Patriots

Mike from Attleboro: Protecting the shield

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Mike from Attleboro: Protecting the shield

Mike from Attleboro -- the leading contributor to Michael Felger's old mailbag and one of Felger's favorite callers to his radio show -- is now contributing occasional pieces to CSNNE.com.

Its not often that a New England Patriots fan is in full agreement with the living embodiment of Patriot anti-matter, Bernard Pollard. But after two weeks of terrible scab officiating, you couldnt help but agree with him. Pollard, on 98.5s Toucher and Rich show, stated (at great risk to his checkbook) that These guys need to be out and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell needs to do more to fix the problem:

My issue is we have a commissioner that is jumping on board to hammer every other issue down in the NFL. He is jumping on board to get meetings with players when things are happening, but we have something on hand that is messing up the integrity of the league and nothing is being done about it.

Pollard is 100 percent correct and should be commended for saying so. The fact that the league is still locking out the officials at this point is an absolute joke. Allowing the best sports product in North America, and arguably the world, to suffer for the price of some benefits and pension plans is so myopic and foolish it defies logic.

When you realize that Roger Goodell is at the helm of the most moronic replacement plan since Coy and Vance took over for Bo and Luke Duke, it all starts to make a little more sense.

If there is one thing that the reign of the NFLs most despotic commissioner has shown us, its that there isnt a person, place or thing that Opie Goodell wont try to crush under foot if given the opportunity. In the past, the NFLs commissioners duty has been to Protect the Shield. Roger Goodell, on the other hand, isnt down with protecting it as much as he is with using it like Captain America to beat his foes into submission.

Protecting the shield is exactly what this situation requires. The game itself needs to be protected from a group of owners who think the officials are just another bunch of employees they can exploit and short change in negotiations. These arent run-of-the-mill, part-time employees. These are battle-tested arbiters of a fast-moving, violent, multibillion dollar product. They deserve to be compensated as such. If the uniform Narc who ratted out 49ers QB Alex Smith for wearing a San Francisco Giants hat at a press conference is important enough to get full benefits, giving them to the refs is a no-brainer, part-time or not.

Even more so, the on-field product needs to be protected from the type of doubt and skepticism that shadow the NBAs every move. The biggest officiating controversy the NFL has had in the last decade was due to Walt Coleman correctly enforcing the tuck rule in a Patriots-Raiders game during the divisional round of the 2001 NFL playoffs. David Stern would move the Lakers back to Minneapolis in exchange for that kind of officiating competence.

Instead of giving up a fraction of a fraction of a 9 billion pie, Roger Goodell has led the owners down a path that may lead to irreparable damage. In the leadup to the season, Goodell said the replacements would do a very credible job and short-term sacrifices were needed to ensure long-term success. This statement on its own is delusional enough to have Goodell removed and committed. But when you consider that Goodell has had the leagues officials under his purview since 2001 and already witnessed one officiating lockout, it now becomes a case of deliberate and premeditated negligence.

During the 2001 referee lockout, the league was able to get a much better caliber of replacement official. During that lockout, the entire preseason and one regular-season week passed largely without incident. The events of September 11th helped to accelerate an agreement and this dispute became a minor footnote of commissioner Paul Tagliabues tenure.

This lockout, on the other hand, left the league skimming the bottom of the football officiating barrel. Instead of continuing with the lockout, Goodell should have seen the futility of trying to replace veteran NFL officials with Lingerie League rejects in the preseason and advised the owners to settle. Instead of being forced to send press releases reminding players and coaches to make nice with the scabs, Goodell should have seen that star-struck replacements would get intimidated and bullied into bad calls and reversals. Instead of letting these replacements take the field with little or no league vetting, Goodell should have pulled some of his gestapo off the Bountygate witchhunt and had them make sure that they arent in fantasy leagues. Or that a Saints fan isnt officiating a Saints game!!!

Given the way NFL football and gambling are indivisibly linked, Roger Goodell should be thanking John Facenda that his replacements have been outed only as star-struck fantasy players and not gridiron versions of Tim Donaghy. Spared such a disaster, he should have been hauling the owners back to the bargaining table yesterday.

But Goodell is too stubborn to swallow his pride and do whats right. Hes so obsessed with being the worlds toughest paper pusher that he refuses to see the crippling threat to his leagues credibility hovering right under his double chin. Opie thought the fallout from Spygate was a bad scene? The meltdown that would result from a Donaghy-level incident in the NFL would dwarf what a thousand Barnard Pollards could do to the Patriots.

Hopefully, the myriad of catastrophes that could fall upon the league finally become evident to Roger Goodell. Then he can stop using the Shield like his personal cudgel and actually protect it for once.

EX-PATS PODCAST: Why does it seem Patriots secondary is playing better without Gilmore?

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EX-PATS PODCAST: Why does it seem Patriots secondary is playing better without Gilmore?

On this episode of The Ex-Pats Podcast...

0:10 - Mike Giardi and Dan Koppen give their takeaways from the Patriots win over the Falcons including the defense coming up strong against Atlanta but New England still taking too many penalties.

2:00 - Why it felt like this game meant more to the Patriots, their sense of excitement after the win, and building chemistry off a good victory.

6:20 - Falcons losing their identity without Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator and their bad play calling and decisions on 4th downs.

10:00 -  A discussion about Matt Ryan not making the throws he needed against the Patriots and if he has falling off the MVP caliber-type player he was last season.

14:00 - How and why the Patriots secondary seems to be playing better without Stephon Gilmore and why Malcolm Butler has been able to turn up his play as of late.

Mother Nature gets between Belichick and his Patriots-Falcons film study

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Mother Nature gets between Belichick and his Patriots-Falcons film study

If your team makes a goal-line stop in the fourth quarter, but you can't see it on the All-22 tape, did it even happen? 

Bill Belichick said the fog that hovered above the Gillette Stadium turf on Sunday night didn't impact the play on the field, but it did make its imprint on the game in other ways. First of all, spotters and coaches up at the press level had some difficulty relaying information to coaches on the sidelines. Video on the hand-held tablets for sideline use -- as well as the old-school still-frame pictures Belichick prefers -- was also obstructed. 

Then on Monday, as coaches tried to digest the film, the fog butted in on the process again. 

"It affected us a lot this morning because it’s hard to see the game," Belichick said during a conference call. "The fourth quarter is – I don’t know – pretty close to a white-out on the sideline film. The sideline cameras are at the top of the stadium, so that’s a tough shot.

"The end zone cameras are a little bit lower and they get a little tighter shot, so the picture is a little bit clearer. But, on that shot, a lot of times you’re not able to see all the guys on the perimeter. It’s kind of an in-line shot.

"Yeah, the first half, start of the third quarter, it’s all right. As they get into the middle of the third quarter and on, for those of us with aging eyes, it’s a little strained to see it, and then there’s a point where you can’t really see it at all, especially from the sideline. So, yeah, it affected us."

Belichick re-iterated that the fog didn't do much to the product on the field (other than maybe making life difficult for kick and punt-returners), refuting Julio Jones' claim from late Sunday night. When it came to digesting the film, though, that was another story.

"It was more, I’d say, just tougher for, whether it be our video camera or the fans that were sitting in the upper deck. It’s just there was too much interference there," Belichick said. "It was probably hard to see the game. I know when we tried to look at the pictures in between series – you know, I don’t look at the tablets, so I won’t get into that – but the pictures, it was kind of the same thing. It was hard to really be able to make out exactly what you were seeing."