Bruins Blow Away Leafs, Celtics Hold Off Hawks

Both the Bruins and Celtics pulled out victories last night, but in much different fashion. The Bruins were in control from start to finish last night in a 8-0 romp over the Toronto Maple Leafs, while the Celtics played an ugly game in Atlanta, used a fourth quarter run with some hot shooting from Ray Allen to build a double-digit lead, and then hung on for a 79-76 win over the Hawks.

The Patriots remained busy, signing tight end Daniel Fells, receiver Donte Stallworth, offensive lineman Robert Gallery and special teams/defensive back Marquice Cole.

Mike Reiss also broke the news that Logan Mankins played the end of the season on a partially torn ACL, which required surgery after the Super Bowl.

Local talk seems centered on Tim Tebow and speculation from ESPN’s John Clayton that the Patriots would be a favorite to land Tebow in a trade from the Broncos. Based on Tebow’s pre-draft dinner with Bill Belichick and his relationship with Josh McDaniels who drafted him with the Broncos, it might seem possible, but in reality the idea is rather far-fetched.

In addition, the Celtics announced that Jermaine O’Neal will undergo season-ended surgery on his wrist. The Celtics are in the market for a waived/bought out/free agent big man, but the picking will be slim.

Bruins Complete Season Sweep by Dominating Toronto, Regain a Bit of Their Swagger With Strong All-Around Effort – Douglas Flynn has the Bruins looking strong at the Garden last night.

Bruins showing lineups, methods for playoff run – Joe Haggerty has the Bruins looking to get serious.

‘Statement game’ a strong sendoff – Mick Colageo has five things to take away from last night.

Bruins feeling positive vibe – Jackie MacMullan has Tim Thomas saying that the Bruins are back on track.

Third watch: Kelly’s new line jells – Stephen Harris says that the re-emergence of the third line is key for the Bruins.

Thornton’s style: Praise from all corners – The Globe notebook has Shawn Thornton’s style appreciated by more than just his teammates. The Herald notebook from Steve Conroy says that Peter Chiarelli is done signing deals until after the season.

C’s warm up in Hotlanta – Steve Bulpett has the Celtics fighting through for this win.

Jermaine O’Neal can’t fulfill promise – Chris Forsberg looks at the failed era with the Celtics.

Bill Belichick’s master plan unfolds – Mike Reiss says that Bill Belichick is working towards his goal of a deep, competitive roster. Predictably, Tony Massarotti says he can’t discern whether the Patriots are better – or worse.

Tebow to the Pats? It’s up to Tebow – Bill Burt says that Tim Tebow will only be a Patriot if he is OK taking a lesser role.

What A Week It Was: Patriots Sign Lloyd, Manning Joins Broncos – George Cain reviews the week in the NFL.

With ace backing, Lester Sox’ Opening Day starter – Peter Abraham has Bobby Valentine naming the lefty as his opening day starter, and Josh Beckett to start the home opener.

Boston Red Sox must solidify pitching staff – Mike Fine says that getting the top of the rotation set is the easy part. Who will round out the staff is the real question.

Beyond the opening acts: Why Buchholz holds key to Red Sox rotation – Alex Speier says that beyond Lester and Beckett, Clay Buchholz is the real lynchpin to the rotation.

Mentors played key roles for Sox – John Tomase has several Red Sox talking about their baseball mentors.

  • latetodinner

    Wow Bruce…quite the trifecta…linking to Tony Mazz, Bill Burt and George Cain in succession. Because it is a beautiful day today and I am stuck in my office looking at the weather rather than enjoying it I killed time and read all three articles. 10 minutes of my life and 3 brain cells I will never get back. I understand the idea behind opinion pieces…i just expect them to be written with…i don’t know…better opinions. Lets look at all three:

    Tony Mazz says for 3 pages that he is not sure the Pats got better or worse. We need to see how healthy everyone is, what their role will be and if they will even make the team. The brilliance of this paid for by the Boston Herald observation cannot be defined any better than by the phrase “No Poop Sherlock”. Tell me something I don’t know. We all agree, that all moves regarding a football roster cannot be evaluated until we see how the players perform. But I don’t think it is crazy to look at the moves the Pats made and think, as of today, and make a reasoned analysis of the moves and whether they will make the team better. That is his job. So sitting on the fence…not doing anyone any good…certainly not the reader looking for information.

    Bill Burt writes mind numbingly stupid columns. This one on whether the Patriots are a good fit for Tebow and how it is on Tebow to decide if he wants to change the type of player he is to fit the Patritots is another in a long list of words without substance that Burt is able to produce. personally I don’t see the fit for Tebow in NE. He is not going to play QB here. The pats have TE’s, WR’s, and Rb’s who do what Tebow might be asked to do better. Would you rather have Wes Welker or Brandon Lloyd running patterns, or Tim Tebow? Would you rather like Gronk or Hernandez as the TE blocking or catching balls or Tebow? Would you rather Ridley, Vereen, Woodhead or Tebow as your starting running back/ blitz pick up specialist. Tebow’s only value is in a Wildcat/option type situation and none of us want Brady coming off the field or splitting out or blocking in one of those “trick” plays, so that Tebow can take a direct snap and maybe make something happen. Bill Belichick values versatility…no argument here…Tim Tebow is not versatile. Much has been made of the dinner pre draft…I said it then and I will say it now…if Belichick was really interested in Tebow we never would have know Tebow visited never mind had dinner with Belichick. I think the best theory on that dinner I have heard is Belichick was talking other Florida players with Tebow, like Hernandez, all while trying to get a team to understand the urgency of trading up with the Pats.

    Lastly George Cain defends his “shameless” comments, while trying to look at what the Pats did. He complains bitterly that the Pats did not upgrade the defense which caused the Pats to lose the SB. First off the Pats defense did not cause the loss…it was the offenses inability to make plays down the stretch…3 drops that would have been for first downs. Do the Pats need more defensive help…yes…were the concerns about the amount of yardage the pats defense gave up last year over blown…obviously…they made it to within a minute of winning the SB with that defense. The moves the Pats have made to shore up the defense so far have been good. I like Fanane and gregory. I think if they can somehow get Castillo, resign Carter and maybe Anderson then they are in good shape going into the draft. I think they will have to use a top 4 pick on the DL. More importantly, I am not sure what guys like George Cain expected the Pats to do in free agency. BB recognized that he needed more depth and he went out and signed it. I think the Pats did a good job so far recognizing good value players. I much prefer the 9 they signed to Mario Wiliams…oh yeah…williams would have cost more than the 9 guys they have signed so far. Mike Reiss is absolutely correct when he identified BB motive to add competition and depth to camp. I don’t suspect the Pats are done with moves, but so far they have done a much better job than any other team as far as I can tell. Go ask Jets fans how they feel about this offseason so far?

    • Tony

      I’m afraid that when George says “they didn’t upgrade the defense”, he means they didn’t bust out their salary cap for the next 4 years by signing Mario Williams. That’s the ONLY move the Pats could have made in free agency on the defensive side of the ball that would have satisfied the chronic complainers.

      While I would have loved it if they’d been able to get Williams, let’s take a deeper look at that signing:

      1–It’s the BIGGEST CONTRACT EVER GIVEN A DEFENSIVE PLAYER IN FREE AGENCY. That’s a fact. Is this guy Lawrence Taylor or Reggie White? Seriously?

      2–He’s played 5+ years in the NFL, not counting 2011 as a full season. In two of those 5+ seasons, he’s registered double-digit sack totals. That means in three of those 5+ seasons, he’s fallen shy of 10 sacks.

      3–Houston’s defenses during his entire career, with the exception of last year when he missed the last 11 games, were always among the worst defenses in the NFL, bar none. Last year they turned it around with Wade Phillips and some key draft picks/FA signings, but for Williams’ first five years they were a bad defensive team. Not his fault, but it does go to prove that 1 player does NOT make an entire team or unit.

      4–$50 million guaranteed is just too much money. I’m sorry. If that was his asking price then the Pats were smart not to pursue him. That’s a cap-killing contract down the road, but a team like Buffalo, which hasn’t made the playoffs since the 90s, is the kind of team to fork over a contract like that–a desperate one.

      5–You’re correct: the defense did NOT cost the Patriots the Super Bowl. Gronk’s injury (and Mankins’ injury, as we found out today), Brady’s re-injured shoulder, Welker’s drop, the 12-men-on-the-field penalty and a host of other reasons were why they lost the SB. The defense was very good that night. OK, the naysayers talk about the 88-yard TD drive at the end. I get that–but realize also that Eli Manning did that to just about every team the Giants beat in 2011; the Pats’ defense was not alone in their victimization by him.

      The Pats need help on defense, but they don’t need a massive upgrade. Remember that they had a ton of injuries on defense last year and they still managed to pull together and play near-championship caliber D in the post-season.

      • Tony

        George, in fairness to you I must admit that I didn’t read the article but just responded to LTD. My post really wasn’t aimed directly at you though I did make the mistake of mentioning you by name, so I do apologize for that.

        My general feeling is that there is too much handwringing out there about the defense. Was it a great unit last year? Of course not, but when I hear people (not necessarily you) keep bringing up that it was the “31st ranked pass defense in the NFL” it drives me nuts. If the 2011 season proved anything it’s that yards allowed (or yards gained for that matter) has to be the most meaningless stat in football. It’s all about efficiency on both sides of the ball, and the Patriots’ 2011 defense was efficient: they allowed very few points when compared with the yards they allowed.

        I concede that they most certainly do need to improve the D in the offseason, and I think some of BB’s signings this past week have, in fact, been a step in that direction.

        That said, there really weren’t any difference-maker type defenders (other than Williams) out there in free agency, so BB’s non-Williams choices were limited. This wasn’t 2011 when you had DBs like Asomugha and Joseph available, and DLs like Jenkins out there as well. It was a pretty limited FA market on the defensive side of the ball, so aside from overpaying for Williams–which we both apparently agree was a bad idea–there wasn’t much out there.

        Also, it just pays to be patient.

        Free agency is just one aspect of the offseason. The draft is another, and don’t forget about trade possibilities. BB has had a penchant for pulling off trades around draft time that nobody saw coming (the Dillon deal for a 2nd rounder; the Moss deal for a 4th rounder; and even the Derrick Burgess deal for a 3rd rounder).

        One way to look at what BB has done this offseason is this: he’s now apparently shored-up whatever weak spots the Pats’ offense had coming into the pre-draft period, and now he can focus all of the draft’s resources (including picks as possible trade bait for veterans) on the defensive side of the ball.

        Again, my bad for mentioning you by name in my first post. The comment was meant to be more “general” in tone.

      • Guest

        So George, if the early 90′s Cowboys lost Troy Aikman, Emmit Smith, Michael Irvin, Charles Haley, Nate Newton, Ken Norton Jr, Jay Novacheck, and Daryl Johnston to injury, then thats a weak excuse?

    • latetodinner

      George….I was talking about the tone of your article. I know you did not see the merit in paying for Williams…yet you complained that the Pats FA moves were mostly on the offensive side of the ball and that they did not address the defense as much. My point and I think it is a very valid criticism of your article is that you were implying the Pats could have done more to date. I am arguing that they have done very well. I am thrilled they are getting back to the 2001 model of bigger middle class, less stars. So all I asked is what did you expect them to do on the defensive side? You told us…you wanted them to sign someone on the “top 75 list”. This is kind of like when fans bitch that the Pats draft someone Mel Kiper did not have rated. Bill Belichick always smirks when someone mentions Kipers name, because he does not respect Kiper’s opinion. I can’t believe there were 75 defensive free agents better than Fanane available…if there were I would assume the Jets would have tried to sign a few of them, or maybe the Dolphins.

      I keep pointing out the flaws in your columns George because you sound like an irresponsible fan. I expect more from people who write professionally. I expect better thought and better conclusions. I think your media opinions are far better than your football opinions. I don’t think you truly understand what the Patriots are doing, what they have accomplished and how truly good of a job they do year in and year out. For some perspective…go read up on what NFL Network commentators are saying about jeff Ireland and the Dolphins front office. I would hope you will see the Pats, the moves they make, and how remarkably consistent they have been in better light. One last thing…actual football is nothing like Fantasy Football.

    • HighWireNickEsasky

      George was right about the defense losing the SB. Didn’t you see them lie down on the winning touchdown! Old school Patriots D never would have let that happen!

    • Tony

      George,

      A few things now that I have some context of what was in the article you wrote.

      1–I don’t think Abraham was ever really a “free agent” in actuality, because he re-signed with the Falcons pretty quickly. My guess is that they were negotiating the entire time and just got the deal finalized about a week after free agency began. In fact, I don’t think Abraham even visited with other teams. He would have been a good addition to the Pats, but I don’t think he had any desire to leave Atlanta.

      2–The “top 75-ranked free agents” stuff is not relevant. In the end, it’s almost like listening to what Mel Kiper thinks about the NFL draft and then wringing one’s hands whenever the Pats don’t draft the guy that Kiper thinks should go in that spot. It’s all opinion. Each team evaluates its needs based on the personnel they already have, the system they run, their salary cap situation and the chemistry in the clubhouse (well, at least the Pats consider that last one). I have to tell you…if Fanene was not among the Top 75-ranked free agents, I’d like to know why. He was a very productive player for a pretty good defensive team in Cincinnati last year.

      3–The line about the defense “still needing to be REBUILT” simply is not true. The defense has been about 80% rebuilt since the Pats’ prior Super Bowl appearance in 2007. Mayo, Chung, Spikes, McCourty (despite the sophomore slump), Pryor (when healthy), Ninkovich, et. al., are all good young players with the potential to get better. There are still holes to fill, for sure, but to say that the defense “needs to be rebuilt” isn’t true. I know that the “raw” numbers say that it was a below-average defense last season, but when you dig down a bit further you see that it was a better defense than it was given credit for, and it was a defense that allowed 49 total points in the post-season (a shade over 16 PPG). Yes, I know they didn’t make the big stop in the Super Bowl when they had to make it, but hey, who knows what might have happened if Andre Carter had been healthy and able to rush Eli off the edge on that 38-yard pass to Manningham that doomed the Pats?

      The defense needs help, but it doesn’t need an overhaul or a complete rebuilding–that argument simply doesn’t hold water.

  • itt

    I think a good approach to team building is to base it off of the lists of top 75 Free Agents that are posted on the internet.

  • APimpNamedDaveR

    “Instead of moving up in the draft to fill a need, e.g. a quality can’t-miss QB prospect like Chad Pennington or a high-impact WR like Peter Warrick, the Patriots were content making so-called “value picks”, culminating in a waste of a sixth-round draft pick on a backup QB from Michigan — a player who couldn’t even crack the starting lineup in college — who will be lucky to even stick through the first week in training camp, let alone provide this team with any impact during the fast-closing window of opportunity with Drew Bledsoe. Fans should prepare for several years of underachievement from this ill-prepared Patriot coaching and front office staff.”

    Hey, look at me! I’m 2000 George Cain!

    • latetodinner

      George…not that Dave needs my defense…but his post is a great send up of the stuff you have been writing about the Pats. Its all filled with a holier than thou arrogance that implies BB and staff are not doing a great job. Is anyone’s personnel record perfect…NO. Have the Patriots done better than the 31 other teams since BB arrived…yes…by a wide margin. How you don’t see that is beyond me. Because you don’t see that you sound like the idiot callers who want the Pats to bring in Tim Tebow and trade Brady for picks. You have little credibility.

      Having said that, I think it is great that you post a long form piece of writing, that Bruce links to it, that we rip it, and you come here and try and defend yourself. You don’t have to do that. But if you are going to participate in the forum I hope it is to become a better writer/observer. If it is to attempt to defend your opinion/indoctrinate the rest of us you are going to be ridiculed.

      • APimpNamedDaveR

        Shameful.

    • StevefromYellowstone

      *Felger/Cain/Mazz mode on* Rob Gronkowski? Another tight end? Are you kidding me? The Pats suck at drafting tight ends? And they took yet another one in Aaron Hernandez? I want to make this very clear. This is fact, not opinion. When it comes to drafting tight ends, the Pats SUCK. Rob Gronkowski is going to SUCK. Aaron Hernandez is going to SUCK. The Pats wasting all their draft picks on tight end garbage SUCKS. *off*

      Thank God we got experts like these in the media!

    • Brian

      Wow, the old Ron Borges defense. “If the Pats knew Brady was good why didn’t they draft him in the first round?”

  • Winning

    It’s too hard not to attack and ridicule this fool. George, you list the top 75 Free Agents and said the Patriots didn’t sign any of them. Yet when called out on it, you say “Once again never once said they should sign a guy in top 75.” How does that fence feel wedged up there?

    What would you say if the Patriots did sign Mario Williams, and then 9 other non-identifiable bums who make Sterling Moore and Ray Ventrone seem like household names? Judging by your articles/opinions, this would be a successful off-season. Based on the fact that I know how your weak mind processes, you are going to respond by saying ” I never said that approach would work.” This contradicting all the poo you’ve thrown about how the Patriots didn’t get a big name. You clearly don’t like the approach of depth building, and your articles/opinions point in the direction of signing a “Name.” If you say that you wouldn’t want Mario and the 9 forgetables, then clearly you’re just being indecisive and a pest for the sake of it.

    • Winning

      From a earlier post from George:

      “Never once did I say they should have signed Mario Williams actually the opposite.” – his post

      “On the defensive side of the ball, the Patriots made some minor moves with potential upside. They chose not to go after pass rushing defensive ends John Abraham or Jeremy Mincey and instead signed Bengals defensive end Jonathan Fanene, Chargers safety Steven Gregory and Raiders defensive lineman Trevor Scott. None of the three players were in the top 75 on anyone’s free agent list, but fill holes in a defense that still needs to be rebuilt. With a lot of the big names off the board, the Patriots can still bring in some impactful players on defense.” – his article, which I won’t give a hit too.

      Based on what I wrote in my previous post, he wrote he doesn’t think signing Williams is the right approach. I’m already one step ahead of George!

  • HighWireNickEsasky

    Nitpicking snippets!! How dare you, sir!

    • Jason Coyote

      LOL – the Nitpicking Snippets sounds like a great name for a fantasy football team.

  • mallen

    Too much spare time.

  • Brian

    George, it seems like you’re constantly defending yourself and implying that everyone missed the point of your article. If everyone keeps missing the point of your article you are not doing a very good job writing it.