Though it’s only Tuesday, the Drew Bledsoe returns to Foxboro hype express has a head of steam already. Bill Reynolds leads off, with what he hopes will be his last column devoted to Drew. Michael Felger reports on the plan that the Patriots coaches have drawn up for Drew. This is what makes this coaching staff so special. The players look forward to seeing the game plans, and the plans always have new wrinkles to excite and challenge the players. Alan Greenberg notes how Drew and Bills beat the Dolphins and again examines the Patriots situation. Tom Curran looks at the things that the Patriots will do differently to the Bills then the Dolphins did. Felger’s notebook looks at Charlie Weiss’ recent switch to scripting the first drives of the game, and also reports that Bruschi will likely be out on Sunday.
Nick Cafardo provides statistical proof that the Patriots are much better when they run the ball more. The more I think about it, the more I’m coming to the conclusion that stats about teams running the ball having success fall under the “lies, damn lies and statistics” category. Here’s my hypothesis: Teams that get the early lead, end up running the ball more, and end up winning the game. They usually don’t get that early lead by running the ball. But once they have a lead, especially in the second half, they’re going to run the ball much more, to drain time off the clock. So yes, a team with good running stats is usually going to be successful, but it’s not solely because of their running game that they were able to win. They needed to be able to get off to a quick start, and then you run the ball. So all this talk about teams needing to “establish the run” is, in my book, a bunch of bunk….on the other hand, he writes about some good teams that struggle against the run, you can make the a similar argument…these teams have likely given up large chunks of yardage on the ground because they had the lead, and their defense was playing the other team for the pass, and gave up several big runs, inflating their stats. I’m not going to dispute the basic premise that running teams are successful, but like I said, I disagree with talk about “establishing the run” as a key to success. Cafardo also submits his weekly mailbag, with the usual Brady/Bledsoe questions, people accusing Nick of being a cheerleader, and a few questions on dieting. Try the Atkins diet, Nick. Recent studies have shown its effectiveness and the benefits of it.
After the ugly win the night before against the Hornets, Steve Bulpett calls last night’s Celtics win over the Magic a “gritty masterpiece.” Shira Springer also reports on the satisfying win. Bulpett says in his notebook that Pierce is still a candidate for USA basketball, while Springer focuses on the C’s poor free throw shooting in her notebook.
Steve Buckley weaves an entire column out of word that the Sox might switch their home dugout to the thirdbase line sometime in the future. So, now everytime Dan Shaughnessy writes about Theo Epstein is he going to include “wonder boy”? Gordon Edes reports on the Sox hiring of Euclides Rojas as bullpen coach, and what it means in the Sox pursuit of former Cuban ace Jose Contreras. Tony Massarotti also reports on the hiring, and adds a couple notes on Cliff Floyd and Mike Port. Sean McAdam also has a number of Sox related items.
Karen Guregian is excited that Joe Thornton got a one year extension. Jim Greenidge and Steve Conroy also report. Conroy’s notebook reports that Sergei Samsonov is still sore, but ready to keep going. Greenidge also has a peek at Martin Lapoint.
John Molori profiles Gerry Callahan. Jim Baker calls the Boston media “lap dogs” for allowing Theo Epstein on every channel Sunday night. Bill Griffith looks at Bruins coverage and provides a number of media notes.
NESN has Bruins/Blues at 7:00. ESPN and ESPN2 are flush with College hoops tonight. Doubleheaders on both channels.