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 10/29/1997

Editor's Note: For the first time since he has gone to Patriots games, Clint left a Patriots game before the scoreboard ticked zero. Unfortunately he was in plenty of company. This isn't the usual, upbeat column that you may be used to reading, but there'll be good things to write about next week. Right?!

Lou Saban, Mike Holovak, Clive Rush, John Mazur, Phil Bengtson, Chuck Fairbanks, Ron Erhardt, Ron Meyer, Ray Berry, Rod Rust, Dick MacPherson, and Bill Parcells...

What do all of these men have in common? They are all former Patriot head coaches who would never call three consecutive pass plays less than one yard from the goal line.

Some of those guys were great coaches, others did not fare as well, but I bet if you polled all 12 of them, along with millions of members of Patriot Nation and one Internet author in particular, they would say that Pete Carroll blew it big time on National Television.

Chances are there were a few NFL owners and general managers watching on Monday Night prime time. Carroll can forget about knocking on their doors when his tenure in New England is over. Ditto for Larry Keenan, the offensive coordinator. And to think we used to complain about Ray Perkins!! I know Keenan calls the plays, but down at the goalline the head coach has a say in what goes on. Carroll knows every play before the ball is snapped.

I have been sitting in section 108 going on my 12th year. You can use your fingers to count how many home games I have missed over that span. That's well over 80 regular season games since I was a sophomore in high school. I have witnessed many Patriot losses over the years, and I cannot remember ever having cause to this seriously question the coaching staff. Honestly folks, it was like they were trying to lose the game. Monday Night, October 27th, 1997 marked the first time in my life that I left the game before it was officially over. Think about that. Through the 0-8 home season of Rod Rust, I was always in my seat when the gun sounded. Not last night. I was so sick over that failed conversion on the goal line, that I had to leave. Very sad.

Why was the passing game the gameplan against one of the worst rush defenses in the NFL? Chicago's Raymont Harris twice went for over 100 yards on these guys, and Pete Carroll decided to leave All-Pro Curtis Martin out of the master plan.

Sam Gash, arguably last season's offensive MVP prior to his injury, sits on the bench while Bledsoe drops back to throw, and throw, and throw again.

Within inches of taking the lead in the third quarter, Pete Carroll three times decides to ignore the fact that he has an All-Pro tackle, an All-Pro back, an All-Pro tight end who can block with the best of 'em, and a wrecking ball by the name of Sam Gash ready to take someone's head off. He instead chooses to pansy up the playbook, and call three passes in a row. I am almost surprised that Bruce Armstrong did not call a timeout and change the plays himself.

Don't tell me that those plays work in practice. Don't tell me that those plays have gone for 6 in previous games. Don't tell me that you were trying to catch the defense off guard. 1st and goal, down 3, at home, in a Super Bowl rematch on National Television and you don't run the ball??? There is no excuse for that! If the Pats are half the "champions" they say they are, then they should be able to TELL Fritz Shurmer and the Packer Defense that you intend to run the ball 4 times in row, and then do so with success. I am so stunned by that development that I cannot quite find the words. I got home from the game at 1:15 am, and could not fall asleep.

I wasted a paragraph of space in last weeks column in defense of Pete Carroll. I stated that the 5-2 record was as good as Parcells could have done anyways. That no longer is the case. If Bill Parcells was the coach, this team would have beaten the Packers at home. As much as Drew Bledsoe or Chris Slade are "glad to see him gone", even they must know this now, although they would never state as such. This is not intended to praise the Tuna, for there are plenty of other coaches out there, some looking for work, who could have come up with a better game plan. Certainly they would have run the ball in from the 1!

Company men...

In his post game press conference, Bledsoe stated that he had no problems with the play calling on the goal line. PLEASE!!! This guy has been playing quarterback since he could walk. You would think that during that time he would have accumulated the football knowledge enough to know that you NEVER go to play action three times in a row down on the goal line. I don't care if it's the Temple Owls at Mile High Stadium vs. the Broncos. You never give up on your team like that. Carroll sold his offensive line, his running game, and the respect of the fans right up the river all in a matter of three plays.

Curtis Martin also defended the calls, saying that they have scored using those same plays before, and that they work on them all the time in practice. Again, please. Martin is one of the best backs in the 30 team NFL. He has to be seething inside that he did not get the ball on three consecutive tries from inside the 1.

Martin and Bledsoe may be defending their coach to the press, but you have to wonder what they are really thinking.

Take it easy Green Bay...

Before all you Cheeseheads out there think you season has turned around because you beat the defending AFC Champions at home, think again. What the Packers did was merely beat a poorly-coached, unmotivated team. The Pats sure have a boat load of talent, but the positives stop there.

Green Bay is still a mere shadow of the team that dominated in 1996. The Pack is a team the Patriots should have beaten, but failed miserably in their task. Favre and company's sole road win prior to Monday Night was by 1 point over a then winless Bears team who went for two and the win with under a minute to play and failed. The Pack was 0-7 against the Vegas Line going into the Pats game, and emerged covering by 20 points. Credit Green Bay with the win, but with the way the Pats have played since the 4-0 start, this is like going down to Atlanta and beating the Falcons. You didn't see the 49ers breaking open the champagne when they won at New Orleans last Sunday did you?

The same team that made Glenn Foley look like Johnny Unitas in week 7 made the banged up packer O-line look like the old Hogs, and Dorsey Levens look like Gayle Sayers. So much for Willie Clay's statement that the defense would be the "heart of the team".

One more quote for you. In thinking back to "what could have been" in last January's 35-21 loss in the title game, Ted Johnson reflected on the many missed opportunities and stated that he "has a hard time believing that Green Bay was 14 points better than the Patriots". Guess what Ted, you were right. Try 18 points, on your own field.

That's 18 points to the 1997 Packers, who are not the 1996 Champs, nor are they among the elite in the NFL. I can think of about 10 teams in the league who would have chewed up that Packer team and spit them out had they been the hosts last Monday Night. I guess that means that Pats are not in the top 10.

Hess Genius...

Perhaps the 100 year old Oil Baron owner of the Jets was right. He fired Carroll after just one season saying the team "quit on him" midway through the season. After the Pats came up empty at the goal line 5 minutes into the 2nd half, the defense turned into Swiss cheese and Tom Tupa's foot became the offense's best weapon. The last TD by Levens (I was on Rte. 1 at the time, but watched on tape today) was pathetic. He took the ball on a sweep to the right and was just shy of going out of bounds when the Pats defense stopped pursuing him. Levens stopped, turned upfield, and scooted in from 3 yards out for the Pack's 1st rushing TD since week 1. The Pats defense ought to be ashamed of themselves. Granted the game was out of reach, but you don't quit. That is hardly the sign of a champion, and again is reflective of the head coach.

Even in victory this season, the Pats have gone to sleep at halftime. Monday night was no exception. At 5-3 with 3 road games ahead, we'll see how much longer the wheels stay on this wagon.

Out of Character...

Anyone who knows me at all or who has been reading my column over the past two years knows that I am usually the **last** person to get up on the soap box and criticize the Pats. I love this team, and have since I was a little kid. This is by far the most critical column I have ever written, and also the angriest I have ever been after a loss. The fact that I left the game early even surprises me. My parents still have seats next to mine, and when I got up to leave with 7 minutes left my Dad's eye's bugged out of his head as he asked in amazement "You are leaving early?"

I mention this to separate myself from all the fair weather fans out there who jump on and off the bandwagon after every win or loss. I do not throw bad words about my beloved Pats around lightly.

This team has so much talent, and had so much promise going into this season. They are now 1-3 in their last 4, and are 5-3 overall with a blocked John Hall field goal the only think keeping them from 4-4 tied with Bills. I am tired of Bledsoe's and Carroll's canned responses in the press meetings. "We will regroup," "Champions bounce back," "It's time to see what we're made of," blah.. blah.. blah.. I'm sure that's what the Colts and Bears were saying after their first four games of the season as well. It's time to shut up and play football.

Even if the Pats pull the upset and beat the Vikings, I will still be concerned about this team. From where I'm sitting, even if the Pats do make the playoffs, it will be a very quick exit. Four times this season they have played a team who today has a winning record. They are 1-3 in those games being outscored by a combined 41 points. Again, only the blocked field goal in the first Jets game prevents the 0-fer against winning teams. After 8 games, the Pats have only played 3 road games. Over the 2nd half of the season, they play 5 road games. All 5 opponents are currently at .500 or better. The Vikings, Bills, Bucs, Jaguars, and Dolphins I'm sure are more than willing to roll out the red carpet and welcome "the defending AFC Champs".

Minnesota is 6-2. Richie Kotite, please update your resume.

See you next week.

P.S. Did I mention that the play calling sucks inside the 1?