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Thinking out loud: Leftover Patriots thoughts

John Rooke
January 11, 2020 - 9:40 am
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Thinking out loud…while wondering whatever happened to stepping up for Duty, Honor, Country?

 

  • Not for nuthin’, but Andy Dalton?  Like me some Red Rifle, but really?  Andy Dalton?

 

  • Was this season a Patriots’ failure?  Been having this debate with several who should know, and in a short-term sense…it was. 

 

  • When you reach three straight Super Bowls and don’t get to the 4th…it’s a fail.

 

  • But only because expectations are inflated.  Fair or not. 

 

  • In a long-term sense, the Patriots’ dominance is precisely why fan bases and the media – all over the country – in and out of football, hate on this team.  But a grudging respect exists, unless of course, stupidity enters the equation.

 

  • Looking straight at Max Kellerman and Rob Parker, of course.  Nick Wright, you ain’t far behind, brotha.

 

  • Watched Kellerman this week hammer the Giants for taking Joe Judge as a head coach, without considering the fact he’s been groomed for this opportunity for the past seven seasons by the zen-master himself.  And just who is a decidedly better candidate?

 

  • Kellerman is so off-target he could fall out of a boat in the ocean and not hit water.  Just sayin’.

 

  • My old high school coach would say, “Kellerman! You’re so off, you couldn’t hit a bull in the a** with a bass fiddle!”  Dude gets a paycheck, though. 

 

  • Back to the Pats – it won’t take rocket science to repair the problems we can all see.  The biggest question is – do the Patriots want to pay to fix them?  The next biggest question – can or will they pay to fix them? 

 

  • Much of that last one will, of course, be decided by TB12’s future…and whether he has one in New England.  It says here – and has always said here – he and the team will figure it out, and he’ll be a Patriot. 

 

  • Rookestradamus agrees.  He’s not going out with a pick-six as his last pass in New England.  C’mon man. 

 

  • It’s really very simple, even though so many refuse to see it.  Remove the emotion.  There’s just not another option out there that is ready-made to win NOW. 

 

  • New England offers TB12 the best chance to win next year, give or take a few choice free agents, of course.  There are no Peyton-Manning-to-Denver-ready-made-to-win teams out there.

 

  • And haters gonna hate, but why is this the TOP sports story in the country right now – rather than focusing on the eight NFL teams still in the derby?

 

  • Secretly, they hate us ‘cuz they ain’t us.

 

  • This must be how Yankee fans feel.  Or at least how they felt when they won something meaningful.  Go ahead, dance on the Patriots’ grave.  Get it in while you can, peeps. 

 

  • The Globe’s Chad Finn also pointed out this week that, generally speaking, when the Patriots exit early in the postseason, BB revamps and retools in the offseason.  In this case, some protection and offensive weaponry for TB12 would be nice, yes.

 

  • Rookestradamus says he’s seeing the initials “OBJ” on the horizon.  But they’re blurred.

 

  • Would you draft Tua?  Just asking for a friend.

 

  • Is it ovah?  When the Patriots miss out on the playoffs, maybe with back-to-back losing seasons, maybe then it’s ovah.  They went 10 years between Super Bowl wins, so…

 

  • It ain’t ovah yet.  BB is still in charge, but he’s got a lot of work to do for next year, certainly.

 

  • And Forbes says he’s the top paid coach in the country, at better than $10 million per year. The ROI is still solid, no?

 

  • What in the world will the TV networks do without New England in the tournament?  The Pats and Titans were watched by a massive audience, more than 34 million, last week. The wild card game rating was the highest for the NFL in six years.

 

  • Josh McDaniels.  A victim of the Patriots’ continued success, more than anything else.  Otherwise, he might already be in Charlotte or New York. 

 

  • Or, his dalliance with Indy still has some worried about getting jilted at the altar.  Or, maybe he simply likes it in New England? 

 

  • Tweet of the Week I, from @ESPNStatsInfo: “The Patriots ended the season by losing back-to-back home games. They went 104 home games between consecutive home losses, by far the longest stretch in NFL history (next: Dolphins, 88 straight from 1976-86). @EliasSports.”

 

  • And this for those of you who doubt the reach of BB’s coaching tree – also from @ESPNStatsInfo: “Bill Belichick has lost his most recent game against each of his former assistants and players who are active head coaches (Mike Vrabel, Brian Flores, Bill O’Brien, Matt Patricia).”

 

  • Met Matt Rhule, the Carolina Panthers’ new head coach, when he had just taken the job at Temple.  The Owls, you’ll recall, were once booted from Big East football for, um, not being very good.  He had all the confidence in the world his team could win in the old Big East/new AAC.

 

  • Damned if they didn’t win.  He succeeded Steve Addazio, who left (and was fired from) BC and went 2-10 in 2013.  Two years later, the one-time doormats won 10 games.  In back-to-back seasons.

 

  • Doesn’t mean he’ll have success at Carolina, but hey, the guy has a certain je ne sais quoi. He also turned around the cesspool at Baylor in three years, even if the guy sounds like a cheerleader-turned-revival-preacher up on the podium.

 

  • Who ya got now?  I had the Saints.  Oops.  Think I’ll give the kiss ‘o death to the 49ers.  Barely, over the Ravens.

 

  • My buddy “Big E” sez he got talked into going hunting with three buddies, and they paired off in twos for the day. That night, one of his friends in the other twosome returned to their camp alone, with an eight-point buck draped over his shoulders.

 

  • “Where’s Charlie?,” Big E asked.  “I think he broke his leg or something, he’s back up the road a mile or so,” was the reply.  “You left him out there and carried the deer?”  “Well,” his friend said, “it was a tough call, but I figured no one was going to steal Charlie.”

 

  • Hey Friars?  That’s how you climb back into a season.

 

  • The game at Marquette this past Tuesday was a great game to watch – if only I could simply watch it.  Too busy biting my nails while trying to call it.

 

  • Not for nuthin,’ but anytime you have big shots falling from the sky on both sides, the entertainment value is high.  And Markus Howard is a phenom at 5-foot-11.  How he gets his shot off in the middle of trees is beyond me.

 

  • Winning two on the road this past week, in Chicago and Milwaukee, puts the X back in expectation for Providence.  6th ranked Butler at the Dunk Friday night?

 

  • Pure gravy.  Or is it sauce?  I can never keep that straight.

 

  • Love stat nuggets, and here’s one for you – no Big East team has ever won three straight league games by one point.  PC won two straight on the road this week, both by one point.

 

  • The streak ended Friday night at the Dunk in a loss to 6th ranked Butler. A 9-0 deficit to start the game did the Friars in and getting beaten up on the backboards never really allowed for a comeback. 

 

  • The building roof was ready to blow, but Butler is good. Providence simply didn’t help itself much at all with poor shooting and no rebounding. St. John’s Wednesday night is the next big one – and they’re all big from here on out.

 

  • Tweet of the Week II, from @stevehartnett92: “A key to Providence’s 3-0 start in the Big East is the improved play of their bench. In two straight road wins, the Friar bench outscored DePaul 26-8 and vs. Marquette the Friar bench outscored MU 42-8.”

 

  • Butler’s start to the year has been most unexpected but predicated on a vastly improved defense.  Villanova is vulnerable, but still Villanova.  DePaul will win a few you won’t expect them to, and they’ve got at least two future NBA pros.  St. John’s has underrated talent.

 

  • Xavier struggles with shooting, like the Friars at times, but the Musketeers are ultra-physical like an old-school Big East team.  Conversely, Creighton may be the best pure shooting team in the country.  Marquette and Seton Hall each have one of the best guards in the country. 

 

  • The styles vary, but top to bottom, the Big East is at its’ best since league realignment in 2013.  It won’t ever be like it was, but in Year Seven of the Resurrection, this Big East has something the old Big East didn’t have – complete strength from top to bottom. 

 

  • No weak sisters.  No cupcakes.  No pushovers, pansies or snowflakes.  No tomato cans, no also-rans, no losers, has-beens or flash-in-the-pans.

 

  • With all due respect, Dr. Seuss couldn’t have said that any better.

 

  • This Week in the Big East tips off its’ 6th season this weekend, and Episode 1 is loaded – DePaul head coach (and New Bedford native) Dave Leitao, all-American candidate and the nation’s #1 scorer at Marquette, Markus Howard…plus the esteemed college hoop analyst and reporter Andy Katz from NCAA.com and FS1. 

 

  • Find TWITBE on a Westwood One radio station near you, or, on westwood1sports.com and bigeast.com. Plus, satellite coverage on Sirius/XM and iTunes, Stitcher and GooglePlay for podcasts.  Kevin McNamara joins me for a sixth season of covering the top college basketball league in the country.

 

  • Friar assistant and ex-Rhode Island College head basketball coach Bob Walsh is inducted into the Little East Conference Hall of Fame Saturday night, for his extraordinary nine-season run with the Anchormen – eight NCAA bids, five league titles, six tourney titles and a .764 winning percentage.

 

  • Rhody stumbled to Richmond, then found itself again at home against Davidson this week.  The move to bring Fatts Russell off of the bench paid immediate dividends, too. 

 

  • The Rams, however, have little margin for error the rest of the way if they want to keep themselves in the mix for a dance ticket in March.  It means winning the games they should and winning a few of them they shouldn’t.

 

  • Congrats to Brown head coach Mike Martin on gaining his 100th career victory, as the Bears beat Johnson & Wales this week.  Johnson & Wales?  Yup. 

 

  • Bryant’s Adam Grant popped Fairleigh Dickinson for 28 points this week, but the Bulldogs lost to the Knights 77-73.  Bryant is 9-6 overall, 1-1 in the NEC and gets Mount St. Mary’s in Smithfield Saturday.

 

  • Baseball free agent spending this offseason?  The Yankees lead the charge at $336.5 million.  Nine teams have doled out nearly $2 billion in guaranteed dough.  The Red Sox are, sadly, not one of those.

 

  • Mookie Betts, meanwhile, will loosen up his right arm after winning big in arbitration by entering the PBA Hall of Fame Classic in Arlington, TX next week.  Pete Abraham of the Globe says It will be his first pro bowling tournament since 2017.  So you know, he has options.

 

  • Um, Alex Cora?  I wouldn’t be worrying so much about on-field personnel right now, as I would be over whether or not you’ll be allowed to sit in the dugout when the season starts in late March. 

 

  • A suspension over the sign-stealing story involving both the Astros and Red Sox is coming.  He’s been lying low for a reason – out of sight, out of mind?  Not for too much longer.

 

  • But then again, if ya’ ain’t cheatin’, ya’ ain’t tryin’.  Amiright? 

 

  • I don’t know, stealing signs in baseball has been an accepted part of the game for how long?  Forever?  I don’t see a fundamental change here, even if the Astros (and Cora) are set up as fall guys.  I do see baseball flexing some muscle here, however, because they have to, in order to retain at least a shred of credibility.

 

  • We’ll go back to the Stone Age on sign-stealing.  No electronics allowed, but it ain’t going anywhere.

 

  • Should we have made a big/bigger deal out of the MLS SuperDraft this week?  What, you didn’t know?  Yo’ a** bettah call somebody!  (WWE old school shout-out right there).

 

  • After two Friar hockey wins in Las Vegas, 12th ranked PC shut out AIC 5-0 this week, and gets UConn at Schneider Arena Saturday.

 

  • Condolences to the family members and the many, many friends of former URI golf coach and Hall of Famer Tom Drennan, who passed away this week at age 81.  Coach Drennan spent 50 years as a coach – 22 of those as head coach at URI – and was an even better person than he was a HOF coach. 

 

  • He always had time for me, whenever we would see each other.  Drennan’s career included coaching as an assistant under the great Jack Kraft at Rhody, as well as AD and head basketball coach at Roger Williams.  He also graduated from Providence College, where he served as basketball manager under Joe Mullaney in the early ‘60’s.

 

  • Another friend, and quite a personality, long time University of Cincinnati radio hoops analyst Chuck Machock also passed this week at age 82.  You think Joe Hassett bleeds black and white for PC?  Machock did the same for the Bearcats, in many different – and colorful – ways. 

 

  • He was ejected from an NCAA tournament game in ’03 against Gonzaga after sticking up for his guys with the officials.  Hassett hasn’t yet been ejected from a game, but let’s just say the refs know who he is.  They knew Machock, too.

 

  • Machock was also a one-time assistant coach at West Virginia, and was responsible for recruiting Bob Huggins – as a player (and current head coach) – in the ‘70’s.  Huggins returned the favor by adding Machock (an ex-Bearcat player) to his first staff at UC in 1989.

 

  • Long time former Friar baseball coach Don Mezzanotte also passed this week, at age 82.  Mezzanotte played and coached at PC and was a Big East Coach of the Year in 1986, but he also taught and coached for many years in the Warwick school system at Pilgrim High School.

 

  • Those Royals.  Not the ones in Kansas City, either.  Hey Harry and Meghan?  Since you’re ‘stepping back’ from your lineage and heritage (Meghan married into it, but she certainly knew what she was getting into) I’ll take your spot in the Royal Family if you don’t want it.

 

  • The Times of London says the announcement from the Royal couple this week “carries all the hallmarks of the petulance and hot-headedness for which Prince Harry is sadly becoming well-known.”

 

  • Um, not really.  Loved this line from the British tabloid The Sun: “It’s impossible not to think (that Prince Harry) has been influenced by his wife with her Californian ideas.”  Ya think? 

 

  • The honeymoon is over.  Can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em.  As Harry has undoubtedly discovered, that’s real duty and honor, isn’t it?

 

  • @SteveMaurano tweeted at me this week: “If I am TB, I don’t resign unless/until the Pats PROVE to me that they will get me help.”

 

  • Steve:  Have to imagine TB feels that way, at least a little.  Wouldn’t blame him one bit.  So, are you ready for the Andy Dalton era?

 

  • 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? Send ‘em to me! It’s your chance to “think out loud,” so send your questions, comments and local stories to jrooke@weei.com. We’ll share mailbag comments/Facebook posts/Tweets right here! Follow me on Twitter, @JRbroadcaster…and on Facebook, www.facebook.com/john.rooke ...

 

Don’t forget to tune into Providence’s 103.7 FM, every Saturday from 7:00-9:00 am for Cordischi and Coit!  Call in at 401-737-1287 or text at 37937.