Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Denial In New England Is Ridiculous

ROb touched upon it a little yesterday and believe it or not Mike and I were on the same/ similar pages. Anyone who is impressed by the Patriots this year is absolutely ridiculous.

The Patriots have played 3 games this year against 1-2 Miami, 1-2 Minnesota, 0-3 Oakland. The Patriots have a 2-1 record and look like they are going to have a tougher year than most thought.

Tom Brady isn't done but is on the decline. Since 2010 Brady's quarterback rating has gone down. A lot of this can be contributed to the lack of weapons the organization has got him. But he seems to be bouncing or misfiring more balls then usual, especially this year. You have to feel bad for Tom Brady in some sense as he can look at Denver and see Peyton Manning who's career is winding down and sees an organization that gives him everything he wants to elongate his career. Peyton Manning has Demerious Thomas (1st round pick), Montee Ball (1st round pick), Julius Thomas, Wes Welker (Brady's favorite target ever) and free agent signing Emmanual Thomas (whom the Patriots had a chance to sign and were too cheap to sign). Meanwhile the Patriots have Gronk who is injury prone dating back to college, Ridley/Vareen (mediocre at best), Danny Amendola (whom they chose to sign over Welker), Brandon Lafell (who was never good at Carolina), Kenbrell Thompkins (undrafted rookie) and Julian Edleman (who thank God turned into what he is or the Patriots would be fucked).

The Patriots also have one of the worst lines in football who has already got Brady sacked 5 times and knocked down 14 times. The Patriots lost line coach Dante Scarnecia in the offseason who was the coach forever, then decided to trade the anchor of the offensive line Logan Mankins for nothing. Nothing. This will only amplify as the season goes on and the line gets more tired. Nobody can be impressed with the Patriots offensive line including human turnstile and former first round pick Nate Solder.

Now onto the defense. The vaunted defense the Patriots are supposed to have has been average at best. They have played 3 teams, 2 with absolute awful offenses and did what they should have. The only stand out in this defense so far this year is 1st round pick Chandler Jones (whom I loved that draft at the time). Darrell Revis is not the guy we thought was going to be, he got caught out of position a couple times by Mike Wallace and let up 5 of 6 catches to the receiver he was covering against a rookie QB in his 3rd start. He has not been the "shut down" guy everyone expected. The LBs have been invisible and the rest of the secondary has not been tested as they haven't played anyone. In the upcoming weeks we will see and what they are really made of.

The Patriots should win the AFC East although I think Buffalo is a real good team. But if anyone can say they are impressed with what has happened so far this year is a moron.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Patriots finally have a playmaking, game-changing defense, and everyone is obsessed with the offense

If you were a Patriots fan that had been living in a cave for the last 9 months, and emerged from your cave today and turned on sports radio, you'd probably panic. From the way people are bemoaning the offense, and remembering how shaky the defense has been for several years, you'd probably presume that the Pats were 0-3.

However, the defense is finally making plays and winning games. Yet the people that have been very vocally pining for such a playmaking defense, are now the ones ignoring how well they've played.

The Patriots didn't allow a touchdown Sunday. They held Oakland to 241 yards of offense, only 174 in the air and 67 on the ground. The Raiders only converted 5 of 13 3rd downs. They were 0 for 2 in the red zone. When the defense committed penalties, they weren't horrible for the situation, such as interfering with a receiver who was probably about to catch a touchdown.

Chandler Jones tipped two passes at the line of scrimmage. Logan Ryan, Kyle Arrington, and Patrick Chung all got their hands on the ball. Vince Wilfork's interception was the result of a fortuitous bounce, but when a defense gets their hands on the ball as often as the Pats did on Sunday, turnovers are bound to happen.

And even though Darrelle Revis didn't have a great game, his presence allows guys like Ryan and Arrington to be in better matchups. Revis often assumes the tougher assignments, allowing Arrington and Ryan to make plays against lower level receivers. Which is similar to what Vince Wilfork has done on the d-line, assuming tough blocks, giving other guys a chance to make plays. Ironically, Revis had a Wilfork-like game, and with the game-ending pick, Wilfork had a Revis-like game.

26.7. That was Oakland's average yards per drive. Three 3 and outs, 2 of them in the 4th quarter. The defense was great.

I'm focusing on the defense because it's been so long since we've seen a game-winning defense in New England. With the growth of Chandler Jones, the return of steady players like Wilfork and Mayo, and the relative depth in the backfield, this defense has potential to be one of the best in the NFL.

Of course, the offense was awful. The line allowed Brady to get hit too often. Brady missed throws too often. The running game got stuffed too often. Stupid penalties were committed too often, frequently at the worst possible time, such as a false start on 3rd and 10. The offense relied too heavily on Gronkowski in the red zone and on Edelman between the 20s.

When the Pats were winning Super Bowls, they found ways to win. They'd win one week with offense, the next with defense, the next with a big turnover, the next with a big special teams play. In their 21-game win streak, they beat the Browns 9-3 then a few weeks later beat the Colts 38-34. They found ways to win all kinds of games.

Time will tell if this Patriots team can win different kinds of games in different ways. At least we've seen that the defense can do it. Albeit against weaker competition and for a small sample size. It's almost as if it's still September, and having any opinion cheerfully high or bitterly low on this Patriots team based on such a small sample, would be moronic.

-The Captain

Photo Credit: Kirby Lee/USA Today Sports

Patriots Win Ugly Against Raiders

I said in my recap of last week's game that I didn't think that we would have any questions answered about the Patriots after this week against the Raiders either. If anything, this win over the Raiders has raised more questions and concerns. Problems that arose during the Miami game that seemed to have improved reasserted themselves. It was a sloppy game from start to finish and a better team than the Raiders certainly would have capitalized on it. If not for a holding penalty followed by a lucky interception for Vince Wilfork on a ball that pinballed off of a few players this game might have been headed to overtime.

Tom Brady has reverted back to the game manager he was earlier in his career. He has protected the football well other than Cameron Wake coming in from the blind side with the strip sack. He completes about 2/3 of his passes, has a TD pass in each game and no interceptions. His stats are generally average/below average. It's hard to be overly upset about this. Gronkowski is still not himself and Edelman is still his only truly reliable target. The offensive line has been shaky in pass protection. To some extent this was the plan right? Get back to the good ole days of a defense first team. Brady is being asked to do less and not shoot the defense in the foot. Right now the offense is good enough to beat the Peterson-less Vikings and a bad Raiders team, but it wasn't good enough against a Dolphins team that currently sits at 1-2. This unit is going to have to get it's act together if they want to compete.

The run game was disappointing in this game. The Texans and Jets tore up this Raiders team on the ground in the first two weeks. Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen and Brandon Bolden were very pedestrian on the ground against a weak unit. Combined, they totaled 78 yards on 28 total carries. To give some perspective, Arian Foster had 60 more yards and a touchdown on the same number of carries against the Raiders last week. Chris Ivory and Chris Johnson combined for 170 yards on just 23 carries against this unit in week 1. This was the week for the run game to carry some water against a poor run defense and instead they were a no show. After a good game against Minnesota last week this was a step back. At least they hung onto the football when they got tackled at the line of scrimmage.

The defense was passable. It's hard to complain about a unit that holds an NFL team to 9 points and keeps them out of the end zone entirely. They did what was necessary to put this team in a position to win. It seemed like a bit of dumb luck, but when they needed to make a play with the game on the line they delivered. As with everything in this game, you have to temper any positives you take from this game with the fact that the Raiders are awful. They managed to make one of the worst running games in the NFL look like one of the worst running games in the NFL. They managed to make one of the worst passing games in the NFL look like one of the worst passing games in the NFL. They managed to make a rookie QB starting his third NFL game look like a rookie QB starting his third NFL game. They Patriots defense looked good, but it's supposed to look good when facing this sort of ineptitude.

The Patriots will come up against a more legitimate opponent next Monday against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium. This will be their first game against a team that was in the playoffs last season. The Chiefs are 1-2 and got into the win column yesterday by thrashing the Dolphins 34-15. They lost the season opener to the Titans and lost a close game to the Broncos in week 2. The Chiefs All-Pro RB Jamaal Charles has been hampered by injury early in this season. He was inactive for the Dolphins game and is currently listed at day to day.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Boston College Defeats #9 USC

This was supposed to be a non-conference tune up game for the Trojans. USC was ranked 9th in the country. The Eagles are a rebuilding program trying to scrape their way back to being relevant in the ACC. The Trojans just beat #13 Stanford on the road the week prior. The Eagles got handled comfortably by unranked Pitt at home in their second game. It's not surprising that the Trojans overlooked this game and thought they would win this game simply by showing up. That overconfidence may have cost them a shot at a championship.

Everything seemed to be going according to the script early in the second quarter with USC growing a comfortable 17-6 lead. Then the Eagles added two touchdowns to grab a slim lead before halftime. Surely the Trojans would make the necessary halftime adjustments and assert their dominance in the second half. Instead, the Eagles put up another touchdown in the third and held the Trojans to 0 points in the third quarter. The Eagles added another field goal in the 4th to make it 30-17 with just under 8 minutes to play. USC seemed to finally figure out the Eagles defense and marched down the field in just 3:10 and scoring a touchdown, relying almost entirely on the passing game to move the ball. USC was now trailing by just 6 points with just over 4 and a half minutes to play and all 3 timeouts. This is where Boston College stalled out on offense or made a mistake and USC would come roaring back down the field for the win. Instead, Tyler Murphy immediately answered back by breaking off for a 66 yard run for a touchdown to make it a 2 score game with just 3 and a half minutes to play. USC again imposed their will and put up 7 more to bring the lead to just 6 points, but time was running out with just over a minute to play. Would they recover the onsides kick? Could they hold the Eagles offense to a 3 and out and give themselves just enough time for a shot at the end zone by burning all 3 timeouts? The Eagles recovered the kick and Jon Hilliman iced the game by getting two first downs on the ground, allowing the Eagles to take a knee at the USC 7 yard line to end the game.

This was a huge win for Steve Addazio and the Boston College Football program as a whole. Their last win over a top 10 ranked opponent while unranked came back in 2002 over #4 Notre Dame. It's only happened 6 times in school history and only 3 times in my lifetime. This is a once in a decade kind of upset for BC.

Quarterback Tyler Murphy was a 1-man wrecking crew accumulating 191 yards on the ground. Murphy did very little with his arm going just 5/13 in passing attempts for 54 yards and an interception, but he more than compensated with his legs.

The most encouraging part of this game was that the Eagles didn't steal this one at the last minute. USC wasn't shooting themselves in the foot with stupid penalties, turnovers and broken plays. They outplayed the Trojans for long stretches of this game. They completely stifled the USC running game holding them to just 20 yards on 29 rushing attempts. The BC running game put up more rushing yards against USC than any team in over a decade and they seemed helpless to stop them. There was a good game plan here and it was well executed. They found USC's weak point and attacked it relentlessly.

This changes the expectations that a lot of experts held for the Eagles this season. Before the season it was considered unlikely that the Eagles would be bowl eligible, in light of this win that goal seems far more attainable. It seems unlikely that the Eagles will be able to compete with a juggernaut like Florida State, but with a strong freshman class could they be a team on the rise?

The Eagles will hit a soft spot in their schedule with FCS Maine coming to Chestnut Hill followed by Mountain West Colorado State before hitting their ACC schedule for the rest of the season.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Captain's thoughts on Patriots 30-7 win

The weather was nicer, the opposing team was without their best player, and Chandler Jones. Those were the three biggest reasons that week 2 was so much more enjoyable for the Patriots than week 1.

The Patriots are 35-4 in their last 39 games after a loss. That's 90%. That's just stupid.

Chandler Jones was clearly the player of the game Sunday. Could he BE any more of a playmaker? The defense looked shaky on the first series and Jones made the only good play, shedding his blocker and blowing up a reverse. He finished the day with a pair of sacks and a blocked field goal that he returned for a touchdown.

The timing of the block was especially crucial. Instead of a 17-10 game going into the half, it was 24-7. And the Pats would be getting the ball back after the break. Any momentum the Vikings had built was knocked down by Chandler Jones, just like he knocked down the ball.

It's been years since the Patriots have featured a playmaker in their front 7. They've had DBs who could make plays, they've had solid guys like Wilfork and Mayo up the middle. I'd say Mike Vrabel was the last true playmaker up front.

This is a big year for Jones. It's time for him to form his NFL identity. We've seen the athleticism, we see he can make plays that change the game. The question is, how regularly will we see that?

The offense wasn't very good. Granted, they did not need to be good against Matt Cassel and a Peterson-less Vikings offense. The Pats were 5 of 14 on 3rd downs. They went 3 and out three times. Apart from one or two drives, there was no rhythm.

Brady looked more comfortable. He stepped around inside the pocket more, so perhaps his calf is better. In week 1 he didn't move at all after his drop. In the past we've seen him take a step to the sides or forward to avoid pressure. He didn't do that in week 1, just dropped back and planted.

Offensively, this performance was reminiscent of the early 2000s. Brady only threw 22 passes (compared to 56 in week 1) for 149 yards. Only one QB in the NFL (Ryan Fitzpatrick, 139) threw for fewer yards than Brady in week 2.

The running game was efficient. Ridley ran for 101 on 25 carries. Not a bad day, but I still question his being used as a short yardage back. Right now the Pats don't seem to have anyone for short yardage situations. Vereen added 40 yards and the team ran for 150.

Julian Edelman was the key to the offense. He caught 6 passes for 81 yards and a TD. He's Brady's favorite target for short passes as well as deep ones. Including punt returns, Edelman was responsible for 156 total yards.

The Vikings aren't a good team. So the impressive nature of this win doesn't leave an impression that will last longer than a few hours. It's premature to say they've "addressed" the issues that undermined them in Miami. The Vikings didn't offer the challenges that the Dolphins did with their rushing game or their outside pass rush.

The Pats are 1-1, time to move on.  Starting Sunday against Oakland, they begin a stretch with 5 of 7 at home.

All wins are good wins (Bill Belichick now has 200 of them). And this win was necessary. Starting off 0-2 in September makes life in November and December very hard. This is the time to collect wins, secure a good playoff position, and work on your weaknesses. Winter is coming.

-The Captain

Photo Credit: Ann Heisenfelt/Associated Press

Patriots Rout Peterson-less Vikings

It's going to be hard to put too much emphasis on this win. The Vikings had to deal with a late scratch of former MVP Adrian Peterson due to his recent legal issues with child abuse. The Vikings weren't entirely without teeth, but it was still a huge loss for a club that revolves around Peterson. Matt Cassell is a fine game manager, but you can't lean on him to win games. When you do put that onto his shoulders you get games like this one. As such, we're left still scratching our heads about this Patriots team. I doubt we'll have it figured out next week either as the Oakland Raiders look awful after losing to the Jets and the Texans.

The biggest story of this game was the turnovers. The Vikings shot themselves in the foot...repeatedly. Some credit should go to the Patriots defense. They got into Matt Cassell's face. They rattled him and he made bad throws that the secondary capitalized on. Perhaps if Cassell had an MVP caliber running back to pass the ball off to it might have relieved some of that pressure. Instead he took the sacks and the bad throws and never scored again after that impressive opening drive. The Patriots 2012 1st round draft choices, Chandler Jones and Dont'a Hightower, combined for 4 sacks. Rob Ninkovich and Kyle Arrington added one each for the final sack total of 6. Logan Ryan, Darrelle Revis, Devin McCourty and even rookie DT Dominique Easley all came up with interceptions. On top of his sacks, Jones also managed to block a field goal attempt and took it all the way back for a back breaking touchdown going into the half.

Tom Brady and the offense managed to do what was necessary to comfortably win this game. It's not hard to put up points when your defense and special teams gift wrap two touchdowns and put it under your week 2 Christmas Tree for you. They enjoyed great starting field position many times and managed to not screw it up. They never coughed up the football and put the defense in a tough spot and they worked efficiently. Ridley had a better week running the football for just over 100 yards on 25 carries and Brady had a tidy 15/22 for 149 yards with a touchdown and just 1 sack on the day. Edelman continues to produce well as Brady's favorite target. Nothing spectacular, but more than good enough to win this football game against the hapless Vikings.

Even accounting for the fact that the Vikings were without Peterson, I think this was a thorough team win with a lot of positives. Many of the issues they suffered during the Miami game seemed to have been addressed. Brady was better protected and generally stayed upright all game. The miss-communication between Brady and his receivers was not a factor. Ridley was working more efficiently with his touches while still hanging onto the football. The defensive line was tackling better and limiting the yards after contact for the Vikings running backs. I understand that they avoided the true test in Adrian Peterson, but it was still a step in the right direction and something to build on. I also liked that this team didn't get rattled by the early momentum from Minnesota. After the Vikings marched down the field for that touchdown and then the subsequent 3 and out from the Patriots it would have been easy to lose confidence. Instead they made some big plays, the defense tightened up and the offense did it's job.

There's still plenty of room for improvement. Gronkowski is still not operating at peak performance. 4 catches on 6 targets for 32 yards isn't bad, but it's clearly not on par with what we know Gronk is capable of. That will come back with time. It was nice to see him reach down to catch a low ball from Brady. I think it indicates that he is getting more of his range back. The penalties were absolutely brutal in this game. The Patriots were flagged for 18 penalties in this game.

D.Hightower, Defensive Offside, 5 yards
S.Siliga, Illegal Use of Hands, 5 yards
D.Jones, Offensive Holding, 10 yards
M.Cannon, Offensive Holding, 10 yards
D.Revis, Defensive Holding, 5 yards
A.Dobson, Offensive Pass Interference, 10 yards
Offside on Free Kick, 5 yards
N.Solder, Illegal Block Above the Waist, 10 yards
N.Solder, Offensive Holding, declined
N.Solder, False Start
J.Devey, Offensive Holding, 10 yards
S.Gostkowski, Delay of Game, declined
L.Ryan, Illegal Block Above the Waist, 10 yards
T.Wilson, Illegal Block Above the Waist, declined
D.Hightower, Unnecessary Roughness, 15 yards
C.Fleming, False Start, 5 yards
M.Butler, Defensive Pass Interference
L.Ryan, Defensive Pass Interference

All totaled that was 15 accepted, 3 declined for a total of 163 yards and 5 first downs. That's the exact number of passing yards for the Vikings offense and more first downs than the Vikings running game. Some of these penalties I understand. Instead of giving up the big sack or having the running back get hit well behind the line of scrimmage you take your chances and hold the guy and hope it doesn't get called. You're going to try to straddle the line between physical play and defensive holding/pass interference and you get caught sometimes that's the price you pay for paying tough, physical defense. To be great in the NFL right now you have to push the limits on these things. There was still too many flags thrown. Pushing the envelope is only half the equation. The other half is getting away with it often enough to make it worthwhile. Clearly the Patriots weren't getting away with it very often. There were also too many dumb, needless penalties. Offsides, false starts, penalties on kickoffs and returns, etc. They're all avoidable and careless penalties that show a lack of discipline. It didn't hurt them in this game, but against better opponents it could be the difference between winning and losing.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

How The Fuck Did Oscar Pistorious Get Cleared For Murder

PRETORIA, South Africa — The judge in Oscar Pistorius’ murder trial appeared to be heading for a culpable homicide finding Thursday after ruling out both premeditated murder and murder verdicts in the shooting death of the double-amputee Olympic athlete’s girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Judge Thokozile Masipa said prosecutors have not proved beyond a reasonable doubt that Pistorius, 27, is guilty of premeditated murder. “Culpable homicide is a competent verdict,” the judge said, but did not deliver any formal verdicts in the shooting death of Pistorius’ 29-year-old girlfriend before calling for a lunch break in the proceedings. Culpable homicide refers to a negligent killing. If Pistorius is acquitted of murder, he could still be sent to jail for years if it’s found he acted negligently in Steenkamp’s death. Pistorius has admitted firing the four shots that killed Steenkamp on Valentine’s Day last year.

What the fuck is going on in this world? In the US we have one of the most powerful organizations covering up beating women and in South Africa a guy who was dead to right guilty is found innocent of murder when he did it? This seemed like a pretty obvious conviction here, he came to his house and shot his girlfriend. But maybe it's different in South Africa so who knows. You have to feel bad for the Steenkamp family who's daughter got little justice in this matter.

"Ignorance Is No Excuse"

Those are Roger Goodell's words after he decided to fuck the Saints with his asinine suspensions after "Bountygate" in which he had flimsy evidence on and boy have those words come back to bite him. As James Harrison tweeted yesterday, "@nflcommish ain't no fun when the rabbit have the gun, huh?". Roger Goodell has been caught in a web of lies after his interview 2 days ago. In the interview he states:

We did not ask the Atlantic City casino directly for the video. Again, our understanding of New Jersey law is that the casino is prohibited from turning over material to a third party during a law enforcement proceeding, and that doing so would have subjected individuals to prosecution for interference with a criminal investigation.


"We assumed that there was a video. We asked for video. But we were never granted that opportunity," Goodell said.

Later this was refuted by TMZ and the AP:
Paul Loriquet, the Director of Communications for the New Jersey Attorney General, tells TMZ bluntly, "No, it's not illegal."

To be clear ... our question was very specific: "Is it illegal for the casino to show or provide this material to a private entity in an ongoing investigation." His answer, "No, it's not illegal."

And the AP said the video was given to the NFL in April and they even have an audio recording of someone confirming the video.

This is obviously huge news because it exposes an NFL cover up for some reason and makes the new "domestic violence rules" seem petty and a PR move. I hate to say I told you so, but I told you so. I have been very critical of Goodell over the years because I saw through his act. He is a self important, power hungry asshole who has no morals and ethics. This is the same guy that shows blatant favoritism towards certain teams (Patriots), gives out inconsistent suspensions/ fines, ruined a New Orleans team, covered up concussion effects and made a mockery of the NFL when he let scab refs run amuck over some benefits to the real officiating that caused teams to lose. He's awful and he needs to go. I know they have a private investigation going on led by people named Rooney and Mara (those names ring a bell, Steelers and Giants) but I don't know how credible that would be. Goodell's lack of humility is disgusting and there is only one option for him and that's to go.

Obviously with the lack of opinion from The Captain, Lydon and Bob it's obvious that they know that the ride of the Patriots being protected could be over.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Terrell Suggs

Love him or hate him but this is a pretty fantastic shirt. And I'm a Steelers fan.

Of Course Floyd Mayweather Said The NFL Overreacted

Bob Kraft's boy and another women beater Floyd Mayweather said, ""I think there's a lot worse things that go on in other people's households, also," Mayweather said. "It's just not caught on video, if that's safe to say."

He went to say they were overreacting, etc.

Floyd Mayweather has spent time in jail for beating his then girlfriend and then gf in front of their children. That probably the last thing even Ray Rice even want when it comes to this. Having Floyd Mayweather defend you in domestic violence is like Hitler defending your morals.... just shouldn't happen.

Either way Floyd Mayweather is probably the best boxer I have ever seen and don't unstand why people call his fights boring.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

This Whole Ray Rice Thing Pretty Much Proves Goodell Is In The Patriots Back Pocket

With this whole Ray Rice thing going on, it's pretty evident that Roger Goodell only works to get the owners more money and only does what he needs to do to protect the owners. Roger Goodell knew about the tape of Ray Rice punching his then fiance out cold and chose to do one of two things. 1. Saw the tape and assumed it wouldn't go public and withheld the 2 game suspension. 2. Chose to ignore the tape and hope it would go away. The tape was so damning that when TMZ released the video the league, The Ravens and Goodell were forced to handle Ray Rice.

This morning or yesterday, Bob Kraft who has a lot of pull in the NFL came to the disgraced commissioners defense about how he handled the Ray Rice situation. Now..... why would he support Goodell? One theory and I'm pretty sure it's not a theory it's a fact is the fact Goodell was the ONLY one to see the spygate tapes before mysteriously destroying them. Why did Goodell destroy the tapes? Was it because he didn't want to have the public see the damning evidence on the tapes just like Ray Rice? Probably. The NFL is embarking on a major cover up and you would be dumb to not think what else has Roger Goodell covered up in his time as commissioner.

So since Goodell scratched Kraft's back, Kraft is now scratching Goodell's back which is just an awful look. Goodell knew there was a tape and I 100% believe that he saw it as pretty well respected journalists like Ron Jaworski and Peter King reported he did and pretty much described the video to a t.

One thing that needs to happen is that Roger Goodell and his 44 million dollar a year salary needs to go.

Meanwhile his press conference is at 6 tonight, so get ready for some incredible lies.