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Wednesday, 05 December 2012 13:58

Patriots Progress Report Third Quarter

What a difference a month makes.

Over the past four games, the New England Patriots have played at an incredibly high level. An argument could be made, in fact, that they have been the best team in football over the past four games. The offense has been as high-octane as ever, while the defense has made a significant turnaround. Add to that some high-quality special teams play and it's no wonder that the Pats have won their last four.

Published in Report Card
Thursday, 01 November 2012 10:31

Patriots Progress Report Second Quarter

We've reached the halfway point of the 2012 NFL season, and the Patriots are once again in their accustomed place atop the AFC East. While their 5-3 record might not be quite what fans were hoping for at this stage of the season, those three losses have come by a total of four points. The team has looked much stronger especially on the offensive side since starting the season at 2-2.

Considering the sad state of the division, it seems unlikely that New England will face much of a challenge to their lead over the second half of the season. Never say never, obviously this team certainly has the potential to become incredibly frustrating to fans. But considering where the Jets, Bills and Dolphins are in terms of talent and tenacity, Pats fans can probably rest easy.

Published in Sports
Thursday, 01 November 2012 10:17

So long, mystique

It's 11 years ago. A young Tom Brady is in his first few games leading the New England Patriots as their starting quarterback. The games are constantly close, the offense is just good enough to get by, but the defense is the real strength of the team. They lead the squad all the way through to a victory over the St. Louis 'Best Show on Turf' Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.

For the next few years this would be a continuing trend. The offense slowly got better and the defense slightly regressed, but still good enough to win games. To win BIG games. Two more Super Bowls. Then something happened. When the going got tough, the Pats got going back to the team bus, because they just lost a close game. Acting like 12-year-olds watching 'The Exorcist' for the first time and needing a change of shorts when it was all said and done.

Published in The Sports Edge
Wednesday, 17 October 2012 13:46

Football nation

A few weeks ago, the great Bob Ryan of the Boston Globe posited that his city, one of the last holdouts, was now officially a football town. For 140 years, the 'Hub of the Universe' had reserved the deepest of its sports love for the game of baseball, from the National League's powerhouse Braves of the late 1800s through the Americans and Pilgrims, the forerunners of the Red Sox. Generations of fans who followed the likes of Ruth and Speaker, Williams and Pesky, Yaz and Tony C., Fisk and Lynn and even Manny and Pedro had held a stranglehold on the market that even three Patriots Super Bowl wins couldn't wrest away. Then came September of 2011, followed by what we may someday refer to as 'the Valentine year.' And just like that, the Sox (and baseball in general) were relegated to second fiddle status.

Published in The Sports Edge
Wednesday, 03 October 2012 16:52

Patriots Progress Report First quarter

There is no denying that the New England Patriots haven't started the season the way they would have liked. The Pats sit at 2-2 after the first four games of 2012; still, while Coach Bill Belichick and company would probably prefer to be sitting north of .500, there are reasons for optimism.

For instance, while New England is indeed 2-2, those two losses were by a grand total of three points. Losing to Arizona was unexpected, but it was only a two point loss a loss to a team that appears to have a defense far more ferocious than anyone thought possible. And losing by a single point to Baltimore a probable playoff team is certainly understandable, if not exactly welcome.

Published in Report Card
Wednesday, 02 May 2012 16:17

Jones, Hightower highlight Patriots draft

Team trades up for Syracuse end, Alabama linebacker

The New England Patriots draft strategy in recent years has involved a lot of wheeling and dealing. Coach Bill Belichick seems to take particular delight in trading down and accumulating more and more future assets. While it certainly makes sense as a long-term strategy, in the short term it can feel a bit frustrating. We want to see the team take shots at top-level players, rather than being content with quantity over quality.

This year, we got a little of both.

New England had two first round picks this year, so most of us expected some sort of trade to happen. What we didn't anticipate was Belichick trading up with both picks in order to snap up players they coveted. Most of the mid-round picks were sacrificed in the trading process, but the Patriots wound up with some solid blue-chip talent and a few intriguing prospects. The draft had an overwhelmingly defensive flavor, with the team selecting only one offensive player.

Published in Sports
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