Friday, January 26, 2007

6-Pack of Sam Adams Boston Ale

1. PATRIOTS REDUX:

The sun came up again. The Patriots franchise did not crash and burn. Life went on. Yes, it too k me a while to digest the loss to the Colts Sunday night and then once more put fingers to the keyboard (that sounds awful! Putting pen to paper is such a better term.) in an attempt to understand what happened. In a nutshell, the Patriots lost. The Colts made more plays in the second half. The Patriots had three chances to cement the game: two chances at the end of the game to put up another score and put the game away, and a final chance to get downfield and try for a last-seconds win. They did not win.

Now, not to be such a spoilsport to the hand-wringing, gnashing of teeth, and rending of garments that has gone on since Sunday night, but last time I checked, even the dynasties that we think of never won every single year. The Steelers had two Super Bowl wins, fell short a few years, then won two more. The 49ers, who I automatically think of as a dynasty, had competition in the 80s from the Giants (two titles), the Redskins (two titles and a SB loss), and da Bears in 85/86. That Bill Parcells and Bill Belichick beat the 49ers 15-13 in that great NFC Championship game so many years ago does nothing to take the shine off of Joe Montana. It is simply impossible to win every year.

That the Patriots made it to the AFC Championship as a #4 seed and had a chance to win the game made 2006 a successful season. Are the current Patriots as good as their 2004 Championship team? Of course not. But they are as good as the 2003 Championship squad (as was last years team), and they are leaps and bounds above the 2001 Championship team. Sometimes it comes down to the people, the players, the breaks, the injuries, the bounces, the missed plays, the missed opportunities. The Patriots as currently constructed are good enough to compete for the Championship EVERY YEAR. That is a dynasty. Heck, that is remarkable. Only the Colts have been consistently at the level to compete like the Patriots and they are looking for their first Super Bowl win in less than two weeks.

So everyone should take a deep breath, relax, and remember the halcyon days of Rod Rust, Dick McPherson, Victor Kiam, the Sullivan Boys, Irving Fryar, Kenneth Sims, Hart Lee Dykes, Tony Eason, Tony Collins, Scott Secules, and all those Patriots teams who stunk so bad that we fans would have gladly given anything for a sniff of a playoff game, heck for a winning season or two! This current team is a joy to watch play, and like the Bird-McHale-Parish Celtics of the 1980s, we should enjoy the Belichick-Brady-Syemour Patriots of today before they are gone.

2. DYNASTIC MONARCHY:

OK, the season is over for the Patriots and we have made peace with 2006. Here are a few things the Patriots need to do this off-season:

a. Tighten-up the Tight-Ends: First and foremost re-sign Dan Graham. He is such a valuable tight-end with his blocking ability along with his pass-catching skills. He may be undervalued in the marketplace, so the Patriots cannot afford to let him get away.
b. Clean-up the Secondary: If Asante Samuel (note to the announcing crew Sunday Night: SAMUEL with no S. His last name is not Samuels!) gets lured away by the big bucks, the position needs to be addressed in the draft and free-agency. There has to be an impact cornerback ripe for the plucking via trade or free-agency out there. The secondary needs another impact safety to go along with a couple new cornerbacks. This is going to be an interesting situation to watch.
c. In with the Old, Out with the Old: The line-backing corps needs an upgrade. Personally, I say to throw the cash at Bears OLB Lance Briggs. Team him with Colvin and have Banta-Cain as the primary back-up, move Vrabel permanently inside and have a top-three round ILB to groom with Tedy Bruschi and Junior Seau (provided they come back) there for back-up/on-field coaching.
d. Action Jackson: Chad Jackson had better plant himself on the hip of Tom Brady this off-season. No one needs to step-up more than Jackson, who was the invisible man around Foxboro this season. If Jackson steps up as the big-play, field-stretching receiver everyone hoped he would be after the draft, then the Patriots offense is going to take a big step forward.
e. Continuity: Basically, if Belichick, Scott Pioli, Brady, the D-Line, and the O-Line are back, then this team is penciled in for anywhere from 10 to 13 victories. The rest of it will sort itself out over the off-season.

3. STILL OUT THERE:

Two arms the Red Sox should be bringing in for the back of the rotation or middle innings:
a. Dan Kolb: last seen as a closer-imploder in Milwaukee, Kolb is a smart reliever who could give a huge lift to the seventh inning if he gets back on track. Heck, he would cost next to nothing.
b. Tony Armas Jr.: Bring back the original Pedro bait! Son of Mr. 43 Home Runs for the Sox back in 1983 (or as my Dad referred to him after yet another strikeout: Tony Harmless), Armas Jr. was sent to the Expos along with some guy named Carl Pavano for Pedro. Armas has a good arm still, and I like the idea of him pitching instead of Jason Johnson when the Sox need a spot start or someone to come in the third inning when Wakefield does not have it going.

4. TUNA ON THE GRILL:

Bill Parcells in New York coaching the Giants in 2008? Sure, why not. He is unpredictable, the Mara family would love to rub the Jones family (Dallas) noses in the hiring, and Tom Coughlin is not going to last very long. Also, Parcells is still beloved in the greater New Jersey area and should be safe from having to deal with an idiot like T.O.

5. EVERTON FC UPDATE:

Sorely lacking the needed consistency to continue from their hot start out the gate at the beginning of the Premiership season, my Toffees are hanging around in the middle of the pack. Alas, with injuries mounting, things do look grim. Leading scorer Andy Johnson is out for a stretch after spraining his ankle. Worse news is that striker James McFadden broke his foot and is undergoing surgery. With less scoring punch, more pressure is going to fall on the back of star defender Joleon Lescott and American goaltender Tim Howard. After watching the Patriots fall, injuries mount for the Toffees, and the Bruins and Celtics float along in a sad season-long swoon, I think that the pitchers and catchers cannot report to spring training for the Sox soon enough.

6. MY PATRIOTS OFFSEASON MANTRA:

2 First Round Draft Picks, A Boatload of Salary Cap Cash, and the Smartest Execs in Football.
2 First Round Draft Picks, A Boatload of Salary Cap Cash, and the Smartest Execs in Football.
2 First Round Draft Picks, A Boatload of Salary Cap Cash, and the Smartest Execs in Football.
2 First Round Draft Picks, A Boatload of Salary Cap Cash, and the Smartest Execs in Football.
2 First Round Draft Picks, A Boatload of Salary Cap Cash, and the Smartest Execs in Football.

(repeat until you feel better)

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