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Jerry Ballgame weighs in on Patriots football and briefly on the great Mariano Rivera.

That ungodly, yet strangely masculine screaming you may have heard was me being dragged by the Patriots bandwagon. Halfway into my attempt to jettison myself from the afore mentioned bandwagon, I had second thoughts, and my momentary indecision led to getting myself tangled up. If you read my Patriots preview of a few weeks ago, you know that I believe that they are capable of returning to “The Show” come February, but only if a number of issues were resolved in a positive manner. After watching their first two games, I have to confess to a moment or two of panic. This was especially true during the Jets game, when it became clear that we (the fans) were having fun because of the torrential rain and not because of the game itself. As one die hard fan yelled, “Hey, if the cheerleaders can be out here, so can we!” The fact that we were more impressed with the cheerleaders, who were “roughing it” in that downpour without those clear plastic ponchos, was I think, very telling as to how boring the game was we were watching.

Another telling factor that may indicate that the Pats have their work cut out for them was the inability of their young receivers to catch the ball. As I said before, one of the major points of concern going forward was the realization that many of their 14 rookies will have to play key roles if they are to win, and none more important than the receivers. With the changes in this group from last year, young guys like Aaron Dobon, Kenbrell Thompkins, and TE Zach Sudfeld are being counted on to quickly get up to speed and it’s not happened yet.  (Zudfeld was inactive last week due to injury.) Also, it’s one thing to not run proper routes, it’s quite another to drop balls that are hitting you in the hands. Last week’s game against the Jets could easily have been at least a 14 point victory, had TB gotten a little more help from his friends.

With Danny- “If he can stay healthy”- Amendola  (go ahead, I dare you to say his name without adding something about his health) Shane Vereen, and Rob Gronkowski all certain to be out again this week, the rookies are going to have to show some real growth if the Pats are to win. Given that the Buccaneers have a solid defense, led by former Jets Darrelle Revis, I expect they will struggle once again, but should have enough to get by. Granted, for the first time this year the defense is not facing a rookie QB, but the 25 year old Josh Freeman has only thrown for 335 yards with 2 TDs and 2 INTs, and should be stoppable. One way or another, reality sets in for week four, as New England travels to Atlanta to take on the Falcons. It is projected that Gronk, and -if he can stay healthy- Amendola, should be back. If they are, the running game should open back up and Brady will have more targets, and they’ll have a fighting chance to win. If not, it could be a very, very  long night. (UPDATE: This article was written before the weekend, and the Pats beat the Buccaneers 23-3)


Are football fans getting too out of hand? (Matt Slocum/AP)
Are football fans getting too out of hand? (Matt Slocum/AP)

Speaking of nights, I trust that you were able to discern from my writing, that I (along with my youngest daughter) were in attendance for the home opener. Although we came away having enjoyed the experience, we both realized that it’s likely the only game we’ll go to this year. (With the possible exception of a playoff game…) The only reason I make mention of it here is that it occurred to me that the greatest threat to the beast that is the NFL may very well be the stadium experience. Football is the perfect game for television, maybe too perfect; to the point that it makes more sense to find a friendly bar where everyone knows your name, and where no one is going to pick a fight just because you happen to be in front of them. I’m sure Roger does not want to see attendance drop to the point where games are blacked out. I expect that’s why some teams are dressing their security people in the shirts of that week’s opponent. More on this later……


I'm glad Jobu got what the Sox were doing. (Steven Senne/AP)
I’m glad Jobu got what the Sox were doing. (Steven Senne/AP)

I was very pleased to read Jobu’s reaction to the Toast/Roast that the Red Sox did for Mariano Rivera. He totally got it. Rivera is one of those competitors who gives it is best on every play, on ever pitch, and if your best wins, he tips his hat and keeps going. Fortunately for the Yankees, and baseball in general, there were relatively few times when Rivera’s wasn’t the best. Fortunately for Sox fans, one of the few times it wasn’t, happened on a October night back in 2004. It’s ironic, but I’m willing to bet you that every Red Sox fan knows who was the pitcher that night, but I wonder how many remember who the hitter was? I think that says a great deal about Rivera, and his place in baseball history.

About Jerry Ballgame

The personification of "old school", Jerry Ballgame was born in the shadow of Dr. Naismith's peach basket, and baptized in that "Dirty Water." Designated by his "Uncle" Ted, to keep an eye on things, he's here to tell everyone what his view is like from the Hub of the Universe.


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