Friday, October 31, 2014

LeBron Self Proclaims Opening Night For Cavs Is Biggest Game In The History Of The NBA...... Promptly Has Worst Game In Career



Last night was a crazy sports night. You had my guy Jameis Winston getting destroyed in the first half of the FSU/ Louisville game and then leading the Noles back with 3 TD passes and ice water in his vain. Yes, he had 3 picks, but here in NE all that matters is a W/L record and Jameis' W/L record is 22 or 21-0. Just a stud.

Then you had the Saints led by Mark Ingram (finally) beat the hapless Panthers. You have to feel bad for Cam Newton. He has Greg Olson, but after that he only has rookie surprise Kelvin Benjamin (Jameis' old friend) to rely on.

But the game I was excited for the most was the Cleveland game. I think self proclaiming the game as biggest in NBA history is just a token dumb LeBron statement that he sometimes does. However, this game had a lot of interesting stories. 1. LeBron back in Cleveland. 2. How LeBron, Kyrie and Kevin Love play together. 3. Blatt's first game as a coach. 4. Gauge how bad the Knicks truly are.

LeBron admitted that the pressure took him over this game which would make sense for his bad game. LeBron finished with 17 points, 5-15 from the field, 1-5 from 3, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 8 TOs. Which is unheard from LeBron and us as NBA fans shouldn't get used to that. Kevin Love had a respectable game with 19 boards and 15 rebounds. He was hot in the first half and in the second half didn't do much. Kyrie had a weird game 22 and 7 assists.

In the 4th the Cavs made a comeback, but in crunch time they looked very disorganized. Blatt will eventually make those adjustments.

FYI... The Celtics are currently a 1 seed, lead the league is scoring per game aka best offense in the league. Meanwhile the lowly Cavs wouldn't make the playoffs.

For all the people that think the LeBron commercial is so great... check out this Rajon one out:

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Red Sox re-sign Koji Uehara

In my Mike the GM: Looking Towards the Off Season article last month I discussed the closing situation for the Red Sox.

Koji Uehara is a free agent after this season. He hit a rough patch from Mid-August through early September that got him removed from the closer role. Prior to that, he was still on the roll that started last year with a 1.27 ERA. They mentioned that he had hit some mechanical issues. He seems to have worked them out. He's given up 1 hit and no runs in his last 3 appearances.
Conclusion: Bring Koji back. He's been effective and at 39 years of age nobody is going to be breaking the bank to sign him. It shouldn't be hard to bring him back on a short term deal for reasonable money. It wouldn't hurt to have a Plan B in case Uehara's age catches up with him.
Today the Red Sox did exactly what I suggested. They signed Koji to a deal for 2 years and $18 Million. The money is a bit more than I would have guessed for Koji. It doubles his annual salary from 2013 and 2014 and puts him in the same range as some of the best closers in baseball (As a point of comparison, Jonathan Papelbon is getting $13 Million from the Phillies). What I like about the deal is the years. It's a short term overpay, but it's not a crippling long term commitment.  At age 39 it's dangerous to be handing out lengthy contracts. If he keeps up his level of production it will be a bargain for the Red Sox. If he turns into a complete bust it won't sting for too long.

As a fan, I love this signing. I've always enjoyed Koji's enthusiasm and the way he pitches. He comes right after them and he works fast.I don't know how that affected the clubhouse, but after the disastrous seasons in 2011 and 2012 it was great to see a guy other than Pedroia who really cared about what was happening on the field.
-Mike

Fuck Tanking.... Celtics Are Going To Win A Lot Of Games This Year



If anyone watched the 121- 105 destroying of the Nets last night, you saw the potential, you saw the defense, you saw a lot of good players that are in a roll right now, but could evolve into really good players.

The excitement starts with the return of the Captain and best PG in the league Rajon Rondo. Rajon absolutely killed the Nets with the pace of the game and his passing, offense and defense were incredible. I'm sure the Rondo haters will wave their HE MISSED HIS FREE THROWS HE NEEDS TO BE TRADED. But the old Rondo is back, he was an absolute beast and got our bigs a ton of easy opportunities and our perimeter players a lot of open 3s. Under Doc Rivers he wasn't able to run as open as he has been, but under Brad Steven's he gives him a lot of control to run it in his terms. He's also a big reason why the Celtics were able to shoot above 60% for 3 quarters of this game.

The Celtics as a team were incredible. Their perimeter defense is going to be a top 5 team and their pace is going to lead a lot of points from a lot of people. The Celtics had an astonishing 8 players in double digits with points. Incredible, I think I heard that hasn't happened since 2002.

You have to be excited with Kelly Olynyk's offensive game. He led the team with 19 points and he is extremely polished on the offensive end. Where he will struggle is on the defensive end, when he has to guard more physical players.

Avery Bradley has become a great shooter. He is very consistent and is incredible with his cuts. He will always open up the court with his back door cuts. Jeff Green also seemed to play motivated. He will score around 17 ppg, but he was putting a noticeable effort in the rebounding department.

Also their has to be a lot of excitement with Marcus Smart. He is an incredible defender, he had 4 steals and his offense is going to be consistent with his aggressive way of play. I really see him being a great player.

Evan Turner also impressed me in his limited time.

I know it's early, but I'm pretty sure the Celtics are going to win the Championship.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Things For Celtics Fans to Root For This Season

In my last Celtics article I wrote about why you should be rooting for the Celtics to lose every game this year. I suppose that's not the ideal scenario. There are a few other draft pick considerations that should be taken into account. In addition to their natural picks, the Celtics have some draft picks from other franchises coming up in 2015.

2015 first round draft pick from Philadelphia
Philadelphia's 2015 1st round pick to Boston (via Miami) protected for selections 1-14; if this pick falls within its protected range and is therefore not conveyed, then Philadelphia will instead convey its 2015 2nd round pick and 2016 2nd round pick to Boston [Miami-Philadelphia, 6/28/2012 then Boston-Golden State-Miami, 1/15/2014]

What this means: This pick came to the Celtics in the Jordan Crawford/MarShon Brooks for Joel Anthony trade. The ideal scenario is the Sixers finishing right in the middle with the 15th pick. If they do better the pick slides back in the first round. If they do worse and fall into the bottom 14 the pick slides back to the second round. It could be notable down the stretch if the Sixers are in that neighborhood. A game or two could be the difference between the 15th pick overall or the 44th overall for the Celtics.

2015 first round draft pick from L.A. Clippers
L.A. Clippers' 2015 1st round pick to Boston [Boston-L.A. Clippers, 6/25/2013]

What this means: This pick is from the Doc Rivers deal. There are no strings on this pick. You should be pulling for whomever is playing the Clippers. The "Beat LA" chant should be in full force.

2015 second round draft pick from Washington
Washington's 2015 2nd round pick to Boston protected for selections 31-49 (if this pick falls within its protected range and is therefore not conveyed, then Washington's obligation to Boston will be extinguished) [Boston-Washington, 7/19/2014]

What this means: This pick came to the Celtics from the Kris Humphries trade. This is another tricky one where you want the Wizards to do well enough to fall outside of the range of the protection on the pick but not to do so well as to move the pick back. Unlike the Philadelphia picks, there is no alternate option. If it doesn't happen the pick just goes away.
-Mike

Celtics vs Nets Preview

Depth Chart

 
BKN (PPG)
BOS (PPG)
PG        D. WilliamsR. Rondo
SG        J. JohnsonA. Bradley
SF        A. KirilenkoJ. Green
PF        K. GarnettJ. Sullinger
C        B. LopezK. Olynyk

It's my favorite or one of my favorite nights of the year. The Celtics opening night. I am on the Mike bandwagon where I wouldn't mind losing all the games and getting the number 1 pick, however, I think this year is more intriguing then just being bad. We have a lot of young talent and Rondo and it will be interesting how all this stuff comes together this year. Either way Brad Stevens has a big task ahead of him.

Rondo will be ready tonight, or so I'm assuming. Rajon Rondo in my eyes is the best PG in the league and I can't wait to see what he looks like with the ACL injury in the rear view mirror. Beyond Rondo, I can't wait to see how Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynik, Marcus Smart, James Young and Evan Turner play. The pre season gave me a lot of confidence in 4 out of 5 of those players minus Olynik. If the Celtics do tank and are a really bad team, what Celtics fans need to root for is progression for those 5 players so they gain trade value for the Celtics to pull off a move to make them better in the short term. I'm a big believer in Marcus Smart, I see a lot of Wade in his game, and although those expectations are unrealistic, I do.

The Nets must be scratching their head after the biggest trade the Celtics with them. KG is a shell of himself and Paul Pierce is on the Wizards. I'm not a Deron Williams fan, I think he's overrated and just sucks. Joe Johnson is getting older and Brook Lopez is out.

I think the Celtics will have a great game and their 3 point shooting will carry them to the win.

Celtics win 95-87
Tommy Award: Rajon

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ten years after the day after the Red Sox won the World Series

Thursday October 28, 2004. It was sometime around 2 in the morning in a dorm room, in a college town in Upstate New York. My body didn't feel like sleeping and my mind didn't feel like I was in New York. I was wide awake and my heart was in Boston. Hours after the Red Sox had won their first World Series in 86 years, I couldn't sleep, I couldn't stay put, I had to go home. And so did two other Massachusetts expats in my dorm, one from North Reading, the other from Newton. So that night/early morning, we made the 350 mile drive home.

I could wax poetically about the sun rising on a new kind of Massachusetts that day, but I'll skip all that. We had finally won the World Series, and it was a completely new kind of feeling as a sports fan.

In retrospect, we Red Sox fans had spent years torturing ourselves, in a Calvinistic hope (give credit to Dan Shauhgnessy for the comparison between Sox fans, and the predestination believing religious folks who colonized Massachusetts centuries earlier) that with each painful experience, we would somehow be rewarded with greater amounts of joy if, AND ONLY IF, our team ever won. The more pain we went through on Earth, the greater joy Heaven would bring. That was the hope.

I'll come back to that torture/reward thing later. Returning to October 28, 2004...

I got home just as the morning commute was peaking. The Sox were the only story on the local news. The plane carrying the newly minted Champions landed at Logan. There were videos of grown men in business suits with briefcases, running alongside the team bus on its way to Fenway, jumping up and down for joy. There was a massive parade and I took the first Red Line train into Boston to get a good spot for it.

That unadulterated release of joy was something that had been building inside of us fans for years, even decades. And with each heartbreak, with each close call, with each Bucky Dent and Aaron Boone, the frustration built up. As the frustration and need for release increased, so did the feeling of gratification and joy that would be felt if release would ever occur. In other words, we Sox fans had a horrible case of Blue Balls.

2004 was the epic release of that frustration, and also that joy. No sports moment will ever feel like that again.

That's why we no longer live and die with each pitch. That's why Red Sox fans went from religious zealots, to the people who only go to Church at Christmas and Easter.

John Henry, Larry Lucchino, and the Fenway Sports Group didn't help. Continuing the religious metaphor, imagine being the Pope the year after Jesus Christ came back to Earth. How would you get people fired up about anything?

You'd probably renovate the Vatican, and hire a bunch of high-priced Bishops and Cardinals (Renteria, Drew) to get people's attention.

I'll give Fenway Sports Group all the credit in the world for breaking The Curse. I'll also criticize them for not understanding what Sox fans were feeling, and still now not understanding how regular fans feel about this team. We couldn't have the same cultish devotion to the Sox after all our prayers had been answered. Henry and FSG didn't get that.

They didn't get a lot of things.

The same owners who hired The Epstein also chased him out of town. Twice. The same owners who hired Terry Francona also hired Bobby Valentine. The same owners who renovated Fenway Park also lied about sellouts and we still can't figure out why. Every 2 years they seem to acknowledge their mistakes and change their philosophy, and yet somehow they maintain a smug arrogance as though everything they do is right.

And perhaps most vexing of all, they kept Jerry Remy but dumped Jenny Dell. Giggly analyst who enabled his woman-beating son vs. attractive sideline fluff reporter who still has more interesting things to say than Remy.



Seriously? NESN and the Red Sox decided to take her off the TV screen. Good call, guys.

Everything changed after the Red Sox won the World Series. Red Sox fans changed. We went from anxiously anticipating an overdue release, to being normal fans of a normal big-market baseball team. Ownership didn't want our fandom to change, though. They wanted the same rapt attention, the same hopeful highs and desperate lows. It's like we fans were bipolar before the Sox cured us by winning the World Series. Yet the owners still wanted to prescribe us Prozac and Paxil.

We didn't want that after 2004. We just wanted a baseball team. And that's all I want now. We don't need to have owners and GMs who spend on JD Drew but skimp on Jon Lester. We don't need lavish ceremonies where lions are released and someone pulls the string on Kevin Millar's back so he says something country.

We just want a baseball team. Please.

-The Captain

Photo Credit:
Jim Davis/Boston Globe

WTF Yoenis


Apparently there is some shit going on with Yoenis Cespedes and the Red Sox organization. It's gone as far as these comments coming out:
Two other reasons the Red Sox are open to dealing Cespedes are his open disenchantment with Boston and his refusal to pay any heed to their coaches. “He marches to his own drum and the coaches all hate him,” said a Red Sox insider.

Well then.

I really like the deal when we got him (assuming he was going to hang around and we would sign a couple pitchers) and thought that he would be a long term fixture at Fenway and he/ Castillo and others would revamp a petty offense this year. In 51 games as a member of the Red Sox he had 5 hrs and 33 rbis and batted .270. I thought he was pretty good and exciting for a Red Sox team that otherwise wasn't. However, it looks like the dream could be coming to an end with him. The dreams of him hitting 35+ HRs and tossing everyone out from the outfield could be over.

If he is that big of an asshole and could be a detriment to the lockerroom your hands are tied and you have to get rid of him, however, if this is all just some over reaction I would love to see him back for a 4-5 year deal. Either way I want this to be solved sooner then later.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Patriots Clobber Bears

I didn't know how to feel about this game going in. Teams react differently to stress. The Patriots looked like a mess coming out of the Kansas City game. The media had declared Tom Brady's career  and the Patriots dynasty over. The Patriots have been good at using a loss to motivate them to play better. It's why they so rarely lose back to back games. Coming into this week the Bears were in a similar position. They had a tough loss to Miami and things seemed tumultuous in their locker room. Instead of bouncing back and showing some resiliency, the Bears continued to be a dumpster fire. By the time the Bears got anything going on offense, the Patriots were just trying to wrap the game up efficiently without anybody getting hurt. The Patriots played one of the most dominant halves in Bears history. The 38 points the Patriots scored in the first half of this game is the most ever allowed by the Bears in franchise history. They hit a number of other embarrassing franchise records in the process. Just an all around ass whupping.

Tom Brady had his best game of the season. All his throws were right on target. He went without a sack in this game. He spread the ball around to a number of different receivers with Rob Gronkowski, Brandon LaFell and Tim Wright all having big games. Jonas Gray, recently promoted off of the practice squad to replace Stevan Ridley, had a strong game averaging just over 5 yards/carry. The Patriots accumulated such a substantial lead that Tom Brady was pulled for Jimmy Garoppolo in the 4th quarter with 10 minutes left to play. The protection, the execution and the balance were all there for the offense in this game.

On top of the encouraging play on offense, the defense was also very sharp against what had been an effective Bears offense. The Bears managed to have one good drive in the second quarter before the score got out of hand. Even that drive required an interception to be overturned by an illegal contact penalty in order to keep rolling. Matt Forte had a good game, but it wasn't nearly enough to bridge the gap in this game. The Bears managed to score 2 garbage time touchdowns to try and salvage some pride. I am not concerned by these as the Patriots defense was just trying to avoid injuries, penalties and not give up any quick scores. I think if it had been a closer contest you would have seen more of the early game form.

We're on to Denver! The Broncos are the early Super Bowl favorites with an impressive 6-1 record to start the season. In those 7 games they've faced 5 playoff teams and one of the non-playoff teams was giving the Cardinals their only loss on the season. They should be well rested and prepared after having the long week off after playing the Chargers on Thursday night. What else can I say about the Broncos that hasn't already been said? They're the measuring stick in the NFL right now. They look just as potent on offense as they did last year and the defense seems to have improved significantly. They will have to carry the momentum from this game if they are to have any chance to beat the Broncos.
-Mike

Ben Roethlisberger's Reaction To Tom Brady's Performance...... "Cute"


If you had to rank best QBs in the league this season it would be Ben Roethlisberger.... and then the rest. Ben's performance on Sunday just proved once again, how amazing he is and how amazing Pittsburgh is. After a few hiccups earlier this season as Mike was very vocal to point out, the Steelers became the hottest team in the NFL, dominating the Texans then dominating the Colts 51 to 34 thanks to Big Ben's right arm.

Big Ben had one of the best games in NFL History yesterday going 40/49 for 522 yards and 6 TDs. Now having 16/3 TD/INT ratio on the season.

Here are some of the records that he broke yesterday afternoon:

Set a Steelers record for single game pass yards (broke his own) and Pass TDs

Tied Boomer Esiason for 4th most single-game Pass yards in NFL History

1st player in NFL history with multiple 500 yard games

2nd player in NFL History with 500 Pass yds, 6 Pass TD and 0 Int (Y.A. Tittle-1962)

NBD....

Also I need to give a major shout out to the Steelers front office for making this happen. While some teams struggle finding home grown WR talent. Let look at whom he threw TD passes to:

Antonio Brown 10 rec, 133 yds, 2 TDs.... 6th round pick (10)
Heath Miller 7 rec, 112 yds, 1 TD..... 1st round pick (05)
Martavis Bryant 5 rec 83 yds, 2 TDs...... 4th round pick (14)
Markus Wheaton 5 rec, 56 yds, 1 TD...... 3rd round pick (13)

And LeVeon Bell had 92 yards on the ground and 56 rec yards..... 2nd round pick (13)

You might as well call Pittsburgh WR U as they have been able to draft and help Ben. There is a reason why the Steelers are the best drafting team in the NFL. The Patriots could learn a thing or 2 about the draft from the Steelers.

But back to Pittsburgh.... The Steelers had a rough start to the start of the season but now at being 5-3 on the season, the only conclusion you can possibly come out of this is that they are red hot and probably will win the Superbowl.

Oh yea Ben is the 4th QB in the history of the NFL to have 100 wins in his first 150 starts

I May Have Discovered My Favorite College QB


I have never seen him play until this weekend, and all I heard about him was from all the Kentucky stuff I follow on twitter, but Patrick Towles is probably the best QB in football and should probably be the number 1 pick. This kid is huge 6'5, 250 and has an absolute cannon for an arm and is very agile for a big man. On Saturday he went 24-43 for 390 yards and 2 TDs and added 76 yards on the ground for 2 TDs against number 1 team in the country Miss St.

Those numbers look great but should have been a lot better as his WR suck balls and either dropped passes or ran the wrong route. It was embarrassing.

But you know how I've been recently saying that Jameis should be the number 1 QB taken in the draft... I was wrong Patrick Towles should be.

Some Awful News In Baseball


I am not a Cardinals fan and I tend to root against them, but the death of super prospect Oscar Tavares is really upsetting. Oscar was a perennial top 5 prospect in baseball was going to the next big thing for the Cardinals outfield, however, his life was cut short after a car accident in the Dominican Republic this weekend. Tavares' girlfriend Edilia Arvelo, 18, was also in the car and found dead in the crash as well. Taveras made his major league debut this year. He hit .239 with three homers and 22 RBIs in 80 games for the NL Central champions.

From the Cardinals organization:
"I simply can't believe it," Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak said in a release. "I first met Oscar when he was 16 years old and will forever remember him as a wonderful young man who was a gifted athlete with an infectious love for life who lived every day to the fullest."

Cardinals chairman Bill DeWitt Jr. said the organization was "stunned and deeply saddened'' by Taveras' death.

"Oscar was an amazing talent with a bright future who was taken from us well before his time,'' DeWitt said. "Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends tonight."

I hate writing posts like this.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Why I Still Want the Celtics to Tank This Season

Some folks are daring to show a little optimism about the Celtics after a solid preseason showing where they went a respectable 5-3. I'm here to squash that optimism and get everybody back on board with Tankapalooza Part II: The Tankening.

Premise 1: The NBA is such a star driven league that you can't win a championship without an MVP level talent.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you should know that I am a strong supporter of this premise. Going back for decades, the only team to win an NBA Championship recently without an MVP level talent on their team has been the Detroit Pistons. If you'd like to read more about my justification for this premise you should check out this article.

Premise 2: The Celtics do not have an MVP level talent on this roster and are unlikely to acquire one with the season about to begin.

Some folks have a pretty high opinion of Rajon Rondo. Even his biggest fanboys like DP don't delude themselves into thinking he's an MVP caliber player. Even in his best years playing with multiple future hall of famers Rajon was never even close to an MVP award. He's been in the league for 8 full seasons at this point. He's not going to make some great leap in talent now. He is what he is. He's a very good player and a perennial all-star, but he'll never be more than that.

I don't mean to dismiss Marcus Smart before he's played a minute of actual NBA basketball. There are some cases of players selected around or after the 6th pick in the draft going on to have MVP level careers. Dirk Nowitzki was a 9th pick. Kobe Bryant was 13th. Steve Nash was 15th. Karl Malone was 13th. The Celtics media team was happy to point out that Larry Bird was a 6th pick. By all indications Smart is off to a good start, shows serious talent and still has room to develop. Even with all this cautious optimism we need to take a realistic approach to this. There are some caveats for those guys that got selected later. Dirk was an international when those were less common. Kobe Bryant was 17 years old and the first guard ever to be taken directly out of high school. Red Auerbach was operating on a completely different level from the other NBA franchises at the time in terms of talent evaluation. He was able to see Larry Bird for what he really was and knew exactly how to use him to his full potential. For all the teams that strike gold on some of these later picks, there are dozens of guys who are just good, solid players and some guys who are just complete busts. Even if we hit the lottery with Marcus Smart and he is the next big thing, he will probably need more time to develop and more time to assemble the right pieces around him.

Conclusion 1: The Celtics will not contend for a championship this year.

Even if things broke right for the Celtics, there is some serious competition out of the East this year. The Bulls with a healthy Derrick Rose look scary. Lebron has assembled a new big 3 in Cleveland with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. Remember when we were talking about whether or not Kevin Love, Carmelo Anthony and Rajon Rondo could be a contender? By comparison the Love/Lebron/Irving Big 3 is a juggernaut. That's not even getting into the quality teams out in the west. The deals weren't out there to make the Celtics a team that could compete with the likes of that, so Danny Ainge did the smart thing and made a tactical concession. He used his pick on a good developing player and continues to accumulate assets for when the time is right.

Premise 3: If you can't compete for a championship the absolute worst thing that can happen to an NBA franchise is to get caught in the "middle".

Going back to Premise 1, we need to find an MVP level talent. The highest hit rate on getting those guys comes at the top of the 1st round in the lottery picks. Many teams get caught "in the middle" where they qualify for the low playoff seeds and get crushed or get low percentage chances at the top pick and they never get that MVP level talent they need to truly compete. Even if you miss out on the very top of the round, you're getting your best chance by picking higher. It gives you the best trade assets to lure one of those top level talents.

Conclusion 2: If the Celtics can't win a championship this year and getting stuck in the middle will jeopardize future seasons, the best course of action is to tank the season.

Danny Ainge can't come right out and say that this is his plan for this season. The NBA competition committee would throw a fit. Ainge's actions speak louder than his words. He made no significant acquisitions of any kind and continued to stockpile draft picks, trade exceptions and expiring contracts.He couldn't set off the fireworks that he wanted, but the assets are still there. When the opportunity to add that MVP level talent comes he will have the trade chips and cap space he needs to make it happen. Wouldn't it be great if he had a lottery pick to barter with or a highly regarded talent acquired with that pick to lure in an MVP caliber player? It could be yours if you're willing to endure another embarrassing season on the bottom of the standings. I am certainly willing to swallow my Celtic pride for another season if it puts us in the best position to compete going forward. If you care more about raising banners than regular season wins you should embrace the tank job. We'll be back, but it's going to require patience and good timing.
-Mike

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Celtics Look Pretty Good In The Preseason


The Celtics finished 5-3 this pre season and I'm all in!

I really like the pieces on this team. Jared Sullinger could just be playing out of his mind in the pre season due to lack of competition but last nights performance of 15 points and 17 boards could be a thing that could be close to his average. He will never be looked at as a Kevin Love type superstar, but he can certainly be a 15/15 type of player. He has incredible rebounding skills and he has a very polished offensive game for a shorter PF. He's going to be a real solid player.

The rooks Marcus Smart and James Young have their flashes of brilliance and also rookie mistakes. Smart is going to be a problem for the league once he gets some time under his belt. I never saw him take a play off on both ends of the floor and is an extreme competitor. He's not afraid to shoot which I like the confidence (but could be a detriment some times) and is willing to drive and get to the line. James Young is a flat out gunner. I don't know how much time he will get this year due to a surplus of SF players on the team, but he could easily be instant offense.

Speaking of instant offense Marcus Thornton is that. Yes he looks like he is 300 lbs, but he is very Eddie House like offensively. There will be games where he wins it for us, there will also be games where he shoots us out of the game.

Kelly Olynik has disappointed me somewhat. He still looks extremely slow defensively and his aggressiveness on offense can come and go.

Tyler Zeller is better then he showed pre season, but he will need to be a lot better if he wants to get minutes in the season.

Evan Turner is good. He is going to be a pleasant surprise. I never minded him in Philly, and he is a solid player.

Jeff Green Brandon Bass and Avery Bradley did what I expected.

This Celtics team is going to win a lot of games with their 3 point shooting, unfortunately they are going to lose a lot of games to their gunning nature.

Now, Rondo is expected back very soon it will be interesting to see what Brad Stevens does to the line up.

I imagine the starting line up will be:
Rondo, Bradley, Green, Sully, Olynik

With Smart, Turner, Bass, Thorton, Zeller, Wallace, Young being in the rotation.

I think during big stretches during the games you will see a lot of small line ups like:

Rondo, Bradley, Smart/Turner, Green and Sully

And when Rondo is out I see a lot of

Smart, Bradley, Turner, Green, Sully/ Olynik

This is a very big year for the Celtics as guys will have to make major steps for improvement/ trade value. I like this team a lot and think they will surprise a lot of teams especially on the defensive side of the ball. I predict the Celtics will be a top 8 defensive team.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Pittsburgh Is Back! Probably Not Going To Lose Another Game This Year


The Steelers needed to play a complete game like this. They had 2 embarrassing losses against the Browns and Bucs, but pulled in a complete game on both sides of the ball against the Texans in a 30 to 23 win game. The score makes the game look closer then how it was as a TD got taken away from Ben and Antonio Brown late in the game.

Speaking of Antonio Brown, he may be the best WR in the NFL right now (with Calvin Johnson is injured). The guy is just incredible he had 9 catches for 90 yards and threw a TD. Like I said earlier the refs overturned what should have been a TD. He leads the league in catches with 50, yards with 719 and has 5 TDs. He's the best and yet another great draft pick by the Steelers.

Ben threw the other 2 TD passes to home grown Le'Veon Bell and Martavious Bryant. Just an incredible performance by Ben.

The defense held it's own and got some turnovers which they were last in headed into the game. Just an incredible performance and Pittsburgh is going to go undefeated for the rest of the year and win the SB.

We are back Baby.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Yet Another Reason Why Jameis Winston Should Be A High First Round Pick Next Year


Florida State could have lost this game very easily to Notre Dame and it would have been understandable. Notre Dame although having a weak schedule have been playing well, FSU lost 10000 people in the draft and impact players at that and all the controversy surrounding QB Jameis Winston. As a matter of fact, ND was leading at halftime by 7 and Jameis had a forgetful first half.

But in the second half, when all the pressure was on the young QB Winston excelled. He hit another level in the second half and completed 15 of 16 throws for 181 yards and a TD. He kept himself composed as he always does, and won a game with all the chips stacked up against him. Of course there was some controversy surrounding the ending, but that had nothing to do with Winston... so it's not worth getting into.

I wrote a post last week saying there was a poll saying teams wouldn't want Jameis as their starting QB and that was dumb. Here is another case on why this guy is the best QB in college football. Cool, composed, and the best under pressure QB in college football. For the teams that don't see their current QB as the guy of the future, Jameis is already better then most of them. He can be a franchise player and he's a proven winner. The off field stuff, does play a roll in the draft, but I believe that those can be overlooked based on the production Winston has had.

Lay off Jameis Winston and just enjoy the ride.

The Curious Case Of Percy Harvin


In an odd move that seemingly came out of nowhere, Percy Harvin was handed over to the Jets for a potential 4th round pick. When Harvin was traded to the Seahawks and got the huge contract for accomplishing nothing in his short career, I was incredibly critical of the moves because Harvin didn't do shit yet to deserve all this stuff. Other on the site argued with me thinking he was a giant X factor and blah blah. In Seattle he had impact in the playoffs, but when it came to the post season his name was mentioned a lot, and he better have as the Seahawks gave up I think a 1st and 3rd for him. But as for the impact player they hoped for, there was much to be desired.

Well now he is on the Jets and the gets got him for 1/1000 of what the Seahawks original investment was. I like the move for the Jets as they obviously don't have many playmakers and he can help them in that regard. The only thing is, there have been several reports about his attitude in Seattle including sitting out games, not coming back into games, altercations with teammates, etc. The Jets had a player like that in Santonio Holmes that didn't work a lot for them.

What I don't get is that if he was such a clubhouse cancer and almost cut for nothing, why didn't we hear about this until this week? It's odd. You would think one of these things would get leaked somehow.

I guess bottomline, this makes the Jets better. No, Harvin will not turn the team around especially if these attitude problems are as prevalent as they have been reported, but he does make them better.

Peyton Manning Breaks Brett Favre's Career Touchdowns Record

Peyton Manning threw 4 touchdown passes in a rout of the San Francisco 49ers last night. In the process he broke Brett Favre's career touchdown record of 508 touchdown passes. This has given me a great excuse to talk about one of my favorite topics: How overrated Brett Favre is.

It's easy to dislike Brett Favre. There's the general stuff like the constant retiring/un-retiring shit he pulled. The Wrangler commercials. The dick pics. John Madden's love affair with him. There's also stuff that's a bit more localized to Patriots fan with his lone Super Bowl win coming at the Patriots expense and his short stint with the Jets. But beyond that, there are his fans that think he belongs in the GOAT discussion with the likes of Brady and Manning.

I think when it comes down to it I don't like Brett Favre because he's so different from the way Tom Brady plays the game. Favre made his career off of highlight reel throws on the run or across his body. He was a gun slinger that made risky decisions that either got him onto SportsCenter or lost his team the game with a costly interception. Brady built his career off of good decision making and protecting the football while still putting up results. Where Favre was looking to throw the home run ball downfield into double coverage, Brady saw a risky play and hit the easy 5 yard completion to his check down. This is why when you look at Brett's numbers compared to Peyton Manning you see the huge gap in turnovers. Brett has 112 more interceptions and 67 more fumbles than Peyton does. This is why Favre holds the NFL career record for interceptions, protecting the football was never his top priority.

There is also the speed with which Peyton has managed to surpass Brett's record. Brett had 56 more games in his career than Peyton Manning currently has. If Peyton plays out this season and then 3 additional seasons without missing significant time he should be in that neighborhood for career games played. Brady would need an additional 6 more seasons after this one to catch up to have played that many games.

The Brett Favre apologists will point out that the rules changes have given quarterbacks better protection and freed up their receivers. I agree, but I don't believe that comparing Favre to Manning is the same thing as trying to compare Manning to one of the old time greats like Joe Montana. Favre and Manning had significant overlap in their careers. In the 20 seasons Favre was in the NFL, he played 13 of them with Peyton Manning in the league. One of those early seasons was his rookie year with the Atlanta Falcons before being traded to Green Bay. Favre only appeared in 2 games for the Falcons and made 4 pass attempts. He still managed to throw 2 interceptions in those 4 attempts. There is some consideration to be given to Favre for playing more of his career in an era that was tougher on quarterbacks and receivers, but not nearly enough to cover the gaps in production and ball security when compared to Manning and Brady.

Now that I've said I'll that I can get back to forgetting Brett Favre existed, at least until his Hall of Fame induction in 2016.
-Mike

Friday, October 17, 2014

Anyone Who Says They Wouldn't Want Jameis Winston QBing Their Team Is A Moron


Sure Jameis off the field has messed up and shown immaturity from the bbgun incident, Burger King Incident, Crab Legs Incident, Autograph Incident and Fuck Her Right in the Pussy Incident (I'm leaving out the false rape allegations because it's not fair to label him as a rapist if he was found of no wrong doing). But he is already better then half the QB's in the league right now. There is a poll on ESPN saying would you want Jameis to be QBing your favorite team right now and 81% say no. That means that 19% of America is sane.

On the field Jameis Winston has done nothing that he can perform at a high level and on top of that perform when the pressure is highest. He won the Heisman, he won the National Championship, he finished a highly pressured final drive in the National Championship in game winning throw, and led FSU to an undefeated season last year and probably this year. I know that there is a hearing today and Jameis will probably get suspended from college football due to some maturity issues. However, nobody can't say this kid can't ball. If the Jets, Bills, Dolphins, Vikings, Giants, Bucs, etc would rather have their shitty QB over Jameis then you are a horrible fan. Last year Winston threw 40 TDs to 10 picks and got another 4 on the ground. This year his stats aren't as gaudy but enough to be leading a top 2 team in the country.

Again, I'm not defending Jameis' maturity, because it's not where it should be, however, that can be corrected. He should be the 1st overall pick and if the team that picks number 1 passes on him, it's the biggest disservice to their franchise. I would take Winston 100% of the time over Mariotta.

FREE JAMEIS

The Patriots Get By With A Little Help From The Refs


Sure the Jets probably deserved to lose, they relied on FGs instead of actually scoring in the red zone. However, it seemed as if Goodell wanted to help the Patriots out before his inevitable firing.

Apparently you can't line up directly in front of the long snapper during FG attempts (I never heard of this rule, but apparently it's a rule) so when the last second FG attempt was being had Patriots LB Dont'a Hightower was initially lined up right in front of the Jets long snapper. If the play was snapped during the attempt it would have been a 5 yard penalty and the Jets would have had a closer attempt.... which Folk could have missed/ blocked/etc. However, before the snap took place the official ran up to Hightower and moved him so their would be no penalty. I don't know why he would do that as officials are supposed to be honest and it's not his place to do it, but he did it anyway. The Jets then snap the ball, Chris Jones blocks the field goal for sweet redemption from last years push play, game over.

There is only one conclusion to draw from this, is that Goodell is the gift that keeps on giving for N.E., he first covered up the spygate scandal, he constantly gives the Patriots breaks and ultimately gave the Patriots the game last night. Also if that official lay up wasn't enough, there were multiple pass interference calls that simply weren't.

I don't want to harp on this because the Patriots defense looks horrendous and when they play better teams they will be exposed without a rushing defense and with Revis being far from an island, and beating a lowly Jets team by 2 at home is nothing to boast about but it is worth noting that once again the Patriots get bailed out by officiating. I was shocked that a personal foul wasn't called on that Brady flop job either, Goodell must have been in the bathroom.

Patriots Survive Jets

This was an ugly win. This one didn't bother me as much as the one we saw earlier in the year against the Raiders. The Jets were playing to salvage their season/Rex Ryan's job and they do have some areas where they are competent. This game had "trap game" written all over it and the Patriots survived it with a win.

I said in my preview that I was concerned about the Jets pass rush. The lone sack for 1-yard would make it seem that this concern was unfounded, but I think that the impact of the Jets pass rush was bigger than that. Brady was feeling the pressure this game. He threw the ball away to avoid the sack on a number of plays and he was moving in the pocket to avoid pressure often. The offensive line was generally able to do their job and when the protection did break down Brady was able to buy himself time or limit the damage. It was nice to see Brady and the O-Line working in tangent to limit the effectiveness of a good pass rush. Brady's numbers were less exciting than we had seen the past two weeks, but it was still a solid performance with a lot of good decision making. The distribution of passes continues to be well spread out among the receivers. LaFell, Gronkowski, Edelman and Shane Vereen all had 4-5 catches each. There was a Danny Amendola sighting as he caught a 19-yard touchdown pass on a long 3rd and goal.

The Patriots running game was adequate, but got few opportunities. They only got 15 touches in this game. One of those was the once-per-game Julian Edelman end around play. Three of them were on the Patriots final drive where the runs were obvious because of the need to kill the clock.

I said in my preview that I was concerned about the Jets running game. The Jets running game chewed up the Patriots for 218 yards on the ground. Geno Smith, Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson all ran right over the Patriots defense. This opened up opportunities for Geno in the passing game as he had arguably his best game of the season. The Jets moved the ball at will and scored on their first 5 drives in this game. Fortunately, all but one of those scores were field goals. The Jets weren't forced to punt until late in the third quarter. I think it's becoming clear where the Patriots weakness is on defense. They're getting exposed by big north-south running backs as they can't make tackles at the line of scrimmage. I'm tempted to put this onto the loss of Jerod Mayo, but it had been a problem against Kansas City and Miami when he was out there as well. The pass defense was also lackluster for such a highly regarded unit. The Patriots defense is one of the best teams in terms of creating turnovers and the Jets are one of the worst teams in terms of ball security, but the Jets never turned the ball over.

All in all, this was a strange game. I think if you looked at the stat sheet without knowing the score you might assume the Jets won this game. They got more first downs. They dominated time of possession. They dominated in total yards. They didn't make any turnovers. In the end, they couldn't come through when it mattered settling for field goals on those early drives. The Patriots were able to maximize their opportunities and punch it into the end zone and that was what allowed them to win this game despite being outplayed for the most of it.

We're on to Chicago! The Patriots will have the long week to rest up and prepare for when the Chicago Bears come to Gillette. This is the beginning of a tough stretch in the Patriots schedule as they take on 4 playoff teams in the next 6 games. Chicago might be the easiest team in that stretch, currently sitting at 3-3. The Bears will be taking on Miami this week at home before heading to Foxboro. The Bears are a well-rounded team. Their defense is above average but not spectacular by any means. Jay Cutler has put together some good numbers for this year and Matt Forte has been solid. This is a team the Patriots should beat, but if they make mistakes the Bears are competent enough to capitalize on those mistakes.
-Mike

Thursday, October 16, 2014

The Steelers Stink Right Now..... They Will Be Back


So Mike is obviously really jealous of my popularity and probably should recognize who puts the asses in the seats. Anywho, here is my Steelers have been sucking this year post. I touched upon it before but Todd Hailey is the anti christ. The fact that Pittsburgh has let this blow hard coach the offense is fucking pathetic. They don't utilize Ben to his best ability (which is back yard football) and run shitty draws and short passes. I think LeVeon Bell is great, I think the WRs are great and I think their line has been performing well enough. However, they rarely go for it and they don't utilize their big playmakers the way they should. I guess Tomlin deserves some of this blame for letting it happen, but Hailey is the main culprit. On the other side of the ball Dick LeBeau needs to go. He was great and has been for an incredible amount of time, but offenses in today's Goodell driven NFL have caught up with him. The Steelers have had too many injuries and blitz too much and for them to be able to cover 3/4 wrs/ a TE. It's pathetic.

They lost to the Browns and Bucs, which are 2 inexcusable losses and they lost mainly because the offense is playing scared and the defense puts to much pressure on themselves to be effective.

Either way my prediction of the Steelers vs the Seahawks stays because Pittsburgh will make a miracle run like the Royals.

Jets by 8

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Ebola..... Should I be Concerned


Ebola just came to Mass.... should I be concerned?

I have been ignoring Ebola and just assumed it was an Africa thing because everything in Africa is awful. However, this is starting to become like every movie ever Outbreak, contagion, etc. Soon everyone will be throwing up their guts and dying. I'm starting to get terrified. I'm starting to think that 100% of us will get this stupid virus. When it's time for me to go, I want an honorable death like getting shot while saving a child or something heroic.... most likely now I'm not going to make it to 30 and be throwing up and shitting my guts out of my mouth and ass.

Things I'm grateful for before Ebola takes me:
Sox, Celtics, Steeler, Bama and Kentucky Championship wins
DMX
Food specifically Cheeseburgers, Hot Dogs, Steak and Cheese Subs, Buffalo Wings
Spygate
I guess friends and family

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pats Continue to Roll, Beat Bills

This was a good win for the Patriots. It seems like with the Patriots extensive run of success against the Bills, beating them should be old hat at this point. This year was different. The Bills had started off strong. They were coming off of a big win against the Lions and were tied with the Patriots for the division lead. The Bills had been one of the best defenses in the league at getting to the quarterback and the Patriots offensive line had struggled to protect Tom Brady. It was going to be a big test for the Patriots glaring weak spot. Both teams were trying to back up their impressive wins from last week and prove they're the top dogs in the division.

There were some concerns around Tom Brady going into this game with him being listed with an ankle injury coming into this game. His mobility had always been limited, but with Buffalo coming hard for him he would need to be able to buy himself a few extra seconds with his legs. He actually managed to improve on his performance against the Bengals the week prior with more passes, more completions, more yards, more touchdowns and no turnovers. Last week Brady had a working running game to give a more balanced attack on offense. The running game was stymied with just 50 yards on 27 carries and Brady picked up the slack. They needed to lean on Brady and he picked apart the Buffalo secondary. The offensive line did well in limiting the Bills pass rush to just 2 sacks on Brady in this game. With the extra time, Brady was able to spread the ball out to 10 different receivers. Brandon Lafell, Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman all had just under 100 yards receiving. This is a result of Brady getting more time in the pocket. He has more time to find the open man and he can step up to deliver more accurate throws.

The Patriots running game was a no-show for this one. Stevan Ridley was seriously hurt over the course of the game, but things had been going poorly before that. The Bills have a stout run defense, so simply keeping the defense honest to allow Brady to work was adequate.

The Patriots defense was solid. The Bills offense is below average (19th passing, 22nd rushing), but the Patriots managed to limit them to just 3 touchdowns and came up with some key turnovers to give the Patriots offense good field position for some easy scores. Jamie Collins came up with a pick to kick off the second quarter to kill a Buffalo drive and put the Patriots in a good spot around midfield. 6 plays later the Patriots were on the board with a touchdown. Chandler Jones came up with a strip sack on Kyle Orton to put the Patriots on the Buffalo 24-yard line. The Patriots went 3 and out and Stephen Gostkowski's kick made it 10-0. With just 14 seconds left in the half, the Bills went conservative with a running play to take them to the half. Devin McCourty forced the fumble and put the Patriots in a position to get a field goal going into halftime. All 13 points in the first half came off of turnovers. They limited the Bills and managed to boost the offense with some key turnovers. It's hard to ask for more than that from your defense.

The special teams didn't stand out in any way. Stephen Gostkowski missed a chip shot 36-yard field goal for his first missed kick since December of last year. I'm inclined to give Gostkowski a pass on this one. He's been a very good, consistent kicker. His first kick was good, but negated by a false start. His second kick involved a bad snap/hold by Danny Aiken/Ryan Allen. Gostkowski hit all the extra points and the other 3 field goal kicks including a 53-yarder.

The Patriots have officially gotten their shit together. They've scored the same number of points in the last 2 games as they did in the first 4 games of this season. This win came at a price as Jerod Mayo and Stevan Ridley were taken out of this game with injuries. The early reports indicate that they are both headed for season ending injured reserve. I have never been a big fan of Ridley, but he managed to make some solid contributions this year without putting the ball on the ground. This should result in some more opportunities for rookie 4th round RB James White and Brandon Bolden. Some possible options for the roster spot are promoting Jonas Gray from the practice squad or possibly picking up the "Law Firm" Benjarvus Green-Ellis. The Law Firm played 4 seasons of fumble-free football for the Patriots before the Bengals lured him to Cincinnati with a lucrative contract. The Bengals released him at the end of August and he has been a free agent for the last 6 weeks. He hasn't been on the couch for very long and had a respectable season for the Bengals last year. He's proven to be an effective cog in the Patriots system and his salary should be near the veteran minimum if the Patriots wanted him. I think it is a good match. Replacing Jerod Mayo for the second year in a row may prove more difficult. The depth chart shows undrafted rookie Deontae Skinner and 4th year player Chris White. Alternatively, with the Jets and their run-first offense coming up on the schedule they might add another body up front to the scheme and use just Hightower and Collins at the LB spots. In either case it will be hard to replace Mayo's solid play and leadership.

We're on to New York! The Jets have been a disaster this year. Their lone win came in week 1 against the Raiders. Since then they've lost 5 straight (Green Bay, Chicago, Detroit, San Diego and Denver) and they're on the bottom of the AFC East. Rex Ryan's job again appears to be in jeopardy. Geno Smith is arguably the worst QB in the NFL that still has a starting job with just 6 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. This is the classic trap game for the Patriots. Nobody on the planet will be picking the Jets to come out of Foxboro with a win. The Jets are reeling, but they're not as bad as their record might seem as they have played some quality opponents from the NFC North/AFC West. When you look at the few areas the Jets do well, running the ball and sacking the quarterback, it aligns favorably with areas the Patriots have struggled at times this season. When the Dolphins and the Chiefs beat the Patriots they did it by getting into Tom Brady's face and pounding them with the running game. The Jets can do both of those things. This is compounded by the Loss of Jerod Mayo, whose primary strength was against the run. Rex knows that he's on the hot seat and that if he is to have any hope of turning this season around they will have to win this game. If the Patriots expect to get the win just for showing up they could be in for a nasty surprise.
-Mike

Monday, October 13, 2014

Time to rename Columbus Day, let's call it Viking Day

As far as historical figures go, Christopher Columbus is probably the last guy who deserves an entire day devoted to him. We all know about exploitation and killing of Native Americans. That's all been said by annoying people who want to rename this day "Indigenous People's Day," as if that will atone for centuries of wars and broken treaties.

What really pisses me off about Columbus getting his own day is that his historic significance is a result of his colossal, towering stupidity.

In 1492 most educated people knew the world was round. The Greeks had figured it out centuries earlier, and had even accurately calculated the size of the Earth. Columbus dramatically misinterpreted those calculations, and thought Japan was much farther away from China, which was based more on hope than on science.

Columbus convinced himself that his voyage from Spain to Japan would be 2,300 miles. It would have been 12,200. And no ship built in 1492 could carry enough food and water for such a long journey. Had Columbus not bumped into the New World, he and his men would have starved. They probably would have resorted to cannibalism, and the voyage of 1492 would go down in history as a horror story, alongside the Donner Party. Christopher Cannibalumbus.

Even after Columbus' great discovery, he was too much of a close-minded fool to admit he'd found a new continent, and never acknowledged that the Americas weren't part of Asia. That's like Neil Armstrong telling people he'd landed on the North Pole. This great discoverer didn't even know he had discovered something.

And as far as genocidal European conquerors go, Columbus wasn't very good at his job. He ruled his new colony as a bloody tyrant, brutally punishing both Natives and Europeans alike, even for just speaking against him or his family. For this Columbus was removed as governor of the West Indies. He was fired for brutality by the people who were running the Spanish Inquisition.

So he was a bad but lucky navigator/explorer. He was too stupid to realize his own discovery. He was a bad governor. And his own people hated him. Yet we here in America have a day for him. Doesn't make sense.

Instead of honoring Columbus, we should honor Vikings. Let's change this holiday to Viking Day! And here's why:

Vikings were the first Europeans to make the trip, and they did it 500 years before Columbus.

Vikings were honest about their pillaging. They didn't justify it by claiming they were spreading religion. Columbus saw himself as spreading his religion as he had people tortured and killed. Funny, that's how ISIS see themselves these days. Columbus=ISIS. ColumbISIS.

Fewer protests and arguments. Obviously Native American groups and the legions of white celebrities and grad students who think they speak on their behalf, would have less to complain about. And I don't think Viking-Americans would get offended. Furthermore, if your ancestry is Scandinavian, British, French, Irish, Russian, you probably have some Viking ancestry too. They even went to Spain, Sicily, Turkey, all over Europe. You can be racially offensive about your own race and/or the race of the majority. Those are the rules.

Finally, Viking Day would be more fun. We could all dress up as Vikings. Adults could drink heavily in large drinking halls, or prowl the coastline in longboat booze cruises. Children could "pillage" their houses for toys and treats hidden by their parents. It would be a Nordic St. Patrick's Day. So much better than the boring Columbus Days we have now, which are just an extra 24 hours to rake leaves.

So let's do some exploring and discover Viking Day!

-The Captain

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Keep Calm and Brady On: Patriots fans need to mellow out and enjoy this roller coaster season

I can't take credit for the slogan "Keep Calm and Brady On," but then again all of those "Keep Calm and..." shirts and posters you see out there are fairly unoriginal, so even the people who came up with them aren't very creative.

Patriot fans do need to keep calm. They need to keep calm about embarrassing defeats. They need to keep calm about inspiring triumphs. This team is going to be wildly inconsistent. They will look amazing in one game, one quarter, one drive, for one play. Then they'll look awful for a game, a quarter, a drive.

And with the right attitude, inconsistency becomes drama. It becomes something that can be enjoyed as entertainment.

But Pats fans seem so joyless. Even when the team wins, unless it's a flawless victory, the fans worry and fret, troubling themselves Monday through Saturday. They then spend their Sunday (or Monday night) yelling at the TV. That's no way to go through life.

Pats fans need to have more emotional maturity about this team. As do pundits and writers and sports radio morons. I was expecting the radio yesterday to be full of cautious optimism. "This was a great game, but it's just one game," type of sentiments. Instead everyone was either drooling over this game, or they were being defensive about their histrionics from the previous week, which they spent dismantling the Patriots and speculating that Brady would be benched because Belichick had "Lost the quarterback."

People in the media rallied around Trent Green, who berated the Patriots for not spending money (a just criticism, but Trent didn't do much criticizing of his Baltimore Ravens for how they handled the Ray Rice situation, in fact Trent praised them_.

The truth lies somewhere between the "Brady and Belichick are at war" camp, and those who think that "everything is awesome."

The truth is that this team is good but flawed. This team has talent and holes. They're entertaining to watch, if you let yourself be entertained.

There's at least a sliver of hope for this team. It's not a big sliver. They have many issues, and they match up poorly against a number of teams. There are greater tragedies in life than seeing your favorite football team win ONLY 3 championships.

The hope, and the entertainment value that Pats fans are choosing not to enjoy, are the envy of a number of NFL cities. I'm not saying you should be satisfied with losing. I am saying you should at least enjoy exciting football games.

And if you can't find a way to enjoy watching a team that has a chance to win, a team that can make exciting plays, a team that plays dramatic games. Then I don't know why you watch sports.

-The Captain

Monday, October 6, 2014

Patriots Unload on Bengals

After last week's embarrassment, I wrote a bit about my thoughts for the upcoming game against the Bengals.

Next on the schedule the 3-0 Cincinnati Bengals come to Foxboro for Sunday Night Football. Cincinnati will be fresh off of their bye week while the Patriots will be on a short week. At first glance, it seems like this should be an easy game for the Bengals. I don't think it's quite as bad as it looks. The Bengals have a mediocre running game and don't rush the passer especially well. They should be feeling confident with the extra preparation, their record and the Patriots record; this might lead to overconfidence. On the other side, the Patriots have just received a massive reality check. In the past, they've been notoriously effective at bouncing back from losses. They haven't lost back to back games since weeks 2 and 3 of the 2012 season. They will be eager to right the ship and get back on track and that should lead to a productive week of preparation on the practice field.
I expected a better effort for the Patriots. I expected a better matchup in terms of their strengths and weaknesses with the Bengals strengths and weaknesses. I expected a tighter game, but to be honest I still expected a Patriots loss. What I did not anticipate is what actually unfolded.

The offense set the tone early in this game. Brandon LaFell immediately pulled in a 20-yard catch on the first play of the game. Tim Wright made a catch for 30 yards a few plays later. I was sitting near the end zone when Tom Brady scrambled for 6 yards and then again to convert on 4th and 1 from the Cincinnati 5-yard line. The crowd was in a frenzy by the time Stevan Ridley punched it in for the first touchdown of the game. Brady has never been an especially mobile quarterback. A good slide step to buy another second or two in the pocket, a QB sneak to convert in short yardage situations, but not a true threat to run. It was nice to see him take the initiative with some open field in front of him. It brought back memories of the Chiefs game where he had some room to run and could easily have converted the first down but chose to try a tough pass to Edelman instead. That week he got it wrong, this week he got it right. He took a chance, put his body on the line and made a play. It set the tone for the rest of the game. When they scored the second touchdown on the second drive to make it 14-0 you couldn't help but feel that Brady was back. Rob Gronkowski had his best game of the season and was the top receiver with 6 catches, 100 yards and a touchdown. I still don't think Gronk is 100%, but I think he's getting closer. He was using his size to break tackles and extend plays.  Tim Wright had his first big game in a Patriots uniform catching all 5 passes that were targeted for him and 85 yards and a touchdown. Gronk and Wright were the workhorses for this offense tonight.

With as much praise as I have for the reborn passing game, the running backs were also a huge factor in this game. The offense was actually 46 rushing attempts to 35 pass attempts. When you take out the QB sneaks by Brady and the kneel downs by Garoppolo to end the game, it was just about a 50/50 split. Ridley had the bulk of the carries with 27 for 113 yards and a touchdown. Shane Vereen had a big game on his 9 carries for 90 yards. Add on Vereen's 3 short catches and he also had a hell of a game. The balanced attack was refreshing to see.

The offensive line had their best game. Brady only took 1 sack and he had the time to throw and the ability to step up in the pocket that he had been missing. I am reluctant to even hang that one sack on the offensive line as the hit came off of a block from Rob Gronkowski. They seemed to have settled on their starting line as we did not see the rotation on the line we had seen through the first 4 games. They don't need to be amazing, but they need to give Brady enough time and space to do his job. When he gets that, you get results like this.

The defense was everything you wanted them to be. They played a tough, physical game. They generated turnovers, even ignoring the ones that were overturned by penalties. On paper, Andy Dalton looked like he had a pretty good game, but I don't think that tells the story of this game. The most telling figure is that Cincinnati was 0-7 in this game converting on 3rd down and 0-1 on 4th down conversions. Those are some impressive numbers. The measly 3 points the Bengals did manage in the first half came as the result of 2 timely defensive holding penalties and an unnecessary roughness call. By the time the Bengals were able to put some legitimate points on the board the game had already slipped away.

Even the special teams play was on point as Stephen Gostkowski was 5/5 and Brandon Bolden forced a fumble on the kickoff that Kyle Arrington was able to pick up and score the backbreaking touchdown. It was a solid team win where they outplayed the Bengals in all phases of the game.

This was easily the Patriots best game of the season. This was a legitimate opponent with a playoff appearance last year and a strong start this year. The Bengals had a bye week to rest and prepare for the Patriots on a short week after Monday Night Football. They got no breaks from the officials whatsoever with a ridiculous penalty disparity and multiple big calls that went against them. The Patriots didn't just beat this team, they embarrassed them. This was the Patriots team you expected to see this year and gave people those lofty expectations in preseason. Now they need to be more consistent in this type of performance if they want to compete with the upper echelon of the NFL.

Now we're on to Buffalo. The Bills came up with a tight win over Detroit and share the top spot in the AFC East with the Patriots. The Bills have the best run defense in the NFL through 5 weeks and the highest sack total. It will be an important test for this offensive line to see if they can provide Brady with the protection he needs to operate. Otherwise, the Bills are a fairly average/below average team. The Patriots defense should be able to handle Kyle Orton or EJ Manuel and the Bills run game isn't good enough to truly expose them.
-Mike