Read and React: Protests from Patriots Nation


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Jan 22, 2006
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Read and React: Protests from Patriots Nation

Charles Robinson

Last offseason, the emails swept in from New England Patriots fans and made some of their most beloved coaches and players sound like spare parts. Romeo Crennel was replaceable. So was Charlie Weis. Ty Law was broken down. Joe Andruzzi was just a guard.

And now Eric Mangini and Willie McGinest are getting the same treatment.

Scores of Patriots fans took umbrage to my statement last week that New England was going to be just a good AFC team next season, and that the defense didn't have the makings of a top-10 unit. And like many of the fans who made light of the losses of Crennel, Weis, Law and Andruzzi, many New England emailers are yawning over the losses of Mangini and McGinest. That's funny considering these are many of the same people that worshipped McGinest a year ago and proclaimed Mangini as the next great defensive coordinator for the Patriots.

It seems to be a typical email reaction from Patriot Nation, which insists the team never gets respect, the players never get their due and Bill Belichick should never, ever, ever, be questioned. Not winning a Super Bowl? Well, many New England emailers insist it's always the fault of injuries, schedule – or poor game management by some guy who just left (in other words, blame Mangini).

So many Patriots fans are once again showing up in the mailbag in a tour de force. Some are taking things rationally. Some aren't. And as usual, it only helps to kick off an interesting mailbag.

We have some other tidbits to round out this week, including the varying opinions of Reggie Bush and the New Orleans Saints, the NFL's move to Los Angeles (including one guy who rips everybody west of Las Vegas), and some miscellanea that includes a fan who thinks the rankings should only be based on wins and losses.

As usual, keep the mail coming. And be sure to include your first and last name as well as your city and state. Any comments that I have appear in italics.

To the mail …

PATRIOTS ("Read and React: Ranklings," May 17, 2006)

Losing Eric Mangini is hardly a loss. As a writer, you should have questioned why the New England Patriots were struggling the first half of the season. Granted, their schedule in the first half was the most difficult in NFL history. Also, they were decimated with injuries to vital players. But no key adjustments were made in their defense. Everything remained the same. Very unlike Bill Belichick.

Diane Rockwood


How can you possibly say that the Patriots don't look to have a top-10 D this year? They locked up the best defensive end in the NFL (thank you, Coach B). They have a good crop of young DBs that are steadily improving. Tedy Bruschi running the 'backers (which, as much as I loved Big Willie McGinest, they did draft Jeremy Mincey and they still have Tully Banta-Cain). And Rodney Harrison will likely return early in the season. Oh, and Ty Law is still available and rumored to be looking to play for a champion for another year to ensure a Hall of Fame bid.

Hartford, Conn.

I'll give you Bruschi – having him for a full season will help. But here are the problems with the rest of your argument: Richard Seymour was on last year's middle-of-the-road defense, so he doesn't count as an addition; the young DBs can't stay healthy; nobody knows if Harrison will be the same player once he returns from what was a devastating injury; and last time I checked, you still hadn't signed Law. Oh, and I'll say it once more: Any fan that brushes off the loss of McGinest has no idea what he brought to that locker room and should be ashamed. And don't give me that stuff about Mincey and Banta-Cain. You can't replace McGinest's on-field or leadership contributions with a rookie sixth-round pick and a bit player.


In regard to your statement in last week's mailbag that "Of course, there are the perpetually whiny New England Patriots fans:" You're basing an entire fan base on some keyboard warriors? Come on. Most New England fans are well aware of the key losses during the offseason and are more than reasonable in our expectations for the upcoming season. The Patriots will be a very good team. Super Bowl-quality? I'd say not, but they'll be in the thick of the race. I'd lean more toward the Pats being in a mini-rebuilding mode this year, re-tooling the roster and going younger where they're long in the tooth. Since you're lumping Pats fans into one group, I'll do the same: Stop acting like the rest of the jerk media out there and look at things with your eyes open.

Neal Giordano
Apex, N.C.

That's a fair response. I shouldn't indict an entire fan base. But I can say this: More than any other emailers out there, Patriots fans are almost NEVER happy unless you have something glowing to say about the team. Fans forget the absolute lovefest the media had with the Patriots and act like they have never gotten respect and blah, blah, blah. Guess what? Comparing Tom Brady to Joe Montana and calling Belichick a genius qualifies as overwhelming respect. And another thing – New England's keyboard jockeys sure are quick to dismiss guys as "not that important" when they leave the team. You know, the Patriots' braintrust IS capable of making mistakes. And yet, it sounds like many of the people who email are lapping Kool Aid out of Belichick's palm.

For you to insult both myself and my beloved fellow Bostonians by saying that our three-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots will be good but not great, shows your IGNORANCE! Coach Belichick knows what he's doing. And he drafted to replace what we've lost! We've got the No. 1 quarterback in the entire league, and the only way that I can even begin to rationalize your statement or understand the motive behind it is to tell you that your JEALOUSY is showing! I'm going to salute those people who called you both an idiot and a moron, and I'm going to do them one better! Get a life you loser!

Julie S.K. Deuel

You can't make this stuff up. You're right, Julie. I ranked the Patriots sixth in the AFC because I harbor an intense jealousy. And thanks for illustrating my previous point.


I think the Patriots are going to gear up slowly for a Super Bowl in another three to four years. I saw them drafting awesome offensive talent this year because: A. Offensive talent takes longer on average to develop than defensive talent (for the Patriots). B. There was a rush on defensive players, and in another year in a more balanced draft the Pats would have a better shot at one to three defensive studs. C. The offensive talent available to them this year was such a steal that with the exception of maybe one more offensive lineman, and maybe one more wide receiver, they are set for at least five to six years. D. The Pats didn't spend a lot this year on free agency. If they wanted to win this year they would load up on good deals and a bunch of quality players, but trying to win every year is not as successful as trying to win in cycles.

John Limberakis

Good, thoughtful email.


Yeah, I was skeptical of the Patriots' draft, too. BUT an overabundance of quality tight ends might serve them well against the Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos. Both teams (and 85 percent of the NFL) like little linebackers for the Cover 2. Three weakside linebackers on the field at the same time is exactly that – weak. The game is evolving. You get smaller, quicker defenses and the offense is going to get big. The two-tight end offense was a reaction to slow Lawrence Taylor down. Since no outside linebacker in the game comes even close to L.T., I think tight ends can start steamrolling these misplaced strong safeties.

Dan Wade
Fresno, Calif.

Continued next post..........

REGGIE BUSH ("Big Easy's sainted savior," May 15, 2006)

I loved your article, had tears in my eyes. Now, what's strange is that I am a 51-year-old male that was playing little league football in 1967. I have loved the Saints ever since I was a young boy. The Saints will be a very difficult team to beat this coming season. Their offense will put lots of points on the board. And their defense will be very difficult to score on. They will win the Super Bowl. Just remember, I was the first to think so, so I want to believe.

Raul Rodriguez
New Orleans


This is not only addressed to you, but to the literally 100 percent of all "experts" who say that the Houston Texans made a mistake passing on Reggie Bush. Having watched Reggie in college, I have to concede that he is a truly special player – a once-in-a-generation talent in the mold of Gale Sayers or Barry Sanders. However, this actually makes my point. How many championships did Sayers get? Zero. How many playoff wins did Barry Sanders have? Only one. If the Texans want a player that is "most likely to be a Hall of Famer," then Bush is the best choice. But the truest adage in the game is that defense wins championships. It's not like Houston went with Donte Whitner or something. Mario Williams was the top defensive player in the draft.

Nathan Miller
Columbus, Ga.

You make a good point. But remember – just taking the best defensive player (or even the one with the most upside) doesn't guarantee anything. People raved about former No. 1 pick Courtney Brown once, too.

I told you before the draft that the Texans would be idiots to draft Bush. So much for the "experts" who had them drafting him. They didn't need him. Not with Domanick Davis, a proven "fantastic playmaker" already on the roster.

Germantown, Md.

Davis had three carries of 20-plus yards in 11 games last season. He's a solid player, but I'd save the term "fantastic playmaker" for LaDainian Tomlinson or Larry Johnson.


Isn't it funny how prior to the draft, Drew Brees was the face of the Saints? HE was supposed to be the savior of the team and the city. Now all of a sudden it's Reggie Bush, a player who apparently seems to have been a dirty college player and COULD cost USC their championship with his indiscretions. Not to mention the guy can't even go to the first rookie minicamp now without all of a sudden being injured. First-round flop? Could be.

James Foster
Lexington, Ky.

Personally, I think he's going to be a fantastic player in the NFL.


Thank you for accurately depicting the impact Reggie Bush is having on the New Orleans community. As a displaced New Orleanean, I am frustrated by the short-term memory loss of many in the media pertaining to the slow progress of my great city's reconstruction. New Orleaneans are a strange mix of optimism and self-deprecation. Our psyche is as flavorful and spicy as our gumbo. Your story captured the flavor of New Orleans.

Ron Ward
St. Petersburg, Fla.


LOS ANGELES ("They really love L.A.," May 23, 2006)

Arnold Schwarzenegger is right. L.A. should have two football teams. Heck, Sacramento should have one. So should San Jose. The West Coast only has four teams. There are the Seattle Seahawks, who nobody pays any attention to, especially after the way they blew it in the Super Bowl. Same old Seattle. There are the San Diego Chargers, who are the doormats of the AFC West. They got creamed in their only shot at the Super Bowl. There are the Oakland Raiders, whom only crackheads root for. That's why Al Davis can't fill his stadium. The fans are low class and nobody wants to be harassed or get into a brawl and get tossed in jail because of a ball game. People have to go to work on Monday morning. But Al Davis not only allows that kind of behavior to continue but he also relishes it and promotes it. And yet he can't sell tickets or get a new stadium in Oakland? Hmmm, I wonder why. San Francisco is the only bright spot, but the 49ers are really bad now. Why not Las Vegas? That would be cool! Just a thought.

John Messenger
Suisun City, Calif.

Wow. Well, that should pretty much take care of the pissed-off fans writing into next week's mailbag.


If you want true insight on the Los Angeles issue, I invite you to read Bill Dwyre's recent column about it in the sports section of the Los Angeles Times. The author lets the locals know that nothing genuine is happening on this front. Additional study of the two sites – even when backed by a (paltry) $10 million dollars – amounts to no progress whatsoever. Given the economics involved, Dwyre makes it clear that the NFL will not be in L.A. anytime soon. Give it a read. I think you will enjoy it.

Matt Rothman
Los Angeles

It was a great read, but I don't agree entirely. I think everyone in Los Angeles needs to take a deep breath. I know people were all pumped up about the league picking a site at the Denver meetings, but that was never going to happen. It was premature for people in the league office to speculate it would. And no, $10 million is not just some cash the NFL is just throwing into the fireplace for the hell of it. The finance committee wouldn't have earmarked that money – and Paul Tagliabue wouldn't have asked for it – unless the league was serious about making this work. The bottom line is this: The owners want a team in L.A., but they are taking the cautious approach for a number of reasons. No. 1, they aren't in any hurry to get a team into the market before the 2009 season. No. 2, when a move to L.A. finally happens, owners want to be 150 percent sure they went with the right plan – both economically, and in terms of community. The last thing the league wants is to get another team into L.A., and then have to deal with a half-empty stadium three years after it finally happens. And finally, the NFL wants to give itself as much time as possible to get assurances from the surrounding business communities that they will help support the team once it gets there.



You ask why should you "go out on a limb" when making your picks? Because since 2000, no conference has had more than four playoff teams repeat from one season to the next. Four of these 12 times, two or fewer teams repeated. Three teams repeated five times. Picking even five teams to repeat in a conference's playoffs means you're ignoring every trend from the past six years.

Joshua Carey
Candor, N.Y.

So then technically, aren't I going out on a limb to go against the last six years of trends?


You said, "The rankings aren't based on what teams will win the most games. They are an opinion of strongest to weakest teams." This is the ultimate copout and why the rankings are worthless (except for mailbag fodder). This kind of thinking is what leads to idiotic statements like "We're the best 2-7 team in the league!" The only way to reliably measure the strength of a team is wins and losses.

John Bloys
Bethlehem, Pa.

So I should just rank teams from one through 32 based on wins and losses each week? I guess we're just throwing strength of schedule out the window, huh? And for that matter, things like injuries, win streaks, etc. Per your rationale, when the regular season ended in 2005, the Jacksonville Jaguars were a better team than the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers – not to mention the New England team that crushed them in the playoffs. Do you really believe that?


It is very hard to believe that you could rank the Carolina Panthers as the No. 7 team in the NFC. I have to be objective as possible being a diehard fan since Day 1. The Panthers have gone DEEP into the playoffs two out of the past three years. NFC South teams have been Super Bowl representatives of the NFC three of the past six years. I think that you should re-examine your offeason rankings.

Fitchburg, Mass.

I waited about a week before going back and picking over the rankings again, and I have to admit, the second time around, I did have a hard time dropping Carolina to No. 7. But at the same time, the NFC remains a very tight conference. A good team – and maybe more than one – is going to miss the playoffs. I have one more shot at the rankings just before the regular season starts, and hopefully I'll have a better handle on the NFC once I've been to the training camps. [/QUOTE];_y...bYF?slug=cr-mailbag052806&prov=yhoo&type=lgns
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