by Chris Warner, Patriots Daily Staff
Well, it’s June, a mere seven or eight weeks before training camp begins. Because the lack of practice does little to stem dreaming about football, Patriots Daily brings you these half-dozen thoughts this week.
Comment, praise, flame away. Your call. In any case, here’s what I’m thinking…
The Fabled 18-game Schedule: There’s been plenty of commentary on the proposal for an 18-game regular season. If I could say something to Commissioner Roger Goodell, it would include a reminder about the goose who laid the golden eggs.
You see, every autumn, the NFL lays a golden egg on Sundays. In the tale the farmer gets impatient and cuts the goose open for more eggs. No more goose. Regarding the NFL, I have yet to hear anyone complain that the season is too short (missing the playoffs notwithstanding). If we’re not going to listen to Aesop, we should listen to the players (or the players’ ankles and knees that, come December, start clicking and clacking like a Tito Puente tribute band). We could even get a lesson from “Who Wants To Be A Millionaire,” a show that ruled the air until ABC’s heavy rotation dulled its edge. The proposed schedule goes against so many clichés, it’s laughable, from “don’t fix what ain’t broke” to “everything in moderation.”
It has been argued that there are already 20 games played, but the final preseason tilt does not equal Game Two (see the capital letters?). Besides, scrimmages are a good way to evaluate backups and shape up the roster for September. With two fewer preseason matchups, Patriots fans could have missed Gary Guyton playing himself onto the squad or Matt Cassel running around like a rabid ferret. Yes, something should be done about paying full price for a fifty-percent product, but we shouldn’t punish the players for that.
This Is The Best Column Ever, Guaranteed: Just something that came to mind after Cleveland Cavalier Moe Williams guaranteed a series win over Orlando. Could we put the kibosh on the guarantees, please? While the word is defined in part as “something that assures a particular outcome,” what we need to look at is the original word “guaranty,” which involves a formal security. In other words, if you don’t fulfill your promise, you give something back.
Hey, I’m fine with that. The next time Ocho Cinco guarantees a Bengals victory and loses, he can give Cincinnati fans their money back. But these so-called guarantees mean as much as a million-dollar bet with a four-year-old. If you’re going to make a statement, back it up.
The Light of Paris: It’s a bit confusing to read about how Paris Lenon is too light for the middle linebacker spot in the 3-4. According to the roster, Lenon’s 6-2, 235, not much less than Jerod Mayo (6-1, 242), Gary Guyton (6-3, 242) or Eric Alexander (6-2, 240). The argument gains traction with Tedy Bruschi (6-1, 247), but since the days of Ted Johnson (6-4, 253), Pats linebackers have gotten smaller. Whether or not Lenon turns out to be another Monty “Missed Tackle” Beisel or Chad “Overpowered” Brown will have more to do with leverage and ability than five to 10 pounds. Won’t it?
My heavens, I hope so.
Surprise! (Again?): In preparing for if and when the Patriots sign an undrafted free agent this season, the top three look like Virginia linebacker Antonio Appleby, Kentucky safety Marcus McClinton and Arkansas cornerback Jamar Love. Though many have given Appleby the (far-too-early) nod, I’m going with McClinton. Based on the Pats’ depth chart Appleby is fighting Alexander, Lenon, Guyton and Vinny Circiu for playing time inside (not necessarily in that order). Love sits behind a crop of new vets (Shawn Springs, Leigh Bodden), second-year players (Terrence Wheatly, Jonathan Wilhite) and a talented rookie (Darius Butler) who many thought would go in the first round (and by “many” I mean me). Meanwhile, McClinton’s free safety spot has James Sanders starting with only Brandon McGowan and Ray Ventrone ahead of him. Going by sheer numbers, McClinton looks like the frontrunner.
Seriously, Coach Belichick. I make dozens of these decisions every week. Give me a call.
Some (Up)Tight Ends: Who among tight ends gets the boot in 2009? While many fans have grown tired of Benjamin Watson failing to live up to expectations, it looks like new Pats Chris Baker and Alex Smith could bump out David Thomas (which would provide yet another blow to the Patriots’ 2006 draft. Still, of the aforementioned top three, who’s the receiving tight end? Watson has good feet, but sometimes it looks as if they take the place of his hands. Neither Baker nor Smith is blessed with great speed (each listed at 258 pounds), which means that Thomas still has time to prove himself. It’s just that the clock appears to be ticking.
Patriots Offense To Struggle in 2009: Ha. Made you look. Think about what just happened there. If I wrote a column based on the above line, or about how the New England roster had grown tired of Bill Belichick’s surly demeanor, you might react to it. You might post it elsewhere, and more and more bloggers would pick it up. Kind of like if I’d reported a few months back that Brady’s 2009 season is in jeopardy. So, Tom Curran, Karen Guregian and Micah Warren, among others, seem to have jumped the gun on the bad news.
At least they didn’t make any guarantees.
Chris Warner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.