Archive for October, 2008

Good news for Wilfork, Hobbs
October 30, 2008

The Patriots 330 pound gentle giant Vince Wilfork is about to get some good news in that he will not be suspended for a supposed late hit in the Denver game, but he will get fined.

I went thru the entire Patriots-Denver game tape and did not see anything close to a late hit much less a supposed elbow to the head of Quarterback Jay Cutler that the Broncos alleged. That, obviously, is one reason Wilfork was not fined after Tuesday meeting with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Wednesday Wilfork, who last year was fined 4 times for late/questionable hits, told us that the meeting was a very productive one and it opened his eyes as well as allowing him to show the Comisioner where he was coming from.

Off the field Wilfork is one of the nicest guys you’d want to meet and is very sincere and honest. I think that he wanted the Commissioner to see what he was all about.

Ellis Hobbs- in trouble with Belichick?  Hobbs again yesterday told us that his shoulder is fne and that he would play on Sunday against Indianapolis. That sharing of information goes In direct opposition to everything that Bill Belichick stands for and preaches constantly. Good for Hobbs. Is honesty such a bad thing and will it really give Indy an edge knowing that Hobbs will play. Of course Hobbs did not participate in all of practice Wednesday so that information is what Indy will really go by more than anything else.

More on the Indy match-up and my pick later in the week.

-MD

Celtics ready to defend?
October 28, 2008

In a word-Yes.

The Celtics certainly have the talent to win another NBA title as do about 5 other teams, but those teams do not have anyone to match Kevin Garnett. And I am not talking about his basketball talent.

I hope Celtics fans truly appreciate what they have in Kevin Garnett. There has been alot written about his intensity. None of it does it justice, so I guess you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Everyone has to answer to Garnett. Best Example-Glen Big Baby Davis. The fun loving Big Baby has been bigger and stronger than everyone he has competed against since, well, since birth. All of a sudden in the NBA he has run into players who are as big ( tho not many as heavy) and strong which meant that for him to succeed he had to work harder- ALOT harder. Quite frankly and with all due respect to Doc Rivers and the Celtics organization, that would not happen without Kevin Garnett. Guys who have been bigger and stronger than everyone they have competed against their whole life have a tendancy to do only what it takes to be better than their competition. That has changed for Big Baby whose complancency (nice word for laziness) is simply not acceptable with Kevin Garnett as his teammate. Contributions from the very talented and surpringly atheltic Big Baby will be critical to the Celtics continued success, and credit the mere presence of Garnett and his example and expectations for his teammates for much of  that success.

Garnett simply will not stand for complacency in a league full of it (complancy that is). As a celtic fan enjoy that competitiveness, that intensity that Garnett brings to the floor every time he steps on it. As talented as Paul Pierce and Ray Allen are, I firmly believe that Garnett has made both of those all-stars even better by setting such a high standard.

It all begins, again, tonight. Enjoy it, just like you enjoyed what Larry Bird brought every night and how he made Kevin McHale and Robert Parrish answer to a higher standard, making each player better.

-MD

Cassel ready for prime time?
October 27, 2008

It sounds like some Patriots fans, in their euphoria over yesterdays win over the Rams, just might need to settle down a little on their assesment and expectations of their young quarterback.

While Matt Cassel yesterday had his best performance since his days at Chatsworth HS, we should consider the opposition. Remember, just 3 weeks ago-the Rams were considered the worst team in football, and despite winning their 2 previous games still had one of the 3 worst defenses in the entire NFL coming into this game.

Now, Cassel’s final drive was impressive, especially considering that the drive started with an 8 yard sack. After that Cassel regained his composure to complete 3 passes to Randy Moss and the game winner to Kevin Faulk (does this 5’8″ guy continue to amaze you in this, his 10th year) on a perfect pass.

Cassel was his usual humble self after the game-He has learned the art of the short to the point uncontroversial answer. He is a nice kid and you hope that he succeeds. His next 5 weeks are going to be interesting and a big challenge. @Indy, Buffalo, Jets, @Miami, and Pittsburgh.

Indy and Pittsburgh are going to very, very tough games to win. The  3 inbetween games will be the wild card games.  The Jets game looks to be the most winnable. The Pats always have trouble in Miami and the Bills are good, but that game is at home. This will be a very interesting and revealing run.

But in the words of the Coach-one game at a time. And he can only dream of a younger Ty Law and Asante Samuel to help defend Peyton Manning who has got to be salivating at the thought of facng the Pats injury depleted defensive backfield.

-MD

Morris, Jordan and Rams Jackson out
October 26, 2008

As I mentioned (below) in the preceeding blog, it IS all on Green-Ellis shoulders because Sammy Morris and Lamont Jordan are both out of todays game, but so is the Rams Steven Jackson. Advantage Patriots as even with an undrafted running starting- the Pats will take that exchange having Jackson out of the line-up

Patriots inactives

RB LaMont Jordan
RB Sammy Morris
LB Eric Alexander
RT Nick Kaczur
DL Jarvis Green
LB Shawn Crable

DB Lewis Sanders

KR Matthew Slater

RAMS Inactives

RB-Steven Jackson (only one who really matters)

-MD

Pats-Rams, BenJarvus Green-Ellis
October 26, 2008

With The Patriots top 2 running backs (top 3 including Lawrence Maroney) Sammy Morris and Lamont Jordan (official word will come out in a few minutes, but neither has been out to warm up) out of todays game-most of the burden of the Pats running game (if not the outcome of todays game) will fall on the young shoulders of undrafted rookie BenJarvus Green-Ellis (more on his name later).

Green-Ellis is a rookie out of the University of Mississippi who last week fared well in his debut with 13 carries for about 65 yards. The big question is can he take the beating of a 20 carry game. He is not big, or should I say not very tall at 5-11, but is about 225 pounds. So yes, I think he can take the beating. He rushed for nearly 4,000 yards during his 4 year career at Ole Miss.

We’ll hear more tonight on sportscenter 5 Overtime from Green-Ellis, who Belichick kept hidden away from media during this entire week. Who knows, Bill may do it again after todays game.

-MD

Expert’s Take On Brady Situation
October 23, 2008

So the big news today is that Tom Brady is having further procedures done on his injured left knee to relieve an infection that has set in. It’s also not much of a surprise that word is starting to filter out that the Patriots are not happy Brady spurned team doctors (led by Dr. Thomas Gill) to have the procedure done on the West Coast. They’d rather have him here where they can keep an eye on his recovery.

Knowing Brady didn’t choose some fly-by-night operation (he went with the well-known Kerlan-Jobe Clinic in LA) got us thinking about how this can happen and what do you do when it happens.

For those answers, I talked to the Celtics team physician, Dr. Brian McKeon, at his office at HealthPoint in Waltham. He had some very interesting things to say… here’s the transcript.

–SI

On the risks of ACL surgery, which has become more common amongst athletes:

Any surgery has a risk. Any time you’re implanting tissue that is not live or a foreign body into a joint or another part of your body there is always a risk of infection. It’s the number one concern for surgeons.

On the odds of this happening to Tom Brady or anyone:

The literature varies, the rates vary… but an easy guess would be 0.8 to 1% of the time you can experience an infection with ACL surgery. Oh yeah, this is 1 in 100, clearly.

On how severe these infections can get:

It’s difficult to assess because when you hear infection, when you’re a surgeon and someone tells you you have an infection, typically you think the most common, which is the superficial skin infection or a little suture abscess which you can just clear up in the office with a little oral antibiotics. But from what I understand Tom’s now had two subsequent surgeries and likely to have more, so that means only one thing – he’s had deep sepsis – that the joint itself is infected and the infection went deep all the way down to where the ACL reconstruction took place.

On how he would treat such a problem:

They jumped on this very early, and they’ve done an excellent job thus far from what I’ve read and if you jump on it early and do sequential washouts as we call it, or clean out the knee, irrigate it out literally with high powered fluid with antibiotics every other day or so for three or four consecutive surgeries often you can save the graft – you have a very high chance of graft survival.

On how Brady’s rehab would be affected if the surgery had to be redone:

Redo the surgery again? It’s a tremendous setback. You start from ground zero and not only that, it’s now a compromised joint that’s had surgery, there’s more scar tissue so it’s almost like doing a revision, doing a re-do surgery, which is much more complex, less success rates than if it was a primary injury.

If you do enough surgeries, enough ACL reconstruction surgeries, you take care of high level athletes you do a high quantity number of surgeries eventually it’s going to happen. You take all the necessary precautions, the New England Baptist Hospital in particular – leaders in the field, we think, in infection prevention – but no matter where you have the surgery done: Los Angeles, Boston, or anywhere, there’s still a significant chance of complications and infections just happen to be one.

Pats react to losing Harrison
October 22, 2008

When asked today if the Patriots would pursue long time safety John Lynch to help take the place of Rodney Harrison, Bill Belichick responded “our Roster is all set” which is yet another Belichickian dismissive answer. Of course his 53 man roster roster is all set (they activated defensive back Antoine Spann to take Harrisons roster spot), BUT do they make roster moves every single week?-YES. Could they make a roster move this week or any of the other next 10 weeks to add Lynch?-YES.

So once, just once, Bill be honest with us and tell us that A) it is a possibility that you could bring Lynch in or B) after seeing Lynch in training camp for 2 weeks, he is just too old and slow to be able to contribute.

The man set to take Harrisons place is last years #1 draft choice-Brandon Merriweather who at 6-0 and 200 pounds is an inch smaller and 20 pounds lighter than Harrison, but a lot faster than Harrison and with his University of Miami pedigree-has the potential to play with the chippiness of Harrison.

I like Merriweather’s skill set and obviously so do the Pats having made him their #1 pick in last years draft. The Pats will miss Harrison’s leadership, but as a number of players said today in the locker room, they are not going to have a pity party-time to get this Patriot train moving, it’s not a one man team.
-MD

Paging Mr. Lynch
October 21, 2008

Unfortunately, our Lynchie isn’t exactly in football shape, so it’s more likely it’s future Hall of Fame safety John Lynch, cut by the Patriots at the start of the season, who will probably be getting a phone call from Scott Pioli and Bill Belichick today.

He may be the first player asked to replace another future Hall of Fame safety in Rodney Harrison, who we learned today will miss the season after tearing his right quad as the third quarter ended in last night’s 41-7 win over Denver.

It may also be the end of Harrison’s NFL career. The 15-year veteran could be seen mouthing “I’m done” as he was carted off the field. He’s already suffered two severe knee injuries in his career. Does the 35-year old really have another long, arduous rehab in him?

Make no mistake, this is a huge blow to the Patriots defense that’s clearly lacking in playmakers. Last night’s blowout aside, the D has struggled, with the D-line getting pushed around and the defensive backs giving up big plays. At times, it’s seemed like the super aggressive Harrison and rookie Jerod Mayo are the only ones making tackles.

Now there’s pressure on the entire unit to maintain the level they played at last night. If they can, a playoff run is not out of the question.

–SI

Belichick-Giddy
October 21, 2008

After last night’s Patriots game I fully expected to hear the same old predictable Bill Belichick- unemotional, matter of fact, “nice win, but we have to work on eliminating penalties and sacks but it’s nice to win”.
But, believe it or not-The Coach was actually excited abut this win, showing genuine emotion, at least for him. True, NO one expected to see this kind of dominating performance, but Belichick was actually complimentary. Stop the presses.

I was certainly surprised by the Pats performance, especially defensively. Obviously Denver is not nearly as good as their record and their quarterback hurting his finger on the very first play of the game had a big impact, but give the Pats defense their due. 4 turnovers, 3 sacks?-impressive.

It’s always interesting to go into the locker room where only about 5 or 6 out of 53 players actually talk to the media (the Belichick influence). At least 4 players referred unsolicited to last weeks stinker against San Diego helping to motivate the team. Then Adalius Thomas tried to tell us that last week had nothing to do with this week -Yah, right. Embarassing yourself on national TV doesn’t motivate you at all. Whatever. Then Thomas started talking about all of bandwagon jumpers, which of course doesn’t matter (Yah, right, he doesn’t think about it at all-maybe all of us should pick the Pats opponent each week and then the Patriots would be motivated to win every game !?)-like he and his teammates gave us a choice after last weeks stinker. We’ll see what he has to say after successive weeks of the Colts, the Bills, the Jets, the Dolphins and the Steelers.

Good for the Patriots, but bad for Rodney Harrison. The soon to be 36 year old safety was carted off the field last night in what appeared to be a certain season ending knee injury. Then you have to wonder can a 36 year old come back, again, from a major injury. A sad ending for the most stand up guy in that locker room. Win or lose, he does not hide out in the training room like so many of his fellow professional athetes.

-MD

Wild Night
October 21, 2008

A good win, but a costly win for the Patriots tonight.

Good in that if you closed your eyes for a minute, you might think Tom Brady was leading this team to a 41-7 victory over Denver. Matt Cassel still took too many big hits (6 sacks, 11 hurries), but he converted on enough big plays to make a difference. Plus, Randy Moss stepped up when Champ Bailey went down with a groin injury, scoring twice and disco dancing with the crowd. And the defense made plays, forcing fumbles and stealing interceptions, putting the offense in a good position to succeed.

Bad in that Sammy Morris, after setting a career high in rushing yards for a game (138, in just one half!), had to leave with an injury. And that wasn’t even the worst of it. Rodney Harrison’s knee bent violently during the last play of the third quarter. He was carted off, and could be seen mouthing “I’m done.” If he is out for the season (and possibly done for his career), that is a HUGE loss for a secondary that is already struggling to make plays.

As crazy as all that sounds, here’s the real shocker: Bill Belichick walked out for his post-game press conference with a grin a mile wide. When does THAT ever happen?