WBZ’s Sports Final had Steve Burton filling in as host lamenting that we don’t have a local team in these great NFL playoffs. Marc Edwards joined the show with Michael Smith and Michael Felger. Edwards said it “killed his heart” to watch these games but they were great games. Felger talked about the Giants choking today. Couldn’t snap, couldn’t kick, couldn’t punt. They talked about the holder not spiking the ball after the snap was muffed and giving the kicker another chance since it was only 3rd down. Smith wanted to give the holder the benefit of the doubt since when the season is on the line, all you’re thinking up is getting the ball in for a score somehow, but he should have had the presence of mind to spike it. Edwards said Belichick really tries to educate his players on what to do in these situations, he makes tapes of these weird plays so all the players know what to do when weird things happen. The players should’ve known what to do. On the Pittsburgh game, Felger says the Browns didn’t choke like the Giants did, they just let up at the end, they just couldn’t get out of bounds quick enough. Smith is on the Steelers bandwagon, he hated them last year and they hadn’t really beat anyone yet were talking all the time, this year he thinks they’re better, and could beat Tennessee next week. As for the Jets, Smith likes Pennington, and the placement of his passes. Not a great arm, but can place the ball anywhere. Has lots of weapons there, and getting great protection.
Bill Parcells was the next topic. Burton replayed an interview from two years ago where Burton asked him is his players feared him, Parcells talked about turning over half the team in his first year with the Giants, and that caused some fear, but he says he never intentionally tried to instill fear into his players and coaches, but if someone was late or lazy, he would get all over them. Burton asked about an incident with Steve DeOssie, Tuna asked DeOssie what was wrong with Matt Bahr, DeOssie said he was sick, Parcells says “got a little flu?” DeOssie says “yeah”. Parcells replies, “Well tell him to throw up on his own time.” It was shown on tape, and Parcells laughed and said he didn’t say that. Also Tedy Bruschi was shown coming over, and Parcells joked about him making calls in the defensive huddle in spanish, and then Parcells praised him saying he’s made a nice career for himself and called him a great third down situational player, “but not on offense”. Teasing him about dropping a pass sent to him on a fake punt in a Denver game years ago. Then Burton asked him is there’s ever a chance he could come back…Parcells said “No, I don’t think so, I’m done, I’m trying not to leave any doors open here…I said I’ve coached my last game, and I’m happy now.”
Steve DeOssie and Scott Zolak were in next with Edwards. DeOssie talked about the Matt Bahr incident, and how Parcells would ride him continually. Loved the guy, but didn’t like kickers in generally and would always harass them. He would set things up in practice to make the players want to get to the games and prove they could do something he said they couldn’t do in practice a few days earlier. They then asked DeOssie about the long snapper today…he’s someone they brought in for this game, he’s older then DeOssie. They talked more about how the exchange was muffed, was a choke job, that the special teams coach should’ve told the holder three or four times to be prepared to spike the ball if something goes wrong. Asked what the Patriots need next year…Edwards talked about maybe defensive back, right tackle. Asked what went wrong, Edwards said after the first few games where the team was throwing the ball all over the field, they might’ve developed a false sense of security. DeOssie asked if they were tired, Edwards said all teams are tired this time of the year. He did mention though that they really had no offseason last year. Usually you have a couple months to recover, this year they were basically right back to work. Burton asked if the Jets were the new Patriots and Edwards said no. He thinks that Tennessee is more “using the formula” that the Patriots did last year. Tight defense, physical. He picks them to go to the Super Bowl. DeOssie said the Jets are winning with a lot of hype, style and flair, but Tennessee is a solid, grinding team. He hates the Steelers.
Next segment had Will McDonough in to talk about Larry Lucchino and how he went after him in the paper Saturday. McDonough says that Lucchino isn’t here in the offseason, isn’t running the organization as he should be. Henry isn’t here, Lucchino isn’t here, the other owners aren’t here. Epstein is over there by himself. They haven’t done anything since they’ve been here to improve the team. McDonough talked about John Henry stating from the beginning that they didn’t have the money to compete with the Yankees for players, then they get into a bidding war for Contreras, and the Yankees win. Then Larry, who has been in California all this time, starts calling George Steinbrenner names, when all that is happening is what John Henry said would happen. McDonough said you never antagonize an opponent. Burton asked if these comments were taking out of hand and blown up by the media. McDonough said no, that Lucchino has done it twice now. He went on about Lucchino trying to involve himself in a group trying to move the Expos to Washington DC. He add that the Red Sox have the highest ticket prices in baseball, the highest concessions in sports, and just jacked up the cable rates, and the fans have nothing to show for it. McDonough says Lucchino should being someone in to replace him, someone that knows baseball, since Larry doesn’t.
Next in were Shaughnessy and Buckley, who were talking about the McDonough segment. Buckley compared Lucchino moving around all over the place to Parcells. How McDonough lauds Parcells, but castigates Lucchino. Parcells is double tongued, but comes out as a model of virtue according to McDonough. Buckley says Lucchino’s plan was to bring in all these young baseball minds to help make decisions. That’s a good thing. Shaughnessy says that McDonough is just trying to bring these guys to the table and see what’s going on. He added that the weakness of the team last year was the bullpen and they’ve addressed that this offseason and you can’t really complain. Buckley wants them to get Colon and go for it all in ’03. If it doesn’t work, then start dismantling the team. Trade Nomar, etc. Buckley says the less foul ground in Fenway is going to be a big factor this year. Shaughnessy says they have to make decisions on players like Pedro, Nomar, soon. Have to do something, can’t just let those guys walk. Buckley wonders what’s the flap about Henry and Lucchino not living here. He doesn’t understand the problem with them living away from Boston in the offseason. Buckley wonders what Hillenbrand is thinking these days, Shaughnessy agrees, he won’t be of any use to the Red Sox. Shaughnessy said they had better not sign that “Ortiz guy”, as “he is a sack of you know what”. He said he’ll jump on McDonough’s bandwagon if they sign that guy.
WHDH’s Sports Xtra had Jackie MacMullan and Michael Holley in with Gene Lavanchy who started off saying this season was a failure. The people who are satisfied with the season and give the Patriots a free pass this season are wrong. They didn’t get the breaks this year and the injury to Bruschi was huge, according to MacMullan. Holley says that the season was disappointing, but not a failure, because the Patriots were rebuilding while defending their SuperBowl. MacMullan, says “ok..here’s the deal they beat the Jets, they beat Miami, they’re in, they didn’t do that.” she says the division was there to be had, and said the Jets are last years Patriots. Holley says they aren’t. The Jets have much more talent than the Patriots had last year. Patriots have no one like Coles, Becht, John Abraham. MacMullan and Lavanchy disagree, saying that Tom Brady was the best QB in the NFL last year. Holley disagrees. He was a manager. MacMullan went off on this, and then added so last year they were lucky and Belichick and his coaches are a bunch of geniuses, and this year this is just what they are so its ok they didn’t make the playoffs? Lavanchy says how can you say its not a failure to come off a season like last year and then not make the playoffs. Holley says last year was unexpected, that is what made it so magical, to take a team of “waiver wire” players, which Holley says Don Shula called them the day after the Super Bowl, and to win it all. Lavanchy says “the Patriots have some of the highest paid players in football on defense, and you’re telling me its unexpected that the defense played great and carried them last year?” He scoffed at the notion that it was a team of waiver wire guys. Holley brings up Antowain Smith, Patten, Phifer, Cox etc as guys released by other teams and out there and available. Lavanchy countered with Law, Milloy, McGinest, and Ted Johnson as guys making good dough and not ‘waiver wire’ quality. MacMullan and Lavanchy were laughing at Holley at this point.
After a break, they were back, Lavanchy talking about their failure in their last three games. Holley says there’s two possibilities, either they underachieved, or they weren’t good enough to beat Tennessee and the Jets. Which was it. MacMullan says “A nice combination of both”. Lavanchy said the team lacked the fire in the belly this year. He quoted Tom Brady saying the team didn’t match the emotional intensity of other teams. Holley said last year everyone played out of their minds. They just couldn’t do it again. MacMullan says no one is saying they should’ve won the Super Bowl again. Lavanchy states that if you say this year isn’t a failure than you say last year was a fluke. MacMullan says this year is a failure because they didn’t make things happen. They didn’t do what they needed to do to get to the playoffs. Lavanchy wants to find someone to blame, players, Pioli? Who? Lavanchy says the formula for last year was a failure, so scrap it and go after big names. Lavanchy concluded the Patriots talk by saying most people would agree that this year was a total failure. They then went and talked about Parcells a little bit, Dallas has a nice young defense. MacMullan says he’ll win immediately there. Lavanchy asked how Parcells can get away with what Pitino couldn’t. Namely changing his mind. Holley says that Parcells is better able to articulate his feelings on the subject, describing coaching as a narcotic.
NECN’s Sports Late Night trotted out Genius Ron Borges who implied that Belichick is regressing to his Cleveland days, and that you can’t win throwing as much as the Patriots did. (Borges’ favorite team is the Raiders, who throw more than the Patriots and on shorter patterns. )