Thinking Out Loud: Thankful for an entertaining game, but still a crushing loss for Pats

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Thinking out loud…while wondering if we tell people the brain is an app, maybe they’ll start to use it…

What are we thankful for? The games we play, the games we watch or listen to, the games we argue about. Yeah, those games.

The All-Points Bulletin put out there for Mac Jones? Looks like we found him. It helps when you decide to get rid of the ball more quickly than in the recent past.

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But he still doesn’t know how to throw one away when he needs to, and takes sacks needlessly.

On the flip side, the defense got its comeuppance at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings Thursday night, with a slight assist from some putridly inconsistent officiating, a breakdown in their own special teams’ play, some inane penalties and some head-scratching play calls. Again.

But no complaints, really.

Thankful for an entertaining game. But that was a crushing loss for the Patriots.

Justin Jefferson is, in a word, ridiculous. The Patriots had their hands full; they knew where he was, and still had trouble stopping him. So will everyone else who faces him. Best I’ve seen in the game since Randy Moss.

Ironically, Jefferson passed Moss in the first half Thursday night for most receiving yards in the first three years of a career.

What happened to the defense that shut out/down the Colts and Jets? The NFL is simply nuts.

Thankful that someone on that Patriots’ offensive line, like David Andrews, has a high tolerance for pain. And for stupid, based on the number of penalties the tackles have been flagged for.

Yes, thankful for what sometimes can be a dominant D. But it may not be as dominant as you think, especially if you have Justin Jefferson on the other team.

The season…with its upsets and routs…is a year unto itself. It’ll change next year, count on it. Meanwhile, survive and advance this year and stop worrying about comparisons to years gone by.

Thankful for Matt Judon, if you’re a Patriots fan. Maybe not so much if you’re a Ravens fan and your team let him go in free agency. Rookestradamus had the right call on this guy a year ago – he’s a game changer.

Friar fans, you’re undoubtedly thankful for a guy like Ed Cooley, last weekend at Mohegan Sun notwithstanding. Into each season some rain must fall – and last weekend there was a leaky ‘Good Ship Friartown’ at the Uncasville, CT casino.

There’s a lot of season left, of course. Plenty of opportunities remain to score more than the other guys, and score points with the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

But that can’t happen soon enough, can it? Just sayin’.

Not for nuthin’, but it bears repeating here: This Friar edition is a W-I-P (work in progress). The talent is there, and it will take time to reap whatever is sown.
What might be needed is someone with a PhD in chemistry to mix this group together.

Thankful for holiday basketball tournaments that I can watch almost around the clock. And wish I was there, anywhere, where the weather is warmer.

Thankful for a Final Four headed to Las Vegas in 2028. C’mon, Friars. Road trip.

I’d be thankful for a do-over in Maui. Come to think of it, I’d be thankful for a complete do-over of 2020.

But getting a good vibe and hearing that Maui may again be in PC’s tournament plans in the not-too-distant future.

I’m thankful for passionate friends and fans, even if they let their passion sometimes get in the way of reality.

Of which I am, at times, also guilty. Especially when it comes to watching my alma mater play football. We all have our vices.

Oh yes, I’m thankful for rivalry. Rivalries make the sports world cry and sing, become mad and glad, happy and sad all at once.

In the present day and age, rivalries often take a back seat to the Almighty Buck. As the Grand Poobah of All Sports for a day, I’d order that no natural rivalries can be abolished due to conference realignment, monetary gain, greed, or jealousy.

And our biggest rivalry around these parts is only another week away.

For fans of the Friars and URI Rams, in anticipation of their annual rivalry renewal, Coach Cooley and Archie Miller will take part in a Monday webinar promoting the game on Dec. 3 at the Ryan Center in Kingston and tackling other issues within college hoops.

Fans can purchase and attend the hour-long webinar for a fee, from 7-8 pm Nov. 28 with proceeds directly benefiting NIL opportunities for athletes of both programs.

The current Rams edition found a way to win one at the end in the Cayman Islands this week after two early losses…beating Illinois State Wednesday to improve to 2-4. URI will play at Boston College Sunday before hosting the Friars next weekend.

Mentioned last week that several high major programs across the country have struggled out of the gate to start the season. That also includes within the Big East…with a couple of exceptions, perhaps.

Creighton is the real deal. Size, speed, strength, playmaking, shooting, defense, and toughness. The Jays have the entire package. They have five starters who can each be an all-Big East player. That’s L-O-A-D-E-D.

What we will soon learn is whether or not they have the stamina to survive a 20-game conference schedule.

St. John’s came back and beat up an old friend and foe in Syracuse at the Barclays Center this week in Brooklyn. The Red Storm is still unbeaten, with center Joel Soriano looking like a different player from a season ago.

And his shades are goofy-looking, but guard Andre Curbelo – a transfer from Illinois – gives the Johnnies potentially the best backcourt in the league. And that sez something, doesn’t it Creighton?

UConn blew out Oregon to move to 6-0 on the season, creeping up in the national rankings to 20th. The Huskies hit a school record 17 threes in the win against the Ducks.

As we opined previously, Creighton, Xavier and UConn are setting the early pace in the Big East. Villanova, without two of its best players and a Hall of Fame coach, is struggling. St. John’s may be better than previously imagined, and Seton Hall, Butler and Marquette have had their moments

DePaul is DePaul, capable but unlikely. And Georgetown just lost to American University, a crosstown school they hadn’t lost to in 41 years. Until this Wednesday.

And the Friars? Still TBD. But that decision could be coming soon.

Bryant dropped its first game of the hoop season at Florida Atlantic, but there’s plenty to be thankful for in Smithfield. A 4-1 start is the best in their (short) DI program history, with another crack at Syracuse looming this weekend.

And analytics guru Ken Pomeroy (kenpom.com) likes the Bulldogs – they’re second in the nation in offensive tempo, behind Arizona, and second in scoring, also behind Arizona. Pretty good company.

Charles Pride is the first Bryant player to be nominated for the Jerry West Award, given annually to the top shooting guard in the country. He was also this week nominated for the Lou Henson Award, given to the country’s top mid-major player.

PC’s hockey Friars, thankful for Nate Leaman? Unbeaten at 6-0-3 in Hockey East, Providence is up to 8th nationally in the polls and hosts St.
Lawrence and Brown this weekend. The game with the Bears is the 36th annual Mayor’s Cup game Saturday night at Schneider Arena.

PC junior forward Brett Berard took Hockey East Player of the Week honors for scoring a goal and getting an assist in both games against Vermont last weekend. The Friars have the sixth-youngest team in the NCAA this year with a combined 16 first-and-second year players on the roster.

A second straight seven-win football season for URI merits a big step in the right direction for the State U, even if the Rams just missed out on the FCS playoffs. Thankful for competitiveness within a program that simply didn’t have it for a long, long time.

Holy Cross, however, has competitiveness and then some. Unbeaten at 11-0 and Patriot League champs again, the Crusaders earned the #8 national seed and a first round bye in the FCS playoffs. It’s the 3rd unbeaten season in school history, and first since ’91.

The University of California system Board of Regents delayed their vote on approving UCLA’s decision to join the Big Ten until Dec. 14. Which sez someone might be a tad concerned over midweek, cross-country air travel for women’s soccer at Rutgers.

Great story in the ProJo this week on Brown baseball’s Olivia Pichardo. That’s right, Olivia is a female, and according to the school this week she became the first young woman in history to make an active, NCAA Division I baseball roster.

Pichardo is a freshman from Queens, NY, and head coach Grant Achilles explained she was not a typical walk-on tryout. She’ll largely play in the outfield and has been playing ball since she was five.

Without a single female teammate on any of her baseball teams.

Pretty cool for a baseball program that threw the first no-hitter in program history just this past season…in 159 years.

My buddy “Big E” sez Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday for him. People travel in from thousands of miles away to be with family and friends they only see once a year, and then he discovers once a year is way too often.

Not normally a big soccer fan…but there’s something about the World Cup, not unlike the Olympics, that draws me in. Kinda like a bug drawn to an electronic zapper.

Me and about 5 billion other bugs on the planet will be watching at some point, trying not to get zapped.

Just an awful decision by Team USA’s Walker Zimmerman in the 1-1 draw with Wales – a country that’s not even as big as the state of Delaware. His plowing into superstar Gareth Bale resulted in a penalty kick, and a 1-1 draw.

It was a literal lifeline thrown to the Welsh team, giving them a point they probably didn’t deserve.

How else can FIFA show their incompetency and blatant love for the almighty Qatari dollar? They shot down teams’ wearing of unity rainbow armbands.

They’re making bank hand over iron fist. It’s easy to brush off anything that has to do with human rights when you’re making $7.5 billion.

And your ticket app keeps customers from gaining access to tickets they’ve already purchased.

And with some fans, albeit rowdy ones (what, you’ve never been to a Euro match?) pushed away from fan zones by security in riot gear. Sounds like fun.

And with some sponsors already queuing up for a refund. Budweiser is looking for a 50% rebate (about $47 million) from FIFA with public beer sales allowed in designated areas only…which no one can find?

Budweiser is taking its’ sponsorship snub in stride, saying they’ll give any unsold beer to the country who wins the Cup. Probably not coming back here, is it?

Saudi Arabia’s win over Argentina and Japan’s win over Germany this past week are two of the biggest WC upsets in history.  Maybe Lionel Messi knew what he was doing by thinking about coming to America?

It will be interesting to see, after the weekend’s football play in this country, how the World Cup will fare against college football and the NFL in TV ratings.

With the growth of youth soccer and the increased interest in college and professional soccer in the last two decades, it’s safe to say we no longer have just a “Big 4” on this side of the pond.

Futbol may finally be making it a “Fab 5” for us Yanks to follow.

Tweet of the Week, from @BostonSportsInf (before a rare Wednesday night Bruins’ loss): “November – Patriots 2-0, Celtics 10-2, Bruins 9-2. Overall: 21-4, .840. Remaining games in Nov. Patriots 1, Celtics 4, Bruins 2. There are worse places to live.”

What ARE we thankful for? Besides success on the fields of play? Health, happiness, and home. Here’s hoping you get an extra slice of each.

Interested in having your questions on local Rhode Island sports (and yes, that includes the Patriots, Red Sox, Bruins and Celtics) answered in a somewhat timely fashion? It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments, and local stories to jrbroadcaster@gmail.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here!  Would appreciate the follow on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and join in on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke ...

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Featured Image Photo Credit: USA TODAY Sports