What A Difference A Week Makes In Report Cards

After flunking out in most areas last week, the Patriots bounced back with a strong performance Sunday night, earning high marks from the resident football professors.

Making The Grades – Patriots at Jets – Jeremy Gottlieb grades out a win that the Patriots needed as badly as any in a long time. Ron Borges says that it is a long time to finals, but the Patriots aced the midterms. Kirk Minihane says that “the red pen gets a break and the ol’ written lap dance returns this week” as he grades the team. Jeff Howe hands out his first set of passing grades since before the bye week. Hector Longo has high praise for Bill O’Brien this week. The ESPNBoston report card has the coaches taking the high marks for the week. Add your own grades on the Boston.com Patriots report card.

For all their free-agent misses, Patriots’ Carter has been big hit – Tim Britton has a look at the impact the free agent signee has made on the Patriots defense. More on Carter from Mary Paoletti.

Patriots must maintain focus – Chris Forsberg says that the Patriots biggest obstacle the rest of the way may be themselves.

A cast of characters – Tom E Curran thinks that the fans need to tap the brakes on their optimism for this team. Shalise Manza Young shares those sentiments.

Sack attack unleashed – Ian Rapoport looks at the pass rush generated on Sunday night.

Arrival in silence – Rapoport’s notebook has linebacker Jeff Tarpinian keeping his increased role a secret last week. The Patriots Journal looks at a few of the lesser-known defensive contributors. The Globe notebook has the Chiefs preparing for life without Matt Cassel on Monday night. The Enterprise notebook from Glen Farley has more on Cassel.

Jonathan Papelbon has no regrets – John Tomase has the former Sox closer not looking back at his time with in Boston.

Dan Duquette’s shot at redemption - Chad Finn wonders what the former Red Sox GM has learned in the last 10 years.

Sveum brings a lot to table – Nick Cafardo looks at the Red Sox managerial search.

Red Sox boss a busy man – Mike Fine looks at the to-do list for Ben Cherington.

Lucic, Bruins should embrace villains role – Joe Haggerty thinks that the Bruins should welcome the image as the NHL’s bad boys.

Milan Lucic not backing down – Joe McDonald says that the Bruins forward won’t change his style.

NBA fans — maybe C’s — lose the most – Peter May thinks that the Celtics may be the biggest losers of the NBA lockout. A. Sherrod Blakely agrees.

  • Doc Michaels

    What is with Manza Young's line that "public confidence in Belichick has wavered in recent weeks"? She might be talking about HER confidence in Belichick, but the doubt about his coaching ability last week was, IMO, confined mostly to the media and several talk show hosts. Yet it's the second time she's thrown that line out there, saying "fans" doubted Belichick in her Monday write-up. Really, it was the fans? Not Felger and Mazz and most of the writers?

    Even Curran's water-dousing "this was a smoke and mirrors win" line on CSNNE the other night was curious. Seems to me the fans are more rational than the writers and commentators when it comes to this team. IMO most fans understand the team's shortcomings, yet like any NFL season, every team goes through an evolution — sometimes good, sometimes not for the better — during each campaign. They may not look like a Super Bowl contender now, but how about by the end of the year? If they get guys back healthy on D, if they bring that kind of pressure as they did the other night, who knows…especially in a wide-open AFC where every week is crazy. Last week all of them talked about how it was the Jets time and how the Patriots couldn't, wouldn't match up — and yet after Sunday's game, guys like Mazz are now on the radio saying "clearly it's a good match up for the Patriots." I don't even think "fraud" begins to explain them.

    It's as if most of these writers were irritated the Sunday game didn't follow their script and had to re-work the articles they already had written before it started!

    • oldskool;dr

      Nope she's talking about a lot of fans out there (and one win doesn't change this fan's mind either) who are tired of trading down for "value" and playing a lot of undrafted free-agents….not only that but no dissenting voices in the coaches meetings and a lack of someone outside of a couple of guys having NFL experience outside of the Pats organization.

      • alex

        What about the other five wins this season, do any of those change your mind?

      • Big Jeff

        You don't like those undrafted free agents like Welker and Waters?

        And you get to be in the coaches' meetings too? Awesome! Tell us what it's like in there? Matt Patricia looks like he'd smell a little bit. Is that true?

        • alex

          Don't forget they traded down to land Gronkowski… man it would've been nice to trade up for once and get a playmaking TE like Jermaine Gresham

      • Dan

        What a load of crap. You have no idea what you're talking about.

        Trading down for value yielded some talent, too. The Gronkowski pick was the result of trading down. So was Hernandez, for that matter.

        "Undrafted" means nothing. Undrafted Green-Ellis ran for 1,000 yards and 13 TDs last year. Undrafted Kyle Arrington is tied for the league lead in interceptions. Undrafted Brian Waters is on some writers' midseason all-pro team.

        How do you know there are no dissenting voices among the coaches? Were you in those meetings?

        • oldskool;dr

          "'Undrafted' means nothing."

          Then why have a draft and a rookie pay scale at all? Obviously the draft means something.

          When I say "undrafted" I'm not talking about veterans that came into the league undrafted years ago with another team. I'm talking about guys the Pats have picked up off the street in their first or second year in the league.

          "How do you know there are no dissenting voices among the coaches? Were you in those meetings? "

          Did you not watch the BB documentary earlier this year?

        • Big Jeff

          So you're complaining about them playing too many guys that are in their 1st or 2nd year and were undrafted. Do you even know how many players that applies to on the Patriots? Of course if you were a Dolphins fan a few years ago, you'd be complaining they kept a guy like Welker around.

          You continue to be the worst kind of fan imaginable.

        • Dan

          Man, you're all over the map with this one.

          First, nobody's saying the draft doesn't mean something. The Pats obviously put the time, effort and money into preparing for the draft. But they also put time and effort into the other ways to acquire players, recognizing that you don't build a team by draft alone.

          You dismiss undrafted players other than guys "off the street in their first or second year". How convenient for your argument. My point is guys like Welker and Waters and Hoyer and Green-Ellis and James Harrison and Cameron Wake were all at one point "off the street in their first or second year". And actually, in some cases, guys you likely dismiss as "off the street" actually WERE drafted by somebody else, like Philip Adams.

          This all comes down to your unrealistic sense of how things are supposed to work out. Every second round pick for other teams become stars, and every undrafted free agent for other teams don't make those teams, right? Or is this just about Clay Matthews?

          I did watch the BB documentary, of course. This is your proof of him running roughshod over his assistant coaches? Because you didn't see dissent in roughly two hours of documentary footage, they must never dare challenge Belichick?

        • HighWireNickEsasky

          I heard Chris Mortensen on Mutt n Merloni a couple of weeks back. Despite efforts by those noted football experts to get Mort to pan the Patriots' drafts, he said that Belichick has as good a draft record as anyone in the league. He quoted former Packer GM Ron Wolff, whom Mort thought was the best all-time, as saying he'd be happy to succeed on a quarter of his picks. Even with drafts like 2007, the Pats have hit that standard. Belichick's strategy is to get more picks so he maximizes the odds of landing productive players.
          I wish rather than using anecdotal examples of Pats' draft "busts" and picks by other teams that panned out, these "journalists" would do some analysis on overall how the Patriots have done in player acquisitions.

  • Classless

    Manza-Young says "fans", but she means herself. Call her out on Twitter. She is thin skinned and responds to everything.

    I agree the Pats were written off too soon, though this Defense is not built at all for future success. If anything, the "nobody believes in us" routine can now resonate with the team (especially the Defense) and they can feed off the disrespect. Remember, Green Bay was 10-6 and nobody picked them as Super Bowl champs last year.

  • Chris

    oldskool, they were 14-2 last year. After they beat the the Chiefs this week they'll be tied for the best record in the AFC. And yet you're complaining. Go be a Jets or Redskins fan because you make the rest of the real fans look stupid with your whining. Belichick does, and always will, know a lot more than the casual fan. There's a reason he's been in the NFL for 35+ years and people like you haven't.

    • oldskool;dr

      Chris, they got bumped unceremoniously out of the playoffs at home and after a bye week. Forget about 14-2. The playoff game they lost matters much more than 14-2. Besides, the defense was marginally better last year than this one.

      "Go be a Jets or Redskins fan because you make the rest of the real fans look stupid with your whining."

      No. How about you do that? That sounds like a good idea to me. I love Pats fans who say that if you're frustrated with the team you should be a fan of some other team. That will never happen. Ever. And it makes you sound stupid when you say it.

      "There's a reason he's been in the NFL for 35+ years and people like you haven't. "

      Yeah, he's been brought up in the culture of football since he could walk. I had no such luxury. I'm sure if his Pop was a coal miner, BB would be a great coal miner going on 35+ years.

      You're trying to insult me because I have no desire to be a football coach and wasn't brought up in that culture. That's bizarre to say the least.

      • HighWireNickEsasky

        He's not saying that at all. He's saying Belichick is an expert and you (and most others) are not. Nice strawman flight of fancy with the coal miners and football culture, BTW.

        • tl;138

          That's not a strawman fight. Coal mining is a multigeneration profession. Most people who grew up with family members who were coal miners become coal miners themselves. It's the same with football.

  • bostonsportsmediafan

    Here is the following schedule:

    Chiefs (Tyler Palko), Eagles (possibly Vince Young), Colts (Curtis Painter), Redskins (Rex Grossman), Broncos (Tim Tebow), Dolphins (Matt Moore) and Bills (Ryan Fitzpatrick)

    Dolphins look better as of recent and who knows what the Bills will look like. Eagles? who knows.

    On the up and down stuff, I thought Mike Reiss had the best response from his weekly mailbag:

    A. Dave, the ups and downs of a season are always volatile. From a fan perspective, it is understandable given the passion and emotional investment that comes with following a team. If you're flat-lining things, and not getting excited about the wins and disappointed about the losses, it's almost not as much fun. The media perspective should be different because it's our job to see beyond that, but in many cases we almost feed into it with things like weekly power rankings or making snap judgments based on one result.
    http://espn.go.com/boston/nfl/story/_/page/reissm

    Note: he said "should be different" when referring to the media. And, I think this goes without saying, but if you think this market is unique for the bipolar media, you are wrong.