Good News For Patriots?

One Key Figure Seems To Be Staying Put

The New England Patriots may have lost Dan Pees to retirement (or the Denver Broncos) but at least one key cog of the Patriots staff is staying for another year.

Although Floyd Reese is titled as the Patriots senior football advisor, Reese is an important member of New England’s front office and is one of the few influential voices in the ear of Bill Belichick.

Reese flirted with the idea of moving to Seattle to man the general manager position with Pete Carroll but the Seahawks have reportedly hired Packers executive John Schneider to become their new general manager.

Reese, 62, held the position of general manger of the Tennessee Titans from 1994 to 2006 and served as an analyst on ESPN’s NFL Live before joining the Patriots last season.  Although Resse’s staying may not be the sexiest of news for Pats fans, with him on board for the draft and free agency period, New England will have one more bright mind to help ease the pain of this season’s failure and make improvements for the 2011 Patriots.  

He handles contract negotiations with the Patriots and is a draft guru as his pedigree speaks for itself in Tennessee where he drafted three NFL rookie of the year award winners among his eleven first round draft picks in Eddie George, Jevon Kearse, and Vince Young.  Reese also happened to draft NFL co-MVP Steve McNair.  

With the New England Patriots organization at a crossroads into the new decade, at least one important piece, in Floyd Reese, is staying put to help New England with this uneasy transition.

(AP Photo) (AP Photo)

Not Your Usual Patriots

New England Flops In First Round Of Playoffs

Amid the initial anger and frustration from New England Patriots fans following the 33-14 debacle at Gillette Stadium, New Englanders must have seen this coming.

They just didn’t want to admit it.  

Bill Belichick’s squad was overpowered, under-prepared, and out-matched by the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday.  It was obvious for all to see.  The defense failed to tackle or clog the holes at the line of scrimmage allowing Ray Rice and Willis Mcgahee to run wild on the Patriots defense all day long.

Randy Moss was a non-factor for New England’s offense as was the entire Patriots rushing attack. It was a sad day for Patriots faithful as the realization that the past decade of success is now over and that the present day Patriots aren’t up to snuff.  

New Englanders will look for someone to blame, maybe Bill Belichick for allowing Wes Welker to play at the horrible Reliant Field in Week 17 or Bill O’Brien for not opening up his offensive playbook enough to riddle the Ravens defense.  But the blame cannot solely be placed on a single player or coach for the ending of  the 2009 season.  What lies ahead may be the most important off-season for the New England Patriots and their franchise since the 2002-03 off-season when Rodney Harrison was snatched up by Scott Pioli to help solidify the New England secondary.  

The Patriots need help in the receiving core, linebacking corps, and secondary.  The old mantra of the tough-nose and indestructible Pats is long gone and if Robert Kraft and company don’t want to washed away with the current tide of the NFL, they will need to pony up in free agency, with their own players seeking extenisions, and in the draft.

Tom Brady is getting older, Welker will be recovering from surgery, and it’s clear Moss is not the same player he use to be.  If the Patriots want to take advantage of their skilled players in this short window of opportunity, they need to go the extra mile and make some sacrifices to benefit the franchise in the short-term and long-term.

The Patriots need to evolve with the new decade if they want to play the same brand of football they did in the past decade.  Time will only tell what route they decide to go.  

(AP Photo) (Getty Images)

Welker Tears ACL, MCL

New England Star Wideout Sidelined For Playoffs

As the New England Patriots prepare for their AFC wild-card showdown with the Baltimore Ravens, Bill Belichick and company will have to gameplan for the Ravens defense without one of their offensive stalwarts. 

Wes Welker.

Welker tore both his anterior cruciate ligament and medial collateral ligament in his left knee during New England’s 34-27 loss to the Houston Texans on Sunday and will presumably miss the rest of the season.

With Welker out, the Patriots will have to heavily rely upon the play of rookie Julian Edelman, Randy Moss, and Sam Aiken to pick up the slack of Welker’s absence.  Welker finished the season with a franchise record 123 catches for 1,348 yards and four touchdowns.  

With Edelman left to handled the bulk of Welker’s workload, many fans hope the mini-welker can in fact play like No. 83.  With the injury to the Patriots star wide-out, many fans will also second guess why Welker was playing in the first place in a seemingly meaningless season finale.  

If the Patriots had won, they would have secured the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs without having to wait for the result of the Cincinnati and New York game but as it turned out, even with the loss to the Texans, the Patriots secured the No. 3 seed due to the Jets drubbing of the Bengals.  

So, what remains after the Week 17 loss in the standings is the loss of Wes Welker on the field for the rest of year.  

(AP Photo) (AP Photo)

What Boston Sports Fan Should Be Thankful For These Holidays…

Lots To Be Thankful For As A Boston Sports Fan

Tis’ the season to be jolly, or at least amiable for people around the hub.

Boston sports fans may be turned off by the overall play from the Patriots, injuries to Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, a lack of consistency from the Bruins and of course, a lack of a big bat in the Red Sox off-season shopping.

But don’t be down, it could be worse and Boston sports fans have many things to be happy for or about, especially during the Holiday season.  Here is a list of five things Boston sports fans should be thankful for…

1) The Coaches: Oh what would we do without our managers and coaches?  From Bill Belichick and Terry Francona, to Doc Rivers and Claude Julien, Beantown is lucky enough to have some of the creme of the crop when it comes to head coaches.  Sure, many come with their own faults but for the most part these four figure heads bring a sense of professionalism and integrity (cough Belichick) to the city of Boston and their fans.  

2) Tom Brady: We New Englander’s love TB.  Sure, many others see him as a pretty boy who whines to the referees but we see him as the handsome gentlemen who is one of the best quarterbacks of all-time and dates Giselle.  What we would do to spend one day in Brady’s shoes.  We are thankful for the presence of No. 12 because he brought three super bowls to the Patriots organization and his underdog story has touched us all in some way or another.  

3) Championships This Decade: The total tally is six in the past eight years and has turned Beantown from the city of losers into the city of champions.  Once accustomed to losing seasons and bottom-dwelling franchises, Boston is home to six total championships this decade with three going to the Patriots, two to the Red Sox, and one to the Celtics.  The Bruins have been playoff-bound for a majority of the decade and are on the heels of a Championship.  What a difference a decade can make.

4) Superstar Players: Early on it was Pedro Martinez, Manny Ramirez, Joe Thorton, and Paul Pierce and now its turned to John Lackey, Kevin Garnett, and Zdeno Chara.  With David Ortiz, Curt Schilling, Antoine Walker, and Randy Moss in between, the organizations in Boston have brought the superstars to our beloved city.  Now considered one of the biggest stages and places in sports, its no wonder that big-name players are inking their names in Boston’s checkbook.  It certainly beats the days of Jiri Welch, Jose Offerman, Anson Carter, and Andy Katzenmoyer.

5) World-Class Owners:  Eh, may be stretching myself on this one but there is no denying the good the owners have been doing since taking over in the hub.  Bob Kraft has transformed the Patriots organization and is now reaping the benefits (deserving so).  Although John Henry and Larry Lucchino may take a lot of fire from fans, they have brought two championships in three years to a team that went 86 years without one.  That alone, deserves some recognition.  Then there’s Wyc Grousbeck and Jeremy Jacobs have done some great work with the Celtics and Bruins, keeping both teams competitive and resourceful in the past few years.    

So, there you have it.  Five things that Boston sports fans should be thankful for this holiday season.  It’s still a great time to be a Boston sports fan, even if the last time we’ve won anything was with the Boston Celtics in 2008.  Here’s to many more championships and seasons coming to the scene in 2010.  

Patriots Prove Themselves As Road Warriors

Moss And The Gang Finally Get A Road Win

The media had a field-day with the Randy Moss situation in the locker room and on the press, but Moss had a field-day on the field while silencing his critics– just by letting his play speak for itself.

Moss and company took their road woes and threw them out the window on Sunday as the New England Patriots defeated the Buffalo Bills 17-10 at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Moss had five receptions for 70-yards with one TD as the Patriots star wide-out shut up critics and reporters alike who questioned whether Moss was giving up on his team and teammates.  Tom Brady was shaky on Sunday as he fought through rib, finger, and shoulder injuries.   

The Patriots finally got their first real road win of the season (minus the London contest with Tampa Bay) as they all but locked up the AFC East as both the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets lost on Sunday.  

New England heads home for their last regular season home game of the season with the Jacksonville Jaguars next week before ending the season on the road in Houston against the Texans.

(AP Photo) (AP Photo)  

Patriots Season Hanging In The Balance And On Brady’s Shoulder?

Injuries Could Play A Big Role In End Of Season For Pats

Even the joy of becoming a father to a new baby boy couldn’t heal the nagging injuries of Tom Brady.  New England’s franchise quarterback, who has been fighting injuries to his right finger, rib, and right shoulder, was back at practice the past two days after missing practice on Wednesday.

With the Patriots, uncharacteristically, playing poor football in December, their AFC East and post-season ambitions are up in the air much like the status of No. 12.  However, it looks like Brady will suit up on Sunday against the Buffalo Bills but things don’t look as promising for two of New England’s more prominent defensive linemen.

Defensive tackles Vince Wilfork and Ty Warren did not participate in practice Friday as both are listed as questionable for Sunday’s contest. Other questionable players on the injury report are Tully Banta-Cain, Sam Aiken, Julian Edelman, Jarvis Green, Nick Kaczur, Stephen Neal, Fred Taylor, and Benjamin Watson.

Even with a semi-healthy Brady, the Patriots offense could be in cahoots without Aiken, Edelman, and Watson, spread wide for Brady and the New England pass offense.  

A lot of scenarios are hanging in the balance for Bill Belichick as fans will have to wait to see what he decides to do with his squad full of injuries that have them questionable for Sunday’s game.  And much like the injury report, the Patriots playoff chances could very well be questionable with so many players missing from the playing field.      

Brady To Moss, Still The Unstoppable Toss

Media Frenzy Focused On Randy Moss

With key figures of the New England Patriots organization coming to the defense of their beleaguered star wideout, should we really be paying that much attention to the play, or lack their of, of Randy Moss?

After all, Brady to Moss is still the unstoppable toss.  Right?

Well, one Wes Welker may have something to say about that, as No.83 has benefited more than anyone else from having Moss line up on the opposite side of him in New England.  Sure, Moss may look like he is doggin’ it or quitting on routes, but with other teams gameplans geared to stopping Moss and the deep ball, its alright for our “prima-dona” of a wide receiver to pout every once and a while.

Its obvious that Moss hasn’t put up the type of numbers that New Englanders are accustomed to from No. 81 in the past five games but don’t quit on the 32-year-old.  

Because he hasn’t quit on you.  Not quite yet.  

He has 9 TD’s to go along with 1,074 yards receiving yards this season and despite his one-catch, 16-yard performance last week, there is reason to believe that Moss will turn it around.  Tom Brady, Bill Belichick, and now Bob Kraft have all come to the aid of Moss and his fragile psyche and there’s optimism in Patriots camp that the University of Marshall grad will turn it up in the Patriots remaining three games against the Bills, Jaguars, and Texans.      

You can’t expect the most popular kid at school not to sit and pout for the rest of the day after being called out by the teacher infront of all his classmates.  Moss will get over his little tiff with Big Bad Bill and move his attention to outplaying Terrell Owens and the Buffalo Bills.

If he doesn’t, he can be assured his days in New England, along with Adalius Thomas, are numbered.  

Patriots Claw Their Way Past Panthers

New England Snaps Two-Game Losing Streak

The New England Patriots went into Sunday’s matchup with the Carolina Panthers, playing their worst football since 2002– losers in three of their previous four games, and in dire need of a victory.

If it weren’t for Wes Welker, the Patriots may be looking at a three-way tie atop the AFC East. But with a 10-catch, 105 yard performance, his fifth consecutive 100-yard performance, Welker led the struggling New England Patriots past the Carolina Panthers with a 20-10 win at Gillette Stadium.

Welker’s 105 receptions on the season is the most receptions ever for a player in his first 11 games of a season.  The Patriots (8-5) avoided a serious setback at Foxborough as the Pats took on a struggling Panthers squad, playing without injured quarterback Jake Delhomme.  New England struggled early on to take advantage of backup Matt Moore’s mistakes and their own mistakes had them in a hole late in the second quarter.  They trailed 7-0 late in the second quarter before a Kevin Faulk touchdown-run knotted things up before half-time.

Luckily for the Patriots and Benjamin Watson, the Panthers could never string enough good plays together as Watson put the Patriots up for good with a TD reception in the third quarter.  Two 40+ yard field-goals in the fourth quarter from Stephen Gostkowski wrapped the game up for Bill Belichick.  Belichick’s win, however, wasn’t with controversy as Carolina corner-back Chris Gamble called out Randy Moss for his play on Sunday, stating that Moss was “dogging it” and giving up on his routes.

It was discouraging words, even from an opponent, for Belichick and company as the team thought it was removed from a week of turmoil and distraction as Belichick sent four players, including Moss, home early from team facilities on Wednesday because the players showed up late for morning meetings.  

Even with the Moss distraction and benching of Adalius Thomas, the Patriots are in control of their own destiny as the Pats head to Buffalo next Sunday to take on the Bills (5-8) at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

Due, in large part, to the play of Mr. Wes Welker.

(Getty Images) (Getty Images)

Patriots Will Run The Table For Rest Of Season

The Patriots got their behinds kicked this past weekend. Nobody can argue that but don’t get too excited folks.

They are still a team that can win on any given Sunday and that includes beating the Saints if they face them again.

They will win out their remaining schedule (Dophins, Panthers, Bills, Jaguars, Texans), finish the season 12-4, and go into the playoffs on a high note prepared to contend for a championship.

It’s not over yet!

AFC East Gets A Lot Easier

Dolphins Loss Gives Patriots Breathing Room At The Top

So much for the Miami Dolphins making a run to the top of the AFC East.  A week after many Dolphins players were saying they were in perfect position to supplant the New England Patriots from their spot atop the AFC East due to a manageable schedule for the Fins’ and a tough one for the Pats, Tony Sparano’s gang lost grip of an “easy” win over the Buffalo Bills with a 31-14 drumming on Sunday.   

With 24 points in the fourth quarter, the Bills overpowered the Dolphins as the Bills improved to 4-7 with the Fins falling to 5-6, tying themselves with the New York Jets for second place in the division, 2 1/2 games behind the first place Patriots.  

So, even if the Pats do lose to the undefeated New Orleans Saints on Monday, the Patriots could afford a loss next week to the Dolphins and still maintain control of their destiny atop the AFC East.  But then again, Bill Belichick and company never lose two games in a row and haven’t lost a game in Foxborough since Nov. 30 last year.

Also, lets not look past the Saints on Monday as a solid game from the Patriots could break the Saints perfect season and give the Pats a lot of breathing room in the division.  Silly Dolphins, you had your chance last season without Tom Brady under center for the Patriots, this is Mr. Brady’s and New England’s division now.  

Red Sox Meet With Lackey’s Agent

It’s early in the offseason, but the Red Sox have started to get a feel for how they can give their starting rotation an instant upgrade for next season.

During the General Managers’ Meetings in Chicago this week, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein met with Steve Hilliard, the agent for standout right-hander John Lackey, MLB.com has confirmed.

Free agents can’t negotiate with other teams until after Nov. 20, and when that happens, the floodgates are expected to open for Lackey, considered the best free-agent starter this offseason.

The Red Sox have a preliminary interest in Lackey, and after getting a gauge for how the market will play out this offseason during the GM Meetings, the two sides will likely be in touch more frequently when other teams can get involved.-Full Story