Mailbag Time and let's start with this preface:
Tedy Bruschi was a very good football player and a great Patriot. We know this. And preface No. 2: It's a good and rare thing to see an ex-athlete -- particularly a recent ex-athlete -- unafraid to speak his mind. For every Bruschi there are 500 Nomar Garciaparra's, guys with absolutely nothing to say and seemingly terrified to rip another athlete, to break the Unwritten Code. And clearly Bruschi -- a natural on TV and terrific on "The Big Show" -- doesn't care about that stuff. Agreed and agreed.
But someone has to walk me through his comments on Chad Ochocinco because it just doesn't add up.
"Drop the awe factor, OK, Ocho, Chad, drop the awe factor," Bruschi said on "The Big Show" Tuesday. "You're not a fan, all right? You're not someone who's on another team or watching TV. You're not an analyst. You're a part of it. They want you to be a part of it. So get with the program because obviously you're not getting it and you're tweeting because you're saying, it's amazing to see? It's amazing to see because you don't understand it! You still don't understand it and it's amazing to you because you can't get it. Stop tweeting and get in your playbook. … Close your mouth. Put your hand under your chin and close your jaw. Then open your eyes and watch some film. That's what you need to do. If you're still in awe that means you don't get it because you don't understand it."
Does this strike else anyone else as a staggering overreaction, a $50,000 response to the $5 crime? What did Chad Ochocino do, exactly, besides tweet that Tom Brady played great in a game where Tom Brady played great? So what? Does Bruschi really think that's the reason Ochocinco has been (to this point) a complete flop in New England? If Ochocinco didn't have a Twitter account, does Bruschi believe he wouldn't have committed that penalty on Monday night? Is the 11 seconds it takes to compose a Tweet really taking away time from the film room? And if it did, does that mean that Bruschi feels Bill Belichick isn't doing his job when it comes to policing his players?
"The Patriot Way" means something to guys like Bruschi. It should -- he's a major reason why that brand exists. And I think he feels a guy like Ochocinco sullies the brand. I get it, and you could hear some anger in Bruschi's voice when he was talking about it on Tuesday. But you've go to do better than criticizing a player for heaping praise on a teammate, right? That's the best you can do? If Ochocinco had Tweeted the exact opposite -- that he was pissed because he only had one catch -- he'd be getting killed (by guys like Bruschi and Rodney Harrison, who jumped on for some OchoBashing) for being selfish. Again, Ochocinco has been terrible. It's fair to call him out for that, and to wonder if maybe it's just not going to happen for him in New England. But to pile on him for this? A total reach, but one that at least shows you that Bruschi has studied his ESPN playbook.
But it's not just Tedy vs. Chad this week, as we take a look at Wendi Nix (a longtime favorite of the 'bag) vs. Erin Andrews, break down the Patriots defense, throw some more love at Tom Brady AND give you all the Week 2 NFL picks (probably for the last time, as I really, really suck at it).
So to the 'bag we go (and as always, send along any and all to firstname.lastname@example.org or @kirkmin on Twitter) ...
Maybe I drank too much of the “kool aid”….maybe the wife filled the sugar bowl with crystal meth instead of Domino…..maybe I am just high on life…. I don’t know.
But after my Golden Retriever bit me because I was yelling so loudly, I thought I should get a professional opinion.
While it was definitely a ‘hats off’ performance by Brady et al, it appeared to me that while the game was in doubt, Henne had an unexpected amount of time to throw. Despite what appeared to be a 4 man rush with 7 in coverage, the Dolphins were moving the ball via the air with regularity and, as you know, Henne’s numbers would have been considered quite good…against any other quarterback on any other night.
Am I visually impaired or am I fair in saying, “Where was the pass rush”?
A: I think it's a fair question, Mike. Look, there were positives -- Haynesworth gave you a couple of glimpses of What Could Be, Ras-I Dowling sure looked an upgrade over Darius Butler, Myron Pryor had a sack and a couple of other hits on Henne -- from the defense, but what you saw was a group that clearly isn't ready for prime time. And that's OK -- this is September 15, not January 15. Maybe we were surprised that Tom Brady threw for 517 yards and the offense put up 622 yards, but not really that surprised. If this isn't the top scoring team at the end of the season, we all know they'll be in the top two or three. The offense is good enough right now to win the Super Bowl. Can't say the same with the defense.
You are a little hard on the defense. Henne was better than I have ever seen him. They got off the field on third down enough times to give Brady the opportunities he needed to do what Brady does.
A: Yup, the third-down performance (the Dolphins were 2-of-14) was plenty encouraging. And you're right about Henne -- I've never seem play at that level for an entire game. Not even close. But it's naive to think that was solely due to some breakthrough by Chad Henne. The Patriots defense has to take a hit for 416 yards. Henne is maybe one of the 30 best quarterbacks in the NFL, but Philip Rivers is squarely in the top five. Sunday is really Test No. 1 for this new defense. If they play well, no one will remember Henne's 416 yards. If Rivers carves them up, we've got a pattern.
RE: Monday Night Diary
Funny read as usual, Kirk. Personally, I like the MNF analysts, but I can't help but laugh when I read some of the stuff you write about them. As for the game last night, what more can you say about Brady? He was reading almost everything Miami did last night perfectly, and I can count on one hand the number of poorly-thrown passes. The Patriots will have to find a way to resolve any problems Koppen's absence will create, but they did a nice job of doing that last night. I loved what I saw from the running game, even though it was mostly a pass oriented offensive scheme, and the draw plays especially were well-executed. I think Henne's stats are a bit skewed from the garbage time drives after the 99-yard TD pass, but the secondary does need to tighten things up. That being said, I feel Dowling has good potential to be a good corner, and if McCourty and Bodden can play at the level we've seen from them before, this should be an above-average group.
NY Pats Fan
A: The MNF group is fine, but I think a little overpraised. What really jumps out now when you listen to them now -- as opposed to when this group started in 2009 -- is how much more Gruden-heavy the broadcast is. Save for the occasional QB breakdown (and flying S-Bomb), it feels like Jaworski isn't in the booth. Gruden is clearly the star, and that's OK. And I get that he's never going to be Johnny Miller or John McEnroe (for my nickel the best analyst in any sport -- ever) when it comes to being critical. And that's also fine -- it would come across as completely forced. But if you are Jon Gruden -- a Super Bowl winning head coach and analyst of Monday Night Football -- and see the Dolphins secondary basically reenacting the food poisoning scene in "Bridesmaids" (complete with vomiting and cramping), don't you have to mention once that maybe Tony Sparano didn't have the troops ready to go?
Give me Erin Andrews over Wendi Nix ANY DAY. Are you crazy Minihane? Nix's cheeks look like those of a fat 4th grader.
I'm with you. I love Wendi! If I had to pck between EA and Wendi Nix though...tough.
Wendi has the worst annoying voice in sports, give me Erin Andrews …
"I like the way he's stroking it right now" -- Ron Jaworski. I suppose he's probably talking about Brady, but maybe he has a tape of me watching Nicole Eggert in "Blown Away" in 1993. Who knows?
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA, that was the funniest thing I have read in at least a month.....
On a more important note, I 100% agree Wendi Nix is preferable to Erin Andrews. I like curves, and Wendi looks like she has some curves, Erin looks like a #2 pencil with hair.
Semper Fi 24
A: What a stunner: I write about 10,000 words on the Patriots over three days and the biggest reaction I get is from this throwaway line from Monday night:
"Give me Wendi Nix over Erin Andrews every day of the week and twice on Sunday."
And I stand by it. The whole Erin Andrews thing eludes me. Sure, she's obviously incredibly attractive, but there are a million others just like her out there on TV. Dime a TV dozen. And as a sports fan I'm almost offended that she's clearly using her platform to try and move up in the TV world -- she'll be hosting a hideous daytime talk show within two years. Her whole act is tired -- I've moved on. Wendi Nix -- the first lady of this mailbag -- is, unlike Erin Andrews, a journalist. She knows of what she speaks, and doesn't seem like she's constantly auditioning for a job on "Entertainment Tonight." And I agree -- a few curves go a long way.
Who the hell gives YOU this column,....Bradford?? Bill Simmons wannabe is nail on the head. Even down to the "I pretend to know football, but I'm really just an aspiring writer who knowns nothing" horribly bad football picks. ONE win??? REALLY?? OK, two counting GB. Tell Bradford to give me the picks column. I'll make better picks without the " it's fun to interject pop culture references into your sports analysis column" act. This confirms what 90% of the people that visit this site know - you don't know jack about most things sports related.
A: I don't know how anyone has the nerve to call me a "Bill Simmons wannabe" … this Simmons guy started doing a picks column at Grantland.com this year. Where the hell was he before that? I've been combining pop culture references with sports for TWO YEARS at this website. I'm an innovator, the Jackie Robinson of jamming in a "Rocky III" joke in the middle of an Aaron Hernandez column. Who saw this kind of stuff before 2010? In fact, I'm half-thinking of pursuing legal action against Simmons. My buddy Jack-O thinks I have a real case.
But let's get to the Week 2 picks. The good news from Week 1? I was undefeated on Thursday and Monday (combined 3-0). The bad news? They played games on Sunday (2-11). If my status as the resident handicapologist was in doubt a week ago (off a brutal 2010), we are within inches of pulling the plug now. Book it: If this is another losing week you will be reading the picks of D.J. Bean next Thursday. He's already watching Stu Feiner tapes in the WEEI.com bullpen.
Week 2 picks:
JETS (-9) over Jaguars
SAINTS (-6) over Bears
Raiders (+4) over BILLS
REDSKINS (-3) over Cardinals
Ravens (-5.5) over TITANS (lock of the week)
Seahawks (+15) over STEELERS
Packers (-9.5) over PANTHERS
VIKINGS (-2.5) over Buccaneers
COLTS (+3) over Browns
LIONS (-8) over Chiefs
Cowboys (-3) over 49ERS
Texans (-2.5) over DOLPHINS
BRONCOS (-3.5) over Bengals
FALCONS (+3) over Eagles
Rams (+7) over GIANTS
PATRIOTS (-7) over Chargers
Over/Under on passing yards in Foxboro on Sunday? I'll go with 668 and take the over, as Brady throws for 336 yards and three TD's (one to each of the tight ends and another to, yes, Ochocinco) in a 38-28 win.