Ramble On Sports

Where sports, pop culture and everything else collide.

Archive for January, 2010

Falling fast

Posted by bdowd625 on January 25, 2010

I want to apologize for the long layover between posts. The local sports teams have done nothing of any real value over the last week or so, and I haven’t been inclined to write about any of it. Until now, that is.

The way the Boston Bruins have played the last month has been nothing short of disgusting, culminating in last night’s embarrassing 5-1 loss to basement-dweller Carolina. I’ll be the first to admit it – yes, Boston has injury issues. But can that one problem be the main cause of the Bruins’ demise in the Eastern Conference this season? Hardly.

This team doesn’t score. Say what you want about Phil Kessel – and a lot of people have since he was traded to Toronto in September – but the guy could put the puck in the net. No one on this Bruins team has that innate ability. Sure, Michael Ryder is a sniper when he wants to be, but when he’s not scoring he offers little help in other areas of the game. Blake Wheeler has been largely disappointing in his sophomore season, and when you couple that with Marc Savard’s injury and mediocre play by Marco Sturm and David Krejci, it’s really no surprise that Boston’s offense is floundering. The rumors about getting Ilya Kovalchuk from Atlanta are all fine and good until people realize he’s going to make up about 95 percent of the payroll if Boston decides to extend him beyond this year.

Defensively, the B’s are a wreck. Dennis Wideman was called out publicly by head coach Claude Julien and yet he seems to have done nothing to elevate his level of play. Derek Morris? Overpaid has-been. The only two Bruins defensemen I really like are Matt Hunwick and Mark Stuart. They play hard, they play physical and they make about half as much as the so-called “top” blue liners like Zdeno Chara.

In net, Tim Thomas looks fat and happy. After winning the Vezina Trophy a season ago, Timmy was rewarded with a lucrative contract by the B’s brass this offseason and has done nothing to justify it so far. It’s time to start going with Tuukka Rask until further notice.

The Bruins are knee-deep in their own problems right now and I’ve heard whispers that Julien might be getting axed if things don’t turn around in a hurry. That seems a little hasty considering last year’s No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference, but the B’s drastically need to shake things up. And, as I heard my man Gary Tanguay say on the radio today, you can’t fire the players.

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Brown shocks Coakley, Democrats

Posted by Bill Koch on January 19, 2010

Scott Brown senate

Barack Obama’s dynamite vision for the domestic future of America exploded into smoldering ruins on Tuesday night in Massachusetts, a state where the American Revolution began over 200 years ago and where the new Republican Revolution in the 21st century might have started on Tuesday night.

Martha Coakley’s crushing defeat against Scott Brown sounded the death knell for Obama’s health care slam dunk through the Senate and provided a stinging slap in the face to the president, who tried to come to Coakley’s rescue in the election’s final weekend to no effect. Now Washington will be left to deal with the dissolution of the 60-vote majority in the Senate that the Democrats needed to shove health care down the throats of the Republicans and the rest of the nation.

How did this happen? Coakley held the lead in the polls until the special election’s final weeks in one of the country’s bluest states, a seemingly sure thing to succeed the late Ted Kennedy and see The Liberal Lion’s pet cause through to historic completion. Now Obama and the Democrats face uncertainty and an almost certain backlash in November’s general election, one in which several more Senate seats will be up for grabs and any agenda that Obama hopes to push through Congress will be sorely tested.

Coakley was supposed to be able to win without Obama thanks to the 3-to-1 majority that Democrats enjoy over Republicans in the state – Republicans had an instant out to spin the results in their favor even if all Brown did was run close. Instead Coakley lost, and with her defeat a little bit more of the shine came off Obama’s political star. When he took office a year ago his presence alone would have been enough to push Coakley over the finish line. “Yes We Can” was the rallying cry. The Democrats are looking at Obama a year later and some of them might be thinking “No We Can’t.”

Obama’s first mistake was coming to Massachusetts in the first place. It was a no-win situation for him. He had plenty of excuses to stay away – the disaster in Haiti and this country’s other domestic problems chief among them – and should have used one of them to stay in Washington and watch Coakley collapse from afar. This is why the vice president has a job in the first place. Joe Biden should have been called in to lend help with the full support of the White House, a step that would have deflected the blame from the president and his office if something like Tuesday’s election had taken place.

One of the main criticisms of George W. Bush’s administration was the lack of transparency that existed in the White House. Bush was viewed as a president who did too many things in secret and out of the view of the American people. The current Democrats in Congress learned nothing from this – several of them admit that they haven’t seen finished or partial copies of the separate health care bills which have passed through the Senate and the House of Representatives. They overestimated Americans’ will to accept unquestioned change of any kind. The fact is that people in this country are too selfish and have too much to blindly cede control to a government body. Many with health insurance were too skeptical to let go of it for a government plan administrated by a group of people in Washington who have left too much of the country without jobs, have expanded the national debt to record levels and haven’t done enough to bring a complete and total stop to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Congress deserves to take the hit for most of the policy problems, but Obama ends up being the lightning rod for the voters’ scorn. His approval ratings have dipped below 50 percent for the first time in his presidency thanks to the wide range of concerns that still exist in this country. It’s a natural progression for any president – you’re never going to make everybody happy all the time – but Obama seemed above the fray when he was elected thanks to his magnetic personality, unprecedented ambition and fresh perspective that he seemed to offer to what had turned into an increasingly stale and rancorous political discourse in this country. His desperation to pass a health care bill by any means necessary forced Obama into the political ugliness that he managed to avoid throughout his 2008 campaign, and it lessened his appeal to the independents that swung so heavily in Brown’s favor.

Kennedy’s ghost hung heavily over this election, and in the end it didn’t turn out to be a favorable legacy for the Democrats to embrace. I’ve talked to a handful of friends in Massachusetts, independent voters all, who resented the Kennedy legacy and the sense of entitlement that the Democrats had when talking about the seat that he held for 46 years before his death this summer. They wanted to send a message that it was “Massachusetts’ Senate seat” and not “Kennedy’s Senate seat,” and it appears that they have done so by sending Coakley to the political gallows. Monarchies, especially those of the political kind, aren’t typically embraced in this country. The people of Massachusetts started the rejection of that ideology over 200 years ago, and Democrats now must be concerned that this latest act of defiance will spread throughout the rest of the country like it did all those many years ago.

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Wizards need to teach Arenas a lesson

Posted by Bill Koch on January 15, 2010

Think Gilbert Arenas gets it now?

Think again.

Arenas has reportedly negotiated a plea bargain with federal authorities after being charged with felony gun possession on Thursday. The charges stem from an incident in which Arenas allegedly brought a handful of guns to the Verizon Center, home arena of his Washington Wizards, and menaced teammate Javaris Crittenton over a gambling debt. Arenas surrendered the guns to team security and swiftly came under investigation by both the NBA and local authorities, leading to Thursday’s outcome.

Terms of the plea haven’t been completely disclosed as of this time, but Arenas’ attorney said on Thursday that Arenas would face “little or no jail time.”

So let’s review. Arenas brought guns to his place of work, breaking Washington, D.C. law, Verizon Center ordinances against possessing firearms on the premises and NBA rules against bringing weapons of any kind into its arenas. His punishment so far is an indefinite suspension by the league without pay and a comparative slap on the wrist from the legal system, even in light of comments Arenas made immediately following the incident in which he said he didn’t feel it was a serious matter.

That’s not enough. Arenas, like most other athletes, values three things more than anything else – his freedom, his playing time, and his contract. The feds have made sure that Arenas will continue to walk the streets. Stern has suspended Arenas for now, but even Stephen Jackson only got 30 games for flying into the stands and helping to start a riot in Detroit in 2004. Arenas will eventually be allowed to play again, probably sooner rather than later.

Which brings us to the remaining four years and $90 million that Arenas has remaining on his current contract. He should never see a dime of that money for the rest of his life, and the Wizards might hold that power in their hands. Washington should start reading the fine print right now and do everything in its power to void the deal immediately.
The spin has already started out of the Arenas camp that the Wizards are in damage control and on the verge of financial meltdown, looking to strip payroll and rebuild with younger, cheaper talent. The fact is that Washington made a huge mistake when it signed Arenas to the six-year, $119 million deal in the first place. They gave top-5 player money to a player who’s simply not a top-5 player in the league and permanently shackled themselves to a shooting guard who isn’t enough to put any team over the top and lead them to a championship.

Arenas won’t understand any of this, and he won’t want to hear it, because he has a player’s mindset. Guys who play in the NBA and make that much cash think they’re bulletproof and invisible. Look no further than Charles Barkley’s comments during the TNT pregame show before the Celtics-Bulls game on Thursday. Barkley was livid at the idea that Arenas could lose the last four years of his contract, insisting that the Wizards were making excuses for their own problems. Barkley still thinks like a player, the man who famously insisted during his career that he wasn’t a role model. He didn’t consider for a second that if he brought guns to the TNT studio he would likely be fired on the spot, arrested and sent to prison. He didn’t think about the impact that a public figure like Arenas could have on a D.C. community that suffered through over 30 homicides and more than 1,400 violent crimes in 2007. He didn’t pay attention to neighboring Baltimore and the 238 homicides that were committed there in 2009. Barkley simply thought about how Arenas still deserved to get his, the same thing that Arenas probably still thinks after the government took pity on him and the NBA went light on his punishment. It’s now up to the Wizards to make sure that Arenas really gets it.

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Clippers make a good decision……wait, what??

Posted by Bill Koch on January 14, 2010

Blake Griffin dunk

We here at Ramble On would like to congratulate the Los Angeles Clippers today for making their first intelligent decision in franchise history.

It only took 26 years, but the Clippers finally got one right on Wednesday when they decided to bench Blake Griffin for his entire rookie season and allow the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft to have additional surgery on his fractured left kneecap. We won’t get to see the 6-foot-10, 251-pounder until summer league play at the earliest, and the Clippers are hopeful that he’ll be healthy to try his entry into the league all over again next year.

Griffin was originally scheduled to miss just six weeks when he suffered his initial injury during an exhibition game, but apparently his rehabilitation wasn’t going completely as planned. Los Angeles appears to have taken the cautious route with the power forward, a decision that could do more good than harm in the future. Usually the Clippers go the other way and attempt to destroy themselves.

Let’s be clear about this – Los Angeles has no chance to crack the Western Conference elite this season. The neighboring Lakers, San Antonio Spurs, Phoenix Suns and Denver Nuggets are all still well ahead of the Clippers in terms of talent and experience. What the Clippers do have is a decent young nucleus starting with their first round pick last year, shooting guard Eric Gordon, and also featuring Al Thornton and DeAndre Jordan. Mix in another lottery pick that will be awarded to the franchise when they miss the playoffs again this season and veterans Baron Davis and Chris Kaman, and Los Angeles just might have a competitive group going forward. It’s a collection of players that will only be helped by Griffin’s rare mix of power and raw athleticism. Having Griffin 100 percent healthy is the only way that he can effectively use his physical skills in the NBA, and the Clippers have apparently seen the light.
Griffin is just the latest casualty of what looks to be a Clippers Curse for top draft picks, as he joins Danny Manning, Michael Olowokandi, Darius Miles and Shaun Livingston on a rather dubious list of young Los Angeles players who have been bitten hard by the injury bug. Manning, Miles and Livingston all suffered devastating knee injuries during their respective NBA careers and a variety of ailments contributed to Olowokandi being one of the biggest draft busts in league history. Manning is the only member of that group to recover and put together a productive NBA career, but even he wasn’t the same after tearing the ACL in his right knee during his rookie season. He teamed with Ron Harper, Loy Vaught and a host of other solid players to earn the Clippers a playoff berth in the early 1990s, but Manning never came close to being the solo force that he was when he led an undermanned Kansas team to the 1988 NCAA title.

The sixth-seeded Jayhawks were christened Danny and The Miracles, and a miracle is exactly what the Clippers have needed since moving from San Diego to Los Angeles in order to steal any headlines from Showtime. The Clippers’ decision to sit Griffin for the year might not lead the Los Angeles sports pages this morning, but it’s a good start if the Clippers want to earn any of that attention in the near future.

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Lane Kiffin sucks…

Posted by bdowd625 on January 13, 2010

…but at least his wife is hot. It’s really the only redeeming quality about this guy. By all accounts, he’s a Grade-A douchebag who isn’t loyal to anyone. That’s all I have to say about him, now please enjoy this lovely photo of Layla Kiffin and her clown of a husband.

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American Idol returns!!!!!

Posted by Bill Koch on January 12, 2010

American Idol logo

We promise pop culture here at Ramble On, and tonight we’ll deliver with a running diary of the most popular television show in America. Yes, I’m talking about American Idol.

Stop for a bit before you jump down my throat and call me a vagine for watching this show. I’m not like most people who tune in to see undiscovered singing talent. No, this show appeals to my cruel side. I watch it for the first two weeks because I want to see the worst of the worst and just how badly they can piss off Simon Cowell. I want to hear how many “dogs” Randy Jackson can drop. I want to take in the sight of the lovely Kara Dioguardi.

I usually take in the first few nights of Idol on my couch at home with my Mom and Dad. My Dad and I might be two of the most cynical, sarcastic people in the world – the disastrous performances are made for our respective cutting edges to feast upon. There’s no better way to unload a little misery than to watch the suffering of others, and there’s sure to be plenty of that tonight.

And so, let’s begin the final season of Cowell the right way…by crushing people.

8:01 – And we’re back!!! Ryan Seacrest is breaking down the offseason action on American Idol, complete with Paula Abdul flushing her career down the toilet for the second time because she felt insulted by the show’s three-year, $45-million offer. We’re told that Ellen Degeneres is the new permanent judge, which starts the criticism flowing. “I don’t understand how she’s qualified to do that,” says my Mom. For my Mom, who is usually the sympathetic one, to throw that out there is a bad sign. This could get ugly early. I’m with Mom on this one for the record – Ellen isn’t funny, her dancing isn’t funny and her daytime abortion of a talk show isn’t funny. She can’t possibly act as dopey as Paula did, because I’ve seen her in a couple of movies – she can’t act at all.

8:05 – And here we are in rainy Boston! Well, maybe not Boston – it looks more like Gillette Stadium to me. Sorry, Foxboro.

8:06 – Posh Spice is going to tell us about singing? Really? The same Posh Spice who was in The Spice Girls? I guess so. Judging by her appearance Posh couldn’t tell us much about steakhouses…yikes.

8:08 – And of course, we start with a trainwreck. Janet learned how to sing two years ago – while playing the American Idol video game. Dad can’t wait. Mom can’t wait. And…..yep, Janet’s awful. Cowell just asked to jump out of a 30-story building. We’re off to a great start.

8:16 – Idol always follows up the trainwrecks with a story that tugs at the heart, and Maddy Curtis is the chosen one this year. I tuned out her tale of woe because I could care less and I’m a heartless bastard, but I heard something about adopting siblings with disabilities and being the last of nine kids in her family. Big freakin’ deal. And of course, Maddy lands this year’s first ticket to Hollywood and sappy congratulations from Seacrest. Ah, good times.

8:21 – One unknown dynamic about the Boston area for those of you who aren’t from near here – people from Northern New England, like those from Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire, have this ridiculous capacity to be hayseeds. This latest idiot from Derry, NH, proves my point. Womanizer? Really? Randy just told him to stop singing forever…BUT HE GOT A HUG FROM KARA FOR ACTING LIKE A JACKASS!!!! I’d make a fool of myself for that too……

8:28 – First Carrie Underwood commercial of the night, which makes this next statement mandatory: Tony Romo is an IDIOT. Talk about selling low to buy WAY too high. Jessica Simpson? Romo’s bad decisions clearly aren’t limited to the football field.

8:31 – Randy just dropped his first “dog” of the night. This has to be the longest he’s ever gone into a season of Idol without dropping a “dog” before. Needless to say, I’m thinking that Randy is losing his fastball.

8:34 – Next up we have Derek Hilton, who says he likes Chris Brown because he “touches kids all over the world.” Uhhh, yeah – insert Michael Jackson joke here. Too soon? Not even close.

8:42 – Mary Doyle, Kimono designer, Walpole, Mass. Yeah, has a nice ring to it. This audition should be fun. “She’s got to be horrible,” said Dad. Mom fires out a “Walpole? Did they let her out of prison?” If Mom’s already crushing her, this can’t be good. Mary slaughters Janis Joplin and proceeds to fight with Cowell over his criticism. This is the classic Idol moment and exactly why I tune in.

8:48 – Kara’s about to throw haymakers at some emo douchebag named Andrew Fenlon. He’s listed as an “unemployed musician” – shocking to say the least – and it’s about to get ugly. Apparently Andrew didn’t like waiting eight hours for his audition and is acting like a hostile prick toward Cowell and the panel. Kara’s laying a verbal smackdown on this kid and he looks shocked, like he’s never heard any form of discipline in his life. The panel votes no three times before Cowell votes yes and breaks into a sinister grin. This is pure comedy gold.

9:02 – Tyler Grady just made the mistake of admitting to the panel that he broke both arms when he fell out of a tree. Cowell just can’t resist and fires out a “Were you wearing binoculars?” Somehow he pulls out a decent audition and gets through to Hollywood, mainly because Kara and Posh are slobbering all over the table and going through their 14-year-old puppy love stages again every time they look at this kid.

9:11 – Day 2 in Boston starts with an anti-Britain montage and some stupid jokes about how Cowell’s homeland lost The Revolutionary War. Yep, this is clearly a FOX production. Come on guys. Tell me about something other than Paul Revere and John Adams. I would have paid more attention finishing my history minor at BU if I wanted to know this stuff.

9:15 – Codzilla? Actors on speedboats? Now THIS is what I’m looking for out of FOX. The chance that people could be thrown into the mercury-infested Charles River is exactly what I want to see. Oh yeah – this guy Mike is covering Yesterday by The Beatles and is actually the first Day 2 audition to get through to Hollywood. He works on a boat named Codzilla…well, you know the rest already.

9:23 – Here’s another Idol staple – the sweetheart kid who America falls in love with. Katie Stevens is a 16-year-old from Connecticut whose grandmother has Alzheimer’s disease. Katie’s trying to win the competition to give her grandmother one last great memory to take with her into the great beyond. Not even I can rip this story – I fear the lightning bolts and path of utter destruction that would follow me for the rest of my life if I say anything. Moving on – quickly.

9:29 – Randy drops his second “dog” of the night. Something’s wrong here. He’s about 1,368 “dogs” behind schedule.

9:36 – Now Idol drops a story about a cancer survivor on us. I’m having a hard time with this – are they cushioning us for Cowell’s departure after this season by throwing all this sappy shit out here? Is Idol about to lose its edge? If that happens then the show loses me as well – not a fan of this philosophical shift at all.

9:45 – Thank God for Cowell. He just eviscerated this guy Norberto and actually decided this is how LaToya Jackson would look and sound if she had a beard. Fantastic. I was thinking more along the lines of Axl Rose in drag, but that’ll do.

9:53 – Dad’s on my wavelength here and calling for more trainwrecks. He’s noticed the difference as well. The kinder, gentler Idol isn’t exactly getting it done, and now Dad is calling for a one-hour Idol with nothing but trainwrecks. Are you hearing this people? I never had a chance to be a compassionate person from Day 1.

10:00 – And that’s it for night one. Aside from Andrew’s near brawl with Kara, it was a disappointment if I’m being honest. But that’s the good thing about the Idol auditions – there are thousands of them, and the show will be back tomorrow night from Atlanta. It’ll be another chance to laugh at the misery of others, and I know some of you out there will be right there with me.

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Underachievers: Your 2009-10 Boston Celtics

Posted by bdowd625 on January 11, 2010

So much for winning 70 games this season. The Boston Celtics lost to Atlanta again on Monday night, the latest in a series of embarrassing setbacks to the younger, hungrier Hawks. All the local pundits said this Celtics team was poised to make history this season, possibly eclipsing the 70-win mark and placing itself in the pantheon of the NBA’s all-time great teams. At 26-10 on the season, the math is easy. For Boston to hit the 70-win mark, they’d have to go 44-2 the rest of the way. Sound promising? I didn’t think so. I’d be shocked if they even got to 60 wins at this point.

I’ll admit, the Celts are banged up right now. Marquis Daniels has a thumb issue, rickety old Rasheed Wallace has a foot problem and Kevin Garnett has been sidelined with a bad knee AGAIN. Is it just me, or is this starting to look like the same situation Garnett went through last season? The team says he tweaked it and he needs a week or so off, and before you know it, you’re heading into the playoffs without your fiery team leader. I’m awfully concerned we’re going to get bad news pertaining to Garnett’s knee in the coming weeks.

When you couple those injuries with the fact that the Celts usually put it in cruise control during the regular season, you have the recipe for an underachieving team. I understand that seeding in the playoffs doesn’t matter nearly as much as having a healthy roster, but at some point it’d be nice to see the Celts answer the bell. Boston failed to do that again on Monday night, instead getting its bell rung by a more inspired Hawks squad.

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BREAKING NEWS: Mark McGwire admits steroid use

Posted by bdowd625 on January 11, 2010

Oh wait, everybody already knew this was true. Yawn. Wake me up when something exciting happens this offseason. Thanks for the admission, though, Mark. You were only about five years too late. At least you’ve somewhat saved face unlike that mess Sammy Sosa. Just look at that guy now. He’d give anyone nightmares.

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Brady’s flaws become shockingly clear

Posted by Bill Koch on January 11, 2010

Tom Brady sideline demeanor

Tom Brady is finished.

He’s done winning Super Bowls. He’s done being one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. He’s done leading the league’s first dynasty of the new millennium, his power stripped by his ever-growing outside influences that have taken his focus away from the field. Look no further than No. 12 to start playing the blame game for the New England Patriots’ 33-14 demolition at the hands of the hungry Baltimore Ravens on Sunday in Foxboro.

Nobody wants to point the finger at Brady, because ripping him in New England is like ripping Michael Jordan when he was in his prime in Chicago. No Bulls fans wanted to hear that Jordan was a selfish coach-killer who rode teammates to their breaking points, refused to sacrifice his own personal statistics for the good of the team and generally stunted the growth of any promising player who could have helped him win an NBA title sooner. No Patriots fans want to hear that Brady is past his prime and done winning, that all those trips to New York and California at the expense of punishing offseason workouts and hours of film study have taken their toll. They want to point the finger elsewhere. Let’s look at some of the common targets.

The Offensive Line

All season we’ve heard that New England’s offensive line was the cause of Brady’s struggles. That’s simply not true, and the season-ending numbers prove it. The Patriots actually made remarkable improvement on the line after Matt Cassel absorbed a league-leading 47 sacks last year. New England allowed just 18 sacks this year, their lowest number since the NFL expanded to a 16-game schedule in 1978. Brady himself hit the deck 16 times, the fewest in his 10-year career, and was sacked just twice during the last six weeks of the regular season. For a little perspective, Brady was sacked 21 times during his record-breaking 2007 season, 26 times in 2004, 32 times in 2003 and 41 times in 2001 – all years in which the Patriots reached the Super Bowl.

The Defense

It’s hard to get too excited when you’re talking about Adalius Thomas and Derrick Burgess as your edge pass rushers, but the Patriots defense wasn’t as bad as you might think this season. New England held its opponents to 22 points or less in 12 of the team’s 16 regular season games, two more times than it did last year, and posted an equal number of sacks (31). The Patriots forced 43 takeaways, 14 more than they did in 2008, and posted a plus-6 turnover ratio, better than last year’s plus-1. New England was plus-7 in 2001 and plus-9 in 2004, both Super Bowl years. That’s a very small margin despite the overwhelming public perception that those teams had so many more playmakers on that side of the ball.

New England did allow 33 points on Sunday, but look a little deeper into the box score. Four of Baltimore’s six scoring drives started in New England territory, including a pair inside the Patriots’ 35 that ended in field goals. The Ravens began their touchdown drives in the first quarter at the New England 17 after Brady’s fumble and at the New England 25 after Brady’s second interception. Ray Rice did go 83 yards for a touchdown on the game’s opening play, but Baltimore averaged barely three yards per carry (51 carries, 151 yards) the rest of the afternoon. That certainly can’t be considered poor play by the Patriots defensive line.

The Wide Receivers

Wes Welker was out on Sunday and Randy Moss has been catching heat for allegedly dogging it on the field, but neither one of them can be seriously at fault for Brady’s inability to consistently push New England’s offense into the end zone in 2009. Welker led the league in receptions and Moss led the league in touchdown receptions, giving the Patriots a spectacular 1-2 punch. The perceived lack of a third receiver is a baseless myth as well, because the Patriots have won without one in the past. Julian Edelman finished behind Welker and Moss with 37 catches for 359 yards this year and Kevin Faulk added 37 catches of his own. During the championship seasons, Deion Branch (35 catches, 454 yards in 2004), Troy Brown (40 catches, 472 yards in 2003) and the duo of Terry Glenn and Charles Johnson (14 catches apiece in 2001) finished third in catches among New England’s receivers. There’s certainly not much of a difference to be found there.

No, the underlying fact in all of this is that Brady has changed. He’ll be 33 in August before the 2010 season starts, entering the final year of his contract, and he’s not the kid with the chip on his shoulder who willed himself into being one of the league’s elite quarterbacks anymore. He forgot what made him great in the first place around the time he started dating Hollywood actresses and supermodels and began jetting off to Paris and Milan instead of busting his ass with the rookies at minicamp. He gave away the parking spot close to the Gillette Stadium entrance that is awarded to the Patriots’ hardest offseason worker in favor of the high life – the luxury apartment in Greenwich Village, the mansion in Brentwood, the $10,000 suits complete with matching scarves – and at the same time handed off the respect of his teammates and his ability to lead them like he had before. He’s not one of them anymore. He’s above them, and he lets them know it without saying it. He spit in the faces of New England’s medical staff when he had one of his childhood buddies perform his knee surgery in 2008 and spit again at the training staff by trying to go through his brutal rehabilitation on his own while staying on the West Coast. No other Patriots’ player with any regard for his job security would have been allowed to do such things.

Not even Bill Belichick could see it. The man who may go down as the greatest coach in NFL history, a man who won three Super Bowls in four years and has captured five rings in the salary cap era, couldn’t coldly and clinically evaluate Brady like he had with so many others. It was Belichick’s decision to bench Drew Bledsoe, New England’s franchise player at the time, in favor of Brady that launched the Patriots’ dynasty and cemented Belichick as “The Genius.” Tedy Bruschi was forced into retirement. Brown was replaced in the slot by Welker. Lawyer Milloy and Ty Law were both cut when their contract demands became too much. Richard Seymour was traded for a first round draft pick, the type of move designed to make the Patriots a younger team that can stay under the cap and still feature quality depth.

Brady should have followed Seymour out the door. He should have been traded before the start of the season for draft picks and he likely would have fetched a pair of first rounders or a combination of a first round pick and several lower round choices, future players that New England could have used to turn over its roster. Cassel could have been retained for the same contract that Brady is playing under right now – six years, $60 million – and slipped nicely into Brady’s spot under the salary cap. At 27, Cassell could have led New England into the new decade with fresh enthusiasm and the everyman quality that its players responded to so well when Brady possessed it.

Instead, New England has a quarterback for the foreseeable future who is as old as Joe Montana was when he won his final Super Bowl in the 1980s, older than Troy Aikman was when he won his last Super Bowl in the 1990s and older than Terry Bradshaw was when he won his last Super Bowl in the 1970s. Montana’s 49ers, Aikman’s Cowboys and Bradshaw’s Steelers watched their respective dynasties decay as their play declined through injury and the relentless assault of time. The same thing is already well underway for Brady’s Patriots, and he’s powerless to save them this time. He’s not their hero anymore. He’s done.

Posted in Football | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

I just threw up in my mouth a little bit

Posted by bdowd625 on January 10, 2010

If you’re looking for in-depth analysis from that shitshow of a Patriots game, this might not be the place for you. I was working during the game, and when you couple that with the fact that New England never showed up, there’s really not much for me to say.

The Ravens punched the Pats in the mouth from the minute this game started, and Tom Brady and the rest of the offense had no prayer, especially after going down 24-0 after just one quarter. I cringed every time Brady dropped back to pass because I honestly felt he was going to sling it right into the hands of one of Baltimore’s defenders. Yes, the defense wasn’t exactly tenacious today, but when the offense plays as lousy as it did, it really doesn’t matter. You don’t score, you don’t win.

It was just an awful game from start to finish and I’m going to leave it at that. On the bright side, though, we don’t have to listen to those morons Steve DeOssie and Fred Smerlas on WEEI for much longer. Plus, we still have the Celtics and Bruins to watch. And believe it or not, the Red Sox start spring training in a little more than a month. So let’s turn the page on this Patriot season and admit once and for all what everyone is afraid to concede: The glory days are over in New England. The faster you accept that, the easier it will be for you to move on.

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