Patriots 2014 First-Quarter Review

This one’s difficult to write. I began it before halftime.

New England sits at 2-2, sandwiching two wins (at Minnesota and vs. Oakland) between a grim season-opener at Miami and a listless effort in Kansas City. (And after they got one-room-schoolhouse disciplined by the Chiefs, the term “listless effort” drips with kindness compared to most descriptions we could think of.)

Monday night’s palindromic 41-14 loss in KC will send this team in one of two directions: they’ll either figure it out, come together, and get their requisite double-digit wins, or they’ll continue on this path and fail to live up to expectations. After last night, fans find it difficult to consider anything other than the latter.

Some thoughts on the season so far:

RECEIVERS. Okay, what the hell? Last year  by Game Four, then-rookie Aaron Dobson had 11 receptions for 118 yards and a touchdown. This year he has one catch for 13 yards and a growing collection of healthy scratches. In 2013, then-rookie Kenbrell Thompkins had 15 catches for 257 yards and three TDs through four games. This year, six for 53, plus a couple of healthy scratches as well.

Last year by this time, then-rookie Josh Boyce had one catch for 24 yards, a virtual career compared to his zero for zero due to his current practice squad status. Danny Amendola in 2013? Ten catches, 104 yards, all from his very first game in a New England uniform. Amendola suffered a groin injury that made a bris seem preferable, forcing him off the field for the ensuing three games. This season he has three grabs for 16 yards (and as many last night as all of the above pass-catchers, i.e., zero).

So what the hell happened to the receivers? Why did what had the potential of a bust-out season become merely a bust? Some potential reasons below.

OFFENSIVE LINE. These guys have yielded to pressure like gullible teenagers. With rookies Bryan Stork and Cameron Fleming manning the center and guard spots, respectively, maybe they have the formation that will work out for the best (despite Fleming getting roundhoused like a palooka at one point).  The raw numbers from this year actually depict similar pressure on Brady as in the first few games of last year (as submitted by @PatriotsSB49 on Twitter), but – combined with some curious play-calling, the offense has seemed far more consistently feckless than they have in years.

PLAY CALLING: Hey, Josh McDaniels? Maybe run the ball. Maybe, when you travel to the loudest, or second-loudest, or however-loud-it’s-always-louder-than-Gillette-Stadium-gets stadium, maybe avoid passing on the first three downs, punting, then giving the Chiefs the ball for the rest of the quarter? Just an idea.

And, no go on those bubble screens any more? You know, the ones where Julian Edelman, your best receiver, gets the ball in space? No viability in putting Dobson out there for a pass longer than 15 yards? No sense in running your biggest back, Stevan Ridley, on third and two?

When the Patriots mix it up, they can use play-action, which seems about the only way the Patriots receivers can get open. How much yardage they gain on the ground doesn’t matter as much as the fact that they make the defense look for it. In Miami, New England passed 56 times and rushed only 20 (for 89 yards). At Minnesota, they had 37 rushes for 150 yards, actually averaging less than they did in Miami at just over four yards per carry, but with enough consistency to get the job done.

And why the hell isn’t Tim Wright getting more looks? Is he not a matchup problem for defenses? Can’t they just pull an Ochocinco and call a down-and-out for him twice a game? Seems like he should be contributing more at this point. I mean, not all new players can be Danny Woodhead and offer major contributions after one week in Foxboro, but a player who caught 54 passes for Tampa Bay last year should have more than four with his new team.

Christ, remember Danny Woodhead?

BRADY: Because of our first three topics, Brady hasn’t been himself (or, perish the thought, maybe this is what he has become START GAROPPOLO NOW Oh Heavens help us). He forces the ball to Rob Gronkowski despite Gronk getting double- and triple-teamed. He forces the ball to Edelman despite having enough field in front of him to run for a first down. His performance in KC (14 of 23, 159 yards, one TD, two INTs) shows the kind of pressure he was under.

Last year he seemed to trust Thompkins. He sure as hell trusted Amendola, at least for one game. Now, not so much.

PERSONNEL: Some iffy choices by the coaches (see receivers issues above). Plus, hard to imagine this defense performing worse with lineman Tommy Kelly aboard. Say what you want about Logan Mankins’ decline and his price tag, but he would have offered some stability to a crew that has seen more shuffling than your grandmother’s deck of cards on a rainy afternoon of Crazy Eights.

On defense (and I refuse to focus on defense, because seriously, I can’t), where are the playmakers? If Chandler Jones doesn’t sack somebody, does anything happen? Is Revis Island more like Revis Sandbar, showing up half the time and then disappearing? And can someone get Rob Ninkovich some new cleats?

HEART. Or, as we say around here, HAHT. Where is it? Why does it seem that, when they get behind, most Patriots players seem to look around, waiting, hoping someone else makes a play?

Think about it. Taking size out of the equation, if you found yourself in a vicious cockfight, which New England player would you want by your side?

I’d take Edelman. Matthew Slater. Rob Goddang Gronkowski, who – bless his soul – had the good taste and wherewithal to avoid a Gronk spike Monday night after his late TD.

Who else? Jones? I’d say so. But Vince Wilfork? Ninkovich? I have to think about them. I would not have to think about putting Mankins on this list.

Brady? In a fight? I don’t know. Maybe he’s gotten weary. Maybe too much has been put on him. The coaches can’t – or won’t – depend on the running game. The O-line can’t give him the consistent time and comfort he needs in the pocket. The defense can’t get him the ball back quickly, if Monday night’s fecal-sluice-bag of a game is any indication.

The 2013 Patriots made it all the way to the AFC Championship with an injury-depleted roster. With many of those injured players back playing, the 2014 Patriots suffered their worst loss since 2005 on their way to a .500 record through the season’s first quarter. I don’t know exactly what’s happening. Maybe they don’t, either. But in Buffalo in two weeks – after a presumed loss to Cincinnati and a 2-3 record – they’d better figure it out.

Chris Warner can be consoled at [email protected] and on Twitter at @cwarn89

Now That This Jeter Nonsense Is Behind Us…

Derek Jeter will go into the baseball Hall of Fame. He deserves to be there.

But “Greatest Yankee” ?

Deserves to be the first unanimous selection to the Hall of Fame” ?

Worthy of an over-the-top sendoff at Fenway Park, and a tongue-bath from Dan Shaughnessy and the rest of the Boston Globe (and media)?

I don’t think so.

I understand the appeal of Derek Jeter, I do. As someone with more than a passing knowledge of the history of baseball, I see his place in the game. For the past two decades he was very much the face of the game. Shortstop and Captain of the New York Yankees. World Series champion. Clutch hitter.

Had he been the shortstop for the Houston Astros for this time period would we be having this conversation? If we swapped out Jeter and Craig Biggio, It would’ve been Biggio who was feted at Fenway to end his career.

The baseball media is blinded by Jeter. As great as his career was, it was made even bigger by playing for the Yankees and by the fawning media coverage he received.

I am not denigrating the career of Jeter. I am saying his great, Hall of Fame career was made even greater by his team and that media.

Media that Jeter treated very well and worked very well, mind you. Witness Peter Abraham – What it was like to cover Derek Jeter

If the Yankees were in a losing streak or caught up in some controversy, he would be sure to make himself available to the media before and especially after games. Jeter would stand at his locker and patiently answer every question until they ran out. Then he would look at the reporters around him and say, “All set?” before walking away.

And…

Jeter was extraordinarily patient, too, making sure nobody walked away feeling they were belittled. Even silly questions got some kind of answer. He had a good sense of humor when the cameras were off, but never was it mean-spirited.

Had Jeter played here, Dan Shaughnessy would’ve spent the last two decades ripping his night life, lack of range and his “selfishness” for refusing to cede his position when Alex Rodriguez joined the team. Fact, not opinion.

Instead, as a Yankee, Jeter gets nothing but praise from the likes of Shaughnessy. That much is obvious and Shaughnessy is not the only one that has done this. That is what made this weekend’s coverage so farcical.

OK, enough before lightning comes down from the heavens and strikes me dead.

The Red Sox season is over, (144 days until spring training starts!) and this offseason will  be very interesting. Ben Cherington has a lot of work to do.

Meanwhile, check out this WBUR profile of reporter Jonny Miller, who will no doubt be the first reporter to arrive for Spring training. Miller is the voice you hear usually asking the first question at Red Sox press conferences, and has been on the job for 42 years while living with cerebral palsy.

*******

The Patriots are in Kansas City tonight for the Monday Night Football matchup with the Kansas City Chiefs. While the game will be on ESPN, it will also be broadcast locally on WCVB channel 5, which will start out with “SportsCenter 5 Countdown To Kickoff” at 8:00pm.

WCVB’s SportsCenter 5 anchor Mike Lynch – @LynchieWCVB – will report live in-studio from the Channel 5 sports desk. Plus, SportsCenter 5 reporter Bob Halloran – @BobWCVB – will be reporting from Kansas City, covering all the pre-game action live from the field. He will be joined by the Boston Globe’s Chris Gasper.

WCVB’s postgame coverage will be provided by the SportsCenter 5 team in NewsCenter 5’s late newscast immediately following the game.

Matt Chatham uses his experience playing for Bill Belichick to decipher clues from the head coach from the past week on what we can expect from the team – Expect the Patriots to Change  (The site has had some issues this morning, keep checking back until it is back. It’s worth a look.)

Get all the coverage tonight on PatriotsLinks.com.

In defense of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman – Chad Finn rates the FOX broadcast duo only behind Al Michaels/Cris Collinsworth.

Bill Simmons: A deeper examination of his suspension from ESPN – Richard Deitsch looks further into the suspension and answers questions from readers on the topic.

Today is Celtics media day, check out Baxter Holmes and his long-form piece on rookie guard Marcus Smart:

Celtics rookie Marcus Smart’s hard past drives his future

Long Way To Go For Patriots

Going into yesterday, most people expected the Patriots to beat up on the Oakland Raiders, who were making their second East coast trip in three weeks, and heading out to London for next week’s game.

The Raiders put up a fight, and the Patriots continued their struggle to put the ball in the end zone yesterday, and wound up with a 16-9 New England victory. They held off a last-second Raiders drive when Vince Wilfork grabbed a deflected ball to come up with the game-sealing interception.

It wasn’t a satisfying win, but it was a win, and we’ll take it. Get all the coverage at PatriotsLinks.com.

Ray Lewis is not a good TV analyst – Chad Finn nails it here, especially in light of Lewis’ mind-boggling quote from yesterday – “There’s some things you can cover up. And there’s some things you can’t.“

A salute to the great sportswriter Joe Murphy – The legendary Eagle-Tribune columnist passed away on Saturday at the age of 89. Michael Muldoon had written this column back in May remembering Murphy, who in many ways was a prototype of the cynical, opinionated sports columnist of today.

ESPN’s Cris Carter’s on-air growth showing in NFL coverage – Richard Deitsch looks back at a crazy week of NFL media.

On Friday, ESPN’s Outside the Lines released their devastating report on how the Baltimore Ravens and the NFL handled the Ray Rice case.

Rice case: purposeful misdirection by team, scant investigation by NFL

Done by Don Van Natta Jr. and Kevin Van Valkenburg, the report had the Ravens scrambling and promising a detailed reply this week.

While there is a ton to digest in the report, from a media perspective, and keeping a theme going that I’ve had on this site over the last few weeks, here’s another damning bit of evidence against Peter King and his role as Roger Goodell’s mouthpiece.

From the ESPN report:

By early July, NFL beat reporters kept hearing Rice would get a six-game suspension. But privately, Ravens officials said they felt confident Rice would get only two games. One source who spoke to Cass said he had heard at least two weeks before Goodell announced the penalty that Rice would receive only a two-game suspension. Rice’s friends say he didn’t hear his suspension was two games until July 23, the day before Goodell announced it.

This is from King’s MMQB in MAY:

Rice likely faces a short (maybe two-game) suspension from the commissioner for being a first-time offender under the personal-conduct policy. He’s got a strong résumé and is greatly admired for his work in the community. He shouldn’t be thrown out with the trash. But he’s got to realize that the performance the other day was tone-deaf.

So King knew that the suspension would be “maybe” two games before the Ravens or Rice did? How exactly did he know this, way back then? The reasons given are also what Goodell cited. He’s awful. The worst.

<insert picture of smoking gun here>

I also love the audacity of King to suggest someone else is tone-deaf. King has mastered the art of tone-deafness. Finn touched on it in his Sunday Mailbag yesterday.

Let’s look at today’s MMQB for some more tone-deal, ugly-American examples:

Walking back from Central Park around noon Saturday, I spied a crazy-long line outside the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue. The line weaved in a maze of crowd-control stanchions, hundreds of people in the maze, and at the end of the maze, the line went east down 59th Street, a full city block to Madison Avenue.

It wasn’t too tough to guess what it was for—the rollout of the iPhone 6. I asked one of the security dudes: “How long a wait if I went to the end of the line right now?”

“Six hours,” he said.

So I went to the end of the line and asked a couple of young guys, 20 or 23, waiting with their heads in their iPhone 5s, “Did you know you’ve got about a six-hour wait in front of you? That’s what the security guy told me.”

“They told us it was about five,” one of the guys said.

Well, that certainly makes all the difference.

The guy who Tweeted delightedly about being able to inform a restaurant host about Robin Williams’ suicide now eagerly runs to the back of the line in Manhattan – where he lives – to inform the people there that they have to wait six hours. That last line is vintage Peter King.

6. I think if you’re waiting for me to call for Roger Goodell to be fired, you’ll have to wait a while. I’m not into mob rule either.

So people who are saying that Goodell needs to be gone are part of a “mob.” This is like when Peter referred to the “shrill cries” for his own job. And of course he isn’t going to call for Goodell to be fired. He’s got too much at stake himself.

Peter is also not into mob rule, but he is the one leading the crusade to change the name of the Washington football team.

a. My best to the family of Dave Rahn, former 49ers PR man, who died of melanoma Thursday. Dave was a good, good man with a terrific work ethic, and he was as professional a person as I’ve dealt with in this business. Rest in peace, Dave.

Well, that’s a nice sentiment, Peter.

b. I’ve had two significant melanoma surgeries, and it’s nothing to fool around with. Sunscreen and regular checkups are the only way to beat it—or to compete with it.

Of course. It’s always about Peter. He can’t even pay tribute to a man who died of cancer without making it about himself.

Tone-deaf doesn’t begin to cover it.

Week Wrap – Fat Cat Media Feels A Little Heat

In the wake of the NFL scandals of the last couple weeks, some of the long time and prominent media covering the league have been made slightly uncomfortable by having the light shined on their “coverage” of the league, which in many cases seems to consist of writing what Roger Goodell tells them to write.

Is there now a trust gap with Peter King? – Matt Yoder of Awful Announcing looks at the suspicions people are having of King, especially after his column this week which had a tough headline – It’s Past Time, Commissioner – but then leads off with the following paragraph:

A source with knowledge of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell’s mindset this week said something Wednesday that is very bad news for the 2014 playing status of Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy: “Roger has determined that he will be a leader in the domestic-violence space.”

So many questions. What exactly is  the domestic-violence space and how does one become a leader in it? A source with knowledge of the mindset? Was it Goodell himself, whispering in Peter’s ear? How can someone have a knowledge of someone else’s mindset?

Dave McKenna of Deadspin also wrote on this – Will The Elite NFL Media Still Be Stooges After The Ray Rice Scandal?

He targets not only King, but Chris Mortensen and Adam Schefter as well. These types are not used to being criticized, especially King, who acts ridiculously out of touch and childish when challenged in the least bit.

If he’s feeling the heat, that’s a good thing.

When is Dan Shaughnessy going to feel some heat? Self-plagiarism gets old after a while. When was the last time the man had an original thought?

WEEI beat WBZ-FM in the summer book:

Some might say winning the summer ratings book is like going 4-0 in the NFL preseason, but it’s a start.

The media columns today:

Play-by-play man Allen Bestwick will miss NASCAR duties – Chad Finn has the Rhode Island native getting a bit wistful as ESPN’s run broadcasting NASCAR winds down.

Holy Cross radio voice Bob Fouracre recovered, ready to go – Bill Doyle has the football announcer coming back from colon cancer surgery.

In the actual sports area, we’ve got the Raiders coming to town for the Patriots home opener on Sunday. CBS has the 1:00pm game with Greg Gumbel and Trent Green getting the call. Evan Washburn will be the sideline reporter.

Catch all the coverage at Patriotslinks.com.

The Red Sox season is winding down, but the last week is actually pretty entertaining to watch with the lineup almost exclusively made up of young  and new players like Betts, Bogaerts, Cespedes, Castillo, Middlebrooks, Bradley Jr and Vasquez, as well as the young pitchers. Good experience for them. RedSoxLinks.com

The Bruins have started training camp, and have the first holdouts of the Peter Chiarelli era in Torey Krug and Reilly Smith. Get the latest a BruinsLinks.com.

Shame On You For Not Having an Opinion!

I don’t know about you, but I’m a little sick of opinions. They may be repackaged these days as #HOTSPORTZTAKES but really in many instances, they’re just a way to justify saying something stupid.

Wait, did I just give my opinion?

Oh well.

The NFL is a mess. That much is obvious. What is also obvious is that the media will insert themselves into the narrative for their own gain. This is not breaking news. We’ll get pieces threatening to stop watching the NFL. (Hi Adam Kaufman!) which, when I see, only makes me hope this means they’ll actually stop writing and talking about the NFL too.

We get Kirk Minihane going on a week-long binge of attacking those who don’t express their opinion. All of a sudden Minihane is Senator Joseph McCarthy seeking out members of the communist party. Tom Brady hasn’t said he’s against child abuse. So that must mean he is for it….How long have you supported wife beating, Rodney Harrison?

Oh wait, my bad. Kirk says his issue is not that Brady isn’t willing to give an opinion (but really, that IS what Kirk’s problem is) but that he thinks Brady is wrong to say that his opinion isn’t going to make a difference.

That’s a matter of opinion. A really, really dumb opinion.

Will the NFL and the Vikings change their stance based on what Tom Brady says? No. Of course not. The only reason any changes are happening right now is because sponsors and advertisers are either pulling out their money and support of the league or are threatening to do so. Does Brady speaking out influence that? No. Is it an impossible scenario? I guess not, but likely? No. What influences those entities is cries from the consumer and threats that they will stop purchasing the product.

Minihane and ProJo Red Sox writer Brian MacPherson went on a Twitter string together about how Brady’s comments were “Pretty weak” a “total whiff” and “shockingly out of touch.

What they don’t get though, is that had Brady made a comment about it, even a simple condemnation of the act, it becomes HUGE. Not a little 10-second thing to deal with as Kirk would have you believe.

Rich Levine outlines this scenario better than I ever possibly could. Which is why he’s making the big bucks and I’m a lowly part-time media blogger.

Why Tom Brady doesn’t speak out

Read it.

Also on CSNNE, a cerebral piece by Tom E Curran.

Free speech is also about right to stay silent

As Curran says:

Brady offering anything wouldn’t cause an epiphany for Adrian Peterson. It would, however, cause moans of pleasure in our business because it would add content and a new angle. Of course, Brady – and any other marquee player – taking a pass provides us this content anyway. (Which is what this column is…)

Which is all most in the media really want.

Even nationally, Brady is taking heat. Witness these two blog posts:

Tom Brady deliberately remaining quiet on NFL’s many current crises

The Patriot Way: Tom Brady Declines to Take a Stand On Ray Rice, Other NFL Scandals

The second article suggests that Brady doesn’t want to speak because he doesn’t want to offend Peterson because the Patriots plan to sign him once he’s released by the Vikings, because the Patriots have a history of bringing in troubled players.

The writer isn’t wearing a tinfoil hat in his photo, but I think he was while writing that post.

What I don’t get is the target Brady has on him for this. Where are these articles about Peyton Manning? Aaron Rodgers? Has Calvin Johnson weighed in? (Er, check that.) How about the never reticent Richard Sherman, who has no problem talking about other people? Are there articles being written about them?  No? Why not?

Patriots Look To Avoid 0-2 Start

After last Sunday’s debacle in Miami, the Patriots will attempt to pick up their first win of the season, and avoid putting themselves into an early season 0-2 hole when they take on the Vikings in Minnesota. It won’t be easy, as the Vikings have some dynamic talent on both sides of the ball, and they are coming off a runaway win in St. Louis last week.

CBS has the game on Sunday at 1:00pm with Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts on the call, and former NESN Red Sox reporter Jenny Dell will handle the sideline duties. It will be our first chance to see her on a Patriots broadcast.

The game will be played outdoors at TCF Bank Stadium, the home of the University of Minnesota, where the Vikings are playing the next two seasons while their new stadium is built.

In the few scattered times that the Patriots have been discussed this week – there have been a few other NFL things going on if you hadn’t heard – I’ve seen confusion and discussions over the Patriots rotation on the offensive line in Miami. Many people, including beat reporters, seem confused about  reasoning behind the shuffling. A look through Mike Reiss’s blog archives and snap counts show that this was not that unusual for the opening game. Rosevelt Colvin was on 98.5 this morning and also said that in the first game of the season, the team would rotate players on the offensive line to break them and not put too much load on them to play a full game right off the bat.

Look for the offensive line to solidify over the coming weeks.

Check all the coverage leading into Sunday at PatriotsLinks.com.

One quick Red Sox note – It might be blasphemy here, but I’m looking forward to seeing Mookie Betts play second base - hopefully for the rest of the season.

OK, two. Does Giancarlo Stanton already play for the Red Sox? I know him getting drilled in the face last night was gruesome, and he is an MLB Star, but with all the rumors about the Red Sox interest in him, (feels a lot like all those Adrian Gonzalez rumors we heard before the team actually acquired him.) you’d think he already played here. Both radio stations are talking about it, the Globe runs its “On Baseball” column about him, it’s a little unusual for an out-of-town player.

Media

CBS’s James Brown on the mark regarding Ray Rice – Chad Finn applauds the network host’s comments on the NFL and domestic violence last night.

He also notes the return of Curt Schilling to ESPN, Dan Koppen’s work on CSNNE, and Glenn Ordway’s Big Show Unfiltered finding its first terrestrial home at ESPN New Hampshire (900 AM and 1250 AM) starting next week.

From hardcore to hard knocks: Alum lands at NESN – The Emerson College Newspaper The Berkeley Beacon profiles alum Doug Kyed who the Patriots beat reporter for NESN. Kyed faced a tough choice – hard rock stardom, or attending Bill Belichick press conferences.

About That Miami Game…

Captured footage from my house around 4:15 yesterday.

giphy

After a fairly good first half in South Florida yesterday, the Patriots came out in the second half and did nothing. They didn’t score at all after putting up 20 points in the first half, and gave up 23 points to the Dolphins. Both lines were pretty dreadful and halftime adjustments seemed non-existent. Miami won going away, 33-20.

The result was the first opening day loss for the Patriots since the 31-0 debacle to open the 2003 season.

A performance like that draws the trolls, and they love nothing better than taking victory laps on afternoon’s like yesterday.

The Globe again has it’s day-after special football section for this season, which will this season include a Monday sports media column from Chad Finn. This week he looks at the game day offerings and ahead to the certain caterwauling of sports radio this week.

On the media front, you should also check out Finn’s Friday column on the history of the sideline reporter, check out last week’s edition of Patriots Football Weekly for my column on the various sideline reporting changes this offseason, and look at the New York Post’s article on Jenny Dell who is working as an NFL sideline reporter for CBS.

Tom Brady made his weekly appearance on Dennis and Callahan and Minihane this morning, and no one knows better than he that there is a lot of work to be done.

Get all the coverage from yesterday’s game at PatriotsLinks.com.

If you’re interested in deep, football-focused talk, check out Matt Chatham’s new site footballbyfootball.com, where he has NFL players weighing in and analyzing happenings around the league.

It will be a long week. No doubt about that. It’s already begun, and will not cease until the team wins a game convincingly.

This team will be fine.   There may be more rough patches ahead until roles and rotations are settled, but this is a good team. Despite what you’ll hear, see and read this week.

NFL Preview Day, Globe Goes MAD

The NFL season starts tonight, with the Super Bowl Champion Seattle Seahawks hosting the Green Bay Packers on NBC.

The Globe and the Herald have their NFL/Patriots season previews today so there is plenty of material to go through.

As a tribute to 93-year-old MAD Magazine cartoonist Al Jaffee, the Globe did a “fold-in” cover to its section. The image shows the Patriots losing to the Jets 17-3 at Gillette and walking off the field dejectedly while the Jets dance on the stadium turf. BUT fold in the image and you see the Lombardi Trophy.

There’s a whole lot I could say here about the image representing everything the Globe feels about the Patriots and their fans, but I’ll let you guys handle that. And yes, I know the old MAD fold-ins were made so you think it means one thing, and it shows something completely different, but still. Yeesh.

Some highlights from the sections:

Persistent Bill Belichick grows into champion – Jeff Howe has a feature on the coach’s rise from a $25 a week film assistant to a coaching legend. Not much new material in here, but it is always nice to look at the accomplishments rather than the failures.

Tom Brady fueled by doubts about his ability – Chris Gasper does a similar bit on the Patriots QB, and his continued drive to be at the top.

Revamping defense was a priority for Patriots – Shalise Manza Young has a look at the moves made to bulk up the D.

Tom Brady to have many options in score zone – Karen Guregian looks at the improved Red Zone options that Brady has this season. (Wait…I thought Brady didn’t have any WEAPONZ!!!)

Bill Belichick belongs among NFL’s coaching greats – Yes, this is Ron Borges writing this. But don’t be fooled. This is his cover piece, so when he rips him up the rest of the season he can say “Hey, what do you want? I said he was among the greatest of all time!”

To that end – Bill Belichick, Tom Brady on same page – Ron wants you to know that the two are NOT friends. They are just to professionals who happen to work well together. (No, it really isn’t that bad.)

Darrelle Revis brings Patriots back to title roots – Ben Volin looks at the Patriots best CB since the prime of Ty Law and what it means to the team’s hopes.

New England Patriots TE Tim Wright has been adapting on the fly since college – New Masslive.com Patriots writer Kevin Duffy has a piece on the new Patriots tight end.

Levine’s 2014 NFL season preview – Rich Levine looks at the entire league.

Patriots, Broncos are prime-time TV players – Chad Finn says that the national audience will be seeing plenty of these two teams this season.

Meet The New New England Patriots

As we head into the week after Labor Day and hunker down for fall and football, why not pick up some chat fodder to avoid awkward water-cooler moments by learning about some of the newest Patriots?

Also on tap – after dozens and dozens of requests (read: none whatsoever), the return of high school fun facts!

[Read more...]

Patriots Wrap Preseason Slate, Cuts Tomorrow

The Patriots wrapped up their preseason schedule with a 16-13 loss to the New York Giants. Jimmy Garoppolo went wire-to-wire in this one and had his moments, both good and bad.

While some are ready to just hand him the backup QB job and get rid of Ryan Mallett, we likely won’t know for at least a few days what the team plans to do. Final cuts are tomorrow, but we can expect the roster to be in flux through at least Tuesday.

I thought the broadcasts on WBZ improved throughout the preseason, and while last night was still silly at times, it was much better than the first effort of the season. Fauria has moments where he can actually give pretty good analysis, he got into detail at one point last night about footwork on a catch, making the right plant when turning which was information, but then he also has moments like “everyone loves bubbles!” which just makes you roll your eyes.

Matt Chatham as usual, is the best part of the broadcast. While some may object and say that he is too deep and technical in his analysis, there is a segment of the viewership that really wants that next level dissection of plays.

Last night’s game will only get one replay on NFL Network, that being tomorrow, Saturday August 30th at 1:00pm ET. The Giants broadcast crew of Bob Papa and Carl Banks with Howard Cross & Bruce Beck on the sidelines will call the game.

What we learned: Patriots put wraps on preseason with 16-13 loss to Giants – Chris Price breaks down the takeaways from last night.

On the media side:

CBS’s all-female studio show is intriguing – Chad Finn looks at the CBS Sports Network’s new studio show, featuring Lesley Visser,  Amy Trask, and Tracy Wolfson, as well as contributions from Andrea Kremer, Laila Ali, Dara Torres, and Swin Cash.

Finn sort of buried the lede though later in the column by noting that Gerry Callahan has already re-signed with WEEI while John Dennis has not. It seems unlikely that Dennis will not eventually re-sign with the station, but it could be an interesting few days. (Update 1:10PM – Finn Tweets that Dennis has agreed to a new deal as well.)

The New England sports survey conducted by Channel Media & Market Research and mentioned in the Inside Track this week had some curious picks in the media section.

According to the Track, “The survey was conducted from Aug. 12-24 and 40 percent of the respondents were from Massachusetts with the other New England states making up the rest. Seventy-five percent of those polled were male, and the majority were between 25 and 44 years old.

Also, the polls were completely “write in” meaning choices were not given to the respondents. They picked these.

Felger and Mazz read off this list on Wednesday at the end of the show. I don’t remember all exactly, except for the winners. These are what I remember:

Top Team Play by Play or Analyst – Don Orsillo was the winner. Others in the top five included Dave O’Brien, Bob Beers, Tommy Heinsohn and Jack Edwards. No Mike Gorman which is an absolute travesty.

Favorite Sportswriter – Mike Reiss won this one. Other favorites in the top five were Gerry Callahan, Dan Shaughnessy, Tony Massarotti and Gordon Edes. Tony Mazz has written about five times in the last year.

Favorite Sports Radio Host – Tony Massarotti. I’ve lost all faith in humanity with this pick. I’m truly aghast. Other favorites were Dale Arnold, Scott Zolak, and tied for fifth were Mike Felger and Marc Bertrand.

Favorite TV Sports Host – Tom Caron. Others on the list included Jerry Remy, Bob Neumeier and Felger.