Monthly Archives: March 2020

Dark…

…so the title was supposed to mean something different, what with the whole country (world?) seemingly shutting down due to the Coronavirus.

First the NBA

Then the NHL

PGA

NCAA

MLB

MLS

XFL

…and of course everything else right on down the list.  Including restaurants, bars, some stores, construction and all that kind of stuff locally.

People seem to be listening to the warnings to stay home.  Drove around a little last night in my town (gasp!) and it pretty much was a ghost town.

Damn Coronavirus!

So with absolutely no sports to talk about, what the hell is the Blowhard to do?

Do we shut down too?  Not sure what to talk about!  We all for damn sure know there is more than enough coverage about the virus itself, there needs to be nothing else said about it by me.  Not that I could even add anything intelligent about it anyway…we could help spread the news…or at least some misinformation about it.  But why bother?  Does anyone even know what to believe anymore?

I stopped reading coverage.  It’s all over the place.  So are the opinions…which I care even less about.

So I just stay home and stare at a blank TV screen.  Since there are no games…

But wait!

There is something left…NFL free agency.

Glad that was not delayed as well.  Folks were worried about “bad optics” with players getting gazillion dollar contracts during a worldwide health crisis.

Like those wouldn’t have happened anyway.

So why not just do it now?  Especially since sports fans need SOMETHING.  And maybe even non-sports fans need a little bit of this too…for a distraction.  Even if they hate the idea.

As for the local angle, which is really why we are here in the first place, things started off innocuously enough.

Devin McCourty re-signed.  As did Matthew Slater.  And Jason McCourty’s option was picked up.  Also, Adam Butler was tendered at a second round level, making him unlikely to go anywhere.

Although the money was kind of big for the first three, it’s not out of hand.  And it’s not long-term.  So I can live with that.

The Pats then franchised Joe Thuney.  SHOCKING.

Almost 15 mil for a guard.  When their other guard, Shaq Mason, makes like 10 mil.

That’s a LOT of dough for guards.  Thuney was supposedly good last year, according to those who actually grade offensive line play, and Mason has been good in the past (though not last year).  But the line sucked as a whole last season.  So this money is hard to justify.  I guess if they work out a long term deal with Thuney before the deadline in July (I think).  But Joe will still be 8 figures plus every year.

Besides, I thought Belichick only franchised kickers.  Both Adam Vinatieri and Stephen Gostkowski were both franchised by the team…and I think both more than once.  Don’t fact-check me on this, however.

Then yesterday, Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins both departed…well, they can’t officially “depart” until Wednesday when free agency actually starts.  But you get the idea.

They were the first defections.  That mattered anyway.

We thought Van Noy would get paid and walk…and he sure did get paid by the Dolphins.  Thought there was a chance Collins would be cheaper and would stay.  He had a great first half against bum teams, then slowly faded in the second half against better teams.  But he still got 3/30 from old friend Matt Patricia.  Good luck to all that out there in Detroit.

I guess that means Elandon Roberts will re-up at some point.  And that warms my heart.  Ummmmm…no it doesn’t.  He is simply not any good.  At either linebacker or fullback.  Despite what the beat writers want you to think.

We here at the Blowhard do not care about the rest of the Patriot free agents…if you haven’t heard that a million times in this space already.

That means you, Danny Shelton.  And you, Nate Ebner.  And most certainly you, Phillip Dorsett.

Welp, that is a bit of a lie.

Because we cared a smidge about one other guy.

Tom Brady.

Whodya think we were going to say silly, Ted Karras??!!

Yes Brady.  Yes we cared.  No we didn’t necessarily care if he was coming back to the Patriots.  We’ve said time and time again that we are not going to get all worked up about a 43 year old QB.  Despite the legend that he is.  The six Super Bowl rings that he led the Pats to.  The desire to see anyone play their whole career with one team.  The sadness or at least weirdness to see him in a different uniform and finish his career with a different team.

And all that.

But again, we root for the laundry here, and the player that wears that laundry as long as they wear it.  When they go to a different team, we don’t necessarily root for the player to fail (well, depends on who it is I guess…and where they end up…hello Johnny Damon on the Yankees, for example?).

We will NOT root for Brady to fail.  No matter who he goes to.  Even if it is the Jets (unlikely), Bills (probably not) or Dolphins (a chance perhaps?).  Or Steelers.  Or Broncos.  Or Giants.  Or anyone.

I will absolutely have none of that nonsense.

But my rooting interest is still the Patriots.  Simple as that.

Oh wait…in case you missed it, and I don’t know how the hell you may have, Brady announced on Instagram this morning that he will not be returning to the Pats.  There has been no contract agreed to with anyone else, as far as I can tell or have heard.  But he won’t be coming back here.

So the Brady watch is (kind of) over.  For all intents and purposes here anyway.

It will be interesting to see where he lands, no two ways about it.  But the most important part to a lot of us has already been revealed.

My sense all along was that Bill Belichick did not want Brady to come back.  Hell, he wanted Jimmy Football over Tom a few years back, we know that much.  He’s probably glad he was forced to keep Tom though, with the latest Super Bowl wins adding to the trophy case.  But still, it doesn’t change the fact that he wanted to move on from Brady a mere few years ago.

Jimmy Garoppolo is not coming back, however, as some rumors swirling the past few weeks would have you believe.

So who is next?

GREAT question.

Based on the Patriots’ current salary cap situation, wouldn’t it suggest they are riding or dying with Jarrett Stidham this upcoming season?

I know, I know, cap space can be manipulated in many ways.  Trades and cuts and restructurings and all that can happen too.

But at this point, they have very little cap room.  And that has to be a factor for right this second.

Recent rumors have suggested the Pats may be interested in Teddy Bridgewater.  I have a hard time believing they will shell out a ton of dough there though, even if the cap space became available.  Plus, a whole lot of other teams are interested in Bridgewater.

Cam Newton?  Doubt that as well.

Andy Dalton as a stopgap?  Those were the earlier rumors.  But I’d rather just go with Stidham, to be honest.

Lesser “stopgaps” have already agreed to terms with other clubs:  Marcus Mariota, Chad Henne, Case Keenum, Chase Daniel…

Cody Kessler?  Please.

Outside the box QB?  Who no one is talking about?  That may be the best choice of all of the above?

At this point, unless a truly viable QB comes out of the woodwork, I say go with Stidham.

Right now.

But stay tuned…things should get a whole lot more interesting all around…

Pure Unadulterated Gibberish…Conclusion…

Continuing on with more nonsense from the piece the other day…

*While we were talking about trade deadlines for the Celtics, we are less than impressed with the Danny Ainge’s winter partner, Boston Bruins GM Donnie Sweeney’s performance.

Donnie Hockey was able to unload Danton Heinen and his putrid contract (that Sweeney gave Heinen of course).  But Ondrej Kase?  Nick Ritchie?

Underwhelming.

Yeah, they both have “term” left on their contracts.  Love how “term” has become a hot word at each NHL trading deadline in recent years.  But a first round pick for Kase?

I guess unloading David Backes in that deal was a positive too…but the Bs are still on the hook for 3 mil of his dough.

And Kase doesn’t exactly have a storied NHL history, except for being injured.  Haven’t seen him do much since he’s been here either…other than him getting sent to the box for embellishment on Saturday night.

Sure it’s only been a handful of games.  But Kase isn’t what I envisioned for a second line right wing.  The pundits seem to love the deal and him in particular, so I guess I’ll have to give it time.  What else can I do?

Ritchie…whatever.  Heinen is gone and that makes his deal an overall plus.  But he’s miscast on the second line, I can tell you that much.

The Bruins needed scoring and they simply didn’t get it.  With Jake DeBrusk in a long funk and the Bruin power play scuffling a bit in recent games, the lack of scoring punch has been exacerbated perhaps.

I suppose nothing will matter if Tuukka plays like he has been for the most part recently…giving up some nice softies.

The Bs will be alright.  But how far “alright” takes a team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs remains to be seen.  At least they didn’t give up any of their highly touted kids.  Though a lot of their most recent highly touted kids haven’t exactly panned out…so there’s that.

Especially if they suffer from the “President’s Trophy Curse.”  Also especially, if the Tampa Bay Lightning are on a mission to avenge the first round sweep last season after winning the President’s Trophy last year and setting records in the process.  With or without Steven Stamkos.

*NEW ENGLAND REVOLUTION SOCCER!!!  Started Saturday.  I’m excited!!  Are you??!!

Wait a minute, no I’m not.

And guess what?  They played to a tie in their opener.

Shocker.

*XFL.  Still no interest.

Moving on.

*The Patriots have OTHER free agents besides Tom Brady?

GO FIGURE!!

We kind of went through it all 6 weeks ago or so.  But we will take another look as the onset of free agency is upon us.

It goes without saying that I don’t think anyone really cares about the likes of Phillip Dorsett, Elandon Roberts and Shilique Calhoun.  Or even Danny Shelton, Matthew Slater, Nate Ebner or Justin Bethel.  I’d say the same about Ted Karras.

At least I feel that way.

After Brady, the key four are Joe Thuney, Kyle Van Noy, Jamie Collins and Devin McCourty.  Love to have them all back.  And I may actually pay Van Noy.  And slightly overpay McCourty for his leadership.

I have a hard time seeing any of that though.  Especially if Brady leaves.  The Pats may let them ALL walk as part of a total rebuild.

Thuney for sure is gone.  He will command huge dollars.  And the Pats already paid their other guard, Shaq Mason, huge dollars.  Even though the offensive line was fairly putrid overall last season, the feeling here is that they can plug in another serviceable guard for a fraction of Thuney’s cost.

I’d be wary of handing Collins another huge contract.  He wanted one the first time around here.  Got dealt for pennies on the dollar.  Then signed a huge deal with Cleveland.  And didn’t seem to make much of an impact.  He was dominant on a cheap contract early last year.  But the competition was weak.  He sort of disappeared as the schedule got tougher.

I really would consider paying Van Noy.  He fits well in the system and has turned into a very good player.  But at 16 mil plus, will the Pats pay him?  I have my doubts.

If anyone gets overpaid, it’s Devin.  But how much is too much?  He was extremely overpaid in his last deal.  He is getting up there in age.  Who is going to open the vault for him?  His leadership is invaluable, but how much is that worth?  His brother Jason is due 5.5 mil, a ton for him.  The Pats are supposed to keep him at that number.  But what if they don’t?

I do feel like Devin and the Pats work something out.  Maybe at the expense of all the other free agents.  But maybe for the leadership, it will be worth it.

That all being said, it still comes down to Brady.  If he walks, this team could possibly look entirely different next season.  Even if Brady stays it will look different.  But it could be drastic if he goes.

Fun times indeed!

*Last but not least, YOUR BOSTON RED SOX!!

Speaking of fun times!!

This honestly will be a whole nutha column upcoming.

But the Chris Sale situation last week was fun, wasn’t it?

Look, I am not a doctor, but the guy is still going to need Tommy John surgery at some point, no?  So why are they messing around?  Just do it, get him recovered and back for…I guess 2022.  He honestly should have had it last year.  All reports seem to indicate that anyway.

Ownership and Chief Baseball Officer Chaim Bloom can call it what they want.  But this year is some sort of bridge year, right?

The offense should still be fine.  But the pitching staff?  Gross.  Especially if Sale eventually is shut down…which EVERYBODY expects.

Eduardo Rodriguez had an awesome year last year.  But would anyone be surprised if he goes something like 13-11, 4.28 this year?  I won’t.

Counting on Nathan Eovaldi to be a key guy?  Not a great idea.

And the nickel and diming the Sox brass just did to Rafael Devers?  In case you missed it, the team “came to an agreement” with all of their pre-arbitration players on contracts.  Like 20 of them or something.

The Sox “renewed” Devers’ contract.

Big difference.

Yes, the Red Sox are completely within their rights to renew contracts when they can’t come to an agreement otherwise.

But to do it to one of your best players?  Stupid.

If Raffy was asking for 10 million this year, ok.  But I am betting he wasn’t.  Probably more than the almost 700k he got.  But seeing as how all these players have to kind of “pay their dues” before they get PAID, I am betting it wasn’t an outrageous ask.  Something should have been able to have been worked out with his agent.

Again, stupid.  Great way to alienate your players.

Just ask Mookie Betts.

Just like Betts, and especially if he keeps trending up, Devers is going to remember this one.

Guaranteed.

Again, more on the Sox coming up.

But who is excited about the upcoming season?

Not many, I am afraid…

Pure Unadulterated Gibberish…

…some more random crap as I find the time to write something lucid…

*Tom Brady, Tom Brady, Tom Brady, Tom Brady, Tom Brady, TOM F’NG BRADY!!!!

Had enough yet?

As I noted last time, yes I sure have.  February is typically a slow sports month and Brady coverage during that time was everywhere.  Heading into March…no change.

I said, “wake me up in a few weeks”.  And it’s almost time.  The NFL CBA will be presumably ratified on March 12.  Then get ready for even more rampant rumors.

The rumors thus far?  Fun.  But how seriously do we take them?  Tampa, Miami and Indy?  Not seriously.  LA Chargers and Vegas Raiders?  Somewhat.  Dallas?  Intriguing…obviously depends on how the Dak Prescott negotiations/franchise tagging goes.  Tennessee?  Perhaps real…but the latest is that the Titans are using Brady to leverage Ryan Tannehill in their negotiations.  Brady won’t be happy with Mike Vrabel if that is true.  San Fran?  Hmmmmmm…GREAT speculation about Tom going home to the team he rooted for growing up.  And Billy Belichick getting Jimmy Football back.  I deem this extremely unlikely, however.

Pats?  Seems like the most realistic option still, to be honest.  They won’t offer even close to the most money if it comes to that.  That’s a no doubter.  But I think a lot of us think it’s hard to believe that Brady goes to a new organization and has to learn a new offense, or at least new teammates and tendencies and all that if Brady gets to “bring his offense with him”.  Probably be forced to go to all offseason activities, when he has avoided every one of these other than the mandatory ones in recent years here.  Plus, when push comes to shove, will Brady have the stones to leave?  Will Bill actually let him leave, also when push comes to shove?  Also, more importantly, will owner Robert Kraft let him leave?  That’s ALWAYS the wild card.

Nothing would shock me at this point.  I think Bill would let him go.  Robert?  Not so sure?  Brady?  He may just want the love and attention in his first foray into unrestricted free agency.  And in the end, he comes back to NE.  I wouldn’t rule that out at all.  That actually may be the leader in the clubhouse at this point.

Again, crazy enough, I don’t even care either way.  I am not going to worry about a 43 year old quarterback, even though it will be weird (sad?) seeing him in a different uniform.  But I root for the laundry overall, so I will root for the players that wear the laundry (See:  Betts, Mookie).  I will not wish for Brady to fail if he departs, let me get this straight.  I am extremely grateful that arguably the best player of all time played 20 years in New England.  But my allegiances are with the Patriots, not Brady himself, despite all the success he has led us to.  I suppose the six rings have influenced me a bit in my thinking.    But wouldn’t they for most people?

Since Brady is the biggest chip on the free agent market, even at his advanced age, he should be among the first dominos to fall…at least among the QBs.  8 days until the official tampering period starts.  10 until the gates officially open for business.

At this point, my interest is about back to being all in.  Can’t wait.

*All the above being said with being ok with Brady leaving, I’m pumping the brakes on former NFL third stringer Jordan Palmer coming out this week and saying current Pats backup Jarrett Stidham is going to be “a stud”.  And for all of us to “jump on that bandwagon”.

Yup.

More intrigue.

I would have liked to have seen Stidham more last year in a real game.  Looked like he had potential from his performance in the preseason (from whatever real stuff we can actually take from preseason action).  But, let’s hold off on those kinds of bold predictions…for now anyway.

Though Brady didn’t play much his first season either…just sayin’…

*Looks like Kyrie Irving wanted a new coach.

Kenny Atkinson and the Brooklyn Nets “mutually agreed to part ways” the other day.  Kind of out of nowhere.  Atkinson was probably not a Hall of Fame coach.  But coached a couple of bad teams before getting the Nets into the playoffs in his third year.  Not to mention had a hand in developing players such as Spencer Dinwiddie, Joe Harris, Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen during his tenure.

Sure, they were a smidge under .500 this year.  But they were also missing Irving for most of the season and Kevin Durant for the whole season.  Those two, in combination with the aforementioned four and others, would help vault you into competition, no?

So Atkinson gets the gate before he presumably would be able to see all that come to fruition next season.

Then when listening to GM Sean Marks’ rambling comments about “it was mutual between me and Kenny”, “the players had nothing to do with it”, “I would have loved for Kenny to coach Durant and Irving and all these guys” and all that nonsense…all it did was tell me that at least some players didn’t want him there.  And, as always, the finger naturally points to Irving.  And some reports are coming out that Kyrie prefers Tyronn Lue to coach the team.  Big surprise.

I don’t know if Atkinson can coach or not.  But this one completely feels like it has Irving’s fingerprints all over it.  And it again reminds me that I am so glad Kyrie is out of my town.

*Speaking of “my” town and the Nets, that overtime lineup Brad Stevens used against Brooklyn last week was awesome, right?!

In all fairness, Brad had his hands tied a bit…ok, actually, a LOT.  Jayson Tatum didn’t play because of illness.  Kemba Walker was just back from injury and was on a minutes limit.  Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward got hurt during the game and were unavailable.  And Marcus Smart took a couple of dumb fouls at the end of regulation and the beginning of OT and as a result fouled out of the ballgame.

There shouldn’t have even been overtime.  Smart fouling a dude on a three pointer with 0.2 seconds left was just colossally stupid.  As much as I love what Smart brings to the table each game, he still does stupid stuff like this, pushes refs, flops and takes waaaaay too many shots.  I guess we have to just deal with it.  In any event, it wasn’t all his fault, as the 51 points allowed in the fourth quarter and the blown 21 point lead was simply atrocious work by the team overall.

So, back to the OT lineup.  Daniel Theis, Carsen Edwards, Brad Wanamaker, Semi Ojeleye and Javonte Green were your guys.  At least that is what I recall since I don’t even want to go back and confirm it was specifically all of them.

As much as I love myself some Danny Theis, this unit may have trouble beating an over-50 team at the local YMCA.

Hyperbole, I know.  But you get my point.

There needed to be some veteran depth bench moves made by GM Danny Ainge at the trade deadline a ways back.  And he didn’t get it done.  We’ve written about that.  But this just proves it.

As well as that Friday night atrocity against the Utah Jazz at home.  No Brown or Gordo.  And limited Kemba.  But when you are forced to throw Wanamaker out there in crunch time and watch him throw up wide open bricks, including an airball, then you should know you have a problem.

Wanamaker was something like -25 in 26 minutes.  That’s hard to do on a good team.

Sure, once everyone is healthy, the C’s should be competitive.  But not enough for a championship, in my opinion.

I am beginning to think that Ainge and Stevens knew this.  And didn’t want to overpay for anyone at the deadline.  See which, if any, of the kids pan out, see if Gordo opts out after this season…then make appropriate moves over the summer to form a REAL contender.

Wouldn’t make them bad guys or even wrong.

But frustrating, nonetheless…

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