Passing Grades

Michael Felger has an A+ for Matt Cassel and a D- for the defensive secondary in his report card this morning. All other positions on the Patriots fall in between those two grades. Ian Clark‘s grades are in line with those of Felger this morning, as are the grades from Eric McHugh. The Herald Report Card is pretty generous in its grading of the team. I’m assuming Borges wrote it, but there’s no byline to the story at the moment.

Christopher Price has Steelers safety Anthony Smith offering another guarantee of a Pittsburgh victory this weekend with their #1 defense.

John Tomase says that number 16 is really starting to look like number 12 out there on the field. Christopher L. Gasper has Cassel running the spread offense with great success and comfort. Mark Farinella looks at how much Cassel has progressed this season. Bill Reynolds says that Cassel has proved us all wrong. Glen Farley says that Cassel is becoming too expensive for the Patriots to keep.

Bill Burt gives us 10 reasons why the Patriots can win the Super Bowl this season. Shalise Manza Young says that the Patriots defense needs to get its act together on third downs and in the red zone. Rich Garven reminds us that if the season ended today, the Patriots would not be in the playoffs. Daniel Barbarisi has the Patriots expecting another physical game with the Steelers in town on Sunday. Ben Swasey has a few thoughts after re-watching the game against Miami.

Lenny Megliola compares Cassel and BC backup QB Dominique Davis, who was also thrust into the starting lineup following an injury to the starter.

Tomase’s notebook has the Patriots awaiting word on whether Matt Light will be fined or suspended for this Sunday’s game at the Steelers. Gasper’s notebook has more on a possible suspension for Light. Barbarisi’s notebook has Stephen Gostkowski too busy trying to protect his leg to get involved in the Light/Crowder fight right in front of him. Farley’s notebook says that there will be no day off on Thursday for the Patriots.

Celtics

Paul Flannery looks at how the Celtics have turned up the level of their play in the last few games. Frank Dell’Apa examines how the Celtics are a tough team to cover when they’re clicking, as Toronto found out. Mark Murphy has the Celtics bench playing a larger role this season.

Jim Fenton looks at the Celtics getting off to a 13-2 start despite not playing well at times and having a target on their back every night. Mike Fine examines whether Paul Pierce is worthy of being called a top-five NBA forward.

Red Sox/Bruins

Michael Silverman has Japanese pitcher Junichi Tazawa considering an offer from the Red Sox. Amalie Benjamin has more on the offer to Tazawa.  Dan Lamothe is convinced that Jason Varitek has played his last game with the Red Sox. Joe McDonald says that the Varitek talks are the biggest Red Sox topic at the moment.

Stan Grossfeld looks at the “Mini-Fenway” project in Quincy.

Steve Conroy has Tim Thomas fifth in All Star voting despite being left off the ballot. Fluto Shinzawa has Patrice Bergeron putting his game back together after missing much of last season. Mike Loftus has the Bruins not wanting to let success go to their heads. Conroy’s notebook has Matt Hunwick filling a void on defense.

So Long, Douglas Flynn

If you missed it, Scott Benson on Patriots Daily yesterday had an Exit Interview with Douglas Flynn, who had his position with the MetroWest Daily News eliminated by parent company Gatehouse Media recently.

In the interview, Flynn talks about covering the Patriots, the state of the newspaper industry, what he would do if he could be “media czar” for a day, and what the future holds for him.

I agree with the closing statement from Benson that we need more sportswriters like Flynn, not less.

Cassel, Moss Lead Pats Over Dolphins

First the good news – the Matt Cassel was pretty much unstoppable once again as the Patriots moved the ball at will against the Miami defense yesterday, throwing for over 400 yards for the second game in a row, connecting with Randy Moss for three touchdown passes and running for another in the Patriots 48-28 win over the Dolphins, extracting a measure of payback for the loss earlier in the season to Miami. The bad news is, every other team that Patriots fans wanted to lose yesterday for playoff positioning won, (Jets, Colts, Ravens) meaning that if the playoffs started today, New England would still be on the outside looking in.

Chris Warner has the game recap up over at Patriots Daily.

Chris Price cranks out the 10 Things We Learned Yesterday.

Christopher L. Gasper has the Patriots gaining a vengeful victory over the Dolphins to keep pace in the AFC playoff picture. Karen Guregian has the Patriots making the playoff possibilities a little brighter for themselves with the win yesterday. Shalise Manza Young has the Patriots making a statement with their play yesterday. Rich Garven has the Patriots racking up 530 yards of offense in the win. Rob Bradford says that the Patriots may pay a price for their feisty Fourth quarter.

Everyone who thought Dan Shaughnessy would sneak a Wally Pipp reference into his column today, raise your hand. The good news is, Shaughnessy says that this won’t be a Pipp situation, but still writes as glowing a column about player as you’ll ever read from Dan. Ron Borges is equally impressed with Cassel. Bill Burt says that Cassel is becoming one of the greatest stories ever in the NFL. Jim Donaldson has Cassel finding his comfort zone…and the end zone.

Michael Felger looks at the return of the most dangerous weapon in the NFL. John Tomase has Randy Moss with a monster day after the Dolphins coaches decided to go with single coverage on him for much of the day. Garven has Moss proving to be the top receiver that he is with his play yesterday. Donaldson has Moss proving to be double trouble for the Dolphins.

Brian MacPherson has Kevin Faulk once again kick-starting the Patriots offense. Chris Forsberg has Wes Welker bouncing back from a nasty hit to post 120 receiving yards on the day. Donaldson marvels how Welker takes a licking and keeps on ticking afterwards. Young has Jabar Gaffney with a productive day as well.

Mike Reiss has defensive coordinator Dean Pees calling the game from upstairs yesterday, so as to get a better look at the Miami formations and be better prepared for the “wildcat.” Cristina Ledra has more on how the Patriots slowed down the Wildcat yesterday. Tomase has the Patriots defense just good enough to get by yesterday. Larry Milian has the Dolphins down after the loss.

Young has Joey Porter still talking yesterday, this time about how the Patriots cheated and stole “his” dynasty and that he would be the one with three championship rings if the Patriots hadn’t cheated.

Hector Longo runs through the ups and downs from yesterday and has the early grades for the squad. Borges lists out the best & worst from yesterday. Milan’s Play of the Game was Welker’s 64 yard scamper down the sideline on a shot pass from Cassel. The Projo has their Game analysis program fired up.

Gasper’s notebook has things turning nasty between the two teams yesterday. Guregian’s notebook  has Matt Light facing a possible suspension after a fight with Miami’s Channing Crowder. Young’s notebook has the Wildcat tamed by the Patriots.

Celtics

Frank Dell’Apa and Mark Murphy have Rajon Rondo leading the Celtics to a 118-103 victory over the Toronto Raptors yesterday afternoon. Tim Weisberg has opponents unhappy with the Celtics style of play, and looks at the possibility of Robert Horry joining the Celtics.

The Globe notebook has the Celtics losing out on Antonio McDyess after the veteran forward opted to return to Detroit. Murphy’s notebook has Kendrick Perkins in dangerous waters after picking up his eighth technical foul in fifteen games thus far this season.

Bruins/Red Sox/Misc

Sean McAdam has Milan Lucic adding to his game this season. Fluto Shinzawa revisits the Boston/Montreal flareup on Saturday night. Joe Haggerty has Lucic keeping his gloves on despite provocation.

Michael Silverman has the Red Sox making an offer to Japanese pitcher Junichi Tazawa.

Will Leitch and Paul Flannery rehash last week in Boston sports.