So here's the deal. You know things are bad when X's and O's expert, and Super Bowl Hero Portnoy is ripping the organization.
Jerry Thornton obviously did what only Jerry Thornton can do, and that's spin the Mac Jones temper-tantrum/outburst into a positive.
Sidebar - I know he gets a lot of shit for it, but it's seriously unbelievable how good Jerry is at taking a turd of a performance like last nights was and polishing it up into a nice shiny diamond that we all sit here and read every Monday morning (Friday in this case), and we are able to use to convince ourselves the sky isn't falling. Granted, his jobs been pretty easy since Barstool has been around. He hasn't had too many turds to polish. But he sure has this season and he's done a masterful job at it. Whatever the Krafts are paying him, it's not enough. He really is the best football writer in America.
That said, with the utmost respect. I think his column last night was not only disingenuous, (Mac's little tantrum was anything but "the sign of a great leader"), it also missed the mark.
I don’t think it was the run game that Jones was referring to in his little sideline tantrum (Stevenson was clocking 5.3 a carry). I think he was yelling that the “quick game sucks”. As in the short 2-7 yard hits and dumps this offense has been accustomed to doing for, oh well, the past decade or so. The difference was pre-Mac Patriots teams actually had playmakers who could actually create separation, and then do things with the ball after the catch. (More on this below). They also had a quarterback who could make defenses that tried cheating up on the snap pay by going downfield with the ball... But that's not the point here.
Mac said the quick game sucks. Which it does. It all does if we're being honest. It’s clear as day that Jones and Patricia hate each other and have for weeks now. Jones and McDaniels love each other, which is whatever, but the point remains, Mac isn’t the guy. No matter how much Jerry tries to convince us all, and no matter how much he begs Santa Claus, he's just not. He’s accurate (as advertised), but his arm is a noodle and this “incredible awareness” we were sold on hasn’t really shown through much.
Over the past two seasons, when the Patriots' opponents score 25 or more points, they are 0-10. Let that one sink in.
When the defense isn't lights out, which it somehow has managed to be on a pretty consistent basis, this team stands no chance.
Know why? Not just because Matt Patricia is more useless than tits on a nun. But because there are zero, repeat, ZERO stars or playmakers on this offense.
On the team, PERIOD, for that matter.
Seriously, aside from Matt Judon, who are Patriots ticket holders paying to go and watch each week at Gillette? Who are we sitting there watching from the point the huddle breaks, to when they line up, through the play unfolding, and saying to ourselves, "now that's a guy who knows how to play the game"?
Judon, and that's it.
It's fucking incredible this team has 6 wins. And it's a credit to the genius that Bill Belichick is as a coach. He is the greatest ever to do it and the only person worthy of replacing the great Saint Vince Lombardi as the namesake on the championship trophy awarded to the Super Bowl winner each year.
He is so good in fact, he's able to win and have the success he has, with one of the worst GMs in the sport putting together his rosters for him.
Back when I first started writing, and I don't think anybody bothered reading anything I wrote, I did a blog on Ryan Pace (R.I.P.) and how awful most NFL GMs are. I asked the question, "do you think there's really that much separating most NFL GMs (bums), from real, legit, NFL superfans (like Jerry)". I argued no.
In it, I blasted Belichick.
This was 2.5 years ago.
This isn't all to pile on Ryan Pace either. Guy has it rough enough calling the shots for the Bears in this town. Thankless a job as it gets. Is Pace worst than most? Yah probably. But he's not the only guy that 's terrible at his job.
I think it goes for GM's across the board.
Unlike Jerry's army of minions that drink the kool-aid and worship at the altar of Belichick, I think he sucks at drafting. He's also not so hot in the free agency game either. Winning erases A TON from public memory (Ochocinco, Albert Haynesworth, Adalius Thomas, Aaron Dobson, Chad Jackson, Laurence Maroney, Joey Galloway, Ryan Mallet, Ron Brace, Monty Beisle, J.J. Stokes, David Terrell, Michael Bennett). And it covers up really bad decisions by making them look less detrimental. You put Chad Jackson on that 2006 Cleveland Browns team instead of New England and he's gonna be infinitely worse believe it or not.
And if you wanna defend Belichick, Scott Pioli shared in the ball-washing fest of success. He was considered a genius. Kansas City threw absurd amounts of money at him and handed him the keys to the kingdom. How did that work out for them? (We've got Bob Quinn from Detroit on line 2)
The Patriots were the oldest team (by average) on BOTH sides of the ball last season. 29.6 on offense and 29.1 on defense. Yes I know Tom Brady is 43. That doesn't explain away the fact the offense was absolutely abysmal all year after AB was cut. It doesn't help you have the most vanilla play-caller in the league, Josh McDaniel, wearing the headset but neither did having a decimated offensive line all year. There's only so much my guy Dante Scarnecchia can do with Ted Karras. Think it might have been smart to address the lack of depth at OL instead of going tight end, tight end? Or do something, anything, at QB?
Belichick will get a free pass because he can do no wrong, (besides run the two greatest players to ever play their positions out of town), and will hope winning covers his ass like always.
At the end of the day you can be the greatest judge of character and greatest evaluator of talent in the world but you still need some breaks. And luck.
Somehow, in the almost 3 seasons since writing that, this team's talent level has devolved even more.
This was written before he went and handed Hunter fucking Henry and Jonnu Smith two of the largest contracts he's ever given out. Far more than he ever even contemplated giving Gronk. And for what? They're non-existent in the offense.
So what's the solution?
First off, and most importantly, spend some Goddamn money this off-season.
New England will rank third in most cap space in the league this off-season at $52.2 million. (The Bears are number 1 with an astounding $110.8 million!)
Next, ship Mac and this entire clown show joint-coordinator staff out of here. Bring back Jimmy G and Bill O'Brien if you're that intent on recycling old flames, and let's start there.
Because if Bill's plan is to continue to piecemeal this thing, then it's going to be an ugly ending to an otherwise unthinkable career. You've got the best owner in all of sports grumbling that "he's unhappy the team hasn't won a playoff game in 3 years" (when you think about how ridiculous a statement that is and must be to hear for Lions and Bears and Jets fans its hilarious). And one of the most savage, unforgiving local medias in the country. Plus, remember Coghlan's Law, "everything ends badly; otherwise, it wouldn't end."
Speaking of things that are unwatchable right now, let's direct our attention to Thursday Night Football.
As much as I would love to chalk up how horrendous this year's Thursday night games have been, to karma, biting Jeff Bezos in the ass, it's sadly not unusual.
No, forcing Thursday Night Football down our throats has resulted in a shit product since basically day 1 for the NFL. But they don't care because we don't care. We still watch. Tens of millions of us. Even when its carried on a shitty streaming app like Amazon Prime, we still watch. In droves.
Why? I think because we're all NFL junkies at this point. Hand up, I'm guilty. But I'm also of the camp that's been screaming from the heavens to stop the madness and do away with this Thursday night crap since it basically began.
The players hate it. They're still banged up from Sunday. They're more prone to injury. They have fewer days to recover, and to gameplan. Less time to travel. For people who are regimented in their routines and schedules, it throws everything out of wack. And most importantly, it almost ALWAYS results in a shitty viewing experience for us, the fans.
Listen, if you're one of those quantity over quality guys, more power to you. I just don't want you responsible for installing the airbags on an assembly line, or showing us pics of your exes. Meaning if you just want football, and more football, and don't care how watered down and shitty it is, then I guess you're in luck and happy. But me? I'm a quality-over-quantity guy. I'd rather wait and be rewarded with the full experience.
My proposed solution? Something I've been lobbying for a few years now.
The best Monday of the season is opening weekend, when we get the double-dipped Monday Night Games. Early East Coast, late West Coast games. The league keeps its third prime-time, nationally televised game for ad purposes, the players actually get an extra day's rest, instead of 3 days fewer, and we get something to look forward to on the Monday commute.
What gives me zero confidence this will ever happen is the fact that it makes too much sense, and the league loves to do the opposite of what makes sense. That and they give zero fucks about player safety.
(Sidebar- while we’re on the subject, why do we need 20 1pm games and 2-3 late afternoon games? Why can’t we balance it out so that we’re not forced to watch Dallas/Arizona/Seattle every late afternoon Sunday? Spread it around a little bit. Plus, the 4pm east coast kickoffs are awesome. There was nothing better than the 4pm kickoffs at Gillette back when they used to have them a lot. Tailgating all day, hitting Howl for the last few on the way into the stadium. Enjoying what felt like a prime time game but ended early enough that you could still get home without having Monday morning completely ruined or having to sit in traffic on Rt 1 until 2am. Clean it up scheduling committee!)
At the absolute very least if they remain hell-bent on this Thursday Night Football experiment, they could pair up two opposing teams that are each coming off a bye week to play on Thursdays. That would become the norm. You got a bye week? You're playing next Thursday night. That way the time off, scheduling, and recovery issue is negated, and we get a better quality product. Boom. Done. Why hasn't this been figured out yet? It's even easier to do now with the season extended a week (speaking of which, the league needs to give teams 2 bye weeks now).
This is a long fucking blog so I'll close with this.
Lay the fuck off Al Michaels people.
The man is trying, for crying out loud.
Look at these games.
The only thing worse than being forced to call these games is paying One Billion dollars for the rights to broadcast them. (Looking at you Overlord Bezos.)
I said it on twitter last night, and I'll say it again
I don’t mind Herbstreit on the game day panel. In the ESPN booth, not so much. In the NFL booth, he's atrocious. But that’s on Amazon for putting him there, not on him for taking the stacks of cash. But the point is, they're handicapping Michaels by sticking him in the booth with him. Add to the fact that these games have been unwatchable for the most part and honestly, what the fuck do you expect from the guy? If he was ooo-ing and aaa-ing and sounding excited over insignificant plays all night, he'd be getting blasted for being phony. Plus, the world already has a Joe Buck.
p.s. - To all the Jimmy G haters and the still-non-believers out there, stop being idiots like this guy, who I'm pretty sure was Matt Fitzgerald's burner account. (jk)
(Player A is co-favorite for MVP, Jalen Hurts. Player B is Jimmy G)