Archive for July, 2011

Makin Moves

Patriot fans have a reason to be excited given the last 24 hours of free agency frenzy. The boys in Foxboro not only addressed the defensive side of the ball, but the offense as well. Albert Haynesworth and Chad Ochocino are both marquee names in their respective positions. Both of these guys come with concerns, baggage, and a very “non Patriot” reputation. The tweeting, bull riding, head stomping, quitting on plays, and nascar driving are all things typically frowned upon by the man in the hoodie.

The names alone are causing a massive swirl on my Twitter and Facebook newsfeeds along with everyone else out there I’m sure. But that isn’t what excites me in this whole situation. What is impressive to me are the Patriots are doing something to address need. Typically their pompous, trust in Bill, last NFL dynasty mentality leaves fans scratching their heads and swearing at their monitor or tv set when we see whatever moves are made to “improve our football team”. The Patriots no doubt have been one of the most dominant teams in the league over the past decade, but they realize they need to improve and maintain the quality of players on the field and in the locker room to compete and stay atop the elite teams in the league.

Bill, Bob, and maybe even some of the veteran players came to a realization that we can’t remain a one dimensional team, on both sides of the ball. Dink, dunk, draw, quick slants, quick outs, and bubble screens can only get you so far. We need to stretch the field, don’t allow teams to put eight men in the box, and be less predictable on offense. On the defensive side, we need to get meaner, pressure the quarterback, get some mean ass mofos to clog the middle to allow Cunningham and the other LB’s to set the edge and rip the quarterback limb from limb. In theory, this is how it should all work. But knowing how the Patriots do their thing, this could be the complete opposite of their plan. But hey, at least they are doing something….. right?

VN:F [1.9.10_1130]
Rating: 8.7/10 (6 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.10_1130]
Rating: +5 (from 5 votes)

Where Do The Patriots Focus…

Is keeping TB12 upright the biggest priority? Is it finding him a weapon to stretch the field and take the top off the defense? Do we need that edge rusher that is going to make Mark Sanchez and other QB’s wet their pants? Should Logan Mankins be resigned to a long term deal and free up some cap space for this season? All of these are valid questions and valid concerns, but it all starts with balance.

We won three Super Bowls in four years, which seems like light years ago. Technically, it has been light years since we won the big game. We have had successful seasons, but haven’t been able to get it done in the postseason for one reason. They have been outmatched physically by tougher teams with more physical defenses. I can remember the days teams would fear walking into Foxboro because of the guys on the defensive side of the ball. Now people come in here just preparing to have TB12 throw the ball all over the field. James Sanders and Rob Ninkovich don’t make opposing teams devise a game plan for them as they did for Mike Vrabel, Tedy Bruschi, and Rodney Harrison. When you’ve been beaten by Jake Plummer, yes that Jake Plummer, Mark Sanchez, Joe Flacco, and Eli Manning in four out of your last 5 playoff losses, something has to give. Defense! It is a weak bend but don’t break defense that people do not fear.

The Patriots have to get back to being a more balanced team with someone looking to rip the head off the quarter back, a safety that will make you think twice about coming across the middle, and tough physical corners at the line. The whole defensive genius BB comparison has lost its luster with me. What has he done in the last seven years to support this comparison? Not much. They still are getting 300 plus yards put up on them a game at times from bums like Chad Henne, Ryan Bleeping Fitzpatrick, and Shaun Hill. Become more balanced and you finish strong at the finish line, rather than limping in. Having said this, I see someone like Roth from Cleveland being someone I’d bring in. He has been in Mangini’s system has been compared to a Logan Mankins on the defensive side of the ball.

Priority #2 is protecting the franchise. You start that by resigning Logan Mankins to a long term deal. This will free up a bunch of cap space for you to sign your other picks, resign guys like Wes Welker next season, and perhaps pick up someone who was cut from another team during the craziest two weeks in NFL history. Not only will the Mankins signing aid in keeping Brady upright, it will help in the development of Nate Solder, open up massive holes in the running game for Woodhead, The Law Firm, and the Smash/Dash rookies we drafted, and help in the screen schemes as well. Brady makes this team go, there is no question about that. If the offensive line can protect him, life in New England will be great for all parties involved. Brady also isn’t a spring chicken anymore, so having some tough hogs in the trenches may swing some more of the play calling into the running game, taking the pressure of TB12 to drop back 500 plus times a season.

The WR argument right now is null and void in my opinion. You won 14 games last year and laid an egg in the playoffs. The Patriots don’t win that game even with a burner on the outside. You are a brutal interception and an Alge Crumpler drop away from that being a completely different ball game. If they can pick up someone on the cheap like a Derek Mason, so be it. Braylon Edwards, Santonio Holmes, and Roy Williams won’t even sniff the New England air. They don’t fit the mold here, and either does Ochocinco. Yes he is a big BB guy, and BB is a big Ochocinco guy, but they just are two conflicting personalities. Would I take a flyer on bringing number 81 back on a trial run? You bet your ass I would. If you tell me you don’t get excited on a play action fake where Brady hides the ball, and number 81 has his hand up with two steps on his man downfield calling for the ball, you’re lying to yourself.

VN:F [1.9.10_1130]
Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.10_1130]
Rating: +3 (from 3 votes)

Top 5 Breakdown by Position

With the new CBA looking to be finalized by the end of the week, and the wildest and most crazy two weeks in NFL history closely approaching, I figured we could take a look at some of the top players at each position. These will be contested and debated no doubt, but this should wet the football palette until Free Agency and Training Camp begins, hopefully Monday.

The Men in the Trenches

Center

1) Nick Mangold – NY Jets
2) Olin Kreutz – Chicago Bears
3) Matt Birk – Baltimore Ravens
4) Jeff Saturday – Indianapolis Colts
5) Alex Mack – Cleveland Browns

Offensive Guard

1) Logan Mankins – New England Patriots
2) Jahri Evans – New Orleans Saints
3) Josh Stitton – Green Bay Packers
4) Chris Snee – New York Giants
5) Brian Waters – Kansas City Chiefs

Offensive Tackle

1) Joe Thomas – Cleveland Browns
2) Jake Long – Miami Dolphins
3) Jordan Gross – Carolina Panthers
4) Ryan Clady – Denver Broncos
5) Michael Roos – Tennessee Titans

Defensive Tackle

1) Haloti Ngata – Baltimore Ravens
2) Vince Wilfork – New England Patriots
3) Ndamukong Suh – Detroit Lions
4) Kevin Williams – Minnesota Vikings
5) Richard Seymour – Oakland Raiders

Defensive End

1) Julius Peppers – Carolina Panthers
2) Osi Umenyiora – New York Giants
3) John Abraham – Atlanta Falcons
4) Jared Allen – Minnesota Vikings
5) Mario Williams – Houston Texans

Backs and Backers

Linebackers

1) Ray Lewis – Baltimore Ravens
2) DeMarcus Ware – Dallas Cowboys
3) Patrick Willis – San Francisco 49ers
4) Clay Matthews – Green Bay Packers
5) Terrell Suggs – Baltimore Ravens

Cornerbacks

1) Darrelle Revis – New York Jets
2) Nnamdi Asomugha – Oakland Raiders
3) Champ Bailey – Denver Broncos
4) Charles Woodson – Green Bay Packers
5) Asante Samuel – Philadelphia Eagles

Safeties
1) Troy Polamalu – Piitsburgh Steelers
2) Ed Reed – Baltimore Ravens
3) Nick Collins – Green Bay Packers
4) Antrel Rolle – New York Giants
5) Adrian Wilson – Arizona Cardinals

Hands and Feet

Running Backs

1) Adrian Peterson – Minnesota Vikings
2) Chris Johnson – Tennessee Titans
3) Ray Rice – Baltimore Ravens
4) Maurice Jones Drew – Jacksonville Jaguars
5) Michael Turner – Atlanta Falcons

Wide Receivers

1) Andre Johnson – Houston Texans
2) Larry Fitzgerald – Arizona Cardinals
3) Roddy White – Atlanta Falcons
4) Calvin Johnson – Detroit Lions
5) Reggie Wayne – Indianapolis Colts

Tight Ends

1) Antonio Gates – San Diego Chargers
2) Dallas Clarke – Indianapolis Colts
3) Vernon Davis – San Francisco 49ers
4) Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys
5) Jermichael Finley – Green Bay Packers

The Arms

Quarterbacks

1) Tom Brady – New England Patriots
2) Peyton Manning – Indianapolis Cots
3) Aaron Rodgers – Green Bay Packers
4) Ben Roethlisberger – Pittsburgh Steelers
5) Michael Vick – Philadelphia Eagles

The Brains

Coaches

1) Bill Belichick – New England Patriots
2) Mike Tomlin – Pittsburgh Steelers
3) Mike McCarthy – Green Bay Packers
4) Andy Reed – Philadelphia Steelers
5) Rex Ryan – New York Jets

VN:F [1.9.10_1130]
Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.10_1130]
Rating: +2 (from 4 votes)

Get Er Done! – Now!

The sand in the hour glass is withering away. When I say withering away I don’t mean like Nicholas Cage’s acting career. Speaking of which, his redemption will come when either they make a sequel to The Rock or National Treasure. Both are those movies no matter how far into it, no matter how many times you have seen it, you can’t turn it off. The Rock was on the other night and found I could get through a good deal of the movie in between each of John Lackey’s pitching. John Lackey has become to me what Duane Starks was a few years ago. Anyone remember that guy? Anyways back to this lockout. Time is running out, and it is running out fast. The game of leverage is now over. This is no time for a pissing contest.

Finally, after 110+ days of back and forth bankers hours type days, the sides are serious about getting a deal done. The part of all of this that I still can’t wrap my head around and same with the idiots over in the NBA is this. Why for the love of God wasn’t this all being worked out in the months before the CBA ran out? Personally, if I were an owner or higher up in either league, I’d have a team of negotiators and lawyers working around the clock drafting up proposals, having conference calls, meetings, and forums to keep the pace moving forward. Anyone who says this isn’t about greed and money has the mindset of a Lindsay Blowhan. Are some of these owners good business men, savvy, and sharks in suits? Absolutely, we have one who built a palace down in Foxboro. Bob Kraft however is a fan of the game and that is what separates him from many owners. Does he still look out for number 1? Of course he does, that is why he is a billionaire. I think Bobby wants to make sure the league is stable, his franchise can remain on the upswing (note remain on the upswing), and everyone wins in the long run. I go back to my previous point about not having this lockout being worked on around the clock, it infuriates me to think that because of laziness, greed, and seeing who has the bigger Mandingo (shout out to my Rockets teammates), that this deal wasn’t done months ago, even before the current CBA expired. Now that retired players are now throwing their two cents in just screws this all up even more. We as fans have the right to be mad, ask questions, and even drop off as fans, but we can’t do that.

If you poll 100 people, I can guarantee that 95 of them will be even more excited for this season, given the fact Free Agency is going to be a bigger shit show than what happened down in Florida earlier this week. Crazy to think that pirate hooker is going to be walking the streets (probably literally) five days from now. Fans are ready for football and everything that goes along with it. The time to get a deal done is now. They should be putting in as many hours there are in a day, with different teams taking different shifts until it is agreed in principle. I’ll send some entertainment from Lace or Flash Dancers up on 5th Avenue to help ease any tension in the room. From there the deal should go straight to whatever judge, court system needs to approve it and the league season should be opened for business.

Big ups to Albert Breer, Sal Pal, and Mort from the NFL Network and ESPN for looking like hot dog vendors over the last few days in NYC probably sweating like a whore in church during their sidewalk stakeouts. I’m off to Vegas in a few days for some Blackjack and of course putting in my bets for the 2011 season. I’ll give a cut to whomever picks a winner, either that or I’ll send some entertainment your way much like the guys are getting in NYC.

Follow me on twitter www.twitter.com/mikeprocopio

VN:F [1.9.10_1130]
Rating: 8.5/10 (6 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.10_1130]
Rating: +2 (from 2 votes)