So I was talking to my contact in Vegas, his name is Jack – use to work together when I interned at MLSE, he’s a Patriots fan, he is originally from the New England area and he called me Monday night to concur with my Superbowl rant and was at the same time bothered by it. So we were talking and I simply said to him “dude, you guys in reality, over-achieved!” like there is a story out there that Gronkowski and the clang were out partying at a Patriot’s party with LMFAO – and there is some outrage at that, I get it. First of all though, if they were doing it during the two minute drill I’d definitely be bothered but what are they supposed to do? Sit in their hotel room and cry over the loss?
This Gronkowski stuff doesn’t bother me at all simply because firstly, New England – as I ranted on Monday played pretty well in the Superbowl, like I thought they outplayed the Giants but I think the Giants are a better team with better players. Secondly, New England massively over-achieved as a team. Listen, no elite corners, no deep threat, no pass rushers, 31st ranked defense, 18 undrafted players…and you got to a Superbowl! Listen; there are teams in the NFL that underachieved. Any team coached by Norf Turner, the Jets, the Eagles and the Cowboys all underachieved. New England on the other hand, massively overachieved. I’d say there were about 5 teams in the NFL this season who also overachieved: the Bengals, Broncos, the 9er’s, the Giants winning the Superbowl to a certain extent might be an overachievement but we know that they have a ton of great talent and a great coach.
Sometimes in life though, you don’t want to try and get happier than happy. The New England Patriots – in a passing league don’t have a shutdown corner and don’t have a deep threat, couldn’t get elite quarterbacks off the field this year. They played Eli Manning twice and Big Ben once – those were the only elite quarterbacks that they faced all year. They [Patriots] were absolutely crushed in “time of possession” in those games; they couldn’t get Eli or Big Ben off the field. They had a lucky schedule and they have an even luckier one next year (I’ll talk about that later in the rant). New England didn’t have a ton of injuries, though the Gronk thing didn’t obviously help matters against the Giants.
Bill Belicheck himself said it after the loss, he had nothing bad to say about this team “ they worked hard all year, they competed well all season and we won a lot of games and even the ones we didn’t win, we fought right til the end and played very competitively and we did that last night [Sunday] and just came up a little bit short but I have all the respect in the world for the team and all the players at what they’ve done for the past 6 months” By the way, Belicheck could’ve made this team better but he elected to draft Ryan Mallett in the draft, he could’ve gotten a pass rusher – there were 7 great college pass rushers and 5 of them had very good rookie years, yet elected not to draft any of them. Could’ve gone after a receiver…he didn’t do that either – certainly Ochocinco was a bust.
So in the end, if you’re a Patriot fan…Congratulations! You had a great year; you just simply lost to a better team. Lost to a New York Giants team that has more talent than you…it’s that simple, especially on the edges, pass rushers, receivers and corners.
Moving on though, so Kobe Monday night became the 5th all time leading scorer in NBA history and if he averages – let’s say about 75-80 games over the next 4 years and about 18 points per game, that’s about 5,054 more points, that would take Kobe to 3rd on the all-time list, only behind Kareem and Malone. Karl Malone for me has never been a “fit” in the top 10 because he never won a title, was never exceptional in the playoffs, never became a TV star, a lot of his points were via free throws.
But I’ve always thought that its funny that when people rank the all-time greats – Magic, MJ, Bird, Oscar…other than MJ, we’ve never had a guy whose has been as ambitious and competitive as Kobe. He’s a better offensive player than Magic and a better defensive player than Magic, Bird, Oscar or West. Other than MJ’s 6 titles, he’s got 5 – which is more than all of them, Jerry West was 0 for his first 11 in his NBA final appearances. To me, MJ and Kobe along with Lebron James are the 3 greatest talents I’ve ever seen.
Now, that doesn’t mean that they’ll end up with the most titles, I tend to eliminate centers when considering the all time’s. I put them in a different class because they are basically individuals who have hit the genetic lottery. I mean, Shaq couldn’t dribble, he wasn’t a great passer and in his prime he was 7’2 315lbs.Those are just innate advantages in a sport where the closer you get to the basket and the more you weigh and the taller you are, the easier it is.
But it’s time for people to realize that no sport is more artistic in my opinion, than basketball. Think about this for a moment. Basketball is the only sport where I can simply take a silhouette of the top 50 players of all time, taking a shot…just a silhouette and most sports fan – myself included, could tell you who the player is. I couldn’t take the top 50 quarterbacks throwing the ball and tell who they were with only a silhouette. There’s a few baseball players who’ve had unique swings like Joe Morgan with the flap or Steve Garvey or Tom Paciorek. There is also the occasional batting stance such as John Kruk’s, but baseball and football are not as much about individual artistry as basketball.
To me, MJ and Kobe are the two greatest artists who have ever played this game and I always thought that Kobe always got undo criticism on the breakup of him and Shaq. The truth is, Shaq and Kobe was a fireworks show! It wasn’t a candle, it wasn’t built to last. It was built to be explosive and fun to watch. But you can’t have the two greatest talents in the league on the same team. As Kobe said Monday night to Stephen A. Smith, Shaq and Kobe was great but it wasn’t built forever “ I think Shaq and I were the more explosive tandem, you know…it would be like pairing Jordan up with Wilt. That’s probably not going to work for too long and so in this situation, that’s kind of what you end up having and we ended up winning 3 championships”
Now are the Lakers asking too much of him? I feel the same way about Kobe as I do about Tom Brady – the window is closing, get elite pieces around them. New England will never get another Brady – someone who is that hardworking, that driven and that excellent. The Lakers are not getting another Kobe, they’re not! He’s the only player in league history you can compare to MJ. He’s the only player that MJ has ever allowed himself to be compared to without bristling.
Switching gears back to football, so Tuesday morning, the Patriots – according to the MGM Resorts, are favourites to win the Superbowl and I know that sounds ridiculous, but you have to remember this. First off, it’s a no brainer that New England will be hosting playoff games next season “Oh Andrew, your wrong!” you might say, No I’m not! Remember, the NFL schedules are already out, we don’t know when the games take place but we do know who you play. When you go down the schedules and look at New England’s, you start to realize that they don’t play a single elite quarterback…not one at all!
They face the Bills twice, Dolphins twice, Jets twice, the Colts, the Broncos, Arizona, San Francisco, Jacksonville, Tennessee, St. Louis, Tennessee…the Patriots drew the NFC West. So their road games are: the Bills, Dolphins, Jags, Titans, Rams and Seahawk, Joe Flacco is the best quarterback that they face. Meanwhile the Houston Texans – who I think are a very good team, they drew the NFC North. So they have road games: at New England, at Jets, at Chicago, at Detroit, and they have to face Baltimore and Green Bay!
So the reality is that the New England Patriots are the only team in the NFL next year – with an elite quarterback, who won’t face an elite quarterback (barring of course what becomes of Peyton). The schedules are out! You can go look them up! We just don’t know the dates. For those of you who have been reading these rants for the past year or so, you know my theory on this – and it’s been backed up year after year. If you have an elite quarterback and don’t face more than like 4 elite quarterbacks, you are a 10 win team!
Now, you may not make the playoffs based on whose above you and in what division you’re in, but the Patriots have the league’s easiest schedule next year. Buffalo twice, Miami twice, Jets twice, Tebow at home, San Francisco at home, Seattle, Arizona, St. Louis, Jacksonville and Tennessee! So no doubt about it, New England is going to be very good. Now, that doesn’t mean that they’re the best team in the league. But even Pittsburgh and Baltimore are in the AFC and they drew tougher competitions – they drew the NFC East. So they get Eli, Romo and Vick!