Monthly Archives: August 2014

Changing of the guard

Hope that title wasn’t used yet in any publications or anything relating to the Logan Mankins trade.  I’m sure it has been, but I haven’t seen it.  So I am just going to consider myself clever for coming up with it and leave it at that.  I’ll let everyone else form their own opinions about it.

Sssssoooo…after processing this trade for a day and a half, my initial inclination still stands.  I don’t love it, but can see why it happened.  And I don’t think it makes the Patriots a better team right this second.  But I don’t think it will kill them either.

Logan was a leader on this team, no question.  Carried a lot of weight in that locker room.  Captain.  Long-time veteran.  Perennial All-Pro.  Etc.  But made a lot of money for an offensive guard.  Was aging, though guards seem to play longer than most other positions, I will allow.  And his play had slipped a bit, though I will also allow he was still pretty damn good.  Or seemed to be anyway, I don’t have tangible proof of that, based on the fact that I watch zero game tape like Jaws does and therefore really don’t analyze all the offensive line play.  Maybe he really wasn’t an All-Pro anymore, but still seemed to be reliable, at the absolute worst.  Notice how I am not mentioning how he has all these Pro Bowls to his credit…talk about a joke selection process, especially for offensive linemen.  They can get in every year based on reputation.  So let’s leave that talk alone.

I always thought the salary thing would get in the way after this upcoming season.  I mean, the Patriots had the cap room this year to cover him.  Shoot, they may have even had the cap room to cover him next year, with Brady’s salary going down and the cap rising, among other factors.  But if you factor in Brady probably renegotiating to a higher cap figure, guys like Devin McCourty needing to be re-signed, and of course the whole Darelle Revis most assuredly needing to get paid to stay next year and beyond…then Mankins cap hit in 2015 would likely be a problem.

But now?  Should’ve been able to carry him.  Especially when the offensive line has a huge amount of question marks already.  I think the retirement of Dante Scarnecchia is way overplayed in these parts, but the fact does remain that the offensive line coach is new.  Because of that, there will be an adjustment with that transition, no avoiding it.  Brady ain’t getting any younger, so having the best linemen up front is kinda important.  We want the best players, right?  They’d still be able to carry some kids for the future, have Mankins for another year as a reliable lineman and be able to absorb the cap hit.

But that’s the beauty of the Pats sometimes.  They don’t get bogged down in sentimentality…someone that was great for the franchise for several years, even coming up through the system, can be jettisoned at any given time for any given reason, but primarily because they think it will be the best move for the franchise going forward.  They have been known to move on from players “one year too early, instead of one year too late”, correct?  Now, you can debate some of the dudes they have let go and more specifically, the timing of when they were traded/released.  Like in the cases of Deion Branch, Lawyer Milloy and Richard Seymour most notably.  The timing of those three moves crushed the locker room.  They were exactly as stated above, longtime Patriot stars that were drafted by the team and developed into superstars (or at least very good, key players) and then were unexpectedly pushed out of town by trade.  Either on the eve of the season, or soon after it started.  But once the players realized they had to move on, did it affect the team?  You could argue Branch’s exit may have, since their WR’s that year were putrid.  But I am not sure the latter two moves affected the team at all.  The Pats weren’t that great the year Seymour was ushered out.  But I’m not sure that had much to do with him personally.

I wonder if the Patriots would have released Logan if a trade wasn’t agreed upon?  Sources were coming out today saying that Tim Wright would have been released by the Bucs by the end of the week.  I’m not sure I buy that, even if he wasn’t exactly fitting into the new system over there.  But it would seem that maybe both guys were on the hot seat, and the partners were a good match.  After all, the Bucs were looking at Richie Incognito!  And Timmy Wright is the new Aaron Hernandez!  Ummmm…ok, I don’t want to hear that comparison again, that goes for on or off the field.  Wright may be a “move” tight end, but let’s pump the brakes on saying he will be A-Hern…slam the brakes actually.  I suppose the return is ok for someone that may have been on the way out anyway.  But that remains to be seen.  Either way, adding another weapon for Brady in the passing game and another draft pick can’t hurt.  They also should be able to replace Mankins on the line, even if it may take a bit.  We are not talking about replacing Brady here folks, it shouldn’t be that bad.

So as stunning as it may have been.  As poor as the timing was.  As pissed off as the players are.  I feel that the Patriots will survive.  Understatement, I know.  But come back to me if the line sucks in Week 13.

Beyond all of this though…and it has been in the back of all of our minds for a while I know…it makes you wonder even more what will happen when the organization one day decides that SOMEONE will be a better quarterback for the New England Patriots than one Tom Brady.  Could it be Jimmy Football as soon as next year?  Especially if Brady squawks at his low base salary at age 38?  Or someone else that comes along (er…not you Ryan Mallett)?  We’re gonna find out soon enough folks.  But you think Branch/Milloy/Seymour/Mankins/etc. were “situations”?  That’ll be a whooooooole new ballgame.




Patriots projected roster-v2

Gotta get this one in quick.  Seem to be cutting a few guys early.  Gotta drop another 8 guys by tomorrow.  Little surprised by the Tommy Kelly cut.  Somewhat surprised by the James Anderson cut.  But neither will probably end up being a big deal.  Plus, the bottom of the roster (and practice squad) will be in flux right up until the Opener.  Without further adieu…again, (L) for those whom I consider a lock:

QB:  Tom Brady (L), Jimmy Garoppolo (L), Ryan Mallett:

No changes here.  Part of me still thinks Mallett may be dealt for a minor pick.  Because otherwise he walks at the end of the year for nothing.  Not that he is any good, but it’s good to get something for him anyway, if possible.  If Brady goes down, doesn’t matter who the backup is really.  And don’t tell me “well, Matt Cassel was a backup for years and when Brady went down in 2008, he salvaged the season…and Mallett knows the system and is in a similar position to what Cassel was…blah, blah, blah”.  They still didn’t make the playoffs.  And that team was loaded.

RB:  Shane Vereen (L), James White (L), Brandon Bolden, Stevan Ridley:

Slight change here as Ridley is no longer a lock.  It would be very hard for me to believe that the team would flat out cut him.  But it wouldn’t surprise me if they dangled him for something.  The reality is that he is the best back on the team.  Yes, he fumbles.  Yes, not sure why he seemingly hasn’t addressed it.  But just to jettison him for that seems like a bad idea.  Especially when there are no other “big” backs on the roster.  I’m not including Bolden…or Jonas Gray.  I’m not ruling anything out right now with Ridley though.

WR:  Julian Edelman (L), Danny Amendola (L), Kenbrell Thompkins (L), Brandon LaFell (L), Aaron Dobson (L), Josh Boyce, Matthew Slater (L), Brian Tyms:

Slight change here.  LaFell and Dobson are now locks as Dobson is now off the PUP list and is not a candidate to start there.  Tyms makes it because of his suspension.  Boyce is no longer a lock.  I have done absolutely no research at all.  But I would guess most draftees 4th round and above get two years to prove value in the Belichick regime.  Ras-I Dowling is a notable exception.  And there may be more.  But guys like Tavon Wilson, Jake Bequette, Chad Jackson and Ron Brace got at least two years.  So I am going with that.

TE:  Rob Gronkowski (L), Michael Hoomanawanui (L), James Develin (L):

Only change is now Develin is a lock.  Wouldn’t be surprised to see some shuffling here the first few weeks.  Since we have no idea what Gronk’s real progess is and how bad Hoo-man is actually hurt.  And Develin isn’t really a TE, to boot.  Surprising they haven’t signed a vet yet.  Maybe Gronk and Hoo-man will be ready for the Opener.  We shall see…

OL:  Nate Solder (L), Logan Mankins (L), Ryan Wendell (L), Dan Connolly (L), Sebastian Vollmer (L), Marcus Cannon (L), Cameron Fleming (L), Joe Kline (L), Bryan Stork (L), Jordan Devey:

Only change is Devey replacing Jon Halapio.  Devey has played a ton, hard to see him doing that and then not making the final roster.  Halapio hasn’t even played.  Looks like practice squad for him.  Wendell keeps his spot in large part due to Stork getting hurt.  Don’t rule out Stork ending up on IR either.

DL:  Chandler Jones (L), Vince Wilfork (L), Rob Ninkovich (L), Sealver Siliga (L), Chris Jones (L), Zach Moore (L), Dominique Easley (L), Michael Buchanan:

Several changes here.  As stated above, surprised at the Kelly cut.  Depth may be thin in the first place and he played well when healthy last year.  Already took a pay cut to seemingly fit better.  Smith wasn’t much of a surprise.  Wished he was that “3rd pass rusher” though.  Has had a nice career.  Easley is a lock now, since starting on the NFI list is not an option.  Moore is now a lock because he seems like he may have some talent.  Joe Vellano could sneak in here somewhere still too.  Maybe even Jerel Worthy…but I know nothing about that guy…

LB:  Jerod Mayo (L), Dont’a Hightower (L), Jamie Collins (L), Steve Beauharnais, Chris White, Darius Fleming:

Again, Anderson was a mild surprise.  Looks like Fleming may take his spot.  But the lack of depth behind the starters is concerning.  Probably some activity there the next couple of weeks.

DB:  Darrelle Revis (L), Devin McCourty (L), Alfonzo Dennard (L), Kyle Arrington (L), Logan Ryan (L), Duron Harmon (L), Brandon Browner (L), Nate Ebner, Patrick Chung, Malcolm Butler:

Added Browner officially here, since he will make team and then serve the suspension.  Like Devey, hard to believe Malcolm Butler would play as much as he has and not make the final roster.  I don’t love having to keep Chung, but for special teams purposes either he or Tavon Wilson could nab this spot.  Those were the changes here.

Specialists:  Stephen Gostkowski-K (L), Ryan Allen-P (L), Danny Aiken-LS:

No changes here.  Despite cutting Tyler Ott, still don’t have Aiken as a lock.  The long snapper they plan to use this year could very well be on another roster at this time.  After all, that’s how they got Aiken in the first place I believe.

55 here, including the 2 suspensions.  Like I said though, still expect bottom of the roster volatility.


Flotsam and Jetsam, Part III

One last brain dump, I promise:

*Red Sox Hall of Fame comments:

The Red Sox Hall of Fame induction ceremony was last week.  Four individuals were enshrined:  Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Nomar Garciaparra, and Joe Castiglione.  Interesting group, to say the least.

As big a clown, liar, joke, and any other disparaging word you can say about Rog, and there are many, he does belong in the Red Sox Hall…and the Major League Baseball Hall as well, but that is a topic for a different day.  The guy was one of the best pitchers in baseball for a long time.  Maybe even better once he got those ‘roids going strong, but still a great one even before that.  I have trouble stomaching him, so that’s all I want to say for now.

Pedro absolutely belongs as well.  There can be no dispute on that.  But Nomar?  Hmmmmm…sure he burst on the scene like a house of fire.  But he also fizzled out pretty quickly…though admittedly in other cities.  He technically was around for 9 years in Boston, though 3 of the seasons were abbreviated for one reason or another.  So 6 years of dominance?  OK, Pedro was around for 7 years.  So if you are going to be fair, I suppose due to this deeper look, Nomar belongs as well.

My biggest question is with Joe Castiglione.  By all accounts, Joe is a great guy.  He is a capable announcer.  And he is clearly a big fan of the team…as they say, you can always tell whether the Red Sox were winning or losing by the tone of Joe’s voice.  But this induction has gotten me to wonder if announcers really deserve to be in any Halls of Fame?  There is some skill to announcing a game, don’t get me wrong.  Especially on radio, where you have try a little harder to keep someone’s interest, specifically in today’s day and age with all the distractions in the world.  Some announcers are waaaaay better than others.  Some are complete gasbags.  Some get into the field because their Dads are “legends”.  Some are just simply not knowledgeable.  All different kinds are out there.  But are the top announcers really “Hall of Famers”?  Do they make a real difference in the game?  I’m not entirely sure about that.  It’s not like they are providing any fresh viewpoints on the game or its strategies…they have color analysts for that.  They just tell us what they see on the field.  I have not really thought too much about this until recently.  But a decent topic to debate.

*Tom Werner was almost the commish.  OK, that wasn’t going to happen.  But the fact that they even let him in the voting is kind of laughable.  Most people don’t believe that he was a legit candidate. But he supposedly got 8 votes the first time around.  So some of the owners may have felt otherwise, crazy as that idea sounds.

*Joe Maddon is starting to get on my nerves.  OK, he has been on my nerves for quite some time.  But his recent comments regarding the whole Derek Jeter standing ovations were ridiculous.   In case you missed it, he was upset that Jetes got standing O’s at Tropicana Field when the Yanks were in town.  Wants the fans to cheer the Rays too…first and foremost actually.  Now, you all know my feelings on Jetes.  But it is his farewell tour, so it is what it is.  Also, it does make sense for the home fans to cheer, you know, the HOME team.

But remember, this is Tampa.  No one goes to games.  So when visiting teams are in town, most notably the Yankees and Red Sox, the transplants from up north fill a great deal of the empty seats.  And other transplants may go as well, especially if it’s a nice day and want to enjoy the outdoors (whoops, strike that…stupid dome), who don’t root for Tampa either.  What does Maddon expect from this type of crowd?

So Joe, here are some ideas to get fans to root for Tampa going forward:

  1. Move to a real city that will actually support a Major League Baseball team.
  2. Don’t trade your best pitcher (David Price) while you are still at least within striking distance of a playoff spot (not to mention with a year plus left on his contract, and while you receive a minimal return, which is what they got by all indications).
  3. When your best players come to a time in their career where they deserve a sizable raise in their first free agent contract, don’t trade them EVERY TIME either. Then people will just think you are the Miami/Florida Marlins…though ummmm, they have actually won World Series’.
  4. Get a real ballpark. Catwalks?  Dome cover where tons of balls get lost against?
  5. I could probably go on…but I’m bored with the topic of Maddon now.

*What’s the purpose of sending Jackie Bradley Jr. down to Pawtucket now?  You stick with the guy all year and he is atrocious offensively the whole time.  And you think sending him down with like 15 games to go in Pawtucket’s season will change him around any?  If they were going to send him down, they should have just done it in like June.  Why bother?  I saw some gibberish about saving his options and a 20 day rule and some silliness like that.  I’m sure that is all technically true, but seriously, what’s the sense?  Did Mookie Betts all of sudden become a stud CF the last 3 weeks in AAA?

Speaking of Mookie, you knew this guy is a prospect.  You also knew that he played 2B exclusively.  You also knew Dustin Pedroia’s 8 year extension kicked in this year.  Wouldn’t it have made sense for the Red Sox to experiment playing him in various positions BEFORE this year?  Instead of force feeding him halfway through the season?  And if they do it with Betts (and to other guys like Brock Holt and even Garin Cecchini playing some outfield in Pawtucket this year), why not do it with Yoenis Cespedes?  They want him to play RF for this team, but don’t want to make the move in-season because “they don’t want to throw that much at him now…” or some nonsense like that.  What’s the difference?  Is it that Yoenis is a veteran and they don’t want to tick him off or something?  Seems foolish to me…especially when this season is already over.

Do they send Xander Bogaerts down now as well?  It’s not like he has been that much better than Bradley…and Bradley has the decisive defensive edge.  I wouldn’t.  But it would be nice if he got his head out of his keister.

*Very briefly on the Patriots’ 2nd exhibition game:

I wonder if this whole Stevan Ridley fumbling thing has reached its boiling point.  I essentially said a few weeks ago that the people that thought Ridley would get cut are stupid.  Then he put the ball on the ground again…even though I suppose the fumble would have been overturned had it gone to replay.  No matter, he just can’t be dropping balls on the turf.  So I am starting to wonder myself now.  I really don’t think they will cut him.  But it’s getting to the point that I think they may be willing to take a late round pick for him.  Guys like Tiki Barber and Kevin Faulk overcame their fumbling issues.  Ridley apparently has not.  Adrian Peterson fumbles a lot.  But he also rushes for a billion yards and touchdowns every year, against defenses always stacked to stop him.  Ridley is no AP.  He’s a good back, but not exactly irreplaceable.  Not that Brandon Bolden, Jonas Gray or Roy Finch (or even Shane Vereen or James White) are bell cows…but you don’t need those kinds of backs anymore.  Interesting to see how they handle the 3rd exhibition game.  Then things should clear up a little anyway.

Ryan Mallett played better…but was the last QB off the bench…and it was the Eagles he was playing to boot.  They carried 3 QB’s in Mallett’s first year, as he became acclimated to the pro game a little bit.  Leaning towards that they may do the same thing in Jimmy Garoppolo’s first year as well.  But we will probably get a better feeling on this after the next game too.

I can’t even talk about all the flags.  Please stop.

Mark Sanchez completed ALL of his passes attempted!  Well, one was to the Pats, but still…I found this interesting anyway.

Special teams…ugh…but I have to say, I can’t remember anything special about the special team play from the Patriots in past seasons.  Not that I would anyway.  But I remember saying last year that special teams looked ugly because they were probably trying new bodies and new combinations every time.  Once they figure things out, those guys will be ready for the season and theoretically should play better as a unit.  That’s what I tell myself anyway.  Although this all has nothing to do with Ryan Allen watching a snap fly through his hands.

Please do not try to make a tackle ever again in an exhibition game, Tom Brady.  I’m imagining an injury right now…I have to go…

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