Shots Heard 'Round the Web: Pats Links 8/25/08

With a tip o' the tri-corner to TSG, we bring you this edition of links for your Monday morning. We're floating that titular trial balloon, though it's ultimately up to MaPatsFan to decide how he wants to call it. Filling in for the Man today is your humble corresp., JHR. Greetings.

Plenty of consternation to go around in the media today. With the preseason nearly over and your Patriots due to face the (Super Bowl Champion) New York Giants on Thursday in the Meadowlands, none of the issues identified at the end of July have been addressed satisfactorily. Providing a quick rundown of all that ails us is Mike Vega of the Globe, in the Patriots Notebook. Reading Belichick's mind continues to be an exercise in Polit-Bureau tea-leaves. The only certainty seems to be O'Connell under center for some of the time on Thursday:

"Last night, we saw a little over a half with Cassel and a little less than a half with Gute, and next week against the Giants I'm sure we'll see Kevin get a chance to play some."

And if Brady, who participated during the media-access portion of Wednesday's practice, is unable to go against the Giants?

"Tom, if we decide to play him, then that'll be an opportunity for him," Belichick said. "If it's not and he doesn't [play], or if we don't decide to play him, then it'll be an opportunity for somebody else."

If we do, we do, if we don't we won't.  The closest thing to a revealing comment might be this on the state of offensive disarray:

"Time is running real short and we're just going to have to work our way through it and work and get better as a total offensive unit. Not just the linemen, but the backs and the tight ends, and all the people who are involved."

More links and things over the jump.

Continuing from the Globe is Chris Gasper, summing up our special teams thusly:

As much attention as the underwhelming performances of the Patriots offense and defense have gotten, nowhere has New England looked less ready to start the season than on special teams, particularly the coverage units, which have allowed four punt or kickoff returns of 40-plus yards.

He acknowledges that the return units have been solid, and there's been little to complain about Gostowski.  But, like the rest of the squad, ST looks lost.  At least we can thank the Eagles for highlightind that for us.  Personal opinion:  the lack of readiness in the rest of the team has bled over.  Guys are disctracted, and that is pulling their focus from the job of the special teams units that they're on. 

Providence Journal (hereinafter ProJo):

Team Refuses to Use Backups as an Excuse for Poor Play.  I almost invariably enjoy what I read from the ProJo.  If you aren't making it a part of your Patriot Rounds, I suggest you do.  Frequently there's only one or two new stories, but their writers are good.

Over at that paragon of journalistic integrity and impartiality, The Herald, Karen Guregian tees it up for Pats haters with a puff piece on Wilfork: Vince Wilfork won't talk 'dirty.'  They put 'dirty' in 'quotes' so you wouldn't miss the double entendre.  Get it?  See, it's not actually sexy talk, it's about being nasty. I mean, wait.  Oh forget it.

Guess what?  Things aren't looking super duper.  Stephen Harris, "Flipping Switch is no light task for Patriots."  Great set-up.  But he didn't follow it up with a quote on our AWOL left tackle.  Man, what a wasted chance!

"Regardless of who’s in there it’s up to us to execute and do our job," running back Sammy Morris said. "You know, it may come up where we have to be without Tom, so it’s up to whoever’s in there to execute.

"It’s difficult now because the people who are in there just aren’t executing. That’s really the bottom line for us."

Yup.

Peter King blesses us with his football acumen:

Hard to imagine a Patriots team in the grasping mode as much as this one is. Can you remember a Patriots team in the Bill Belichick era getting booed off the field at halftime? I can't.

Thanks, Peter.  You know I used to love this guy when I was a kid, but I can't remember the last time he wrote a real piece of sports journalism.

One more week where the only good news for our team is bad news from other teams.  The NYG-men will be without the services of stud defender and heir to the Strahan throne Osi Umenyiora due to a tear in his lateral meniscus.  He will be out for the entire year.

Tough loss for Big Blue.  Football Outsiders has a good run-down on the ripple effect it will cause for the Giants' defense.

In the AFC East?  I'd give two Russ Hochsteins and a Wesley Britt to poach one Jason Peters.

That's all for now.  I'll try to check in before tomorrow's cut-down with my own picks (based on practically nothing) and a defense of the play of Matt Cassel (also based on practically nothing.)

Happy Monday!

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