Clint's Corner Archive

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The source for back issues of Clint's Corner. Forget a trade? Were Clint's predictions correct? Here's every edition, verbatim.

For 10/16/2000


You do not ever, ever, ever lose a home game to a division rival by 17 points. I don't care how "hard" the team played; last Sunday was a complete joke. This proves that NFL momentum and Santa Claus have a lot in common. While they both get talked up quite a bit every year, neither exists. It was just a week ago that the Patriots were coming off back-to-back impressive wins and the Jets lost by 17 points to the visiting Steelers. It just goes to show you that as quickly as things can begin to look up, your season is back on life support.

The 2000 Patriots have now played 4 home games, and we season ticket holders have walked away happy just once. Remaining on the home slate are Buffalo, Cincinnati, Kansas City, and Miami. Perhaps the Patriots will win all 4 to finish 5-3, but you have to go back to 1995 (3-5) to find a Patriots team that fared worse than that at home.

Even when Pete Carroll and the 1999 Patriots were on their infamous 2-6 skid, they were 2-2 at home losing both home games by a combined 10 points with one of those losses coming in OT. While I'm on the subject of the 1999 fall-guy, Pete Carroll coached a total of 25 home games during his tenure, going a collective 18-7 losing only twice by more than 10 points.

The quick 14-0 lead is not what won this game for the Jets, for with just over 43 minutes remaining in the game the Pats had closed the gap to 14-10. What lost this game were the defense's inability to make a play when needed, and the offensive line's re-emergence as the league's worst. Bledsoe was sacked 7 times, the running game went nowhere, and the defense was allowing 12 and 14 yard runs on 1st down while the Jets were in obvious running-out-the clock mode. This was a pathetic performance all the way around.

I personally am so disgusted that I promise you the following: you will not see on any reference, direct or implied, to the Patriots and the post-season until the team has reached .500. I realize I'll probably have to wait until September 9, 2001, but so be it. I usually like to spin-doctor at least one paragraph per week about how the Patriots could do this-or-that to make the playoffs. No more. Beat the Colts by 50 next week and I won't flinch.

I hate to quote the Tuna yet again, but "you are what you are" in the NFL, and 2-5 just isn't impressive. Bill Belichick continues to maintain, "we've got a good club here," but so what. What's that suppose to mean? All NFL teams are good teams, it's being better than the others, not just "good", that matters. In losing this game so decisively at home, the Patriots proved that the previous two wins were not a turnaround, but a fluke.

Sour Grapes...

Quite simply and undeniably, the New York Jets own the New England Patriots. Since 1996, the Jets are 6-2 against the Patriots, losing their only two games to the Pats by a combined 5 points. The Patriots-Jets feud of the past 4 years has been called a "border war". If the Patriots of 1776 were as adept at defending their borders, we'd all be paying taxes to Prince Charles right now, and my season tickets would cost me about 51 Pounds per game.

I still maintain that the now 5-1 Jets aren't that good. Take out games against our beloved Patriots, and they're 3-1 over teams who are a collective 12-13, outscoring those 4 opponents a combined 61-57. Nearly 1/3 of their scoring in those contests have come on a special teams touchdown, a Hail Mary pass to a defensive back, and a wounded quail 24 yard TD pass from Curtis Martin to Wayne Chrebet. Are the Jets better than the Patriots? Quite obviously yes, but that doesn't exactly make them the Rams.

Why I don't listen to talk radio...

For the idiots, and that's what they are, who blame Drew Bledsoe for this loss and the 2-5 start, you had better find a more simple sport to follow such as checkers. You take any QB, from any era in NFL history, put him in this offense and he'll stink. Of the 7 sacks Bledsoe endured last Sunday, 4 were from the blind side before Drew barely had a chance to set his feet and throw. Anyone who thinks Drew "doesn't care" only needs to review the tape of his 13 yard TD run in the 4th quarter. I don't think Jerome Bettis or Ron Dayne could have dragged that many tacklers into the end zone.

Dan Marino never had a defense or a running game, and he retired without a ring. Nearing the end of his career, John Elway allowed himself to take the field in the bottom 3rd of the salary scale for NFL quarterbacks so the Broncos would have enough cap-room to build around him for one last run. Enter Terrell Davis, an offensive line, and a defense, and John Elway won back-to-back Super Bowls.

How about 1996 Super Bowl and League MVP Brett Favre? With no more Reggie White and an inconsistent running game, the Packers missed the playoffs last season. They are currently 3-4, also having lost at home to the Jets. Favre has thrown 8 interceptions this season and has a rating of 82.1. Bledsoe has thrown 6 interceptions (two on Hail Mary's) and has a rating of 77.9. If Bledsoe has "declined" since 1996, then so has Favre. The other two QBs in the final-four that year where Mark Brunell and Kerry Collins. heir respective QB ratings are 74.3 and 73.9 respectively.

Anyone who calls for Michael Bishop needs only to go to a Bryant College practice session. Even with no pressure on him, Bishop is not an accurate passer. His grasp of the offense is also very limited. While Bledsoe must be up on the entire offense, Bishop is only asked to perfect a handful of plays, and the grapevine has said he has difficulty with that task at times.

For the past 7 years, Bledsoe has always been compared to the QB-du-jour. Whiners look up who's doing well in the league and cry, "why can't Drew be more like so-and-so?" Over those past 7 years, who's performed as well as Bledsoe for as long as Bledsoe has? You'd be very hard pressed to name anyone with a decisive edge. To even consider trading Drew Bledsoe for draft picks is absurd. Sure there are QBs having better years out there like Duante Culpepper and Rich Gannon, but what about two or three years from now? In Drew Bledsoe you know what you are going to get. He has established himself as a franchise quarterback. He has proven numerous times in the past, and even in two games this season that if you give him time to throw, he'll kill you.

It's not Drew Bledsoe's fault that he gets blindsided less than "2-Mississippi" after the ball is snapped. It's not his fault that the offensive line has 3 of 5 starters making the NFL veteran minimum salary while practically the entire team salary cap is tied up in an underachieving defense. It's not Drew's fault that he's played for 3 head coaches and 5 offensive coordinators in 7 seasons. It's not Drew's fault that the Patriots draft strategy over the past 4 years has been less effective than the dartboard method.

Any time I hear anyone criticize Drew I cringe. I have watched every single Patriots game that's been played since 1984. I have watched as much NFL football outside of the Patriots during that span as time (and now my wife) would allow. I doubt that talk radio callers could say that. In person, I've seen every QB from Steve Grogan to Tony Eason to Tom Ramsey to Bob Bleier to Marc Wilson to Hugh Millen take snaps from center in a Patriots uniform. At the risk of sounding arrogant, I know what I'm talking about when I say Drew Bledsoe is an outstanding quarterback.

If you're a Patriots fan, then you'd better get use to his being the starting quarterback around here for many years to come. Do I think there's better out there? Yes. Is he perfect? No. Has he always, is now, and ever shall be one of the 10 best in the league? Absolutely. Think you can replace him with draft picks? Pose that question to the San Diego Chargers or Seattle Seahawks when you get the chance.

You know who you are...

If you were one of the 20,000 Patriots fans in attendance at either or both of the final home gams of the '90 and '91 seasons, you know who you are. If you were one of the 20,000 left standing in a monsoon in 1993 when the Pats lost to the Jets 0-6, you know who you are. If you were one of the droves of season ticket holders who gave away your seats to last year's Baltimore game, you know who you are as well.

Being a true Pats fan these days is no easy task. The team is 2-5, has glaring weaknesses, and appears headed for a lost season. Of course I'm disgusted. Of course it makes me sick to see the Jets come in to Foxboro three years in a row and walk away with easy victories, but to turn away makes you a fair weather fan. Not that that's a bad thing, but just admit it. Hey - I'm a fair weather Bruins fan and I'll admit it. I don't watch 1 second of Bruins hockey until they're in the playoffs. Ditto for the Celtics. Down 15 at the half? The TV is off and it's on to bed.

There is no shame in being a fair weather Pats fan, but there are too many diehard pretenders out there. If the Pats are 2-13 heading into the Miami game on Christmas Eve Day, I'll be there cheering. I will have vented plenty of frustrations in this column and aged another 5 years, but I'll be there.

The Pats are 2-5. What are YOU doing next Sunday?

See you next week.