Mailbag time and the folks are enjoying the victory lap.
Lots and lots of Rex Ryan bashing this week and this'll be a Pats-heavy 'bag as usual, but let me be the first (OK, maybe not the first) to ask:
Seven years and $142 million for Carl Crawford? Really? This is a guy who has played nine seasons in the major leagues and has finished in the top 10 in MVP voting exactly one time. Last year he was 36th in the majors in OPS and 44th in on-base percentage. The year before that? 69th in OPS and 55th in OBP. Is this a game-changing player? I don't see it. Does he make them better right away? Sure. Is he worth $20 million a year? Not to me. I'd pay Cliff Lee $30 million a year for six years before I signed Crawford to this deal. At least Lee is one of two or three best pitchers in baseball. Is Crawford even one of the, I don't know, top two dozen players in the league? But no one wants to hear that today and I get why. But my guess is that in 2015 people are going to be less than thrilled with Carl Crawford, a guy who has walked 293 times and struck out 768 times in his career and has as many 20-homer seasons as Cliff Lee. He hits a million triples and plays great defense and steals a ton of bases, three things that guys in their 30's almost never do. I just don't think he'll age well as a player, at least not a player making 20 mil a year. I hate to write this, but there's a reason why the Yankees never made an offer to Crawford - he's simply not worth the money.
OK, there'll be a million places to read about Crawford around here today, but only one where you can find out about Jon Gruden eating mac and cheese while staying in character, see why Braylon Edwards will never take part in a car wash, wonder how LaDainian Tomlinson stays so classy after all these years and watch me worm my way out of Manning over Brady.
To the 'bag we go …
That's the problem Rexy...if your team suffers a severe whoopin' like Monday night, you don't get a do-over. You don't get to play them again right away. Stick that chin out, then lean over and grab the ankles.
A: Yeah, the tough-guy talk just doesn't play 15 minutes after your team - who you spent the last 11 days building up as the 1985 Bears - loses by six touchdowns. Rex should have crawled across the field for the post-game handshake. I have to admit, though, Rex did not have the lowest "tough guy" moment at Gillette on Monday night. I saw Jon Gruden pre-game with a huge plate of macaroni and cheese in one hand and a cookie in the other and he STILL tried to give me the Chucky stare. You cannot be a tough guy with a plate of mac of cheese in your hand. Not possible. I mean the guy looked like one my uncles at a barbecue - I half-expected him to ask me where my mom keeps the corn on the cob holders.
That was some of the best comedy I’ve seen on TV in a long time. As the score grew and grew and grew in favor of the Pats, the camera kept panning over to Ryan as he continued to look down at his play card as if to say, “Hey, maybe this one will work.” I still think the Jets are a damn good football team, but Rexy had better be careful with his boisterous ways. He has that team believing, but they could just as easily jump ship on him if he continues to spend more time on his quotes than his game plans.
Oh, and one more thing … Tomlinson, you were, are, and always will be a premier d-bag.
A: How dare you, DZ? That was the classiest over-the-top celebration of a nine-yard run with your team down by 30 points that these eyes have ever seen. It really was the "Luckiest Man on Earth" of over-the-top celebrations. And if you somehow ever forget that Tomlinson is the classiest athlete in the world today? Don't worry, he'll actually tell you. And honestly, what's classier than that?
Thanks for a fabulous article. I've been waiting for someone to write an article on "big mouth" and putting his fat foot deep into his mouth....I guess we have about 24 hours before Rex will get back on the podium and tell the world how he has the best team in football....unfortunately I think he believes his own verbal diarrhea...
A: Thanks, Larry. I disagree, though - I think Rex knows he's full of crap and just loves being in front of a camera.
I just finished reading the Braylon Edwards "The Pats ran up the score" story. Fantastic. The guy plays like an absolute dog - gets handled by a rookie, just dominated in a game that pretty much meant being either the one or five seed in the playoffs - and he's more worried about the Patriots throwing the ball up 42 points than his team being down, you know, 42 points? There's a reason why the Jets don't hold car washes to raise money to buy new uniforms. This is the NFL. Braylon Edwards is being paid $5 million dollars this season to drop passes, get busted for DUI's and bitch after getting smoked in front of the entire football world. Be half a professional for the first time in your life and try to understand that a team is not going to take a knee in the third quarter of an NFL game, or send in the scrubs. And you know what? If you ever get the chance to put 50 points on the Patriots, do it. I know Bill Belichick won't be offended, he'll be too busy being pissed that his team gave up 50 points. I'm surprised that this bothers me so much, but Edwards represents everything I hate about some modern athletes. A complete sense of entitlement without ever having accomplished a thing in his sport. He'll play for eight teams in his career and never understand why.
We are so lucky to be Patriot fans in this era. Look at the 49ers since the Walsh, Montana and Young era. Nothing.....
Brady is the best QB I have ever seen play this game in the 52 years of my life. Enjoy it now more than ever for one day it will all be sweet memories.
A: I have never seen a quarterback play as well as Brady has over the last month, JD. Scary. It can't be as easy as he's made it look. A passer rating of 138.6, 16 TDs and zero interceptions (and nothing even close to an interception) in four games? This is Tecmo Bowl stuff. I wrote last January after the AFC Title Game that Peyton Manning is the best quarterback I have ever seen. Well, I have to amend that statement now. I don't think I was wrong then, but things have changed. I haven't seen a QB play anywhere even close to the level we've seen from Brady in the last four games, and that includes Brady in 2007.
Where are all those stories about how Brady's gone "Hollywood" and doesn't care about football anymore because he spends time with his family like a normal person?! If I hear anything like that during the next offseason, regardless of how the season turns out, I swear I'm gonna lose it …
A: If anything, these last four games have basically given the green light to any man who might be on the fence about slipping on some Uggs and letting the hair grow a little. But yeah, I don't think anyone with an IQ higher than Mark Sanchez's passer rating on Monday night ever put much stock in the "Brady's Gone Hollywood" stories. Just something to get some listeners (and page views) during an endless off-season.
I'm not sure you can penalize the defensive line for the Jets rushing stats. In the second half the Patriots defense was basically daring the Jets to run. They were more than happy to give up 5-6 yards at a time in exchange for the clock running. The defensive line hasn't been great by any means this year but for this game I think they did exactly what they wanted given the circumstances.
A: Well, I gave them a "B", Jay, which isn't exactly a penalty. The Patriots gave up 152 yards rushing and the defensive line has to take a hit for that (as do the linebackers). If 130 of those yards came in the second half when the game was already over I'd be on board with not docking the D-line. But it was an almost even spilt between the first and second half, so we arrive at a "B". And when that's the worst grade you hand out you know things are OK. Come on, let's be a little realistic. It was either Bill Belichick or Michael McDonald who once said that no team can play a perfect football game. Like everyone else, I always get those two confused.
Monday was the best day of New England sports in awhile. We got a super-star slugger and class act guy in Adrian Gonzalez and the Pats completely obliterate the trash talking Jets on Monday Night Football in front of the whole country. Wicked Good Daayyy.
A: Yeah, beats being in Cleveland, huh? I'm down on the Crawford move, but let us take a minute and give the Red Sox some rub for picking up Gonzalez, who is one of the three best hitters in baseball. Albert Pujols, Joe Mauer, Adrian Gonzalez. This is a guy who had an OPS of .980 away from Petco last season - if he's healthy book him for .280-35-110 with 100 walks playing 80 games at Fenway. And they gave up nothing for him - I'm sorry, Casey Kelly, Anthony Rizzo and Reymond Fuentes are just as likely to be busts as they are to be productive major league players. And if I'm a Padres fan I'm considering a divorce. Think about it: Gonzalez is a local guy who kept his mouth shut, stayed out of trouble, put up huge numbers and wanted to stay. But they couldn't keep him. What's the point? If Casey Kelly (who had an ERA of 5.31 at Double-A Portland and 6.71 in the Fall League this season) turns out to be Greg Maddux it won't matter. The Padres will have to trade him when it comes time to pay him. And they'll get three good prospects back and it all starts again. Time to lock the doors in San Diego.
Let me preface this by saying I am a Yankees fan. I think the Adrian Gonzalez deal was great for the Red Sox. He will murder pitchers at Fenway. They didn’t give up any major league ready players and got a middle of the order power hitter that they haven’t really had since Ortiz/Manny were on top of their game. Their lineup 1-5 is great, but they are still weak 6-9, and are VERY left-handed. In the AL East you need 1-9 to make the playoffs. I think they could have easily signed Martinez as a C/DH even with this big contract they will give to Gonzalez, and it would have solved their black hole at catcher. I really can't figure out why they didn't sign him? Varitek is old and can only give you 100 at bats before he becomes a .180 hitter with no power. Saltalamacchia is a question mark and there are really no other options out there. Saltalamacchia is a guy who could not handle Texas, what makes Theo think he will handle Boston? At best Salty is two years away, which is when Martinez would have been catching. If they knew they didn’t want Martinez, I think another option could have been Buck who signed with Florida, if they acted quickly. He would have at least given you a solid bat at that position. When Lee signs with the Yankees the Red Sox are behind them, even with Gonzales. In the AL East you need 1-9 to compete against starters like CC, Price, Pettitte, Hughes, Romero, and possibly Lee. In my opinion they focused on Gonzalez and are disregarding other positions. In their defense, they didn't give Werth $126 M...what a joke.
Good stuff on Mikey Adams the other night.
A: (Note: The next two paragraphs were written pre-Carl Crawford.)
I'm OK with this Red Sox lineup, I really am. Gonzalez, Youkilis, Pedroia and Ortiz? That's a pretty good starting point. The idea that you need all nine hitters to be productive to compete in the AL East sounds good but it isn't really true. In 2007 the Red Sox had 526 at-bats from Coco Crisp (.382 slugging percentage) and 570 at-bats from Julio Lugo (.294 on-base percentage) and that year worked out OK. This team didn't have problems scoring runs last year and I don't think it'll be a problem in 2011. Bottom line is that Josh Beckett and John Lackey need to pitch better or they won't compete with the Yankees.
As for Victor? I would've signed him, but I understand why they didn't. Name me catchers that are productive in their mid-30s. I can think of one - Carlton Fisk. That's really it. Tough to pay a guy 13, 14 million bucks to catch two days a week and DH when he's 35 years old. And I get that they are paying a DH $12.5 million now but you and I know that they really don't want to.
I'm in total agreement with you on McCourty. He missed one tackle, I think, failing to get Holmes out of bounds. Otherwise can you believe that you can watch a whole Pats game just not worrying at all that he'll be doing what he needs to be doing? It is very impressive. What a great draft year.
A: I agree, JW, McCourty has been terrific since day one. To me he's already a leave him alone and don't worry corner, which is remarkable for a rookie. This is shaping up to be the kind of team that gets jobbed when it comes to Pro Bowl participants (I bet at least five teams get more players named - not a lot of established star power) but to me McCourty deserves a spot on the AFC roster.
We'll wrap it up with Week 14 NFL picks. Solid 9-7 last week, including another lock of the week win (11-2 on the season, which actually puts me a half game ahead of the Pats, a fact that for some reason has received very little pub the last couple of days).
Indy (-3) over TENNESSEE
Green Bay (-6.5) over DETROIT
JACKSONVILLE (-3.5) over Oakland
PITTSBURGH (-8.5) over Cincinnati
Atlanta (-7) over CAROLINA
Cleveland (PK) over BUFFALO
Tampa Bay (PK) over WASHINGTON
MINNESOTA (+3) over New York Giants
St. Louis (+10.5) over NEW ORLEANS
Seattle (+5) over SAN FRANCISCO
Kansas City (+7) over SAN DIEGO
NEW YORK JETS (-5) over Miami (Lock of the week)
Denver (-5) over ARIZONA (because it was tails - and I still stand by my prediction that Josh McDaniels will be the next HC of the NEP)
DALLAS (+3.5) over Philadelphia
Baltimore (-3) over Houston
New England (-3) over CHICAGO
I struggled with this one but ultimately it's too tough to pick against Brady right now. Maybe he struggles in lousy weather and against a fast Bears defense but I just don't see it. Call it 24-17.