade. He needs a chip on his shoulder. Mankins is gone because he did not want to renegotiate his contract. That’s fine, it’s his right as a player. But the Patriots are not paying a 32-year-old guard a contract costing over $20 million combined in 2014 & 2015 as he has clearly declined since 2011. Getting a move tight end (Tim Wright) and a 4th round pick is a steal for clearing cap space. Second-year guard Josh Kline should be ready to step in unless the Patriots go with veterans Dan Connolly and/or Ryan Wendell at a guard spot. Better a year early with Mankins than a year late!
Cleveland All-World wide receiver Josh Gordon is out for the year with his suspension. I really expected that he would be able get his sentence reduced, but he apparently went for all or nothing and paid the price. He indicated interest in playing in the CFL this year, but the Browns nixed that opportunity. Gordon did not hit a woman. He did not drink and drive (well, he wasn’t suspended for that!) and put innocent lives in danger, nor did he take drugs designed to give him an unfair advantage over his opponents. Nope, just smoked some weed (or, as he contested, inhaled second-hand smoke) and got busted on a drug test.
Denver wide receiver Wes Welker has yet to be cleared to play, but with 3 concussions in his last 10 games for Denver he has to be careful. Yes, he has the right to earn a living, but his health is too important to put in jeopardy. Concussions are not a joke. Welker is in the last year of his contract and is likely wanting to look good for potential suitors, but rushing back from a concussion is a bad idea.
Finally, ESPN reached a new low as “reporter” Josina Anderson wrote an article on openly gay St Louis Rams player Michael Sam and his showering habits in the locker room and if other teammates are uncomfortable. I refuse to click on the article or anything talking about it. The man is a football player. His sexual orientation should not be the story, but rather his play on the field. Leave the kid alone and see if he makes the team before getting into any other crap that floats around the league.
The NFL season is getting geared up as there are just two weeks left in the preseason and much to talk about. Time to get right to the notes (before I import any tables and crash the site again--whoops!).
In Philly, the big news last night was running back LeSean McCoy’s thumb on Thursday night. Initially what could have been a break was released as a sprain and should shut him down until opening day. Huge positive news for Philadelphia and fantasy football owners. McCoy is one of the best running backs in the NFL but the fear of injury is always a concern.
Their opponents Friday night was Pittsburgh and their pair of “Dopes” in the backfield. Former Bucs and Patriots running back LeGarrette Blount and last year’s top back Le’Veon Bell were arrested on Wednesday after a police officer on a motorcycle noticed the smell of marijuana and both were arrested after a traffic stop. The duo may now face discipline from the league and Pittsburgh may be shorthanded come opening day against Cleveland. Some nice preparation for the game, for sure.
Number one overall pick defensive end Jadeveon Clowney left practice Wednesday as he suffered an undisclosed injury but rumors were bouncing around it was a neck injury but not serious. That said, the kid has been fantastic to date. Moving from end in college to outside linebacker in the 3-4 under defensive coordinator Romeo Crennel’s three time Super Bowl ring defense, Clowney has been explosive and disruptive to date. For Houston, they need to protect their investment and not rush him back. Clowney and J.J. Watt look like a dynamic pass rushing duo this season and beyond.
In Indianapolis, the Colts have to be wondering when running back Trent Richardson is going to break out. After trading a first round pick to Cleveland for the former #3 overall pick, Richardson did nothing but lose his job last season. With Vick Ballard injured and just a washed-up Ahmad Bradshaw behind Richardson, the Colts have a gaping hole on offense. They traded for Eagles back David Fluellen this week, but the undrafted free agent is likely just a depth option for the practice squad. The Colts are running out players like Zurlon Tipton, Deji Karim, and Daniel Herron at running back. Expect Indy to scour the waiver wire for some backs at cutdowns. Whoever thought Donald Brown would look so good and be missed?
The New York Jets lost their third and fourth round draft picks this week as cornerback Dexter McDougle and receiver Shaq Evans landed on injured reserve. The Jets were expected to lean on their rookies this season and losing two already does not bode well. Oft-injured former Dolphins cornerback Dimitri Patterson has been out and the cornerback position has been so thin that safety Antonio Allen was moved to slot cornerback. For a team that had one of the best duos in football at cornerback in Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, they now have flotsam and jetsam at the position. Wide receiver is not much better. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg (sorry Detroit fans to bring up that bad memory!) now has Eric Decker and...well, no one any good at receiver. David Nelson, Jeremy Kerley, Jacoby Ford, Greg Salas, and Stephen Hill look like a cutdown list, not a depth list.
In Arizona, the Cardinals lost a key cog in their strong defense when veteran nose tackle Darnell Dockett went down with an ACL injury during a non-contact drill. He is out for the season and backup Frostee Rucker is just not comparable to Dockett in the middle of the defense. The Cards also signed veteran Isaac Sopoaga last seen being beat out by undrafted free agents for playing time in New England. Big loss for Arizona.
A 2012 second-round draft pick was released this week as the St. Louis Rams dumped oft-injured running back Isaiah Pead after he tore his ACL last week. Pead has had injuries, suspensions, crappy play, and sixth-round pick Zac Stacy making him obsolete in St. Louis. The question becomes whether anyone wants to take a chance on him and stash him for a year and see if he can bounce back next year. Quite the long-shot, though.
Of course, the biggest news (as far as ESPN was concerned) was Johnny Football was told he will ride the pine week one. Of course, a quarterback who played in the shotgun, had no playbook, and was late for practices and looked terrible all preseason really should have had no shot to play at all. Great news for career backup Brian Hoyer as he gets a shot to play at last. For Johnny Manziel, hopefully he gets his head on straight and buckles down and gets himself ready to play in the NFL. Of course, I said all along this guy is just another Tim Tebow...he has time to prove me wrong, but I am not counting on it.
Finally, in Cincinnati the Bengals signed linebacker Vontaze Burfict to a four-year $20 million extension paying him $7.6 million this year. Burfict was an undrafted free agent who signed for a $5,000 signing bonus as no other team wanted any part of the troubled and slow linebacker coming out of college. The Bengals got two fantastic seasons from the big run-stuffer at NFL minimum contract level before re-upping him wisely now. If Burfict played again at the minimum contract this year he would likely have been looking for a new address as a free agent this offseason.
A lot of NFL action at last this week with the Hall of Fame game on Sunday and Thursday night full of action. I know I spent Thursday night glued to the tube watching the Patriots back-ups (No Tom Brady, Darrelle Revis, etc) face-off against the Redskins second squad.
The Curious Case of Jon Baldwin:
24 year-old wide receiver Jon Baldwin was a 2011 first-round draft pick in Kansas City and dealt to the 49ers last year during training camp for fellow high-draft pick washout wide receiver A.J. Jenkins. The 49ers cut Baldwin this week and he was claimed on waivers by the Lions. He lasted two days and was waived as he failed a physical (knee issue presumably). Here is a kid out of football three years after being a first-round pick after a fantastic college career at Pitt where he ripped up the Big East with his size (six-foot-five and 228 pounds) and sub 4.50 speed. He suffered a wrist injury in his first training camp as a rookie in a fight with a teammate and never got on track. Another disappointing year had him traded and now he is on the outside looking in.
Baldwin is down to his final chance. When he gets healthy, he may have one chance left. Hard to believe a first-round pick could fall so far so soon. You just do not see teams miss on a pick like this these days.
A Couple of Losers:
Former NFL quarterback Scott Mitchell who was once supposed to carry the Detroit Lions to glory, is on the Biggest Loser this fall. No, not just because he lost football games, but rather he has ballooned to 366 pounds and is looking for help to get back to a more suitable weight. He is joined by former Jets, Lions and Patriots offensive lineman and current ESPN analyst Damien Woody who is tipping the scales at a shade under 400 pounds.
Two former Lions on the “Biggest Loser”--that’s cruel, NBC.
Another First-Round Pick out of the League:
New York Giants running back and 2012 first-round draft pick was forced to retire due to a recurring neck injury. Just 23 years-old, Wilson was an All-American in two sports out of high school, All-American, honor roll and ACC Offensive Player of the Year in college. Doctors advised him to retire from football due to his neck injury and the risk of further damage. Two years, just 21 games and he is now looking at a career change.
It is a tough break for the Giants, but so much better to see he was smart enough to retire rather than end up with a horrible debilitating injury.
A Real Pisser:
Ending the Notes on an funny note here. Franklin, OH citizen Paul Serbu was arrested by Baltimore police. Posting on YouTube a video of himself urinating on former Browns owner Art Modell who had moved the team to Baltimore (and fired Bill Belichick--that was his biggest crime!) tipped off the police. Modell broke the heart of many Cleveland fans by moving the Browns to Baltimore. Posting as “BrownsFan4Life” Serbu had a little rant, ripped off a Ravens jersey to reveal a Browns jersey, and using a tube and catheter he proceeds to urinate on Modell’s grave. Could he have got away with it? Sure, just do not post it in a public location where thousands can see it and identify you
OK, time to overdose on football. Have a great weekend, all!