Thinking out loud: Some thoughts heading into playoffs for Patriots

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Thinking out loud…while wondering if you press an elevator button three times it goes into ‘hurry up’ mode…

• Not sure this is the way to draw up a good, reliable postseason game plan.

• The Patriots slump their way into the postseason?  Losing three of four following a seven-game win streak isn’t how you or I might think this through, sure.

• But let’s face the facts:  When the defense isn’t turning over the other guys, or otherwise getting off the field – they’ve become pedestrian.  Are teams queueing up on Matt Judon now, or has he just run out of gas in his tank?

• ‘Cuz he’s a sputtering clunker out there right now.  He was a great offseason addition.  Gotta call it as it is.  Rumors persist he’s playing hurt.

• And…an offense still very much limited in its’ scope can’t afford to make mistakes and expect to run people over all the time.  Or win.

• Tweet of the Week I, from @ryanhannable: “Since 2013, the Patriots are 2-7 in Miami and 101-35 everywhere else.”

• Too much Ocean Drive activity on South Beach?

• It’s the second-ever postseason matchup with the Buffalo Bills (first was back in 1963), this third meeting between the two this year.  Yes, they earned a split.  And it isn’t the first time the Patriots have faced a team three times in a single season.

• New England is 5-2 all-time in 3rd games against an opponent in a season, regardless of what happened in the other two games.  With 1-1 splits, they’re 3-0.

• File this under: Stuff You Need To Know.

• Other Stuff You Need To Know:  New England’s turnover margin in their seven-game win streak?  +13.

• In their other 10 games (3-7 record):  -6.  That ain’t good.

• ICYMI: Mac Jones finished the regular season with a 67.6% completion rate.  That’s #2 all-time in NFL history for a rookie QB, behind Dallas’ Dak Prescott at 67.8.  That is good.

• This years’ NFL Playoffs should be interesting.  Is there a top contender?  No, but a couple of good ones.  One favorite will likely emerge, and perhaps a long shot will make it through to the Super Bowl.

• Tip o’ the cap to the ProJo’s Eric Rueb for unearthing this nugget – former Bryant football and lacrosse standout Tom Kennedy became the first Rhode Island college player to throw a TD pass in the NFL.

• Kennedy is a receiver for the Detroit Lions and pulled off the feat on a 75-yard play against Green Bay last week.  He isn’t a native of RI – originally from New York – but he did play his college football in the state.

• Pro Football Reference sez Kennedy is the 5th player with Rhody ties to throw a TD pass in the NFL.  Joe Reed, a Newport native, last did it in 1979 for the Lions; Dan Panciera from Westerly threw five TD passes in 1952 for the Chicago Cardinals; Providence native Walt Slater threw a TD pass for Pittsburgh in 1947; and Pawtucket Tolman legend Hank Soar threw two for the Giants in 1944.

• Of course, there’s a strong possibility it won’t take long for the next Rhode Islander to step up here with Brown’s E.J. Perry heading toward the NFL Draft in April.

• Big ups to Patriots’ Hall of Famer Kevin Faulk, who was this week elected to College Football’s Hall of Fame Class of ’22 as a running back from LSU.  Pro Football HOFer Andre Tippett (ex-Iowa Hawkeye) was inducted in 2021 along with former first-round Patriot pick Kenneth Sims (Texas).

• If it wasn’t a shocker, it was – at the least – an eyebrow raiser.  Former BC linebacker and ex-Patriots’ assistant Brian Flores was fired at Miami…in a season where his team won seven games in a row and swept New England.

• True, the Dolphins finished 9-8 (starting the year 1-7) and didn’t reach the playoffs.  But he did have back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since Dave Wannstedt was head coach from 2000-04.

• Nothing like a little momentum-killer to shoot yourselves in the foot with as you ride into the offseason.  Every morsel of pressure is squarely upon their fins, especially if reports of a shouting match between Flores and Tua Tagovailoa during the season took place.

• A case of communication and collaboration, or lack thereof, according to owner Stephen Ross.  What in the world of Don Shula?  Think he needed communication or collaboration?  He imposed his will, period.  His way, or the highway.

• The real problem in Miami?  The Fins are squishy S-O-F-T.  Top to bottom.  Tua did beat the Patriots twice though, no matter how you couch it.

• Hey, how about a job as defensive coordinator in Foxboro, Brian?  BB won’t be around forever (we think).  Joe Judge, the Patriots could use a little special teams help, too.

• Flores has already attracted attention from other teams who have head coach openings.  Current Patriots’ assistant Jerod Mayo is also getting interviews.  But Josh McDaniels?

• That might work itself out with Judge’s dismissal in New York.  Nothing would be terribly surprising – not even tabloid rumors of BB taking over the entire Giants’ operation.

• Tweet of the Week II, from @BobGlauber: “Since 2014, when Rex Ryan was fired by the Jets, there have been a combined seven coach searches between the two New York teams. Four for the Giants and three for the Jets.”

• What rivalry?  Boston sports > New York sports.  Just sayin’.

• A part of that first national football championship at Georgia since the days of Herschel Walker?  Ex-Hendricken star Xavier Truss of West Warwick was a part of the special teams and offensive line production that enabled a former walk-on at QB (Stetson Bennett) to pitch his team to a 33-18 win.  Now that’s a good story.

• First Rhode Islander to win a Division I national college football championship?  Might be, especially in the modern era.

• Bonus time:  Georgia’s Kirby Smart received a $700K bonus for his Dawgs winning the Natty Monday against Alabama.  That’s on top of his $7 million annual salary, and if he is named Coach of the Year, he’ll clear another $100K.

• Chump change.

• Oh yeah, and just to knockout that silly notion in your head that ‘sports don’t matter,’ consider this: pro teams are prepared to invest more than $10 billion in new stadium projects around the US by 2030 – including your New England Patriots.

• And among the improvements implemented in these projects: touchless commerce, air filtration systems and carbon neutrality.  That means no carbon dioxide emissions.  Forget the coal-powered infrastructure.

• And by the way, football accounts for 90% of the top television broadcasts over the past year.  48 of the Top 50 TV shows were football.  Regular season ratings were the best since 2015.  Yup, it still rules.

• My buddy “Big E” sez he’s been trying to lose some weight.  So, his doctor told him to try eating regularly for two days, then skip a day, and repeat the procedure for two weeks.

• When he checked back in with his doctor a couple of weeks later, “Big E” had lost nearly 30 pounds.  His doctor was amazed, and asked “did you follow my instructions?”

• “Big E” said he did, and told him “I’ll tell you though, I thought that third day was going to kill me.  All that skipping.”

• Of course, there’s disappointment in the Friars’ cancellation at Creighton this week.  But let’s understand the real story-within-the-story?

• The basketball team, guided by Ed Cooley and his staff, had been able to remain relatively healthy and safe for nearly two years without their own Covid issues.  Providence is the last team in the Big East to be internally affected.

• Whatever it is they’ve been doing, has worked.  Cooley told his radio show audience Thursday the Big East may have to readjust their current rules for rescheduling…allowing teams to play three games per week in back-to-back weeks to squeeze in as many makeups as possible.

• Because of protocols involved, the rematch with UConn Saturday is postponed. No word on rescheduling what likely would have been a sold out, boisterous crowd at the Dunk. They’ll try to fit it in…but it is likely every team in the league WON’T get to 20 Big East games.

• Be careful what you wish for. UConn’s Adama Sanogo's last two games: 18 for 33 from the field, 8 for 13 from the foul line, 44 points, 34 rebounds, nine blocks and three assists.  Whoa.

• Tell me the win over Texas Tech in December doesn’t look pretty good right now for PC?  And the Friars beat a fully healthy Red Raider team (Providence without Jared Bynum, too), something formerly unbeaten Baylor couldn’t do this week.

• Not surprised to see Villanova rip off five straight Big East wins after an opening loss.  Still, these Wildcats appear vulnerable.  Can anyone take advantage?

• Have Pandemic?  Let’s sue.

• Quite a bit of the sports world is seeking to recover lost income from the pandemic through Covid 19 insurance lawsuits.  Madison Square Garden, the NY Knicks and Rangers are among those that have been to court.

• But in MSG’s case, a judge ruled they were entitled to $1 million under a ‘communicable disease’ provision – instead of a requested $1.8 billion – largely because no physical damage was incurred.

• Might not be good news for MLB, as all teams and the league sued their insurers for $1.6 billion…and the NHL, where 20 teams also sued insurers for more than $1 billion in losses.

• If they can do it at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kansas, they can do it anywhere.  Jayhawks’ athletic teams (including men’s basketball) have been operating under a mask ‘recommendation’ for fans, for weeks.  This week, it became – wait for it – a requirement.

• Have to admit – the ‘recommendation’ at the Dunkin Donuts Center, at least for the last couple of PC games – seems to be well-heeded.

• Veteran golf reporter and former URI linebacker Tim Rosaforte sadly passed away this week after a brief battle with Alzheimer’s disease.  He was 66.  Rosaforte had retired in 2019 after covering more than 125 majors while working for The Golf Channel, Sports Illustrated and Golf Digest, among others.

• Rosaforte was a recipient of the PGA of America’s Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism and was also the first journalist to be awarded a lifetime membership from the PGA.  Several friends the past few days have said he was very good to his alma mater, too.

• I hesitate to use the word ‘legend.’  Gets thrown around and attached to the wrong people and the wrong places all too often.  But putting the word “legendary” before Mount Saint Charles’ 44-year hockey coach Bill Belisle?

• It’s a necessity.  Coach Belisle passed away this week at age 92.  He had only retired from coaching, officially, in 2019.  The run of 26 straight state championships, 32 overall.  Two NHL #1 draft picks.  More than 20 players drafted.  RI and U.S. Hockey Hall of Fames.

• Countless numbers of young men coached, tutored, taught lifelong lessons.  That is legendary.

• Bob Saget was America’s “dad,” as Danny Tanner.  Just like Robert Young (Father Knows Best), Hugh Beaumont (Leave It to Beaver) and perhaps John Goodman (Rosanne) were to an older generation.  Hard to completely comprehend he was 65 years old when he passed away, suddenly, last weekend after a comedy show in Orlando.

• From “Full House,” to “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” to his bawdy comedy routines, Saget’s career covered four decades.  That’s more than a lifetime in entertainment circles.  It’s an eternity.

• Where he was even more remarkable, really, was in his ability to jump from Danny Tanner mannerisms into his NSFW comedic routines – which came as a shock to many who only knew him from his TV work.

• Versatility is the key to longevity.  Amiright?

• Not sure I completely agree with Howard Stern’s assessment of “F***nut Novak Djokovic.”  I wouldn’t ban him from tennis.  But I would give him a nice, long suspension from the sport, ostensibly for lying about his travel visa.  Suspend him from playing Down Under, too.

• The bigger they (think they) are, the more entitled and selfish they become.  See Djokovic, Novak.  Or Rodgers, Aaron.  How about Irving, Kyrie?

• Wow.  Thanks for stopping by, Tuukka.  The Providence Bruins released him from his tryout, he signed a one-year deal with Boston this week and played between the pipes Thursday.  Is this really the move the big club needs to be making?

• If he had played with the P-Bruins (thanks Lehigh Valley), think his presence might have made a difference for a team trying to sell tickets at the Dunk and make a little money?

• Anyone else see rapper Kodak Black participate in a little in-game ‘twerking’ at a Florida Panthers game this week?  The video captured by TV coverage certainly made the rounds on social media.

• Two things come to mind: 1) I’d like to know when Black is back in the building – IF he’s ever allowed back.  2) Those kids dancing in the stands in front of his luxury box?  They’re world famous…and in for a real shock.

• Got Apple TV+?  You might be in good shape with your viewing habits.  The streaming service has kicked the tires on the NFL and the college ranks previously and has talks ongoing with MLB on a new deal to feature weeknight nationally-broadcast games.

• Speaking of that sport, you know, baseball?  Both the Yankees and Blue Jays this week hired women to be coaches in their minor league systems.  Rachel Balkovec will manage the Yankees’ Low-A team, Jaime Viera is a new minor league hitting instructor for the Jays.

• But I’m not sure the sport will be starting on time next month.

• Jon Lester pretty much gave all he had.  For whomever he played for.  A great epitaph to his career, Hall of Fame worthy or not, after announcing his retirement this week.  And I tend to think he is…a hall of famer.

• Not for nuthin’…but having a sense of humor doesn’t mean you have to tell jokes.  It just means you should laugh at others.  And maybe at their jokes, too.

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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