Grading Day

The Patriots’ professors have handed out their grades for Sunday’s win in Atlanta, and while there were some aspects for the Patriots, there are still some areas needing improvement. Michael Felger gives the secondary an “F” in his report card this week, making the note that in no way is this a Super Bowl caliber defense…at this point. Michael Parente is a little more generous in his grading, though the defensive backs still receive the low mark of a “D”. Former Pats great Steve Grogan checks in with an “A” for offense and a “B” for the defense. Alan Greenberg looks at the Patriots defense, which thus far this year could be given a “D”…as in deficient. Jerome Solomon looks at Adam Vinatieri once again coming through with a clutch kick for the Patriots. Check out the Patriots Game Day Rear View for a look back at how New England was able to defeat the Falcons on Sunday.

Karen Guregian writes about the Patriots offense, which was able to be productive enough to take the heat off the defense. Tom E Curran looks at how Tom Brady has been shouldering the load for the Pats offense in the early going. Christopher Price looks at how viewing the Hagler/Hearns fight fired up the Patriots for Sunday. Shalize Manza Young also looks at how the fight film gave the Patriots some inspiration. Guregian also has Bill Belichick admiring the Daniel Graham touchdown catch and run which was one of those rare plays which worked exactly as they drew it up. Bill Burt writes that this was not just another win for the Patriots. It was a Mary Tyler Moore special for Bill Belichick and his team. Jonathan Comey looks at the Patriots winning the Colts way, and vice versa.

Solomon’s notebook says that showing boxing films to his team each week will not become a Belichick staple. Guregian’s notebook looks at how the secondary still needs some serious work after getting torched on Sunday. Curran’s notebook looks at the Patriots managing to muster an effective running attack against the Falcons.

The Bruins managed a 4-2 win in Tampa last night over the defending Stanley Cup champions. Brian Leetch scored his first goal as a Bruin, and Andrew Raycroft was solid in net. However, the victory was marred somewhat by the fact that Captain Joe Thornton had to leave the game with five minutes remaining, due to back spasms. Nancy Marrapese-Burrell and Steve Conroy have the game stories. Conroy looks at former Bruin John Grahame, who has gotten his chance to play with the Lightning. Check out the BSMW Boston Bruins Blog for a look at the team after the first four games this year. Burrell’s notebook looks at Dave Scatchard, who is getting closer to returning to the ice for the Bruins. Conroy’s notebook also looks at the forward getting closer to a return.

Michael Silverman takes a looks at the Red Sox bullpen, perhaps the area of the team that is in most desperate need of an overhaul during the offseason. Mike Fine says that things are pretty much in shambles for the Red Sox right now, beginning with Curt Schilling. Gerry Callahan (subscription only) says that Pedro Martinez has pretty much ordered the Mets to go out and do what it takes to acquire Manny Ramirez in the offseason. Callahan says “Not only did Manny finish strong and come up big in the playoffs, a bunch of his teammates did not. There are holes to fill on this team, and left field/cleanup does not appear to be one of them.” But adds that if Manny demands a trade, they may not have much choice but to honor his request. My question would be who holds a greater influence over Manny, Pedro or David Ortiz… Silverman also looks at the relievers available this winter, noting that the choices are likely going to be few. Brian McGrory writes that with the Red Sox now out of the playoffs, it’s time to get a life. Steve Buckley (subscription only) says that with all the changes being made to Fenway Park, it is important to keep preserve the feel of the park, and not change it beyond recognition.

Gordon Edes has the game story of the Angels defeating the Yankees last night and knocking them out of the playoffs. Jeff Horrigan says that the White Sox will have no sympathy for the plight of the Angels, who had to fly out following the game in time for tonight’s ALCS game one in Chicago. Check out the New York Sports Pages for more reports on the Yankees loss and the upcoming ALCS. Edes’ notebook says that the Angels will turn to Paul Byrd as their game one starter. Horrigan’s notebook looks at El Duque making it an easy decision to add him to the White Sox ALCS roster.

The Celtics open up their preseason schedule tonight with a game against the Cavs in Pittsburgh. Tim Weisberg looks at the progress made thus far in camp and has five questions that need to be answered before the start of the season. Peter May has a piece on Mark Blount, who has vowed to turn things around after last season, and who has looked very good in camp thus far. May also has Ainge shooting down the latest Paul Pierce trade rumor, the details of which can be found all over Celtics Blog. Marcus Banks continues to find it difficult to please his coach, as is evidenced in Mark Murphy’s notebook this morning.

Dan Shaughnessy trots out a thoughts column, right off the bat pulling a Boston Dirt Dogs and ignoring the fact that Keith Foulke was in town to visit the Doctors last week when he also went to the Bruins game. Bill Reynolds tries to figure out when and why fans boo and cheer different players and teams. The Inside Track contains the following blind item:

Then there's the hot-to-trot media gal who has a penchant for getting a little too close to the story. So when the cops pulled over her car for weaving all over the road the other night, it was no surprise to find that, seated right next to her, was one of the married jocks about whom she is paid to report. Which makes her the real story