Another edition of (somewhat) quick

Another edition of (somewhat) quick links…

Bob Ryan has a look at Bill Belichick, who had himself quite a press conference yesterday, ending with a nice zinger to the reporters gather. Ryan says Belichick has certainly grown and changed from his days in Cleveland. He enjoys a good joke here and there, and a few players give glimpses of that. If you look at the pres conference transcript, you gotta wonder though if that was the “B” pool of reporters. Where do they come up with some of those questions? Michael Felger has a look at Rodney Harrison, who has been a hit with the team right from the start. Carolyn Thornton has an article on Tedy Bruschi, coming off the best regular season of his career. Glen Farley has a look at Mike Vrabel. Rich Thompson has Vrabel giving credit to Romeo Crennel. Michael Parente looks at the recent success in the running game for the Patriots. Mike Reiss looks at Charlie Weis’ hiring of a high powered agent and whether that will help him achieve his goal of being a head coach in the NFL. Alan Greenberg says that if Crennel leaves, his replacement could be 32-year-old Eric Mangini. Michael Smith also looks at who the replacements from within could be. Steve Buckley’s pay column tells us that the Patriots players are saying all the right things. Howard Bryant’s pay column looks at these “New” New England Patriots. He tells us:

In a micro sense, the Patriots merely are this season's powerhouse now trying to complete the title quest. Taking a longer view, the Patriots have entered the early stages of something major - completely reinventing the franchise. The result is a new world order unseen by many a sports team.

He goes on to tells us that the old days of futility under Pat Patriots are a thing of the past. Parente’s notebook leads with a look at the AFC. Felger’s notebook looks at the Dolphins (apparently futile) interest in Scott Pioli. Thornton’s notebook says there is plenty of work to be done before the next game.

Gordon Edes recounts the events that led to the death…or should we say coma… of the ARod to Boston deal. (and the downfall of the Boston Dirt Dogs website.)

Mark Blaudschun looks at former Pats coach Pete Carroll, happy to be on the West coast, and Pete admits that it’s where he should stay. He wasn’t meant for New England. Mike Shalin looks at tonight’s B.C./Colorado San Francisco bowl. (10:30, ESPN2) Michael Vega looks at some similarities between the two teams.

The Celtics links…or should I say link…can be found at Fox Sports Net New England.

The Bruins aren’t worth linking to…

There may be links in this space tomorrow on New Years day. There may not be. You’ll have to come to find out.

The Patriots start the post

The Patriots start the post season in unfamiliar territory…as favorites. Michael Felger looks at this new position for the team, which comes with increased expectations. The team however, continues to have tunnel vision in regards to their approach and goals. One person who does not consider them a favorite is Ron Borges. Writing for MSNBC, Borges picks the Titans as his choice to come out of the AFC. His reasoning?

Can the Patriots go all the way when their margin for error seems so slim? I think not. A Super Bowl title would put the Pats' winning streak at 15 games in a row, an unlikely occurence in any circumstance, but particularly so in this day of NFL parity.

That’s pretty much his entire argument. They can’t do it because it’s impossible to win 15 games in a row in the NFL. A specious argument at best. He says they struggled to beat Denver, and only beat the Titans because “Tennessee was not playing its best football yet.” Right. And the Patriots were? That victory over the Titans was following a loss to the lowly Redskins. It kicked off the current 12 game winning streak. Also, just when did the Titans play their best football? Was it in December, when they lost to the Jets and Colts, and then beat the Bills and Texans — by a combined five points? As for barely beating Denver, the Broncos were 6-2 at home this year. One of those losses was to the Patriots, who were without 2/3rds of their defensive line. Richard Seymour and Ted Washington both missed that game. Oh well. Like I said yesterday, I actually prefer the Borges approach. Disrespect the Patriots. They love that. I think I’ll also pull one of my all time favorite Nick Cafardo quotes out for reflection. This was obviously from the beginning of the season.

I don't think I've ever seen a team do so much to help a competing team within the division get so good so fast. The Bills were in ashes just two years ago. The trade to Buffalo of Bledsoe, sparked their offense. Their offseason moves to revamp their defense has worked well, and taking Milloy away from the Patriots has made them a worthy contender. We don't even know what Willis McGahee can do yet. It didn't take long thanks to a little help from the Patriots.

We still don’t know what Willis McGahee can do yet. Whatever it is, I just don’t think it is more than Travis Henry can do. Alright, back to the present. What? More from Nick. Just one more today. Enjoy.

Don't forget, Buffalo re-tooled there when Tom Donahoe came in. They got rid of a lot of expensive vets and brought in younger guys. They won three games. Then when they thought they had a chance to get back into it, they traded for Bledsoe, spent about $22 million of their cap dollars on defense, and got Lawyer Milloy as the cherry on top with about $3 million top spare. That's why I've always felt Donahoe is the best at what he does in the league.

What is it exactly that Donahoe does better than anyone else in the league? 17-31. That’s Buffalo’s record since Donahoe took over. Don’t try to say that he had to rebuild when he got there. If you make that argument you must also remove Belichick’s first year 5-11 mark with the Patriots and his early Cleveland years as well. Those were rebuilding projects. Before anyone gets upset at me here, I’m merely pointing out Nick’s record here. Sort of like he does whenever he trots out Belichick’s career record. Lest you think I’m just picking on one writer, I haven’t forgotten the borderline slanderous comments made by Kevin Mannix the week after the first Buffalo game either. Those will resurface at some point here as well. Am I picking on these guys merely because they were wrong in their assessments? No. We’re all wrong at times. It’s the smugness of these comments, along with a stubborn refusal to admit what has happened here which results in these quotes resurfacing. Yes, yes, back to the links, I promise.

Michael Smith says Bill Belichick is coach of the year, hands down. Tom Curran says we likely don’t have to worry about Scott Pioli going anywhere soon. Gerry Callahan has a pay column in which he says the Patriots have it all, motivation, preparation and home field. Eric McHugh gives us the best and worst of the 14-2 regular season. Jim Donaldson looks ahead to the playoffs, noting that the Patriots are a cut above whomever they have to go against. Nick Cafardo looks at Brian Billick and the Baltimore Ravens, who have made plans all the way to February 1st. Tom Curran has 10 quick questions with Troy Brown. Hey I had a Green Machine, too. Felger’s notebook looks at the interest in Crennel and Weis, and Smith’s notebook also carries that theme.

Nancy Marrapese-Burrell and Stephen Harris have the details of the Bruins 3-1 win over the Capitals last night. Both the Globe and Herald notebooks focus on defenseman Shaone Morrisonn.

Celtics also got a win last night, by the score of 100-91 over the Golden State Warriors. Links are at Fox Sports Net New England.

Bob Hohler looks at the return of Brian Daubach to the Red Sox. Dan Shaughnessy has a “clearing out the desk drawer” column. On the subject of the Red Sox, one thing he says is

People in the A's front office think Keith Foulke made a mistake coming to Boston. Maybe that's sour grapes, but some fear he won't react well to the fallout that comes when a Sox closer blows a save against the Yankees. It takes a specific mentality (think Dennis Eckersley), and some of the A's believe Foulke is too sensitive. I tend to agree, but then again, I didn't think David Ortiz would help.

While I don’t like the Foulke assessment, I have to give Dan a smidgen of credit for the Ortiz comment. I don’t think others at his paper could make that kind of statement. (Can you imagine: “Then again, I thought Tom Donahoe was a genius.” Didn’t think so.)

Bill Griffith has a look at the Patriots playoff in Prime Time and a bunch of other assorted media notes. John Molori looks at Glenn Ordway’s new WEEI deal.

14-2. 12 victories in a

14-2. 12 victories in a row. Just think about that for a moment. Savor it. Now erase it from your mind, because as Coach Belichick is fond of saying, everyone is now 0-0. Kevin Mannix has the Patriots Report card, and as he points out, the most important thing coming out of the game Saturday is that Tom Brady is A-OK. Tom Curran says the Patriots now play without a safety net, and hopes they do not meet the same fate as the ’99 Jacksonville Jaguars. Ron Borges frets about the Patriots next opponent, it seems no matter who they play next, that team is comparable to the ’85 Bears. Jonathan Comey concurs, noting that the Broncos, Ravens and Titans all pose upset threats to the Patriots. But you know what? In this instance, I might actually prefer Borges’ approach, which is in stark contrast to many of the on-air media personalities in Boston, who already have the Patriots in Houston, and who are openly discussing making their travel plans for Super Bowl week. This space often gets accused of wanting the local sports media to be nothing more than cheerleaders for the local teams, which is certainly not the case. While I’ll hammer those who are clearly working an agenda against teams or personalities associated with those teams, I’m also going to admonish those who go too far the other way, and start making the Patriots out to be unbeatable and a lock for the Super Bowl. Words to the wise: Remember Pittsburgh. Don’t act like the Pittsburgh media did in January of ’02. Remember some of the ridiculous columns coming out of the Steel City that week? How they sounded like a complete bunch of yahoos? Don’t go there. The good thing in all of this is that you can be assured that the Patriots themselves are not buying into the hype. You won’t catch any players or coaches talking about anything other than the next game directly in front of them. The media would be well advised to do the same thing. The other argument that I hate is the one that states that this season will be a “abject failure” if they do not win it all. That all that was accomplished this season will be “ruined” by a playoff loss. That’s a crock.

The story that will be commanding a lot of ink during this bye week will be the interviewing of Patriots assistants Romeo Crennel and Charlie Weis for head coaching jobs around the NFL. Michael Felger leads off the coverage with reports of interest in both coaches, as well as in GM Scott Pioli. Mike Reiss has a bit more on specific teams that could be interested, most notably the Bills as they’re within the division. Alan Greenberg has a look at the interest, as well as in the team’s preparation work this week. Christopher Price looks at the potential loss of Crennel and Weis. Nick Cafardo also reports on potential interviews, and claims that Crennel has received permission to interview “in Atlanta” for the Falcons job later this week. That flies in the face of other reports, which would have teams coming to New England to interview the coaches, something that makes much more sense for the Patriots, who would then lose less time with their staff in preparation for the next game. Felger’s notebook looks ahead to potential opponents, and also has a look at the playing field at Gillette which is decidedly chewed up. Nick Cafardo devotes an entire article to the condition of the field, and how the Patriots claim it is to their advantage. I also love how in the last paragraph Nick has to remind us that Drew Bledsoe stepped in for Tom Brady during the Pittsburgh playoff game. We haven’t forgotten, Nick.

The Celtics suffered their worst loss of the season last night, a 105-82 setback in Los Angeles. The Hack-a-Shaq strategy fell short for the Green. Details and links are at Fox Sports Net New England.

Stephen Harris says that a blockbuster trade is not going to cure the ills of the Bruins. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell looks back at a dismal 4-2 loss in Tampa on Saturday night. Harris’ notebook has Felix Potvin wanting more playing time.

Stop the presses…I think this might be the first day this offseason that has no had a Red Sox article in either of the major Boston papers.

NESN has Bruins/Capitals at 7:00. FSNNE has Celtics/Warriors at 10:30.