Monday, December 5, 2016

#201

Yesterday, Tom Brady did something pretty incredible. He won his 201st game as an NFL starting quarterback. It's an incredible accomplishment. The most amazing part is that he's not done yet. Another half dozen or so this year isn't out of the question. And from there, he can really stretch this thing out.

Which really makes me wonder. Why isn't he considered, hands down, the best quarterback ever? Oh sure, most everyone puts him in the conversation. And, lots of people even have him in that spot. But, why is it even a question. 

I've asked myself the question a lot. Why isn't he Derek Jeter?

I mean, I'm not saying that wins are the ultimate stat. I'm not saying that picking the best of all time is as simple as turning to one stat, and seeing who's the highest. I'm also not sure that "wins" mean very much when they're assigned to an individual in a team sport. But, I do know one thing. They mean a lot more when they're assigned to an NFL quarterback than when assigned to an MLB shortstop. But, nobody had any problem giving them to Jeter. Remember the big debates? Yankees fans admitted that ARod or Nomar had better stats. But, Jeter had the rings. He knew how to win!

Shouldn't Brady get the same consideration?

But, there's more. Brady actually has the personal stats too! He's won MVP awards. He's set passing records. He's led the league in just about any statistical category you can think of. You could make a case that he's the best ever based on stats alone. Jeter could never come close to that!

So, here you have Jeter, who many people want to elevate to greatness based entirely on team win totals. On the other hand, you have Brady who has those team wins, but actually adds in elite personal stats, and you still have people wavering. "Well, Manning has a lot of stats." "Well Montana has lots of rings too." They're able to elevate with just half of Brady's argument. How is that even possible?

What's keeping Brady back? Because he's good looking? So was Jeter, apparently. Because his team wins too much? The Yankees did that. Because the his team is despised? The Yankees? Hello!

So, why isn't this easier? Time and time again we award greatness based on team victories. We award greatness based on postseason performances. We award greatness on statistical excellence. We award greatness to great guys.

With all of those reasons rolled into one, why isn't Brady elevated to a level never seen before?

Especially after win number 201.

Monday, November 14, 2016

That Last Play

Practically before the ball hit the ground, it started on twitter.

Pass Interference! Holding! Something! Anything! Everything! Gotta throw a flag there! Are you kidding me!?!?!?!

Of course, that was occasionally interrupted by: Good non call. Maybe a PI on Gronk.

I'll be the first one to admit that I have no idea what pass interference is anymore. I swear it's a rule installed purely to allow the officials to just decide for themselves who will win the game. It's a coin flip. Which is why so many team have the Heave and Hope as a regular play in their book. But, that's not the point.

As usual, those statements were eventually replaced with: It doesn't matter...first and goal from the goal line, you gotta score there. Can't blame the refs and look for a flag.

To which I always ask, why the heck not?

You hear it every time there's a controversial play in a sporting event. Any game. Any sport. If the call goes against you, you don't complain. You can't whine about the officiating. You just have to make plays. Which always makes me ask, "how come the Seahawks didn't have to 'make the plays'?"

Because, sure. If you have the ball at the one yard line, and can't get the ball in the end zone with four tries, that's pretty pathetic. Only, though, if you get four fair tries. Take this game in particular. First down, they only kinda sort try to score. It makes sense to drain the clock a bit. After all, you have three tries left. Then there's a stuffed run. And a fumbled sneak attempt. All leading to the fade to Gronk. It doesn't matter which one of the three works, as long as one of them does.  But, the Patriots were robbed of that chance. Why is that their problem?

The next response is usually something like: "If they hadn't sucked all game, they wouldn't have been in that position."

Again, true...sort of. Because, apparently they sucked just at the same level as the Seahawks (minus the PI non-call). So, why did the Patriots deserve to lose, but not Seattle? Sure, the Patriots turned the ball over. But, the Seahawks fumbled too. The ref's just chose not to call it a fumble when they did. Why is that on the Patriots?

Why are the Patriots expected to convert their third down, when the Seahawks are allowed to do it while committing the most obvious hold in history?

If the final answer is supposed to be "Don't complain...make plays," how do you make the plays? Don't you make plays by forcing a fumble? Don't you make plays by going after the quarterback on third down? Don't you make plays by setting up the perfect match-up in the end zone? What happens when those "plays" aren't allowed to be made? What then?

And why doesn't Seattle have to make their plays?

Saturday, October 29, 2016

It’s Good to be Gronk, by Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski with Jason Rosenhaus

I don’t need to tell you who Rob Gronkowski is, do I? He’s the best tight end the NFL has ever seen, and has been rewriting the record books since his first play in New England. Of course, you also know that there’s more to Gronk than his play on the field. There
are his antics off the field, and the injuries that keep taking him away from the field. All of these aspects of Gronkowsk’s life are covered in this book, from childhood to the beginning of his career. All the things that made Gronk who he is, and why that’s just so good.

Yes. Rob Gronkowski wrote a book. Yes. It reads exactly how you think a book written by Rob Gronkowski reads. So, if you’re looking for Hemmingway or Shakespeare, this isn’t the book for you. But, if you’re looking for some fluff to read after finishing your Hemmingway or Shakespeare, this might be the perfect book for you. Because, the book does do a great job of giving you some football insight. I admit I didn’t know much about the history of Gronk. I always wondered why, with the way he dominates the NFL, he wasn’t a legend coming out of college. Now I know. He goes through his high school career, and how it made him the player he is today. He talks about his college days, and how it made him a NFL player. It talks about his career in New England. Both the ups and downs. It goes into great detail about what makes Gronk tick. Of course, it goes into the most detail when he’s talking about parties. I’m guessing the amount of space in the book devoted to an NFL season is about equal to the about devoted to one party in college. But, that’s what makes Gronk Gronk. It’s also what makes this a great book for any Patriots fan. If you want to read about what it’s like to be a rookie in the same training camp as Tom Brady, that’s in the book. If you want to know how to build a slip and slide in your house for scantily clad girls, that’s in there too. Truly something for everyone.


Rating: 3 quarters

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Why Doesn't Everyone copy Bill Belichick?

I'm not sure how I missed it. But, it wasn't until I was watching the game last Sunday that I realized the NFL had moved the touchback line. After a kickoff goes for a touchback, instead of bringing the ball out to the 20, the team would get it at the 25. That seemed like a lot. As I watched the game, I noticed that not very often did the teams run the ball out that far. It turns out that the Patriots counted on this. Instead of booming the kicks into the end zone for touchbacks, they kicked it short to encourage/require the Cardinals to run it back. It was a field position game that was easy to play. Especially on the last drive when a return short of the 20 combined with a penalty to start the potential game-winning drive inside the 10 yard line. You may remember that those extra 15 yards were probably kinda important. I saw articles this week wondering if other teams would copy the Patriots strategy of kicking the ball short.

Well duh. Why wouldn't they?

It seemed like such an obvious call. Even in years past, how often did a return go past the 25 yard line? Why would you assume your team can't stop the other team before then? Is it because they don't have the special teams that the Patriots do? Is it because they don't draft good special teams players? 

Maybe they should.

After all, another draft choice the Patriots were laughed at over was selecting a long snapper. Who drafts a long snapper. But, I bet the Cardinals wish they had a really good long snapper on their team Sunday night. Again, it seems so obvious. So many times a game comes down to a field goal attempt. Those attempts need a long snapper. Why not have a good one?

Is it Belichick's cache? Can other coaches not afford the ridicule that would come with drafting a guy just for special teams? Is this where that first championship really did change everything? If Bill doesn't have a ring, can he not get away with drafting special teamers from Rutgers, or with stonewalling the media?

(Another thing I don't understand people not copying. Why on earth would you tell anyone how badly a player is hurt, or where, or how good he is, or what his weaknesses are? How does that help your team? Why do other coaches let that information freely flow?)

Whatever the reason, I don't get it. Sure, Belichick's a coaching genius. Sure, he comes up with ideas before everyone else. But, once other teams have seen the value in a Matthew Slater who makes the pro bowl every year just for his special teams play, why don't they go get one? Can't they show their fan base, or media, or owner, or whomever would give them a hard time that it works? Can't they say, "see...that guy drafted a return specialist and he beats us every year. It works like a charm." Isn't the NFL supposed to be a copycat league?

Why aren't they copying the best ever?

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Is This How Other Fans Feel?

As the Patriots get set to begin their season tomorrow night, I find myself in an unusual position. 

I don't know that they're going to win the game.

It's a little unsettling, since I'm not really sure how long it's been since I felt this way entering a game.

Oh sure, there have been times that I haven't been absolutely sure they were going to win. Naturally, any Super Bowl brings some level of competition that could beat New England. Or, say, going to Denver in the snow. That's always a question. But, through all of that, I always assumed that if the Patriots played their game, they were going to win. That might not be the case tomorrow. Their best might not be good enough. I might not be surprised if they lose.

I know.

Is this how Jets fans watch every game?

I'm really trying to decide when I last felt this way. Maybe game 2 of 2008? But, really, even then there was a feeling that any schmuck could throw it long and let Randy Moss go get it. There was a planned path to victory. But, no Brady and no Gronk? Against a good team? I don't know about this.

Don't get me wrong. This isn't the 90's. I'm not absolutely sure they'll lose. I still have faith in the game plan. There's no reason to think they can't pull it off. I'm just, weirdly, not so sure they will.

So, when I watch the game tomorrow, I'll actually be concerned if they fall behind. I'll have to wonder if they can make up a touchdown or two. I can't just count possessions and assume those will all be touchdowns going forward. I'm actually going to worry while the game is on.

I'm not sure I remember how to do that.

Monday, September 5, 2016

First Draft!

Last night I had my first fantasy football league draft in a long time. How long had it been? I was taking Tony Gonzalez first overall ahead of Randy Moss. So, a while. How did I do last night? Well, I'm not going to pretend that you care. But, as I've always said...it's my blog. So, I get to post what I want!

Here's the team I ended up with. Ten team head-to-head league.

QB Matthew Stafford (DET)
RB Jonathan Stewart (CAR)
RB Jeremy Langford (CHI)
WR Dez Bryant (DAL)
WR Alshon Jeffery (CHI)
TE Rob Gronkowski (NE)
FLEX Brandin Cooks (NO)
D/ST Patriots
K Steven Hauschka (SEA)
B TJ Yeldon (JAX)
B Julius Thomas (JAX)
B Kevin White (CHI)
B Marcus Mariota (TEN)
B Vincent Jackson (TB)
B Chargers D/ST
B Roberto Aguayo

So, how did I do? I had the third pick, and selected Gronk. I would have taken him first overall if I had that pick. For football, I usually go for positional scarcity. Most any decent wide receiver is going to get about 100 yards and a TD. But, the different between Gronk and the next TE is more significant. That's the theory anyway. 

The scheduled bye week caught me off guard. Unlike baseball, I knew when my bye weeks were coming. Took me a bit to realize that my whole team probably shouldn't all have the week five bye. So, I had to rethink my bench strategy mid-draft. 

I also realized that I don't know a lot of football outside of New England. Either that, or just about everyone is really about the same.

But, I did the draft, and now I can't wait to get the season started!

Any thoughts?

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Kicking it Off

Welcome to the first post of my Patriots blog! I know what you're thinking. Aren't you a Red Sox fan? And, you'd be right. But, just because I'm a Sox fan first and foremost, am I supposed to ignore the other sports in town? Certainly not. Might I sometimes have things to say about those sports? Of course I might. Isn't it a great idea to have a place for other Patriots fans to see what I have to say about their favorite team without Red Sox stuff getting in the way? Isn't it just as great to not force Red Sox fans to read my thoughts on the Patriots? Again, yes...and yes! So, I created this little corner of the internet to do just that. How often will I post? Oh, I don't know. Less often than I do on Section 36. But, hopefully enough to keep you interested. It's definitely a work in progress. We'll see how many great features from Section 36 I bring over here. I could certainly see "pictures" being a lot of fun in silver and blue. I'm excited about having a place to talk about some of the great Patriots books I've read. Who knows...maybe I can even get a "visitor" or two to stop by. This should be fun. Stay tuned.

Until then, check out some posts I wrote on Section 36 that talk about the Patriots as well. Enjoy!

In "Well, Now Who's Going to Throw Out the First Pitch" I discuss how lucky we've been to have champions around for opening ceremonies.

In "One Big Family" I talk about the mutual respect and fun that goes on between the Boston Sports teams.

In "The Balls Were Never at 12.5 PSI..." I talk about, well...you know.

In "Which Images Make Your Grid of Champions" I wonder what the iconic image is from each of the recent Boston championships.

I also reviewed the book "Wicked Good Year" by Steve Buckley, which focused on the incredible 2007-2008 stretch in Boston Sports.

The plan is  for me to be adding lots more great content just like that, but right here on this blog. This is where it will be all Patriots, all the time.


I hope you'll be back!

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