Dean of the Defense

The Patriots didn’t wait long to name a successor to replace departed defensive coordinator Eric Mangini, tapping veteran coach Dean Pees, who spent the last couple season coaching linebackers for the Patriots, and naming him as their new defensive leader. Mike Reiss notes that it was a quick ascension for the 56 year old Pees, who ad coached in the college game for 25 years before joining Bill Belichick’s staff two years ago. John Tomase says that Pees is a logical successor because of his experience and penchant for speaking up in team meetings. Tom E Curran says that “The youth and promise of Eric Mangini will be replaced by the experience and stability of Dean Pees.” Alan Greenberg has a brief bio of Pees, while Chris Kennedy notes that Pees’ group of linebackers was the most productive unit on defense last season. Christopher Price also looks at the promotion of Dean Pees.

Greenberg talks to Mangini’s college coach, Kevin Spencer, who first recommended Mangini to Belichick in a phone call 12 years ago. He also talks to others he knew Mangini at that stage of his life. Nick Cafardo looks at Eric Mangini’s first day as coach of the New York Jets. Tomase has Mangini saying there was no rift between he and Bill Belichick over whether he should take this job or not. Albert Breer says this is the right move for both the Jets and Mangini, as more often than not taking a talented assistant from a championship program works out. John Altavilla says that the Jets feel that Mangini’s experience and training will make up for his youth. Eric McHugh looks at the hiring of Mangini, while the New York Sports Pages are filled with coverage of the hiring as well.

Michael Felger says that the Patriots may have even upgraded by replacing Mangini with Pees, and says that the “majority” of players feel that Mangini is not ready to be a head coach. He also looks at what other holes will need to be filled on Belichick’s staff. Jerome Solomon talks to owner Bob Kraft, who is trying to be positive after the loss in Denver last week, and feels good about how his team is positioned for the future. Tony Massarotti says that the loss of Mangini shouldn’t be a big deal for the Patriots. Jim Donaldson notes that now only the Bills are lacking a Belichick connection in the AFC East. Hector Longo insists that the Patriots defense is in “total transition” and that this is the most crucial offseason of Bill Belichick’s tenure. Jerry Spar reports that there was another missed call in Denver…Troy Brown was apparently touched by a Denver player before the ball hit the ground on his muffed punt catch.

Peter May has a good look at Celtics rookie Gerald Green as he sends some time in Fayetteville, N.C in the NBA Developmental League, getting some playing time and court experience. Shira Springer and Steve Bulpett address and examine the trade talk surrounding Mark Blount, who apparently could be dealt at any moment. Minnesota, Cleveland, Denver and Memphis are all mentioned as possible trade partners. Bulpett’s notebook has Doc Rivers insisting once again that he is only going to play the kids if they earn their keep and don’t hurt the team while they’re on the floor. Celtics TV guy Mike Gorman took a couple minutes to do a little Q&A session over on the FSN website.

Rob Bradford has a good profile on new Red Sox backup catcher Ken Huckaby, who should fit right in here in Boston, as he has received death threats from Yankees fans in the past. Bob Ryan looks at the Hall of Fame case for Albert Belle, who despite having impressive numbers, only picked up 7.7% of the vote in the recent balloting. Michael Silverman reports on the Red Sox agreeing to a one year deal with reliever Guillermo Mota, who was acquired in the Josh Beckett trade. Chris Snow also reports on the signing, and says that the Red Sox are talking to Bronson Arroyo about a three year contract. Jon Couture says that we all might end up watching the World Baseball Classic…simply because there won’t be anything else on at that time.

Fluto Shinzawa looks at goalie Tim Thomas, who has been able to step in and make some good plays in net for the Bruins. Stephen Harris says that contract negotiations with Sergei Samsonov are going nowhere.

FSN has Celtics/Timberwolves at 7:30 (HD). ESPN has N.C. State/Duke at 7:00 (HD) and Cavs/Nuggets at 9:00. ESPN2 has Wisconsin/Ohio State at 8:30.

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