After Sunday’s 31-19 win in Oakland over the Raiders, some questions about the Patriots were answered, while others are still hanging out there. We saw that the Patriots have the potential to run the ball, and to win when Tom Brady isn’t at the absolute peak of his powers. On the flip side, we saw the defense get shredded once again, managing to hang on thanks to a couple of key mistakes on the part of Jason Campbell – mistake which, to the Patriots credit, they were able to jump on. Some might say, however, that this win was simply gift-wrapped to the underserving Patriots.

Here are the various report cards from this week:

Making The Grades – Patriots at Raiders – Jeremy Gottlieb on Patriots Daily called this one a must-win for the Patriots, and they got the job done.

Patriots report card – Ron Borges makes the following statement in his opener to the report card:

The Pats have scored 30 or more points in 12 straight games, second only  to the Rams’ Greatest Show on Turf teams of 1999-2000. How’d that work out in St. Louis?

Well, let’s answer that, shall we? The Rams won the freakin’ Super Bowl in 1999! They lost to the Patriots in the Super Bowl after that streak that Borges mentions was over.

That’s not to say that I’m thrilled about the chances of this edition of the Patriots right now, nor does that Ram team have anything to do with this version of the Patriots, but Borges is trying so hard to knock the Patriots by comparing them to a team that won the Super Bowl? Huh?

Patriots Report Card: Welker, Ridley head the Week 4 class – Kirk Minihane has the report card. Other cards from this week: | ESPNBoston | Jeff Howe | Hector Longo | Derek Havens

Idle thought – Kevin Mannix should’ve patented the idea of the Patriots Report Card. The guy would be leading a much more comfortable retirement right now…

Defense now must hold it together – Greg A Bedard says that with all the injuries on defense right now, what you saw on Sunday might be as good as it gets for the Patriots defense right now.

Air attack not only weapon for Patriots – Ian Rapoport looks at how a no-frills, extremely efficient running game worked for the Patriots.

Gary Guyton steps into key role – Chris Forsberg and Dan Duggan look at Guyton replacing his friend Jerod Mayo on the Patriots defense for the time being.

Let the games(manship) begin: It’s Jets week for Patriots – Glen Farley has Jets week getting started.

Will Theo Epstein be next to leave? – Gordon Edes looks at the possibility that the Red Sox GM could follow Terry Francona out the door.

Uncertainty mounts on Epstein’s future – Sean McAdam says that the silence from Fenway on Epstein isn’t encouraging.

Hired to be fired: History says teams need managerial change – Alex Speier looks at the notion that teams need a managerial change every so often.

Kevin Youkilis, Sox mates not stand-up guys – Gerry Callahan says that Youkilis and the other so-called leaders of this team failed.

Search model found – If Theo Epstein is calling the shots on a new manager, Peter Abraham sees him going a similar route to what he did in 2003.

Red Sox have to put it back together – Mike Fine says that fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, as the Red Sox are discovering.



14 thoughts on “Grading The Patriots As We Head Into Jets Week

  1. I'd be very concerned about the injury to Mayo and its impact on the defense…. if, you know, the defense was actually any good.

    Still livid over Francona. I never thought I'd be saying this, but Shank and YARM wrote perfect columns this weekend on the subject: blistering, vicious, and placing the blame squarely where it belongs: ownership. If I were Theo, I'd be seriously studying the real estate options in greater Cook County, because it's pretty clear that my head is next on the block if things don't go Mr. Pituzzi's way. And if you're locked up in obsolete notions of "loyalty", Theo — how much loyalty did Henry show to the guy who won him two World Series and thereby increased the value of his brand, oh, 50% or so? Get out while you're not being trashed, son.


  2. "Still livid over Francona"

    If the manager has lost the clubhouse, why keep him? If you want to be mad at someone be mad at the players for acting unprofessionally and not listening to (and possibly taking advantage of) their manager.


    1. Because we, of all fans, should know that managers are not fungible commodities. If Terry Francona is the right manager for this franchise and this market — and he was — I stick with him, not with the unprofessional players. By firing him, you EMPOWER the unprofessional nonlistening players. Do you seriously think they'll play any harder for the new guy? If Torey Lovullo — whom some of these guys may actually remember playing with/against when he was a terrible backup infielder — walks into that clubhouse and tells Josh Beckett "put down that beer…. or else!", do you think Beckett (a) says "Oh golly jeepers, now I'll be really serious about baseball, gee whillickers!!!!", or (b) snorts at him and pops another Coors? I would bet 1000% of my lifetime earnings plus my left testicle that it's not gonna be (a).

      If Henry and the braintrust valued Terry, they would have picked up his option and publicly lauded how they hoped he'd manage the Red Sox forever. Then you work with him to figure out how to appropriately punish/repress the bad behavior in the clubhouse. Because if he's losing the clubhouse, you need to communicate STRONGLY to the players "this guy ain't going anywhere", or else they have no incentive to change whatsoever.

      Everything I need to know I learned from Francona's press conference. If you were paying attention, he told you exactly what happened. He saw the deteriorating clubhouse, and wanted to change some things, but got zero response or support from his superiors — because they had already concluded that they wanted him out. Long before the collapse, which was an excuse and not a reason. And what that tells me is that Henry — who is calling all the shots; Lucchino is neutered and Werner's an empty suit — does not know how to value his staff. Being the carpetbagger that he is, there's no reason he'd know how utterly difficult it is to manage the Boston Red Sox in this town… but I thought he'd have figured it out by now. Apparently not; and what that tells me is that this team is well on its way to becoming the 1980s Yankees, not a model-run franchise for a new millenium.


      1. "If Terry Francona is the right manager for this franchise and this market — and he was — I stick with him"

        Was. Why would you want to keep a manager who the players have tuned out? It makes no sense. And it's not like Tito was anything special with his on-the-field management as well.

        "By firing him, you EMPOWER the unprofessional nonlistening players."

        Wrong. That's not how it works. The guys who didn't listen to him and took advantage of his nice guy persona should feel ashamed that they got him fired by their actions. They have no one to blame but themselves. Upper Management had to act. What do you suppose they do? Trade or eat the contracts of Beckett, Lester and Lackey (and any other cancers like say Youk) instead of just firing one guy. The manager.

        "Being the carpetbagger that he is, there's no reason he'd know how utterly difficult it is to manage the Boston Red Sox in this town"

        They've owned the team for quite some time now. I think they know how hard it is to manage the Sox.


        1. You're missing the big picture. The players tuned him out because ownership did not support him. If I'm a player, why should I listen to a guy whose contract is up at the end of the year and whose option hasn't been picked up by the team? Everything comes back to that: the owners undercut his authority. That IS how it works in professional sports. "Fire the manager" is the short-sighted, idiotic thing to do. It solves nothing, and only makes it harder to fix the underlying problem. Yes, that's the thing that most teams will do in this situation. And that's why most teams never improve.

          This ownership promised to do things differently. They aren't. End of story.


          1. Firing the manager doesn't qualify as doing something different? The Sox have missed the playoffs several times during Tito's tenure and they haven't fired him.

            In fact, his firing is them trying something radically different.

            Look, say you're the manager of a McDonald and the regional office keeps getting complaints that your restaurant's always messy, the food isn't well prepared, employees are always late and the bathrooms are beyond gross. Let's say even though you may have disciplined or even fired some employees the restaurant remains in this state for a long time. Would the regional manager be reasonable to fire you?


          2. Of course — because the McDonald's manager had all the authority to fix the situation. Leaving aside the utter incomparability of managing a McDonalds to managing a MLB team, it's still a totally different set of facts that you're positing. If someone fails to do the job for which they're specifically hired, and for which they've specifically been given the managerial tools/authority to execute, then they absolutely shouldn't be retained.

            I'll turn your example around on you: say the manager in question had performed in the top 2% of all McDonalds managerial staff for the preceding decade. Say he had been held up (correctly) as a model of the position; the kind of person you keep in your restaurant for the long term if you want to consistently be profitable. The restaurant, after 8 years of being in the top 5 grossing McDonalds outlets, has seen a marked, but not fatal, drop in revenue. Analyzing the customer reports, it becomes clear that the night shift has been sitting around in the back room smoking pot, and telling everyone who came up to the drive-thru window to "eff off". The manager — who, by the way, has no authority to hire or fire employees, and no say in compensation decisions — came to you and said that there was a problem with the night staff, and you'd like to cut the pay of the worst offenders. You, the regional manager, told him "they're your employees, deal with it." It isn't immediately dealt with, and you fire the manager, who is promptly hired by the Burger King next door.

            Now I'm YOUR boss, the East Coast Managing Director. How am I evaluating you? Your job is to manage the managers. What I see is you failing to retain a proven star talent. You had the opportunity to work with the proven star talent, with a goal of improving the near-term issues and getting back to the long-term pattern of excellence. But you didn't — you ignored him, and fired him when things (naturally) did not resolve themselves.

            That makes YOU the management problem — not the McDonald's manager. His skill set has been well established, and was clearly not the proximate cause of the failure. If his skill set was the problem, it would have been evident from day 1. On the other hand, your first significant management decision — to me — shows that you didn't process that. You reacted, you did not manage. Had you given your managerial support to the manager, who then had continued to fail to perform, I'd support you fully. But you didn't. And now I, as your boss, have THREE problems to deal with: first, I need to find a manager who will perform at the same high level as the previous manager; second, I have to worry about increased competition from Burger King, who have obtained the services of a vaulable and experienced restaurant manager; and third, the problems in the restaurant still haven't been addressed.

            Why would I want you to continue being regional manager?


  3. I can't figure out how anyone thinks that the Red Sox would be better off if they had new owners. How can you blame them for the demise of this 2011 team? Red Sox fans should kiss the ground that these guys (owners) walk on. Remember pre-Henry? I thought Massarotti and Shaunessys column were totally idiotic and not perfect at all. Those articles are just meant to rile up the fan base (typical Shank and Mazz kick-them-while-their-down garbage). Can you imagine if the Yawkey's still owned the team? What if Frank McCourt ended up buying the Red Sox (fan sentiment wanted the local guy)? How would you like Peter Angelos as an owner? Pink hats don't know how lucky they are to have owners that are committed to putting a winner on the field and who have invested hundred of millions of dollars back into the team and Fenway (including an outstanding new Spring Training complex). Are they perfect? No but I don't know of any business that is 100% correct all the time. Maybe the Henry group will sell the team and then we'll appreciate what these guys have brought to the city and Red Sox fans. The owners are not the problem.


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