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Shots Heard 'Round the Web 9/10/08

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Sorry for the late post--we had a last-minute situation on the editorial end of things today.

So, I guess people thought pretty highly of this Brady kid, eh?

The gnashing of the teeth and wringing of hands in Patriots media-land just won't seem to stop. Yesterday's slop-fest of overwrought emotionalism included a parade of luminaries: Dan Shaugnessy and Bill Simmons each wallowed in veritable pig-sties of hair-tearing self-flagellation.  Shaugnessy in particular seems to enjoy this type of thing--it's given him column material for at least the next three months.

Simmons, on the other hand, proves what can happen to a New England sports fan when he moves to LA, gets paid and starts getting mixed up in fantasy football, acting like a junkie who lost his needles.  Embarrassing.

Most of the rest of the world has moved on--just like the team, by way--looking forward to both this Sunday's tilt with the New Jersey Favres and the divisional implications of a now seemingly assailable Patriot team.

So, if you're not satisfied by MaPatsFan's analysis of Bill Belichick, or my take on what the new-QB Patriots will offer for the next months, and need to have it verified by "real" sportswriters who get "paid" for their work, you can check it out here:

Close to home, ever-reliable Mike Reiss takes a look at the coming Cassel interregnum through the eyes of Doug Flutie.  Flutie thinks Cassel has all the tools, but notes that the learning curve from practice field to Sunday stadium is a steep one:

"That is a huge part of their offense, a huge part of football today, and Tom always amazed me with that - making the calls to pick up blitzes," Flutie said. "The speed in which you recognize and change protections and get the offense into the right play is very important.

"Matt gets all that, he understands how to do it, but the thing is [getting the repetitions], and being in that position when that play clock is ticking down. The more you do it, the more comfortable you get. That was frustrating for me when I came to the Patriots. I remember staying late, especially during training camp, to walk through mentally on my own."

Reiss talked to Flutie and Dan Reeves for that piece.  Karen Guregian talked to just about everybody else, including Jim Miller, Matt Light, Logan Mankins and Pete Brock (!) and came to the same conclusions:  The Patriots offense is what it is.  Different every week.  Cassel will run it--though perhaps with less aplomb than Brady.

Reiss and Chris Gasper team up in Notes to celebrate the return of both Kevin Faulk and the Champions Belt the d-line award internally for superior play.  Also: Mayo is making an impact:

The 10th overall selection in the NFL draft went wire to wire at the weak-side inside linebacker spot in the 3-4 alignment while also staying on the field in sub packages.

He finished with six solo tackles and received positive reviews from coach Bill Belichick.

By unofficial count, he was the only defender to play every snap.

The Herald reports (along with several others -- many others in fact) that Vegas has dissed the Pats chances in the wake of ACL-gate.  Vegas must read ESPN, since the worldwide leader dropped the Pats from 1st to 9th in their power rankings.

Also at the Herald, John Tommasse points out the need for the defense to step it up:

Give credit to defensive end Richard Seymour [stats], who noted Monday that the Pats defense made Brady’s job a lot easier in 2001. That defense is pretty solid again in 2008.

Whether it’s championship-caliber remains to be seen, with lack of depth in the secondary a particular concern, but they’re going to do their best for Cassel.

In case you're having trouble sussing out the implications for the rest of the league and our team, not to mention world peace and the national elections, Don Banks has a run-down of the obvious.

This week I'm enjoying the Tuesday edition of Peter King's MMQB for all the reasons I usually can't stand it: specious and/or superficially positive arguments about a particular team--in this case, the Patriots.  PS: Peter, stop reading my stuff:

 Will Randy Moss go in the tank now that his sensei, Brady, is gone? Very important question. Brady raved to me in August about the player and leader and worker Moss has been with the Patriots. My guess is Moss will see this as a time to mirror what Brady would have been had he been playing, and work as hard as he's been, and pump up Cassel and take on the attitude Belichick pounds into his team -- that you've got to have the next-guy-up philosophy when you play on a Belichick team.

Seemingly the sole voice of reason in medialand is that of Chad Finn at the Globe who writes:

The Patriots, even without the best player in the NFL, are still going to be a tremendous football team this season. They may not light up the scoreboard, and they may not dominate from the first minute to the 60th, but more often than not - much more often than not - they will win.


Shots from New Jersey:

From the land of the bookie comes these nuggets wisdom:

"Brady's injury is worth about a full touchdown," Gardner said. "For a line to move that way on one player's injury is really unheard of. It really is that big a deal."

Gardner said before the Brady injury, on the future market the Patriots were a 7-2 favorite to win the Super Bowl and the Jets were 25-1. Now, he said, the Patriots are 20-1 and the Jets are 15-1.

"On a neutral field, the teams would be about equal," he said. "There are a number of things that impact the line. Most of the time, you try to get into the psyche of the bettors. The sports fan out there is going to say that Cassel did nothing to impress them and then you've got the mojo that is Brett Favre."

Apparently Curt Schilling gets under everyone's skin--in this case Jets fans, with a predicted Patriot win on Sunday.

Gang Green Nation is up and already getting buzzed by equal-opportunity shit-stirrer finsxfactor. Pay a visit; represent with dignity and intelligence.

The Bergen Record anticipates a physical game:

Pace, Jenkins and the rest of the Jets will have to set the tempo again Sunday when they face New England and untested fourth-year quarterback Matt Cassel, who will be making his first start since high school. The Patriots certainly will try to pound the Jets on the ground with Laurence Maroney and Sammy Morris (and maybe even former Jet LaMont Jordan), and the Jets’ defense must again be ready for smashmouth tactics.


In other news, Shawne Merriman has reconsidered his choice to play and will go get that surgery.  I blame myself.