Patriots

He's baaacck!

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He's baaacck!

By Michael Felger

Oh, goody. Bretts back.

Hey Felger,We have Sunday, Oct. 31st circled on OUR calendar. DO YOU????You know who's gonna come in here and kick Brady's ass?RichNorth Providence, RIUm, Jared Allen? Adrian Peterson?

Felger:First, let me say I in no way suffer from uncontrollable Favre love. That said, while some people don't acknowledge the bad that goes with all the positives of his career, I think you are going a bit too far the other way. He still is much better than you are giving him credit, and there is no doubt he makes the Vikings better than any other player they could have picked up. Sure, they could have drafted a QB and prepared for this the way Green Bay did, but they didn't.Cy Young is the all-time leader in Wins, but also the all-time leader in losses . . . do you put him in the same category as Favre?Dave Woburn

Do I put Favre (is that who Rich was referring to?) in the same category as the one of the greatest pitchers in the history of major-league baseball? Definitely not. Favre is not among the greats of all time in his sport. He belongs in a large second tier behind Joe Montana, John Elway, Dan Marino, Johnny Unitas, Tom Brady and Peyton Manning.

I talk about the following numbers all the time, and I think they bear repeating here: Since Favre last went to the Super Bowl following the 1998 season, hes played in 11 playoff games. Hes won just four of them. Thats right, kids. He's 4-7 in the playoffs over the past dozen years, throwing 21 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in those games. Included in that sample are two NFC title game defeats (in 2007 and 2009) in which he threw interceptions on either the last play of regulation or his first pass of overtime. Included in that sample is a four-interception game against Minnesota in 2004, a six-interception game at St. Louis in 2001 and a 2003 NFC divisional game at Philadelphia in which he threw an interception on the Packers' first play of overtime.

So, then, here are the facts (not opinions): For over a decade, Favre has been nearly TWICE as likely to lose in the playoffs as win. In postseason football, he has played terribly as often as he's played well. For every playoff touchdown he's recorded, hes thrown a pick.

So, no, I don't think I've gone too far.

As a postseason, big-game quarterback, he sucks.

Consequently, I find the helicopter coverage a bit much.

Felger,What is Favre's interception PERCENTAGE, not number of interceptions? Obviously, by definition, if he's played the longest of any player in the NFL he's going to have the most interceptions, but also the "most" of all other q-back stats (good and bad). So percentage is a more accurate reading. Of course if the percentage negates your point, then of course I don't expect you to mention this fact -- not opinion.Thanks,BFBoston

Who cares what his interception PERCENTAGE is? In his last 11 playoff games hes thrown 20 picks. Thats brutal. I dont care if he throws 55 times a game. You can't win throwing two interceptions every time you hit the field in the postseason.

What am I missing here?

Felger,No disagreement on anything you've said on the Favre front, but doesn't he make the Vikings a playoff contender as opposed to a No. 1 draft pick with Tarvaris Jackson?Mike Riley

The sad truth. No question about it. But does that mean he warrants wall-to-wall coverage?

Felger,Do you think Brady wants to play behind a weak offensive line? That line of "fat cows" should keep him off the field because he's bound to get creamed. Also, does he want to sign with a team that may not be competitive every year? Doesn't look like they'll be playoff bound this year.Tom

I think the Pats are a playoff team this year, Tom. Maybe not a Super Bowl team, but they should be a postseason one. And if Brady signs an extension this summer, we'll have to say that hes comfortable with his offensive line and his teams chances.

But if I were Brady I'd be careful about going too far with this yelling and screaming business with his teammates. Applying the same scrutiny on him as we do Favre shows that, since Bradys last Super Bowl win, he is only 5-4 in nine playoff games, with 17 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Certainly not Favre-like, but not exactly Brady-like, either.

Felger,Tony Dungy is the most overrated coach ever. He failed in Tampa for years with the best defense in the league. The very next year after he's gone, they win a Super Bowl.Then in Indy he keeps falling short with one the best quarterbacks ever, until Reche Caldwell hands the Colts the game on a silver platter.And now Tony Dungy is going to go around telling grown adults how to act? I'm so sick of these self-righteous, Christian zealots pushing their agendas down our throats.Meanwhile he has no problem with "Ron Mexico." Kill as many dogs as you want, but heaven forbid if you swear?Dan East Providence RI

Agreed. Dungy is a (bleep)ing fraud.

Felgy,I have a theory on Josh Beckett, which is two-fold: 1) He gives up a lot of home runs because the rhythm in his delivery is so predictable. When he mixes his pitches, that consistent delivery can be deceptive -- causing hitters to be frozen on called third strikes. But when major league hitters are able to predict a fastball, and know the cadence to his delivery, he gets shelled. Pay close attention next time he pitches.2) His quick, explosive delivery causes wear and tear on his body that results in perpetual injuries (even blisters). He starts very slow -- slower, I think, than most -- then explodes towards home plate during his stride. If you're not in the greatest of shape, and have a taxing pitching motion, you're going to sustain injuries.The irony is that Beckett's delivery -- in addition to great stuff -- seems to have made him the great pitcher he is. The ability to keep the same delivery, with the same cadence and explosiveness, can be effective insofar as you mix your speeds and are in shape. But Beckett doesn't throw his curveball much as and isn't in the greatest of shape. That's why this guy's delivery is making him prey to fastball hitters and a constant visitor to the DL.Thank you,
Greg Manchester, NH

I'll buy that. The bigger issue is that he hasn't really improved as a pitcher. Most of the great pitchers who stay great into their 30s do so by getting craftier, or developing new pitches or reinventing themselves in some way. Beckett throws roughly the same stuff he did when he came into the league 10 years ago, only his curveball isn't as reliable. When he gets in trouble, he responds by trying to throw harder. Is he stubborn or just unable to diversify his game? Whatever it is, the needle is pointing in the wrong direction.

Felger,As far as the "Radio Host" Tito quoted regarding Ellsbury, how many local muckrakers will imply it was them he was referring to? I know Gresh already implied it. It's like a pathetic badge of honor for you guys. OOOOHHHH, Francona was talking about my daily negativity! OOOOHHHH, I have media-viability!I know you chuckleheads live off of this vitriol but when it comes down to fighting over who Tito is bitching about I ask, who is the bitch?ArtCambridge

Tanguay. Definitely Tanguay.

Michael,My daughter had a opportunity to serve you and your lovely wife at a restaurant in Nantucket this summer. She thought that you and your wife (who she called very sweet) looked great wearing the same-color coordinated outfits. She also said you treated her very well and were very generous. I wanted your fan base to know that behind that guff exterior lies a good-hearted and generous, wife-matching guy.Bob

So I tipped her well? Phew.

As for the outfits, thats all on the Wood, I swear. She gets a glimpse of what Im wearing and tries to match it up. Its really pathetic.

She has trouble with the Tebow jersey, though.

Felgers weekly column appears on Tuesdays. E-mail him HERE and read the mailbag every Thursday. Listen to him on the radio weekdays, 2-6 p.m., on 98.5 the Sports Hub.

Five quick thoughts: Patriots put it all together against Falcons

Five quick thoughts: Patriots put it all together against Falcons

FOXBORO -- Here are some quick-hitting thoughts on the Patriots' 23-7 victory over the Falcons on Sunday night.

1) If the Patriots attacked this game believing that the best defense is a good offense . . . they were right. 

They controlled the ball for more than 18 minutes in the first half and ran for 92 yards on 18 carries (a 5.1 yards per attempt average) with four backs sharing the load. Rex Burkhead gave the team a spark with his speed and vision in his first game back since suffering a rib injury in Week 2. The success the Patriots had running the ball had the added benefit of opening up the play-action pass game and it helped protect Tom Brady. After taking two sacks in the first quarter and a monster hit (penalized for roughing the passer) from Adrian Clayborn in the second, Brady was fairly well-protected. 

PATRIOTS 23, FALCONS 3

2) Tom Brady lamented the fact that he hadn't been more accurate in the red zone of late, but he was better in that area to help the Patriots pad their early lead. 

The Patriots went 2-for-3 in the red zone through the first half, with Brady hitting on touchdown passes to Brandin Cooks (which looked more like an end-around hand-off) and James White. Brady still had moments of inaccuracy. The pass he lofted before being croaked by Clayborn was a bad one that was intercepted. (The pick was wiped after the penalty was enforced.) He threw behind Chris Hogan on multiple occasions. He also had an odd throw float well out of bounds that was intended for Rob Gronkowski. But for the most part he was on point, completing 21 of his first 29 throws for 241 yards. 

3) The Patriots defense showed up in critical moments time and time again in this one. 

They stopped the Falcons twice on fourth down, and they allowed Matt Ryan and his offense to convert on just two of their first nine third-down plays. The Falcons coaching staff deserves plenty of criticism for going for it when they did, but with a banged-up secondary, going against the reigning MVP and one of the best receivers in the league, the Patriots responded.

4) Bill Belichick's run defense was particularly impressive in the first half on Sunday night, helping keep the Falcons from getting anything going until it was too late. 

They allowed just 30 yards on nine attempts in the first two quarters (a 3.3 yards per attempt average), with Malcom Brown, Trey Flowers, Kyle Van Noy, Lawrence Guy and Deatrich Wise all making impressive stops at, near or behind the line of scrimmage. 

5) The Patriots suffered a handful of injuries to key players that will be worth keeping an eye on moving forward. 

Malcom Brown left the game in the second half with an ankle injury. Their top defensive tackle this season, Brown's absence may be one reason for why the Falcons were able to pump up their rushing yardage to triple digits by midway through the fourth quarter. Dont'a Hightower also left the game and was announced as questionable to return with a shoulder injury. Hightower has had a history of shoulder issues and so perhaps this is an older injury that was re-aggravated. Chris Hogan also left the game briefly and was evaluated for a concussion, according to NBC's television broadcast. He later returned.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE