After a week off for the holiday, the mailbag returns in fine fashion. Two things I can promise here at the 'bag: lots of Patriots talk and almost no sexting. The Monday Night disaster is Topic A this week, and it seems that most of the folks are ready to call it a season. There was a time, not so long ago, when 7-4 would have been cause for a parade on Route 1, but now it is a sign of things gone awry. Plus, we debate Randy Moss vs. Jerry Rice, I mourn the loss of Mrs. Keaton and Angelina Jolie, the Upgrade/Downgrade meter gets a few spins and Tiger Woods learns that all the red shirts in the world cannot slow down the power that is TMZ.
To the ‘bag we go (and, as always, feel free to email away to firstname.lastname@example.org)
I agree the PASS defense is absolutely horrendous! That was a track meet in the secondary, not a defense, but I thought they did a good job stopping the run. … Where is Shawn Springs? In part, I blame Bill [Belichick] for always passing up good linebackers in the draft when he has first-round picks (Clay Matthews) and trading them away in the following year's draft. We need players on the defensive side now, not NEXT year! Why he continues to do that, I don't know, but its not a good idea. Would [Richard] Seymour and [Mike] Vrabel have helped with the pass rush?
A: Well, Larry, I suspect you’ll get a pretty good defensive player in 2011 after another 4-12 season from the Raiders. Of course, it is possible that Belichick will trade that pick in what seems to me to be a quest to wind up with every pick in the 2022 draft.
Jon Gruden brought up Seymour and Vrabel (and Tedy Bruschi) on Monday night and wondered if that was why the defense has struggled. This is the group, by the way, that was second in the league in points allowed just two weeks ago. And Seymour and Vrabel in 2009 have done lousy impressions of the Seymour and Vrabel we knew in 2004.
But, yeah, the old Vrabel and Seymour would help. So would Willie McGinest. Probably Ty Law wouldn’t hurt, either. And the guys who have been brought in to get to the quarterback just haven’t produced to the level of the players they replaced. In the three seasons before he came to New England, Adalius Thomas had 28 sacks and eight forced fumbles. In his 2-1/2 seasons with the Patriots, he has 14.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Just another guy. In 2005, Derrick Burgess had 16 sacks. He had 11 more the next season. Have we seen anything even close to that kind of player? Nope. Just another guy. Trust me, if both were 75 percent of what they used to be, a lot of the holes in the pass defense would be gonzo.
I agree the pass defense is horrible, but with the pass rush the Pats have been coming up with they won’t even beat Miami. I just don’t understand why they can’t at least put pressure on the QB, and the offense putting up only 17 points [Monday] night — What’s up with that? They made the Saints defense look like the best in football.
A: They’ll beat Miami, Scott. Chad Henne isn’t Drew Brees. This is the kind of defense that gets fat and happy against struggling QBs (Kerry Collins, Josh Johnson, Mark Sanchez). And the Dolphins have no answer for Moss (six catches for 147 yards in the first Miami game) or Welker (nine for 84 yards). I think the Dolphins will play well Sunday — season on the line, all that stuff — but they don’t have the playmakers on offense to keep up. Tthe final in the Pats' Week 9 win was 27-17, and that score sounds like a pretty good guess for Sunday.
All I heard was that this was going to be a statement game. They made a statement, all right. No way this team gets to the Super Bowl. I don't need to "wait for an answer." The just aren't good enough on defense, not even close. I wonder if they lost confidence when Belichick didn't punt in Indy.
A: I don’t know about the confidence stuff, Todd. They seemed pretty confident against the Jets and during the first two New Orleans drives Monday night. Again, you can have all the confidence in the world, but none of it matters if you can’t put a finger on a QB like Brees or Manning.
I do agree that this team has done nothing this season to make you believe that they can win a Super Bowl. When a September home win over a Falcons team that might not make the playoffs is your best pitch for inclusion among the elite, there is a serious problem.
Looking at the Patriots and Saints schedules prior to [Monday] night's game, neither team had beaten a good team. Judging by the Patriots' performance, the Saints still haven’t beaten a good team.
A: You know what? It is entirely possible that the Patriots could finish the season 12-4 and not have a single win against a playoff team. Strange. Also, this: What kind of odds would you have given me if I had told you after the 59-0 snow-whipping that Tennessee would be one game out of the wild card before the end of November? With Vince Young at quarterback? Maybe the Titans will be the one playoff team the Pats beat in the regular season.
BB sucks as a GM. Just look at the last few drafts and FA pickups. Decrease BB's role. New GM, and bring back Charlie [Weis] and Romeo [Crennel]. Or blow the whole thing up, including BB, and start all over again.
Hey Kraft, forget Patriot Place and concentrate on the team.
A: Sounds good, John. How about Dick Jauron as head coach with Kraft as GM? Sold.
I know you are a big Tiger Woods guy, but come on. How great is this? When are people going to figure out that all these celebrities are the same as the rest of us? Do you think this kills Tiger with endorsements? Oh, and you talk about downgrades, he downgraded with the girl he was (allegedly) having an affair with!! Unreal.
A: The “affair downgrade” is not without precedent, Alan. Bruce Springsteen himself pulled that trick off in 1989, leaving Julianne Phillips (a solid 8.5 on the 1980s scale) for Patti Scialfa.
I can’t believe it, myself. I mean, this is a guy that hangs out in Las Vegas with Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley. (Jordan, by the way, is captain of the “Thank God the Internet Wasn’t Around During My Career” team, joining Babe Ruth, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Tilden, Bob Crane and Moe Berg.) Who would have guessed?
What strikes me, Dave, is that no one really seems that surprised. I think those days have passed. I think most people look at celebrities and just assume that they all cheat on their husbands or wives. I know I do. That’s wrong, of course, just as it is wrong to assume that every baseball player of the last 15 years has taken steroids. But you hear and see enough of this stuff and you just give up, assume everyone is guilty and move on. Much easier.
And, no, I don’t Tiger takes a hit with the sponsors. Twenty years ago, sure. But today? Kobe Bryant has national endorsements, and he settled a civil case for rape. Charlie Sheen and Michael Jordan do underwear commercials together. Tiger will be fine. Three years from now, this will mean nothing. Though by then I predict both Rachel Uchitel and Jaimee Grubbs will have appeared in Playboy and one (not sure which, have to do a little research) will have a sex tape floating around. Not with Tiger (THAT might hurt the deals with Gatorade and Nike) but with a co-star of Season 3 of “Celebrity Sex Rehab with Dr. Drew.”
Hard to feel bad for Tiger, though. What a moron. In the 2009 world did he really not think he was going to get caught? Leaving text and cell phone messages? Pure arrogance. Guess he is used to people either (a) kissing his butt 24/7 or (b) crumbling when he puts a red shirt on. Well, Harvey Levin and Perez Hilton (the Woodward and Bernstein of this story) do not fall into either group. Too bad for Tiger that Ernie Els wasn’t the only person that knew about all this. One gaze from Tiger and he’d trash every bit of evidence he had.
Mike Tirico, Jaws [Ron Jaworski] and Gruden are already “Never Mutes,” right?
A: Gruden is the best, although I think he’s been reading a lot of “Gruden is the best” stuff the past few months. I’m a little worried that he might fall into schtick soon, but the truth is he’ll be coaching in the next two or three years, so he’ll probably avoid falling into the John Madden trap. I do like that Jaws and Gruden aren’t afraid to call each other out when they think the other is wrong. You almost never see that. My only complaint is Tirico. He’s fine, but he should cut down on his words by half. Follow the Pat Summerall approach.
(And how about the ghost of Frank Gifford before the game? I was less creeped out by Chris Farley in that commercial with David Spade from earlier this year.)
Great article. I would give the edge to Moss and [Cris] Carter, simply because Carter was a Hall of Famer before he played with Randy, and you can't say the same thing about [Wes] Welker. Moss has made Welker significantly better, but I don't want to take anything away form Welker, he is a great slot receiver. You also forgot to mention the duo of Torry Holt/Isaac Bruce, slightly less dominant than Moss and Carter at the same time early in the decade. The numbers you presented indicate that you should probably reevaluate your idea that Rice is the greatest receiver ever. I grew up watching Moss in Minnesota, and to this day he is still the most talented football player I have ever seen. I don't want to take too much away from Welker, but Moss has made lesser players look very good. In Minnesota, Nate Burleson had the best year of his career alongside Moss, and a tight end who most people have never heard of caught a career high 71 balls alongside Moss; before his one year with Moss, his career high was 16. Randy opens up the field like no player before ever has. Randall Cunningham, Jeff George, Daunte Culepepper and, yes, Tom Brady all had the best single-season performances of their careers with Moss. Even GUS FREROTTE had a near-perfect QB rating in the three games he played with Moss. The two highest-scoring offenses of all time have one thing in common, and it is not a coincidence. The last three years in New England have been interesting to watch. Moss has lost multiple steps since his Minnesota days, yet he still remains the best WR in football and still one of the fastest, which is incredible and speaks to just how unreal his speed was in Minnesota. You pointed out that Moss is on pace to break Rice's three-year TD mark. The what-ifs are incredible. What if Moss had played with a Hall of Fame-caliber QB when he was younger and still had his super-freak speed? He would have crushed Jerry's records, yet he is still going to break them in his 30s. Jerry had luxuries Moss never had in [Joe] Montana and [Steve] Young. Even [Rich] Gannon was better than anyone Moss played with before Brady. Watching the film, it is clear who is better, and if you look close enough at the numbers (as you have) they speak to Moss' superiority. Outstanding article, but next time go out on a limb where other writers have been afraid to go, even if they know the truth, Moss is the greatest to play the position and one of the greatest players to ever play the game.
A: I’m OK with Moss as the second-best receiver ever, Sam, but he isn’t Jerry Rice. This is Moss’ 12th season in the NFL. Let’s assume that he’ll lead the league in TD catches this season. That would be the fifth time in his career that he has managed to do so. A hugely impressive feat. Jerry Rice led the NFL in TD catches in six of his first nine seasons. Moss has never led the league in catches. Rice led the league in catches twice. Moss has never led the league in receiving yards. Rice led the league in receiving yards six times. That’s a 14-5 edge for Rice in the Big Three of receiving categories. Moss has been a first-team All-Pro four times. Rice? Ten times. Do you really think the New England offense would have been worse if it had the Jerry Rice of, say, 1987 in there instead of Moss? Of course not. I think we have a tendency to forget how good some guys were and want to embrace what we have seen most recently as the “best ever.” It’s not the end of the world to look at the numbers and realize that Randy Moss is the second- or third-best receiver in history. But he falls way short when put next to Rice.
And I know he had Montana and Young, but Rice did catch 92 passes for 1,211 yards with the Raiders in 2002. At age 40. Call me if Moss is doing that in 2017.
What about the Chargers group from the early '80s or Bruce and Holt with the Rams?
A: You should have included Wes Chandler and Charlie Joiner, Todd. Neither were in the class of Moss, though, so they fall just a little short. But they are a top-10 duo without question. And remember, they had Kellen Winslow as well. Hard to believe they never made a Super Bowl during their run from 1979 to 1983. And it’s not like the AFC was loaded, either. Once the Steelers exited it was pretty wide open. But the defense was never good enough.
Same goes for Holt and Bruce. Do you think either is as good as Randy Moss? Bruce and Holt have played a combined 27 seasons. In those seasons they have led the league in four of the Big Three categories. After this season Moss and Welker will, at worst, be tied with that number just counting the three years in New England.
I can only imagine what this team will be like if it drafts and develops another receiver that can spread the field. Maybe it's [Julian] Edelman, maybe [Brandon] Tate, or someone through the draft. While we are at it, could you imagine this offense with a running back like [Knowshon] Moreno?
A: I don’t think you’d see a big difference if Knowshon Moreno was the lead back. Moreno is averaging 4.3 yards per carry this season, Laurence Maroney 4.0. Moreno has three touchdowns in 161 carries, Maroney has eight in 131 carries. And, remember, this isn’t an offense that is going to use a back 300-plus times a year. Unless an Adrian Peterson-type falls into their lap (which could happen in 2011, I guess) this is a pass-first team until Brady is gone.
You are a self-righteous moron. If you think that peewee [Brad Pitt] upgraded from Jen [Aniston] to [Angelina] Holie Jolie you are also thinking with your small brain. Peewee looks like an aged prisoner and Holie needs a burger, not more kids.
A: And …
I agree with 99.99 percent of this article, but Jolie is a big downgrade from Jen. No question about it. Go Pats!!
Bo Sox Yaz
A: You guys are thinking about the Angelina of today, with the 42,000 kids and the appearances at World Economic Forums and the 50-day missions to Tanzania. I was talking about at the time of the Aniston/Jolie swap. No one was calling it a downgrade then. When Angelina was in her prime, things were different, weren’t they? I felt more hopeful, anyway. I get that she’s saving lives and washing the feet of the poor and needy now. Swell. But I miss the Angelina Jolie that made out with family members on national TV and gave off the vibe that absolutely everything was in play. If I had picked up a newspaper (remember them?) in 2000 and read that Angelina Jolie was having an affair with any member of the cast of “Friends” I wouldn’t have blinked. If I had picked up a newspaper in 2000 and read that Angelina Jolie was having an affair with any member of the cast of “Everybody Loves Raymond” I wouldn’t have blinked. She married Billy Bob Thornton — a man 20 years her senior who had been married four times before and fears, among other things, silverware and antique furniture — and I think we all nodded in agreement. Made sense at the time. We need that woman back. Plu,s this: She was a terrific actress for a while. Now she sort of just plays the new version of herself all the time, classy with just a hint of the old girl underneath. But I agree that on Dec. 2, 2009, Ansiton to Jolie is no longer what I would term an upgrade.
I couldn't disagree more — Mimi Rogers to Nicole Kidman is not an upgrade. Have you ever seen Rogers in the movie "Full Body Massage"? Or hear the quotes from Rogers that being married to [Tom] Cruise was like being married to a monk because he didn't want to knock boots? Mimi Rogers is vastly underrated.
A: You don’t have to sell me on Mimi Rogers. I had a VHS copy of “Full Body Massage” that got some serious run in the mid-1990s. Big fan. But Nicole Kidman in 1989 was about as close to perfect as you’ll ever get. Top three all time, I think, along with Kate Beckinsale today and Erin Gray in 1982 (a surprise choice, but I implore you to go back and take a look.)
(Just for the hell of it, I looked it up. Erin Gray and Meredith Baxter Birney never competed in the same “Battle of the Network Stars.” Missed by three years. By the way, between Mrs. Keaton coming out of the closet and all this Tiger stuff, I have smashed my one-day refresh record. My right index finger looks like Larry Bird’s right now. I need some rest. If Grant Goodeve announces that he’s having a sex change and marrying Dick Van Patten, I’m still not looking for the next 48 hours. I think I’ve actually managed to run out of Internet this week. I’ve seen the end.)
With the season series in the rear-view, I wanted to bounce something off you. I get setting a tone with the whole “kiss the rings” B.S. That said, Rex Ryan is not the kind of coach that wins long term. When Week 2 is the Super Bowl, can you expect anything less than for these guys to be playing like it’s the Pro Bowl by Week 10? Next, this mooseknuckle is crying in the locker room and then telling the media that he feels disrespected by a pass play late in the game clearly intended to settle a one-on-one personal grudge matchup. My little cousin used to get people to do what she wanted by being defiant, whining, crying and blaming other people, too. Then someone would get sick of the tantrums and spank her.
For the record, [Darrelle] Revis settled that debate at the expense of a personal and near-franchise-record day for Wes Welker. Someone should tell Rexy that this isn’t fantasy football, and all that was proven out is that he can force the Patriots to embarrass his team with someone other than Moss. This guy has his team on more of an emotional roller coaster than "Tough Love 2" mashed up with "Flavor of Love."
I can’t think of one emotional wreck coach who succeeded in the pros long term. The last real crier we had was [Dick] Vermeil, and his act gets tired rather quickly. Bobby Knight can be a nutjob and an effective leader in college because he holds his “employees” educational security in his extremely aged, unstable and schizophrenic hands. That tune doesn’t play in the pros, and it certainly doesn’t lead to consistent winning. Before I would even think about the ominous threat of the Jets, Mark Sanchez has to stop throwing the ball to the other team and Rex Ryan needs to seek therapy.
Other than that, I am now comfortable saying that if I pretend Maroney is Antowain Smith, I am satisfied with his performances more often. [Sebastian] Vollmer and [Matt] Light are going to collectively put Nick Kaczur out of a job. Darius Butler and Jon Wilhite have proven they can run right alongside of some pretty good receivers, which is not quite the same as coverage but is a step in the right direction from Ellis Hobbs. Speaking of EH3, after seeing the youngbloods out there I am convinced we never gave Ellis his just desserts. He was the best kick-returner we ever had at corner. … Oh, wait, I forgot Troy Brown, who outplayed Ellis at three positions. Sorry, Ellis, you were terrible, but in your defense, at least you weren’t Deltha O’Neal.
Mahalo and Happy Thanksgiving,
A: I'm a little confused. Looks like I've lost "clown shoes" status. Is this a good or bad thing?
Obviously, this is from last week, but I didn’t have a mailbag and one of my few rules is that all Jake Scott e-mails make the cut, so there it is.
Well, Joe Girardi teaching Mark Sanchez how to slide should be the panacea for the Jets problems, right? As we all know, Girardi was one of the great baserunners of the last 50 years. He did steal 44 bases in 15 years, after all. What would bother me if I’m a Jets fan is how pleased Ryan was to be talking about this. Who cares? Sanchez sliding is about problem No. 22,000 for that team.
Again, never believe anything you read about the NFL during the first month of the season. After two weeks, Ryan was Vince Lombardi and the Broncos were the 2001 Patriots. Things change. And I’m as guilty as anyone. After the Jets loss I wrote that the “Patriots could be on a collision course with 8-8.” Moron file stuff. But to be fair to Ryan, it’s tough to judge a first-year coach when he has a rookie quarterback. If they were getting average play week in and and week out, they might be 7-4 or even 8-3.
Enjoy what I think will basically be the AFC East clincher on Sunday. Again, I'll go Pats 27, Miami 17.