Pats and Pats and Pats this week in the mailbag. No shock, with the Sox done and the Celtics not yet ready for our full attention.
So it’s Tom Brady and the blowout headlining here. Don’t worry, though, we manage to squeeze in some Red Sox stuff, some Steve Phillips (Kazmir for Zambrano doesn’t seem so bad now, huh?) a plea for Bridget Moynahan over Gisele, and I channel my inner Casey Kasem.
To the 'bag we go (and, as always, feel free to e-mail away to firstname.lastname@example.org)
Funny how it is OK for [Drew] Brees and New Orleans to throw touchdowns all over the place and no one say boo to them. The reason the Pats throw when up 40-0 is because typically they have no running game. So, if you constantly go three-and-out, the other team could get back in it. So, shut up and enjoy it.
A: I was actually surprised (and pleased) that this didn’t turn out to be a huge story this week. Give Jeff Fisher credit, it was clear he had no problem with what the Pats did, and I think that helped slow the story down. If he rips Bill Belichick, it becomes the top story on "PTI" Monday.
And again, these are all grown men. I just can’t get worked up over it. To me, everything is in play. You want to fake a punt up 60 with three minutes left in the fourth quarter? Works for me. The defense has a job that it gets paid very well to do: Stop the other team from scoring. Seems simple enough to me.
I’m with you in that I don’t care about “running it up.” But I don’t understand why Tom Brady, Randy Moss, Wes Welker and all the other first-stringers are in a game when they are up 45 points? Why risk an injury? There was literally no chance that the Titans could come back and win. That’s why I would bench them, but let [Brian] Hoyer and the second-stringers throw like crazy if they want.
A: I don’t know, Tim. One series in the second half seems OK to me. If they leave those guys in the whole game I can see an argument, but I can live with one drive in the third quarter.
(And Hoyer looked pretty good, no? This is why the NFL is just goofy to me. If the Titans called tomorrow and offered Vince Young straight up for Hoyer there is no way I’d make that deal. Even if the salaries were a wash I’d pass. That’s why if I were an NFL GM I’d never draft a QB in the top 10. Not worth the risk. And how about Young on the sidelines during the game Sunday? Nice enthusiasm. I’d give him third prize in the “Kirk Minihane Watching 27 Dresses With His Wife and Mother-in-Law” look-alike contest.)
Take it easy, Kirk. The Titans are going 2-14. I wouldn't put this in Brady's top 10. And no, this isn't an invitation for you to do another top 10 list.
A: Fine, I guess you won’t get my list of the all-time top 10 women I found attractive in Week 1 of “The Biggest Loser.” When it comes to picking out a potential 300-pound sleeper, I’m Red Auerbach (OK, maybe Steve Phillips.)
It really wasn’t about the opponent for me, Todd. I just think no other QB in the league can play that level of game in that kind of weather. I have no idea if Brady is the best QB in the league. Probably he’s not anymore. Brees and Peyton Manning are playing better week in and week out right now. But Brady stays in the conversation, and I’m not sure I believed that was the case even a week ago.
(Pretty good e-mails so far, no? Smart, thought out, all that stuff. Maybe you don’t agree with what they wrote, but you’ll at least concede that we aren’t dealing with complete dopes. No reason to think that won’t continue, right?)
I wrote this same ridiculous article word for word as the game was going on yesterday. Typical Patriot fan bull! Instead of actually stating facts that this meaningless close-to-laughable record was on a rain and snow field against an 0-5 pathetic team, with a few rookie defensive backs on the 31st-worst secondary in the league ... Did you actually watch the game? No one — and I mean not even one of the three to four wide receivers — was covered or was there a defensive back found seven yards near them. It was pathetic and laughable at best. And what will you all do? Glorify him into greatness. Maybe you should also acknowledge just how tough it was when even Hoyer and Edelman's first drive easily went 60 yards and scored!!! I’m certain we won't hear much of that, either. Want to write about a real quarterback performance? Try watching the film of Drew Brees yesterday against the same defense the great "Tommy Terrific" blew maybe the most hysterical game in NFL history because he couldn't throw a TD pass or even get in usual postseason Adam Vinatieri range or put more than seven points on the board in 58 minutes until the Giants went into zone prevent defense for him.
Did I also mention this "superhero" in that game also had the No. 1 all-time scoring offense with arguably a top-five all-time wide receiver core along with three — that’s right, three — Pro Bowl linemen protecting him. And you all can only anoint him the NFL's "glory boy."
And for my last note of actual Tom Brady facts:
-- Brady ranked in the top five QBs only one of seven seasons
-- Brady ranked ninth or worse four of seven seasons
-- Brady did not have a single NFL passing record or place in his first five of seven seasons
-- Brady presently ranks among active QBs 12th in average YPA
-- Brady presently ranks among active QBs 20th in average YPC
-- Brady in 2005-07 in five of his last eight postseason games had seven TDs and nine INTs
-- Brady lost the 2005 Denver postseason game with a pathetic INT that was returned 99 yards
-- Brady in both 2006 and '07 postseason games vs. San Diego had a pathetic four TDs vs. six INTs
-- Brady in '06 against the Colts in the AFC championship game could not hold on to a 21-6 lead vs. the 31st-ranked defense
-- Brady in '07 had without question the biggest choke job in sports history vs. the Giants in the Super Bowl
With just the few actual facts I just posted, how exactly does any of that add up to Tom Brady being the greatest QB among even the actives, never mind all-time history? A QB should not be defined by three of the 150-250 games in a career — not to mention that victories are a TEAM accomplishment, not a QB's defining statistic.
A: And the streak comes to an end. This guy is either a Jets fan or the leader of the Drew Bledsoe fan boy branch located somewhere in the deep in the mountains of New Hampshire. Part Koresh, part Borges.
I’m more than a little bitter that a message from our new copy editor came in this week asking that all reader e-mails be cleaned up. If you had seen the mistakes in Lee’s actual comments you would have thought that Dexter Manley had typed it with his eyes closed. “Prowe Bowle?” “Superheroe?” “Propbowl?” As the old copy editor on this site, I was having Felger flashbacks. Anyone knows if he still spells it “Veritek?”
Lee’s words pretty much speak for themselves, but I’ll just say this: When you start lining up QBs to place them in historical context, winning matters. It just does. It doesn’t when you rank point guards or third basemen or left wingers, but quarterbacks need at least one Super Bowl ring to even apply for a place on Mount Rushmore. And you can do anything with stats if you really want to. Tony Romo has a better career QB rating than Tom Brady. Is he a better QB? I just think that Brady has done enough to earn a seat at the table when the greatest ever at his postion are discussed. Now, if he had put up the exact same regular-season numbers to this point but had never played in a playoff game, would that be the case? Of course not. He’d be looked at as a really good NFL QB, a borderline Hall of Famer even, but that would be it. He’d be about where Drew Brees is now. But, like it or not, Brady has stepped up in the biggest spots time and time again. Remember, if Asante Samuel makes a play or David Tyree doesn’t, that Super Bowl is about Brady sucking it up and getting the Patriots in the end zone to cap off the greatest season in NFL history.
I should be fair and acknowledge that Lee’s rant was not an e-mail but a comment at the end of my column (I do include them sometimes.) It sort of set off an explosion from the pro-Brady crowd. Some highlights:
That was the biggest pile of bull*&^% I've ever read. Sounds like someone has a hair across his ass for Tom Brady. if I had absolutely no life I could respond with five times the stats and facts proving that Brady is one of the best quarterbacks of all time. But alas, I dont live in my parents' basement and I have to get back to work. I'll leave you with these two stats and facts, though.
Three-time Super Bowl champion
50 TD passes in one season
P.S. Please learn to spell and put together coherent sentences, that was almost unreadable.
Lee is Special
-- Brady ranked ninth or worst four of seven seasons"
What does that even mean? I don't get it. I'm sure you could conjure up numbers that make Joe Montana look mediocre based on stats alone. The fact remains that while Brady was winning Super Bowls, all people did was criticize him for not putting up numbers. After that he went out and had the greatest season a QB has ever had.
In summation, you're a fruit.
Short Bus Lee
How does it add up to Brady being the greatest QB ever? Well, when you pick and choose your facts, I guess it is tough to prove that. But when you look at all the facts there is a very good case for him being the best or one of the best ever. Also, are you saying Brady is defined by only three games in his career? Didn't he set record after record in '07? That alone is another 16 games in the regular season, nearly each of which were great games for Brady. But yeah, he's only played three good games in his career. It's a wonder he's even still on the roster! In closing, victories are ABSOLUTELY a QB's defining statistic. Isn't the goal of football to win games? If the team is winning in spite of the QB then you may have an argument. The Patriots win games because of him! I'd rather have a QB that puts up mediocre numbers and wins most games than a QB that puts up great numbers and goes 8-8. Oh, BTW, Tom Brady puts up great numbers AND wins!
Jets Fans Are Morons
Always nice when I’m not the one being called a moron or half-wit.
I'm not sure what they put in the drinking water out in California, but I'll bet it smells a little funny. You and your lousy predictions — have some [guts] and take a real stand, for once. Tell me something I don't already know. No more fawning over the Brady-Belichick tag team. And stop defending the overpaid and underproducing likes of J.D. Drew. Oh, and I bet you're patting yourself on the back for calling the release of Joey Galloway. Yeah, right, even my sister who swears Drew Bledsoe is the best QB in Pats history could see that one coming. "Half-wit" sounds about right to me. Grow a set, and at least write something I don't read 10 times from other so-called journalists on this site.
A: Wait a minute, Mike Petraglia is also writing about his uncanny ability to scout “Biggest Loser” sleepers?
Come on, Thomas, no one has a “sister” that is a Drew Bledsoe fan. That’s the sports equivalent of my girlfriend from Canada in high school. Non-existent (it’s true, she really wasn’t having passport issues the night of the junior prom.) Just admit that you are the closet Drew fan. Put on the Flying Elvis No. 11 jersey and come out. It’s OK. You aren’t totally alone. Borges awaits with open arms and a nearly worn-out VHS of the comeback game vs. the Vikings in 1994.
Kirk (RE: Red Sox report card):
I think your grades are reasonable, although I would probably give Drew a 'C' based on his performance vis-a-vis contract and expectations. The team's overall record was something of a tease in that the Sox dominated three teams — 16-2 vs the Orioles, 6-1 vs Detroit and 7-2 against the Indians, as well as going 11-7 in interleague "exhibition" games. The Sox played under .500 baseball on the road, did not win the season series against any team in the AL West and were dominated by the Yankees in August and September. Injuries were relatively not a major factor as Buchholz was certainly a capable replacement for Wakefield in the 5 spot and Matsusaka's issues were more mental rather than physical.
Key decisions this winter will likely involve the SS position where Alex Gonzalez (Cora or Reese revisited) and Peanuts Lowrie are not the answer for a playoff contender. The catcher position is interesting given the Varitek-Martinez saga. Neither can throw runners out consistently and the latter can provide Francona with a wealth of depth by virtue of the domino effect in the event either Lowell or Papi struggle. I would be very tempted to sign a catcher who can at least throw out 30 percent of base stealers, the major league average, and hits about .250. The Bay situation will be discussed and debated until resolved, and the obvious question is: If not him, who and why?
As currently consistituted, the Red Sox roster may be headed in the wrong direction and it will be up to Epstein to right the ship if he can.
A: I think Gonzalez is a pretty easy call, Matt. He can hit .220 and it won't be the end of the world with the rest of that lineup. But I'm with you on catcher. Let's assume that Varitek is gone (though on the open market I can't see him making more than the $3 million he'll get if he takes his player option with the Sox.) Martinez probably won't catch more than, what, 3-4 days a week? So, yeah, a Jose Molina type for a million bucks a year makes plenty of sense to me. I just wonder if the Captain will actually walk (or sprint, sorry, he never walks) and try the open market. Doubtful at best.
Comments that the Sox cannot afford this player or that one are totally wrong. They have revenues of $440 million to pay and buy anyone from tickets, signage, food/drink, NESN, NASCAR, Fox sports, MLB, merchandise. It is that [John] Henry and Theo [Epstein] are gun-shy after Theo made monumental mistakes prior.
A: Doesn't matter if they are pulling in $10 billion a year in revenue, Mascmen, it seems clear that they are sticking to a budget of just about $120 million. And they won't spend $15 million of that on 60 innings worth of pitching, no matter how good Papelbon is.
"Monumental mistakes?" Listen, we all can recite Theo's misses as GM but there hasn't been what I would term a disaster during his tenure. Sure, Matt Clement was terrible, but it was a three-year deal for $25 million. A mistake? Sure. The kind of move that kills a franchise for half a decade? Absolutely not. There really hasn't been a huge free agent signing in the Theo era (the most money the Sox have spent was on Drew) and I would imagine that is by design. Sure, if a Mark Teixeira pops up they'll make a move, but it isn't an annual "let's throw a $120 million at the best guy available" deal at Fenway.
I think it's still a bit too early to pass judgement on Tom Brady. Let's play the player A/B game, shall we?
7 games played
250 yd avg 10/9 TD/INT 81.1 QB rating 4-3 record
8 games played
269 yd avg 16/3 TD/INT 105.2 QB rating 8-0 record
Player A — Peyton Manning through his first seven games after offseason knee surgery.
Player B — Peyton Manning the rest of the 2008 season. (I didn't include the last game of the season as he only played one series in the game. Though, he did go 7-7 for 95 yards and a TD).
Player A/B seems to be having a darn fine season (329, 12/4, 114.1, 5-0) so far this season, one year after his knee surgery.
Even if Brady's knee is feeling great, it still takes time to get back into the rhythm of a football season and lose the tentativeness in movement that comes with a knee injury. Let's see how Tom fares the second half of the year before we declare his best days behind him.
A: I know this is a little dated (he sent the e-mail last Thursday), but I have to give Greg some credit on this one. And no, I don't think the six-TD game on Sunday is the start of a 2007 kind of run from Brady. That'll never happen again. But again, at least any small doubts you may have had about Brady -- and I'm talking the worst-case scenario stuff -- is gone. Remove the "maybe he'll be just another guy" stuff that's been kicking around.
(A little off-topic, but am I the only one who feels that Brady downgraded when he went from Moynahan to Gisele? I've never been able to get next to the Gisele hysteria. Not a fan of the accent, and the face is a little on the flat side. I always get a slight "Sandra Bernhard from 1982" vibe when I look at her. But do understand that I am grading on the toughest scale possible. I mean, if Gisele Bundchen looked exactly the same as she does now but instead of being a supermodel she worked at the Chili's near my house, I'd feel differently. She'd be the waitress you plan the Friday lunch around. The ace of my solo-time rotation, if you follow. But now the hype demands a tough review.)
I'm wondering where you stand on the issue of Rush Limbaugh becoming an owner, albeit only a limited partner, of an NFL franchise. Was the Rev. Al Sharpton correct, and an NFL front office is simply no place for a man who has already lost one job over his inflammatory comments about African-Americans? Wouldn't [Roger] Goodell and the owners be better served in their quest for preserving the image of the NFL if they instituted tougher standards on the criminal behavior of the league's players, rather than worrying about the political leanings of one potential limited partner? Is there a place at all for Rush Limbaugh in an NFL executive office, the executive office of any professional sports team, or should he be stuck in the corner he has created for himself on the national airwaves? Any thoughts you have are much anticipated.
A: My nickel's worth? Rush Limbaugh, in my opinion, has done nothing to disqualify himself from being an NFL owner. He's made some dopey comments over the years to be sure, but that pesky First Amendment allows him to do so, right?
So, is it a PC police deal? Maybe. But I hope that the liberal intelligentsia that railed against the horrifying possibility of Rush Limbaugh owning a piece of the St. Louis Rams goes after the New Jersey Nets next. I mean, the lyrics in Jay-Z's songs are worse than anything ever said by Rush on the air. Should I hold my breath and wait for an op-ed piece in the New York Times or a blizzard of stuff on The Huffington Post?
The truth is that I don't think that Jay-Z or Rush should be precluded from owning a team. And the truth is also that I'm not going to tell the NFL or NBA who should or should not own a team. Not my business at all. As one of the 14 registered libertarians in America, I have to be consistent on this issue.
(Of course, Rev. Al Sharpton had to make a cameo in this whole mess. Tough to buy that Al is too worked up about Rush's "hate speech," given that in 1995 he referred to a Jewish storeowner as a "white interloper." You know what would've been a good spot for Al to pull the race card? Helping Clubber Lang get a rematch vs. Rocky. Easy case, each guy won a fight, has to be a rubber match. Why wasn't there one? Come to think of it, why didn't Apollo get one either? Now I'm getting worked up.)
So you're telling me that Tom Brady can now carry Derek Jeter's jock?
A: I think we are getting close, David. I’m not sure Joe Buck or Chip Caray would agree, but I’m ready to call it.
I went to high school with you, graduated two years after. I know it was a few months ago, but I forgot to e-mail you about your radio appearance with Bradford and the other guy. Well, you sucked. See you around.
Acton (Winchester High School, Class of 1995)
A: I’m not giving that Marconi back, Scott. There was magic in the studio that day. My only regret is that I wasn’t able to send out a long-distance dedication from Ray in Lynn to Allison in Cambridge. Until next week, keep reaching for the stars and enjoy the tea, crumpets and Chris Baker on Sunday.