Three words: Bruins in five.
Hardcore puck-talk next week, I promise. This one’s mostly devoted to the draft, plus the usual hate mail. And sorry, Rob, we’re going to learn more than five things today…
I'm a little disappointed in you; I would have thought the ``Ellis Hobbs Sucks’’ article would have been written and posted by the start of the sixth round, but you didn't get it up on WEEI.com until around 11:00 p.m. on Sunday. Maybe you liked him more than we knew.
A: No, Matt. I had that thing in Bradford’s in-box immediately, but he and his minions buried me (again). I will say that once he finally got around to posting it, he included a fabulous picture of Hobbs jiving at his locker. I could virtually see the words, “Felger is a minimum-level guy” coming out of Ellis’ mouth. Outstanding.
Anyway, I want to make one thing clear about the Hobbs era. I don’t blame him. It’s not his fault he sucks. He just is what he is: A nickel guy and good return man. In fact, I think Ellis worked hard and did everything he could to be a good corner. He just didn’t have the skills. He was a tough, confident kid, but it wasn’t enough. If you want to blame someone, blame the Patriots. They didn’t want to pay for Ty Law or Asante Samuel, and their cornerback acquisitions, both in the draft and free agency, were spotty at best during that period. So Hobbs became the No. 1 corner by default. He didn’t put himself in that role. Belichick put him there.
I just watched you moan and groan to Tom ``E’’ Curran on the Monday night Comcast show. I generally agree with you, but I think you're off base bitching over the Pats' getting two fifth-round picks for Ellis Hobbs, who was their No. 1 corner and a third-round pick a few years ago. I actually think that is good value for Hobbs considering he was only a serviceable corner, but more importantly he only had one year remaining on his deal, so the Pats weren't dealing from a position over leverage.
On a side note, I was walking through the city a few weeks ago and saw Bert Breer ``training'' for the marathon. I think it's a dead heat between he and Tanguay for the biggest FUP on CSN.
A: Fair point on Tanguay and Breer, Aaron.
As for the rest, you misheard me. I never said the Pats didn’t get enough for Hobbs. I said the fact they got so little proved he stunk. And because he was their No. 1 corner, it also proved how bad the entire Pats secondary was last year. I stand by that. The point you make on the contract is a fair one. The Eagles may have him for only a year, which diminished his value. Still, if he could play the Pats would have gotten more.
It’s been about a month since I’ve written into the bag ... So I would just like to say goodbye to Mr. ``point-to-my-balls-even-when-I-get-beat-on-a-pass,’’ aka MR. CROTCH CHOP, aka Ellis Hobbs. Thank god.
Now I have a question about the draft. The Patriots signed Shawn Springs, Leigh Bodden, and James Sanders. They just drafted Brandon Meriweather, Terrance Wheatley, and Jonathan Wilhite. Now they get Patrick Chung and they draft Darius Butler. That is eight relatively new DBs. I know they had one of the worst pass defenses in the league, but do you think this is a tad excessive? Don’t get me wrong. I love their new batch of players, but don’t you think they should have addressed ILB? They have Mayo and Bruschi to anchor that spot. Are they hoping Crable is the man? Why not spend some money on ONE proven vet, in either a trade (Sheldon Brown) instead of spending moderate money on several unproven rookies? Let me know, Felger.
A: I don’t blame them for throwing a lot of picks at the secondary. It’s a hard position to project (especially for Belichick, it seems), so you better have a lot of fall-back options. Some guys just aren’t going to work out. On the linebacker thing, I agree with you to an extent. I think Tedy Bruschi has been a liability for a while now. I’ve heard from Patriots sources that Belichick likes his young linebackers, guys like Vince Redd and Gary Guyton. There could certainly be an element of spin there, with the Pats trying to justify the Vrabel move. Or it could be the straight shot. We’ll see. A Jason Taylor signing would certainly change the equation as well. But if Taylor doesn’t come up and the Pats suffer at linebacker this season, there will be some easy second-guesses to be made.
Once again the evil genius fooled the crap out of all of us. To make multiple deals to avoid paying first-round money must mean that Bill thinks this wasn’t as deep a draft as the so-called experts like Peter King (nice call there, fat boy) and Mr. never-has-a-bad-hair-day Mel Kiper (get a real job, Mel) thought. Once again, coach Bill goes outside the box. Last year he hit a granny with Jerod mayo. Let’s hope lightening strikes again.
A: Yes, those deals Belichick made on the second day (trading off 2009 third-rounders for 2010 second rounders) are what you would call no-brainers. Here's the thing, though: This defense needs players, not future picks. I think it’s infinitely more important that Darius Butler or Patrick Chung be able to contribute than it is for the Pats to have three second-round picks next year. If a percentage of the picks don’t contribute, then this is a bad draft -- forget the trades.
I think Bill Belichick will have to be six feet under before he picks a USC defensive player. He will never draft a Pete Carroll-produced player. Sorry, I’m not shocked that there were no linebackers taken high by the Pats.
A: An interesting point. Belichick has now run 10 drafts in New England and he’s only selected two players from Carroll’s Trojans, and both were late-round flyers: Matt Cassel (seventh round in 2005) and linebacker Oscar Lua (seventh round in 2007). USC has had as many players drafted into the NFL over the past decade as anyone, maybe more, and yet only a couple of long-shots made their way to New England. Coincidence? I’m with you, Sean. Unlikely.
Since BB did his usual, trade-a-bunch-of-picks-for-a-bunch-of-other-picks-and-a-bag-of-footballs draft -- is there any chance the Pats pick up Larry Foote, who just got released by Pittsburgh? He played in a 3-4 and would be an upgrade over ``the statue formerly called Bruschi.’’ I’m glad the Pats are so loaded they can waste a second-rounder on a big stiff who can’t even speak English (tackle Sebastian Vollmer) and a third-rounder on a WR who won’t be able to play this year (Brandon Tate)! Is Gisele going to translate the blocking schemes into German for Vollmer? When are you going to ``man up’’ and call BB on his crappy drafts? He’s a great coach, but he shouldn’t be allowed to buy the groceries. Get your lips off BB’s backside! Oh yeah, that headshot of yours on the web site makes it look like you are constipated. Can’t WEEI splurge for the services of a professional photographer to make it look like you're not in pain?
A: Agreed on the photo. Thanks, Rob. How many different ways are you going to try to submarine my career?
As for the rest of the e-mail, wow. You think I’m a Belichick rumpswab? I’d like to introduce you to about 250,000 kids on the Internet. I think you got the wrong guy. Either way, you go way too far in your analysis of Belichick. His drafts haven’t been crappy. They just haven’t been as good as some people think. But I’d still let him pick my groceries any day of the week. I’d choose him to make those decisions over 90 percent of the guys in the league (I’d say the only teams that have consistently drafted better than the Pats this decade are the Colts, Steelers and Chargers). As for Foote, I’d take him.
Good stuff with Albert Breer on draft day -- loved the hard-core football analysis. I have to say that one of the biggest myths propagated by both local and national sports media is that the Patriots' roster is so deep and talent-laden that the team has the luxury of trading out of the first round and trading current picks for assets in future years. You would think that the Patriots actually won their division and made the playoffs last year. What am I missing? Sorry, but the Patriots' roster isn't nearly as good as people want to believe. The defense is, at best, average and, at worst, bad.
The front three are very good against the run but that's it, and Jarvis Green looks like he's on the decline. As for the secondary, I just don't see what Belichick see in James Sanders. Brandon Meriweather looks more and more like he was a reach in the first round and the current crop of corners stink. And, no, Shawn Springs (older than Christ) and Leigh Bodden (a Lions reject) don't inspire confidence. As for Wheatley, all the pre-draft medical reports on him said he had a bum wrist and guess what? He promptly re-injured his wrist within minutes of seeing extended playing time. We already know about the problems at outside linebacker. We could further debate how good the Patriots offensive line really is and the long-term viability of the Patriots receiver position given the coaching staff's inability to develop young talent there, but I'll leave that for another day. It's all fine and good to trade draft picks until you're blue in the face, but let's hope Belichick found some true talent in this and last year's draft classes (other than Mayo, who was a great pick). Otherwise, this team is going to become mediocre fast.
A: Different Jack, same message. I’m more optimistic about the new guys in the secondary than you are. I think, for the most part, when Belichick really tries to solve a problem he succeeds. And so that’s what I’m expecting. I mean, they’ve got to find four or five good players out of their new group of eight -- Sanders, Meriweather, Springs, Bodden, Wheatley, Wilhite, Chung and Butler -- don’t they? That’s a lot of capital to expend in one area and get nothing out of it.
The one thing you said that scared me was the item about Wheatley’s wrist. You’re right: He red-shirted his junior year at Colorado with a chronic wrist problem. If that’s what derails his career, we’ll have another second-guess opportunity on our hands.
I used to love the draft. But now I realize that….
1.) Bill knows more than me.
2.) You cannot project a player's durability.
3.) We should all Tivo it and watch it during Super Bowl halftime.
A: 1. Don’t let that deter you. Second-guessing is part of the fun, even when the guy you’re questioning is one of the best. I enjoy it, anyway. 2. See above. 3. I say we bring back Janet.
Subj: Everette Brown to Carolina = Peppers?
Everette wasn’t drafted until the second round, but he was Carolina’s first pick. Carolina traded away next year’s first round pick to the San Francisco 49ers to ensure they got Everette with their first pick in the second round, the 43rd overall pick. Was the move up to get Everette targeted as the replacement for Peppers?
The Patriots typically maneuvered their way around the 2009 draft, and will have three second round picks in next year’s draft. There is more chance now that the Patriots make a play for Peppers, since the Panthers may want to receive a first round pick for 2010, and the Pats could possibly sweeten the deal with one of their second rounders, or some other combination. The Patriots also freed up cap space by moving Ellis Hobbs.
A: We’ve been trying to talk ourselves into Peppers for two months now, Hamilton. Maybe it’s time to let it go. The money doesn’t work.
Time to take off the rose colored glasses. I love Vrabel also, but the party has been over for over a year. His few sacks and scant pressure made a suspect secondary worse. They needed Bruschi, Rodney and Vrabel all to go to the glue farm. They did him a favor trading him. Do you think anyone would have paid $3.5-4 million this year as a free agent? Asante was not worth 9-10% of the salary cap. He is not a shutdown corner. He lays back seven yards and gives up plenty of completions (I think as many as Hobbs last year). His tackling sucks and he doesn't blitz very often. His No. 1 skill is under cutting routes and making a few picks, hardly worth $10 million a year. He has played five years and how many picks, 25 maybe? Wheatley will be just as good.
A: On Vrabel, you really think the Patriots “did him a favor?” Really? Do I think “anyone would have paid $3.5-4 million this year as a free agent?” Yes. I do. Eric Mangini would have in Cleveland. Rex Ryan would have with the Jets. The Bills might have as well. The Pats traded Vrabel (as opposed to releasing him) because they didn’t want him in the division. Take that to the bank and get your head out of your rear, Pugs. You think the Pats are in the habit of doing favors for their players, especially those they deem expendable? That’s not the team I’ve observed the last decade.
Want to know the scary thing, Pugs? As sucky as that point was, it was actually the best one of your e-mail. It just got worse from there. Do you realize that in Samuel’s last eight playoff games he has six interceptions and four picks returned for touchdowns? Samuel became a fulltime starter in 2005, and over the next four seasons he recorded 23 interceptions, nearly six a year. Since the 1999 season, only one Patriot not named Samuel or Ty Law recorded six interceptions in a season (Tyrone Poole had six in 2003). The team leader last year, Brandon Meriweather, had four. Hobbs had three. You may not like what top cornerbacks get paid, Pugs, but Asante is definitely one of those guys. Sorry.
So the Pats trade with GB for their picks, one of which is the #83 pick, that they got from the Jets for Brett Favre. Then the Pats take the injured Brandon Tate with his suspect knee and hippie lettuce issues. Will this turn out to be the CURSE OF FAVRE for the Pats? Run with the rant...
A: Do I have to? I’ll be the first guy to blame Favre for just about anything, but that’s a little much.
I have agreed with your assessment of Ben Watson. Given that he is supposedly a ``physical specimen with blazing speed,’’ do you think he has the skills and attributes to change into an outside linebacker or defensive end? He may be more productive on defense (where the Pats need more help) than offense. It's time for you to start the campaign.
A: Again, do I have to? This suggestion may have worked when Watson was 12. Not his sixth year in the NFL.
Is there any chance the pats would do some 4-3 with Wilfork and Br ace to get more push up the middle? They used to switch in games early in the BB era. Move Manning out of pocket more?
A: I had heard from some players last year that they would go much more to a 4-3 look in 2008, and it never really happened. So I doubt it.
Appreciate your work. Your critical analysis may not always be on target, but it is thought provoking. You may have been off on Randy Moss. However, after observing him the last two seasons -- not that much. Unless the ball is delivered in the ``bread basket,'' he makes minimal effort to go get it. We always heard about his basketball playing ability. Are you kidding me? Watch Welker & Gaffney put their lives on the line to make EVERY catch.
Ben Watson is a bust. He reminds me of another physical specimen like no other: MLB Vincent Brown. His physique didn't translate on the field. Unless Ben is wide open on the back line of the end zone, he's suspect. If Belichick is such a great football man, what's the infatuation with Watson?
A: I would venture to guess that Belichick lost his “infatuation” with Watson right around the time Ben had that pathetic fumble against the Jets last season. Watson is up for a contract after this season. Let’s see how hard the Pats try to keep him. My guess is not very. As for Moss, he went after balls much harder when he was playing with Brady and for a contract in 2007 than he did for Cassel in 2008.
``When Kevin plays is his decision,’’ said Ainge. ``But I think Kevin plays once the playoffs start. Ultimately, it’s just his decision. Could Kevin play right now? Absolutely. But the question is whether it is in his best interests. I don’t think there’s anyone out there who feels he can’t play.’’
You claim that is Ainge questioning Garnett's heart? Surely you can drum up more interesting controversies than this. Rather than publicly blasting a guy who appears to be nothing if not competitive, wouldn't it make a lot more sense that Ainge was just sort of downplaying the injury?
He essentially said this: ``Kevin will let us know when he's 100 percent. There is no need to risk further injury. He should be fine for the playoffs. He's not so hurt that he couldn't play if he had to, but we'll wait for him to be 100 percent.''
That was just boring old GM-speak. Don't try to spice it up. If you want to question whether Ainge and the Celtics knew more internally than they were letting on, that's a different story.
A: First of all, I don’t need to spice up Ainge’s words. When he said, “when Kevin plays is his decision,” that pretty much says it all. And I don’t know how much stronger you can be than, “I don’t think there’s anyone out there who feels he can’t play.” Those words speak for themselves.
Ainge has pretty much been saying the same thing the entire way. He’s said it's up to Garnett. There is no structural damage. There is no risk of further injury. Again, those are his quotes, not mine. Go check them out. Doc has certainly sung a different tune, and his comments have been widely reported as well. The fact is that there have been conflicting statements from the team throughout -- and I haven’t really drawn any conclusions, regardless of what you and others believe. I've said from start that I have no idea what's going on.
But when a general manager says on the record and for all to hear that his injured star can play if he wants to, that deserves to be in the conversation. If you can't handle it, if you can’t handle having your star player being put in a questionable light, then put your hands over your ears and go back to the kids’ table.
By the way, there has certainly been some toughness in this series. Ben Gordon has been getting shot up to stay in games. Leon Powe put his career and future earnings on the line for his team. Brian Scalabrine has come back from a head injury. Brad Miller gutted it out and somehow managed to attempt a free throw after a vicious blow to the head that nearly put him in a coma … oh, wait. That was just a cut lip. Never mind. The wheelchair can go back in the hallway.
What’s up Felger,
I'm a lifelong Celts fan but after watching all these close games in this Bulls series, I am finding it difficult to watch the end a game. Here's how the final two minutes of a close game go: Player drives to the hoop with the mindset of trying to get fouled rather then actually, you know, score. So they run into someone and fall down assuming a whistle is going to blow. Spoiler alert: it usually does. They shoot their free throws and the other team calls a timeout. Then its just lather, rinse and repeat until the game is over. All the NBA has become is a free throw shooting contest with way too many timeouts, a bunch of bad actors, and a lot of whistle happy refs. It’s unbearable, I can't take it.
A: You’re just discovering this?
Forget five things we learned this week, here are three things I just made up:
1. Hogan Knows Best about Ben Gordon's biceps workout. It looks like a typical pre-game routine for him is 100 free throws, 100 three pointers, 1 protein shake and 500 preacher curls. Word is he is trying to increase the real estate on his 36'' pythons brother! Either a couple of the companies on Stephon's head are going public and looking for additional ad space, or Ben is making room for a bad ass tattoo of Jesus playing 2-guard at UConn with Calhoun in the background walking on water.
2. Mikki Moore has one foul by the time he finishes his Cocoa Puffs, and picks up another at the shoot-around. Learning the rotations, getting comfortable with the system and changing his play haven't been enough, so Doc is instituting a new plan. It's time for a disguise. Mikki should get a haircut, wear Garnett’s jersey, and start (bleeping) dropping mother (bleeping) F-bombs all over the court. Hopefully NBA officials will forget it's him. ANYTHING'S POSSIBLE!!! If not, is a fake mustachio is out of the question?
3. Boston has finally found its replacement for Lucky @ halftime. Starting in round 2, the C's will showcase halftime wheelchair races featuring Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, and a lucky fan who will qualify to win $77,000 from a casino, but will actually win an expired $25 gift certificate to the 99 Restaurant, and a green stuff T-shirt. Paul and Rajon are both great athletes and likely have more wheelchair experience than the average fan, so they both have a taped leg up on any competitor.
PS. Wooly Willy, I know you have a bunch of new bells and whistles and a fancy new Verizon sponsorship, but, CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW!!....good! Your site keeps crashing, freezing and creating errors. Enough with WEEI Vista. Get competent IT professionals to fix this and let the interns go back to picking up coffee, getting berated by Pete or doing Holley's laundry.
A: I thought Dickerson was the replacement for Lucky.
Screw the draft of thugs, drunks and ‘roiders -- and bodyguards shooting at paparazzi. You said you would write a column on the B's run ``after they win a series''.....Well, get to it! And don't forget to put a disclaimer in your article that you're hockey statements over the past week pretty much discredit any hockey insight you provide going forward.
Ooooh, Felgy is scared of the Canadians. Felgy doesn't think Timmy Thomas is up to the challenge of playing Stanley Cup-caliber goal. As Bluto Blutarsky said, ``Well just kiss my ass from now on.''
Instead of your ``where's my mommy’’ angle (being too scared and lacking confidence), follow my lead on this one. I told you this team was different (they are throwbacks to the '88-'92 teams). They hit coming in with elbows high, they beat the (expletive) out of clubs in the corners, they force teams to shoot from outside the dots and above the circles and they have three lines of offensive and physical firepower. They have all the parts to win.
Don't play the role of the antagonizing counterpoint. Step up, and write ``the article.'' Have the balls to say, ``This is the team. This is their chance.''
A: Disclaimer: My hockey statements over the past week pretty much discredit any hockey insight you provide going forward.
This is the team. This is their chance.
Until they get to Detroit.
I was looking forward to your new Baseball show until I heard the details: Felger, Merloni, McAdam, Buckley. Throw in the added noise from the callers, producer boys, and assorted drops, and there will be scant few seconds of less than three people talking at once. Why does WEEI do this to us? Give me any two of the above talent and it’s interesting and funny radio. But four of you (five, including the caller) clawing each other for air space? Too many cooks.
If you want ratings run this idea up the flagpole: Felger and Sarandis. Name a topic, sit back, and enjoy the train wreck. BC talk? Wow. How about PILFs, or some good ass talk. Ted: ``Michael, I don't-understand-what is going on-in your brain.’’ Felger: ``Ted, don't tell me you haven't looked at Gene DeFillipo's ass.’’ The uncomfortable silence alone would be radio GOLD. Just don't put this on morning or afternoon drive, as I will never be able to leave my car.
A: So you’re saying Sarandis wouldn’t give us his list of NFL coaches he’d do?
Felger You DB!
You know Mike, I think I would have tempered my excitement for the Brad Penny signing if I had known that he was doing his offseason conditioning at the Cheesecake Factory. Lord knows he has no problems locating the plate there. And no, Brad, throwing 90 pitches in three innings does not count as cardio.
And while I am on the subject of the Red Sox, let me just ask a quick question. When did Ralph Lauren become part owner of the team? I mean seriously, Earth Day uniforms? I think it's pretty sad when the Savannah Sand Gnats have less gimmicky promotions than one of the most storied franchises in major league baseball. We have home white uniforms, grey throwback road uniforms, red alternate uniforms and blue alternate uniforms. And let's not forget those new awful ``sox’’ hats.
But I’m looking forward to the Baseball Show on Saturday. If you add a telegraph to the simulcast you will really corner Buckley's target audience. Ratings Bonanza! PS, Perk is a BEAST!!!
A: I’ve got to be honest, I think the Sox new road grey uniforms (the regular ones) are such an upgrade that I’m almost willing to forgive everything else they did. I hated when they went from the old, grey, block “Boston” on the front and no names on the back to the red lettering with names. This is a good medium, although I still think they should take the names off.
I'm sick of seeing and hearing you wherever I turn -- TV, radio at home, radio in the car, etc. My fiancée loves you more than he loves me.
Meaghan K. Fortier
A: Try telling him you’d rather have Clay Buchholz (still in AAA) over Albert Pujols (major league-best 25 RBI; on pace for 193). Apparently he’s into that. Maybe he’ll show you more love.
Wow. Why do you even write for a Boston paper? You seem to be the biggest hater. You hate the Pats more than half the morons that post crap on the message boards at other sports websites. How is it that you still have a job in this town? You are a joke. Why don't you go work in NY or someplace that you would like the local pro teams? I can not wait for the day that you get fired.
Mr. Brett Smith
A: Here’s your chance, Rob. Want to put us both out of our misery?
Scratch that. I need to be here so you can at least have one columnist who doesn’t write in increments of five.
Oh, by the way. For those of you chronics who participated in our “Franz” trivia game last week, thanks for playing. We have our winner. Tommy Rider says hi.
“The Baseball Show” with Felger, Lou Merloni, Sean McAdam and Steve Buckley premiers Saturday, May 2, at 9 a.m. on Comcast Sportsnet, with a simulcast on WEEI. “Sports Sunday,” with Felger, premiers Sunday, May 3, at 10 p.m. on Comcast Sportsnet. You can reach Felger at firstname.lastname@example.org.