Patriots Loss Always Equals Week Of Screaming, Panic

So once again, the screamers are proven to be morons. Losses, rare as they are, are treated with insanity by radio hosts and columnists.

While the usual suspects have been screaming about how the Patriots were being “cheap” and not wanting to pay Brian Waters after his Pro Bowl season in 2011, others were reporting something quite different. Last night and this morning, Shalise Manza Young got the scoop that the Patriots offered Brian Waters $4 million to return this season.

What’s more, this offer was not one made here in recent days as a reaction to the struggles of the offensive line, but was made during training camp.

The screamers *cough*FELGER*cough* will likely somehow dismiss this  (lies fed by the team to their media mouthpieces) and move without breaking stride onto the current great Patriots travesty, the team’s disgraceful treatment of Wes Welker. On Monday, Felger’s yes-man Tony Massarotti wondered when the Patriots would stop screwing around with the line and just “PAY THE GUY.”

The Patriots also continue to offend the sensibilities of the older media around town. Dan Shaughnessy trotted out his tired “Amos Alonzo Kraft” tagline in today’s column, somehow pushing for the Patriots owner to end the referees lockout.

Does anyone think Shaughnessy has an inkling of a clue as to what the NFL/Referee labor dispute is really all about? Most seem to want the NFL to just give the officials whatever they want. It’s about pension plans. For part-time employees. For employees who have full-time jobs elsewhere, many of them very lucrative. But sure, the NFL should just cave and give them whatever they want.

Jackie MacMullan, who only seems to write after losses, had a doozy of a column this week – “We used to be able to count on the Patriots. But now, maybe not.” (That’s the actual slug being used to promote the column.) After ONE loss. Granted, they may well lose this week as well, which might prompt Jackie to trot out her line she used last year about the impending “darkest days of the Brady/Belichick era.”

The recently retired Bob Ryan is on a crusade to prove that Tom Brady is a poor downfield thrower, citing stats on long passes. I really wish Bob would compare Brady’s stats in that area with those of the likes of Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning (prior to 2011).

This Wes Welker week has been INSANE. Multiple reporters have said that Edelman had a better camp than Welker, (something those on the outside absolutely cannot fathom) and that for the first two games, the game plan required more from Edelman and his blocking than Welker. Yet, somehow this has been declared just another example of the Patriots screwing over a player.

Even Boomer Esiason is in on the act. Both on WEEI this week, and in his CBS Sports Minute on 98.5 he advanced the theory that the Patriots were screwing Welker (while admitting on WEEI that he didn’t have the facts.) On the CBS bit, his theory was that Belichick was either punishing Welker for a) his foot comments at Rex Ryan (from TWO SEASONS AGO) or b)  for his drop in the Super Bowl, or c) because he wouldn’t take their lowball contract offer. I used to like Boomer, but he lost me there.

How about some good links after all that? Here are your must-reads for today:

Patriots offense couldn’t click on third down –  Greg A Bedard’s post-film session column.

Pats, Ravens switch strengths – Jonathan Comey’s mid-week NFL notes has the Patriots defense and Ravens offense each looking good in the early going.

The scouting adventure that led Red Sox to Junichi Tazawa – Alex Speier looks at how the Red Sox found the player who has turned out to be their most dominating pitcher as of late, but who wasn’t even well-known in his home country of Japan.

Who Is The Blurry Guy In This Photo, And Why Did Manny Ramirez Steal His Pants? The Long Baseball Life Of “The Machete” – I don’t care how many old ladies he pushed down, I miss watching Manny Ramirez.

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850 AM To Switch To ESPN Radio on October 5th

In a long-rumored (Chad Finn reported it earlier this summer, it had been rumored well before then) move, Entercom Boston announced this afternoon that programming on 850 AM will switch to all ESPN radio beginning on October 5th. The station will carry the full lineup of ESPN Radio programming.

Also announced was a tighter integration with ESPNBoston.com, the audio stream for WEEI 93.7 FM will be available through ESPNBoston.com and ESPNBoston’s video player will power WEEI’s video player with content from ESPN.

The full release:

Tuesday, Sept. 18

Entercom and ESPN Radio Join Forces to

Launch “ESPN on WEEI” 850 AM

WEEI to provide the best in local and national sports talk and play-by-play

ESPN 850BOSTON, MA – Entercom Boston and ESPN Radio today announced that starting on Friday, October 5, WEEI will split its AM/FM simulcast and begin broadcasting ESPN Radio on 850 AM. “ESPN on WEEI” will air ESPN’s entire national lineup, including the entire upcoming Major League Baseball postseason schedule, the NBA, and college football and college basketball. ESPN Radio on 850 AM will debut with Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, of “Mike and Mike in the Morning,” broadcasting live from Foxboro’s Gillette Stadium beginning at 6 a.m. ET on October 5.

WEEI’s legendary local lineup of “Dennis and Callahan,” “Mut and Merloni,” “The Big Show with Glenn Ordway and Michal Holley,” and “Planet Mikey with Mike Adams” will now be broadcast solely on the 93.7 FM frequency. In addition, 93.7 FM will be the exclusive home of Red Sox baseball, Celtics basketball, Patriots’ Monday and Friday, NFL football and the NFL playoffs.

As part of this expanded partnership, listeners will be able to access 93.7 WEEI’s live audio stream through the popular ESPNBoston.com website. At the same time, ESPNBoston.com’s video channel will now power WEEI.com’s video player with the most up-to-date ESPN video content.

“Since 1991, WEEI has been the gold standard in sports radio. This strategic alliance with ESPN allows WEEI to deliver to the most passionate sports fans in America the very best in local sports talk and play-by-play on WEEI FM and the very best in national sports talk and play-by-play with ESPN on WEEI AM,” said Jeff Brown, Entercom Vice President and Market Manager. “WEEI 850 AM is a proven sports brand. Joining forces with ESPN provides advertisers an additional touch point to connect with a highly valuable and sought after consumer.”

“We’re pleased to team with Boston’s preeminent sports radio outlet and one of the nation’s best radio broadcasting companies in Entercom to bring the number one national network into New England,” said Traug Keller, ESPN Senior Vice President, Production Business Divisions. “This move coupled with the existing presence of ESPNBoston.com provides Boston’s passionate fans the best of ESPN’s national and local coverage and analysis.”

“We are excited to be expanding our partnership with ESPN in such a meaningful way,” said Entercom President and CEO David Field. “Combining Boston’s leading sports station, WEEI-FM, and the new ESPN on WEEI 850 AM, together with our ability to cross promote content through our existing mobile and digital platforms, gives passionate Boston sports fans the very best in local and national sports content.”

Beginning Friday, October 5, the new ESPN on WEEI 850 AM ESPN lineup will be:

  • 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. “Mike & Mike in the Morning”
  • 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. “The Herd with Colin Cowherd”
  • 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. “The Scott Van Pelt Show”
  • 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. “ESPN Today”
  • 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. “Hill and Schlereth” / ESPN Play-by-Play
  • 10 p.m. to 12 a.m. “SportsCenter Tonight”
  • 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. “SportsCenter All Night”

Red Sox play spoiler in Tampa, more Patriots reaction

The Red Sox played spoiler in Tampa last night as they defeated the Rays 5-2, knocking the Rays even further back in the AL Wild Card race. Aaron Cook pitched very well to earn the win as he went six innings, allowing just one run on five hits. The Red Sox were actually getting no-hit in the sixth inning, but Jacoby Ellsbury’s tw0-run home run put an end to that. The team will look to continue to play spoiler as they have three more games against the same Rays.

Daniel Bard not up to speed– Scott Lauber looks at Daniel Bard and says the key to his success is him regaining his velocity.

The Maddon way works– John Tomase says although the way Rays manager Joe Maddon manages isn’t normal by other major league standards, the Red Sox should still take note because it works.

Bobby V grasping at straws– Gordon Edes looks at Bobby Valentines comments over the past week and how his moves on the field haven’t been much better.

Cook, Ellsbury enjoy rare night of production– Sean McAdam looks at the two players who contributed the most Monday night.

Even a day after the Patriots’ unexpected loss to the Cardinals in their home-opener there was still plenty of criticism and second guessing from the game, and the continued debate as to why Julian Edelman has taken over as the teams’ No. 2 receiver over Wes Welker (in terms of number of snaps). The radio airwaves were filled with conspiracy theories for the situation, most of them being totally ridiculous. Unfortunately, this will be a topic for the foreseeable future because everyone knows how the Patriots are in terms of revealing these types of things.

Prepared statements– Shalise Manza Young notes the Patriots players said they did not have a good week of practice leading up to the game.

Aaron Hernandez’s loss in crucial– Christopher Gasper looks at what the Patriots will be faced with without Hernandez for some time.

Sour day of play-calling by Patriots’ McDaniels– Tom E. Curran says Josh McDaniels’ play-calling was a bit suspect on Sunday.

Patriots report card– Ron Borges hands out his Week 2 grades — they are not good.

Wes Welker’s limited use remains a mystery– Gerry Callahan explores the different possibilities as to why Welker’s playing time has been limited thus far this season.

Wes Welker no conspiracy victim– Mike Reiss says the reason for Welker’s limited playing time is because of a new evolving Patriots offense.

Why Julien Edelman has played so much this season– Christopher Price looks at Edelman’s changed role this season.

Patriots much achieve consistency– Matt Chatham, the former Patriots player now writing for the Herald says being consistent is the key to the teams’ success.

What Belichick’s History Tells Us About Wes Welker’s Situation

The Patriots lost their home opener for the first time since 2001 with a 20-18 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. It was perhaps the most unexpected loss in recent memory for the Patriots.

The actual game however, will likely be overshadowed this week by scrutiny over the usage of franchise wide receiver Wes Welker.

Welker did not start the game (though he was announced as a starter) and only entered the game after Aaron Hernandez suffered an ankle sprain that will likely keep him out until November.

Whether it is Tom Curran and Ron Borges arguing over the use or Welker, or sports radio hosts and callers and Twitter NFL experts angrily questioning whether Bill Belichick knows what’s best for his team.

Greg A. Bedard tries to cover all possibilities – Role of Patriots’ Welker further in doubt

Karen Guregian asks if we’re nuts to wonder what is going on here – Again, Wes isn’t more

Tom E. Curran says even Welker seems mystified at what’s happening – Welker was a backup plan vs. Cardinals

While it’s natural to look in from the outside and wonder what is happening here, looking back through the Bill Belichick era, three situations come to mind that may shed light on what is going on here.

In so many ways this is reminiscent of the Lawyer Milloy situation nine years ago. The reaction outside of Gillette is almost the same as well. Even though Welker has not been cut or traded, check out these Boston.com “Ask Nick” columns from September 5th 2003 and September 12, 2003.

Does that reaction sound similar to what is happening right now? With Milloy, there were a couple of things that led to his release – his contract and his play. Belichick felt that Milloy wasn’t the player he had been even two years before, and wasn’t worth the contract that he was playing under. They tried to get him to take less to be more in line with what they thought he was worth, and it was certainly in Milloy’s right to refuse a paycut.

Milloy refused, and he was cut the week before the season began. The Patriots had signed Rodney Harrison in the offseason and felt that he would replace Milloy’s production at a more reasonable price. Read the hysterical reaction in those “Ask Nick” columns and then look back at how things turned out.

Belichick and the Patriots saw something that needed to be changed and made that change, unpopular as it was. Nine years later, people are still acting like Belichick is a simpleton who has no idea what he’s doing when it comes to his football team. The Patriots made a similar call to the Milloy one when they traded Richard Seymour to Oakland the week prior to the 2009 season. It was again a production/value call for them, knowing they likely would not be able to sign Seymour after the season. Instead of letting it play out and getting nothing, they got a first round pick.

It’s a fact that Welker has been historically productive during his time here. It’s also a fact that he’s been underpaid during that tenure. He’s been good value for the Patriots. He’s also 31 and has taken a lot of pounding over the last five-plus seasons. He’s getting the biggest payday of his career this season. He could make more next year. The Patriots need to decide whether his production is going to continue and whether the value is there, or whether they can get similar production at a better value. That sounds cold, but its reality. It makes zero sense to give him big money for extended years because “he’s earned it.” You don’t do business that way. Milloy was beloved around here. Welker is probably even more beloved. But the Patriots are going to do what is best for the team. They’re unlikely to cut Welker right now, since his contact is guaranteed for the season, but they need to see whether it is worth extending his tenure here.

Let’s now go back two years for the second situation. The duo of Welker and Randy Moss had been as productive as any combination in football. But even in 2009, as documented in the Bill Belichick – A Football Life episode Belichick knew that the offense was flawed, and that they were entirely too reliant on those two players. He was proved correct. That team was perhaps the weakest of the post 2001 era, and I include the 2002 team in that. I don’t think even Richard Seymour would’ve made a huge difference for them. They got smoked in the wild card game by the Ravens, and in that offseason, changes began with the drafting of Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez.

The 2010 season began and Randy Moss, a smart player, could see what was going on. The offense was changing. His own contract was up at the end of the season, so he went about making noise about it. There was an alleged shouting incident on  a plane ride home from Miami, following a game in which Moss was targeted just once and did not catch a pass. Moss was traded to Minnesota shortly thereafter. Deion Branch was brought back, a player who had the confidence of Brady and who would assist in the transition by offering a familiar target while the offense transitioned to an increased focus on the short game and multiple tight end sets.

The offense took off after that point, and even though the season ended with another disappointing one-and-done in the playoffs, the offensive transition was moving forward. Last season it continued, with a record season from Gronkowski and sensational seasons from Hernandez and Welker. But still, the season ended in disappointment when the New York Giants again exploited the weaknesses in the schemes. For most defenses the Patriots offense was more than they could handle, but for certain squads with the ability to get to the quarterback, the offense still could be disrupted. More tweaking was needed. A healthy Gronkowski would’ve helped in the Super Bowl, but the Giants still pretty much did what they wanted in that game.

Exit Bill O’Brien, (re)enter Josh McDaniels. While the offensive philosophies would essentially stay consistent, the role that Welker plays is clearly under examination here. They seem to feel that the offense has been too reliant on Welker and they want to do some other things here. (Game one in Tennessee seemed to indicate they wanted to run the ball more, but yesterday seemed to set that back a bit.) The offense is transitioning again, and like Moss in 2010, Welker has seen a decreased role in the early going. The injury to Hernandez yesterday seemed to have thrown a wrench in the plans for the offense, putting Welker back into a bigger role than they originally had planned.

It might well be that the Patriots want to save wear on Welker for the long season, or there is the third example from the Belichick era that is worth looking back on and seeing  if it applies here. Bedard and Curran have both said Edelman had a better camp than Welker. Outsiders would have a hard time believing that Edelman could out-play Welker.

In the summer of 2001, Drew Bledsoe was firmly entrenched as the Patriots franchise quarterback. He had even signed a huge contract reflecting that. Nothing seemed more certain than that Bledsoe would be the quarterback of this team. But quietly that summer, the guy who had started the previous season as the fourth-string quarterback impressed the coaches with his preparation, work ethic and improvement. By the time the preseason ended, Tom Brady was the clear number two QB, and according to some, there was talk that Brady could already start over Bledsoe. The Patriots were lackluster in their first two games under Bledsoe, and a hit late in the second game which sidelined Bledsoe opened the door for Brady, who never gave up the job.

In the video above where Curran and Borges argue, Borges laughs at and ridicules the notion that anything can be learned by watching training camp and preseason. He states that he prefers to watch real games to make his judgements. Of course Borges was leading the pack early on in saying that Brady couldn’t play and that Bledsoe should get his job back. Could it be that the coaches are simply going with the player that they feel give them a better chance to win at this time, no matter what perception outside of their circle is?

When the team makes these kinds of tough decisions, the early results are not always pretty, which just amps up the criticism. In Brady’s second start, against the Dolphins, he looked dreadful, and the team sat at 1-3. He threw four picks in Denver to drop the team to 3-4, before they caught fire, losing just one more game the rest of the season. After Milloy’s release, the Patriots lost to Buffalo and their newly signed safety, Lawyer Milloy 31-0. Drew Bledsoe quarterbacked that Bills team which added even more fuel to the fire.  After the Seymour trade, the 2009 Patriots struggled most of the season.

But on the balance, the Patriots make decisions for what is going to be best for the long term stability and success of the franchise. Most of their decisions have worked out. (You can debate the Seymour one, but I’d say he was gone anyway, and that team wasn’t winning the Super Bowl that season even with Seymour.) I’d say overall the track record is pretty good here.

Tell me who has been better over the last decade. Does it mean they’re immune from criticism? Of course not.

But trust me, the people inside that building generally know more than you or the media do. Whatever the reason that Wes Welker’s workload has changed in the early part of this season, they have a damn good reason for it. They’re just not going to tell you. Nor should they.

In mind, it comes down to one of two things:

Either the Patriots offense is changing to be less reliant on what Welker brings to it (either for strategic reasons or in anticipation of losing him), or, the Patriots feel that Julian Edelman is more deserving to be on the field at this time.

Patriots/Cardinals caps Hall of Fame weekend

Troy Brown will be enshrined into the Patriots Hall of Fame this weekend, being honored for his 15-year career with the team.

Pat’s Hall beckons all-time great – Mark Farniella looks at the former 8th round pick, who was cut in training camp in 1994 after a particularly poor performance on the returns team.

Troy Brown, true Patriot Hall of Famer – Mike Reiss talks to those who played and coached alongside Brown.

Can’t put finger on Josh McDaniels – The Chatham Report has become a must-read on the Patriots. Today, the former linebacker notes that against the Titans “there wasn’t a single repeat combination of personnel group, formation and play-call until the 25th play of the game.

Get all the Troy Brown and Patriots/Cardinals links at PatriotsLinks.com.

Heidi Watney bounced from Lakers job – Chad Finn’s media column looks at the former NESN Red Sox reporter leaving Time Warner Cable Sports before she ever even appears on the air.

Media Roundup: John Henry Talks Red Sox Sale; Patriots Open With Strong Ratings – My SB Nation Boston media column has a number of items from this week, including Toucher and Rich’s fan question, John Henry’s appearance on WEEI, Greg Bedard’s new radio gig and a number of other items.

Red Sox fans turn off TVs, but still care about team – Bill Doyle talks to NESN’s Don Orsillo who says that he doesn’t know what the ratings are, but he knows that people are asking him more than ever about this team which shows they’re still interested. Orsillo also thinks Bobby Valentine should return next season.

 

This Time, John Henry Takes To WEEI To Refute Rumors

A FOX Business story by Charlie Gasparino reported this morning that the owners of the Red Sox were considering selling the team, saying that the team has even begun shopping the club to potential buyers.

Principal owner John W. Henry quickly issued denials and then took to the airwaves to adamantly deny that the franchise is for sale and to emphasize that he and his partners plan on being here for a long time.

Unlike last October, when Henry stormed into the offices of 98.5 The Sports Hub to confront Felger and Mazz about things they were saying on their show, this time Henry called the flagship station of the Red Sox, WEEI.

Henry called into WEEI’s Mut and Merloni show this afternoon, and among other things, stated that Larry Lucchino has signed a contract extension and will be back with the Red Sox in 2013. Earlier in the show, Gasparino had been a guest to talk about his report and his sourcing.

Audio for the segment has not yet been posted, but when it is, I’ll put the link here.

Edit 2:39pm: The audio is now posted on WEEI.com.

 

Red Sox fight to the end, but fall to Yankees

After a walk-off win Tuesday night the Red Sox were looking for another one on Wednesday, but they could only get one run in ninth inning and fell to the Yankees 5-4. The Red Sox trailed 5-1 and fought back scoring two runs in the seventh and then one in the ninth, but that was as close as they could get. Cody Ross, Bobby Valentine and Jerry Royster were all ejected in the eighth inning following a tough third strike call on Ross.

The Red Sox have have shown more fight the past two nights than the past two months. Maybe playing spoiler against their rivals has something to do with it, maybe it doesn’t, but there will be plenty of opportunities coming up for the team to play spoiler and with the way the past two nights have gone it actually makes the games worth watching.

There was an awkward moment when Valentine went to remove reliever Alfredo Aceves from the game. Aceves never got within three feet of Valentine, never handed him the ball and walked off the back of the mound, looping around the players to walk to the dugout. While the NESN telecast never showed or made mention of it, Sox beat writers were sure to mention it on Twitter and asked the players about it afterwards. Valentine offered a pretty good quote on his relief pitcher.

“I’ll have to look at it,” he said before pausing. “And who cares if he showed me up? If I have to explain Aceves’s actions, I’ll wind up going across the river and work for Harvard.”

Five questions with Nomar Garciaparra– Chad Finn asks Nomar Garciaparra, who was in town to broadcast the game for ESPN, five questions about the Red Sox, including how to rebuild their roster.

It was spoiled long before this for Red Sox– Dan Shaughnessy has a number of Red Sox thoughts including saying they need to trade Jacoby Ellsbury this offseason and Valentine is more relaxed than ever this season.

Finding cash value in Sox situation– Michael Silverman looks at the payroll situations for both the Red Sox and the Yankees. The Red Sox are $26 million less than the Yankees for next year right now, which gives them plenty of flexibility this off season.

Red Sox still showing some fight– Gordon Edes says the Red Sox are still fighting hard to the end, including Cody Ross and Alfredo Aceves, except Ross for the good and Aceves for the bad.

Red Sox tempers flare in loss to Yankees– Sean McAdam looks at some of the frustrations the Red Sox displayed Wednesday night.

You can get all your Patriots links leading up to Sunday’s game with the Cardinals at Patriotslinks.com.

After Wednesday’s aftermath of Rich from Toucher & Rich’s visit to Fenway for Bobby V’s pregame press conference on Tuesday, Gordon Edes had a tweet that I found pretty amusing. Edes tweeted Dustin Pedroia left the game to go be with his wife for the birth of their second child. Then, a fan asked Edes what he was getting the new born…

[blackbirdpie url=”https://twitter.com/GordonEdes/status/246059883894566913″%5D