Archive for December, 2005

Brady downgraded to questionable

Wednesday, December 14th, 2005

Wednesday’s injury list:

Offensive tackle Matt Light (ankle) — doubtful
Offensive tackle Tom Ashworth (knee) — questionable
Quarterback Tom Brady (right shoulder, shin) — questionable
Running back Corey Dillon (calf) — questionable
Fullback Heath Evans (shoulder) — questionable
Running back Kevin Faulk (foot) — questionable
Tight end Daniel Graham (shoulder) — questionable
Safety/cornerback Artrell Hawkins (thigh) — questionable
Receiver Bethel Johnson (pelvis) — questionable
Offensive tackle Nick Kaczur (shoulder) — questionable
Running back Patrick Pass (hamstring) — questionable
Cornerback Asante Samuel (infection) — questionable
Safety Michael Stone (ankle) — questionable
Tight end Benjamin Watson (head) — questionable

Where’s Whigham

Wednesday, December 14th, 2005

The Globe catches up with former special-teams ace Larry Whigham:

Larry Whigham, a safety who made his mark primarily on special teams while playing for the Patriots from 1994-2000, is hoping to return to the NFL after a three-year absence. Whigham, who said he’s taken his name off the NFL retirement list and has worked with strength coach Tom Shaw to lose 25 pounds, is living in Providence after a tragic turn of events.

Whigham, 33, had bought into a Subway franchise in his hometown of Hattiesburg, Miss. Then Hurricane Katrina hit. Whigham said the store was demolished. Then, a few days later, Whigham said he was waiting to fill up his car with gasoline, along with two siblings, when they witnessed a man get shot over a dispute over a bag of ice.

”At that point, I just decided it was time to leave town; it was a real tough, difficult time for me,” said Whigham, who packed up his car and drove for three days to visit relatives in Tacoma, Wash.

A little more than two weeks later, he received a call informing him that the mother of his child had committed suicide. Whigham then moved to Providence to raise his son, and is currently working as a loan officer for a mortgage company.

After Whigham left the Patriots following the 2000 season, he played the next two years with the Bears (and was a teammate of Rosevelt Colvin’s). He said he retired before the 2003 season to sort things out, as he was in the process of a divorce.

Whigham recently lost his AFC Championship ring from the 1996 season, but it was returned when the fan who found it recognized him from a TV commercial he was filming for a mattress company.

The upcoming test

Monday, December 12th, 2005

Sure, the Pats have looked like world-beaters the past two weeks, but who have they played?

I’m very interested in the Bucs game because it will be a good test. The Pats will be playing a winning team which is fighting for a playoff spot. This is important because the Pats are 2-5 against winning teams (those two wins being against Pittsburgh and Atlanta an eternity ago). If they don’t show that they can take on winning teams, the playoffs (assuming they make it) will be One Game to Ignonimy, not Four Games to Glory.

That looked better!

Monday, December 12th, 2005

It was nice to see the Pats finally roll over a bad team instead of playing down to the level of the bad team as the Pats far too often do. I’m feeling pretty good about the offense (with one big caveat, see later). Dillon looked more like his old self, and Faulk really does turn out to be key at converting third downs. I realize the Jets and Bills aren’t very good, but I think the improved TOP and Faulk returning are not coincidental.

I’m less convinced about the defense. Certainly, they’ve looked great the past two weeks. But they’ve also played two of the worse QBs in the NFL, and then Buffalo suspended one of its top receivers for the game. So while I think the front seven has improved (and Colvin has been a monster lately!), I still reserve judgement on the secondary.

As for the secondary, what it really needs to just have the same players playing together. All the injuries have been big, sure, but I think a lot of the problem is not so much the lesser level of talent, but that there are always different players back there. The DBs need to get time in playing together.

And then there’s the caveat…Brady’s leg. I didn’t think there was much to it — sure, he was limping a bit, but it didn’t look bad and they certainly did nothing to protect him or it. But then I read in “Shank” Shaugnessey’s column that Brady was “limping badly” at the end of the game and that the knee was X-rayed before the team left Buffalo.

Playoff Seedings ‘R’ Us

Monday, December 5th, 2005

Two good seedings pages, one at NFL.com and the other at CBSsportsline.com. Sportsline also has a page detailing clinching scenarios.

It’s not just the injuries

Thursday, December 1st, 2005

Looks like I’m not the only blogger to think injuries just aren’t the excuse anymore:

Up front, who was out against Kansas City? No one. Not a single significant player. They were all there. And don’t give me Ted Johnson. Again, lets be realistic. Johnson was a good, solid player and much admired. But missing him is not the answer to what is wrong with the Patriots defense. If anything, its allowed Roosevelt Colvin to get on the field more and Colvin has been one of the few defensive players who has been mostly good this year. The answer isn’t Johnson.

So is it Harrison? Surely in part. But its not the difference between a Super Bowl defense and the worst Patriots defense in their history, at least since I have been watching (30 years or so). It just can’t be. Its impossible. And there were signs things were wrong before Harrison went out. Think of the first drive of the year versus Oakland. Think of the long pass to Moss. Think of the long pass to Proehl against Carolina. Think of the eighty something yarder versus Pittsburgh before Harrison got hurt. Just those three passes alone would be out of character for an entire season of the past few Patriots defenses. Yet those three alone happened in the nine quarters Harrison WAS on the field early in the year. Something was wrong even then.

So what is it? To some degree, its everything. Its Harrison. It is Gay and Johnson and other injuries a little bit (but only to a limited extent as discussed above). Its the strong opponents. Its the lack of confidence. Its the injuries and non-production on offense. Probably a hundred other things as well.

But for all those things, its also the coaching. Eric Mangini simply has not done a good job this year. There is no other way to spin it. I doubt he feels he has. He can’t. The results are simply not there where anyone could be satisfied. Yes he has somewhat been a victim of the injuries and every other thing that has gone wrong this year, but he hasn’t found a way to figure it out or even to show much improvement or stability as the season has gone on.

(via)

I think this is an excellent point and is why I think the Pats are doomed to be one-and-done when the playoffs start.