Friday, March 13, 2009

Best boxing match since the Thrilla in Manilla

And the biggest ass-whuppin' since the Celtics closed out the final game of last year's NBA finals against L.A. with a 39-point anihilation of the Lakers.

If you haven't seen it, this is must see TV.

This is it (keep clicking on the subsequent one sided sparring match you will ever watch) -

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Buying the groceries

As I suspected, the Patriots aren't making a big splash, but they are going about signing a number of solid, proven veterans that should help in the short-run, and could potentially help in the long-run.

They have managed to, with four simple signings (and one re-signing), replace Lonnie Paxton who followed Josh McDaniels to Denver, upgrade from Lamont Jordan at running back, keep needed depth along the offensive line while retaining their largest fullback, and significantly upgraded their defensive backfield.

Discounting the Nathan Hodel signing since it's swapping one long-snapper for another, let's take a quick look at each signing and some of the other transactions the Patriots have had to bolster the team, or retain personnel -

Former Jacksonville Jaguars running back Fred Taylor is probably the biggest signing of the bunch. Taylor, while slightly older, represents an upgrade over the talented but erratic Lamont Jordan. Jordan was a solid part of the running back rotation last season, just as Taylor is likely to be this season. Taylor is more apt to be able to pick up the slack as a starter than Jordan, given the fact that Taylor is coming off a career low in attempts (based on playing in at least 10 games) which still would have qualified as Jordan's third highest number of attempts in a season.

While Taylor at 32 is on the downside of his career, he likely still has enough juice left to be a part time impact player.

Russ Hochstein was re-signed and in so doing the team retained one of their most versatile offensive linemen, and with Heath Evans moving on to the Saints, Hochstein moves to the top of the depth chart as the team's blocking back.

On March 5 the Pats traded for Eagles receiver Greg Lewis, a burner who is likely to be the third receiver. Lewis has shown flashes, and has apparent upside, but has yet to show the sort of consistency that Jabar Gaffney gave the third receiver position. If it works out, Lewis gives Tom Brady a speedster who will likely draw single coverage while defenses double up on Wes Welker underneath and Randy Moss on the other side. If Lewis fails to have a breakout season in this offense, it's unlikely that he will ever blossom.

I like the Shawn Springs signing, but was surprised that it was a three year contract. Given his history of injury, I expected a one-year incentive laden contract, maybe with an option. That said, Springs represents an upgrade over what the Patriots had in their backfield last season. Springs also is the sort of veteran presence that Bill Belichick likes to bring in as a player-coach to bring the youngsters along. As an aside, given Buffalo's recent move, Springs was instrumental in holding Terrell Owens to five receptions for 38 yards in the Redskins second meeting with the Cowboys last season.

The signing I like best, however, is the 27-year old Leigh Bodden. Bodden, cut by the Detroit Lions after only one season, previously played for Romeo Crennel's Browns. In Crennel's defense, Bodden excelled - in three seasons under the former Patriots coordinator, and in defenses that were in the bottom half of the rankings, the 6' 1" corner racked up 11 interceptions, 45 tackles, and 177 tackles.

I still say that the Pats sign Jason Taylor before training camp and he comes in to play as a 'tweener D-end/linebacker in order to bolster the pass rush because, like Springs, he's the sort of veteran player that Belichick loves to bring in at a discount.

Other quick thoughts -

Am I the only person out there that thinks Jay Cutler is an idiot - the man demands the Broncos trade him, then gets pissy when they actually try to do so. Am I the only one missing something here? I mean, sure, he threw for 4,526 yards last season, but he also racked up seven interceptions to six touchdowns in the final six games of the season when Denver went 2-4 after starting 6-4. That final stretch included a one touchdown, two interception performance against the Chargers in the final game of the season, the game that would have sealed up the Western Conference and a trip to the playoffs.

Any, and I mean, did anyone out there see the Dominican getting bounced from the World Baseball Classic by the Netherlands of all teams? Anyone? I mean, damn. That was a helluva performance.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

The week that Wuz...

This entry is about the good, the bad, and the ugly - I'm going to start with the ugly. Most of the rest sounds pretty inconsequential after the first item, but this is important...

I'm a regular reader of TheCoffinCorner, written by a fellow New England sports fan by Dave from Portland, ME. Dave and his wife had some tough news this week, and need all the good thoughts that can be sent their way. It's hard to write eloquently about a four-year old girl with cancer, or to make things sound noble. I will keep this simple and straight forward -

I have two daughters, one turned seven on Friday, the other is a year and a half old. I know that if either were diagnosed with cancer, it would be devastating. At best, I can only imagine what Dave is going through. I would not change places with him for the world. But I would like to ask my readers to keep him and his family, but his daughter in particular, in your thoughts, and those of you who are religious, your prayers. Send good karma, vibes and any other positive feelings her way in her fight against rhabdomyosarcoma, a cancer most commonly found in children under five.

Good luck little one, we're all pulling for you.

As for some of the sports news, as trivial as it sounds in light of Dave's current issue...

So...Terrell Owens is now a member of the Bills. This is their answer to the offense that disappeared in the second half of the season - a 36-year old wide receiver whose best days are behind him, who failed to break the 40-yard barrier in eight games last season, who broke 90 yards only three games last season (against the 22nd, and 32nd pass defenses in the league before putting up 103 against the Eagles in a 44-6 loss in the final game of the season...way to have an impact TO). Those three games accounted for 416 of his yards on the season. The other 13 games - 669, or a 51 1/3 yard per game average.

The single smartest thing that the Bills have done with this is protect themselves with a one-year contract.

Here are some of the problems with him, outside of the aforementioned issues (and some elaboration of the above) -

  • Even the best receivers in the history of the game experience a big drop-off between the ages of 35 and 36, and he already showed last season that he's heading in the wrong direction in regards to being an impact player.
  • He has been among the league leaders in dropped passes for at least the last three seasons, and I'm willing to bet that if I dug, that goes back much farther.
  • What happens to an over-the-hill receiver that has trouble with contact come December in Buffalo?
  • Sure, he's likely to be less trouble over one season, except he's going to an offense that is committed to pounding the ball - What's the over-under for him pitching a fit and ripping a young, not-quite-there QB a new one because he's not getting the ball enough? Embarrassing the coach on the sideline?
Yep, the Bills got 'im. They can have him.

I called it on Shawn Springs. Don't be surprised if, sometime after the draft, Jason Taylor comes in for a visit.

These are the sort of veterans that Belichick likes to have around to teach the young guys. I wouldn't be surprised if Springs parlays an incentive laden one-year deal into a multi-year stay in New England - if he stays healthy this season.

And once again - may everything work out well, Dave, we're thinking of you and yours.