What Is Mike Salk’s Future? More After The Break…

In his Globe media column today, Chad Finn looks at the poor fit that Mike Salk appears to be with WEEI:

Mike Salk’s style isn’t what WEEI needs

It’s a fair article, outlining many of the issues that have led to the station’s continued struggles against Felger and Massarotti in the afternoons.

One thing Finn mentions is Salk’s penchant for teasing upcoming topics – Is Hightower the biggest bust in Patriots history – we’ll answer that after the break. I don’t see the issue as being that he does the teases, all good radio hosts do this – it’s one thing John Dennis is really good at – but rather, how clumsy and ham-handed he is with the teases.

It’s a tough situation, Salk was brought in to replace a legend  by someone who was immensely disliked and is no longer there, and apparently turned some people off within the station right away. What can they do? Salk moved his family across the country, and has a three-year deal, so getting rid of him would be messy, expensive, and probably not great PR.

But as Finn notes, it’s clearly not a great fit, and for a station that has struggled and is trying to turn things around, they have to make hard decisions.

Finn also touches on the departure of Mary Paoletti from CSNNE, which is a pretty big loss for them. This isn’t exactly breaking news, but people are nice and likable as Paoletti are not all that common in the media business.

So we lose Paoletti, and people like Gary Tanguay – catch that rant last night? – remain as fixtures in the market. Doesn’t seem right.

Tim McKone appears omnipresent as he runs broadcast spectrum – Bill Doyle profiles a young man who “works full time for Charter TV-3 as a producer, videographer, sports reporter and fill-in anchor, and also part-time for both Cox Sports TV in Rhode Island as a sports reporter and for 98.5 the Sports Hub providing sports headlines on weekends.”

A few more links from today:

No excuse not to lock up Jon Lester – With the lefty expressing a willingness to take less to stay with the Red Sox, Gordon Edes says the club needs to make it happen.

Danny Ainge thinks only of C’s future – Steve Bulpett looks at how Ainge’s mindset and approach is different this season as opposed to previous years where he had to be wary of not taking a step back in-season. Ainge also said part of the reason they traded Jordan Crawford was because they wanted more time for Phil Pressey.

Ainge says Celtics made Rondo contract offer – Baxter Holmes examines Ainge’s comments regarding the club’s view of their point guard.

Aaron Dobson works for healthy return – Jeff Howe has the receiver already looking forward to next season.

New England Patriots offseason primer: Hard decisions await – Nick Underhill looks at the offseason to-do list.

West Coast kid here to stay – Joe McDonald looks at the emergence of rookie defenseman Kevan Miller.

Trending toward Chara-Miller playoff pairing – Joe Haggerty thinks that with Dennis Seidenberg done for the year, the rookie could end up paired with Zdeno Chara on the first defensive pairing in the playoffs.

Scar Retires, Sox Dig Up Sizemore

In the wake of a 2nd straight loss in the AFC Championship game, the Patriots coaching staff is going through something of a shakeup.

Following the departure of linebackers coach Pepper Johnson earlier this week, the team announced yesterday that long time offensive line and assistant head coach Dante Scarnecchia is retiring after spending 30 of the last 32 NFL seasons with the team. In addition, tight ends coach George Godsey is moving on to Houston to be Bill O’Brien’s QB coach.

On top of that, Karen Guregian looks at a report that Josh McDaniels and the Browns are still talking.

It might not be the worst thing to have some new voices in the coaching ranks, though losing Johnson and Scarnecchia is a really big loss for the franchise.

Coach Scar leaves lasting mark – Mike Reiss says that Scarnecchia leaves as one of the franchise’s greats.

Pats assistant Scarnecchia: ‘This is the time’ to quit – Tom E Curran talks to Scar about his decision.

The Red Sox made something of a surprise move yesterday, signing former Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore to a one-year, major league deal. Sizemore hasn’t played since 2011.

How Grady Sizemore finally landed with Red Sox – Rob Bradford was first with the news yesterday, and looks at how former Larry Bird trainer Dan Dyrek was a huge factor in Sizemore landing here.

Sox figure Sizemore is worth a shot – Gordon Edes says Sizemore might be a longshot to contribute, but he was worth taking a look at.

Grady Sizemore vs. Jackie Bradley Jr. could be a win either way for Boston Red Sox – Jason Mastrodonato compares the two players, and notes that competition is a good thing.

Failure Is A Relative Term

After the dust settles and you can step back and reflect on the past six months, it becomes slightly – ever so slightly – easier to accept what we witnessed Sunday afternoon.

How did they even get this far?

While there will be plenty of “failure” talk and the usual suspects will be grousing about the lack of “weapons” on offense, the team that took the field went as far as it could possibly go. That automatically makes it better than some of the previous editions. You can nitpick about personnel decisions, but hindsight is always 20/20.

The Broncos and specifically Peyton Manning, stepped up big time and took what was theirs. If you watched any of Seattle’s win over San Francisco, there has to be a piece of you hoping that Manning can shut up the yappers of Pete Carroll’s crew. After hearing for weeks locally about how we could expect Manning to make the crucial mistake or how he wouldn’t be able get his team past Tom Brady and the Patriots, there was even the tiniest bit of satisfaction in knowing that even in a Patriots loss, the local talkers were again dead wrong.

It was a fun ride, with some of the unlikeliest and most entertaining victories we’ve seen, as well as some very satisfying late season wins. While there is no doubt that we’re approaching the end of the Brady/Belichick run, it is not over yet, and there was plenty of young talent on this team that took steps forward this season, and should take on even more next year. There may be questions about Brady’s ability to get it done by himself, and that likely will be a focus during the offseason.

My hope is that we can appreciate this team for how they continued to play each week despite what the injury list looked like or what the scoreboard looked like.

While I see numerous columns about there about how it is time to make massive changes because the “magic” isn’t there anymore, or that this “formula” doesn’t work, or whatever, I’m choosing today to just look at a few columns which reflect what I think is the right way to look at things here:

Manning, Broncos deserve endless respect — and even in defeat, so do the Patriots – Chad Finn.

It leads with a photo of Peyton Manning, and I can’t help but smile looking at it. I feel good for the guy. Yes, he gets over-the-top adulation from the national press, and his previous playoff failures seem like they’re brushed under the rug by most, but this guy has been through a lot the last few years, his career was almost over, and from some reports, it might be closer to ending than we thought – but he put together a record season, and the look of pride, accomplishment and yes – relief – on his face is perfect. You gotta feel good for the Goober.

Patriots magic act went up in smoke in Denver – Tom E Curran says that this team had us fooled.

For once, fulfillment in finish to Patriots season – Erik Frenz says that this time, the Patriots lost to a team that they should’ve lost to, and that is strangely fulfilling.

Get all the coverage at PatriotsLinks.com.

We’ll jump right into the offseason this afternoon and Chris Warner take a look at the Shrine Game.

The Celtics will make what will likely be their only national TV appearance tonight, as they take on the Heat in Miami. NBA TV picked up the game (which will still be seen locally on CSNNE) as part of their NBA Fan Night.

Media Silliness Abounds As AFC Title Tilt Approaches

Must. Pound. Storylines.

For the on-air side of sports media this week is less about football than it is about their precious storylines. Legacies. Past failings. Worries. Concerns.

Then you have clowns like WHDH’s Dan Hausle, who only appears in Foxborough when there is something “big” happening. He showed up when Tebow was signed. He showed up when Bill Belichick addressed the Aaron Hernandez case. He showed up this week to ask the tough questions to Tom Brady about a poll which said he was the least liked QB in the NFL. He asked Belichick and Brady today about playing a game in Denver for the first time in which marijuana is legal for recreational use.

Belichick brushes him off, but you have to admire Tom Brady’s ability to take any question and answer it good-naturedly and with a smile.

Other storylines:

Hey….Peyton as Wilt Chamberlain and Brady and Bill Russell? That’s why you’re the bravest columnist going, Dan Shaughessy! By the way, nice way to cover yourself. You’ve already said the Patriots will lose on Sunday. With this column today, if the Patriots manage to win, you can blame it on Manning! Genius!

And that you stole that premise from Felger and Mazz’s first hour yesterday? Brave! Original!

Heard the 98.5 morning zookeepers touting the storyline that whomever wins on Sunday is just going to be blasted by the NFC winner in the Super Bowl. Wasn’t that the line of thinking last season too?

As my friend Scott put it:

Its like there’s a centralized entity that writes the shallowest possible narratives on Sunday night and then sells them to all the radio stations, newspapers and internet sites on Monday before 6 am. Then the on-air geniuses keep repeating them over and over again until a fresh batch arrives the next week.

A few articles from today:

Aqib Talib has resurrected his career with the Patriots – Shalise Manza Young has a look a how the cornerback has fit in and become a mainstay of the Patriots secondary.

Julian Edelman is the Patriots’ Mr. Persistence – Kevin Paul Dupont has a nice feature on the Patriots breakout star.

A chemistry forged by triumph, failure – Jackie MacMullan has her second good column of the week, this time looking at the partnership of Brady and Belichick and their determination to reach the top once more.

Dante Scarnecchia, the Patriots’ Forgotten Man – Robert Mays on Grantland has a look at the offensive line for life coach.

Broncos huge test for Pats pass coverage – Matt Chatham says it isn’t about who take who, but how everyone is accounted for after the snap.

Patriots radio voice Bob Socci ready for biggest call of his career – Bill Doyle talks to Socci about his first season, the AFC title game, and working with Scott Zolak.

CBS foresees giant Patriots-Broncos matchup – Chad Finn has the CBS voices talking about the matchup.

Among the features on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown this weekend:

  • Brady-Manning, The Beginning: Vignettes with memories from parents and close family members of young Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, as well as insights on how they each fell in love with football.
  • Best of SNL: Best moments from Brady and Manning’s appearances as Saturday Night Live hosts.
  • Brady-Manning’s Center: Dan Koppen (currently on injured reserve) was Brady’s center for nine seasons and Manning’s last year. He discusses the quarterbacks’ similarities and differences.
  • Pick 6s: Ty Law, the only player in NFL history to get a ‘pick 6’ against both Brady and Manning, relives each of his interceptions against the quarterbacks and tells the story of how they both cornered him afterwards and inquired how he was able to read their plays.
  • Omaha! Omaha!: Manning’s pre-snap audible calls – “Omaha! Omaha!” – last Sunday made Nebraska’s largest city a trending topic on Twitter during the game. The city’s tourism board entered the fray with a tweet thanking the Denver quarterback. Countdown essayist Rick Reilly visits Omaha to explore how Manning and the Broncos are helping to boost the city’s profile.
  • Blue-Collar Rob Ninkovich: ESPN.com’s Greg Garber reports on where Patriots defensive captain Rob Ninkovich acquired the blue-collar style that reminds many of past Patriot linebackers.
  • “We’re Going to the Super Bowl”: One of the most exciting moments in a football player’s career is when he finally realizes he is going to the Super Bowl. From the Cowboys in the 1990s, through Bill Belichick and Tom Brady’s Patriots, to Ray Lewis and the Ravens last year, DJ Porter spins the emotional audio and celebrations from the last 20 championship game winners.

One Celtics article – Kobe Bryant longs for rivalry – Steve Bulpett has the injured Lakers star wistfully recalling the battles with the KG/Piece Celtics and wishing they had gotten one more chance to play for a title.

AFC Title Week Rolls On

As we move through the week up to Sunday’s AFC Title showdown in Denver, the storylines are everywhere, while as usual, the actual analysis is harder to find.

Everywhere you turn you hear talk about legacy. Brady’s legacy. Manning’s legacy. Belichick’s legacy.

I don’t know about you, but I find this sort of discussion, especially in the middle of a game week to be extremely tedious, especially when there’s a fairly good chance we’re going to have this very same discussion all over again a year from now.

A few quality links to check out:

Why Belichick Really Is a Mad Scientist – Jonathan Clegg and Kevin Clark in the Wall Street Journal look at some of the practice squad players the Patriots have brought it who have startling physical similarities to players like T.Y. Hilton, Demaryius Thomas, Jamaal Charles and Andre Johnson.

Question – no one local could figure this out?

AFC Championship Preview: A Whole New Ballgame – Bill Barnwell says that this Brady/Manning matchup will be like none we’ve ever seen before.

Robert Kraft steady at the helm – Jackie MacMullan has a long interview and feature on the Patriots owner.

Patriots rookie LB Jamie Collins, who has quietly been a star in practices, is on the brink of breaking out – Nick Underhill says that teammates have been watching the rookie make plays all year long. Erik Frenz looks at the toughest challenge that Collins will have faced yet, Denver TE Julius Thomas.

Pats’ roster philosophy in full bloom – While some insist that the Patriots current style of play is more luck and being forced into it, Mike Reiss notes that this season is a great example of the roster flexibility and construction that the Patriots strive for. Michael Whitmer says that the team tries to always have a contingency plan.

Denver faces D-lemma – Karen Guregian says that the Patriots running game could force the Broncos to try and let Tom Brady beat them.

Pressure’s on Peyton Manning – Jeff Howe looks at how New England will attempt to defend Manning.

Rajon Rondo will make his return to the Celtics tomorrow night against the Lakers. The Celtics traded away Jordan Crawford yesterday, picking up yet more picks for the future.

Latest deal a no-win proposition for Celtics – Steve Bulpett says that the trade is yet another move for the future.

Charles Barkley Gets It. Why Doesn’t The Media?

To avoid the commentary and just get the coverage, go to PatriotsLinks.com.

The Patriots advanced to their third straight AFC Championship Game with a 43-22 win over the Indianapolis Colts on Saturday night.

LeGarrette Blount once again steamrolled his way around the field for 166 yards and four touchdowns, Stevan Ridley added two more rushing touchdowns. Tom Brady didn’t throw a touchdown pass, Mike!!!!!! He BLOWS in the postseason!!

A guest in the Patriots locker room following the game was Charles Barkley who was asked about the job done by Robert Kraft and Bill Belichick. His answers appeared to make some media uncomfortable. Mike Petraglia has the details.

Every year, they have a chance to win. That’s pretty cool,” Barkley began.

Is he a Patriots fan?

“No, no. Bill is my friend. Mr. Kraft is my friend,” Barkley continued. “But I was just making a point. In sports, if I’m a fan, I want my team to have a chance to win. That’s all I want. In 99 percent of the cities in every other sport, not just football, your team sucks. You have no chance of winning. The Patriots have a legitimate shot of winning every year. That’s pretty cool.

“It bothers me, it bothers me that y’all don’t appreciate them having a chance to win every year.”

ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan, a hall of fame basketball columnist who knows Barkley very well, challenged Barkley, “How do you know we don’t appreciate it?”

Barkley didn’t hesitate.

“Y’all don’t. Y’all don’t. Unfortunately, because of the Internet and [crap] like that, you all win the championship or you don’t.

“In New England, y’all have a chance to win every year. I’m impressed with the Patriots organization because they’ve lost so many people and y’all take winning for granted. Y’all do.

While some outlets are acting like this was aimed at the fans (and perhaps it was partially directed to the FANZ out there) he was speaking directly to the media here.

Of course, it was Barkley’s next line which has been taken and run with by outlets across the country.

“Let me tell you guys something: When Bill Belichick leaves and Tom Brady leaves, y’all team is going to [expletive] suck.”

That has been taken and created into headlines like Barkley crashes Pats party, predicts they’ll ‘(bleeping) suck’ without Belichick, Brady

MacMullan left after Barkley’s answer, looking for a better story.

The element in the media which is determined to make following the Patriots a miserable experience can’t see what is in front of them. To them, it’s just that the team has been lucky, or only plays tomato cans or gets gift PI calls each week, or they cheated.

Some quick hits:

If you stayed up late enough to see the CSNNE postgame (they had to wait for the West coast Celtics game to finish) you saw, following a game in which the Patriots interecepted The Second Coming four times and held the Colts to 20 points, the trio of Mike Felger, Ty Law and Troy Brown lead off by saying that the defense needs to be a lot better.

WBZ’s Fifth Quarter was the beneficiary of both the Celtics (CSNNE) and the Bruins (NESN) playing late night games  on Saturday. They had the local TV postgame to themselves. The other options, NFL Network and ESPN were available, but WBZ had the most material.

The CBS interview of Bill Belichick by Bill Cowher was an interesting one, as the respect and admiration was evident on both sides. Deadspin says Bill Belichick Sat Down With Bill Cowher And Was Actually A Human Being but the real gem from that link is the highlighted comment from “A Pimp Named DaveR”. Well done.

I enjoyed the NFL Network interview of Tom Brady following the game by Willie McGinest. Once again, there was a lot of affection on display there, with the pair hugging at the end and Brady telling Big Willie he loves him.

The departure of Dan Dierdorf was handled very well by CBS. The Patriots cooperated by getting a big enough lead that the Greg Gumbel was able to send his colleague off with some very nice words. I’ve never been a fan of Dierdorf, but he’s still better than most out there, and his career deserved the recognition.

While it would’ve been nice for CBS to mention Sam Berns, who passed away Friday night and was scheduled to be an honorary captain for the Patriots Saturday night, the story was more of a local one, and probably why they didn’t. Yes, they’ve could’ve played the video tribute, but it likely would’ve been lost on a lot of the national audience. The moaning by Dennis and Callahan this morning about this topic is more self-serving than it is about the young man’s life.

Going to the other games, I really find Joe Buck annoying when he does too much commentary on the game and officiating. Stick to the call of the action, and leave the analysis to others.

I’m running out of ways to defend Phil Simms. For whatever reason, he’s not as good as he once was, and it’s more and more obvious to me. Richard Deitsch thinks that CBS’ third team of Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts is actually their best, and should be moved to second with the retirement of Dierdorf, but that the network is too heavily invest in Nantz and Simms to make Eagle and Fouts the top team.

Divisional Weekend – Exciting For Some. Not All.

Are you dreading the game tomorrow night?

Have you attended playoff games in the past, just so you could post on Facebook that you were there?

Are you decidedly not attending just because you think the Patriots are going to lose?
Would you rather attend at Justin Timberlake/Jay-Z concert (at Fenway Park) than go to a Patriots playoff game?

Then you may be suffering from Patriots Playoff Fatigue.

Yes, that’s real, courtesy of the local baseball paper, YOUR Boston Globe.

Lest you think I’m making this up, all those items are really in the article.

“I can’t justify it,” the North End resident said. “I don’t want to spend $300 or $400 to watch a game they may very well lose. I’d rather see Justin Timberlake and Jay Z. I know I won’t freeze — or go home disappointed.”

Where’s the emoticon for banging my head on a brick wall?

The Patriots and Colts play tomorrow night in the Divisional Round of the NFL playoffs. While the Patriots are favored, it’s hard to know which way this one is going to go.

After all, we’ve learned that Tom Brady sucks in the playoffs. Felger and Mazz devoted their show to this theme, without providing a shred of context. Facts and stats are great, but without any sort of context whatsoever, they come off very slanted in the direction they’re looking to take.

Tom Brady’s numbers are definitely uneven in the postseason, especially since 2005.  That’s normal for NFL QB’s. What was not normal was his 10-0 start to his playoff career.

They like to bring up Joe Montana as the comparison, noting his perfect record in Super Bowls. Did you also know that Montana and the 49ers had three straight one-and-done postseasons in the mid-80′s? In the prime of his career. Montana’s passer rating for those games was 65.6, 34.2 and 42.0. He threw ZERO touchdowns and four interceptions.

Will you hear that on Felger and Mazz? No.

*********

Interesting comparison in tone of articles on the exact same subject this morning, which actually cover much of the same material, but the tone is very different.

Compare Time for Danny Amendola to shine now by Chris Gasper to After a full season together, Danny Amendola and Tom Brady are still working on their connection by Nick Underhill.

*********

The Story Of How David Portnoy Turned Barstool Sports Into The Nationwide Bible Of ‘Bro Culture’ – Interesting look at the Stool from Business Insider. Way back in the day, Portnoy used to purchase ads on BSMW when the Stool was a print-only deal. Now look at them.

*********

The media columns today look at the same topic, retiring broadcaster Dan Dierdorf:

Dan Dierdorf signs off with Patriots-Colts – Chad Finn thinks that Dierdorf doesn’t deserve the criticism that he receives at times.

Dan Dierdorf concentrates on game, not his TV send-off – Bill Doyle has Dierdorf not wishing for any extra attention on his last game.

*********

If  the material in this ESPN.com column from Greg Garber – Patriot Way or the highway – sounds familiar, it’s because he simply took all the quotes from NFL Sunday Countdown in Week 12, and turned them into a “new” column. I’m not sure how often that happens, but it seems a little weird to me.

Catch all the Patriots coverage this weekend at PatriotsLinks.com.

If you’re looking for the latest odds on the game, most sports betting sites like SportsBettingOnline.ag have odds for the Patriots and all the other NFL action this weekend.

Sports Media Musings: Small Talk For Small Minds

Note: Should have enough of juice for Friday’s mailbag, but if you have something on your mind, don’t be shy. Fire off an email to [email protected] or, if you fancy yourself the progressive type, shout at me on twitter @Hadfield__.

[Update]: Dan Shaughnessy appeared on an Indianapolis radio station. It was everything you’d expect and more: “I’m begging [the Colts] to come in here and play up to [their] potential; in my view, [the Patriots] are one of the worst 12-4 teams ever assembled,” Shank drolly remarked.

Yup. Sounds like analysis devoid of bias. High fives all around at Morrissey Blv. this afternoon.

….WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE?

Listen to the spot here.

[End Update]

During the NFL regular season, you never go Full-Troll. Never do it. Everyone knows that. The playoffs, though, are a different animal altogether. To get attention away from the subject (e.g. the games) and onto what’s truly important (PAGE VIEWS! NATIONAL EXPOSURE!! CALCULATED OUTRAGE!!!), the usual suspects collectively put their best Tina Turner wig on and start singing. Yes, singing: “TROLLIN’, TROLLIN’ … TROLLIN’ DOWN THE RIVERRRRR.”

You see, we’re told the Patriots must win, and win CONVINCINGLY, on Saturday night against the hapless Colts. What’s more, style points do, in fact, matter. Opinion says so, because whoever said “you are only as good as what your record says” clearly didn’t know what the fuck they were talking about. The media needs it to look good; this way, next week if the Patriots lose, we can denigrate yet another AFC Championship appearance by chalking the “success” up to crappy competition. PASS THE TOMATO SAUCE.

It makes sense, really: the stakes are higher, fans fervent with excitement, and, thus, the #HOTSPORTSTAKEZ are passed around like a bottle of Fireball Whiskey on a Wednesday afternoon bender at Ryan Hadfield’s apartment. That analogy works, kind of, because a) We feel drunk consuming the storylines going into Saturday night’s tilt; b) the media has relieved us of any stress; this won’t be a football game, it will be a party.

So, TAKE A SWIG OF SOME OF THIS AWESOMENESS. Tastes good, doesn’t it? By the way, isn’t it JUST pathetic how Deion Branch is collecting a $23,000 pay check to play for Indy on Saturday? LIKE REALLY DEION: you’re going to throw away something intangible (YOUR LEGACY) to pick up a five-figure payday!  Please. During the snow storm last week, we didn’t feel like leaving our palace, so we used a few g’s as toilet paper. Seemed pragmatic at the time. Opportunity cost, ya know?! Neither here, nor there — back to Branch: Who’s outraged? I’m bothered by this and YOU should be too. Be upset. Deion is stabbing YOU in the heart.

Come on, plenty of bottle left, DRINK UP. Wait, you think we’re crazy? Well, for your information, the definition of crazy is repeatedly doing the same thing while expecting different results. So, yeah, maybe we are a little crazy … like a curly-haired poodle, that is!

Indy Star columnist just RT Shaughnessy’s latest, “Colts won’t be a challenge for the Patriots” to 40K followers. Globe wins internet today.

— Mary Paoletti (@Mary_Paoletti) January 7, 2014

The Boston Globe wins, but we all lose, because it didn’t stop there. The Indy Star columnist wrote an entire rebuttal.

The hangover is subsiding now. We’re starting to ponder: “Hmm. He roots for the story, which, in this case is himself. Maybe we’re still drunk, but we tend to think this form of incestual commentary is – oh, I don’t know – rather self-serving.” Yet, he is the voice of the fan, we’re told.

If true, please pass the Fireball. We need another drink.

As always, thanks for reading. @Hadfield__

Troll-Free Tuesday At BSMW

There’s a whole lot of trolling going on out there. Leading the pack is the face of Boston sports, who just took a column he’s written before, changed the team and submitted it while collecting his handsome paycheck. What a life.

This post however, will be a troll-free zone. Only articles with actual content will be featured here today. It’s probably how it should be all the time, but sometimes it just feels necessary to point out the stupidity of some of the #hotsportztakes that the media provides.

Brandon Spikes a fighter to the end – Ron Borges with an appreciation of the toughness of the Patriots linebacker this season. Spikes was placed on season-ending injured reserve yesterday after re-injuring his knee in the season finale against Buffalo.

Analysis on Spikes landing on IR – Mike Reiss provides a solid look at the impact of the move, and what options the Patriots have.

Standing Room Only’s five thoughts on Pats-Colts – Rich Levine has some thoughts on the matchup, including the monster season of Robert Mathis.

Bulldozer by committee: Patriots trying to plow unusual path to Super Bowl – Christopher Price with a look at the Patriots perhaps trying to take an old-school route in the playoffs.

Scouting the Indianapolis Colts – Erik Frenz with a detailed look at how the Colts like to do things.

Is signing Branch hope or desperation? – Tom E Curran throws cold water on the fury a few might have at the Colts signing the long-time Patriot this week.

New England Patriots Let Injured Vince Wilfork Travel So The Team’s “Heart And Soul” Can Be With Them On The Road – If you get Showtime, you’ll want to check out this piece out which will air tomorrow night at 10PM.

Sports Media Musings: The Hater’s Guide to the NFL Playoffs, Week 1

For links and the usual happenings, please, do yourself a favor, and make sure to read over Bruce Allen’s post earlier this morning. Because, frankly, even though he has been placed on injured reserve, we plan on booing that trader – oh, you know who we’re talking about – former Patriots offensive lineman, Donald Thomas. While we bleed red, white, and blue, that mercenary only claps his hands together for one color, GREEN. 

Today: The Hater’s Guide to the NFL Playoffs, Week 1; in which we review all the wonderful from Wild Card Weekend.

“A Curse Worth Believing”

… Embrace him, for he is your frenemy, New England.

… In reflection of what we wrote Friday, we want to clarify the proposed conclusion to Tommy Heinsohn’s broadcast career was not just for us, the viewers, but for him, and his enduring legacy. His continued presence – on a full-time basis, anyway – will only worsen the situation.

You want evidence? Enter Mike Ditka. The 74-year-old is living proof that producers can dress someone up and trade in their once-hallmark aviator shades for a trendy set of HIPSTER GLASSES, but that doesn’t mean the guy won’t preview the wrong game and rock a face of general bewilderment as the gaffe is pointed out to them, because, again, the subject at hand was born in fucking 1939.

Shocking, we know, because it’s not like no one at ESPN could have seen this coming. He didn’t recently fall asleep on-set during a live telecast or anything.

“Coach, HEY COACH!” -

Oh that happened, too? Well, then, shit.

Andrew Luck puns are terrible. Most reasonable people understand this. Unfortunately, Twitter, as a platform, is an enabler. Here’s a rule of thumb that all talking heads should consider: If you wouldn’t say the line in front of friends at a bar or house party then, please, do not post the awfulness to Twitter. More often than not, you’ll sound like Rick Reilly. That’s embarrassing. We’re embarrassed for you. There were hundreds of examples to choose from this weekend, but as always, Darren Rovell is a safe resource to represent these sorts of terrible things.

… Also on Twitter: Skip Bayless went all Baylessian. High comedy:

Drew Brees, boy among men. (Except for when he’s winning.)

… Immediately following the Saints victory in Philly, Trent Dilfer said the Saints offense morphed into a “portable” unit on SportsCenter. 48 hours later, we are still amused by that choice of adjective.

… The Most Shannon Sharpe Image of All Things Shannon Sharpe happened Sunday:

SOMEONE CALL AN AMBULANCE, OR THE FASHION POLICE. GET THIS MAN TO KIRK HERBSTREIT PRONTO.

Phil Simms and Mike Mayock. Mike Mayock and Phil Simms.

… Mayock’s involvement in the Chiefs-Colts showdown meant we were reminded of Alex Smith’s 40-yard dash time because, in 2014, combine statistics from 2005 still matter.

… As brutal as the Mike Mayock Experience was, Phil Simms offered plenty of after-the-fact “I’LL TELL YA JIM, THIS IS WHAT WE TALKED ABOUT ALL WEEK” comments, which is as Simmsy as it gets.

… Producers must have got to him, however, because Simms, an infamous wishy-washy color guy whose HOT SPORTS TAKES are as hot as an under-cooked Lean Cuisine meal, went into Sunday’s Chargers-Bengals match-up with one, decided opinion: the world has unfairly crucified Andy Dalton because of two lackluster playoff performances.

“OK, Phillip” we thought to ourselves. This could work. All told, this wasn’t much different than Twitter deciding that nearly a decade of empirical evidence was worthless and Alex Smith had magically morphed into a Brett Favre type, with the poise of Tom Brady, after a strong first half against the Colts only 24 hours earlier.

Do it for people with bad hair, Phil.

Simms embarked on his journey, a man of conviction; presumably, he had “TALKED TO PEOPLE ABOUT IT ALL WEEK, JIM.” So, with a little help from Jim Nantz, we noticed the delight in his voice when Dalton stood in the pocket and delivered his first career playoff touchdown pass to give the Bengals an early lead.

Do it for the (un)believers, Phil.

Together, Dalton and Simms were going to show the Internet what’s what — through guts, determination, untimely interceptions, and a 40-yard bomb on 4th & 3 with a season on the line! Oy. It didn’t end well for either party. So, here we are, through one week of playoff action, and the JOE FLACCO AWARD for Hey, that guy! He GETS IT NOW! is still up in the air. Your move, Cam Newton.

Cris Collinsworth, on the other hand, was insightful and, at times, even prescient during the Saints-Eagles game. On one drive alone, Collinsworth noted that Philly would throw deep if the Saints didn’t provide safety help over the top on DeSean Jackson. On cue, the Saints left their defensive back exposed on an island, which led to a PI call on the very next play. Then, on the same drive, Collinsworth said to watch out for Zach Ertz in the end zone. Like clockwork, Ertz popped open to temporarily give the Igggggles the lead. It’s not that he played, or that he’s witty, or anything like that, we just feel like Collinsworth is smarter than every other color guy and thus better at his job.

… A few hours after the action was over, we ran a search into the Google machine and found a fun Packers blog. They write from a fan’s perspective, and I found the work (somewhat) entertaining. Here is how the blog describes itself in the “About” section:

The Wisconsin media ranges from bland to hilarious in their coverage of the Green Bay Packers. Total Packers doesn’t pull any punches. We are outspoken. We are entertaining. Sometimes, we are crass. But most of all, we are passionate about the Green Bay Packers because we bleed Green and Gold.

Sound familiar? The site’s recap of Green Bay’s loss to the 49ers was OK. Truthfully speaking, I’m sure I could have found a better site, with more in-depth statistics and thoughtful writing, but that’s neither here nor there. The point the likes of Dan Shaughnessy fail to comprehend is that bloggers – yes, even fans of the team – can produce analysis on par with the mainstream media experts.

As previously stated, we, the readers, do not need our embattled scribes to root for the team, so long as the overall mission of coverage is not hindered: ENTERTAINMENT & NEWS. The latter is no longer in Shank’s purview, the former is an ongoing quest for the CHB.

… Lastly, we didn’t have a problem with Leigh Montville’s column in the Boston Globe on Sunday about Aaron Hernandez (still) being THE STORY of Patriots’ season.  What say you, BSMW community?

As always, thanks for reading. @Hadfield__