The Patriots Appear to Possibly Be Committing a Cardinal Sin of Football and I’m Terrified

So I’m about to nerd out about football pretty hard. If you’ve come for a dose of the rants of a mad man, that is coming much later on in this blog and I’m not sure you’ll make it. Some of this, or most of it, is going to get pretty dry. So you’ve been warned.

Free agency, or at least the most major moves, have come and gone, probably. As expected, the Pats made a couple small quiet moves that will help incrementally (Blogger’s Note: Mike Pennel is a bigger get than it seems. He is a hugely talented player who just can’t stay off the pot. Was a surprise cut by the Jets). They also, just as predictably, let a number of key contributors from last year walk (Trey Flowers, Malcolm Brown) or keep walking (Chris Hogan, Danny Shelton) as the Pats weren’t or aren’t willing to pay them what they saw or see as their worth. Such is life for a Pats fan, watching players come and go that to an untrained eye (SEE: rest of the NFL fanbases) seem indispensable or at least good enough to retain. But we make do with what we have, playing as a team.

On a semi-related note I’ll tie in later, the Patriots made the peculiar move of bringing in notable “defensive mind” Greg Schiano to be a member of the staff this season. Red wrote about why this is kind of odd earlier this year. Most notable is the fact that no one really likes Greg Schiano. He’s what you may refer to as an ass hat. He also hasn’t been terribly successful ever since he used his bringing the Rutgers program out of the basement in the late-00’s-ish as a launching pad for his pro coaching career. Anyway, a hiring of this kind in general just seems like an odd fit and overkill for the Pats. At this point, why don’t you just allow Belichick and another Flores-esque high ranking assistant to run the defensive side of the ball? I mean there’s a reason I’m not in the New England front office but as an outsider from  a high-level this doesn’t make a ton of sense. Basically, when you have a great defensive mind like Belichick in-house why bring in a guy with so many of his own…ideas?

And this is where I start to get scared. And where things get reallly dry for a second. (Skip if you are a football diehard)

I’ll make it quick and as painless as possible, but basically defenses in football have what one refers to as “schemes”, also known as “base formations”. To dumb it down, if someone who had never seen football before walked onto an NFL (or college, high school, w.e) practice field and a coach wanted to show them what the defense NORMALLY should look like, this is the position he would line them up in. These schemes are predicated upon the front-7, aka the linebackers and defensive lineman.

What kind of scheme you run pretty much defines the shape and look of those players. For instance, since outside linebackers (OLBs) in a 3-4 (3 down lineman, 4 linebackers – one of the more common schemes) basically serve as defensive ends on a significant number of plays, they have a size-range similar to a DE, say 6’2-6’4 and 250-265lbs. On the other hand, since the pass rush is covered by the DEs in a 4-3 (4 down lineman, 3 linebackers – the other more common scheme) the outside linebackers are a bit smaller and are used for chasing down ball carriers, making tackles, and covering tight ends and sometimes running backs. They go, say 6’0-6’3 and 230-240lbs (some teams recently, in this pass-happy NFL, have been experimenting with converting college safeties, like Mark Barron (6’1 214lbs), into linebackers with varying degrees of success. There’s just not as much need for the size anymore as there is not as much power running).

We used a mess of defenses last year, but mostly some sort of 4-2 alignment. This is basically the same concept as the 4-3 except since the league is passing so much, we skewed the third linebacker in exchange for an additional defensive back to cover someone. Sometimes this was Duron Harmon. Sometimes Jonathan Jones. Sometimes even J.C Jackson. The bottom line, and what I’m trying to get at now, is that there was always someone there to step up. Someone to slot in easily, although not always successfully. And you know what? Throw all the fucking stats you want at me (NEEEEERDS) but we won a Super Bowl while holding one of the most prolific offenses ever to 3 points. So I’d say our D was just fine.

This is what I’ve been leading up to. This is why I’m worried.

One of the CARDINAL sins of football is to try and change your roster/scheme to fit your coach, not the other way around. More accurately, you should never allow a new coach to twist and tweak your roster to fit his purposes. If you have the pieces, consistency, and hell, success in place then keep it. Tell any new coach that this is what he has to work with. To that end, maybe that is why the Pats have been so successful the last couple of decades. Ultimate flexibility. I remember when Belichick started bringing in 4-3 type players when he was known as a 3-4 coach people lost their goddam minds. “But but but he doesn’t fit!” Well ya dummy Coach just switched the defense up, no biggie. Sure he probably prefers the3-4, but he’s not married to it. The conclusion/thesis is a mixture of “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” and “work with the scraps you were given.” (2pac).

Belichick one in a million though. Especially when it comes to coaching philosophy.

Greg Schiano, and no I did not do research for this blog, I read up on this when we signed him, loves his defense. Fucking loves it. He runs a weird one, almost a 3-4 masquerading as a 4-3. I say this because his line is basically three DTs and one DE, much like how a 3-4 uses three jumbo lineman, in different proportions.

So were we ever giving Trey Flowers all the money he got? Nope, sure weren’t. Were we going to hold hostages to get Malcolm Brown back? Probably not after a down year. But could we suspect there may be reasons for letting two of our primary lineman go beyond cash? I think it’s fair. And that’s terrifying.

Because although it could be debated up and down whether or not Brown ever became “that guy” he was projected to be a truly Belichickian DT – big and stout against the run (6’2 320lb) but still able to put just a little pressure on the QB when needed. A swiss army knife,if you will. Probably 70/30 towards the run. Flowers is really a 50/50 guy (6’2 265lb, plays a lot bigger) – he plays the run really well but also excels in pressuring the QB. Sure he still hasn’t passed 6.5 sacks, but he is ALWAYS in opposing backfields. You know whose system doesn’t really seem to favor swiss army knife DTs? Probably Greg Schiano, as he has three of them and he probably wants them each to do different things. You know whose system probably doesn’t want a 6.5 sack run defender? Again probably Schiano.

So were we really saving money or were we truly cashing out? Is there a reason we re-signed John Simon to rush the passer and Pennel to clog running lanes? Is Belichick really going to let Schiano do the one. Thing. That. Never. Works and reconstruct the look of the Pats D to fit his scheme’s/ego’s needs? Fuck me if that is the case.

I’m all out of steam and out of love. Tell me I’m wrong in the comments or on twitter @300sjoeyb.

-Joey B

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Checking in on the Patriots Mess of a Salary Cap Situation

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Some fans in Pats Nation are a bit salted that, to this point, the team has still yet to make any significant moves so far in free agency. To be fair, it hasn’t even been 24 hours since free-agent signings and new trades became official. The Pats were also able to resign one of their own top free agents in Jason McCourty as well as receiver Phillip Dorsett. Also, the news of Michael Bennett’s acquisition – which is by no means insignificant – broke almost a week ago.

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I am pretty stoked that at least J-Mac’s been officially locked up once again.

Still, the team has also lost it’s starting left tackle (Trent Brown) and defensive keystone (Trey Flowers) over the past few days along with some wide receiver depth. While Bennett can serve as a more than serviceable replacement for Trey Flowers, what about everything else?

Again, folks, it is still SUPER early in the offseason. Plus, there’s that whole draft thing that happens every April, too. Ya know, the one during which the Pats will have six picks within the top-101 selections? That’s likely where many needs are going to be addressed.

But with how much talent there is in this year’s free-agent class, especially at wide receiver, I’ll admit that maybe it is a little disappointing we’ve received nothing but radio silence from Foxborough, besides the McCourty news and a few other minor re-signings. The team also brought in long-time special-teams standout/emergency running back Brandon Bolden after his one-year stint in Miami. Other than that, though, absolutely nada.

(UPDATE: The Patriots signed journeyman wide receiver Bruce Ellington to a one-year deal on Thursday afternoon. But, honestly, who the hell cares? In my book, it’s still “nada.”)

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One of Belichick’s all-time faves, Bolden, is back.

Perhaps it isn’t entirely by choice, though. I mentioned the other day that we might not be paying enough attention to some of the team’s current contracts, which could potentially have the front office hamstrung, no matter what they actually might want to do. Right now, Spotrac has the Patriots’ projected cap space at about $9.6 million – but, and this is key to mention, that is without accounting for any of this week’s re-signings, as the terms of those deals have still yet to be announced. As you can see, the team really doesn’t have as many resources as some might like to think they do.

While I highlighted Julian Edelman’s current deal as a speculative problem, here are a few other very real salary concerns that are worth mentioning:

  • Gronk, who has a cap hit over $11 million for this year, has STILL yet to declare whether or not he’s coming back. Truthfully, it’s an incredibly selfish move on his part. That’s over eight figures just sitting there in limbo while some of the best names continue to fly off the market. Ironically, there’s a guy out there, Jared Cook, who the team is reportedly interested in and who could ultimately replace Gronk at tight end. But, until No. 87 decides what he wants to do, it might not matter. (He and the team might actually already know and just aren’t saying anything, but right now he looks bad.)
  • The right side of the offensive line – Shaq Mason and Marcus Cannon – accounts for a combined 7.7 percent of the team’s total salary in terms of cap hit. While I will be the first one to sing the praises of the offensive line from last season, that does seem a bit high when comparing it to the rest of the roster. Especially when you consider that the O-line is more about how all five work together as a unit, and no one player really stood out above the rest, do we really need to be investing this much? Though I think Mason is one of the game’s elite young guards, moving Cannon – and his extensive injury history – would save the team about $4.7 million. (This one is very unlikely to happen due to the team’s almost non-existent lack of depth at the position, but it is an example of player maybe not entirely living up to his big contract.)
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After being ranked as PFF’s top-rated right tackle in 2016, Cannon has fallen back down to Earth quite a bit.

  • Adrian Clayborn was up-and-down in 2018 after signing with the team last offseason as the “big” free-agent addition. He really was a key contributor at times in terms of pressure, but at others he was entirely non-existent. The team might be thin at the position, but he’s just not worth an almost $6 million cap hit. Cutting him would leave $2 million in dead money, but it’s honestly worth it in my opinion. There is so much depth in terms of pass-rushers/edge defenders in this draft. And the team still has young guys like Deatrich Wise and Derek Rivers, both of whom I expect to take big leaps in 2019 if they can finally each get healthy. We truly don’t need Clayborn at that price.
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Relative to expectations, Clayborn was a bit of a dud.

  • Devin McCourty is set to make over $13 million in 2019 and is in the last year of his deal. I know he allegedly toyed with the idea of retirement recently, but perhaps a nice little extension would show him that the team truly values his presence and knows how important it is to keep him around. His brother is also signed to be here at least through the next two seasons. Plus, it would allow the team to spread out the money a bit more and free up some much-needed space in the short term.
  • Literally the same exact thing can be done with Tom Brady, who is also set to become a free agent next offseason, and his $27 million cap hit.

There are others as well who could be extended, cut, traded, etc., etc., etc. But to me, these are the ones that stand out the most.

As I said, there’s still a lot of time left in the offseason, but the clock is ticking in terms of bringing in truly premier talent. Earlier today, the Golden Tate rumors started up again, and with the pretty cold market he’s been met with so far, the team could get him at a real discount. But the guy is only going to wait so long, and he is honestly about as perfect a fit as it gets for this team and its system. I would hate to see him sign for $7 or $8 million per with another team, because that would be absolute highway robbery for a player that good.

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Please, Bill, make this happen somehow!!!

(ANOTHER UPDATE: Aaaand now Tate’s gone after signing for $9 million per year over four years with the Giants. COOL.)

Maybe they have a few things lined up behind closed doors and we’ll soon be hit with a flurry of successive contract-related news. Or maybe the team’s brass is sitting in a big conference room and scratching their heads. I’ve never had anything but good reason to trust in this team and it’s roster-building mastery, but all I’m saying is they’ve definitely got their hands full this year.

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James Van Der Beek Won the Internet Today With This Tweet

Timely and relevant with a callback to a movie from 20 years ago. The perfect tweet.

Varsity Blues is still one of my favorite movies of all time. It features my guy Paul Walker, may he rest in peace, as QB1, an absolute HOF smoke in Ali Larter, drunken debauchery, and it also basically invented the shotgun empty set 5 wide receivers no-huddle offense. Classic.

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The 300s Marvel Cinematic Rewind Presents: Guardians of the Galaxy

The300s MCU

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Very rarely does something just appear out of the ethos the way Guardians of the Galaxy did back in 2014. Before the Marvel Cinematic Universe really took off, I had major doubts that Iron Man could work as a film. At the time, it felt like we were reaching too far into the barrel and pulling out heroes that didn’t warrant their own movie. I mean, before knowing what we know now, the casting of Robert Downey Jr. and seeing the finished product, who the hell out there was clamoring for an Iron Man movie? I never in a million years thought we’d get beyond that surface level of superheroes, i.e. Superman, Batman, Spider-Man. Fast forward six years to the release of Guardians, which in my opinion was the exact moment comic book movies showed us what they could be if given the time and space to flourish.

Please take a look below if you’d like a bit of a refresher on the brilliance that is Guardians of the Galaxy.

So now that you’re caught up, where do I begin?

It is so rare for a virtually unheard of IP to come out of nowhere and become such a hit in pop culture. Guardians of the Galaxy did exactly that in the summer of 2014. I remember reading online years before it was released that Marvel was planning on bringing some of their lesser known heroes to the big screen. When Guardians was announced, I did some research into it because frankly I had no clue what it was even about. I remember seeing things that said the ensemble featured a talking Raccoon, a gigantic tree that only said it’s own name, and a human by the name of Peter Quill. Needless to say, I thought this movie was going to tank. “There’s absolutely no way this thing could work!” “They are getting so unbelievably desperate.” For those keeping score at home, I was completely wrong once again.

Guardians of the Galaxy felt immediate. It’s the first movie set in space since probably Star Wars where the world felt lived in and already established. The roles were brilliantly cast. I never suspected Chris Pratt could be a leading man and yet here we are several years removed and he’s one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. Rocket Raccoon and Groot went from “sounds horrible on paper” to being plastered on every toy, action figure, and coffee mug inside your local Target. And how about that damn soundtrack? James Gunn took some of the best songs from the 70s and 80s and made them the backbone of a film set in a far off galaxy and they somehow all work perfectly. The soundtrack naturally shot to #1 on the Billboard charts for several weeks.

Guardians of the Galaxy was the first movie to come along in the MCU that made me completely forget about the MCU. I suddenly stopped caring about what The Avengers were up to and wanted to see the continuing adventures of Star-lord and Company. Don’t get me wrong, I love The Avengers, but Guardians showcased exactly what comic book movies could do if they tried something different. To this day it sits in my top three in the MCU.

Final rating: 9.5 out of 10

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BREAKING: Patriots Resign Super Bowl Hero Jason McCourty

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Besides a few under-the-radar moves (re-signing John Simon; tendering Jonathan Jones and Josh Gordon; signing Brandon Bolden), the Pats have been silent through the first 2.5 days of the NFL free-agent “tampering period.” Again, even though trades and signings cannot become official until 4 p.m. today, we already know where most of the big names are going.

At the same time, the Pats also watched their starting left tackle and best defender from last season walk out the door. But fortunately, Jason McCourty will not be following behind them. Today, the Pats resigned the cornerback to a two-year deal:

McCourty was unbelievable for the Pats last year. After being acquired for peanuts from the Browns after a “down” season in 2017, Belichick reunited J-Mac with his twin brother Devin, and the two were an absolute force in the team’s secondary last year. Jason not only played in every single game, but he also ended up finishing as Pro Football Focus’s 11th-ranked cover corner out of 123 eligible players. He truly was elite.

And, for maybe the 200th time, I’m going to mention how Jason made the most important play of Super Bowl 53. Had Cooks caught that ball, that would’ve changed the whole momentum of the game heading into the fourth quarter, and Brady might still only have five rings. McCourty is seriously not getting enough credit for what he did. The effort and determination he displayed in order to get to Cooks’s spot in the end zone before he caught the ball was remarkable, and it was indicative of the type of play he displayed all year long.

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This really might’ve been one of the most important plays in team history.

Along with First-Team All-Pro Stephon Gilmore, rookie standout J.C. Jackson, and the team’s crop of other young talents at the position, McCourty helps give the Pats what should once again be one of the league’s very best defensive backfields heading into 2019.

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A 300s Editorial: A Guy With One Functioning Leg is Making $22 Million Over the Next 9 Months So Can Student Debt Just Be F***** Forgiven Now?

I saw this tweet and it immediately caught my eye. For a few reasons. And my thoughts processed in the following order, which I will elaborate on forthwith:

1.)Earlenstance Thomas IV, Professional Football Safety, has one functioning leg as opposed to the preferred two.
2.)Said Professional Football Safety will now be making $22million over the next nine months as part of a new contract. He’ll earn this with the expectation of him playing pro football, which again usually requires both legs.
3.)$22million, in turn, seems like a bit much. One might use the word extravagant.
4.)I’m usually about as “capitalist” as it comes.
5.)Everyone I know has student debt though ::shrug emoji/symbol combo::
6.)Most of those that aggregate to form that “everyone” is fairly intelligent and works a decent job, that requires really only a limb or two, that pays ok as things go.
6.)There is $1.5 TRILLION of student loan debt in the USA, to be not quite exact. This is despite the fact that most everyone that signed up for it now has a decent job that pays ok, as things go.
7.)Maybe if there are people and organizations who can pay $22million to a guy with one functional leg although he needs both to render services as contracted, our economy is in good enough shape to forgive the mountain of student debt on top of people that get paid a lot less than $22million despite having all required extremities.

That’s it^. That was my exact thought process. That there is no fucking way Earl Thomas’ leg works right now or ever will the same again after what I saw happened to it and yet the Ravens just gave him Will Smith Movie Money over Baby Incubation Time. Meanwhile. the first few years out of school we had to pregame to the point of mild retardation because a full 3-4 hours at the bar meant either you were paying the rent or eating. Motherfuckers were crying for dinner.

Again, I’m normally an “earn it” and a “no one gives it to you”, you have to take it” kinda guy BUT THIS MAKES NO SENSE. HE HAS ONE LEG AND IS BEING PAID TO PLAY IN THE NFL. Can we just this once, just because, let us all go free. In the VERY LEAST we can completely weed out all the cheap ass friends that use their loans as excuses not to do stuff. Sorry Jeremy, but those don’t exist anymore. You’re just a buzzkill.

-Joey B

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James Dolan is the Biggest Piece of Trash in the NBA

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Seriously, Adam Silver and the rest of the bigwigs in charge of the NBA should kick this sack of shit out of league. That’s a difficult thing to write as a Celtics fan, because he has essentially guaranteed that the Knicks are garbage year in and year out. I’d really like that to continue. However, Dolan is such a terrible person that he brings the whole league down with him when he pulls bullshit stunts like this. For anyone who missed the backstory to this whole thing, after loss at MSG to the Kings two nights ago, a fan yelled at the Knicks owner to “sell the team.” Here’s the video:

The fan was detained by security for voicing his opinion about how terrible this Knicks franchise was.

Insanity. Dolan, you fucking suck. Your team is absolute trash, and you’re banning him because he made some smart-ass comment to you as you walked out? How thin-skinned can you get? You’re lucky fans even show up to the games at all. Seriously, I’d rather watch water freeze than a Knicks basketball game, and I actually like watching them lose.

His subsequent defense of his behavior is even more preposterous than banning the guy in the first place. You ban the guy, sure. This only proves you’re a narcissistic, overly sensitive douche who can’t take deservedly harsh criticism (in a city not exactly known for their manners), but it’s your team and to a degree you can do what you want. But to say you were “ambushed” while walking down the same tunnel everyone else walks down while you’re surrounded by security guards? Ambushed, really? And you release this video as your proof??

What on God’s earth are you talking about? This happens to every single player at every single sporting event every day!! Whether it’s the NBA, MLB, NFL, whatever. Fans always have something to say, and if you don’t like it just keep walking. You only had 15 more steps and you were clear. Why stop? Also, they ambushed you to sell the video to TMZ? How much money do you actually think TMZ would pay for a video of James Dolan walking down a tunnel?

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The only reason this is a story is because of how childish Dolan’s response was. So because of how terrible he is, let’s quickly recap James Dolan’s career as the Knicks owner:

  • Dolan takes over the team in 1999, and the Knicks go all the way to the NBA Finals. The following year they lose in the Eastern Conference Finals to the Pacers. This is the last time they will be good.
  • Knicks go 9 consecutive losing seasons, with a brief 3 year period of playoff appearances. In those 3 seasons, the Knicks have a playoff record of 7-14.
  • Dolan hires Isiah Thomas as his President of Operations in 2003. Thomas oversees a ton of terrible decisions, including trading Stephon Marbury, trading Lamarcus Aldridge and Joakim Noah for Eddy Curry, signing Jerome James (who?) to a 5 year, 30 mil contract (remember, contracts weren’t the same as they are now), and paying Allan Houston $100 million in a contract so bad, they had to create a rule to prevent teams from skirting their financial obligations.
  • Dolan recorded Carmelo Anthony because he talked trash to KG
  • Dolan didn’t talk to beat reporters from 2007-2013
  • Has hired 13 head coaches in the 20 years of owning the franchise
  • Led Knicks to a franchise worst record of 17-65 in 2014-15
  • The team currently holds the worst record in the NBA at 13-55, a solid 3 games behind the Phoenix Suns.

The Knicks play in the biggest basketball market in the world. The only thing holding them back is this asshole, and the sooner he’s gone the sooner the Knicks will compete again. For the Celtics sake, let’s hope he continues being a stubborn old buffoon a little longer.

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