Can we stop with the overreaction?
Probably not. It never ends, now that I think about it. Right now there is a simmering concern about the Patriots. Sure, a win is a win, but the thought lingers: Maybe “we” really are the team that needed a miracle fumble recovery (from the kicker!) to beat the Bills. Not much better than average.
But watch. If the Pats go 2007 on the Jets this Sunday, all will be forgotten about the Bills game. You’ll read and hear about how THIS is the real team, they figured it all out, the rust is off.
The truth, of course, is neither will be true. It’ll take a couple of months to know what the 2009 Patriots are. But no one wants to hear that. In a world of instant everything it shouldn’t be so hard to immediately define a football team, right?
Oh, well, there is plenty of overreaction in the mailbag this week. The Patriots take top billing, of course, but we talk a little bit about the Red Sox, Joe Mauer, “Perfect Strangers” and Tony Eason. And yes, Charo makes her triumphant return.
To the 'bag we go (and, as always, feel free to e-mail away to email@example.com)
Just to be sure, Fred Taylor is a flop, Matt Light is cooked and the defense will be terrible. Way to avoid jumping to conclusions. Too bad, you usually don’t play that game, but I guess you needed to write something.
Oh, and good call on Seymour being past his prime. I watched almost every game in Week 1 and he was the best defensive player I saw.
A: Oh, so if I write that I’m concerned about Taylor and Light after one week I’m overreacting, but if you write that Seymour is Dick Butkus after one week you aren’t? Just checking.
Maybe Taylor will be Corey Dillon, but I just think it’s far more likely that he’ll be JAG in the Patriots’ never-ending rotation of backs. I’m sure he’ll have a week or two when he goes for 100-plus yards, but I bet he has nine or 10 games like he had on Monday. No big deal, I don’t think he came here with monster expectations. And yes, I would rather have Kevin Faulk or Sammy Morris on the field. I’m telling you, Faulk will be catching third-and7s and converting them into first downs in 2020. Not the best back in team history, but I think he’s been the most valuable.
And Light is overrated. A good tackle, but just that. How many times do we have to see top pass-rushers (Aaron Schobel; Jason Taylor did it for years) manhandle the guy?
Brady shook off the rust, partly caused by his not being willing to plant his front foot in traffic as the commentators were saying. He had unavoidable nerve damage there and I'm sure it is touch-and-go in traffic. The lowly Bills proved once again that you can make it close by hitting Brady. And the Jets pick it up from there, which I was afraid of. They've got to unveil some wildcat or quick pitches to get the pressure off Brady??? Francesa on WFAN thinks Coach Hoodie purposely saved unveiling some of the offense so as not to show it to the Jets. Let's hope so ...
Dano in NY
A: I think it’s safe to eliminate any thoughts of the wildcat, Dano. I’m thinking Belichick will take his chances with Brady throwing to Moss, Welker, Galloway, Faulk and Watson. Sure, we all want to see Julian Edelman on the field, but let’s give Brady two weeks to save his job. Seem fair? I mean, he did throw for almost 400 yards plus two TD passes in the fourth quarter Monday Night, correct? I know the Pat Patriot jersey might’ve thrown you off, but that wasn’t Tony Eason out there (though, to be fair, he did a decent impression of Eason in the first half).
(Here’s a question: If, just for a laugh or two, the Patriots brought out Tony Eason at halftime as a member of the all-time team, would there have been any reaction at all? Do the Pats Hats even know who Eason is? And do the old-timers who remember even care, or are they fat and happy from a decade-and-a-half of success?)
Suzy was great and Brady paid off her patience by being gracious with her although he didn't want to talk. Why? They won but was he not happy with the performance? That's my guess.
Maybe a reflection of how I feel. It's good they won but it certainly didn't inspire confidence that they can win. It's still early, as you say, though.
NE Pats Guy
A: Yeah, the whole Brady/Suzy scene was bizarre. I have to admit I felt sort of bad for her. There is absolutely no reason to be chasing down a guy who, to be fair, has never said anything of note in a spot like that. You knew exactly what Brady was going to say, and he said it. Great. I’m OK if we all agree to send sideline reporters packing, by the way.
This might be a little off-topic, but I’ll crowbar it in here. There is no way to describe how awful Mike Greenberg is at calling a football game. He constantly sounds like a contest winner who is allowed to announce an inning for a Single-A baseball team. I understand that he co-hosts a (terrible but) successful morning radio show for ESPN, but someone in Bristol has to show some guts and tell this guy it’s not happening. Glenn Geffner was embarrassed by Greenberg’s effort on Monday night. And what kills you is that Greenberg gives off an arrogance that doesn’t even allow you to feel bad for him. You couldn’t even enjoy the disaster in a comedic sense. I’ll bet Greenberg made more mistakes in those three hours than the great Fred Cusick made in his 45 years calling Bruins games.
The leaves are turning colors, the children are back in school and Mikey's phone in Revere is constantly ringing. Must be football time. It's been an agonizing five years since their last Super Bowl (never thought I'd say that) and there are plenty of question marks this year. Frankly, I'm tired of having an average defense. Because of their d-line depth, the Seymour trade will benefit for years to come, but I'm concerned about the inexperience at linebacker and secondary. I'll be damned if they go another year chalking up 32 points a game and get shut down when it matters. I know it’s been just one week, but do you think Mayo (assuming he comes back), Thomas, Merriweather, Chung etc. can make the plays to bring Lord Belichick title No. 4?
A: That’s the million-dollar question, Goose. You know the offense will be great, top three or four in the league at the very worst. And we know the defense won’t be an elite group. But can they be somewhere in the top dozen or so in the NFL? Too early to tell, of course, and Monday offered very little in terms of an answer. I was impressed with Meriweather on Monday. Maybe he makes the jump this year. As long as Mayo isn’t out for the season I think the defense will be good enough. Again, not great, but good enough. But yes, there will be some 34-31 games mixed in this season. The lack of a pass rush is a legitimate concern, though. It would be a nice time for Adalius Thomas to earn his keep, I think.
Regarding the Seymour trade: The pick won't be top 5. Maybe 10-15. The Raiders have a lot of young talent that will be better next year than this year. Still a good slot to have, though. This is a trade that works for both teams.
A: I don’t know, Chris. I need to see the Raiders win some games before I can even move them into the “if everything goes right they might go 7-9” category. One decent effort vs. the Chargers isn’t enough to convince me. Here’s where the Raiders have picked in the first round over the last six years.
If you are a Patriots fan, just hope that JaMarcus Russell stays healthy and does just enough to keep playing. The biggest fear is that the Raiders give up on Russell after 2009, put a competent veteran in there next year, (think a Derek Anderson type — not great, but merely capable, which would be a huge upgrade) and win seven or eight games.
(If Russell had been picked 81st instead of first in the draft there would be NO WAY that he’d still be the starter. What a freaking crapshoot the NFL draft is. Until the rookie salaries are under control (which will happen by 2011, even if the lockout is needed) I would never use a top-10 pick on a QB. Who really knows? It seems for every Matt Ryan there are about six Akili Smiths. It’s almost a lock that either Matthew Stafford or Mark Sanchez will bust. To me, the best thing you can say about Drew Bledsoe is this: For all his flaws, he was a worthy No. 1 overall pick. No small feat, that.)
No way this team wins the Super Bowl. Pittsburgh is tougher physically and mentally. The Pats will bully the bad teams and win 11 or 12 games but lose in the AFC title game, 27-10. Steelers to clinch team of the decade.
A: Wouldn’t shock me, Matt. The argument I’d make for the Steelers over the Pats right now is a pretty simple one. The advantage I’d give the Patriots over the Steelers on offense isn’t as big as the edge I’d give the Steelers over the Pats on defense.
But this “Team of the Decade” stuff isn’t up for debate. The Patriots will finish the decade with more wins in both the regular season (they currently lead 103-95) and the playoffs (14-10). Six division titles to five for Pittsburgh, and a 4-2 edge in AFC titles. OK, a Super Bowl win by the Steelers this year (which, of course, is possible, I still think they are favorites) gives them a 3-3 push, but let’s not forget this tiebreaker: The Pats won two AFC title games in Pittsburgh, and both as big underdogs. Throw in a record 21-game winning streak and a perfect regular season and it’s really not close at all.
How's this for a head start on the future of the Sox.? In 2010, Varitek has an option for $3 mil, which he will likely excercise. He serves as the backup catcher with Youk, Lowell and Kotchman rotating betwen first and third. In 2011, Lowell's contract is up so Youk moves to third and Martinez (he'll re-sign) goes to first. Theo hands Mauer a blank check and off they go into the next decade. Youk, Pedroia, Martinez, Mauer, Ellsbury and Bay are the basis of a formidable lineup. Beckett needs to be signed (Lester already is) and there are other smaller holes to fill, but I think it's a good start.
Tom, Las Vegas
A: Can’t have all three, Tom. No way the Sox sign Bay, Martinez and Mauer. Bay is going to be $75 million for five years, minimum (he’s not going to make less than J.D. Drew). Martinez will be looking for somewhere in the four years/$50 million range, right? At least, I would think. And Mauer? Well, if he somehow manages to get into free agency I have to think the bidding between the Yankees and the Red Sox could get the number up to $200 million. He's the best hitter in baseball (OK, not named Albert Pujols) entering his prime playing a position that most teams would happily take a line of .260/12/60 from every season. If Mauer can put together a 2010 to match 2009 (The best season ever by a catcher, and if anyone else wins the MVP get ready for a 5,000-word column blasting the dopes that vote for these awards. I’ve defended Derek Jeter in this space more than once, but the idea that he’s having a season even close to Mauer’s is crazy. And this “lifetime achievement award” stuff is ludicrous. Please. This is not a guy that needs an award voted on by 32 morons to validate his career. And he’ll be OK if he never wins one. He’s won four World Series and has made $180 million playing baseball. Plus, by my estimation, he has demonstrated his “intangibles” to 88 of the 100 women on Maxim’s top 100 list.) it’ll be “A-Rod in 2000” crazy. Of course, there will only be about four teams that will have any chance to actually sign Mauer, but you get the point.
Plus, Beckett will command big money. And so will Youkilis and Pedroia, eventually. My fast answer is that the Sox don’t do much if there is a Mauer sweepstakes. Maybe they help to drive the number up, but that’s it. Would you trade, I don’t know, Bay and Beckett for Mauer? I probably wouldn’t. If the Sox are intent on keeping that payroll somewhere in the $120 million-$130 million range, those are the kinds of moves that would have to made.
(And I know most of you don’t care a whole lot, but if the Twins lose Mauer you can pretty much close the doors and fold the franchise. I’m serious. Imagine if Tom Brady had grown up in Braintree, and you’ve got Mauer with the Twins. I hope he stays, it would be an absolute killer for the small-market teams. Same goes for LeBron and the Cavs, though I think he’s a lock for the Knicks in 2010-11.)
I don't think Charo plays defensive line nearly as well as Richard Seymour, though I think she would be as distracting to opposing quarterbacks as Rodney Harrison was with her incessant "Cuchi-cuchi!" You whippersnappers don't know what good TV is. Saturday night in the 1970s: "Mary Tyler Moore," "The [original] Bob Newhart Show," followed by "Carol Burnett." And clearly none of you watched the "Heidi" game between New York and Oakland, with "Heidi" pre-empting two last-minute Raiders touchdowns to pull out the game.
A: If celebrity sex tapes had been around in the 1970s, Charo would have been a solid candidate. She fit the profile — not particularly talented but a hunger for fame. Perfect match. Your best bet for the 1980s? The Barbi Twins. Almost too easy.
Gotta be honest, Bede, I can’t stand “The Carol Burnett Show.” Never clicked with me. Probably a generational thing. My grandparents loved it, watched it every week. But both “Newhart” and “Mary Tyler Moore” are first-ballot sitcom Hall of Famers, no question.
We all know Gopher closed with Charo — but did Doc?
Like the 1980s TV lineup. "Crime Story" was a great show, you should buy the DVDs.
A: Todd, there is no doubt that if Doc had 15 free minutes (remember, he was either treating seasick victims, complaining to Stubing about his ex-wives or rocking the sheets with some guest star like Cathy Lee Crosby or Charlene Tilton) he absolutely would have closed with Charo. The guy was a stallion. Somehow, Bernie Kopell — Doctor Adam Brinker — managed to be a mild sex symbol in the 1970s and early '80s. What an era.
Notice you didn’t have "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" in the shows that you watch, you should check it out. It is honestly the funniest show I have ever seen.
A: I’ve been told that more than once, Andy. I’m going to try to get into it this season. I watched a mini-marathon one night during a red-eye on Jet Blue a year ago, but I was distracted by the guy next to me. A man in his (I’m guessing here) early 50s, he spent the entire flight reading a biography of Zac Efron. And this was a normal businessman. Suit and tie. And he was into the book, really focused. Creepy. Every time I see “To Catch a Predator” on TV I just assume I’ll see him drinking the iced tea. But I’ll give “Sunny” a second chance.
"Perfect Strangers"/"Head of the Class" was a solid sitcom hour on Wednesday night … before PS moved to Friday to anchor the TGIF movement, it was less kiddish and Bronson Pinchot and Mark Linn-Baker were great together.
I don't need to say anything about Howard Hessman. Dr. Johnny can do no wrong
And … no Tivo for Newhart? It was in it's prime then.
A: “Newhart” was a good show, but not in the class of “The Bob Newhart Show”. But I can live with it as a TIVO-worthy nominee. More than I can say for either “Perfect Strangers” or “Head of the Class”. These are shows that have not held up at all, really don’t resonate. Come on, does anyone remember a great episode of “Perfect Strangers”? They were fun to watch when we were kids, but they are no better than a “Two and a Half Men”, for example. Just another sitcom.
(An aside. Whatever happened to the two women on “Perfect Strangers”? I know we’re not talking about Kate Winslet and Meryl Streep here but these were good-looking girls that starred on a successful sitcom for eight years. And in the 16 years since the show was cancled they have about four credits (combined) on their IMDB pages. No crazy neighbor on “Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper” or witness on “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit”. Strange. I personally blame Mark Linn-Baker, but in fairness I blame Mark Linn-Baker for everything.)
Minihane the Mailbag Man,
You think this team is winning 12 games in 2009? Really? Sorry, but it’s going to be another season with no playoffs for your genius Belichick and your hero Brady — 9-7, I think 8-8 is even possible. What you saw for 58 minutes on Monday is what the Patriots are. They needed a fluke fumble to beat a 6-10 team missing its lead running back. And they got nothing from T.O. The Patriots had a good run but it is over. The future is Rex Ryan, Mark Sanchez and the Jets. New York 28, New England 14. Book it.
Danny, Rochester, N.Y.
A: I like the passion, Danny, but I think the Pats will be ready from the start on Sunday. Three TD passes from Brady and another Fred Taylor score lead the way in a 31-14 final.
Kirk Minihane is a columnist for WEEI.com. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.