Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Getting ahead of myself


A couple of quick items - What happened in San Diego was just ugly, and the defense has me concerned. More than Castle. Right now Castle isn't significantly different from the 2001 Tom Brady (through six Brady-games they were 3-4 overall, 3-3 under Brady). Unfortunately, I'm not convinced that this defense is as good as the 2001 D. After six games the Pats were 3-3 in 2001.

Things began happening in 2001 that I don't see happening now. The offensive line began to gel back then. It doesn't look like it's even beginning to now, and it suffered key injuries that will slow it down even more. The defense, which sent a message in its game against the Colts that season (what Pats fan can forget the Bryan Cox hit), looks more like the pavement defense of 2002 (constantly getting steamrolled).

For this team to make noise, they need to get better. Particularly on defense. It's how they won in 2001, it's how they need to win now. The division is wide open and the Bills right now are best positioned to get to the second season.

Let's hope they rise to the occasion.

Over on the diamond....

The Red Sox are in a big hole.

No excuses.

The Rays have risen to every challenge the Sox have thrown at them. Every time the Sox crept within striking distance of the division lead, the Rays fended them off. The Sox put them in an early hole with their win in Tampa.

The Sox spit the bit, and I do think this is on Terry Francona, in game two with a two run lead when Josh Beckett had shown inning after inning that he couldn't protect a lead. I'm not calling for Francona's head. He's earned the pass on something like this - more often than not since he's been with the Sox, its worked out for him.

The bottom line is that the Rays are on the verge of their first World Series appearance in team history.

I'm not giving up hope - the Sox had their backs to the wall before (three game to none lead against the Yankees in 2004, down three games to one against the Indians last year...sound familiar) and managed to dig themselves out. Twice, okay. But three times, I have a hard time believing they can dig themselves out of this hole. I won't say it's one of their own making either, because that would diminish what Tampa has accomplished.

It would also diminish what Boston has accomplished.

And neither team deserves that.

Hey, Tampa, if you win, I'll be rooting for you, if for no other reason than the knife in the Steinbrenners' backs that it would be for the second lowest payroll to walk away with the title.

Sometimes you just have to see the beauty in all things.

As for coach of the year, it's hard not to consider Joe Maddon the hands-down winner. He took a team that went from worst and was a perennial joke in the American League East to the verge of the World Series. Even if the Sox somehow manage to pull it off and eliminate the Rays from the playoffs, Maddon deserves the award.

People will argue this, but Francona deserves consideration. Hank Steinbrenner whined about the injuries to the Yankees (somehow $210+ million doesn't buy enough depth to overcome injuries, wow, I guess it just doesn't go as far as it used to), but Francona kept the Sox in the race in spite of no effective number five starter, injuries to Daisuke Matsuzaka, and Beckett, not to mention losing JD Drew and David Ortiz for close to a third of the year due to injury, losing Mike Lowell for periods of time to an injury that he continued to try and play through, and dealing with a petulant Manny Ramirez.

He doesn't deserve to beat Maddon, but the only person that deserves additional consideration in the American League is Ron Gardenhire in Minnesota. The fact that the Twins were even in the mix at the end of the season is nothing short of a miracle given the talent that team cut loose in the off-season.


Chris Stone said...

regarding the Pats... I totally agree with the defense. I'm not sure what the problem is. I actually thought they upgraded over the off season. The rookies they brought in look great. sure it will take a few games to bring the rookies on board (tho mayo has been doing well), but they act totally stymied. the defense has been the biggest disappointment of this season.

now regarding cassel. in no way would i compare the 2001 brady to 2008 cassel. nope. all i have is a memory but. brady was fun to watch. stats only indicate... they don't finish the story. cassel locks in. he doesn't move.

Kevin Smith said...

Actually, with the exception of sacks (Cassel has taken more of them), Cassel generally has better stats then Brady did. I haven't yet factored in this past week's game in regards to yardage yet, but Cassel actually through last week had a higher completion percentage and has thrown for more touchdowns.

While Cassel has thrown more INT's, Brady had more lost fumbles, evening the two out in the turnover dept. Brady also benefited from a more effective running game then Cassel is currently getting.

The two have the exact same record, and while you say that Brady was fun to watch, he wasn't early on. At this point in the season fans and press had pretty much written the Pats off because of the young, inexperienced back-up (I do have the 2001 season on DVD and have rewatched, people were resigned to the season being much like 2000's 5 win effort).

The problem for Cassel is no one remembers feeling this same way early in 2001 because of how they felt at the end of the season.