Boston Sports Pod
All things Boston Sports with Joe and Shawn. Two long-time, hard-core fans of the Boston teams talk about what is going on with the Red Sox, Patriots, Bruins, Celtics, Revolution, and (honorary Boston team) Liverpool FC.

Joe and Shawn talk about New Year's Eve before getting into the Bruins and the Winter Classic (6:00). At (14:00), they turn to the Patriots loss to the Jets and at (35:00) the Heroes and Zeroes. At (49:00) they discuss some playoff scenarios and close with a look at the Miami game (1:03:00).

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp48.mp3
Category:Patriots -- posted at: 1:55pm EDT
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     By the eye test – my eye I mean – the Patriots’ secondary is very good. Not excellent, awesome or elite. Not top of the league. But good, much better than expected preseason. I’ve heard some rumblings, chatter about the Patriots secondary lately, some flattering stats, some middling stats. Let’s see if what the vaunted eye test – my eye, though admittedly deteriorating with age – is telling me is reflected in the statistics. I’m thinking it is, mainly based on the strength of the play of corners Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan. However, we may be seeing a dropoff with Devin McCourty out. One thing is for sure, its better than just about anybody thought it would be without Darrell Revis. Brandon Browner was never more than the right piece in the machine last year.

The Patriots secondary in the 2014 regular season, stacked with a still-elite Revis, a mean S.O.B. in Browner, and McCourty the Pro Bowler at free safety, were not an elite unit. They ranked 17th (of 32 teams) in passing yards allowed per game with 239.8, 10th in passer rating allowed at 84.0, and they picked off opponent quarterbacks 16 times, a top ten result. According to pro-football-reference.com, in yards per attempt allowed per game, the Patriots tied with 5 other teams last year in allowing 6.2 per game. The league average was 6.4.

We can conclude that this unit was good to very good. Sound reasonably accurate?

Through 14 games this season, the secondary of the Patriots has performed as follows: 230.3 passing yards per game allowed, good for 8th, clearly improved over last year; an 83.3 passer rating allowed, ranked 9th in the league; 5.7 yards per attempt allowed, good for 3rd in the league and improved by a half of a yard from 2014. Butler and co. have snatched 12 opponent attempts.

My eyes have deceived me. This 2015 unit is better than I thought. Who'd have thunk after losing that talent they would actually improve? Not I. Recall what the secondary was like prior to Revis arriving. It cheweed up cornerbacks and safeties. Weekly we would learn a new name and see a new player give up catches and yards to average quarterbacks and receivers. It made average players look elite. Ryan Tannehill looked like an All-Pro at times. Mark Sanchez could and did rip apart. The motto around the team defense was bend-don't-break. It was pretty effective at this, but man did it bend! It bent so badly at times, even Bellichick's acumen was being questioned, never mind that of Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia.

It appears those days are in the past. The performances of Malcolm Butler and Logan Ryan this season have been revelatory. Butler looks like he could become a top level corner, and Ryan is progressing well as the season goes on. ESPN.go.com has Butler tied for 9th in the league with 15 passes defended, Ryan 12th with 14. These two guys compete for the play, for the ball. They are in every play. They mark their man tight, they annoy and hassle and attack the wide receivers like they owe them money. This is not the kind of coverage we saw prior to 2014. It used to so often look like the corners and safeties were giving receivers wide berths of space - and they got eaten up for it.

Let's not forget McCourty. He is having an off year and is currently injured, but he has made some key game-changing plays while covering deep center field.

This begs the questions, why? Why is this secondary playing differently than in the past. Is it conceptual? Could be. They play aggressively, moreso at least. In past years, I frankly didn't want the corners playing too aggressively, they would just get burned deep anyway. I think the difference is we have talent now. Young talent. That, and quite possibly, the coaches and players learned last year. Did Revis and Browner leave an imprint on the culture of this secondary unit? Maybe.

I don't think Bellichick or Patricia would ever admit that, if even true. But I think you see a legacy in Butler and Ryan. With these two young corners getting better every week while improving the overall secondary performance, I'm confident the bend-don't-break soft coverage days are past.

 Joe

 

Category:Patriots -- posted at: 1:35am EDT
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Joe and Shawn first focus on playoff scenarios and upcoming Jets game. Then in the second half of the show, they talk Heroes and Zeroes from Pats victory over the Titans. They close with some discussion of Boston Sports radio personalities.

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp47.mp3
Category:Patriots -- posted at: 2:03pm EDT
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Gronk is the Patriots MVP

But isn't Brady winning the league MVP? 

BP 2: 12/17/2015

Rob Gronkowski is the most valuable player on this 2015 Patriots roster. He showed us why over the past 2-3 weeks. I’m talking about the injury to his knee, which looked worse than it turned out to be. Whose stomach didn’t plummet when they saw him go down and writhe in pain? Would we have the same sinking feeling if Tom Brady went down like that? YES, YES, YES! Sixty-nine thousand Yeses!

In fact, I think both players are the heart and soul of the team. Losing either of them would devastate the chances this team has to win its 5th Superbowl title.

Tom Brady is the Greatest Of All Time finally and firmly recognized as the GOAT after Superbowl win number four last year. To conclude his GOATness became easy after last year. Brady is simply the best all-around quarterback who ever played, period. He wins games, division titles, leads the Pats to conference championship games. He battles in Superbowls at an astonishing rate. If you’re being honest with yourself, Patriot fan or not, you know he is the winningest quarterback who ever played. The only two pieces I (and I suspect many others) needed to have in place in order for me to fully consider him the GOAT, were career stats excellence (not just volume but consistency, efficiency, passer rating etc.) and that fourth, glimmering, audacious ring.

Done and done. Tom Brady is the GOAT.

He is having an exceptional 2015. This is why I almost cannot believe I am making this argument, I love Brady, like in a - he’s my hero even though I’m 42 and have never met him – way. Its incredible to see him put together this late career burst of elite-level play. From 2010 – 2014 he averaged 4,482 yards passing, a 63.82 completion percentage, 7.62 yards per attempt, 33 touchdowns, less than 9 picks, 280 yards per game, a passer rating of exactly 100 and a microscopic 1.46% pick ratio; all either leading the league or in the top 10. Now this year - Brady is only exceeding each of those numbers, and a dozen more, all the while leading a wickedly injured offense to the #1 seed in the AFC as of week 15. He is the GOAT indeed.

However, he’s not the Patriots 2015 MVP. The team is more dependent on Gronk to create wins with not only his performance, but his presence. He alters opponent game plans, creates multiple mismatches with the opponent’s secondary. His presence alone allows the Pats to execute their offense to the high degree of efficiency and productivity that has become their norm since 2010. Now throw in Gronk’s performance; the catches, runs, touchdowns, blocks; whatever else he so astonishingly and recklessly does on the gridiron, and you have a player that is the functioning heart of the team.

The proof is in the results; you can’t escape the facts. The team doesn’t have as much of a chance to win games when Gronk is not playing. With Gronk the Pats are 11-1, without Gronk they are 0-1. Yes, a very skewed sample and Julian Edelman is out also. But a closer look at the loss to the Eagles shows an offense that struggled mightily without Gronk’s presence. Brady threw for a very Tebow-ish 51.8% completion percentage, 5.6 yards/attempt, and a 71.40 passer rating, both season lows. Tossing around a couple picks completely stuck a fork in it

It was an awful game all around for the Patriots. Did the special teams decide to take a day off? Were they depressed or something? They played like they were dosed on Sereoquel. And the offense didn’t - couldn’t– perform well. A sub 50% 3rd-down percentage (7/17) and the inability of the pass catching core to get open left Brady with no one else to throw to but the ghost of Brandon LaFell. No joke, I saw a BOLO for Jojo on one of those LED Highway billboards over the Mass Pike.

Brady was there doing the best he could, but the difference between victory and defeat was the lack of big number eighty-seven out there.

It hurts to say it, I feel like I’m betraying #12.

Where is my loyalty as a fan?

I should always want him to win the MVP every year! I think he should most years! But I can’t ignore what my eyes and the results on the field are telling me.
            And so for that reason, Brady shouldn’t be voted as the league MVP. Gronk should. He should get some votes if he finishes the year on pace. He won’t win, but he’d get my vote.

 

            After all that I have to tell you I think Cam Newton is the MVP before either of them!

 

 

Joe

 

 

 

 

 

Category:general -- posted at: 2:31am EDT
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Joe and Shawn talk about the Celtics almost taking down the Warriors and the nature of their basketball fandom. At about 16 minutes, they switch to NFL: MVP talk, Heroes and Zeroes from the victory over Houston, and then look ahead to the Titans and playoffs.

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp46.mp3
Category:Patriots -- posted at: 12:57pm EDT
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In the first part of the show, Joe and Shawn look at the David Price signing by the Red Sox. At 32:50, they get in to the Patriots loss to the Eagles, look ahead to Houston, and try to find some hope in the historic greatness of the Patriots in the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick era.

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp45.mp3
Category:Patriots -- posted at: 11:50am EDT
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Joe and Shawn react to the Patriots loss. They discuss Brady as MVP, the injuries to Gronk and Hightower, the terrible officiating, the muffed punt return, and more. 

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp44.mp3
Category:Patriots -- posted at: 12:46am EDT
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Joe and Shawn give their heroes and zeroes for the Pats victory over the Bills. They close by looking at the upcoming Denver game and Joe goes on an epic rant against Peyton Manning.

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp43.mp3
Category:Patriots -- posted at: 12:26am EDT
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Joe and Shawn talk about the Giants: who where the heroes and zeroes? Also, they cover the Edelman injury, the end of the Peyton, the Kimbrel trade, and Papi's retirement announcement.

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp42.mp3
Category:Patriots -- posted at: 11:35am EDT
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Patriots improve to 8-0, so Joe and Shawn start looking ahead to some future opponents like Denver and Cincy. They also discuss the upcoming game against the New York Giants. They close with some Bruins and Red Sox.

Direct download: BostonSportsPodEp41.mp3
Category:Patriots -- posted at: 11:52pm EDT
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