It’s not easy to jam Terrell Suggs, Chip Caray, the Golden Banana, Bob Newhart, Kate Beckinsale, Midnight Snack, Sammy Morris, Cumberland Farms, Drew Bledsoe, Megan Fox, Kenny Bania and the death of the toupee into one mailbag, but we’ve managed to do it this week. Some solid e-mails from the folks (keep them coming), although most seem to suggest that I may be close to regaining “half-wit” status.
To the 'bag we go (and, as always, feel free to e-mail away to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Take it easy with the Super Bowl talk. One gift win (yes a gift — how did [Mark] Clayton drop that pass?) over a good team doesn't remove three terrible weeks. Still a long way to go before you can call the Patriots a real contender.
A: OK, David, three things:
1. My point was not that the Pats are going to the Super Bowl — just that you can now include them in the conversation among teams with a chance. The team I watched for the first three weeks did not deserve that status. Are they a lock to win the AFC? Of course not (in fact, I think I'd still put the Ravens and Colts ahead of them right now). But they are in the mix.
2. A "gift win" is pushing it. No doubt that Clayton should have caught that pass, of course, but he wasn't in the end zone. We're all sure that the Ravens get in and score if Clayton makes the play? First-and-goal from the nine is a lock? And if they do score they go up 28-27. No chance the Pats can move the ball down and kick a field goal? I don't know, I'm reading all over the place how the game was gift-wrapped and I just don't see it. What am I missing?
Time of possession: Pats 34:56, Ravens 25:04
First downs: Pats 25, Ravens 24
Does that look like a game that was dominated by either side? Not from here. Yes, the Ravens outgained the Pats in total yards 363-319. But is that a huge total? To me, the game was pretty much a wash. Sports Illustrated's Peter King wrote in his MMQB that the "Ravens should probably be 4-0." Based on what? They could be 4-0, I guess, but that game on Sunday was a coin flip the whole way.
3. I'm with you on the Pats vs. Buffalo and the Jets, but they were not "awful" vs. Atlanta. Not great by any stretch, but they did pretty much handle a team that will most likely win somewhere between 10-11 games this season.
Imagine how good this defense would be if Derrick Burgess was healthy and playing ... oh, wait a minute. What happened to this guy? I thought he'd be the pass-rusher they needed.
A: Oh, you mean you didn't think that Mike Wright would have three times as many sacks as Burgess after a quarter of the season? I just hope that Bill Belichick has learned his lesson and doesn't deal with Al Davis anymore. There's a reason why Branch Rickey once referred to Al Davis as "my mentor and the finest mind of our generation."
Good call on Sammy Morris helping to open the offense. I still think he's the best running back on the team. I like [Fred] Taylor, but he'll be hurt before Thanksgiving. Morris just makes the big play when you need it most.
A: Yeah, you just get the feeling that either Morris or Kevin Faulk will be the back on the field during the last couple of minutes of any tight game. But let's be fair here — while no one is going to confuse Fred Taylor with Lou Gehrig, he did play in 28 combined games in 2007 and 2008, or nine more than Morris. I don't think it's unfair to suggest that if Morris had proven he could stay healthy you might not even see Taylor in New England.
You get "the feeling" that Brady breaks out vs. Denver on Sunday? Really? You love the stats, so here's a couple for you.
Denver is third in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game (162.5 ypg)
Second in total defense (239.8 ypg)
The Broncos have allowed just 26 points in four games, best in the league. And they have given up ZERO TD passes with six interceptions.
Here's your chance for a mulligan, homer boy: Admit you were wrong and there is no way that Brady throws for "400 yards and three TDs."
A: Can't do it, Ryan. I have to play the fraud card on this one. I realize that I constantly kill guys in the media for ignoring numbers (and will continue to do so — anyone who doesn’t vote Zack Greinke for the Cy Young qualifies) but can we at least look at the opponents the Broncos have faced so far?
Maybe one of those teams finishes with a winning record (and the best bet for that probably is the Bengals). And when half of the QBs you have faced this season are named Brady Quinn and JaMarcus Russell, you better have good numbers. So, sure, the Broncos might be for real, but we really don’t know that yet.
(And if you’re hoping that JaMarcus Russell plays just well enough to start for the Raiders next year — with an idea of a possible 2-14 season and the top overall pick for the Pats in 2011 — you might have to prepare for that not happening. Another stinker Sunday (12-for-33, 128 yards passing) in a loss to Houston. Russell has completed 39.8 percent of his passes so far in 2009, almost impossible to do, really. I mean, that number would rank 41st in 3-point shooting percentage in the NBA last season. I still maintain that Russell can be a starting quarterback, just not for a team that plays football in the United States.)
You have to be kidding on the Suggs comment. I love Brady like the rest of Patriot Nation, but Suggs was just trying to get out of the way and he BARELY brushed by him. It was a ridiculous call. If I was a Ravens fan I would be BS.
Save the acting for the big screen, Suggs.
I love how everybody is scrambling to describe his "trip" into Brady's leg area with such accuracy and non bias.
"Oh, he stumbled!"
"He was pushed, he would never go for Brady's knee on purpose!"
"He barely brushed him!"
Blah, blah, blah.
I love how such a great athlete can trip over his own feet and fall so awkwardly forward ... toward a general area ... so gracefully. (Rolls eyes.)
This is the same pillar of community that put a hit out on Hines Ward a couple of years ago, if I remember correctly. ... How short our memories are.
A: Sorry, I’m a little distracted. Chip Caray (the David Shula of baseball announcers) just pulled a serious Geffner, calling a line drive by Nick Punto a base hit. Not so much, as it turns into a lineout/double play to send the game into the 12th. It’s great that Caray gets to call MLB playoff games while Sean McDonough sits on the sideline. This game is going to go 18 innings, and if the Twins win they’ll have to start Les Straker in Game 1 vs. the Yankees.
Look, my problem with the Ravens is that they complain about the refs after every tough loss. Same old act from Ray Lewis every time. Great player, but I’m so tired of his act. He plays the “no excuses” card and then gives a million excuses. I want an example of Tom Brady blaming the referees for a loss. Doesn’t exist.
And the Ravens really do play on that edge between “aggressive” and “dirty.” So when you see Suggs dive toward Brady’s knee, you assume he’s taking a cheap shot. I know I did.
The bounty stuff with Ward is pretty good, but Suggs dropped another beauty in that same interview.
“[Joe] Flacco, according to Suggs, “should get some playing time, but I think Troy [Smith] should be the starter.” He added, “[Flacco] started out hot, [but] I mean we played two teams [Cincinnati and Cleveland] at the bottom of the league in defense, so everybody was going all crazy about him.”
Wow, he’s Charley Casserly minus the toupee.
(Are we seeing the end of the toupee, by the way? I don’t think it will translate to our generation (I mean, anyone currently under the age of, say, 40). I truly believe we are the first group that simply won’t allow our friends to wear one. This will be one advantage of living in an age where ripping your friends is almost required. You heard it here first: By 2030, the toupee will be virtually extinct.)
"I mean, his only intent on that play was to injure Brady?"
That's a little far-fetched. The best part of the whole thing was Brady re-enacting his Super Bowl loss tears to the referee. "OMG DID YOU SEE HIM TOUCH MY LEG! MOMMY, LOOK!" It’s pretty silly to see someone who’s paid millions of dollars to play a contact sport cry every time someone farts next to them.
He didn’t "intentionally" go for Brady's legs, and you're just blowing it up because you're a) trying to get page visits and b) a Pats fan. You’re almost as bad as Fox News and CNN.
A: I just watched the play again a couple of times on YouTube and I'm still convinced that Suggs was trying to go after Brady's knee. Did he go in with full force? Nope. Was he trying to injure Brady? Probably not. On third and fourth glance it strikes me as an attempt to intimidate more than anything else. But Suggs was NOT pushed in the back by a lineman. This was a deliberate move. There is a rule in the NFL that prohibits this, and Brady was correct in trying to get the ref to throw the flag. If you want the rule changed, I understand that. That's a perfectly legitimate stance. But it does exist, and the Suggs play was a clear violation.
(The problem with YouTube, of course, is that you cannot look for just one thing and then sign out. After watching Brady/Suggs, I found an old "Family Feud" that featured the cast of "Welcome Back, Kotter" (treating it like the fourth game of the preseason, no Kaplan and Travolta) vs. "The Love Boat" (bringing an absolutely stacked lineup, all the key members of the Princess were in attendance). Throw in a couple of Springsteen live performances and an epic Bobby Heenan effort on the old Tuesday Night Titans show and you’ve managed to throw away an hour and a half of your life.)
Typical Minihane — overreacting a couple of weeks after, well, overreacting. They aren't as bad as we thought they might be after the Jets game, but they aren't as good as we think they are now.
A: I like that someone in the world thinks that there is something that can be construed as "typical Minihane."
This e-mail falls into the "Who knows?" category. Maybe last week was the best game the Patriots will play all season and they'll finish 9-7. Maybe the Jets game was a complete aberration and they'll finish 12-4. Watching the Patriots play against the Ravens, I just felt, for the first time all season, that this was a team at least capable of winning a Super Bowl. Not a lock, not even the favorite, but capable. That's all.
Your list of teams that you think can win the Super Bowl (Pats, Ravens, Giants, Colts, Steelers)? What about the Saints? They're 5-0 and have the best offense in the NFL. I think they are the favorites right now.
A: Fair point, Kevin, but I'm not sold on that defense. Yeah, they bullied a rookie QB last week, but can they make stops vs. big-time teams when they need to? They haven't proven that yet. This Saints crew reminds me of the Chargers of the early '80s or even the Warren Moon-era Oilers. Put it this way: If they don't get home-field advantage, do you see them winning a playoff game at Giants Stadium in January? They are built to win in the regular season, not the playoffs.
"None of that from Moss during his tenure in New England. And I give Belichick full credit for that."
Seriously? You are such a Belichick worshipper, you'd likely give him credit for making the sun shine. Yuck.
A: I'd bet every Midnight Snack bootleg I own that if Randy Moss was in Buffalo instead of New England he'd be doing his best (or worst) to prove Mike Freeman right. And I'm equally sure that if Terrell Owens was in New England he'd be drinking the Belichick Kool-Aid by the gallon. And yes, I think that's all the work of the head coach. If that makes me a "Belichick worshipper," I have to take that hit, I guess.
Your inclusion of Duane Charles Parcells on "The Best Boston Sports Coaches of All-Time" list brings up an interesting argument that I heard briefly bantered about on 'EEI airwaves over the summer: Should Parcells and Bledsoe be placed in the Patriots HOF?
I'm not exactly Mike Francesa on the Parcells binky scale (though I hear their relationship has gone Pitino-Sypher south), but I believe Parcells' place in Patriots history is unfairly forgotten.
You cannot dismiss the fact that Parcells and Bledsoe saved the franchise. If not for the "Flying Elvis" change and the upward trend that culminated in the 1996 AFC championship game, I don't believe the "New England Patriots" would exist.
Kraft is worshipped around here now, but I think he would have sold out after a few more 2-14 seasons. I have no doubt that would have happened if Parcells was never hired and Bledsoe was never drafted.
A: The Patriots Hall of Fame isn't going to induct guys every year, right? I know things have been swell the last decade or so, but I don't need to see a Class of 2018 with Vincent Brisby and Marv Cook. How about three guys every three years?
But Bledsoe is a perfect example of why teams should have a Hall of Fame. He's not good enough to make the actual Hall of Fame, but he did so much for the Patriots that he deserves some kind of recognition (and yes, I am aware that a paycheck is a form of recognition). Kraft seems to love him, so I suspect he'll get in sometime over the next few years. And I bet that he'll get a monster ovation from the fans when he's honored — something close to what Nomar got when he came back to Fenway. Good guy, played hurt, all that. The flaws will be forgotten for a few hours and that's OK. And don't forget, if Parcells had drafted Rick Mirer instead of No. 11, Patriot Place would consist of a Dollar Tree and a Cumberland Farms. The Parcells-Bledsoe duo saved football in New England, plain and simple. You don't get Belichick-Brady without Drew and the Tuna.
On the ride in this morning, WZLX DJ Kevin Karlson said he overheard two pharmacists saying that the Pats players already got their H1N1 shots. I thought there was a protocol for people getting these shots, and I’m sure pro football players were not on the list. Have you heard anything?
Regards from Boston
A: Listen, if Kevin Karlson and two guys from Walgreens are your three sources, then you've got the story cold. Don't need me for this one with those horses already on the case. Has to be true. But just to be safe, I guess you could get confirmation from either Mike Florio or Mike Freeman before you run with it.
I was listening to D&C before the season started and they broke down the last five Patriots drafts (2004-08). Not good, to be kind. But if I remember correctly, they had Brandon Meriweather down as one of the "misses." Do you have the power at WEEI to move him into the "hits" category?
A: Do I have the power? Is this a joke? You think Julie Kahn makes any decisions without my blessing? Hey, if I wanted Glenn Ordway out, he'd be doing overnights in Effingham, Illinois, before you could say "Janet Prensky." Do I need to remind you that my column from Monday received a whopping SIX comments? That's power, baby.
So sure, we'll shift Meriweather over to the plus side. He's looking like an All-Pro so far in 2009. Done. But I'm also moving Laurence Maroney from "looking like a miss" to "biggest bust since Mamie Van Doren." If Belichick is going to continue to waste seven carries a game, can't he at least make it entertaining? How about a different Patriots back from the past every week? You're telling me that Curtis Martin couldn't do better than 6 yards on seven carries? How about Tony Collins? (I know he'd be better returning kicks.)
I enjoyed your answer about TIVOing shows from the 1980s from a few weeks ago (though I can't believe you didn't include "Newhart" — great show). It seemed that you were down on the network shows today, and I was wondering if any new shows from this season have been added to the list (particularly "Modern Family" — really funny).
A: Nothing new from the TV Class of 2009, Mike. I'm still in shock that the Michael Strahan sitcom was lousy. I thought there was no way that missed. I mean, they are brothers but are TOTAL opposites. How can that not work?
I gave "Modern Family" a shot. The reviews were great. I thought the pilot was pretty good and the second episode so-so. If you had never watched "Arrested Development" (the best sitcom in TV history) you might think "Modern Family" is a revolutionary show. But it feels tired to me.
In this age of TIVO and DVR the real test of a great show is this: Can I live without watching it live? And for me, "Mad Men" is the only show that makes the cut. It can meander at time ("The Sopranos" influence can be a good and bad thing), but at its peak, there is nothing even close (the episode with Don Draper in the motel from a few weeks ago might be the best in the show's history.)
(And kind of off-topic, but Jay Leno will be the next host of "The Tonight Show." Makes way too much sense not to happen. Conan just doesn't play at 11:30 (he's trying WAY too hard — gives off a Kenny Bania vibe — and looks miserable.) NBC can live with losing him. This will make Jay happy — he wants no part of prime-time — and moves him back to where he wanted to stay. They simply overrated Conan's worth and panicked. I'm not a Leno fan, but he was a success at 11:30. Still not sure why they felt the need to mess with that. I'm going with April 14, 2011, as Jay's first day back.)
Thought you'd be pleased that your girl Kate Beckinsale was named Esquire's Sexiest Woman in the World for 2009. Know you are a big fan. I'm a freshman at Boston College and she's my favorite as well, but all my friends are into Megan Fox. I appreciate a real woman.
A: Good for you, Josh. I sympathize. I took a lot of junk from my friends in the mid-'90s when I claimed that Sela Ward was more attractive than Pam Anderson (I was right then and I’m right now — have you seen Pam Anderson lately? She looks like Mickey Rourke with implants.) I’m telling you: Don't get sucked into the world of Megan Fox. She's all surface, totally vapid. Five years from now she'll be doing soft-core porn scenes with Casper Van Diem in some Showtime movie. If she worked at the Golden Banana in 1996 she would have been middle of the pack. Always side with class. Class ages well. Stick with Kate.
Truth be told, until Beckinsale decides she doesn't want to be selected anymore, there's no reason to even have these lists. No mystery, she's an absolute no-brainer for the No. 1 spot. I ask you, fair readers, who is a good choice second place? I’ll take all nominees, from Rachel Ward to Pam Ward.
Enjoy what could be the best sports weekend of the year.