Once again, Patriots fans have the luxury of sitting back on Wild Card weekend and watching the games stress-free.
The Patriots will play one of three teams next Sunday afternoon: Houston, Baltimore or Indianapolis. Each has a ready-built week of storylines for talk radio next week. If it is Houston, expect to hear plenty of references to the 2010 45-3 December win over the Jets, and the ensuing Divisional round loss at home to those same Jets. You can do the same with the Colts, plus throw in the “Chuckstrong” angle, and how Bill Belichick ran up the score on a team whose coach had cancer. With both of those teams the “It’s hard to beat the same team twice in one season” line to fall back as well.
With the Ravens, you’ve got the “They’ve already beaten you once this year” which totally ignores that previous sentence. Then you go back to how the Ravens “basically” beat the Patriots in the AFC Championship last year, and then the wild card blowout after the 2009 season, and pile on the Ray Lewis retirement announcement and you’ve got the makings of a whole lot of fear-mongering.
This week, you had speculation on the end of the Belichick era, once Josh McDaniels declined to interview for head-coaching opportunities. It’s the worst part of having the bye week, the forced storylines.
Another topic this week in lieu of the Patriots was the struggles of the Boston Celtics. Many seem ready to throw in the towel on this team, and in particular Jeff Green. I’m still not ready for either. Doc Rivers expressed this week that he’s seeing signs that the new guys (and most of the roster is new, remember. Only KG, Pierce, Rondo, Bass and Bradley were on the roster at the end of last season.) are starting to get it, which takes time.If they’re like this in March, I’ll worry.
While some are warning not to anoint Avery Bradley as the savior – and he wasn’t Wednesday night – he is a huge piece. His defense will completely change this team. No more will guys like Jamal Crawford, Monta Ellis and the like be able to impose their will unchallenged on the Celtics any longer. It allows Rondo to freelance more on defense, where he is the best, and it allows Jason Terry to come off the bench and provide the offense that unit needs. Rivers said this week he will be calling plays for the second unit when Rondo isn’t in the game, with the idea of making sure Terry gets the shots. Green needs consistent minutes and he also needs plays called for him. Too often, he’s not involved and you see him just drift to the corner. He needs to be involved. I still think they’ll figure out the rotation and chemistry before the playoffs.
It seems a trade will need to be made at some point, but nothing can really be done until at January 15th. Brandon Bass and Courtney Lee would seem to be pieces that might be moved. I don’t see Ainge trading Bradley or Green, as Chris Mannix suggested yesterday on 98.5. We know Danny Ainge isn’t afraid to change things up when they’re not working, so if the team continues to struggle, look out.
Perhaps the dumbest thing I heard all week came from Gerry Callahan, who stated that if you want to be a big star in this town, all you have to do is suck up to the local teams, especially the Red Sox. OK. Let’s name the big star media members on radio and TV who are local team suckups. It’s the complete opposite. If you want to make a name for yourself in Boston sports media, the quickest path is by saying outlandish things and trashing the local teams.
Coordinating producer Russ Kenn leaving NESN – Chad Finn’s media column has the long-time Red Sox producer the latest in the departures from NESN.
These are rough times at NESN, which has been hit hard by the NHL lockout. Between layoffs and people leaving on their own, one source says they’ve lost a couple dozen people in the last two months.
Gil Santos ready to hand off Patriots gig – Bill Doyle has the longtime Patriots radio voice set to say good-bye sometime in the next few weeks.
SBNation, which had made a big splash in 2010 with their regionalized sites, such as SB Nation Boston, is moving away from that format, and thus eliminating many local writing and editing positions around the country. Mine is among them. I filed my last column for them yesterday, though it has yet to appear.
In explaining their reasoning, on this move, Matt Watson of SB Nation wrote in an email to impacted personnel:
The Web is constantly changing, and one of the lessons we’ve learned is that regional sites aren’t nearly as effective as they once were because of globalization of fandom. Fans aren’t merely regional fans any more. We feel like we’re stronger when we stick to the narrower focus of team blogs to make it more personal to our end users, which strengthens our communities and deepens their engagement and commitment to our brands.
So while sites like SB Nation Boston will continue to exist, they will be solely hubs for the local blogs, with the dedicated editor and other contributors being let go.
So, I’ll be looking for a new outlet for a weekly outside-BSMW paid media column. Anyone interested?
The Patriots concluded another strong season ratings-wise, setting a franchise-record average household rating of 36.36 per game. The Patriots received household ratings of plus-30 in every game of the season for the first time in franchise history and saw ratings of plus-40 on three separate occasions, with a season high of 43.08 in the win over Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts.
Here’s a look at the ratings, game-by-game: