Monday, February 12, 2018


FEBRUARY 5, 2018

The Eagles came in to the Super Bowl giving up the 4th fewest points in the NFL (295, 18.4 per game). The Patriots came in 5th (allowing one more point than the Eagles). The two teams then combined to score 74 points.

This Patriots loss was a complete team loss. Bill Belichick’s decision to bench starting CB Malcolm Butler will forever be questioned. At this writing, it hasn’t come out what precipitated that decision.

The Patriots, as has been their wont over the last several games, have started out poorly in the 1st half. The Super Bowl was no exception as Tom Brady’s 1st half throws were behind receivers, too far in front or short. Brady was 12 of 23. So 11 incomplete passes. However the biggest incomplete pass was the one that Amendola threw that Brady didn’t catch. It looked slightly overthrown. The Eagles used a similar play on 4th and 1 at the goal line and they didn’t miss as TE Trey Burton hit QB Nick Foles for a TD.

So usually at halftime, the coaching staff makes adjustments and the Patriots win the 2nd half and the game. Not this time. Matt Patricia’s defense just didn’t get the job done. How much of a factor the missing Butler was, fans will never know. However I saw Eric Rowe, who took Butler’s place, get beaten by Alshon Jeffrey for a TD. And I saw way too much of Jordan Richards and Johnson Bademosi giving up completions.

You have to give credit to the Philadelphia Eagles. They won this game, make no mistake. Their offensive line opened holes for LeGarrette Blount and Jay Ajayi. Blount’s 36 yard scamper set up Philly’s first TD. His second, in the 2nd quarter, was a 21-yard TD run. And Ajayi had 47 yards rushing in the 1st half.

The running game helped QB Nick Foles use play action and slow down the Pats rush, which seemed non-existent throughout the game. Gamebook stats show that the D had 5 QB hits for the game, none of which stopped Foles, who always found the open receiver. The Eagles were 10 of 16 on 3rd down and Foles threw for 8 of those. Philly also converted twice on 4th down, the TD throw to Foles and another Foles completion. MVP.

Pigskin pundits know that the games are won in the trenches. The Eagles offensive line protected Foles well. Their defensive line, while stymied for most of the game, still got 9 QB hits on Brady. The most important of those being Brandon Graham’s strip sack of Brady which effectively won the game for Philly. Graham beat Shaq Mason, who was the team’s best offensive lineman.

Special teams contributed to the Pats’ loss as well. Faced with a 4th and 1, Belichick got timid and went for the 26-yard FG. Long snapper Joe Cardona’s snap was poor, too close to holder Ryan Allen’s body. He wasn’t able to handle the snap and Gostkowski missed. The trio would later miss an extra point. That’s 4 points they lost.

As poorly as the Patriots played (and as well as the Eagles played), Tom Brady still got them the lead with 9:26 left (33-32). The Patriots D then gave up a 14 play, 75 yard drive which resulted in Ertz’s TD. At 39-33, those missed 4 points would have had that last NE drive with 2:21 left looking for a winning FG.

So like I said, it was a total team loss. Coaching, the battle in the trenches, the poor defense and the breakdown in special teams. Oh and Nick Foles and the Eagles were the better team.

The loss of Brandin Cooks was huge. It came with about 13 minutes left in the 2nd quarter. His 23 yard catch got the Pats to the Eagles 40 but Malcolm Jenkins hit Cooks in the head and the game was over for Cooks. It took away the one real deep threat that the team has. Chris Hogan has decent speed but Cooks is the burner.

The Eagles won the time of possession battle 34:04 to 25:56. So Philly had the ball 8 minutes more.

After the Pats passed up going on 4th and 1 (the botched FG try), on their next drive they had a 4th and 5 from Philly’s 35 and went for it. Instead of a short pass, Brady went deep and incomplete to Gronk.

Good friend Ken Forestal told me that the pass play to QB Foles should have been called for illegal formation. Ken also maintains that the Corey Clement TD catch should have been incomplete as his foot was on the line. The play was reviewed and stood.

The Boston Globe’s Ben Volin (2/4) had an interesting stat – the QB that has led the NFL in passing yards has never won the Super Bowl the same season. Brady now joins Peyton Manning, Rich Gannon, Kurt Warner and Dan Marino.

The NY Times’ David Waldstein ( 1/30) had a nice piece on Scott Zolak and his work with Bill Belichick producing weekly videos for the Patriots web site. Zo uses the Belistrator with Belichick describing key plays. Will they do one for the Super Bowl?
Waldstein notes that Zolak started 7 games in his 7 seasons with the Patriots.

Bob Ryan of the Globe (2/4) listed his take on Boston’s 10 greatest sports greats. His top 5 in order: 5. Larry Bird. 4. Ted Williams. 3. Bobby Orr. 2. Tom Brady. 1. Bill Russell. As Ryan notes, Bill Russell won 2 NCAA titles, Olympic Gold, and 11 NBA titles in 13 seasons. Amen.

Red Sox pitchers and catchers report one week from this Tuesday (2/13). Their first Grapefruit League game is in 19 days. (per Chad Jennngs/Boston Herald – 2/4)

The Beanpot Tournament starts today. Of interest – two Boston Bruins draft picks play for Harvard - 6’7” defenseman Wiley Sherman and center Ryan Donato.

Great letter to the editor in Sunday’s ProJo. Dale Rogers of Pawtucket, a former PawSox season ticket holder, compared House Speaker Nick Mattiello to Nero fiddling while the Pawtucket Red Sox burn. Mattiello has not supported a new PawSox stadium.

This email from Richard Flinn turned out to be prophetic:
Although I want the Patriots to win, Foles may just have one more game's worth of magic in him. And if the Eagles’ defense shows up again, Super Bowl LII could be a game for the ages.

I am guessing Brian Eno.
Barry Spadea
You be guessin' right. You're on quite the roll.

Brian Eno who played with Roxy Music in the early 70's.
Roger Boudreau
Correct-a-mundo. It's Brian Eno and yes he was in Roxy Music. - Z

Celtics in bit of slide-at times look leaderless out there-gave up 5 offense rebounds at end of New Orleans game need to get better paint play believe Brian Eno is the person you are looking for-Devo still finds it's way to the turntable as does Talking Heads.
Ken Forestal
Ken, right you are – it’s Brian Eno. I saw Devo but unfortunately missed Talking Heads. Keep meaning to watch Stop Making Sense by Jonathan Demme.
The Celtics just answered your request for more paint play - Greg Monroe. - Z
Saw Devo in Boston (still listen to them) and Talking Heads twice-once in Las Cruces, NM -once in Providence when they were known as the Aristocrats. I don’t know if Greg Monroe is answer – his movement away from ball is suspect.
Ken Forestal

Thanks Jim! Love your zines which never fail to take me just past the windmills of my mind. One helluva Pats game, no? Cheers.
Mark Allio
Mark, Thanks for the kind words. Yes that was a helluva Patriots game vs. the Jaguars. Against a helluva Defense. But then the Patriots defense won the 2nd half and Tom Brady performed his usual magic. - Z

Jim I didn't listen to the podcast, but the article told me enough. It's clear that the team had no leader. Farrell had no rapport with his players. Pedroia clearly doesn't know how to lead. Price tried to stick up for his teammate, which is admirable, but did it wrong.  That being said, as an analyst how can Eckersley never step foot in the club house and talk to players. Sale was the new guy, and he had issues with how he tried with his old team. I don't think Mookie has that type of personality. Although he had a poor season due to the hand injury, it seemed to me that Bogaerts was the only one trying to be a leader on the field at the end of the season.
Bob Kumins
Bob, thanks for the link. The loss of Ortiz was felt not just for his clutch hitting, but his role as a leader. I remember him gathering all the young players around him in the dugout in the playoffs. It was a sight to behold.
And Hanley can't be a leader because he is like Manny, a man-child.
You're right about Farrell and he wasn't a leader either. His handling of the Price-Eck situation was pathetic. While I initially was OK with Price defending Eduardo, it seemed he overreached. He should have apologized to Eck. Someone should have made him see the need to apologize or at least smooth things out with Eck. That situation still needs to be addressed.
Kelly and Porcello's comments were interesting, especially Kelly. Porcello had a terrible year. I think Bill Chuck wrote that Porcello not only gave up the most HRs in the AL but the most runs off of those HRs. Actions speak louder than words. This is a young team. Agree that Bogaerts has that leadership quality. He was the one to go to the mound, not Pedroia. Mookie still could be a leader but his down hitting performance (HRs) may have inhibited him from saying much. Such a young team. The Sox badly need a couple components. JD Martinez would be a good start. Even if they overpay. - Z

Sportzine is available at thanks to Buffalo Steve Lenz

Just a reminder that Peter Bortolotti’s band Tanya McIntyre and the Professors will be playing at the Hot Club on Thursday, February 15.

The Wizard told me that he hates Neil Diamond’s Sweet Caroline. He noted that Caroline Kennedy was 11 at the time of the song’s release. The Wiz said the song never took off until it came out that it was about Caroline Kennedy. Now the song is played in the 8th inning intermission at Fenway Park every Red Sox game. I told the Wiz that I think the song has some of the dumbest lyrics I’ve ever seen. I do like early Neil Diamond, though.

Buffalo Steve asked me “Do you know what they call Buffalo wings in Buffalo?” Answer “Wings.”

Another reminder - if you have cell phone problems, e.g. cracked screen, or other issues, then you should check out We Fix It at 218 Wickenden Street in Providence. The owner/proprietor Unsal is very good and doesn’t charge an arm and a leg. He can be reached at (401) 277-1163 or at Tell him that Sportzine’s Jim Dawson recommended his establishment.

Last time, I asked: ‘This multi-talented artist produced albums by the Talking Heads, Devo and U2 among others. He also played synthesizer in a band. Name?’ And the answer as Barry Spadea, Ken Forestal and Roger Boudreau knew was Brian Eno. The British Eno has pioneered work with ambient music. He has also collaborated in the past with David Bowie, Robert Fripp, John Cale, Laurie Anderson and Grace Jones among others. Eno joined Roxy Music in 1971 playing synthesizer on two albums before leaving in 1973. According to Wikipedia, Brian Eno has described himself as a ‘non-musician’.

A local music trivia question – the members of Talking Heads all went to RISD. Another band also came out of RISD and had mild success (3 albums). The band was performing in the ’80’s. I thank Ken Forestal for this quiz question. Name of the band?


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