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23
Nov

OK, Matt Cassel IS an NFL Quarterback

A few weeks ago, I questioned Bill Belichick‘s decision to keep Matt Cassel as quarterback of the New England Patriots.  As if there needs to be any proof that Bill Belichick knows way more about football than me, I was clearly wrong.  Cassel has shown himself to be more than ready to lead an NFL team.  Cassel is improving each week and he’s probably already better than half the other quarterbacks in the NFL.

In today’s game against the Miami Dolphins, the Patriots had over 500 yards of total offense – the most for any one game in the team’s history.  400 of those yards were from passing – all by Mr. Cassel.  That would be something all on its own.  The fact that this is the second straight week that Cassel has thrown for 400+ yards, however, is what really points out his abilities and success.  By the way, Tom Brady has never had back-to-back 400+ yard passing games (which baffles me given how much offense the Patriots had last season).

It’s a team effort and Cassel isn’t doing it all by himself, of course.  The offensive coaching has been superb, working the Patriot’s scheme into Cassel’s strengths.  That doesn’t diminish Cassel’s success at all.  He’s doing a great job.  Period.

Now, Coach Belichick.  Let me tell you what you need to do with your defensive backfield.

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 November 23rd, 2008  
 Will  
 Patriots  
   
 4 Comments
12
Nov

Praise the Lord! Tom Brady is Back in Training

Apparently, Tommy is back in Foxboro rehabbing his mutilated knee and working out with his teammates.

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It’s been hard to figure out exactly what has been going on with Brady since the hit that took out his knee at about 5 milliseconds into the football season this year.  Surgery for the damage, of course, but then rumors of infection, poor grafting and surgical errors were everywhere.  Bill Belichick’s cone of silence over the entire situation didn’t help any either.

In any case, the fact that he’s back with his team is great and, hopefully, means that any problems he had, pre or post surgery are not catastrophic.  I haven’t punted on this season, but it’s great to know that Tom will most likely be ready to call the plays in 2009.

ESPN Story here.

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 November 12th, 2008  
 Will  
 Patriots  
   
 1 Comment
13
Oct

A Letter to Bill Belichick

Dear Coach Belichick,

You know I love the Patriots.  I have been a season ticket holder for a long time and from the last weeks of August to the first weeks of February every year my life somewhat revolves around watching my Pats play football.  But after last night’s performance, I have come to accept the fact that the team simply . . . sucks.

I would have never have guessed how much one player, Tom Brady, meant to a team that I thought was well-rounded.  The defense looks horrible, but it’s hard for me to tell how much the total and complete lack of offense has on the psyche of the defense.  In any event, the entire team seems totally broken.

So, given this situation, it surprises me that you stick with Matt Cassel as your quarterback.  I realize that you believe that getting the entire team behind a single QB is critical to the motivation of the team, the QB’s confidence and the positive mentality of that chosen quarterback.  But Cassel is simply not worthy.  He has tunnel vision – he can only see the designated receiver – and misses wide open optional receivers and defensive lineman bearing down on him.

If you’re going to stick with Cassel, which I believe is a stupid idea, at least open up the game by having him make more 10+ yard passes even if he throws an interception now and again.  The offense is probably going to turn the ball over on downs, anyway.  If you, like I, suspect that he can’t throw that far, take him out of the game and give Gutierrez or O’Connell a shot.  What’s the downside?

Clearly, Cassel isn’t a long term keeper.  You can’t rely on him to make it happen.  How motivated are Randy Moss and Wes Welker to get their asses kicked every week with Cassel as their QB?  At least shaking things up might give the other players some hope which, after the debacle in San Diego, seems to be the most important thing you can offer your guys this season.

Sincerely,

A respectful and ever grateful fan.

 

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 October 13th, 2008  
 Will  
 Patriots  
   
 5 Comments
07
Sep

Patriots Season Tickets for Sale. Cheap.

No, I don’t think I really mean it, but seeing Tom Brady writhing in pain from what appears to be a serious knee injury in the first game of the new season does not make me feel good about what’s going to happen the rest of the year.

I know that they say that it takes 53 guys to make a team, but when you remove the cornerstone from a building it’s, at the very least, a lot less stable.  Add to that the fact that Tommy’s backup, Matt Cassel, is probably not starting material anywhere in the league, and even the easiest schedule in the NFL (which the Patriots have) looks like a climb up Mount Everest.

I’m still hoping for some Bill Belichick subterfuge here.   He’s executing his master plan to lure the rest of the NFL into a false sense of security by faking the injury.  Yeah, farfetched, but I can hope, can’t I?

 September 7th, 2008  
 Will  
 Patriots  
   
 4 Comments
04
Feb

Pats Lose the Big One. Congrats to the Giants and Their Fans.

What a game!  I certainly never thought it was going to be such a defensive battle.  Although I fully expected the gut-wrenching emotional roller coaster that it was.  I figured on loads of scoring.  But, then again, I thought the Pats were going to win.  What do I know?  The Giants defense was the key, of course.  Shutting down the Pats’ vaunted offense.

As a Patriots fan, I certainly would have loved to have seen another Super Bowl victory.  Even more, though, I would have enjoyed seeing the completion of a perfect season – so difficult to do in the free-agent era.

Yeah, I’m disappointed.  Traveling back from the game makes it even tougher since I seem to be surrounded by celebratory Giants fans.  They’re being nice, It’s just the steady reminder of the loss that’s making the flight home seem extra long.

Congrats to the Giants and their fans and thanks to the Patriots for a great season.

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 February 4th, 2008  
 Will  
 Patriots  
   
 6 Comments
30
Dec

Patriots Go 16-0

Simulcast on no less than four channels in New England, but all using the same crappy NFL Network feed . . . the New York Giants represented the entire NFL against the 15-0 New England Patriots last night.  Just in case you somehow missed it, New England prevailed.

Completing a perfect record for the season was no walk in the park for the Pats, but they made it happen. Welker, Welker, Faulk, Welker, MOSS!, oh yeah, and even some running by Maroney.  The Giants came to play, though, and made it a grind every step of the way.  Manning looked as good as I have ever seen him and Brady was under pressure all night.  The Giants took a 12-point lead at one point in the game, the biggest lead any team has had over the Patriots this year.

On the way to 16-0 last night, a few other records were set . . .

  • Tom Brady threw the most touchdown passes in a season (50)
  • Randy Moss caught the most passes for touchdowns in a season (23)
  • Patriots scored more points than any team in a season (582)

During the season, the Pats outscored their opponents by a total of 315 points, which is more than several teams in the NFL scored the entire year.

Bill Belichick says, of course, that the team still needs to improve.  Even if you’re not the sourpuss coach, you’d have to agree.  A perfect record does not mean they’re a perfect team.  During the first half of the season, the Pats completely dominated their opponents.  Not true for the second half.  There were some real nail-biters late in the season and the Pats defense would often be seen back-pedaling 60-70 yards before stopping the opposing offense.  It seems that the rest of the NFL has figured out how to manage the imposing New England offense – not that that’s particularly difficult when 90% of the plays are passes.

The Pats will have to get through the cream of the NFL crop over the next three weeks to make it to the big game.  While I like their odds, it certainly won’t be a cake-walk.  I’m not a huge fan of the “perfect” season talk.  16-0 is great, but winning the Super Bowl is what it’s all about.

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 December 30th, 2007  
 Will  
 Patriots  
   
 8 Comments
04
Dec

God is a Patriots Fan

Well, if there was any doubt of this before last night’s narrow 27-24 victory, there shouldn’t be any more.  After converting only a few of their third down attempts all game, the Pats were forced to try and convert a couple of fourth downs during the waning seconds of the game against the Baltimore Ravens to eek out come-from-behind victory . . . and they did.  One of them, when the Lord Almighty clearly had enough of the Pats struggle and had Baltimore’s head coach, Brian Billick, call a time out a split second before the Ravens’ defense tackled Tom Brady for a fourth down loss of yardage and a change of possession.  In the ensuing seconds, the Pats got a first down, made another fourth down conversion (the second one), scored a touchdown and got the benefit of Baltimore racking up a total of 35 penalty yards.  Somebody’s been going to church.

The Ravens came to play and play they did.  Their defensive backs seemed to be able to double-team each of the Pats receivers and the tight end.  This would be impressive in itself since the Pats have almost as many receivers as they have players.  What made it more impressive, is that they were also able to pressure Brady at the line.  Baltimore’s offense looked good too with Willis McGahee running all over the Pats defense and executing many excellent third down passing conversions.

So the Lord’s team is now 12-0 having squeaked by two teams that they should have beaten by bigger margins (the other one was the Eagles last week).  I’m not sure why the Pats last two games look so different from their previous 10.  Did someone post the secret sauce recipe on the Internet?

I learned last night that Rosevelt Colvin was put on the IR and is out for the rest of the season.  This could be a big problem for the Pats moving forward since at 30 years old, he is the youngest linebacker they have.  Anyone know what happened to him?  Information seems hard to come by.

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 December 4th, 2007  
 Will  
 Patriots  
   
 8 Comments
04
Nov

Showdown at the RCA Dome

Indy Fans after today’s game(AP Photo/AJ Mast)
Indy Fans (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

Wow!  That was a big game.  The Pats squeaked by with the victory after coming from behind – much like the Colts did earlier this year during last season’s AFC Championship game.  The best regular season football game ever?  I dunno, but it certainly was a matchup of the two best teams in football and it was a very hard-played game.

At times, both teams looked like they were struggling, although certainly the Patriots looked like they were in deeper trouble for the first three quarters.  I attribute that to the quality of the 11 guys on the other side of the ball – for both teams.  The somewhat suspect Patriots D did a great job in the Red Zone.  Without those defensive stands, the score would have been quite a bit different.  Joseph Addai is really incredible.

It may have been a different game if Marvin Harrison weren’t hurt.  On the other hand, it may have been a different game if the officials weren’t playing for Indy.

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 November 4th, 2007  
 Will  
 Patriots  
   
 2 Comments
17
Sep

Videogate (aka Patriotgate, aka The Patriots Cheating Scandal)

OK, OK, OK.  I wasn’t even gonna bring this up, but I’ve been barraged by emails (barrage may be a wee bit of an exaggeration, but you get the idea, right?) taunting me to say something about it.  What?  Am I the only opinionated Patriots fan in the blogosphere? 

So, caving into all of you who have baited me into the obvious trap and throwing more fire starter on an already incendiary issue, here are my thoughts . . .

  • Did the Patriots cheat?  Bill Belichick broke the rules.  Period.  Is he the first one to break this particular rule, no.  Is he the last, no.  It’s an NFL rule that while good, is very general and hard to police.  Everyone watches out for patterns in their opponents signals and play-calling.  Everyone.  Removing the camera from the field, does not remove the binoculars from the coaches in the sky box of the stadium or the eyes of the players and coaches on the sidelines.  Let’s face it, the point here and its resultant penalty is not about cheating, it’s about doing something that the new NFL commissioner expressly told coaches not to do in writing before the beginning of the season.  Doing so flies in the face of the commissioner’s authority and desire to exercise his new power.  That makes what the Patriots did wrong and guilty as charged.
  • Is the penalty reasonable?  The money is steep, but for Belichick, Kraft (the owner of the Pats) and the Patriots, it’s not a killer by any means.  If that level of financial penalty was put on some of the coaches and teams in the league, it could be a killer.  The level fined will send a message to coach and team, alike, though. The bigger pain comes from the loss of a draft pick.  Some say it doesn’t matter because the Pats can just go to the free-agent market to get the talent.  I disagree.  Bringing youth onto a team, especially an aging one like the Pats, is critical in the long term.  Therefore, I think the loss of draft picks, especially a first-round pick, represents a real punishment.  Additionally, taking away draft picks is taking away negotiating leverage too.  Since draft picks can be traded, the specified penalty will remove that currency from the Patriot’s pocket.  Of course, the biggest punishment is the tarnishing of the club’s image, which is recognized by most as being squeaky clean – the team that can civilize Rodney Harrison and Randy Moss, right?  Getting that back and fighting off the man on the street’s belief that they may have won 3 Super Bowls because they cheated is a much bigger deal.
  • Is the penalty fair with respect to other recent ones handed down by Roger Goodell?  The new commissioner has been busy trying to straighten things out in the NFL and trying to clean up some of it’s seedy image.  The decision against the Pats is just the latest in the punishments he has doled out.  To compare this one with others handed to individual players facing felony or weapons charges or taking performance enhancing drugs is absurd, in my opinion.  A comparison with the 5-game suspension handed down to Wade Wilson, quarterbacks coach for the Dallas Cowboys, however, seems like a reasonable one.  In light of the Wilson punishment, one could argue that Belichick should have been suspended for some number of games.  I’d argue that Wade Wilson (accused by the NFL of taking HGH) is 1. not a head coach and 2. unlike belichick, actually broke the law.  I believe that Roger Goodell mentioned the second point when asked about this topic yesterday.
  • Will this hurt Bill Belichick or this year’s team?  Hard to say, but at the game last night (Patriots: 38, San Diego:14), Belichick got a standing ovation from the hometown crowd and the Pats totally destroyed one of the NFL’s elite teams.  It’s hard to imagine after last night how the situation will hurt the team as the season moves forward and time brings other news to the forefront.  I would think that football fans will always carry some of the memory of this moving forward and it will dog Belichick for a while.  Time heals all wounds, though, and by the end of his career (geez, maybe by the end of this season), it will be mostly forgotten.  There was also a rumor that Bob Kraft would fire Belichick for this but, in an example of truly great management moves (I mean this sincerely), Kraft extended Belichick’s contract through 2012 yesterday.  Now that’s how to publicly demonstrate support for an employee.

As is probably obvious, I’ve got an unhealthy level of emotional involvement with my local football team.  Hey, I’m from Boston, that’s what we do here.  I was pretty depressed when this whole thing came down and I don’t think I’ll get over it for a while.  Yeah, I know, I should get a life.  In the mean time, the Pats look, to quote Sports Illustrated, “scary good.”  I think winning is good therapy for me and I need about 14 more sessions to fully recover.

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 September 17th, 2007  
 Will  
 Patriots  
   
 12 Comments
03
May

Randy Moss is a Patriot

Patriots LogoLast Sunday, the Patriots traded away their fourth round draft pick to the Oakland Raiders in exchange for picking up wide receiver Randy Moss’ contract.  I didn’t post about it at the time, because I was dealing with the magnitude of my hypocrisy about the move.  I’ve finally come to terms with it, trading all my scruples and beliefs for the potential of another Super Bowl trophy coming to New England.  Yup, I can be bought for almost nothing.

Randy Moss is one of the NFL’s bad boys.  He’s the kind of person that you hold up as an example to your kids of what is wrong in sports and how not to behave.  To give you some perspective, when asked by Sports Illustrated about the 1970 plane crash that killed the entire Marshall football team, Moss said: “was a tragedy, but it really wasn’t nothing big.”  You get the idea.

So, now Randy Moss joins a team known for having a low tolerance for bad behavior.  A team that adopted NFL bad boys Rodney Harrison and Corey Dillon and turned them into seemingly upstanding citizens (off the field, anyway).  Can it do the same for Moss?  Here’s hoping so.  It appears that his contract is structured with a much lower salary and loads of incentives.  One would think that much of the money that is in the contract is contingent upon good behavior, but the ins and outs have not been disclosed.

There were rumors in New England during the free-agent trading period that Moss might possibly join the Patriots.  At the time, I stated that I didn’t want to see a guy like Moss playing for the Pats.  Now that he’s wearing the red, white and blue, though, I’ve tossed aside any values that I once held dear for the chance to have the Lombardi Trophy in New England again.  Am I a slut or what?

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 May 3rd, 2007  
 Will  
 Patriots  
   
 2 Comments