“Cap is Crap” And Other Felger Fallacies

I received this email from Dave Formato this morning, and felt it too good not to share. Thanks Dave!

I found a tweet by Jane McManus yesterday be very revealing as it pertains to our very own sports talk radio personas (mostly one Michael Felger). Now to be honest, I generally like him as a whole (more so back in the day) as he was one of the few reporters who gave the Patriots props when Bill Belichick was making moves that the establishment (Ron Borges, Kevin Mannix and Nick Cafardo) couldn’t stand. However, I believe that to become more contrarian, and get more “street” cred on the radio and TV, he has taken on more of their type of persona in the past five or so years, to the point where he is indistinguishable from all of them (it really is a shame, he was very good when he was a beat writer). Even Tom E. Curran (another favorite of mine) has started with some of that contrarian nonsense this year with the Patriots defensive struggles. Anyway, I digress. Here is Jane’s Tweet:

[blackbirdpie id=”153942734703558658″]

Anyway, to my point: The Boston sports media for the past few years have been all over the Patriots’ (Belichick in particular) front office for the lack of ability to build a team that can win the Superbowl during Brady’s last few “prime” years. Mainly because “they are cheap and only want to draft low round guys and “coach them up” so they don’t have to pay big bucks”. Furthermore, with the recent “success” of the New York Jets and Super Bowl appearances for the Colts, many have come to beat the following horses to death:

  • “The Patriots trade down way too much to find “Value” and don’t know how to draft and pick free agents since Scott Pioli left..Belichick needs a contrarian voice in the room since he is a dictator, etc, etc…”
  • “The league has passed Belichick the GM by, he doesn’t get the new way to manage a roster, and go and get stud players at every skill position, look at WR, OLB and DB, etc. etc…
  • AND my favorite from Felger..” The Patriots always claim “cap jail” issues and “value” when drafting and signing free agents and the JETS go out and get whomever they want whenever they want and don’t worry about any of that stuff, because the cap isn’t real (“Cap is Crap“) and it is a fabrication of the Patriots to their fans to justify being cheap… (or some variation thereof…).

As a fan, this nonsense makes me sick, but objectively, I’ve always had issues with this stuff on two fronts. And with the quote above and the recent events with both teams, I feel we’ve come full circle and these facts should be pointed out and the media (Felger) called out on it. So, I figured you are the perfect guy to do it with your forum and the fact that you’ve always been a voice of reason and perspective with this stuff.

First, There are three reasons, in my opinion for the “bad drafting” the Pats have done.

Number one, I think that the drafts from 05-08 (Pioli left in Jan 09, so that draft was all Belichick) were actually their worst during BB’s tenure (While Pioli was still here). I took the liberty of pasting the 05-11 drafts for the PATS (and JETS/Colts for comparison) at the end of this email so you can see the results. If you look at the Jets/Colts, they have had their share of misses too, and I’d dare say those misses have had a bigger impact on those teams because they’ve made less picks during that time and the misses were high in the draft in some cases)

Two, They were always drafting at or near the bottom of every round from 2001 on (unless they made trades to get other teams higher picks). Tell me; if BB had a top 10 pick every year in that time, the roster wouldn’t be stocked with studs like the Jets always seem to go and “get”.

And three, they were somewhat of a victim of their success. The three Super Bowl titles created legends on the roster that got old or too expensive or both in 2006-2009 (i.e.: Bruschi, Vrabel, Brown, Law, Seymour, etc…) The problem with that is they were never going to flat-out cut some of these “ICONS” and because of that, they probably had them on the roster a year or two longer than they would have if they were just running a team in a vacuüm. You are seeing that to some extent this year with Kevin Faulk. If he were any other guy, he would have been cut after the PUP deadline and maybe Dowling would be back on the field, but if they cut him, that would have been a PR nightmare. Now, I’m not saying that any of this is wrong, however, the issue is roster spots and how limited they really are, I.E, were any of the ’05 or ’06 draft picks really going to earn roster spots on the team anyway because they really didn’t have that many up for grabs due to the log jam up top. So you draft these guys and end up having to either cut them OR cut Bruschi, it was a no win situation. Which is a big part of the reason they traded away a bunch of picks for the likes of Welker and Moss, they didn’t have the roster spots to keep those multiple picks if they made them, so what was the point in keeping them in the first place?

Second issue: If you look at the ’09-’11 drafts, the amount of pics is very high for a reason, which is obvious to me, but never gets any mention on the radio because that would refute their argument (of BB is cheap and doesn’t like to pay high prices for big time players): The Patriots were in process of turning over their “old” roster, so they needed to make a bunch of pics to fill a bunch of roster spots, duh…. Plus, I believe that Belichick has realized that, other than a handful of “sure-fire” picks each year, you just don’t know how these KIDS are going to work out, even the high picks (Vernon Gholston/Jerry Hughes anyone?! (both of whom the MEDIA wanted the PATs to take BTW).

So in one sense, you are much better off with throwing a bunch of stuff against the wall and seeing what sticks. Now that has its downside too, i.e. in 2006 and 2009 when not a lot of it “stuck” so you have a hole in the roster and a bad draft that year, which has hurt the Patriots, no doubt. However, when you hit on it, like in 2010, most of it “sticks” and the Patriots have a 13-3 record in 2011 to show for it from that draft class.

Now, all the trading down on draft day makes me crazy too sometimes, but if they can swing getting extra guys/picks in future years out of it, isn’t that the best formula for long-term success? I think that Belichick is using the “three Superbowls won” capital he has built up with the fans to shift from the “win now to keep my job” mentality most NFL coaches and GMs have to a “build a long-term program so as to protect my legacy” mode. Who can blame him, PLUS, in doing that, he is actually looking out for his bosses best interests (Robert Kraft) and making his NFL franchise a perennial contender, which puts areses in the seats and pays the bills. So he is actually doing exactly what he is being paid to do, in my opinion.

However, to get to my original point: Felger (among others) has been on this three-year rant about how the JETS (and Colts to a lesser extent) have found a new and “better” way to build a perennial Superbowl contender while drafting high and paying for high-priced free agents, which gets you a top-heavy roster of “stud” players and who cares about the backups, etc. All of this with no cap ramifications and no downside to getting the best players and paying them big money.

According to the above quote, however, it seems that isn’t working out so hot for the JETS right about now and how did it work out for the Polians and Colts this year?! Belichick had learned a LONG time ago, being healthy is one of the biggest key’s to winning a Superbowl, BUT, it rarely ever happens. So, the way you combat that is to have depth at key positions so when the inevitable injuries start to come, you have players that can produce at a “serviceable” level to maintain your competitive nature and hopefully get some breaks along the way to win the whole thing.

This is the reason the Patriots go 11-5 without Brady AND why they are a contender year in and year out, even while “rebuilding” like they were doing the past three years and the Colts completely implode when Manning goes down. Think about this for a minute, over the past 11 years, Belichick has essentially turned over this roster and still managed to win the Superbowl three times while winning 13 games in five of those years, ALL while the league is competitively set up to tear you down when you get good, (between the draft and schedule being weighted against you).

That is incredible and, as a fan, I love that fact about this team. This year has been a joy to watch (despite the defense), these guys are fun and entertaining and they play hard and as a team. Furthermore, with some of their young talent, it appears they are stocked to make runs at the Superbowl for the next five years or so, provided that Brady stays healthy.

Bottom line: I think Belichick’s drafting has actually gotten better since Pioli left, his way of doing things builds roster depth and team chemistry, which are vital to winning and sustaining success and I think that we finally have proof that if you do it the other way, things may go good when everything breaks your way (JETS) and when you star players are all healthy (Colts in ’06) but when it goes the other way, which it usually does, you are in big trouble for it.

Going into 2012, both the Jets and Colts have chemistry issues, cap issues and depth of player issues that aren’t going to just disappear in the new year. I think things are going to actually continue to trend down for both teams next year.

So I think the verdict is in BB wins again as both coach and GM and I think Felger, et al, should have to send him a nice apology fruit basket or something. ;-)

One last thing and then I promise I’ll stop typing. This year Bill Belichick the “GM” is taking a ton of heat for that defense and how they are historically bad and he has a bunch of “who dats” back there. Now, they drive me crazy too, don’t get me wrong, (not with the yards given up, but mostly with bad technique in the secondary). How none of those guys know to turn their head half way into the route to find the ball, is beyond me. McCourty would have like five INTs if he just turned his damn head around…. Anyway I digress, BUT, my point is that Belichick made roster moves in the beginning of the season that seem crazy now, BUT they’ve been slammed with injuries back there, which you wouldn’t figure on happening to this extent. Your starting DBs were supposed to be:

  • Ras-I Dowling – IR (They figured he’d come around, but due to other injuries couldn’t wait any longer and had to take his spot for someone else. I think this one and Bodden hurt them the most this year.)
  • Devin McCourty – Injured, missed three games just as he was starting to play with more confidence and hasn’t been the same this year as he was last year.
  • Pat Chung – Injured, missed seven games.
  • Leigh Bodden – Injured, cut, (should have gone on IR)
  •  Brandon Meriweather- Cut (head case)
  • Josh Barrett – IR
  • Kyle Arrington- Only guy who wasn’t really hurt this year.

So out of all those guys, one was cut for not playing within the system and only one other has been on the field for the whole year. I bet Belichick wishes he still had James Sanders, but in looking at that line-up, you would figure he’d be expendable at his cap number. So, the issue with this team on the back-end has been continuity… There hasn’t been any ALL season long.

I think this explains in part why they get better in the red zone. Things become more simple down there and it is easier to just play one-on-one football if you don’t have the whole field behind you, so they become more effective. I only hope they can develop some in the next month with Chung back and some of the other guys stepping in and up who now have some experience, because, God willing, they make the Superbowl, Green Bay or New Orleans is going to carve them up on that fast track in Indy if they don’t.

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to read all of this, I hope the thoughts came through in some cohesive manner.

DRAFT INFO BELOW:
 
NEW ENGLAND:
2011 – New England Patriots
RD SEL # PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1 17 Nate Solder T Colorado
2 33 Ras-I Dowling DB Virginia
2 56 Shane Vereen RB California
3 73 Stevan Ridley RB LSU
3 74 Ryan Mallett QB Arkansas
5 138 Marcus Cannon T Texas Christian
5 159 Lee Smith TE Marshall
6 194 Markell Carter LB Central Arkansas
7 219 Malcolm Williams DB Texas Christian
2010 – New England Patriots
RD SEL # PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1 27 Devin McCourty CB Rutgers
2 42 Rob Gronkowski TE Arizona
2 53 Jermaine Cunningham OLB Florida
2 62 Brandon Spikes ILB Florida
3 90 Taylor Price WR Ohio U.
4 113 Aaron Hernandez TE Florida
5 150 Zoltan Mesko P Michigan
6 205 Ted Larsen G North Carolina State
7 208 Thomas Welch OT Vanderbilt
7 247 Brandon Deaderick DE Alabama
7 248 Kade Weston DT Georgia
7 250 Zac Robinson QB Oklahoma State
2009 – New England Patriots
RD SEL # PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
2 34 Pat Chung DB Oregon
2 40 Ron Brace DT Boston College
2 41 Darius Butler DB Connecticut
2 58 Sebastian Vollmer T Houston
3 83 Brandon Tate WR North Carolina
3 97 Tyrone McKenzie OLB South Florida
4 123 Rich Ohrnberger G Penn State
5 170 George Bussey T Louisville
6 198 Jake Ingram C Hawaii
6 199 Stryker Sulak DE Missouri
6 207 Myron Pryor DT Kentucky
7 232 Julian Edelman WR Kent State
7 234 Darryl Richard DT Georgia Tech
2008 – New England Patriots
RD SEL # PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1 10 Jerod Mayo ILB Tennessee
2 62 Terrence Wheatley CB Colorado
3 78 Shawn Crable OLB Michigan
3 94 Kevin O’Connell QB San Diego State
4 129 Jonathan Wilhite CB Auburn
5 153 Matt Slater WR UCLA
6 197 Bo Ruud LB Nebraska
2007 – New England Patriots
RD SEL # PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1 24 Brandon Meriweather DB Miami (Fla.)
4 127 Kareem Brown DT Miami (Fla.)
5 171 Clint Oldenburg T Colorado State
6 180 Justin Rogers LB Southern Methodist
6 202 Mike Richardson DB Notre Dame
6 208 Justise Hairston RB Central Connecticut State
6 209 Corey Hilliard OT Oklahoma State
7 211 Oscar Lua LB USC
7 247 Mike Elgin G Iowa
2006 – New England Patriots
RD SEL # PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1 21 Laurence Maroney RB Minnesota
2 36 Chad Jackson WR Florida
3 86 David Thomas TE Texas
4 106 Garrett Mills RB Tulsa
4 118 Stephen Gostkowski K Memphis
5 136 Ryan O’Callaghan T California
6 191 Jeremy Mincey LB Florida
6 205 Dan Stevenson G Notre Dame
6 206 Le Kevin Smith DT Nebraska
7 229 Willie Andrews CB Baylor
2005 – New England Patriots
RD SEL # PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1 32 Logan Mankins G Fresno State
3 84 Ellis Hobbs CB Iowa State
3 100 Nick Kaczur T Toledo
4 133 James Sanders SAF Fresno State
5 170 Ryan Claridge LB Nevada-Las Vegas
7 230 Matt Cassel QB USC
7 255 Andy Stokes TE William Penn

 

New York Jets
2011 – New York Jets
RD SEL # PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1 30 Muhammad Wilkerson DT Temple
3 94 Kenrick Ellis DT Hampton
4 126 Bilal Powell RB Louisville
5 153 Jeremy Kerley WR Texas Christian
7 208 Greg McElroy QB Alabama
7 227 Scotty McKnight WR Colorado
2010 – New York Jets
RD SEL # PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1 29 Kyle Wilson CB Boise State
2 61 Vladimir Ducasse T Massachusetts
4 112 Joe McKnight RB USC
5 139 John Conner RB Kentucky
2009 – New York Jets
RD SEL # PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1 5 Mark Sanchez QB USC
3 65 Shonn Greene RB Iowa
6 193 Matt Slauson G Nebraska
2008 – New York Jets
RD SEL # PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1 6 Vernon Gholston LB Ohio State
1 30 Dustin Keller TE Purdue
4 113 Dwight Lowery CB San Jose State
5 162 Erik Ainge QB Tennessee
6 171 Marcus Henry WR Kansas
7 211 Nate Garner T Arkansas
2007 – New York Jets
RD SEL # PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1 14 Darrelle Revis CB Pittsburgh
2 47 David Harris ILB Michigan
6 177 Jacob Bender T Nicholls State
7 235 Chansi Stuckey WR Clemson
2006 – New York Jets
RD SEL # PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1 4 D’Brickashaw Ferguson T Virginia
1 29 Nick Mangold C Ohio State
2 49 Kellen Clemens QB Oregon
3 76 Anthony Schlegel LB Ohio State
3 97 Eric Smith DB Michigan State
4 103 Brad Smith WR Missouri
4 117 Leon Washington RB Florida State
5 150 Jason Pociask TE Wisconsin
6 189 Drew Coleman CB Texas Christian
7 220 Titus Adams DT Nebraska
 
 
COLTS
 
2011 – Indianapolis Colts
RD SEL # PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1 22 Anthony Castonzo T Boston College
2 49 Ben Ijalana T Villanova
3 87 Drake Nevis DT LSU
4 119 Delone Carter RB Syracuse
6 188 Chris Rucker DB Michigan State
2010 – Indianapolis Colts
RD SEL # PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1 31 Jerry Hughes DE Texas Christian
2 63 Pat Angerer OLB Iowa
3 94 Kevin Thomas DB USC
4 129 Jacques McClendon G Tennessee
5 162 Brody Eldridge TE Oklahoma
7 238 Ricardo Mathews DE Cincinnati
7 240 Kavell Conner OLB Clemson
7 246 Ray Fisher DB Indiana
2009 – Indianapolis Colts
RD SEL # PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1 27 Donald Brown RB Connecticut
2 56 Fili Moala DT USC
3 92 Jerraud Powers DB Auburn
4 127 Austin Collie WR Brigham Young
4 136 Terrance Taylor DT Michigan
6 201 Curtis Painter QB Purdue
7 222 Pat McAfee P West Virginia
7 236 Jaimie Thomas G Maryland
2008 – Indianapolis Colts
RD SEL # PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
2 59 Mike Pollak G Arizona State
3 93 Philip Wheeler OLB Georgia Tech
4 127 Jacob Tamme TE Kentucky
5 161 Marcus Howard DE Georgia
6 196 Tom Santi TE Virginia
6 201 Steve Justice C Wake Forest
6 202 Mike Hart RB Michigan
6 205 Pierre Garcon WR Mount Union
7 236 Jamey Richard C Buffalo
2007 – Indianapolis Colts
RD SEL # PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1 32 Anthony Gonzalez WR Ohio State
2 42 Tony Ugoh T Arkansas
3 95 Dante Hughes CB California
3 98 Quinn Pitcock DT Ohio State
4 131 Brannon Condren DB Troy State
4 136 Clint Session LB Pittsburgh
5 169 Roy Hall WR Ohio State
5 173 Michael Coe CB Alabama State
7 242 Keyunta Dawson DT Texas Tech
2006 – Indianapolis Colts
RD SEL # PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1 30 Joseph Addai RB Louisiana State
2 62 Tim Jennings CB Georgia
3 94 Freddie Keiaho LB San Diego State
5 162 Michael Toudouze G Texas Christian
6 199 Charlie Johnson T Oklahoma State
6 207 Antoine Bethea SS Howard
7 238 T.J. Rushing CB Stanford
2005 – Indianapolis Colts
RD SEL # PLAYER POSITION SCHOOL
1 29 Marlin Jackson DB Michigan
2 60 Kelvin Hayden DB Illinois
3 92 Vincent Burns DE Kentucky
4 129 Dylan Gandy G Texas Tech
4 135 Matt Giordano DB California
5 148 Jonathan Welsh DE Wisconsin
5 165 Robert Hunt C North Dakota State
5 173 Tyjuan Hagler LB Cincinnati
6 202 Dave Rayner K Michigan State
7 243 Anthony Davis Wisconsin
  • APimpNamedDaveR

    Again, the players that Belichick DID get to fix the DL problem — Andre Carter and Mark Anderson, combined for TWENTY sacks.

    Cost:

    Sheard: 4 years/$5,090,000
    Reed: 4 years/$4.7m/ $1,191,000 signing bonus

    Carter: 1 year/$1.75M/$500k bonus
    Anderson: 1 year/ $1M/$375k bonus

    Yeah, Belichick made a HUGE effing mistake.

    (FYI, Dowling received 5 years/$5.3M, but only 2 1/2 years are guaranteed. So the total fixed commitment to him is about $3.5M including his $2.3M signing bonus. And he was considered a "reach" because it was thought he didn't have the speed to play CB in the NFL, not because he might pull a quad.)

    • Scott Benson

      Hey George, you going to have a draft site this year? Can you link it here when you put it up? Also, can you link us to the pre-draft articles you wrote about Jabaal Sheard last year? Thanks.

    • APimpNamedDaveR

      Because this is a business with fixed financial borders within which you must work, George, not a fantasy draft. Dowling was a reach, but a reach who projected to be a decent safety if the CB thing wasn't viable at the pro level. Therefore, although he was a reach, he was a much better risk-adjusted value at that pick given the COMMITMENT you must make to sign a high second round draft pick. Reed was a pass-rush OLB , which isn't a position that the Patriots utilize. (LBs in their system must be versatile, as they're often put into coverage on zone blitzes and safety blitzes.) Sheard was viewed as an undersized DE who might have to switch to — you guessed it — OLB in the pros. A reach who has the potential of filling another area of need if he flames out at his drafted position presents less of a chance of being a waste of a pick than a straight reach-DE pick (which both Sheard and Reed would have been). AND, Belichick was able to obtain significantly more pass rush talent on the free agency market for significantly less financial commitment.

      Which option gives you more flexibility, George? Which option is the best from a team-building perspective? Which option does NOT involve Monday morning quarterbacking at its worst?

      If every other GM in the league had drafted Tom Brady, we wouldn't be sitting here having this discussion. Therefore, every other GM in the league MUST be called into question, right?

    • Alex

      NE has had a pass rush all year long and teams have still thrown the ball on them. They need better/healthier defensive backs, IMO – not a pass rushing OLB who can't set the edge to save his life.

  • Joe

    Get some, Dave Formado! Bruce, thanks for sharing this guy's passion with the rest of us. Good read.

  • 02062

    How's Brian Waters working out for you this year George?

    How's the offensive line depth working out for you?

    Tannenbaum and Rex emptying the vault for Santonio is turning out nicely, no?

    3 years in and the handpicked quarterback has gotten worse.

    There was much handwringing across the media landscape whtne the Patriots didn't draft Mark Ingram.

    Ridley gained 33 less yards on 32 less carries than Ingram did for the year.

    Anderson, Carter and Ninkovich ALL had more sacks this year than Clay Matthews.

    I'll take my chances any time or place with the ONLY coach who's won 13 games 5 times in the 92 year history of the league.

    • bostonsportsmediafan

      #1 Safety on most drafts. From walterfootball (one out of many):

      Mark Barron, SS, Alabama
      Height: 6-2. Weight: 215.
      Projected 40 Time: 4.61.
      Projected Round (2011): 1-2.
      12/31/11: Barron has had a strong senior season. Entering the BCS Championship, he has totaled 66 tackles (41 solo) with five passes broken up, four tackles for a loss and two interceptions. Barron played well against LSU, making six tackles and a pick. He is one of the hardest hitting safeties in the draft. Barron has excellent instincts. He stays around the ball and has the propensity to make clutch plays. Entering the NFL, Barron has a lot of experience in a complex defense and should be able to make a quick transition to the next level.

      8/26/11: Mark Barron had some inconsistent play in 2010, followed by a misdemeanor arrest this spring. He broke out with a dynamite sophomore season, recording seven interceptions with 76 tackles, 3.5 tackles for a loss and 11 passes broken up. Last year, Barron had 75 tackles with three interceptions, two sacks and a forced fumble. There were times where Barron was beat in pass coverage, and he will have to fix that in 2011 to improve his draft stock. Barron is a hard-hitter, and a very good safety in run support who is consistently around the ball. He definitely looks like a strong safety in the NFL.

      Stud. Love him on the tide.

      Ditto on Lloyd. When he has the opportunities to catch balls, he does.

    • Alex

      Why do you have a problem with Pat Chung at SS? I know he's been banged up this year but I don't view him as injury prone; I think he's the future at that position. I wouldn't want to add Baron into the mix because the two of them wouldn't compliment each other at all, and there would still be a gaping hole at FS.

      • Winning

        I've heard multiple Football ex jocks and analysts state that the Safety position is where you hide your athletic guys that can't cover as a CB. Many have agreed that this is the least important defensive position (I'll try to find the article) in the grand scheme of things. This stands out for the Pats since they don't have any CB's either. I am not totally discounting the position, but I would agree that drafting a Safety in the top 15 is not always a good thing. One of the Landry brothers (Laron or DaJuan) was drafted by Washington I believe 5 or 6th overall a few years back. He may be good, but is he Ed Reed? The saftey position now is only mentioned when that player lines someone up for a dirty hit, or a clean hit called dirty.

  • Dan

    "You know what shuts up the Mike Felgers of the world and myself, a Super Bowl appearance."

    Is that a promise, George?

    • HighWireNickEsasky

      Now I am hoping even more for a Super Bowl to avoid George's consistently abominable grammar.

  • Winning

    Anyone listening to F&M today? Can anyone provide some insight as to why Felger is so obessed with the Aikman comment that the Pats D is the worst Def he has ever seen for a playoff team? Is his point to illustrate that the DEF is in fact bad? What a shock! Is it to just take a shot at BB? Is it just strawman? Is this pot stirrer simply trying to tick everyone off? All of the above- he got me to mention it here. Felger, you DB: you are not breaking anythin new. No1 thinks the Def is good here. Give it a rest!

    • bostonsportsmediafan

      Listened to this as well and wondered. Maybe it's an argument from authority?

      How is that working out for Phil Simms after his "Luck can't throw a deep ball" comment ?

  • SteveFromYellowstone

    No matter what Belichick does in the eyes of people like you (and our wonderous local media) he can never win and never do any good. Here's a great example. In 2009, all the local media experts were saying/predicting that the Patriots would draft Darius Butler in the first round. What does Belichick do? He trades down and gets both Pat Chung and Darius Butler in the 2nd round. The response of the media and people like you? As Mazz would say, Belichick SUCKS, drafting down SUCKS, the Patriots SUCK and Darius Butler SUCKS. They picked the very player the media 'experts' wanted him to pick, got him a round later, and they still bash him to death! When Belichick drafted Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez what did Felger do? Bash Belichick to death for drafting more tight ends! Nothing he has done or can ever do will ever get any credit whatsoever.

  • SteveFromYellowstone

    Great article. Two things I would disagree with you on though:
    -You mentioned the schedule being weighted against the Pats. The way they structure the schedule now, that for the most part isn't a huge difference anymore. Only 2 games are based on the team's record, from the prior year and there's enough of a fluctuation from teams from year to year where sometimes its good, sometimes its bad. For example, in 2008, the Patriots had a weak schedule in comparison to other years, but that was the year directly after their 16-0 season. Also look at last year versus this year. Both years they were first place schedules but I think its unquestionable that last year was considerably harder than this year.

    • Dave F.

      Steve;
      Thanks for the compliment, on the schedule comment, I agree in that sense, however my main point was that the league is generally set up to promote parity and that, by in large, that is true with many new playoff teams year to year. However, I do believe, and correct me if I'm wrong, that the home versus away slate for non division games is decided by the league according to record. so I thought that was a factor in how tough the games are for certain teams. ie, I think the Pats as a perennial playoff team, get harder games on the road than teams with losing records.

      Dave F.

  • SteveFromYellowstone

    Wouldn't fit in the prior comment:
    -Haven't the Colts been a team that traditionally has focused heavily on the draft and doesn't spend a lot of money or go after big time free agents? I don't view their team building as similar to the Jets at all. If Felger has been saying that (I don't recall hearing him say it), he's dead wrong. I know he's been bashing the Pats and praising the Colts up until this year, but its always been the Jets he's been praising for their spending ways rather than the Colts unless he's said a lot of stuff I've completely missed.

  • Bruno

    You criticize the Patriots draft and list Jabaal Sheard and Brooks Reed as missed picks? Talk about reaching in an effort to make a contrarian argument

  • George

    Well Felger admits he does it to “tweak” Patriots fans which is just strange in a local market.

  • Tony

    George, you lose all credibility when you say that it's "nonsense" to point out that WHERE the Pats draft doesn't matter. Did you miss the fact that Von Miller and his double-digit sack total this year went second overall in the first round? A few weeks ago you lauded Ozzie Newsome—Mr. Still Can't Find a Decent QB 12 Years After Releasing Trent Dilfer–for being a superior defensive draft'er than Belichick, but you failed to point out that their two best youngish players on Defense, Nata and Suggs, BOTH went in the top half of the first round. Draft positioning matters—ask the Packers if they could have gotten BJ Raji had they not gone 6-10 in 2008, or AJ Hawk had they not gone 4-12 in 2005, On defense, especially, draft position matters. For every "steal" or "find" like James Harrison or Clay Matthews, there are 100s of defensive guys drafted after the 20th spot in the first round who flame out spectacularly. If you want to find "studs" on defense in the NFL draft, have a few 5-11 seasons. Sorry, but I prefer the 13-3 Patriots and their "historically bad" defense instead.

  • DeansDesk

    Pretty sure BB himself would say, in a moment of candor, that the team should have done a better in acquiring talent in recent years. I think the trading-down thing is less of an issue than the players they evaluated and selected. Also, perhaps a larger issue has been the coaching staff replacements – they don't appear to be as strong as they should.

    I'll say this about Felger (unlike Borges and others), he will tip his hat to the team when they get it right. His JETS wanderlust was almost as foolish as Mazz trying to make an argument that the Patriots are the Atlanta Falcons. That dribble needs it's own morgue.

    • 02062

      His JETS wanderlust.

      His new take on that is "Congratulations Pats fans, for the 1st time in 4 years your team is better than the Jets."

      • J.R.

        Heard that DB Felger making that same ridiculous statement. Over the last five seasons (2007-08/2011-12), the Pats regular season record (80 total games) has been 64-16, for a not-too-shabby 80% winning percentage. The win totals per-year are as follows: 16, 11, 10, 14, and 13. Pretty effin' good.

        The great NY Jets? Their regular season mark for the same period is 41-39 (.513). Their win totals: 4, 9, 9, 11, and 8. Fact, not opinion.

        For this same period, the Pats have made the playoffs four times in five years, reaching the Super Bowl once and getting bounced in the first round twice. (Have to wait and see what this year brings.) The Jets have made the playoffs TWICE in five seasons (half as many as the Pats) and reached the AFC title game the last TWO years.

        So, to say that this is the first time in four years that the Pats have been better than the Jets is the height of contrarian douche-baggery. Fact, not opinion.

        • Atreyu Jones

          I agree that it is false to say that this is the first time in 4 years that the Pats have been better than the Jets…. but if we are talking about 4 years, why did you include 5 years? The difference in wins is still 48 to 37….

  • Siggy

    Hey! Over here! Remember me? I'm the Big O. I used to be a very big deal in this town! Hammer me for a change. Please!

    • profootballwalk

      I remember you – didn't you push Johnny Most down the Garden stairs to get his job?

  • bostonsportsmedia

    Congrads on the F+M (SportsHub) mention Bruce! (about 4:05PM EDT)

  • ben

    Why is the draft comparison to a team that just fired their GM?

  • profootballwalk

    felger is not a serious commenter on football. He made a big deal about the Jets signing Santonio Holmes – talking about 'salary cap does'nt matter.' Now Holmes has blown up on them, and they can't cut him – because of the salary cap hit. That's what Felger knows about the NFL salary cap. He knows as much about molecular biology as he does about the NFL.

  • Josh

    Way to go, Bill Simmons. 2,257 words? Who has time to read all that?