Uh oh?

Sssssoooo…we all know Jimmy Garoppolo got hurt Sunday.  Quite a shame, since it looked like he was going to throw for 800 yards and 10 touchdowns.  Ok, a smidge of an exaggeration.  But he was indeed carving up the ‘Phins.  And was off to a great start in his 4 game “audition”, either for other teams or maybe even for the Pats themselves.   Even with the injury, talk shows have been heating up this quarterback “controversy” this week and wondering if now the organization trades the legend, instead of the kid.  All the talk up to this season was that hopefully the Pats could get some picks or something of worth if they traded Garoppolo after this season, when he has one year left on his contract.  Now the talk is Jimmy G may be the future and Tom Brady could be the one traded.  Interesting to talk about for sure.  But irrelevant at this time I suppose.

We can talk about it for a second here if you wish.  You may ask…what would the Blowhard do?  The answer is…I don’t know.  Sometimes I just simply blindly follow the mantra “In Bill We Trust”.  Therefore, whatever Bill Belichick decides to do, I am fine with.  But…that is a cop-out, I know.  The real answer is…I don’t know.  Jimmy G surely has looked good so far.  But it has been only five and a half quarters (I am not counting any mop-up appearances over his first two seasons).  Brady has looked pretty damn good for 16 years.  And although he is 39 years old, he hasn’t shown much in the way of slowing down.  Sure, being on a great team and having a decent line…as well as not being able to breathe on QB’s or WR’s in the NFL these days…has helped a ton.  But you still have to do the job.  He clearly has.  I expect him to do the same this year when he returns in Week 5.

My initial knee jerk reaction would be to keep the 25-year-old (in November) guy over the guy turning 40 next year, despite the older dude being a legend and probably having a great year or two or even three left.  How can I callously cast Brady aside like that?  I don’t want to, but it just makes too much sense.  IF you think that the younger guy can play at least a high level for the next 15 years himself.  Maybe not at Brady’s level, but perhaps close?  But that is a huge IF.  Especially based on a few quarters of real action.  I can’t really be a judge of that, however.  I don’t see Jimmy every day in practice and working out in the offseason and all that.  But Bill does.  The other coaches do.  So I have to really have to rely on their judgement, especially since they know a whole lot more about football than me (yup, that’s true!)…and they’ve been more than a little successful.

Here’s something I haven’t heard much of this week though.  Jacoby Brissett looked capable in his two and a half quarters Sunday.  “Capable” is not much, I acknowledge.  BUT, pretty good for his first NFL action, with only one training camp under his belt.  Granted, the offense was dumbed down a bit…a lot, actually.  And the fumble was pretty putrid.  But he looked like he belonged.  For about half a game anyway.

The organization drafted Jimmy G high in the second round in 2014, presumably as insurance for a then 37-year-old Brady.  At 37, it would only be natural if his play started to decline and then Jimmy Football would then be “the QB of the future”.  This is certainly not new news.  Nor is it new news that Brady has defied the odds and has played at a high level since then.

Now though, shouldn’t the drafting of Brissett in the third round now mean that HE is the new Garoppolo?  Still pretty high to be taking a QB just to be a backup long-term.  Brady has extended the transition timeline.  Too early to trade a legend in favor of a young player?  Etc.  Again, I have no idea if Brissett or Garoppolo can be long-time starters in the NFL.  But Bill and the team should at least have an inkling.  In any event, it really seems to me the choice is not between Jimmy G and Brady.  I’d say the “plan” is to keep Brady, trade Garoppolo (this offseason most likely) and groom Brissett to take over 3-4 years from now.  The plan that they were supposed to follow with just Jimmy and Tom a couple of years ago.

If Garoppolo is the next Brady and Brissett is the next Average Joe, then that “plan” is obviously stupid.  But don’t we think they know what they are doing?  As of right this second, this is what I believe the Patriots will do.  Doesn’t mean I can’t change my mind by the end of the season though!

So I guess I talked about that for more than a second…

Going back to the particular game, thankfully the Patriots built up that huge 31-3 lead before they got real conservative on offense when Jimmy Football departed.  Because the defense apparently decided the game was already over then.  That was the immensely disappointing aspect of the game.  Why did the defense collapse when they knew what was coming?  Just throw after throw after throw as the Dolphins tried to come back and make it a game?  Stupid.

Moving forward, the defense is one big reason I am not throwing in the towel on the Houston game Thursday.  Sure, if Garoppolo can’t play, then it’s just Brissett.  Who backs up if he is hurt?  I personally think it is telling that the Pats have not signed another veteran QB who can at least hand off if he has to.  I know it would be kind of impossible to get any new QB up to speed in like 3 days.  But a vet who has bounced around could be capable enough if an emergency occurs you would think.  The team hasn’t even worked out any QB’s.  Maybe that means Jimmy will play in some capacity.  Maybe it is a smokescreen.  Maybe they will sign one on Friday for Week 4.  Just gamble Brissett can hold up for one game.  And if he goes down, have Julian Edelman, AJ Derby, James White or Alan Branch hand off or just QB draw the rest of the game and eat the L if necessary.  Who the hell knows?

But I think the D bounces back big-time Thursday after that embarrassment on Sunday.  They keep the score low.  And even with Brissett and a conservative offense, the Pats still have a chance to win.  Houston is the one traveling on a short week and that will help.  Plus, even though the Texans are 2-0, let’s not get too excited.  Both games were at home.  Week 1 against a putrid Bears team.  Week 2 against what appears to be an average KC team.  KC may end up being good, but I don’t believe they are right now, especially on the road.  No Jamal Charles.  No Justin Houston.  Travis Kelce and Jeremy Maclin as guys that can catch the ball, but not much else there.  Alex Smith still the QB.  You get the point.

As the week goes on, I’m feeling better about the Patriots’ chances.  I am not saying they will win the game.  But I think they have a better chance than people realize.  Either way at QB, I am looking forward to it.  If Garoppolo toughs it out and plays, I’ll be impressed.  I also wouldn’t mind seeing Brissett put in a full game to see where he is at.

If they lose, they lose.  I think they beat Buffalo regardless in Week 4.  Then they are 3-1 during the Brady suspension.  That’s where they were supposed to be anyway, right?

Down the stretch we go…

…for the first place Boston Red Sox.  Yup, I said “first place”.  Still seems hard to believe.  17 games left though, so we will see how it plays out.  Tough loss last night, 1-0 to the immortal Kevin Gausman.  But that just goes to show you that no one has any idea how it will go.  Losing 2 out of 3 at home to Baltimore, after taking 2 out of 3 on the road in Toronto.  “Only” winning 4 of 6 against Oakland and San Diego earlier this month.  Two essentially minor league ballclubs.  Yeah, 2 of 3 against anyone especially on the road shouldn’t be bad.  But after outscoring Oakland 27-4 in the first two games of the series, you had to like their chances in Game 3, right?  Nope.  1-0 loss.  Yuck.  An eleven game road trip in mid-August that started 7-2, then ended with 2 losses to another horrible team in Tampa Bay.

Toss all that in and consider that after the 4 game set with the Yankees starting tomorrow, 10 of the final 13 games will be on the road.  10 game trip to Baltimore, Tampa and New York, followed by 3 at home against Toronto.  I suppose the beauty of it is that they are all AL East teams.  But the reality of it is they could go from first place to out of the playoffs in a heartbeat.  And they don’t even need any chicken and beer to do it.

It’s been quite some time since I have written about the Sox.  So, in typical fashion, I’ll be throwing out all kinds of random crap to pretty much catch up.  Thanks a bunch for your understanding!

*Speaking of last night’s game, I like to take the first point to officially apologize to one Mr. Rick Porcello.  Even with the loss, the numbers read 20-4, 3.12 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, over 200 innings.  Etc.  Who on God’s Green Earth saw this coming?  Ok, maybe Ben Cherington did.  (Side note:  with Porcello and the year Hanley Ramirez is having, specifically the 2nd half of his year, perhaps we need to offer up an apology to Ben as well?  Well, he also signed Pablo Sandoval too, so…).  I have no idea if Porcello has a real chance at the Cy Young, even with the 20 wins.  People may shy away from him based on the single fact that he got about 8 runs a game of run support this year.  Others may be blinded by the 59 1/3 innings that Zach Britton has thrown this year, albeit a kind of dominant 60 innings or so.  But it’s been a helluva run.

*Ben just landed a VP of baseball operations job with the Blue Jays.  So let’s not cry for him anymore.  He apparently had a chance at a prime job with the Minnesota Twins as well.  So he’ll be ok.

*I (we) may also owe an apology to David Price also, due to his recent turnaround.  But since I like my 31 million dollar pitchers to have some playoff dominance mixed in, let’s hold off on that for now.

*The biggest thing that makes me nervous over the next two and a half weeks?  John Farrell.  Why, of course!  I suppose I need to give Farrell some credit for the first place team thus far.  But I also remain among the few (several?) that would still like to see him go.

It would seem that the Red Sox have enough talent to be a playoff team.  Always has seemed that way all year.  But…I have never been confident in Farrell’s in-game management.  Or the way he utilizes a bullpen.  Or many other things.  I especially can’t stand his babbling about subluxations and arm angles and arm action and all that stuff he spins when he speaks.  Noe Ramirez pitching in a close game Tuesday when Craig Kimbrel was still available?  Ruining Steven Wright’s season by pinch running him in a game.  Pinch running?  I get trying to utilize the whole roster in an NL park, but the fattest guy on the staff?  Ugh.  Publicly stating that Drew Pomeranz is a “6 inning pitcher” once he arrived in Boston, then in subsequent weeks throwing him out there to blow leads beyond the 6th.  Playing Ryan Hanigan…EVER.  I could go on, but I’m tired.  Let’s just say that there is a good chance that Farrell himself can torpedo this whole thing easily in 17 games.

*I don’t know what happened to Xander Bogaerts in the 2nd half.  But I sure hopes he wakes up soon.

*Good thing Dustin Pedroia hates hitting leadoff.  He’s only been on fire since he started hitting there.  Hate to see what would’ve happened if he stayed in his preferred 2-hole.

*Something that probably only bothers me…along with the Brentz family…Bryce Brentz gets to play in the majors for like 2 months, contributes a bit, then doesn’t get called up along with all the other September additions.  Only 4 players on the 40 man roster didn’t get the call.  Brentz was one of the 4 (Brian Johnson, Williams Jerez and Roenis Elias were the others, for the record).  Obviously, it really doesn’t matter in the end.  Though he really should be able to enjoy the playoff chase!  In all seriousness, I will say that there have been several blowouts recently where Mookie Betts and Jackie Bradley Jr. have to stay in the game because the Sox didn’t have enough outfield depth to yank them.  May have made sense to have another outfielder for that reason alone.

*I know I am not trying to manage the Los Angeles Dodgers toward a World Series championship.  And I know Rich Hill has had some blister issues this year and missed plenty of starts, including some after the Dodgers traded for him.  But I still would have left him in to chase that perfect game last week.

*Yoan Moncada should be glued to the bench the rest of the year.  Maybe not even have him pinch run.  Certainly not pinch hit.  He doesn’t need to get up once every 5 or 6 days to add another strikeout to the ledger.  The kid does look like he has some physical ability.  But it also looks like he needs more ABs.  He certainly needs more playing time at the hot corner if they plan to move him there for the long haul.  His arm looks legit though…makes you wonder why the Sox started him off in the minors at second base.  Seems like a waste of his arm to put him there.  Another strike against him was forgetting the number of outs in a game this weekend.  Not a good look in your first couple weeks in the majors.

Personally, I’d keep him on the bench for as long as this season goes, just to soak in the atmosphere.  Then send him to winter ball to play RF and maybe 3B.  I’d shop Bradley this offseason and if there is a deal to be made, move Mookie back to center and consider Yoan for RF down the road.  Or move Benintendi to center.  Something like that.  But we will worry more about the offseason when we get there.

*One more thing on the offseason though:  Do the Sox try to unload the last 2 years of Hanley’s contract this offseason based on his performance this year?  Or stick him at DH and tell him to do nothing but hit?  Good question.  With David Ortiz not around next year to help keep Hanley “buying in”, I think we need to consider the first option.  He has played ok at first this year.  Not as good as everyone wants to tell you he has played, but certainly serviceable.  But I don’t think I want him there next year.

*The Sox have to rein in their aggressive base running a bit going forward.  Lot of head-scratchers here this year.  Kind of topped off by Brock Holt trying to steal home Sunday down a run and with a guy who had earlier hit a 3 run homer at the plate.  That particular one didn’t come back to haunt them.  But that kind of stuff has got to stop.

*I hate the Yankees.  I hate Joe Girardi.  But he should get even more credit than he already does.  How this guy has had the Yanks in the playoff chase over the past few years with those rosters, I have no idea.  That’s all the positive stuff I’m going to say about that outfit though.

*The AL MVP race seems wide open.  But why is all the Red Sox talk focused on Mookie Betts?  I know Big Papi is a DH only and he has not been as dominant in the 2nd half as he was in the first.  But I feel like he deserves a little more chatter anyway.

*Lastly, let’s talk about this bullpen.  Is it really figured out?  Who do you have faith in out there?  Will Noe Ramirez still get some key innings in September?  Kimbrel doesn’t like to pitch in non-save situations and Farrell apparently won’t force the issue, so how is he going to stay sharp?  Joe Kelly is all of a sudden a key component?  And so on.  A couple of weeks ago, Clay Buchholz was supposed to be the “8th inning” guy.  Think about that for a second.  Now we are all set apparently?  Kelly, Koji Uehara, Heath Hembree, Matt Barnes, Robbie Ross Jr., Fernando Abad, Brad Ziegler…I don’t know.  Don’t rule out Farrell trying to re-implement Junichi Tazawa in high-leverage situations either.

All of the relievers listed above are seemingly capable major league relievers…in the regular season…and maybe only in the 7th inning or earlier (outside of Kimbrel…but he sometimes doesn’t inspire confidence either).  But as the pressure gets greater, how many of these dudes will step up?  Remains to be seen.  I know we all love Koji for what he has done over the past few years.  But I am not ready to say he is “back” based on a few good innings in September.  We shall see…

Ultimately, it was great to enjoy baseball in Boston over the summer again.  So even if they collapse, hell, the Patriots have started so it’s not all that bad!  But the Sox do have the talent to compete.  So hopefully it will be a fun two and a half weeks any way you slice it.  Anything after that would be a welcome bonus for sure.

Random thoughts from Week 1…

…on the New England Patriots of course.  But maybe I’ll sprinkle some other tidbits in from around the league.  I know…exciting!!  Let’s do this:

*Nice game from Jimmy G Sunday night.  I’m not going to get carried away about it though.  Jimmy made a few bad decisions still.  Though admittedly the offensive line left him a little harried more than once.  Great to see him use his legs a little bit.  Completed 73% of his passes as well, though also was helped out by some spectacular catches.  Even got himself a three yard reception on a tipped ball.

But the coaches kept things conservative at times.  In other words, waaaaaay too much LeGarrette Blount.  Didn’t trust Garoppolo fully it seemed.  I suppose with good reason, seeing it was his first NFL start and basically his first significant action in a real game.  So I really shouldn’t complain about that.  But the fumbles.  Gross.  Maybe one was Brandon Bolden’s fault, but they gave it to Jimmy.  Still…they can’t happen.  All in all though, very happy with the effort.

*I was never bothered by all the nonsense about Tom Brady “not helping Jimmy during the preseason” talk.  Maybe he wasn’t.  I’m not sure I would want to “train” my replacement either.  What mattered to me was that the coaches were most assuredly helping Garoppolo.  And they were the ones that were going to draw up the game plans in Weeks 1-4 that would help the team win and presumably play to Jimmy’s strengths.  Isn’t that all that matters?

*Chris Hogan was wide open.  But it was cool to see Garoppolo hit him in stride on the opening touchdown.  As legendary as Brady is, that is not something you have seen a ton of from him on the deep stuff.  Sorry if that offends anyone.  But true.

*After watching football all day Sunday and then Jimmy Football’s performance at night, it appears Jimmy could be a rich man next year.  Assuming he plays at least half-decent the next three games.  I don’t think I need to say it, but there are some less than mediocre QBs in the NFL this year.  Case in point:  I am watching Case Keenum vs. Blaine Gabbert right now.  Keenum is…brutal.  What does that say about #1 overall pick Jared Goff…who looks fantastic in street clothes, complete with the earpiece, clipboard and all that on the sideline.  Jeesh, not only couldn’t he beat out that stiff Keenum, he apparently couldn’t beat out backup Sean Mannion.  I know he’s a kid and all, but…

*Going back to Blount and fumbles…his fumble almost cost them the game.  Up 17-7 with the ball in the 3rd quarter, that was about the worst time to drop the ball.  Once Arizona marched down and scored, I thought that was it.  Credit the Pats of course for not folding the tents up.

But…can’t they do better than Blount at RB?  And I’m not talking about James White, though he did play well, as much as it pains me to admit.  Not as a runner though.  I will never buy into White for that.  And I am certainly not talking about Bolden.  As I said earlier, the official scorer gave that fumble to Garropolo.  But seeing that Bolden didn’t play (from what I could tell) in the backfield after that…maybe the coaches actually gave him the fumble.

Blount did have a nice run on the TD.  I thought his 13 yard run on the 3rd and 11 late was a little overrated, since absolutely no one expected them to run, especially with him.  At least that’s the way I saw it based on the type of defense being played.  On the other runs, there seemed to be too many runs straight into the line.  Yes, the line was makeshift.  But even if it wasn’t, do you think Blount would’ve made something of many of the handoffs?  Me neither.  There has to be better options out there, even on the waiver wire.  Bishop Sankey from the practice squad perhaps?.  But we know Bill loves his Blount.  So things are unlikely to change.

*Malcolm Mitchell dropped the first pass thrown to him.  It was high, but it seemed like he should’ve had it.  Then he made some pretty good plays the rest of the game.  I will say, it took me only about one half of a football game to like him more than Aaron Dobson.  Well, Dobson had a fairly decent rookie year.  Let’s hope Mitchell doesn’t go down the same path.  I’m just so happy Dobson isn’t here.

*Miami’s defense of course concerns me next week, especially if the Pats roll out that same offensive line.  But the game overall doesn’t concern me that much because they have guys like Kenny Stills that get behind the defense and drop like 80 yard TD bombs.  And…the QB is still Ryan Tannehill.  Sure he had a late 4th quarter drive to almost beat the Seahawks.  But then he took a sack to end the game.  OK, there was little hope of the Dolphins driving 82 yards in like 30 seconds.  But until Tannehill proves he is better, I’m not buying in on him either.

*Oooh, Colin Kaepernick is in the game now.  Listen, he can do what he wants during the National Anthem.  I just hope he is actually doing something to impact change OFF the field, if those are his true intentions.  He may well be doing so.  I’ve just never heard anything about it.  That’s about as political as I will ever get.  I just have always despised him ON the field.  Quite simply because he always has been kind of a jackass.  He had a nice run the first year he played.  But has been terrible since then.  And now he cannot beat out the immortal Blaine Gabbert.  Talk to me if you ever get good again.

*I didn’t much like Danny Amendola when he first got to New England.  But he grew on me after the initial year and last night was just another reason to stay on the bandwagon.  Seems like he didn’t play much early.  He was returning punts, which was a surprise to me.  I am hoping to keep him and Julian Edelman off those returns this year so they don’t get hurt.  Let Cyrus Jones and others do it…and use Danny and Julian only in emergencies.  Amendola had of course spent the whole preseason on the PUP list.  So it wasn’t ideal to see him back there Sunday.  Anyway, after apparently seeing limited action at receiver early on, he then came out and made some big catches in the 4th quarter.  Gotta tip your cap to him.  I am anyway…

*I didn’t much like Jim Gray as a reporter/announcer/interviewer/etc…ever.  I wish Brady would stop using him as his personal interviewer.  Talk about a clown.

*MY head still hurts from all those headshots Cam Newton was taking last Thursday against the Broncos.

*Terrance Williams…really?  Cutting inside with little time left and no timeouts?  Even Dez Bryant was smart enough to know you should’ve easily stepped out-of-bounds there.

*Another banner week for kickers.  How can there not be 32 good kickers in this entire world?  Just 32 is all we need.  A lot of people don’t like the money the Patriots are paying Stephen Gostkowski.  Comparatively speaking, it’s not a lot.  But I’d do it for him or Justin Tucker or any reliable one.  Because there just aren’t that many.

*The Pats D better work on their tackling this week in practice.  A couple of atrocious plays there.

I think this may be all I have at this point.  Oh wait, glad to see the Colts did nothing to improve their defense this past offseason.  Glad to see the Chargers are still the Chargers.  The Browns still stink.  And seeing that the Saints still don’t have any defense either, didn’t Jack del Rio kind of HAVE to go for two there?  Ok, I wouldn’t have…and…now I’m done…

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