Let me start by saying, wait 'til next year. Jonathan Papelbon struggled a lot this season and also made the comment that the Billy Wagner signing this year was "Kind of like the whole Gagne thing" in 2007. I completely understand how the man designated to close out our games can feel threatened by someone like Billy Wagner coming in and competing for his job, but this one was nothing like the Gagne thing. Papelbon had 38 saves in 41 opportunities (3 blown) in the regular season. Papelbon also blew the save in game 3 against the Angels last night. 38/42 saves in extremely good, but the save that mattered the most is the one that everyone will remember him for until next season. Although Jonathan had a superior record this season, majority of his saves were nail biters and heart attacks waiting to happen with the bases loaded and possibility of losing the game. Things were not better when Papelbon said in an interview that he would play for the Yankees next season if the price was right. What the future holds for Papelbon and the Red Sox will be unknown, but the sole blame can not be held on him alone.
In the three game series against the Angels, a team that we should have swept if the past had anything to say about it, the bats did not show up and our one-two punch with Lester and Beckett couldn't do it by themselves. The Angels came out with a chip on their shoulder, for good reason, and the Red Sox played as if the games weren't that important and we were going to be given the wins. I am absolutely disgusted with the outcome and hope that this off-season we can address the issues that we have with a lack of run support for our starters.
Patriots Lose In Overtime
The blame for the Patriots loss can be diverted to flag happy referee's, a lack of offense and a less than aggressive defense. The way I see the loss is mainly from the offense. The Patriots still do not have a solid running game or starting running back for that matter. The Patriots defense is doing everything they can do to give the offense opportunities to cash in when it matters most. With the inability to produce in all his glory, during the two minute drill, Tom Brady is still overthrowing receivers and New England can not control the clock when they can't run the ball for first downs and field position.
The addition of Wes Welker to the line up gives Brady the ability to move the chains in the short passing game, but we can't throw the deep ball when Brady isn't comfortable with the lack of protection and Randy Moss is being shut down in single coverage every week by the opposing defense's #1 corner. Fred Taylor is out for an unknown period of time and Laurence Maroney is still afraid to hit the hole. The Patriots option for the starting tailback has become Sammy Morris who hits the hole with authority but doesn't have that break away move to bust one open.
Bill Belichick is a great coach that is running out of his magic and running out of options for players to put on the field. With the dynasty coming to an end and almost a completely different roster from the Super Bowl winning teams, we need to find system players that can get it done. We no longer have the five and six year players on defense that could control the line of scrimmage and are now resorting to a bend but don't break defense, giving up more points per game. With an aging offensive line and a timid quarterback, we haven't been marching up the field like the Patriots of old. Times are changing and it's time for New England to make the adjustments that need to be made. If the Patriots don't do something this week to address their needs, we could end up missing out on the playoffs for a second straight season, which hasn't happened to us in a long time and it's something we're just not used to here.
What do you think we need to do in order to get back on track to make the playoffs? Let us know in the comments section below.