Thursday, May 29, 2014

Cover32: Patriots post-draft roster breakdown: Offensive line | New England Patriots

Patriots post-draft roster breakdown: Offensive line | New England Patriots

On the offensive line the Patriots were led in 2013 by left tackle Nate Solder and right tackle Sebastian Vollmer. The Patriots had uncertainty in the middle of the offensive line at guard and center: Pro Bowl guard Logan Mankins was showing his age as he is now on the wrong side of thirty; veteran center Ryan Wendell appeared to be a hidden gem in 2012 but struggled mightily in 2013; veteran right guard Dan Connolly was the weak link in 2012 and regressed further in 2013 as he once again was the weak link of the offensive line.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Cover32: Patriots post-draft roster breakdown: Receivers & tight ends | New England Patriots

Patriots post-draft roster breakdown: Receivers & tight ends | New England Patriots

The Patriots entered the 2013 season with huge questions at wide receiver and tight end. Just like last year the Patriots prepare to enter training camp with major question marks at both positions. In free agency and the draft the Patriots only re-signed slot receiver Julian Edelman and brought in former Carolina Panthers receiver Brandon LaFell while waiting until their last pick in the seventh round to draft a receiver. At tight end the Patriots are again counting on Rob Gronkowski returning to health after he was slowed last season by recovery from back and forearm surgery; this offseason sees him rehabilitating from his season-ending knee injury. Behind him the Patriots had little depth with H-back Michael Hoomanawanui and the likely on-the-roster-bubble D.J. Williams.

H4TV: Jeff Samardzija Could Turnaround 2014 for the Boston Red Sox - The Sports Journal

Jeff Samardzija Could Turnaround 2014 for the Boston Red Sox - The Sports Journal

However, there is still hope for 2014, and it begins with Chicago Cubs’ general manager Theo Epstein. The former Red Sox GM has the piece of to the puzzle that Boston is missing: starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija. With injuries and ineffectiveness depleting the starting pitching staff, the Red Sox need to find a pitcher to step in as the ace at the top of rotation. Current ace, Jon Lester, has struggled to stop the bleeding twice on their current losing streak, and he, along with John Lackey, have been the only consistently-effective starters for the Red Sox.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Cover32: Patriots post-draft roster breakdown: Running backs | New England Patriots

Patriots post-draft roster breakdown: Running backs | New England Patriots

Running back LeGarrette Blount left without much resistance as an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The Patriots not only have to identify a replacement for Blount, but Ridley, Vereen and back-up Brandon Bolden all are entering the final year of their contracts. The Patriots have hard decisions as to what direction to go with their young running backs.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Five Burning Boston Sports Topics

Five minutes free for me; Five burning topics around Boston Sports for you:


1. Boston Celtics Future Resting on Ping Pong Balls (Again!), but There is Still a Chance for Love!
The Boston Celtics enter Tuesday night with a lot of hope and just a bit of worry.  The Celtics 2013-14 season was one to forget, but all those hideous losses (and unfortunate wins) have left the Celtics with just the fourth worst record and only a ten percent chance of the first pick.  To get in the top three, it is a 33% chance, which hardly inspires confidence. But top three gets one of the top prospects like Duke’s Jabari Parker or Kansas’s Joel Embiid or Andrew Wiggins.


The Celtics fan base’s hopes have been buoyed by the rumors of a potential trade with Minnesota to obtain star power forward Kevin Love.  Maybe the team still has hope with a pick outside of the top three, but as of today the Timberwolves seem to be playing the “we’re not trading Love” card, which of course is ludicrous. Love reportedly wants to go to a winner if traded, but with no veto rights he goes where he is traded. The good news is that few can match the Celtics for draft pick trade capital.


For the Celtics, the best bet may be to trade the pick. Len Bias in 1986, Chauncey Billups instead of Tim Duncan in 1997, and Jeff Green instead of Kevin Durant in 2007 highlight three decades of terrible luck in the lottery.  Trading their lottery pick and their other first round pick (the Celtics have the #17 overall pick courtesy of Brooklyn) may be the best move in they drop out of the top three. Here’s hoping the Celtics gets some Love.
2. Boston Red Sox Nation Hits the Panic Button
It just took a weekend series sweep by the Detroit Tigers to get the panic button lit up on Lansdowne Street. Yes, Clay Buchholz has been mediocre and Jake Peavy’s hot start dissipated in a hurry, but the Sox are far from out of the AL East race. Baltimore, New York, and Toronto are bunched up at the top but none of the three have impressed in 2014.


Baltimore still has questions about their pitching staff as Ubaldo Jimenez has struggled mightily and Tommy Hunter is not a closer for a legitimate contender. Toronto has ridden an insane run by Mark Buehrle that should wind down by June and behind him is a flawed staff.  Finally, the Yankees are in danger of a major tailspin with just one more injury. Put it this way: the Yankees have ridden the hot starts of Yangervis Solarte, Brett Gardner at the plate and Masahiro Tanaka, Adam Warren, and Shawn Kelly on the mound.


A three game losing streak and three games out of first place is not time to panic, especially in mid-May. But the fans were not the only ones panicking, as the Sox front office answered the following question:


3. To Drew or Not to Drew, That is the Question
$4 million down the tubes (thanks Scott Boras!) and Stephen Drew is back in Boston.  Well, by June he should be in Boston, as Drew will likely start a stretch in the minors for a spell to get up to speed. Panic is in the air in the Fens.


Drew is an upgrade at shortstop the rest of the season, at least in the field, but Bogaerts is the long term answer in Boston and pulling him out after two months is counter-intuitive. Bogaerts needs to learn to play shortstop, not get shuttled to third base while Mr. Jenny Dell Will Middlebrooks is out injured.  Drew will help, but the Sox need more than him.  Mike Napoli has struggled, A.J. Pierzynski has been terrible, and take your pick in the outfield: they’ve all been horrible.


Instead of rebuilding, Boston appears to be reloading as they figure that they still have a shot to steal the AL East in 2014. Consider this as the first move, not the only move.


4: Xander Xanadu!
Personally, if I were Tom Werner. John Henry, or Larry Lucchino I would make it a policy that every time Xander Bogaerts comes to the plate at Fenway Park the scoreboard starts playing clips from Xanadu, the 1980 romantic musical fantasy film starring Olivia Newton-John.





Come on, I thought these guys were marketing geniuses! (OK, so it was an excuse to rock out some ELO...tell me I'm not the only one who hears this whenever I hear Xander's name.)


5. Law in the Hall
The New England Patriots added a new member to their Hall of Fame: cornerback Ty Law. It seems appropriate with cornerback Darrelle Revis coming aboard as the Patriots have spent almost a decade trying to find a replacement for Law.  Although he joined the Patriots in the Bill Parcells era, Law really thrived under head coach Pete Carroll (who, based on his success in Seattle, seems to have a solid grasp on finding and developing cornerbacks).


It was Law’s interception return in Super Bowl XXXVI for the first points of the game that first sparked hope that maybe, just maybe, the Patriots could win the game. He peaked with the 2003 Patriots defense which is often overlooked but historically one of the greatest defenses in NFL history.


For Law the Patriots Hall of Fame must have seemed far off when early in 2005 the Patriots released him due to his astronomical cap hit and he later signed with the rival New York Jets. After one season he was on to Kansas City for a couple years, back to the Jets, and then on to Denver.  


It was an acrimonious end (as seems all too common in the Belichick era) but for ten years he was the real face of the Patriots franchise and with Willie McGinest the backbone of a play-off and later Super Bowl champion caliber defense. Heck, with Law in the secondary do the Patriots lose to Jake freaking Plummer and the Broncos in the playoffs after the 2005 season? Does Peyton Manning put up almost 350 yards passing to bring the Colts back from a 21-6 deficit in the 2006 AFC Championship Game? Do the Giants convert on third-and-five on the David Tyree miracle catch? With Law on the field instead of Asante Samuel having the Eli Manning pass hit him between the numbers and David Tyree never gets his fifteen minutes of fame?

One could argue it was Ty Law who was the real glue on those Super Bowl teams.  So congratulations to Law for his induction in the Patriots Hall of Fame. Well deserved, #24.

Cover32: Patriots post-draft roster break down: Quarterbacks | New England Patriots

Patriots post-draft roster break down: Quarterbacks | New England Patriots

The Patriots come into training camp with three quarterbacks.  If they keep all three it may protect the team in the event of a Brady injury. Keeping Mallett protects the Patriots in 2014 from a disaster like the Indianapolis Colts faced in 2011 when they lost Peyton Manning for the season and did not have a quality backup quarterback in place.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Cover32: New England Patriots draft profile: Defensive end Zach Moore | New England Patriots

New England Patriots draft profile: Defensive end Zach Moore | New England Patriots

The New England Patriots continued to add depth to the defensive end position later on in the 2014 NFL Draft selecting Zach Moore from Division II school Concordia University in the sixth round with the 198th overall pick.

Cover32: New England Patriots draft profile: Dominique Easley | New England Patriots

New England Patriots draft profile: Dominique Easley | New England Patriots

The drafting of Easley by New England along with the signing of cornerback Darrelle Revis shows the continued evolution towards the Seattle Seahawks’ heavy-pressure defense that has become the model to stopping high-powered offenses of the modern NFL. 

H4TV: The Boston Bruins Need Changes in Offseason to Challenge for Stanley Cup - The Sports Journal

The Boston Bruins Need Changes in Offseason to Challenge for Stanley Cup - The Sports Journal

The 2013-14 Bruins do not need be blown up ,as they were still the winner of the Presidents’ Trophy, but they do need is a minor shake-up. Looking back on the Montreal series as a whole there are several issues that showed up which will have to be addressed before the 2014-15 campaign starts up in October.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

H4TV: Taking Jimmy Garoppolo Reveals New England’s Plans For the Future - The Sports Journal

Taking Jimmy Garoppolo Reveals New England’s Plans For the Future - The Sports Journal

As the rash of quarterback injuries last year showed the value of a quality backup at the position, the Patriots are wise to address the backup role with Ryan Mallett in his last year. This is a draft pick that has value short-term, but could go down as the steal of the 2014 NFL Draft if Jimmy Garoppolo develops efficiently.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Cover32: New England Patriots draft reveals Bill Belichick not retiring any time soon | New England Patriots

New England Patriots draft reveals Bill Belichick not retiring any time soon | New England Patriots

As the rest of the NFL hopes that Belichick retires to the front office when Brady unsnaps his chin strap for the final time as a Patriot, the New England head coach has never indicated any intention to ride into the sunset of retirement side-by-side with his long-time quarterback. The 2014 NFL Draft may have answered the question at long last and it is not the answer the rest of the NFL (and particularly the AFC East rivals) had hoped to hear: Bill Belichick is not planning to retire any time soon.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

FirstStopFantasy: 2014 NFL Draft Grades: Green Bay Packers – First Stop Fantasy

2014 NFL Draft Grades: Green Bay Packers – First Stop Fantasy

Heading into the 2014 NFL Draft the Green Bay Packers still had needs at wide receiver, safety, tight end, and the defensive line and offensive line–particularly at center.  General manager Ted Thompson has developed a reputation as a shrew drafter able to extract talent throughout the draft. However, with these needs to be filled in the 2014 NFL Draft it was quite the challenge for Thompson and the Packers front office.

Cover32: Patriots make the right move standing pat in first round | New England Patriots

Patriots make the right move standing pat in first round | New England Patriots

For the first time in the Bill Belichick era the Patriots drafted an explosive interior pass-rusher. Last year was the first hint of (finally!) moving in that direction as New England signed free agent Tommy Kelly.

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Cover32: New England’s Draft Day Dilemma | New England Patriots

New England’s Draft Day Dilemma | New England Patriots

What do the New England Patriots do in the NFL Draft this year: Hold the draft position and pick specifically to fill a need? Hold the draft position and take the best available player? Trade up to target a specific playmaker? Trade down and accumulate draft picks?

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Cover32: Is Stephen Gostkowski the best kicker drafted by the Patriots? | New England Patriots

Is Stephen Gostkowski the best kicker drafted by the Patriots? | New England Patriots

This is the final installment of the New England Patriots best draft pick ever feature at cover32.com this off-season. The series finishes with a look at the special teams performers drafted, particularly the kicker and punter positions.

Monday, May 05, 2014

H4TV: 2014 NFL Draft Preview: New England Patriots - The Sports Journal

2014 NFL Draft Preview: New England Patriots - The Sports Journal

As the 2014 NFL Draft approaches this week the New England Patriots have multiple needs to address. The urgent ones include: defensive line, linebacker, and safety on the defense. On offense, there are needs at running back, interior offensive line, and tight end.

MusketFire: New England Patriots Draft Strategy: Expect the Unexpected

New England Patriots Draft Strategy: Expect the Unexpected

For the 2014 NFL Draft all bets are off on whether the Patriots move up, move down, or stay put.  With the depth of quality in the first 100 picks this year (primarily due to the influx of underclassmen) it seems logical for the Patriots to again find a team looking to trade back into the first round of draft in exchange for at least a high second round pick and a third or fourth round selection. Expect the Patriots to again look to add as many quality players to fill in their needs and provide depth on both sides of the ball.

FirstStopFantasy: Kansas City Chiefs 7 Round Mock Draft – First Stop Fantasy

Kansas City Chiefs 7 Round Mock Draft – First Stop Fantasy

After watching division rivals the Denver Broncos add safety T.J. Ward, defensive end DeMarcus Ware, and cornerback Aqib Talib to their defense the Chiefs need to make a statement in the 2014 NFL Draft to get back into the running in ultra-competitive AFC West.  With the San Diego Chargers coming on strong in 2013 and the Chief’s minimal activity in free agency, Kansas City cannot afford to strike out in the draft.

Thursday, May 01, 2014

Cover32: The Kicking Game: Stephen Gostkowski and Ryan Allen | New England Patriots

The Kicking Game: Stephen Gostkowski and Ryan Allen | New England Patriots

With Stephen Gostkowski's high cap charge there still remains a possibility the Patriots bring in serious competition at kicker this offseason. They set the precedent last season with the punter position.

FirstStopFantasy: Jacksonville Jaguars Full Seven Round Mock Draft – First Stop Fantasy

Jacksonville Jaguars Full Seven Round Mock Draft – First Stop Fantasy

Jacksonville Jaguars general manager David Caldwell and head coach Gus Bradley may have a number of quality players available to choose from on May 8th as the first round of the NFL Draft kicks off on next Thursday night. With the third overall draft pick in the first round, the Jaguars may be able to choose between potential impact players such as linebacker Khalil Mack from Buffalo, wide receiver Sammy Watkins from Clemson, defensive end Jadeveon Clowney from South Carolina, and quarterback Blake Bortles from Central Florida.

H4TV: Boston Red Sox Outfield Epitomizes Early Season Struggles - The Sports Journal

Boston Red Sox Outfield Epitomizes Early Season Struggles - The Sports Journal

The Red Sox have had a rough start to 2014 and no position has struggled to produce like the outfield.

New England Patriots: On Vacation as Free Agency Begins - Full Press Coverage

The 2019 NFL year has begun with the advent of free agency and as usual the New England Patriots are one of the quietest teams. While teams ...