New England Sports Beat

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Pats wide receiver theories and mysteries

October 27th, 2013 Joe W. No comments
Tom Brady and Chad Ochocinco

Tom Brady and Chad Ochocinco at training camp (photo by Mark Elzey Jr.)

With Wes Welker racking up catches, 11 for 110 yards, and Rob Gronkowski setting NFL records (tied the NFL record for most touchdowns by a tight end in a season, 13), the Pats receiving corps was largely effective against the Colts yesterday. However, some intriguing questions remain:

Taylor Price

What’s David Givens doing these days? Last week the Patriots released Taylor Price, their 3rd round pick from the 2010 draft. Patriots fans were longing to see what he can do after seeing flashes of potential in the pre-season. I hoped he would evolve into a tough, big-play receiver that has been missing from the Patriots offense for a while. Now Pats fans will likely have to give up this dream. It’s a bit of head-scratcher but hey, “In Bill We Trust.”

Chad Ochocinco

I want to get this off my chest, I have a theory on why Ochocinco has been a non-factor… Early in pre-season on one of his first targets from Brady, he ran a quick slant and got absolutely wollaped. Chad looked a little dazed as he got up. Was he concussed? Who knows… but one has to wonder if that hit has had any lingering effect on him. It looks like he’s changed his helmet a few times, from the classic dome-shaped helmet to the new super-padded helmet.

Chad’s head just isn’t right… and it has nothing to do with his ability to learn the playbook. He just seems uncomfortable and lacking confidence on his routes, unlike in Cincinnati.

Matthew Slater and Julian Edelman

What did Sergio Brown do?

Matthew Slater got the nod at safety despite never playing safety in an NFL game. And he did a heck of a job considering. The same goes for Julian Edelman last week. Both players are wide receivers playing defense in the NFL and making aggressive plays. I am impressed with their tackling ability and presence of mind in coverages. Were they Ronnie Lott and Ty Law out there? No, but you have to wonder how this will play out. Did the Pat’s defense just pick up two additional players? I have to give credit to Belichick on this. He recognizes good football players and gives them an opportunity.

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Nobody wants to play the Celtics

May 18th, 2012 Joe W. No comments
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Flashback to June of 2008, the Celtics defense put the clamps down on the L.A. Lakers and closed out the NBA finals in 5 games. The Celtics brought that spirit back against the Sixers in Game 3 on Wednesday night.

Nobody wants to play the Celtics right now. They’re a tough out. Kevin Garnett has been the Celtics postseason MVP thus far, averaging over 20 points and 11 rebounds per game. But aside from his production, his leadership and compete level has been contagious… bringing back “Ubuntu”.

Also inspiring is watching Avery Bradley play through a reoccurring shoulder injury. In Game 3, his shoulder came out of socket again on a drive to the basket and a collision with Elton Brand. I had a terrible feeling watching Bradley walk away from this play with his left arm hanging down. A separated shoulder is unmistakeable. Celtics trainer Eddie Lacerte could not put Bradley’s shoulder back in place on the Celtics bench and escorted him to the locker room. At that point I thought Bradley was done. But not only did he come back, he played terrific on-ball defense with one good arm for most of the forth quarter.

And there are some intangibles that are fueling the Celtics resurgence. The team is using the media’s ‘Celtics are old’ notion in a very “Belichickian” way. Kevin Garnett was very poignant in addressing some bulletin board martial from Hawks owner, Michael Gearon Jr., where Gearon Jr.labeled KG as “the dirtiest guy in the league”. Garnett had some choice words for Gearon Jr. after the game 6 close-out win over the Hawks. Watch Rajon Rondo’s reaction after game 1 when David Aldridge referred the Celtics as an “older team.” Rondo said, “…look at us we’ll be fine”, then bailed on the interview. I liked that.

Lastly, given the context of the impending “last year of the big 4″ and the intensity level of their defense, a championship run appears to be aligning for the Celtics.

The question is… can they sustain?

The Aaron Rome – Nathan Horton hit revisited

April 2nd, 2012 Joe W. No comments
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It’s been almost a year since Aaron Rome’s game 3 hit in the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals that ended Nathan Horton’s season. It’s likely that the Bruins will go though the 2012 playoffs without Horton, who’s still suffering from the effects of concussion symptoms. Horton did come back for the start of this season but sustained another concussion on January 22nd against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Aaron Rome is not known for being a dirty player, but this hit has no place in the NHL. It was frustrating last year hearing people talk about that hit being “clean” or how Horton was partly responsible for not keeping his head up. I play hockey and understand the responsibility of all skaters to not put themselves in vulnerable positions, but Rome’s transgression crossed the line of good sportsmanship and hockey sense, look at why:

1) Late

The hit was way late, not “a little late”. If you watch the video, you can see that Horton takes about 3 strides after passing the puck before the hit occurs. Horton is not expecting to get leveled after taking 3 strides without the puck. Hitting the non puck carrier is an interference penalty.

2) Launch

Rome did not simply hold his position when the hit happened, he launched himself into Horton. Freeze the replay at the time of impact and you’ll see both of Rome’s skates completely off of the ice.

3) High Elbow

Rome let his left elbow fly from the shoulder check motion. The problem was that it was an elbow to the head area. This is precisely what the NHL is trying to banish from the league.

4) Speed

Horton was skating through the neutral zone with great speed. Rome’s decision to “stand up” the offensive player who’s skating at this rate of speed put Horton at risk. Hockey is a tough game and I think it should stay that way, but Rome could have made a different defensive play that wasn’t so reckless.

Why talk about this now? Well the hit is still effecting Nathan Horton as well as the Bruins 2012 playoff run. Rightfully so, the NHL suspended Rome for 4 games, resulting in him missing the rest of the Stanley Cup Finals. Unfortunately, Horton is paying an even bigger penalty.

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Why disrespect Jeremy Lin?

February 18th, 2012 Joe W. No comments

Jeremy Lin scores 38 points against the Los Angeles Lakers (photo by D Yang)

The Jeremy Lin story has blown up and deservedly so. For an undrafted Ivy Leaguer to drop 38 points in one of his first NBA starts is unprecedented.  However, in the midst of all the euphoria, “Linsanity” has also revealed a dark undercurrent of racial tension.

Last Monday, boxer Floyd Mayweather tweeted:

“Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he’s Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise.”

Whether or not Mayweather is aware, the statement serves to diminish Lin’s talent. Yes, Lin’s ethnicity is part of the story, but Mayweather’s commentary insidiously suggests that Asian players do not have the ability to be NBA stars. To be honest, I’m really not surprised by these comments, considering what Mayweather said in the past about fellow boxer Manny Pacquiao. This also sounds to me like what Rush Limbaugh said about Donavan McNabb in 2003.

Jason Whitlock, a columnist for FOX Sports, seemed to get caught up in “Linsanity” such that he lost his mind, posting this on his Twitter account after Lin scored 38 points against the LA Lakers:

“Some lucky lady in NYC is gonna feel a couple inches of pain tonight”

He later apologized for his tweet. But seriously Jason, you really thought this would be received as witty or funny?

ESPN’s Inexplicable Headline

You’d think that a media giant like ESPN (not to mention who’s profited greatly from the Jeremy Lin story), would display a bit more professionalism/morality. Not to be. The New York Knicks lost to the New Orleans Hornets last night 89-85. On its mobile site last night, ESPN posted a headline titled, “Chink in the Armor” in response to Lin’s 9 turnovers and the first Knicks loss since Lin took the starting role as point guard.

ESPN released this discreet statement to address the matter. But the damage done, revealing another ugly chapter in this story. Even if this headline was unintentionally racially insensitive, you have to wonder what the editorial process is at ESPN and why no one had the common sense to see this before it was published.

Maybe the media today is being fashioned in a way that is too much, too fast, predicated on viral/manic stories that are delivered to us until we can have no more. With all the emerging outlets for opinion (this blog being one of them) there has to be some culpability for hateful speak or racial stereotypes. These things only serve to foster lies and disharmony. Moreover they cloud a terrific story, that of Jeremy Lin.

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