Patriots Continue Death March Towards Playoff Loss With Another Lousy Win

OK, OK. The defense is bad. Alright? We get it.

What are fans supposed to do about it? Sit around and be miserable until the inevitable playoff loss? I guess so.

The Patriots secondary was once again shredded by a bottom-tier quarterback, albeit one who once took a team to a Super Bowl. What was more worrisome however, was the ease with which the Washington Redskins were able to run the ball on the usually stout run defense of the Patriots. Tom Brady threw a 4th quarter interception in the end zone when a field goal would’ve been enough to put the game away. Jerod Mayo made the big play in the end, snatching an interception off a tipped pass at the 7-yard line to seal the win for New England, which is now 10-3 on the season.

Former Patriot Rodney Harrison on NBC, had quite a bit to say about the Patriots last night, saying the following on Football Night in America:

Harrison on Tom Brady’s frustration (yelling on sideline with offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien): “I’ve seen Tom Brady play a lot on the other side of the field. I saw some things today that I really haven’t seen too much; and that is balls hitting the ground, open receivers and Tom Brady missing them. That is why there was a little bit of frustration today. You just are not used to seeing this.”

Harrison: “I played six years with him and I have never seen him this frustrated, yelling back and forth with an offensive coordinator. But that is why he is frustrated, because offensively, they weren’t clicking, and defensively he feels like he has to shoulder a lot of the pressure because that defense is so bad.”

Harrison: “They won a football game but they should be concerned because that secondary is probably the worst secondary I’ve seen in the last decade. It’s been proven the last two years in the playoffs, if Brady’s off just a little bit they’re vulnerable to lose.”

Dan Patrick to Harrison: “They have two offensive players playing in the secondary. Did it just sneak up on Bill (Belichick) that he may need another defensive back this year?”

Harrison: “You have to ask Bill that. I’m done trying to figure it out, Dan. I can’t figure it out!”

Worst secondary he’s seen in the last decade. I can’t say Rodney is wrong, but it is ironic that the guy who fueled so much on bulletin board material is now providing it to his former team.

We may actually get a break from talk about the lousy defense this week, with Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos on the schedule. This will be tough one, not just because of the Denver defense, but also because weird things always seem to happen to the Patriots in Denver.

For today, the blow up on the sideline between Tom Brady and offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien will get most of the headlines, as Mike Reiss, Greg A. Bedard and Ron Borges   all made it their main story of the day.

Here are some other takeaways from this one:

Ten Things We Learned Sunday: Time running out for Patriots’ defense – Christopher Price

Mayo picks up defense in the end – Tom E Curran has Jerod Mayo’s interception saving the game for New England.

Giving in is not their style – Michael Whitmer says that the defense might not have dug itself out of the star cellar, but they made some big plays at the right times to seal the win.

White knows his place in the scheme of things – It’s a short article, but I’m glad someone saw fit to write about Tracy White’s role on that final defensive play. Mark Farinella has the special teams star talking about his increased role on defense.

Rob Gronkowski re-establishes TD record – This week won’t be Brady vs Tebow. This week is GRONK vs Tebow. Karen Guregian has the force-of-nature tight end getting into the record books.

Wilfork didn’t let his big chance slip – The Globe notebook has Vince Wilfork getting his first career TD. The Herald notebook from Ian R. Rapoport and the Patriots Journal have more on Wilfork.


Sports Media Musings: Andy Gresh Needs a Hug, Holley & Felger Crushin’ It, Minihane/RapSheet/Klosterman Deliver

Final papers in grad school are the bane of my existence. In the journalism world, they have these weird concepts called “sources” and “quotes.” And you have to “attribute” everything.

Right now I’m in the middle of a paper on concussions in high school athletics. You wouldn’t believe it, but Athletic Directors aren’t exactly excited to talk to me about it. I’ve talked to nearly 20 sources: players, trainers, organizations, ADs, doctors, MIAA, and the Department of Public Health.

…Now I have to write it.

But you don’t care about any of this. I’m just giving you heads up to why this will be the shortest Media Musings column ever.

Am I Being To Tough On ‘Em?

@GreshandZo: And you waste no time being wrong dickhead RT @KenAolfoque: @GreshandZo jeezz fatboy you waste no time with the speculation…

Some personalities in the local media I crush more than others. As much as I enjoy finding holes in work or flawed logic, part of me feels bad.

Andy Gresh doesn’t get any of this sympathy.

Gresh came into my life as the “matter-of-fact” guy on Patriot broadcasts. Once a week was the perfect dosage of Gresh. In fact, to this day, I like him on that show.

I never listened to the Providence incarceration of “Gresh & Zo”; therefore, when Gresh took over for Gary Tanguay at “The Sports Hub” I was intrigued.

I was also ignorant.

There is no way “Gresh & Zo” survive if “Dale & Holley” never disbanded, am I right? Is that a tipping point?

“Gresh & Zo” are dominant in the midday. There is no disputing this fact. But they are becoming insufferable. Look, I think every personality over at “The Sports Hub” feels great right now. They’ve taken down the institution that was sports talk radio here in Boston….for the time being.

Although, “Gresh & Zo” seem to represent much of what consumers criticized about WEEI. (Condescending attitudes, Dumb bits [their ‘Instant Request’ segment is a woeful attempt at capturing “Toucher & Rich” magic], Talking-head attitude — “We’ll tell you!”)

This is not as much an assault on Scott Zolak, as it is Gresh. Zolak enables Gresh to act the way he does by NEVER disagreeing with any bite or vehemence.

*Side note: Furthermore, the exchange on Twitter isn’t something I’m going to harp on in terms of “Gresh’s professionalism” (which I’ve attacked before). Gresh calling someone a “dickhead” on Twitter, illustrates his lack of awareness. I can’t call professionalism into question — Fred Toettcher has the same exchanges from time to time. That said, it looks bad. A random dude calling you “fat” should elicit a reaction, but not necessarily a response. Know your platform. I digress.

Anyway, something tells me, you’ll see less discrepancy across the board in the Fall ratings book.

“Mut & Merloni” are improving. Guests are getting better, chemistry is developing, and I don’t think I’ve ever rooted harder for two guys to do well. Earlier this week they landed Adrian Wojnarowski – who is absolutely CRUSHING IT on the NBA beat for Yahoo! Sports – and John Farrell within the same hour of programming.

Quick Musings

1.) Michael Holley & Michael Felger on Sports Tonight together? Break up the band! By far the best combo CSNNE has to offer to host the show. Great stuff last night.

2.) Tony Massarotti has been a respected sports writer in this town for 20 years. Yet, everyday, his “take” is that “____ SUCKKSSS, Mike! And it’s NOT EVER CLOSE!” Did he catch wind, his incessant “YARM-ing” (You’re Absolutely Right, Mike) was over-the-top and called an audible?

3.) Ian Rapoport delivers a great column on Antwaun Molden. Great profile piece.

4.) Kirk Minihane does well to show both sides of the Tyler Seguin benching, but ultimately says, “You’re either a professional athlete or you aren’t.”

5.) COLUMN OF THE WEEK: Chuck Klosterman’s extensive look at the Tim Tebow craze. Voluminous…For sure. Awesome piece, though.

This should be in the next Grantland Quarterly. Remember last week, when I criticized the book’s existence? Well one of the reasons, according to Bill Simmons, was to capture what the period in sports meant. Tebow, like it or not, is one of the biggest stories in sports right now.

No Chris Paul For Celtics…and Media Links

It looks like Rajon Rondo will continue to be the point guard of the Boston Celtics for the foreseeable future, as Danny Ainge has been unable to work a deal with New Orleans for guard Chris Paul. The Hornets did agree to send Paul to the Lakers last night, but after the deal had been leaked out, NBA Commissioner David Stern stepped in and killed the deal.

While as a Celtics fan I’m certainly glad the deal was stopped (though it may eventually still go through) from an objective viewpoint it’s hard to agree with the decision. The NBA currently owns the Hornets, and that is part of the situation, but there was also objection to the deal from other NBA owners who felt that it was lopsided and went against competitive balance. The whole thing just shows again that the lockout was never really players vs. owners, it was owners vs. owners, and that situation remains unresolved by the new CBA.

The Celtics start training camp today, and will likely have several minor signings and moves to announce to get camp underway.

Here are the media links for today:

Media Roundup: Terry Francona Joins ESPN, Talks Red Sox Collapse – My SB Nation Boston media column has the former Red Sox manager talking about his new role at ESPN, and whether he’ll do any managing from the booth.

MLB shows ‘saber’ teeth – Chad Finn has the MLB network crunching the numbers on Albert Pujols new contract and whether it will be worth it for the Angels.

Friday’s Viewing Picks – Ken Fang has your sports on TV for tonight.

Monday Night Lights – I had tweeted this link earlier in the week, it’s a look from The New Yorker at Jon Gruden in his role on Monday Night Football, and the preparation he puts into it. Much of it deals with the week leading up to the Patriots/Chiefs Monday night game, so there is quite a bit of Patriots-related stuff in there.

I’d like to thank a certain small-paper Patriots columnist for his column earlier in the week that was clearly aimed directly at me. In the web world, the column would be called “link bait” – written for the sole purpose of getting linked and getting attention (and page views) brought to the writer. But there will be no link here.

Hopefully the writer and his boss are successful in their dream of organizing fellow Patriots writers to walk out of a Bill Belichick press conference the next time he’s insulting them by being “condescending and unresponsive.” It would be entertaining, and I don’t think Belichick would mind at all.

While the writer might be offended by the self-appointed media watchdogs, and “beaten down” by “Coach Three Rings,” the most offensive thing in the column might be referring to Kristine Leahy as simply the “newbie blonde.” Can you imagine if a player or coach did that? What does her hair color have to do with anything? What’s he saying by that? She’s just down there doing her job, and Belichick treated her as he would any other reporter, which it how it should be. Referring to her as the “blonde” seems more out-of-bounds than anything he accuses others of doing.

Check back later for more media musings and links as the day goes on.

CSNNE Reveals Celtics Schedule and Programming

CSNNE announced their Celtics coverage plans this afternoon. The network will carry 57 games, including two preseason contests, and will have a training camp opening special tomorrow nigth at 9:00PM

BURLINGTON, MA – Boston Celtics basketball returns to Comcast SportsNet and the Home of the Celtics begins its telecast schedule with a pair of preseason games on December 18 and December 21, against the Toronto Raptors. Comcast SportsNet’s 55 game regular season schedule starts on Wednesday, December 28, with a match-up against Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets.

Highlighting Comcast SportsNet’s schedule is a January 11, match-up with the defending NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks; a battle with the Heat in Miami on April 10, and a Super Bowl matinee against the Memphis Grizzlies on February 5.

Comcast SportsNet will deliver all Celtics telecasts in High Definition throughout New England and the network will have pre and post-game coverage for all Celtics games, including the Celtics’ 11 national network appearances. For the first time, Comcast SportsNet will deliver all telecasts in Dolby 5.1 audio.

Mike Gorman returns as the voice of the Boston Celtics and will be joined for a 31st consecutive season by Basketball Hall of Famer and Celtics legend Tommy Heinsohn. Greg Dickerson will provide court side coverage on all telecasts. Celtics Insider A. Sherrod Blakely will also contribute to the telecast and provide in-game reporting on

Gary Tanguay returns as host of Celtics Pre-Game Live presented by Ace Tickets, Celtics Halftime presented by McDonalds and Celtics Postgame Live presented by New England Ford Dealers. Former UConn standout and NBA veteran Donny Marshall joins Tanguay as studio analyst and will provide in-game color analysis on select telecasts.

As a lead in to the season, Comcast SportsNet will tip off its coverage with two special shows – Live at Celtics Training Camp and The Basketball Show Tip-Off Special.

Live at Celtics Training Camp
As soon as the Celtics open training camp on Friday, December 9, Comcast SportsNet will be there with Celtics Training Camp Live from 9 to 10:30. Celtics Training Camp Live will include coverage of the first official team workout, exclusive interviews with coach Doc Rivers and the players from court side and analysis on the roster.

The Baskeball Show Tip-Off Special
Comcast SportsNet’s entire Celtics telecast team will join The Basketball Show Tip-Off Special to answer fan calls, Tweets and posts on Thursday, December 22, from 8:30 to 10 p.m. Gorman, Heinsohn, Tanguay, Dickerson, Blakely and Marshall will all participate in a lively and passionate discussion on the 2011-12 season.

“The 66 game schedule means that every Celtics game will have added importance. Mike, Tommy and the entire Comcast SportsNet team will be there from the moment the Celtics hit training camp and begin the chase for another title,” said Bill Bridgen, Comcast SportsNet executive vice president and general manager.

Papi’s Staying, Is Rondo Going?

David Ortiz accepted arbitration from the Red Sox last night, meaning that the Red Sox DH will be back in Boston for at least another season. Meanwhile, Danny Ainge continues to push hard for a Chris Paul for Rajon Rondo swap, and Adrian Wojnarowski reports that the Celtics competition in this quest may be getting cold feet.

The baseball winter meetings ended with not a whole lot of action from the Red Sox. New GM Ben Cherington has said several times already that his style is very deliberate, and he does not rush into decisions. At some point, that may turn into a source of frustration, but at this point, his options for making changes seem pretty limited to begin with.

Ben Cherington easing into things – Gordon Edes says that the Sox GM might not have made moves this week, but he got a lot of work done. Scott Lauber says that Cherington’s patient approach may pay dividends this offseason. Alex Speier further examines why Cherington and the Red Sox are in no hurry to make moves.

David Ortiz’s Presence Gives Stability to Red Sox Lineup, Making His Return a Necessity – Didier Morais looks at why retaining Ortiz is essential for the Red Sox lineup.

Bobby Valentine adds fuel to Sox-Yankees fire – John Tomase has the new Red Sox manager having his Rex Ryan moment yesterday.

Team in need of toughness – Nick Cafardo claims that the problem with the 2011 Red Sox was that “nobody went up to Josh Beckett or Jon Lester or John Lackey to say, “Uh, it’s the fifth inning, you shouldn’t be having a cold one.’’

Rajon Rondo, Chris Paul and the importance of timing – Paul Flannery looks at the pursuit of Paul by the Celtics. Chris Forsberg urges Ainge to go get his guy, even if Chris Paul wants no part of Celtics according to Mark Murphy.

Ahead of the game – Shira Springer looks at how important conditioning will be coming out of the lockout, and whether the Celtics might actually benefit from the reduced, though compacted schedule.

Celtics could make a splash next summer – Gary Washburn looks at Ainge making moves with next summer’s free agent class in mind.

Hornets’ Williams, Rivers have similar styles – A. Sherrod Blakely notes that if Paul and Rondo are traded for each other, they may not have to make much of an adjustment.

Ronnie Lippett: Devin McCourty must follow instincts – Ron Borges has the former Patriots cornerback giving some advice to the struggling second-year cornerback.

Gaffney gives tutorial on working as No. 3 receiver in New England – Christopher Price has the Redskins receiver talking about what made him so effective in New England. Karen Guregian says that the Patriots have never been able to replace Gaffney.

Andre Carter has fans on all sides – Mike Reiss says you can’t find anyone with a bad word to say about the Patriots defensive lineman, even as he prepares to face his former team on Sunday. Ian R. Rapoport has the signing of Carter a huge boost for the Patriots. Mark Farinella says that Carter has been a perfect fit in Foxborough.

Lack of turnovers key for Pats – Glen Farley has the Patriots not losing the ball during this four-game winning streak.

Family reunion on the slate – Monique Walker has Hall of Fame offensive lineman Jackie Slater talking about his son, Matthew.

B’s to play big game – Mike Loftus says that all of sudden, tonight’s game against the Florida Panthers is a big one for the Bruins.

Bruins aim: Score on rebound – Stephen Harris has the Bruins looking to bounce back from the loss in Winnipeg.

A Wednesday Catchup

Out of commission yesterday, apparently I missed a number of noteworthy items.

CBS and NBC have been wrestling over the Patriots/Broncos game on December 18th. NBC would like to flex out the game to Sunday night, while CBS wants to keep it right where it currently is – a 4:15 start on their network. The NFL announced that a decision would be made today on the schedule for the game. Chad Finn has more on the situation.

Update: reported first that the game will not be flexed to NBC. The Patriots and Broncos will play at 4:15 on CBS on December 18th.

The Celtics 66-game regular season schedule has been released.

Talk continues about a possible trade involving Rajon Rondo and Chris Paul. It still seems a longshot, but Celtics fans should feel conforted by the fact that Danny Ainge is doing everything he can think of to keep the Celtics a contender, and will continue to do so. The rumored price (Rondo, Green, two first-round picks) seems very steep, but we’ll see how things shake out.

Currently there is a lot of hand-wringing over the airwaves on Tyler Seguin missing a team breakfast and then being a healthy scratch in last night’s loss to the Winnipeg Jets. It’s a topic worthy of discussion and judgement, though certainly not enough to fill entire segments of airtime, which it is being used for.

Terry Francona has joined ESPN and he and new Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine were on the ESPN Baseball Tonight set last night after having essentially swapped jobs in the last few weeks. Here is the video from ESPN of the two of them.

At the moment, it appears that David Ortiz will be back with the 2012 Red Sox, reports have him set to accept arbitration from the club.

I’ll have the NFL decision on Patriots/Broncos on Twitter when it is announced, and will update this post as well.

Patriots Stumble Their Way To Yet Another Disheartening Victory

For the middle 30 minutes of yesterday’s game, the Patriots played well. The first 15 and final 15 – not as much. The Patriots withstood three fourth quarter touchdowns from the Indianapolis Colts and managed a 31-24 win at Gillette Stadium to move to 9-3 on the season.

Let’s get right to the grim analysis.

Late fade tarnishes Patriots win – Ian Rapoport has things almost getting away from the Patriots. Shalise Manza Young has the Patriots kicking themselves after this one.

Ten Things We Learned Sunday: Despite win, Patriots lack finishing touches – Chris Price has the fourth quarter as the big story.

Scary secondary: Even Colts torch Patriots DBs – Ron Borges has the Patriots embarrassed by the Colts in the fourth.

Even with win, this defense still can’t be trusted – Hector Longo isn’t confident in the “bend-and-nearly-collapse” Patriots defense.

Unfinished product – Mark Farinella has the Patriots continuing their way to a “fraudulently high seed.”

A good unhappy ending? – Bob Ryan says that this one left fans with plenty to worry about.

Dangerous experiment: Bill Belichick’s plan almost goes awry – Karen Guregian has the mad scientist’s lab work nearly causing an explosion. Tom E Curran says that Belichick’s decisions with the lineup show that he, contrary to his words earlier in the week, did not take the Colts seriously.

Now that we got all of that out of the way, there were a few positives to take away from yesterday:

Patriots better than it seemed – Mike Reiss calls for a little perspective.

Gronkowski leaving his mark – Greg A Bedard notes that this Gronkowski guy is pretty good.

Tom Brady Follows Very Simple Game Plan to Victory Over Colts and Other Leftover Patriots Thoughts – Michael Hurley with a bunch of thoughts and screengrabs from yesterday.

On field, a clean Slater – Monique Walker has Matthew Slate doing pretty well at safety yesterday.

Brady excelled at accelerator – Michael Vega notes that when the Patriots were in the no-huddle, they were almost unstoppable.

Grab bag of numbers for Welker – The Globe notebook has Wes Welker once again putting up all sorts of numbers. The Herald Patriots Notebook has Peyton Manning getting encouragement from the Gillette fans. The Patriots Journal has center Nick McDonald getting a baptism by fire in his NFL debut.

Pedro fires Sox salvos – Michael Silverman has Pedro Martinez weighing on on the Red Sox collapse.

Different approach from Red Sox? – Gordon Edes looks at what to expect from the Red Sox at the winter meetings.