Patriots Run The East, Tomase Rewarded Again

Despite constant claims to the contrary, it is not easy to win the same division in the NFL 12 times in 14 seasons. The Patriots just make it look that way.

The Patriots clinched the AFC East yesterday by exacting revenge for an opening-day loss to the Miami Dolphins with a 41-13 pounding of those same Dolphins at Gillette Stadium.

AFC Easy: Tom Brady, New England Patriots roll Miami Dolphins en route to sixth straight division title – Kevin Duffy looks at the win, and the Patriots getting a chance to throw Miami’s words back at them.

Patriots gain revenge with December drubbing of Miami – Christopher Price has New England waiting all season for this chance.

Patriots built for a title – Karen Guregian has the Patriots subdued following yesterday’s division win.

Tom Brady’s feet fire up Patriots in win – Michael Reiss looks at a 17-yard scamper by the ancient QB which got his teammates fired up.

Patriots defense making most of second chances – Richard Garven has the defense once again pitching a second-half shutout.

Rob Gronkowski can’t be stopped – Jacqueline MacMullan has Bledsoe calling Gronk the “evolution of the species” of tight end from his own target, Ben Coates.

Brady-Bledsoe bond has aged like fine wine – James Donaldson has the QB’s catching up after the game.

Patriots ‘just doing their jobs’ in 2nd-half turnaround – Thomas Curran has the Patriots just working better in the second half.

Halftime adjustments helped Patriots turn a close one into a rout – Benjamin Volin looks at the tale of two halves.

Jonas Gray reappears, makes clear impact – Lee Schecter has the running back giving the team a spark in the second half.

Knee-Jerk Reactions: Week 15, Patriots vs. Dolphins – Gerald Thornton’s Knee-Jerk columns are always eminently readable

Patriots’ Chandler Jones plays like he never left – Michael Whitmer’s notebook looks at the emotional return of the defensive end.

Get the rest of the coverage at PatriotsLinks.com

*****

John Tomase Joins WEEI As Columnist, Senior Sportswriter – As expected, WEEI.com announced that John Tomase would be joining the site to replace Alexander Speier.

The release states that  Tomase’s responsibilities will include serving as a columnist across all sports, while continuing to excel with his coverage of the Red Sox. Besides his work for WEEI.com, he will be a frequent on-air contributor for Sports Radio 93.7 WEEI in Boston and across New England on the WEEI Network.

Many of his colleagues have been praising Tomase today, and congratulating him on the move. He is well liked among his peers. The same can’t  be said for many fans, who will never forgive him for his story on the Patriots taping the Rams walkthrough prior to Super Bowl 36, which was later retracted and apologized for, yet is still taken as fact by most people. (Even though the Herald wrote: “we now know that this report was false, and that no tape of the walkthrough ever existed.”)

I like John personally, never had any issues with him in that regard, but it is astounding to me that he has had zero professional implications for that incident. He remained on the Patriots beat for another season before being rewarded with a move to the Red Sox. The likes of Michael Felger defend him and insist that his story was accurate and he only made a mistake by sourcing once, no matter what has been said about it.

Others have been drummed out of the industry for less. Tomase is rewarded, ostensibly because he’s a nice, well-liked guy.

And no, we’re not going to forget this. It happened.

*****

Twitter post of the week. (From Dolphins beat reporter Omar Kelly)

 

All About That Ace

As the Red Sox look to rebuild their pitching staff, they added Justin Masterson and Rick Porcello yesterday and are still working to finalize a deal for Diamondbacks starter Wade Miley.

While these are good additions, they still need to add that guy to the top of the rotation. It’s all about that ace.

Now it’s time for Red Sox to go get an ace – Nick Cafardo looks at James Shields (please no) and Cole Hamels as the top options.

Red Sox moves don’t look bad at all – Gordon Edes urges fans to have a little faith that the Red Sox know what they’re doing.

Don’t bet they’ll go to Max – Michael Silverman says never say never, but the notion of the Sox making a play for Detroit Cy Young winner Max Scherzer is unlikely, especially with Scott Boras involved.

Rotation built in a day: Sox land three starters after losing Jon Lester – Scott Lauber has more on the Sox moves from yesterday.

******

The Patriots look to clinch the AFC East on Sunday when they take on the Miami Dolphins at Gillette Stadium.

Given the way he prepares, Tom Brady won’t be slowing down anytime soon – Greg Bishop of Sports Illustrated looks at the fanatical preparation and work routine put in by the Patriots QB.

Patriots’ television ratings through the roof – Chad Finn’s media column looks at the ratings the team has garnered this year, and has several other notes, including Butch Stearns’ candidacy for the Boston Herald sports editior job that went to Sean Leahy.

Bill Simmons’s Voice Has Been an Important One in the Quest to Expose Roger Goodell – Finn also has this piece on Boston.com which praises Simmons for his work in getting details about Roger Goodell’s ineptitude out in the public.

It really is mindroasting to think about how Goodell can continue to not only avoid any type of sanctions, but actually keep and increase his power while maintaining full support of the NFL owners. In the same day that ESPN’s Outside the Lines released a report on the testimony that Goodell gave about his Ray Rice decision, in which Goodell is shown to be elusive, obstinate, inconsistent, probably dishonest and not very smart, the NFL announced its new personal conduct policy in which Goodell will remain as the ultimate judge, jury and executioner, and keeps him firmly in control of discipline.

If anyone can kill the golden goose that is the NFL, it is Roger Goodell. I just wish the NFL owners could see that.

NFLPA grievance: New England Patriots doctor put team ahead of patient – The Washington Post reports on a grievance filed on behalf of Jonathan Fanene, which alleges the team instructed the Doctor to delay surgery in hopes that the player would retire.

Browner gratified by support from fans – Nice bit from Mark Daniels about how the huge cornerback has fit into the team.

Patriots have developed successful run-pass balance – Michael Whitmer has a look at the quest for balance by the Patriots offense.

Devin McCourty finding a new life at old job – Jeff Howe has the Patriots safety getting some run at cornerback in the San Diego game.

******

Zdeno Chara returned to the Bruins lineup last night, but his club still fell to the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2.

Bruins play the right way, but losing continues – Fluto Shinzawa says there were plenty of positive signs in the loss.

Julien: ‘Effort was there, execution was poor’ vs. Chicago – Joe Haggerty has the Bruins coach praising his team’s effort.

Red Sox Facing Heat After Losing Lester To Cubs

I stayed up as late as I could last night awaiting the news on Jon Lester. Naturally the news broke just a few minutes after I turned things off and went to bed that Lester had agreed to a 6-year $155 million deal with the Chicago Cubs.

I don’t sense that many people will be upset with Jon Lester for this decision. The heat, from both fans and the media will be directed at the Red Sox.

How will they react? Will there be a subtle leak in an attempt to turn PR to their side? (#SmearCampaign)

Their best move will be to acquire talent to try and fill the void in the starting rotation.

Here’s a sampling of articles from this morning:

Red Sox’ lowball offer last spring led to Lester’s depature – Sean McAdam says the Sox didn’t lose Lester last night, they lost him last spring.

When it came to Red Sox’ pursuit of Jon Lester, we should have known better – Rob Bradford says that the “Red Sox offered less than their competition, less than it would have taken to get Lester re-signed, at every step of the way.”

Red Sox have work, explaining to do – Gordon Edes says that the Red Sox have let Lester fans down twice, first with his trade to Oakland and now this.

Red Sox made curious strategy change in Jon Lester pursuit – Peter Abraham says that this will go down as one of the strangest chapters in Red Sox history.

Red Sox wouldn’t overpay for Jon Lester – Michael Silverman says that the Sox wanted to be in the hunt, but weren’t upset at not getting him.

What now? Potential Red Sox targets with Jon Lester off the board – Alex Speier looks at where the Red Sox go from here.

Jon Lester Was Everything a Red Sox Player Was Supposed to Be — So Why Is He a Cub? – Chad Finn laments the loss of the lefty.

The Red Sox don’t like to take heat from the media. They will respond one way or the other. Here’s hoping it is in the form of player acquisition, not some sort of whisper campaign or Boston Globe article from Bob “The hitman” Hohler.

Does John Henry appear on Felger and Mazz today? Does Larry Lucchino make some jabs at his former protege, Theo Epstein?

Or does Ben Cherington just go about his business of building a competitive baseball team? Let’s hope it’s that.

*****

Gronk! The Interview. – Lindsay Czarniak interviewed the Patriots tight end for ESPN The Magazine. It’s a must-read.

Larry Bird’s Greatest Shot Was the One He Didn’t Take – Larry Bird fans are very familiar with the former Celtic’s background, but this Indianapolis Monthly feature by Sean McCabe is worth a read.

Red Sox Need To Prepare For Rotation Without Jon Lester

While nothing is official yet, indications seem to be that the Red Sox need to start thinking of the rotation for 2015 and beyond without lefty Jon Lester at the head of it.

Ken Rosenthal had reported yesterday that Lester would likely choose between the Cubs and Giants, though Lester’s agents quickly refuted that report as did the Red Sox, who said they had no indication that they were out of the bidding.

No sign yet from Jon Lester – Scott Lauber looks at the signs that lead Lester away from Boston.

Lowballing Jon Lester haunts Sox – Michael Silverman has the team likely regretting their decision to produce such a weak offer to the pitcher earlier this year.

Only one man knows Jon Lester’s true intentions: Jon Lester – Rob Bradford says that speculation is useless.

In defense of the Red Sox: GM Ben Cherington explains Boston’s pursuit of Jon Lester –  Jason Mastrodonato has the Sox boss trying to outline what happened between the two parties earlier in the season.

Jon Lester has options to weigh – Gordon Edes notes that whichever way Lester chooses, he really can’t lose.

Red Sox continue to wait on Lester’s decision – Sean McAdam has the Red Sox content to wait things out.

With Jon Lester decision imminent, different levels of optimism for Red Sox – Tim Britton has the Red Sox admitting they’ve changed their view of Lester’s value since the offer last spring.

Red Sox GM Ben Cherington wading through options at Winter Meetings – Nick Cafardo says that the Red Sox haven’t only been focused on Lester in recent days.

*******

The Patriots resurgence apparently has Mike Felger yearning for his old days of writing about the team, as he has a new column up on CSNNE.com – These Patriots have a different feel.

Patriots used week in California as bonding experience – Shalise Manza Young has the team using the week out West to their advantage.

Film review: How Jamie Collins and the Patriots defense battered Philip Rivers and the Chargers = Kevin Duffy looks back on the win.

Bruins strictly average so far, and they will need help – Fluto Shinzawa says that it is time for the Bruins to make some moves.

Celtics hit Wall in 2 OT, lose – Steve Bulpett has the Celtics falling a point short last night, behind a huge game from rookie Marcus Smart.

Slugfest in San Diego Latest Win For Patriots

After the Patriots squeaked by the lowly New York Jets at home on October 16th, focus turned to the just-completed six-game stretch for New England, which experts said, would make or break this team. Some leaned towards the latter, predicting doom, even 0-6 over this stretch.

After going 5-1 over the six games, you’d think most questions would be answered. New England won blowouts, they won close, they won at home, they won on the road. They won scoring 51 points, and they won scoring 23 points.

With gauntlet complete, Patriots take another step on journey toward title – Chris Price with the Patriots establishing their contender credentials.

Patriots’ defense saves the day against Chargers – Tom E Curran has the team showing they can win a game with their defense, too.

Jamie Collins leads Patriots big defensive effort – Karen Guregian has the second-year linebacker taking charge with Hightower out last night.

Jamie Collins, New England Patriots defense overwhelmed San Diego Chargers Sunday night – Kevin Duffy has teammates raving about the young linebacker.

Patriots’ defense delivers after team bonding in San Diego – Mike Reiss has the week of preparation out West paying off for the team.

Brandon Browner disputes roughing penalty – Michael Whitmer’s extensive notebook leads off with the controversial call against the Patriots cornerback.

Get all the coverage at PatriotsLinks.com.

Sports media: Marshawn Lynch has his say — such as it is — in interview – Chad Finn’s Monday media column has the Seahawks running back speaking to a former teammate.

Sam Ponder on motherhood, football; misogyny among hockey media – Richard Deitsch’s media column covers the usual wide gambit.

Elsewhere:

One John Henry plane flight later, stage set for Jon Lester’s decision – Rob Bradford wonders if a second visit from the Red Sox owner could sway the lefty into returning to Boston.

Simple Truth: Boston a special place for Paul Pierce – Steve Bulpett has a talk with the former Celtics captain.

Worst Owners In Major League Soccer Look For Title Win Sunday

On Sunday at 3:00pm (ESPN) the New England Revolution will be playing in the MLS Cup final for the fifth time since 2002. This despite having the worst owners in Major League Soccer.

I won’t pretend to know a ton about the Revs or how the Krafts have done as owners to the franchise, but that article still strikes me as a lets strike at the Krafts and indirectly make the “cheap” accusation type of move. It was a great way to get talked about on afternoon drive sports radio, as the topic was right in the wheelhouse of one of the two shows in town.

I don’t know if the Revs can get over the hump and get that first title, but I’ll be hoping they do.

Taylor Twellman on the call for MLS Cup – Chad Finn’s media column has it sounding like Twellman believes the Revs will have a tough task in front of them to earn their first title.

Finn also confirms that Alex Speier will be leaving WEEI.com and coming to the Globe.

The role seems a bit ambiguous. Finn says Speier will be mostly writing for the BostonGlobe.com website, with some articles also appearing in the paper. He will also not be writing strictly about baseball. While I have no doubts that Alex Speier can write about any sport, it seems a bit strange to me to take the guy who is, in my opinion, the best baseball writer in town, hands down, and use him differently.

In what would be a related move, Finn on the SoSH media forum speculates that John Tomase could be in line to replace Speier at WEEI.com. That would make sense given the history between Tomase and Rob Bradford.

  • The Patriots will be playing their last prime-time game of the regular season, on NBC’s Sunday Night Football against the San Diego Chargers.
  • Boston sports media personality Jennifer Royle, who has done shifts at WEEI, the Boston Herald, and other outlets in town, is contestant on this season of ABC’s The Taste.
  • J.J. Watt would be a better tight end than Rob Gronkowski? Thanks to Pro Football Focus for setting the advanced stats/analytics industry back 10 years. (Same article, Mike Vrabel playing TE was just a “look-how-clever-I-am gimmick by Bill Belichick.”)
  • If you’ve been an overnight listener of CBS Sports radio and used to listening to Damon Amendolara, that will change in January as his show will move to 6-10PM. Amy Lawrence will move into the slot previously occupied by Amendolara.

Patriots/Packers Still Worthy Of Discussion, But…

It seems like some of the most influential conversation-makers in town would rather talk about how Josh Boyer is ruining the cornerbacks, or worrying about several Patriot players going to the Clippers game last night and ending up hanging out with Justin Bieber or drooling over the prospect of Bill Belichick being called to testify in the Aaron Hernandez trial and being forced to answer questions. ‘It is what it is’ isn’t going to cut it in cross-examination, haha!
I even heard the incredibly tired and cliche Did the Packers find the blueprint on how to beat the Patriots???

Anything, it seems, other than what was one of the best regular-season games the Patriots have been involved in for a while. The game had everything – except of course a win by New England.

Since I’m a day late on most of this, you’ve probably seen many of these, but here are some stories I enjoyed.

Patriots-Packers: What We Learned – Matt Chatham looks at some of the big plays and some gripes Patriots fans likely had.

An issue some people had with the game was the amount of time Aaron Rodgers had in the pocket. I really liked this answer from Tedy Bruschi to that question in his chat yesterday:

bruschi

While some are talking about this as a “moral victory” another former Patriot, Dan Koppen doesn’t think it is being viewed that way inside the locker room. – Can Patriots view loss as a moral victory?

Tom Brady on D&C, still frustrated by Sunday’s loss: ‘I felt like we should have won’ – It doesn’t sound like the Patriots QB believes in moral victories either.

Would television fee dispute ever affect a Patriots game? – Chad Finn’s media column yesterday looked at the blackout of FOX on FiOS which caused viewers to miss the Cowboys/Eagles game on Thanksgiving and notes that DISH subscribers, already without CSNNE, could lose Patriots games on CBS in the near future too.

***********

This could be an interesting week for the Red Sox as well:

Red Sox continue quest for arms – The team is waiting for Jon Lester’s decision, but is also busy exploring the trade market, according to Gordon Edes.

Jon Lester taking his time as he weighs his decision – Nick Cafardo looks at the Lester landscape.

Past as prelude? Pedro Martinez, Jon Lester and a potentially rocky Red Sox rotation remake – Alex Speier looks at Pedro Martinez’s free agency a a decade ago gives us any insight into Lester’s.

***********

Now we’re on to the section of the post known as “Articles that I will never click on.”

I’ll let Jerry Thornton address this, since he’s apparently one of Dan’s targets this morning.

benz

Nice strawman, Benz. Who is saying this? (Besides Felger and cronies?) I saw my buddy Wilbur mention it, but are actual Patriots fans saying this? Or is Benz just clickbait trolling?

Unlike Patriots, Red Sox Going “All In.”

Meanwhile the Patriots play the waiver wire, picking up castoffs and trading for players who would’ve been cut by their teams anyway.

It remains to be seen how the Red Sox roster will shake out, there appears to be a lot of redundancy at certain positions, but Ben has a plan. In Ben we trust.

But if they don’t sign Lester, this offseason will be a complete failure, right Dan?

Trying to make sense of Red Sox reunion with Hanley Ramirez – Rob Bradford looks at the reported signing.

So … is there any money left for pitching? Red Sox roster building reconsidered – Alex Speier crunches the money numbers.

Keep up with the latest free agent craziness at RedSoxLinks.com.

*********

The Patriots won their seventh game in a row, beating their fourth division leader with a 34-9 rout of the Detroit Lions at Gillette Stadium yesterday.

Patriots disarm Lions offensive weapons in win – Tom E Curran has the defense taking away Detroit’s weaponzzzzz.

Darrelle Revis the queen piece in secondary – Mike Reiss has Revis as the most important piece on the chessboard for Belichick and Patricia.

Patriots keep opponents guessing – Jackie MacMullan looks at the team’s ability to morph from week to week.

Get the rest of the coverage at Patriotslinks.com.

*********

Latest Tom Brady-Randy Moss hookup a good one – Chad Finn looks at the interview between the two legends on FOX Sports 1 yesterday.

Christian Laettner on Laettner hate; why ESPN’s Keith Law was suspended – Richard Deitsch looks at the latest 30-for-30 film.

Where’s Pete Sheppard? Shaughnessy Wrong Again, And Other Friday Notes

I’ve gotten a number of emails and commenters asking about the status of Pete Sheppard, who has been absent from Glenn Ordway’s Big Show Unfiltered for some time now.

Sheppard took to Facebook yesterday to clarify his status:

My friends…I will make this fairly short and sweet as I have gotten a number of mostly private messages via Facebook and Twitter over the last month regarding my “broadcasting” status…The only thing I will say is I recently received an offer that I simply can’t refuse that is outside the broadcast world and at this point in my life, I have to take it…I don’t know what the future will bring but I know right now I have never been happier and the people I will be working for are incredible…That is all for now…Thanks my friends for all your support, it will always mean the world to me….

Hopefully that answers things for now.  I wish Pete the best in his future endeavors.

************

The Red Sox are in pursuit of both Jon Lester and Pablo Sandoval.

For months, Dan Shaughnessy has consistently been saying there was no way that Lester would be re-signing here after the team traded the lefty to Oakland in July, and that the team would not even make an effort. You know, stuff like this:

You’re a FOOL! And a sheep!

After the Red Sox made an offer this week, and by all accounts are “in on Lester”, Shaughnessy wrote yesterday that there are “No excuses” for the Red Sox not to get Lester signed.

His fawning boss sees no contradiction in Shaughnessy’s swinging views.

Dan also manages to work in a don’t be cheap like the Patriots (Krafts) into the column on Lester too.

Yes, this is the star of the Boston sports media.

Celtics radio announcer Sean Grande had a statement to make the other night and did so by photobombing the CSNNE TV telecast.

The Celtics get back in action tonight on the road in Memphis against a tough Grizzlies team. (8:00pm, CSNNE)

**********************

Last Sunday night’s Patriots/Colts game gathered a 40.0 rating with a 58 share, making it the second highest Sunday Night Football rating for the Patriots. The high mark of 42.6 was reached in a December 2010 game against the Green Bay Packers.

This Sunday’s Patriots/Lions game will be on FOX at 1:00pm, with the network’s top crew of Joe Buck, Troy Aikman and Erin Andrews calling the game.

The media is scrambling this morning for storylines after the latest “team X” the Chiefs lost to the previously winless Oakland Raiders last night. Of course, it doesn’t take much effort to turn it around and yell the Patriots got blown out by the Chiefs who lost to the winless Raiders!!!

Get all the Patriots news leading into Sunday at PatriotsLinks.com.

**********************

The Bruins are also in action tonight, taking on the Blue Jackets in Columbus. (7:00pm, NESN)

Get all the news on the B’s at Bruinslinks.com.

**********************

‘College GameDay’ takes The Game to another level – With the ESPN show originating from the Harvard campus tomorrow morning, Chad Finn talks with Lee Fitting, senior coordinating producer for ESPN’s college sports studio shows.

No Excuses, Huh?

(From BSMW member Claude45)

How about all the reasons you and your d-bag co-hosts keep hammering us with:

– Belichick the GM sucks
– Horrible Drafts
– Letting Welker go
– Kraft is cheap
– Brady is DUN
– Window is closed
– Denver’s ALL IN !!!!!
– The game has passed Belichick by on defense
– They can’t win a rock fight
– They play too many close games
– Lousy free agent signings
– They can’t draft and develop wide receivers
– They missed on Amendola
– They traded the heart and soul in Mankins (which would inevitably lead to Brady getting KILLED!!!)
– Trading draft picks for guys would be cut anyway
– Waiting for guys to get cut and pick them off the scrap heap instead of being AGGRESSIVE. STOP MESSING AROUND AND GET SOME GUYS IN HERE TO WIN SOME GAMES!!!!
– Brady does not care about football anymore. Just banging Giselle and fashion week.
– They will never recover from losing Scar
– Belichick surrounds himself with only yes men, needs a strong voice in the room
– Too many Rutgers guys
– They hate Gooch
– They have a tuba player on the OL
– They don’t have a signature road win in 4 years
– ARROGANCE!!!!
– The Jets passed them by (while somehow remaining a tomato can)
– Wasting a second round pick on a QB who won’t play for years INSTEAD OF GOING FOR IT!!!
– Tough stretch schedule with no tomato cans
– Inexperienced DB coach
– Coaches from Division III schools!
– NO PLAYMAKERS!!!!

Based on your football acumen, the Pats are huge underdogs to hang on for the number 1 seed, Tony. It will be a miracle or I may start to think you don’t know what you are talking about.