Friday, July 31, 2015

MusketFire: New England Patriots Fanbase Needs to Embrace the Deflategate Hate

The New England Patriots fanbase has been approaching this offseason all wrong. This is no time to argue and worry about "Deflategate". The league will brand the Patriots as the new-age Al Davis "Just Win, Baby" Oakland Raiders? Good. Embrace it, New England. Your Patriots are that New York Yankees dynasty that Red Sox fans hated for so long. So just go with it!
It is time for Patriots Nation to step up and embrace the DeflateGate hate.
(If you can't, well, read on because there are some interesting footnotes, public statements by Ted Wells, and technical facts which you can latch onto)

READ MUCH MORE HERE: http://musketfire.com/2015/07/31/new-england-patriots-fanbase-needs-to-embrace-the-deflategate-hate/

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Cover32: What will be the New England Patriots’ top training camp battle?

The New England Patriots have a number of position battles this preseason on both sides of the ball. However, one key performer from 2013 is fighting for playing time in the base offense and the three wide receiver set. Can Aaron Dobson and exceptional athletic abilities force his way past Brandon LaFell and Danny Amendola and back into the offense as a top target of quarterback Tom Brady?

Read more at http://cover32.com/patriots/2015/07/30/what-will-be-the-new-england-patriots-top-training-camp-battle/

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Cover32: New England Patriots Preseason Preview

The New England Patriots officially kick-off the defense of their Super Bowl championship with their first scheduled team practice at training camp starting at 9:15am on Thursday, July 30 at Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, MA. With the players all required to report by Wednesday — and many having already been in the weight room and getting unofficial work done on the field already — the players will be ready to show their form in front of the thousands of fans flocking to see them on the first official weekend of the 2015 season.

Here is where to be and what to watch as the New England Patriots get ready for the 2015 NFL season: http://cover32.com/patriots/2015/07/26/new-england-patriots-preseason-preview/

Friday, July 24, 2015

FirstStopFantasy: CLEVELAND BROWNS: TOP TRAINING CAMP POSITION BATTLES

Coming off a frustrating 2014 season that saw a promising 7-4 start end in with five straight losses and another year on the outside of the playoffs looking in. The Browns made a number of moves in the offseason replacing their quarterback, wide receivers, and working on beefing up the defense. With a strong draft and active on free agency, the Browns are counting on 2015 to play out like the promising first half of the season and not the disappointing finish. Here are some of the most intriguing position battles on both sides of the ball for the Browns as training camp kicks off:

Read much more here: http://firststopfantasy.com/articles/cleveland-browns-top-training-camp-position-battles/

Delusional Red Sox Ownership/Front Office has Doomed the 2015 Season

The Boston Red Sox front office and ownership group are clearly delusional.

The same problems that forced out dynasty building/curse breaking general manager Theo Epstein (twice) remain. The front office brings in free agents/makes moves to boost NESN ratings (where the real money is) and then the general manager is stuck trying to cram these unwanted players onto the manager.

Showing they learned nothing by trading for Adrian Gonzalez and signing Carl Crawford, they continued to meddle rather than let their baseball people re-sign their contributors and unload the unnecessary. The Red Sox kept World Series heroes Mike Napoli and Shane Victorino when their trade value was high and sold low last year on top starters Jon Lester and John Lackey.

The Red Sox could have signed Jon Lester last spring rather than let him get to free agency and have an ace lefty pitcher with experience in the American League East. However, the ownership group wanted to squeeze Lester and not pay him what he was worth. When he left, they had plenty of money to make a splash at third base and convert a lazy, injury-prone shortstop they traded away a decade ago to left field.

Lester and Lackey were not “sexy” television-friendly players. The Red Sox needed splashy signings and of former prospects and exciting World Series heroes (already in Boston or from other teams) to promote their product across New England on television sets. The focus for the front office is less on the field and more on the screen.

What was once an imposing offense now consists of veteran David Ortiz, young stars Mookie Betts and Xander Bogaerts, and then a lot of question marks.

Hanley Ramirez and Pablo Sandoval have been worse than expected in their initial season in Fenway Park. Dustin Pedroia has been injury prone, average at the plate, and could have been replaced at second base by Mookie Betts. Outfielder Shane Victorino has been injury prone and first baseman Mike Napoli continued decline at the plate as well and a potent offense has struggled. The champions of 2013 seem a long way away for these two declining veterans.

Of course, Ramirez and Sandoval never fit the Red Sox hitting philosophy of working counts deep, wearing down starting pitchers to get to the weak underbelly of the middle relievers in the bullpen. Sandoval and Ramirez are free swingers who will chase that off-the-plate slider and ground into a double play on the first pitch of the at-bat. Add in Rusney Castillo as the highest paid AAA outfielder and the Red Sox are in a strange financial conundrum.

Garin Cecchini and Will Middlebrooks could have held down third base for about $1 million per year and put out the same defensive limitations and lack of production that Pablo Sandoval brings to the Sox. Yes, Middlebrooks was sent down to the minor leagues recently by the San Diego Padres and Cecchini is still struggling at Triple-A Pawtucket, but having that 5-years and $95 million to spend on a pitcher seems like a good investment today.

Allen Craig was part of the deal with St. Louis last year to unload veteran pitcher John Lackey right before he was forced to play for the veteran minimum contract for 2015. Rather than cash-in on the best deal in the league, the Sox flipped him for a left fielder/first baseman who could not hit in Craig (and pitcher Joe Kelly).

Rusney Castillo has been a washout--like one-year wonders Shane Victorino and Mike Napoli--and with scrap heap pickups such as All-Star Brock Holt and outfielder Alejandro De Aza outperforming their counterparts it is baffling how the front office swung and missed so completely on their scouting.

Of course, this sad offense may have been enough had the Red Sox had a pitching staff. With Jon Lester forced out the door and John Lackey inexplicably traded away, the Red Sox went into 2015 with an untested group. Clay Buchholz was the veteran of the group and continued his frustrating career with a strong performance marred once more by injury.

Behind Buchholz imports Joe Kelly, Wade Miley, Rick Porcello, and Justin Masterson have been below-average. Miley and Porcello were inexplicably extended by the front office before they even proved they were capable of pitching in the high pressure and high-tension American League East. The Red Sox passed on a rotation anchored by the durable and tested Lester and Lackey and able to handle Buchholz, Miley, Porcello and Rodriguez at the back-end of the rotation.

Masterson has been the expected flame-out (can anyone explain why he was not immediately put into the bullpen as a set-up/middle reliever in spring training?) and the Sox are now forced to lean on 22-year old Eduardo Rodriguez and promote prospect Brian Johnson and middling knuckleballer Steven Wright to the rotation.  

The bullpen has been overused and with Alexi Ogando, Junichi Tazawa and inconsistent lefties Craig Breslow, Tommy Layne, and Robbie Ross forced to pitch more than they should, the Sox are struggling to keep their season afloat. Now with the starting pitching, offense, and bullpen all on the verge of implosion, the Red Sox are watching their season disappear on the wings of a seven-game losing streak.

The starting rotation is exactly what the detractors called it this spring: five number four starters. The offense struggles to work starting pitchers, extend innings, or have enough talent to overcome their free swinging ways. By letting ownership sabotage the team-building philosophy makes the front office overly dependent upon drafting quality players to stock the farm system.

For the Red Sox, this team is another disaster in team-building and likely do not have the Los Angeles Dodgers waiting in the wings to bail them out as they did in 2012. Get used to the mediocre product on the field, Red Sox Nation--the front office paid dearly for it.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Cover32:15 Players on the New England Patriots Offense Roster Bubble Heading into Training Camp

As always with a Bill Belichick team, there is an undrafted free agent, late round draft pick, or unheralded offseason scrap heap signing who will play their way onto the 53-man roster.

There are 15 players on the  offense:
from veteran quarterback Matt Flynn
to young running back Tyler Gaffney
to rookie tight end A.J. Derby
to 2013 4th round draft pick wide receiver Josh Boyce
to offensive lineman Jordan Devey
and more.

Which players on offense are on the roster bubble as they approach the start of training camp next week?

Read much more at: http://cover32.com/patriots/2015/07/21/15-players-on-the-new-england-patriots-offense-roster-bubble-heading-into-training-camp/


MusketFire.com: New England Patriots: Top Position Battles on Offense Heading into Training Camp

The Patriots have four key position battles on offense heading into training camp next week:

1) The Patriots have two 2013 draft picks pushing Danny Amendola to claim the third wide receiver role;

2) At tight end, free agent Scott Chandler is challenging Michael Hoomanawanui for the second tight end role;

3) On the offensive line, the Patriots drafted two interior linemen to h challenge young guards Josh Kline and Jordan Devey; and

4) at running back the Patriots have three players vying for the third down/receiving back role with the departure of Shane Vereen in free agency.

Read on to examine these four roster battles at wide receiver, tight end, guard and running back...

Click here for much more: http://musketfire.com/2015/07/23/new-england-patriots-top-position-battles-on-offense-heading-into-training-camp/

Monday, July 20, 2015

Cover32: New England Patriots defensive players on the roster bubble heading into training camp

As always with a Bill Belichick team, there is an undrafted free agent, late round draft pick, or unheralded offseason scrap heap signing who plays their way onto the roster.

In the past players such as Super Bowl hero cornerback Malcolm Butler, defensive end/linebacker Rob Ninkovich, guard/center Ryan Wendell, running back Jonas Gray, and even quarterback Tom Brady emerged from the roster bubble to become contributors on a championship team.

Kicking off with the defense, here is a look at some of the players on the back-end of the 90-man roster fighting to last through the cut downs and secure a spot on the regular season roster...

New England Patriots defensive players on the roster bubble heading into training camp
Read more at http://cover32.com/patriots/2015/07/20/18-patriots-defensive-players-on-the-roster-bubble-heading-into-training-camp/

Sunday, July 19, 2015

MusketFire.com: New England Patriots: Top Position Battles on Defense Heading into Training Camp

As training camp approaches for the New England Patriots it is time to preview some of the position battles which should be among the highlights of July and August in Foxboro, MA. Despite coming off a Super Bowl championship season, there are numerous battles on both sides of the ball that will be determined throughout camp and the preseason games. Starting with the defense, there is a free for all at the cornerback position; At strong safety, incumbent Patrick Chung faces competition from 2015 second round draft pick Jordan Richards; At linebacker, the Patriots let midseason acquisition coverage linebacker Jonathan Casillas leave and need a replacement; and on the defensive line, New England brought in free agent defensive end/outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard from Cleveland to push veteran Rob Ninkovich.
Click here to read more about each position battle in detail: MusketFire.com New England Patriots: Top Position Battles on Defense Heading into Training Camp

MusketFire.com: New England Patriots Position Battles Defense Training Camp

As training camp approaches for the New England Patriots it is time to preview some of the position battles which should be among the highlights of July and August in Foxboro, MA. Despite coming off a Super Bowl championship season, there are numerous battles on both sides of the ball that will be determined throughout camp and the preseason games. Starting with the defense, there is a free for all at the cornerback position; At strong safety, incumbent Patrick Chung faces competition from 2015 second round draft pick Jordan Richards; At linebacker, the Patriots let midseason acquisition coverage linebacker Jonathan Casillas leave and need a replacement; and on the defensive line, New England brought in free agent defensive end/outside linebacker Jabaal Sheard from Cleveland to push veteran Rob Ninkovich.

Click here for much more: New England Patriots Position Battles Defense Training Camp

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

MusketFire.com: Why the New England Patriots Will Remain a Super Bowl Contender

Why the New England Patriots Will Remain a Super Bowl Contender

The New England Patriots have dealt with deflategate and its fines, penalties and suspension this offseason. Soon all attention will turn to football and the Patriots defending their Super Bowl Championship. With Miami, Buffalo, and the Jets spending heavily to challenge the Patriots, they and the rest of the AFC will targeting the champions. However, certain statistics show the Patriots have a big advantage over their rivals. Read on to discover why the New England Patriots Will Remain a Super Bowl Contender in 2015.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Cover32: Will the secondary be the New England Patriots’ downfall? | New England Patriots

Will the secondary be the New England Patriots’ downfall? | New England Patriots

No position on the New England Patriots will be under as much scrutiny when training camp begins this month as the group of cornerbacks. Gone are four critical players from the 2014 Super Bowl championship secondary as Darrelle Revis, Brandon Browner, Kyle Arrington and Alfonzo Dennard were let go. The cornerbacks may not be as good as the 2014 group, but the New England Patriots are compensating with changes on the defensive line and shoring up the safety position.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Cover32: Five offseason moves in the AFC East that should worry the New England Patriots | New England Patriots

Five offseason moves in the AFC East that should worry the New England Patriots | New England Patriots

This offseason all three teams in the AFC East made a number of big moves in the offseason to try and challenge the New England Patriots. Big moves in free agency, the NFL Draft, and bold trades highlighted the offseason for the Jets, Dolphins, and Bills. What are the five biggest moves made this offseason by the AFC East opponents to challenge the New England Patriots in 2015?


MusketFire: New England Patriots AFC East Analysis: New York Jets

New England Patriots AFC East Analysis: New York Jets

The New York Jets have been busy this offseason in their attempt to catch the New England Patriots in the AFC East. The Jets paid big money to lure Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie back to New York. In addition, cornerback Buster Skrine and safety Marcus Gilchrist were added to the secondary. With wide receiver Brandon Marshall and running backs Stevan Ridley and Zac Stacy added, have the Jets done enough to challenge the Patriots in the AFC East in 2015?

Thursday, July 09, 2015

MusketFire: New England Patriots AFC East Offseason Analysis: Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots AFC East Offseason Analysis: Miami

Are the Miami Dolphins a playoff team in 2015? Have they positioned themselves to challenge the New England Patriots for dominance of the AFC East? One area in which the Dolphins disappointed in the offseason was their inability to find help in the secondary. On offense the wide receivers have a ton of potential but are unproven. On the defensive line the Dolphins signed Ndamukong Suh who is capable of dominating games against most NFL guards and centers in the trenches and is a major force as both a run-stopper and a pass-rusher. He’s arguably the top 4-3 defensive tackle in the NFL, but is he enough to topple the Patriots in the AFC East?

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

Cover32: How does Jerod Mayo fit into the new scheme of the 2015 defense? | New England Patriots

How does Jerod Mayo fit into the new scheme of the 2015 defense? | New England Patriots

New England Patriots veteran Jerod Mayo is coming off yet another season-ending injury. He was injured in week six in 2013 (torn pectoral muscle) against New Orleans and was lost for the rest of the season. Mayo was lost for the season again in week six last year (torn patella tendon) and took a paycut this offseason.
How does he fit in the team's plans for 2015?

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Cover32: The five most impactful rookies this season for the New England Patriots | New England Patriots

The five most impactful rookies this season for the New England Patriots | New England Patriots

Adding players on both sides of the ball, the New England Patriots continued their decade-and-a-half trend of using the draft to find a player who is better or cheaper to eventually upgrade all the positions on the roster. Here are the top five rookies taken in the 2015 NFL Draft who should have a significant impact this year for the Patriots:

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

MusketFire.com: Josh Kline a Surprise Starter for NE Patriots in 2015?

Josh Kline a Surprise Starter for NE Patriots in 2015?

At guard for the New England Patriots, Ryan Wendell is expected to hold down one spot in 2015, but the other spot is wide open. New England will not bring back veteran Dan Connolly but  theydrafted two interior linemen in the fourth round grabbing guard Tre’ Jackson and guard/center Shaq Mason. Those two could compete for the starting job vacated by Connolly but Josh Kline, Chris Barker, Jordan Devey and Caylin Hauptmann will all be competing for the job during training camp as well. Who will be the surprise starter on offense for the New England Patriots in 2015?

FSF Top 100 Players: #73 – Marcell Dareus – First Stop Fantasy

FSF Top 100 Players: #73 – Marcell Dareus – First Stop Fantasy

Coming in at #73 on the First Stop Fantasy Top 100 Players of 2015 is…Buffalo Bills defensive Tackle Marcell Dareus. Is that too high, too low, or just right for the dynamic--but immature off-the-field--defensive tackle?

Scout.com: New England Patriots have Four Roster Issues which could Derail their Super Bowl Hopes in 2017

The New England Patriots have four roster issues which could derail their Super Bowl hopes in 2017. Can they survive an injury at quarterbac...