Jerry Ballgame gives us a status update on his boys from the Hub.
With the Celtics coming out of an active off-season, and Patriots a bye week following a 45-7 thrashing of the Rams, expectations were running wild that both clubs had put previous problems behind them and that they were prepared to display new and improved models of themselves. Although I too initially shared in the optimism, after this weekend, I think I’ve slipped back into the “unconvinced” category.
Rather than recap everything that the Celtics did in the off-season to generate so much energy, I’ll just wait for you to go back and reread Jobu’s blog from November 1, as it not only is the definitive piece on the changes made, it does an outstanding job of explaining the complicated relationship Celtics fans have with Ray Allen…
Now that you’re back, you can probably see that my main point of concern is the failure of the big men brought in to spell Kevin Garnett, at least to this point. The C’s energy levels and production have fallen off considerably when he’s not in, and although six games is not exactly a large sampling to go by, it’s difficult not to be left feeling a bit disconcerted by it. If KG is to continue to contribute at the levels the C’s need, then someone else is going to have to pick up a meaningful 17 or 18 minutes per game. Doc was concerned enough about it to take Jared Sullinger (pictured above) and Courtney Lee out of the starting line and replace them with Brandon Bass and Jason Terry, changes that bore fruit in Saturday’s win against the Bucks. Again, I get that it’s early and we should not be panicking just yet. I also get that Avery Bradley‘s return (and rumor has it that he’s ahead of schedule) will also provide a huge spark for Boston, especially defensively. But we’d been promised a new, improved Green team, and we want it now. So, until I see it on a more consistent bases, I remain unconvinced.
Still Unconvinced: The Patriots:
I’m also not convinced that the New England Patriots have made the defensive strides that we had been promised after they had shut down the St Louis Rams of London, 45-7. They had done so in no small part by being more aggressive in rushing the quarterback, and I’d hoped that they would carry that through to the other side of the bye. Instead they gave up over 160 yards of rushing on their way to giving up 481 yards of total offense to the Buffalo Bills, in 37 -31 win. I get that they managed to sack QB Ryan Fitzgerald three times, but in general he seemed to have had plenty of time to complete his passes, including an incredibly easy completion on a 4th and 4, in the fourth quarter. Perhaps the worst revelation coming out of the very unsatisfying victory, was that the Pats’ linebacking corp of Hightower, Mayo, and Spikes are apparently not very effective in pass coverage. Combine that with a young, inexperienced secondary, and you have to figure that Brady and the offense are going to need to average over 40 points a game if they are going to continue to be successful.
The news regarding the secondary is not all bad, as the addition of former Buccaneer Aqib Talib has apparently given them a legitimate shut down corner. That move will hopefully give them the kind of stability a young secondary needs to mature into an effective, cohesive unit. Granted there may be a price to pay in bringing in someone who has had trouble staying eligible, but I am convinced that in the short run it could be just what they need. Should Talib intercept Eli in the closing minutes of the Super Bowl, then we’ll all be convinced that it was a chance worth taking.
Featured image courtesy of: Brian Babineau/Getty Images
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